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Hope & Social Crypt Covers – Ghostbusters!

Crypt Covers

The ever-amazing Hope & Social have this year embarked on a series of collaborative cover versions, known as Crypt Covers. The deal is simple yet challenging.  Hope & Social choose their musical comrade for each cover, and you suggest songs you think  should be covered. The winning song is ultimately selected and recorded all in one day.  We were chuffed to bits when Hope & Social asked us to partner them for Crypt Covers no.6. The results of the 5 Crypt Covers before ours were staggeringly good.  Ellen & The Escapades, She Makes War, Sam Airey, Chris Helme and Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six have all in turn visited The Crypt for a day, and knocked out terrific performances.

Crypt Covers - and the winning song is Ghostbusters

Simon and Sam K react to the wheel choosing Ghostbusters

On Wednesday 31st October we amassed with Hope & Social.  Drawing up the shortlist was a challenge in itself.  There had been some wonderful suggestions come in, mostly via Twitter.  What with it being Halloween, there were a number of ghoulish suggestions among them.  And it could have been predicted that the wheel stopped on Ghostbusters.  It has to be said that our initial reactions to our task were mixed.  But, as it turns out, I don’t think any of us would have wanted it any other way.  Everything Hope & Social do is informed by their motto, Have Fun Make Art.  That is certainly the case with their Crypt Covers.

The recording was complete by midnight, and and within 48 hours the ultra-efficient and skilled Shot By Sodium film team had put the resulting video online.  You can find it on both YouTube and Vimeo, or simply watch it here.  Enjoy.  We did.

    The Trades Club (Hebden Bridge) ticket offer

    On Sunday 15th July 2012 we will be playing at The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, supported by the lovely Roger Davies, and we have a special ticket offer available.

    The regular ticket price is £8 (for members of The Trades Club it is £5) but we have a special ticket price of just £6 available to our friends, and that means you.

    All you need to do is fill in the form below, and tell us how many people you will be bringing along.  We will then have your name on a list on the door, so you and your friends will be able to pay in for just £6 instead of £8.

    If you would like to pay for your £6 tickets online in advance, please tick the relevant box, and we will contact you with payment details.

    Contact form removed because this gig is history….

      Molehills Musings 5: Rhys

      Completing the jigsaw puzzle, with four pieces of our Molehills Musings already in place, here is the fifth and final installment, as Rhys reflects on our Molehills Out of Mountains LP.

      Last, and quite possibly least, come my belated musings on Molehills out of Mountains. I say ‘least’ because my role in, and relationship to, the album is somewhat different to the other Wilfuls. I joined (re-joined, in fact) Wilful Missing in February 2010. At this point, work on the album was already quite advanced: the songs were written and more or less arranged, some recordings were quite developed. For me, it was a case of fitting in – to the band, in general, and to a process that was well-underway. Attempts to shift the sound more towards Euro-Pop were not going to be successful (but wait until you hear the next album…).

      Others have mused on the process and the outcome, so I will do the same.

      Having played in various bands, and being a songwriter myself, I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal from watching and helping Wilful Missing make this recording. Two things impressed me most – a scrupulous attention to detail, both with respect to the arrangements and performances, and a healthy level of cooperative spirit. Sam L wrote about the way that parts weave together, and this was borne out of a willingness to really listen to what each person was playing, and for everyone to be willing to change, even drop, their parts in order that the overall arrangement worked. Anyone who has experience in bands knows this is not always easy, that people can get quite attached to what they play. I have a very strong memory of us all sitting with Albert, working on his bassline for ‘London Road‘, and being amazed at his composure, open-mindedness, and musical generosity. He set a very good example that I have tried to follow since.

      Hope & Social - Architect Of This Church

      An album 16,000 hours in the making

      I did also find the slow pace of recording (mentioned a few times in these posts) a little frustrating. Albert, always fond of a statistic, once told me how many ‘people hours’ had gone into the making of an album by Hope & Social: 16,000. While this sounds impressive, consider how few ‘people hours’ went into early albums by the Beatles, Stones, or Dylan, by comparison. After one particular gruelling session, I did ask whether 15 ‘people hours’ on a shaker part for one song was really a ‘good thing’. Next time, I would like to find a better balance between the care and attention that is part of the Wilful Missing way, and a process that captures more of the spirit and energy that is part of our live work.

      I like to think that I brought a little objectivity to the recording process, being less heavily invested in the songs and arrangements. You can thank me, dear listener, that the experiment in Bradfordian- Mongolian throat singing did not make it to the final mix.

      There is perhaps some risk of solipsism in these musings. I find it easier or safer to write about the process, rather than the outcome. Still, I think it is fair that we feel proud of the album, and not only because it got finished. Molehills out of Mountains sounds quite unique. The band have created some captivating arrangements, wrapped around songs that are rich in melody and lyrically interesting. If I must have favourite tracks, they would probably be: (more…)

        Molehills musings 4: Albert

        Following both the Sams and Ruth sharing their reflections on the Molehills out of Mountains album, this week in part 4 of this series, Albert expatiates on the topic.

        Before we set about recording, or even writing, my basslines for the album, I wanted to work on both my technique, and my sound.  I wanted my bass to have a 60s ‘thump’, and strove to emulate several bassists who continually inspire me.  My main bass-playing influences are:

        • Martyn P. Casey (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds)
        • Carol Kaye (particularly her work with The Beach Boys)
        • Sean Cook (Spiritualized)
        • James Jamerson (he played on most 60s Motown hits)
        • Paul McCartney (need I elaborate?)

        Buying a new pickup, changing from the more common round wound, to to flat wound strings, and taping a bit of felt to my bass as a mute, helped me get (close to) the sound I was after.  A felt mute was advice offered by Carol Kaye on her website.  I also invested in some of her tuition DVDs and books; the first time I’d ever actually had any sort of bass lessons. I know I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I’m still not totally happy with my sound, but I think I’m getting there.  And I think the album opener is has a bass sound that’s pretty close to to what I have in my head.

        Cry For The City

        One of the first times I heard this song was when Sam Kipling sang it solo at his dad’s 60th birthday party.  I thought it was brave of him to sing “I find it hard to be what my daddy wants” in such a setting, but he pulled it off. The difference between how this song sounded that day, and how it sounds now on the album is fairly representative of how our songs evolve, actually.  All the songs sound great when Sam sings them alone with an acoustic guitar, or a piano, but then we all spend a lot of time (some may say too much) arranging how the song will ultimately shape up.  I was a bit surprised that the rest of the band warmed to my “what if we….?” idea for the a cappella introduction, but I’m glad they did. More on my “what if we….?” ideas later.

        Don’t Be Scared 48

        There is a theme that runs through many of our songs, totally unintentional, but somewhat own-foot-shooting in terms of commercial potential.  We have a proclivity for developing songs that don’t have many repeating choruses.  I recall us spending quite a bit of time deliberating over whether the “Feast your eyes on the future” passage of ‘Don’t Be Scared 48′  should be a chorus or a middle 8, and if it was a chorus, where we could shoe-horn in a second occurrence.  As it turns out, it’s only in the song once, and I certainly don’t regret the lack of a repeated refrain.  It’s one of my favourite arrangements on the album, and I love the way every part evolves throughout the song’s passage. (more…)

          Molehills musings 3: Ruth

          In part three of our reflections on recording the Molehills out of Mountains album, here is our drumming artist, or our artistic drummer, Ruth.

          Molehills out of Mountains, well where do I start?  Having chipped away at it in one form or other most days for a long time, part of me is still coming around to the idea of it actually being complete. Well it is and I’m really proud of this album and feel very fortunate to have been part of the journey we have taken to make it.  As a whole piece of work it is very considered, methodical and thorough with little risk taking activity going on.  By risks I mean that few parts have made the cut without long and painstaking discussions and very little has been left to chance.  I think to a large extent this reflects the types of people we are and our desire do the songs justice both for ourselves and for those who have supported us for many years.

          At times, I found the recording and mixing process very challenging and frustrating, but when holding the finished product in my hands, I feel massively rewarded for our efforts.  I often think about the compromise involved in working alongside five plus people in order to produce something this important and time consuming.  On occasions, I’ve felt like pulling my hair out, especially when trying to convince others of the merit of my ideas.  As a contrast, however, the feeling of excitement when someone has offered up an amazing idea that, given all the time in the world, would never had entered my head is something not to be taken for granted.  If you, as a band, are able to survive these heated debates and remain reasonably calm throughout the process you will almost inevitably end up with something so special that it’s hard to imagine one person alone could have conceived it.

          Each member of Wilful Missing really does bring something special to the band and Molehills out of Mountains has certainly not been deprived of these talents.  Firstly and perhaps most importantly for me are Sam Kipling’s lyrics. I am truly in awe of anyone who is able to write a song, especially when the lyrics make your eyes water or give you an overwhelming urge to punch the air with joy – Sam is no exception to this.  He is able to capture the darkest corners of your brain and celebrate some of the best moments in life and all in just a few succinct and poetic lines.  This is a huge reason I love being part of Wilful Missing and for me one of the two vital ingredients that make up both the band and this album.  The other is the spine tingling sound of Sam K, Sam L and Albert’s vocal harmonies that in turn make what can only be described as a fucking excellent noise.  So imagine when these two things occur at once, well they do on this album and it really is magical.

          I would describe our album as a grower, one that doesn’t perhaps smack you in the face but one I think I may never grow tired of.  Although at times individual songs may reference ideas from or remind me of other bands, I wouldn’t say as a whole package we sound like anyone in particular.  This could be largely down to the fact that we as individuals are divided in many of our influences and tastes in other music, but could also be because some of the songs have been through so many different incarnations that when they are finally considered finished they have a sound of their own.

          The stand out tracks for me on this album are ‘Constitution Failed‘, ‘London Road‘ and ‘Powerful Pill‘.

          Constitution Failed‘ for its thought provoking lyrics, its subtle but brilliant rhythm section part (someone re-size my head) and its larger than life chorus that provides such a great dynamic to the soft verses and instrumental sections. (more…)

            Molehills musings 2: Sam Lawrence

            In this series of posts, we are sharing our own personal thoughts on our Molehills out of Mountains album.  After Sam Kipling last week, this week here are  Sam Lawrence’s reflections on the album.

            This album has been forever in the making, or it certainly feels like it. It might not be perfect but it’s pretty good and certainly the best body of work I have ever recorded.  I think it’s unusual in this day and age in that the quality is consistent and it exists as a coherent body of work – there is no filler and I find it hard to pick a stand out track, though a few feel like they have some particular magic for me.  There is a depth to these recordings – dig deeply and at times there is interplay between up to 5 stringed instruments – complimentary weaving not competitive wanking.  It’s clear at least to me that every detail of the arrangements has been picked up delicately, held to the light, turned this way and that way and then placed carefully down on a clean, brushed, purple, well-lit velvet cushion.  Or instead chucked heartlessly into the bin to remain forever in dirty musical landfill…  There might be flaws here and there but I don’t believe that any detract in a overwhelming way.  Over-polished music sucks anyway, doesn’t it? Which is not to say that I think that everyone will like it.  I don’t.

            I am listening to this album on vinyl – basically this means that according to my lights I have “made it” . . . We have a “record out” and a publishing deal, and a worldwide distribution deal.  Funny how the industry has changed, we are of course totally skint and largely unknown too . . . The recordings sound soooo much warmer on vinyl than CD.  I have a funny feeling in my bones that this review? retrospective? recounting? response? will take pretty much exactly the same amount of time to write as the LP takes to play through . . .

            Molehills Out Of Mountains opens with the track

            Cry For The City

            Perhaps the intro is an ill-judged fleet-foxes-in-a-cave moment but we like it so who cares. The instrumental tune at the end of the song is called “The Cobblestones Jig” and is played on harmonising mandolin/electric guitar in the style of Thin Lizzy, which is a sound you won’t hear from many beat combos of the present day.  I don’t think that we are a miserable band by the way – though I can understand if you do – a thoughtful song like this ends on an up, lyrically and musically.  I’m not going to try and explain these songs though (and I didn’t write them anyway) – I believe now that that is always a mistake.  If there is meaning and feeling in a song, then the listener will find their own.  It’s pretty much irrelevant if it coincides or not with the meaning invested into the song by the writer.

            Don’t Be Scared 48

            Some people have picked this as a potential single, and a particularly strong song. I am going to have to be contrary and say that it’s one of my least favourites. I do think the middle 8 (chorus?) is super though. Maybe if I sang more in tune? This seems like a good point to mention that at no point on this record have we resorted to autotune on the vocals – I think that if we had, Albert would have been waiting down a dark alley with a sock full of wet sand. Oh I do like the outro of this song very much – especially my bouzouki. Ruth sings angelically on the outro and I’m sure she’ll be VERY glad to have me point that out… (more…)

              Molehills musings 1: Sam Kipling

              Over the next few weeks we will be sharing our own thoughts on our Molehills out of Mountains album. Starting this week, here’s Sam Kipling’s angle. Feel free to leave a comment below.

              I’m extremely proud of Molehills out of Mountains as it’s the end product of a long and challenging, but ultimately rewarding, journey.  Made almost entirely at home (apart from a few drum-tracks recorded at Stonegate Studio in Bentham), using our own equipment, our own ears and our own time; we’ve had to learn how to do stuff along the way.  Struggling to keep in perspective what’s good or bad, right or wrong, when immersed from head to toe in every performance of every instrument on every song.  Every hit, every strum, every bum note, skipped beat or repeated take.  At times I felt like giving up – or at least starting from scratch.  Thousands of takes were binned.  Two entire songs were even ditched.  Yet what’s left is a succinct but accurate portrait of Wilful Missing in 2011.  A memento of a group of good friends and talented musicians so profoundly greater than the sum of its parts that I can’t believe I’m part of it.

              My favourite lyric is “My road to ruin, My oldest friend” from ‘Cry for the City’.

              The arrangement of ‘Powerful Pill‘ (especially the rhythm section) is just brilliant, and a testament to the chaotic process of idea unravelling which produced it.

              The keys solo on ‘London Road‘ brings a huge smile to my face always.

              And the staggering depth and quality of instrumentation and performance by Sam Lawrence on virtually every song, firmly stitches each and every idea into a coherent whole.  It’s been a long time in the making, but Molehills out of Mountains is finally here…

              Next week, Sam Lawrence will be giving his thoughts on the album.

                Molehills out of Mountains full release and giveaway

                Molehills out of mountains vinyl, CD, t-shirt and badge set

                Our album, Molehills out of Mountains, is now finally available across a range of digital stores, and the initial reviews have been pretty encouraging.    As if this in itself isn’t exciting enough, we are also giving away a special album bundle.  More on that towards the bottom of the page.  We have also got a brand new promo video for the album:

                The video you have (hopefully) just watched here is hosted on Vimeo, but if you are more into Youtube, you will also find it there.  In fact, the entire Molehills out of Mountains album is (in one form or another) in this Youtube playlist.  If you want to add a comment on, and/or share, your favourite song from the album, please do.  We’ve also got 3 more full song videos in the pipeline.  More news on those in the coming weeks.

                Full digital release of album

                Anyway… back to this week’s album release. Molehills out of Mountains has been available directly from us, as well as from Crash Records and Jumbo Records in Leeds for several weeks, but now it has a wider release.  The album is now on the following digital stores.  Simply click any one of these to be taken straight to our album:

                The album is probably on other digital stores too, so if you see it anywhere else, please use the comments section at the bottom of this page to let us know where you have seen it for sale. You can also now stream the album on Spotify.

                Album reviews

                So far, we’ve seen five reviews of Molehills out of Mountains, and each one has had good things to say about it, and there have been some interesting observations.  We’ve included quotes from all five reviews on the What People Say page of our website.  Here is just one excerpt, from the Leeds Music Scene review:

                “The carefully crafted and intricately arranged album is astonishingly good…An all round winner and an album I can tell I’ll return to when I’m in need of some perspective.”

                Album giveaway

                Now, as mentioned at the top, to celebrate the widescale digital release of Molehills out of Mountains, we are giving away a signed vinyl copy of the album, including the full CD, a t-shirt and a badge set.

                Molehills out of mountains vinyl, CD, t-shirt and badge set

                (more…)

                  Molehills out of Mountains album out now

                  Yes, our album Molehills out of Mountains is indeed finally out, and you can buy it here. Initially it only has limited availability, with its wider release due in January 2012.  We wanted to split its release into two: one special early release for our existing friends and fans; and then to the wider public via such outlets as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. This phased release is the best way we could think of to say ‘thank you’ for all your support. Making the album really wouldn’t have been possible without you.

                  Molehills out of Mountains vinyl inner

                  The album is available in 3 formats (CD, vinyl and download – the inside of the vinyl art is shown above) and has been available for a week now.  If you’ve got it already, do get in touch and let us know your thoughts via Twitter, Facebook, or by email via this website.  It’s always good to hear what you think. By the way, if you Tweet about us, your Tweet will appear on the What people say page of this site.

                  A special ‘thank you’ goes to all who were able to attend the fantastic launch gig last Saturday at the New Beehive in Bradford. It was an astonishing turn out and great to see so many friendly faces. We were lucky enough to be supported by two very talented acts: The Stalks, featuring our very own Rhys Kelly, and the inimitable Neil McSweeney. If you like what you heard, click on the links and listen to their stuff.  Neil, in case you didn’t know, is the writer of ‘London Road‘, one of the songs on our album.  We decided to play the whole album from start to finish at the launch gig, so there were airings of songs which we’ve rarely played before.  It seems a little unnecessary to include our setlist, but for the sake of completeness (because we usually do so) our setlist is at the bottom of this page.

                  Wilful Missing t-shirt

                  With the help of our unstoppable in-house artist, Ruth Viqueira, we also now have a small, but perfectly formed, range of merchandise.  This includes organic/carbon-neutral t-shirts featuring a unique design incorporating elements of the art from both our Vast Atlantic EP and Molehills out of Mountains album.

                  We also have badge-sets featuring the iconic ‘bear in the boat’ from Vast Atlantic. If you’re still looking for Christmas present ideas, have a browse at our new online merchandise store. We’re also offering a Deluxe Vinyl Bundle of Molehills out of Mountainsfor £25, which includes:

                  • personally signed copy of the album on 180g vinyl
                  • t-shirt (in your chosen size)
                  • badge set
                  • CD version of the album

                  This is available along with the regular CD, vinyl and download versions of the album on our online music store.

                  (more…)

                    The new website

                    As you might have noticed, if you have been here before, our website has had a makeover. A big thanks goes to Ben McKenna of local digital media company Totaal for doing the structural design-work for this. It should be fairly intuitive to use, so we won’t bore you with a walk-through of all its features. As you would expect, you can listen, buy, watch, read and connect with us via the new site.

                    The most exciting thing for us is the last of those. We want to see your content on our website, as well as our own. If you Tweet about us, your Tweet will appear on the What people say  page. If you have any photos of us on Flickr, these can be added to our Flickr Group and these photos will then appear in the slideshow on the Your photos page of the site.  We have also included a selection of live videos on our site too, so if you ever put a live Wilful Missing video on Youtube, you might then find that this ends up on our new website too.

                    We hope to continue to add new features to the website.  If you have any ideas of what we could do, or if you have any questions or comments on our new website, please do get in touch.