Regular visitors to the website will be aware that I usually write a background story to an album upon its release.
This one is going to be slightly unusual as this project has been close to my heart for many many years.
I originally came up with the idea for a band album during the Heaven's Isle / Jabberwocky years but decided I needed to develop my studio craft and live craft in order to do any 'band' type of album justice.
Following the release of Heaven's Isle, Jabberwocky started to evolve and so the idea of the Mother's Ruin album kind of got put on the back burner. I did however continue to write pieces for it and start to formulate the idea for a band to support it.
I was living in North Devon at the time and started to write some pieces for the album. I was very pleased with the way the pieces were evolving and met a group of like-minded musicians who were very keen on the music I was writing.
However, as seemed to be the case with this album, it got off to a false start and the band never really got going. I continued to develop my writing and continued working on the album whilst working on The 3 Ages of Magick' and Hound of the Baskervilles' which were released in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
After the release of Hound I decided to revisit the music I had written for the Mother's Ruin album and after listening to it decided to scrap pretty much all of it bar a few basic song ideas. I then realised that I had this great album title and practically no material and so the great 're-write' began!
About a year after the release of 'Hound' I met a guitarist called David Mark Pearce through my long-time friend Mike Clarke. Dave joined the short-lived band Oliver Wakeman & Rachel' alongside the rhythm section of Dave Wagstaffe (Drums) and Tim Buchanan (Bass) who had performed on '3 Ages'.
This band produced one single The View from Here' and also performed live at the Classic Rock Society's Awards night in 2002.
Following the news that Rachel was pregnant and would be unable to perform live for some time, the band parted and Oliver, still with the services of Dave, Dave and Tim, refocussed on writing for Mother's Ruin.
By mid 2003, all the music had come together and Oliver was searching for a vocalist. On Dave Wagstaffe's recommendation Moon Kinnaird was brought in for the studio sessions. Moon had been in Dave Wagstaffe's band 'Landmarq' in the past and had also appeared on the Hound of the Baskervilles' album playing the part of Seldon.
In mid-2003 I set about the task of laying down the studio tracks with Karl Groom with whom I had worked previously on the Jabberwocky, 3 Ages and Hound albums. The mastering was carried out by Rob Aubrey who again was responsible for mastering pretty much all of my albums to date.
So there I was towards the end of 2003 with the finished master and I decided that 2004 would be the year to start trying to find a company that would show the same enthusiasm for the project that I had. I also decided to concentrate of putting a band together to start performing live following the split of the Oliver Wakeman and Rachel band.
Firstly I asked all the musicians who had performed on the album if they were available for rehearsals, unfortunately Moon was unable to commit himself to the live shows and so that left me in the position of trying to find a vocalist that could do the songs justice. So with a core line up of myself, the two Daves and Tim, we started rehearsing in order to get a feel for how the new material was going to work live. The initial impressions were very good and I continued with my search for a suitable record company and vocalist.
In the beginning of 2004, my wife Lisa and I decided to make a bit of a life change and moved out of the Devon area, where we had both lived for ten years and moved up-country to the Cotswolds. Rehearsals continued but unfortunately Tim's circumstances meant he was unable make a regular rehearsal schedule outside of Devon. Mike filled-in on bass for a few rehearsals to allow us to keep developing the material, but the permanent positions for vocalist, bassist and record company were still open.
In mid July, an opportunity to gig for the Classic Rock Society in September came up and the quest to complete the live line-up began in earnest. At a band meeting, Dave W mentioned that he had worked in the past with a bass player called Paul Brown in a band called Janison Edge and that he could give him a call. Yes please!' was the instantaneous reply.
Dave had also been made aware of a vocalist called Paul Manzi who lived in London and was looking to get back to his rock singing following a 'time-out' period away from singing. Would I like him to contact him as well? 'Yes please' was again the instantaneous reply!
The rehearsal a couple of weeks later will still rank as one of the best music days of my career so far. The two Pauls came along, extremely personable, well rehearsed and phenomenal players! Paul Manzi has the most amazing voice and the material really came alive when he started to sing.
Paul Brown meanwhile was solidly holding his own and not putting a note wrong. I commented to him afterwards that he had learnt all the music I had sent him really well and that hopefully all the complex notes and pointers I had written out for him had helped to which he replied: The notes never turned up, so I learned it all by ear.' This was exactly the sort of approach I needed from a bass player and, with a first class singer to supplement the already excellent two Daves, I finally had my band!
We continued rehearsing for the show, which was on the 18th September, alongside Erik Norlander and Lana Lane. The band continued to get better and better and the show went down extremely well with the band getting very positive reviews.
Anyway, back to the album. I had had a couple very promising leads throughout the summer and all was looking good for a release of the album towards the end of 2004 but I decided to hold off for a little while longer in order to get the band fully prepared and to learn more of the material from the album.
However in early December, nine months after our relocation, Lisa told me the fantastic news that she was pregnant. I was going to be a father! However, this also meant that I was going to have to spend a great deal of time looking after her and the baby, something I really wanted to do. The band were extremely excited and understanding about the impending addition to our family and rehearsals continued and a couple of further shows were planned, one of which was to be our first full-length show.
We started to rehearse some more of the new material and the full show went down really well. At this show I met a guy called Paul Baker from ARFM radio who suggested that a company in the US might be interested in hearing the record. A copy of the album was duly sent.
I then took a couple of months out to look after Lisa in the latter stages of pregnancy and on the 4th of August, very, very early in the morning Lisa went into labour. Eleven hours later our son, Arthur Joseph was born. I couldn't have been more proud!
In the meantime, emails from the company in the US were extremely enthusiastic. They had the same vision for the album that I had and so a deal was done for the release of the album in November 2005 through Progrock Records.
So there we have it, a condensed version of the Mother's Ruin history written with my baby son Arthur in my arms fast asleep!
Hopefully you will enjoy the album and feel that its been worth he wait. I really look forward to seeing you at the live shows!