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A Church Hall Of Sound
I headed off once again for LEICESTER last night, but LEICESTER was not the end point of my journey - once safely there i HIKED across town to the bus station, where i was SURPRISED by people in the CAFE Actually Being Quite Friendly. I thought it was some WEIRDO PSYCHO LOON who said "It's cold isn't it - where's your gloves then?" but then remembered that i was in LEICESTER, land of FRIENDLY PEOPLE!
The bus came and we headed out into the DEEP DEEP DARKNESS that is rural Leicestershire, through Cropston, Anstey, Rothely and more until we finally arrived in WOODHOUSE EAVES, and after a short walk i found myself outside the CHURCH HALL, venue for our Christmas Gig a week on Saturday, and thus ALSO the venue for our Dress Rehearsal.
Going inside was AMAZING. Cosmopolitan gadabout that i am these days it is a LONG time since I've been in a Church Hall, so the sudden WAVE of familiarity came as something of a shock. It SMELT exactly like these places always do, and it SOUNDED the same, like being underneath an echoing sheet of Repectful Quiet. The stage was set up just like the stage used to be in St Barnabas Church Hall in Peterborough, where we'd go every year for the Church Fete. My Grandad was born on Christmas Day, and as a large-ish extremely JOLLY chap he would always be Father Christmas, sat on the stage listening to kids tell him what they wanted. Going up the steps at the side of the stage last night, it all came back to me, and as I looked out into the Hall itself I could point out the area where my Nan and my Mum always had their white elephant stall. Later on Emma went into the kitchen to find some cups, and we all ended up drinking Pepsi Cola out of porcelain tea cups. Also later Tom found one of those old super-bouncy rubber balls, which I GLEEFULLY bounced around the room, reliving the excitement of doing EXACTLY the same thing in the All Saints Church Hall where I went to cubs... MAN, it all came flooding in. The most moving for me was on the way home, when I realised that my lips and mouth had gone dry from, I guess, the dust in the room, in PRECISELY the same way they used to after cubs when i was TINY. Sat in the car I felt as if we were driving down Huntley Grove at 9pm on a Wednesday evening, to get our traditional post-cubs tea of CHIPS.
It was all very nostalgic, and I fear I may have stood around BREATHING IT IN when I should perhaps have been helping Tim set things up... Rob soon arrived and between us we got things vaguely together, and then Tom turned up with John The Soundman to set things up a bit less vaguely, and Emma arrived bearing four way adaptors. I got all moved and mushy again shortly after that - it had looked like we might only have one microphone, but then through a combination of INGENUITY and Tom Having An Adaptor things got sorted out, and soon all SIX of us were busily beavering away, getting things set up in this GRATE room. I stood looking up at everyone else on the stage working away and thought "WOW! I absolutely LOVE this band - this is FANTASTIC!" for indeed it was. Later on Tom and I excitedly talked about all the brilliant ROCK things that have happened this year, but really for me the most JOYFUL and LOVELY thing is that we as a band get to hang around and do daft/brilliant things like do a dress rehearsal in a village hall for a christmas gig. It was lovely.
Anyway, we got set up and got going, and it was STRANGE. John, Tom AND Rob all checked, and ALL of them said things sounded good from the hall, but up on stage things sounded ODD and DISCONNECTED. This was because of the gigantic empty ECHO CHAMBER we were playing in to, also because we had no monitors so we couldn't hear the singing (I have a VERY sore throat today!), and also I guess because of the general WEIRDNESS of the setting, but we did eventually get ourselves going and poor old John had to listen to quite possibly the LONGEST soundcheck in ROCK history - as well as revisiting "Never Going Back To Aldi's","Quality Of Life Enhancement Device", "The Lesson Of The Smiths" and "The Gay Train" (all up for a FULL BAND DEBUT), we did "Things'll Be Different", "The Symbol Of Our Nation", "Give Us A Kiss (for Christmas)", "Billy Jones Is Dead", "Easily Impressed", "Hey Hey 16K", "Payday Is The Best Day", "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" and "City Centres" - ALL of which, along with "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", we intend to do on the night.
So if you're coming, bring a cushion.
FINALLY we ended, having got to sound Pretty GOOD i think by the end, packed up, and headed into the night. Tom and I enjoyed a fairly common sensation when travelling together i.e. Being Vaguely LOST, and we happily REGALED John with tales of OTHER occasions when this has happened, NONE of which, i pointed out, had ended in grisly murder or DOOM, as yet. We dropped him off and then PELTED across Urban Leicester to make it JUST in time for the end of Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey's Birthday Drinks, which was nice, before heading back to Tom's for a nice cup of tea and the aforemention AGREEING with each other about how MAD this year just gone has been.
It was, all in all, a LOVELY evening, and I'm now officially EXCITED about the prospects for the gig itself. I was LESS excited, mind you, to be getting up at 6.30 and almost immediately having to walk to the train station - the sun didn't come up until we got to Market Harborough! It was DARK!
As mentioned previously, I am a little WORRIED about canvassing votes for things like the Festive 50, as it's something i always think of as PURE and not to be SULLIED by self-promotion... HOWEVER, interweb awards such as THIS:
these are a COMPLETELY different thing ALTOGETHER! Look! It's Hey Hey 16K, up for an award! Could everyone please go an VOTE for it please? And also get other people also so to do? It would be GRATE - i doubt there will be an award ceremony or anything, and it's hardly the most COOL and GROOVY sort of award to get, but SOD IT, let's try and get it! BRING US GLORY!
Dress Rehearsal In The Village Hall
I'm off to Woodhouse Eaves tonight for the DRESS REHEARSAL for our Christmas Gig, and i go with a headful of Musical Thoughts. These have been partly brought about by listening to a tape of our last practice, and thinking "Ooh, we're quite good aren't we?", but ALSO by watching Howard Goodall ANALYSING The Beatles at the weekend.
Mostly it was DEAD GOOD, as I spent most of it going "Exactly, the Beatles DID completely invent every genre of music since and WERE the most important band ever, you are CORRECT to say so Howard", and i ESPECIALLY enjoyed the bit where he went through all FIVE major, radical, brand new ideas contained in "Tomorrow Never Knows", as it sounded like EXACTLY the sort of thing i used to say when I used to get involved with these sort of arguments in the pub - nowadays i try and AVOID getting involved with "are the Beatles over-rated?" "discussion" in the same way i try to avoid "aah, but if you don't eat meat, why do you wear shoes?" type "discussions" because they usually end with EITHER me getting upset and annoyed OR me upsetting and annoying someone else and, frankly my dear, it is rarely worth the bother.
ANYWAY it was GRATE, even when he tried to illustrate his point about a song by singing it HIMSELF, and suddenly it was MUSIC CLASS at school with an over-earnest teacher singing Pop Songs in a reedy Church Voice and making it VERY DIFFICULT not to GIGGLE. The thing that really got me though was when he started talking about COMPOSITION, specifically about CHORDS. "A poor composer", he said, "will just take the easiest most obvious chords, the first ones he finds. A good composer however will track down the ones that serve the song the best."
My dears it was almost as if he had leant out of the telly and WAGGED a REPRIMANDING FINGER at me - am i GUILTY of this apparently heinous sin? SUDDENLY i was back in the rehearsal room with Tom saying "the chords don't change much, so it's difficult to find a violin line", or Rob saying "oh me oh my, what CAN the chords be do let me guess is it C and G by any chance?" (NB Sarcasm)... have i done all i can to make my COMPOSITIONS of INTEREST? Have i worked hard, played well, been kind to the younger ticks and treated the skool dog with respekt ect ect ect???
I don't know - on the one hand, sod it, there's enough going on OUTSIDE the guitar chords, especially with BAND in action, on the other, well, perhaps using Cdim32aug6# instead of C for a change might PEP things up a bit? We can only try it out and see - i shall report back from the CHORD FRONTLINE anon, if you don't hear from me again you will know i have MANGLED my fingers in the cause of RESEARCH!
We went to see The Incredibles on Friday. The cinema was FULL, especially of Kids going "Ooh wow!" "Look at that!" and "COR!" also full of ME saying pretty much the SAME. It was BLOODY GRATE! OK, it was funny and clever and exciting and MOVING and all that sort of thing, but also it was a SUPERHERO FILM that did the superhero bits RIGHT, FANTASTIC! The bits where DASH especially is running round were UTTERLY ACE - i especially liked the way you could hear his FEET going whenever he ran anywhere, also when they did the traditional Fast Running Superhero (or "speedster", as it shames me to know) bit of running over water - FAB! Or the - oh dear me - FASTBALL SPECIAL towards the end. CORKS! ALSO brilliant was the way they all worked together like a Proper Superhero Team. In the XMEN films all the characters got their own bits and didn't really do the superhero things, in this one it was like one great big FANTASTIC FOUR story from start to finish. WHOO!
This was the same cinema near work that is also within walking distance of five comic shops, and also the same cinema where i went to see XMEN and SPIDERMAN, so i was well aware that there would be loads of GEEKS there (you know, the kind of people who know that the correct term for a superhero who can run fast is a "speedster", or who, upon seeing one smaller superhero being thrown in the air by a strong superhero think "YOINKS! FASTBALL SPECIAL! Those sort of people...) and THUS determined NOT to embarrass myself by blurting out "PHOENIX!" like i did at the end of XMEN2.
My word it was difficult, ESPECIALLY when we got to the end, and every FIBRE of my body was screaming "WATCHMEN!!!! IT'S LIKE WATCHMEN!!!!" but i managed it... Cinema Dissonance (i.e. me liking films and the LADIES of my house disliking them, or vica versa) was LOW this time - they thought it was "Quite good, but not as nice as Finding Nemo", which is fair enough. I was thinking "I wonder how long it'll take the DVD to come out?"
The Shed Of Reknown is FULL! As you can see by the CHART to the top right of the screen, we have reached our target of 60 purchases via the SHOP, and now their NAMES shall liveth evermore (ish) engraved upon said SHED OF REKNOWN.
Rather beautifully, the penultimate copy went to someone from SWEDEN, with the very final one going a gentleman in HAWAII! HAWAII! HOORAH! Say hello to Mr T Magnum for me won't you? Tell him i am still enjoying his box set!
Do not despair if you have not bought the EP yet, it is still VERY MUCH available, and also do not despair if you are a FAN of our regular Jolly Promotions - "Warriors Of Nanpantan" will be out soon, and I have a feeling that one's going to be NUMBERED! WAHEY! Completism and Wrist Ache AHOY!
Down In The Archives
This morning I have been DELVING into the Hibbett Archives to try and track down ... er... TRACKS for the WARRIORS OF NANPANTAN compilation. This has LITERALLY meant RIFLING through EIGHT (8) sets of drawers and Looking Under The Bed. So far I have found CD versions of half the things, some tracks on MP3, and - feel the nostalgia - a batch of DATs!
DAT! The first time i ever saw a DAT was in The Victorian Era, when we first went to Stayfree to record some VOON songs - this was just after i had commenced my Glittering Career In Academia and had recieved a TAX rebate because, as is traditional, Personnel had cocked up my tax details. Rather than save the money or pay of any DEBTS i set the standard for the entire rest of my ROCK career by thinking "Naaaah -let's SPEND it on making a RECORD!"
SIDEBAR: funnily enough part of the reasoning behind Warriors Of Nanpantan is that I'm going to be getting some CA$H for a bit of extra work next month, and rather than saving it I thought "Naaaah -let's SPEND it on making a RECORD!" PLUS CA CHANGE and all that, but i digress from my digression...
So yes, off we went to Stayfree and THENCE to Memphis Studio where we met Kev for the first time (who also set a personal standard by being LOVELY and giving me a lift home). He recorded everything onto DATs, it was the format of THE FUTURE we all believed - digital quality recordings on an analogue tape! That's got to be good! Space for about an HOUR of stuff! Used to create Modern "Compact Discs"! Tiny!
Over the next few years, yay even up unto recording "Say It With Words", we used these, so I have a lovely little collection of them which, as stated, I RIFLED through this morning. The only problem with them, really, was that you needed Hugely Expensive Equipment to ever actually LISTEN to them, and so if i wanted to, say, get a single track off for a compilation, I had to go in and see Kev again and get him to put it onto a CD for me. HENCE i have two mysterious DATs labelled "Validators part 1" and "Mixes 9/99" which i THINK are the two compiled batches of recordings for the "Say It With Words" sessions.
When we recorded that album, we did the first ten or so songs with ME playing bass, and then the second ten with Ollie doing it. These 20-ish were then put onto tapes and handed to band members, Durham Ox Singers, and a small select group of other people of good character, who then completed Focus Group forms to tell me which were their favourites. These votes were compiled and then used as the basis of which songs went onto the final album, with the final final list and running order being decided by me, Rob, Ollie, Tim and Tom one night in The Three Nuns in Loughborough - a LOVELY night where we had too much to drink, did the pub quiz, rushed off the running order in the last ten minutes, had to PHYSICALLY RESTRAIN Tim from booking us a gig in the back room there and then ("let's do the album launch right here!"), and then had to ring Emma to come and pick us up, as we'd missed the bus home. ROCK AND ROLL!
Thinking about it, we recorded a LOT of songs in those sessions - all the album (apart from "Born With The Century", which we'd already done), half of "Milk & Baubles", the b-sides to "Hey Hey 16K" and "Payday", "Mr Right" from the AAS Online compilation, and even a couple MORE tracks that never got released... including, I suddenly recall, an unreleased Frankie Machine song called "Friday 13". LOR LAWKS A-LUMME but we were busy!
So anyway, yes, I have these two DATs which i THINK are going to yield quite a few items for the compilation, but we'll not know until Executive Compilation overseer Mr R Fleay goes into The Hive in Derby to listen to them. What WONDERS shall he uncover? We can only dream, and hope.
Download From Kooba Radio
I'm currently listening to this week's Claire Dickinson show on Kooba Radio, for LO! it's the previously mentioned Artists Against Success Special! WHOO!
It's GRATE - goodness ME, we've put out some FANTASTIC records, and when you hear them strung out like this it is WELL impressive - The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken! L Christian Lundholm! Europa! Johnny Domino! Frankie Machine! THE LOT! It all sounds LOVELY in the extreme, I've always thought we've put out CHALLENGING and DANGEROUS records, but it turns out that, for the most part, it's been beautiful, heartfelt songs of LOVE and beauty. Well done US!
Between all this wonderfulness there is RATHER A LOT of me talking... as I mentioned before, it starts off with me being, frankly, RUBBISH, and poor old Claire has to PUSH me into talking. HOWEVER, you can TELL that, during Johnny Domino, i decided to tell stories BETWEEN songs rather than during, and you can ALSO tell a few songs later that i was onto my second beer and ENJOYING myself... especially when i start SEGUEING into each song like a RADIO PROFESSIONAL. Hoorah!
Needless to say i have charged up my phone, ready for all the job offers from national radio stations... but anyway, i do HEARTILY advise going over and having a listen, as we really have put out some WONDERFUL records, and hey! If you like, why not make some of our ARTISTES happy by buying a record, they all make lovely Christmas presents, honest!
We Got Gigs!
Have I mentioned our mini GIG FRENZY for next year? If not, watch out, HERE I GO: We've got a mini GIG FRENZY early in the new year - yeah! WHOO!
It's sort of crept up on us really - we start off with DERBY on January 10th at the Vic. MAN ALIVE this'll be the first Validators gig in Derby for AGES, since the AAS All-Dayer all that time ago, and hopefully we'll be doing a GOODLY CHUNK of New Material, especially the Church Hall Unsafe New Material that we WON'T be doing at Woodhouse Eaves in a
couple of weeks.
Shortly after that Mr McClure and I will be taking our DUO show to IPSWICH, to the Steamboat. This ought to be HOT FUN for many reasons - obviously it is always a DELIGHT tp do one of Tom and I's duo gigs (we're actually doing one next weekend at a Private Function, for which i am LEARNING UP "Winter WOnderland"), and it'll be especially good to play Ipswich for LO! for some reason there are quite a few people living in that particular HOOD who've bought records from me recently. ALSO it's the first of what i hope will be MANY trips into uncharted territory next year, and if all goes well this will be a TASTER for a gig LATER in the year with a) The Validators and b) another band EVEN MORE Famous (yes! even more!) than US! Who might that be, you ask? Ah, if i told you, you would call me PREPOSTEROUS!
Did you see what I did there?
After that we hit the RICH SEAM of ROCK that, hopefully, will coincide with the release of the "Warriors Of Nanpantan" album. We're in HULL at the start of February doing a LIVE SESSION for Raw Talent on the BBC, then the NEXT night we're playing in Leeds again, once more with the MIGHTY Johnny Domino, and then the NEXT weekend we FINALLY bring the Validators back to That London, to play the Bull & Gate.
Ah! The Bull and Gate! Home to so many MEMORIES - the first place i ever drank BEER in That London, the first place i ever did a GIG in That London (in Voon, on my own, AND with The Validators), and most important of all the place where i first met The Beer In My Pint Glass, four years and a bit ago... also the place where i have seen LOADS of GRATE bands, loads MORE rather LESS GRATE bands, drunk A LOT of beer, had a BILLION GRATE TIMES with various people, and is STILL one of my favourite pubs... EVER!
So yes, we have MANY gigs ahead of us and MUCHO good times hopefully to come - get those dates DIARISED for FUN!
We went on a HOUSE OUTING to the pictures on Sunday to see BAD SANTA. Now, I'd read reviews of it so was all ready for a DIRECT and Slightly Bad Taste film full of swearing and unpleasantness, whereas my house mates HADN'T read reviews and were expecting a Slightly Naughty but still Jolly Christmassy film... so they didn't enjoy it quite as much as me, unfortunately. Actually, I thought it was BLOODY GRATE and GIGGLED, also LARFED a LOT, especially in the second half when there's more of Sherman Herman in it. It was EXTREMELY FUNNY i reckoned, and spent much of the way home going "45! HAAAAALF" (NB this is a Very Funny Bit when they do some negotiation and... actually it's probably best if you see it) whilst The Film In My Projector and The Landlady looked at me slightly AGHAST, having enjoyed it rather LESS.
Also over the weekend I FINALLY finished "The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow" by Jerome K Jerome, which was ALSO GRATE - I'd stopped MONTHS ago halfway through the last chapter for some reason, and had left it lying untidily around the BOUDOIR. As i was tidying up, I thought I should finish it so i could put it away, and read an HYSTERICAL chunk about how older people always complain about the weather not being half as GOOD as it was when they were younger - this was all written over 100 years ago, and, like most of the book, was ASTOUNDINGLY relevant still. In fact, he himself goes on to say that, even though he himself may claim that winters really WERE winters back in the 1850's, he does remember old sods in HIS youth saying exactly the same thing, and he goes on to wonder whether THE ROMANS got fed up with elderly senators whinging on about how, in THEIR day, a summer really WAS a summer.
These two events led me to wonder, did our predecessors experience Relationship Cinema Dissonance? Did Victorians wander mansion-ward from The Magic Lantern with Sir Sebastian Farnsworth saying "BRILLIANT! What about the bit where the man WAVED? Or the bit where the horse moved? FANTASTIC!" whilst Lady Farnsworth would rather have gone and seen the one where the rabbit lollops over to a lettuce leaf? Did Yeoman Jones ever DESPAIR as to what on earth his good lady wife saw in Measure For MEasure? Did THOR STRONGARM bore his CHILD BRIDE rigid by taking hear to see the SAME epic poem of RAGNORAK every Friday night?
And did they all agree to go and see THE INCREDIBLES as soon as possible afterwards? WAHEY! SUPERHEROES!
Shocked And Stunned
I understand from the newspapers that Prince Charles does not think that people should "get above themselves" or try to attain any higher status than that into which they were born.
If you hadn't already read about this I can only apologise for being the one to bring you such astounding, shattering, completely unexpected information - I know I haven't been as shocked since I was told that teenage public schoolboys Busted voted Conservative! "But they're in a band" i thought, "how can this be?"
However, with Prince Charles there isn't even a much-better-anyway McFly to turn to for comfort (and believe you me, the McFly album is GRATE, honest, and is on REPEAT PLAY on our kitchen stereo) - the fact has to be faced that he ISN'T the great MERITOCRAT we thought him to be. FURTHER, he RAILS against the "child centered education system", which leads people to think they can be "pop stars, high court judges, brilliant TV personalities or infinitely more competent heads of state", which leads us to ask a NUMBER of questions:
What sort of education system is there that ISN'T child centered? Has he been trying to educate the CARROTS again, or is there something WELL SHADY about his time at Gordonstoun we do not know about?
Fair enough on the pop stars and TV personalities bit, but what AMAZING TV channel is he watching where ordinary people get the chance to be High Court Judges?!? And how does one get ON it? Oh BABY, give me some of that JUSTIC DISPENSING ACTION!
Does he really think "young people" are after his job, and if so, is that what he's REALLY worried about? I can understand how this would make him bitter, after all, he worked for... well, nine months to get that job, NOBODY can deny he EARNT it! What's "competency" got to do with anyway?
Of course, with all this Daily Mail-based Social Hypocrisy, you can bet your last IMPERIAL SIXPENCE that somebody somewhere has said "It's Political Correctness Gone Mad!", and Mr Windsor does not dissapoint. What on earth did narrow minded dimwits blame BEFORE someone invented PC? "This is social democracy gone MAD!" maybe?
In other news (yes, I looked at the front cover of the newspapers at lunchtime, can you tell?), Michael Howard is now even LESS popular than Ian Duncan Smith, and the most popular candidate amongst Tory members for replacement leader is William Hague, if only because they don't know the NAMES of any others! HOORAH! Come in Boris, YOUR TIME IS NOW!
I have been passed a note from our esteemed drummer, who says:
"It is with interest that I note both Fall and Wedding present forums are essentially trying to rig the Festive 50 process, this will therefore crush the true independent spirit that John Peel cherished and as such tracks like THINGS'LL BE DIFFERENT (WHEN I'M IN CHARGE) will not stand a chance as only true music fans will vote for them."
Thanks Tim, I'm sure that's something we can all agree with. Personally I think vote rigging of this kind is NAUGHTY - look at Saloon (er... not that, for a minute, would I suggest they did ANYTHING like this), they got to Number One (completely properly, of course), and did it make them happy? Or did they split up within three years? Ah!
What The Big Idea Is
Right then, I have SPOKEN to The Validators, and they have said "Yes, that is a good idea" to the GRATE IDEA I spoke of the other day... well, actually they have mostly said "Wasn't that MY idea?" but i say HEY! That is the beauty of the creative process in this band, everyone can put ideas forward and have them accepted by the Working Unit as a whole... and then i can take credit for them. HOOPLA! I bet Mick Ronson used to get this ALL THE TIME from Bowie, and he LOVED it!
Anyway, yes, the IDEA is to put out a COMPILATION of all the stuff that was on the VINYL singles, and thus is now no longer available, plus the "obscure" stuff (NB as opposed to all the records we've released that AREN'T obscure, like... er...) from compilations and all the online songs that haven't ever been on CD. Now, I was against this idea when mentioned by Mr Fleay recently, as i want our next PROPER release to be the new album, but I've come round to thinking that it'd be NICE to have this stuff available for people, especially as I still play quite a lot of these songs when I play solo, and we don't HAVE to make as big a deal out of it as we would a whole album of NEW stuff. SO! The PLAN is that we're going to do this as a LIMITED EDITION of about 200 copies or so (maybe in DVD boxes! ooh!). We'll NOT do a big publicity push on them like we usually do, instead we'll send PROMO copies out to the DJs and web magazines we LIKE, to say "Thank you!" for the support we've had off of them, rather than sending them willy nilly to people who'll take then direct to Music Exchange. ALSO we'll offer first DIBS on buying them to people who've ALREADY bought some of the vinyl - i think it's a bit RUM to expect people to buy the same songs several times in different formats JUST to get at the stuff they don't already have, so if you've bought a vinyl single from me in the last couple of years you'll get an EMAIL telling you how to buy the compilation at a KNOCK DOWN PRICE. Not that it'll be super expensive, but like i say, it seems like cheating to try and flog the same music to the same people again... and meanwhile, of course, it'll be available to PURCHASE directly from our online shop as per usual. It'll be lovely!
"This is all very well and good", you may say, "but what is it to be called? And what will be on it? Also, when will it be available?" And i say to you, that's a VERY good series of questions. It's probably going to be called "Warriors Of Nanpantan" (for reasons lost in the depths of PUBS), and will hopefully be out around January/February next year. The main tracklisting will be SOMETHING like:
Work's All Right (if it's a proper job)
Clubbing In The Week
Billy Jones Is Dead
Another True Story
Red and White Sockets
Ring Your Mother
Before I Was Cool
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Family Wedding 2021
Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line)
The Perfect Love Song
We'll See What We Can Do
Leave My Brother Alone
The Same Page Of The Map
I've Got What You Need
The Only Thing
I Come From The Fens [uk-indie version]
Walkman In My Head
Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer
If we can get clearance it may also have the COMPLETE LAMACQ SESSIONS from when we did "Fairplay Trophy" last year (although I haven't asked them yet if we can do that), and if there's STILL room for some CD-R extras, we've got a video of us playing in Hull last year, me doing "Payday Is The Best Day" with audience singalong at the 12 Bar, and a rather nice tape of a gig i did in Winchester a while back. Also there'll doubtless be YARDS of TYPE in which i waffle on about how all the songs came to be, as usual.
That's the PLAN anyway - it may all come to NAUGHT, but I am quite KEEN on the idea now, so do KEEP TUNED for further updates, won't you?
A Trip To Tottenham
I nipped Slightly North to Seven Sisters/Tottenham on Friday night, to record an AAS SPECIAL EDITION of Claire Dickinson's show on Kooba Radio, for "broadcast" at the end of the month. I'd gathered together a fairly representative sample of Things We've Released, and was looking forward to it, though a bit nervously...
Things started off OK, although I came up against my Usual Paranoia i.e. "Oh no! i am intensely DULL, have the vocal prowess of a WURZEL and am unable to say ANY sentence without... ur... um... mumbling... er... like ... ah... a... um... NITWIT between every word! ARGH!!!" I think this be a NERVES thing zirrr, as I ALWAYS do it, but then i realised that i was FINE when we were actually playing the songs. "Hey!" i thought, to myself, "Instead of telling The Interesting Stories about why you chose each song WHILE THE SONG IS PLAYING, why not do it BEFOREHAND instead? That would probably be better."
So that is what i did, and yes, that DID seem to be better... so much so that, towards the end poor old Claire was GASPING for SPACE as i was saying "Let's hear what it sounds like?" and "without further ado - here's the track" and so forth. My dears i was turning into a POST MILLENIAL TONY BLACKBURN. It was FUN! For ME!
When all was said and done we went to the PUB, where Claire turned out to be JUST like everybody else to do with KOOBA i.e. LOVELY - again, like everybody else in KOOBA I thought "i wish there was more time spent in PUBS with people like you, why can't everyone else in The Krazy World Of ROCK be like this?" and, ALSO like every other time I've met Kooba People, i spent slightly more time IN the pub than i had planned to... I had a LOVELY time, and we talked of such typically ROCK things as... er... how we met our respective partners, When You Know It Is Right, and ... er... the isle of wight.
Yeah! I bet that's what it was like when the Beatles went round to Kenny Everett's house! Anyway, i _think_ the actual recording bit went pretty well, and hopefully this'll be BORNE OUT in a couple of weeks when it goes online! We shall see, shan't we?
Another Sell Out
It is with a sense of AWE and PRIDE that I announce that we have now sold out of copies of "A Church Hall Of Sound (revisited)", my solo EP from a few years ago. And yes, this time I really mean it, unless anybody is hiding a big box full of copies under their bed (and I know I'M not, i've looked!), that really is IT. Whoo!
Rather wonderfully this ALSO means that there is NO MORE VINYL! The other AAS singles, "Clubbing In The Week" and "Born With The Century" sold out a little while ago, and it's a LONG LONG TIME since the last of "Payday" (the split single with Johnny Domino we did on Reveal", or the two Fortuna Pop! compilations were available. It feels a bit strange to think that, from hereonin, it's DIGITAL all the way!
This does, of course, raise the SPECTRE of "Warriors Of Nanpantan", the long DISCUSSED (in the pub) singles and things compilation... I've been a bit wary about doing this just now, as I'd quite like our NEXT release to be a) SOON and b) NEW, but today I've had an idea about how we might do it in a NICE way. I've mentioned it to The Validators just now, so we'll see what they think, and let you know when we've worked it out!
A few people have asked, so here we go - if you fancy coming along to our Christmas Extravaganza on December 11th at Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall (as seen in TWO Parish magazines!), then your best bet is to get the 123, which leaves St Margaret's bus station in Leicester at 18.15 (getting you there in time for a cheeky pint in the pub, i should think), then get the 23.20 home again. That's for people who can get to Leicester anyway, if you're coming from elsewhere why not get together and share a ride? It's good for the environment, and more... sorry, i mean LESS importantly, most of you can drink BEER while you're there!
Full details of the BUS route HERE, tickets available from Rock-A-Boom, Left Legged Pineapple, or indeed from US. Right! That's that sorted, now I'm off to Kooba Radio, to make some... er... RADIO!
Quality Of Life Enhancement
You find me in a FLURRY of ACTION, both ROCK and Actual Work based... KERPOW! I spent a good hour or so on ROCK ADMINISTRATION last night, and completed the following things:
I wrote up the MINUTES to Mr Fleay and I's AAS MINI-MEETING on Tuesday night, and indeed ACTIONED a couple of things that had long lain dormant since Mr Whitaker left the Board.
I BURNED a CD of 16 tracks, ready for Friday when I'm heading out to North London to record the AAS SPECIAL on Kooba Radio, which should then hopefully go live by the end of the month - I tell you what, we have released some BLOODY GRATE records over the past six and a bit years, I always forget how GRATE we actually ARE!
I've uploaded the lyrics to Quality Of Life Enhancement Devixe to the Song Blog, as promised. I haven't done the annotations yet, because I've got quite a few other ones to do too, so am putting that off until ENERGY LEVELS are high enough - i might be having a Computer Weekend soon tho, so will maybe get it all done then.
I practiced playing the New Bit authored by aforementioned Fleay for "Zipcodes" that i spoke of yesterday. It was weird, it was HARD and DIFFICULT for ages, then suddenly i ACTUALLY FELT my brain go CLICK, like your elbow or jaw or shoulder sometimes does (pick your own gammy limb if not provided), and it all felt perfectly natural. It reminded me of when i was in JAPAN - for days I looked out on a SEA OF FACES, all of whom just looked JAPANESE, then one morning on the way into work my MIND worked out that it couldn't get away with just saying "That person looks Japanese, so that'll do as their MENTAL THUMBNAIL" like it would do walking through a crowd back home, and SWITCHED, just like that, to actually differentiating between a whole different set of INDICATORS to normal. It was UNSETTLING as all at once i STAGGERED BACK from hundreds and hundreds of INDIVIDUALS walking at me, rather than a crowd. It was WEIRD! And... er... that's what it was like last night, when my subconscious woke up and got MOVING.
That's what i did last night! And tonight ... I'm going to the PUB!
Back on the train and back up to Derby again last night, for yet another Validators practice session. OH! what a tight rocking unit we are!
I arrived to find a former scene of DISARRAY, recently RE-ARRAYED, as the rehearsal place we use had got us down to be in the night before... as it turned out all was well, especially as this meant we could have our usual room again, yet still the owner was EXTREMELY apologetic, which was all very lovely of him, especially when he came in halfway through and offered to make a cup of tea for everyone! Rob and Tom succumbed, but Tim RESISTED: "I've spent 22 years not drinking tea while I'm drumming", he said, "and I'm not about to start now." The GLINT in his eye though, at the thought of a HOT REFRESHING cup of TEA was there for all to see.
Anyway, we started at reduced strength as Emma wasn't able to come, which was a BIG SHAME as I'd REALLY been looking forward to us SHOWING OFF all the Proper Singing Bits we'd worked out last time, these shall have to wait until our next get together i guess, which is the "dress rehearsal" (hem hem) for the Woodhouse Eaves Christmas Spectacular. We kicked off with "The Gay Train", which sounded MIGHTILY MIGHTY, and now ends with an Extended Bit, which I think I shall fill by quoting the father of my good friend Mr Paul Myland - Mileage, for it is he, when drunk, often gets a bit sentimental, and one thing he is fond of quoting is his dad's Wise Thoughts On Things, one of which is "Straight or Gay - it's all love". That seems to me to be something NICE to be singing, especially if we bring back the WRENS and the Male Voice Choirs from "One Last Party"... mind you, Tom was doing some INSPIRED noises at this point, so maybe it'll stay a VIOLIN SOLO.
We moved on with "Breaks In The Journey" and "Never Going Back To Aldi's", at which point Tim's drumstool BUST. He went to get a temporary replacement (a rather fetching pink and faux leopardskin ensemble which, i thought, rather suited him), during which we started on HOT NEW SONG "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device." This sounded BLOODY GRATE, and it is a mark of what a Good Thing these practices are that we GOT IT almost straight away. It sounds ACE! Words hopefully to follow later in the week, but be gladdened to know that it features the Classic Pattison Drum Fill that appears to great wonder and AWE on many of our records, but hadn't popped up yet in these sessions. You'll know it when you hear it!
ENLIVENED we then did "Zipcodes", which sounded a little Over Complicated, as there's LOTS of Words, LOTS of violin, and LOADS of chugging guitar noises. We had a CONFLAB, after which Rob and I swapped instruments - he's borrowing my bass until he can get a new one, so i was VERY happy to have a go on my Most Favourite Instrument for a bit (indeed, i had been COVETING it all night), and while i JOYFULLY played bass he came up with a NEW BIT for me to play. Learning it will be my Fretwork Homework for the weekend. Adjudging it wise to LEAVE that until next time, we put some HEAVY WORK into "Girlfriend Alarmed", which is sounding BRILLIANT, tho i say so myself as shouldn't... ooh, it's dead good! We worked HARD on the middle section, with Tim POUNDING out various bits, and when Rob and I listened to it again on his MP3 player this morning it sounded GOOD. YEAH!
We then WHIPPED through "The Lesson Of The Smiths", recorded the above middle section, also QOLED, and then headed for the PUB for Last Orders, where we discussed RECORDING PLANS. We all got a bit excited, EVINCED by the fact that Tim's been sending me possible STUDIO locations today, and I've been fondly imagining us LOLLING IN THE CONSERVATORY whilst MAGICAL TUNES are recorded... aaah! Life inside my HEAD! What a wonderful place to be!
COR. It was an ACTION PACKED weekend for me and no mistake... myself and the Hairspray On My Mohican went SHOPPING on Friday night (Rock! Also, ROLL!), where, amongst other things purchased, i bought me a new SUIT! The word you will be looking for when you see it is "Dapper". Then we went to the PUB. On Saturday I was DEAD MANLY and BUILT a chest of drawers! YEAH! OK, Habitat may have helped a BIT by getting all the pieces made, but i put it together... actually, a couple of the pieces weren't even made properly, so i had to get out my STANLEY KNIFE and fix them. YEAH! That's right! Testosterone levels at a DANGEROUS HIGH!
And while i think about it - when oh when are they going to make self-assembly kits that you can then paint CAMOUFLAGE onto, gently apply TRANSFERS, and then hang from the ceiling? Then the joy would be COMPLETE!
Also that day I tested out and applied the finishing touches to the TWO new songs i think i mentioned last week, "If You Need Loving" and "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device" and BEGAN another one called "The Other Rush Hour", and then it was time for us to go OUT, to The Punk Rock Karaoke at The Garage. We met up with Charlie and Sundry Fighting Cocks beforehand, and also that nice Mr Steve Lamacq who came over and VERIFIED that yes, there had INDEED been a big queue of people queueing up in a queue style queue to buy CDs off me last week. In a QUEUE! Yeah! Then we went over to The Garage itself, and had a GRATE time. Punk Rock Karaoke is UTTERLY ACE, as the Leap In My Pogo said, it's such a BRILLIANT IDEA that it's almost unbelievable that someone's actually carried it out. YEAH!
Then Sunday was filled with FAMILY, as one brother moved COUNTRY (him and his Charming Lady have moved to New Zealand! Oh no!) and another moved HOUSE (two doors down, slightly less) and i went round to help the Latter, and got a bit sweaty, before nipping to his local for a Cheeky Pint. I tell you what, it was BUSY BUSY BUSY all weekend!
It's quite relaxing to be back at work to be honest... although that said, tomorrow I'm off to Derby for a band practice and, at some point, I'm recording a show for Kooba Radio. All hands to ROCK STATIONS!
Rocking In The New Year
HOORAH! I've just got off the phone with The Bull & Gate, where I have just booked us a GIG for January 29th next year. WHOO! I haven't played at the Bull & Gate for AGES and AGES, which is just plain WRONG because i LOVE it there, especially when, as in this case, it's with The Validators too. Ooh, I'm all pleased - this makes January quite a ROCKING MONTH, as we've also got two recording sessions booked to DEMO (oh yeah!) the new material, in between which Tom and I are playing in Ipswich, and then shortly afterwards we're doing our live session on Raw Talent in Hull, then playing Leeds.
Now that's what i CALL a Rock And Roll Itinerary! AND then, if all goes to plan, hopefully, and touch wood, we'll be off to AMERICA in March! KAPOW!
And talking of America - Charlie of The Fighting Cocks reminded me that there IS one thing to look forward to with four more years of Anti-Fonz - he's going to build GIANT SPACESHIPS and send them to MARS! HOLA! Also... er... no, that's it.
Feel My Pain
Off to LEICESTER again last night, for another Frontline Section Practice with Tom and Emma. This time we were back in Stayfree, which has recently been redecorated so it is now Actually Quite Nice, rather than SQUALID like it used to be. It was quite a shock to be in a room that had ALL working equipment and DIDN'T smell of 10 years of MAN SWEAT. It still felt like Stayfree though, which is a GOOD thing - unlike most of the rehearsal places I've been in, Stayfree always feels like somewhere that Musical Things HAPPEN, rather than somewhere that people go to learn a bunch of cover versions.
Anyway, I had a few minutes to myself at the start, so tried out a couple of IDEAS for songs I'd had on the train, including "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device", which I've been trying to finish since i was in VOON the last time, and a possible rejig of an ANCIENT song called "If You Need Loving". Tom and Emma arrived, we had a chat, and the CREATION BEGAN!
Ooh, it was EVER so good. We started off with "Breaks In The Journey", which features Emma singing Harmony all the way through. This sounds GRATE, but I'm finding it REALLY difficult to sing what I'm supposed to sing, as I keep listening to what Emma's singing, thinking "Ooh, that's good", then EITHER singing along with her OR forgetting the words entirely and having to stop. Something similar happens to me at gigs - I'll be singing along and then start looking around the room, looking for people I know, or checking that everyone's with me, and then start wondering about what song to do next, or how we could do the song differently with the band, and before you know it i get DERAILED. These days I stand there being my own GURU, thinking "Concentrate on the NOW, Oh Hibbett Oh Me, Be Where You ARE."
Yeah! So I'm trying to do that... it's hard though, especially when we're learning stuff as I was ALSO listening to what Tom was doing and thinking about what HE could be doing too. In fact, by the time we'd finished doing that song my BRANE HURT. It really did too, my MIND was OVER EXERTED. ESPECIALLY when we did the "it makes no sense" bit, with the three of us singing (or playing) around an over each other. BRANE! PAIN!
We then moved on to "The Fight For History", and things got even MORE complicated when Tom and I had a HEATED DEBATE about what to do and where to do it, largely involving me waving me arms around saying "Like, ZZZZZZZR in the first bit, the DA DA DA DAAAR in the next, solo, then half and half". For some reason Tom found this a little frustrating, HOWEVER it all started coming together in BEAUTY in the middle, when we combined VIOLIN SOLO with me and Emma going "Ba ba ba ba ba ba", but DIFFERENTLY from each other. OOH! It sounded ACE!
Next "The Gay Train", which sounded LOVELY, with Emma doing MORE harmony/counter melody bits and Tom doing a BEAUTIFUL solo. GRATE! He then came over to OUR side of the room, and the three of us stood in a line which, suddenly, felt MUCH better. We then spent almost an HOUR on "Zipcodes", but an hour that FLEW by as Tom did some of that FIDDLE PLAYING he did on "Good Cooking" and Emma did EVEN MORE HARMONIES, AND boosted up the choruses, and did all sorts of things in between, and OOH! It was GRATE!
We finished up by running through all four songs again (also SEGUEING from "Breaks In The Journey" to "The Fight For History", which made us all GRIN), and off we went across the road to the PUB for a celebratory DRINK. It really REALLY had sounded FAB, and I especially got Quite Excited. So much so that, when we left, I was too busy PONTIFICATING on our MIGHTINESS and waving my arms around (again) to remember that The Hind has a REALLY big step down from the front door, and I FELL! HARD! And REALLY hurt my ankle - YAROO! People at work today asked if it was because I was drunk, and my dears i DEARLY WISH this had been the case, as it would have meant it would have hurt a WHOLE LOT less. Alas I was pretty much sober-ish, and saying "OW!"
This morning I woke with a STIFF ANKLE, full of JOY which was only slightly diminished by the knowledge that the ANTI-FONZ appears to have won. I guess we can cling to hope with Ohio, but it looks like another four years of He-Man And The MAsters Of The Universe, rather than The Simpsons.
I was talking to The Dimple In My Chad about the US Elections at lunchtime - i was getting Very Nervously Optimistic about the whole thing, and she said, quite rightly, "Remember 1992!"
For the Younger Types amongst you, this was when everyone thought Labour were going to win the election, or, more pertinently, that the Tories were going to lose it. The fact that everyone got so OPTIMISTIC about it and then were so very upset when things turned out the other way is one of the reasons for the mass outporing of JOY in 1997 when it finally happened, and is also, I guess, one of the reasons so many of us have CONVINCED ourselves that Bush is going to win. You can tell me about record turnouts and young voters, you can TANTALISE me with that Green Bay Packers victory thing, or you can say "Margins Of Error" until you are red white and blue in the face, but I won't believe it until John Kerry's been in office for a YEAR. I mean, even in 1992, John Major's BROTHER (aah! John Major's brother! how we remember thee!) wasn't in charge of the count in a whole batch of margin constituencies...
I really hope Kerry wins though. I grew up in SLAVISH AWE to America - whether it be the America of the TELLY, America of FILMS, or, especially, and specifically, the MANHATTAN of Marvel Comics, anything American was UNUTTERABLY COOL to me. In my ADULTHOOD this has continued whenever I've met Americans, especially Americans in BANDS - man oh man, if George Bush had employed The New Bad Things to sell me the story of Weapons Of Mass Destruction THEN i would have believed him, what a CHARMING bunch of people they were! Also, of course, the very IDEAL of America is a wonderful thing, and I am one of the millions who sit and watch the West Wing thinking "God bless AMERICA!", briefly forgetting where I'm actually from. So yes, I really hope that tomorrow (or even next week) we can look at America again and say, without reservation, "Wow! You're COOL!"
Which, with the best will in the world, you could never really say about Neil Kinnock.
On Saturday I got a train, a tube, a train, another train and then a TRAM to SHEFFIELD, to play at the annual FUZZTIVAL all dayer at the Students' Union. It was BLOODY GRATE.
I rolled up at the Union and, whilst waiting for the Lovely Penny (organiser of the whole thing, also the Student Union Events Impressario, also, back in the mists of time, organiser of POP-A-GO-GO), in came Mr Steve Lamacq. Penny arrived, we went down to the venue, and i made the first of my ROCK STAR DEMANDS - they only had Cider or Stella available for RIDER REQUIREMENTS, and as a) i don't like Cider and b) me drinking Stella is a REALLY BAD IDEA, I asked if there was any GUINESS. Someone went to the shop and bought me some! FANTASTIC!
It wasn't long until my SET was due, so I stood and had a chat to Mr Steve Lamacq - what a lovely chap he is. He even went up and did me an INTRODUCTION for my set, and LO! The Gig BEGAN.
I was worrying on the way up about doing THE UBER SET again. This is my "All Winners" set that I've been doing quite a lot lately, when I stick to songs i know usually go down pretty well - since I got a review BEMOANING the fact that I didn't do more "obscure" songs (i.e. even more obscure than all the other ones) I have been WRACKED with ARTISTIC ANGST about the whole thing... however, I reasoned that a FESTIVAL GIG like this one is THE place above ALL where an UBER SET can be played, and so i DID, and here is what it was:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Hey Hey 16K
Billy Jones Is Dead
Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)
Breaks In The Journey
The Fight For History
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Payday Is The Best Day
Clubbing In The Week
Boom Shake The Room
Hey! There's three unreleased songs in there, maybe I'm NOT such a corporate lackey after all! Anyway, things started off OK, even though I felt a bit shakey and full of THE FEAR. I got "Hey Hey 16K" out of the way early, because I feel like i SHOULD do it just in case there's anyone there who came SPECIFICALLY for that song (and also because i like it when people looked AMAZED to hear it - at the back of the room I saw someone almost FALL OVER when they did a dramatic DOUBLE TAKE when i started playing it), but it's not the sort of song that's going to win over people who haven't heard it - especially at gigs like this when most of the audience weren't even BORN in 1982! Anyway, after that things rolled along and got better and better - "The Fight For History" and "The Lesson Of The Smiths" both went down REALLY well, as they seem to do, there was a MIGHTY roar of Audience Participation (and also some rather ACE heckling) in "Easily Impressed", and "Boom Shake The Room" was just GRATE. I had a FANTASTIC TIME - doing gigs is really NICE at the moment, as I think I've got a bit better at DOING them this past year or two, but my own impression of what it's like hasn't caught up yet. There's occasionally people at gigs who haven't seen me for several years, who always look a bit shocked that I'm not quite as rubbish as singing as I used to be, are AMAZED that some of the audience know the words, and are AGOG at the fact that I can now speak whole sentences between songs. Oddly, given the fact that I've been to ALL my own gigs, I feel exactly the same way!
Anyway, gig done i STAGGERED off stage, when GOD BLESS HIM Mr Steve Lamacq ran over and gave me a big sweaty hug - the sweat, obviously, being MINE, but he didn't seem to mind, and appeared to have really enjoyed it. He was just saying that, yes, he had enjoyed it and, no, he didn't really mind all the sweat, when he was practically CAST ASIDE by a WAVE OF GIRLS, approaching with FIVERS at the ready wanting to buy some CDS!! It was like a CRAZY DREAM, as an ACTUAL QUEUE developed of people wanting to buy records of me! WOW!
It was absolutely brilliant - and it was an EXTRAORDINARILY HAPPY Hibbett who went into the main room to the dressing room to put a clean t-shirt on... where I found the guitarist from the next band saying "Oh good, people are finally coming through from the other room now - what was going on in there?" It was ME!
I then got a bit freaked when I saw that THE DOORS had been playing at the same time as me... then realised that the running order for the main hall said "Doors: 3pm", not "THE Doors: 3pm". Oh yeah. I wonder if that's really how they got their name? Never mind all this William Blake nonsense, could Jim and Ray have just got themselves involved in a traditional in-pub What Shall We Call The Band argument, rejected "Beer Mat", "To Be Announced", "Free Sex", "Pint Glass", "The Band With No Name" and all the other usual desperate options, and picked the first thing they saw on top of a poster?
ANYWAY, I packed up, went and got my FREE LUNCH (Mmm... delicious Veggie Fajita!), and wandered round the venue a few times... you know... just in case anyone wanted to say "Ooh, that was good". I'm very helpful like that. Some of the Sheffield Lot (i.e. the former Velodrome 2000 MASSIVE) had had to go home, so I didn't get a chance to say thanks to them for coming, but I DID manage to track down Penny so at least got to thank HER again for a lovely day, before heading off for the TRAM again, then a TRAIN (which, between Sheffield and Chesterfield was FULL of an initially frightening but actually quite sweet MOB of Football Supporters), a tube and a tube and then HOME. I got back JUST in time for CURRY.