Over the past 5 months we have been working extremely hard on the new album which is now all complete, mixed and mastered.
We have worked as a team in a very productive way - there are 7 writers involved - John Kirkpatrick, Graeme Taylor, Andy Findon, Benji Kirkpatrick, Issy Emeney, Henry Purcell and John Bull.
Arrangements have been written by Andy, Graeme and John, and Graeme has produced the project in his home studio, Morden Shoals.
We are all immensely proud of the new album and truly hope that you will take it to your hearts. Thank you for your support in these exciting times!
Well, the new era for Home Service has taken a while to develop, but develop it most certainly has, and in a direction which we least expected. We had official word from John Tams earlier this year that he felt the time was right for him to retire from the band, and gave me a public statement which I can now share with you here:
"A combination of circumstance not least and most recently an 8-part television drama series has drawn me reluctantly to leave Home Service effective from September 13th 2015. This decision, whilst difficult, aims to avoid compromising the future for Home Service at a time when my restricted diary would make forward planning impossible. There are no issues beyond this and I leave my friends and colleagues, some of almost 40 years standing, in the certain knowledge that they are “The best damn band in the land.” I send them my fondest thoughts and support for their continuing success. I’ll miss you lads!"
The rest of us were nevertheless determined to carry this amazing and mighty band forward after what admittedly was a severe blow to the bows, made even harder by Jon Davie's departure from the country to settle in Thailand, where he has owned a house for some years.
It inevitably took a while to find the right people to fill these two extremely talented men's shoes, but we are now lucky enough to have secured the commitment of the great and widely renowned John Kirkpatrick as our new lead vocalist and the equally wonderful Rory McFarlane on bass. John K. is well known for his massive wealth of work on the folk scene and has also played with Graeme and Greg in his own band back in the 90s, as well as alongside Rory in the Richard Thompson band. There's a lot of cross-fertilisation going on here and we are all very excited at the prospect before us, having already recorded three tracks of a new album at Graeme's studio, Morden Shoals. As soon as some preliminary mixes are ready I'll post them up here for a taster!
The final piece in the jigsaw has been the enlisting of Tristan Bryant as our agent at Dotted Line, to whom we also extend the warmest of welcomes on board with us.
The band has been working intensely on new material - some original John Tams songs, some even more fantastical arrangements of Percy Grainger - and a major new work based on a well-known English ballad, which could form the basis of a standalone concert performance. To follow up the previous repertoire with equally strong yet distinctively different material is no mean feat, but the way things are going, it looks like we are going to prove more than equal to the challenge.
We are marching boldly into a whole new era for Home Service for 2015...
BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012
IT"S OFFICIAL! HOME SERVICE ARE THE BEST LIVE ACT! 25 YEARS ON!
On top of having the best summer of our lives playing to thousands of old friends and new, we were flattered to be nominated for these prestigious awards. Now we have won, the wind is really in our sails and we have the strength and power to move forward.
Home Service have unfinished business – to re-emerge with such support is both touching and telling. The spirit we attempt to create in performance has been equally matched by the positive energy thrown generously at the bandstand.
Thank you all for welcoming our return so warmly – we are having the best of times.
This is a shared honour – we try and do it for you - you definitely do it for us - and we thank you most warmly.
The previous summer’s grueling schedule had however, taken its toll on Tams’ voice and a couple of days after the Awards Ceremony, upon examination by a specialist, it was revealed that nodules had developed around his vocal chords. This incredibly untimely discovery put an abrupt halt on attempts to organise the tour which would have justified their new title of Best Live Act.
However, in order to honour as many pre-booked dates as possible, the band enlisted the services of the talented Joe Topping, who sang lead vocals in place of John Tams on half a dozen gigs, while Tams, unable to sing for 5 months, inserted his usual witty and personal comments between the songs, working together to create a very successful show.
The good news is that Tams has now undergone a successful operation and made a full recovery and the gigs are rolling in, both at home and abroad, for 2013. On top of this, anxious not to become their own greatest tribute band, the boys are already writing and recording new material for a brand new CD. Watch out - Home Service is once again truly back in business.
The reunion of this classic band came about after the discovery, in early 2011, of some previously unheard live recordings made by their faithful sound engineer on a couple of cassette tapes that had languished in the back of his wardrobe for the last 25 years. These recordings, made at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 1986, exhibited a power and commitment that was never fully captured in the studio, so a live album release immediately became inevitable.
Home Service was originally formed from the creative nucleus of the Albion Band line-up that produced the classic “Rise Up Like the Sun” album, singer-songwriter John Tams feeling the need to explore more contemporary themes in his writing and its musical interpretation. Songs like “Walk my Way”, “Alright Jack” and ”Sorrow” were anthemic observations on the unfairness of Thatcherite Britain and its social inequalities. The crushing irony is that they sound as potent now as they did then, thereby making this band’s work as relevant as ever.