John Douglass– songs, arrangements, production, vocals, guitar & keys
Steve Hogg – lead and backing vocals
Mark Aubrey – engineer, co-producer, sampling
Paul Wigens – drums, percussion
Eddie John – drums
Lisa Cherian – percussion
Joe Allen – bass
Jim Barr – bass
Sean Snook – guitar, ukulele
Holly Carter – guitar
Jerry Crozier-Cole – guitar
Pete Judge – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jake McMurchie – sax
Ben Waghorn – clarinet, bass clarinet
Paul Quinn – piano, keys
Richard Price – keys
Stew Jackson – pedal steel
Simon Cook MBE – voice-over
Fiona Barrow – strings
Sorrelli Strings – strings
Sally Larkin – vocals
Anna Lisa Price – vocals
Sophia Kisielewska – vocals
Michaela Fedeczko – vocals
Ruth Ayika Ankrah – vocals
Photos by Phil Nicholls and Sophie Purnell
John talks about the new album ‘Two Miles Out.
This album was started in the summer of 2018 and completed in the summer of 2021; post Brexit, post Trump, pre pandemic. The last album ‘The Arrogance of Time’ was personal and reflecting on the ‘seven ages of man’. This album, ‘Two Miles Out’, started off reflecting on global events, but ended up introspective once more. Maybe the best way to solve the world’s problems is to start at home, ‘physician heal thyself’? As a songwriter I used to make myself crazy in order to write, now I keep myself sane (ish) by writing. I also found myself writing more on piano than on guitar this time around.
Since the last album I visited the birthplace of my ‘religion’, Sun Studios in Memphis, whilst also soaking in a bit of Nashville and New York, all great music cities. As is my hometown, Bristol, where we decamped to J&J Studios, run by the wonderful Jim Barr. Those long winter evenings just flew by listening to Jim and Mark (Aubrey) discussing the intricacies of rewiring an old mixing desk.!
We used the same approach as the last album, with Steve handling most of the vocal duties and myself the songs and arrangements, with Mark holding it all together, supported by a great cast of musicians too numerous to mention individually but listed opposite on this page. Each one is appreciated by me more than they’ll ever know, and certainly much more than I paid them!
I remember my very first recording session, when I was around seventeen, at Right Track, Bristol, with Liam Henshall (later of London Beat), we recorded two songs and I left with a cassette copy which I listened to non stop that night, I don’t think I slept a wink. I knew then that’s what I wanted to do with my life. After recording the basic tracks for this album, I still had the same buzz and listened to the rough mixes all night; I still get the same thrill writing songs and recording them, nothing else comes close.
One day, mid recording a track called ‘No More’, a horse walked into the studio and asked, ‘Why the long fade?’ ‘Because we like a long fade’ we said, ‘have you got a problem with that?’ – apparently he had, as the horse quickly left, never to be seen again. A recording studio is no place for a horse, but an excellent place for a long fade.
Musically it’s still the sound of my music collection being digested, shaken and stirred in my head then served out on a spanking new spinning plate. As Igor Stravinsky allegedly said ‘A good composer does not imitate; he steals,’ and that’s what I will tell the judge!
John talks about the last album ‘The arrogance of time’.
‘If you have ever wondered what the inside of my head sounds like then this album is for you! The songs were written over a three year period and lyrically the album is in some ways a musical reflection of Shakespeare’s seven ages of man and reflects the big life events that most of us encounter at some stage in our lives; births, deaths and all the stuff that happens in between!
A crucial part of the jigsaw was sitting down with engineer and co -producer Mark Aubrey and discussing ideas and influences. I have always liked albums with classic songs and throwaway tunes and Paul McCartney’s solo album ‘Ram’ was one of the albums we both connected with. I wanted to make this an album that made sense as a whole, not just a collection of individual tracks.
When I was young, buying a record was a big deal and involved saving up my pocket money for weeks. I didn’t have a lot of records so I listened to the A – side, the B-side and read every possible bit of information on the sleeve. I even listened to my parents Music for Pleasure (MFP) albums including; Tijuana Brass, Glenn Miller, Percy Faith, Arthur Askey and ‘Music from the Greek Islands’. Somehow it all seeped into my brain. Then when I could afford an album I’d sneak it into my bedroom, turn the lights down low, place the speakers either side of the bed and listen to it repeatedly until I loved every minute of it. To me albums were always important, it was also a good way of judging whether you could be friends with someone, by going through their record collection.
The first music that really seduced me was the glamorous sounds of T.Rex with ‘Hot Love’ and ‘Get it On’. I have been hooked by the three chord riff ever since. I also hung out with my older brother and absorbed the various sounds of The Stones, The Faces and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
I also loved 70’s pop and was amazed later to find out so much of it had been written by two men from my hometown of Bristol, Cook & Greenaway. Then came the late 70’s Rockabilly Revival and I discovered music way back to the 1950’s and went to some dodgy dives to catch The Flying Saucers. Later on I snuck into the ‘Dug Out’ to get some heavy bass sounds too. I also loved the energy and DIY ethos of punk and was inspired to start my own group.
As I matured, I discovered the sophisticated writing of artists such as Brian Wilson and Paul Simon, whose approach to music was to follow his nose and not worry about changing styles or conventions or borrowing a few ideas from here and there!’
Blues in the Morning
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