So you may have read my previous blog post ‘My “SPECIAL” Days With Neville Staple! (Pt. 1)’ – my story of working and recording with the Ska legend himself. If so then you would already know about ‘Day 1’s’ antics! Here’s what happened next…
DAY 2 – Recording Day
My alarm was ringing at 8am on the 11th April and I was feeling nervous for the day ahead – recording with the Original Rude Boy! What was the worst that could happen? He could decide that instead he hates my songs and leaves. No, I’m sure that won’t happen. Tea at this point is needed.
We were at The Premises Studios by 10am, I grabbed myself the usual sausage sandwich and walked my 2-tone, checkerboard Vans up to Studio A. Mr Ollie E (my piano playaaa), Uno-Dos-Tres Andres (my drummer) and the wonderful Dave Swift were already there setting up. By 12pm we were sound checked and ready to record a new track of mine ‘Told Me To Go Home’, and soon enough Christine arrived with Neville – the BIRTHDAY BOY! All together we jammed to the song, this was the first time Neville had heard ‘Told Me To Go Home’ so we went through it a few times together. Then Neville started throwing in ideas to improve the song, he is the King of Ska after all. I was more than happy to take on board ideas and suggestions. The thing is, Ska hasn’t been my life, it’s something that I’ve grown to love and it has only recently inspired me in my writing. So for somebody like Neville to play around with my songs and apply his expertise on the genre was amazing. I mean I basically had a Ska masterclass from the ultimate Ska pro.
Neville and Christine had written some verses to ‘Ireland’ and ‘Told Me To Go Home’ so we spent some time recording those first. When Neville came out of the booth we said, “Nev. If we play the track do you think you could toast on the track and do your thing?” ‘Toasting’ is talking or lyrical chanting over rhythms. Kinda like rapping but nicer. But toasting became popular in Jamaica around the 60’s/70’s and is popular in Ska and Reggae. So Neville made his way back into the booth. I don’t know whether any of you have seen videos of when Neville started in The Specials, but he was a nut-nut. Running around the stage without stopping, climbing up the ropes on the side of the stage (click here to see what I mean), so obviously that amount of nutter-ness is gonna take a toll on your body when you get older like it unfortunately has done for Neville. HOWEVER, when we asked Neville to toast on my tracks and just do what comes naturally, OMG it went OFF. I witnessed him become a youngster again. He wasn’t climbing up the walls but he did toast the shit out of my EP. He was Rude Boy and it was AMAZING. We all cheered in the mixing room. That’s the magic of music. I for one cannot wait to hear it back.
Once we finished the tracks we did some interviews with Rechord Productions. I was sat in the middle of a Dave Swift and Neville Staple sofa sandwich. Me, Dave and Neville got chatting about the late and great trombone player Rico Rodriguez. Sadly I never got to see him live, however Rico was a good friend of Neville as he too played with The Specials, plus Dave knew Rico pretty well since he spent years performing and recording with Jools Holland. I LOVE the trombone, it’s my favourite horn and it’s Neville’s favourite too. The trombone was also Dave Swift’s first instrument, before he learnt to play bass. So it was lovely to hear stories about Rico from 2 people who knew him well.
Back when I wrote this EP, if you had told me that one day I’d be recording it with an original member of The Specials, and a bass player who I’ve listened to and watched for years on Jools Holland’s shows (how I was originally introduced to Ska), I would have said, ‘Shutuuuuup…’ (in the Essex accent). So when the interviewer asks Dave and Neville questions about why they got on board with my music and they’re giving such supportive, encouraging and complimentary answers, it’s quite overwhelming. In an industry that’s now overrun by TV talent contests, social media dependance and record labels that are scared to take a chance on something different, to have 2 true legends supporting you is very reassuring. Neville’s words to me were, “I hope you take off like a jet plane.” That’s a moment I will never forget.
To finish off the day, my boys and I did our special rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for Neville. We sure know how to play ‘Happy Birthday’. A big finish end to a lovely day.
Keep an eye out for my new Ska/Reggae EP featuring Neville Staple and Dave Swift.