A Rocket Anniversary & Skyscraper Souls: Chatting With Jason Mraz and Andy Partridge, Plus Kate Crash, Soul Scratch And Xoe Wise Exclusives
Mike Ragogna, Contributor
12/01/2017 09:00 am ET
A Conversation with Andy Partridge
Mike Ragogna: Andy, you’re a featured guest on the new Downes Braide Association album, Skyscraper Souls. How did that come together?
Andy Partridge: I had worked with Chris previously, knocking up a few songs for other people, one of the projects was that Sarah Brightman album about the cosmos, where she was going to perform some of its songs from the International Space Station. Shame that project fell through. We came up with some great numbers. Maybe she’s a better singer than she is astronaut material?
Anyway, Chris and I stayed in touch. Out of the blue, he just asked would I like to contribute some things to an album he was making with ex-Yes/Buggle Geoff Downes—a bit of guitar here and there or anything I thought the tracks needed? So I said sure, just send me some tunes.
So I played a few guitar solos, sang some backing vocals parts and strummed an acoustic and a mandolin. It all came out so well that I ended-up ruining four of their songs for them…HA!!
MR: How did you submerge yourself into these tracks—by their topics, what was going on musically in the arrangement and basic tracks, or through some other method?
AP: I got into “Darker Times.” For example, when I heard Chris’ main vocal, he had a seemingly throwaway line “We are all one energy” that knocked me for six. I thought, “That’s it, that’s the keystone to the whole song.” So I sent him a three or four-part tracked-up choir of myself singing that line over and over, almost like a plainsong or mantra. We both thought it worked well, but I don’t know if he was aware of that little gem of a line that was hiding in his song. It’s my favorite on the album. I feel quite tearful when I hear it, which is a great sign.
With the specific requests for a “guitar solo,” I did my thing and sent him something like four takes to choose from…which he did.
“Glacier Girl” just pushed all my buttons to wheel out the ‘cold’ scenery. I’d been working that week on some Christmas songs for another artist and had lots of sleigh bells laying around my shed—my home studio in the garden—so I thought I’d push myself into repetitive strain injury once more and put them on this track. Christmas happens in Winter; Winter is cold, thus sleigh bells. The acoustic guitar was something that I intended would make a frosty thin, rhythm feel. It ended up still a little too warm, so I pointed it with a mandolin. That seemed to put it deep in the tundra to my ear. It’s all about painting the right scenery for me.