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It's Always A Sunny Day when you are hanging out with The Korgis! 

It's Always A Sunny Day when you are hanging out with The Korgis!

It's Always A Sunny Day when you are hanging out with The Korgis!

We first met Joe when he interviewed James Warren just before the release of the Korgis 2021 album, Kartoon World. 

 The Korgis' James Warren chats to Joe Matera 

Australian born Joe Matera is a rocker through and through, having a career that has swayed between rock journalist/ guitar player/artist. 

As a magazine writer he has interviewed artists  of stellar magnitude and as diverse as Sir George Martin and Lemmy! 
As a guitar player he has been seen playing for Steve Harley and the Swedish rock legends Rough. 

In his own write he has released 3 Albums and countless singles. 
The funny thing is that rock guys seem to dig The Korgis. When Al was recording The Damned, Captain Sensible proclaimed his admiration for the 'under-blown' sound of the band and left wearing a Korgis T-Shirt! 


So it was with Joe and it wasn't too long before he suggested a collaboration. Maybe because he was from Kyabram, (near where Al used to go on holidays as a kid) that he was the first to pick up the challenge. 
Using a chord riff and tune that Joe had sent across and sparked by a conversation (between Al and his daughter Lorna) in the plane flying across to Greece, the chorus of 'Always a Sunny Day' was born. There is even a rough demo using the inbuilt mic on Al's Mac that sounds remarkably similar to way the chorus ended up. As it was quite an unusual sound harmonically we hoped Joe would be ok with this softer edge than perhaps he was used to. Fortunately he loved where it was going. 
On Al's return from Greece, we quickly got to work on completing the song albeit in demo form. This is also how the whole of Kartoon World was written, by assembling rough demos and the adding the band in bit by bit. 

James called across and wrote a verse/bridge in about 20 mins which fitted perfectly, and between us we hammered out a middle 8. This was quite reminiscent of Brian Wilson with lovely chords underpinned by altered bass notes. 

 John Baker came across and put a magical of lower vocal in the chorus' and a lovely McCartney style line in the second bridge. Meanwhile Joe had sent across his vocals and a magical guitar solo, plus a lovely rhythm part. The whole piece was starting to gel. 
Al finished lyrics based on some of Joe's ideas and the whole song became about the 'have's and have not's. What is it like to start life with everything you want?... and what is it like to start with nothing? The wealth divide is one of the biggest problems in the world today. When you add homelessness in, then that is pretty much where we are with this song. 

Whenever we bring Paul Smith in on drums, the songs always take on a more 'finished' feel. Even though fake drums can sound good, we are all much happier when Paul works his magic. We tend to rethink patterns on the fly and see what else we can pull out of the bag. He is an amazing musician and nothing is technically too difficult for him. 







What can we say about our lovely backing vocalists 'Born2 Win' that we haven't already said a thousand times?! Jay, Emmy and Ava are the most positive people to work with, as well as singing with voices of angels - which was of course exactly what we needed with this song! 

Although we already had LOT'S of vocals recorded, we decided to push the boat out and see what else we could add. The very last phrase of the song 'rain.....bow' was perhaps the very last thing to be recorded - and what a beautiful unexpected end. Just when you think it is going to fade out you are left with that line.

We didn't want this release to be just 'another digital download' so we decided you should have the 'paper parts' even if they are virtual! 

We hope you enjoyed the story of the journey so far. This song can perhaps have as many lives as a lucky cat. Thank you for being there at the beginning of 'Always a Sunny Day', and we hope you will follow it's progress along with us. 
The Korgis

Grab your own copy here!

Kartoon World - The first 3 singles. 

For a songwriter, having time on your hands is not an issue - so the last year of lockdown has meant we could turn those whirring brains to something big!

Well... here we are 3 singles in, with at least half of the album mastered and we thought it might be fun to let you in on our working methods. We have already covered the birth of our album 'Kartoon World' in an earlier blog (check out The Creative Process Behind Magic Money Tree with some more info and a link to the demo of the 2nd song in The Korgis Status Report Mid-2020) so we will leap frog on to where we are now - and more specifically the first 3 singles. This is Al Steele by the way. James Warren, John Baker and myself wrote all of this album with some input on a couple of songs from some third parties.

1) The Ghost of You

You will notice that all the videos begin with scrolling text. That's because this is a 'concept album man!!!' Each song fits into a time period between 1980 and 2030 - yes we are commenting on the past, present AND projecting into the future!

By about May James Warren had started coming into the studio and we began working on various bits of songs - some scraps and pieces I had and some he had. However this song was a new idea we built from scratch, based around a few simple chords and an infectious drum loop that James brought in. He also had a rough tune for the verse. When James went home I carried on working on it, and quickly wrote the chorus sequence. The whole song really felt like it belonged on the dance floor, so initially we went full pelt on this idea. The middle 8 to me was a stop gap that I thought we should replace but everyone seemed to like it - so it stayed. I did like the idea of it being a tongue twister though!
Here is what the early dance version sounded like!
The Ghost Of You - Dance Version - DEMO!
Knowing how the rest of the album was shaping up, I thought it would not quite fit in, so we went for a more synthy 80's thing and that gave us a bit more scope with guitars as well.
Here is James talking around the time of the release.
James' thoughts on The Ghost of You

We chose this as a first release because we thought it might be a little unexpected, and we certainly didn't want people to think this would be a Korgis album to pass people by! By single number 3 we are really starting to rattle some cages!... but I am getting ahead of myself! Here is the video and final version of The Ghost of You - we managed to sneak every member of the 8-piece band in there!
The Ghost of You - Single version

2) Bringing Back the Spirit of Love

This song looks back at the peace movement of the 60's when even the guys wore flowers in their hair and love was most definitely the answer. Well anyone with any modicum of sense knows that it still is! We wanted to write a modern day revolution song.
This started with an idea I sent to the guys to think about and embellish. As you will hear, the lyrics and the end sequence changed as we went along. Here is me in Studio 2 at Shabbey Road bashing out the idea on a travel guitar!
Bringing Back the Spirit of Love - Original idea

Hashing out the rest of a song can be a long and arduous process - unless your name is James Warren. Just before he left the studio one day I said, 'James, we need a verse for Bring Back the Spirit..' He replied 'Shall we do it now?' 10 mins later we had the verse and bridge section of the song. Again I think I went straight on and put down the basic verse instruments in a rough form - but I know the original guitar stayed. Why reinvent the wheel eh?!
We pieced the songs together with each person coming in separately. The exception being Jay, Emmy and Ava, our backing vocalists (a band in their own right called Born to Win) who were their own bubble. There are MASSES of vocals on this song. I reckon the main block of the chorus has 18 vocals not counting the extra lines that come in at the end! Drums were done in  blocks of 3 or 4 songs a session. James and myself did basses and electric guitars and John did lots of the acoustic guitar parts as well as about a million vocals! Nigel came in and dubbed grand piano on the song giving it a real Paul McCartney flavour.
Before we finally got the master stage James went through the whole song adding little bits of guitar/keys here and there - and RIGHT at the end, I went back to my original idea which was a kind of oompah oompah stick it up your jumper type rhythm but reinvented as a rap/rant to ramp up the song to the end.
James has been mastering these at home - and doing a grand job as well. There will be a different mix for vinyl - a more open 70's kind of thing - you know before we got into the loudness wars? Here is the vid - this will be preceded by The Kartoon World Overture where we will have our familiar space scroller text. Enjoy!
Bringing Back the Spirit of Love - Single Mix

3) Time (Song for Dom)

This started with something James called Fantasy Waltz. He had been tinkering with things in Glenn Tommey's studio in Bath. It was from the start a very odd piece and reminded me very much of something Stackridge might have done. I really liked the original lyrics but James insisted they were just nonsense and suggested we re-write. He was of course one of the principle writer's in Stackridge before himself and Andy Davis went and formed The Korgis some years later. Here it is!
Fantasy Waltz
It kind of reminded me of a clock and as our artist Leah Darknell had already drawn a cartoon about a Paul or drummer being drawn into a magical clock, it seemed the idea might work. I am not altogether sure when the idea for it to be about Dominic Cummings came about - I would like to be clever and say because it fitted the timeline of the Concept Album, but it was before that idea had solidified - possibly after I had added the chorus section. The chorus lyrics are just a play on works of all the phrases that include time in them - and I reckon the onion was the same one The Beatles were talking about when Lennon sang 'Well here's another clue for you all - the Walrus was Paul.'
In case anyone gets the wrong end of the stick - this is not an anti-Brexit song(!) but more an observation on how Dom changed the political tools when he began to use Cambridge Analytica to massage the Social Media and reach out to the untouchables that no-one had been able to reach before. He was, and still is, a very clever man. Whether he has been a change for better or for worse only history will judge.
Now it was really starting to sound even more like Stackridge and we really put our prog heads on. Lurching into the rock section in the middle really made the song for me. The tune is the same - the chords are the same - but we are suddenly back in the era of ELP and Genesis! John does a great vocal here and in the video he is furiously pedalling an exercise bike that obviously is going nowhere... there is perhaps a statement there! The epilogue where Dom eventually goes to heaven is also something that makes me smirk.
'Repent if I could, do you think that I would?... when the good life is just for the chosen one'
Here is our very prog video!
Time (Song for Dom)

Anything else you would like to know please ask away in the comments section below. Feel free to share!
Can't wait for you to hear the whole album. Keep in touch - drop us a line in the contact us tab if you want.
Have as good and safe a time as you can - until we meet again in person at a gig - WHAT'S ONE OF THEM?!!

The Creative Process Behind Magic Money Tree 

When the lock-down for Corona Virus suddenly came into play in March 2020, James Warren and Al Steele were right in the middle of a bout of songwriting sessions, and creating musical arrangements for the forthcoming James Warren and his Mighty Miniature Orchestra gig. 

When we realised that we could not physically get together our collective brains started ticking as to what we could do remotely. Equally cut short were String Sessions for Liverpool band Exhibit-1, and main man Chris Hopkins and Al were talking on Messenger when the slightly outlandish idea was put forward that one of us would start a song and then pass it onto the other. James was invited to participate, and the ideas started rolling. 

The first one came in from Chris, called ‘This Is A New Low’. Carrying on in the political vein, Al put forward the verse called ‘Magic Money Tree’. Almost simultaneously, James wrote a fantastically tuneful chorus and Chris sent through a very dark middle section. On the same day Al also completed a very Floydian 2nd section for ‘This Is A New Low’. 

Both songs seemed somewhat reminiscent of a couple of the tunes from Stackridges ‘A Victory For Common Sense’... a thought that did not go un-noted, as Al had previously brought Exhibit-1 to the attention of James, for the band’s similarity to Stackridge. 

Al began to mix the various files for ‘Magic Money Tree’ as they were sent through - splitting Chris’ long section.  into two halves and key changing the 2nd half into an outro. All 3 parties then added various layers of harmonies. 

James and Al had been experimenting with the meeting app Zoom, and talking about the possibilities of ‘green screen’ video via it’s Backgrounds and Recording facilities. Al filmed his sections in this way, with an old shower curtain on the wall. Fortunately the fish on the curtain didn’t show up(!) and a backdrop of money was shown in its place. Al’s shirt was quite close to the colour of the fish curtain, so it disappeared completely, letting the money backdrop show through. The random  appearance/disappearance really adds to this rather manic Farage-type character. 


Exhibit-1 are exclusively a studio band - something they have in common with the later Beatles period! - so there was a tiny bit of resistance to going public on film. After explaining how a towel could be a green screen, they sent through some footage with the accompanying text... ‘If you think this is bad, then you should have seen the other 12 takes!’... adding ‘We make the original Batman series look like a convincing, well-acted drama’! 




Have You Seen The Colours

Leah Darknell - the artist who created James Warren’s ‘Have You Seen The Colours’ video - animated a ‘Magic Money Tree’ in which she hand drew every note of money, and made them shake in a random way. As this was to coincide with James’ chorus we would need the man himself to tackle the old green screen challenge! After several Zoom sessions where there did not appear to be a clear wall nearby, and he couldn’t find anything tall enough to hang a beach towel on, we settled on filming against a cream wall... not ideal but would have to do. As it happens it created a rather interesting effect of making his silhouette disappear, and he blended into the blue sky seamlessly! 

We all felt that this would make a rather splendid Korgis song, and the plan is when lock-down is finally over, the rest of the band will dub in their bits. 
Here is the Youtube link - and hey!... please subscribe. 
Magic Money Tree

As we were nearing the completion of the video and the final master, James sent across another FIVE pieces of music that could be taken much further. Chris has already begun work on one of them. 
So here is to the future, where we can actually write together in the same room!... but thank you to this isolation, we know that we can still bring things together even when we are apart! 
Let’s hope the whole world can do the same...