In the second part of the Haydon Spenceley guest blog series on the journey of recording his new album, he updates us on the recording process – and how the band are connected despite being on opposite sides of the world. Haydon also explains how he is learning from God the importance of loving yourself.
Hope everyone out there in internet world is doing well. Dave and Jono from LTTM have been telling me that the response to my last post here was really strong so thanks for your encouragement. Feel free to translate that into listening to/buying the new record when it’s done!I wrote the first post for this about 12 days ago, the day before we started, in the midst of a heatwave. Now as I think about what to share with everyone today and it is pouring with rain outside, I’m really struck just how much has happened in a relatively short space of time. We’ve certainly packed a lot in. Here are some edited highlights:

    • We spent some time in writing and pre-production, out of which came an extra, brand new song, Mirrors. Mirrors is almost certainly the most aggressive song I’ve ever written. I’m just about to sing the vocal for it when I’ve finished this, which will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it!
    • Kevin (who has an awesome record of his own, check it out) led worship with Ben and I, plus a couple of awesome friends, at Lee Community Church last week. It was an intensely powerful and moving time.
    • We spent two nights Skyping in to a studio in New York on a phone whilst the drums for the record were recorded by a dude named Eric, and Brian, the engineer, entertained us by dancing with action figures (this really did happen). It is crazy to me that we’ve reached the point where you can connect to a studio via Skype and interact and work on parts for songs. Crazy. What’s even crazier is how good the drums sound. Eric is the man.
    • Ben, our resident bass maestro and master of gyrations, nailed his bass parts for the whole record in a day. He, too, is the man.
    • We spent a great day at Ford Lane in Arundel recording a rather splendid sounding upright piano. There is a lot of piano on this record.
  • I’ve sung 5 out of 7 vocal performances. 2 more to go…

Much more important than all this, we have introduced Kevin and Christian, our visitors from the States, to the correct way to speak the English language. Kevin calls the toilet “the loo” now. Our work is done. We’ve eaten a lot of premium biscuits. In fact we’ve just eaten a lot.

We’ve also received generosity from loads and loads of people, and spend a lot of time hanging out with friends, new and old. It’s been a real eye-opener to me to see how many people have got behind this project in a variety of ways. Really humbling.

Much more important, even than all those things, is that we’ve spent a whole tonne of time talking about life, faith, hope and family. It’s been one of the key characteristics of this process and this project. God made us for relationship with Him, ourselves and one another. At various points in my life, I’ve been pretty rubbish at all three of those, with no real sign of improvement. However, these last two weeks have reinforced to me that we’re only really doing life anywhere near right when we get the concept of loving God, loving our neighbour and loving ourselves in to balance.

I’ve experienced much love from God, and my neighbours, whilst making this record, and it’s been fantastic to see the community around these songs grow and involve people all over the world. More than that though, I’m having to learn the discipline of loving myself, something I find pretty hard for a variety of reasons. Without love for myself it’s not possible to love God. Without love for God I can’t love others. Without love for others I can’t love anything or anyone. It’s a huge deal. As God is love (it’s not just an emotion He has, but a state of being) He can’t not love me. He can’t not love you. He wants to give you a new identity, a new name. Son or daughter of God. Cherished, beloved, adored, set free to be who He made you to be.

All the other identities we give ourselves, or have given to us, even the important ones like husband/wife, friend, brother/sister, parent or whatever, these come second, a distant second, to that of child of God. It’s bonkers that it’s ours for the taking. Seeing the working out of this in action, as we all, individually and collectively, try to learn what is to live and work, walk and love, as children of God, is a real privilege, as well as being a little scary. It’s a privilege because I get to marvel as I watch God at work in a whole bunch of other people (including some who don’t know Him yet, or even think He exists). It’s scary because when it’s all said and done, it’s easier for me to retreat behind the identity of being a musician, or even of calling myself a failure or a disappointment, a disabled person. These things don’t define me though. God does. I wish we were part of a community of faith who really got hold of this.

We have two more days here to finish the vocals and do some guitars and a few other bits and bobs, before we disperse around the country and the world to finish the record, and get back to our (long-suffering) families. As we get back to some semblance of normality I’m pretty hopeful that some of the spark of hope, of identity, of freedom and joy, will go with us. Wouldn’t that be something.

It’s unlikely that I’ll be remembered in history for my songs (although that would be nice) but wouldn’t it be great if we, this generation, were remembered in history as people who knew, as far as they could, that we were loved, so that we could love, that we’d heard the call of God to shine His light, love and hope into the lives of those who are around us. If the songs on this record go any distance to helping you to do that in your life, in your family, in your workplace, then it’ll be a job well done.

Haydon Spenceley