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Up The Workers
I went to London's Fashionable Brewer Street last night after work for a "meeting" (NB chat in the pub) about B3TA TV - this is a possible maybe perhaps programme that Those Krazy b3ta Guys might possibly be making, and for which they've asked me to do a BIT. Cool huh? We had a quick chat about IDEAS, and I handed over my CD with some songs which I had written for it. My basic THORT was that it'd be a one minute version of The Monkees or The Banana Splits, with The Validators all working in an office together - No, really, it's funny in my BRANE - where HILARIOUS ADVENTURES ensue from everyday work problems. For instance, someone's computing crashing leads into the song "Ctrl-Alt-Delete". Come back! It'll be good!
So yes, I handed over a CD to Dave From b3ta who's going to have a think about what animation he might do for it, and then we set to a general Pub Chat about... er... NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST. Some of them downloaded THREADS, which I'd never watched at the time and, from what they told me, that was a Very Good Thing. If I'd watched it i doubt I'd have EVER SLEPT AGAIN. It's weird, whenever I've talked to people of my age about this sort of thing everyone seems RELIEVED to be able to mention it, as if we have to go around pretending that the 1980's were an hilarious decade of high-pop and spangles, and not an ongoing grim depression lived in the shadowing of inevitable nuclear destruction. Last night I was VERY GLAD to hear somebody ELSE say, of the claims that Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, "that's not how i remember it".
ANYWAY, I then headed home, expecting to EITHER walk through a DESERTED LONDON like out of 28 Days Later OR a crazed capital in anarchy as people FOUGHT for a place on battered buses out of the city. Imagine my disappointment to find everything was pretty normal - I guess people either went home at the proper time to get a tube, or had decided to hang around in town a bit and get the bus home, safe in the knowledge that they could have a lie in in the morning.
Not me, however. It's 9.30am and ALREADY i am at my desk! OK, it's my desk at home and I'm doing THIS rather than any work, but GOODNESS ME it's 9.30! I'm NEVER in work at this time normally - does this mean I'm supporting our Brothers In Rail in the SLAVERY of their 35 hour week, or am i defying them?
I don't know. All i DO know is that I've got a bit of work to get done and then there's a DVD of Firefly downstairs with MY NAME ON IT. Let's WORK!
It all went VERY quickly at The BBC yesterday - having arrives about half an hour early for the previous two weeks, I got there roughly on time this week, and was WHISKED up to the studio. I said hello to everyone, set my STOOL up (they have very nice chrome stools, quite posh really), and tuned up. Jim The Soundman got me set up, we did a quick soundcheck, listened to a bit of Snow Patrol, and then Steve Lamacq was in my headphones... quick chat (during which, on later listening, i appeared to YAP a bit more than i'd thought, why oh why am i never the LOUCHE SUAVE SOPHISTICATE on the airwaves that i am inside my MIND?), SONG done, then I packed my guitar away and went home!
The funniest thing was that the two people running the show in London were in a bit of a flap, whereas I was, for me, pretty calm and collected about the whole thing. I really enjoyed it I must sa, I was PARTICULARLY pleased with the words this week, I'm going to really miss this after next week, especially the CONFERENCES with Tim The Celebrity Drummer of a Friday evening. I feel like I almost know what I'm on about!
And, in other news, "Hey Hey 16K" appears to be SWIRLING round the Commodore 64 Community of America. No, I didn't know there was such a thing either, but apparently there is, and they've been buying a few records over the weekend, especially the Back Catalogue Bonanza. This has led to the SELLING OUT of the "Born With The Century" single, the very first Validators release. Again, I'm a bit stunned by this fact, especially after having two massive boxes of them in my old loft for YEARS, I thought they'd never go! This leaves "A Church Hall Of Sound" as the last available slice of VINYL in the Online Emporium. There's about 30 of those left, so I guess they'll be available for a while yet!
New Version: DONE
PHEW. I've just posted this week's version of The Fairplay Trophy to the Song Blog, and I must say there's a LOT in it this week. It is HEAVILY COMPRESSED - as Tim says, we managed to get the France vs Greece game, Santini's move to Spurs, and Ledley King's wife going into labour all into ONE line, and the whole thing is pretty much the same... it's been EXHAUSTING!
Much praise to TIM this week I must say as he has written about half of it this week, most of the good bits I reckon - well done Mr The Celebrity Drummer! If you need any help with that solo album, you know where i am!
England Are A Team Of Virtuous Saints...
If only it had been a game full of incident, I'd have something to sing about on Sunday...
BLIMEY. After Michael Owen's goal, my brother said HILARIOUSLY, "Now, just defend for 87 minutes!" I didn't think that that's what they'd DO. We watched the game in the 12 Bar, it was actually really COOL as they had a big telly in the back bar. The room was full, but no full of PILLOCKS like pubs usually get when you go to watch the football, and, apart from, you know, the result, we had a BRILLIANT time. Apart from the result... but I shall speak further of this in SONG at the weekend.
Obviously things had gone on RATHER long, and the Headline Band were worried that their pals would have to go home, so the other band and I agreed to do 15 minutes sets. Most people missed the first band, as there was much MOPING AROUND and disagreeing with the telly, but handily this was fading away when it was my turn, and slightly surprisingly the room was pretty full for ME to come on and do a heavily altered version of "The Fair Play Trophy", and the following:
The Fair Play Trophy
The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team Group B
Hey Hey 16K
Things'll Be Different (when I'm In Charge)
An HEAVILY compressed set, which I actually really enjoyed, CHARGING through the songs to get as much in as I could. I wasn't looking forward to playing after such an evening, but in fact it sorted me out quite a bit. All I need to do know is not think about it too much and all will be WELL!
And, as Tim The Celebrity Drummer says, with Germany, Italy and Spain out too, there's LOADS of teams left in to choose from to support!
Another review just in for Shed Anthems, over at Splendid. Like that last live review, it's OK, some of it's really good, but it does have some Criticisms which, ANNOYINGLY, are Properly Argued so i, DAMMIT, have to listen properly to them rather than saying "PAH! He couldn't even spell my NAME right!"
I don't agree with THIS one either though - I'm INSTANTLY suspicious of anyone who says something is "too clever", especially in the field of MUSIC - it brings back memories of THE SCHOOLYARD and that, where you have to HIDE your real self in order to fit in with the crowd and get by. I tried (and, as anyone who knew me then will tell you, disastrously failed!) to do that for YEARS, as so many other people did, and I think it's taken all of us who were like that a LONG old time to get over it. Even now, when someone asks something that i know the answer to, there's a POWERFUL FORCE that makes me often pretend I don't understand, such is the FEAR of seeming "too clever".
There used to be LOTS of songs about this sort of thing... but anyway, yeah, as discussed with the Programmes On My Telly last night, I guess it's GOOD that these days we DO get reviews which aren't EITHER nice people we know raving about things OR nitwits slagging it off, RATHER people listening to it with Other Ears. It just takes a bit of getting used to I suppose! I bet BONO doesn't have to spend a whole evening DIGESTING every medium strength review he gets... although i bet Paul McCartney, somehow, still DOES.
Warning: Possible Immodesty Ahead
Cor, that was a GRATE gig in Leicester last night, quite probably our BEST gig in Leicester!
On the way there I had a Small Realisation: on the train I was thinking about how, just lately, we've had to be there DEAD EARLY for soundchecks. "Pah!" i thought, "a few years ago we NEVER had to get there until 8 o'clock, and even then we'd hang around for ages - why, all of a sudden, are people demanding we get there by half past six? Has the world gone MAD?" It was quite some time before i realised that, oh yeah, the REASON we've been soundchecking so early is because we've been headlining! As you can understand, this was an UNDERSTANDING that brought me profound pleasure, although it's taking some getting used to, for ALL of us. I think we've all got in the habit, over MANY years, of rolling in later than told to, to avoid HOURS of watching the main band doing a millenia of soundchecks - last night, for instance, I stood around thinking "Good grief, when are the main band going to get ON with it and set their amps up? Oh, hang on..."
Also hard to get used to, or rather something NOT to get used to but to keep on APPRECIATING, is the fact that we, The Validators, are Actually Quite Good these days. In recent gigs people who've seen us before have expressed OPEN ASTONISHMENT in the change in our Rocking Ways - for instance, Pete [formerly] from The Regulars compared our gig in Sheffield to the first time he'd seen us, at Pop-A-Go-Go many years ago THUSLY: "You really weren't very good then, but you are now." This morning, walking through That London in the rain, i realised that this has been a compressed version of my SOLO "career". I was RUBBISH for years and years playing on my own, but through sheer BLOODY MINDEDNESS and (as LOADS of people have said just lately) "sticking with it", i have attained the DIZZY HEIGHTS of Being All Right these days, and similarly the Validators have (mostly) put the days of RAMSHACKLE behind us, and are heading full tilt towards ROCK!
So yes, it was a GOOD NIGHT that fostered such thoughts. It was strange to be in The Attik again - 15 years ago, when i first started drinking in Leicester, this was pretty much the ONLY place you could go to get a drink after hours, and you had to buy a plate of "garlic" "chips" and listen to some folk music to be allowed to do so. Tim The Celebrity Drummer and I waxed LYRICAL about this for LO!, as he rightly said, in those days Garlic chips were an EXOTIC LUXURY, as indeed was drinking at midnight - today's youngsters, of course, eat garlic chips for breakfast and are drunk twenty four hours a day. I have to say, also, that memories of The Attik do reinforce the case for more liberal drinking laws. All those years ago we were ALWAYS and without fail HAMMERED by closing time, but nowadays you know there's always an option of more bOOZE, so can take it more easily... or maybe i am just more grown-up an sensible these days. Whatever it was, it felt very strange INDEED to be sober in The Attik, and Tim and i both found it very difficult to find. Usually the directions were "follow everybody else, and don't get distracted by Granby Fisheries, you can have some chips when you get in."
All of us except for Emma made it to the soundcheck, during which we tried out the REMARK-O-PHONE. This is my new GRATE IDEA - usually at gigs Mr Fleay will make REMARKS during the set, which usually commence a spate of inter-band CHAT. While this is All Part Of The Fun, i always worry that it is ALIENATING for the audience - certainly, I never like it when bands do this when I go to gigs BUT the JOY and PLEASURE of our INTERACTIONS is one of the BEST bits of actually being in a band. Unless you are Fleetwood Mac, in which case it is also the basis of all your albums. SO, my proposed solution was the REMARK-O-PHONE, a device by which Mr Fleay could BROADCAST his "remarks" to the audience, THUS involving them in our JOY.
It was also a good excuse to HARASS him during the soundcheck by saying "Go on, make an amusing remark NOW! HA!" but unfortunately its position on stage meant it just fed back the whole time, but that MAY be because it was a small stage... the REMARK-O-PHONE is not dead yet!
After soundcheck we split up - i went to the pub over the road for a chat with Dr Brown and a couple of people from my Old Work who, rather wonderfully, had turned up to see us, and The Validators went to watch the football. By the time we'd all returned to the venue we were pleasantly surprised to see it was FULL of PEOPLE! Many of them had come just to see Jamie Says, but ALARMINGLY almost as many had come just to see US, and when we came on it was not to a full room, but as near to same as we have ever been in my adopted home country. Amazingly again, many of them were a) people I didn't know, but b) people who DID know the words to the songs! ZOWIE!
We began, as in Sheffield, with Post-Subsonic Bass, and FLEW through our new improved HIGH POP SET. It was GRATE! I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it, the dancing, the Remarks, the Introducing The Band, but mostly The Seeing People In The Audience Getting Into It. Another change from past Validators gigs was that nowadays band gigs are MORE relaxing than playing on my own. I do not wish to sound like some crazed AXL ROSE figure, but really, we do seem to have got into our GROOVE now, and maybe by NOT veering into the ones that DON'T work so well live as they do on record, we have found our proper place... here's the setlist we did, anyway, see what you think:
Hey Hey 16K
Billy Jones Is Dead
If You're Too Turned On
The Fair Play Trophy (again)
Things'll Be Different
The Symbol Of Our Nation
PayDay Is The Best Day
You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor
Boom Shake The Room
What's that? Why, yes, there WERE two encores, and by GOLLY they were real live proper ones too - OK, the first one was nudged along a bit by Tom, who was nudged along a TINY bit by me saying "Tom, lean out onto the stage and wave at the audience", but the SECOND was a FULLY QUALIFIED, They've Turned The Music Back On But People Are Still Shouting For More, ACTUAL ENCORE! It was VERY exciting - doing "Boom Shake The Room", a song we've NEVER played as a band, turned out better that "I Can See Clearly Now" did in similar circumstances, not least because i could say "Like Wayne Rooney, I'll be scoring", and LO! Joy and Beauty Shone Around.
Afterwards there was much shaking of hands and saying thank you for coming, also some record sales, and people saying lovely things about how nice it is to see us Actually Doing Well after SO VERY LONG. I agree with all the people who have said this lately, i personally think it is BRILLIANT that after all this time we are finally getting our stuff out to people we don't know, doing GIGS that are GOOD, and by golly having a JOLLY old time of it. It's BLOODY GRATE!
Tom and I left the venue full of such thoughts. At the bar, James The Kung Fu Cookery Teacher was JAMMING on his banjolele, and the joyful sounds of that marvellous instrument were the perfect accompaniment to the end of a Beautiful Evening.
Rather wonderfully, there's now an EXHAUSTIVE write-up of Hey Hey 16K on everything2.com. This is the ACE repository of (one day) EVERYTHING, sort of like a real-life version of the Hitchhikers' Guide. Is good, go see!
A Very Happy Birthday to ME
I had a BRILLIANT Birthday weekend. It started with an ACE morning featuring a vast array of GRATE presents, including the best Birthday Present EVER: the much mentioned UKELELE! I have to say, i have been excited at the THOUGHT of a ukelele for weeks, but it actually turned out to be EVEN BETTER than i ever dared to dream. Truly, this is MY instrument - it was a PAIN to have to put it down and stop playing it! By Sunday I had pretty much learned my first song, which was, of course, Leaning On A Lampost. It's SUCH a joy of an instrument to play, you can't help but GRIN in a George Formby STYLEE and wink at people when you're playing it. EVERYBODY! Get yourself a ukelele NOW!
It's a very STRAAANGE thing to play, as the strings are weirdly diferent from the guitar. Stranger still was playing the BASS on my own homespun version of said Leaning On A Lampost (right click kids!) and having to stretch my fingers about TEN TIMES further to play it! Eeh, it was like FALLING IN LOVE, you just know when it's right... so how BEAUTIFUL it should be that it was given me by The Love Of My Life. The Birthday had got off to the BEST! START! EVER!
And it pretty much continued that way... off to the PUB in town where we spent a JOYOUS five hours surrounded by PALS and FAMILY, and LO! there was much jollity and Good Vibes going around. I had PLANNED to leave at 6pm, and had PACED myself thusly, which meant that we got home about 7.30pm (OK, it didn't go QUITE go to plan), had a delicious CURRY, and watched [possibly] the BEST! FOOTBALL! EVER!
So yes, all in all I had a lovely birthday, thanks for asking, and on Sunday I loafed about in bed, played my ukelele, and listened to myself on Steve Lamacq. GROOVY!
Back to the BBC
I NIPPED over to Broadcasting House again this morning, to record this week's version of The Fair Play Trophy. They pre-recorded the show itself yesterday, but waited until today to do my bit so's i could get last night's matches in. I had a bit of a PANIC when I turned up as I'd lost my lyrics somewhere along the way, but HANDILY I'd posted them on the Song Blog before coming to work this morning, just in case, so all was well.
I'd had a bit of a struggle writing them, actually. I wrote the first draft straight after the England game, and played it to the Walls Round My Room, who didn't really like the first verse. THUS i had a HUFF, and posted them to Tim The Celebrity Drummer for CHECKING. He didn't much like the first verse either, so DOUBLE HUFF and ANGST, as the second one was Quite Good, but relied on the first to make any sense... thank GOODNESS for Croatia vs. France then, which suddenly made EVERYTHING make sense again. The new version was sung to the two Above Mentioned, and LO! Joy and Beauty spread around! And if you DON'T want to read the results before Sunday's broadcast... er... don't go and read them!
So anyway, I reprinted the lyrics from the website, then went in and DID them. It all seemed to go pretty well, Jim The Engineer did a VERY clever bit of editing to cover up me completely messing up the end, and it sounded All Right Really. Then I shook hands with all sorts of people, arranged to do a Live Link Up with Glastonbury for NEXT week's show, bumped into an EXTREMELY SNAZZY looking Craig Charles in the lift (he looked SUPER GROOVY, i was most impressed!), and that was that! Now I can RELAX a bit, and see if, once again, they overdub my Calm Measured Singing Voice with a STRAY WURZEL!
I've added a STACK more gigs to the Gigs List just lately. I'm playing at the Toynbee Hall on July 30th in That London, as part of the Smelly Ball (now! behave!), and at the Racehorse in Northampton on Saturday 7th August at an all-dayer - although, i tell you, these young people - in MY day an all-dayer STARTED at 11am and carried on ALL DAY, goodness me! This one doesn't start until 4pm! So when do you eat the Princess Charlotte Own Recipe "Veggie" "Chilli" eh? Excitingly The Validators will probably be coming along for this one too, HOORAH!
Then in September I'll hopefully be embarking on the MJ Hibbett/Frankie Machine/Adam Hector Collectors "Heading South For Winter" TOUR! So far we're playing the Hull Adelphi on the 21st, somewhere in Derby on the 22nd, and then the 12 Bar in London on the 23rd, with MAYBE a couple more gigs further North for the start of the JAUNT. We shall see...
And THANKS by the way to everyone who's been FACTing me ideas of places to play - i shall CERTAINLY investigate those East Anglian OPTIONS further, and indeed shall look at Southampton also. Ta!
Shedding Light On The Shed
A couple of people have said to me "Have you not been updating the Shed Of Renown logo or something? It's not been spinning round very fast has it?"
Well, it's whipped round to 28 in the space of a few days, so I'm certainly not complaining, and I should explain that the Shed Of Renown is ONLY counting people who have bought the new EP through the Online Shop. The first 60 people to buy the EP in THIS fashion will have their names IMMORTALISED in said Shed Of Renown, because they're the people whose names I know! In the THRILL and EXCITEMENT of recent post-gig SALES FRENZIES i haven't had time to stop and ask for demographic details (and we all know how vital and EXCITING they can be, right kids?) and if we get any sales through Amazon or The Shops I'll only know MONTHS from now.
THUS the Shed Of Renown is a special thing for the BRAVE and MODERN users of new technology, and if you'd like to be part of it I'd love to know about it.
Anyone buying the whole back catalogue will also, of course, be eligible for RENOWN, as the package currently contains Shed Anthems... and while we're here, I should mention that there's only TWO copies of "Born With The Century" left now, after which it will be sold out FOREVER, so if you'd like a copy, GET IN now!
Somewhere there is a market stall with my name on it...
I've very recently added New Functionality to my contacts database.
WAIT! Come back! It gets better! This PARTICULAR contacts database contains details of everyone whose bought stuff through the online shop, plus the people i sent promo copies too AND, as evidenced by all those graphs a few months ago, a LOG of all the gigs I've done since then end of 1997. The gigs tables include a system for seeing which city I've played in most (London still, with Leicester dropping behind), and i thought Hey! Just For Fun, why not try doing the same for the PEOPLE in the system?
It also struck me that, now i am Actually Telling People About Gigs, this would ALSO be a good way of identifying Interested People who might WANT to know when I'm playing near them... THUS i set to adding aforementioned New Functionality, and LO! An interesting thing appears: LONDON, as well as being far and AWAY the most popular place for Music Biz People to live in (surprise surprise) is also, oddly, the most popular place for purchasers of MJ Hibbett & The Validators material to reside, by quite a long way.
This surprised me, but not as much as the other top places - here's the full list for you, the TOP TEN PLACES FOR KNOWN VALIDATOR FANS TO LIVE:
Now, be aware that this isn't totally scientific, and DOESN'T include people who've bought stuff at gigs, but still - Hertfordshire at number two? IPSWICH?!? It is as if THE GODS OF ROCK have sent me a sign! Bury St Edmunds! Prepare to be ROCKED!
Er... so if anyone in Essex, Hertfordshire or the Ipswich area is reading this, and either knows somewhere good to play or can put me/us on, I'd really like to know! Also, while we're at it, anyone in Cambridge, Liverpool or Cardiff, or... er... anywhere really! TA!
Don't Ever Come Near WC1
What what what? Is it a Bad Review?!? Well, sort of, it's a review of my gig at the 12 Bar a couple of weeks ago. He likes "Things'll Be Different" and "The Girl Who...", which is all very nice, but seems to be a bit upset about the "comedy" nature of songs like "Never Going Back To Aldi's" or "Hey Hey 16K", or indeed the PANTO content of "Easily Impressed".
Well, fair enough i guess - annoyingly it's a fair review withour GLARING ERRORS, so i can't just dismiss it, but I do think it misses the point a bit. Yes, the Audience Participation bit in "Easily Impressed" may seem a bit cheesy or corny, but GOODNESS ME, it's a LIVE gig, not a RECITAL! I'm not interested in people coming along to TAKE NOTES, it's supposed to be fun, isn't it? Similarly, I'd say "Never Going Back To Aldi's" and "Hey Hey 16K" are two of the MOST substance-filled songs I've got - they're each ABOUT something very real which matters A LOT. In the case of "Hey Hey 16K", as we DISCOVERED recently, it's about the otherwise little heralded LIFE HISTORY of thousands of people!
The trouble is that people aren't really USED to there being GAGS in songs, or if they DO hear something that makes them (or somebody else) laugh, then they immediately dismiss it as "comedy" or "novelty". This is not a reaction you get in ANY other form of (hem hem) The Arts, now is it? Nobody dismisses Pride And Prejudice because of all the LARFS (and anybody who doesn't think it IS full of LARFS should go and read it again - actually, just read it again anyway, as it is GRATE), and although Shakespeare is full of jokes that aren't particularly funny any more, it IS still full of them.
But in the KRAZY WORLD OF ROCK there is still this po-faced attitude that it has to be Serious, and being Serious somehow translates as being po-faced, vague and boring, where a LYRIC that actually SAYS something real and direct about ACTUAL LIFE is not allowed, but one that repeats the same old dreary cliches about the same old dreary things (c.f. all Nu Metal, The Charlatans, Stereophonics, all cod-Blues/pretend 80's punk bands except maybe The White Stripes etc etc the USUAL in fact) is Serious ROCK and should be sternly applauded. With added NODDING.
And it's not just cos it is THE MUSIC either - yr young people's RAP music is PACKED with jokes and OBSERVATIONS on Actual Real Life. The FOLK MUSIC, the real proper stuff that is, not the Sanitised ROOTS nonsense, is a long LITANY of hilarity and RUDENESS. Good gracious me, "The Queen Is Dead", supposedly the CORNERSTONE of yr EMO genre features the songs "Vicar In A Tutu" and "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others", doesn't it?
So yeah, as i say, although i appreciate that not everyone is going to be DOWN with the... um... HIBBETT MASSIVE, I think it would be GOOD for the Mental Health of The Nation if people could look BEYOND the pursed-anus viewpoints of the dreary mainstream, and let the JOY of ACTUAL ROCK into their lives!
On The BBC
I was still knackered on Sunday when, as noted elsewhere, I spent lunchtime FEVERISHLY scribbling lyrics for "The Fair Play Trophy" (which, as promised, are now in the Song Blog). I got to the BBC early, so sat around for a while in the Waiting Area listening to myself being HYPED UP, before being ushered NERVOUSLY into the studio. Someone set up my microphones, and we were OFF! You can Listen Again all this week if you like, it was all RATHER jolly. Steve played "Things'll Be Different" and appeared to be singing along, we had a bit of an old chat, during which he asked if i'd just be doing the old version to start with - i wish i'd know I could have gotten AWAY with doing this! - then i LAUNCHED into the new version. It seemed to go pretty well, LO! there seemed to be some LARFS, and I found myself rather CHUFFED with the new version - COOL!
Afterwards we popped to the PUB, which, i think, was pretty good. I certainly enjoyed myself anyway, tho whether everybody else appreciated my opinions on a) The PRS ("They are ENDEMICALLY CORRUPT!"), b) Paul McCartney ("people will DIE from PLEASURE having seen him!") c) Why Bands Should All Have To Have Full Time Jobs, is open to question. They still seem to want me back next week though, HOORAH!
If only last night's game had had some kinds of incidents that I could write about, right kids? As it is, I can remember NOTHING about it. Nothing at ALL.
London By The Sea
Saturday afternoon saw me heading off to Brighton, which is like London, but very much MORE so i.e. the bits that were GRATE were really REALLY brilliant, there were some fantastic shops (I am considering going back just to visit Vegetarian Shoes!) and bars and things, but also it seemed to be PACKED with INCREDIBLY smug looking people poncing around showing off. Like London then, but MORE so.
Anyway, I found the venue, then wandered down to the beach to enjoy a light refreshing BEER with Johnny Firebrand (late of John Sims) and Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey. It was DEAD GOOD. Back to the venue to find The Lovely Brothers, who were running the evening, in disarray, for a very Lovely Brothers reason. "The other band's drummer was here, but he's gone to a restaurant with the bass pedal". Nothing much happened for ages, and i got TREPIDATIOUS - there didn't seem to be anyone around, the venue wasn't really ready, it looked very much like i would be playing TO The Lovely Brothers, Johnny, Dave, and the barstaff. URK!
ALSO Everett True, yes him off the Melody Maker in Ancient Time, was going to come ... well, that was the idea anyway. Turns out there had been CONFUSION over the date, and he was going to come on Sunday. We had a nice chat about it on the phone though, and no harm was done, but it was a SHAME not to have got myself TWO former melody maker journo's in the same weekend.
SO YES, i was meant to be on at 8pm, but only really ambled on at about 8.30 to do a very quick, one verse of "I Can See Clearly Now", soundcheck... during which, bizarrely, the room became RAMMED! I don't know what happened, but SUDDENLY the upstairs room was PACKED full of people! Whilst i did my first two songs i was a little AFEARED, as more and more people came in and were TALKING to each other pretty loudly, but soon we were very much in the swing, and by GOLLY it was a good gig!
Except for "Never Going Back To Aldi's" which got a very muted reception. "We don't have Aldi's down here!" someone shouted. Ah!
But yes, the whole thing bloody ROCKED, ESPECIALLY when we got round to "Boom Shake The Room", and i was rather STAGGERED by the reception i recieved. 6 EPs were duly FLOGGED, one was autographed, and somebody else asked me to sign her ARM. Which, of course, i did. ROCK, eh?
Next band Anal Beard were dead good (especially "Will You Buy My Fanzine"), tho i spent a lot of their set outside gasping for AIR as it was terribly hot my dear, and then it was time for me to go and get the last train, THUS seeing only the first two songs by The Lovely Brothers. I'd been FINE about this all night, until they actually came on, and i remembered - oh yeah! I really really LIKE The Lovely Brothers, they were FANTASTIC! I do wonder whether they might be MORE brilliant if they wore SOBER CLOTHING rather than costumes, but whatever, they were COMPLETELY ACE and it was a real pisser not to get to see them. Oh well, there will be another time, i hope.
PHEW. Just finished the words to this afternoon's version of "The Fair Play Trophy", with MINUTES to go before the Steve Lamacq show starts - the equivalent, i think, of getting your homework finished just as the bus gets to your stop. PHEW!
I'll try and stick them up on the song blog this evening when I get back - now, however, I must go and have a bath. Last night in Brighton (which was GRATE, by the way - more FACT later) it was very hot INDEED, and the 6Music Studio is a bit too small for me to be QUITE this stinky in...
Wow! We had a GRATE gig in Sheffield last night, it was BRILLIANT! After a delicious, easy soundcheck Tim and Emma went off to their HOTEL (i know), whilst Tom and Rob and I had a Band Discussion. It was a bit weird - there were a couple of these over the course of the evening, where we'd sit down and discuss Promotion Prospects, Recording Plans and Television Opportunites. It was WEIRD, like being a band off the TELLY or something, also rather EXCITING!
Chips were had (i had chips and "cheese", which they got from a Secret Place - if there was any CHEESE style cheese in it I would be AMAZED), beer was drunk, and the two divergent POSSES were greeted - from Hull and Sheffield came Mr Eddy Bewsher's POSSE, and from Sheffield and Environs came the Velodrome 2000 MASSIVE. It was ACE! We watched Pete Green, who did an ACE song about the need for bands to share their kit, and then missed Jim Taylor (yes, we were supported by James Taylor and Peter Green, it was like a festival in 1969) to discuss SET LIST.
For some months now Tim has been complaining about the set, that we always play the same sort of thing. This, as i have pointed out, is because we only KNOW a certain number of songs, but still it troubles him. THIS NIGHT, however, things were DIFFERENT, insomuch as we DIDN'T start with "Things'll Be Different"! Radical, eh? Strangely, starting with "Post Subsonic Bass" gave the set a VERY different feeling. If I'd know it'd be that easy to SATE Tim's needs we would have done it a YEAR ago!
So yes, we got on stage, and it was GRATE! I mean, really REALLY GRATE! The sound sounded fab, the room was sort of full (it looked that way to me anyway, i'll have no TRUCK with different opinions), and people knew the WORDS!! It was amazing - I looked out onto a room full of DANCING people singing along, again, it was like being a band off the TELLY! The whole thing was a JOY to play, and when we got to "Easily Impressed" I had a BIG DAFT GRIN all over my place as I too DANCED the night away.
For an Encore - and oh! let me never become BLASE about such things - we did Fat Was A Feminist Issue, including an INTERLUDE where Rob finally discovered that, after years of MOCKING him for going on diets, I had recently been on the Special K. This also led to my favourite EVER heckle, "No, you've lost quite a bit of weight". More like that please! Then we did "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" and were OFF! There was a sudden RUSH, in which i sold 5 EPs, 1 Milk & Baubles and 1 Church Hall Of Sound (i'm typing that here so i remember to add it all up properly...) and then it was HO! for Crafty Lasty Drinks and much saying "Cor eh? That was good wasn't it?"
It was, indeed, a BEAUTIFUL EVENING. Less so was this morning, when I awoke at Tom's at seven o'clock so I could get the train home to feed the cats, but hey! Even that was LEAVENED by the knowledge that, by this evening, The Posts Of My Goal would be HOME again... even though I'm going to be in Brighton!
Did i say how good the gig was, by the way? It was FANTASTIC.
Er... there's a new song in the Song Blog and Annotations. It's my first go at writing a song for the TV Programme mentioned below... um... I should have mentioned this BEFORE i had a go at people writing lazy and/or pointless songs, really, shouldn't I?
Worst. Lyrics. Ever.
I was in a shop just now, and they were playing an Ocean Colour Scene song. Yes, it was awful, but it did at least remind me of the Worst Lyric EVER, one that my BRANE had try to erase from memory, but which does at least serve as a SUMMARY of That Sort Of Thing. The words were from the song "Outside the Circle" (i looked it up) and are as follows:
The sunshine pours like wine
Through your window
ARGH! NGG!!! NO! In what POSSIBLE way does sunshine EVER flow? Like anything? And ESPECIALLY like wine? Does it glug, gently? Does a little bit come in first if you're in a posh-ish restaurant so you can try it before the whole SOLAR ENERGY comes in? Does it go round the room in steps, avoiding people with hands over their eyes? Does it run out? NO! It bloody DOESN'T! It is as unsimilar a simile as you can GET.
Now, there's plenty bad similes in the world, but what REALLY annoys me about this one in particular is it's LAZINESS and it's ARROGANCE. To start with, who CARES about the sun coming through the window? Is there any case in which the sunshine WOULDN'T? Yes, if it was a particularly dirty window, or if it was NIGHT, but neither of these are the case here. Does sunshine actually POUR? As discussed above, no it doesn't. What's happened here is that the writer of the song can't be ARSED to put in 2 seconds of thought, has got confused with RAIN, which DOES pour through things (although not usually like wine, unless it's coming down a faulty bit of guttering), and then SLAPPED on the laziest comparison possible. "Hmm, what sounds like a sophisticated, wise sort of thing to say it pours like? Yeah, Wine! That'll give the whole song an aura of SOPHISTICATION."
GAH! And then that's that and off it went to Chris Evans! NGG! It drives me KRAZY to hear things like this, i mean, COME ON! Put your BACK into it! Words are FREE, you can use whatever ones you like, why not use some that MEAN something or, failing that, make some kind of SENSE?!?
BAH! Someone should put a TAX on incorrect similes. THAT would sort them out. Yeah!
Things Become Clear
As i may have mentioned, I've got an extra LONDON gig in a couple of weeks, at the 12 Bar on June 24th - this came about because Nick The Promoter had a couple of bands cancelling... i have now discovered why! That's the night when the runners up in Group B play their quarter final... i.e. in all likelihood, England!
I really REALLY hope we win the group now... STILL, even if we ARE playing that night all should be well, as the game'll finish about 9.30ish and I'm on at 9.45pm. Whether I'll really WANT to do a gig at that particular moment in time is one thing, whether i'll be SOBER enough is quite another!
Laying The Ground Work
I have been in consultation with my ADVISORS, Mr T Pattison and Mr P Myland, who have been DRIP FEEDING me small droplets of FACT about The Football, and i _think_ I've pretty much worked out what I'm going to sing about on Sunday - predictions, office sweepstakes, the French Sex Ban, and then maybe something about the first game, if i get a chance to see it. I'm coming home from Sheffield in the morning, feeding the cats, then dashing off to Brighton on Saturday for an GIG, so I feel perhaps I may not get the opportunity, but hopefully said ADVISORS will be watching.
Now I am picturing them both as Aladin's Evil Uncle in PANTO.
Anyway, in other news, I had a MEETING last night (well, I went to the pub with someone, but still, it WAS in London's Fashionable Soho) about maybe writing some songs maybe for maybe a maybe TV programme! Cool huh? More FACT when something happens, but suffice it to say it will be like the ULTIMATE/Reimagining Of "Tickle On The Tum". Oh yes!
Feel The FEAR
I've just spoken to Producer Henry from Steve Lamacq's 6Music Show... it appears he WASN'T pretending, and they DO want me to write four new versions of The Fair Play Trophy... GUMF! Needless to say, I haven't even StARTED on the first week's song yet - good job I'm out tonight, Thursday and Friday night and pretty much all day Saturday, eh readers? I've got a feeling I'll be writing it on the tube on Sunday afternoon...
In other Mr Lamacq News, he played "Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)" as the last track on his Radio One show last night - HOORAH! I wish I'd been listening, instead I had Mark Radcliffe on, feeling a bit WEIRD to be, once again, listening to him at bed time.
Also, in a FANTASTIC bid to beat all the other tracklists, how it should be done, the Radio One Tracklist not only misspells my name (surely DE RIGEUR?), but also misses off half the title, doesn't mention The Validators, and has the publishers down as the record label. Wow! Steve himself, bless him, read the names of band and track and label out IN FULL! RAH!
Regular readers (i.e. me) may remember that when "This Is Not A Library" came out it coincided with the end of Mr John Kell's tenure on CUR, Cambridge University's student radio station. John has always been a big supporter of our stuff, indeed "Stan" from off of "Milk & Baubles" was recorded in a SESSION for his show, but more importantly his show was DEAD GOOD, and I've rather missed it not being on this past year or so.
So imagine my JOY when I discovered he was making a One Engagement Only RETURN to the airwaves this week, and imagine my GLEE when I finally managed to tune in to the show this morning to hear "The Fair Play Trophy" BOUNDING out at me - HOLA! I must say, that there keyboard solo gets more ACE every time i hear it, hem hem ... the only DARK CLOUD on the rock horizon appeared towards the end, however, when he played "Rinky Dinky" from the CD-R extras section. There has been much FEAR expressed amongst the Validators this week, that the next batch of songs might go even FURTHER towards sounding FORMBY-esque if i DO get a Ukelele for my birthday. Hearing this song made me UNDERSTAND their fears. As if to rub it in, the song was followed by Frankie Machine's "54th & 3rd", sonically the Anti-Formby, but lyrically rather MORE Formby than I could ever manage.
If you're interested in hearing the show (and it's dead good, honest), you should be able to download it from their website from tomorrow, I think. It's John Kell vs. Satan!
On The Radio
Cool! Steve Lamacq just played "The Fair Play Trophy", bless him, and it sounded Quite Good I must say. Especially the ORGAN SOLO, that was ACE! If you'd like to hear it, you can "Listen Again" to it for the rest of the week - we're about an hour and ten minutes in. Is good!
Meanwhile, the Shed Of Renown continues to develop at speed, do go and have a look, won't you?
Blimey. You find me a bit SHAKEN and STUNNED by NATURE... allow me to explain: I'm Home Alone all week this week, as The Grass In My Lawn and our mutual Landlady are off in Majorca on holiday, leaving me in charge of the house and our three cats. Last time I managed to persuade myself that one of said cats had been KILLED somehow and had a miserable time, after she didn't show up for two days (or at least not while I was home anyway). Surely everything would be calm and easy this time around, right?
Well, the first eleven and a half hours of my stewardship passed pretty quietly. However, I was... er... buidling Spreadsheets upstairs just now (and NOT playing Warcraft, whatever anyone says) when I heard a MASSIVE RACKET coming from the hallway - there was SCREACHING there was HISSING and there was... growling? I dashed downstairs, passed by Scraggs (youngest of our three, also timid) going the other way. At the foot of the stairs was Charlie (her mum, and markedly LESS timid) facing off against a Fox Cub! Faced with a cat like Charlie, the cub was TERRIFIED (indeed, it left me some physical evidence of its fear), and in between barks and growls was leaping halfway up the WALL trying to get out through the front door.
I took a second to assess the situation, and did the obvious logical thing. I got changed into some strange trousers, put a silly hat on, rounded up fifteen of my slightly too-close relations, got us all on horse back, found some dogs, and chased around Leytonstone after it blowing a horn.
OK, I carried Charlie into the spare room and shut the door so the cub could RUN for it out of the open back door from whence it came, but still. It was all EXTREMELY exciting, especially as I'd just been watching Jurassic Park II, where the T-Rex CRASHES through San Diego looking for its baby, and I had visions of twenty foot tall FOXES invading my kitchen. With the crisis averted I closed the back door, put some food out on clean, non-fox scoffed-off plates, and went to debrief my PRIDE. We'd All Done Very Well.
Review And Interview
I've just seen that the interview I did with Tasty Fanzine is now ONLINE. Like all interviews i have ever done, i thought i was being PONDEROUSLY SERIOUS throughout, but actually sound like someone has stopped me while i was driving my TRACTOR to MARKET! ARRR!
And while we're here, there's a very lovely review of the EP over at Vanity Project. Much to my relief, he mentions that Del Amitri single for, i think, Euro 96. I love that song, I think it's dead good (although the video, of Scottish players looking fed up in an airport, was a bit TOO fatalistic for me), so I'm dead chuffed someone's mentioned it. COOL!
Let's DO it!
Hey! What's that over there to the right of the screen? Is it a ... NEW THRILL?
Why, yes it is - it's the SHED OF RENOWN, for LO! As of right now, "Shed Anthems" is ON SALE! OK, I know it's not released until Monday, but it's not like I'll be able to get to the post office before then anyway, so if you'd like to order it over the weekend it'll be on the way to you on Monday morning. In the meantime, do go and have a look at the SHED OF RENOWN, won't you? It's got more details PLUS a download of (an abbreviated version of) "The Fair Play Trophy". Let's GO!
If you FEAR the workings of PayPal you can now buy it via Amazon too if you like - however, if you CAN use PayPal, I'd advise going directly through the MJ Hibbett Online Emporium still. It'll probably be cheaper, it'll almost certainly be quicker, the CA$H will all come back to us, but most importantly, it will earn you a place on the SHED OF RENOWN!. The idea is that, like the "This Is Not A Library" totaliser, we'll have a constant record here on the front page of how many people are buying the CD. HOWEVER, this time it'll only be counting people buying it throught the shop, and the first 60 of these GALLANT HEROES will have their names ENGRAVED on said SHED OF RENOWN until the day this website ceases to be i.e. a long old time.
Also, while I'm at it, after recent high sales I've altered the Back Catalogue Gift Package so that it now INCLUDES "Shed Anthems". Thus, you can now buy "Shed Anthems", "This Is Not A Library", "Milk & Baubles", "Say It With Words", "Born With The Century" AND "Church Hall of Sound" PLUS two free badges AND a copy of the AAS Compilaton album "No Sales: NO SELLOUT" all for a, frankly, RIDICULOUS price of 26 quid!
I tell you what, if I didn't have hundreds of copies blocking up our spare room, I'd buy one myself!
Some Sales: A SELLOUT!
It is with GRATE joy that I announce, after six years and one week, the "Clubbing In The Week"/"Only Everything" split single I did with Sienna has SOLD OUT!!!
Wow! This was the first single that AAS ever released, and the main cause of the label happening at all. For years I've looked, sadly, at boxes and boxes and boxes of copies, all lovingly hand assembled in my old living room in Leicester, with the "featuring members of number one hitmakers White Town" stickers appended, hoping this would cause it to be a massive hit... and now they've FINALLY all gone! HOORAH!
Handily, this coincides with Mr Fleay finding a few more copies of "A Church Hall Of Sound" in his LOFT last week, so as one single leaves the available catalogue FOREVER, another returns. THUS, from hereonin, purchasers of the Back Catalogue Bonanza (23 pounds 75 pence for two albums, one EP, two singles, two badges and the AAS Compilation! Including Postage!) will get "Church Hall Of Sound" instead of "Clubbing In The Week". Not for much longer mind you, he didn't find THAT many copies, and there's not many "Born With The Century" left now either...
BUYING FRENZY! Buy now or pay (doubtles) MILLIONS on eBay in years to come! Possibly!
Good Review and GIG
Another review HOVED into view today, from the lovely people at Tasty Fanzine. They liked it! HOORAH!
In other news, we apparently got played on Gideon Coe last week - we didn't know because a) we were all at work and couldn't listen and b) they use the BBC6 SENILE PLAYLIST ROBOT, which gets very confused and seems to insist that, for instance, Mr Coe played the same Blondie record about 8 times today. Anyway, that's very lovely and apparently they'll be playing "Fair Play Trophy" again as we move closer to The Football itself! ZANG!
Other good news is that AMAZON have sorted out their listing for "Shed Anthems", so you can now safely PRE-ORDER it from them, if you like, at the correct price. HOORAH AGAIN!
And finally, I've just confirmed a RETURN to the 12 Bar... well, actually, I've confirmed TWO - we'll be doing a label SHOWCASE gig there in September, but nearer to now i'll be playing at the next Hieronymous Bosch night, on June 24th. If you're in the area, do pop in, why don't you?
Release Date: Delayed
There's been a bit of a mix up with the official release date for "Shed Anthems"... it's being distributed to the shops under the watchful eye of Sorted Records, and was supposed to be available from June 7th. Sorted work through Shellshock, who in turn use Pinnacle for their actual physical distribution to the shops. Someone at Pinnacle got a little "confused", however, and got us mixed up with an _actual_ Dance Anthems compilation, and put us on sale for 14 quid, rather than the more adorable fiver it was SUPPOSED to be out at.
This sort of thing used to happen ALL the time, and NOT having to deal with it is one of the BEST things about not having AAS Distribution any more!
I spoke to a very nice lady at Shellshock about it, and she was VERY helpful indeed (and also very tactful about the lack of pre-orders!). She found out that Pinnacle had finally got it sorted out, which means people WILL be able to order via Amazon (and Woolies, bizarrely!), but it'll be delayed... she suggested putting the release date back to July 3rd, and I politely pointed out that that wouldn't be much good for the whole Euro2004 angle...
SO, the single will NOW be coming out on June 14th, NOT June 7th. I guess this'll tie in with the start of the Mr Steve Lamacq GUESTING, also it's nice that I'm am out ROCKING on the 11th and 12th so that, you know, the MOMENTUM will be high, and all that. It's just a bit niggly that we had it all planned since pretty much the beginning of the year to come out on that particular date. HOWEVER! Rather than MOPE around about it, I'm just going to release it online on the 7th ANYWAY! So there!
HA! How d'you like THEM apples eh? EH? Er... i mean, that'll be nice, won't it? I spent much of the weekend setting up systems for sampling and buying the new EP, and I'll be sending a big email out about it later in the week, then bringing it online probably this weekend coming. Anyone who's bought anything online, or who's asking to be on the mailing list will get the email, and if you're not one of those people but would like to be inform, do email me, won't you?
To be honest, it's all i can do NOT to put it online RIGHT NOW!
Four Strings Good
I'm getting a new instrument for my birthday - yes, that's right, i have taken GTR playing as far as i possibly can, have learnt all TWELVE possible chords and need a new challenge. The choice of WEAPON came down to EITHER a Banjo or a Ukelele. Unsure of which to go for I did as any modern man would do, and looked it up on the interweb.
Most of the Banjo sites i found were advertising expensive books to teach you how to play it. There turn out to be loads of different kinds of banjos you can buy, with different strings or tunings, and all kinds of techniques called things like clawhammer, slam-chunker, deathfinger, and over-complicated-just-showing-off-now Looks More Difficult Than It Is, hammer...
That reminds me, I was in town at the weekend trying to buy a new guitar tuner. I went into the massive underground ROCK BUNKER beneath Virgin Records at TCR, and found their CHEAPEST was 25 QUID!! I asked if they had any cheaper, and the chap GOGGLED, then said "Oh no, most of ours are in the QUALITY RANGE at 60-70 pounds." QUALITY?!!? It's hardly as if you get a better quality NOTE with a more expensive one is it? BLIMEY! I went to a nice proper music shop and got a QWIK TUNER (ACE!) for 11 pounds instead. It is ACE. Anyway, I was reminded of that because it struck me that the sort of person who'd go for the BANJO was the sort of person who'd think it a good idea to spend 70 quid on a bloody tuner - also the sort of person who has SPECIAL GOLD FLECKED CABLES to join the bits of his stereo together.
ANYWAY I then looked up "learn ukelele". The FIRST site was a Japanese guy teaching you how to play it FOR FREE. The first thing he noted, apart from how GRATE a Ukelele is, was how nice and easy it is to play, and how PEASY it is to carry around.
And these, gentle reader, are the three most important points, apparently, to bear in mind when playing the ukelele:
If you can't play a difficult chord, change it to an easy one.
If you get to a section of song that's too hard, just skip it.
Sing loudly to cover any mistakes.
HOLY MOLEY! I've been playing the wrong instrument all this time! COME TO ME, MY UKELELE!!
(it's my birthday on June 19th - beware, denizens of London E11!)