The COVID-19 lockdown hasn’t slowed Waterboys anchor Mike Scott.
In the past few admittedly oppressive months, he remixed and remastered a new band record, “Good Luck, Seeker” he finished in December and applied that same process to a poetry-based work, 2011’s “An Appointment With Mr. Yeats.”
He also wrote and recorded a new possibly pandemic-linked concept album — he’s not divulging more yet – that’s ready for release.
“Ever since then, I’ve been making videos for ‘Good Luck, Seeker,’ so I’ve been very, very busy,” says Scott, sounding calm and sedate, phoning from Dublin. “So I’m just taking it as it comes, really.”
Scott, 61, shares the spiritual and philosophical wisdom he’s acquired over the years on “Seeker” songs “The Golden Work,” “Beauty in Repetition” and the title track, inspired by the writings of English poet-theologian Charles Williams; philosopher William James, known as the father of American psychology; and U.K. occultist Dion Fortune.
He’s happy to share his work ethic secrets, as well.
With his wife, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, temporarily quarantined in Tokyo, he has had two different types of post-pandemic days, he explains. There are days when he’s helping home-school his 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
“And the days when I don’t have her with me, because she’s staying with her mom, who lives close by, and then I’ll get up. Check my emails, and immediately go to work at my studio, a few streets away, where there’s always something cooking, something going on,” he says. “Today I was working on material for a Patreon page, preparing some unreleased tracks, texts and videos for its launch.”
There’s a single constant throughout all the creative equations. “I always have exactly the same breakfast,” says the Scotsman. “It’s muesli with some fruit and and milk and a bit of fruit juice, all mixed up together, and then I’ll have a cup of coffee with that and just get on with the day. I’ve got too many other things to think about. I can’t be wasting my minutes deciding on what to have for breakfast!”
Modern technology has made it that much easier to see his ideas through to completion, as well.
In early Waterboys days, around the band’s stunning, sweeping sophomore album “A Pagan Place” in 1984, when the band hit America as the opening act on U2’s “Unforgettable Fire” tour, huge studios had to be rented, strings arranged, all at exorbitant cost. Every session minute the meter was running, and he felt the pressure for perfection.
“But now I have a recording studio in my computer, and it’s been fantastic,” says the soundsmith, who only uses GarageBand 2008, through a Pro Tools interface. “Because they ruined it in 2009. And the most wondrous thing is, every time I open a session folder, it’s exactly the way I left it, so I don’t have to do any recalling. People are sometimes surprised that I made and mixed a record at home, but I’ve got so much experience being in actual studios— 40 years’ worth — that I bring to home recording, so I’m not just starting out. I’ve got my standards, my tricks and my hunger, all honed over decades of work.”
Scott had plenty of room to experiment on “Seeker.” For the ethereal “Postcard from the Celtic Dreamtime,” he started with an old poem he wrote in 1988, circa the Waterboys’ landmark “Fisherman’s Blues.”
He originally covered Kate Bush’s “Why Should I Love You” in 1997, but for this version, he transferred the original multi-track to digital, then overdubbed new instrumentation and effects. “So it’s half the 1997 recording, half contemporary,” he says.
Scott truly is a seeker himself. In college, he studied philosophy and English literature, and resided in the experimental community Findhorn Ecovillage outside of Inverness, which taught him — among other self-sustenance things — how to trust his inner voice and gut feelings on everything from songwriting to management selection.
Lately he’s been getting lost in the esoteric 1920s novels of Irish author L. Adams Beck, discovering their modern-day relevance. “She wrote very powerful, spiritual novels set in the East,(the Himalayas, China and Japan), and in each case, the protagonist is from the West, encountering and experiencing the wisdom of the East for the first time,” he says.
But Scott is not on what Native Americans would call a vision quest. He says, “I’m just a human being, swimming in the sea of consciousness, trying to learn as I go. I’m just trying to get smarter.”