No studio. No backup singers. No problem—at least not for long if you are bass guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter John Lodge. Lodge’s new single “In These Crazy Times (Isolation Mix)” was written and recorded during his Florida-based pandemic-related isolation with wife Kirsten. The track channels the power of Lodge’s longstanding songwriting success with the Moody Blues (“Ride My SeeSaw,” “I’m Just A Singer,” “Isn’t Life Strange?”), but the backstory channels his determination to keep making music during a new normal without a studio or recording colleagues. From GarageBand tutorials and recruitment of family members to remote recording and mixing, Lodge found himself deep in the details. And it worked.
“In These Crazy Times” was recorded in Lodge’s new makeshift studio. “I built a little sound booth in the cupboard…and we recorded all the vocals standing in the cupboard with the microphone,” explained Lodge.
“We” was Lodge and his wife of 51 years, who despite her great voice and perfect pitch, had to be persuaded to sign on for backing vocals.
"I spent days working out how to make GarageBand work to a point that is acceptable as a recording,” laughed Lodge. “I bought a nice microphone and everything else…And I recorded the song and when I finished it, I listened to it and I thought, 'Well, I like this, but who's going to do the backing vocals?’….it's just my wife and I here. And I thought, 'Well, okay, my wife's going to have to do the backing vocals.'"
“She recorded it in two takes…when I listened to it, the balance of her voice and mine really worked. And I was really excited.”
But Lodge said we shouldn’t expect to see Kirsten singing backup on the next John Lodge solo tour. The power of persuasion is only so strong.
“She said, "I'm not going on the road." I said, "But you're on the road with me all the while." She said, "I'm not going onstage. No way ever.”
Lodge stuck with the family theme when it came time to get a lead guitar player on board. Son Kristian, a marketing professional, offered up his remote contribution when he got the call from his father. “I said, “Kristian, this is it, you're going to play on your dad's record now.”
"And so I sent him the files and he recorded his part on it and sent it back to me. And when I played it I thought, 'This is fantastic.’ I never knew how good he was. You know, he's always kept it a secret. He just enjoys playing as a hobby. And I was really excited.”
With daughter Emily managing the production and his daughter-in-law Inga armed with a long lens camera for a social distancing photoshoot, Lodge also added a few friends. Yes band member Jon Davison, who Lodge worked with during the band’s Royal Affair tour last year, joined Lodge virtually on vocals. Sound engineer Ray Nesbit entered the equation last, mixing remotely from his studio. “He mixed it, sent it back to me, we made changes and then suddenly I've got a record.”
Watch Lodge share some of the story behind “In These Crazy Times.”
Did Lodge really have zero GarageBand skills prior to “In These Crazy Times”?
"None whatsoever really. I'm not an IT guy at all. I don't like recording. I like writing a song. I like someone else to record it for me,” said Lodge who now has the tools to move on to other isolation-based songs if he chooses.
He recalls being in a studio lockdown of sorts back in 1967 when the Moody Blues were recording ‘Days of Future Passed’ and had 24/7 recording studio access. Then it was all about eliminating distractions and disruptions, and of course it was by choice. The groundbreaking concept album would rock the Billboard album charts for years and become an important milestone in the band’s influential music journey.
"You really need that as a creative person, I think. You need to have that space. And I don't mean space, in the physical terms, but it's this mental space where no one's interrupting new trains of thought. It's really important that you can open up. And then when your mind opens up, then I think you discover things. You either discover a lyric, or discover a melody, or you could discover anything really,” said Lodge. The same kind of space opened for the new single, but this time he wasn’t writing with a project in mind.
“When I was here, you know in the lockdown situation, I never ever thought about anyone actually hearing the song, it was something I felt I needed to do,” explained Lodge. Now with the track released, he’s hopeful that others will find the inspiration within it, but it is the family factor he holds close. That’s something that the Moody Blues large multi-generational fanbase will likely appreciate.
"I think this song 'In These Crazy Times' and having my whole family involved is something that will go down in history in my family. You know, hopefully everyone else out there can associate and you know relate to the song, but from my family's point of view, and when my grandson grows up…he can look back on this period of time and he'll know the songs that I've written and recorded with his family.”