Stornoway have revealed a short film on the making of their latest album Tales from Terra Firma and it is one of the best ‘making of’ films I’ve seen. If you haven’t heard the album then trust me, you’ll want to after watching this. The film which is just under 19 minutes long is filled with very frank and honest interviews with the band and even if you have the album you’ll want to go back and play it again as it will change how you listen to it.
The film starts with lead singer Brian Briggs talking about his songwriting..it’s just the start of the magic as he heads out to a campervan parked on the road and announces this is where I go to write. Inside he has a notebook and a cheap £15 guitar he picked up in the market. The van looks nothing special, although anyone who has owned a van will know different. It has no electricity and because he’ll often spend long hours in there, as he did on Tales from Terra Firma he uses a headtorch at night. One particular night his then pregnant wife knocked on the door to tell him her waters had broken. These little private life glimpses and intense experiences become more revealing throughout the documentary as the songs shape around them.
This album is clearly a big move from Beachcomber’s Windowsill which Jon Ouin reveals took 5-6 years to make with months between songs. Oli Steadman refers to the songs on that album as little trinkets, a fittig description as Tales from Terra Firma was a more condensed and intense process “a concentrated piece of conviction, it has direction, true stories and emotions”.
Their engineer and mixer George Shilling also reveals some great facts about the band who he contacted back in the days of Myspace offering to produce an album for them. The response back was they’d love to once they could afford to work in a proper studio. They still haven’t, Tales from Terra Firma was recorded in a shed (the cosmic shed) that was padded in carpet, a church where late night drunks and bin-men could still be heard and a Barn, with a clattery roof near Oxford. Brian performs a spine tingling rendition of November Song in the latter location which was a personal highlight in the film. They have stuck to their ethic from the locations they record in, the 8 track tape they record on, to the sounds they loop into percussion using keys and crisp packets…it’s all DIY!
All these little snippets add to the beauty of the album and do actually give the songs a strong sense of place. The story of how the demo ‘Silent Book’ became ‘Farewell Appalachia’ or how the jaunty ‘The Bigger Picture’ is about recovering from loss, inspired by the experience of one of the band members losing a close friend…it all accumulates into a really positive force. As the film rolls on this snowballs…Adam Briggs, Brians brother and also a doctor, explains how he helps out playing instruments when the band perform live. Brian reveals that November Song was inspired by his then Grandmother who has since passed away and his then future wife who he is now married to and has a child. You can’t help but love what they do and how they do it!
It’s all very wonderful. In a nutshell? Bloody Brilliant!
The making of “Tales from Terra Firma”
Couldn’t really leave it there without some music…
New Mini Album: You Don’t Know Anything out on 11th November 2013