This whole thing started after Andrew B White The Trains’ bass player from the last incarnation of that band and the present day bass player emailed me an mp3 of a song from a practice session in 1994. The subject line was something like “what do you think of this?”
I put on my headphones and played it not knowing what it was and it sounded pretty good, it had a real passion, and a nice dark swagger to it and it was only halfway through that I realised that this was in fact me and The Trains. It was from a practice session from 1994. Andrew always had a cassette recorder going back then…
Incredibly some of these songs I’d forgotten ever having written. That sparked my interest both in The Trains and showed to me the power of the songs I was writing back then.
Andrew and I met for lunch last November at de Bretts Hotel here in Auckland which was our old stomping ground in the 90s and he put to me the proposition to release Taken which was a solo record, my second, that I’d recorded in 1995 when signed to ill-fated record label DeepGroove records. It came right out of the blue.
Taken was a project that was abandoned halfway through because the record company wasn’t paying the studio bills.
By this stage we’d finished seven or eight tracks. Then ownership of the master tapes came under dispute. It got to the stage where we changed the names on the tapes – we called it WALDO – so they couldn’t be found and… taken. The only reason we have Taken is because back in 1996 I went in and made a CD copy at the studio – this was way before Cd burners were everywhere.
At that point I hadn’t listened to Taken for years. Last November I went home found the disc and put it on and thought to myself – yes this could work… it really could.
The songs had aged well, in fact it sounded as if it could have been recorded yesterday.
It was important to me that this not be seen as a nostalgic thing or a historical artifact. Since 2003 I’d written hundreds of songs, and this project gave me a chance to pause and look back and appreciate what I’d done back then. Earlier this year we went back into the studio and started on the next record. But Taken captures a time and place that I can still relate to, it’s a record with a dark heart, but it ends with a vision of springtime, bright blue sky, a September girl – remember the seasons are different for us down here!
Apart from the single Codeine Road none of this stuff had ever seen the light of day.
I wanted it to be sequenced right, mastered right, presented well and each song would have to kind of re-earn its place. And I think we’ve done that. So what you get is the best tracks of eight years worth of work and I think 11 of my best songs. It’s an album that harks back to the days when a record took you on a real journey – I love those Van Morrison and Springsteen, records that while being very personal statements don’t shut the listener out.
It’s a record I’m very proud of and one which sets the scene for the next album due early 2011.