While some of us have recently found getting dressed to be an inconvenience, Adam Ross from Randolph’s Leap has completed and released an album in a week. In fact, since this interview Randolph’s Leap have actually released another album, Howling at the Sun, with new music and some older songs re-imagined. We spoke to Adam about his emergency album, Spotify being terrible for artists, and what comes next.
(You Can’t Put The) Brakes On Love is your new album, pulled together during a week in your home studio, and released the day after you finished the music. Tell us about the process.
I had a tour booked and then a few gigs with the band booked for April, and then everything collapsed quickly. I’ve been a self-employed musician for a while and knew that would affect my earnings. I just wanted to do something positive so I wasn’t hanging around the house doing nothing.
But also, there was a financial impetus too, to do something with no production costs, and to put it online – make it directly available to fans. I had a couple of song ideas which were nearly finished but I never bothered to record. I had a couple of instrumental pieces, so I added parts to them, and then, everything else happened during the recording process.
That happens quite a lot for me, once I get going with a project and get into that mind-frame, additional songs will come along during the recording process. It was four days, but four very long days. My wife was saying she would have heard more from me if I had been on tour!
How did you find the process of working in this compressed time-frame?
It was an enjoyable process. I have a tendency to go back and forth writing lyrics over a long period of time. Setting myself a target helped with that. I knew I had to do it all within a week because Bandcamp waived their fees on Friday 20th March. I was forcing myself to write lyrics quickly, so not over thinking them was refreshing for me. A lot of the music happened spontaneously as well.
It’s available on Bandcamp, but not on Spotify because as you point out, the abysmal payments are no use to anyone. Are we at the time there needs to be a serious discussion, and action, about royalties for artists?
Yes. This whole thing has highlighted just how heavily reliant we are on live shows. People have put up with it, and I don’t know why. Maybe musicians and artists tend to be cowards, we aren’t the type of people who are good at being aggressive and standing up for ourselves.
When all the money disappeared from recorded music, we had to put up with it. It’s kinda strange when you hear about the collapse of other industries before Coronavirus, and you heard the Government stepping in.
The music industry collapsed with respect to earnings and no one stepped in to save it. I think everyone accepted that and got used to the idea of recording music and putting it online as a promotional tool for your live gigs.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with Spotify, but the logic was everyone is using it, and if your music is up there, people will hear it and check you out. Fortunately, the audience we have and the record labels we work with still have a decent amount of physical sales. Thankfully, people still buy records, and it helps, but without live gigs it is so hard.
I think there’s a deep-rooted feeling about people who work in the creative arts as a career. There’s a tendency to take it less seriously. I get it, you’re doing something you enjoy, and that’s unusual. As someone who makes music for a living, you put up with a lot of comments, and there is a feeling from others that it is a joke career. It’s probably related to that, and that attitude.
The cancelled tour featured yourself, Broken Chanter and Niamh from Moonsoup in a songwriter’s circle – How much work had gone into this?
Booking shows and contacting promoters was being done on a DIY basis, so there was a lot of work there. Also, as it was an intricate style show, we had rehearsals together (paying money for rehearsal rooms), working on each other’s songs. It’s the loss of merch sales, which is often more lucrative than show fees, which hurts.
This is the 10th year of Randolph’s Leap releasing music – you probably never expected to mark the occasion in a time like this, but did you expect to be around for a decade?
I don’t know, that’s a good question…I guess so, and I hoped so.
Anything you would have changed or done sooner over the years?
In some ways, I feel as though I’m only figuring out how to do it right now. The whole home recording thing has been a big part of what we are. It’s been great fun, but I wish I knew how to do that better, a bit earlier.
I’m pleased at how the new thing sounds, but I look back on some of the stuff I recorded myself, and it would be nice to teach myself a few lessons!
You have a full band album nearing completion. Do you take comfort in having something close to being ready for release, or does that make the current situation more frustrating?
Yes. Pete who plays keyboards in the band has been mixing it and he just sent a folder with finished mixes. I pretty much know what these final mixes will sound like, barring last minute changes. It’s exciting.
I’m not too concerned with the timing, as there is always a big chunk of time with finishing and releasing an album. Well, there usually is, there wasn’t with the recent album. With this one, it may take some time to find a label who wants to release it, get the records manufactured, and get the artwork together. By the time the thing is ready to come out, hopefully we’ll be back to normal and can play the songs in front of people.
Hopefully we can use this time to do all the admin that needs to be taken care of.