The majority of the songs on The Tarn Machine were written in the period between January and April 2015 during a time where the new line-up of The Bar-Steward Sons were forced to take time-out from live shows after Scott's partner (and the 5th Doonican) Amanda had to undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer.
Rather than letting the whole horrible ordeal get the better of them, Scott & Amanda set to songwriting to take their minds off it all (laughter really is the best medicine, folks). Meanwhile, Bjorn, Alan & Andy also started to work on some songs too, which makes The Tarn Machine the first BS/VD album where all of the members of the band have been involved in the writing process.
However, unlike previous albums, the band were unable to 'road-test' the songs until they returned to live shows. As a result, the very first time ANY of the tracks were heard was at Scott's 'One Man Show' at The Lantern Theatre (which is also available on Bandcamp on the album of the same name). Luckily, they were well-received, and work commenced on the recording on 28th April at Scott's house in Barnsley Rock City.
Scott spent a week recording his parts, Bjorn recorded his sections over two sessions on 4th May and 11th May, Alan recorded all of his parts in 6 hours on 12th May, and Andy arrived on the 13th May to add his parts. The album was mixed and mastered on 14th May, making The Tarn Machine the fastest studio album the band have ever recorded too.
The album also contains 'The Devil Went Darn To Barnsley', which was only previously available on the vinyl-only 'Bestest Bits II' and features Scott & Bjorn alongside some very special guests. We were lucky to be aided and abetted by the marvellous Maartin Allcock (Jethro Tull / Fairport Convention / Beth Neilsen Chapman Band) who produced the track between September and October of 2014, whilst also recording bass, baritone guitar, electric guitar and synths. Joining this motley crew was Scott's comedy-folk hero (and the main inspiration for BS/VD) Mike Harding, who plays the part of The Devil, our dear friend Eliza Carthy on the Devil's fiddle-break and backing vocals, Saxon's Graham Oliver on electric guitar and Matt Townsend who drummed the whole track in one take without any technical wizardry. Coincidentally, due to time restraints when the track was recorded, Eliza had to record her parts in a college in Whitby onto a small voice-recorder whilst stood in a classroom full of confused looking sixth-formers!
Despite being given an 'official' release date of 1st June, the band launched the album at their appearance at Bearded Theory festival on 21st May in front of a capacity crowd, and were joined on stage at the end of their set by the members of 3 Daft Monkeys, Tom Large as The Devil and Emmy-Award Winning musician Roy Harter from New York.
Not bad for a daft little comedy band from Barnsley, eh?
released June 1, 2015
Scott Doonican: vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, banjulele, bass guitar, piano, stylophone, body percussion, drum programming
Bjorn Doonicansson: banjo, mandolin, fiddle, flat-pack furniture assembly
Andy Doonican: 12-string acoustic guitar, bouzouki, electric guitar, sarcasm
Alan Doonican: piano accordion, piano, keyboards, master story-teller
with special guests on The Devil Went Darn To Barnsley:
Maartin Allcock - electric guitar, baritone guitar, bass, synths
Eliza Carthy - fiddle, backing vocals
Mike Harding - The Devil
Graham Oliver - electric guitar
Matt Townsend - drums
with screams from ‘The Sound of Hell Choir’ (recorded at Cabaret Doonican at The Fitzwilliam Arms, Elsecar)
Amanda White, JC Toller, Tony Davies, Graham Dodson, Kath & Andy Durdy, Emma Lennon, Jethro Platts, Den & Angie Duffy, Dave & Ross Harrison, Matt Townsend, Catherine Hammond, Cian & Hayla Stanworth, Steph Culic, Lewis Ryan, Steven Sanderson, Ed Sanderson, Andrea Beevers, Laura & Jacob Fox, Simon Porter, Patrick, Neil, Silke & Cat Fraser, Lizzie Morris, Brent & Dan Watson, Marie Haugen, Steve & Sharon Challoner
All songs produced by Scott Doonican at Moon-On-A-Stick Studios, Barnsley Rock City...
Except The Devil Went Darn To Barnsley - produced by Maartin Allcock at Squiggle Studios, Harlech, Wales
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