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Stephen Cummings talks about working with Kilbey et al on The Escapist Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 December 2006
Steve produced two of Stephen Cummings' album, Falling Swinger and The Escapist.  In the following article, Stephen writes about working with Steve and other members of The Church. This comes from Lovetown.net, a fan site for his work. The Recording Of Escapist
unknown source/date

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I began recording my new album in December 1995 and finished it off in early
1996. It was produced by Steve Kilbey, at his studio Karmic Hit in Balmain,
Sydney.
This time around, I decided to change everything that I did. I wanted to
take a sharp left turn in musical direction. Why? I believe it's fairly easy
to slip into a automated way of recording, especially if you've been in
Music-Biz for as long as I have.

Kilbey's idea was to loosen my moorings and see what happens. He wanted to
make all the songs up on the spot. This was too extremist for me! I wanted
to make an album of gradual disclosure. A subtle collection of music that
rewards the listener for their perseverence.

Robert Goodge (aka Filthy Lucre and Underground Lovers producer) contributed
heavily to this idea. He co-wrote 4 songs and did all the programming.
Robert is a pioneer of synthesiser music in Australia and he has kept every
bit of crappy equipment he ever bought. He drove it all to Sydney in a
station wagon, refusing to trust his delicate contraptions and his Gibson ES
330 TD guitar to the airlines.

My modus operandi was to fuse Kilbey, Goodge and myself and create an
atmopsheric recording that blended layers of clashing, rippling guitars,
hopefully achieving an equivalent sound to that which groups like, the Young
Bloods, Buffalo Springfield and Fleetwood Mac sometimes got, only with
nineties connotations.

Karmic Hit is best described as between an upgraded home studio and a
professional amenity. It's situated in the basement of a factory in Balmain.
It has a 24 track, one inch Tascam recorder and a Soundtracs desk. The
engineer was Simon Polinski, who has worked with Kilbey on new Church and
Jack Frost projects. He also engineered both Paul Kelly's and my last album,
Falling Swinger.

The story behind the recording of Escapist is interesting, I can only liken
it to having a 21st birthday party. You invite along all your friends and
abruptly realise just how dissimilar your friends are. You start to despair
and fret they won't come together and be friendly. In the end, common sense
prevailed.

Kilbey has a variety of guitars that he's picked up over the years and he's
blessed with the ability to be able to get an interesting sound out of most
instruments. He has a matching set of Fender Coronet guitars.

Guitar on the additional songs was played by Peter Koppes, an original
member of The Church, and also by Michael Sheridan, who has played with No
and Max Q. Michael seemed to find the idea of playing songs with a
conventional structure a strange experience.

After I'd packed it in most nights, Kilbey would stay on and overdub warped
guitar and keyboard parts, most of which we kept. There's something of
Nosferatu, the vampire outcast, about Kilbey. He's more in his element when
he's alone with his toys and nobody around but the engineer to distract him.

The Church's drummer Tim Powles was recruited to play drums. Bill McDonald,
current bass player for Frente, played bits and pieces on various songs.
Sandi Chic sang wonderfully and Chris Abrahams played any keyboards Robert
Goodge or Steve K didn't.

I was very fond of a song that Kilbey had co-written with his partner, Karin
Jansson, called Taken By Surprise. We ended up recording it and I managed to
persuade Kilbey to allow me to play 12 string acoustic. As a rule, I'd never
play guitar on my records, I'd rather someone who has more ability and
know-how did it. But nowadays, if it's a simple bit, then I feel confident
enough.

I recorded two other Kilbey compositions this time around, Midnight In
America and Sleep With Me. It was my idea, I appreciated the notion of
becoming more of a vocalist again. I'm an admirer of Steve Kilbey's songs,
however I'd have to admit that I don't always understand the lyrics. They
often have a sinister Lewis Carroll like charm about them.

We also co-wrote two songs, Sometimes, the first single, was an impromptu
piece that was worked up at the last minute from a partially recorded idea
Steve had dredged out from his vaults. Karin Jansson provides harmonies and
Swedish utterances. The other is Anyone, an electro indulgence that
highlights Marty Willson-Piper's attacking guitar solo and I get to recount
the tale of an outsider on the run from an un-named tragic event.
 
[Insert from Shadow Cabinet: It's interesting to note that the lyrics Stephen used were different to those eventually used on The Church's version of the song.]
 
The whole process took about eighteen days in the studio. There were
re-mixes, mastering and disagreements over what songs to include and what
order they should appear. There were personality clashes, horrible silences
and a lot of laughs and fun and tears as well. I might work up the energy to
do it again in two years time. Then again!

Hopefully with Escapist, I will be able to acquire some new fans without
alienating my faithful and understanding following. It was an interesting,
perplexing experience, as ever.

Stephen
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