With Take it Easy with Croydon Tourist Office now on various streaming platforms, we took a moment to reflect on where some of these things came from. We thought we would share with you some of the stories about the births of these songs.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, famous for the longest place name in Great Britain, became the subject for a song when John had the idea in 2012 for a song where the town’s name was the entirety of the chorus. Robert went over to John’s house and together they bashed out a demo where Robert spoke the verses and John sang the chorus, complete with it’s fourteen chord change
John emailed Bryce the demo and he instantly heard an idea for the arrangement.
Bryce took the demo and cut it up to set it to a tempo that would make it easier for other musicians to overdub to. Bryce worked out the chord changes and added the bass line to the demo, but it needed drums.
Fortunately, Bryce had a stash of drums from various past recording sessions. In 2010, Bryce had recorded Scott Morton, now of the band Tourists, in a demo session and one of the songs had really sparse drum hits, which made them easy to correct to the tempo of the demo.
Bryce had been running Epicentre Book Cafe at the time, which was used as a recording studio for various things after hours. John overdubbed two acoustic guitar parts one afternoon, followed by Robert’s spoken vocals and John’s singing. We put together a quick mix of the new guitar, bass, drums, and vocal version, but something seemed to be missing.
Trying to figure out what was missing, we mixed in a little bit of the original demo and we heard Robert’s original vocal echoing from a speaker on the other side of the cafe since the words on the original demo were in a slightly different time to the newly recorded words. It added a charm that the song called out for, so we decided to also keep John’s original vocals from the demo as a backing vocal for the chorus.
A few weeks later, John’s friend Richard came over with a mandolin that he was learning how to play and we recorded his part. We thought it seemed to be the perfect kind of song where we could throw in more and more layers as we built up the song: A sort of ‘Kitchen Sink’ song.
One afternoon, John came into the cafe with a Dictaphone and announced that he was working on recording Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Part 2. We expected it to be like a reprise, but John said he had some big surprises for us, which largely involved people shouting letters into his recorder. Paul Caddick added keyboards to both Part 1 and Part 2, and that’s where the song stayed for many years.
Epicentre Nights came together from recordings entirely made and recorded live at Epicentre. Llanfair (as it came to be know in our shorthand) didn’t fit as it wasn’t recorded live and we still didn’t feel that it was done.
Epicentre closed, Bryce moved to Exeter and a couple years went by where everyone was fairly busy; Bryce with his new job, Robert performing poetry around the country and Max writing for his other projects. Until one day, when Bryce was on a business trip to London in 2016 for a week and found some time in the evenings to start putting together some music.
The idea of recording an EP worth of music came up, but it was quickly agreed that Llanfair needed to be on the second album. We thought maybe this second album would quickly follow the EP. During the sessions for the EP, Bryce added a Mellotron to the end of the song. And then the song sat for a little bit longer.
Covid 19 lockdown happened and everyone decided it was time to get back to work on the music. Bryce added an ebow to the end from Max’s suggestion and sang some backup parts and at last, eight years after it began, the song finally seemed to be complete.
While some of the music on Take it Easy was written before Llanfair began, this song is easily one of our favourites and certainly the song that we have spent the most time working on. For a band known for writing songs on the spot, eight years is a long time.
It’s only recently come to our attention that we may have mispronounced the town’s name. We’d like to offer our humblest apologies to Wales and to the Welsh people in general.