Northampton band The Moons feel The Beatles 'magic' as they record new album at Abbey Road
"It was the best thing I have ever done, musically, as it just blew my mind... the history, the smell, it's like you walk in and it smells of the sixties!"
Andy Crofts is still pinching himself at the fact he and his band The Moons got to record their new album in Studio Two at the world famous Abbey Road in London.
Back in the summer, the Northampton band laid down the tracks for their fourth studio album in the very same room as 'the magic' happened with The Beatles throughout the 1960s.
As a lifelong fan of the Fab Four, it was something of a dream come true for Crofts and his band-mates Chris Watson, Ben Gordelier, Ben Curtis and Tom Van Heel to fill the space once occupied by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Many, many other music greats have also recorded there over the years of course, but the fact it was where The Beatles laid down their classics is what makes it stand out from anywhere else.
"We went into Abbey Road, Studio Two, The Beatle room where the magic is, and it was the best thing I have ever done, musically, as it just blew my mind," said Crofts.
"The history, the smell, it's like you walk in and is smells of the sixties!
"It was amazing, because we had the whole room to ourselves for the whole day, and we cut the album live in a day. It was a big deal.
"Instead of me just blagging my way in with another artist, it was ours for the day, and we were using microphones that The Beatles had used. Amazing."
The band were also backed by a string quartet, and once the recording was finished at Abbey Road, Crofts then set up shop in another iconic recording studio to mix the music - Paul Weller's Black Barn Studios in Surrey.
"The new album is almost finished," confirmed Crofts, who plays two live acoustic shows in Northampton next weekend (Dec 21 & 22).
"We left a bit of room for sprinkling a bit of gold-dust on top, but the whole rhythm section and vocals are live.
"So we did the album at Abbey Road, and it is currently being mixed at Paul Weller's studio, Black Barn, and we are now so close to finishing it, but life in general gets in the way.
"Sometimes I'm on a roll, but then something will happen, and it is put on hold. I am trying to tuck it in as much as I can, and then by early 2020 I would like it released."
So what is the album going to be called? Well, it's provisionally called Pocket Melodies.
"The title Pocket Melodies came to me after I had this bunch of songs laying around in my pocket so long," said Crofts.
"All the songs are super melodic so it just kinda feels right I guess. It may change but this is the working title. It's not a new direction, it is kind of like what I am doing with the acoustic tour.
"I was looking around at all of these bands, and they were changing their haircuts every album to what is in fashion, changing to suit everybody else, and I thought 'I am just going to do what I do best'
"Without blowing my own trumpet, I think I write pretty good songs, okay songs, so I am going to go back to basics again.
"I had a bunch of songs laying around in my pocket for a long time and I thought I'll see how it works if I put them altogether, do they work? And they have.
"They are very melodic, very sweet and colourful sounding songs, more in the vein of English Summer and Jennifer Sits Alone, or Habit of a Lifetime and How Long.
"It is that kind of vibe, they are very melodic, and every song is poppy in that way, so it is not really a progression, it is more about let's go back and just deliver good songs, because I feel there is a lack of that these days."
Crofts, who has been a part of Paul Weller's band for more than 10 years now, has also been a key contributor to the Modfather's string of critically acclaimed albums in recent years, and his boss has repaid the favour for the new Moons release.
There is no duet and Weller doesn't play on the album, but he has co-written a tune with Crofts, with the pair working on it while on Weller's tour earlier this year.
It is called Tunnel Of Time, with the former Jam and Style Council front man writing the words for the choruses, and Crofts the words for the verses, and The Moons singer says 'it's a cool little song'.
The Moons is far from being a one-man band of course, but Crofts is very much the man in the driving seat, and that extends to the release of the record in the new year, which he is planning to put on his own label, Colorama Records.
The label has been in existence since the first Moons seven-inch single on white vinyl called Don't Go Changing back in 2008, but there have been releases on it since, with the band releasing their music on the Acid Jazz and Schnitzel Records labels.
"Everything is DIY now, everybody can record an album and release it, so I thought 'why shouldn't I do it?'" said the front man.
"Why should i give half of my money to somebody who can do what I do, and there is something about the DIY thing that I love anyway, it's hands on with the fans."
As well as the scheduled release of the new Moons album next year, Crofts is also hoping the band can go on a tour at some point early in 2020 - but he knows things have to be worked around his time out on the road with Weller in the spring and summer, with fellow Moons Gordelier and Van Heel also part of that scene.
It means 2020 is already looking pretty hectic for Crofts and co, and he admitted: "Hopefully it is going to be a busy 2020, but being in the Weller band I love it. It feels like home.
"I am so lucky and I do count my blessings every day, and it is good to see other Northampton lads doing alright as well.
"I mean look at Slowthai! Fair play to him and good on him, they call him the 'prince of Northampton', and I hope he takes the world by storm.
"There is also Danny Connors and the lads in the Tom Grennan band, there is loads of good stuff going on."
Part of that good stuff is Crofts himself returning to home soil next weekend when he plays two intimate live dates at The Playhouse Theatre on Clare Street in Northampton.
The gigs are part of Crofts' current acoustic tour, and sees him play sold-out dates on Saturday and Sunday (December 21 & 22).
For news and information on Crofts and The Moons, visit www.andycrofts.com