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Author Topic: Freefall - Thrown  (Read 17870 times)
Simon
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« on: January 07, 2010, 11:24:29 AM »

I'm back from a long (and ultimately abortive) attempt to walk to work through the snow and to help myself get a little feeling back into my extremities, I decided to sit down with a cup of tea and browse the forums. One thread in particular caught my attention http://www.tinyfish.org/forums/index.php?topic=728.15 as there has been some talk over the one and only album generated by our first prog band Freefall called Thrown. It was an interesting period in our young little lives (not one I'd like to repeat mind you) and I thought it might be fun/helpful to let people know a little more about what occurred.

First let me say this; without Freefall, Tinyfish or Frost* might never have existed. It was a our first attempt at writing prog and although most of the music/lyrics we created (in our collective opinion) are pretty cringe-worthy today, we did have a lot of fun making those noises and it got us on the way to where we all are now.  Grin

If you are after a little additional background history on Freefall, you can do so by looking at the Lazy Gun website here: http://www.lazygunrecords.com/freefall/freefall.htm

At the time we recorded this album (around 1991/92), Freefall had more or less ceased to exist. Jem and myself were working on a new project called The Beat Thieves but a request came through from a guy called Sean Worrell of a magazine called The Organ, asking us if we'd be interested in releasing an album through the publication's associated label. Jem and I talked about it and decided to dust down several sections of the band's live set along with some material that we'd be working on but never got to play due to the group falling apart.

The deal with The Organ never came through but we persevered and the result of those sessions became Freefall's one and only officially recorded album.



The line up for the Thrown sessions comprised of:
Jean Paul 'JP' Orr - Vocals
Jem Godfrey - Keyboards/Drum Programming
Jerry Franke - Bass
Simon Godfrey - Lyrics & Backing vocals

The tracks were:

It’s Not A Game
a. Mute
b. Hellstate
c. Summerhouse
d. Letting Your Secret Go

Breaking The Back Of The City
Home from Home
Everything Cures
Where Are All Your Heroes Now?
Goodbye Legion

Even though I was credited as playing drums (as I would normally do live), we couldn't afford to hire a live studio with our meagre funds so instead, we used a Roland R5 drum machine which Jem programmed to mimic the parts I usually played. The guitars were handled by a gent that JP knew who did all the strumming and lead work and was a very sweet guy. He played incredibly well but sadly, I can no longer remember his name. Sorry about that whoever you are.  Grin



Gerry Franke was a good friend of the band, had mixed live sound for us many times and was great bass player (that's him below reading an edition of the Freefall newsletter - The Magic Moose Club). When we asked for his assistance, he was very happy to help out and learned all the parts in an incredibly short period of time. I do remember that his bass sounded awful (not his fault I might mention as he had to borrow one to do the session) but we did a bit of tweaking and it came out sounding okay in the end.



I thought Jem's production was pretty darn good considering his limited experience (he was 21 at the time) and the equipment we had to hand. He was certainly head and shoulders above many other people and it was a clear indication of where his life would lead in the years to come. I remember that the microphone was some SM58 copy that was gaffa taped to the side of a metal equipment rack so that JP could sing all the parts without holding it.



My memory is sketchy but I do remember that the equipment we used was a joke even by the standards of the day. We borrowed a HUGE Tascam 8 track recorder from somebody (I have no idea who), we had several Boss guitar effect pedals, some Itallian FX box bought out of the newspaper Loot which we used to put the vocals through (the FX box, not the newspaper you understand), a strange Yamaha hardware sequencer that Jem had dubbed 'Aubrey' (Jem was brilliant at programming so that music breathed like a live band), my little valvestate guitar amp that took up permanent residence in the toilet, a Yamaha DX-27 (a poor mans DX7), a Kawai K1 (both keyboards making up Jem's live rig at the time), a rack mounted mixer, plus some undepowered Akai FX boxes and a bizarre Roland 12 bit sampler (yes 12 bits!) which was so hard to use, I think we only plugged it in once. All of this was bought second hand or borrowed for entirely too long.



Jem's health at the time was in a shocking state. He worked very hard trying to get a good sound from the crappy equipment and I know he made himself quite ill during the recording of that album as a result. If you need any proof of his physical condition, check out one of the tunes called Hellstate. If you listen carefully to the quiet middle section, you'll hear Jem's wheezing laughter in the background. That wasn't an affectation, he coughed and spluttered like an old man for the entire duration of the recording.



As for the line up that recorded it, even though Jim & Paul and singer Andy Lovatt from the original line up the band were not on it, a number of the tracks that appeared on the recording were played live by the band (albeit in a slightly more embryonic form). Hellstate for example originally had lyrics written by Andy but after he left (to be replaced by Jean Paul Orr - or 'J.P.' - or 'Jolly Japes' as he later became known) on vocals, it was deliberately re-jigged as an instrumental to dodge any copyright issues. Home From Home was another mainstay of the Freefall live set although again, that was altered on the album to accommodate the changes in musical personnel.

The task of writing words for Freefall and the Thrown album in particular was my responsibility. Back in the day, I had visions of being hailed as the next Neil Peart (yes I know, you can all stop laughing now) and I shudder at the pretentious sixth form scribblings I committed to paper back then. The best thing I can say about them is that they were of their time and happily Rob Ramsay would soon take over for my future musical outings.

My personal favourite bit of music on that album is 'Letting Your Secret Go' which was entirely written using 'Aubrey' (the hardware sequencer) by Jem and features a very illegal sample of Tony Hancock (of Hancock's Half Hour fame) saying:
'Anything under a seven; what sort of justice is that?'

Around the time, Judas Priest were being taken to court in the USA over some religious nut's insane belief that the band were sending secret messages to its fans telling them to supposedly commit suicide. As Rob Halford at the time said 'If we wanted to send a subconscious message, it would have said; 'buy our albums' not 'kill yourself''.

As a bit of silliness and a very small nod of support to all the bands that suffered under such mad legal attacks, Letting Your Secret Go had some very primitive backwards masking with Jem, JP, Gerry and I singing in a quasi barbershop quartet harmony: 'Six six seven; the neighbour of the beast'

Both Jem and myself grew up listening to ELO who used to put fun little secret messages or musical tricks into their music. As a result Thrown (and indeed the first Tinyfish album) is riddled with similar backwards messages and audio 'in-jokes'

The most obvious little one that links Freefall and the Tinyfish début album is the whispered 'Goodbye' which appears at the end of the track Breaking The Back Of The City on Thrown and also in the dying moments of All Hands Lost on Tinyfish.

There you have it. Maybe I haven't got all the details straight,(it was nearly 20 years ago remember) but that's how I remember it all taking place. It was terrible, it was frustrating but it was fun to do and there are lots of ideas that took root back then which have slowly evolved into the two bands you know (and love?) today.

Big nostalgic kisses.

Simon.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 04:32:38 PM by Simon » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2010, 12:57:22 PM »

Thanks for this, Simon - for sad, old prog historian fetishists like me it's really interesting to read Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2010, 01:03:16 PM »

Ah, the backwards stuff :-

"Do not play this backwards please, unless you live in Belize,
I will come round to your house, give you cups of tea..."
Milliontown @ 4:30

Genius!  Smiley

Thanks for that write-up.
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2010, 03:05:23 PM »

One other thing I should let you know. The album itself is currently deleted but I'm planning to have a word with Jem at some point in the future about the possibility of making it a free download.

Please, please, please, DO NOT TRY TO BUY THE ALBUM FROM THE LAZY GUN WEBSITE. There is a Paypal button on the page left over from when it was available which Rob has yet to delete (I've asked him to remove it this very day).

Many thanks.  Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2010, 04:27:51 PM »

A 12 bit Roland sampler?! My old SNES is more powerful than that!  Cheesy



Thanks for posting this, Simon. I love learning about the history of bands - it's sort of mythical.  Smiley

(Apologies for the massive picture. Whoops.)
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2010, 06:15:20 PM »

Wow.. thanks for all that!

I remember somebody posted links to the tunes (maybe on the Frost* forum?), and I dont recall it sounding like it was recorded in a toilet with a drum machine.

It's amazing how far recording technology has has progressed in the last few years, both in terms of cost and capability.
One of my high school buddies had a teac a3440 open reel 4-track, and we thought that was the bee's knees!
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 06:49:50 PM »

must not be tempted into Freefall threads must not be tempted into Freefall threads must not be tempted into Freefall threads must not be tempted into Freefall threads must not be tempted into Freefall threads

oh poo

I'll just stick with what I said on the "now listening to" thread back in August...  (got the above mentioned CD at MattFest)

"On my drive home this morning, I listened to the Freefall CD.  I could see why they were my favourite band at the time, not sure it will be played again tho  Wink I didn't remember any of it at all, but it was a very very long time ago."

And I haven't played it again. 
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 07:00:55 PM »

Whilst packing up my house for the move, I found a Surface Tension tape and another one which appears to be a rehearsal. It's not my favourite. I have also found some of the fabric and spare fabric badges I used for the flight suits. AND I still wear Freefall t-shirts in bed when it's cold Cheesy
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2010, 08:23:54 PM »

thank you, Simon, for that!  what a treat; I love reminiscences like that, and I still, even more, want to hear the music!  what fun!

I have a huge, 1/4" Tascam 8-track in the closet somewhere....  it was (is?) a great machine.
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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010, 08:58:31 PM »

Whilst packing up my house for the move, I found a Surface Tension tape and another one which appears to be a rehearsal. It's not my favourite. I have also found some of the fabric and spare fabric badges I used for the flight suits. AND I still wear Freefall t-shirts in bed when it's cold Cheesy

I would like to see that ... the flight suits ... not Nellie in bed just wearing a Freefall t-shirt ... or would I ... must stop typing now.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2010, 09:00:22 PM by hoboslobo » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010, 10:49:05 PM »

Well it could be worse Bo - it could be Rob in just a Freefall T-shirt   Grin
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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2010, 10:52:26 PM »

thank you, Simon, for that!  what a treat; I love reminiscences like that, and I still, even more, want to hear the music!  what fun!

I have a huge, 1/4" Tascam 8-track in the closet somewhere....  it was (is?) a great machine.

Glad you enjoyed it. I think it's good to let people know that even with no money and the rubbish kit that we had, Jem worked until he dropped to produce the best music he could.
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2010, 12:22:52 PM »

Oh my word, nostalgia ain't what it used to be..  Grin

'Thrown' was the only Freefall recording that didn't feature either Jim or myself on guitar. I do recall being asked to 'Cistern Studios' Grin  but I was heavily involved in another project (can't remember which one at this point but that's immaterial) so I reluctantly turned it down.  Shame because Hellstate and Goodbye Legion had become regulars in the live set towards the end of the live performances.  Not to everyone's taste as they were much heavier than normal Freefall fayre and with the advent of JP on vocals had a distinct leaning towards hard rock but still retained the Freefall 'sound' for which we were known and loved, and often booed off stage...

What would be REALLY great is if we could make the Freefall recordings downloadable.  I think Freefall in all its incarnations needs a "page" somewhere in cyberspace. I've lost my recordings somewhere (I've moved house so many times they're in a box somewhere) but they only exist as metal tapes (remember those!).  I'd love a digitally remastered copy.   

Prior to 'Thrown' we had released a cassette album called 'Deus ex Machina' which was a live recording onto four track.  The band played the music in one pass with the vocals added by JP on the second pass.  No overdubs allowed though a real WYHIWYG recording.  It sounds semi-raw and I suppose captures what we actually sounded like live (warts 'n' all).  I think there were about 6 tracks on that album which contained a far heavier Hellstate than is on 'Thrown'.

Prior to that we'd pushed the boat out in a 24 track studio (this was biiiig sh*t in those days) and recorded a three track demo/ep.  I think that's what Nellie is referring to as the 'Surface Tension' recordings.  Would love to hear that again too.

Still struggling to come to terms with the fact that this was all 20 years ago  Shocked.  Really doesn't seem like it.  Still have great memories of the live shows and the general fun that surrounded working with such a great bunch of people.

JBG

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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2010, 12:53:37 PM »

I think that's what Nellie is referring to as the 'Surface Tension' recordings.  Would love to hear that again too.

Suface Tension was the second cassette demo we did. The first, Fate Not Choice (still not sure what that really means) was recorded in a teeny tiny studio under a second hand car lot in Kingston Upon Thames, while for the Suface Tension demo we trudged all the way to Barnet and shelled out for 3 days a 24 track studio. As JBG says, biiiig shit in those days! FNC was terribly ropey but as far as I recall, ST had some cracking stuff on it including the track Surface Tension (which we opened with when we supported IQ at the Marquee) and another track called A Play For Voices which was always one of my favourite tracks to play live.

I was under the impression that Deus Ex Machina was the demo recorded in a 24 track studio after I'd upped sticks and buggered off. I recall Simon telling me that all kinds of jiggery pokery had been done on Andy's voice to get it in tune, but perhaps I'm mistaken.
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2010, 02:44:08 PM »

I think that's what Nellie is referring to as the 'Surface Tension' recordings.  Would love to hear that again too.

Suface Tension was the second cassette demo we did. The first, Fate Not Choice (still not sure what that really means) was recorded in a teeny tiny studio under a second hand car lot in Kingston Upon Thames, while for the Suface Tension demo we trudged all the way to Barnet and shelled out for 3 days a 24 track studio. As JBG says, biiiig shit in those days! FNC was terribly ropey but as far as I recall, ST had some cracking stuff on it including the track Surface Tension (which we opened with when we supported IQ at the Marquee) and another track called A Play For Voices which was always one of my favourite tracks to play live.

You're right Jim.  My mistake.  Timelines getting a bit hazy...!  The 'Surface Tension' EP was prior to my arrival.  The one I'm mixing it up with is what became known (within the band) as the "Not very big deal" EP after it spectacularly failed to launch us onto an unsuspecting world.  That was recorded on 24 track at Von's in Islington.  Same line up as Surface Tension but with you swapped for me and we did three tracks: Surface Tension, When the Heart Beats Faster & Play for Voices (agree on the live feel of this track!). I'm sure we changed a few elements of each in the arrangements from the original (as you do).  That was a week in Von's on the Graveyard shift to save money. As you'll remember recording studios in those days were a licence to print money for the studio. Day rates were astronomical.  We recorded the NVBD EP overnight from something like 10pm till 6am on three consecutive nights then one for mixing it (or something like that).  By day three we all resembled zombies as our body clocks were well and truly farked.  There's nothing quite like being woken up at 4am and told to go do your solos... Smiley  

Our management at the time (I'm not going there...) secured the services of a Producer/Engineer called George Althaus (I think he was German but don't quote me) to oversee the recording and final mix. We were told he'd and I quote "worked with Europe".  This was quite an OMG moment for me as I loved (still do) John Norum's playing style and sound.  I was excitedely awaiting the moment when George would get me "that sound" that Norum had on the Europe stuff.  If I got half as close as Norum's tone on 'The Final Countdown' I'd die a happy boy.  

I plucked up courage to mention Norum on the second evening of recording when we were miking up the cabinets to get some guitar recorded.  "So George", I said nervously, "what was it like working with Europe then"?  I was met with a blank look, an unnerving silence, a pregnant pause.  "Yeah, I bet it was great working with John Norum, what a player" I blustered out.  

"I've never worked with John Norum" said George in his almost cute European lilt.

"But our manager XXXX said you'd worked with Europe"?  I asked again quizzically.

"No" said George, I've worked *in* Europe".

Bugger.... <insert sound of deflating balloon>

We mixed it and were really happy with it (apart from a left channel waterflute sound at the end of Play for Voices that I remember Simon having a right eppy about at 5:30am on the final day 'cos he'd been asleep at the final pass of the mix!).

After a month we remixed it at a different studio and did some jiggery-pokery with dear old Andy as you say.. Smiley  Of course it was nothing major and certainly nothing like you can do with ProTools plugins now.  I believe the waterflute got stereo-imaged at this point too  Grin


I was under the impression that Deus Ex Machina was the demo recorded in a 24 track studio after I'd upped sticks and buggered off. I recall Simon telling me that all kinds of jiggery pokery had been done on Andy's voice to get it in tune, but perhaps I'm mistaken.

Nope, 'Deus ex Machina' was recorded "as live" at Tweeters in Leatherhead with JP (OT: doesn't he look like David Cassidy in those pics!) after Andy left the band.  What it lacks in recording technique (basically everything miked up - levels set then off we all go for a take) it makes up for by capturing the real live sound of the band I think.  All done in one day. We released it as a cassette album and sold it at gigs.  

JBG

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