TTB: Your new song features Terri Hooley, Snow Patrol’s Nathan Connolly & your brother Iain Archer. How did this collaboration come together? Can you tell us about the writing / recording process?
Paul: Such an honour and a privilege to have Terri, Nathan and Iain all together on this new single about our inspiring, magnificent and beautiful home city of Belfast!
Belfast is the city of my birth and a holds a sacred and special place deep inside my psyche and soul. I love it dearly and the warmth of our people!
Life continues to throw us challenges as well as our good times but when I return home I feel a sense of peace and of belonging and I observe that this increases with time.
It was with this in mind that I wrote “Belfast – Place Of My Soul“. I then thought about how I could most appropriately and responsibly communicate and record the song. I got in touch with good friend Jon Moorehead ( Jon worked with me on the pre-production for the current Burning Codes album – Hope Is Our Lightning ) at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast and I explained to Jon about how I really wanted to record at home and work with local musicians and friends old and new.
Jon suggested Jonny Woods from Belfast band R51 engineer the session at Start Together Studios which are located within the Oh Yeah Music Centre ( my project Burning Codes had the privilege and honour of having been asked by Gary Lightbody and the Team at Oh Yeah to play at the opening day of Oh Yeah and I was honoured when my project Burning Codes and, indeed my previous band The Ghears music was used in the Oh Yeah Music Centre Opening Day documentary).
When I contacted Nathan, Terri and my brother Iain Archer they all very kindly agreed to be involved along with Paul Kane of Oh yeah and the students from Belfast Metropolitan College. Iain very kindly also agreed to mix the new song!
On Monday 13th March we began a full day’s recording starting with two drummers for the big kit feel (Matty from R51 and Monty Sneddon), with Mark Adair (ex Sweet Savage) on bass and Nathan Connolly of Snow Patrol, my brother Iain Archer ( Snow Patrol, James Bay, Jake Bugg ), Jonny Woods ( R51 ), Jon Moorehead ( Moosetronix Mastering ) and myself all on guitars and Tim Millen (ex Amazing Pilots) on keys. With the students of Belfast Metropolitan College also singing in the choir.
Mixing commenced at my brother Iain’s studio and Jon Moorehead of Moosetronix Mastering then mastered the song! We have a “ Making Of ” documentary which which shot on a handheld camera on the day of recording and this will be broadcast in the run up to the release date which is Friday 03.11.17!
With the writing process, basically I work with young people in a children’s home over in England and one night when I was on a sleep in I could not stop thinking about Belfast and I knew right there and then that I needed to write a song about my hometown and how deeply it resonates with me.
Due to the strength of my feeling the words came relatively easily and before I knew I had the song. I shared the feelings, concept and ideas with Terri, Nathan and Iain and they all contributed towards this feeling and the concept so creatively and with such genius! I’m sure folk know very well about my close friendship with my wonderful and profoundly supportive Snow Patrol brothers and my wonderful and profoundly supportive brother Iain without whom I probably wouldn’t be writing music ( rather I’d have been solely a music listener ). With Terri our story goes back many years also where when I had my earliest band “Disreali Gears” Terri came to me and told me he was going into the studio to record some songs and asked me could he “borrow my band?”. At this time Mr. Jonny Quinn played drums in Disraeli Gears and my brother Iain and myself had started Disraeli Gears and Jimmy Symington, a well known figure in the Belfast music scene was the guitar player. So Terri borrowed my band and recorded out at Mudd Wallace’s studio and I believe much fun was had! So when it came to this new record I contacted Terri and asked if he would now come and sing on my song and he very kindly said that he would!
TTB: The title of the song is very striking, and it’s surely symbolic for all these musicians to come together and work on it. Considering Belfast’s history, what do you hope for the song to move in people?
Paul: My hope for the song would be that people might catch even a glimpse of the beauty, inspiration, power, feeling and connection which Belfast inspires. I have always loved the city and I love the people, the warmth, the spirit, the dynamism, the brother and sisterhood and the joy of Belfast. It is such an honour to have been born and grown up there and County Down in particular is such a beautiful, beautiful county also!