• Conor Houston

Unclean Seventeen

My good friend Oliver Manning has recently released a single titled 'Unclean Seventeen', on which I contributed bass, backing vocals, and handclaps. It's a really fun tune, and I particularly enjoyed the recording process; the bulk of it was all tracked live in one room. Nothing new, but different to the more controlled approach I tend to implement when making my own stuff.

Upon its release on 20 April, Oliver put on a show at The Lescar, Sheffield. He'd kindly asked me to play bass again. I'd never performed at The Lescar before, but always wanted to as the lavish decor and cabaret-style seating arrangement appealed the cultural snob in me. The gig room is small, usually reserved for stand-up comedians, and I estimate there was around 40 people in.

Alan Smyth, owner of 2Fly Studios came along. He's a longtime friend of all of ours, and was responsible for recording the single; I saw him smiling throughout, which warmed my heart and reassured me that we were doing something that, whilst not polished, was entertaining and of some value. He actually enjoyed the roughness of it, and felt the constant back-and-forth between the musicians was a welcome change to seeing people who had ironed out the creases. He also confirmed that I played bass like a bass player as opposed to a guitarist, which was my biggest question to him when we spoke afterwards.

I'd never had to rely on communicating with other band members as much as this. It was like my brain had spent an hour in a musical gym. Part of me wishes I could have let go a bit more, but there are plenty of gigs when I can, and this didn't have to be one of them. Oliver had written 14 songs specifically for this gig, and we had only three rehearsals. He barely knew them himself, and it was really exciting having to eyeball him and Joe Wood (drums) in order to get through. Oliver's as bad as I am for using lots of tricky chords and structures, and we were all proud of ourselves for pulling it off.

'Unclean Seventeen' by Oliver Manning is out now:

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