In August 2008 I was preparing to fly to the UK for a couple of weeks, visiting family & friends,after which I was to join Orleans on tour in Holland & Germany.Around that time, I was on FaceBook Messenger, chatting with David Arnold (Bond composer).I had played on his first Bond soundtrack:“Tomorrow Never Dies” in 1997.
Dave and I go way back.We met at a session for one of David Knopfler’s solo albums, at Pete Townshend’s Eel Pie Studios, and instantly became friends.When he got the gig doing the Bond soundtracks, he called me and asked if I would play on the sessions.He was a little nervous (it being his first time doing the Bond music), and wanted to have a few familiar faces around.I was overjoyed to be part of it. The very first session we did was an evening session during the time I was recording “The Big Picture” with Elton, at Townhouse Studios in West London. Elton only ever worked 8-5 on weekdays, so I was able to dash across town in time for the session. John Jorgenson was interested in the process, and came with me.That night we recorded the “preamble” that they often seem to have at the front of Bond films:the cue was over 10 minutes long, and we managed it in 2 takes….. 77-piece orchestra with 3 percussionists! All live!
So, I told Dave I was going to be in England for two weeks in September, and would love to meet up at some point.He then mentioned that he was in the middle of recording the soundtrack to the latest Bond epic (Quantum of Solace), and asked if I could fly in for the final session:a re-recording of the classic Bond Theme.He said it would be really great if I could be there.The 77 piece orchestra mostly comprised the same people I worked with in September 1997 (just before I left the UK and moved to Florida) and it would be something of a reunion.
As it happened, I was able to change my flight for an earlier departure.So, I arrived in London on September 11th, and as soon as my feet touched the ground I had to run around, picking up my drum kit from storage and checking it was in good condition.
On September 13th, I made my way to AIR Lyndhurst Studios in Hampstead, parked, off loaded and set up my kit in the isolation booth.They were just finishing an orchestral cue.I recognised a lot of the “band.” Some of them were curious about how was in the drum booth, and started peering through the glass partition.
After I had set up, I went to find David Arnold.He was in the control room, holding a guitar: “I’m going to play the theme !” he said!Another string to his bow!I had always known him as a keyboard player, but apparently he also played guitar.
Back in the drum booth, I was joined by Steve Pearce:bassist extraordinaire, and mega-pocket player.We have been friends for a while, and worked on a number of sessions, so I was pleased to see him.
The copyist brought charts in for us, and I scanned the “dots.” I could see it was a version of the classic Bond Theme (written by Monty Norman in the 1960’s).Dave asked if I could “rock it up” a little!My pleasure!!
This was the very last cue for the soundtrack.We had one rough run-through, just to make sure all the charts said the same thing, then the red light went on!…. and I was (once again) “driving the supertanker!”That’s the only way I can describe drumming with an orchestra.There’s a sort of “organic motion” to that many musicians all playing together.We did two takes, but I believe Dave actually went for the first take.He said it had better “energy.”
While I was packing up my drums, the drum booth was visited by most of the orchestra members, most of whom I’d not seen in almost 11 years!Isobel (the session “fixer”) brought a couple of glasses of sparking wine in for Steve Pearce and me, and almost all our visitors were already indulging.For the next hour, the drum booth was the scene of an informal party! It’s the first time it has taken me over 2 hours to pack my kit up!