A uke filled alt-country electronic rockathon – that’s what happened over the winter of 2014 when Cecelia reached out about recording some of her songs.
If Swordpaw was a thing that had founding members, Cecelia would be one of them. I don’t actually know when Swordpaw started but I do know it was ‘formed’ by everyone in the band Sea of Trees, including Cecelia, let’s say around 2008. Since that time people have moved around and bands have come and gone but we’ve kept in touch if somewhat infrequently.
So when Cecelia sent some demos to Ian and me that included mouth trumpet and asked if we wanted to help record an EP’s worth of songs, it was like a mini reunion, except the thing reuniting had never formed and never broken up. It’s complicated, and awesome. Also, mouth trumpet.
Recording "Upward, Onward"
Everyone here is a Ben Gibbard fan, ok? Cecelia’s songwriting takes some queues from Gibbard but we thought it would be a great idea to take those queues to the point of absolute thievery. Ok, we didn’t actually steal anything directly, but one of the songs had a working title of “Not Grapevine Fires” soooooo…ya. For a while we thought a copyright infringement lawsuit could be the best possible outcome for this recording.
The process of recording Upward, Onward was so smooth. It’s really nice to be able to go into recording without having to worry about writing at all; the demos Cecelia sent were full of great melodies, solid structures and mouth trumpet; she had already crafted beautiful songs, we just had to record them without messing them up.
After I had the demos loaded into Reaper I started to record uke over them. Guess what I used as a reference. Right. A Ben Gibbard joint. I recorded at home and we ended up with a nice uke and scratch vocal base to take to the studio.
We spent one day at Swordpaw to record drums and vocals on all six songs. Ian did his best Purdie shuffle, Cecelia delivered leads and oozin-aahs like a pro along with a finger picked guitar performance and I put my heart and soul into dual tambourines. We ate sandwiches, I think.
Later, I recorded bass, synths and hobo guitar at home. Ian added lapsteel and mando to finish off the tracking.
Some boring mixing and mastering took place and all of a sudden we had an EP. Smooth.