evolution of The Outfield over their first three records is a classic
example of a talented band getting its wings. All three albums,
the near perfection of Play Deep, the rock dominated Bangin’
and the more mature presence of Voices of Babylon, featured understated
differences in influence and structure. While each album held at
least one top 40 hit, the lasting impression of each was a footprint
cemented by stellar individual performance and songwriting.
Alan Jackman left the band on the eve of the Voices of Babylon tour
in 1989, the band seemed to lose the trajectory formula that had
elevated them to elite status. The record company, Columbia Records,
experienced sweeping changes that impacted the band tremendously.
To say Alan’s exit was the identifiable culprit of the diminishing
returns the band was beginning to experience would be unfair. However,
the chemistry had changed and The Outfield decided to move into
the 90’s as a duo as well as signing with MCA records.
change of scenery seemed to spark The Outfield as they kicked off
the new decade with the musically rich Diamond Days and the more
pop savvy Rockeye. Despite releasing two of their five studio albums
in the 90’s and displaying superior musical instincts to the
cavalcade of one-hit wonders and grunge sound that was permeating
the era, The Outfield were labeled by many as an “80’s
band”. A label the band accepts but refuses to let define.
the Internet took hold in the late 90’s, interest in the band
had been renewed and the band responded with some selective tours
and complimentary recordings with drummer, Simon Dawson. The return
was received with rave reviews but still was not what the band had
envisioned for the long term. Passion, integrity and quality had
always been a driving force within the band. For The Outfield to
continue, John Spinks and Tony Lewis had to meet or exceed their
own expectations. This would prove to be a much longer process than
expected. As John and Tony took a self -imposed hiatus in 2004 to
take stock, John Spinks was diagnosed shortly after with a rare
form of liver cancer that left him fighting for his life.
the years rolled by, there was an uncertainty and faint pulse within
the fan base and musical landscape as to the future of The Outfield.
But underneath the uncertainty, were extraordinary circumstances
creating a surge of velocity for the band. The band’s mega
hit ‘Your Love’ from their debut album Play Deep had
begun to cross over the generation barrier unsolicited. Mega pop
star, Katy Perry, covered the track to help launch her career and
gave The Outfield new visibility to a younger generation. The massive
presence of the emerging social networks on the Internet began to
lift the band’s profile within a new generation of fans with
almost 50 million hits on Outfield related material. In conjunction
with the band’s already established multi platinum resume,
the momentum could no longer be ignored.
during this time, John had battled long and hard to beat the insurmountable
odds of aggressive cancer and cheated death, twice. Although this
health battle is brushed off as a mere ‘tooth ache’
by Spinks, there is an inspiring story of sheer will and love. As
John’s health continued to improve, the constant presence
of songwriting began to evolve into something more. With Tony Lewis
by his side, the songs started to take shape week by week. Within
the tight knit family of The Outfield, John began to surround himself
with individuals who shared his passion and inner drive. With some
key internal changes and armed with a new mind set and energy, the
new partnerships proved to be motivating and focused as the project
was elevated to a higher level.
simple inquiry over website photos initiated conversations between
John and Alan Jackman that eventually lead to recording together
once again as a three piece. However, the magical chemistry between
these three musicians proved to be something more. What was to be
a one off recording for the website turned into over 20 new recordings
November and December of 2009, there were signs of what was to come
for the future of The Outfield. After a five year hiatus, the band
reintroduced a new official website and social networks (Youtube,
Facebook, Twitter and Myspace) that signaled a more focused and
transparent approach. The official announcement of Alan Jackman’s
return was met with a phenomenal response. The band then previewed
a new session track with Alan on drums as a website exclusive called
‘Baby I’m Crazy’. The track pulsated with a blend
of Led Zeppelin pop and seemed to take on a life of its own as it
instantly became a fan favorite.
anticipation of a new Outfield album with Alan was starting to steam
roll through the Internet music sites and curious music industry.
The band’s social networks started to document daily progress
on the recording of the new album. In addition, video footage of
the new studio sessions with Alan began to surface on The Outfield’s
website and Youtube page. In June of this year, the band streamed
new tracks on their official website from sessions with Alan. The
impact was immediate and overwhelming evidence the band was back
in top form. Tracks such as ’California Sun’, ‘Who
Would You Be?’ and ‘A Long, Long Time Ago’ burst
with an uplifting energy and gave fans and the music industry alike,
a glimpse into the magic that has resonated from the recording of
the new album. The boys of summer were back with their melodic blend
of power pop!
tracks such as ‘Sandman’ and ‘In Your Company’
hinted of a record geared towards an overall atmosphere and catchiness
of each individual track rather than relying on recycled formulas
of the past. Comparisons from past works are inevitable, but the
record could be best described as Voices of Babylon being an effective
transition piece to this new record. The tracks that have been recorded
over the last four weeks reflect more accurately where the band
currently reside musically, each member contributing to showcase
their respective virtuosic abilities. Along with the maturity, there
are still the gorgeous verses and dreamy choruses that encompass
The Outfield’s sound DNA.
the new recordings, The Outfield has evolved with the times without
compromising their musical integrity. They could well emerge as
leaders in a time where the music industry is lacking the consistent
songwriting with commercial viability. It is inspiring they have
embarked on this journey at this point of their career. All the
winding roads along the way proved an essential foundation in the
process. A lesson to us all, trust the process.
BASES WITH THE OUTFIELD’S TONY LEWIS
As the legendary lead vocals of The Outfield,
do you feel today's artist lack the vocal performances that has
set your band apart from the rest of the musical genre?
not really. It would be conceited of me to judge vocal performances
compared to ours. The Outfield are lucky to have a unique sound
and just because vocalists in other bands don't have a high voice,
doesn’t mean that they are not as good. There's one thing
that a good band should not lack and that is passion, belief and
pristine vocals take center stage and often over shadow’s
your bass performances. Which Outfield album in your opinion, best
exemplifies your abilities as a musician?
and foremost, my real love on stage is singing. I also love playing
bass, but I wouldn't say that my vocals over shadow my bass playing.
When you are singing you really can't be playing a thousand notes
a second on the bass so everything has its space. I don't really
have a particular album that exemplifies my abilities as a musician
because I just feel music. Luckily enough, John, Alan and myself
are all good players and we were lucky enough to grow up listening
to brilliant bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The
Who. All these bands pass on something to you and that influence
comes out in the playing.
studio bass did you use for the latest album? What touring bass
will you take out on the next Outfield tour?
use my Steinberger and Status for my basses. I have not used any
other guitar because these basses do the job for me. When you have
short arms like me, you tend to be a bit limited in your choice
of bass guitars!!
also play guitar on the new album, do you enjoy being able to contribute
more than just bass?
I'm just greedy!! No, but seriously, I always play the guitar when
I'm at home. I find the guitar more expressive than the bass. If
there are guitar parts in an Outfield song that I can hear, I record
it and give it to John. John might play bass on a track and I play
guitar on another. I know I drive Alan mad with suggesting drum
parts too, but we pitch in ideas all the time. That's why we are
a great band!
co-wrote a track on the forthcoming album called 'Life On The Ropes'’.
Can you tell us how that track developed?
recorded a backing track and sent it to John. It was a blank canvas.
I really had no idea what the song was going to be about. After
hearing Kings of Leon and their approach to music, it really influenced
the way this song ended up. John told me that the idea of a boxer
being forced in a corner and put on the ropes was significant to
this song. It conjured up a street level way of fighting your way
back into success.
band will start live rehearsals after mixing is completed, has there
been discussion as to what kind of set list you would like to bring
to the road?
I think the set list should be a list of Outfield songs!! Being
lucky enough to be in the best band in the world and for the good
fortune of being in the band over 25 years gives us the luxury of
having quite a big catalogue of songs. Our set list will be a great
mixture of old and new. Among our new album sessions, there are
songs like "Disraeli Years", "California Sun"
and "Baby I'm Crazy" which we all look forward to playing
live. I said to John and Alan, if a band like Fleetwood Mac brought
out an album and it never sounded like them, then I would feel cheated.
So, hopefully, in the first 4 bars if it doesn't sound like The
Outfield then we'll go back to the drawing board!!
DAVID KAHNE TALKS OUTFIELD
Outfield’s manager, Brent Bitner, recently caught up with
producer, David Kahne. Kahne has worked with artist such as The
Strokes, Sugar Ray, The Bangles, Stevie Nicks and legend, Paul McCartney.
Of course, he also produced 1989’s Voices of Babylon that
spawned two hit singles on the US music charts for The Outfield.
recollection of producing Voice of Babylon:
great to hear the guys are recording again. It made me think of
all the hard work that went into ‘Voices of Babylon’.
Tony Lewis sang without headphones. He placed a little radio speaker
facing him on the other side of the mic. It was turned down very
low so that it wouldn’t leak onto the vocal track. I don’t
know how he did it, but Tony always sang perfectly and usually got
the vocal in a couple of takes. We made the record in a residential
studio outside of London. I’d never worked that way before.
The hardest part was gaining 100 pounds because of all the food
being made all the time and the anxiety of recording that makes
you want to eat all the time. Either that, or never eat. My favorite
part of the track ‘Voices of Babylon’ are the synth
brass stabs in the verses, the way they pick up the beat and the
changes at the same time. It was really fun to play them. They performed
at the highest level, and the songs were so strong, so it was about
keeping everything on course, getting great sounds, and nailing
the arrangements. Can't wait to hear the new music! I worked on
an album with the guys, but I'm also a fan. Cheers, David.’
Now for the first time, hear The Outfield routine the track ‘My
Paradise’ for the recording of Voices of Babylon with David
Kahne at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles.
OUTFIELD FAN INTERVIEW
last weeks press work, John, Tony and Alan had asked their personal
manager, Brent Bitner, to coordinate a fan interactive interview
on the Official Outfield Facebook Fan Page. Fans were asked to submit
questions to the band and a lucky six were picked for the interview.
The Outfield would like to make this a quarterly event.
Outfield would also like to take the time to thank all of you for
your continued and valued support! Thank you for your patience during
the lengthy recording process. This has been a blast making this
album. We hope you have enjoyed the new song snippets and hope that
you connect with the songs in your own way. We look forward to seeing
you on tour soon!
ALBUM ALMOST DONE
beaming John Spinks strolls across the floor of a London studio
enthusing about a new and exciting album his band is currently recording.
His band mates, Tony Lewis and Alan Jackman, share his enthusiasm
as they genuinely feel this is their best album since the multi
platinum debut Play Deep. John reveals the album will sound like
where they should have gone after Play Deep but will include elements
from Bangin’ and Voices Of Babylon. But all three musicians
agree, that it just sounds like The Outfield in 2010!
into the recording sessions last year, John and Tony demoed about
forty songs and eventually streamlined the tracks down to twenty
with the help of Alan’s return. The demos varied in style,
from the Pink Floyd inspired ‘Praying For Mercy’ to
the soulful Rod Stewart sounding ‘Got My Heart’. But
as the sessions began with Alan, there was the instant magic that
propelled The Outfield’s first three albums. At this point,
the songs just started to evolve into what will be the next Outfield
album. This magic carried over to John’s songwriting as he
continued to write for the recording sessions. It is at this point,
that John wrote ‘California Sun’ and ‘A Long,
Long Time Ago’ back to back. Many industry insiders feel the
songs will be the albums first two singles.
Outfield hope to complete mixing by May as the recording process
has given the band a bit of ‘studio fever’. The new
album is self -produced with executive production by John. The twelve
to fifteen hour work days have not dulled their enthusiasm surrounding
the recording process. All three members admit they are just buzzing
to play live!
the increasing complexity of the international environment, beset
by multiplying global crises, the world needs a splash of sunny
optimism. The world needs the music of The Outfield.
TRACK ORIGINALLY INTENDED FOR PLAY DEEP
Outfield went into the Play Deep recording sessions with enough
songs for two albums. ' Nervous Alibi' being one of the first songs
written and 'Talk To Me' being the last one recorded for Play Deep.
Although, 'Since You've Been Gone' narrowly missed being included
on Play Deep as it was written during the filming of the 'Your Love'
video. Manager Kip Krones had encouraged the band early on to narrow
down the selection of songs that sounded like they came from the
same band. Kip was looking for The Outfield to have an identity
or consistency within their sound. One of the demos for Play Deep
was a song called 'This Time Forever'. The song actually had taken
a couple of different directions musically and lyrically. The version
that his hidden within the website, was recorded around the Bangin'
sessions. If you are able to locate the hidden track, you can download
the track for your Outfield collection. If you're lucky enough to
locate the track, keep it a secret, make it fun!
ALL AREAS: JOHN SPINKS
Spinks talks about the inspiration for a couple of tracks slated
for the new album called ‘Mr. Paranoia’ and ‘Disraeli
Paranoia’ is pretty straight forward, written with a power
trio in mind. The lyrics are inspired from a British TV show, I
think it's called 'Grumpy Old Men'. It's basically a panel of current
funny guys ranting off about the state of things from a male perspective.
It's a show Noel Gallagher formerly of Oasis is destined for! It's
a lads program!
Years’ came about as I was playing around with this idea (in
my head) whilst on vacation. I'd been listening to cd's that played
a big part in my musical journey. ‘Disraeli Gears’ by
was the first LP that my wife had bought me when I was 14. Up until
that point, I was still into the Beatles and The Rolling Stones,
so this was a totally different concept (musically). I started to
broaden my horizon from that point forward and soon discovered Led
Zeppelin. In thinking about those times, I wrote this track.
PLAY DEEP MEMORIES
the 25-year anniversary of Play Deep approaches, I wanted to reflect
on those exciting days when 3 young, raw musicians who had paid
their dues on the club and pub circuit for 2 years embarked into
the world of Rock and Roll to record their debut album.
Having signed to CBS, we were flown to New York to meet Bill Whitman
who was to be our producer. As we sped through the traffic towards
the Big Apple, I remember thinking, “is this really happening
to me?” After many pre-production meetings in New York we
were ready to leave with all the tracks arranged and ready to record.
John and I decided to do some shopping to bring a memento back from
our first trip to the U.S. I saw a huge black Stetson hat and decided
that I had to have it, sure that it would suit my new status as
a potential rock god!!! When I got it home everyone around me was
polite about the hat, as I saw it as my new image-maker. Two weeks
later (in January 1985) we started recording Play Deep at the prestigious
Air Studios in Central London. I had often travelled from East London
to the famous Denmark Street music shops (around the corner from
Air Studios) to window shop the bass guitars and dream about one
day making an album, and here I was about to fulfil my lifetime
ambition. Unfortunately, my hat didn’t make it further than
the first day. As I was rushing through the London Underground to
catch a tube, feeling like a superstar in my Stetson, a gush of
wind from the tube blew it clean off my head and on to the track.
I had to wait for the tube to leave the station and then find someone
to help to re-unite me with my hat. The power for the whole of the
Piccadilly line had to be turned off and a crowd gathered to watch
while my hat was unceremoniously poked with a long wooden stick
and lifted back onto the platform. Red faced and deflated, I was
reunited with my status symbol. But from that day forward I never
wore it again, and saw it as a lesson in staying grounded. I wonder
where that hat ended up.
Air Studios was such a influential studio that I started to get
used to sharing a lift with Bryan Ferry, Robert Plant, Gary Moore,
Bryan Adams, Paul McCartney, Tony Iomi, or George Martin. I got
used to seeing Alan playing pool with Mark Knopfler, too. But my
most vivid memory is that of witnessing a speechless John watch
Eric Clapton walk through the reception!
So now I was a professional musician and the studio became my life,
day and night. Previously the demos had been recorded at Scarf Studios
around our day jobs. We would record three in one night and leave
in the early hours to go home, get some sleep, and get up to go
to work. Now we had the luxury of spending hours over drums tracks,
guitar solos, and bass lines. But in my head I knew THAT day would
arrive, the one I had dreaded, dreamed about, worried over and was
anxious to get on with – VOCALS. Could I really do it, was
I up the challenge of working with an experienced producer when
previously John had coached me through the vocal lines, and believed
in me? Sometimes it took me hours to get one line, and I would think
this is such hard work.
But then I would look into the Control Room and see John sitting
with Bill and encouraging me all the way. It would be fair to say
that without seeing John through the window I wouldn’t have
got through it.
I was about to start the vocals to “Your Love” and I
had a really bad cold. Everyone from the studio security guard to
the cleaner was offering me remedies to cure my sore throat. The
vocal booth was full of potions, lozenges, throat sprays and lemons.
John walked in and said “it looks likes more like a pharmacy
than a vocal booth!” Little did I know I was about to start
recording the most important song I would ever sing and there I
was moaning about not getting any sympathy!
Our scheduled three months of studio time was coming to an end with
two songs still to finish. We flew back to New York to complete
the vocals for “Taking My Chances” and “Talk To
Me.” But of course, being true to form, I had to have an adventure
whilst I was there. John and I shared a hotel room and I managed
to flood it while using the shower. We mopped up the flood using
the bathroom mat and all the towels. And then I had a bright idea
to hang the mat out of the window to dry so housekeeping didn’t
discover I had almost turned the room into a swimming pool. We drove
to the studio still laughing about the incident and I sang “Talk
To Me” while worrying about the flood. When we arrived back
at the hotel, I realized that the mat had disappeared from the window
ledge and was nowhere to be seen. So, if you were hit by a flying
wet red bathroom mat in New York in 1985, I’m very sorry.
I flew back to London with the album recorded. My work was done
but John stayed on in NY to mix the tracks with Bill. All that was
left for us to do was wait. Eventually, after a lengthy process,
the album was released. It was then that we found out that three
East London boys had a sound that America loved and from that moment
forward “The Outfield” had arrived.
These are a few of my memories of recording Play Deep and the rest,
as they say, is history.
DEEP 25th ANNIVERSARY MEMORIES
ANYONE CARE WHAT THE DRUMMER THINKS?
been asked to put pen to paper (keyboard to screen anyway) and having
not passed any (public) comment about The Outfield in 25 years,
I guess now would be a good time to let you all know some of the
things we went through while recording those songs……………….
having gigged around and doing the demos and securing a record deal
(The holy grail for any ‘would be’ pop stars), it was
down to the business of recording our first record.
We had done the pre-production for this record in New York with
the records producer Bill Wittman and Executive producer Rick Chertoff
. Basically a rehearsal, which ended up with them just chucking
oranges at us while we played!
first 2 weeks at Air Studios were taken up with ‘basic tracks’,
namely drums & bass guitar. I know what your thinking, 2 weeks
just to record 10 drum tracks!
Bill had me (along with John & Tony) playing from 11a.m till
11p.m, the same song all day (10 tracks - 10 days). If there are
any drummers out there who have worked with Bill and have been through
the same experience and know what he was aiming at, give me a call
and let me know!
next 10 weeks were left for guitars, keyboards, vocals and anything
else you might hear on the record. Although some days had their
stressful moments, it was an unbelievably exciting 3 months. Doing
our first ‘proper’ record and with Bill we’d found
somebody who genuinely loved the band and I don’t think it’s
untrue to say we thought a lot of him too. (We still do!)
would have the playback in the studio at a seemingly ridiculously
high volume all day long. I mention this because when we got Reg
(Webb) in to add some keyboards for us. He came in and set up his
stuff, having no idea the volume that would be coming at him. So
when Bill hit the play button to roll the track, Reg (standing between
the studio speakers) nearly had a heart attack! prompting his comment,
“Er… could we turn it down to deafening please!”
‘downtime’ at ‘Air’, if we weren’t
grabbing something to eat we would be in the canteen, playing pool
and ‘mingling’ with ‘the stars’ who would
also be taking some kind of break from their own sessions.
Around the pool table you would get the likes of Dire Straights
(who as I remember it, brought there own pool cues in their own
cases!). How posh is that?
Robert Plant ‘tucking in’ to what looked like a nice
Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, George Martin, Brian Adams, Brian
Ferry…….Boy George. We were ‘hanging’ with
the ‘Big Boys’. (And Boy George!).
also reminded me of a time when George Martin (that’s Sir
George to you!) popped his head into our studio saying “Oop’s
Sorry, wrong room”, leaving John to comment “right room….
20 years too late!”
So there you have it, some of the ‘big hitters’ we got
to rub shoulders with while recording Play Deep.
always been a bit ‘star struck’ around the people we’ve
been lucky enough to record next to and tour with, so I consider
myself pretty lucky to have met and seen the likes of not just the
people mentioned above but also Journey, Starship, David Bowie,
Duran Duran, Survivor, The Hooters and a host of others. So Play
Deep has been a bit of a ‘Golden concert ticket’ for
back, my main recollection from doing Play Deep, 25 years ago, are
those 12 - hour ‘drum takes’ and Tony singing his heart
out through colds and general pressure to ‘get the job done’.
As you can hear, he did.
ended up running out of time at Air Studios and Tony needed to finish
some vocals in New York as he mentions in his own ‘Play Deep
are just my thoughts and immediate recollections. On another day
I might have come up with funnier or more relevant ‘gems’.
forget this was all pre - mobile (cell) phones and Pc’s. We
were mullet wearing would be rockers ……. it’s
been a while!
a big “Hi” to anyone reading this, I hope you keep listening.
THE OUTFIELD: STANDING ON THE EDGE
is the first week of 2010 and British rock band The Outfield are
more than half way through the recording sessions for their 7th
studio album. Songwriter/guitarist John Spinks, lead vocalist/bassist
Tony Lewis and drummer Alan Jackman still share that driving passion
for music that launched them to the top of the music charts. The
Outfield burst upon the music scene in 1985 with their run away
debut album Play Deep that sold over 3 million copies. Fast-forward
to 2010 and six albums later, the music industry is in almost full
collapse. Over the last few years’ record companies, radio,
Internet file sharing and other numerous theories have shared blame
for this downfall. But for The Outfield, despite the unstable environment
of the musical landscape, they still record for what they call ‘the
right reasons’. John Spinks explains, “With record companies
running scared of losing their investments, how long before they
have nothing to offer as 'new music’? There is a pro active
do it yourself mentality going around amongst the real musical fraternity
but that's not being helped as radio keeps looking to the Majors
for it's demand. It will take time for radio to catch up but hopefully
they will eventually go looking for some quality controlled music
being produced by recognized artists with their own production companies”.
the industry and corporate mentalities obsessed with the bottom
line, The Outfield continue to produce genial records with a lively
band sound on their own terms. On this day, the band is working
on a track called ‘California Sun’. The melody to this
track floats along effortlessly like it has just fallen out of the
sky along the Pacific Coast Highway. What is immediately evident
with the newly recorded tracks is the instant ability to capture
the soaring sunshine optimism of the band. The sunny power pop melodies
and dazzling harmonies that have come to define the group over the
years are all present and better than ever
Outfield has settled back into the studio after a brief holiday
break. Even on scheduled days off you seem to find the band working
on various aspects of the recording process. The track ‘Baby
I’m Crazy’ from the 2009 recording sessions has begun
to have a life of its own. As word has spread through out the music
industry that the original line up are recording a new album, the
track has gained momentum with the fan base and newcomers alike.
‘Baby I’m Crazy’ is a fusion of classic rock romp
and vintage Outfield. During last week’s recording sessions,
Alan finished up his drum parts to ‘Baby I’m Crazy’
in which the video was recorded exclusively for THEOUTFIELD.COM.
the morning sun dawns on another London day, John Spinks is intently
mixing vocal blends for a track for their yet untitled 7th studio
album. As the early mixes evolve, it is quite apparent there is
a renewed sense of purpose within the band. As effortless as their
flawless power pop tunes come across on the albums, there is a painstaking
process that is a labour of love.
this day, the band is working on a track tentatively entitled ‘Mr.
Paranoia’. With its edgy guitar riff that opens the song and
the driving bass that pulsates throughout the track, the song is
instantly recognizable in terms of classic Outfield energy. As the
track progresses to the middle eight, there is a magnificent moment
that is reminiscent of what made The Police international superstars.
This song is tailor made for the power trio’s live shows.
true challenge will be to weave the songs being considered into
a cohesive collection that will be The Outfield’s 7th studio
album. The recent influx of creativity that has been swirling within
the sessions has yielded numerous new songs. The tracks are diverse
in sound but remain unmistakably Outfield. There are times in the
studio where the ghost of John Lennon could well be present as Spinks’
delivers a potent vocal on ‘A Little More Time’ or the
band rocks within the same class of Cream on ‘Disraeli Years’.
But make no mistake, with Tony’s distinct and flawless vocals,
Alan’s technical proficient drumming and John’s hook
laden songwriting, the songs belong to The Outfield. Each member
adding a component that blends perfectly into power pop perfection.
the recording sessions continue, the anticipation couldn’t
be higher. The work ethic, the talent and passion that encompass
the band leave no question as to their intentions, to make honest,
quality and inspired music that shines through the speakers.