Handclaps & Harpsichords
By the time Neil thought about making 'Victory For The Comic Muse' I think I was about 18 months into my Divine Comedy adventure which had started in April 2004 with a simple request to do a little five gig tour as Musical Director to a small orchestra. But it was already clear this was going to be much more significant part of my life and here we are 15 or 16 years later still doing it!
My memories of making 'Victory' are that Neil in his inimitable fashion phoned me and said “I’m thinking of spending a couple of weeks in RAK Studios doing a double album” (every album project starts off with Neil wanting to do a double album!!). So I say “Great when are you thinking …?” “Two week’s time” comes the reply! So it’s a scramble to get the charts done for the players and then suddenly we’re in.
On the morning of the first recording session at RAK in St John’s Wood I popped into the greengrocers on the high street and queued up to buy an apple behind none other than Sir Paul McCartney who was chatting to the shop owner. I took this as a pretty good omen in terms of the album we were about to make! So if I remember we mainly alternated between rhythm section days and then orchestral days. I remember trying to do one song with flamenco clapping and none of us knew how that fast clapping style was actually done and we tried to do it with me as a percussion instrument with hands outstretched and Rob playing me! Didn’t work.
My other memory is of the harpsichord which I had brought in with me from home and which was a constant battle in terms of keeping it in tune. I think once having spent 45 minutes trying to tune it Neil and John Evans came in to play some acoustic guitar along with it (probably for 'A Lady Of A Certain Age') and they complained it was a tiny bit sharp. I lost it and said “You only have 6 strings to tune and I have about 130 so you move your bloody tuning!”.
I really enjoyed every minute of it – every day was so different. We worked pretty hard, probably drank reasonably hard (younger days …) and generally had about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. I think we had our clothes on ….
Andrew Skeet, November 2020.