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Hooray! Looks like a swift return to Sheffield is on the cards, as I've just added THE FUZZTIVAL to the GIGS list. This takes place on October 30th at the Sheffield University Students' Union, it's an all day festival version of their indie disco/bands night - i played last year and it was GRATE! Free food! Free BEER! LOVELY people! Who could ask for more eh?
And in other GIG news, discovered that I'm playing at 8.20pm this Saturday at the Sanctuary Cafe in Brighton, so anyone intending to come and see me, come then, anyone intending to AVOID me, come at 8.48pm, when I shall have just finished. It's all in aid of THE CHICKENS!
The Lady On Your Radio
I think I mentioned a while ago that I'd done a JINGLE for the Claire Dickinson show on Kooba Radio - I really liked it (and went around SINGING it for several days), so was On Tenterhooks about whether the Kooba TEAM would... I've just been over and LISTENED to BOTH Claire's show and the Johnny Yeah Show and... yes, they did! COR! It was a VERY pleasant couple of hours listening and having my EGO STOKED - it got it's own SPOTLIGHT on Claire's show, and then not only ALSO played on Johnny Yeah, but also used as the lead in to their THEMED TRIO. Every show they do three songs in a row THEMED, see. This week i looked at the tracklist and saw "Payday", the version of "These Foolish Things" me and Johnny did last month, and then the mighty Johnny Domino, and thought "Cor, it's like a ME THEME!" And it was!
Ooh, I'm all pleased and happy about it now, that was LOVELY! AND they played The Fighting Cocks too - go have a LISTEN, it's all good!
Illustrated Tour Diary
If you nip over to the GALLERY you'll find a whole new section, with pictures of THE TOUR!
Personally, i think these are GRATE! I spent ages looking at them last night thinking "aah! THE TOUR! How ACE it was!" and hopefully these, along with the below NOTES and of course the TOUR SONG with give a full 3D picture of what it was LIKE to those who were unable to attend. Be WARNED, however, Rock And Roll Mayhem was VERY MUCH in effect, some of these pictures are NOT for the faint of stomach!
The Headline Act
After my wonderment at how WELL all the gigs went On Tour, a reader Mr F A Machine of Derbyshire writes to point out that part of the reason for this was that i was headlining, and thus everyone was a lot more drunkened and up for a SINGALONG than they are at the usual time i go on stage.
This revelation hit me like a plate of spaghetti in the face in a fancy restaurant (cool talk). OF COURSE! For YEARS i have thought "Why on EARTH do people care do much about going on last? Surely it's HOW you play, not WHEN you play?" and the FACT that playing later means a drunker more malleable audience Simply Never Occurred. I knew someone at school who was 22 before he realised that AMBULANCE is spelt backwards on the front bonnet so that it shows up in rear view mirrors, and i distinctly remember the SHOCK and AWE that rippled across his face when he came to that realisation. Now i knew how he felt - something simple and everyday that, surely, EVERYBODY else is aware of, and only NOW was i myself seeing the light!
Oh YEAH! Of COURSE!
And while we're talking about headline GIGS, you'll see on the sadly depleted GIGS page that I've just added The Validators' (sure to be) TRIUMPHANT headline slot at the Wood(house Eaves)STOCK festival in December, and a Me and Tom gig in distant IPSWICH in January - yes, Ipswich, your waiting is over! I said I would head EAST, and head EAST i surely WILL! We MIGHT also be playing in Leeds around Christmas time, but other than that the plan for the rest of this year is to GET WORKING on the new material, and then ROCK IT OUT LIVE in the New Year.
Unless anybody wants to ask us to play anywhere really cool, obviously. Or just somewhere HANDY for me on my own. Hey! It's a good plan, but we're not MARRIED to it!
Rock And Roll Mayhem
As promised, you can now download a COMPLETE version of Rock And Roll Mayhem, recorded yesterday afternoon with finalised lyrics. It's all true! Well, except the bit about "the author" in Birmingham, he was actually really nice, but that was the first verse written and i guess AUDIO VERITE hadn't sunk in yet. ALSO, words are available in The Song Blog. Enjoy!
Adam and I emerged from the ROCK AND ROLL CHAOS of Joanne's living room at about 9am, and shortly after headed off to the station... or at least, we tried to, but had to wake Joanne up to let us out of the back door... that obstacle TRAVERSED we got the BUS into town, found our train, and headed SOUTH again. Lucky Adam! For most of the journey he got a THRILLING discourse on How He Should Do More Solo Gigs, it must have been FASCINATING to hear so very MUCH of The Wisdom Of The Me. When we got to London he even got the Tourist Trip Of THE ME - "This is where Dickens lived, or something... there's my gym... i work near here." I also told him that Senate House, which i'm ALLOWED to go into if i want to, was going to be Hitler's base of operations if he'd invaded England. "So you can achieve what Hitler never could then?" he said. I'd never thought of it like that.
So yes, we strolled across London until we got to the 12 Bar, where we dropped off our GUITARS before Adam headed off into LONDON for a bit of a look round (as all he'd seen so far of ENGLAND really was a succession of PUBS, TRAINS and DUVETS) and I headed home. Aaah! HOME! Where the Ink In My Printer was waiting, and there was a BATH to be had! Truly, it was LOVELY to be home, and it took a FORCE OF WILL to get myself sorted and back on the ROAD that evening, but sooner than I'd hoped I was back on the tube and off to the 12 Bar, to find Team Frankie finally COMPLETE, now that Julian had entered the fray. Adam returned with a TEA TOWEL from the British Museum, Sound Checks were undertaken, and slowly people began to appear...
Spinmaster Plantpot went on first, and as usual when I've seen him CONFUSED and FRIGHTENED the assemblage somewhat, before Nathan Persad, The London King Of SHOWBIZ came on and somewhat reassured the throng with his BEAT MUSIC and SHARP SUIT, so much so that he scored the first ENCORE of the night. Then it was Adam's turn, and he sounded GRATE - he didn't seem to think it went so well, but i think that's because people were standing at the back of the room or LURKING upstairs, so he couldn't see the SMILING FACES whilst he was on. His TOUR BUDDIES all thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when he did his Andy Partridge Tribute and, for me, Your Nazi Boyfriend - BOTH tunes which had taken PERMANENT LODGING over the course of the week. INDEED, i think i FRIT him a bit by suddenly whistling various of his tunes over the course of the week, his stuff is ACE.
By now there was a LOT of people there, VERILY it was a HITS SELECTION of my LONDON PALS, including various brothers, lunch listers, and ROCK CHUMS. The Fruit In My Salad Bowl finally got to meet BOTH The Kooba Radio people and also Mr Eddy Bewsher, a bunch of people about whom she'd heard a LOT. Apart from these there were LOADS of other people, MANY of whom I had never seen before in my LIFE - what on earth were they doing here? Nobody ELSE seemed to know them, could they be honest to goodness GIG GOERS who'd come out of INTEREST?!? How our worlds have changed!
During this time I found myself on the VERGE OF REGULARHOOD, as the chap behind the bar remembered me from OTHER times I'd played there, it was SMASHING - the 12 Bar is a NICE PLACE. I also got WALLOPED by two days worth of HANGOVER around this point, and hit the COCA COLA with a VENGEANCE, in a bid to somehow reconstitute my constitution before SHOWTIME.
Frankie Machine took to the stage then, and they were BLOODY GRATE - they sounded CONFIDENT and ACE, and Rob's Inclusive Intros now included the explanation for "Re-Unmelt My Heart", which was something I'd been pleased to know when I found it out, and indeed made the whole thing make more sense. They were a bit TOUR CRAZY by this time, and as the very sensible and GRATE Wool In My Woolly Jumper pointed out, they do these BEAUTIFUL heartfelt songs, then intersperse them with Naughty Kids At The Back Of The Bus LARKING ABOUT. It seems to really WORK these days though, it was FAB.
And then - AT LAST (for me anyway) - it was MY TURN! No need for PA Removal here, it sounded WONDERFUL - the sound quality that is, I make no claims for MYSELF. Crikey though, this gig went as FANTASTICALLY as the whole rest of the tour did, it was A Little Bit Frightening really. FIVE amazing gigs in a row? What's going ON? I introduced "Hey Hey 16K" as "my hit", and somebody in the front said "Well... sort of..." and BLOW ME DOWN but the (BIG!) audience took that as an insult to THEM and sang nearly every word. This sort of thing happened a LOT, to the extent that in "Payday Is The Best Day" i got to do the ULTIMATE ROCK THING: I allowed THE AUDIENCE to sing the choruses!! It was AMAZING! "The Fight For History" roughly shouldered its way into the setlist again, and AGAIN went down really well, i am even MORE excited about the next album that i was previously beforehand, and i was very excited THEN! Also "Rock and Roll Mayhem", now approaching EPIC LENGTH, was my HIT OF THE TOUR - I'm going to record it tomorrow, if i can, with the final verse inserted just as soon as i work it out.
So yes, the whole thing was PRETTY BLOODY AMAZING to me I must say, I did "I Come From The Fens" and "Clubbing In The Week" for my encore, and then nearly accidentally got ANOTHER when i came back on to flog some CDs... I sold SEVERAL CDs! WAHEY!
After the gig there was much HUGGING and a WHOLE LOT OF LOVE in the room between us TOURING PALS. We took a photograph of the original four of us, so as to compare and contrast with Glasgow, and all agreed HEARTILY that we'd be doing this again VERY SOON. Gary invited Adam to Derby, Adam invited him and Rob to Glasgow, and i invited everyone to London again. There may well have been MORE HUGGING at this point...
Eventually it was time to get going, and it became clear that poor young Adam was KNACKERED, as he slept pretty much the whole LENGTH of the Central Line, but when he got home he got very animated about The Rosetta Stone, even showing us the tea towel he'd brought from the British Museum to ILLUSTRATE it for us. Adam is just a LOVELY chap - not only had he been INSANELY BRAVE to come all this way for SO LONG with a (pretty much) complete bunch of strangers (completely alone! having never really travelled alone before!), but he was also UP for STUFF, whilst still being a DECENT and SINCERE and CLEVER bloke. This will NOT be the last time we get together for gigs, believe you me...
Anyway, when we got home we realised that The Picture In My Frame had left a BAG full of Birthday Presents in the venue - PANIC! CHAOS! - but then I turned my phone back on to find a message from Joanne, saying they'd found it. PHEW. We retired to our various BOUDOIRS, only to awake after a HORRIFICALLY BRIEF TIME at SEVEN FIFTEEN AM in the MORNING, to get Adam on the BUS at VICTORIA. I went there with him, to make sure he got on OK - this had been suggested by the Flatness Of My Fen, and she was RIGHT to do so, as it was most confusing, but we got there in the end. A final hug, much agreement that We Would Do This Again, and then that was that - off he went to Glasgow, and off I went to meet Rob to get the presents. We stood and chatted for a bit outside his hotel, and it felt STRANGE to be saying goodbye for him for a couple of weeks... this was it! Tour! OVER!
So what have we learnt? Mainly I learnt that i REALLY REALLY REALLY like going on Tour, and i LOVE the CAMERADERIE of it, especially with such a NICE bunch of people. Also the JOKES as you go along, the mutual HECKLING, and the knowledge that, tomorrow night, you'd be doing it all over again - I woke up THIS morning and thought "Where am I? Where am i going tonight? Will I get a chance for a shower?" and took a good long while to adjust to Not Being On Tour Any More.
It was BRILLIANT from start to finish - thanks SO very much everyone who came along, and especially Eddy, Mark and Nick for putting us on, Eddy and Joanne's various housemates for putting us UP, and ESPECIALLY Adam and Team Frankie - let's HUG!!
It's early evening on Saturday, and I'm COMPLETELY KNACKERED. Blimey! How on earth do the Rolling Stones manage to do TOURING for Months at a time? I am SHATTERED after FIVE dates, it's all i can do not to KEEL OVER. BLEH!
Still, the day has produced a couple of realisations. Firstly, that The Digibox On My Telly is RIGHT: that Scissor Sisters song DOES sound exactly like Robbie Williams - what on EARTH is the fuss about them for eh? Have the lazy cowardly idiots of the major labels got THAT desperate? What IS the difference between them and, say, Westlife, apart from a few pounds of weight?
The SECOND realisation is that Magnum PI is BLOODY GRATE! We've watched two Extended Episodes so far - i was expecting the Moral Simplicities, Really Really Bad Acting and Stupid Plots of Knight Rider (which we also watched recently), but HOW WRONG I WAS! It's fantastic! Moving! Full of INTRIGUE! And a GRATE theme tune! And Higgins! THE LOT!
It's brilliant - and three more episodes to go! With the POWER of MAGNUM PI behind me and some more FRUIT i'll soon be back to fighting fitness - PHEW!
After gradually convening over MORE tea and toast, we headed off to a CAFE for Proper Big Breakfast, and discussed the Oddness Of Hull. It's at the end of the train line and at the end of the road - if you're IN Hull, it's because you really MEAN to be there, nobody EVER passes through - so things seem to have EVOLVED slightly differently to everywhere else. CLASSIC example is the independent telephone lines, but in general it seemed to be sort of like the Midlands, sort of like the Distant North, and a whole lot of RELAXED. It was GOOD!
Soon it was time to get moving, so me and Adam strolled down to the station and caught ourselves a TRAIN. Excitingly, whilst we were waiting, a Businessman In A Suit And Tie said "You on tour boys?" "YES!" we said. "Off to London i suppose?" he SCOFFED. "No, that's tomorrow, it's Sheffield tonight" we said, and STALKED proudly off, having been ROCK.
We got to Sheffield and met Team Frankie in the PUB - HOORAH! All was well with everyone, so off we set for ASDA to buy BOOZE for tonight's show. BRILLIANTLY the Asda is SO BIG that it has TWO floors, connected not by escalators but by MOVING WALKWAYS. Sheffield: City Of The FUTURE! We got a bit excited about this, and all ran up then down them again - one KRAZY ROCK REBEL ran backwards down the up walkway, and made himself feel a bit SICK doing so... don't tell anyone else though, they were in AWE of me, in AWE i tell you!
BOOZE purchased we headed back to Joanne's house and settled down for more TEA, though this was TEA with a difference. The Pot SHOOK when it hit the table, water SPURTED out of the end, and the lid RATTLED! It was POSSESSED by a MALIGNANT SPIRIT! POSSIBLY! Tea was had and DISCUSSIONS were entered into, especially between Gary and I who had an EVEN MORE elevated discussion than the one we'd had at about 3am in Glasgow about which was more MANLY, BEER or STOUT. He PROPOSED that bands who talk about themselves in the first person PLURAL (e.g. "We think things are bad, we believe something should be done about them") should be BANNED, and he eventually reached the conclusion that a) talking about yrself in the THIRD person is even worse and b) the WORST of the WORST for this was NICK FALDO. "Nick Faldo isn't playing well today. Nick Faldo needs a rest."
We then decided to refer to ourselves as "The Me" all day. Hey! The Me was on tour! Crazy Things happen when guys like The Me do that!
So, off we set for the venue - originally this was going to be The Green Rooms, but they were in a state of REFURBISHMENT at the time (we drove past it, there were LADDERS propped against walls), so eventually it got moved to a rehearsal studio/Artists' SPACE somewhere in the student end of town. It was a bit worrying when we arrived as it appeared for all the world to be an abandoned factory, but WITHIN was a network of rooms, many of which had been set up as SITTING ROOMS, including, weirdly, one that was a BALCONY in front of the main stage area. We got set up, and went for NOODLES. The NOODLE house we went to was full of Chinese people - we're always told that this is a GOOD SIGN, but i wonder, does that work in ENGLISH Restaurants abroad? Whenever I'VE been in such places they've been packed with sunburnt looking types who turn out NOT to be sunburnt, they're just VERY ANGRY at the world, and they're eating RANCID OVEN CHIPS and a Steak & Kidney Pie that's been re-unmelted 19 times. The food was very nice though.
BACK to the venue, and i faced the Continuing Problem of The Tour: now that i am the BIGSHOT HEADLINING ACT i have to go on LAST, and this means i have to wait AGES until i can drink BEER. Normally i can, very bravely, cope with the situation, but at Asda I'd bought a fine selection of bottled REAL ALES, and they were CALLING to me... anyway, i soldiered on, heroically, and watched ORMONROYD, our Local Support for the night, who sounded LOVELY. Frankie Machine followed and sounded EVEN MORE LOVELY than they had the night before - once again, Mr Francis Albert Machine introduced each song, sometimes at length, and this really DREW people IN to the songs. Previously he's just PLAYED them and people have been free to talk over the QUIET BEAUTY, but by doing introductions and INVITING them in, Mr Machine made sure he was LISTENED to. It was lovely, and ESPECIALLY because Team Frankie was reunited with Joanne. SMASHING.
Adam was up next, and things went slightly AWRY - when he tried to start, the PA wasn't switched on, then when it WAS the guitar was far too loud. He fiddled with things, then JUST as he started the Sound Guy shouted "Tune Your Guitar!" and he had to come off stage to do it. THUS happened one of the moments that will STAY with me forever about this tour - when this sort of thing happens to you on stage it's really unpleasant, and can THROW you totally. Me, Gary and Rob are TOURING VETERANS of course, and we'd all taken to watching out for Adam, so when he went backstage we all followed him in. I only realised that this had happened the next day, but immediately Rob produced the tuner, and operated it for him, Gary told him what it said and talked him through the process, and I held his lead to make sure he didn't trip over it. I'm sure Adam would rather it HADN'T happened, but i found it sort of moving... anyway, he went on and did GOOD, but was still a bit thrown, and still wasn't heard by the audience as much as he should - a NUMBER of people said that they WISHED they could have heard him more clearly, as what WAS audible was GRATE. Yes, it was!
Then it was time for THE ME to take the stage, and MY first song (which has been "The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)" all week) didn't seem to be working. The PA was a bit muffly, the guitar seemed clangy, and my GIG PARANOIA somehow convinced me that EVERYBODY HATED ME. Goodness knows where i get this from (possibly from all the gigs i've done when it's been TRUE...), but i CONVINCED myself that the group of Scally Lads up in the balcony wanted me to DIE. DECISIVE ACTION was called for, so once again I unplugged the guitar, removed the microphone, and STEPPED into the audience. "I'm becoming LOUDER by becoming NEARER", i said.
Well, modesty obviously forbids me to say how it went... because it went BLOODY GRATE! There was CHEERING, there was ENGAGING HECKLING, there was even a ROUND OF APPLAUSE for "Peace And Love is still a bloody good idea" in "Lesson Of The Smiths", a BIG CHEER for "the trams of Sheffield" in "Easily Impressed", and MY WORD but "Boom Shake The Room" went well. Also, after much moaning from ME about not getting to drink my beer Gary brought some out to me, and I then proceeded to do an ENCORE of "Rock & Roll Mayhem" - as possibly already mentioned, this is the song I've been writing as I've gone along, and the aforementioned Upstairs Liverpudlians DEMANDED i do the Sheffield Verse there and THEN. So i did! I followed it with "Clubbing In The Week", and left the stage... before doing a SECOND ENCORE of "Bands From London" , oh YES! A THIRD one seemed to be taking the piss a bit, as the promoter was a bit NERVY about time constraints, but my dears i think I could have had one. It was ACE! I then found myself COMPLETELY SELLING OUT of ALL my records, and had to turn people AWAY - it was MENTAL! Rather wonderfully too, a couple of people who'd been last time were there - one said she'd DEMAND that Johnny Gogo put me on at the next festival, the next, it turned out, had picked up the setlist as a souvenir. I was really MOVED, that especially was LOVELY.
Having ROCKED so HARD there was no way we were going home yet, so we dropped off our gear and headed into town. Unfortunately we'd missed Legendary Indie Night OFFBEAT by 24 hours, and all that seemed to be available was ELECTROCLASH night at the Casbah... "BAH!" I thought, "What i really wanted was some INDIE to sway along too" but i was SO VERY WRONG. Electroclash is GRATE - you know New Romantics and Berlin Bowie? It's THAT, but through a phase pedal and with extra bass, it was SMASHING. Me, Rob and Adam went down to the dance floor and started doing "hilarious" Robot Dancing, oh so cutting, to MOCK everyone else there. This lasted roughly THREE SECONDS, when we discovered it was BRILLIANT and spent the rest of the night REMAKING the GENRE through the MEDIUM OF DANCE! BRILLIANT! Halfway through the night we noticed that the bloke with the funny hair from "Coupling" was ALSO there, doing the similar, and the night ROCKED ON until we were chucked out, still dancing.
Back at Joanne's, things got a bit hazy. There was WINE, and the next day Adam said "I'm tired because of that PARTY we had last night for a couple of hours when we got home". All i remember was a glass of wine, then going to the loo. On the way back I noticed the spare bed (which Gary had BAGSIED), so i sat on it for BUT A MOMENT, just for a rest, before heading downstairs again... little did i know that I'd actually PASSED OUT for an hour or so. GARY had discovered me there and, ENRAGED by the thought of me nicking his bed, had AVENGED himself by stripping NAKED and getting Rob to take a picture of him THUS on the bed with me... as I say, ROCK AND ROLL MAYHEM!
Eventually we went to bed, but it wouldn't be long until we were all awake and back on the road again...
More Coming Soon...
I'm back home now, and there'll be an update about What Happened In Sheffield (including DANCING and CELEBRITIES!) and What Happened In London (ROCK!), hopefully over the weekend. Not wanting to spoil the story or anything, but you know how GRATE things were going in Hull? It's gets GRATER!
Anyway, today is the birthday of The Candle On My Cake, so we're off now to watch some MAGNUM PI that a certain Caring Individual (hem hem) bought her - we know how to PARTY in our house, let's ROCK!
We met, as arranged, at Glasgow Central Station, and bought some provisions for the long long journey SOUTH. These included a pack of CARDS, and we played an EPIC game of PINOCHLE (it's GRATE pinochle), also Simpsons Top Trumps. It took a long long time, but eventually we ARRIVED, got a taxi, and hit the ADELPHI.
Gary visibly RECOILED in SHOCK when we got there, as is TRADITIONAL for first time visitors - like The Charlotte or The Vic or The Bull & Gate the Adelphi is known of by ALL People In Bands across the nation, and in our BRANES it is imagined as looking pretty much like them... what it IS is a semi-detached house on a very ordinary street, it is a bit FREAKY. Anyway, we got our stuff inside and headed to the CHIPPY. The people of Hull are very LITERAL about naming things, we found. For instance, the chippy is called The Chippy, it's next to a shop on the corner called The Corner and opposite a place you go for a BEVVY that is called The Bevvy. I'm surprised the founding fathers didn't just call it The City, or maybe that's what HULL means in Olde English.
Anyway, we got some LOVELY chips and headed back, to discover Jeffrey Lewis and co in the back of a Vauxhall. "I didn't know they had Vauxhalls in America" said Adam, bless, and in we all went again. Sounchecks were done, and Eddy arrived with a TYPED list of onstage times - Mr Jackson, the owner, is a MASSIVE Jeffrey Lewis fan, and basically wanted us (including Cracktown, the local band we were playing with) on and off by 9.45 so there could be MORE Mr Lewis - he was very nice about it, he was just ENTHUSIASTIC really... Eddy reasoned that a TYPED onstage times list would DERAIL such plans, and funnily enough it DID, Jeffrey himself was perfectly happy with going on at 10.30, and all was WELL... then someone said "Blimey, there's a QUEUE outside", and LO! There was!
The venue FILLED rapidly whilst Cracktown was on, and there was a LOT of people there by the time Team Frankie took the stage - they were ACE, especially as Rob INTRODUCED the songs and talked around them, it was lovely. Adam was next, and was REVELATORY, he was BRILLIANT, smooth and CLEAR and funny and ACE and everyone REALLY liked him. I'd never seen him play on his own before, and was worried that he'd be OK. I need not have so done.
Then it was ME! HOORAH! I had a GRATE time, it was LOTS of fun - I did "The Fight For History" LIVE IN CONCERT for the first time, and it seemed to go pretty well. Also "Easily Impressed" got a MASSIVE response, and i did ANOTHER Brand New Song! It's called "Rock And Roll Mayhem" and it's all about what's been happening to us - it was pretty short then, but it was destined to get longer... so yes, the gig was MUCHO FUN, and i got a bit MOBBED again afterwards with people wanting to buy copies of the EP. COOL.
Finally Jeffrey Lewis and cohorts went on, and they were GRATE - didn't really hear much of them in Birmingham, but this time they had my undivided attention, and it was ACE. I disagree STRONGLY with his History Of Punk, but it is a BRAVE MAN who travels to England and then claims that it was an American Invention, even if it DOES get a bit Ted Danson In Saving Private Ryan... but yes, the set was ACE - really funny, really clever, and just GOOD. He was also a really nice chap, and his comics (or is it comix) are SMASHING - me and Adam got one each, and we ENJOYED them at our leisure. I also got a MANLY HUG, as it turns out Mr Lewis is a HUGGER too.
Oh yeah, and we got PAID too! HOORAH! Team Frankie headed off to Sheffield, whilst me and Adam went to Eddies for TEA and TEACAKES and CHAT. We arrived to find "Blonde On Blonde" playing, and that set the tone for a MOST pleasant evening. The tour was going WELL!
Yesterday I went on a train, a tube, a train, a plane (nearly), a bus, a plane, another plan, a bus, a different tube, and a car. Later I recreated man's first naked steps at the dawn of time. It was a long, strange day...
Things went very well to start with - i got to Stansted fine, checked in my bag and was allowed to take my guitar on board no worries, and off i trotted to my departure gate, where I waited patiently for 30 minutes, then rather less patiently for another 30 as the plane continued not to arrive, and the SUPREMELY ARSEY counter staff (Stelios, train yr staff, give them PRIDE in their work!) continued to say nothing to us - even when other Actual Human Beings went to speak to them they said, face to face, as if it was somehow NORMAL "Please be seated in the area of gate 85 and wait for an announcement." It was ODD. Anyway, they started getting people boarded, and just as i was about to PROCEED they started UN boarding people - the plane's fuselage was cracked, so we all had to get off.
About 45 minutes later we were on a small BUS being taken across the tarmac to a different aircraft, and i RUEFULLY thought "This is probably going to take longer than it would have done on the train... OH! how the ABSENCE makes the heart grow fonder!" Eventually we set off, and for about 30 minutes all was WELL... until the pilot said "Er... we've got some bad news."
Apparently something to do with Take Off wasn't working, and as Easyjet don't HAVE engineers anywhere but London we had to turn round and go ALL THE WAY BACK! AAAAARGGHH!!! I've READ about My Aeroplane NIGHTMARE, and now i was HAVING one! BACK we went, sat around, got on ANOTHER plane, then had to wait MORE until a new CREW could come on. Still, i was glad of THREE things, ONE: I'd brought TWO books with me, as I'd now FINISHED "Turning Thirty" by Mike Gayle (ACE), TWO: I hate to think how MAULED my guitar would have got had it been chucked about between luggage compartments THAT many times and THREE: that i have the love of a good woman, as when I turned my phone on again i discovered that the FUEL of my ENGINES and her office mates had been INVESTIGATING my situation and formulated several ACTION PLANS to help me get to Glasgow somehow. Aaah! It was LOVELY!
Eventually we GOT to Glasgow, and i fear the TRAVAILS of the TRAVELS had made me somewhat SNIPPY, and i was positively SHORT with the nice lady at the Bus Information Point - it wasn't her fault that it takes 30 minutes to get to the City Centre, and me saying "30 minutes?" in an exasperated way didn't make it any shorter. BAD ME!
So yes, I got to the city centre, happy to be finally here, checked in to my hotel, got myself SORTED, headed off to the Glasgow Underground, got out at Kelvinbridge, and wondered the streets until i was discovered by my touring partner, Mr Adam Smith, his friend Martin (they were playing together as The Plimptons last night), and I think his MUM, who gave me a lift down to road to the Tchai Ovna Tea House.
What a LOVELY place. It was like someone's living room, but someone REALLY cool, one of those old hippies you very occasionally meet who NEVER sold out and are now... well, running a tea house, really. It was the sort of place where (V) on the menu means VEGAN, as EVERYTHING is veggie. I had a lovely cup of rice tea (actually, a POT of same) and some FALAFEL, during which the mighty Frankie Machine (in DUO mode, being Rob and Gary) arrived, and we started setting up. There was a TUSSLE for SPOTS, so we TOSSED for it - everyone wanted to go on first, and The Machine WON.
"Oh no - by the time I go on I'll be DRUNK" I thought. "Oh, hang on, no i won't."
On came the MACHINE then, and were LOVELY, especially "Black Eyes", which is my FAVOURITE (I've been singing it all morning, in fact, or at least the first couple of lines). It was actually a pretty good VIBE for them to slot in to, and all was BEAUTY. The Plimptons came next, and were VERY funny, although PITY the poor Crusty stood next to me, who FREAKED. "I can't believe I'm seeing this man" he said, and FLED. That's how good they were.
Then it was me, and once again i ESCHEWED use of P.A., and AGANE it was a really good idea, it felt NICE, and I made myself LOUDER by standing NEARER. I must say, I thought it went really well, i had a GRATE time, managed to make NEW IMPROVED REMARKS between songs, did "Clubbing In The Week" for the first time in AGES, did "Looking At My Hands" for the first time in public EVER (seemed to go OK), and generally had a SMASHING time. ESPECIALLY nice was the fact that, afterwards, several people complained of songs that had got missed out, that made me VERY happy. Also I sold about EIGHT copies of the CD - ZANG! I had POCKETS full of Strange Scottish Money.
Then it was HO! for an Actual Pub, and we found ourselves PURSUED by Licencing Laws as we visited FOUR seperate establishments, including Adam's SANCTUM SANITORIUM, and FRANKENSTEINS, where the toilets made Scary Noises. Automatic Scary Noises, that is, it was a little odd. We had a GOOD TIME discussing many pertinent issues, and it was a happy ME who returned to my hotel room and to bed, unaware that the day had not finished with me yet...
You see, in the past couple of years, since I've got USED to sharing my bed, I have taken to becoming CONFUSED whenever I wake up on my own in a strange place e.g. last year, staying at my parents' after the Beer Festival i woke up an PANICKED because I couldn't find the door, and ended up pulling down the curtains. It had NOTHING to do with BEER, by the way, that is a dirty FIB. Anyway, I awoke in the middle of the night and stumbled over to go to the loo... and went for the wrong door. I suddenly found myself standing NAKED in the corridor, with no glasses on, locked out of my room!
I could not believe this had happened. I stood, suddenly VERY AWAKE, unable to accept that I had woken into some kind of RIDICULOUS SITCOM, but soon I had to agree that, yes, I was completely naked in a hotel corridor. I tried to think of a way to get in, COULDN'T, and then dashed up and down the corridor SQUINTING CLOSELY at doors to try and work out where on earth I was. Eventually I made it, PERSONALS FIRMLY CLASPED (see, sitcoms ARE good for something, thank you James Nesbit in Cold Feet for showing me the correct procedure there) to the reception. "Er... I'm locked out of my room!" i said, and the reception guy GASPED, and LUNGED across the desk to make me a new one. He practically THREW it at me, and i RAN, i said RAN to the lift, and back to safety.
I woke up this morning in DISBELIEF that it had ever happened, but in Mr Benn STYLEE i found my second key card next to the bed, as proof that my adventures had been real. ROCK AND ROLL MAYHEM!
And now I'm off to HULL to continue the CHAOS... possibly. I'll remember to wear some CLOTHES in bed tonight though...
Rather than going straight to Birmingham for the first date of my TOUR, i went to DERBY. It turned out that it was almost as quick to go there first, almost as cheap, and featured a LOT more Johnny Domino, for LO! they were playing at an All Dayer at the Vic. They were FANTASTIC - they've just got an Actual Human Drummer, The Jeffbot 2000, and the difference in them and their sound was PALPABLE. This was obvious right from the off, when Dr Coca Cola McDonald attempted to introduce them with SONG. As his guitar did not appear to be working he tried to engage the AUDIENCE in some participation... however, most of the audience at this point was DISAFFECTED YOUTHS who were crowding each other out at the front of the stage, the better to look a bit petulant. As Dr Coca Cola McDonalds began, however, SO DID THE DOMINO. It was GRATE - they were JAMMING, it was a cross-fertilising ROCK MOMENT, a platform from which they then SOARED through their set. It was ROCK! Jeffbot 2000 tried to sound as machine-like as possible, but FLOURISHES and Actual Human Rhythmic Interaction could not be denied, and thus they GROOVED. Most noticeable of all was the effect this had on Marc, usually EXTREMELY CAMP in his flamboyant dance moves, this time BEYOND CAMP and into a whole other universe of EXPRESSION THROUGH DANCE. YES!
It was BLOODY GRATE. The audience MOVED FORWARD to be closer to their POWER, and as I left to catch my train The Best Band In Derby (source: everybody) had astoundingly GOT EVEN BETTER.
An hour later I was in BIRMINGHAM, waiting for the band to turn up, sat with Sam TastyZine, Mr Pete Green Ex Of The Regulars, and their relevant LIFE PARTNERS. I did a quick soundcheck, then Tiger Tom arrived, and I told him my FEAR: although both Tim AND Emma were coming I'd had to tell Tim he couldn't drum, as there was a DRUMKIT EMBARGO. Imagine my HORROR and FORBODING OF WRATH when i discovered there were not one but TWO drumkits on stage. URK! I was AFEARED.
More and more people turned up, including Ray Who Is Called Dann and his mum (aah!), Guesty From School, and - GOLLY! - best selling author Mike Gayle!! When we put out "This Is Not A Library" I sent out a few copies to people I actively LIKED, who i thought might enjoy it, mainly to attempt to KARMICALLY BALANCE the large number of SNARKY NITWITS (i.e. journalists at places like NME) who I felt duty bound to post copies too, if only so I could continue to moan about them continuing to ignore us. Which they do. One NICE person I sent it to was Mike Gayle, because i LOVE his books, they make me CRY, and goodness me but he wrote a lovely email saying he'd liked it. It turns out he's pals with Arthur The Promoter, so came along. COR, eh?
By now it was time for BANDS, and first on was BOM! who played drums, guitar and keyboards all at the same time whilst telling a STORY in a way EERILY like Dr Neil Brown a.k.a. Fish Protein Vindaloo, with whom I have played MANY times. Then it was Mr Pete Green, as aforementioned, who did "Share Your Kit" which PIERCES MY VERY SOUL, but we didn't get to see half his set as Tim and Emma had arrived and SEEN THE DRUMKITS, so we dashed around seeking a) permission to use one and b) some drumsticks, and also working out what set to do.
AT LAST it was our turn, and ONSTAGE we went. It was GRATE! By this point the room was RAMMED, and there were people standing LITERALLY five inches from my FACE, it was STRAAANGE, especially as those at the VERY front seemed to have come specifically to see Jeffrey Lewis, and looked at me as if they required to be IMPRESSED. Me and Tim did "The Lesson Of The Smiths" first, battling through, before more FAMILIAR songs. The absence of Mr Frankie Machine was NOTED, and REMARKED upon by me (as were many other TOPICS, which almost ALL got BIG LARFS! HOORAH!) until we ended with "Easily Impressed" and a TERRIFICALLY LOUD "Oi! HIBBETT!" bit which was ACE.
It was LOVELY. It was a Happy Band Of Validators who congregated in the corridor afterwards. THREE copies of the EP were sold, a couple of extra gigs were offered, MORE people were met (including Ms Katherine Kennedy of CUR1350, WHOM it was nice to finally meet) and PLEASURE shone around the room. More GIGS were spoken of, and even with the LACK of Mr Machine, the familiar feeling of SIMPLE JOY of The Validators was much in evidence.
This was much more than the FEAR and DREAD me and Tom felt trying to get back to Leicester, with the A68 closed and a lack of signage. Still, we got there eventually, and i ROSE at 7.50am to get the EARLY train back to That London for a MUCH NEEDED day of relaxing around the house with the Steam In My Iron, for LO! tomorrow I'm off to GLASGOW, and I won't be home until Thursday! I'll try and tell you what's happening through the medium of INTERWEB, but if you don't hear from me again until the end of the week, fear not - i shall simply be IN ROCK!
PHEW. The Sheffield gig is now happening again, it's been moved to Portland Works (Unit 26-7, Randall
Street, just round from CCC nr London Rd), which is a Studio. It's running as a Private Party, and will apparently be COOL. I am RELIEVED!
In other news, have some other gigs lined up in IPSWICH and LEEDS and maybe also BIRMINGHAM and CAMBRIDGE, but I shall detail these when i am not on tour. At present i am ON TOUR - Birmingham last night was GRATE, but more of that LATER...
Gig Instability Trauma
GAH! We've had a really bad run lately of gigs going wonky and not happening - the Validators gig in Northampton, for instance, or the Smelly Ball gig I was meant to be at - and now i bring news of TWO more. The Half Man Half Biscuit gig i mentioned last week is now being POSTPONED, because Ken from HMHB is poorly - it must be proper actual illness too, at this length of time, so much LOVE to him and them from all here, let us hope he gets better soon.
More frustratingly, next week's gig at The Green Rooms is now NOT happening, as the venue won't be open in time for us to play there. BOO! We're working HARD on finding at replacement gig (any suggestions most welcome!), so stay tuned kids, there'll be more news here as soon as i have it!
A Peculiar Evening
I had a very PECULIAR and EXTENDED evening last night... it started at 6pm for traditional Thursday Night PUB NIGHT with my brothers, and we had a GOOD one this week. We discussed ART (James had been to a museum in Madrid, so we discussed it in a High Falutin' Style), POLITICS (the fox hunting ban, and the WAR) and... er... COMICS - Paul has just finished reading Watchmen for the first time, after I'd BADGERED him into it, so we had a "discussion" about it, which, to be fair, included yet another outing for the The Time I Met Alan Moore Story.
What's that? Oh, go on then - around about 1985, when issue 11 of Watchmen had just come out, Alan Moore came to our local comic shop, House On The Borderland, to do a SIGNING. Me and my friend Pradeep turned up EARLY, fresh from school, and so had him to ourselves - we asked about the fact that the shape of the smear on the cover of issue 11, as we'd noticed it was the same as the blood stain on issue 1, and he patiently talked us through all the other times that, and the whole smiley face thing, appears throughout the comic. I then asked him if he'd be doing Captain Britain again, and he said no. I was only 15, if only I'd known he'd soon be stopping doing signings forever I might have actually taken some things with me for him to write on - as it was, when I sold most of my comics, I forgot to mention that issue 11 was signed... it would probably have made more money that way, but HEY! I don't think it's NICE to trade autographs, and it WAS a Pleasant Surprise for the nice bloke who came and bought them off me.
ANYWAY, just after 7.30pm I left the pub and came back to work, where I did some Actual Work (i know, i am THAT dedicated... also trying to get everything finished off pre-TOUR), whilst listening to Raw Talent, the radio show, ONLINE. At 8.45pm the phone rang, and a couple of minutes later i was ON AIR, Broadcasting to YORKSHIRE! It seemed to me to be all over in 30 seconds, but i think it was about ten minutes long, and I THINK it all went OK - I certainly talked enough, and managed NOT to be crude, lewd or vulgar, but if anybody heard it and knows any different, please let me know!
That done, I FLY from the office and headed to Mornington Crescent. I - HA! - got there using the Gardener's Manouvre in five steps, in Queen's Rules (NB Mornington Crescent joke, please IGNORE). I got to The Victoria, where things were in FULL SWING, and after about ten minutes i was on stage, and VERY NERVOUS INDEED. This was largely because I'd already been in the pub, and so was CONVINCED i was going to forget all the words to EVERYTHING. ALSO it was a pub largely full of people I didn't know and didn't know ME, and it's been a little while since I've played a gig like that, so i had to carefully consider what to play...
It started off Not Too Well with "The Lesson Of The Smiths" - having had no time to soundcheck, the guitar was WAY WAY too loud, and the PA system appeared to be the pub's own built-in one, and sounded HORRID. After that I made ADJUSTMENTS and did "Hey hey 16K", which also didn't sound too good, and was a bit of a mistake anyway, as it's not one to WIN OVER doubters, and by now there appeared to be a few of these... I always FIX on people like this, and get paranoid, and so all i could see were people with their backs to me, people talking to their friends, and the usual couple of people (in London anyway) who are being COOL and obviously DISTAINING what i do.
Someone said "Why do you need the PA? It's not helping!" and BY GOLLY they were RIGHT! I THRUST ASIDE the microphone, UNPLUGGED the guitar, and straight away everything felt better. "That feels better", I said, truthfully, and LAUNCHED into "Billy Jones Is Dead". It felt GOOD. It felt REALLY GOOD, i actually LOVE doing songs completely openly like that, and it went down WELL. Remembering my years of training i realised this was no time to SHILLY SHALLY with "new material" or "obscure tracks", this was a job for the UBER SET!
POW! "The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (Group B)"! ZAMMO! An extended introduction to "Easily Impressed"! KERBLAM! "Easily Impressed"! It was all DEAD GOOD, i was REALLY enjoying it, people had TURNED ROUND, and HA! even the couple of Cool People turned out to be DELUSIONS of my PARANOIA. SUDDENLY i had one song left, so of course it was "Boom Shake The Room" - I TOOK NO PRISONERS!
MAN! I really REALLY enjoyed myself, especially after the shaky start, and felt suitably WARMED UP ready for the tour. After me it was Mr Jeff Greene out of the Butterflies Of Love, who finished his set by attempting to cover "Work's All Right". Bless. He only knew the first two lines, so it was doomed from the outset, but i was CHARMED none the less, ESPECIALLY by his Dick Van Dyke accent.
I really enjoyed The Unpredictable Same too because we seem to keep appearing in it - "Lesson Of The Smiths" pops up in a Morrissey article, Mr Machine appears in another interview, and BEST OF ALL, I'm in the CROSSWORD on the back page! Oh YES! I was really CHUFFED, even if it did take me 10 minutes to work out the answer, it was ACE!
Shouting At The Telly
Some of my favourite things INCLUDE Shouting At The Telly, Constitutional Politics, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, so last night I was very pleased to be able to combine all three, watching the results of the (AT! LAST!) BAN on fox hunting, alongside the ASTOUNDINGLY biased reporting of it. Apparently that huge mob of arseholes fighting the police was just a small, unrepresentative minority, and everybody else there was really upset that the invasion of the House Of Commons was taking the attention away from what was a really quiet, polite, and civilised gathering. Bearing in mind that the demonstration was in favour of chasing and butchering animals FOR PLEASURE I found this a little hard to take, and when they went AGAIN to yet ANOTHER gormless inbred SHITE saying "This will destroy our way of life - poor us, the countryside will be come a BARREN WASTELAND if we're not allowed to CHASE AND KILL ANIMALS FOR PLEASURE."
ARGH! ANGER! RISING! And then they ALWAYS wheel on some tosser who says "Surely there are more important things we should be dealing with?" failing to mention that this was in the manifesto SEVEN YEARS AGO, and would, and SHOULD have come into law YEARS ago, BUT the House Of Lords kept sending it back to the House Of Commons - THEY are the ones who've dragged it out, but for some reason this never gets pointed out to them. AND! AND! When the demonstraters in the front line were complaining that when they tried to hit the police, they got hit back, wouldn't it have been nice if SOMEONE SOMEWHERE had said "Yeah, but at least they only hit you with a big stick because it's their job - would you rather they ripped you apart with their teeth, just for fun?"
GAH! FOAMING! AT! MOUTH!!
I wonder what the Hunt Sabs are going to do now? As I've said before, Hunt Sabs are, I reckon, the BEST of ALL political pressure groups because they have one clearly defined objective, and they pursue it doggedly, sacrificing their own time AND risking personal injury to carry it through. Perhaps this is why they're one of the few such groups (that I know of anyway), to have actually WON?
We Called The Fan Club An Information Service
Late breaking news - I am doing a GIG tomorrow night in That London! Jeffrey Greene of the Butterflies Of Love is over in this here country at the moment to do a few gigs, and this is going to be a Low Key Acoustical Evening. I'm doing my interview with the RADIo first, then I'm going to HOP over Euston way to play a few songs - I think it'll be a few people playing, so I guess I'll only be doing a couple, but I shall try and sneak in some NEW ones while I'm there...
So yes, after doing a telephone interview with the BBC to promote my forthcoming national tour, I'll be doing a low-key warm-up gig.*
This is all happening at The Victoria on Mornington Terrace, near Mornington Tube Station, on Thursday 16th. I guess it'll start 8.30ish, it's 2 quid "donation" for the room hire, and I'll be getting there slightly out of breath at about 9.30. If you can, do come!
* I keep saying things like this AS A JOKE all the time, then realising that, actually, they're TRUE. This especially happens with "the tour", which I always say in quotation marks but actually does not require them, as it IS a tour! Life, it is pretty bloody GRATE isn't it? I fully expect to wake up in a cold sweat to find myself aged 26 sat in my smelly old flat just about to go out and do my first, appallingly bad, solo gig.**
** Although if this DID happen i would not complain - I now KNOW where the Key In My Lock was LIVING at that time, so could go and FIND her early, and I'd spend a LOT less time getting worked up about what people who, really, didn't give a toss about me, thought of me. It'd be GRATE!
I Got In One Little Fight And My Mom Got Scared
I was in DERBY last night for the very first ASSAULT on the NEW ALBUM. As i probably mentioned before, we have a RADICAL new PLAN for how we're going to do this one: we're going to learn the songs BEFORE we record them, and we're going to learn them WELL. THUS i met with my MIGHTY RYTHMN SECTION (we're having Front Line Practices later in the month, it's Joined Up Government made MANIFEST!) in the Music Shed, in Derby last night to learn up some NEW songs.
It was STRANGE and EXCITING being in a new rehearsal place, but it was NICE and the gear WORKED and LO! there was even some air conditioning - the only downside was that it is HIDDEN so Tim had to come and collect me from down the road, where i was Visibly Distressed. We realised it had been at LEAST two years since we really WORKED OUT on some new stuff (altho there was a brief FLURRY of activity recently for the new EP, there were only actually a couple of new songs to learn), so we warmed up with a BLAST of "Easily Impressed", before offering up "Never Going Back To Aldi's" as the SACRIFICE to the GODS OF ROCK.
I say "sacrifice" because it didn't really work out - the verses sounded like DIDO, the bridge like P-FUNK, and the choruses... well, they sounded like SNUFF, I'm afraid. I think we may have to "revisit" that song a little further down the line... HOWEVER, we then worked up a FANTASTIC version of "Lesson Of The Smiths", which is sort of hoe-down, sort of FUNKY, and fifteen kinds of ACE, ESPECIALLY this bit just after the choruses when there's an EXTENDED DRUM BIT. Honestly, I was DARNCING around the room with GLEE at this point, it's FAB. It will also be featuring a STRING QUARTET CODA, but I haven't mentioned this to Tom just yet.
After a toilet/telephone/Budget Water break, we then did "The Fight For History." GOOD GOLLY! I'd pretty much worked this out in my head, but in the hands of RYTHMN SECTION it became Quite Different, and - CORKS! - VERY EXCITINGLY FAB INDEED! It's LOUD! I got a bit distressed at one point by the lack of Dynamic Change in some parts, then realised "AHA! This is only HALF the Validators! There's a whole WORLD of extras here!" and when i HEARD the possibility of Tom and Emma on it too, my JOY was unsurpassed.
And after THAT we spent half an hour working on something NEW... as tradition demands, we started off GOTH and veered wildly into REGGAE (this ALWAYS happens) before getting to something that was GROOVY and rather SUMMERY. We played this for AGES and I sang some words, firstly from another song, and then made up ones about watching Sgt.Bilko and The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air on daytime telly. This was GOOD because it helped me think about what i was going to do, but VERY BAD INDEED because a) Rob taped it and b) I have spent ALL MORNING today with the tune going round my head, with the words replaced by the lyrics for the theme tune to The Fresh Prince TV Show. Altogether now, "The licence plate said fresh and it had DICE in the mirror!"
Happy with our achievements, we played through What We Have Learnt Today, then bunked off early for a swift pint in the Real Ale Pub round the corner. It was three ROCK SATED Validators who swept away into the night, and the signs for this next album are GOOD. VERY GOOD!
Me On The Radio
I've just been talking to the Producer of Raw Talent, the LOVELY radio show which keeps on playing our STUFF. I'm going to be appearing on it THIS Thursday in a LIVE telephone interview, to (ahem) BIG UP the Tour next week, as two of the dates fall within their area. The show itself goes out every Thursday from 7-10pm, and I'll be on about 8.30ish. You can hear it, should you wish to so do, on BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Humberside, BBC North Yorkshire (Radio York) or BBC Radio Sheffield, or you can also listen ONLINE live via their website.
EXCITING, isn't it? Also PROPER: yes, i am doing MEDIA INTERVIEWS before the TOUR. WAHEY!
I'm due in the PUB beforehand for a quick drink with my BROTHERS... hopefully the TOOB ride home will have made me fairly SENSIBLE, eh readers?
Over on the Kooba Radio site there's a hot new EXCLUSIVE! Whoo! It's the version i recorded of "The Fight For History" for the Johnny Yeah Show a few weeks ago, and considering the HOUR and the BEERY STATE i was in, it doesn't sound too bad... the rest of the show is, as usual, GRATE, so GIRD thyself for a good hour or so of listening pleasure.
Back To Skool
I've returned to the 21st Century! I'm sat at my desk with it raining outside, wishing I was back having Holiday Fun, not really wanting to do anything but knowing that I've GOT to. I am fully expecting to find that my trousers are itchy, my tie is on too tight, and my blazer is far too big for me, because I'll "grow into it". BOO!
I had a LOVELY time on The Island though (you HAVE to call the Isle of Wight "The Island", it is the LAW). We went on several HEFTY walks, which went on for HOURS longer than the wildly optimistic map makers claimed, largely because the people who wrote the guides very obviously got fed up half way through. At the start it was all "Step over the stile, walk 3 paces, ignore the first sign, the walk across gently undulating ground (bearing right as you go) until you reach a gate". At the end it said "Walk. Lots. See city on hill. Go there." It was HEFTY FUN, also GOOD FOR YOU!
Which is more than can be said for all the BEER and WINE we drank, but HEY! We deserved it! We also saw some relatives, went on the PIER, went to BLACKGANG CHINE (which was DERANGED, also EXACTLY like it was when i was 12), went to the pictures, and generally had a LOVELY time. The Island (see?) is a STRANGE place though, it is very much preserved in AMBER, with signs and shops and clothes and streets and food and... well, everything, really, unchanged for decades. There's hardly any shopping chains there, which your average Saturday Guardian Reader might well ALIGHT upon as a thing of joy, but good golly by the end of the week one ACHED for something familiar that you might actually want to buy. The shops had been FOUNDED by FAMILIES 50 years beforehand, and the stock had mostly not changed.
It was brilliant though, the weather was LOVELY and most places were pretty much DESERTED. I felt HAPPY, RELAXED, and full of JOY to be in such a lovely place alongside The Ferry To My Island... aaah, HOLIDAY FUN!
And now I'm back at work... oh well, only a week until I'm off again, on TOUR! Let's start Winding Down NOW!
Right then, I think I've filed, cleared, emailed, finished, posted and wiped everything that needs to be filed, cleared, emailed, finished, posted or wiped, so now I'm off, on HOLIDAY! HOOOOOOOORAH! Me and the Sand In My Needles are off to the ISLE OF WIGHT for the week, as of tomorrow, i can't bloody WAIT! I am UNFEASIBLY excited about it, and will doubtless be going ON about it for weeks to come, much as i have been THINKING about it for weeks just gone. If anyone urgently needs to get in touch, and has my mobile number, i shall be switched on and ready to react, but otherwise send us an email, or get hold of someone at AAS instead. Otherwise, I shall be on the BEACH and/or in the Pool and/or looking at DINOSAURS!
I've been wanting to shout about this all week, but the fact that i wasn't quite sure if it was true has held me back... but sod it, guess what? We're going to be supporting HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT next month! KERZANG!
Well, i THINK so anyway. For ages now we've hassled venues and promoters for HMHB supports, and been turned down. We played with them a few times several years ago, when we actually personally knew the promoters responsible, but since then we've pretty much drawn a blank. Me being me, and slightly PARANOID about such things, became CONVINCED that Geoff The Manager took a DISLIKE to us the time we covered "Quality Janitor", and has VETOED future supports (even though - hey! - i once got a Very Very VERY nice postcard from Nigel saying he wouldn't mind if we supported again), whilst wiser heads have suggested that maybe somebody's realised that we'd pay to get in ANYWAY, and that us supporting thus LOSES them money...
Anyway, Tim The Celebrity Drummer heard they were playing in Nottingham, and as usual asked me to GET ON IT and get us the support - I pleaded DESPERATION and so HE took the job on instead, and LO! the promoter said "I don't see why not." We heard nothing else for ages, until Tim bumped into him at Leeds Festival. "Can we tell people we've got the support then?" asked our trusty back line commander. "I guess so", said Anton The Promoter. That's a "yes", isn't it?
In consultation last night Tim and I decided that, yes, it IS a "yes", so YES - we ARE supporting Half Man Half Biscuit! HOORAH! I'll wait until i get a proper written confirmation before i start emailing people and putting it on the gigs list, but for anyone reading this who's coming to see them in October, we'll see you there!
Now all we need to do is to decide whether or not to do a cover version, and if so, what. At the moment I'm leaning towards YES, and doing "Even Men With Steel Hearts", but we'll have to see if we get time to learn anything, I guess...
Buildings Ebb And Flow Like The Tide
The other thing about the Clock we bought for Mat, apart from it being Actually Very Nice, was that it's one of these new-fangled ones that SET THEMSELVES. Personally I think this sort of thing is one step too far on the way to SKYLAB and THE MARCH OF THE MACHINES, but anyway, what it does is listen to RADIO, find out what the exact time is, and then ROTATE its own hands until it is correct.
The effect of this is EXTREMELY SPOOKY. We put the battery in, the clock paused, and then suddenly the hands WHIZZED ROUND. Having been conditioned by years of sci-fi and whatnot, it looked to all the world as if we, the AAS Board, were TRAVELLING THROUGH TIME! EONS passed as those hands whizzed by, the skyline grew and fell, strange creatures roamed the land - it were SCARY!
When we emerged to head towards the curry house i looked nervously around for any sign of MORLOCKS emerging from the nearby Pump & Tap... the ELOI, of course, aren't back for a couple of weeks yet, and anyway they drink in the It's A Scream place these days.
A Momentous Evening
I got the usual train up to Leicester last night for an AAS Board Meeting... for the LAST EVER TIME!! Fear not, gentle reader, Agents of THE MAN have not finally succeeded in destroying us, very much not, but an even EQUALLY dramatic occurred - Mr Whitaker has RETIRED!
INDEED! He told me and Mr Fleay about it a couple of weeks ago (er... because it's the three of us who ran AAS, you see), and he would not be persuaded otherwise, so last night we presented him with an Actually Rather Nice Clock, had the FINAL GROUP HUG of our lengthy career, and headed off into the night for a CURRY to mark the occasion. It was all quite touching really - Mat had decided that he didn't have the enthusiasm for it any more, and that he'd rather be doing something that he got more out of, so like a Gentleman he told us so, and that was that. In the field of ROCK i am VERY MUCH a fan of only doing things when they are FUN, so i SALUTE him for his decision... even if i wish he hadn't made it.
So yes, it's now just me and Rob running the label, and as we both talk to each other on the email most days ANYWAY and see each other for GIGS toothere's no real need for properly minuted meetings and extra train travel, so we're going to be working in Exciting New 21st Century Ways! It is the dawning of a NEW ERA! Ideas we have on EMAIL and/or in the PUB after GIGS will now have a VERY REAL chance of being passed as AAS Policy! URK!