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Entries in Wayne Bell (7)


Forget the Past - the making of. By Greg Fleming.

Greg and Forget the Past producer Wayne Bell in the Lab, Auckland.

A Sunday morning 2012 – my daughter’s waiting for her poached eggs, my fiancé is checking out travel deals on the net (a much promised, much delayed New Mexico holiday - making records aint cheap!) and I’m sitting at the table picking on my acoustic guitar. My previous album Edge of the City with my band The Trains had been released a couple of months earlier. It was my dark, rock noir record (sample lyric “I blame myself/ I don’t know why/ am I payin’ for the crimes/ for which I was never tried?”). It got great reviews but didn’t trouble the charts. Part of me was ready to call it a day. And then, sitting there, I came up with Broken Lights, New Mexico. I looked down at my notebook and saw the phrase Forget the past/nothing’s happened yet. Right then I knew that trip wasn’t going to happen.

But other things did – band members quit, moved to New York and got busy with other things. By June 2013 it was down to me and longtime guitarist John Segovia (I could make a record without John but it wouldn’t be that good). We’d meet up on Sunday afternoons and play, but it was all feeling a bit sad and autumnal.

On my iPod, along with BLNM, 10 songs raised their eager hands. These were more outward looking, more melodic, people could use them for their own ends. Although I thought Edge contained four of my best songs, I wanted to explore new terrain; along with “forget the past” that insanity definition mantra “doing the same thing, expecting different results” was knocking around my head. Don’t get me wrong -  I love Berlin and Nebraska as much as the next guy, but I also love classic pop music – the Brill building, Goffin/King, soul and R’n’b, Son of a Preacher Man, Misstra Know it All and I was getting increasingly interested in electronic sounds ( I loved Yeezus). I wanted to make a record that delved into different rhythms, styles and sonic textures, a record I’d want to listen to. Most of all I did not want to make a downer record. My pie-in-the sky blueprint was nothing less than Stevie’s Innervisions – funky, political, tender and tough - a record that gave you a sense of a city and its people, living and breathing.

Most of the songs on FTP were written in 2012/13 while Egypt burned (Cities in the Distance) and while much of the Far North high-tailed it to mining jobs in Aussie if they could (Working Poor). They’re about rush-hour ennui and domestic dramas (Jaywalkers, Sleepless Kid), not forgetting a few nods at Tin Pan Alley moon in June romance (There She Goes, Honeysuckle Love). My favourite song might be Summer in the City – about grabbing a sad-sack friend by the scruff of the neck and taking them out to the beach on New Year’s Day. The last song Winter Sun was inspired by talking to someone who hadn’t lived through a winter for years - they could afford to hop hemispheres and did.  No walking along Bethels Beach to the caves on a cold winter’s day for them!

If I have any talent when it comes to songwriting it’s that I have a good bullshit detector and whenever these songs came on my iPod – as demos – they passed. And when I caught my nine-year-old daughter walking round the house singing The Good, Summer in the City and the shout chorus of Cities in the Distance I knew I was onto something (don’t worry she was back to Lorde soon after).

Feb 2013 - I’ve said that Wayne Bell is “NZ’s answer to T Bone Burnett, except Wayne’s a better drummer”, but that probably undersells him. Anyway, I suggested Wayne have a listen to the demo of Jaywalkers, try a loop behind it, (I was listening to lots of hip hop). He did, brilliantly. I laid down a vocal track soon after. It was different, not what was expected. Forget the past - yeah. One down 10 to go. Wayne agreed to produce and he’d get Olly Harmer to engineer at The LAB. (You can’t underestimate the importance of an engineer – it’s all about wavelengths in the end, and being on the same one.)

Next I hesitantly sent out emails to the musicians I wanted. To my amazement they all agreed – suddenly I had the infamous Wayne Bell/Mark Hughes rhythm section, John of course as well as guitarist ace Andrew Thorne and keyboard player Nick Duirs from the Calico Brothers (turns out he could sing like an angel too.)

The band (now called The Working Poor) was now a three guitar, keys, bass, drums line-up. We rehearsed – a lot - in a great little practice studio in Takapuna called The Bassment (Lorde used to practice there before she was Lorde), blue plastic walls and the North Shore’s best covering For Today next-door. That’s where the album came together.

Musically Wayne led with the groove. He played with time signatures (the middle eight of There She Goes), rhythms (Working Poor went to New Orleans), settings (the loping, r’n’b opener Nobody  which Dianne Swann reckoned sounded like the S.O.S band if fronted by Mick Jagger – and I’m pretty sure it was a compliment!) but most of all Wayne cut things. Whole verses went from Cities in the Distance and The Good, Petty’s dictum “don’t bore us/get to the chorus” was cited more than once while recording. By Xmas 2013 it was done.

So, what have I learnt making this record?

No-one’s going to miss the fourth verse.

 I can sing falsetto.

The effectiveness of a chorus dissipates the longer it takes getting to it.

New Mexico is a long way away.

Forget the Past is available now on Bandcamp - (if you download from Bandcamp the artist, rather than Apple or similar, gets to keep more of the money which means-  in a perfect world – that they will be able to make another record next year and, yes, streaming royalties are crap)


Originally published 2014 at elsewhere a great site which covers great music of all kinds.


Release gig

The band had a great rehearsal last night - we hadn't played the songs as a band for two months but it was bang, straight into it, and we played the hell out of those songs! Last ones out of the practice room again!

Can't wait to play the whole album and a few deep cuts on April 12th at Paddington Live. And really looking forward to catching one of the very rare appearances by one of NZ's finest Grand Rapids. The Bads guitarist Brett Adams will be joining Grand Rapids for the gig. Also on the bill is singer/songwriter Mahoney Harris, whose new album (produced by the ubiquitous Wayne Bell) is currently being mixed.

Get tickets at utr or $10 on the door. Cds will also be available on the night.



The story behind Nobody

"I wrote Nobody really quickly on the piano knowing we had a pre-production rehearsal with the full band the next night," says Greg. "I sang it falsetto on the demo, knew there was something there, but wasn't quite sure what I had. Next night we worked on it for an hour band and turned this little song into this big, slinky monster. Out of all the tracks on Forget the Past this is the one we took into the studio not really knowing how it'd go. Tracking day Wayne brought in this great drum loop, I fluked a falsetto backing part, bass player Mark Hughes pulled out an earth-shattering bass sound and we were off. Hardly any words in this one - which I love - it's all about the groove. The highest compliment came when someone came into the studio and said - "It sounds like the SOS Band's Just Be Good To Me!" Yeah!"

Go to  to hear - Nobody - from Greg's new album which is to be released 28th March. While you're there vote for it, and vote it up the NZ wildcard charts (it's already in the top ten).

Go here to pledge and pre-order one of a very limited number of cd copies of Forget the Past


Forget the Past

Very excited about this new record Forget the Past, 11 tracks spanning subjects as far afield as New Mexico, jaywalking, the working poor, and a song inspired by a conversation with a traveller who told me they'd been dodging winters for years. Where's the fun in that? There's also a couple of moody - I'm walking into the desert sunset heartbreakers - but most excitingly for myself there's also a handful of pop songs. I love pop songs! And - I think - this time out I managed to write a couple. It's out in March. Greg


New album finished


Greg's new record Forget the Past is complete and due for release in March 2014.

"I had no other aim than making a record I want to listen to," says Greg.

"There's lots of textures on this one - classic pop, drum loops, narrative songs, and a couple of heartbreakers."

It contains 11 new tracks, recorded at The Lab in Auckland, and was produced by Wayne Bell.