Doves: How We Made The Last Broadcast

On Sunday July 26th, Doves took part in their second #TimsTwitterListeningParty this time for The Last Broadcast. The event was part of a weekend of events put on by Bluedot festival, the weekend the festival should have taken place at Jodrell Bank.

You can replay the listening party here in real time. Doves have kindly expanded upon some of their tweets to give us the definitive lowdown on how they made The Last Broadcast:

Andy Williams: The tricky second album? It ended up being our fastest to make (1 year I think..fast for us tortoises) and from what I remember it was mostly a fun record to make.


We recorded it in a few different studios around the UK. After Lost Souls which was recorded (with a few exceptions)
mostly in our studio in Cheetham Hill. This time it felt liberating to have the freedom and the budget to travel to different studios.


After Lost Souls came out and had done much better than we expected it to (including to our surprise touring around the world)
this gave us a lot of confidence as a band /songwriters
thinking we possibly had a potential future in this if we just applied ourselves. Although unspoken, we all naturally wanted to make more of an ‘up’ album.


Our record label, Heavenly Recordings offices were on Frith street, slap bang in the centre of Soho, London. From my perception their office seemed to be in constant party mode most of the time (but surprisingly) they would still be getting a lot of stuff done. Jeff Barrett, Martin Kelly, Robin Turner and Spence were genuine music lovers/obsessives and a good laugh to boot and probably more rock n roll than most of the bands on their label.


Jeff Barrett & co would invite music journalists over to go out for a few drinks then end up back at their offices then partied to the wee hours, and with the sun coming up (and some disco shenanigans) that is when they’d drop the album to the assembled journalists. I think we ended up with a few friends and fans through this process and we also ended up with some outstanding album reviews. Andy

Intro

We wanted to capture that out of your head, isolated feeling. Like a Haçienda night when you’ve done too much. Jez

A slow downed sample. We wanted a hypnotic intro to draw you into the record and hopefully into another world. Andy

Words

I have to admit I got a bit emotional hearing this one back for the first time in many years. Jez on lead vocals, me and Jimi on backing vocals.
Jez wrote pretty much most of the music on this one.
I have a very clear memory of hearing the instrumental demo for the first time. It was on headphones using my Mini disc player in Cornwall. I was walking through a forest on a lovely sunny
day, hearing that chiming guitar riff kick in for the first time, it was very instant for me. I rang him straight up, raving about it.

It has a nice flavour of country music. Lyrically I wrote the verses, Jez the chorus, it’s got a bit of me and you versus the world vibe.


’Inside something solid gold’ is about protecting something precious inside of you. Don’t let the bastards/life grind you down!
We also got one of our best friends, Brian Madden shouting into his Megaphone at the start of the song. Andy

It made sense to go into a positive feel with Words. I did a bit of recording in my second bedroom in Northenden. Jez

There Goes The Fear

I recorded the original guitar riff on my dictaphone cassette machine and decided to keep it in the recording as I wanted a “has a that sound” ! Yet again we wanted to make it have twists and turns. Keep the arrangement unpredictable /take you on a roller coaster so to speak. We worked on that song for a long time, the recording took months to evolve. Yet again Max Heyes really put the hours in. As technology was rudimentary in those days everything took longer. If you had a crazy sonic idea, it could take weeks of cutting /programming/trial and error sort of thing to get it right. Jez

This song changed a lot of things for us. Recorded at Revolution studios in Cheadle, Manchester. Jez’s guitar is recorded on a dictaphone, giving it that distinctive lo fi vibe.
I have a clear memory of writing the lyrics in my front room in Chorlton. I had no proper recording gear at home at the time. I just used a tape recorder, rewinding the instrumental version all weekend and jotting down and correcting the lyrics.


To be honest, remembering back was going through a bit of a bad patch at the time and was probably going out and indulging too much.
“You look to the ones you love to justify, you turned around and life’s passed you by” has a sense of regret but also a lot of hope, the song still resonates for me today. Beautiful vocal from Jimi. The samba percussion at the end was by Jimi’s old friend Marc Starr and his Man City samba group.
It was recorded in the stairwell at Greenhouse rehearsal rooms in Stockport (RIP!).

The song was released and deleted on the same day which was a new one for us. Great co-production by Max Heyes. Andy

M62 Song

My Vocal (and traffic noise) recorded under the motorway flyover bridge
in Northenden, Manchester. Jez and Jimi lived there at the time (as did Dave, our manager).
From what I remember the idea was inspired by hearing that Gruff from the Super Furry Animals the year before recorded a vocal sat on a boat on the lake at Real World studios in Bath.


Inspired by a King Crimson song I first heard in the Vincent Gallo film ‘Buffalo 66’. Mixed in Jez’s tiny old studio in his back bedroom of his house. It was a very creative place that back room.

We named it after the wrong motorway, in fact we were under the M63 bridge! Andy

The guitar sound on the dictaphone again gives it an eerie feel. Listen out for the ice cream van at the end! Jez

Where We’re Calling From

I always wanted to capture the feeling of having hot rushes crossed with a David Lynch like soundscape. The album really needed an intense sonic (a no song) at this point. We really did think album comp was really important, like a DJ set. Jez

N.Y.

Max Heyes did a great job on this. He made the mixing desk feedback on itself, sounding like a modern Hendrix. He did this remix for Wella –  Paul Weller “Sunflower” (Brendan Lynch Remix). So we wanted some of that for the ending. He played it like Woodstock in the 60s. We thought it was mind bending!! 
We also wrote the acoustic ending in the Peak District. It came a couple months after the main recording as a sequel ending. We thought it was a nice filmic ending like a narrative sort of takes you on a journey. Jez

A nice bit of sonic chaos! We wrote this and a few others (including the song Valley) on the Isle of Mull in a converted church that a friend kindly let us use.

Jimi and Jez getting busy on the chord arrangements. Another beautiful vocal from Jimi. Both me and Jimi on drums (Beach Boys type fills are him). As with Friday’s Dust, Sean O’Hagan did the string arrangement. Andy

Satellites

Co-produced with Steve Osborne. Steve really helped with the sound/flow of this song. Recorded in Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and Revolution studios in Cheadle.

The lyrics are about one of my first girlfriends. Also our good friend /Manc singing legend Yvonne Shelton helped with the backing vocals.
(incidentally she sings backing vocals on our next album The Universal Want). Andy

Friday’s Dust

Jimi brought this to the table. A lovely lullaby but has a darkness to it. Like M62 song, it really shows a different side of the band and helps with the flow of the album. Strings/woodwind arrangement was by Sean O’Hagan. Recorded at the Dairy studios in Brixton, London. Andy

Pounding

We wrote this but didn’t have that 4s relentless beat. I knew the song was strong but lacked character /direction. So we sat on it for months, then once we sussed out it needed a relentless unchanging beat …. a sort of primal metronome it suddenly jumped into place. Jez

This song was a latecomer and was the last song to be written/recorded on the album. Again recorded at Dairy studios in Brixton with Max Heyes. I
think New Order was a bit of an inspiration on this one.
We’re still very happy to hear this getting played in the build up at Man City home games.


I remember Duran Duran were recording in the studio opposite us.
We didn’t mix much prob due to us being weirdos/stoners at the time.
They seemed to have a constant stream of female visitors to their studio. We only had one visitor the whole 6 weeks we were there! I remember it was Dave our manager, coming down from Manchester to tell us to hurry up! Andy

Last Broadcast

Written/recorded and mixed in Jez’s home studio again. Originally had a totally different vocal melody. Jimi came up with a new one last minute, one of my favourite vocals from him, so loose and a feeling of nostalgia.
We had played on our friend Damon’s (Badly Drawn Boy) first album,
listening back, the backing vocals and feel of the song were inspired by him. Andy

The Sulphur Man

I had the title and thought it sounded like a book I’d like to read. All three of us wrote the lyrics together one afternoon (fast for us) in Jimi’s living room. I’ve still no idea who the sulphur man is! Andy

The intro sounds like Game of Thrones 🤣 But it still works as a song set up. I actually think this is one of our best songs, period! Jez

Caught By The River

Great production by Steve Osborne.
Recorded and mixed at Real World studios in bath. We loved being there, it was a total contrast to anywhere else we’d been and it was very cushty!
The lyrics are about one of my best friends, who at the time moved to London but his life was spiraling out of the control, drinking way too much, waking up on park benches. I was genuinely worried about him.
It’s like a note to him to make him come to his senses. Still gets me this one. Andy

Steve Osborne did a great job in keeping it minimal.  
You’ll hear the chime-y guitars. These were borrowed from Peter Gabriel’s  collection.  He owns Real World, he said try this Rickenbacker!! It turned out to be Roger McGuinn’s (The Byrds ) guitar! Defo has that Byrds sound.  Jez


Thanks very much to the ‘cote for their help in putting this article together. ✊