As part of the ongoing Silvery Archival Project here’s a few words about the 2 demo sessions we did in 2005 that resulted in our first ‘serious’ demo CDs. Those that got us gigs and that we used as free downloads on our fledgling website and that Myspace thing. You’ve still got them, right? These sessions were touched on a while back when our old bassist David wrote his Silvery story but as I’ve just found the recordings again, here’s my bit. Not quite in time for the 10th anniversary, but near enough in Silvery time.
At the end of 2004, Silvery was whittled down to just three of us – Myself, keyboard player Simon and bassist David. We’d been a noisy shambles of a 5 piece up to that point showing quite a bit of promise but things reached a head and we had a rethink. We quickly found a friend of a friend to drum for us, Alex, and one of the key points for the new, dynamic, band (probably very well aware this was ANOTHER final roll of the dice) was to actually record ourselves properly. We’d dabbled before of course long ago in different line ups with various degrees of success, but the volume of new songs we had in the current set that had not been represented on disc demanded. And once we’d nailed the live set in the first weeks of 2005 with the new line up we had a first go at recording.
SEASNAKE DEMO: As Simon worked in a little Soho studio primarily used for voice recording we decided to record drums and bass on my handy 4-track tape machine in the rehearsal room (Backstreet on Holloway Road) and then take the ‘finished’ rhythm’ track mixdown to his place and stick on guitar, keys and vocals. It made sense at the time, and we were, with a few minor quibbles, very happy with the results. Pretty sure they were all done and dusted over about 3 Sunday afternoons during January / Early February. The recordings captured the sheer berserkness of the band in 2005 far better than the numerous live audience bootleg recordings we had as we were still in truth finding our feet live. And fingers. I certainly had my work cut out for me as the sole guitarist for the first time. No hiding! An even more thunderous ‘That Which Is’ than previous attempts. A confident stomp through ‘1994’ taken slightly faster than the released version and missing the middle 8 verse. ‘Orders’ retaining the original 4-track demo intro (as also heard on the finished 2008 version). A short version of the brand new ‘Will Self’ and a truncated ‘Foreign Exchange’ only featuring part of ‘The Drilling Machine’ outro. I’m sure there was more but I can’t find any evidence at all. That must’ve been it. I do have hazy memories of recording a couple of acoustic demos in the same studio with Simon’s boss after band drinks a couple of years later (still pre-debut album). ‘The Crompton’ I think, plus ‘Charge Of The Light Brigade’. Oh boy to hear them again! So, various selections of the recorded material (the ‘asset’) formed the 3 or 4 track CDs we started to distribute at gigs all dressed in a beautiful Victorian woodcut sleeve (see above, hence the nickname the sessions got). Usually headed up by ‘That Which Is’ or ‘The Squadron Leader’. It was one of these that got us our first taste of radio play as Lamacq spun ‘That Which Is / That Which Is Not’ on Radio 1 and our first reviews in The Organ and NME. After the second session (see below) I think we retained a couple of the songs from this set on various things but they were in effect rendered redundant after the next batch. We’d moved on already!
Tracks recorded: 1994, Sparks & Fire, Foreign Exchange, The Squadron Leader, Will Self, Orders, plus a home recording of The Ship’s Cat which got grafted onto the end of The Squadron Leader.
LONDON METEORITE: Swiftly moving on to May 2005, only a few months after the last session we met a chap called Nick Abbott who was keen to help us do some more tracks. We jumped at the chance primarily as we were all on the same page about how they should sound and he could get a good rate at Fortress off Old Street, which was actually a REAL LIFE proper studio. Focussing on tracks we’d not done at the previous session for whatever reason (time, or basically because we had so many more songs by May), we turned up in our stage gear this time and treated it VERY professionally. Only minimal laughter this time. Until that is we invented The Murder Hole dance. That’s a different story. The same thing happened on these recordings where the post production and mixing carried on for a few weeks as we finished off bits and pieces whenever and wherever we could over the essentially live takes done in the main one day session. A fluked AMAZING guitar solo on ‘Murder Holes’, a frantic and glammy ‘Penny Dreadful’. A PULVERISING ‘Martian Invasion’. The definitive ‘Revolving’. A slightly scatty ‘The Nod’ as befits the slightly scatty song. If anything, having a new set of recordings upped the ante of distributing the CDs to replace the already elderly sounding January recordings. These served as our demos for the next 18 months until the next time found time to record. And those recordings would eventually become our first album, so that’s very much part of the next chapter! Look out for ‘The 2007 Demos’ on here! This Fortress session would be notable for having the song that would become our first video (‘Devil In The Detail’ in 2006) and a minor remix as a prospective first single (we bodged a fresh remix of ‘Action Force’ and ‘Devil’ at Strokes producer Gordon Raphael’s Limehouse studio and they remained unused). Again, notices were good and continued on the bumpy road to becoming a proper band. The cover suited the music contained within and for the second time in 6 months Silvery were delivering a product that screamed ‘PAY ATTENTION!’ Some lucky people were given CDs of both combined sessions as a 14 track demo album which we were very proud of. Our first proper album! Yes it sounded LIKE demos, but it was inspiring to have our songs there on a CDR. And more importantly, there on our MP3 players so we could all listen and improve them. All In all, both these session were good grounding for the main album session later as we tried to perfect the (sometimes very complex) new backing vocals overdubs live. And those of you in bands will recognise this, we didn’t suffer from demoitis – despite the demos sometime breathless electric ridiculousness, the album takes of the respective tracks were better. Probably less energetic and not as raw of course, but better. Apart from ‘Sparks & Fire’. And ‘The Nod’. And ‘Murder Holes’… all of which, curiously, ended up on album 2 in 2010. A real shame these all now only exist only as quite low quality MP3s. I’m sure they’ll turn up on a minidisc or something at some point. Hopefully in time for the 10th anniversary reissue of ‘Thunderer & Excelsior’ in 2018. The original session discs are around somewhere. I have one, I’m sure Simon has the other. Would be great to go back at give them nice new mixes for 2018. If they even still make the software we used anymore. In keeping with those great Silvery fuck ups of the past, I doubt they do.
Tracks recorded: A Penny Dreadful, The Nod, Martian Invasion, Revolving Sleepy Signs, Murder Holes, Devil In The Detail, Action Force