worked as an engineer for Pink Floyd on various band-related projects,
singer-songwriter Andy Jackson returns in 2016 with a new solo
album entitled 73 Days At Sea. Featuring Andy's
own blistering Gilmour-esque guitars and swirling synth keyboards,
the album even sounds like Pink Floyd, especially during their dark,
neo-prog Animals period. Jackson is a gifted multi-instrumentalist
and vocalist and he puts his background as a studio wiz to good use
on an elegant sounding, multilayered album that evokes Floyd and other
prog legends such as Van der Graaf Generator. From VDGG, sax legend
David Jackson appears as guest artist on a track as does vocalist
Anne-Marie Helder from the band Panic room.
That said, 73
Days At Sea
is Andy Jacksons baby all the way. Commenting on the album title
in the CD liner notes, Andy states, I resolved that I would
write a suite of songs concerning the sea, maybe one of three suites
making up an album. Eventually, it became clear that the entire album
was to be the sea suite, albeit that direct mention was
sometimes fleeting. If you miss the sound of Pink Floyd
following the latter 1970s, give a listen to Andy Jackson and his
73 Days At Sea. In addition to the CD, packaged with eye-popping
art and lyrics booklet, the deluxe edition of 73
Days At Sea includes
an accompanying DVD with the album mixed in hi-res stereo and surround
mwe3.com presents an interview with
How would you compare 73 Days At Sea with your earlier albums
musically, compositionally and sound-wise - and how many albums
have you recorded and released so far?
Andy Jackson: I always try to move forward, I think I achieved
that with 73 Days At Sea. It is more nuanced musically and
lyrically than my previous work. I looked at songs by others, Brian
Wilson being an example, that I thought were wonderful, and tried
to work out what made them special to me, and to learn from that.
Every song has as its base a musical and chordal structure that is
more sophisticated than anything Ive done before.
Lyrics had been something new for me on Signal To Noise, and
theres no doubt that I found more of a vein of inspiration,
and better methodology, on this one. I found good ways to separate
the creative and structural processes, so the different parts of my
brain could work unencumbered by differing requirements.
How many albums I've done? Depends when you start counting, there
are a couple of early ones that I did that didnt really get
much of a release... I tried to do it myself!. They were also collaborations.
In some ways I think of 73 Days At Sea as my second, after
Signal To Noise.
mwe3: You play a wide range of instruments and you recorded
much of 73 Days At Sea on your own. What guitars are you playing
on the CD and what guitars are your favorites and are certain guitars
better to get the soaring guitar solos that you play so well? Also,
what are your favourite keyboards?
Andy Jackson: I have the terrible affliction of GAS
gear acquisition syndrome that many fellow guitarists will
know so well! They come in they go out. This time my main one
was a PRS all mahogany model with P90 pickups. P90s are pretty much
what I always use. To be honest, it wouldnt have sounded a lot
different if Id used any of my other similar guitars... I just
like that one in terms of the way it feels to play. Most of the particulars
of the sound is from the combination of pedals. I use a few in a row,
none of them doing too much, to get the sound. Im also a big
fan, and user of, Hiwatt amps, the same as David Gilmour uses... theres
nothing quite like them. Ironically, one guitar that I own I didnt
really use is a Gilmour signature Strat that he gave me, just not
are all samples, I use the Steinberg Halion set, it has pretty decent
Hammond and mellotron in it. Those are pretty much all I used, with
a little bit of electric piano. Id love to have the real things,
but I just dont have the room to fit them in! Add to that the
fact that actually Im a pretty lousy keyboard player and using
midi keyboards enables me to edit my bad playing. Some of the sounds
that people might think of as keyboards are processed guitar loops
or messed up ambient sounds, and theres a bunch
of really good slowed down door creaks on The Gyre which
I really like.
mwe3: How do you compare recording all on your own compared
to working with a full band and how did you enlist the help of Anne-Marie
Helder and David Jackson who join you on the 73 Days At Sea album?
Jackson: Bands or solo, there are good things and bad things about
both. With a band you can get a symbiosis that is greater than the
individual parts, but also for each individual you dont get
to express exactly what you want. The opposite is true of working
on your own, you get to do exactly what you want, but youve
only got one set of ideas, so sometimes it limits the possibilities.
With both Anne-Marie and David, it was simply a matter of asking them...
they were both happy to do it. The reasons for asking each were rather
different. With Anne-Marie, it was a need first. The story in Drownings
meant that I needed a female voice for one part. I knew Anne-Maries
work with Panic Room - they are on Esoteric too, and thought she would
be perfect. With David, I have always loved his playing, Pawn Hearts
was the first serious album I bought. I was listening
to some old Van der Graaf and thought itd be great to get him
to play on the album. It had to be David, if he wasnt going
to do it, I wasnt going to ask any one else. I didnt want
a sax player, I wanted David Jackson.
What got you interested in music, being a musician and a sound engineer,
in the first place? Who were your big musical influences? Being involved
a lot in the studio side of music what producers or recording engineers
had a big impact on your studio approach? I think England is renowned
for their genius producers, engineers and studios.
Andy Jackson: Same as anyone working in music really, just
a love of it. I had been playing guitar, not particularly well, for
a while, and always had dreams of being a musician. When I was finishing
up at school, I was scheduled to go to university, to study Material
Sciences. I really didnt fancy it. A friend of mine suggested
getting into recording, and it was a lightbulb moment.
Fortunately, I did manage to find an opening, and got myself into
a great position in a new studio in London that was the hot new place
Musical influences were the whole mid 70s prog/ art rock scene:
Zappa, King Crimson, Soft Machine, Van der Graaf and of course Pink
Floyd. That sort of music is still my main love, as is pretty evident
from my albums.
Difficult to say who Id regard as influences in the studio.
Really Ive found my own way. You always learn new techniques
on the way, although to be honest, most of it is actually pretty old,
going right back to guys like Alan Blumlein, who invented stereo!
Im my own toughest task master, very critical of my own work.
I think most good engineers are like that. I think you learn something,
or at least have the opportunity, from everything you do.
How did you become involved with Esoteric Antenna records? Its
just brilliant to see and hear how devoted Mark Powell and his entire
label are to releasing new music and reissuing classic albums.
Andy Jackson: I have Tim Bowness to thank for that. He is a
musician, who Ive done some mastering for, and also runs Burning
Shed, which is an online shop that specializes in this sort of music.
I was talking to him about my album, with the assumption that Id
self release, and it was him that put me in touch with Mark &
Vicky. Theyre great to deal with and are genuine fans of the
mwe3: In your eyes and ears, what's the difference between
the original CD of 73 Days and the hi-res / surround sound
DVD audio mix version of the 73
Days At Sea album?
Do you find people are embracing the DVD audio as well as the CD?
What are your favorite CD and DVD audio players that you use to demo
the different mixes and do you collect vintage audio gear?
Andy Jackson: Well the DVD has two streams on it, a hi-res
stereo and a surround mix. Fairly self-evident difference compared
to the CD, the hi-res is just that much better, certainly to my ears.
The surround is obviously a fundamentally different beast, and is
something that has become a bit of a specialty for me, Ive been
doing a lot of surround in my professional work with Floyd and David.
I love it!! There is a small but dedicated set of surround fans. The
last album was released as a 2 disc set, with and without the DVD,
but most people bought the 2 disc set anyway, so this time we decided
just to do that one. My player is a Cambridge Audio, although really
it is well before that stage that Im auditioning mixes, from
the original files... normal procedure really. I have plenty of nice
valve gear for my recording equipment, but all the home hi-fi stuff
is current, always centered around ATC speakers.
What are some of your plans for 2016 and beyond? Are you planning
to work with any other artists?
Andy Jackson: 2016 is well underway, and Im well
underway with my next project, which I cant really talk about.
Let me just say its a whole heap of archive recordings for a
well known band who Im associated with!
As for my own music, when I get the time Ill start on my next
project. Going back to the question earlier of solo versus band, I
want to explore a particular dynamic I have in mind. Ive often
thought that in recording or rehearsing situations Ive been
in, either working with others or as part of a band, sometimes someone
will play something that I think is great, and that everything else
should be built around that thing, to let it be the most important
Too often I see that idea lost, buried under other peoples opinions
or lack of vision. As, with my own music, I am in the position of
being able to make all the choices, I have the opportunity to absolutely
follow my vision. Im going to try a methodology of working with
other people, such as David Jackson and giving them the chance to
be the defining element on something... by being first.
Hopefully this way I can get an album that is made of extraordinary