I started recording Hooba Dooba in late 2008 in my studio on the outskirts of Dublin working with recording engineer Kieran Lynch. As is usual with me, I had several demos of new songs on the go over the previous months and the first task was to be certain which of those should build on and finish …and which I should just take the ideas from and start again.
I began with just my longtime drummer Liam Genockey. We worked for five days on some existing basic song structures and started some others from the ground up, me playing acoustic live just with Liam’s drums. It might sound a strange way to record but the rhythmic ‘feel’ of a track is something i have an instinctive grasp of and it’s crucial that that it’s right before the harmonic aspects of a song are addressed. Often in the past with several musicians sitting around in studio at the same time, I would find myself distracted trying to give space and attention to everyone before I had a clear fix on what it was i was looking for myself… and often the focus would vanish into the ether. It’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson. Nowadays I accept that only I can make my music sound the way I hear it in my head and whatever circumstance allows me to achieve that is the best way to go.
When i was pretty happy with the groove foundations, Jennifer Maidman came in for a couple of days and by the time she had added her bass i knew I had the makings of a good record.
I continued on my own for a while, sometimes with Kieran engineering, sometimes recording myself when he had other commitments. Generously he left a lot of his own recording equipment with me while he did other projects and that was a great help in keeping the quality consistent. I recorded guitars, bouzouki, mandolin piano, keyboards, percussion, even some of my own vocals over the next few weeks.
In December, Sarah Siskind, who was touring Ireland and UK with Canadian band Bon Iver, came to Dublin for a few days and, though she felt pretty under the weather with a flu-like bug, she did some amazing singing. Thanks Sarah! Also in December before he headed off to New Zealand for 9 months , my son Colm came and added harmonica to ‘Living The Mystery’ which gave it a beautiful colour.
By now into early 2009, Bill Shanley & Anto Drennan (electric guitars), Rod McVey (Hammond organ and accordeon) all added some magic. I sent ‘Rainbow’ to Jerry Douglas in Nashville and there he added soma smoking’ lap steel guitar. Next came a trip to London for a day to record some backing vocals. Finally Fiachra Trench came to my studio with an ensemble from the Irish Film Orchestra to add his string arrangements to ‘One More Today’, ‘Mother And Son’ and ‘The Price Of Fame’. Gorgeous stuff.
Mixing took place in late Spring and summer of 2009 and we eventually decided to avoid the Christmas rush and put the record out in spring 2010. Worth the wait? I hope so. I certainly am pleased with how it turned out.
Featuring 12 songs, Hooba Dooba is a strikingly varied record in mood, pace and colour. Seven of the songs are my own, both words and music. Four are co-writes and one is a cover of a Lennon/McCartney song from Rubber Soul, ‘You Won’t See Me’. Why ‘Hooba Dooba’? It’s a phrase i’ve used for years to celebrate life. When something difficult works out in the end, when a gig is reaching its climax and you’re in full flight….hey! what else can you shout but …Hooba Dooba! Enjoy!