Recording Reminiscences by Aaron Hurley & Keith Wallace
Aaron: This features the first guitar recorded for the EP by James
Rider in Belfast. It's appropriate that some howling appears on this
one, my impression of a wolf cub lost in the wilderness.
Keith: I caught the train to Belfast after a Driftwood Manor gig in
Dublin to visit James in what was the first time in a few years. After
a few days of catching up, charity shop trawling, visiting colourful
public houses and seeing Daniel Johnston play live, I set up James'
fancy microphone and from the comfort of his sitting room he
improvised for about twenty minutes on his acoustic guitar, playing a
bunch of two to three minute pieces which I would take back to Galway
with me and turn into some Cubs recordings by having other Cubs play
on them. Aaron, James and I are the founder members of the
band/project/combo known as Cubs and from the very first time they
ever played a note together in a windswept conservatory on the west
coast of Ireland in 2005 with me at the controls, they have been
telepathic musical collaborators. Geography has divided them for years
now so I set about bringing them together again, reuniting the lost
wolf cubs that Aaron speaks of above. This is the first piece that
James played that evening so its fitting at it is the opening track on
the EP, which incidentally gets it name from his address, where this
EP took its first breaths.
2. "Lowering of Ropes"
Aaron: Eddie Keenan sings and plays bouzouki on this one. It's
brilliant to have him make his Cubs debut as I'm a big Driftwood Manor
fan. Cecilia Danell debuts her voice as a Cub on this also.
Keith: Eddie had been recording his "Dominican Black Abbey"
at my house over the space of a few months and during some downtime he knocked
out three lovely bouzouki pieces which suited Cubs right down to the ground,
one of which makes up this song. He then recorded the mantric-vocal which Cecilia
later sang along with and to which she added a verse of her own which she wrote
while on an artists retreat in Monaghan, so its fits in well with the border/cross-border
nature of Cubs. I reversed Aaron's mandolin overdub as it seemed to work better that way
in a Syd Barrett style: Cubs often do things backwards.
Aaron: Paul O'Reilly sings and speaks on this one. Again it started
with James recording the guitar in Belfast. I usually get the job of
putting down the glitchy sounds using guitar effects with a stringed
instrument, which is fun as long I don't try to play too many notes.
Keith: A Duet between Aaron and James. Paul popped over to record his
vocal on this track and when he had completed his two overdubs in a
matter of minutes he asked "have you anything weird I can read from?"
I did. Eddie had lent me a curious book on the supernatural by Colin
Wilson called "Mysteries", so Paul chose a passage from that which fit
the music and mood of the song perfectly. More telepathy. I make my
debut appearance on bodhran on this track, Eddie had left it behind
after a Driftwood session so I reckoned I could tap something out on
Aaron: This one had the stink of the beach about it and I just made it
worse. We don't seem to have too many lyrics typically for Cubs songs.
The two lines repeated here came upon first listening and have a
similar intention to the instruments, a certain mood with an open
Keith: Aaron came over one Sunday afternoon when he was up from Cork
with his suitcase full of guitar pedals, a mandolin, melodica,
harmonica, and a couple of guitars and he put down a load of overdubs
on the various guitar tracks James had played, and on couple of
Eddie's bouzouki tracks too. This one suggested a campfire so Aaron
set about creating the mood of one. There was a lot of building work
going on in the backyard below my room/studio so that's me closing the
window-latch that opens the track (although Cubs do favour the
capturing of happy accidents and found sounds). Cecilia later added
her hushed vocals, singing along with Aaron on this seaside/campsite
shanty while I added some Augustus Pablo-type dubby effects to the
melodica. Spooky stuff.
5. "Passages From A Drunken Notebook"
Aaron: That melodica and the singing overdub were done while under the
influence of some Italian wine.
Keith: Eddie had put down this sweet bouzouki part so I went to visit
Aaron in Cork with my recording studio in my bag during an Irish
heatwave. One fine evening we were having a few refreshing drinks with
the door to the garden wide open with the sound of birds chirping and
dogs barking drifting in while we listened to grunge classics to get
us in the mood for recording some avant-folk. If you listen carefully
at the end you can hear Eddie confessing "I think I'm just getting
drunk", which came from the take just before he nailed his part which
is the basis of the song. Back in Galway Eddie added a beautifully
warm tremelo electric guitar part via Aarons purple Telecaster and
that was the icing on the song. Raise a glass for this song!
6. "Sun Plots"
Aaron: The title "Sun Plots" came from listening to the track on the
bus from Cork and the sun was blinking in and out of sight because of
the trees passing by. I was looking at some maths book as well and
then imagined a plot of the disappearance and reappearance of the sun.
The song gave off some sort of amber vibe.
Keith: On that Sunday afternoon Aaron set up his pedal chain and a
microphone and recorded two tracks of lightly phasered and delayed
acoustic guitar over what James had played to give it some kinda of
cosmic-country effect. An amber vibe indeed.
7. "When Skies Split Open"
Aaron: It's great to have new people singing for Cubs, Cecilia does a
beautiful job on this one. I found the guitar part while making room
on my eight track. It was marked 'Cubs8' so I must have intended it
for Cubs at some point but I don't remember recording it, only that it
was done in Sheffield.
Keith: I stuck the microphone out the window one rainy night to record
the hiss and fizz of cars driving through puddles on Dominick Street
and I layered this under Aarons guitar part which I also ran backward
in places, a favourite trick of mine. I also added some cymbal
splashes for punctuation and extra mood/colour and when she got back
from Monaghan, Cecilia added her vocals. When Aaron mentioned that
this song's guitar part was recorded in Sheffield I remembered us
recording some fireworks with a microphone out his attic window when I
visited him there around Halloween so these have made their way onto
that song too, adding extra percussion.
Aaron: The guitar reminded me of a train journey, where you are
slightly hungover and moving in and out of consciousness. That gave me
the idea for the overdubs, guitar with slide and the flicking of a
Keith: Another one from the Sunday afternoon session, with Aaron
adding suitable woozy guitar and astral mandolin to this
hallucinatory, hazey hymn from Jim.
9. "The Last Day of Spring"
Aaron: This has a journey feel about it too (not the "Don't Stop
Believing" feeling). The passing of one season into the next. I
arrived into Keith's house in the middle of Galway and the guitar was
the first overdub to be put down. It has that shaking of the cobwebs
feel. Kind of gossamer but dirty.
Keith: This was the first Cubs contribution from Eddie, layering three
interlocking bouzouki parts together on the last day of Spring. Aaron
added some psychedelic guitar washes and swells and I tied it all
together with some bodhran. A cracking tune!
10. "With candles we walk"
Aaron: I imagined a scene late at night, with people in pyjamas and
beaten-up runners walking down to sea with candles in their hands.
James had recorded the guitar in Belfast. The singing was recorded in
Keith's place as well. I normally sing overdubs standing up but for
this I sat down and stared at the wooden floor for no apparent reason.
Keith: A slightly scary, ritualistic and ceremonial song. I added
sugar sachet shaker percussion in Cork. An eerie lament and the
perfect way to finish the EP.