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Lost In Shoreditch
I went up to SHOREDITCH last night, where my faith in the TFL Journey Planner was almost SHATTERED... usually it is a BRILLIANT thing which tells you how to get anywhere in That London from anywhere else, and what tubes, buses, boats and trains you can catch to get there, and if it's easier to walk it says "WALK!", in a slightly disappointed way. It's so useful that MANY times when I've been going somewhere else I find myself logging on to see if it'll tell me how to get from, say, Sheffield Station to the venue I'm after. Oh! If only it COULD be national!
Anyway, it's never let me down before, but last night it REALLY did, as I hopped on a bus from Liverpool Street and found myself MILES away from where I wanted to be... goodness knows how it happened, but suddenly it was 10pm in a really not very pleasant part AT ALL of East London (which itself is not exactly a jewel in our nation's crown), slightly tipsy, having been in the pub with various BROTHERS beforehand, and starting to PANIC that I was going to miss The Fighting Cocks, for LO! it was they who I had travelled to see.
I needn't have worried, because I finally arrived back at the venue to find that they had swapped places with a Band From New York. Now, you've just read the words "Band From New York", and I'd guess that the first thought that flashed through your mind was of one of the 15,000,000 bloody dreary sub-Strokes four pieces, who all dress in EXACTLY the same way, play EXACTLY the same sub-pub-rub "New" Wave dullness, YELP witless proclamations from the stage, and have a name beginning with "The". Well, I'm not sure WHAT their name was, but in every other respect this is EXACTLY what they were like, they were even doing that PAINFULLY SHITE thing where the singer GETS! SO! EXCITED! about what he's singing (why, i do not know), that he PHYSICALLY RECOILS from the microphone. GAH! Tuneless, pointless, witless and woeful they were, but for some reason various people were getting quite excited - perhaps they had never SEEN a band before? This is the solution I generally come round to in these cases... the only DIFFERENT thing about these production line pillocks to all the OTHERS that wash up on our shores and (NB Metaphor Ahead) inconvenience the seagulls is that, apparently, their female fans always turn up in their PANTS. Oh yes, down the front was a small clutch of women in ill-advised underwear, dancing unalluringly in suspenders... i guess it's meant to be daring and decadent, but to be honest having all those backsides hanging around wasn't particularly nice. I don't waft my old arse around near other people's pints, and I see no reason other people should think they are being GROOVY by doing the similar.
Anyway, after all that it was FINALLY time for The Fighting Cocks to take the stage and, as ever, they were GRATE. Along with Charlie now there are FOUR Lady Cocks, so that when they all sung together it was like being MOBBED, but GRATE. It's funny that the more they all dress up in PVC and sing songs DESIGNED to be provocative, the more you want to go and give them all a big HUG. I think it's probably the fact that they all seem rather pleased to be there, and are obviously having FUN. ESPECIALLY when they did "Love Somebody", which sounded FANTASTIC.
So in the end all was WELL, and I dashed off for the INSANELY LATE train full of JOY. I love going to GIGS, gigs are GRATE!
Off to DERBY the other night, for yet another Band Practice. My WORD what a TIGHTLY RUN ORGANISATION we have become - who could have dared to dream that, months ago, when we HILARIOUSLY suggested LEARNING the songs BEFORE we recorded them, that we would actually carry out such a MADCAP SCHEME? Yet, here we were again, assembled in our little room in Derby, doing exactly that.
This particular night was SPECIAL, however, because it was the first time all FIVE of us had gathered together, and it continued to be SPECIAL throughout - especially when we did "The Fight For History", when Tom UNLEASHED firstly a SCARIFYING line of violin on the first verse, before EXPLODING into MULTI-PEDULAR MADNESS on the next, or when Emma sang HARMONY VOCAL throughout "Breaks In The Journey". I got especially excited about that - Simon and Garfunkel must have had to spend HOURS rehearsing each song, if every three lines Paul Simon had to keep stopping and going "Wow! You're singing harmonies, BRILLIANT!", or forgetting to sing his bit because he was too THRILLED by what was going on/
So yes, it was REALLY GOOD. We sorted out "Never Going Back To Aldi's" ("Less stopping", said Mr Pattison, and he was CORRECT, also Rob did a THRILLING FILL), ran through "The Gay Train" a few times and SHAPED IT UP, did "Zipcodes" for the first time (WHOO!) and generally ROMPED through "The Lesson Of The Smiths". It all sounded ACE. The only song we didn't have time for was "Girlfriend Alarmed", we were so busy PRACTICING, we didn't even do a NEW SONG.
I'd intended us to have a quick go at "Teenage Kicks" too, but perhaps happily for all concerned we didn't get round to it. We DID do a minute of RANDOM NOISE and ODDNESS, which sounded rather good actually, to make sure the tape player was working, and I think that was probably a bit more appropriate... it was all GOOD anyway, there was even a CRISIS when Rob's BASS completely broke and he and Tim had to drive off to get another, but such ADVERSITY only spurred us on.
Afterwards we dashed round the corner to the PUB for a CHAT and a bit of a BAND MEETING. We've agreed to schedule in another couple of practices and then, in January, go and DEMO all these new songs - ZANG! In February we've got a Radio Session for "Raw Talent", a gig in Leeds and then, maybe, a couple MORE gigs. In March we're hopefully off to America, then there may be a SMALL TOUR in the Spring before, in June-ish, we're going to RECORD! THE! NEW! ALBUM!
That's the PLAN at any rate, whether it happens like that is FOR THE FATES TO DECIDE. It does feel rather STRANGE, planning out ROCK several months in advance like this, but it seems to work... and just think, this time next year we could have our THIRD album finished! YAY!
More Mr Peel
BBC Radio Derby asked Rob to say something about John Peel, from the perspective of an independent record label, and he wrote a mini-essay about what he meant to us at AAS, specifically about the first time he played one of our records, and the time Rob met him. It's really rather lovely, and you can read it here, on the Radio Derby website, if you'd like to. It's all true!
This Changes Everything
I've just heard the news about John Peel... I can't quite grasp the hugeness of him dying, this is going to change everything in Alternative Music forever. As I'm sure everybody is going to be saying over and over again for the next few weeks it's impossible to overestimate the influence he's had on music in this country, and especially in the independent, or underground, or Alt, or whatever you want to call it end of the spectrum. Being in a band MEANS having a demo to send to John Peel, or later a single, and then listening in every night or checking the tracklistings to see if he's played you. Only the other week Chris T-T was saying how chuffed he was to get played on the show, and I think that's something that NEVER leaves ANYBODY in bands. Getting a Peel Session was something we ALL want to do, and now that's all gone.
Now there'll be no single GodHead Of Indie for EVERYBODY to send stuff to, indie kids will send things to indie DJs, Techno kids to Techno DJs, and all the other genres he played or was yet to play will now have to find somewhere else to go to. Radio 1 will probably replace him with a clueless twit who'll shout down the airwaves in an attempt to sound cool, but will never BE as utterly, effortlessly, brilliantly COOL as John Peel was. Literally HUNDREDS of bands will be deprived of the one big piece national radio play they were ever likely to get, and literally MILLIONS of people will now never hear the exciting, bizarre, rum and brilliant things he was going to play.
I saw him once, at The Phoenix Festival, walking through a crowd backstage. The crowd parted for him, and every now and then people would break into applause, because as well as all the above Actual Things He Did, everybody loved him, which really is a greater testament to a life lived than all the Achievements and Influence Had.
I still can't believe it though. What's going to happen now?
I live in That London these days, and it is a BRILLIANT place to live. We're massively over-supplied with entertainments, government spends HUGE amounts more on our pleasures than anywhere else in the country, and anything COOL that could very easily, and much more practically, be built or staged somewhere else in the country (like the new Wembley, or the "Oh yes, that's REALLY going to happen Mr Coe" Olympics) gets arrogantly and automatically plonked here. The music industry lives here and refuses to get off its arse and look anywhere else, which means there's LOADS of GRATE gigs each and every day, we earn more money than anywhere else (although of course we have to moan about the cost of living), and THUS there are loads of BRILLIANT places to go and eat and drink and look at things while we do all of the above. ALSO you get to see famous people all the time - just the other day, for instance, i nearly walked into BRIAN MAY in the street, though we were both too polite to make a big deal out of it. It feels sort of WRONG and sort of DIRTY, but GOOD GOODNESS ME it is a WHOLE LOT OF FUN to be here to take advantage of it.
However, as mentioned within the above, there are DOWNSIDES to all this, and by and large this is the simple FACT that London is a MAGNET for tossers, arseholes, gits, wankers, and the Generally Arsey. I'm not sure if they all MOVE here, or whether the city is a PILLOCK GENERATOR or something, but wherever you go, there they are - pushy, overwhelmingly arrogant, and just plain RUDE sods who think they are more important than ANYONE else and see no reason to apologise for anything they ever do, indeed, they think they should be APPLAUDED for their "get up and go".
This can be seen any morning at a busy TUBE station. For instance where I get on, at that time in the morning, trains go roughly once a MINUTE, yet still, EVERY time a train comes in these people RUN, PUSHING and SHOVING everyone else out of their way, to the doors and GRAPPLE with each other to get in, then HURL themselves to seats (where they then STRETCH their arms out to read the Daily Mail and GLARE at whoever's sitting next to them) or stand far too close, ANGRILY staring at the infidel who DARES to be seated. This usually happens just as the next, empty, train is pulling in to the station.
I mention all this because this morning i saw the ABSOLUTE ZENITH of Arsey London. Coming OUT of the tube station next to me this morning, a woman stopped to look at an advert. Coming DOWN into the station a man almost collided with her. Normally there would be tutting, some GLARES, and then they'd step round each other, but not today: Arsey Man GLARED. Arsey Woman GLARED. Neither moved. Arsey Man BERATED Arsey Woman. Arsey Woman BERATED Arsey Man. NEITHER MOVED. Apparently Arsey Man was VERY IMPORTANT INDEED and had no time to be STOPPED (for 0.01 seconds) by having to move round the Arsey Woman, whereas Arsey Woman was VERY IMPORTANT INDEED and should she choose to stand still on a busy stairway to look at a picture, then everyone else should move around her. Nobody Moved. Arsey Man had now delayed himself a good five seconds, whereas Arsey Woman could not look at the picture she wished to see due to Arsey Man in the way. And yet still they stood there, halfway up the stairs, face to face, each refusing to move.
This all went on ahead of me as I walked upstairs. As I passed they were pointedly IGNORING each other - because, of course, there was now A PRINCIPLE AT STAKE, which was EVEN MORE IMPORTANT than they themselves were - whenever somebody says "It's the principle that matters!" it always seems to me that the "principle" is "I am very important indeed, LOOK AT ME!" - and so, of course, to give in would be IMPOSSIBLE. Still they stood there, by now QUAKING with RIGHTEOUS ANGER. How DARE she be where I wanted to walk! How DARE he want to walk where i am standing!
I reached the top of the stairs and looked back, and they were STILL THERE. Surely he was in a hurry to catch a train? Surely she was on her way out somewhere? Could it be that NEITHER of them were SO vital to the ongoing good health of the nation after all? I didn't notice the foundations of the United Kingdom quaking, though that may be because they were pumping "Bohemian Rhapsody" out of the front of The Theatre With The Giant Freddie Mercury.
I got to my corner, and turned back, to see NEITHER of them emerging. I wonder if they'll still be there, stood face to face, when I go home tonight? I do hope so. If more Arsey People like that could CANCEL each other out in this way it would be a happier, simpler land to live in, and even IF we had to lose that aspect of public transport, I for one would be willing to make that sacrifice. And if someone as INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT as me can do it, surely we all can?
People keep saying to me "Ooh, have you got that Franz Ferdinand album yet then?" and the answer is "No, I haven't", for LO! I have no TIME for Art Pop or whatever it is called at the moment - music in my house is dominated by an EXCITING NEW GENRE: Gentlemen I Have Met Who Often Play Without A Rhythm Section. Expect to see NME increase in size next week to fit it on the front cover!
For the past month or two the building has RUNG to the sounds of the new Frankie Machine album, "Re-Unmelt My Heart", which i have already gone on about A LOT i believe, and which is FINALLY officially out very soon. At a similar time there was a lot of AIRPLAY given to the output of Mr Winston Echo, who i went to see not long ago and, EXCITINGLY, will be going to see AGANE at the LSE on Monday, although I'm not entirely sure where the venue will be so i might actually just be wandering around Central London for a couple of hours... anyway, his stuff is ALWAYS ACE, tho his new Split EP, with Ray K is ESPECIALLY so, and not just because it mentions ME in the words. Although i DO really like that...
As also mentioned, we went to see Chris T-T last week, and so impressed was The Text In My Text Message that she BOUGHT his album, and by GUM but it's really good. I have to admit, on first listen it sounded a bit under-done, but, as aforementioned Shopping In My Basket stated, "It's a GROWER" and now my head is FULL of the TUNES and the SOUNDS that have since emerged on many MANY listenings. "Giraffes", obviously, is a beautiful song, but I think my favourite at the moment is "7 Hearts", which is JUST LOVELY. Also it has GRATE backing vocals, and is all round ACE.
Also also at the weekend i recieved a PACKAGE containing two MORE CDs - both from JOHN OTWAY. The main one is his BRAND NEW ALBUM, "Ot-Air", his first new release for about 10 years. I approached it with some trepidation - could it STILL be good? Would it DELIGHT, ENCHANT and INSPIRE me as the b-sides to and other candidates for The Hit had done? It's being put out to raise money for his WORLD TOUR next year (It's OTWAY, so he's hiring a jumbo jet and playing places like Carnegie Hall, Sidney Opera House etc - OTWAY ROCKS!), so i worried that it might be a bit dashed off, and possibly a bit Dull... what a FOOL i was! It is BLOODY GRATE!
If you've not seen Otway then DO SO NOW. DO NOT WAIT. GO AND SEE HIM. Anybody ELSE will know what i mean when it's the same mixture of hope, daft jokes and poignancy that make up his live gigs, wrapped up in a BIG BUNDLE OF LOVE and tied up with MIGHTY CHARM. As I say, if you've NOT seen him live you may find this description unwieldy and/or a bit sentimental, but if you HAVE then you will most likely be GRINNING at the memory of one of those gigs. YEAH!
The nice thing is that ALL these above mentioned records are available DIRECT from the ARTISTES concerned - isn't it wonderful living in the modern world eh? Just in case you feel inclined, here's LINKS to where you can BUY these fantastic records:
In The Country
Deep in deepest Leicestershire, preparations are in hand for what, already, I am calling "WOOD(house eaves)STOCK"!
Other people are calling it the Toddlers Playground Project's Christmas Gig, as that is what it is... it's going to take place on Saturday December 11th at Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall (just outside Leicester, accessible by bus route 123, i think), and it'll feature a BIG SET by The Validators, followed (and maybe preceeded too) by THE TUBE BAR, legendary discotheque of YOR. News reaches me today from a Mr T. TheCelebrity Drummer that, rather than bother everyone with a BAR and LICENCE and things, it is going to be a BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE affair - this, surely, is the MOVEMENT sweeping the nation at current time? Apparently there is also going to be a SMOKE MACHINE! WHOOOOO!!!
I'm really looking forward to it anyway - if i get my act together I'm going to be putting more details, like what buses you can get there and back from Leicester and Derby, at www.mjhibbett.com/christmasgig/, so that hopefully we can get some TOWNSFOLK there too. It is going to be ACE.
Just The Me
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a modern blog in possession of server stats must never be in want of bizarre, strange, or rude referrals from google. Today, however, I saw something that surprised even MY battle hardened interweb eyes. For LO! yesterday somebody came to this site searching for Nick Faldo Naked.
The sad thing is that I instantly thought "Ah! You want to search for 'Nick Faldo Naked' instead of the individual words..." My dears, I almost tried it. In Images.
Saturday was a delightful day of BIZARRE BUMPINGS INTO. It commenced at lunchtime in The 12 Bar, when i bumped into Dr Neil Brown, my colleague from VOON and THE COUNCIL and also from Many Years Of Going To The Pub With. OK, this one wasn't particularly BIZARRE as it had been arranged for at least a fortnight, but it WAS very pleasant.
The MADNESS commenced shortly after, when we went to the rehearsal room behind and met Mat K-Star, as he is known to US, or BLACK SEPTEMBER (and various other monikers) as he is known from his days in The Action Time. Mat and I were in The K-Stars together 3,000,000 years ago in Leicester - a band which also featured UK Hip Hop's Supreme Vagabond Craftsman on drums, EEEH BY HECK it was a Leicester version of Big In Japan - and I hadn't seen him for YEARS until i Bumped Into him a Winston Echo gig a month or so ago. Neil had Bumped Into him on Charring Cross Road earlier, so we all went for a quick drink together. It was NICE.
We then headed off to St Paul's Youth Hostel, a VERY POSH place where Dr Brown would be residing for the evening, then it was HO! for ART at Tate Modern, where we went to see the Bruce Nauman installation in the Turbine Hall. It was BLOODY BRILILANT. It's basically loads of massive speakers playing different loops positioned along the length of the room, so as you walk through it's like being INSIDE Revolution #9. There's a "WHOOOOO-ooooooo" noise in the background too, and it all merges together with the echo of the room and with people walking and talking through it, so it's confusing AND beautiful, it felt to me sort of like being telepathic, hearing all these thoughts together, and for some reason also how I thought the after-life might feel. It was, as i said, BEAUTIFUL, and I wasn't the only one walking round with a big cheesy grin on my face. We DISCUSSED the fact that we'd come to "see" it, but were actually "hearing" it, when Neil pointed out that the looks on people's faces as they stood still and listened to the sounds, and the way they reacted to the different sounds, was something to see in itself.
If you get a chance, go and SEE/HEAR it, honest, it is ACE.
ENLIVENED by the ART we went to have a quick Walking Too Fast, Not Really Paying Attention tour of the rest of the building, which is always a GOOD WAY to beetle round the Tate. My FAVOURITE thing there is still Lightning with Stag in its Glare by Joseph Beuys, baby it EFFECTS me every time i see it, though I did get quite EXCITED when we happened upon THE KISS by Mr Rodin. This was where i had the second BIZARRE BUMPING INTO of the day, when suddenly there appeared unto me DAVE from B3TA. "Here for the art?" he said. "Yes!" I replied, because I was.
By now ARTED OUT we headed off along the river and then across to Trafalgar Square for THE PUB, but the BIZARRE BUMPING INTO had not finished with us yet, as, just after Embankment, we BIZARRELY BUMPED INTO Mr Chris T-T, who seemed as surprised to see me as I was to see him i.e. Quite A Bit. He'd just done the Paul Ross show, and was off to continue his London Tour of the weekend, so we had a quick chat, during which I told him how UTTERLY GRATE his gig had been on Wednesday (which it had, i may already have mentioned this), passed on the ENTHUSIASM for it of The Saturday In My Weekend, and much Pleasantry ensued. He went off to continue the ROCK, and we went to THE PUB, where we met Cathy, the LUCKY YOUNG LADY with whom The Doctor and I shared a house back in the FIFTEENTH CENTURY when we were all at Polytechnic together. There was DRINK, there was, later, PIZZA, and there was a LOT of Waving Around Of Arms, Declaiming Of Theories, WINE, and General Agreement With Each Other. It was BLOODY BRILLIANT! HOORAH!
There were no more Bizarre Bumping Intos, but hey! That was enough for ANYBODY for one weekend, right?
Hey Hey 16K Chords
I've been meaning to put this up for AGES, because people do occasionally ask for them, and it also crops up in my Referral Stats sometimes, so here we go - the lyrics and chords for Hey Hey 16K.
I should point out that the copyright and that is owned by WipeOut Music so... er... those chords are only my interpretation and should only be used for "fun"! Yeah!
A Lovely Evening 2
Last night the Spice In My Curry and i went to a GIG, to see Chris T-T at the 12 Bar. It was GRATE.
I always think of Chris as a sort of Super-Evolved version of ME, like someone gave ME Red Kryptonite and I BECAME a Possible Future ME, that... er ... was Chris. Does that make any sense? It seemed to last night on the way home, in my head... anyway, yes, i say this because he always seems to be a couple of years AHEAD of me - for instance, last year he gave up his day job and started doing ROCK full-time, something which I guess MIGHT be possible for me to do one day. Anyway, we had a quick chat with him when we arrived, he is a LOVELY chap and it was BRILLIANT to hear how well things are going for him now. The whole Not Having A Day Job seems to be working pretty well now, he says, and he's got all sorts of Exciting Prospects coming up, including a new album for which - AHA! - he and the band are going to do DEMO VERSIONS before they record it properly! Everybody's doing it! He seemed really happy with things, and it was HEART WARMING to see his Brave Decision had paid off. He was writing his setlist, so i asked for "Hole Full Of Submarines" and we had a CD SWAP. THUS this afternoon i shall be listening to his live acoustic album, COOL.
He had to get ready to GIG so we went and got a PINT, and I once again thought "I really like the 12 Bar, it is ACE", because it is. It's SORT of like a Red Kryptonite version of The Magazine, the pub in Leicester i drank in over a DECADE ago, because it feels like a homely place you could sit in and have a PROPER PUB EVENING in, but also feels like Things Could Happen, that you're likely to bump into somebody and form a BAND and/or devise a GRATE IDEA and actually carry it out. The Mag was VERY MUCH like that (i ended up being in a LOT of bands at the time), and the 12 Bar feels to me like a more relaxed, older, but still GROOVY version of it. Is GOOD!
So yes, we got our drinks and went in to see Chris, who'd promised a slightly different set to usual, in that he did mostly "serious" songs. We do get compared to each other occasionally, he and I, but I do think a BIG difference between the two of us is that he always makes a clear distinction between his "serious" and his "stupid" songs (the latter usually being the ones he puts out as singles, like "Eminem is Gay"), whereas i VERY MUCH DON'T. I do wish he wouldn't, it's like he's apologising for writing a song with some gags in, but i can see why he DOES do it, as he always comes across as quite SINCERE and COMMITTED to things which... er... i don't necessarily always do.
He was certainly BOTH of these things last night, doing a string of heartfelt songs like that drew out the PASSION in him, he was AMAZING. Mention was made of Bruce Springsteen a couple of times, and you could see that in him too, the DETERMINATION and again the PASSION of his singing and what he was singing about was a JOY to see. He's also got a WINNING WAY with the PHRASE, my favourite being when he sang "I am silenced by contentment... and supermarkets". It may not read that well, but when he sang it it was RIPE with meaning, it was deeply affecting and MOVING. He also did "Giraffes" which apparently he doesn't usually do solo, and it too was GRATE - the three rules of Giraffes! FANTASTIC!
I had a THOROUGHLY GOOD TIME, and was ALL CHUFFED halfway through when he dedicated "Hole Full Of Submarines" to ME! OOH! He was very complimentary INDEED when saying so, and EXCITINGLY (NB if you are ME) when he said "MJ Hibbett is here" a couple of people went "Ooh!" GOLLY! I got a bit excited and said "Thank you very much!" but unfortunately i didn't say it QUITE loud enough for him to hear and thus for it to qualify as Audience Interaction, but I said it TOO loud for it just to be me talking to someone nearby, so instead it came out SLIGHTLY MAD, and SHOW OFFY. I felt like a bit of a WAZZOCK.
But apart from my own DAFTNESS it was just a FANTASTIC gig, DEFINITELY the best I've ever seen him, passionate, exciting, and, when he sang "We need a rabble rouser" in "Bored Of The War" I, and I'm sure everyone else who was there, thought "Yeah! I vote for YOU!"
A Lovely Evening 1
I headed up to LEICESTER on Tuesday evening for the first FRONTLINE Validators practice. As mentioned previously, we are attempting a RADICAL NEW PROCESS for recording this album i.e. learning the songs BEFORE we record them. Part of this involves having a few seperate rehearsals for different sections of the band, with the RHYTHM SECTION working out the Rhythmical Structure (oh yes!) and the FRONTLINE HONING the Melodical Intricacies. YEAH!
That was the plan anyway, though we didn't get a huge amount done, choosing rather to sit around and have a chat for a lot of the time, which was actually rather LOVELY. A similar thing happened at the first Rhythm Section practice, it is part of the process of BEDDING IN, and is one of the NICE aspects of this new methodology - previously any practice would have been guided by the thought "ARGH! We've got to learn eight songs in the next ten minutes, because we're booked in to RECORD them tonight!"
We did do a LOT of work on "Lesson Of The Smiths" though, and we came up with an EXCITING idea for the backing vocals in the choruses, and some GROOVY FIDDLE ACTION for the song as a whole. Poor old Tom has just started a new job, so he was rather BEFUDDLED in that way you get when you start a job and EVERY DAY 3,000,000 people tell you their name and what they do and expect you to REMEMBER it. Emma meanwhile said STRANGE and EXCITING things like "We could do some harmonies here" and "Maybe we should have some different words for my bit?" WOW! I've still not really got used to the POSSIBILITIES of having somebody else singing as well, it's not something I've ever had to think about much in BANDS so it is MIND EXPANDING to be doing it now. I also REALLY REALLY like the idea of us USING the Singing Together THING as something new in itself, sort of like we do at the end of "City Centres", which we ALSO sang on the evening to get ourselves warmed up a bit.
So yes, the BRANE is humming with THORTS on this matter, especially the realisation that it IS going to be a good idea to go in and do some DEMO versions of these songs early in the new year for us to work from. I can see why most people DO do things this way round, it is FUN!
Anyway, we had a few goes at "Never Going Back To Aldi's", which was sounding pretty good, then I sang "Zipcodes", because i just wanted to, and it was time to GO. We walked Emma back to her car, as she was heading home for TEA, then me and Tom went to the PUB, where we bumped into Mr C Lawson and Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with BEER. I have no idea what we talked about, though it did seem to be rather JOLLY at the time, though I did feel a bit BLEERY eyed when I had to get up next morning at 6.30am...
Also I had been SHOWING OFF with my new phone by opening and closing the automatic LID. I'd got the new one SPECIFICALLY because the old one kept running out of juice, so imagine my HORROR when the new one, after three days of me going "Look at this! Isn't it cool?" then ALSO died on me. The consequence of this was that, next morning, I couldn't really tell what time it was so ended up leaving Tom's FAR too late and had to RUN to get a bus and then RUN to get the train in time. FEAR and FOOLISHNESS!
A Good Idea
I had a Good Idea today, so i thought I'd share it with you... as is ever the way, I'm currently daydreaming about the packaging for the next album (you know, the one we haven't finished writing yet, let alone actually learning), especially the CD-R extras. TOP plan is to do a Band Commentary, as i think that might be quite good fun, but I've been PUZZLING about how to PRESENT it - on the last two CDs I've done it as a computer-esque theme, with screens and stuff, but I've STRUGGLED to think of a new way to do it.
AHA! Of course! The MJ Hibbett & The Validators ADVENTURE! "You are in a room with three doors, one marked with 'lyrics', another with 'demo versions'", THAT sort of thing, except, you know, MORE GOOD. We could have very slowly appearing and ultimately disappointing images! Thrilling new avenues of discovery! "Frankie sits down and starts singing about gold".
YEAH! You can see why i wanted to SHARE, it's a GOOD IDEA!
Oi Mate! Give Us A Song!
Lugging a guitar around is generally GRATE - people LOOK at you and think "Who is that mysterious MUSICIAN? He must be COOL!" [NB this only works if the guitar is firmly IN the case] and when you see other people with INSTRUMENTS you can NOD in a nonchalant stylee like two MGB owners either side of a railway crossing i.e. in a COOL way. The only downside of it is that if you walk near a crowd of >3 blokes (especially lairy looking blokes with shaven heads) one of them will ALWAYS say "Oi mate! Give us a song!" or words to that effect.
OK, this does not make for a TORTURED EXISTENCE for the TROUBLED ARTISTE, but it does get a bit annoying when it happens EVERY time you step out of the house with yr AXE, and ESPECIALLY so when a large crowd become first confused then ENRAGED that you have not EITHER collapsed in hysterics at this HILARIOUS remark OR whipped out said axe and laid down some funky chops. I don't understand where the compunction to make the remark comes from either - when we see somebody walking down the street with a LADDER we may think "I wonder where he's going with that ladder?" but we DON'T shout "Oi Mate! Get me something I can't reach!" Similarly when we see a couple of backpackers nobody shouts "Oi Mate! Pitch us a tent!"
ANYWAY, that is what usually happens, and it is usually a little GRATING... HOWEVER! This morning the whole thing was reinvented for the new millenium - EMERGING from the tube (gasping for breath as I'd stupidly walked up 134 steps rather than wait for the lift) someone shouted "Oi! Mate!" I turned round, ready for the baldy headed DENOUMENT, but was surprised to see a man weilding a SAXOPHONE, saying "We're in A MINOR! Let's GO!" He then proceeded to BUSK there in the street, it was ACE! I wish i HAD then WHIPPED OUT said AXE ... but then I'd've had to tune it up and everything, and the mood would have been lost. Also I am rubbish at the JAZZ.
Still, it was really lovely, a ray of SUNSHINE shone into Central London and I was on the recieving end of it.
I got a VERY exciting item through the post today, from Mr E Bewsher, Patron Saint Of Validity, in Hull. A package from Eddy is ALWAYS a thing of JOY, and this was no exception, for LO! it was a CD containing photographs and VIDEO FOOTAGE of the 12 Bar gig the other week. MODERN, eh? The BEST bit (if you are ME) was film of me doing "Payday Is The Best Day". "What is the weird effect on the vocals?" I thought, then remembered - it's PEOPLE SINGING ALONG! WHoo! Best of all it features the bit where, mid-song, I thought "I wonder if i can get away with STADIUM CLICHE #1: Let The Audience Sing The Chorus?" As i may have mentioned, I had a go, and it WORKED! And, as you can see from the video, i was very very pleased about it. If I've got space on the server I'll try and put it up next week, though it IS rather big so may not be viable.
Anyway, have a lovely weekend everyone, I'll try and get back with some MULTIMEDIA next week!
As threatened yesterday, I've finished writing the HOT new song "Zipcodes", and the words are available NOW in the Song Blog. I did most of it last night, nearly finished it this morning, and then did the final bits on the way in to work, THUS it has never actually been played all the way through, so may well change over the weekend and/or when I play it with the band, the the STRUCTURE and the general idea are THERE now. Hoorah!
I'm EXTREMELY chuffed with it i must say - this is a song i have been waiting YEARS to write. I don't think I've ever explicitly written a song about comics, tho as i say i have spent a long long time trying, and I'm ESPECIALLY pleased that, now I have, it mentions BOTH Marvel Two-In-One AND John Byrne's run on Fantastic Four. Oh yes!
SOUND-WISE it sounds a bit like "Everything's Turning Out All Right" crossed with "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", sort of - whereas in previous SONG BATCHES we've aimed for John Cage Card descriptions ("Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers", for instance, was us pretending to be The Velvet Underground if, instead of becoming, well, The Velvet Underground, they'd all done teacher training and now taught in a school in the Midlands. You could probably tell that from listening to it, I expect) or STRUGGLED through the MISTS of my descriptions ("a bit like cutting cheese, but purple"), THIS time we are COMBINING two or more of our own songs, thus COMPRESSING more goodness into every song!
Also, it must be said, I think this song is the Spiritual Successor to "Hey Hey 16K" - have a look at the WORDS if you would, gentle reader, and see what you think. I've got some MP3s of us rehearsing, so I might do a MEDLEY of bits of the new songs too, to give you an idea... I'll see how they sound first though!
In The Zone
I headed back to DERBY last night, to continue preparations for ALBUM THREE with another Rhythm Section Practice. It went really really well.
Last time we learned up "The Fight For History" and "The Lesson Of The Smiths", both of which we played a couple of times last night, and both of which BLOODY ROCK. We inserted a sort-of-stop bit into "Lesson Of The Smiths" and a DRUM WORKOUT (ish) into "The Fight For History", and it all sounded PRETTY BLOODY EXCITING, also SCARY - Rob pointed out that the noises he and Tim were making sounded SUGGESTIVE of Nuclear Paranoia, and it FRIT ME UP!
Also last time we'd spent AGES trying to work out "Never Going Back To Aldi's". This time Tim pointed out that maybe we'd been trying too hard to make it "different", and perhaps we could try RELAXING and playing it however it came naturally. He was CORRECT! We played it again, and it sounded GRATE! In theory we were doing pretty much what we'd tried to do last time, but THIS time it worked, from Pretending To Be Dido in the verse (NB do not panic, it doesn't actually sound like that) to BREAK IT DOWN in the BRIDGE, to the VALIDATORS MAXIMUS chorus, it was ACE! HOORAH!
The plan all along has been to Jam Some New Material, so i brought a HALF FINISHED song to the GROUP - it's called "Zipcodes" and it's about wanting to buy sea monkeys and things from the back of Marvel comics in the 1970's... honestly, it is Quite Good despite what that sounds like, and so far I've only written the first two verses, although i know what the rest will be ABOUT. The main thing it has is a bass line, which Messrs Fleay and Pattison used to create a TITANIC FUNK SOUND that was... rather THRILLING. I guess I'd better get the rest of it finished!
Now we were on a ROLL, and moved on to "Girlfriend Alarmed", which sounded pretty much RIGHT the first time we played it through. Mr Fleay suggested some JUDDERING, we did it a couple more times, and we were SORTED. As he pointed out later in the evening, normally it would have been at THAT point that we'd have gone next door to Kev's and recorded it for POSTERITY, it felt GOOD, yet ODD, to know that we'd have a bit more time to FINE TUNE it before then.
And STILL there was more, as we moved on to "Breaks In The Journey". Tim developed a METRONIMICAL, ROBOTIC BEAT, which Rob played along to until we discovered - AHA! - it sounded MUCH better if he left half the bass line out. AGANE, this took things in a DECIDEDLY FUNKY DIRECTION, and OH! what a joy it was to be alive and playing it. This one'll need a bit of working UP to get it a bit more DYNAMIC, as mostly it was us REVELLING in our own funkadelia (NB as above do not worry, gentle reader, if it sounds funky in my MIND it does not necessarily mean it will sound like PARLIAMENT to anybody else), but it was GOOD.
We then ran through What We Have Learned at HIGH SPEED, and that was that! Tim, having been at work at 6AM that morning left to KIP, Rob and I headed off into the night, murmuring EXCITEDLY between us about how well it had gone. For LO! It really had!
The Shed's Nearly Full
Keen observers will note that the Shed Of Reknown is now nearly FULL! For those that came in late, the idea is that the first 60 people to buy the EP online (or by cheque) will have their names entered in GLORY forevermore (ish) upon the aforementioned Shed Of Reknown! I just thought it'd be an interesting thing to NOTE where in the world purchasers of the EP came from, and as I don't tend to take people's names and addresses when I sell CDs at gigs, this seemed the simplest way of going about it.
About half the people who bought the EP online bought it as part of a Gift Pack Select Pack. Again, for those unaware of it, this is a SUPER SPECIAL OFFER where you can buy ALL the back catalogue i've got LEFT for a bargain-a-licious 25.75 pounds. I'm steadily running out of ITEMS for it though - there's only five copies of "A Church Hall Of SOund" left, and unless the mythical Garage Of My Parents contains any more, only about three "Milk & Baubles" too - so if you're especially EAGER to get these items, now might be the time to visit the online emporium!
We were talking last night about what to do if and when these finally sell out. We COULD reissue the LOT on CD (i am INSANELY JEALOUS of Mr Francis Albert Machine's singles compilation), as there's LOADS of compilation tracks and things that we could stick on too, but i also like the idea of songs like "Fucking Hippy" existing ONLY as b-sides for people to TRACK DOWN if they want them. I don't know, I'd much rather have our next release being NEW stuff, but I guess we shall have to see how long it takes us to do the next album before i start to worry about such things.
These ARE the sort of things i worry about though, DERANGED, isn't it?
In Other News
Also over the weekend, the following:
The Dictionary In My Spellchecker and I re-wrote the Validators' Biography, it now looks Quite Good, i think. You can read it HERE, if you so wish.
We also listened to Re-unmelt My Heart, the new Frankie Machine album, rather a lot. It's BLOODY GRATE.
Later we went to the PUB, where i had my first taste of Marston's "reissue" of Burton Bitter. MAN ALIVE! I used to drink this quite a lot back in... well, 1992, i think (see below) and OH! the sudden wave of TASTEBUD NOSTALGIA when i had my first sip! BLIMEY! It was ACE - everybody! DRINK SOME! I'm actually out for a beer tonight with my old drinking partner from those days, i shall try and FIND it somewhere...
I found a REVIEW of our recent GIG in Sheffield in this month's Tasty Fanzine. The review's rather nice, even tho the accompanying photograph is a bit unflattering!
It was off to BRIGHTON for me on Saturday, to play a benefit gig for Hen Heaven, a chicken sanctuary, apparently, that looks after birds "rescued" from Battery Farms... i say "rescued" because i assume LIBERATED would be a better word, but I guess they can't really say that.
ANYWAY, Brighton is a CRAZY kind of place. Walking down from the railway station it is just like any other city in our great nation on a Saturday night i.e. full of lairy looking groups of men in white shirts and black trousers looking drunk and/or aggressive, freezing cold looking groups of women in hardly anything looking also drunk and/or aggressive, and vomit. HOWEVER, a 10 minute stroll leads to the SEASIDE, where suddenly it is roughly 1956, and then a few minutes later I found myself in 1992.
For LO! The gig was in a Vegetarian Cafe (although they served FISH, which is a bit of a cop out, but still) in The Brighton, and it was LOVELY as all such places always are - there was the traditional noticeboard festooned with adverts for house shares and cat-sitters, MOUNTAINS of leaflets about workshops and marches, a menu that was horribly out of date but had been specially laminated so couldn't be changed, a more reliable blackboard, and of course QUICHE. Mmm! The QUICHE was lovely! As for the 1992 aspect - in the early 90's i drank in a pub called The Magazine in Leicester which was run as a Workers' Cooperative, and as well as all the above named Feature Items was always full of stereotypical Leftie Types of the time. Nobody had less than three beaded necklaces, clothes were obviously hand-made, sari's and kaftans ABOUNDED, and hair was either SHAVEN (for the ladies) or DREADS (for the gentleman). As my good friend Dr Neil Brown noted at the time, also for such a peace loving group of people there was an astounding amount of military clothing on display, especially below the waist where combat trousers and parachute boots ABOUNDED.
I thought these people had disappeared for good, but NO! They are just living in Brighton these days! Hello nose ring! Hello home made hoummous! It was lovely to see you all again!
Anyway, I got myself a bit worried about how I'd go down when the first act appeared to be a lot more COMMITED than I was, although I was reassured when the compere turned out to be an Alternative Poet (this was the LAW, in 1992), who did a GRATE poem about Margerine and Vegans (honest, it was ACE), but i was still a bit nervous when I took the stage... however, it all went REALLY well! Hooray! I sweated like MAD and did everything at HIGH SPEED (leading to a pretty valid Constructive Criticism afterwards from somebody who couldn't understand what i was saying in the 3rd verse of Things'll Be Different) but I also managed to tell some fairly involved stories, including showing off about having seen Brian May in the street last week. He was very tall. The new songs went down really well, especially "The Fight For History", and although they were hesitant people DID join in with both "Easily Impressed" AND "Boom Shake The Room".
It was all good. Paul The Extremely Nice Promoter gave me some CDs of his bands Anal Beard (with whom i played last time in Brighton) and POG, and offered us a Validators Gig down there some time - Brighton, along with Glasgow, THUS moves itself to the forefront on next year's VALIDATORS ASSAULT, to BREAK new territory! - and then I had to DASH off. Amazingly it took me just TWO hours to get home, i almost gave myself WHIPLASH so i did, such was my SPEED.
Next stop: DERBY tomorrow night for band practice, next gig is SHEFFIELD at the Fuzztival!