The Value of Words, by Steve

Blimey! Our latest album RUNES has been out in the world for almost two weeks now. It's satisfying to think that after many months spent in the studio the music we created is finally being heard. Completing the CD and actually having copies in our trembling hands was the end of a process that seemed littered with unanswerable questions. OK, let's get this into perspective, we're talking about recording some music, not solving the problems of the Middle East or planning your children's future, but nevertheless it had its moments. In the beginning there's the writing (is this good enough?), choosing the traditional tunes (can we do something interesting with this?) and the classic rock tunes (can we do this justice?) Then there's the recording, wondering if we've played the tunes as well as we can, and the anxiety over the artwork (Char was convinced that there'd be a massive spelling error and we'd end up with 'RUNS' by Wahbone.) Not to mention the bigger decisions that musicians have to face, like 'shall we have the last muffins now or save them for this afternoon?' or 'are there any biscuits now that we've run out of muffins?'

The final nail-biting moment came after the first orders had been posted. This can basically be summed up as 'will they like it?' For despite the fact that we're happy with the results of our labours, (and ultimately we have to make music that first of all satisfies us) it would be hugely disappointing if the folks who enjoy our music were less than impressed. And not just because of the knock to our collective ego, painful as that would be. One of Whalebone's core principles is that every time we record or perform we set out with the aim of making music that listeners and audiences will get a buzz from listening to. (If at this point you're thinking 'bloody oversensitive arty types, they should stop being so touchy and man up a bit', you're probably right, but nevertheless this is how we feel. Sorry.) Anyway, there it is. The big question. Will they like it?

To our great relief, it seems that quite a few folks do like it. We know this because many of you have been kind enough to take the time to email us or leave comments to that effect after listening to the album. It's hard to adequately express how much we appreciate getting this feedback, but believe us, we do, and it makes all the time spent writing, recording and developing a 'studio tan' seem worthwhile.

So, to everyone who has taken the time to send 'enjoying the new CD!' or a similarly worded message, (and all those who may do in the future, fingers crossed) we'd like to say a heartfelt 'THANK YOU' from Whalebone. Your words mean a lot to us. And not just because we're oversensitive arty types.

Runes - CD now available to order

It's here! It's arrived! Our new CD Runes is ready to order from this website under the 'Buy' tab.

Here is a quick run down of the tracks:

1: Origins - Inspired by the eight-string baritone guitar which opens the track, this tune always had a timeless, primitive feel. Right from the moment we first heard the instrument, the baritone evoked for us a sense of connection to something ancient and mysterious, added to in this track with the thumping of a bodhrán.

2: Mog’s Reel - Another guitar-inspired track: this time Steve’s mahogany Taylor GS mini, nicknamed ‘Mog’, on which he wrote and recorded the original version of the tune. A slightly dark trad-esque tune, given another edge by the addition of Steve on mandolin.

3: Entangled - This tune developed over a period of several years, and means different things to each member of Whalebone. Steve arranged the intertwining guitar and violin lines as an embodiment of the connection between the three of us, Sarah hears elements of Britpop, and Char visualises Steve playing the guitar solo on a mountaintop (à la Slash…). It’s a wonder we get anything done.

4: Paint It Black/Devil in the Kitchen - The marriage of our very different musical heritages is one of the things we feel very grateful for in Whalebone, and this pairing is homage to that (with a particular nod of thanks to Ashley McIsaac’s thrash punk version of Devil in the Kitchen, which is one of many reasons Sarah knew there was life beyond the law).

5: Christchurch Cathedral - Sarah’s showing her roots on this track, with a beautiful traditional tune arranged for string quartet. Since she plays every instrument on it, it might be a while before this is seen live! Particular thanks to our friend Margaret Swan, who played the tune to Sarah after hearing it at a fiddle weekend on the Black Isle.

6: The Birds Are Still Singing - This beautiful tune has become very important to Whalebone, as it was written in response to the deaths of a number of family members and close friends during the course of 2012. At first it was almost unbearable to play live, but over time it has transformed into an entirely positive way to honour the people we miss and celebrate life moving forwards.

7: Layla - Given the significance of this track in the pantheon of classic rock it was only a matter of time before we would give Layla a go! Steve’s arrangement, as ever, is a respectful tribute to the great original, with all the bits you would hope to hear (plus a sneaky mandolin line which we couldn’t resist…).

8: Justify - The eight-string baritone which inspired ‘Origins’ gets the field all to itself for this two-part track. Since it is a complicated creature, it took Steve eighteen months of living with the baritone before he came up with this magnificent showcase of its qualities. The mischievous second part of the tune is a nod to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp’.

9: Ducks on the Roof - Naming instrumental tracks is not always easy, given the lack of lyrics to point the way. This was named after two mallards who, for a while, roosted on Steve’s roof (despite the fact that the much more duck-suitable River Severn is only 200 yards from his cottage door…).

10: Scarce O’ Tatties - We always liked this insistent traditional tune, as well as the story behind it (it was written by a Scotsman on a visit to London who was appalled at the lack of decent spuds in the city). In our heads there’s a rampaging army of woaded-up Picts poised for battle on the top of a hill, and this is the soundtrack.

11: Severn Sins - For about six months last year we had on our office whiteboard the words ‘song for people to shout HEY in’ and, somewhat in spite of writing in the middle of the deepest coldest winter for decades, Steve and Char came up with this inspired piece of cheerful summery pop. The title is a tribute to the beer of the same name that resulted in some rather epic drunkenness on Steve’s part at a lovely (if rainy) local beer festival last year.

12: Tamlin - The story of Tamlin is full of epic struggle, and we arranged this third and final traditional tune to reflect that. Featuring the baritone again, plus DADGAD tuning on the rhythm guitar and a dramatic key change halfway through it’s a tune full of drama, tension and violence.

13: Dream On - In a moment of complete genius, Char chose this track to tackle as our final classic rock piece of the album. Our arrangement is very much inspired by the footage of Aerosmith playing this with full orchestra and a grand piano being flown in on a wire. Featuring Sarah as an entire string orchestra, our version would be almost as ambitious to perform live (but that doesn’t stop the fantasies…).

Whalebone Documentary - Out take video :)

As some of you may already know, we are currently having a short documentary filmed by Quite Big Media. It is scheduled for release later this year and it focuses on our new album 'Runes'. We went up to the South Shropshire hills last week to do a bit of filming at Mitchell's Fold, which has a lovely stone circle which features in the artwork for the new CD. Here is an out take from some of the recording, we're not sure we are taking this as seriously as we need to....

More filming is taking place at our concert at Quatt Village Hall this coming Saturday night, so lots of noise from the audience members coming please! More info on how to get tickets on our website under 'Gigs and Tickets'. Hope to see some of you there :)

Runes CD Design Preview , by Char

Here is a preview of the CD design of Runes. The logo is based on a floor tile we encountered playing in a lovely Welsh Church, St. Aelahaiarn's in Guilsfield, Powys. The original tile showed 3 interconnecting points in the centre of a circle, it reminded me of a Celtic knot so I took a picture of it and did some painting.

Runes CD Design Preview - Whalebone

I quickly found out it was very hard to draw and paint so precisely, Celtic art turns out to be quite mathematical in it's approach, quite often there is a continuous line that runs through all the design so I had to resort to using a compass and protractor. It felt like going back to school when I was queuing in the stationers waiting to purchase my Oxford tin of mathematical instruments! I've always really liked the symbolism in Celtic art, and I think this Runes design represents us as a band, intertwining with one another playing our instruments to create Whalebone music :) Hope you like it!

Whalebone on a boat! Sabrina River boat cruise!

Whalebone gig -Sabrina Folk Cruise

A different type of gig! We are playing on the Sabrina River Boat for a 'Folk Cruise' evening on July 12th starting at 7pm.

Sabrina is a triple deck, modern passenger boat capable of carrying 60 passengers in comfort with retractable roof and sides on the top deck. Sabrina's qualified skippers and crew ensure a great river cruise experience so we can cruise and groove down the Severn! Tickets are £10pp. Homemade Chilli available to purchase on the night for an additional £5.00pp. Click on the image above for more info or to book some tickets :)

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