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making a record
The June recordings at Rockfield, Monmouth had been developed back at Sean Genockey's own Black Dog Studios in London through July and early August 2012. From this first session, two of the five songs the band had worked on were now complete: 'Dazed and Confused' and 'Kites' destined to form the heart of a first EP release from the new album.

By the time drummer Steve Bowman had flown over from the US, and bassist John Hogg (Moke) joined Iko for the second week of recording in September, they had the best of all worlds: a perfect blend of technologies, old microphones, fast computers, perfect rooms and a full band to exploit the situation. Plentiful wine and Neil's expert cooking skills supplemented long days and nights spent capturing tracks for the album. 

The songs this time were recorded as live sessions, exploiting the combination of well-crafted demos, a perfect recording environment and talented musicians. Kieran picks up the story:
"It feels almost cheekily revolutionary to play as a band together in a live room and just put it down and say, we got the take. So much of our modern recording experience has been layering, tuning, tweaking and re layering - it's almost an alien thing for us to be working both ways."

Maybe it was the influence of 'Genockey-time' on a sensitive mind (working to 4am or even 5am only to start again at 11.30am) or maybe it was the instinct to tell stories that worked on the lyric writing. Whatever the influence, mixtures of the real world and fantasy found their way into the lyric book.

Kieran again: "Themes of the supernatural, magical realism, heartbreak, dusty memories of friends weddings and soul thumping anthems of reassurance, spider bites and utter anguish flooded the mind as I finished off words before stepping into the room and singing the guide vocals."

Much has been written in the band blogs about the influence of what's become known as 'Freddie's Piano', the beautiful Bosendorfer grand (on which the Queen front man wrote Bohemian Rhapsody). For Neil it was the opportunity to play a superb instrument:
"There was something very humbling about sitting at 'that' piano. It demanded respect".

Two songs ended up being written in meal breaks, much in the same way Freddie Mercury sat down and wrote 'Bohemian Rhapsody' when everyone else went off to eat.
Again Kieran says: "'Ruined' and 'Lightning Bolts' are much more understated affairs, not genre defining rock opera opus's. But Freddie's presence was there. A beautiful piano that just invited you to sit down and compose. The musical ghosts gently nudging you towards pressing record on your iPhone to just get an early idea down.'

For Neil, a large part of the magic rests in seeing music that develops on his computer come to life when interpreted by other musicians:
"Probably my favourite part of being in the studio is when the string players come in. They usually arrive on the last day, at the stage where the songs have already taken shape. I always write the parts using string samples. While these are sounding better and better all the time, I'm always blown away by the real performances. They breathe so much life and character into the music, they take each song to a new level."

Long-term Iko collaborator Beth Porter and her 'Stringbeans' quartet added in other ways too as Kieran recalls:
"We spent one whole day with our string section who also added choir vocals, danced in the lounge to Rufus Wainwright, hijacked our iPads and generally made the whole experience even more amazing than it already was: the cherry on the cake if you will".

And how did the second recording session at Rockfield compare with the first? Kieran's take on it:
"The second session with John and Steve joining us was similar, but at a higher tempo. We had worked out how to utitlise the space, how to do a lot in the 15 hours or however long we spent per day. Almost like, the rehearsal and then the performance. To leave Rockfield after a combined 12 days with 16 pieces of music was prolific even by our standards. It was our one shot to get it right so we gave it everything."

So, just where are we now and what has to happen before we can all sit down with that long-awaited, as yet unnamed Iko album? First the release of a new EP, a bundle of excitement, promotion and other news etc. then back to completing the album tracks, mixing and mastering with Sean and Ed.

And so, next up to the EP: a four-track release that really excites everyone in the band camp and everyone who is rooting for them: one that will coincide with an incredibly busy end of the year for iko.

Kieran has the last word:
"All the long days, snare sounds, late night artwork vigils, plane flights and chaos of rock 'n' roll creation, I guess, came down to a simple conversation between two people and a habit to write songs that won't go away: a phone call to an old friend, who just happens to be a brilliant music producer and an email or two from Hollywood. Imagine the conversation: 'Shall we write some songs?' – 'See how it goes?'"
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find a place - single
 
released 16 march 2015
track listing:
1. find a place
 
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