I went down to the South Island to record my sophomore slump Endearance. I spent 5 days recording at the Masonic Lodge in Port Chalmers. Dale Cotton (audio whiz) engineered, Tom Healy (creative driving force of The Low Spark at the time) played bass, and Darren Stedman (drummer for The Verlaines) played drums. I also spent a few days on either side of the recording session catching up with old friends, and staying with Rainy and Scott in Roslyn, Dunedin.
When I arrived in Roslyn, I found a note telling me everything I needed to know about my accommodation. (Scott was still trying to convert me to Ryan Adams. I’ve never fully got him, but I’m glad he’s a fan of The Verlaines.)
Rainy even drew me a map of the quickest way into town.
Look how cute their little pad was!!
Oh the view from their balcony!
After a few blissful days with dear friends it was time to venture out to the Masonic Lodge in Port Chalmers and get down to business. They say black is all colours at once right?
The control room! This humble (and very cold!!) looking mezzanine was where Dale set up his Pro Tools rig, replete with those Neve preamps he always insisted on hiring from Radio New Zealand for all his audio projects. They sure warm things up.
And this is what it looked like downstairs. Yep, even a folkie like me needs multiple fender amps when he’s making a folk ROCK record.
My beloved Japanese jazzmaster featured heavily.
I still remember how happy I was after pounding out the piano part for the song The Jaws of Life. Dale said “That had a Peter Jeffferies vibe going on” and that sure made me smile.
During the recording sessions Tom Healy and I would sleep in the spare room at Dale and Natasha’s place in Saint Leonards . This was the glorious view from their balcony.
But back to the lodge. It had a deer’s head on the wall downstairs. It sure added to the vibe.
And there were rosary beads hanging from the toilet door.
One thing we didn’t realise when booking the lodge was that the Port Chalmers locals had a ping pong night there once a week. But New Zealand indie rock is far more important, so . . .
Recording is all about to do lists really, just like almost everything else in life I guess.
I had to fly back a month or two later to finish recording the vocals. A dreaded South Island virus, which I’d caught just in time, had prevented me from doing them the first time around. It also made those initial sessions extremely exhausting. That’s just one reason Endearance was a tough album to make. Despite my less than ideal health at the time, I’ll always think back fondly, even whilst wincing a little, on the memory of waking up at Dales’s house on a cold morning with a sore throat, already feeling tired. I’d see Tom Healy in the sleeping bag on the other side of the room. Dale would be at the door with coffees to coax us out into the waking world. We’d hop in the car and drive back out to Port to meet up with Darren and plug away at this record, and I’ll always love the record that we were left with at the end.
I should add my camera wasn’t working during the actual recording sessions. I took the Masonic photos when I was back out there by myself packing up my gear. Hence the lack of “performance pics.” I can only assume this is for the best.