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Teenage Fanclub on the making of new album Here

09 September 2016, 14:00

Norman Blake, of Teenage Fanclub, writes about the three years, four studios and four countries behind their new album Here.

We always like to leave Glasgow when we’re making a new album.

We recorded our Thirteen record there and although we were pretty much happy with the way it turned out, the process was a painful one. We recorded around forty fragmentary songs over the course of three months and spent the next six editing those down to the final thirteen songs that appear on the album. The experience left a bad taste and it’s the last album that we recorded in our home city.

A photo posted by @normanblake on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:50am PDT

The initial recording for our new record Here took place in Provence. Raymond found Vega Studio after some serious internet searching. They have an incredible vintage EMI desk. One of only three still in existence. We were told that this one that had been used to record two Rolling Stones albums, which may not be true, but we’d like to think it is. Manfred, the studio’s owner, bought it in the early 80’s when analogue equipment became unfashionable and was being replaced by digital gear. He told us that he paid the equivalent of a few thousand Euros for it. It’s now worth at least one hundred thousand.

A photo posted by @normanblake on Mar 13, 2013 at 3:52am PDT

We normally start by recording the backing music for our songs, recording the vocals at a later date. We spent three weeks at Vega and completed pretty much all of the music in that time. We worked from 10am and would finish around 8pm and then sit down to a meal which was prepared by a local musician/chef who put curry powder in his salad. We would, of course, also crack open the wine. We strongly believe that your working environment will influence what ends up going to tape and so there’s definitely a bit of Provence in there.

Although none of the music was recorded in Glasgow, we were happy to put down our vocals there. Raymond has some nice recording equipment and we were very quickly able to record the lead vocals and harmonies at his place. We probably spent two weeks doing that, which was spread over a couple of months. We’d take turns putting down our lead vocals. Because we write our lyrics while doing this, it’s inevitable that we end up writing about similar things as you can’t help but pick up on what the others are writing about.

A photo posted by @normanblake on Mar 26, 2013 at 9:41am PDT

Some additional harmonies were recorded by me in a hotel room in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I was out there playing a show with some friends. I emailed those to Raymond and he dropped them into the song the same day.

Our last port of call for this record was Clouds Hill Recordings in Hamburg, where we did the mix. Clouds Hill is another great studio with an impressive list of vintage equipment.

Hamburg is one of our favourite cities and we’ve spent many a late night on the Reeperbahn drinking with friends after our show. It’s changed a lot since we first went there in 1990. It’s been somewhat gentrified, but you can still turn a corner in St Pauli and see someone jacking up in a doorway.

I suppose I should give Abbey Road a quick mention. We’ve had pretty much all of our albums mastered there. A lot of the gear there was designed and built for the Beatles. Some of the eq's are still in use in the mastering suite.

A photo posted by @normanblake on May 11, 2016 at 12:52pm PDT

That’s pretty much the story of this album. Three years, four studios and four countries. It’s maybe somewhat ironic that we ended up calling it Here.

Here is out today via PeMa. Teenage Fanclub are touring the UK & USA throughout the rest of the year – including a Rough Trade instore on Monday 12th September.
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