Pipe Down and Pull up a Stool.

An 'Outsider's' View on the Making of BAiT's 2nd Album - Released July 2002
By Sid Toxsteen

Recording SUATASMany changes have befallen BAiT since their well-received debut album: Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) was released in the last days of the 20th Century. The three-piece became four, which became three again before becoming four, then back to three and then finally four - hopefully for the last time! They lost a fat manager and gained a thin agent. Daniel was able to take more of a front-man role with the acquisition of an SM58 radio mic. Andy surprised them all by throwing caution to the wind and buying quite simply the best bass guitar ever made (Rickenbacker V1963 4001). John went from old drumkit to electronic Arbiter flats and finally took the plunge into his Yamaha Custom Birch kit, replete with splendidly 'pongy' brass snare and bongo accoutrements. While Dave (having made a superb Marshall-driven contribution) left to make way for Ben, who in turn left his mark (not the least of which included engineering half the new album and inadvertently providing its title) to make way for Chris. And by working with 'dep's' and session muso's such as Ant (ex Selector guitarist) and Jamie Jones (Depot Studio keyboard whizz), BAiT slowly discovered a larger musical world.

NIMBY was essentially the exasperated expression of a proud 'originals' 3-piece, forced almost into slave labour by a combination of, shall we say 'interesting' management and crippling equipment debt. Trudging round the Working Men's Clubs of Great Britain was a great 'hardener' for the boys, as much as the later corporate stuff was a 'nice little earner.' No one would argue that it's been tough for what is essentially a top-class songwriting/performing team to set-aside their beloved originals in favour of playing other people's songs for a 'nickel and a dime.' However, the debt and drudgery is now firmly behind them, Chris Johnson is securely in place on lead guitar, the 2nd album is mastered and with a host of venues crying out for BAiT original material they're all busy like mad buggers arranging it to GET IT LIVE!

So here we have it, 'Shut up and Take a Seat', 13 highly original and typically diverse BAiT songs. Here's how their latest 'baby' came together in just over 9 months - track-by-bloody-track:

Track One: THE REAL THING (4:03)

Credit: Daniel Hall - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher - John Chivers)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Chris Johnson)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Dan presented this song to the boys as a typical Hall-esque riff-driven number. They instantly liked its pace, its great melody and lyrical poignancy (given Dan's especially turbulent private life at the time), and so they began work. Andy laid a close harmony under Dan's vocals almost immediately, while following the simple chord pattern and John's steady beat with a plain-pulsed bass line. Working with Ben initially, the structure began to form, including John's obligatory (and vital) high harmonies and innovative rhythmic breaks. They hit a small snag though in deciding how the number should finish, until Andy suggested bolting-on a few tried-and-tested 'folky' chords based on the D-major progression while reprising Dan's excellent chorus hook with some bluesy editions. They were sold and it was sorted. However, the song really came alive several months down the line when Mr Johnson hopped aboard. Chris' consummate guitar skills were obvious from the beginning as he came up with and laid-down a superb intro riff, a set of powerful rhythmic over-dubs (perfectly complimenting the kick-ass 4001 bass & heavy drums) and finally a lovely little gem of a line over the chorus reprise at the end - which just tops it off for me. Not a bad introduction to his BAiT recording career.

Recording 'Real Thing' was fairly simple - they did it over one day at Silke Studios with the bass and drums, another two for the vocals and finally (four months down the line) the famous 'in-at-the-deep-end' session with Chris. There was only one re-record of the guitar solo when Chris felt that the slightly 'sour' tuning was spoiling the song - it doesn't now!

By the way, it's Dan slurping a real cup of 'stand-yer-spoon-up' Gold Blend at the beginning (in semi-homage to the first NIMBY track 'Fixed.' It also might interest you to know that the song was meant to fade earlier (around 3:40) after a particular drum roll, however the boys felt it should run to the very end where listeners would be treated to some strange lyrical additions as well as the instruments dropping out one-by-one in a very carefree 'it'll have faded it by now' sort of way. And it's John who you can just hear comment at the very end of his shaker overdub, when Andy grabbed the Studio's penguin mascot and gave it a couple of squeaky squeezes (yes.): "I knew fribble'd get in there somewhere."

Track Two: RUTH (4:39)

Credit: Andy Pitcher - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Andy Pitcher - Daniel Hall, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Piano & Accordion Synth (Andy Pitcher)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

A song presented by Andy, which came out of an evening strumming his new Gretsch acoustic. Typically, it contained some 'challenging' chords, although the structure was fairly simple. The boys liked its melody in particular so while Dan set about getting his fingers round the open-chord chorus and 10th fret fingerings, John got to work on the mighty fine almost shuffle-like beat. In practice sessions with Ben I witnessed a very nice groove developing in this song, especially during the instrumental break after the first chorus- it was obvious by the wide grins and 'Muppet moment' head-nodding that the boys liked it too. However, the real story of this song begins to unfold during its recording.

After the initial rhythm-track was down at Silke Studios, it was a while before Ben (busy with his music degree), could find the time to come in and record. When he did, it was just himself and Andy (engineering) who had one night to get down his rhythm part and scrape together the vestiges of a cool solo he'd come up with sometime earlier. On the night it worked like a dream and Ben pulled out one of the best solos on the album. On the very next night, Andy was stirred to overdub some piano and synth accordion set off Ben's contribution - I think it works wonderfully! The vocals were also great fun (especially John's idea to make the 2nd verse a bit 1920s), although Andy reckoned that because of the open chords, the chorus was just a little bit too high for him to get a thick enough vocal. The addition of Dan's 'octave-below' vocals instantly did the trick, adding another new dimension to the BAiT sound - actually, John had been harping-on about trying this for ages.

Track Three: ANYWAY (4:44)

Credit: Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher, John Chivers - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

One day John said "Why don't we do a song in 6/8 time?" The 3 boys working alone replied: "play on Maestro..." or words to that effect. He did, and Dan came up with a delicious (and not too easy) finger-picked intro to kick it all off, with a simple but effective Pitcher bass. So, with the lyrics flowing, they embarked upon a really great song in D-Major. That is until Andy fell over a nifty chorus idea which changes the song's key into A-Major until it hits the next verse - this would prove interesting during recording when the 'Go with the flow' melody change would prove challenging to say the least! John was determined to get this song filled with as much rhythmic interest as possible. He got his way. I was privileged to witness yet another 'Muppetary' moment of sheer creative joy when the Anyway instrumental was born. Ben came along to a session after this and put down his dreamy almost psychedelic solo. I had the pleasure of watching BAiT play this song live at a number of venues, where it was greeted with great approval. 'Anyway' marks a turning point in the way the boys arranged material, using their growing experience to structure a song to make the very best of their considerable talents and rapidly developing sound.

Track Four: IN HER EYES (2:57)

Credit: Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher, John Chivers - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Mandolin (John Chivers)
Strings Synth (Andy Pitcher)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

This one was a bit different. Dan, Andy and John, equipped with 12-string guitar, 6-string guitar and mandolin respectively - sitting down one evening with the intention of writing a song. 2 hours later it was finished. 'In Her Eyes' didn't reach the recording stage until a few months later though, when an 'electric' arrangement was entertained in order to get it on the album (and hopefully played live!) - and like a fine malt scotch it matured nicely with the addition of some blended harmonies and corking arrangement ideas. The vocals took longer than expected though, as the boys felt they needed to be as subtly crafted as possible. There is a quite 'unbroadcastable' pornographic out-take that a frustrated Dan is responsible for, which will probably leak out to haunt him in the near future. Also, the bass had to be refined as Andy temporarily forgot to tune it and play it in time with the kick drum - however he did redeem himself with a splendid second-bash and a sublime string arrangement. John's growing mandolin prowess is also quite prominent in the final mix of this number, which is short, sweet, to the point and quite magical. Well-done chaps!

Track Five: RIGHTEOUS (3:56)

Credit: Andy Pitcher - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Another power number, but this time from the pen of Mr Pitcher. He'd been buggering about (his words) with an old riff idea on his battered electric guitar when the melody struck him between the eyes. He also confessed to me that the title was inspired from a Simpsons episode when Nelson Munse tells Bart that sometimes he's "kinda righteous". Despite Andy being a very strange man (an essential prerequisite for a job in BAiT though!), the resulting song is a kick-ass homage to that 'unattainable woman' - who's probably a bitch-queen anyway. Arranged as a 3-piece instrumental with Dan out-front on the radio mic, it was played live only a couple of times before the boys dragged it kicking-and-creaming (that's not a typo) into the Depot Studios. I know Andy reckons it still needs more work on the arrangement and vocals, but nevertheless the version on the album shows it off quite nicely thank you.

Track Six: Rollercoaster World (LIVE) (3:10)

Credit: Daniel Hall - 1996
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Interestingly, this was the first ever song that the 'proto BAiT' band ever worked on in 1996. It was a lovely oldie of Dan's, which he presented to Andy when they were but an acoustic duo. Andy (fresh from his Cambridge busking days!) was able to help with some open-chord and harmony suggestions. With the addition of John a few months down the line, the song blossomed into a fully arranged live number that has been played at nearly every BAiT gig since - with the addition of an electric guitar only adding to it further. It was decided to capture this song live at the Massey Ferguson Club, with the help of Ben Campbell rigging-up a full AKG drum mic set and Andy engineering the signal straight out of the mixing desk via a stereo pair to a minidisk player - a tricky balance between giving the audience a good sound, but not saturating the recording with too much (vocal) level. It's amazing how BAiT have to be musicians, writers, performers, sound engineers, technicians, managers and publicists.not to mention (before Pete Hunt arrived) roadies and security - WILL SOMEONE PLEASE SIGN THESE GUYS OR THEY'LL END UP DOING THAT FOR THEMSEVES TOO!!

Anyway, back at Silke studios the recording was transferred to the Roland 1680 equalised and compressed and finally mastered onto CD. So what you have is a essentially BAiT in the buff - and given the obvious quality of their performance, it has a worthy place in the middle of this album.

Track Seven: Thought Train (4:06)

Credit: Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher, John Chivers - 1997
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic (Wah!) Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

One of the first co-written songs by the original 3, this number bloomed from a few fragments of lyric scribbled down in one of Daniel's 'magic books.' Andy was able to discern his partner's general intentions by suggesting the title and providing the riff - which is the bastardisation of. nah I won't let the Schneider down. They all got to work on the structure and pretty soon the song came together, gloriously. To get it live, Dan decided he would like to add a 'Wah' effect to his, wait for it. his electro-acoustic guitar! When Dave joined he added the funky guitar line which has evolved through Ben (recorded) and finally to Chris (live). A requested favourite, this one has blossomed nicely in the Depot and sits tightly as track number seven.

Track Eight: ON-TRIAL (5:04)

Credit: John Chivers - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Chris Johnson)
Mellotron Synth (John Chivers)
Pipe Organ, Tubular Bells & String Synth (Andy Pitcher)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Look out, Mr Chivers has been scribing on his techno-gadgets again! After the well-reviewed success of 'Games' on NIMBY, this time he's come up with a powerful number almost operatic in its execution yet maintaining a rather serious lyric through a number of interesting arrangement ideas. John even found a remarkably accurate mellotron sample (flowery bugger!) that he played on the track. The verse melody is typically concise but the chorus delivers up the goods with some great harmonies and counter melodies to boot. Dan puts in a splendid vocal and acoustic guitar pluck, while 'new boy' Christopher starts to show us what a great electric guitar line (lead and rhythm) can do for a song - listen to that intro and the solo over the cool instrumental bit. bloody hell! Also, knowing very well John's fondness for a fine swelling organ (sorry), Andy knew he'd be pleased if he slipped one in at the beginning (OH MY GOD!!). After changing the subject to Rugby and some other manly pursuits for a few moments, it must be pointed out that Andy had to (digitally) shift the entire song back a few seconds to play the pipe organ, timing the swell to peek at the first beat of the song (FUN!)- I wont even mention how they got in that backwards cymbal. A fine example of well-crafted Chivaric BAiTness that really does the biz - Marvellous!

Track Nine: Light and the Dark (5:23)

Credit: Daniel Hall - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

By the looks on their faces, the boys knew this one was a good-un as soon as Dan played it - once they'd got him to standardise the bloody melody that is! A great song essentially pleading to anyone with a creative talent to just 'keep on burnin' despite the protestations from all-an-sundry. Actually, this turned out to be the longest song on the album; that honour usually (& unfairly) bestowed upon John-John-the-prog-fan-mon. The rather tricky intro riff apparently popped into Mr Hall's brain at some un-godly hour, forcing him to rush downstairs and unpack a six-string on which to work it out. When Ben Campbell got hold of it a few days later, that riff blossomed into the rather lovely (almost country) lick that permeates the whole song, supporting Dan's 12-string chug. Like Anyway, this one's had a number of great live outings. I know this is one of Andy's favourites, although he reckons the Depot mix has only scratched the surface of its potential. I tend to agree, as a keyboard arrangement would launch this one into the stratosphere! Interestingly, Chris Johnson when hearing the raw power of Ben's short-but-stingin solo at the Depot Studios for the first time commented in the nicest possible way: "bloody hell, he doesn't look like he's got it in him!" As for the power at the end of the song. well sorry but I gotta say: "Holy shit man!!" if this is the kinda sizeale sonics BAiT can produce in a single studio session, the rest had better watch out. The whole thing just comes together: the vocals, the harmonies, the pounding drum-fills, running bass and pentatonic screaming from Ben's axe - I dunno about 'taking a seat' Mr Campbell. I NEARLY FELL OFF ME 'CKIN CHAIR!

Track Ten: Freefalling Sunshine (4:28)

Credit: Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher, John Chivers - 1997
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Ben Campbell)
Hammond Organ Synth (Jamie Jones)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Another golden oldie from the 3-piece days, composed by the lads in the living-room of their ex-manager's parent's house (Dee and John Phipps - "ah their splendid tea and sandwiches are sorely missed"). The theme is (yet again), the escape from the drudgery of everyday working existence, and carries-on some of the ideas put forward more aggressively in the earlier BAiT track 'Good Morning Lemmings' (PLAN-B, 1998). This overtly bluesy number with its fantastic lyrics and sumptuous chorus is also the first track to feature an outside session musician on keyboards. Another 'done-in-a-day' Depot number, the track is a nice change of pace, with a simplistic and highly melodic structure, the boys pay homage to the blue roots of their musical tradition. Chill man, CHILL!

Track Eleven: Ocean Ride (4:42)

Credit: Andy Pitcher - 1997
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Andy Pitcher - Daniel Hall, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Rhythm Acoustic 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Rhodes Piano Synth (Andy Pitcher)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Bongos (John Chivers)

Now what's going on here, I have to ask. I think this is Andy and John's underhanded attempt to sneak in a 'mini concept' near the end of the album. Although Ocean Ride is undoubtedly a Pitcher penned effort, its 'barnacle encrusted' theme of loneliness, extolling the joys and pitfalls of solitude, links quite splendiferously into John's Drowning Man (which comes up next). Hmmm, I've got my eye on you two! Anyway, this one was included on the album largely because Dan liked the riff and the vibe, persuading Andy to give it another chance. Personally, I'm glad he did, cos it's a corker - "love the Rhodes piano darling!" Interestingly, there is a superb contrast between the verses and the chorus largely because Andy and Dan switch lead vocals (and even guitar parts!), plus there is some quite sublime bongo playing by John which just lifts the song's seemingly simple arrangement way up there. By the way, Andy tells me (in his mature, highly adult fashion) that he's managed to sneak a very rude word into one of the verses in the guise of a semi-made-up reference to patriotism - best of luck trying to figure that one guys!

Track Twelve: Drowning Man (5:22)

Credit: John Chivers - 2001
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Chris Johnson, John Chivers, Andy Pitcher, Daniel Hall)
Rhythm Acoustic 6-String & 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Chris Johnson)
Piano, Accordion & Mellotron Synth (John Chivers)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Bongos (John Chivers)

Now, I'm sure John is expecting another tongue-in-cheek pop at his songwriting style, however he would be quite wrong to fear any light-hearted scorn this time. Wherever Drowning Man came from it has turned out to be one of the most innovative and original songs on the album - NO ARGUMENT! The boys laughingly referred to this as the 'sea-shanty' especially as it used to get them swaying whenever the rehearsed it, but despite the "ooh arrs" and the bouncing on one-leg, they instantly realised that this was no 'scurvy sea-dog' of a number. oh no. John presented the song on CD in MIDI format, with pre-formed ideas of the piano and accordion parts - not to mention the additional drums, guitar and bass suggestions. I think it was Andy's idea to have the song broken down into 4 separate vocal parts, so that each member of the band could take the lead, finishing with Dan and the lovely 4-vocal 'bar-room' reprise. The powerful harmonies in several sections are terrific and also have the boys taking on different ranged vocalisations for a change. Chris Johnson is also heard for the first time on lead vocals at the very beginning and as for his (largely improvised!!) solo at the end. it is nothing short of magical!! I think it all just came together on this one, and as such it is the most 'realised' song on the album - in my humble opinion. Actually John happily answers any 'critics' at the very end as the song fades with a tribute to another famous man, marooned alone on his very own island, without even a gramophone (see if you can work that one out too!) - Excellent!

Track Thirteen: Let it Go (5:10)

Credit: Daniel Hall, Andy Pitcher, John Chivers - 1997
Arrangement: BAiT
Instruments: Vocals (Daniel Hall - Andy Pitcher, John Chivers)
Rhythm Acoustic 6-String & 12-String Guitar (Daniel Hall)
Lead/Rhythm Electric Guitar (Chris Johnson)
Mandolin (John Chivers)
Hammond Organ Synth (Andy Pitcher)
Bass Guitar (Andy Pitcher)
Drums & Percussion (John Chivers)

Unlucky for some, track thirteen at end the album represents a sizeable bit of 'unfinished business' for the boys. This early co-written song was (ironically) the catalyst which drove BAiT back to managing their own recording and buying their own state-of-the-art digital studio. After selling their first mixing desk in favour of trusting a certain outside individual to 'engineer' and 'produce' their music back in 1998, they were devastated to hear an early version of Let it Go reduced to a putrid bath of rat-diarrhoea gurgling away inside some unfortunate's hi-fi speakers. Harsh? I wish. the un-named individual turned (an admittedly less-than-polished) performance of this song into a complete audio nightmare that nearly put the band off recording for keeps! Anyway, four years on and the boys decided to revisit this most popular of their live songs and DO IT JUSTICE. Well Justice's frock was most certainly blown up by this one, especially with the addition of Mr Johnson's magic axe and some excellent Hammond keyboards. This new version kicks butt! Even the complex (here we go) contrapuntal melody warbled by Dan, Andy and then John is mixed with aplomb and just WORKS! A great song boys and a great title to end a superb and highly varied album. It only goes to show that vindication is a dish best served luke-warm - and a million miles away from Redditch.

So, that's it. BAiT's second sonic offering. Early reviews from their Manager and some excellent sales to Joe Public have been very positive. It seems, according to feedback, that the BAiT boys have skipped a stage in their development from NIMBY and have produced a very mature and maybe (in some ways) quite serious, even 'dark' album. I agree to a certain extent, but I think SUATAS can be appreciated on many different levels with each new listening. After all, they have certainly given us a lot to take in!! Nevertheless, pop fans, great deal of fun and frolicking is STILL there, although not so overt as before. As for where BAiT goes from here. well, only time and the mixing desk will tell. Thanks ever so much for reading and, by the way.

YOU CAN GET UP NOW!!

All the best
ST - August 2002