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.
We would like to make an announcment!
After spending the last three months of lockdown collaborating via shared files on Dropbox, we can now announce that Take it Easy with Croydon Tourist Office will be released to the general public on 4 July 2020!
Some of the music on this collection we have been working on since 2012, though some of the original recordings go back as far as 2005, while others are very fresh, having only been written and recorded a few weeks ago.
We will release the recordings on our Bandcamp page first, followed by all the usual streaming platforms a couple weeks after that.
We hope we see you there!
It’s been decided. This blog needs to happen more frequently.
Since the Covid-19 lockdown began, we’re been going through the archives of our recorded material. There were many almost-completed songs and many more fragments waiting for a direction. Looking back through it all has made us realise how much we have done together and how much we’ve forgotten about.
Our last blog post was published on the 9th anniversary of the very beginnings of Croydon Tourist Office. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but at the same time, it seems like ages ago that we had the free time to pop along to the cafe after closing time and record the sounds that we would make. But then, life is like that.
We are currently in the final stages of mixing and mastering our second album. While the album’s songs are sourced from various eras of our past as well as the present, the general nature of it all came together in the theme of the global pandemic. And as Robert told the rest of us after reviewing the current master test, there’s ‘such an underlying hint of menace. It seems like the perfect comment on the world today. But so much humour too.’
Some of the songs, like the ones about Belgium and unpronounceable Welsh town names, original came to life 8 years ago, while tinkering with ideas at Epicentre. Others, like the songs about Russian Dolls and Rum & Coke started coming together 4 years ago when we were making our last EP, but we knew they would be set aside for a second full length album. And others, like the songs about broccoli and falcons, came about purely through isolation and what happens when we throw each other ideas via broadband.
The nearly hour long collection features sixteen songs, but we ended up unearthing so many more in the process. We will hopefully have an EP of related material that will appear shortly after the album, and possible some additional surprises as well. But this first release will be a concentrated result of what the last three months of lockdown have brought together.
We should have more information for you in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, be sure to enjoy Robert Garnham’s solo release, Aviator.
Isn’t murmur such a great word?
Life has been busy for all involved in Croydon Tourist Office. But that all changed for pretty much everyone in March of this year, where lockdown meant working from home, staying in doors, and finding new virtual ways to do things.
We were all just as busy as ever, but suddenly there was a need to be creative and if being creative meant that we needed to do everything via the Internet, then so be it.
We realised that others that we know would be just as isolated as we were, so we opened the doors to collaboration to anyone who wanted to be involved. It was like a virtual way of working that’s similar in a lot more ways than we thought to the way we used to work when stringing microphone cables around a little cafe in Paignton all those years ago.
9 years ago when Robert and Bryce wrote and recorded Three Bears, we had no idea what would lay ahead. And to be honest, we still don’t know what lies ahead. We just know that Croydon Tourist Office generate things that we never expected and certainly never things that we would come up with individually.
Over the past three months of social distancing, we have been more productive than we have been in awhile. We signed up with a distribution company so our music can now be heard in pretty much any place you can hear music and we revisited music we were working on for the second album and finally made sense of it all. In as much as we make sense of anything, that is.
And then we remembered we had this blog, which hasn’t been touched in about three years. Sorry about that. Life did pull us in other ways for a bit. We never stopped sharing ideas with each other. We just needed to wait for it to be the right now.
So, the murmurs are correct. The right time finally arrived.
On a snowy Saturday morning, Bryce and Felix hosted their first radio show, which features some Croydon Tourist Office and friends. You can listen to it on the link below.
After the show, John and Bryce met up to discuss contenders for album 2. 15 new songs are in the works, including what looks like be our most epic work so far. Some of these tracks we’ve been working on for the last 5 years, so it will be great for the world to finally hear them!
In the meantime, enjoy the radioshow!
Things have been busy in the office lately. So busy, we haven’t posted in a little while.
So, some things have happened recently.
Following the release of our new EP, we went back and made a music video to Book Johnson, that classic track off our first record. You can watch the video in all its technicolor glory here:
In other news, there is a gig happening in Torquay, at the wonderful Blue Walnut cafe very soon! We will be opening for Project Adorno with a multimedia extravaganza in the cafe’s 24 seat cinema.
Sadly, Bryce will be in Asia for the gig, but he will be with us via satellite link. We’ve managed to set up a new internet venture with some recycled communication equipment, so we will be testing the technology out at at the event! Here’s hoping that it works…
At last, after many months of recording, our new EP Physical Trauma to Wash Your Waffles has been released. You can now listen to it and download it on our BandCamp page.
It contains songs that have appeared in Croydon Tourist Office live sets over the last few years like Post Office Mice and Croydon Tourist Office, as well as a selection of newly finished pieces that no one else has yet heard.
Kerchunk, featuring heavily distorted drums that Bryce recorded back in the late 90s, now has a fresh coat of Max’s guitar work, and Robert and John having a battle of nutritional value labels.
Punch it in Our Hearts started as a demo that John composed based on randomly generated lyrics that Max put together. We all added extra layers to it and it is now possibly our most epic song!
The Shoes is a poem that Bryce wrote (based on an actual pair of shoes), set to music. Robert added some backing vocals and Max and John improved it wish some guitar work.
The quirky little number ROCK!!! was made a long time ago when Bryce played some drums through an interesting sythesizer . The result was so much more than a drum track. Everyone thought it was cool, but no one knew what to do with it, until Max ran a vocal mix through an interesting little toy, and we all found the answer!
We hope you enjoy the EP. We promise not to take so long in getting the next album put together…
To listen to the new EP and the first album, have a look here:
Just a quick update to say that our forthcoming EP is complete. 6 new recordings that we have been working on for the last 6 months or so.
All we need to do now is finish up the artwork, and it will make its appearance into the world!
The second album is also in the works. Hopefully it won’t be long before we finish those recordings off.
Six new songs have been recorded. We just have the finishing touches to add, and a new EP will be released!
We are working on setting up some dates and an exciting idea for a new event, while also working on recording some new songs for what will be the second album.
How are you doing?