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TOUR REPORT: Bristol
The Cube Cinema is a fantastic place, it's a tiny little Actual Cinema/Theatre run by volunteers, and as I was sat waiting to soundcheck it brought back lovely memories of doing STAND UP and things at the Y Theatre in Leicester about 300 years ago when I was a student. It relies entirely on volunteers and recieves no funding at all, which is why everything's done on a shoestring, and why the roof hadn't been fixed for a long long while...
Chris T-T got stuck in traffic, so the first band, Safety Word, started soundchecking, and just as they'd finished Chris and his band turned up, and hit the stage. When Safety Word had started there was the occasional drip of rain into a bucket down the front, by the time Chris had finished there was a WATERFALL gushing down into a DUSTBIN full of water. There was much talk of what to do, and in the end it was decided that we'd do the show in the BAR area. Fine with me - I'd not had a soundcheck, so wasn't too worried, and to be honest preferred the idea of doing it in an INTIMATE SETTING (hem hem). Safety Word set their gear up in the bar, and did a quiet and, actually, rather lovely set there and then.
I was just tuning up when it turned out there was a change of PLAN, and we were back in the main area. ULP! Prepared for a small area, a massive stage made me AFEARED and THUS it was that I got myself a bit NERVOUS again, which I rather think came across, as I FORGOT the words to a couple of songs, and indeed STOPPED "Perfect Love Song" halfway through. ALSO on top of this I could hear people in the bar area talking, and for some reason got EVEN MORE PARANOID and managed to convince myself everyone hated me... oh deary me. Some bits of the set seemed to go quite well, especially "Billy Jones Is Dead" and, for the first time in YEARS, "Born With The Century". I got the feeling that the quiet ones were going better than the LOUD HECTORING songs, for some reason, so WENT with it.
However, when I came off I was feeling a bit fed up, which wasn't helped by Chris T-T and co coming on and being GRATE, CURSE THEIR EYES! In Nottingham they, like us, had been a bit of a racket, but here the words came across and the general sound was pretty ACE. The swines. Afterwards I went for a bit of a mope round the bar, and talked to a couple of girls who'd ACTUALLY LIKED IT. Hoorah! One of them had actually seen me at The Albion in Winchester, which had been ACE - her boyfriend returned with DRINKS and said, excitedly "Ooh, did you tell him about WInchester?" and I felt so RELIEVED and pleased that they'd enjoyed it I gave them a CD, with MASSIVE GRATITUDE. Ten minutes later a young man came up to ask what shops he could get the album from, so I gave him a CD too. I am soft as shite, really.
And then I enjoyed myself again - goodness knows why I get myself in such a state, but when I play on my own my EGO seems to swell to massive proportions and become COLOSSALLY UNSTABLE. I had a chat to a nice bloke who'd come with Safety Words, and FINALLY met the guys from PURR who were as JOLLY as everyone had told me they were, and as I marched off into the rainy Bristol night I found myself cheered and glad that the GODS OF ROCK had chosen me to follow their ways, oh yes.
It's Birmingham tomorrow - being on tour is GRATE.
When The Rain Comes
Off to Bristol, with a MAGAZINE in my bag as I was a bit WORN and unable to tackle my BOOK. Really, in The Big Textbook Of ROCK, you'd think they'd spend a little less time talking about cleaning yr frets and waxing yr nuts, and a bit MORE time giving advice on LITERARY SELECTION... but as they don't, here's my addendum: if you're going to spending really really a lot of time on TRAINS over the next few weeks, do NOT embark on reading a massive great HEFTY TOME that's a bit scary, quite THRILLING in places and deeply sad in others, but overall completely lacking in LARFS. I'm now onto about page 500 of "The Little Friend" and GOOD LORD but I shall be relieved when it's all over, it is KNACKERING me.
ANYWAY, I got to rain-soaked Bristol, found the Holiday Inn Express, and rang Gary from Bristol Uncovered, who came over with a cold and a mini-disc player. We sat in my room and had a CHAT over Complimentary Tea, and did, I thought, rather a GROOVY session. I played "Things'll Be Different", "Programming", "Easily Impressed" and my learnt-the-night-before version of "Evergreen". I must say, it started to mean quite a bit to me that song, as I was associating it with The Tea In My Teabag, but even she was moved to remark on how little sense the actual words contain. I also had about four attempts at "(insert title here)" but kept forgetting the words - an omen of FORBODING.
We then did a "brief" interview - brief only in the bits that Gary said, LENGTHY in the extreme for my responses. I THINK i was animated and HILARIOUS about The Business Of ROCK, but I've got a dreadful feeling I may have come across as a PARANOID CURMUDGEON with my lengthy diatribe against the mainstream press constantly ignoring AAS "because we've never paid for any adverts". Which, actually, is probably true... what's that noise outside? Is it the FBI?!?!
Being the lovely chap he is Gary gave me a lift across Bristol to the Cube, where I arrived bang on time for soundcheck, only to find myself sitting around for 3 hours not having one, but rather having DELICIOUS sandwiches (crafted by Dan the promoter, also a lovely chap), as we listened to the rain fall harder and harder through the ceiling and into the buckets on the floor...
Damn your eyes, Will Young! Not only do you PERPLEX me by being inexplicably liked by my otherwise classy, tasteful LADY, now you take the battle one step further by taking over my studio time!
I'm off to Bristol tomorrow to play at the Purr night at the Cube Cinema, it's going to be ACE - I'm even staying in an HOTEL overnight, put up by the aforesaid classy LADY who was distressed to hear about me staying in a basement when I stayed in Leeds (actually I think she was more distressed when I told her I'd gone up to a man in the toilets and asked if I could go home with him, but I DID know him from before, honest!). To add even MORE to the fun I'd arranged to go to STAR FM and record a session for Gary Smith's radio show, hopefully doing some IDENTS for him like last time.
HOWEVER, Gary emailed me this morning to ALERT me to the fact that, despite our session being booked in for OVER A MONTH, "Lord" William Young, the posh git, had decided to take over the studio for the afternoon, so that he could broadcast his CORPORATE OPINIONS to the local radio stations of Britain. The swine.
Undeterred, Mr Smith presented me with a Cunning Plan - we'll record the session in the Hotel Room! OH YEAH! Rock! and also ROLL! Maybe I will through some complimentary shower gel out of the window while I'm at it!
I must say I'm REALLY looking forward to this weekend of ROCK - Bristol tomorrow, seeing OTWAY in London on Friday, then off to Birmingham on Saturday night and then Nottingham on Sunday. Expect a very TIRED Hibbett come Monday morning...
MJ Hibbett THEN Puppet Show
You find me inexplicably PLEASED with myself, all for a simple web banner... for LO! publicity gathers PACE here for the FUZZTIVAL that I'm playing at, at Sheffield University in a couple of weeks. Slightly pathetically I am all chuffed because I'm near the start of the list of people playing, at least on the web banner advertising it. Hey, the fact that it Doesn't Take Much is a GOOD thing!
A couple of things to feast yr eyes on today - to start with, glance casually to the right of the screen and you will note that the TOTALISER is now standing at a mighty FIFTY sales! That's fifty ACTUAL sales to REAL people who WANTED to buy the album - FANTASTIC!!
I really am extremely happy about this, and am even MORE determined to forge on and get to our target of 100 SALES. I don't expect to get there on this bit of "tour" - in the past six gigs we've sold about 10 copies, and I'll be MORE than happy if I sell that many in the next six - but there'll be more gigs in the new year, and hopefully some more Cunning Schemes to encourage people to buy them. It WILL happen!
And talking of cunning schemes, the Other Image for today is an idea I'm MULLING over for the next batch of recordings and gigs... seeing Being 747 Smartly Dressed made me think about how we look on stage. This combined with the Eddy in Hull's suggestion to make some t-shirts, and my THORTS on the NEXT album ("Team Valid", at the moment), led me to draw up this image.
TOUR REPORT: Brixton
Down the other end of the Victoria Line last night, to Bar Lorca, Brixton to play at the Kooba Radio LIVE Event. It was GOOD, although rather late for a modern day stay-at-home like me. The SOUNDCHECKS didn't finish until 9.30, so the first band, Nathan Persad, didn't get on until nearly 10 o'clock. They were GRATE tho - very BEAT, also slightly SURF.
They were all quite YOUNG tho, but no so YOUNG that their friends, who'd all turned up to support them, didn't know how gigs work... normally see, when YOUNG PEOPLE turn up they don't realise that you don't actually have to listen to the other bands if they don't have too, and sit dutifully through everybody else's set. These young people HAD been to gigs before, and so, quite rightly, had a chat with each other when some old git came on with a GUITAR and some shouting.
This made things ACE. It was like MILLIONS of gigs I had done in the past where I had to WORK to get attention, and I think I actually managed it this time. Afterwards a happy excitable chap who looked a bit like a young Mick Jones came for an ENTHUSIASTIC chat, and bought the 50th copy of the album - HOORAH! Totaliser will be formally adjusted next week when I adjust my scrupulously tidy record keeping system, but cool eh? Also the venue owner came over for a chat, and offered me a spot at one of their CABERET nights, which was very COOL. I would have stayed to chat, but had to RUN down Brixton Road, and only just made it for the last train home.
Also of notice to me re. MYSELF in the gig was my DANCING. Oh yes, like the BEATLES returning from Hamburg REINVIGORATED, I have come off the BAND DATES with a new onstage STANCE and an onstange DANCE. Shut up, it IS like the Beatles - I am a-JIGGING about like nobody's business these days. Basically, in my HEAD, i am no longer Paul McCartney going "Whoo", I am John Lennon going "Yeah"!
Anyway, the MAIN thing about the night was the other people who came. Charlie of Fighting Cocks fame was their with one of his colleagues, and they spent a good while THRILLING me with tales of life as a ROADIE and behind the scenes in the major news stories of the day...bless tho, he's such a great chap is Charlie, he seemed to be on a particularly poetical BENT, for instance what I call a "SONG BUNG" (not being able to record or write anything new because of BLOCKAGES in the band) he calls "being cast in aspic". He is quite the poet really.
And as for the Kooba Radio lot - what a LOVELY bunch of people they are. Aah, go listen to their show, they are GRATE. They were down the front for the whole gig, even SINGING ALONG for lots of songs (even "Programming Is A Poetry", which I did live for the first time too), and Johnny and Angela was DANCING to "Easily Impressed". I was thinking on the way to the gig, there was a time when doing gigs meant having to put up with loads of tossers, these days it seems that gigs are something that gets in the way of meeting SMASHING people that I don't see often enough.
Also of INTEREST was the fact that Bar Lorca used to be known, years, ago, as The White Horse, one only three London pubs that VOON played in! It looked COMPLETELY different, so was a bit STUNNED to discover that I'd been there before. BRILLIANTLY the person who told me this had also mentioned the gig to someone earlier who'd replied "OOh, MJ "Mark" Hibbett? I like that song about Being In The Scouts he does!" COOL. It made me feel all FAMOUS!
Altogether then, a GOOD NIGHT OUT! Being on TOUR, it ROCKS!
Can't Stop The Rock
Oh! When will the remorseless treadmill of ROCK ACTION grind to a halt eh?
Er... mid-November, at the moment. But before then there is PLENTY MUCH of it to go around, as this morning I got offered yet ANOTHER gig, this time in Nottingham. I'm playing at The Maze on November 2nd supporting Bloke From Ballboy, who's doing an Acoustic Solo Set. Copycat! This would make for a jolly little MIDLANDS chunk of ROCK, if it wasn't for the FACT that I have to get back into London on the Sunday Afternoon to DANCE with The Beat Of My Heart. Yes, we are learning to DANCE in an ACTIVE and GROOVY way, I shall tell you more ANON...
For now though, let us not be SWAYED away from the ROCK in the immediate future, for tonight I'm off to BRIXTON again (though to a different venue) to play at the Bar Lorca for those absolutely SMASHING people at Kooba Radio. I'm REALLY looking forward to this, not least because it'll be nice to get back to doing a gig where I just turn up and PLAY, rather than having to PANIC about accomodation, transport, etc etc. ALSO because it's going to be FUN, and because I have LEARNED UP a song previously un-GIGGED. Hoorah!
Niceness Of The Rich And Famous
When I sent out the review copies of the album, ages ago, I also sent out a few extra copies to people i LIKED. That's not to say I didn't LIKE the people I sent press copies too - the majority of people I sent copies too have been lovely - but there was one specific group of people who recieved copies that I didn't, and still don't, particularly admire. That group is, of course, the mainstream music press, whose idea of looking for news is to open press releases from the major labels and who refuse to have anything to do with anyone who isn't buying adverts (if you think this is overly cynical, flick through the NME and see exactly how many live reviews, and especially album reviews, have come from genuinely independent bands, and how many are released by fronts for the majors).
ANYWAY, despite how it appears in that last sentence, I'm not really THAT bothered by this fact, having come to accept that they're not going to be arsed with anything we send them, but I do always feel sentimentally obliged to send stuff to them, if only so I can legitimately WHINGE about them never reviewing our stuff (the ONLY AAS release that ever got into the NME was the Pala single. COINCIDENTALLY that was the only release that we ever paid a publicist to work with). In an attempt to OFFSET the grubbiness by association of this transaction, I resolved to send out copies to people who I ADMIRED, whose WORK brought me pleasure on a regular basis, and also who I thought might actually like the album.
THUS I sent Nigel Blackwell a copy, and he sent me back a very nice postcard, as he is such a terrific chap and, indeed, GENIUS. I sent Richard Herring a copy (as Warming Up is one of the first things I read every day) and he too sent me a nice postcard... OK, it was saying he hadn't had a chance to listen to it yet, but still, it was a nice thought. I also sent one to the author Mike Gayle, who wrote "My Legendary Girlfriend", "Mr Commitment" and so on. When I finished reading the former I'd decided that I was going to write my first ever fan letter, because it was SUCH a brilliant book that, frankly, made me cry like a GURL at the end. I never got round to doing it (probably because it meant looking up the address of his publishers), but EVERY one of his subsequent books ALSO filled me with JOY and ALSO ended up making me BLUB. He was an obvious choice to send a copy too, and the other day he sent me an absolutely LOVELY email to say he'd listened to it and really liked it. He also said it sounded like The Brilliant Corners, which made Rob very happy indeed!
I just thought that was a really nice thing to do, and as with the other responses, it was HEARTENING to find that someone I thought SEEMED liked they be a Jolly Nice Chap actually WAS. HOORAH!
God Bless America!
ANOTHER Good Review rolls in today, from the rather brilliant SPLENDID e-zine. Splendid, basically, reviews EVERYTHING it gets sent, and so it's always got something interesting to listen to, and usually has something pretty interesting to say about it too.
There are INTERESTING points made about us too. The reviewer seems to think the list of (clearly defined, workable) policies listed in "Things'll Be Different" is an attempt to show how daft it'd be to expect singers to have such things, whereas actually it is an attempt to put forward positive, constructive proposals about how TO do things, rather than just moaning and saying everything's crap. He also highlights the fact that "Holdalls" might not mean much to The Americans, but then, BRILLIANTLY, goes on to say this shouldn't matter. Well done him! I get a bit fed up with people (always painfully serious English people) who quake in TERROR at lyrics that feature place names that aren't from London or the US, and channel their TERROR through DERISION. The FACT I've never been to America doesn't stop me enjoying American music, American films, and, especially, American COMICS, so why should Johnny Yankee not be able to get past the fact that I've written a song that names an English rail company?
The answer is of course that our Colonial Cousins are QUITE able to go along with us on this one - INDEED, they seem to rather like the change of scenery. As stated above, the only people who've complained about the local NESS of songs on the album have been painfully serious English people, whilst the best reviews we've had have mostly come from the USA. It's GRATE, I think - I wonder when the postman will deliver all the invitiations to go and play GIGS there, that must surely have been posted?
Tour Report: LEICESTER
To LEICESTER for the last Validators gig of The Tour, where The Gods Of ROCK saw fit to make me appreciate the easier bits of the forthcoming Solo Gigs by making me and Tom LUG huge and heavy AMPS and DRUMS up the stairs to the Lamplighters' gig area - MAN, we were MANLY. The gig commenced with Dr N.Brown doing his first solo set in YEARS, which was ACE, especially "Mutilated Quim Scene" and his ASTONISHING encore of Voon Classic "Frisco Disco". Being 747 were GRATE again, and then it was time for US.
It was all right, really - it didn't feel too good on stage because we couldn't hear a thing that was going on, largely because TIM was unfettered and unleashed, so the BASS had to go louder to cope, and the PA couldn't really get everything else LOUD enough to go with it. There were quite a few people there who hadn't seen ME for ages and US never, so I was a little disappointed that we weren't at our ROCKING TOP FORM, but everyone STILL seemed to be quite pleased with it. That is, until we finished the set... we came of stage with Dr Brown shouting "More!" and nobody else doing so. I thought "Fair enough, we'll not do one".
As an ASIDE, there was a division in our usually UNITED rythmn section - Tim was hopping about, GAGGING to get back on, whilst Rob was busily putting his bass back in its case... anyway, I went through the room to find my WOMAN, and the clapping stopped, and several people said "Well, aren't you going to do another one then?" I pointed out that, usually, you only did this when people shouted "More!" and clapped, but for some reason this had slipped everyone's memory - people seemed to WANT us to do another one, but not to do the Traditional Clapping.
SHAMEFULLY I said "Well, if you shout for more, we'll do one." A few people did, and we SLUNK on to do the encore... made to look even MORE daft because Rob had to go and get his guitar out again! We did "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", and it was GOOD!
Afterwards, things seemed MUCH brighter. The BEST thing about the evening was that quite a few FRIENDS had turned up, who I'd not seen for AGES. To be completely honest I think I'd've preferred it if the actual GIG bit had been much shorter and much earlier, so that I could have had more of a CHAT with people, without constantly having to nip off to sort things out. Possibly the BEST bit was seeing one of my very oldest friends all in LOVE and HAPPY, it was HEART WARMING.
Afterwards we said cheery farewells to Being 747 and had an end-of tour band meeting/HUGATHON. I felt rather sad that this was our last time together this year, especially as we had become such a Tight Rocking Unit, but then who knows what excitement lurks in wait for us in 2004 eh?
You find me today KNACKERED, as yesterday The [non-dairy] Butter On My Crumpet and I went DANCING. Oh yes! We've talked about doing it for YEARS (well, more than A year anyway), and being King Of All Boyfriends as I am I booked us on a Crash Course for her birthday. Never again will I CROW and LARF at Dancers On The Telly when they talk about it being "hard work", it bloody is! We had to learn about 5,007 new MOVES over the course of two hours AND jig around like LOONS. Someone did a proper demonstration of it and looked for all the world like one of those JAZZ Silly Symphonies - if Bugs Bunny in a DRESS had walked by his eyeballs would have come out on stalks and he would have whistled until his BRANES came out of his ears!
It was GRATE until the last 30 minutes when I suffered sudden JAZZ PANIC and lost all confidence in my own GROOVE, and just wanted to FLEE the SCENE. To make it worse, when we got out the PUBS were all shut - curse you, Lloyd George!
I'm looking forward to next week tho, also to the next WEDDING (or equivalent) we get asked to... there will be much PRACTICING in the coming week, although, of course, not tonight, for tonight we head to LEICESTER! For ROCK!
Loitering in Leeds
My GRATE PLAN in Leeds was to spend the afternoon at the pictures, but when I finally found the cinema shown on the map I found that it had been closed down a couple of years ago. I then decided to go to the PUB, but was a bit AFEARED to discover that all the pubs were PACKED OUT (at 4pm) with heavy smoking pissed people, all of whom looked like they'd been there all day. Some of them were doing Karaoke, it was WEIRD. Having walked around for about 20 minutes unable to find the traditional Quite Mid-Afternoon Empty Pub I instead went for COFFEE, and spent a happy few hours sitting in coffee places, drinking COFFEE, and reading more of my book (it's The Little Friend at the moment, it's good, but it's a bit much to be reading SO much of in one go).
The whole Lots Of Coffee thing wasn't really a good idea, as I soon found out that EVERYONE else in the band was currently stuck in traffic on the M1, and there was much FEAR and PANIC waiting for them to get there. All was WELL in the end, although we didn't get a soundcheck, but DID have time for setlist devising and indeed some CHIPS. In The North beer is 30p a pint cheaper, and chips are both 10p cheaper and MUCH nicer - ooh, they leave that Chippy After-taste in the mouth I always associate with having been to CUBS, which shows how long it is since I had proper decent chips, I guess.
ANYWAY, gig was dead good - there weren't as many people there as in Hull, and it wasn't quite so ROCK, but still it was pretty good. It MUST have been pretty good - usually, after a gig as good as Hull was the NEXT one or two are filled with DESPAIR and DOOM in comparison. The GRATE thing about doing lots of gigs together like this is that we're all Quite Good at it now, and know what we're doing. I don't have to keep looking round in FEAR to check that everyone's OK, and we have Stage Business these days too. It's been YEARS since I last had this, back in Voon, and I'd actually forgotten what it's like. It's brilliant.
Also of note, in the Onstage FACTS, is that people seem to be impressed to know that Frankie Machine is in the band - i do Introducing The Band sort of things now, and you can HEAR eyebrows being raised around the room as those in the KNOW realise that the ArchDuke of Anonistic ANGST is on BASS DUTY. Yeah! Said cataloguer of WOE flew off to hit last orders in Sheffield, leaving the rest of us to watch Being 747, who were BLOODY GRATE. Needless to say, this came as some relief...
Afterwards Emma's brother Pete said "It's like Emma sings the melody, and you do the words!" which I had to think about for a while... it's ACE being in a band like this though, it's like one long gradual polite version of a stag do, or the start bit of a wedding reception where you meet loads of relatives and other friends of the friends you've come to see. It's LOVELY.
It's all been lovely, really. I went off with Mr GogoJonnyGoGo to stay in his luxury guest-room with ensuite bathroom (even tho there wasn't actually a bath in there... or, in fact, any plumbing at all), which was very nice of him, bless, and as we walked I thought how sad it was that, almost as soon as it had started, our TOUR as a band was coming to an end.
BCB Radio Session
I got to Bradford about quarter past two in the afternoon, and ambled over to the Musuem of Photography, to meet Tim Eames (DJ of your dreams) to record a radio session. It turned out he was actually working at a Day Care Centre which had its own radio station, so the session took place there. It was LOVELY - a couple of the regulars were in on the session, and asked some questions too, and it was generally a Relaxed Vibe. That is, until Tim asked if I could do "Born With The Century"... the correct answer was "no", but I only got to this after FIVE attempts, none of which got past the second verse. OY! It all seemed to go very quickly anyway, and then it was HO! for Leeds, with several hours to go until the gig itself...
Return To The North
It's HO! for distant Yorkshire for me again today, as in an hour or so I'm off to BRADFORD, to do a radio session with Tim Eames (DJ Of Your Dreams) at BCB, before going off to Leeds again to play at The Vines with my mighty Validators, supporting Being 747. I am EXCITED and very much LIKING this Proper Rock Lifestyle, even if it is for just one day.
I also just did the washing up from last night - does Mick Jagger do that too before going On Tour, do you think?
Start Stretching Your Jumpers
Apparently (I read it on the interweb, so it MUST be true) INDIE SCHMINDIE is due to make a great big lovely comeback in the near future*. COOL. As I believe I've mentioned before, in nearly all the gigs I've done just lately I've been a bit perturbed to find myself the ONLY person still singing in his own accent - goodness me, if Tim ever let me do the count-ins for songs I'd be the only person doing THAT in his own accent. One of the mahy ACE things about INDIE SCHMINDIE was that it dragged out a whole NEW range of accents and voices that people used to speak about things that mattered to THEM - it was like an 80's English version of THE HIP HOP.
Oh yes it was - it was REAL, it didn't necessarily talk about the things that the mainstream was talking about, it put enthusiasm and IDEAS way ahead of "professionalism" and "ability", and by GOLLY it wanted to experiment with new sounds. How many times did you read interviews with Indie Types saying they wanted to try out a Dance Direction, or ROCK, or use weird instruments, or get into remixes, or even get in some JAZZ? Answer: all the bloody time. OK, they might not have done it very well, but they WANTED to find out more, and learn more. Yr INDIE legions took PRIDE in having weird and different records stacked next to Hatful Of Hollow.
I think the reason Indie gets so rubbished now is because, like with Punk, the crap that's the easiest to copy is the crap that gets recycled most. I'd say that, on the level of Live Gigging Bands, people like Peter & The Test Tube Babies or Sham 69 are FAR more influential than The Sex Pistols simply BECAUSE the sort of (i think) half-arsed lazy formulaic songs they peddle is INCREDIBLY easy to emulate. Similarly Indie has become associated EITHER with Travis and Coldplay (i.e. DIRGES) or terrible ham-fisted SHITE that's still trying to replicate the boring imagination free wankfests that Sarah Records and the like churned out. The reason your modern representative of Indie Schmindie is a shambling incompetent mumbling into his sweater about unrequited teenage lust (even though he's probably in his 30's) is because he's trying to directly COPY the easy bits of the music he loves, rather than follow the IDEAS behind the bits that were actually GRATE.
I think it'll be wonderful if the whole DIY ethic PROPER comes back again. I'd LOVE to see actual REAL Young People getting on stage and singing songs in THEIR OWN VOICES about things that actually matter to THEM. I don't mind if they look stupid, or if they make mistakes, as long as they have something of their OWN to say it will be BLOODY BRILLIANT.
* NOTE: the same sort of people, however, used to say that 'Electroclash' and trying to dress like the your dad at an 80's fancy dress party was The Next Thing, but thankfully police have managed to contain this gigantic fcukwittery within London's Fashionable London area.
An Interesting Fact
I'm still a bit worn out and FREAKED out by the whole Hull Gig Extravaganza, and am feeling prone to staring blankly into face smiling DAFTLY and mouthing the word "tree". ALSO am shagged out due to becoming UNUSED to getting less than eight hours sleep a night - oh, the DECADENCE of domestic bliss! It all seems to have led me to forget to mention an Interesting Fact that Tim REVEALED to me on the way home - we were discussing plans for the new album, and we getting quite excited about a) us all going away for a long weekend to record it and b) possibly WRITING new stuff whilst there, when Tim suddenly said "What about getting some keyboards?"
Now, I'd thought about that before, and indeed have often said that if we ever DID get anybody else into the band it would be to do some keyboards so we could replicate some of Rob and Tom's EXTRA instrumentation in a live arena and/or get some PIANO-esque stuff involved. HOWEVER I really really really like this line-up of The Validators and would be LOATHE to risk it getting wobbly by getting someone else in, and anyway a new person would need to learn the songs and that. "Hmm", i said, ENIGMATICALLY, "did you have anybody in mind?"
It turns out Emma is an PIANO EXPERT! Why does nobody ever TELL me things like that? Eh? So baton down the hatches, listeners of the future - PIANO BALLADS AHOY!
TOUR REPORT: Hull
On the way to Hull, Tim and I wrote a song. Well, we had a lengthy discussion about people who say Town Centres Nowadays All Look The Same (actually they only look the same if you JUST look at the shop fronts - look at the people, the other buildings, the layout, the landscape or even the shops above the ground floor and you'll see massive differences) and then MAPPED OUT the structure, but how hard can it be to write 3 - 4 minutes of RHYME on the subject eh?
We arrived, as in Derby, to find no-one at the venue, so went round the corner and had some FANTASTIC chips. I had Chips & Cheese - the OFFICIAL food of the MJ Hibbett & The Validators Autumn 2003 tour - and it was LOVELY. Dark comments were made later in the night about whether Hull chippies use Vegetable Fat, but I'm SURE it was probably OK, possibly. We got back to the venue and gradually everyone arrived, including Eddy THE KING OF PROMOTERS.
He really had done a BRILLIANT job promoting it - for weeks he'd been sending ideas for getting people interested, including contacting the Guardian, the Hull Daily News, and the Sunday Sport. Posters were all over the place, ALBUMS had been played to half of Hull, it seemed (including the week's customers at the local Health Food shop), and he'd even printed off reviews of the album and put them all over the venue. All of this, however, became as nothing when he arrived with our RIDER DEMANDS, IN FULL... he gave us a BEECH TREE.
Not a twig, not some seeds, but a real life actual TREE, lovingly cared for by Dave The Gardener (as mentioned from last time I played there). From this point on I knew that this gig was going to be BRILLIANT. This was only REINFORCED when we noticed that the venue had us in the listings flyer as "PJ Hibbett & The Validators". Proby? Harvey? & Duncan? This night, i declared to The Gods Of Rock, we would be as mighty as all THREE! Or is it four?
Anyway, soundcheck was good (although a bit weird, as Emma hadn't come and there was a GAPING HOLE in the overall sound where her vocals usually are) so we popped to the nice pub round the corner ("through the GINNEL"), got the set list sorted out, and then went back to see Herman Grosse's Trouser Emporium. They started off WORRYING and a bit dodgy, but halfway through became GRATE doing a Percussion TASTIC version of a Tom Wait's Song and ending with a MIGHTY rendering of "Tiger Feet". Also a man did IRONING throughout, and really it seemed like the most natural bit of ROCK THEATRE ever.
We had a bit of messing about with the tree - we'd decided to have it on stage with us, and Tim suggested miking it up... which he did. Then we moved the tree around, and each time one of us would dilligently re-arrange the microphone to suit. Oh, the TOUR JAPES eh? That done, it was time to ROCK... and oh my good golly, but we BLOODY DID ROCK! Amazingly, about half way through, I suddenly realised that some people were singing along, quite a FEW were doing gig dancing (i.e. with shoulders and heads, enthusiastically), and all 60 or so people were GETTING REALLY INTO IT! We were headlining, and we were behaving like a Headline Band. It was FANTASTIC! WORRIED GLANCES were exchanged between us at the Enthusiastic Cheering And Clapping that was going on, but soon we realised that's the noise audiences are SUPPOSED to make!
Tom, I must say, ROCKED OUT on the electrical violin, and the rest of us just plain ROCKED. There was also HILARITY over a Christmas Cake that someone seemed very keen for us to try (it was delicious), and "Easily Impressed" went down GRATE! Usually with the band Emma leads the "OI! HIBBETT!" bit, but as she wasn't there I went all out for the Audience INSTRUCTION beforehand, and it sounded FANTASTIC. We then did an ACTUAL REAL PROPER ENCORE of "Fat Was A Feminist Issue" which was (Warning: Rock Cliche ahead) PULVERISING. Rob LARFED when I acted out the bit about "Perfect Pecs and Six Pack", which made ME laugh and forget my lines, so I GLARED at him so that he thought he'd made a terrible BASS ERROR, and nobody noticed that it was ME who had gone wrong. HA! I have been in this Krazy Business long enough to know a few tricks...
When we came off stage Tim was GRINNING as I came in followed by a BOUNCING ROB, and we were just comparing ASTONISHMENT at how well it'd gone when Tom came dashing in. "CDs!" he yelped. "They need CDs to sell on the door!" I handed him a handful, then a minute later he RAN back in saying "MORE! MORE! They need MORE!" It was very exciting. I then went and said hello to loads of people (including Al McCeachen, who'd done the Cheery Wave fanzine years and years ago) and generally ponced about being WELL CHUFFED and sweaty. Afterwards the chap on the door revealed he'd sold EIGHT albums, which added to the ONE I'd sold myself makes for the rather impressive new totaliser you can see to the right of this screen. We also got PAID, and it was an EXTREMELY pleased band of Validators who set off home. The only down side really was that Emma wasn't able to make it, but hey - ALL our gigs will be like this from now on, right?
If not, Tim and Emma will at least have a TREE in their back garden to remind them of the time we became a Headline Act. Oh yeah, it was BRILLIANT - Leeds on Thursday, and i cannot bloody WAIT!
Interlude: Trains, Cars, Football, Buses
I awoke EARLY on Sunday, missing my WOMAN and eager to get on and DO things to take my mind off it, and so HEAVED the Whitaker out of his sleeping bag and set off for the Railway Station... where we found that the next TWO trains to Leicester had been cancelled. Why don't they just put a sign up outside railway stations saying "Thinking of travelling on a Sunday? DON'T." eh? THUS we had a McDonalds Breakfast and didn't get to Leicester until about 11.30. Part of my SCHEME for being On Tour is to see some FILMS in the spare hours, but when I got to the pictures the only film I had time to see was The Italian Job.
Amazingly, it was BLOODY GRATE! OK, it's almost completely different from the original (There's a Mr Bridger and a Charlie Croker, they fiddle traffic lights, and they use red white and blue minis - that's it), but it was ACE all on its own. Seth Green was dead good, and the bits with the Minis were FAB. I liked it!
EMERGING from the cinema I was confused to find loads of people in yellow football shirts lurking around. Leicester's away kit used to be yellow, but why would they ALL be wearing that? And actually, why would they be playing the day after an international? On closer examination they turned out to be wearing BRAZIL shirts, and I discovered that Actual BRAZIL, properly BRAZIL with the real players and everything, were playing JAMAICA! In LEICESTER! Seeing cars full of heavily accented Jamaican guys getting directions from mixed up groups of happy Leicester people in yellow reminded me of just what a LOVELY city Leicester really is. I SWELLED with (adopted) Civic Pride!
I then bought The Great Big Indie Directory (or something) at Tim's request, and was amazed to find ME mentioned in the Cha Cha 2000 addendum to Prolapse's entry - surname spelt correctly too! I leafed through it as I rode the 121 bus to Woodhouse Eaves, where I would join said Mr Pattison to commence our journey to HULL...
TOUR REPORT: Derby
To DERBY on Saturday afternoon, along with Mr Whitaker, for the first of the weekend's two gigs. We got to the venue to find no-one there apart from the owner, who told us we couldn't dump our gear there, as someone would probably NICK it. THUS I watched the England game with my GTR leant precariously on a nearby bar in a packed pub, although to be honest the slight TENSE WORRY i had about this was as NOTHING compared to that generated by the game itself...
Afterwards it was HO! to the venue, where I re-met Lee from MisterLee, who I'd known years and years and years ago in Leicester, specifically in THE MAG, legendary pub of legend. Also the new slimline Airport Girl were in attendance, and we had a pleasant On Tour Chat with them, especially new guitarist, who is now officially A Lovely Chap. I MISSED the presence of Mr Fleay when doing my self-administered souncheck, as I had to tune my own guitar AND get the sound of it right. CUH!
I quite enjoyed playing my set, it was, shall we say, an INTIMATE setting. I must confess, however, I did get myself a bit wound up due to certain Standard Events that keep happening and keep annoying me i.e. my name was spelt wrong on the posters, I had to go on first, and I didn't get paid. The first two alone don't really bother me, but the fact that the door money was split 50/50 between the other two acts on (i.e. The Bands), and then handed out to them in front of me as if it was The Most Obvious Thing Ever really did rather piss me off, I must confess. Mr Whitaker thought I was being a little bit PRIMA DONNA-ish about the whole thing, which may be true, but I've had YEARS of people treating me like rubbish just because a) I tend to play on my own b) I don't wank around pretending to be important [well...] and c) my songs have JOKES in them. Tom the promoter, poor lad, was quite INNOCENT of any unpleasantness about this, and I did feel a bit bad about mentioning it too him, as it was only the second gig he'd put on, but it does RILE me up no end when everybody else happily goes along with it.
GRR! ANYWAY, afterwards Mr Whitaker and I went for a LOVELY curry round the corner with the LOVELY Moo and Ann-Marie, to discuss/celebrate our recent signing of Moo to AAS. Well, actually we talked about cats most of the time, but this was after we'd agreed on the New Modern Working Model Of ROCK which we'll be using for the Dr Coca Cola McDonalds album. More news, as and when...
The evening drew to a close with Mr Whitaker and I wobbling through the streets of Derby and feeling very pleaed with ourselves when we managed to find our way back to Mr Fleay's. Also I felt very much On Tour, as it was 2.30am and I was STILL OUT! ROCK!
In Other News
I DREAMT last night that me and The Validators were setting up our tents backstage at Glastonbury, so today Mr Dresden began trying to get us ON there, also at Reading. Well, you never know, do you? I've also sent off CDs to the Great British Beer Festival people (oh, please GODS OF ROCK, allow that gig to happen!), and hope in the near future to be sorting out some gigs in Chelmsford and Newcastle in the New Year. Meanwhile my WOE at not getting tickets to see Half Man Half Biscuit next week (stupidly I waited to see if we'd be able to support them, despite there being no evidence whatsoever that this could possibly happen) has been slightly tempered by the news that the Tea In My Mug has got us tickets to see OTWAY at the 100 club in a couple of weeks. HOORAY! HOORAY for EVERYTHING!
You find me COILED like a PANTHER, ready to ROCK. Oh yes, for tomorrow I head up to DERBY to do a gig supported by Airport Gurl whilst on SUNDAY I rendevous with the mighty Validators in HULL, whereupon that town shall be ROCKED - i am Quite Excited by the whole thing. As I'm sure you're aware, this is just the START of the fantastic TOUR which will a) also visit Leeds, Leicester, Brixton, Bristol, Birmingham, Winchester and Leeds and b) probably knacker me out completely. HOORAh tho - HOORAH for ROCK!
MORE Gigs Action!
Will the ROCK never STOP? Hopefully not - have just been asked to play yet ANOTHER gig, this time in Sheffield at the FuzzClub All Dayer on November 15th. This looks like being a GRATE day out, as there's loads of bands, Celebrities In Attendance, and Mr Steve Lamacq will be the compere. Sounds like FUN to me - wahey!
Funny how things go, isn't it? That's 3 Saturday gigs in a row, and I'm now WORRIED about not having any free Saturdays - time was, not so very long ago at ALL, when nobody would ask me to do ANY gigs, and all I'd ever get was First On, Monday Night...
Do not read the following if you are sitting on your own, or in the dark, or if you suffer a nervous heart condition.
This morning I recieved an email from my good friend Mr Robin Hare, with whom I went to school and travelled round Europe. More to the point, for this EERIE tale, Robin and I were in the band "The Masters Of Nothing" together when we were about 12, and one of the songs HE wrote for this band ended up being in the VOON repertoire for many years...
So anyway, I got an email saying he was going to be in London in a couple of weeks, so would I like to meet up for some BEERS? "HOORAH!" I thought, and then "DISMAY!" for it turned out that he was in town the very evening that I was booked to go and play a Private Party in Winchester. I emailed him to say sorry about my lack of availability, but as it WAS a Private Party there was a slight chance that it might get cancelled, in which case I would let him know. The very INSTANT I clicked on the "send" button my mobile phone went BEEP - it was a message from Ray In Winchester (my GIG PIMP in the South) to let me know that, unfortunately, the party booking had fallen through!
WEIRD and SCARY eh? The VERY second - but what's that you say? The title of the song Robin wrote, and it's subject matter? Why, the song was about WEIRD COINCIDENCES, and the title was RATHER SPOOKY!
Black Country Belle & Sebastian
There's a couple more reviews added to the reviews section today - the main one coming from Scotland's Is This Music, which, in a neat TWIST on traditional Anglo-centric Geographical Paternalism (thanks) locates us in The Black Country, and compares us favourably to the band I was banging on about yesterday. It's dead good, actually, and the magazine is a THUMPING read throughout, especially the interview with Nigel from Half Man Half Biscuit. COOL!
The other new review is from TweeNet, which is a bit more confusing, but I think it's complimentary. The chap writing it seems to think we sound like Airport Girl though, hmmm...
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
I went to the record shop this morning BEFORE work, so's I could get the brand new Belle & Sebastian record. I was EXCITED, but also NERVOUS - I am one of the wary legions whose lives were entirely changed by Belle & Sebastian around when "If You're Feeling Sinister" came out (hey! I saw them in GLASGOW, WAAAY before Islington Chapel, oh yeah!), and also one of the disappointed thousands who kept buying the next three albums, despite them being... well... less good.
I mean, "The Boy With The Arab Strap"'s pretty good, and it HAS got one of my favourite of their songs on it, "Seymour Stein", which a) makes me CRY when I hear it and b) i once (and only once) performed LIVE and in concert. The other two though - I TRIED with "Fold Your Hands Child", but "Storytelling" was just pointless. Sinister, "Tigermilk" and the first 3 EPs meant SO much to me that subsequent confused, slightly lacklustre efforts made me Actually Upset by them not being as Earth Shattering as the others had been.
And, you know, they really WERE Earth Shattering. I remember going into a short-lived indie record shop opposite The Western in Leicester and getting the staff VERY excited by telling them when "Dog On Wheels" was supposed to be coming out - this was when the interweb really WAS a new thing, and I was privvy to insider knowledge about release dates just by having email at work. Everybody who's ever met me has heard this story 10,000,000 times before, but just when Sinister came out I went with about 10 other people to QMU in Glasgow to see them play with Adventures In Stereo (I was supposedly going to see the latter, really, who I quite liked, but mostly for the ADVENTURE) and a month later ALL of us had formed bands and/or started record labels. It was ASTOUNDING to FINALLY find a band who were doing "our" kind of music, and FINALLY doing it RIGHT.
It was absolutely without question the BEST gig I ever went to, so you can imagine my Confusion over the next year or so when I went to nearly every gig they did in the UK (actually, all of them except Oxford) and found them half-arsed and, frankly, a bit crap. It struck me then, as it strikes me now, that although most of the band were READY TO ROCK, there were one or two there who were... less so. It was THEY who made performances so PAINFUL with constant retuning and talking amongst the band, and it was THEIR songs on later records that passed the sign saying "TOO TWEE: GO NO FURTHER" at high speed, waving their polka dot headresses behind them.
ANYWAY, yes, so I bought the album, and it's GRATE! It sounds really different to their previous stuff, being significantly MEATIER, also BOUNCIER and EXTREMELY GROOVY. It's really really good, really self-assured, jolly SILLY in places, touching in others, and catchy as FCUK. It's just ace - currently on the fourth play of the day, bound to be on a lot more later. Well done everybody, well done!
Who knows? Stuart Murdoch might once again have need to fear the DRUNKEN HUGGING MAN who plagued so many of their earliest gigs!
In correspondence with the GRATE Mr Eddy Bewsher (who's putting us on in HULL) yesterday, he gave me ANOTHER brilliant idea. Eddy seems to be LORD of GRATE ideas just at the moment, and is trying to get us mentioned in all sorts of places, not least The Daily Sport. He suggested to me that getting some band T-Shirts would be a really good idea - not because it would lead to us actually selling any or anything, but because, PSYCHOLOGICALLY, it persuades people that the purveyors of said garments were WORTH LISTENING TO, and thus increases sales of CDs.
Sounds a bit crazy to me, but also sort of cool. More than anything, it's a GRATE excuse to get some t-shirts done, so I have been INVESTIGATING cheapo t-shirt emporiums. Also I've been trying to think of what to PUT on these shirts. My first idea was to have one saying "MJ Hibbett & The Validators Say - SHIT THEN:SHIT NOW", this being something that I, at least, have been saying a lot just lately e.g. "Heavy Metal? Shit then, shit now". On reflection though, this would take quite a lot of explanation for those wearing the shirts, and would probably be better recycled as a song. Which it may well be.
Other than that, I thought maybe just "Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)", or perhaps the whole second verse of "Easily Impressed" (the big list of Things I Like). I don't know, but it's nice to think about.
Also at the moment we're considering recording the NEXT album in a country cottage over an extended weekend. See previous sentence.
One Out, One In
A slight change to the GIG LIST today, as I think I'm more than likely NOT now going to be playing in Wakefield on October 15th. A close examination of railway tickets shows that it was going to cost me about 80 quid just to get there, and then I'd need to find a B&B to stay in overnight too. I feel pretty bad about not doing any kind of gig, but as this one was apparently never firmly booked for me to play anyway I guess nobody'll be too upset.
To recompense, I am now playing at the Railway Inn, Winchester on November 8th, AND at a Private Party in said Winchester in October, AND also maybe in Derby on October 11th. HOORAH! Let the ROCK! BEGIN!
Barry Fry's Peterborough United
I'm not what you'd call a Proper Supporter, I get called a "Glory Chaser" when I go to the (rare) Exciting Fixtures, and it's not like it's going to change my Saturday Routine or anything... but still, it's a dark dark day as we discover that Barry Fry has bought Peterborough United.
Prestigious Air Play
Turns out we DID have two songs played on SBN last week - "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" and "The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)", one after the other, on Craig Pilling's Late Show. COOL. When we used to use the lovely people at Overground to do our plugging, they'd always call this sort of thing "prestigious" in their reports, which I always took to mean that not many people heard it, but lots of people that you'll have heard OF have heard OF the show. Or something.
We're sending quite a lot of stuff out to Student Radio at the moment, as detailed elsewhere, and I do wonder how many people actually listen in. In My Day we didn't have student radio (my dears, the student newspaper was carved on STONE TABLETS) so I have no idea if it's something everybody hears these days or not. I do know that everyone I've ever dealt with who works on student stations has been BRILLIANT, full of VIM, and also ENTHUSIASTIC, but it'd be interesting to know what Listener Numbers are like.
I Will Have My REVENGE!
Golly. A quick dawdle through GOOGLE to check for any more airplay (no, honest, that's the only reason I was doing it) turned up a BLISTERING ATAK on me, by someone I know. This is someone I knew around Leicester for years, and said hello too, but now turns out to have harboured BLISTERING RAGE for me, calling me a "dumbass f**kwit... talentless and devoid of an 'original' idea" supposedly because I wrote a song that mentions Kendo Nagasaki and Dickie Davies, and that this means I am RIPPING OFF Half Man Half Biscuit. Now, the song in question is "Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers", which lists a lot of old Wrestling Celebrities and presenters, and those two would be pretty hard to miss out, whereas the HMHB songs that mention them AREN'T about such things, and anyway, I think their song about Kendo Nagasaki was written AFTER mine came out. Though I might be wrong. ALSO my song's a METAPHOR for the changes in the state of Being English that took place under Thatcherism, whilst theirs are about a) a really annoying girlfriend and b) a really annoying girlfriend, funnily enough. Hmmm... is The Wrestling used in a metatextual fashion in by Blackwell? Discuss.
ANYWAY, I was THROWN into a state of RIGHTEOUS FURY by this - that's the last time I ever say hello to HIM in the chip shop! - and considered emailing back to say "OI!" and so forth... then I noticed that the email was written over three years ago. I suppose me LEAPING out of the darkness at him, grappling him to the floor, and saying "AND you spelt my name wrong, you feckless shit!" would at best be slightly confusing in the circumstances. But still! GRR!
We're playing in Leicester soon - oh, my VENGEANCE will be... er... SUBTLE!