Arrows is 1

This Saturday Arrows turns 1. 

That’s a sentence that at many times over the 9 years it took to make and release I honestly doubted I’d ever be able to say, so here’s a not-so-short story about its birth.

It was an absolute beast to make. 

We started writing it right off the back of releasing Open Hearts. Conscious that it’d been 3 years between A Call and Response and Open Hearts, and with what felt like little momentum left, it was an effort to quickly put out new songs, to try and ‘stay relevant.’ 

We put way too much pressure on ourselves and it definitely showed. Writing was difficult. Deathmask came quickly, we gave that its live debut at Plissken festival in Athens in 2010, but after that ideas were hard to come by, and the longer it went on the worse it got. We were frustrated with ourselves and each other, and to me a least all I wanted was to get the thing finished.

I spent hours and hours sat in front of my laptop, in my house in Northenden, trying to wrestle tiny sparks into ideas with enough substance to start working on together. I had a baby on the way and just couldn’t see how we could continue trying to write in the same way after the baby was born, so I was desperate to finish it.

We didn’t make that first baby deadline, or as it turns out a few more baby deadlines!

Three years after Open Hearts was released we were finally in a position to deliver an album to Melodic Records. We’d recorded everything ourselves, in our rehearsal room, a damp and leaky place underneath a gym in Salford. It wasn’t a good record, it was half baked at best. There were some good ideas for sure, but also a lot of rushed songs and ideas we should have discarded, and it didn’t know what it wanted to be. Thankfully, Dave at Melodic was, as he always has been, honest with us, and helped us to get some perspective on what we’d delivered. And we’re extremely grateful for that. Melodic, understandably, declined to release it.

We took some time, stepped back and reassessed, and made some important decisions.

It no longer mattered how long it took to get album 3 written, recorded and released. It had already been so long, we had a lot of important things happening in our personal lives, and we really, really, needed to start enjoying being in a band again. We also realised that the ‘first draft’ of album 3 wasn’t a complete write-off. It had taken a lot to get it to the point it was at and we knew it could be a good album. Removing the self-imposed deadlines was liberating, and whilst progress wasn’t exactly fast, it was definitely more enjoyable. Arrows (the song) was a big momentum boost too, that song came together quickly, one of those that almost writes itself, and we really needed to know that we could still do that. We rewrote old songs, again and again, wrote new songs and rewrote those too, and slowly the album properly started to form.

Another short three years on and we were in a position to start recording. We recorded in our homes, rehearsal room, and a borrowed studio (thanks Rob!)

Chris Snow, sound engineer extraordinaire, recorded the drum tracks and some guitar tracks which shaped the sound of the whole record, in a way we could never have done ourselves. We recorded in whatever free time we could find, and though progress was slow, it was progress nonetheless. At last, by mid-2016, we were done… with the recording at least… so we set about trying to find a home for Arrows.

We tried to send the record as far and wide as we could, but it had been so long since we’d done anything in the music industry we had very few contacts. We’d kept in touch with Andy Booth, our lawyer since we signed our first deal, and he was a huge help with both advice and getting the record to people, but no one was biting. I’d also sent the record to Mick Shiner. He’d signed us to his publishing label back in the early days, and he got in touch with an offer of help. He sent the record around, and whilst people liked it and were kind enough to tell us they liked it, still no one was biting. The fact people were saying nice things though was vindicating, and spurred us on.

A little while prior to this I’d seen a few posts from Ann at Deltasonic Records, they were releasing new music, so I sent a demo and Ann got in touch. She liked it and wanted to put it out!!!

Now eight years on from our last record, this news was as exciting as the first time Deltasonic had wanted to release our songs, 13 years earlier. 

We enlisted the ears of Tom Knott to mix the record. We’ve known Tom for a long time, I first encountered him as part of a math rock band in an extremely odd venue in Manchester that I can’t recall, but later as the live guitarist / trumpeter in The Earlies. We’d recorded with Tom before too and knew we were in safe hands. We even managed to persuade him to play a little trumpet on the record. He knew straight away what we were aiming for and the record was mixed by mid-2017, then mastered by the brilliant Carl Saff shortly after that.

Liam Palmer, our long suffering artwork guru, did another spectacular job with the artwork, and we were ready. We just needed to figure out how to tell everyone else that, so we did the only sensible thing, went to the pub and got drunk with Will and Alex from InHouse Press. They were up for doing the promo. InHouse Press have always done our promo, on everything we’ve ever released, and it just wouldn’t have felt right to do this one without them.

In one final twist, a final attempt to scupper this album, the universe saw fit to place a spec dust/fluff/something on the stamper for the first run of the lovely blue vinyl. We listened to the first 30 seconds of all 500 copies, and an awful ‘clunk’, loud enough to kick me in the chest every time, was present on almost all of them. Thankfully Republic of Music, who were distributing the album with Deltasonic, were great and quickly ordered a repressing.

Arrows was released on April 6th 2018.

We owe a huge thanks to many, many people, without whom we would never have released this album. It was the most challenging thing we’ve ever done as a band, and we’re eternally grateful to everyone that helped, supported, worked with us, put up with us, and gave us advice. 

We’ll be celebrating its first birthday at The Soup Kitchen in Manchester on May 18th, come join us.


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