We walked to the coffee shop on a particularly coloUrful day. We noticed Dave, and he noticed us. He waved. We knew. Space Force. The blue/red combo was easy enough, but it was more than that. It was the vibe. The vibe of Knowing.
The album Manbird is so much about travel. It’s about racing to the airport, racing through the airport, trying to chill for ten hours on an airplane, then racing to whichever “home” is in front of me. I’ve been living between worlds for a few years now. I’ve got an epic therapist in Berlin. One idea we’ve been working with, as I burn out from a life always on the go and always in-between, is the image of me with my feet on the ground, my feet in the earth. Shedding my wings and settling down, basically. My suitcase as a symbol and as an actual thing contains stress and sorrow and resentment, as well as socks and underwear. I’ve taken to hiding the suitcase from the cat, so she doesn’t stress out at the sight. (Of course, now we’re in the age of C-19, where I’m landed/settled by default, for the moment.)
“Space Force,” written as the last song on the album, seems fly in the face of the idea of settling down. But it’s still a song that’s searching for home. It’s just that in this case, home is a cosmic, sci-fi vision of space travel. We’re gonna fly through space to save the human race. That old chestnut.
It’s a crazy, fun track with, as usual, everyone from everywhere on it, innit. Salt leader Stef sent some guitar tracks from Paris. Bryan Poole came over to the flat in Berlin and rocked a few more guitars. And, finally, a Manbird dream was realised when I gathered up a perfect bundle of peeps together at Shonk in Oxford for the big singalong ending. Su Jordan, Matt Sewell, Jules Moss, Jane Evans and Julia VBH all gathered ‘round the mic. I’d had the notion of a Greek chorus all over the album, but in most cases that chorus always turned out to be me singing to myself. Oxford is a city that I’ve felt as “home” since my first day there, and it’s curious that it’s probably the one place where putting together a singalong session is snap-of-the-fingers easy. It was a tight session, too. Two hours, total!
It started with just me and Su adding her vocals to the Oxford variation of the Manbird title track. Engineer Jimmy had asked if we could push the session start time back, but unfortunately, some of the singers were on a tight time budget, so noon meant noon. Jimmy had been mixing live sound far later than he’d expected the night before, and was begging for sleep, so I ran the first half of the session. Once Su nailed her ting, we gathered the gang and Jimmy put us safely on tape, layer upon layer. So fun to sing together, and everyone sounded fab. It was such the perfect way to wrap up this epic album. Pretty sure it comes across in them headphones!
Last time we saw Dave, by the way, he was rolling down 80 on a motorcycle. If you see him, give him a wave!