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Karma To Burn(2005)

Buy at Townsends

Carlos Hercules and Steve Walters, who play drums and bass respectively on Karma To Burn, first played with The Waterboys in the Autumn of 2003. Carlos was suggested by the band's soundman Chris Madden, and then in turn recommended his long-time bass partner Steve. A rehearsal session was organised, and - one stormblown version of Glastonbury Song later - they were in The Waterboys, just in time to learn the set for their first show at St David's Hall, Cardiff.

Carlos was born and raised in Luton, England. He studied at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in New York. He has played all types of music including soul with Beverley Knight and reggae with Jamaican legend Jimmy Cliff.

Steve was born in Croydon, had a bass lesson with Jaco Pastorius, and has played with George Michael, Mariah Carey, Sophie B. Hawkins and Jimmy Cliff. He now lives in Tara Hill, County Wexford, Ireland.

LONG WAY TO THE LIGHT Warwick 16 Oct 03
PEACE OF IONA Belfast 18 Oct 03
GLASTONBURY SONG Plymouth 29 Oct 03
MEDICINE BOW Basingstoke 15 Oct 03
THE PAN WITHIN Dublin 21 Oct 03
OPEN Liverpool 26 Oct 04 & Galway 23 Nov 04
MY DARK SIDE Cheltenham 30 Oct 03
A SONG FOR THE LIFE Athlone 27 Nov 04
BRING 'EM ALL IN Belfast 18 Oct 03
THE WHOLE OF THE MOON Belfast 18 Oct 03
FISHERMAN'S BLUES Cheltenham 30 Oct 03
COME LIVE WITH ME Galway 23 Nov 2004 & Cork 25 Nov 04

[Chris Madden writes:] The shows were recorded on an IZ Radar 24 track hard disk recorder taking direct outputs from the front-of-house mixing desk. I recorded every microphone and DI (direct signal) from the stage, plus ambient microphones to suit each venue. The remixes were done from the Radar, on a Tascam DM24 digital mixer, with help from a Mindprint DTC ("Dual Tube Channel"), an AMS RMS 16 reverb and various other effects units.

Karma to Burn was one of many album titles considered for the Waterboys live album. Here are some of the others:

A Wild Holy Band
Stillness And Lightning
Long Way To The Light
Voice, Drum And Bow
Invocations And Improvisations
A Handful Of Lightning
A Jacketful Of Lightning
Open To The World
Night Full Of Soul
Hearing Is Believing
The Stars Are Alive
Windships And Waterhorns
Beautiful Thunder
Come Slake Your Thirst

Steve's wild 'fuzz fiddle' sound is highly featured on Karma To Burn, igniting Glastonbury Song, Medicine Bow and, most spectacularly, The Return Of Jimi Hendrix. We asked him how this incredible sound and style developed.

"I discovered fuzz fiddle in one of my first bands, "Juggler", back in Ballyfermot, Dublin (1978-81). The lead guitarist was my cousin, Hughie Purcell, and I tried the fiddle through his ‘Big Muff’ distortion pedal, playing it on a few songs. Alas, I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the fuzz sound at the time, because it caused a lot of feedback and was very difficult to control.

I rediscovered fuzz during the 2001 Waterboys tour. I'd purchased a Yamaha "Silent Violin" in Toronto for $400, as a practice instrument. It has built-in reverb and a neat headphone socket, and is ideal for practising in hotel rooms.

The tour was mostly songs from A Rock In The Weary Land. I was searching for some musical inspiration to emulate the fizzy-grungy sounds on the record, when Mike and myself went to see Nick Cave at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. Warren Ellis, Cave's fiddler, hit a fuzz pedal in mid-song and his instrument and the song exploded into life. It was brilliant and a real reminder for me.

Mike then suggested I try grungy sounds for Is She Conscious? At first I was using an overdriven amp, then soundman Chris Madden gave me a Hughes And Kettner pedal. When I combined it with the "Silent Violin" it made a sweet, sustained, growling sound, and the fuzz fiddle was re-born.

I love the feeling I get when I’m plugged into the fuzz fiddle. It's a very primal thing. I know what George Harrison was getting at when he talked about his guitar gently weeping; there is a wonderful weight in its sound, like a wailing dying dragon, a howling-hurricane, a twisting-tornado, or a caveman-giant.

By the way, my guitar hero was Mick Ronson. His great sounds and riffs can be heard on early 1970s David Bowie and Lou Reed records [Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane & Transformer, to name three]. He had a glorious sustain thing going on - a real inspiration.

I made a first studio recording of the fuzz fiddle sound when we did the song Independence Day for a CD of Bruce Springsteen covers put out by rock magazine Uncut [in 2003]. I recently played the Irish national anthem, The Soldiers Song, on fuzz fiddle a la Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner. That freaked out a few people."

The following is a list of all commercially released live Waterboys recordings:

The Girl In The Swing
(Hollywood Palace, Dec 1984, 12" single The Whole Of The Moon, 1985)
Savage Earth Heart
(Hollywood Palace, Dec 1984, The Secret Life Of The Waterboys, 1994)
A Girl Called Johnny
(Hollywood Palace, Dec 1984, The Whole Of The Moon: The Music Of Mike Scott And The Waterboys, 1998)
This Is The Sea
(Long Beach Arena, Dec 1984, 2CD remaster of This Is The Sea, 2004)
The Live Adventures Of The Waterboys
(2 CD album of 1986 recordings from London's Albert Hall, Glasgow Barrowland, Pink Pop and Glastonbury Festivals, released 1998)
The Raggle Taggle Gypsy
(Glasgow Barrowland, March 1989, 'b' side of And A Bang On The Ear, 1989)
Old England
(Glasgow Barrowland, March 1989, The Best Of The Waterboys, 1991)
Going Back To Glasters
The Whole Of The Moon
(Mike Scott one-man show, Glastonbury Festival 1995, Building The City Of Light single CD1, 1995)
She Is So Beautiful
(Mike Scott one-man show, Theatre Of Living Arts, San Francisco, March 1996, Rare, Precious And Gone single CD2, 1997)
When Will We Be Married ?
(Mike Scott one-man show, Subterranea, London, April 1996, Rare, Precious And Gone single CD1, 1997)
Savage Earth Heart
(Rockefeller, Oslo, June 2000, Is She Conscious? EP, 2001)
Too Close To Heaven
(Amsterdam Paradiso, November 2001, bonus CD with US Fisherman Blues Part Two album, 2002)
Karma To Burn
(Live album comprising 2003-4 performances from British & Irish tours, released 2005)

We asked Mike and Steve to tell us their favourite Waterboys shows ever. Here is what they said:

Glastonbury Festival, June 1986
Paradiso, Amsterdam, Nov 2000
Liverpool Philharmonic, Oct 2003
Universal Hall, Findhorn, first of three shows, June 2004
Everyman Theatre, Cork, Nov 2004

Wheeler Auditorium, Berkeley, Nov 1985
Glastonbury Festival, June 1986
National Ballroom, Kilburn, London, Feb 1989
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Dec 2000
Riviera, Madrid, May 2002