What's going on?
The Boltons have been around since 2010, when I recorded my third album and needed a bunch of players for the launch gig.
Since then, these excellent musicians have come back out time and again to deliver adventurous, idiosyncratic, eclectic performances of deliciously indeterminate genre - folk, pop, call it whatever you like - always characterised by good will, high quality musicianship, and intense improvisational energy.
Now they're going the next step. They've signed up to work on an album with me... and it's going to be as much of an adventure as any of our gigs!
The new material for this recording has been brewing slowly... a bunch of original songs, some rarely-heard covers, and a couple of early tracks to be revisited.
FYI, my previous albums were recorded in 2003, 2007 and 2010.
See "A Bit of History" below.
Can you help?
Making an album doesn't come cheap!
Studios cost money to hire, engineers and producers need to be paid, musicians are always grateful to get something for their time and effort. And then the CDs have to be manufactured!
In the past I've simply gone ahead and started work on the albums without a real plan. Gone into debt, lived on brown rice, had help from friends, etc, in order to get the recordings done. The follies of youth!
This time around I'm trying to plan ahead. I'm reaching out to people who probably/possibly would buy the album if I'd already made it. People who have encouraged and supported me along the way. People who've enjoyed the earlier recordings... and who would most likely enjoy the next one too.
So... would you be able to pitch in, to help make this next recording happen?
See below for a rough budget of what this will cost, and see the list of Pledges over on the right... various ways you can get involved.
You can think of it as buying a copy of the album before it's made... so that it will get made!
It's also a great way of supporting some of the musicians and creative people in our community, who'll be working and playing on this album. They're the ones who make a project like this possible... and ALL the money raised goes to them!
A Bit of History
I've been writing songs since I was about 16, when got my first guitar. It took many long years before any of them turned out any good, but somehow I kept going. And, eventually, when they started shaping up a bit better, I decided it was time to record.
2003 - Acoustic Caravan
- Acoustic guitar, vocals and percussion.
- Recorded in three very busy weeks with Min Flipo and Peter Haydon, on Pete's home studio gear. Min and Pete worked like crazy, writing their harmonies, and taking care of the technical stuff, and we got it ready just in time for a gig.
2007 - When I Cross the River
- All kinds of instruments and sounds.
- Recorded/produced by Jeremy P Martin in his home studio. This one involved many musician friends contributing, and stretched out over a couple of years as things evolved. It really was a wild and fantastic journey into the unknown!
2010 - Dreaming and Dancing
- A select band of session players and musicians.
- Produced by Nick Charles, in Atlantis Studios. We brought in a variety of amazing players, who mostly didn't even know me or the material before they started. Took longer than we first thought, but was absolutely worth it!
2015... the new one
- Working with an established band.
- We've played a lot of songs together, and built up the musical connection between us all. We'll be going into the studio with the songs already solid... but we'll also stay open to experimenting and cutting loose. Nick Charles will be working with us, and the sound of the album will grow out of this stable core of instrumentation.
See below for more about the players...
Apart from me (playing acoustic guitar and singing) there'll be:
Peter Anderson - accordion, vocals
Emma Maloney - violin
Les Oldman - drums, percussion, vocals
Reave Maloney - double-bass
These people have all played in so many bands I can't list them here.
but I can list some of them here...
Some other very fine musicians - listed in the video at the start of this page - will also join in to add additional parts... electric guitar, viola, mandolin, extra vocals, and French horn. I'll add more info about them as the project progresses.
The album will be produced by Nick Charles, who produced my last recording "Dreaming and Dancing".
Nick is a highly accomplished and internationally acclaimed musician, who has heaps of studio experience both recording and producing. He knows what sounds good, and he's great to work with!
This project will consolidate and extend what we started with Dreaming and Dancing.
See the questions below if you don't know what a producer does.
What’s a Producer, and why do you need one?
The Producer is like a conductor. Keeping it all moving, working out which instruments to use on which songs, encouraging and guiding the musicians, making sure that the standard is always high, weaving the musical threads, and bringing it all together into a coherent and consistent whole.
Me… I write songs, play a bit of guitar, and sing. I'm not a producer.
Why don’t you just record at home, on your computer?
Lots of people do that these days.
Well, I’m not like those clever people. I’m not all that good at the techie things you need to know.
Also, to get really good sound, you need a room that has been set up to have the right acoustic properties, like studios have been. If you want great sound, you also need top quality microphones and stuff, which I don’t have. Studios have the best equipment, and people who really know how to use it.
More importantly though, going to a studio is a bit like going to the mountains or the ocean to check in with nature, or going to a church or a temple to get spiritual, going to a gallery to look at art, or going to the cinema to watch movies. A studio is a special place, entirely dedicated to music. The people who work in studios are people who have dedicated their lives to music.
Me and the musicians and the producer and the engineer… when we go in there, we’re entering a special zone. It’s not just an acoustically prepared room with expensive stuff in it.
For me, the studio is an exciting and inspiring place to be. Somewhere that takes my music to new levels. Somewhere I get to spend time with amazing musicians while they make my songs sound better than I ever could have imagined.
Much better than my lounge room!
Why do you even need to make a CD?
Why don’t you just have tracks on iTunes?
I understand that many people are getting rid of their CDs. Putting all their music on phones and devices and computers.
Maybe I’m just old fashioned. Ending up with nothing more than a bunch of files on my computer simply doesn’t satisfy my sense of having created a particular, connected body of work that represents a period of time in my life, a phase of my songwriting... and in this case, the amazing times I've been spending on stage with The Boltons.
Having a physical manifestation - literally, a record - of the process and the result is something that is satisfying for me. There's a powerful, physical symbolism in that. The world may be heading towards The Matrix - fully virtual - but physical objects that speak of their culture and time and of the people who made them remain deeply interesting and important to me.
Besides all that, at this stage it's still the case that most folk music DJs in community radio stations around Australia (and internationally) prefer to use CDs when they're putting their shows together. These are the people who will actually play my music on radio, so I'll pay attention to what they're wanting.
People who've played my music... like Jim and Esther at Whole Wheat Radio in Talkeetna, Alaska... or Steve Clarke on his Acoustic Planet show, FM 88 Radio in Erin, Ontario, Canada... or Pierre Gerard at Planete Indie on 100.1 FM in Belgium.
(BTW, huge thanks to David, Neesy, Phil, Ron and all the others at 3MDR up in the hills at Emerald for playing and supporting local music)
Why don’t you put the album out on vinyl… a real record, like the old days!
Sounds great in theory, but I’m pretty sure that most of my audience have not dusted off their turntables in a while.
If someone really wants the album on vinyl, it is possible to have one-off copies made, but that's quite expensive. And not all the tracks would fit. And the audio probably would need to be specially mastered. And there wouldn't be a nice cover.
The musicians will get paid?
I thought they’d do it because they love music.
Yes, the musicians will be paid. Not quite as much as they’re actually worth, but as much as I can afford, in order to recognise and honour their amazing abilities and creativity. Making music is their work, not just their hobby.
Here’s a rough guide to where the $7000 will go.
- $3000 - Studio hire / Sound Engineer
- $2000 - Producer
- $2000 - Musicians
This fund-raising target has been chosen to make sure that all the recording and studio work can be started and finished, without interruption, to keep the creative momentum happening.
Artwork and design
One of my oldest friends happens to be an excellent designer, and we collaborated to produce the cover for my last album. I’m truly delighted that he’s willing to work with me on this one also.
And after that, the creative part is finished!
Finally, the album needs to be manufactured. The audio files are taken from the studio to a place where the discs get 'pressed' and the covers gets printed. The discs get put in the covers, and they all get put in cardboard boxes ready for me to collect. Yay!
Whoa... that's too much money!
If this Kickstarter raises more than $7000, the extra will go towards the manufacturing (not included in the target above). That would be another $2000 or thereabouts, depending on how fancy I make the cover. The current plan is that I'll figure out a way to pay for the manufacturing myself, but if there's any surplus that will be a big help!
If the project raises a whole lot more than the target, then - after getting the CDs manufactured and buying a nice thank-you dinner for the musicians - I'd use whatever was spare to make a video of one or two of the new tracks to put up on YouTube.
ALL the money raised by this project will be going to pay the musicians, the studio engineer, and the producer... and if there's anything left over, it will go to the manufacturer and some creative person who makes videos.
A project like this helps these people stay alive and in business to keep doing what they do best - being creative and making music!
And I'll get another album finished, and will be very pleased :-)
Risks and challenges
Nothing ever goes quite to plan.
Which is why I am setting out on this project confident that I'll be working with the right people to tackle anything that comes along.
Nick Charles - the producer - has been recording and producing for many many years, as well as touring and performing constantly at gigs and festivals all over the world. He lives music. His work on my last album was absolutely top-quality. He is professional, dependable and conscientious, besides being a deep well of refined creative energy and an all-round gentleman!
The musicians - The Boltons - are thoroughly seasoned, real troupers, no doubt about it. They've kept the show going through thick and thin. They know how to play, they make up great parts, and they deliver the goods time after time. They're also really nice people to hang out with.
"You steer the bus, Tom, and we'll make sure the wheels don't fall off"
Dave McCluney - the studio engineer we'll be working with - has got a huge list of amazing albums under his belt, having worked with dozens, if not hundreds, of Australia's music legends over decades.
Oh, well, there's me.
If you know my work, you'll know that I've made three albums so far - which have scored some pretty decent reviews here in Australia as well as internationally - and that I'll push on through until there's another album finished. As good as we can possibly make it!
I hope you'll feel inspired to join us for this exciting project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)