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The Links page has finally updated - look upon it! It is GOOD!
You might notice one to a page called The Household Accounts, and I URGE urge you to investigate further, for LO! It is an MJ Hibbett & The Validators Tribute Page! YAY! Obviously i'm WELL chuffed that we've got one of these, HOORAH! Mr Francis Albert Machine have been discussing whether, in Indie Top Trumps, having our own fan page BEATS him having an American Record Label. I think we all know the answer to that, right readers?
Sixties Dust In The Desk
I went to see Plans & Apologies the other night, they were GRATE. The evening started well for me, as I got to say "Hi! I'm from the record company!" although, as i was saying it to the band themselves, it probably didn't need saying. Still, we then had a quick excitable chat (both parties) about hopefully putting their new EP out in October (ZANG!), and then I went in where I met the delightful Mr & Mrs Carsmile Steve, who'd come to see the other band. Being grown-ups we discussed the possibility of having CATS when you've got your own house, and beauty shone around.
I'm on the V Plan Diet this month (instead of beer, drink Vine, Vodka & Vhiskey), so a couple of RUM & Cokes later ... er... VRUM & Cokes, I mean, it was time for Plans & Apologies, and BY GOLLY they were GRATE. There's seven of them on stage, and somehow it always looks like more, but once they get going they make ONE single HUGE sound that's just beautiful. You sort of get used to seeing bands play who are quite Good Live, but not particularly tuneful or melodic, so it's a SHOCK to the system when you hear a band a MUSICAL as they are - there's LOADS of different things going on, but it all combines into something which, honestly, is quite beautiful. INDEED, there were moments in the set when it was like a door had been opened slightly into quite another room of LIGHT and wonderfulness, those moments in music that make you GASP at how great it all is. Yes, I thought they were BRILLIANT!
Imagine my surprise then, afterwards, to talk to a couple of other people who thought it was "all right, a bit shambolic - they need to be tighter, too much faffing." This was in reference to the fact that the snare drum BROKE, and one song had to be restarted. DISASTER. I was rather non-plussed at this - who cares if there's a one minute gap between songs, especially when it's dealt with in good humour by the band? Isn't the BEAUTY of the songs, and, i haven't mentioned this yet, the GRATEness of the lyrics, just a little bit more important? Apparently not, as they then complained about how many people there were in the band. "They should shave a couple off." Eh?!?!
BEMUSED i Made My Excuses And Left, and it was only on my way home that I realised what was actually being said - Plans & Apologies main ERROR was not to be exactly like all the one-trick PUB ROCK dullards that are around at the moment. Yeah! Shave off three members, over rehearse every single song until there's no life in it, and hey! Whilst you're at it - change your name, how about The Plans? That sounds better doesn't it?
It still STUNS me when I come across this sort of attitude, however many times I run into it - and over the years, i have run into it a LOT. It strikes me as a lack of IMAGINATION in people seeing bands, that they have CLOSED OFF their hearts to anything which - HORRORS - other people might not like as much as they do, which might make them look - TERROR - out of fashion, or something. Surely the spirit of ROCK, the spirit of POP, AND the spirit of PUNK and every other type of valid music, really, is about FREEING your mind from what everyone says you SHOULD do, and playing what you FEEL inside you? That's what every truly GRATE band ever have done, simply opened themselves to what they FEEL and ignored Current Accepted Wisdom on what's "hip" or what's "real".
Of course, this will always lead to Emotionally Constipated people trying to analyse it to boil it down and copy it, to find the body parts without realising it needs the SPARK OF LIFE to make them all move, and we get these ZOMBIE bands that the NME et al seem to love so much. These READY MEAL acts are so much easier to understand because they have a full list of ingredients and a serving suggestion on the packet. I was just a little surprised to hear otherwise nice enough, extremely INDIE valid, people talking that way.
Anyway, to get back to the point, Plans & Apologies were ACE, and the NEW stuff I heard made me GAG even MORE to hear that new EP - get it finished kids, GIMME!
Come Listen With Me
I've been meaning to tidy up and re-do the website for AGES now, but have had to keep postponing it due to ACTUAL ROCK EVENTS occurring. I still want to do a semi-redesign at some point, so that things are a bit easier to find AND to update, but for now I'm going to try and gradually update a few sections. The Discography, unreleased songs and ESPECIALLY the links pages are in desperate need of sorting out, so I'll get on to them soon - especially the Discography, as there'll hopefully be a couple of new things to add to it in the next week or so. Also, there is a particularly exciting webpage I've been wanting to tell you about...
Whilst we wait for these improvements to happen, how about taking a look at the downloads page though? It's now your one-stop spot for accessing ALL the free downloads of my stuff that I know about, including a couple of things unavailable elsewhere. It's NICE!
News and Reviews
I don't know why, but while I was away there was a FLURRY of things occurring. For instance, you may have noticed that the Shed Of Renown counter has moved around a bit. This is because three beautiful people took advantage of the Back Catalogue Bonanza Offer in the shop over the weekend - bless you all for you bargain hunting beauty!
Meanwhile, there was a STAMPEDE of reviews, with Zietgeist and Wide Open Road reviewing Shed Anthems, and DVD Fever following up the Hey Hey 16K KRAZINESS with a review of Say It With Words. They're all very lovely, although I was driven a bit bonkers by the Wide Open Road one, as it gets the whole point of City Centres completely 180 degrees wrong! Usually I wouldn't mind, but for some reason the review isn't on their web site, so I had to type it out (so that you, dear reader, can read it in the Shed Anthems Reviews section), all the time thinking "But NO! That isn't what it means at ALL!!!" I bet Thom Yorke doesn't have to do that...
And finally, as if all THAT wasn't enough, someone's asked to put "The Perfect Love Song" (one of the b-sides to the Hey Hey 16K Online Single) in a FILM! OK, it's a small independent film, but it IS apparently going to be shown at a film festival - COOL! More details on that, obviously, when i know more FACTS.
PHEW! It was all rather a lot to come back to, although perhaps it means I should leave the country more often?
Berlin is GRATE! So yes, The Reunification Of My Divided City and I flew off to BERLIN on Thursday night, and had a BRILLIANT time. We flew with Lufthansa, who are ACE, they have FREE TEA MACHINES in all their waiting area! The woman at check-in and one of the stewardesses on the flight to Dusseldorf (we changed both ways, i had four take offs this weekend, i was BLASE about it by the end!) were a bit Stereotype 70's Sit-Com German, but everyone else was LOVELY. I've said it before and I'll say it again, GERMANS are absolutely ACE. Yes, they DO wait until the green man comes on before crossing the road, but hey! that's sort of sweet really, and after a while you get used to the fact that, rather than trying to rip each other off at every opportunity and try and get away with doing as little as possible to help each other, the FACT that the NATION as a whole seems to be quite keen on Doing The Right Thing seems to make everything much more PLEASANT and easy. I LIKE it!
So yes, we got to Berlin dead easy, caught the bus, and arrived, BOWIE LIKE, at ZOO station. We stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental, which was WELL posh. So posh that it actually featured on bus tours and tourist maps, as apparently Famous People from Bill Clinton downwards stay there. COR! It had huge moveable SECTIONS in the room, like in a SPY BASE or something, and LUXURY abounded, even though The Hot Water In My TeaCup was rather distressed by the lack of tea-making facilities in the room. Personally i could quite get used to ringing room service for everything, and by day two was ENRAGED that my Earl Grey took ten minutes too long to arrive. RAH!
After a GRATE cocktail, bed, and room-service breakfast (we found out on the last day we got Breakfast in the restaurant included with the room, but hey! room service ROCKS!) we hit the CITY. After a bit of confused meandering we remembered RULE ONE of Sightseeing: TAKE THE OPEN-TOPPED BUS TRIP. On we hopped, for a JOYOUS hour or so round Berlin. Berlin is AMAZING - living in London you get used to having slivers of history at every corner, but Berlin as a whole has HUGE SLABS piled up on top of each other. INDEED (hem hem) one might say that it is Europe in MICROCOSM (if one had sat out in the sunshine drinking beer and looking at The Brandenburg Gate for a while). All over the place we saw statues and buildings and street-names celebrating re-unification (we even saw a Trabant at one point, which i got over-excited about), and in the centre you kept being reminded of the former existence of the wall, and ASTOUNDED at how much had happened in the 15 years since. There's a marker line showing where the wall once stood, which kept getting covered up by buildings, and you sensed the conflict between wanting to REMEMBER what had happened after 1961, and wanting to obliterate it forever. There were very few actual bits of wall to see, and what there was was being carefully preserved - I touched a chunk at Potsdamer Platz, and did feel MOVED to think that, not so long ago, I would have been shot for standing where I was. Later we had a Cornish Pasty, and say looking out towards where the wall would have been, fifteen years and thirty feet away, where now enviromentally recycled gas-powered taxis swung round the corner to the brand new Marriot Hotel.
The rest of Berlin's history kept popping up too, most notably on the BUS - as we drove along a long, wide tree-filled street the guide said "As you can see, there is much empty space here". Yes, I thought, how pleasant and forward thinking! "This was the main entrance of the southern bombing passage during World War Two - 70% of Berlin was destroyed!" Oh yeah. There's been ENORMOUS building works since reunification, but still there were VAST open spaces, especially near the Reichstag. It was MIND BOGGLING to think of all that the people of Berlin have lived through, and seeing older people walking around I couldn't help wondering what things they'd seen in their life.
Speaking of buildings, we went up to the viewing platform at 1 Potsdamer Platz, in the fastest lift in Europe - 24 floors in about 8 seconds! MENTAL! We also went on a LOVELY boat trip (with German only recorded commentary, which was oddly restful), had some FANTASTIC Falafel, MEANDERED through the Tiergarten (where we saw some ZEBRAS in the Zoo next door - cor! Zebras are ACE!), managed to get to grips with the fact that the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn (the two different rail metro systems) don't seem to actually join up anywhere, and generally enjoyed the FIVE STAR LUXURY of the hotel which, amazingly to me, kept on letting us back in. I'm usually quite eager to get home after holidays, but yesterday morning i felt sad to be leaving, Berlin was really amazing. I liked it!
I also like landing at London City Airport - it's only half an hour (ish) from my HOUSE - how cool is that? My word, it was like living in the future...
Ich Gehen Zum Berlin!
Hoorah! At last another chance to inflict my 20 years out of date sub-'O' Level German on an unsuspecting nation! Me and The Wings On My Aircraft are flying off to BERLIN for a Sophisticated Mini-Break tonight, and i am VERY much looking forward to it. We bought the Rough Guide last week, and I got EXCITED just reading through the history of The Wall coming down, and The October Revolution, and all that stuff. Hey! I was there! Well, okay, I was a student in Leicester watching it on telly, but still - I distinctly remember there being a costumed three legged pub crawl, at which I OFFICIATED, and a couple of Actual Germans taking part, DRESSED as the wall. Somebody had written "We are all Berliners now" on it, and goodness me just thinking about that brings a MANLY TEAR to my eye even now, so you can imagine what it was like at the time. So yes, I'm REALLY looking forward to seeing where it all happened, also the super-posh hotel and LOUNGING around.
Steps Back In Amazement, Supersonic
As if the news that the BNP are - gasp! - racist thugs wasn't shocking enough, it now turns out that at least one member of UKIP is an obnoxious self-opinionated small-minded small-business-brained snivelling little bigot. Oh. My poor heartses! Will the shocking revelations never end? What next? Michael Howard in Links To Thatcherism Shocker?
Let's Talk About Sets
The Tea-Leaves in my Teabag and i went to see Belle & Sebastian at Somerset House on Sunday, and it was all very civilised - proper, organised, QUICK queueing at the bar, LOVELY toilets, delightful crowd and a very posh venue - and there were some moments of PURE MAGIC in the set. "Dog On Wheels" gave me a RUSH of memories of when that single first came out, about asking for it in a short-lived record shop opposite The Western in Leicester and getting into an excited conversation with other people in the shop about it, and similarly "My Wandrin' Days Are Over" took me back to talking to my good friend Mileage about them, about going to Bowlie, and him WOOING a girl with a tape of "If You're Feeling Sinister", and about them dancing to the song at their wedding reception. All sorts of memories like this kept popping up, and it reminded me how very MUCH Belle & Sebastian really MATTERED to me and loads of other people around the time of their second album and, especially, those three EPs. OK, "Fold Your Hands Child" was a bit dreary (although "I Fought In A War" was ACE on Sunday night) and "Storytelling" is getting pretty dusty on my CD shelf, but GOODNESS ME, let us never forget how VITAL and EXCITING they were when they first EMERGED, and indeed how GRATE their new album is.
BUT great chunks of the evening passed me by a bit, and I think it's because of the set they chose to do. There was no "The State I'm In", no "Track & Field", no "Lazy Line Painter Jane", no "Seymour Stein" and all sorts of other omissions. Now, I know they have LOADS of songs I like and they can't play them all, but it did feel like they'd spread the "hits" out a bit between the two nights they were playing. They did the same sort of thing when I saw them at the Astoria earlier on in the year, and whilst I can see that it's a Good Thing to vary the set a bit for the sake of those who are coming to more than one night, that's NOT most people, most of us are there for one night, and we'd like The Hits please!
I mean, B&S are MUCH better than they used to be at this sort of thing - I remember seeing them in Colchester, just after "If You're Feeling Sinister" came out, and they played almost NOTHING from it, instead doing material from the (unavailable) "TigerMilk" and the (unavailable then) EPs to come, and it was rather frustrating - you got the feeling though that they thought this was the right thing to do, that they hadn't quite got over being a small local band yet, and thought that only their friends would be there, who'd be bored of the old stuff by now.
It's difficult though, to know what's precisely the best thing to do. When we went to see Paul McCartney last year it was a pretty unimaginative Just The Hits set he did - I mean, yes, they're VERY BIG HITS and you expect to hear them, but in a 2 hour + set there's got to be room to reward the HARDCORE a bit with something obscure ("Single Pigeon" for me please Paul!), it is, I guess, the OPPOSITE of what Belle & Sebastian have done in the past.
Perhaps it would be an idea to MARKET RESEARCH the audience, to see how many people coming have seen you before, and how many are coming because of one song in particular? I know that i personally would find this EXTREMELY handy, although to be honest I can usually TELL who's been to see me before through looking at their faces. Yes, there's an old rock and roll trick for you, when you have tiny audiences you usually remember their faces. CLEVER! As discussed before, working out a set list is a HARD JOB - for yourself, you usually want to play loads of NEW songs that you've just written and think are GRATE, but there might well be people who've come ESPECIALLY to hear a certain song, and are going to be a bit PEEVED if they don't get it.
I think we've done quite well at this with the Validators gigs lately. The cynical might say we do the songs we do because they're the only ones we know (not true! we can still play "Make The World Go Blind" and we haven't done that in AGES!), but it's also because the setlist includes all the songs people might actually KNOW us for, like "Hey Hey 16K", "Easily Impressed" and "Things'll Be Different", for instance. Actually, it's GRATE when we do those songs and people DO know them, OH how i relish saying "This is a song about the home computing boom of the mid-80's" and getting a Dylan Stadium Gig CHEER from someone at the back of the room. It's ACE!
Er... and now I'm not sure I know where I was going with this. Perhaps it's to wish for a future when, along with our tickets, we get a ballot paper for what songs we'd like to hear, or - BETTER STILL - a rating for the category of songs we want? YES! That's more like it, like this:
Please rate on a scale of 1-10 the following types of song, according to which sort you would like to hear at the gig, with 1 meaning you do not wish to hear them at all, and 10 meaning you would be very upset not to:
( ) The Hits
( ) Album Tracks
( ) Singles b-sides
( ) Amusing Cover Versions
( ) Unamusing Cover Versions
( ) New Material
( ) Instrumental Jams
Hey hey Hens
I've been DABBLING behind the scenes this weekend with the webpage, just making a few updates, which I shall UNLEASH upon you soon in an AVALANCHE of "Oh, I hadn't noticed it was wrong". YEAH! There's also a rather exciting External Site I'll be linking to soon-ish too, but I shall leave that SUPREME GROOVINESS for another day...
For LO! there has been quite enough grooviness today to be going on with. For one thing, there's a new GIG on the gigs page, I'm going to be playing at The Sanctuary Cafe in Brighton as part of a benefit weekender for a Hen Sanctuary. This is GRATE news as I've been EAGER to head down South again, due to the extreme LOVELINESS of my last visit. Also today, I'm told that there's going to be a piece in PC EXTREME magazine, which will apparently feature the Hey Hey 16K t-shirts, modelled by... er... a model! Who'd've ever thought we get so multimedia in our old ages?
Oh yes, and I'm feeling much better now, thanks for asking - I shall have to learn to SPREAD the ROCK out a bit more evenly in future!
Me and Mark Perry
My publishers (oh how i love saying that) Wipe Out Music now have a web page, and very exciting it is too - I never realised they did Alternative TV as well. I mean, cor, eh? Also, wow!
More Thoughts of ME
There's yet ANOTHER interview with ME up today, over at Friends Of The Heroes. It's actually part one, as i did rather go ON a bit about Various Subjects, with Part Two, i think, largely concerning "Hibbett Tickets", my RADICAL plan for reinventing arts funding. If you really want to know more about it even that will be in that section, ask me next time you see me. Bring a sleeping bag.
I also finally got hold of a copy of Plan B Magazine, so I'll type up the review from that soon, but not just now, as i am still A Bit Poorly. Bleh!
Knackered By Rock
You discover me sat at home, in my dressing gown, feeling decidedly ROPEY, for LO! After HEROICALLY dragging myself in to work the past two days it turns out i STILL feel like crap, and have thus retired to my BED, only struggling out to send desperate missives to the outside world. In this sense, I am much like SPARTACUS or the bloke in Gladiator. Yeah!
Things weren't helped by going to Leicester on Tuesday for a Board Meeting - I thought I was feeling better, and I was Well Behaved and UNDRUNKEN the whole time, but it seems to have re-done me in. It was a GOOD meeting though, attended by S.Woodward of Johnny Domino, who informed me that, in the vaults, is a song of theirs whose first line is "Oh Mr Hibbett!" I LIKE the sound of this, though he tells me it is nine minutes long and need re-doing. Re-do it NOW you chaps! Anyway, we had a MOST exciting discussion about the BIG PUSH for Johnny Domino that's coming soon, when hopefully they will finally get HEARD by all the people out there who are going to LOVE them, as they are ACE.
The other item of news I have to pass on is that the gig on July 30th is now NOT happening - the organisers of The Smelly Ball lost the venue, and it'll now be happening at the Betsy Trotwood on August 7th ... which is when we're playing at the Racehorse in Nottingham (with The Legend and The Retro Spankees and Winston Echo and MORE - it will be GOOD). We're also unavailable on the next TWO dates for this gig, so we're pretty much not doing it at ALL now, which means Northampton's going to be the final swansong for our current setlist, with no other band gigs likely until OCTOBER at the earliest, and no solo gigs even until September, so if anyone's got any VACANCIES in August, do let me know won't you? We'll be spending our time WISELY, introducing ourselves to some new material, but it would be nice to get out and about a bit.
And that's all for now - i retire once more to my sick bed, where I shall be watching the Directors' Commentary for "Ghostbusters". Oh YEAH!
I Rocked Too Hard
Sorry about the lack of updates - i have been POORLY. On Friday the Sausage In My Sausage Roll and I went to the RedWire Design Party i.e. the people who do Kooba Radio. We discovered Nathan Parsad on the way, STRUGGLING with equipment, so gave them a hand, and were all set for FUN and FROLICS until about 90 minutes into the proceedings I felt REALLY POORLY and had to come home, THUS missing seeing the band play. On Saturday I lurked around the house mostly watching "Firefly", and on Sunday we went first to see the Greenpeace ship Esperenza, THEN to see "The Weeping Camel". I was wearing my new vegetarian shoes at the time, i was The Guardian Society Supplement in HUMAN FORM. The ship was GRATE and dead interesting, especially if you pretended you were out in the Arctic heroically saving whales, and the film was... er... "charming". OK, my delightful companion really liked it, and there were some nice BITS, but goodness me there wasn't much to it - a camel has a baby but refuses to feed it, so a couple of villagers go and get a violinist who performs a ritual, then the camels get on together. When the two villager lads stopped off to buy some batteries I wanted to shout "COME ON! Stop wasting time! Get back to the camel and GET ON WITH IT!" but, as I say, otherwise it was all fairly pleasant, though I did feel sorry for all the only children in the room who'd been taken their with their parents... especially as they'd've had to have walked past all the Shrek 2 posters on the way in...
Anyway, when we got home afterwards i was KNACKERED and POORLY, and yesterday i was TOO POORLY to come in to work. I was DONE IN, so spent most of the day watching "Firefly" again - Firefly is GRATE, I'm now nearly through the Commentaries, and it's desperately rubbish to know that there really AREN'T any more episodes to watch. CURSES! This morning I felt a bit better, so came in to work for the afternoon, but I am now REGRETTING this as i feel ROTTEN.
The ROCK Goes On
After work last night i went to meet my friend Chris in The Head Of Steam at Euston Station. This is a STRANGE old pub, in that from the outside it looks like the LAST ever place you'd want to go in, like a mutant hybrid of the most depressing prefabricated station pub and the most violent uncomfortable SCARY estate pub EVER! However, inside it is LOVELY, full of DELICIOUS BEER and friendly people, like an Old Man's Pub in the days before MegaPubs, when everybody used to drink in those sort of places because there was no choice. It's like stepping through a TEMPORAL GATEWAY into a world of pub-going that has now disappeared, before themed pubs, before bouncers on the door (NG!), before alcopops, and when people would TALK to each other, DAMMIT!
As a measure of how much we both liked it, and especially the IPA in my case (Mmm! IPA! Best Type of Beer in the UNIVERSE!), Chris missed two trains home. It was ACE.
I then headed NORTH to Camden, to see The Fighting Cocks. All the gigs I've been to recently, playing or watching, having been either Big(ish) Bands or Themed Nights, that is nights when a specific non-venue promoter has put on the night for some reason, based around something like a fanzine, or a label, or something like that. These are always LOVELY as, generally, everyone's designed to get on with each other and everybody's pretty supportive, because you have a REASON to be. Last night, however, was one of those nights that everybody has to play loads of, when a promoter books three or four completely seperate bands, so that each brings their own pals with them, and the FIGHT is ON to force other people's friends to stay and watch YOU.
I always LOVE playing these kind of gigs, i find it ChALLENGING and FUN and probably explains why my live set is the way it is, as it's there to make the bass player's sister's friends stay and listen to ME, but goodness me they can be pretty unpleasant at times, especially if you're on last... which the Fighting Cocks were last night. I stood and watched the preceding band for about 20 minutes being ASTOUNDED by how drearily awful they were - again, i have been DEPRIVED of this sort of thing just lately, so it was quite a surprise to WITNESS it again - and then saw The Cocks dashing about getting their gear on stage as the audience drifted out. When The Fighting Cocks got on stage they were, of course, LOUD and MAGNIFICENT, and though it shouldn't it made me a bit annoyed to watch the useless sods who'd been on before SWANNING AROUND and Very Pointedly Ignoring the final act, in that horrible arrogant way that bands on their second gig do when their friends have all turned up.
The anger turned to JOY though as the set progressed, and I remembered the GLORY of playing these sort of gigs, the sheer "SOD YOU THEN" of standing there to diminishing crowds, saying "BYE!" in the middle of songs, and STILL doing what you love doing with all the VIM you've got in your body. Goodness knows I've done enough gigs like this, and there's a real EXHILERATION in knowing that almost nobody cares, but YOU REALLY DO.
They were GRATE, basically, and i STORMED home afterwards with a headful of memories of all the second-ever-gig/first-gig-not-in-someone's-house bands I've ever played with. LO! The fires of righteousness burnt BRIGHTLY in me that night!
Live Review Here is a very nice indeed review of the very nice indeed GIG we did in Leeds last week. I am pleased BEYOND MEASURE that it mentions that segue from "This Is Not A Library" into "Symbol Of Our Nation" that we do. We're all very proud of it!
There's People Who Can't Spell 'Weird' Right Driving Round With Thousands In The Bank
It was SOUTH to Didcot last night, to meet Tim The Celebrity Drummer, and then NORTH again to Stafford, to see Half Man Half Biscuit. As seems to be their WONT their were playing the sort of place you never otherwise would THINK of going to see bands, a HUGE aerodrome ESQUE venue that was part of a Social Club, in the middle of an Industrial Estate, which we found by following very explicit directions (featuring photographs of the road signs we needed to follow!) and, nearer the venue, extra signs pointing to "Half Man Half Biscuit". I couldn't understand why anyone would need such a vast space somewhere so far away from any houses, but there you go.
When we arrived the support act was being ignored about 5 miles away at the other end of the room, and we were AFEARED for the sound quality to come. We were also A Bit Surprised by the VARIETY of people there. There were The Usual t-shirt clad regulars who looked, basically, like me and Tim, and there were quite a few people who looked like they were club members who'd popped in to see what was going on. As it other recent Biscuits gigs tho, there was a sizeable proportion of YOUNG PEOPLE, even including WOMEN - much more so, in fact, than at most other indie gigs I go to. In fact, they were generally the same sort of age i was when I first heard "Back in The DHSS", except rather than listening to them on a tape done by their friend Mileage (or equivalent) they were LEAPING about singing every word throughout the set. I don't know how this has happened, but it is GRATE!
Anyway, yes, the band came out in a BILLOW of white smoke and/or dry ice, it looked WELL PROPER... then spent five minutes trying to plug things in or looking confused at a twisted lead, which lessened the effect somewhat. Worries about sound quality were immediately WAYLAID, as they sounded FANTASTIC! Again, the last few gigs have seen a HEADLONG RUSH into them becoming a ROCK outfit, it is strange, but the Actual Musicality of the live band is INCREDIBLE these days. Nowadays they could get away with doing cover versions and still be ace - I'm glad they don't, obviously, and last night was 90 minutes of ACE SONG after ACE SONG. They did "Turned Up, Clocked On, Laid Off" which is one of my all time favourites, though no "Country Practice" - as discussed on the way home, them being them they could have done 90 minutes of completely different songs and still been ACE.
It was really really GOOD, and EXCITING even - if HMHB were any other band, especially one 15 years younger, and if they had drearier lyrics, you'd have come away convinced that they'd be The Next Big Thing. As it is, much like Otway, you come away GRATEFUL to know about them, and HAPPY that slowly but surely, more and more people are getting into them. It was BRILLIANT!
The Week Of Gigs
I'm going to a LOT of gigs just at the moment. This is GOOD, because i really LIKE going to gigs, but a bit knackering... on Friday evening The Oxygen In My Atmosphere and I went to Deal Real Records in Soho to see an Hip Hop Show. Yes, we are DOWN with the kids and EVERYTHING... although it turned out I'd got a bit confused and thought I was going to see Will who I used to be in the K-Stars with, but he wasn't playing at all. We DID see a bit of Infinite Livez, who was GRATE and dead funny - I stood there thinking "YES! Of course! He's talking in his OWN accent about things that matter to HIM, and it's FUNNY and GRATE and BRILLIANT! AHA!" It was ACE, and just when I was about to EULOGISE the world of Hip Hop as opposed to The Indie as one where this sort of thing was THE NORM, then next guy came on, who was wearing an American Baseball Top, and American Hat, big gold chains and SHOUTED at us in a fake American way about i don't know what. It was agressive and pretty boring - so not that diferent to The Indie World after all then. Infinite Livez tho, he was GRATE.
We then nearly went to see Hamish Stuart from The Average White Band, who was playing nearby, on a WHIM, but it was sold out... I'd seen him before when he used to be in Paul McCartney's band, but I'm not entirely sure whether that's something one could boast about even if Macca WAS on the cover of last week's NME. So instead we had a SLAP UP FEED, and LO! it was very nice.
Saturday saw me in Leeds, as "briefly" mentioned below, and then on Sunday night we headed on over to distant PUTNEY to see John Otway. This was a Special Gig, as they were going to do a Different Set! With most bands this might not sound that special, but I've been going to see Otway for about 15 years now, and in all that time The Set Has Remained (pretty much) The Same. As, indeed, have the jokes. I thought it was going to be new material, but Otway himself put us right when we got there, saying it was actually a different choice of stuff from his back catalogue that didn't get aired often. This was when we'd just walked in the pub, nearly bumped into him, and smiled hello, so he stopped for a quick chat, as he is LOVELY. More than anybody else EVER in the History of Rock, Otway has always been an inspiration to me - the very first time I ever saw him [NB i have probably told this story before, but it BEARS REPETITION] i found myself stood next to him at the bar of the Princess Charlotte. I said "Shouldn't you be in the backstage area drinking the free rider?" and he said "No - if I come out here people come and tell me I'm great and buy me drinks". He was bloody right too, although, as I remember it, he then bought ME a drink! Since then, every time I've seen him, he's almost ALWAYS been in the pub beforehand, happily talking to everyone whose turned up, and that, I reckon, is one of the main reasons there's so much LOVE for him at his gigs. He's GRATE.
So yes, it was a New Set, which also meant there'd have to be New Jokes, and once they got going he REVELLED in it. Another of the JOYS of his shows is knowing all the gags and joining in with them, so it was RATHER EXCITING this time not to know what was coming next, and the band also seemed to be quite gee-ed up about it, especially Murray the "second guitarist". The songs were FAB too - you know when you go to see a band you've seen a LOT, and halfway through they do a song you LOVE but you've never seen them play live? That's what EVERY SONG was like on Sunday night, FANTASTIC. There were a group of people next to us who didn't seem to have read the posters properly, and kept shouting out for "House Of The Rising Sun", but they also seemed to be a bunch of students, two of whom had obviously seen him recently (I'm guessing at a festival) and dragged a bunch of friends along. Bless.
Rather groovily, the bulk of the set seemed to come from his recent releases, especially the "Hit Voting CD" (just before The Hit, FANS paid a fiver each to get this CD, which contained about 10 songs, and we voted for which one would be The Hit - personally I went for "Poetry & Jazz", but there we go) and the b-sides to said HIT. BEST thing of ALL for the WHOLE NIGHT was "A413 Revisited", one of said b-sides, which is also ABOUT The Hit. It's him thinking about going home, feeling VALIDATED by the fact that his fans have got together to do this thing for him, about how all the LONG years of trying are finally paying off in such a massive obvious way, and how his old friends are surprised and pleased about it for him. It's a beautiful song, it's PLEASED, but not triumphal, and it reminds me of how the gigs always feel, ESPECIALLY around the time of The Hit, and again how much love there always is there. It was BRILLIANT, and goodness me there were tears in my eyes by the end.
This happened AGAIN last night, when we went to see Amy Rigby at The Borderline - I'd never seen her before (Top Promoter Mr Eddy Bewsher recomended we go, so we OBEYED) so didn't know what to expect, so was PLEASED and RELIEVED when she got into the set and did a whole bunch of songs that had something to SAY, and were pretty FUNNY. The WELLING UP moment came when she did a song called "Don't Ever Change", which was basically a love song for... well, for all the people she loved. It was just BEAUTIFUL, and I turned to the Subject Of My Song and saw that SHE was nearly welling up too. ACE.
And THUS has the Week Of Gigs commenced. It's a night off for me tonight, then tomorrow I'm off to Stafford to see Half Man Half Biscuit, to Camden on Thursday for The Fighting Cocks, then on Friday it'll be Nathan Persad at the Redwire Design Party over near London Bridge. Come, let us ROCK!
On Sunday morning Mr McClure and I reconvened in the hotel lobby, noticed that all the
receptionists had the same colour of dyed red hair, and checked out. Over BREAKFAST in a
nearby pub we had a LENGTHY discussion, which can be summed up thus: "Everything's going
really well isn't it? I wonder if it'll continue to do so?" We then discovered TOM
HEAVEN: next door was a shop with a DISPLAY CASE of flapjacks! Er... because Tom really
likes flapjacks, you see and... this is another one that only people in the band find
interesting isn't it? Sorry.
We got in the car, and headed SOUTH, and whilst we did this we listened to our ENTIRE CD
Discography! It was BRILLIANT! We were rather amazed to find that, actually, "Say It
With Words" ISN'T as ramshackle and patchy as we'd thought it was, and that there were
some DEAD GOOD songs on it that we'd forgotten about, especially "Stop Look And Listen".
We were also relieved to find ourselves singing along with EVERYTHING on "This Is Not A
Library", and grinning happily throughout "Shed Anthems", and during all the CDs were
DISCUSSED our Favourite Memories... i tell you, it was like a DVD Commentary, and indeed
we got a bit carried away with this idea and started saying "Mmm, nice work from Emma
here" and "a CLASSIC Tim Drum Fill there" and so forth. It's a good job there was nobody
else in the car... especially when we got a bit more "creative" and started singing
We made two stops on the way down, and one of the places we stopped at had a Marks &
Spencers Simply Food - ooh la LA! Tiger Tom (new nickname, details available on request)
had never sampled the Adult Delights of M&S foodhall, and I was pleased to be able to
INDUCT him. Mmmm, FRUIT SALAD! So yes, it was a DELIGHTFUL trip, and we found ourselves
in London WELL ahead of schedule. Within five minutes the Source Of My River arrived,
and another five minutes later The Pattison Panzer pulled up, containing the whole
family. With no Fleay today, unfortunately, we were thus QUORATE and made our way into
the building. EVERYONE got given name badges, including the babies, and then it was UP
We DECAMPED in the Staff Room, much as we had done for the New Year's Day show, and
again, much as we did then, we had several practices. The difference this time, however,
was that we had a very active two year old with us who was helping her Dad play the
drums - every so often I'd think "What on earth is Tim DOING?!?" and then look round and
see that what he was doing was trying not to clout Edie with a drum stick whilst she was
whacking the floor tom. Aaaah! Also there was much excited dancing and giggling... which
Edie joined in with.
We got a few run throughs, and then our abbreviated Validators were led into the studio,
leaving the babies with aforesaid Gravitational Field Of My Planet. We got our MASSES of stuff set up, and a VISIBLY SHAKEN Mr Lamacq found himself sat next to Tim and his kit, with the rest of us grouped nervously on the other side of the room. We had a run through of the song, and then we were ON! We had a quick chat, during which I introduced the band and, I think sounded LESS like a Wurzel On Amphetamines than usual, and then it was SONG TIME - the past few weeks I've actually been quite relaxed in these parts, but this time, GOLLY, I was a bit SCARED - looking over to see if Tom and Emma were OK, hoping the TEAM MEMBERS in the staff room were OK, trying to listen to Tim and not go out of time, also concentrating on not playing the wrong chords, hoping to goodness my words didn't fall onto the floor AND trying to remember exactly how each bit had to go to fit in... it was a BIT STRESSFUL i must admit, and when we were finished i was MIGHTILY relieved - will that be the last time I ever sing that song, I wonder?
We got packed up, then packed up our bits and bobs in the other room, and headed off to meet the BBC Types in the PUB, including the 6Music News Reader who ALSO, by Strange Chance, also happened to be the best friend of the girl I lived next door to when we were all three years old. SPOOKY, huh? Unfortunately they didn't allow children (the pub, that is, not the BBC Types), so we all sat outside for a bit and compared how KNACKERED we all felt after the Weekend of ROCK. With hugs and waves the Pattisons headed off, and we nipped back inside to say hello the the TYPES, and in ANOTHER Spooky Twist it turned out that many of us had Different Connections to Charlie of The Fighting Cocks... it IS a small world, although I would not want to walk around it.
It was all very nice anyway, and everyone seemed quite pleased with what we'd done. We all headed off our seperate ways after a while, with me and The Soil In My Garden heading to PUTNEY to see John Otway (more of that... LATER!), and gradually it struck me that I'm really going to MISS these Sunday trips to the BBC. It's been GRATE bobbing along on the train of an afternoon, and the BRANE POWER used up on (generally) Saturday mornings working out the new set of lyrics is already SEEPING into other areas of SONG. Also, we learnt a VALUABLE lesson for the band, that Tim has MUCH to say and a KEEN EYE for lyrics (as indeed does The Tap On My Sink, especially this week when she DISSECTED an early draft and made me do it BETTER!) which will be utilised more in future. Basically it's been a WHOLE LOT OF FUN all round really, I hope I get to do something like it again some time!
Things started going well this weekend, and just sort of stayed that way - I got an earlier (but slower) train to Leicester on Saturday, which was good as i got some BOOK TIME. The Roots of My Tree bought me "So You Wanna Be A Rock Star" for my birthday, and as it had to be shipped from MIAMI (oh yes, you can't get it over here you know, it is dead exclusive) it's only just arrived. It's GRATE - it's the ROCK biography of the drummer from Semisonic! No, i know, but it really is ACE, it's really quite sweet how he wanders through FAME and that a bit AFEARED, I am THOROUGHLY enjoying it. This makes it a run of TWO really good books in a row, as last week i finished "Star Of The Sea", which was BRILLIANT.
ANYWAY, i got to Leicester, met Tom, and off we headed to LEEDS, arriving well ahead of schedule at our HOTEL. HOLA! Rob and his LADY were staying over in The Queens Hotel, the big posh one at the railway station, and as Tim and Emma would be staying over in Leeds to, Tom and I decided we'd stay too, so that we could have some post-gig band DRINKING action. The Queens is DEAD POSH, although perhaps their computer systems need some updating, as we spent a FEARFUL 15 minutes waiting for them to find our booking. DREAD! All was well in the end, somehow we were down as two Mr Wilby's (which makes "Hibbert" look positively correct!), we went to our POSH rooms, reconvened in the Lobby, and headed to Carpe Diem.
Leeds has a very very strict one way system. Having found ourselves LITERALLY just round the corner from the venue it took us quarter of an hour to get back again, it was KER-RAZY. Nearly everyone else was there by then, so we sat with Johnny Domino for a few minutes whilst Being 747 finished their soundcheck, all the while wondering where Rob was, and whether he'd make it in time... as ever, he arrived about half a PICOSECOND before we were due to go on, as is his WONT, and casually wandered through to the stage. We were AMPED UP, as there was only a vocal PA, and BY GOLLY it didn't half feel good. I really LIKE playing this way, I think it makes the sound much nicer than walloping everything through the same mix. It is ORGAAAAANIC.
After that we popped next door for some GRUB, chatting to Being 747 about DIVERSE SUBJECTS and generally catching up and ... er... slagging off distribution companies. We got back just in time for Johnny Domino to play, and they were BLOODY GRATE. The set was nearly (or maybe completely) made up of songs from the new album, and it sounded FANTASTIC. Mr Fleay and i felt VERY SPECIAL because, as RECORD COMPANY EXECUTIVES we made up about 25% of ALL the people in the room who'd heard it, so sang along LUSTILY. Also, they LOOKED brilliant as well - Jim was doing this fluid yet JERKY movement experience, Giles was sort of CHUCK BERRY, Steve was smoking a pipe (apparently it was a They Might Be Giants HOMAGE, afterwards he kept trying to find someone who'd got it) and Marc was BOUNCING on his keyboards and pulling Actually Quite Disturbing faces. It looked like an ANGULAR ART POP MACHINE, with pistons flying in all directions, and it was BRILLIANT. They are good, Johnny Domino.
With them done, it was time for US. We started, as is now THE NORM, with "Post Subsonic Bass", and MAN OH MAN you should have heard my feedback at the start, it was GRATE! It made my GUITAR SHAKE, i felt like i was in GHOSTBUSTERS! We WHIPPED through the set, it seemed to be over FAR too soon - the sound was NICE, everything felt GOOD, and the band were ACE - i LOVE my band, by the way, they are totally brilliant and GROOVY. Anyway, one thing i have noticed is that The Power Of BEZ can be assumed by anyone brave enough to wear the MANTLE. For instance, lately i have realised that if Emma or I start DANCING a bit at the front then people in the AUDIENCE start dancing around a bit. It's STRANGE but EXCELLENT, and on Saturday night much of the ROOM was jigging about by the time we got to "Easily Impressed", it looked good and it FELT good.
Other notable things were a CHEER when I said "this is a song about the home computer boom of the mid-80's", Tim saying "Have you got a different setlist from me or something?" when actually i HAD (OK this is probably only interesting or amusing if you're in the band...), Me and Emma having to do a REVERSO WESTLIFE in Fairplay Trophy as we'd started in the wrong KEY, "Fair Play Trophy" ending too soon ("in tribute to England's Euro 2004 campaign" - i said that, well done me!), and Rob doing an Excessively Flamboyant BASS FILL. It was ALL GOOD, then we packed up, a couple of people bought CDs, Sam The Promoter gave us some CA$H and asked us if we'd like to come back some time (YES PLEASE!), and we settled down to watch Being 747.
I must admit I didn't pay as much attention at this point as i ought because a) i was swanning around b) i was dividing aforesaid CA$H c) i was talking to people and saying thank you for coming and d) i was talking to THE BAND and saying "Cor, eh?", but The 747 (er... as possibly THE KIDS might call them) are ACE. The strange thing i find with them is I find it hardly to believe there's only 3 of them, as it sounds like MUCH MORE. The main thing i ALWAYS remember from their gigs is The Brothers Morricone GRINNING throughout, and also "The Girl Who Fell Asleep Watching Her Life Flash Before Her Eyes", which has been LODGED in my BRANE since we played with them last year. They are GRATE!
And so we moved to part TWO of the evening, which involved BEER. Tim and I had a long conversation trying to work out which bands we'd been in (he'd completely forgotten drumming in the K-Stars, for instance... it was a LOOOOONG time ago), and ten minutes later Sam The Promoter mentioned seeing me in The Council when we'd supported Prolapse... turned out he was a MASSIVE Prolapse fan, but didn't realise Tim had been IN them, so we brought them together, for JOY and BEAUTY. The rest of us wandered around GRINNING at each other, and around about Midnight we had a BAND MEETING. The first thing we decided was that most of us needed the toilet, so we did that, and then AGREED on our PLAN OF ACTION: having urinated, we would MAYBE do a London gig in addition to Northampton next month, we'd worry about TV and USA things when they occurred, and then around October time we'd start the NEXT album! WHOO! PLAN is for me to do a demo of all the songs I've got, then we'll LEARN them up as a band, and go into Kev's and record them. HOWEVER, instead of THOSE being the final versions, as in previous time, we'd then do some GIGS, learn how to PLAY them, give Tom and Emma time to work out THEIR bits, and then some time next year ALL go into the studio for a couple of ACTUAL DAYS and record it properly!
Yes, I know that that's how most people have always done it, but it is new to us! Emma and Tim went home then, and the rest of us had MORE BOOZE, including some SHOTS. Urk! Eventually we went back to the hotel, where the four of us enjoyed THE PIANO BAR until quite late, sipping JD whilst around us YOUNG PEOPLE in suits celebrated their graduation. It was BLOODY BRILLIANT! I like being in a band, and i LOVE being in this particular band! OK, we didn't make enough money on the night to pay for ONE of our hotel rooms, but GOODNESS ME it wasn't half worth it! That night I settled into my ART DECO single bed a very happy man, knowing that the next day would be Pretty Groovy too...
Nearly New Song
As well as the new song mentioned below, the final version (and I hope it IS the final version this time! That's ENOUGH!) of The Fair Play Trophy is also in the Song Blog now. I've laboured long and hard over it all morning, so I hope it's OK!
Off to Leeds now to commence the weekend of ROCK - we're playing at Carpe Diem tonight, then tomorrow we're in for the final afternoon on Steve Lamacq, after which the Shine Of My Sun and I are off to see Otway. Let's ROCK!
Oops, sorry about the GAP in updates, I posted this in the wrong place on Thursday - there's a new song in the Song Blog, and it's a fully qualified ACTUAL New Song this time, not the nth re-writing of "Fair Play Trophy"! It's based on several in-pub discussions I've had lately, including one with the b3ta MASSIVE the other night, and also various ones I've had around the kitchen table at home. I'll do a proper annotations bit soon, but basically it's about all the lies and attempts to rewrite the legacy of Reagan and Thatcher that's gone on just lately, and how it's vital to REMEMBER the dreadful EVILS of their reigns rather than, as many many people seem to be trying to do, make out it was a decade of "glamour" and spangles and not mention the overwhelming certainty of nuclear war. Yeah! It was prompted by all the rubbish that was spoken about Reagan when he died, and about all the ghastly lies and pretend sadness we'll doubtless get when Thatcher finally dies, and THUS it's called "The Day That Thatcher's Dead".
I quite like it, I've been getting myself very worked up, singing it with BULGING EYES!