Ten years ago today I released my very first album, Apple In My Teeth. I was 18 years old. I thought I’d share a few memories and also give you all the album for free. Enough time has passed that the fondness and nostalgia I feel about this record now outweighs the crippling embarrassment over some of the more angsty lyrics.
So, it’s the summer of 2008 and 17 year old me has been dreaming of recording an album for the last three years. Over this time I’ve been busy writing songs of various degrees of quality and playing as many gigs as possible without completely failing my A-levels. Through the wonders of Myspace (remember that?) I became friendly with a group called Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band with Tim and Sam (now recording as Golden Fable, and still making brilliant music). They recorded their records with Tim’s brother-in-law, a chap called Marc Joy.
Now I’ll be honest, I can’t actually remember how or why I ended up getting in touch with Marc, whether we emailed each other first, or really anything about this, but I do remember standing in my parents garden having phone call with Marc. He said he’d be very happy to record my album, and suggested that I come and stay in Wales where his studio was for a week. I nervously asked him how much this would cost and he replied that he would charge me £800 for the week. This, incase you weren’t sure, was ridiculously cheap and generous. The albums I’ve made more recently have been many many more times this. Whilst £800 was still a lot of money for a 17 year old, I had a little bit of money I’d inherited from my Granny, and recording my first album seemed a sensible way to use it.
The date was set, and Marc had suggested that I stay with Tim’s (of Tim and Sam’s Band) mum’s house for the week, who’d generously offered to put us up. I had assembled a merry band of friends and acquaintances to come and play on the album. My friend Joel Gylnn Davies, who I‘d played in bands with on and off since I was 13 was on drumming duty. Julian Butt, who later played with me in David Gibb & The Pony Club, and who went on to have a huge influence on my career as an musician and artist, played accordion. Elly Lucas, who I’d go on to perform with in a duo as ‘David Gibb & Elly Lucas’ played fiddle on the record. Chris Harding, who later recorded albums by David Gibb & The Pony Club and David Gibb & Elly Lucas, came to play some percussion and, bizarrely for that week only, had decided to grow a moustache similar to that of the Mario Bros.
The two gentleman who played brass on the record were called Ian and Bernard. I think that I had seen them playing in a jazz band that was busking on Derby high street at Christmas. I must have given them my phone number and asked them if they’d play on the album. I don’t remember much except that they were trad jazz veterans, and that Ian kept taking snuff during the sessions.
The backing vocals on this record were by Robyn Johnson, who lived nearby and who I’d got to know from her being part of a brilliant band called Mexican Kids At Home (sadly long disbanded). Robyn came up for a couple of days. There seem to be pictures of us from that week in a green house with secateurs. I’m not entirely sure why.
The week with Marc is a bit of a blur, but the one thing I remember is how exciting it was to be making an album. Thinking back to that time, all I really wanted was to play gigs, anywhere and everywhere and make music. Just the very fact that I was recording was incredibly exciting. I had no idea at the time how I was going to release the album or even what I was going to do with it.
Looking back at it, I’m struck at how much this album signposts the music I was going to make in the future for families. Whist some of the arrangements and lyrics are a bit dodgy, there’s that sense of excitement and jubilation that I still try and put into my music today. There’s even a couple of songs that would easily be at home on one of my family albums.
Even the artwork, by brilliant illustrator Katie Viggers (who now makes beautiful books and prints) looks like it could easily be for an album for families and children. I often feel that it took me about 6 years to work out that the thing I wanted to be doing was making music for families. And yet when I look back at this record, it seems blindingly obvious that this was what I was going to end up doing. All through my teens I’d been obsessed with picture books, bright colours, children’s TV and the sunnier side of songwriting.
I’m pleased that my journey to making family music was a long one, as I learnt so much along the way, and the songs I write today wouldn’t be half as good without that journey. But it also makes me smile so see this first step on the road of that journey, especially now that I know where I was going to end up.
So if you’re intrigued by all this nostalgic navel gazing, you can download the whole album for FREE on my Bandcamp page.
And of course don’t forget that my NEW album Rolling Down The Road is also available to pre order. It’s out 23rd August and there’s a whole bus full of music for you and your family to enjoy together. All aboard!