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I'll See You In Hull
Last night we played in Nottingham, and it was GRATE. I felt GOOD about it from the very beginnings - I met Tom at Leicester station as planned, we drove to Nottingham, and everybody turned up easily and punctually. GOOD - I know having a band of people who are ALL reliable and have all, at one time or another, run their OWN groups and so Actually Get On With Stuff isn't particularly GROOVY or Rock & Roll, but it doesn't half make life easy. ANYWAY, as we'd all arrived so on time we were lurking around outside chatting whilst Chris TT and co. did their soundcheck, when a young chap approached ME and asked what time we were on.
Now, this may not sound like much, but I was WELL chuffed - someone I didn't know had SPECIFICALLY come to see US! Hoorah! It turns out that Duncan (for that was his name) had read about us on NTK and downloaded stuff - GOD BLESS the Interweb, and Duncan, if you read this, thank you very much indeed, you made us HAPPY.
We soundchecked FINE, then popped over the road to The Goth Pub to sort out travel arrangements. I must say, GOTHS today are really NOT what they were. IN MY DAY your Goth would drink in whatever pub had the cheapest cider, and that was that. They certainly wouldn't drink in a ludicrous Goth Theme Pub, complete with plastic Dracula's Castle-Effect stone doors and gargoyles. Needless to say, with the decline in Goth Standards, the place was gently filling up with skinny pale boys and less skinny pale girls seemingly unconcerned that their supposed outsider culture was being repackaged and sold back to them. I bet their favourite Cure song is "Love Cats"!
We sat down and SORTED OUT travel arrangements for the remaining band gigs (we're going to drive back to Leicester, basically), Emma excused herself from the Hull Trip due to it being a really long way away and her being all pregnant, Tim raised the possibility of a semi-band ATAK in Brum, and, yet again, we wrought humour from Tom's recent wrist injuries. BAND STUFF! Then it was HO! for the venue, where we watched a stocky bloke play a cover version of a famous rap song on an acoustic guitar, then make Humorous Remarks afterwards... it was all a bit Twilight Zone really. He didn't half go on though, and I rather lost sympathy for him when he tried to BOTH play a song about how much he loved his girlfriend (who was present) AND pass it off as a joke exercise in songwriting. NO! That will not do! Also the talking went on FOREVER, I was GOING to tell him he should put the talking jokes INTO the songs, but it went on so long that we had to DASH for the stage to get going, so I didn't.
And then we were ON! Anyone who has been to The Social will know that it is a small-ish venue with the PA of a MASSIVE one, which points DIRECTLY at a huge wall about 20 feet from the speakers. THUS it is EXTREMELY LOUD, and so we must have made a RIGHT RACKET. It sounded pretty good to us on stage though, and the whole thing, to me, felt really GOOD and RELAXED. It's nice these days that we all seem to know what we're doing, and the only times I look around at everyone else is to GRIN at them. It was LOVELY. But LOUD.
Afterwards I had a chat with a few people - The Chemistry Experiment came down for the gig, and we DISCUSSED Recording Practices like Proper ROCK people. I also had a quick chat to Chris TT, and felt a bit of a twit when, excitedly talking about his recent Massive Exposure, I said "Cor! And did you do all the press stuff yourself? Or did someone help out?" "No," he said, "The record company has someone to do it." Oh yeah.
The Extreme Noise Theory was borne out by the INCREDIBLE LOUDNESS of Chris TT's band, so various of us HID in a quiet bit. We Seriously Discussed the content of our live shows (Tim wants to vary it a bit, I pointed out that that'd mean we'd have to practie...), got Quite Excited about recording the next album IN A WEEK, and IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, and then had a Group Hug. We all set off our various ways, with me going back to Tom's house, and DELIGHTING him by saying "I'll See You In Hull! ARF!" all the way home.
Two tracks from the album got played on The Late Show on the Student Broadcast Network last night, which apparently means that nearly every Student Radio Station in the country had it. Blimey! Playlist should be up in a week or so, so I'll find out what they played then, but it's all rather groovy. Today on email The Validators and I are discussing venues for our massive American Tour - we're getting a bit excited, and it's lovely.
The sudden SPLURGE of activity continues, as I discover a paragraph about us in the middle of this week's TV Cream Update. It's as part of a roundup of bands who sound like Half Man Half Biscuit (I know, shocking isn't it?) but they also rather charmingly mention "BBC2(A New Hope)" because, well, it's sort of about telly, isn't it?
Please welcome the newest addition to the Well Hung At Dawn Canon, Leicester's own MJ Hibbett and the Validators. Hilarious, heartbreaking and chock-a-block with brass, twee girly backing vocals and songs about pints, his/their This Is Not a Library is 2K3's best State of the Nation (not our nation, alas -- there are no American songwriters even attempting such stuff) album. As such, it's currently climbing towards the tippy-top of our Records of the Year list. Kudos to all involved! Kudos we say!
Bloody hell!! Who cares about the silly old NME eh? WOW!
Phase Two continues
Yesterday I was going to try and sort out the last couple of gigs for the Phase Two TOUR, but instead stayed on at work a bit, and WORKED. I got home and switched on the interweb, only to find TWO emails offering me gigs. One of these is yet to be sorted (it'll hopefully be in Birmingham though), and the other IS sorted, and on October 24th at Bar Lorca, Brixton, as part of a month of Kooba Radio Live Events.
HOORAH! Isn't it GRATE when things like that happen? Most of the CDs have now been sent to The Student Radio, there's a couple to go to some other people today, then later on this week I start emailing a) Nice People who've listened to the album, to thank them and tell them about Phase 2 and b) Less Nice People who didn't bother, to persuade them that they might like to try again. Then it is HO! for GIGS!
I meant it about not giving up until we reach 100!
After all the excitement on Saturday I took things at a more LEISURELY pace on Sunday, and made up all the envelopes to send to Student Radio as the start of PHASE TWO of attempts to flog the album. We're sending out about 20 copies of the album and AAS compilation, then we're NUDGING some of the people who didn't review us first time around, and sending Polite Emails to the people who DID, to ask if they'll mention us again.
I'm not giving up until I've sold 100 copies, DAMMIT!
It was HO! for distant Leeds on Saturday, to play at the gogojohnnygo all dayer. The trip NORTH was Quite Delightful, with the only ODDNESS coming when 3 of the stupidest youths I have ever seen got on the train. One spent most of his time talking to a girl on his mobile who he'd obviously met the night before. All he said the whole time was "Is it you? I'm ringing to check you've not given me a dud number. So is it you? I'm ringing to check..." Is it wrong of me to suspect he'd been DUPED before? Then the train drew up into WAKEFIELD, the announcer said "Wakefield. This is Wakefield. Passengers for Wakefield, get off here. In WAKEFIELD" as our carriage drew up outside a large sign saying "WAKEFIELD" beyond which lay the city of Wakefield, covered in buildings with signs like "Wakefield Garage" and "Wakefield Newspapers" etc etc. They then asked EVERYONE in the carriage if this was Wakefield or not, ran up and down the carriage unable to decide, and nearly missed getting off.
Honestly, it was quite an AMAZING thing to see. Anyway, I ARRIVED in Leeds, bought a City Centre Map, and STRODE to Joseph's Well. This was where WRATH Records were having THEIR all-dayer. As WRATH is the home of Being 747, with whom we're GIGGING next month, I thought I'd pop over and say hello. I had a nice chat to STEVE from them, and saw a bit of The Bilderberg Group, who were dead good. I then took some directions, and again STRODE OFF towards The Brudenell Social Club, for the OTHER all-dayer.
Blow me, why on earth did people ever think it was a good idea to build so many things on HILLS eh? Leeds is bloody FULL of them, it's more than a poor Fenland Lad can take, really it is. I arrived some thirty minutes later KNACKERED, and had to have a sit down. LUCKILY The Brudenell Social Club is FULL of seats, as it is a proper Working Man's Club, and therefore is a GRATE venue with a proper raised stage, seating and tables. I saw a bit of Horton Parks, and then wandered off to get some LUNCH. An hour later, having eaten a slightly BIZARRO Indian Takeaway version of Lasagne & Chips, I saw The Mother(flippers). I was a bit too NERVOUS about my set to really get into it, but they all seemed to think they'd been RUBBISH, and Spoke Loudly about it afterwards, but I didn't think so. ANYWAY,then it was ME!
I was a bit AFEARED to start with, as someone was heckling and a) i couldn't see them b) i couldn't understand what they were saying. HECKLERS! This is the EASY way to throw me, if that is yr DESIRE. Instead of getting into a Heated Debate, therefore, I instead GOT ON WITH IT, and soon things were going pretty well, to the extent that, towards the end, ACTUAL GIRLS got up and started dancing!
The last time that that happened was about eight years ago, when my friend Chris and I did our one and only gig as Ernie and Joe. Girls dancing down the front, it's one of the things we get into bands for. HOORAH! Later on there was a large MIXED crowd dancing to The Cribs (who were GOOD), but I think two girls dancing is much more SUBTLE and COOL. No, really.
Anyway, GIG went off pretty darn good - played "Born Yesterday" for the first time (was all right), and managed to RESIST calls for "Encore" from a couple of tables... well, actually, just when I thought "Maybe I SHOULD go back?" they stopped, so it was lucky really. In the aftermath I sold TWO CDs, and got QUIZZED about my Political Views. HOORAH! Best of all, the young lady in question was asking with regards to "Graffiti On The Cenotaph" which I hadn't even played, it was ACE. I then LISTENED to a FRIGHTENING pub quiz, got a CHEQUE for sales from Forever Changes (HOORAH!), got confused talking to some people, agreed with some OTHER people that, yes, it had been good, and drank some LAGER. It was LOTS of fun, and then it was home time so out i STRODE again through the TIPPING rain (it had been really sunny in London!) to... er... the taxi office, and HO! for home again.
The train home was full of people's Parents, DRUNKENED. Somewhere around NEWARK I realised that I'd been the only person all day in BOTH venues who'd actually sung in their own accent, and RUMINATED upon the CHANGE in The World Of Indie since I'd gone to Pop-A-Go-Go the first time many years ago.
That was how it was - now we GIRD ourselves for MORE ROCK! YEAH!
I Remember When This Was All Smaller Buildings
A flying visit to downtown LEICESTER last night, to have a BEER with my friend Chris. We had a lovely time, although, as ever, I seem to have had a Bad Pint somewhere along the way hem hem. As we STROLLED through The Second Most Bohemian City In The Country (after Manchester, fair enough) I was amazed to find the vast amount of new buildings that had SPRUNG UP in the few weeks since my last visit. This is especially true around the Poly... sorry, DeMontfort Uni, where half the buildings appear to have SUDDENLY been knocked down and replaced by massive futuristic SPACE BUILDINGS from out of Judge Dredd. If you look at the DMU Photo Gallery for Leicester you'll see lots of buildings that just aren't there any more. The new Students Union is ESPECIALLY futuristic and, actually, FAB. Hopefully it has a venue area where you can actually see the stage too - The Arena at the old Union USED to be a GRATE venue, then some fcukwits decided to surround the main standing area with "barbed wire" and industrial sheeting. Smashing for GOTH discos, not so smashing for gigs where suddenly only the couple of hundred people on the dancefloor could actually see anything.
ANYWAY, it was amazing, and I was amazed. Elsewhere they'd knocked down the old football ground, built a brand new Liberty Building, and put a whole housing estate on the scummy old railway sidings on Bede Island. Blimey!
Books Written For Girls
Today I have been VERY happily listening to the new album by Camera Obscura, "Underachievers Try Harder", over and over again. The other day I Listened Again (actually I hadn't listened to that particular show before at all, but let's not tell BBCi that eh?) to John Peel, heard the song "Books Written For Girls", and came over All Peculiar. Ooh, it were right lovely it was. THUS I went and bought the ALBUM, and LOVE it to bits. It's like what I hoped the third Belle & Sebastian album would be like i.e. LIKE early Belle & Sebastian, but more SOLID and GROOVY.
Let's not be coy about it, it sounds a LOT like Belle & Sebastian (Stuart Murdoch even takes the cover pictures), but to me that's a Very Good Thing Indeed, especially when, as noted, they take the FUN and GRATENESS of those first two albums, and then add some more COOLNESS and super groovy BACKING VOCALS (lots of Beach Boys and Motown ESQUE stuff), and ditch the cloying tweeness and cack Songs Other Band Members Wrote that spoilt most of the later B&S records.
It is, in fact, BLOODY GRATE! I'm going to see them next week too - HOORAH!
With Very Special Guests
I am EXCITED, as I've just sorted out the Guest Artiste for our gig with Being 747 in Leicester on October 20th - none other than Dr. Neil Brown!!
OK, I understand if some of our younger viewers aren't now leaping up and down with excitement at this announcement - let me explain. Dr Brown was, for many years, 50% of LEGENDARY (no, really) Leicester Band VOON. Later on he was 33% of it, then 0%, becoming instead the GUIDING FORCE behind Bungalow Bill and, more VITALLY, the band GNARF!. He was also The Synth Player in the band John Sims, second only to PRAM as one of the bands who sounded "a bit" like Stereolab in the late 1990's, and precursor to bands like Broadcast and Saloon who now sound "a bit" like Stereolab DID in the late 1990's.
None of that is important though, as this is NOT a gig by any of those bands, but instead a SOLO gig by the great man himself. These have ONLY been seen in very limited company, the last occasion being a brief 2 song jaunt at the AAS All-Dayer in Derby. There has not been a Full Set by Dr N.Brown for many MANY years, and a great deal of people only know of them through ME, and then they usually don't believe me when I tell them what it was like.
I'm hoping for the HITS - "Dog On The Horizon", "Never Fall In Love With Your Dentist", maybe even "My Nan's Groin" - and maybe, just maybe, some new material. Are you as excited as ME yet? WAHEY!
I'm a ROCKING today!
CORKS! It's a right old day of ACTION today! Not only am I doing loads of Actual WORK-style WORK, but have also got MANY things done re. Various People's Birthdays AND sorted out some of my WARDROBE, and also got them Annotations to the two new songs finished. GO ME!
So yes, I'm feeling pretty pleased with things, as it goes. GOOD MOOD also helped by an afternoon listening to The Beatles - I'm now listening to "Hard Day's Night", but before that I had "Rubber Soul" three times in a row. MAN but that'sa FANTASTIC album - I've only just got it on CD, having had a TAPE for the past 15 years (itself was copied off a dodgy, songs in the wrong order, very old tape my friend Chris had), and so I keep hearing all this EXTRA stuff I never knew was there, also BASS GUITAR. It's BRILLIANT - those Beatles, they were GROOVY!
Didn't We Learn A Load Of Old Shit?
Keeping up the UNNERVING return to prolificness, we find ANOTHER new song over in the Song Blog this morning, started before my holiday and finished off yesterday. Again, annotations follow shortly.
Sheffield 5: London 0
As I may have mentioned before, I thought it might be an idea to see if I could persuade a distribution company to Distribute the album, so that it'd get into more shops... many wise people said to me this was ASKING for trouble, reminded me that EVERY distributor we'd ever dealt with were useless, lying gits who STILL owed us money, and pointed out that the online shop and our Recommended Dealers (that's Rough Trade in London, Forever Changes in Sheffield, Reveal in Derby and Left-Legged Pineapple in Loughborough, SHOP fans!) was a much better way forward.
They were right, and I was wrong. A fortnight ago I sent a CD and letter to A Distributor, asking whether they'd be interested in selling it for us. Yesterday, after several emails and nearly a WEEK of ringing three times a day I FINALLY managed to get through to someone at A Distributor who'd talk to me about it, who said "Oh yeah, I've got about 300 CDs to listen to, I can't take anything more on at the minute."
And people wonder why independent labels have such a hard time competing with the mainstream... ANYWAY, duly CHASTENED, I thought I might as well find out how the shops are doing. So far I've had a lovely, even APOLOGETIC, email from Rough Trade saying they've sold no copies so far, and one from Forever Changes to say they've SOLD OUT!!! Come on you COCKNEYS! Do you want THE NORTH to trample so VICTORIOUSLY all over you?!? Go to Rough Trade and if you don't IMMEDIATELY see the album there, DEMAND IT! And BUY IT! Your very HONOUR is at stake!
And look, LOOK! The TOTALISER has been duly amended, is it not a JOY to see?
A Big Day In The Comic Shop
Yesterday was Thursday, which is New Comics Day. This is probably the thing I like MOST about reading comics again - the EXCITEMENT of reading through the shipping lists on a Wednesday to see what's coming in, and the ZANG! of nipping down the road to GOSH on a Thursday to pick them up. Yesterday was an ESPECIALLY exciting day, as all week I'd been reading about the "Amazing Plot Twist" in New X-Men, and had been DESPERATELY trying, in a Likely Lads STYLEE, NOT to find out what it was.
When I turned up there was very much an ATMOSPHERE in the shop, as yesterday was a BIG DAY in the shop - the second issue of "1602" was also out, AND the long awaited last issue of "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" - and everyone was TALKING and being EAGER to get back to work/home and READ them all.
One of the OTHER things I like about my return to the world of Comics is that nowadays I get to shop in GOSH, which is RUN by Normal Human Beings, seems to HAVE Normal Human Beings shopping there (i.e. grown-ups who look like they can hold down jobs, some of whom are WOMEN), and they keep those bloody awful "statuette" things to a bare minimum.
And what the HECK are those about, by the way? BLIMEY. When I LEFT comics in about 1989 you never SAW such ugly things, but when I came back a couple of years ago shops seemed to have more "Action Figures" and ghastly, badly made, ugly "statuettes" than they did comics. Next to a grisly plastic "re-enactment of Peter Parker battling VENOM, with realistic opening safe" the Franklin Mint Collections looks the HEIGHT of sensible good taste and value. Who on earth BUYS these things?!? Comic Shop Customers, that's who - the other thing that shocked me when I RETURNED was that Comic Shop Guy from the Simpsons turns out NOT to be a caricature at ALL, and is in fact a SEARING DOCUMENTARY.
ANYWAY, so that's why I like shopping in Gosh, although I do try and be CAREFUL. I really try hard NOT to talk to people or get drawn into conversation -partly because, in my head, I still associate all comic shops with the Androids Dungeon-esque places I've always shopped in before, and partly because I know that it will lead to me having a PULL LIST. For anyone unaware of what this means, a Pull List is when you have a list of comics you buy every month, which the shop keeps back for you. I'm avoiding this because, in my New, Grown-Up, Comic Buying STYLINGS I'm trying to ONLY buy things I really like, and not just because I've got the 50+ issues before it. People who've bought comics: you know what I mean. Everyone else: there are people who buy the same comic for YEARS and never ever read it, just because they always have.
So imagine my HORROR when I was stood queuing to pay, and somebody at the front of the queue, FULL with the joys of the Big Day, said "And what about X-Men this week eh? Who'd've thought that would happen eh?" ARGH! Bloke on the till says - "Yeah, I've only just read it, someone had to point out what the ending MEANT to me..." ARGH! THUS I had to break the habit of... er... two years, and SQUEAK: "I haven't read it yet!!!"
It was a bit embarrassing really. They stopped discussing it, the queue moved forward, and soon I was out in the street, free from fear, dashing back to work to read it. It was DEAD GOOD. Last night I sat in bed with The Woman I Love and read it AGANE. It was still DEAD GOOD, and I thought how BRILLIANT my life is these days. And LO! i was happy.
You find me in a BLOODY GRATE mood this evening, for, like Her Out Of War Of The Worlds (the one who goes off on Thunderchild, you know), i have always loved this time of year. This bit of September, when everything's just on the turn, and Summer's finally letting go of the weather, is DELICIOUS, I always think. This is the time of the year when things really start happening again, when everyone's ABOUT, when GIGS get put on again, when the good telly starts up, and everyone starts to DO things together again. Listen out of the window and you can almost HEAR all the bands forming.
It's brilliant, and I love it. Oh! The first night when you really need to be fully under the DUVET! It's a mighty ROCKING few months now on the way to Christmas, it's going to be BRILLIANT.
Books read on holiday (including one I meant to take with me, but got excited about and read before I left) were:
One Hit Wonderland, by Tony Hawks (OK, except the bit about going to Albania with Norman Wisdom which was LOVELY and MOVING and GRATE)
Dead Air, by Iain Banks (GRIPPING, which was a nice surprise as all the reviews'd said it was rubbish. I especially liked the fact that half the action takes place round the corner from my work, I guess that's what it's like for people who live in New York who read comics eh?)
My Fat Brother, by Jim Keeble (LOVELY, i liked it a LOT, even though the supposedly ace poems that the lead character makes his living writing were a bit rotten)
Three Men In A Boat, by Jerome K Jerome (the BEST book EVER).
It was LOVELY to just be able to sit around and READ all day, without feeling I should be doing something more a) modern or b) important. Holidays ROCK!
In Other News
Hooray! GIGS continue to roll in - looks like I'll be playing in BRISTOL on October 30th at a rather special DO in a Cinema. Meanwhile, GIGS in Wakefield and Leeds are CONFIRMED, whilst the GIG in Leicester moves nearer to being definite. Now I'm just looking out for a GIG in That London, and the October tour is SORTED!
There's an idea GLIMMERING in my head about going up to Scotland towards the end of the year too, not least because we're going to be COVER MOUNTED on the CD free with the next issue of Is This Music, but also because I fancy the idea of going to a gig on an AEROPLANE. We'll have to wait and see, I guess.
I've Always Liked It
I've always liked Careless Talk Costs Lives. What? No, that must have been someone who LOOKED like me who said all that stuff, the REAL me thinks it is SENSIBLE, especially The True Report section. ESPECIALLY that bit, it has many WISE things to say. Page 35.
By the way, if you want, you can still read all the reviews so far, if you want to. Just thought I'd mention it...
It's oh so nice to come home
I'm BACK, I say BACK BACK in the U of K, home from a LOVELY holiday in Menorca. We had a BRILLIANT time, thanks for asking, I am now TANNED and HAIRY, as this morning it was hard enough getting out of bed to come to work, without attacking my face with a razor blade. London has never looked as GRUBBY as it did to me this morning coming in.
It was FANTASTIC though - we went to exactly the same resort as last year and REVELLED in Knowing Where Things Are, which gave us even more time to loaf around and RELAX. Low Points were: ANTS in the first apartment we were given (the Lead In My Pencil had WORDS with the management, and we got moved); the previously mentioned Joy In My Heart being STRICKEN with a nasty cold for a couple of days; the person in charge of money (hem hem) getting it RONG and us running out of cash. Twice. High Points: the lovely, easy going atmosphere; the GLORIOUS sunny weather; swimming in THE MED, sitting in a bar in Mahon listening to PROPER Jazz being played by two blokes larking about; a boat trip; going back to Fornells to find the miniscule "beach" had been DEVELOPED; Holiday Cooking; and over all that the PLEASURE in hanging around with each other for a whole week without having to worry about anything else.