Since the last Field Music tour, David Brewis aka School of Language been busy working with lots of other artists. He produced the Maximo Park album, he got a "north east supergroup" together for Eleanor Friedberger to tour the UK with, and he's been jamming with Bernard Butler. As part of the week-long School of Language takeover, he gave us a sneak peak of his diary from last year...
For me the best way to avoid crippling writer’s block or general feelings of doom is to stay busy between records. Even if an extra-curricular project doesn’t feed into one of our own records directly, it keeps the creative juices flowing. I may have gone a little overboard in 2013 and by the time the School of Language tour is over I’ll be knackered but it’s been a lot of fun. I don’t usually write anything in my diary if I’m just going in to work on my own so there’s no mention of School of Language recording or any of the remixes I’ve done this year. For those things, you’ll have to use your imagination.
Week beginning 27th May...
Some of the year was taken up with friends coming into the studio to do little bits of recording with us. Regular Field Music cohort Kev Dosdale came in a couple of times to record vocals and saxophones for his own Razmataz Lorry Excitement tunes. David “Hyde” Hyde and Neil “Beast” Bassett have also been in a couple of times to finesse their upcoming second album. This has less to do with my skills as an engineer or the cosy, vibrant atmosphere at our studio and a lot to do with the fact that our piano is in tune.
“Regular Thurs Practices” refers to the start of writing and rehearsing sessions for our score for the pioneering 1929 documentary Drifters. More on that later. “FBS” stands for Frozen By Sight, the collaboration between my brother and Paul Smith. They wrote songs around some of Paul’s travel writings, which Peter arranged for a 10 piece band (including string quartet, upright bass and marimba) for a one-off performance in June as part of the Festival of the North East.
I also read the electricity meter at the studio and gave blood. Wild times.
Week beginning 3rd June...
A busy fortnight then - a rescheduled Frozen By Sight rehearsal followed by three days in the studio with Rivals, Ross Millard’s post-Futureheads rock trio. The meeting on Tuesday morning was with writers’ development organisation New Writing North to talk about putting together music for the Gordon Burn Prize event in October as part of Durham Book Festival.
On Friday afternoon the studio was fairly packed - the one and only practice for our improv-rock supergroup with Bernard Butler, Jackie McKeown (both now of Trans), FM bassist extraordinaire Andrew Lowther and Warm Digits to get ready for our one and only show at Frankie & The Heartstrings shop that evening. This was the first time most of us had met, let alone played together. Notwithstanding Andy Hodson’s idea that 160bpm is slow and Bernard Butler’s unspoken determination to sabotage any attempt at adhering to a setlist, it went quite well.
Week beginning 30th September...
Starting the week with a trip to see my surrogate dad, Marc Riley! We’d started making a record with Chris “Pea Sea” Rollen way back in 2011 but for one reason or another the record wasn’t finished and released until this year. We played a couple of shows together back in May and Chris made another trip across from his home in Berlin for this session and to show off his little baby boy around the Longtown/Gretna border.
Then off to Iberia for the second stint of touring with Eleanor Friedberger. This was also a Marc Riley production. Eleanor phoned Marc to ask about potential bands to back her up when she came to the UK and he suggested me. Thanks Marc! So I rounded up some of my favourite north-east musicians and we became the Eleanor Friedberger band. I love both of her records and she was good fun to work and play with (and both tours were very short) so all boxes were ticked for me.
You might also be able to see a lot of bleeding through from the previous week. On Friday 27th we gave the debut performance of our Drifters score at Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival. Being so close to a giant screen showing a rickety boat out at sea induced more nausea than we’d anticipated and the venue’s DVD player ran a little bit slow so catching our cues was tricky, but it was great to go and play along to this wonderful film and try to echo its momentum with some rock riffing. It was also great to reunite the original Field Music three-piece line up of me, Peter and Andy Moore. Now we just need to think of some new schemes.
Old Fears is out now via Memphis Industries.
School Of Language have the following shows booked:
April 7th – Newcastle, The Cluny
April 10th – Paris, Point Ephemere
April 22th – Bristol, Exchange
April 23th – London, The Lexington
April 25th – Glasgow, Broadcast
April 26th – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
April 28th – Manchester, Deaf Institute