Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
You know, all this recording has made me remember making my first vinyl record. Ian Peppercorn, Gypp's former guitarist dropped by the other night for a drink and we listened to my new tracks. We got to reminiscing about the making of "Yaah!" the Gypp EP. It's worth putting down in writing what happened back then, because everything that could possibly go wrong with making a record did go wrong. It began with our inept manager buying a two pound bag of minced beef in February 1978/.It ended up with me crying in a supermarket in October of that same year. Here goes:.
It's Going To Be There Forever - part 1
From the time I joined them in Spring of 1976 Gypp hadn't really been a recording band, we'd always concentrated on doing gigs, of which there were many. In 1978 alone, I believe we did something like 150 of them. Our priority, up until this point, had always been upon upgrading our equipment. Luckily, we had a great friend called Dave, a railway signalman who was putting together a four-track studio of sorts. With recently-acquired management -- they were a couple of local businessmen who'd fancied dabbling in the rock world -- it was agreed we'd make an EP of some sort. This would get record company interest, ideally. Failing that though, we reasoned that we could sell it ourselves at gigs. One weekend in February we began putting down the backing tracks in Otley Village Hall in Suffolk.
Dave the recordist set up in the back rooms behind the stage and with some of us on the stage, and the curtains closed to cut down the hall reverb, we began work on the backing tracks. Having done this, we decamped for the next sessions to Birchanger, a small village,on the Essex Herts border, where Dave lived then. This move was made in order to continue with some overdubs. It wasn't a proper studio, we had to set it up wherever we could. Sometimes it would be a village hall, other times, someone's house. Ensconced for the weekend at Dave's,we realised we'd need a meal at some point-- in between working in the studio and going to the pub. We gave our manager some money and asked him ( the only thing we asked of him) to remember to bring enough food to make a meal for six of us. Having toured Germany and stayed out in a rural cottage for our base, we were used to catering for ourselves. And anyway, it wasn't fair to prevail upon Dave's missus to feed us, the whole time. It was late in the aftrenoon when the manager finally appeared with two pounds of minced beef. That was it. No carrots, spuds or other veg. We now had two pounds of minced beef and a kitchen to use. I think we managed to cobble some sort of Spag Bol together for ourselves. There were no nearby shops, you see. This incompetency did not bode well for the future, but what the hell? The management could advance us enough money to make this EP. It would eventually help to show the world that our band was something to be reckoned with. So for the time being we overlooked his tardiness.
March rolled in. Recording had to be forgotten for the time being, because we now had a German tour to be getting on with. This ended up being about 13 or 14 gigs, over the roughly, same number of days. Then we came back to England and got straight on with some extra gigs in Deptford, Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. We'd now been gigging almost every night for three weeks . I checked a tattered old diary of mine.
The diary entries also mention me feeling constantly exhausted at that time. Sometime around the 19th or 20th of that month, I became very ill. I became so ill in fact, that I went to the doctor. Now, I'm a typical Englishman and I never usually do that sort of thing. The doctor didn't know what it was but he depatched me straight to a hospital for tests. By this time I wasn't even well enough to do my part time washing-up job in a restaurant. The hospital couldn't figure out what I'd got wrong with me but... it wasn't glandular fever, they said. It was something very like it though, they added. I was written off with an indefinite sickness certificate, told to lie in bed as much as possible and given some stuff to take. My glands swelled up, I couldn't swallow, I had a terrible throat, a temperature and a permanent nasty headache.
My girlfriend had left me round about this time. Now, if you are a rock singer with not much money, even if you are a well-behaved and quite faithful rock singer with no money, you'll still generally find that your girlfriend leaves you at certain times, usually taking up with someone ultimately more stable than you are. I don't know how long I was laid up, but from my diary, which has gaps in the entries at this time, I would surmise that I was out of action for a couple of weeks. Luckily, it coincided with a period of very few gigs. As soon as I was well enough, I did one gig in Ipswich. From my diary of the time, this action seemed to have caused a relapse, of sorts and my voice disappeared again. Sometime around here, it was decided that the recording of the Yaah EP schedule could no longer wait. We needed two lead vocals doing and some vocal overdubs. One cold Saturday in early April, Dave brought a microphone and his four track machine around to my house and I got up out of bed to sing the parts. I just about had the voice to do it with. I can still hear the weakness of it all, even now, if I ever listen to the EP...which mostly, I don't. The Yaah EP only contained three tracks. So far, those three tracks had been recorded in unlikely locations which took in three separate English counties: Essex, Herts and Suffolk. And it still wasn't finished. There were lead guitar parts to go on. There was mixing to be done. More complications would follow. TBC