Tea. Daily studio life can come to revolve around it.
("All That Remains" – Left to right from top: Chris – glass of water, Markus Dravs – coffee long black, Brian Eno – mint infusion, Jonny – tea white without, Guy – tea white without, Rik – tea white without, Matt McGinn – tea white 1 sugar, Will – espresso intenso.)
To borrow someone else’s story for a moment, it’s claimed that uber-producer Flood earned his nickname very early in his career whilst working as an assistant on an album with The Cure. Legend has it that he was one of two assistants working alternate days in the studio. The two chaps apparently had very different levels of commitment to ensuring a regular flow of hot beverages. Apparently, this prompted Robert Smith to quip that on the tea front, it was "either flood or drought". The two assistants then became known by these names for the remainder of the session.
It’s a fair indication of the importance of the almighty brew, that Flood went on to achieve greatness and you don’t see the name Drought on the back of many album covers. (Kids, ask your grandparents about "album covers", they were all the rage for a while…).
Perhaps the propensity for always having a steaming mug on hand comes from the fact that studio work can be quite "stop-start". In the old days, you’d wait for the tape to rewind, or for someone to fiddle around in the patch-bay. Nowadays, of course, technology has banished all of that for good. Or rather, it’s simply replaced it with "waiting whilst one person clicks a mouse at a rate that would give a morse code operator cause for raised eyebrows".
The person in front of the computer here at the Beehive is Rik Simpson. Now Rik is a big tea fan, but during each of these moments, which form the ideal opportunity for a swig – he’s the one rushing like a loon getting the job done. As a result, his desk can regularly be seen sporting an array of cold, half finished mugs. As the work ramps up, he’s spending less and less time away from the computer screen between arriving at half nine and stumbling home some time in the next a.m.
This clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the band – and this morning, something rather sweet occurs.
The first tea run of the day (actually featuring predominantly coffees, truth be told), is performed by assistant Chris Green. It always includes a few pastries, some fruit and some tubs of yoghurt and granola. Sometimes, people come in straight from the gym – or if the evening session has run long and sleep has been scant, straight from bed. This makes the morning coffees and teas into a last chance for a quick breakfast.
Will offers Rik a yoghurt, with the addition "and I want to see this eaten now, not still on your desk at 4pm".
It’s not done in a sarcastic or nasty way, but rather in an almost fatherly and concerned manner. Not a lot gets past Mr. Champion. He’s clearly twigged how hard Rik’s been working and has figured that if Rik isn’t going to look after himself, then he’ll do it for him. Will stands behind Rik as he continues to fiddle in the Pro Tools screen. It’s a lot like watching a parent trying to pull their child away from the X-box. I imagine Will has come straight in from the family breakfast table at home. Perhaps he’s still in the transition from "parent mode" to "work mode". Perhaps he’s just nice. Either way, Rik starts the day today with a healthy breakfast.
True to form though, his brew is still two thirds full come lunch time. I’m led to believe that in a previous studio, Rik was referred to by the name "Coldcup" for this practice of continually being too busy to get his brew while it was still hot.
Me, I’m considering asking for folks to start referring to me as ‘NotherCuppa. Think it’ll catch on?
P.S. We threw a bunch of stuff up onto Uncle Stevie Jobs’ new iTunes feature "Ping" the other week. It’s been pointed out to me that not everyone is a member there. So, for the benefit of all you non-pingers out there, here’s this: