A short film by my friend Geraint Northam documenting our recording sessions last month. The track is a test mix of ‘metal men’ which will go on the ‘Alistair the optimist’ album. Still hoping for a 2011 release xx.
Here’s a clip of my TV appearance with Kaye Adams on The Wright Stuff Extra
The past few weeks have been extremely busy – aren’t they always? And I am feeling tired after juggling lots of different things including holidays, working on the ‘Alistair the optimist’ album, making further adaptations to our home and a trip up to London for a TV interview. I haven’t done a good job of pacing myself and now am suffering a little, guess I’m going to have to slow down and try and rest more over the next week or so.
The album is coming along nicely with lots of progress being made. The tracks we recorded live in a studio last month sound great but have needed a little bit of tidying up and tweaking. The price we have paid for recording 10 songs quickly and in a live situation has meant we are left with a few technical problems, mainly the sound bleed between microphones, as we bashed out the songs with everyone playing in the same room. Nevertheless, this compromise isn’t really a problem and we have I think got the makings of a good album which sounds authentic and like it has been recorded with love.
Before I started writing this blog I spent the morning listening back to the test mixes we have done and now feel energised by the beauty of the songs. I think my particular favourites (at the moment) are ‘Metal men’ – a waltz time track about someone’s whole world being turned around. You may automatically think of MND, but I can assure you I was thinking more about Spanish Conquistadors arriving in South America when I wrote the lyrics! Another cracker is ‘The New Regime’ which has ended up sounding very ‘country and western’ with lovely dobro and banjo parts. Like all good country tunes this one might be about heartbreak and love lost – although, it could also be about the frustration people feel when new governments fail to deliver on their promises, you can take your pick on the songs meaning when you hear it. Also, ‘In the wake’ is a great song. It certainly gets the nod as being the most ‘catchy’ one with Finn and Freya walking around the house singing the chorus “roll the stone away” over and over again. I think we might try and do a promo video for this one and I can imagine it being played by the ‘better dj’s’ on radio! My friend Geraint has asked if he can use it for the soundtrack of a film he is making at the moment, so these are very exciting times.
The offers of support on the website, twitter and facebook have been totally overwhelming and are a constant and much needed reminder of why this campaign is so important and hearing from long lost friends, ex students and total strangers helps to keep us all optimistic. Through the campaign I have been contacted by two groups of people who have offered to help us make our album. Firstly, I was contacted by Jo at Bryden Strings. Bryden Strings are an amazing string quartet with incredible talent and experience. They offered to help us by playing any string parts we might need and we are now organising this recording session for sometime next month. I am really keen to hear our songs with some added lush string arrangements and look forward to meeting the amazing Jo and her fellow musicians. Incredibly, I was also contacted by a Canadian singer called Kathryn Calder who offered to provide backing vocals on a few songs. Kathryn is a solo artist and also a member of ‘The New Pornographers’ – a band I admire and am influenced by. Kathryn lost her mother to MND and wanted to help after a friend saw the website and passed on the details. Via the magic of the internet we sent the tracks to Kathryn in Vancouver where she ran down to her friends studio and recorded her vocals before packing and heading off on an European tour. Her voice is amazing and I can’t thank her enough for her help for sharing her immense talent. Please go and check her music out, it’s just beautiful.
Phew! After a wait of nearly six months I had my first hydrotherapy session at the Mineral Hospital in Bath this week. As I was lowered into the water I felt creaking joints and tight muscles relax to the point that I could almost kid myself that I didn’t have MND, I was in fact a healthy Alistair floating on my back in a warm pool. I absolutely loved every second of the whole experience. I loved being able to stand, move my legs and swim on my back using my arms as well as all the other exercises my physio Sarah helped me to do. Afterwards, I imagined I was an astronaut returning to Earth and experiencing the crush of gravity after the weightlessness of space. Leaving the pool I felt extremely heavy and tired but happy feeling I had done some proper exercise for the first time in a year. Hydrotherapy has already improved my sleep – after just one session! I hope it will also help me to avoid other health problems caused by spending lots of time in a wheelchair. Hydrotherapy should be available to all MND sufferers. If you have MND and a hydrotherapy pool nearby then try and get referred there for a course of physio – I can’t wait until next weeks appointment.
Oh yes. I was on TV talking about MND last week! But I think I’ll save my stories of sharing the same set as Joan Collins and a nerve jangling live interview until my next blog…