Silence – The Mugu Studios “Underdog” Demo – Part 1

In 1997 I came back to South Africa after a romantic misadventure that ended in a very broken heart. One gets over these things and along the way good things happen, usually because of the influence of good people.

Before 1998 I had played in a few bands and we’d had great fun but I had never really pushed hard at trying to do anything with my songs. This was the year that changed.

I need to give credit here to Philip West. He used to date my sister and we always got on like a burning house on tequila. It was Philip who kept urging me to record my songs. I eventually roped him in to help me select a shortlist of songs and then he sat in while I went through rough arrangements and practiced like a madman so that I could do the recording as cheaply as possible.

I had the good fortune to know Peter Auret who had built a studio in his parents’ garage and so I could afford the recording time. On the 5 of June 1998 I went through to Florida and sat down in Peter’s studio and who should be behind the controls but Riku Lätti. I love Riku’s “Me and Mr. Sane” albums (Speaking of which…) and so I was a little awestruck. Riku did a great job in helping me through the process and I’ll always be grateful to him and Peter for that day.

In the end I recorded 18 songs. I remember driving through to Centurion afterwards where Phil was working at Exclusive Books and we listened to the disc in the shop after he had closed up. I had never been so proud before and the response I got to the demo in the next few months gave me the confidence to get going again. Steve Savage and I had started playing a few gigs by then, under the name Underdog. This was so long ago our first website was on Geocities… 🙂

In April 1999 we renamed the band to Sharkbrother and started gigging at Tings and Times. Thanks to the support of Jaco van der Merwe we eventually played there more times than I can remember. Soon we would start playing at the Abelarde Sanction, but more on this later.

Here’s one of the songs off that demo. It’s called silence and it’s about knowing the truth and keeping quiet about it.

 

This song is featured (in full band version) on the second Sharkbrother album, Life Full of Wednesadays. You can purchase the album here.http://rhythmmusicstore.com/music/231/Sharkbrother/Life-Full-Of-Wednesdays

If you are interested in the first Sharkbrother album, Taj Mahala, which was SA Rock Digest Album of the Year 2000 you can purchase the album here http://rhythmmusicstore.com/music/214/Sharkbrother/Taj-Mahala

My current solo project, 88 Kilos of Sunshine is available as a free download at http://www.88kos.com or at http://www.reverbnation.com/88kilosofsunshine

It started as a joke

It all started when Nadine Hutton joked on twitter that she needed new music for gym. I responded that perhaps Olivia Newton-John’s 80’s “classic” Physical might make an interesting addition to her playlist. Always quick to reply,  Nadine responded with a dare. If I recorded it she’d listen to it.

It is worth ponting out that I’m a music slut. I don’t follow a specific genre and I manage to find something good in most songs (note: I said songs, not artists). My love for ABBA is nowhere near my love for Tindersticks but I love them, despite the “alternative thought police” efforts to sway me. However, this musical promiscuity fails with songs like Physical. It is an abysmal example of how cheap marketing titillation supersedes any kind of integrity. Newton-John was made into an example of the shallow 80’s pursuit of success through whatever means (Patrick Bateman would have it on his iPod no doubt).

But I like a challenge and a musical challenge even more. So the process started, looking for a way into this song which could, quite rightly, be considered a track beyond redemption. It proved to be quite a struggle and a week later I was begging Nadine for more time! The song just would not give in to arrangement, electric guitars, distortion, synths, big beats… they all fell by the wayside.

The breakthrough proved to be simplicity. Take it all away and turn the song into something plaintive, less demanding, more pleading. So the final recording is just voice and an acoustic guitar.

I sent the rough demo to Nadine and she approved, so I’m happy. And what more could you want than happiness. I also sent the demo to Nechama Brodie – and I’m still on cloud 9 after her comments. While you’re on the web, check out her site and her songs. I’m a big fan. She’s going to be featured on my upcoming album, singing Savannah, so get used to her voice. She’ll be a household name soon from her own songs.

So here are the two final versions. I recorded an additional one with a baritone vocal, mainly to satisfy Dori’s curiosity, but you can pick one as your favourite.

If you like these please check out my original songs. The cover songs always attract more attention which is sad, even if it’s understandable. The songs are available for free download at my website: www.88kos.com – you can download them all and make your own 88 Kilos of Sunshine cd. You might be asked to enter your e-mail address for some songs – please do, this adds to my mailing list and I guarantee you the address won’t be abused for spam.

One final note – I’ve always had a soft spot for demo recordings, so I still prefer the original demo recording… I worry that those who heard it will feel the same. I worry too much about these trivial things.

Finally, easiest way to get updates: Follow me on twitter – @88kos