Rockfield Mixing Desk during The Misers Album Recording




Neil Ivison is a singer/songwriter who was born and raised in the beautiful English county of Herefordshire. Neil together with Hammond/Rhodes player Adam Barry form the nucleus of The Misers and have a contemporary musical style that could be described as mixing the delicate pureness of Folk with the angst of Rock and injecting honest Soul, maybe drawing comparisons with Ryan Adams. They have just recorded their debut album with the help of a few talented friends, so now seemed the perfect time to talk with Neil and get the low-down on this exciting project...


Hi there Neil, thank you for agreeing to do this interview with us. I would like to start off with a little background if that would be possible.

No problem old chum, fire away!

Neil Ivison

You have a considerable musical history behind you that belies your years. I have to admit to being somewhat of an Ivison novice, so could you begin by telling us where you started with your music, what your earliest inspirations were and briefly what you have been part of prior to your most recent material. 

I started playing the guitar at school when I was 12 and formed various bands from then on. I began playing ‘properly’ when I was 14- mainly covers bands playing pubs, clubs, weddings… the usual! Then I went to college where I met some new people and started to write my own songs. We formed Seymour in 1999 and played wherever we could, winning the Budweiser Battle of the Bands in 2000. From then on we toured constantly for 4 years as The Fever and later as The Shakedown. We released an album, did a couple of big tours, got lots of label interest but nothing concrete. Some of the original members left & I called it a day, moved to London and got into Tour Management. I was doing this for 3 years but always felt that I wanted to get back onto the stage, not just be at the side of it! So I called up Adam and asked him to come and help me record some demos in a little studio in Wales and the idea of ‘Neil Ivison & The Misers’ was born!


This current chapter in your life has taken you to the legendary Rockfield Studios to record your latest album, which I believe is to be entitled ‘Amplified Life Stories’. There is a lot to talk about regarding the album, but let’s open with who joined you to play on it and was there a conscious move behind choosing specific people or was it a case of hiring musicians who were available at the time?

Well ‘The Misers’ has always been Adam (Hammond/Rhodes/Vocals) & myself (Vocals/Guitar). Once we’d decided that we were going to do a record, I called Ian Morgan - the producer who I worked with on the very first demos I did and who also played Bass on this record- and we headed into Ian's Pear Tree Studios to work on the pre-production. I wanted to keep a strong rural identity for the record and jokingly said all the people involved should be from Hereford! So Ian took this as a challenge and called up his old friend from Hereford, drummer Clive Jenner. Clive's played with everybody from Lenny Kravitz, Groove Armada, Tom McCrae & The Proclaimers so we knew we were in good hands!


And did that apply to others that have been involved, like the production and engineering staff, etc?

Pretty much! Ian then recruited my old buddy, old pal & Herefordshire born & bred Fever/Shakedown/Miser Guru/FOH engineer Tom Oliver as co-producer, then recording engineer Matt Butler, who's worked with McCartney, Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger & Dire Straits for a start... but perhaps his most endearing quality is that he's from Hereford too! So it was a real HEREFORDIAN AFFAIR!!


I see that the band name has been shortened from ‘Neil Ivison & The Misers’ to just ‘The Misers’ for this latest album. What was the thinking behind that move and is the album actually a band effort or more a group musicians recording your solo songs?

Well, there were 2 reasons really. Firstly, we recorded an album as Neil Ivison & The Misers back in December 2007, which we didn’t release due to the band line-up changing during the recording and it wasn’t representative of what we’d become as a band so we shelved it. Also, by this time Adam had begun to have more input in the arrangement of the songs so it organically grew into more of a band situation. And the second was that many people couldn’t spell ‘IVISON’ so it made it harder to find us on the Internet! We thought with this record we’d shorten the name and have a new start!


I think I am correct in saying you have chosen ‘Amplified Life Stories’ for the album title, does it have significance to this stream of work or is it just an arbitrary moniker?

That’s true. The title is basically a description of the songs. I find it very hard to write anything else except truth. I’ve always admired people who can write a song about an imaginary subject or something that isn’t real but that isn’t for me. I need to sing about things that I can believe in and put my soul into, otherwise it’s all a bit pointless to me. How can I make people believe in something that I don’t? So every song can be attributed to a certain event, person, time of my life, experience etc. Sometimes I can disguise the subject enough, other times it gets me into trouble; it’s a risk I take!

Adam Barry


Having briefly heard some excerpts from the recording, my initial thoughts were noted as “…stripped down emotional pastorals that awaken your soul and which deal out a feeling as fresh as splashing cold, country stream water into your face…” It’s clean, pure and earthy, and clearly waves its influences in your face, but what were your deepest ambitions for this album and do you think you achieved them?

I’m really glad that comes across, as the whole mission statement was to make a record that was Raw, Organic and Rural! Every note on the record is there because it needs to be. We made a conscious effort not to over produce the songs and made sure that the ‘song’ was the most important part. In fact, because Matt had recorded everything so well, we ended up taking out parts from the original demo’s we did, as they just weren’t necessary. It’s worth mentioning that the whole record was recorded without any E.Q. too, just the instruments in the room and the position of the mic’s.


Of the songs themselves, are there any that touch you more profoundly than others or maybe still mean just as much to you now as when they were first written? I would love to know more about those stories and for you to expand on the songs storylines.

Certainly Don’t Let Go (Song For Lee) is a song that means a lot. It’s about my best mate Lee who was the drummer from my very first band to right up until The Misers. We began writing songs together; he was the one who made me do it. He was meant to be doing a course at the Tech, I was meant to be doing my G.C.S.E.’s but we used to bunk off and write songs. Lee had got hold of this acoustic guitar that allegedly belonged to Mott The Hoople so we used to sit in his room and write songs with it and dream of ‘making it big’! Other than that, The Long Walk Home is possibly the most personal thing I’ve written so far.


Neil's Guitars

Where they all written before entering the studio and were they all new for this album?

I had them all written before we went in and they were all written for the Misers record, apart from Spinning which we put out on an E.P. with The Shakedown in 2007 but it fitted well with what we are doing now so we re-recorded it.


I presume the album has been self-financed and is it going to be either self-released or used as a promo to attracted labels or distributors?  Or do you already have any record company interest in the recording and is that actually something that is important to you?

I think it’s a VERY exciting time for any new band because the record industry, as we’ve always known it, is going through a massive shake up. I think some people may have been a bit too greedy for too long and now things are changing. It’s never been easier for bands to gain recognition via the Internet, Myspace, Facebook etc and release music worldwide via iTunes, Amazon etc. I think the main objective is to raise awareness that the band exists and then bands can sell their music direct to their fans, you don’t have to involve record companies in the selling OR the dividing of the profits any more. And for me that’s very appealing! We’re having a nice bit of interest industry wise at the moment and if it’s a route we go down, we’ll be able to do it on our own terms, which is great!

Rockfield is a Studio that has been host to many great artists over the years, Robert Plant, Paul Weller, Coldplay, Mike Oldfield, Black Sabbath, Roy Harper and Queen’s classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ to list but a small sample. What an experience it must have been to record your songs there and share that space with so much history. Did that affect or influence the way the songs came out?

From the moment we got there, to the moment we left, it was incredible! Even though we were in one of the most famous studios in the world, it was the most chilled out we’ve ever been whilst recording and that’s a testament to the people involved too. Being at Rockfield DEFINITELY helped the sound of the record and Kingsley Ward, the owner, would come in every day to see how we were getting on and paid us a great compliment saying that he though we “fitted in with the ambience of the place perfectly” which was nice!


However it’s not what I would have thought of as a budget studio, so was it always in the plan to use Rockfield or was it a little bit of indulgence on your part?

I've wanted to record at Rockfield since I was about 14. It was always the Holy Grail of studios for my mate Hopper and myself; I even went there once but refused to get out of the car as I didn't think I was good enough to be there! (Incidentally, we ended up recording at Monnow Valley Studio a mile down the road). So when we met with Matt to talk about where we were going to record and he suggested Rockfield, we jumped at the chance!


Having got the album finished and ready for the world to hear it, do you intend to play live shows to promote the recording?

Yes, definitely. We’re very much a live band and are currently looking for an agent who will put us out on the road and let us tour the record. We want to work it live- like bands used to- and build our following that way. We don’t want to go down the press hype route, it’s not what we’re about. We’ve got a few things in the pipeline tour wise too, which will be very exciting if we get it!


Neil, that’s everything we have to ask you this time around, thanks so much for your time and honest answers, we wish you all the very best with your future and look forward to talking to you again next time. Just to close is there anything else you wish to add to finish the interview?

I’d just like to thank everyone who’s stuck by us from the beginning, been at the gigs or got in touch cause it’s the reason we do it! And I hope you enjoy the album!


by Dave Yates (February, 2009)


"Amplified Life Stories" is scheduled for worldwide release on 1st June, 2009 and features:
Neil Ivison on Vocals / Guitar.
Adam Barry on Hammond / Rhodes / Backing Vocals.
Clive Jenner on Drums (Lenny Kravitz, Groove Armada, Tom McCrae & The Proclaimers).
Ian Morgan on Bass.

Recorded at Rockfield Studios.
Produced by Ian Morgan & Tom Oliver (Proclaimers, It Bites, Roy Harper).
Engineered by Matt Butler (Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger).

Images courtesy of Neil Ivison.


View from Rockfield looking towards Monmouth

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