Rise, Again! – Background on writing, recording, filming

I released the video for Rise, Again! on Monday through YouTube and it looks like it has been pretty well received. Which is nice since I’m really proud of the track from its writing, to recording, and filming. The pre-order for the album is open now.

I started writing the basic lyrics to the song around the end of August 2014, with the Scottish Referendum looming in the near future. It started out as a reflection on the journey from a 20% chance of a Yes vote to 40% and beyond. The following week, a 51% poll was announced and I decided to shelf the song. Unfortunately, as we know, the 51% didn’t materialise, pipping out around 45%. I’d started recording the new record around January of this year, and while going through my folder of recorded demos, I came across a very rough sketch of the track.

It was a very slow, finger-picked, Dylan’esque folk song with a campfire feel. Just vocals and guitar, with a bit of harmonica. I had recently bought an 8-track for demo’ing new songs with a drum machine, and so I revisited the song and built it up to a demo of what you hear on the track now. Once I gave it to Gareth (who is producing and engineering the record), we played around with tempos, lots of guitars, and have maybe recorded it three times from scratch (hello, demos and outtakes compilation for 2016!).

Once we had a version that we were happy with, we decided to get a group of people together to add their backing vocals for the ending. Gareth, and his lovely wife Lynne, threw a house party at their place and we invited a bunch of close friends around. It was also here that we recorded Lisa-Marie Ferla’s duet for Bleecker St (which sounds amazing). A few bottles of wine, beer and whisky later, and we had the chanting recorded.

Amongst the voices you can hear on the track are best-selling author Jay Stringer, Armellodie Record’s Chris Devotion, RFPB bass player Dan Irving, everyone’s favourite blogger Lisa-Marie Ferla and many more.

After we had mixed the track, I booked The Blue Chair in Glasgow for the video shoot. It was to be a small acoustic gig, with a support act (the wonderful John Mackay), free booze and a party atmosphere. We fell short of managing to re-create the atmosphere of the recording party, but it ended up being an amazingly fun night. I mimed the track a few times alone while Gareth filmed, then gathered the attendees closely around to make it look like “the best gig ever(TM)”, and mimed it again. Finally, I played an hour set of old, new, borrowed and blue songs. Including the first ever “Dave Hughes” performance of Billy Connolly’s “if it wisnae for yer wellies” outside of a Primary School.

Naturally, it would have been nice to have a few extra bodies on the night, but I think we managed, with crafty editing skillz, to commit the atmosphere of a ‘good gig’ to film.

Hell, I’m even running a monthly night at The Blue Chair now. First is on the 10th of April. Before then though, I’m supporting Franz Nicolay at the 13th Note in Glasgow on the 15th of March.

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  1. Pingback: Rise, Again: Track by Track | Dave Hughes and The RFPBDave Hughes and The RFPB