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Our album, Welcome To The Oast House, was recorded over two years at Chris’ studio in Crowborough, East Sussex. Chris built the studio about 7 years ago after he came into a small sum of money, which he fortunately put to good use! It is a “proper” old fashioned studio, with control room, a seperate drum room as well as a live chamber for vocals and guitars. The studio has a ton of vintage gear: from Marshall & Fender amps to valve microphones and compressors as well as a large mixing desk. The only concession to modern recording techniques is that the final destination of the recordings is a hard disc recorder rather than a reel to reel tape machine.
Anyway, Chris had already recorded his KINKY MACHINE CD in there and I’d popped in from time to time to do the backing vocals for him. In due course we started playing a few local gigs together, sometimes as a duo and sometimes with a larger band. The idea was to record a few demos of my songs at his place, mainly so we could remember them too! So, one cold November night in 2010, we started to record the songs that would eventually become the album WELCOME TO THE OAST HOUSE.
The first session produced four songs, just acoustic guitars with one vocal on each. We drank beers, recorded and laughed our heads off – we were having a ball! This one-off session turned into weekly get togethers where we’d add more parts: Backing vocals, more guitars, a solo here, a lick there. We’d meet up most weeks and just carried on working. Before too long our set of four demos became something more tangible. I started writing new songs which we’d then start towork on straight away. As we got into it we had harmonicas, shakers, tambouries, strings from an old synth and all manners of guitars recorded. After about one year we had a basic set of about nine songs laid down.
To embellish the songs a bit more we got Iain Rae in to play piano on a couple of tracks - BLUE TURNS TO RED & LIMITS OF THE TRUTH. On drums we got Pablo Videla to play on most of the songs, and true pro that he is he did his session in one day! By this time after one and a half years we were getting close to having a finished set of songs! Truth be told, I did get very nervous. All the tracks were on hard disc, unmixed, what if the hard disc crashed? It was time to start mixing. Once again we got together every week for about five months and worked over each of the nine tracks. We’d clean up the takes, erased a few bum notes, added more vocals if needed, added bass guitar to all tracks and mixed them at the same time. Around March 2012 we were getting there. We mastered our mixes down to one disc and were nearly there.
The next step was the final master which would then be the final stage before cutting and pressing the vinyl. We found Andy Jackson, Pink Floyd’s long time engineer, who runs a valve / analogue mastering studio in Hertfordshire. He took our nice mixes and got them ready for the cut. The sound was superb and after one rejected cut (of which we have 5 test pressings) we finally got the cut we wanted. The vinyl sounded great, nice and clear with plenty of power. All the vocals and instruments sounded how we heard and recorded them in the studio. I found a designer in America who produced the sleeve and finally we had the package we had waited for for two years. THE DUKES OF KENT “WELCOME TO THE OAST HOUSE” was in our hands on vinyl, and that feels great.
The album has only been out for a short while but sales as well as feedback AND reviews have been nothing short of amazing. We truly enjoyed making the album, although had we known in advance how much work it was going to be, we might never have done it!!! I’m glad we did and hope that our album will continue to bring enjoyment.