George interviewed in 2002

During a 2002 interview, George describes a day in the field recording sounds to use on the Flicker album At Least 1000 Words:

“One of the most eventful days in the recording of the album came when we recorded the rocks. It was May Bank Holiday 2001 and a beautiful sunny day full of promise.

First we drove to Martin’s house in Uffculme to borrow his portable minidisk player. [Martin was the frontman of Pyg, the folk-rock band in which Dave also played drums and George played bass and balalaika.] Due to a frightfully severe balls-up, Dave accidently erased the disk Martin had just spent the last three days compiling from archive material. He was gutted. We all felt gutted. So Dave’s penance was to get three gigs for the band, which we did that very day as it happens.

We wanted the sound of a plane taking off for Aeroplane, so we sat in Dave’s van in the car park at Exeter airport and waited for a time that felt as if it could only be measured in geological terms. Maybe the planes were too tired or something, airport activity was minimal to say the least. So we gave up on that plan and headed for Sidmouth.

After parking, we headed for the beach and recorded the sea and the seagulls, who enjoyed some chips from Sambatti’s cafe – in fact you can hear the rustlage of the chip bag on Beautiful Wings! And of course we recorded the stones.

We tried several permutations; like dropping large rocks on top of other large rocks, dropping large rocks onto small stones, throwing handfuls of gravel generally around the place – and they kept hitting the microphone and making bad sounds – lobbing large rocks into a concrete corner… (laughs) and missing several times, and dropping large rocks onto other large rocks again, but this time from higher up. I did the dropping, Dave wore some ludicrously outsized headphones and boldly pointed microphones about at arms length. The whole kerfuffle was exceedingly preposterous.

Unfortunately we had switched off the recorder when, during this process, an elderly woman dressed like the Queen approached and enquired in a Surrey public school accent: “Excuse me, but would you mind telling me exactly what it is you are doing?”

Dave goes: “We’re recording the rocks. We’re a rock band.”

So, next we carried many large rocks around the corner to where the river Sid flows into the stony beach, and there we built a small rockery of some sort on the riverside. A gang of four elderly people eyed us with great suspicion as we struggled along with our armfuls of rocks and mics and things. They then saw fit to come right over and stand next to us. They looked at the water and at us and the whole scene and embarked upon a vastly prolonged and uninteresting conversation about nothing for about fifteen minutes while we stood with rocks and mics poised, but we couldn’t record anything with all this inane chatter going on in the background.

When those ridiculous people finally wandered purposelessly away, I lobbed the first rock without really looking. By this time several ducks had approached in the water thinking we had bread for them. The first rock missed a duck by a couple of inches. It would have had heavier pants at that moment were it wearing any. There was a great outburst of disgruntled squawking and flapping.

Having frightened the poor ducks away, the other rocks were tossed and recorded successfully. Which is why it is said ‘no ducks were harmed in the making of this track’ on the inner sleeve.”