Breathe Recording Diary

Jules Jones has written a detailed diary of her feelings and experiences during the recording of the album. We bring you an exclusive extract – Friday, 13th May, 1994

The Fort awakens in all her glory. Our new abode. 12th Century and many a tale to tell. The early finish last night almost finished me off. We all attempt to bravely disguise our hangovers and scramble one by one to the kitchen. This morning, ‘This Ain’t Love; This Is War’ nods his approval from our trusty ghetto-blaster in the corner. This always makes good sense. Listening back in the comfort of the control suite is never necessarily representative of how the public will be receiving. It sounds excellent. That’s a good sign.

Like ducklings, we set off one behind the other, 3.4 miles to the studio. At some point, it’s as if we wandered by chance into Blyton territory. ‘Six go to the Studio.’ This is a magic part of the world. Untouched by adult experience. Still precious, still naive; a land of dreams and ambition. Echoes of Dylan Thomas’ yearnings for eternal youth abound as I cycle faster and faster. ‘Time held me green and dying; though I sang in my chains like the sea.’ I felt elated. I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout. To smile at every person I pass. To bid ‘Good Morning’ to all I see. Breathless, flushed and fuelled on fresh air. For no more. Transported to the twilight of Planet Sain. ‘This Ain’t Love; This Is War’ assaulted the brain. Guitars. Amendments to rhythm. Guitars. I began to see problems peeping from the luxury of the lucky-bag of guitar riffs and counter-melodies. The genius is not always in what you play but in what you choose to leave out.

A few days of experimentation lay before us. I could feel it in my bones. To explain the copysheet so far: we have two excellent versions as reference points. One home demo; one The Church session. In a way, I expect, we have three versions…the third being live. Over the tour, This Ain’t Love chameleonised. In the very beginning…tremelo guitar and very melodic backing vocals. Quickly, this became a favourite. At the Second Gathering, after The Church sessions in 1992, the backing vocals became wailing, breathless and weird. It worked well on tape but never seemed to sit comfortably in the mix on stage. By the time we reached The Waterfront, Norwich in April 1994, the song underwent another facelift.

The melodic backing vocals returned and together with Chris and Mikes’ guitars, it began to feel like coming home. This explains why now is such an excellent time to record the album. We understand the songs from all kinds of perspectives. We have been able to appreciate, analyse, criticise and fine-tune from Dudley to Dublin. They are part of our make-up, our being. Now is the time. The day is spent experimenting with sound. Chris is a perfectionist. He has excellent ears. His set-up consists of Orange Amps, Vox AC30 and a cluster of guitars: Gibson, Fender, Takamine…The Les Paul axes furiously through the song. Feedback is tendered lovingly. The overall effect is cooking. It’s 7pm and in a tilt of the cap to some semblance of order and civilisation, we agree to quit for dinner. ‘Gullible’ has been erased from my head tonight. Gethyn is treating us to home-made Spag Bol., (a masculine veritable dish throughout the UK by all accounts) veggie and carnivorous. His mixing talents naturally extend to the kitchen and truly fed and watered, we return a contented crew, ready to confront the night-shift. Blackness and guitars. A good mix. ‘Phone calls pepper the state of play this evening. I flit between control room to lounge area like a moth on heat. I speak to Tommy, from the ‘Freaks of Desire’ who supported us on the April ‘Back into the System II’ Tour. I am a big fan of the album, particularly, ‘Heaven with a Gun’, and ‘This is my Religion’. We arrange to meet up in Wales over the next few weeks.

It’s half past midnight and the guitars are still hot. I, unfortunately am beginning to cool with the night air. I duck out early and return to The Fort with my premature partners in crime, Emyr and Brychan. Across the moat, through the heavy oak door and straight up two flights of stairs to bed. Sleep. Delicious… Mike and Chris return much later in the middle of the night. It’s cooler tonight. Breeze blowing through the tiny window.

Sleep. Cool, cool sleep…

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