Doves Talk Lost Souls 20 Years On
Last Saturday evening, Andy, Jimi & Jez took part in a Lost Souls listening party on Twitter to celebrate 20 years of the album. Tens of thousands of fans took part, sharing memories, asking the band questions or just reaching out to give the band love for the album.
I’ve put together all band’s tweets and the band have kindly expanded upon some of them for you all to read how Lost Souls came together 20+ years ago. Enjoy..
Andy Williams: The Lost Souls title encapsulated how we all felt at the time for a couple of reasons really. The well documented studio fire we had in 1996, also the fact that we had spent years trying to find our sound and trying different singers out. We finally realised that Jimi has a fine voice and he should be the lead vocalist. Then me & Jez started to have a pop at vocals too, much to the amusement of Rob Gretton & Dave Rofe.
We were all in our late 20’s, all had a few set backs, also had started going out less. Moving out of the whole club culture of the late 80’s & mid 90’s and had got a bit bored of huddling around the computer/desk/sampler. We had started to go back to playing our respective instruments towards the latter days of Sub Sub but felt a full stop and a fresh start was needed. We knew we had a good album in us, so were determined for as long as it took or how many discarded songs it would take, that we were at least going to complete it.
Andy: We first recorded this during our Sub Sub days at our studio in Cheetham Hill aka Frank Bough Sound II. The track was first released as a Sub Sub b-side. We always thought it was too good of a track for a B side so we re-recorded it as Doves at Jacobs Studios in Farnham in 1999. Inspired by all the film music we love. We all used to (but probably more Jez) used to tape crap 1970’s B films late at night and compile tapes of the music & dialogue. Those cassette tapes sustained and inspired us for years. we all still know the dialogue on them off by heart.
Jez: We first wrote this right at the end of Sub Sub days as we were crossing over to Doves, just finding our feet again. We had been obsessing with music of 60s & 70s spy films. I had made a playlist tape of the best bits to inspire and capture a certain mood This was a calling to do something that was ANTI-BRITPOP.
Here It Comes
Jez: I had this chord sequence that looped and cycled perfectly & had a rough top line then Andy weaved the lyrics around the music. We recorded the video under the motorway bridge (where we returned for the recording of M62 song on The Last Broadcast ) the bridge is in Northenden.
Jimi: The first time we met Rebelski was during the recording of this song.
Andy: For me this is our tribute to The Specials and Northern soul. I think it was the first song I ever sang all way through, everyone wanted to keep my vocal on verse which I was surprised at (and probably argued against) Jimi sang on chorus and the contrast in the different voices seemed to work. I wanted the lyrics to have an in the city/grimy feel, with he or she being generally being up to no good but I didn’t want it to be too specific about what that person actually was up to. I think its much more interesting for people to imagine what that person might be up to.
Recorded in Winding studios in North Wales. I remember this nice older Welsh lady who ran the studio also did the cooking and always seemed to serve fish pie most nights, after a couple of weeks everyone got pretty sick of having it (also it didn’t agree with a couple of us!) but we were too polite to say no and didn’t want to offend her. So every evening she’d bob her head round the studio door and say Fish pie again boys ? was more like a statement than a question! We’d argue with each other and say you tell her no this time, but we would always end up saying yes please love!
Break Me Gently
Jimi: The first song I sang fully as lead singer! Still hid it in the mix, lovely Hammond Leslie Speaker on my vocals.
Jez: The bass line was inspired by a 60’s American surf movie. We then twisted it into something else. We liked the sound of repeating samples /chords and strange vocal bits to create a sort of a hypnotic state.
Andy: One of the early break through tracks for us. One of the first tracks Jimi sang all way through and I think something clicked with him on this song. We thought we can do this on our own.
Jimi: Jez brought these fucking gorgeous chords to the table.
Jez: I remember the demo at Cheetham hill (New Orders studio) scally’s on the studio roof trying to rob us whilst we were below trying to nail the demo recording of the song!
Andy: Jez did the demo at his home studio in Northenden, I remember loving the chord shapes. I started the lyrics and Jimi finished them. We all wanted a real yearning quality to the lyrics, we talked about the vocal being just another instrument in there and just sit in the music rather than on top of it. Its about two people escaping their lives in the city, driving and getting lost in the sea.
Jez: I remember jamming this for days at the New Order studio (Cheetham Hill) trying to find the the mood and structure. We wanted it to be psychedelic and open. At the time I was listening to Black Sabbaths Planet Caravan, also The Beastie Boys were a huge influence (they changed from computers and turn tables to instruments & mixed it all up). I saw them play the Manchester Academy (my top 3 gigs ever ). We also wanted the rushy white noises from dance music (you can hear this at the end of the choruses the …so long backing vocals).
Andy: Us at our our most psychedelic. Jez had that main Harpsichord riff then Jimi and me just jammed around it. Jimi’s vocals are put through our Leslie hammond speaker again. Feel good sunny lyrics, which was needed as outside it was cold at Cheetham Hill in winter. Listening back its kind of ironic given the tropical sounds at the end.
Jez: We wanted the end to sound like a roller coaster of sounds like at the fair. Also going through our Pet Sounds, Beach Boys period.
Andy: I guess the song is exactly what the title suggests, for all the lost souls out there (including us at the time). Recorded in summer 1999 at Jacobs Studios, Farnham. To be honest it was great to escape Cheetham Hill for a bit, Jacobs was a Large country house with windows (Frank Bough sound II had none ) where the control room led directly onto a stunning large garden. I seem to remember we were chuffed as Johnny Marr had told Jimi it was the studio where The Smiths had recorded The Queen is Dead album. I can still hear the harpsichord do 2 seconds of the Steptoe and Son theme tune at the end.
Jimi: Johnny Marr lent us his iconic black & white Rickenbacker for Lost Souls and and Rise.
Jez: Again, conjures up pictures of the fair. We needed a song that was light on its feet to break up the heaviness so to speak.
Andy: Inspired by the La’s debut album which we all loved. Recorded again at Frank Bough sound II, a simple Love letter to the power of music. No doubt I would of tried to get Jimi or Jez to sing it, but generally the mantra is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Funny hearing it back, I don’t think I’ve heard it since we compiled the album in 1999 (as we’ve never played it live) I think it works as a break and a relief from the intensity of the album.
Catch The Sun
Jez: Many versions of this song were recorded. We did a live session on Radio 1 for Steve Lamacq. We really liked this version and was the template to try and capture this for the record. After many failed attempts we went in with the wonderful Steve Osborne at Real World Studios for the final version. Here’s the five versions we did:
1: Original demo
2: Jacobs studio version
3: The Windings studio version
4: Radio 1 session version
5: Steve Osborne at Real World version
Andy: I can definitely hear the New Order influence in there. Almost never made the album as we could never nail the recording of it. Steve Osborne heard the Steve Lamacq session and suggested we use that as the template and not overdub (too much !) catch the energy of a live performance which we hadn’t done too much on this album upto that point, as some of the songs were constructed almost piece by piece like a jigsaw.
The Man Who Told Everything
Andy: I think it was recorded at Jacobs again. It was a kind of exercise in writing about somebody else rather than about myself/ourselves. Lyrics are about a disgraced corrupt politician who sells his story to the papers and then buggers off.
The Cedar Room
Jimi: Andy’s harmonica playing slowed down for the intro. A song of experience.
Andy: Recorded and mixed at our studio on a new mixing desk that we bought thanks to a Sub Sub remix we did for the dodgy 1990s US pop group Color Me Bad (they rejected the mix !). It was another key track for us early on. It gave us a lot of confidence to go on and finish the album. I think we sensed it was a bit special I remember we slowed the drums down to give it that chunky feel.
I had a book of short ghost stories as a kid and there was one chapter called The White Lady about an old inn where the ghost would come to visit guests in the dead of night. The story really spooked me as a kid and i always remember the room where the haunting took place: the cedar room.
Later on i found out the house was just a BMX bike ride away from where we lived, so off i went to visit. I would just look at the house imagining that room and smoke a fag! Jimi wrote the chorus lyrics and I wrote the verse lyrics separately, but bizarrely they both fitted in terms of a feeling of loss and to be haunted by a memory.
Jez: Musically I wanted this to be an epic landscape with enough space to lose the listener in. We wanted to mix electronic drones to capture the strangeness and hopefully the heart of the song. I was listening to Aphex Twin at the time, so maybe some of that indirectly rubbed off.
Jez: Filmic reprise. We slowed the tapes down to 1/4 speed to create this slow moody stoned vibe. Again big fans of 60s/70s film scores. The plus point was it went against anything happening at the time (britpop!). We were always mucking about with tape speeds, warping time to create a sort of another dimension.
Andy: Re-worked filmic version of The Man Who Told Everything. Inspired by the film composer Ennio Morricone.
Jimi: My attempt at David Lynch and Planxty.
Jez: Jimi brought in the demo which had this really great creepy vibe. We recorded it on a dictaphone. Again we wanted to warp the time and space so messed with the pitch and dropped a sample loop of fire into the mix, we thought this added to the atmosphere.
Andy: I remember being taken aback by the purity & simplicity of the song but mostly the emotion of it. I think it was recorded at Jez’s house in Northenden. A great example of Jez and Jimi playing guitars together and bouncing off each other in their very different styles.
Looking back, the fire sample obviously is a reference to the lyrics but i wonder if it was also an unconscious reference to our studio fire from years ago which was the start of the end of Sub Sub.
Thanks to Matt Norman & Rick Myers for the photos & Tim Burgess for the idea that got the ball rolling.