Road to Joy

Released 4th June, 2023

Road to Joy is the sixth song to be released from i/o and the first version to be released on 4 June is the Bright-Side Mix, by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent.

Written by Peter Gabriel and produced by Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno, Road to Joy features Soweto Gospel Choir, a string arrangement from John Metcalfe and contributions from a number of Gabriel’s current touring band; long-time collaborators Tony Levin (bass), David Rhodes (guitar) and Manu Katché (drums) as well as two newer members Don E (bass keys), ‘he did the funkiest bass line that you can imagine’ and Josh Shpak (trumpet), ‘beautiful playing, a super musical guy.’ The song was recorded at Real World Studios, Bath, The Beehive and British Grove, London and High Seas Studios, South Africa.

‘I’m working on a project which is partly a story focused around the brain and how we perceive things and this song connects to that. It deals with near-death experience and locked-in syndrome situations where people are unable to communicate or to move. It’s an amazingly frustrating condition. There have been some great books and films about this subject, but at this point in our story the people looking after our hero manage to find a way to wake him up. So, it’s a lyric about coming back into your senses, back to life, back into the world.’ 

The song is one of the last tracks to emerge for the i/o record, but it has some DNA from an earlier project; ‘It was actually very late in the record that we got to this. There had been a song that musically I’d started, I think, around the OVO project called Pukka. It was very different to this, but it was actually the starting point for coming back to this song. I just felt there was a good groove there, and I wanted something else with rhythm and so we tried a few things when I was working with Brian Eno. The excitement and energy in the song was something that I was getting off on. I felt we didn’t have enough of that for this record.’

As with previous full moon releases, Road to Joy comes with an artist of the month, and for this June release that artist is Ai Weiwei and his work ‘Middle Finger in Pink’.

‘I’m a big fan of Ai Weiwei, both as an artist, as a designer and as a human rights campaigner. He’s an incredibly brave man and regularly risks the wrath of the Chinese government. But his work is exceptional, often political and quite extraordinary. 

When I was hustling him, I think he had absolutely no idea who I was, so it was an uphill battle at first, but he was open to talking and we got to know each other and hang out a little bit. 

I was delighted when he agreed to being a part of the i/o project and generously sent us three designs. He has this middle finger image that he uses a lot in his work, and it is often directed to those in power. 

He’s definitely been at the root end of power, as his father was before him. So that’s an important symbol for him and I guess in the context of the story I am now working on, death is the dominant power, and the hero is coming back to life and raising his finger to death.’

Just like the previous full moon releases, Road to Joy will come with differing mix approaches from Mark ‘Spike’ Stent (Bright-Side Mix), released on 4 June. Tchad Blake (Dark-Side Mix) and Hans-Martin Buff’s Atmos mix (In-Side Mix), released on 18 June.

Words and Music: Peter Gabriel
Engineering by Oli Jacobs, Katie May, Dom Shaw
Assistant engineering by Faye Dolle
Orchestral engineering Lewis Jones
Orchestral assistant engineering by Tom Coath, Luie Stylianou
Pre-production enginneering by Richard Chappell
Produced by Peter Gabriel with Brian Eno
Dark-Side Mix by Tchad Blake
Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent
Mastered by Matt Colton at Metropolis
In-Side Mix by Hans-Martin Buff
3D Audio sound treatments and Dolby Atmos mix by Hans-Martin Buff in the Red Room at Real World Studios & Aural Majority Pad, Boofland.
Additional recording assistance from Bob Mackenzie.
Recorded at Real World Studios, Bath, The Beehive, London , British Grove, London and High Seas Studios, South Africa
Cover: Middle Finger in Pink by Ai Weiwei

Drums: Manu Katché
Rhythm Programming: Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, Hans-Martin Buff
Additional Percussion: Hans-Martin Buff
Bass: Tony Levin
Bass Keys: Don E
Guitar: David Rhodes
Piano: Synths and Manipulated Charango: Peter Gabriel
Manipulated Guitar and Ukulele: Brian Eno
Additional Synths: Brian Eno, Hans-Martin Buff, Ron Aslan
Trumpet: Josh Shpak
BVs: Peter Gabriel, David Rhodes
Choir: Soweto Gospel Choir
Soprano – Linda Sambo, Nobuhle Dhlamini, Phello Jiyane, Victoria Sithole
Alto – Maserame Ndindwa, Phumla Nkhumeleni, Zanele Ngwenya, Duduzile Ngomane
Tenor – George Kaudi, Vusimuzi Shabalala, Xolani Ntombela, Victor Makhathini
Bass – Thabang Mkhwanazi, Goodwill Modawu, Warren Mahlangu, Fanizile Nzuza
Musical Director / Vocal Arranger: Bongani (Honey) Ncube
Choir Engineer: Jacques Du Plessis
LVs: Peter Gabriel

Orchestral Arrangement: John Metcalfe
Violins: Everton Nelson, Ian Humphries, Louisa Fuller, Charles Mutter, Cathy Thompson, Natalia Bonner, Richard George, Marianne Haynes, Martin Burgess, Clare Hayes, Debbie Widdup, Odile Ollagnon
Violas: Bruce White, Fiona Bonds, Peter Lale, Rachel Roberts
Cellos: Ian Burdge, Chris Worsey, Caroline Dale, William Schofield, Tony Woollard, Chris Allan
Double bass: Chris Laurence, Stacy Watton, Lucy Shaw
Orchestra Conductor: John Metcalfe
Orchestra Leader: Everton Nelson
Sheet Music Supervisor: Dave Foster
Orchestra Contractor: Lucy Whalley and Susie Gillis for Isobel Griffiths Ltd