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Demon forum / THE SECOND STAGE- PART 2
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Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-02-11 20:23   » Email
Hello - Steve Watts here again...

"Touching The Ice" is one of the most underrated songs by Demon.

Its a perfect example of the "lets just do it" approach I think we possessed in those days, a certain "leap of faith" that's completely necessary when you put yourself out on a creative limb and "head in the new direction".

I programmed that strange wobbly drone that sits throughout the song on a Roland Jupiter 8 Synthesizer that was lying about the studio, as a result of a hastily programmed attempt to please Dave...."that'll do!"

Other overdubs and band arrangements were meticulously planned prior to these sessions at both The Wilkes Head and at John (Crowie) Wrights house. I have a odd memory of sitting in Johns living room surrounded by synthesizers in a house that resembled a set from the BBC's "Antiques Road Show"...a bizarre combination of electronic high tech; Miss Marple and Bagpuss, whilst being plied with endless cups of tea and digestive biscuits...

...not exactly Andy Warhol's "Factory" but a very creative; pleasant, and slightly surreal time non-the-less. Dave insisted that I wrote down every conceivable synth parameter that I used to create BSA's soundscapes; a good idea seeing as fully programmable synths were still rare and I had to otherwise memorise everything.

I still have all those old notes and sketches.

"Touching The Ice" epitomises the intricate work done on BSA and I'm sure it was one of the first songs on which I?d started arranging for Demon. It was certainly the first time I asked Gavin to pedal the tonic bass note in a songs chorus before moving with the chord structure. If done right, this technique creates a big emotional "lift": it also works really well in "Genius" from "Heart Of Our Time"...I think I pinched this technique from the song "Entangled" by Genesis.

Anyway...other favourite highlights include John Wrights superb drumming, certainly the tightest drummer I've ever worked with.
Watching him lay down a rhythm track in the studio to a click track with Gavin on Bass was an enlightening experience.

Sadly, this song is also memorable as one of the only tracks on the album on which Mal managed to overdub a guitar solo before he was taken ill. Many of Mal's remaining solo's had to be played by John Waterhouse.

As the various structures of "Touching The Ice" gradually end, the sounds of 'processed' breathing and with them, the soundscapes of "Second Stage' gradually begin...

The heavy breathing is me and the 'processing' is a beer glass, after I discovered, presumably after yet another session igniting the ozone layer, that a pint beer glass when close-miked and breathed into, creates a particularly resonant and sinister sound effect...a bit like breathing whilst wearing a space helmet perhaps...noticing any connections yet?

The entire track was built around Mal's creepy and heavily chorused Ibanez effected, guitar composition. A great part and a great sound, which is unfortunately, for me at least, perhaps the only Demon track that is completely spoilt by all the synthesizers: if there is one ?song? on BSA to take back to the drawing board...this is it.

The atmospheres I built around the guitar for "Second Stage" just didn't work. To complicate matters further, I remember mixing engineer Keith Andrews throwing his arms in the air in exasperation and admitting he had absolutely no idea what to do with it...as to be honest, at the time, neither did I.

Mal's guitar is almost completely drowned out by bass drones and sound effects that were clumsily constructed and recorded at Stockport. In an desperate attempt, I think to make the track work sonically, additional synth material was added by Dave, Mike, and Keith at Amazon without either my knowledge or contribution: this including a terrible synth/sample of Daves voice.

The slightly overused, and now clichéd female orgasm sample, is played by Dave, courtesy of an Emulator Mk1 Sampler I borrowed from Echo and The Bunnymen, who were working on their new album in the next door studio.

It's a petty that the planned vocal lines of "Ooooh...PUSH! (you can just about hear them if you listen very carefully) were pretty much left out, as the track is an analogy of re-birth and evolution (and closely linked to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey") but this, along with the breathing effect, was considered to be too close to Pink Floyds "Don't Leave Me Now" from "The Wall", and was later dropped.

A very weird track...but also an unsuccessful experiment. However, in the context of the album, I think we managed to get away with it - just.

(Interestingly, I remember rehearsing BSA in its entirety, as though for a live performance, during the later stages of the albums completion, and I should imagine that recordings of this still exist...it would be very interesting to hear them. There must also be a copy of the recording we did at Gavin and his brother Ian's ("The Sutherland Brothers") studio for Atlantic Records after the company insisted we send them a demo.

What the demo version of "Second Stage" sounds like, I have no idea, though the Atlantic demo was rather unsuccessful, and in typical scapegoat fashion, during this recording, serious doubt was thrown on my abilities by certain band members, (hello boys!), as I struggled with the immensity of the task heaped upon me...fortunately I think my work on the final album came out rather better on the whole.)

For all its faults sonically, "Second Stage' acts as a strange, almost hallucinatory introduction to perhaps one of Demons most sublimely beautiful songs - "Proxima".

Like "Cold In The Air", "Proxima" was a completely guitar based track that was later re-arranged for synthesizers. My original idea for the main pad, was to use slowly swirling Hammond B4 Organ tones, played through panned, stereo Leslie Cabinets. Unfortunately in 1984, this sound (including by Mal and Dave) was considered a bit old fashioned, and so the Roland Jupiter 8 was again filched and put to good use.

After being ordered to come up with something more suitable I eventually again heard the dulcet tones of "that'll do", and the recording commenced. "Proxima" is a very beautiful song with poignant lyrics of human belonging and discovery, and admittedly, the 'angelic ambient choir' I programmed, is much more fitting than my original idea.

Bizarrely, (and it's never happened before or since), another musician sat down whilst I was playing the keyboard and unceremoniously fiddled with my joystick! ... very off-putting it was too...

However, John Wright's idea to randomly hit the Jupiter 8's pitch-bender controller (the joy stick in question I thank you*) as I played the chords, was a great idea, and creates the spacey echo effects you hear throughout the track.

*(incidentally, I met Julian Clarey once at Amazon Studio's to whom this bit of innuendo is dedicated...sorry to all you homophobes out there...you know who you are...I'm watching you as well)

Finally, the Tubular Bells you hear as the band kick in, in the chorus's (one of my all time favourite moments of any Demon song), were created from a brand new Yamaha DX7 Synthesizer that I bought with the large financial advance that I immediately re-invested back into Demon.

I thought it sounded fantastic! However, unfortunately, our less than enthusiastic engineer over at Strawberry Studios, considered it pertinent to ask why I had to use such a shit sound from a one and a half grand synthesizer?

Well...I STILL think it sounds just fine Chris...so FUCK OFF.

Isn't it strange...how it can take almost 30yrs to find the confidence to say something that you've spent half a lifetime wishing you should have said back then?...


I've uploaded the original Vinyl recordings of Touching The Ice; Second Stage and Proxima to YouTube at:


and I'll be including all of the note and patch diagrams for these tracks along with other artifacts and memorabilia at the DDR - DEMON ARCHIVE ROOM VERY SOON!

As ever..Enjoy! and if you can't enjoy it...stay dead.

Steve Watts 11 : 02 : 2012

Next Transmission: 11 : 03 : 2012
[Edited 2012-05-14 23:20]

Demon:Dudes Revenge
70 posts
Reg: 11/11-11
Posted: 2012-02-11 21:30   » Website   » Email

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746 posts
Reg: 5/5-06
Posted: 2012-02-13 12:15
It was certainly the first time I asked Gavin to pedal the tonic bass note in a songs chorus before moving with the chord structure.

Oh that's you is it? I love that 'trick' - I think it has a 'technical' term but can't think what that is right now. I think that it works particularly well when the following chord sequence descends in effect (bridge in Blackheath is a sort of example). This is something I like about Tony Banks's (Genesis) work; he plays around with something other than the root/tonic note for bass behind chords. He also creates wonderful chord sequences that theoretically shouldn't work! 'Turn It On Again' (Genesis), for example, creates a VERY powerful and uplifting effect when it holds the pulsating tonic bass note over a chord progression then the whole thing changes key and the bass moves with it. Wow, what a good track!!! I think there should be a harder version somewhere. Demon should have done it! Incidentally, I read somewhere that Genesis is one of Dave Hill's favourite bands.

a bit like breathing whilst wearing a space helmet perhaps...noticing any connections yet?

Daisy Daisy give me your answer do!!??
[Edited 2012-02-13 12:19]
NP: Turn it on again - Genesis

Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-04-11 21:59   » Email
Demon Dudes Revenge: An Adolescent Fantasy Vol.1 is OUT NOW!

CD AVAILABLE FROM: http://demondudesrevenge.com from 11: 03: 12

The CD is also available from AMAZON-ON-DEMAND U.S. and also world-wide as an MP3 album from all major Digital Distributors.

For further information, including exclusive access to DDR VOL 2 Audio demo's visit: http://demondudesrevenge.com

ENJOY! Steve Watts

Demon:Dudes Revenge
70 posts
Reg: 11/11-11
Posted: 2012-05-14 21:22   » Website   » Email
demon drummer
383 posts
Reg: 6/3-11
Posted: 2012-05-14 21:25

Demon:Dudes Revenge
70 posts
Reg: 11/11-11
Posted: 2012-05-14 22:27   » Website   » Email

Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-06-11 09:45   » Email
» ...

Steve Watts 2001
134 posts
Reg: 5/12-11
Posted: 2012-06-11 09:49   » Email
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