December 16th, 2003

Dear Tom,

Hello again. It's been a year almost to the day since I last wrote to you at the Cutting Crew web site and it certainly has been a memorable one for all kinds of mixed reasons!!! Back then I was on the 'Night of the Proms' tour in Germany with the orchestra, playing nightly to 15,000 seater venues…all seems rather dreamlike now in retrospect.
Nick - Night of the Proms tour 2002

Within the month we all finally said goodbye to my old partner in crime, Kevin MacMichael. He had fought bravely and we had shared a lot of laughs and memories in those last months in his hometown of Halifax in Nova Scotia. The funeral was held in the middle of a brutal snow storm and the eccentricity of the weather and its resultant chaos would have definitely made him chuckle on his day of departure. He remains beside me every time I pick up a guitar or sit at the piano….as does Halifax in any day of my life…with all its heart & friendship & music & laughter.

I flew back to Barbados and looked ahead to the inevitable day in a few months (May) when my 4 years of idyllic 'exile' on de island would end, and it would be time to move back to Brighton in England. I had learnt so much and found a new attitude & vision from my stay there and I knew it was going to be hard to say goodbye to those friends and to all that sunshine!!!!
Nick has something to say I don't really remember a specific day when I finally realised I was en route to making a new album… has, after all, been 10 years since the last Cutting Crew album. I just kind of realised I had 10 really fresh and coherent songs, with some cool working lyrics that had something to say. For the past 8 years I had been alternately writing for publishers/bands/ collaborating with great songwriters and running my own Production Company out of Toronto and Barbados; enjoyed some success and made a lot of new mates around the world….but this new batch of work was all about me.
Undeniably, I had shared some intense times in the past while. Maybe these, combined with imminent change, and……..who knows, too much rum and sun???…..everything seemed to fall into place.

Enough bloody waffle for you Tom…I've got a new album all recorded and ready for mixing in Toronto in the New Year, ready for a Spring release. The working titles are either 'Grinning Souls', 'Capture', or 'Silhouette' and my new band is to be called 'Grinning Souls'. Any preferences?

We recorded in Halifax, Nova Scotia between August and November this year at Idea of East Recording Studios.
Terry Brown and I 'produced', with Laurence Currie engineering.
Laurence Currie & Nick in the studio.  Inset - Terry Brown, Co-Producer

The songs had a 'real band' feel to them so I insisted on recording as much as possible 'live off the floor'…with no clicks or metronomes……the boys in the band were both superb and patient; I think we pulled it off.

Asif Illyas - guitar
Asif Illyas played a blue guitar.
Adam Dowling - drums
Adam Dowling hit various drum kits…or bits of!!!
Shehab Illyas - bass guitar
Shehab Illyas was my cool bass guitarist.
Aaron Collier - keys
Aaron Collier caressed all keyboards with electric power.

Julian Marentette shook percussion.
Brian Marshall strummed a red guitar.

We were joined later by Andrew on the fiddle...Jamie on white guitar…Floyd and Paul on vocals…Donny on Hammond.
Andrew on fiddle
Margot & Kirsty on strings
Margot and Kirsty with their violin and viola…and Simon blew his clarinet.

There are 11 tracks all written by yours truly including a couple of special co-writes (to be revealed next year?)

Shot of Democracy
Hard on You
Left of Heaven
No Problem Child
Apparent Depth
Grinning Souls
Get Up and Get Over it

I believe it's a great attempt at capturing an honest, vibey and raw collection of music that covered 3 crazy months in Canada with the best bunch of folk I know!!!

Oh and by the way…one month into the project…we had a feckin' HURRICANE…now that would have made Kevin laugh……I'll keep you posted but for now here are some pix of the sessions. Nick reading the Halifax news

There's only one singer around here! Seafood for lunch again then?
Barbados Brian Smooth Jamie & Nick up and running soon!!!!


(All photos courtesy of the Butler)

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