So as we prepare to re-issue ‘Stateless’ nine years from it’s original date of release I thought I should write a proper blog about the album, how it came about and what the album means to me personally.
We’d formed tenek in 2007, even though Geoff and myself had been working together since 2004 as a production/songwriting team called ‘Alien Six Productions‘. We were predominantly writing dance based material at the time although we did also record various other styles including the occasional synth/electronica track such as ‘Ice Fields‘ which eventually found it’s home on the tenek EP1 debut release in September 2007. We’d decided to release an EP on limited edition CD as a nod to our musical roots and essentially it was just us musically ‘scratching an itch’ and having some fun doing it too! We were also testing the water to see if anybody would be interested in what we came up with, there was no actual game plan as such. The EP was really well received and we sold all the CD’s quite quickly much to our surprise. So it gave us the impetus to go ahead and produce an album at our own pace. There were a few rough demo tracks lying around that seemed to fit the project such as the original version of ‘Breakdown‘ (complete with truculent ‘Michael Jackson‘ rap!) and also ‘If I Should Fall‘ featuring its amusing ‘wobble board’ rhythm loop! We also had a bizarre instrumental track called ‘Fatality‘ which went onto the album pretty much as it was as it couldn’t be reworked for some reason, possibly a computer or plug-in issue as I recall.
We also decided to concentrate on recording the album without the distraction of live gigs which definitely helped us progress quickly on the new songs that were being written. Some were recorded at my home in Hove, Sussex and also Geoff’s studio which was about 25 minutes away so it was a lot easier to get together back in those days. A particular highlight for me was ‘I Don’t Cry (For You)‘ which became a big favourite in the early live shows, a song that came together quite easily in the summer heat of 2008. It would have been around this time that we were approached by Matt Gunn who was also known as ‘Toffeetronic‘ which was his musical project. He had formed his own label called ‘Toffeetones‘ primarily to release his music but he had heard some of the album and asked if we’d be interested in releasing it via his fledgling label. We’d not even thought about how we were going to release it at this point, we were so immersed in the writing and recording process! But it seemed like a logical plan so we both agreed to sign to the label.
By now the album was nearing completion so it was decided that we would release the first single from the album in October and we chose ‘Where’s The Time?’ which looking back is quite an odd choice for a single as it’s a slow and brooding song although it does have an epic chorus. This was almost certainly the first track that received radio play having come to the attention of a DJ on Harborough FM called Dave Charles who had an interview with Gary Numan ready to air and thought our track would fit the theme of his show perfectly. So that was the start of the fantastic relationship between Dave and ourselves, his incredible support and enthusiasm for the band has always been of huge encouragement to us and it is very much appreciated! We also received a particularly cool remix of the track (Telematic Holiday 80) from Shaun Brooks which used only vintage analogue synthesisers, drum machines and effects units. It was a homage to numerous electronic pioneers of the 70’s and 80’s including John Foxx, The Human League, Gary Numan, OMD & Heaven 17 amongst others. To this day it still remains one of the most popular remixes of a tenek track.
After this Shaun started working alongside Matt at Toffeetones, initially on mastering and then also artwork too and before long became a partner at the label. Shaun mastered our album and singles, he’d also recently completed some work for the Beggars Banquet record label helping to put together the re-issue of Gary Numan’s ‘Living Ornaments 80’ live album on CD.
The album was completed in October 2008 and I have to say that I cannot remember why it took until March 2009 to release it, because we were definitely very keen to get it out there! It was decided to release another single before the album was due out and we definitely made a decent choice with ‘Submission‘ which was a more uptempo track and more likely to pick up reviews and radio plays, which it did. There were also some really cool remixes on the single including a storming version of the track by ‘Toffeetronic‘ which was my particular favourite. I loved the cheap Casio keyboard drum loop and the aggressive guitar that Matt added to it. It was also suggested that we needed to include a new unreleased bonus track for the single, which was definitely a problem as we’d put everything into the album and had virtually no demo tracks left over! We did have one very basic idea and were given less than a week to finish it in time for mastering and release date. After several long days in Geoff’s studio we managed to complete the original version of ‘No Time For Fighting‘. I guess we didn’t think we’d done it justice at the time as we re-recorded a far superior version for the next album ‘On The Wire‘ a year later! A few months later we did a remix of the track entitled JAB KO for a DJ only promo CD that the label put together. It was never officially released, even though a much edited version was given away via the label’s website. So it’s really cool to be able to include this and another remix on this version of the album.
The other unreleased remix included is the ‘Electric Petal’ remix of the album’s opening track ‘Breakdown‘ which was remixed by Glen Wisbey from another Essex-based synth band called ‘Modovar‘. In 2009 we thought it would be fun to run a remix competition, in conjunction with the label, we issued a remix pack for the track. It was a very interesting experience to say the least, we had around 30 sent in and there was a very wide range of styles and quality too. Glen’s remix was by far the best and a unanimous winner with both label and band!
Releasing the album was quite something for me, as one of my main ambitions had always been to co-write and record a full album to completion. I’d come very close in 1997 with my industrial-techno band ‘Shockwork‘ as we’d recorded an album entitled ‘Looking For The Priest‘ for a German label called Subtronic Records. The label allegedly went bust and the album was never released which looking back was probably a good thing although there were a few cool tracks on there! So when ‘Stateless‘ was released in 2009 I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment. I have really good memories of recording the album, we seemed to find it quite easy at the time to write, record and complete the songs. Geoff’s production skills really came to the fore and we were excited to try out a lot of the new software synths and technology that were becoming readily available at the time. Looking back at the equipment list from the CD notes, we had a pretty basic set-up really. Everything was based around an Apple iMac computer running Logic 8 software to write, record, arrange and mix the songs. We only had one mic, a couple of cheap guitars and several hardware synthesisers such as the Roland JP8000, Korg MS2000, Triton & Monopoly. Compared to what we are using these days it does seem that we managed to get the maximum out of what was at our disposal back then. We also liked to include spooky samples of ‘spy numbers’ on some tracks as we were both fascinated with them at the time.
Once the album was ‘in the can’ we finally took the plunge and booked a few live dates to see how tenek might work onstage. The first gig in January 2009 was at an event called ‘Synthetic‘ in a small venue called The Cavendish Arms in London. It was a fun night, we played 7/8 songs to around 50 people and it went reasonably well despite having too much equipment onstage. Our next gig was a huge step up as we’d been invited to support The Human League at the splendour of the Buxton Opera House to a packed house of 1000 people! This came about from them receiving a copy of our ‘Where’s The Time?’ CD during the week they had to pick a support band for the show so definitely a case of right place, right time. It was a very exciting and nerve wracking evening for us but we went down really well in front of a rather partisan audience. We’d even brought along the first copies of the album on CD a few weeks before release and sold quite a few at the merch stand which was encouraging.
So all in all, it was a very exciting time to be in tenek for both of us and I think that the album still stands the test of time to this day. I’m certainly still very proud of what we achieved with ‘Stateless‘ and I’m pleased that we are finally able to release it on our own label. It has certainly taken some time but definitely worth it. The new cover artwork looks great and as always we must say a huge thank you to our wonderful PR Manager – Cheri Freund who has done such a great job in helping us to put this together over the last few months. We look forward to re-releasing all of our material from the 2009-2011 Toffeetones period in the coming months!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and as always for your continued support. Very much appreciated!
*Click HERE to purchase ‘Stateless‘ Digital Re-Release!