[Here are Kate's article and short story for the eleventh issue (Christmas 1981).]
I know I am not alone in saying that this year has flown, and we are heading towards Christmas like something being thrown at a wall. I must admit that I really am looking forward to it, and I really hope we have some more snow.
As you all know, I've been working on the album, and it is definitely the hardest one so far. Yet somewhere inside me, I do feel that it could be the best one yet.
I've also been experiencing things on this album that I have not come across before, and although these are invaluable in terms of learning, I think perhaps they have made things a little harder for me rather than helping while I'm trying to work in the studio. I am not the only one who has been finding it difficult to work on this album, either. I have many visions of my faithful engineers with puzzled, worried expressions on their faces, all of us fumbling around the desk at three or four in the morning, doing nothing more than chasing our own tails, really.
I think the main reason for the problems is that we are experimenting with new methods and attitudes, the throwing away of some old routines. So, of course, this causes problems. Also, my involvement in production is leading me further into the world of responsibility and trying to be sensible. I really do enjoy the whole process, though, and that is why I do it; otherwise it could be quite a relief to hand all the worries over to someone else. But in my hear I don't want to--wrong or right, I don't know, but as long as I have this love for it, and can manage to cope, I'd like to continue.
One of the new feelings in me is wanting the album to be complete as soon as possible. Ideally it would be finished already; whereas normally I want to hold on to it for every last moment possible until a deadline makes me leave it alone. I think this new attitude is much more positive. Hopefully it will help me to be more detached and objective about it all. It seems, too, that because the album is behind, so am I with a lot of my other projects, but I always do seem to be. I'm just glad that all my friends and the people I work with are so patient with me. Otherwise I would be unforgiven for the way I am.
Having worked on this album constantly for a long time, I reached the point where I had lost all impetus--again, something I had never experienced. I found it hard to even listen to the tracks. Some would call it saturation point, the time to take a breather. I just needed to be normal for a while, and get away from the intensity of the mole-life situation in the studios. You can never tell what time of day it is in most studios, because there are no windows to the outside. It could literally be any time, and the studio environment is constant. I think this can tire you out mentally. Plus the constant noise--not just the music but the hiss of tapes, the monitors, buzzing lights. It's not until all the machinery is off at the end of the day do you feel your brain relax and you suddenly realise all the sounds you have been hearing without even realising it. That silence is like heaven. I felt like it was time to get out of London, so one evening, driven by the desire to visit the Loch Ness Monster, we decided to act upon the impulse of the moment and go as soon as we could. We travelled by train, something very nostalgic for me. I don't often travel on trains now; obviously it's not always easy for me to mingle, so I normally travel by car. We waved goodbye to Zoodle and Pye in the arms of Lisa and Rob, and the train pulled away.
Journeys overnight on "public vehicles" are always atmospheric. Planes, ships, coaches, trains--for some reason they always make me think about the past. The mechanical movement, the smells of upholstery, no real traces of people being there before you but the knowledge that they have been. Maybe it's to do with the process of leaving things; normally when things are left behind or lost, there is a need to recall memories--maybe to assess if your decision to leave or lose was correct or not. I think sometimes this can be a sad thing, but I was very happy to be leaving London; and, cocooned inside our sleeper-berths, away from the elements, we were off to Scotland.
I've never really been to Scotland before--I have been there, but I've not had a chance to see it. It is one of the most perfect settings I have ever seen. Brilliant for film locations. In fact, in a spy programme we recognised their so-called German border as being the road beside Loch Ness! At that time of year, the trees of which there are so many are a multi-coloured mass, with the cold winds challenging each leaf to turn a shade brighter before it's torn away from its source of colour and has no choice but to fade away.
There is so much to see, unlike those compartments where, when the people go out, the cleaners come in dusting, spraying, erasing. Here, when people die out, nature cleans up but she leaves their marks behind. Castles, burial mounds, standing stones, monsters; and all surrounded by untouched land bearing Nature's marks. Great gaps in the earth, revealing hard rock better than any recorded on tape, and mountains that you can climb--maybe, as with us, for the first time.
Just as it was getting dark one evening, we pulled up by a sign at the edge of the road. It told of a fort from the fifth century, B.C., the ruins of which were in the heather-thick field beyond the sign. It also mentioned a phantom battle which had supposedly taken place very near to the site. As we were about to drive away, I noticed three lights in the sky, descending in a diagonal line. Then they formed a horizontal line and remained static just below a layer of cloud. There were huge circular orange lights; and we set off in the car in hot pursuit. We thought maybe they were some kind of stadium lights, but they were too near to the clouds; and we had never seen aircraft with such big lights, nor that colour.
As we turned a bend we could no longer see them, but kept our eyes pinned on the sky. A few minutes later they came into view again, and this time we could see that they were completely unattached to any form of structure on the ground; and now there were only two lights. They remained stationary until we lost them a little while later, for good. All the way back to the hotel our heads were pointed out of the windows in anticipation of another sighting, and we wondered if instead of finding Nessie on our search, we had found another strange phenomenon. What do you think?
The Loch itself is an unbelievable place. It's so beautiful, yet so remote. The first day the water was like the sea, it was so rough. The Loch is really big--twenty-three miles long, and they don't know how deep. They say that sightings of the monster usually happen when the water is as still as a mill pond, which seemed impossible when we saw the waves crashing around the Loch. But on the last day it was so calm that it was like a twenty-three mile-long mirror, and our hopes were up. After a quick visit to the monster exhibition, which features numerous photos taken of Nessie, we sat down beside the Loch and discussed the stories we had heard from the locals about the appearance of the monsters--for they say there is more than one. We had no luck, but we did have the pleasure of seeing on the news some film--taken from a plane--of the Loch Ness Monster under the water. It was very convincing, and was taken only one week after we had been there.
The Scots rested and fed us, and we returned to London; and I return to the studio within the next few days, and can't wait to get back in there.
Abbey Road celebrated their 50th anniversary last month, quite an achievement considering the ups and downs the music business goes through. Helen Shapiro and I were asked to cut a cake they had made specially. It was five foot by four foot, covered in fresh cream and kiwi fruit and topped with fifty birthday candles. The studio, which has been filled with orchestras for so many years, on that night was holding a choir of people who have loved Abbey Road, a huge cross-section of fame and talent making their chitter-chatter music-talk and completely filling the old studio--which is hard to fill because it is so big.
It was great for me to bump into faces I hadn't seen for a time, and there were a lot I hadn't seen for a very long time. Geoff Emerick, the man who engineered my first professionally recorded tracks, was there; I hadn't seen him for years. He was wearing a white suit and was tanned and smiling from working in exotic studios.
Having cut a huge slice of cake, I started to cross the room that was very hard to move in because of the swirling crowds. But with a cream cake aimed at their party clothes, the room practically cleared like the parting of the waters, revealing a white suit and some friends who looked like they needed to eat some cake. However, because the cake had been under heavy camera lights, the cream was beginning was starting to wither a little. But nonetheless it all went within minutes.
Which takes us back to Christmas, where anything that resembles food is consumed by us, the Consumers--who are fed with adverts and shop decorations which get put up nearer to Guy Fawkes [Day] every year. But as long as we all want it to be, we can still make Christmas a very special time.
Lots of love
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick