Aside from knowing that you’re probably going to need a wee halfway through the second or third epic of the night, you never know what might happen to you at a prog gig. My first memory of meeting Grant “Three minutes and thirty seconds? It’s a HIT!” Gordon was in a pub near the Kentish Town Forum just before Transatlantic played there in March 2014. I’m pretty sure he gave me one of his CDs. Then, during The Flower Kings’ set at the Islington Academy a couple of months later, he asked me if I’d come and do a spot of guitar for him. I obliged, of course, and by the end of May ‘The Final Spit’* was born. I did another session or two with Grant over the next year and enjoyed myself quite a lot in the process.
Christopher "not DeGarmo" Harrison, recording 'The Final Spit' - 13 May 2014
Grant has frequently sought the percussive services of Mighty Gary “…” Mackenzie in the past and, as I understand it, Grant’s various bands would play on the same bill as The Mighty Handful back in the mists of time. In or around September 2015, Grant suggested to Gary and I that we have a go at making some music together. We were game! Within days Grant had sent us three demos, and we later met in the pub (before a Spock’s Beard gig, naturally!) to discuss the project further. Grant had a concept, Gary came up with a title, and I wrote a ten-minute song. As you do. You'd have to ask the other two about the concept - I'm not entirely sure I ever really grasped it properly myself!
Within a month we had nine songs in various stages of completion and did three sessions at Bush Studios in late 2015 to hammer them out. Arrangements were decided upon and lyrics were written although I must admit that I threw a mini-tanty about some of the more on-the-nose historical and mythological aspects of the lyrical content (for which I roundly apologised and am still somewhat ashamed about - although Grant has since said that I might have been onto something!). We even started recording backing tracks; we spent a day or two at Grant’s studio space in West Hampstead recording drums via Gary’s electronic kit and those clever computer things.
The studio white board - I'm not sure what all that stuff on the bottom right is...
Unfortunately, things sort of ground to a halt; Poor Grant had a ropey start to 2016, and ultimately moved to the coast and joined another band (Worcestershire post-punkers ‘And Also The Trees’ - http://www.andalsothetrees.co.uk/). Gary and I kept busy with Mighty-ness, helping one album over the finishing line and starting another one. Then, in September 2018, a reunion at yet another prog gig! The three of us gather to go and see the fantastic Pain of Salvation in September 2018 and, lo, Grant said: “Lads…. do you fancy doing a gig?”.
We found ourselves supporting Sparker and The Scarlet Oak at the Grey Horse in Kingston in November. We did a rehearsal in October getting three of the songs up to scratch for a twenty-minute set. We all rather enjoyed ourselves at the gig, and Grant suggested recording those three tracks properly. Gary and I were up for it, so Grant booked us in to a studio near his home for a weekend in February 2019.
And so the diary begins! Next time…
* Here’s a video of us playing that song at Sky Studios (!) in June 2015. I could tell you how that came about, but it would ruin the mystery - https://vimeo.com/132340704
'The Final Spit' by The Scarlet Oak from webvideopro on Vimeo.