Firebreather - A Song Story
Born on a rainy night, in the passenger seat of a Peugeot 106, rushing back from a gig in Brighton to a small but demanding dog named Lexi, ‘Firebreather’ The Choco La’s first single, came out of my conflicting feelings about getting caught in between brotherly squabbles despite my complete and utter adoration for them both as people. Lyrics etching themselves in my sulky little mind as I came crashing down to earth from my rock and roll cloud nine.
Upon arriving home and letting poor little Lexi out, the boys headed off to bed and my guitar and I quickly unfurled most of ‘Firebreather’ curled up in the conservatory. Jake later told me how nice it was to hear the song carving it’s way up to the upstairs bathroom as he was brushing his teeth. It had been a busy week of gigs and dog sitting and emotions were running high as they always seem to be. I played it to the boys the next day in the same plant filled conservatory but we didn’t come to arrange it until later on, by then I had added a bridge.
Up until this point, we had only arranged songs using acoustic guitars, keeping ourselves firmly rooted in the idea of the ‘folk side project’. With ‘Firebreather’ we started the process of branching out, adding drums, played with brushes, and a bouzouki (Irish bouzouki, 8 stringed, twin stringed instrument detuned to an open tuning - A C# E C# - bouzoukis are usually tuned to G D A E ). The bouzouki was a remnant of Jake and Luke’s regular family trips to Cambridge Folk Festival and their ‘Hobgoblin fund’. Pennies in a jar to buy an instrument each in the open air, surrounded by the traditions of folk music, heads cloudy with the festival buzz and the fierce pull of the stage. Incidentally, during the first dog sit we ever did, when the project initially grew roots, the boys also went to Cambridge Folk Festival and that same buzz was still filling them up as we were working on our first songs.
Recording took place in the Andrews’ music room, walls lined with gig posters and guitars that provide a resonance like ‘recording in a giant sitar bowl’ as Luke says. It had been another stressful few weeks. We had decided on the dawn of the new year, that The Choco La’s was more than a side project for us all and with cups of tea in hand we had upped our rehearsal days, booked in a week long writing trip to Skegness and decided to start recording our material. I could not have been more excited about this, finally after years of thinking it wouldn’t happen I was in a BAND.
There was only one minor problem... I was now balancing a demanding part time job, covers gigs, my solo project and a social life with increased time for the band. It all came to a crescendo during the first day of recording ‘Firebreather’ when just before a take (recording bouzouki, drums and acoustic guitar) I burst into a waterfall of tears. We had just got back from wild hours of writing and recording in Skegness and both Luke and I had gone straight back into working at the shops, a gig on Saturday night, back to the shop on Sunday and into the studio on Monday. Madness, but the tears worked a treat and that release of energy resulted in the final take, the take we used on the track.
Then, like the 60s pop group we long to be, we recorded our vocals all at once letting the organic sound of our harmonies bleed into each other’s microphones. Jake added some overdubs of sparkly electric guitar, slide, bass etc and we were away. 1 down, a whole lot more to go.
Listen to Firebreather here: