How do feel now that the album is ready for release?
For me itís been ready ever since I finished recording and mastering, some four months ago. However itís taken all of those past months to complete the cover artwork and even though release in Japan is October, Iím only now receiving copies to approve. So if you like, the real feeling is one of frustration! Iím now ready to go out and promote but apart from Japan, until we have a European release and we will, I along with all those interested in my work will just have to be patient. Remember, better late than never.
When you approach making a new album, is there a process that you go through?
Yes, to try and be that little bit different and with the same vocalist and writer each time, thatís the challenge!
How would you describe your new album?
On this album, for the first time, every vocal was live with piano so I had to learn all the lyrics of every song beforehand. We did 3 approx 3 hour sessions a day, mostly 1 song a day, 10-20 versions of each, sometimes 25. Recorded in my music room, no sound-proofing, linked by a very, very long cable to recording studio 50 yards from the house, giving the piano that extra open sound in a normal atmosphere.
The opening track (Take Your Foot Off My Toe) achieves something Iíve always wanted to do on record as opposed to live and that is rock without any drums and bass and yet be very rhythmic. My left hand plays the drums and bass throughout.
Strings and woodwind were recorded in a small church with very good acoustics. The musicians found it quite difficult and unusual not having a click-track or drum to keep time too. Two tracks had orchestration put on but in the end I found it sounded better with just voice and piano. The orchestration on one sounded too cheerful for lyric content.
Also for the first time I wanted to incorporate vocal harmonies, something I canít do but which my arranger could. I like the ELO/Queen element he gets, itís very effective plus they fit nicely with simple piano accompaniment. Trombone solo on track 1 (Take Your Foot Off My Toe) why? I did not want to use guitars so how do you get unusual instrument for solo? Not very rock & roll but it worked.
What can you tell me about the album title, A Scruff At Heart?
Itís often what I refer to myself as I donít always look my best but I feel comfortable in casual clothes. Dressing up and going out is always an effort plus the title is a very English expression.
What inspires you to write songs?
The pleasure and enjoyment I get out of it and the search for a good melody and interesting lyric, it, to my mind, justifies my whole working existence.
What can we expect from your next live performances?
If it all goes to plan and it rarely does, it will be with the grand piano used for all the new album plus I hope a string/woodwind quartet.