Sunday 9 December 2018

About: LESBIAN BED DEATH - The Devil's Bounty Hunters

I'm not really one for nostalgia, as I think indulging in it too much can distract from building new memories and moving forward. However, now and again, it's pleasant to reminisce a little.

I've decided to write an article about the fourth Lesbian Bed Death studio album, The Devil's Bounty Hunters. Out of all our records, this one sold the least, and received very little press. Personally, I feel that this album was pretty damn good, and features some of the best Lesbian Bed Death songs we've ever written. There are lots of reasons why it was commercially doomed from the start, but also plenty of reasons to celebrate this album too. As I'm celebrating its fifth birthday, I thought it was an ideal time to share a few thoughts and memories with you all.

The Devil's Bounty Hunters was released to fans who supported the crowd funding campaign via PledgeMusic on 9th December 2013, and was then officially released to the rest of the world on 25th February 2014. 

I often get asked about crowd funding campaigns, as they've grown significantly in popularity over the last few years. We were early adopters of this novel way to finance a record without a record label, and to engage with fans directly. It's basically a pre-order system, but with lots of extra perks that are exclusive to fans who take part. These fans are known as 'Pledgers' or 'Backers'. We had fun updating our pledgers from the studio in real time, sharing photos and videos of our progress, as well as chatting via the site and getting plenty of valuable feedback from the people who care about us the most.

The thing with crowd funding campaigns is that, generally, a band only gets the money if they hit their goal of 100%. For a band to be successful, you need to set 100% at an amount that you think you may actually raise, as opposed to what you probably need. The truth is that, although we raised an impressive amount of cash, we fell short of what we needed. I spent all of my savings and maxed out my credit cards to finish it off, and pay for a small amount of advertising. In hindsight, I was naive and perhaps a bit of a fool, given my circumstances, but I had to see this record through, and keep everything to the highest standards that we could.

After the previous album, Riot of the Living Dead, the band was in an awkward position. Our bassist and drummer had quit, and we weren't getting any further in the live field. I decided that our best move was to make a new album, and we should write it and record it as a three-piece. Our lead guitarist, Chuckmaster C, is also an amazing drummer and bass player, so that side of things was covered. The only snag was that his day job was teaching in a school, so we had to get the album written and recorded in his Summer holidays, before the start of his term. The studio I wanted us to use was too far away to commute, so it put a time pressure on us.

The positive is that we worked well under the pressure, and there is a chance that some of these tracks wouldn't have turned out as good as they did if there had been extra time to mess with them too much and over-think things. Who knows? I can't complain. The Devil's Bounty Hunters is a beast, and I'm still very proud to have been a part of it.

The whole album was recorded and mixed in just ten days at Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire. To be fair, some of those days were very very long. It was produced and engineered by Ewan Davies and Fran Wheeldon, who were both amazing to work with and did a fantastic job. We lived in the studio during the recording sessions, so we were completely immersed.

Chapel Studios is a wonderful studio to record in. Being a converted chapel, the live room has some killer acoustics, and the drum sound we got was absolutely perfect. Prior to coming to Chapel, we were used to sleeping on floors and generally 'roughing it'. Here we had our own bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room with TV and wi-fi, so the experience of making music was a far more civilized one. There's a lot to be said for not sleeping in a van!

The studio has been used by many famous artists including Artic Monkeys, Paradise Lost, Enter Shikari, Uriah Heep, Carcass, and The Darkness. I even heard a rumour that Machine Head recorded their first live album there! Knowing all of this made the fact that we were there even cooler. At one point, legendary producer Simon Efemey popped in to pick up some hard drives. I did my best to conceal my fan-boy moment, as Simon has produced some of my favourite artists including The Wildhearts and Paradise Lost.

Ewan Davies
Chuckmaster C and Fran Wheeldon

Me and Kittie (no idea what I'm doing here!)

The recording wasn't all roses though. At one point, I had a phone call from home. My dog Henry collapsed and died the following morning. He had lung cancer and we had no idea. His symptoms didn't show until the day before his death. I was absolutely heartbroken. I was several hours from home and there was nothing I could do. As awful as it sounds, I'd just spent every last penny I had on the recording studio, so I took a few hours to compose myself, then pressed on with the album. 

Aside from that, we had a lot of fun making The Devil's Bounty Hunters. Most of it was written in advance, but Kittie and I worked on some of the lyrics while Chuckmaster C was tracking his parts. We were all working in some way on the record from when we woke up until when we couldn't stay awake any longer. The exception was when we were stuffing our faces with food. Studio calories don't count. Ask any musician.

After the recording session, we booked in at a local recording studio called Summerbank Studios to record some acoustic bonus tracks. Chuckmaster C really wanted to do an acoustic version of Seven Days, and Kittie wanted to do Bela Lugosi's Back, as it was always one of her favourites to sing live. I chose Everybody's Dead because I thought an acoustic version of a song like that would be utterly ridiculous and great fun to do. It ended up sounding like the soundtrack to the end of the world, viewed by someone on a beach drinking Tequila. The acoustic tracks all turned out really well, and tied in with the overall theme of the album. Incidentally, the engineer at Summerbank, Paul Hume, plays guitar in the classic NWOBHM band Demon.

When all of the tracks were mixed, I sent the album off to be mastered by the legendary Denis Blackham at Skye MasteringDenis has mastered records for countless artists including Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and The Damned.

Our friend Iris Compiet did the cover art. She had previously done the covers for the singles Soul Sucker and Halloween from Riot of the Living Dead, so she was the obvious choice. I'd met Iris a few years prior when my previous band played some shows in The Netherlands. Having an artist as talented as Iris working with us is something that I'm truly grateful for, and I'm stoked that she's gone on to do so well in the industry. For this album cover, I wanted it to look Goth, yet have a futuristic Wild West vibe. I was thinking about Mean Machine and The Angel Gang from the Judge Dredd comics (well, 2000AD), and also Vertigo's Preacher comics too. As always, Iris delivered something awesome.

Due to having very little money left, and not having a touring line-up ready, we weren't able to promote The Devil's Bounty Hunters as well as it should have been. It was also almost a year after the album's completion when we had enough budget to record any music videos, so it lost momentum. Lesbian Bed Death always had a strong following on YouTube, so not having a video out around the time of release clearly had an effect on both sales and interest from press. By the time the band had got back onto its feet, a lot had changed. After a fantastic show at Whitby Goth Weekend on 1st November 2014, this version of the band fell apart. But that's another story. 

Here are a few words about each of the tracks on The Devil's Bounty Hunters:

1. Dark Passenger
This was the heaviest and most 'Metal' song the band had ever done. It was built up from two unfinished songs Chuckmaster C had written for our previous band, and I managed to convince him that we could splice the two together and it'd work. Around this time, Kittie and I were obsessed with the TV show Dexter, and we knew we had to write some lyrics about it. It all fitted together very nicely, and Dark Passenger remains as one of my favourite Lesbian Bed Death songs, despite being quite different from all of our other material.

2. Drained By Love
This is also one of my favourites. Kittie's vocals in the chorus add some real catchy Pop magic. The lyrics were inspired by The Vampire Diaries, which was one of our guilty TV pleasures, although it was written so it could be about any old vampire shit really. 

3. Ghost In The Mirror
It was time to bring back some serious Goth. It's impossible to listen to this song without putting on eyeliner and drinking red wine. Chuckmaster C wrote the guitar riffs during a thunder storm, adding to the overall 'Gothness'.

4. Death By Stereo
Being a huge Lost Boys fan, I really wanted a song called Death By Stereo. The intro was recorded using a real Hammond organ, making it extra cool. When we go 'full-on Gothic Punk' we do it like bosses, and this song is certainly one of the album's highlights.

5. Skin Crawler
Another heavy song. This one is about obsession and stalkers.

6. Damage The Sound
This is a stripped-down ballad. It's just one vocal and one guitar. The lyrics are very abstract and are open to interpretation.

7. Lonely Assassins
I wrote the lyrics about The Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, and was particularly inspired by the episode 'Blink'. It's one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who ever, and definitely touches on the Horror genre. However, Kittie and Chuckmaster C both fucking hate Doctor Who, so I threw my toys out of my pram continually until they agreed to do it. As well as being quite Goth, the song also has a nice psychedelic twist. It's very different from anything we'd done before.

8. Never Get Enough
Sometimes you just have to go 'full-on Hard Rock'. This song is us doing just that. It's also worth noting that every great Classic Rock band has at least one song in their repertoire that strippers will pole-dance to for those dirty dollars. This will probably be ours.

9. Broken
A sorrowful power-ballad. This was the last song to be written for the record, and it turned out to be one of the best.

10. The Day Becomes The Night
An empowering rocker about starting over. The outro ended up sounding like Tina Turner jamming with Pantera!

So, there you go! That's the story of The Devil's Bounty Hunters. If you'd like a copy, they're available direct from our shop. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed being part of the team who made it.


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