The Wolf was the title track of my first proper album, in 2004. It was the most ambitious recording I’d tried then, and has always been one of my favourite recordings.
So why tinker with it again in 2015?
Just ten years of learning about recording, and a rapid intake of recording knowledge in the last few years from Daniel Davis and Gerry Callaghan as well as The Recording Revolution. I thought I could do it better.
The original was done in Cubase in 2003 and transferred to Dave Watson’s studio for editing and mastering. I took the original stems and brought them into Reaper this summer intending to slowly improve it. I kept the structure and most of the original stems, including the lovely violin by Alison Tunnicliffe. I only intended at first to replace the drums which were always a bit thin-sounding. I did that, then other parts stuck their hands up and said ‘me! me!’. I re-recorded the acoustic guitar and vocals, then drew a line and played with EQ, compression and FX with the rest of the original tracks. I replaced the synth strings and brass (the brass is at the end) with better sounds from the Kontak package.
The result is, I think, a subtle change, not a radical rework but an improvement. I hope you think so too.
What about the song?
I remember leaving the cinema in Nicolson St after watching Independence Day and humming the opening melody. I think it reminded me of a shampoo ad from the 60s. The way I worked then, and still do, the rest of it probably came together over a period of months, mostly just walking around and trying to remember when I got home. When I started thinking about a wolf, I went back to this image called Les Lupins by Maurice Sand, from Légendes Rustiques (1858) which I’d found genuinely creepy and disturbing as a young teenager. That gave me the first couple of lines to put to the melody I’d been nursing since the cinema. As the song began to demand a theme, I imagined the werewolves as artists, looking for inspiration (‘the moon’). The list verses (‘sleep has you’ etc) are all sources of inspiration. I know I went through several verbs – ‘caught’, ‘ claimed’ before I came up with ‘snared’ which really felt right.
It’s great to play this song live, it really gets energy going, although it does need a violinist, so we’ve rarely done it since Mary Robbs left the band. But that could change!
Live video from The Invisible Helpers https://youtu.be/d4svi4ILUN4
Free to download. Five surreal story-songs. Just let me send you an occasional email!