'Kids Steal Feelings' is the new Long Player by Matt Deighton (Mother Earth, Paul Weller & The Family Silver) and Chris Difford (Squeeze). Written in 2003 and recorded at Helioscentric Studios the LP also features a live studio band of the best players in bassist Neil Corcoran of Mother Earth, producer/pianist Richard Casuon of Whisky Town and drummer Ash Soan of Terry Reid/Marianne Faithful.
The lost album by two of the Uk's most prolific songwriters has been released with the newly formed Monks Road Records.
We caught up with Matt to ask a few questions regading the release.
New album Matt – ‘Kids Steal Feelings’ written by yourself and Chris Difford, how would you describe the sound
The sound is live and done in two takes on average at the time. There were no rehearsals as such, just the band writing out the changes etc and going for a take. The style or sound of this record is sort of folky, I guess. I was still writing songs in Mother Earth at this time (2003) for a never released album… We did some sessions around this time but had no label so nothing ever happened, so I asked Neil Corcoran to come help me out on the album which I was also making at Chris’s studio. Ash Soan was drumming in Squeeze which was lucky as Neil and I had seen him playing drums at the Subterrania with Lewis Taylor and I enquired to Chris if he’d heard of Ash,he said of course, as he’s in Squeeze…One of those lucky things really..
The LP was recorded in 2003, where have the masters been sat all this time
Well…I held onto some of the 'works in progress' mixes and takes during the making of the record but when it came to looking at the possibility of finally releasing this record last summer, the only location of the multitarck tapes were with Chris. Where the final mixes were was a mystery until I contacted Richard the producer who fortunately had most reels of mixes still hanging around in his London studio. So, I asked him to gather the lot and get them to John Dent’s mastering studio where they could be digitised ONLY for the purposes of trawling through each 20 minute reel (now a file) to select a good version of a mix done at the time of the album sessions.
Richard couldn’t find the reel of ‘Always Be There’or maybe it was ‘Little Palace’ which caused a problem. If that missing reel was lost, we couldn’t actually get the album together for mastering and all bets would have been off. Luckily, after a few anxious days not hearing back from Richard, he called to say he’d finally found the missing reel at the bottom of a box of studio cables and leads. The tape was not in a box it just had my name scribbled on the metal spool. He played it and on there were the missing tracks for the album…Phew…
Without Richard’s foresight of keeping these mixes and not simply re-using the tape for other sessions (over the last 13 years), we were able to make this record come back to life again…The next step was then to see if the tapes would play properly from start to finish without shedding oxides or snapping etc…They did somehow?
John Dent was equally surprised they were intact and usable. The sound coming from them was as if it had been made the day before….Lucky really…When it came to mastering them, I suggested we not use the high resolution digital transfers but to keep the analogue ‘chain’ intact and basically cut each final mix physically from each reel and ‘band’ them together, like they used to do when compiling the final reels to cut the lacquers...
.John Dent hadn’t done this in years and was very impressed we had chosen to keep the analogue route ‘undigital'…So the vinyl is basically a 1/4” reel of side one then side two played in real time through some great tube gear straight to the analogue cutting lathe…This is why the sound is so real, pure soundwaves.
Why has it taken so long for the release
It took so long to release for a few reasons! The initial one was, once we’d made the record and mixed it in 2003 we had no interest from the record companies. They either loved it but couldn’t think of how to sell it or simply didn’t think it was any good to them. This was a let-down at the time and seeing as I was also making ‘Wake Up The Moths’ around then, (well at least compiling it from past sessions etc) then I kind of moved on from it and forgot about it and put out WUTM instead.
Where was the album recorded
We recorded the album live down at Helioscentric studios in Sussex at Chris’s place, in between Keane’s debut album sessions (they were local boys who’d just got signed back then). The studio doesn’t exist anymore I don’t think. It had so much old gear in it, Costello’s stuff (he part owned the place with Chris). Recently while I was working with Steve Nieve he told me the grand piano we used actually belonged to him; it was his first piano that was at his parent’s house…Strange stuff…The desk used to belong to John Dent weirdly (he told me this when I was at the mastering session with him last summer) he said originally Steve Winwood had it in his studio after buying it from Island’s, Basing Street Studios where it had been used on everything from Nick Drake, John Martyn to Free etc. Steve then decided to throw it all in a skip before John rescued the lot…Then Chris bought it all from John…The circle goes around and around with these things...
Who played on the LP
I was lucky as I say to have had the chance to work with Ash for this record and Neil on bass who hadn’t left for Australia just yet.
What is behind the title
Well, it’s all about the divorces Chris and I were going through and about how children take onboard the troubles of the parents and how they adapt to these traumatic situations...
We have a copy of the LP on vinyl, from the sleeve to the heavyweight white vinyl it is like a piece of art. Can you tell us more about it.
Well, I’ve spoken about the mastering of the record already, but I was getting back in touch with my old boss from the days I worked as a layout magazine designer. Christophe was always ahead of the pack back then and this was before the apple mac etc so it was when designs were on overlays, and type galleys were used etc. He just seemed the perfect man for making this record look top notch. He had those great ideas, like printing the sleeve on reversed card so it had a rough texture and making the sleeve a top opener etc. He did all of the abstract water colours that adorn the sleeve throughout…I suggested the record label art and the funny stuff I’d written around the rim of the labels about listening to it on a narrow boat etc.. The fine details no one looks for on a record these days…I chose ‘coconut’ coloured vinyl from the swatch colour chart The Vinyl Factory supplied us with, as I’m a sucker for coloured vinyl…Oh and the heavy weight pressings were inevitable…Originally we wanted it on 200gram vinyl but that would have had to have been pressed up over in the States…And the cost, well you can imagine...
So nothing digital was used on the recording, what was the reason for it
Well I’ve answered that one above, but simply we wanted the best quality we could make, and analogue always beats digital especially for songs that have a live feel to them as this record does.
On what other formats is the LP available
It was equally carefully mastered onto CD at John Dent’s and actually sounds warmer than most CDs out there. You can also get it on streaming sites soon as well, but we’re looking into having it as a high resolution file so not MP3..
Where can the LP be purchased
At the moment Monks Road are going through a big distributer that will make it available in actual shops you go into ….plus Amazon as well for the convenience.. You can also get it from monksroad.com I think…it’ll be out in the next week or so, so March hopefully...
You recently signed to Monks Road Records, seems a good set-up where the artist is king. How did that come about
Long story, but I met Richard before he was thinking of setting up the label at a Family Silver listening party and album session up North a few years back, he kept in touch.
Will there be any future collaboration with Chris
Well, yes at some point when we have time to get together. He lives down South though so not near me at all.
We did make another version of Kids Steal Feelings after Stiff Records heard this version that’s now out and suggested re-recording it more stripped back…It turned into another album called ‘Part Of Your Life’ which still exists from a studio in London that have all the session tapes recorded around 2004/5 ….It might see the light of day officially, it does need some tidying though. I made it available online briefly for a month before pulling it. The people that did get to hear it were happy though.
Actually, Lewis you released that little CD EP a few years back of mine and that included a song from it called ‘Frequency’ which gives the listener a rough idea of what the flavours are on it…Very pastoral and folky. But yeah, Chris and I will probably write some new songs this summer. In the meantime, we’re playing a one off show together at Camden’s, The Forge on May 8th, if tickets are still available as it’s a limited show...
Are you taking the LP on the road anywhere else
Only The Forge at the moment.
We have heard through the grapevine that you will be doing a radio show called 'May You Give It All Away'. How can listeners tune in.
Yes, listeners can subscribe to a weekly email via Monks Road (link at the foot of the page) for my weekly free ‘radio show’ called ‘May You Give It All Away’. Iincluded will be rare unheard archives of Mother Earth etc plus the songs that I was playing on the turntable at the time of each solo album…I’m currently recording the show and without giving too much away I am just on the cusp of talking about the second solo album with Brian Auger 20 years ago this June….I’ve discovered the rehearsal tapes from when Brian and his son Karma came to the UK to join me and Neil for three live shows back in 95….
One final question, what did happen to your moustache!
I left it in Italy on a tour years ago...
It's a good look, bring it back.
Huge thanks to Matt for taking the time to answer the questions! All the best with the release.