On 1 February 2020, Lavender Hill release their first album. 14 original songs, written by the band and more than a year in production. The songs reflect the band's diverse musical influences, gathered together in a collection ranging from pop to hard(ish!) rock. Most of the tracks combine strong melodies, high-energy drumming and prominent bass with a driving guitar, a style the band has evolved over its five-year existence but stirred into the mix are piano, organ, synths and cello. The end result is layers masterfully blended to create a fresh, innovative sound. The lyrics are as diverse as the music, addressing emotions as far apart as love and anger with a little humour thrown in. They're printed below.
The band's songwriter, Silver, wrote a couple of the tracks in the 1990s and they languished in a drawer until he thought it was the right time. Most of them were written since 2017, after the release of Lavender Hill's debut EP. "I'd always wanted to write and there have been melodies and lyrics in my head, since I was a teenager but playing in cover bands it was never the right time. I had to pluck up the courage and the confidence to play the demos to the guys. They were really supportive. It was good to have the time to develop them, to see what worked."
Lavender Hill, July 2020 (L-R Silver, Razz, Rob Gwynne)
Now the recording is done, the band is rehearsing hard with two new members, and looking forward to a time when they will be able to play live. In the meantime they are planning to showcase the songs with a livestream set for January, and a video for one of the tracks, out just after Christmas with a solo provisionally set for 7 January.
Lavender Hill 2016. (L-R Razz, Silver, Andrew Baird)
THE STORY SO FAR. In March 2015, Silver and his friend Andrew Baird started jamming on Saturday afternoons.... acoustic guitars and a beer or two. Just a couple of mates playing through a folk/blues repertoire. Through the excellent, much-missed Horley Guitars shop they met Bob Kemp, a talented bass guitarist and the three members started appearing at open mic nights in Surrey. The name Lavender Hill was suggested by Silver’s partner – he and his father are both Clapham natives.
The band decided to look for a drummer, and Bob suggested Razz Betts. They had played together in Surrey blues band Hallelujah Junction. Their first gig as a four-piece was at the Horley Tavern in March 2016. Silver started bringing original songs to the band and after rehearsal they went into Barnstorm Studios with producer Rob Barry to make an EP. During production, Bob decided to go his own way and concentrate on other projects. Unable to locate a bass player, Silver had to re-learn an instrument he hadn’t played since his teens. Even worse, Rob Gwynne, a Canadian ex-pat turned up in March, just after the tracks had been laid down.
Early gig at the Horley Tavern
Andrew was finding it increasingly difficult to juggle his business commitments with rehearsals and after a few abortive auditions with keyboard players and guitarists, the band invited Rod Ashford, an experienced lead guitarist to come on board as a special guest. At one gig Andrew came back and played three songs on guitar while Silver did a stint on keys. In December 2018, after Razz fell out of a bus and broke his shoulder, with a gig booked, drummer Ray Elgy stepped in and did a fantastic job.
Silver, Rob and Razz with special guest Rod Ashford
Razz, Rob and Silver decided to continue as a trio and with more original songs they started working hard on developing their sound. What you hear now, those high-energy, driving drums, strong bass right up at the front of the mix and ringing power chords were developed through the summer of 2019. That September the band, with enough original songs to make an album, went into the studio. They joined up with the brilliant producer Tom Hughes, and over three long days in November Razz laid down 16 drum tracks at Dragonfly Studios. Rob came to Silver’s home and recorded his bass parts.
As Tom was working to pull all the work together, coronavirus hit the UK. The studios had to close and work slowed down. Thanks to Dropbox and portable hard disk drives left in Tom’s letterbox, posted to and from individual members, the album started to take shape.
Then a side-project reared its head. One Thursday evening, after standing outside clapping for the NHS, a phrase came into Silver’s head. “We are not alone.” He went indoors and wrote ‘Dancing in Silence’, recorded in the band-members’ homes, produced by Tom in what had become the road-tested way of post, delivery and Cloud uploads. A video to raise funds for the NHS was produced and directed by Alex Horwood, a marvellous photographer and filmmaker who shot the band in Silverlea Woods (Silver), a field outside East Grinstead (Razz) and finally in Rob’s back garden. Two contributions to mention are Alex’s daughter Lilya who lights up the video, and Jan Spratt’s backing vocals. Check out the video on YouTube. It’s still getting views.
A still from the 'socially-distanced' video of Dancing in Silence
Now the album is finished. Among the many friends of the band who have made a fantastic contribution: Dom Harvey, the supernaturally-talented axeman of Dead Before Mourning who for the past five years has mentored Silver’s guitar playing with gritted teeth, contributed a solo on ‘What Did You Do?’ that defies any known definition of praise. Chan-Chan Bartlett, whose backing vocals lift ‘Electra’ and ‘Lavender Hill’. Her rap on ‘Temptation’ is edgy and spine-tingling.
Hard at work in Barnstorm Studios, Surrey
What’s next? Hopefully coronavirus and the government will allow live music back on. It’s what we live for. We badly want to gig and bring this album to life, whether on stage or through live-streaming. There will be new additions to our line-up. And we’re not done. Even as we finish one album, new songs are growing. Lavender Hill Rocks!
CONTACT DETAILS : Graham on firstname.lastname@example.org T: +44(0)7701 309003 W: https://lavenderhill.rocks