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A Merry Christmas To All Our Readers
It's the most magical time of the year - LUNCHTIME on the last day at work (for me, anyway), when all across the nation, people "nip out to do a bit of shopping", and mysteriously DISAPPEAR for a week and a bit. It is a glorious tradition that i, for one, intend to uphold.
So Happy Christmas everyone, I hope you have a LOVELY time. I'm off visiting family and stuff for the next week or so, so there probably won't be much to see here until just before the New Year. When I get back I'll try and write up a SUMMATION of the year just pass - it might take a while though, as BLOW ME it has been a KER-RAZY year for me and The Validators. Who'd've thought, this time last year, that we'd have all the Hey Hey 16K madness? Or be at the BBC so much? Or, especially, do quite so very many ACE gigs and meet so many LOVELY people? It's been the Best Year EVER in ROCK for me I must say, so thanks very much INDEED to everyone who's been a part of it, it's EXTREMELY appreciated, and see you in the new year for, hopefully, a whole lot more ROCK AND ROLL FUN!
News News News
It's been a NEWS BARRAGE here today, as Small Items Of Interest have PELTED us, like a NEWS PAL lobbing pebbles at the window because they've come round whilst we're watching telly really loudly and didn't hear the door.
First of all, it looks like we'll NOT be heading over to Texas in March to play at South By Southwest... er... because they don't seem to want us to. Initially i was a bit disappointed by this, but then realised that I've either seen or am GOING to see ALL the nice people i had hoped to see there ANYWAY, and also that if we DON'T go we'll have the time and very much the MONEY to be able to go and record the new album a LOT sooner. AND it means i won't be spending the next three months PANICKING about VISAs, so, actually, that's ALL RATHER EXCITING. THUS Mr The Celebrity Drummer and I have been passing SONG LISTS backwards and forwards in a FROTH of Future Seeing FUN.
And on a similar note, the aforementioned International Percussionist NOTED that the Half Man Half Biscuit gig we were supposed to be playing in October has finally been rescheduled for FEBRUARY 11th. I've not put it on the gigs list yet, I'll wait until final confirmation from Anton The Promoter, but please allow me a slightly pre-emptive WHOO of excitement:
Thank you. If that DOES come off it'll mean we've got a mini-tour SORTED for just when Warriors Of Nanpantan comes out. GRATE!
And in other news, I've just put the WORDS to The Advent Calendar of FACT in the Song Blog, should you wish to see them, and should you wish to see what it all LOOKED like, you can have a glance at these SCREENGRABS, kindly sent to me by Kooba radio's Claire Dicko, here and HERE. MULTIMEDIA!
Back Back At The BBC
After heading up to Peterborough for a Parental Visit (all very nice, thanks) on Saturday, the Hole In My Polo and I found ourselves heading for the PUB to meet up with our Christmas Choir, ready for Mr Steve Lamacq's Christmas Sunday Session on 6Music. As ever on a Sunday, the train was LATE, but handily my brother James was on hand to MARSHALL forces, and we turned up to find a good DOZEN people there, including representatives from The Validators, The Fighting Cocks, Kooba Radio, Need To Know, and indeed my FAMILY. It was LOVELY, and any NERVES i had disappeared as i slipped into TEACHER mode, especially when we got to BBC Reception and i BOSSED everyone into an orderly queue to get their passes.
Up we headed to THE HUB (formerly known as THE TEA ROOM), where we started having a quick practice, which was cut short by the call from Henry The Producer to enter the studio. FEAR struck again, as this meant we'd never had a full run through of "The Advent Calendar of FACT", or ANY sort of go at "Rock & Roll Mayhem". I went in and go myself set up, and then they got the CHOIR in. Even i was a bit shocked by how many people we were squashing into the room, as the line of SINGERS never seemed to stop!
We sat for what seemed like ages until we got to OUR BIT, and once again TEACHER MODE helped me feel a bit less nervous, and then we were ON! It was ACE! I THINK! You can judge for yourself by going to the show's site and clicking "Listen Again" - I've just been listening to it now, and it seems FINE to me, especially a bit i didn't hear at the time, when he points out that I've been the most regular music guest on the show... EVER! Cor! I hadn't thought of that!
Anyway, so we had a bit of a chat about what an GRATE year it has been for us, for LO! it had, and then i did "Rock & Roll Mayhem", and it was GOOD! I was most pleased, as doing that particular song was the idea of aforementioned Stick In My Lolly, and as ever she was RIGHT. HOORAH! We then had more chat and LAUNCHED into "The Advent Calendar of FACT", and goodness me! That sounded PRETTY DARN GOOD also, i was CHUFFED!
Suddenly it was all over, and those of us heading for the PUB went to the PUB, where we looked at Dermot O'Leary, sitting in the corner being tiny. The 6Music TYPES arrived, and we had a DELIGHTFUL chat, and also some BEER, and BEAUTY SHONE AROUND.
It was a LOVELY and JOY, i must say, and i felt WELL Christmassy by the end of. Like i say, if you want to LISTEN AGAIN you can do so from the show's site, or if you want to listen to DEMO versions of both the songs, you can do that TOO, HERE for The Advent Calendar of FACT and HERE for Rock And Roll Mayhem. They are DIFFERENT, but QUITE GOOD. ENJOY!
The Christmas Lecture
This lunchtime i went over to the BBC again, to do an INTERVIEW - Mark Sheldon, off of the Phil Jupitus show, is putting together some documentaries about Local Scenes, and one of the ones he's doing is LEICESTER. I was a bit worried about what to say, until i spoke to him earlier this week - he's spoken to quite a few people already (including the mighty Mr Reverb), and the general consensus is that there's never been much of a unified SCENE as such IN Leicester, which was a relief to me. THUS i had a bit of an old think about what to say, and went in.
It seemed to go quite well - we started off with Mark asking me to tell him a bit about the history of AAS, the Leicester scene in general, and any thoughts I might have about it's progress. I opened my mouth and SUDDENLY it was twenty minutes later, and Mark looked like he'd been stood in a WIND TUNNEL! I do believe he managed to interrupt (sorry, ask a question) TWICE in the whole "conversation" - i had MANY things to say and i DO NOT THINK i left him in ANY doubt as to my opinions on a DIVERSE RANGE OF ISSUES.
Ooh, I did enjoy it! I got the phrase "stupid lazy journalists" in about NINE times, and "corrupt incompetent record companies" quite a few too, ALSO discussed the GRATE LOVELINESS in Leicester in general, and i think EXPLAINED the apparently mystifying lack of many overtly Asian influences on Leicester Music i.e. because all the Asian kids grew up listening to the Smiths et al too... it's not actually going to be going out until the week commencing February 21st, so by then it will no doubt all sound NEW to me, if any of my bits get in, that is.
The Creative Process
PHEW. You know the COMPOSER in Sesame Street? The one who keeps trying to write a song, ends up BANGING his head against the keyboards, then gets inspiration from the letters Q, F and the number 3? I tell you this, he is no mere device for alphabet/numeracy learning, he is a SEARING PORTRAIT of REALITY.
For LO! last night i found myself home alone for a few hours, and set myself down to finish off this Christmas Song I'm supposed to be doing on Sunday, and it was a NIGHTMARE BEYOND COMPREHENSION! Well, it was quite difficult anyway... i started off with my original idea for "The Day After Boxing Day", tried it fast, tried it slow, then listened to some Christmas Songs and tried to do it in a "Rocking Around The Christmas Tree" STYLEE. I changed the verse melody, changed it back, then went downstairs for a cup of tea.
I wrote down in LONGHAND some ideas about CHRISTMAS - previously just writing a mini-essay about what i want to say SPARKS OFF at least a structure and sometimes some RHYMES, but all i got was a complaint about how difficult it is to open the doors on advent calendars (it is!), so went and had a cup of tea instead.
After more Christmas Thinking, and GLARING at my advent calendar, I went back upstairs and tried to write a proper CAROL. This was the shortest between tea INTERVAL of the evening.
Next i returned to "The Day After Boxing Day" and briefly toyed with changing the words and keeping the melody, before doing what i always do in these situations i.e. gormlessly play "jazz chords" (i.e. make random hand shapes and go KLANG!) for a bit, hoping that something ACE will magically appear, for ten minutes, then switching the computer on and SLAYING SOME ORCS for a bit. Then having a cup of tea.
What i needed was a THEME, something to WORK with that would make a song, but something that WASN'T a dreary normal Christmas song about snow and things, because it NEVER snows at Christmas round here. I wanted something TRUE and VALID, but i also wanted something with some GAGS in, and if at all possible something that would UTILISE the huge mob of BACKING SINGERS who'll be coming in with me.
Sat upstairs again (with more tea) I pondered all this, and DESPAIRED of ever getting it sorted - "The only idea I've got is to do something about an Advent Calendar..." and it was at this point that I metaphorically banged my head against the keyboards saying "I'll NEVER get it done, NEVER! NEVER!"
However, it was at THIS point that my inner FOZZIE BEAR wagga wagga'd by, and said "Hey hey hey! An advent calendar, a theme, real things about Christmas, and utilisation of Backing Singers? Wacka wacka!" and POW! Suddenly the first verse was THERE! BOOM! The tune, APPEARED! Five minutes later, VERSE TWO AROSE!!
FULL of JOY i went and did the Washing UP - YES that was how GLEEFUL i was - at which point The Landlady returned. I was telling her the tale of my evening, and saying how i really needed to sort out the chorus now. "It's about how ordinary Advent Calendars don't represent Christmases i've HAD, so this is an Advent Calendar of..." FACT! i thought, FACT! However, what i SAID was "Ooh! AHA! OOOH!" and RAN upstairs to try it out, slightly ALARMING said housemate i do not doubt.
So yes, there it is - verse three eased out later in the evening, verse four finally arrived this morning, and now we have "The Advent Calendar of FACT", fully finished and DONE. I played it to The Wine In My Bottle this morning, and she stopped me halfway throught to say "This is bloody GRATE!" and i must say i had to agree - OOH! I am EXCITED about it now, HOORAH! Also, KERZANG!!
Tonight I'll record a DEMO for the backing singers and get the words out, so that on Sunday they'll at least have heard it more than ten minutes before we're on AIR, and then aroundabout 4.30pm we shall broadcast to THE NATION! WHOO!
I'm just looking at some bits of VIDEO that Tim's supplied me with, for inclusion on the BURGEONING "Extras" section of Warriors Of Nanpantan. Ooh, it isn't half funny seeing yourself on TELLY like this - i do seem to JIG AROUND a bit on stage, for instance, and as I'm facing the front I never really see the MAELSTROM OF MOTION that is Mr Pattison at the back. Most of the videos are from our last gig at The Adelphi, but one of them is of the one and only live performance of "Dinky Doo", the song Emma sang for her speech at their wedding... GLUMPH! Again, i didn't see much of it at the time as I was stood at the back playing guitar, trying to hide, so i was MOVED all over again just now to see it, it was a BEAUTIFUL thing.
There's a LOT of stuff going on this, so I hope it'll all fit - as well as the usual WORDS and NOTES there's all these videos, the Lamacq Sessions (if they let us use them) and the THEME TUNE to Warriors of Nanpantan itself. Much like Christmas Shopping, I've only just started it and it seems like there's a LOT to do... and I can't get started properly yet, as I've still got my CHRISTMAS SONG to write for Sunday. As mentioned previously, Mr Steve Lamacq's having me back on his Sunday Session this week, to sing a Christmas Song. A few people had suggested (or assumed I'd be doing it anyway) "Give Us A Kiss For Christmas", and what with me struggling a bit with my new idea, and it going down so well at the weekend, AND it being played on Raw Talent last week, I thought I might as well just do THAT.
However. Today I Listened Again to this week's show, and heard him say QUITE A LOT that it would be a new song, specially written, that i was busily writing at the time (NB at the time he said it i was actually in THE BATH - never trust the media, The Kids!), and that they had no idea what it'd be, as it was so NEW.
I'm off home now to get on with it - wish me luck!
Saturday was the day of our long-awaited Christmas Gig in Woodhouse Eaves, and the day started WELL. The Lights On My Tree and I were on the way to St Pancras to get the train to Leicester, when, as we passed through Highbury and Islington I noticed someone getting on with a guitar. "I wonder where he's off to..." I thought, then suddenly "BLOODY HELL! That's John Hegley!" I told aforementioned Christmas Card In My Envelope, who GEED me on to speaking to him, so I did. "Excuse me John," I said, "I think you're great, you've been an inspiration to me" (which he has) "Can I give you a CD?" I pressed a copy of This Is Not A Library into his hand, and OH MY but what a NICE man he turned out to be. He seemed all CHUFFED, said "Ooh, good title", and then chatted briefly about GIGS and things. He was LOVELY. Sometimes you meet Famous Types who get a bit arsey about being GREETED thus, or agree a bit much when you're nice to them, but he was really REALLY nice about the whole thing. It was a GOOD OMEN.
Less of a good omen was finding out that there was a "strike" on Sunday by the GIT Train Drivers - now, I'm all for THE WORKERS withdrawing their labour as a last resort against an oppressive boss, but this really seemed UNNECESSARILY ARSEY - nobody seemed hugely clear WHAT it was all about (the Daily Hate suggested it was because they were having a Christmas Party, and I felt the BIZARRE SENSATION of sympathising with that newspaper), it certainly wasn't any kind of OFFICIAL action (Sundays count as overtime, so they ALL decided not to do it), and for heaven's sake - isn't travelling on public transport on a Sunday BAD ENOUGH as it is? You expect to be treated like an IDIOT for travelling at a weekend, and I usually end up adding at least two hours to any journey, but this was DIABOLICAL - as it happened, it took SIX AND A HALF HOURS to get from Leicester to London next day. ARGH!
But anyway, we're still on Saturday at the moment, and that journey was FINE. We arrived in Leicester and headed to Rock-A-Boom, where it was my job to pick up money made from ticket sales, and any left over... there turned out to be a lot of the latter and NONE of the former, but that wasn't terribly unexpected. We then went to get the BUS, only to find that the 123 goes from an entirely different BUS STATION during the day on Saturdays - WHY?!? Good GRIEF - WHY are BUSES ALWAYS made as difficult, complicated, and UNFRIENDLY to use as POSSIBLE? GNARGH! I tell you THIS, gentle reader, my desire for PERSONAL TRANSPORT has rarely been as high as it was after THIS weekend of gittish Public Transport Drivers (e.g. the bus driver who clearly saw us RUNNING round the corner of the City Centre Bus Station, as opposed to St Margaret's where we'd been before, calmly noticed us WAVING MADLY and LEAPING in his way, but chose to drive calmly off anyway, knowing full well he was driving the ONLY bus going to where he was going for the next TWO HOURS) and unnecessarily complicated arrangements. If i end up DRIVING to gigs in the future it will be THEIR fault.
And it will be a MIGHTY WEIGHT they shall bear, for LO! i cannot drive. No court in the law will convict me once they have heard my story.
ANYWAY, we got a taxi and travelled to Woodhouse Eaves in STYLE, even tho i was by now feeling the beginnings of my GIG TERROR. I was also feeling a bit POORLY - I'd been out on Thursday and felt AWFUL, with stomach CRAMPS and sickness all day Friday, but had assumed it was just an over over zealous hangover. I'm STILL feeling awful today, Monday, after having it EXACERBATED by the previously mentioned GRIM JOURNEY home on Sunday... not that you'd guess, you'd hardly know from the way I'm not mentioning it much would you?
So yes, we arrived at Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall to find The Family Pattison setting tables up and SWEEPING the floor. Gradually things started to come together - TURK soon arrived, with TUBE BAR equipment, which he began setting up, shortly followed by "Tiger" Tom McClure, soundman John, and a VERY happy Mr Fleay, who had just been to see Derby County THRASH Nottingham. Emma went back to their house with The Children Pattison, taking the assembled LADIES with her, leaving us MEN to make a VERY LOUD NOISE during our soundcheck. I must say it sounded RATHER GOOD.
Tim and Tom went off to get us some CHIPS, Rob started playing DJ on the DECKS, and I went to the BUS STOP. I'd promised that I'd be there to greet the BUS when it arrived, so the travelling HORDES would know when to get off. I saw it top the HILL and head down towards me, and i wondered what levels of MERRIMENT and LARKS had been occuring on the bus PACKED with AUDIENCE...
Dr Neil Brown emerged, followed by... er... nobody else! I became WORRIED, tho of course PLEASED to see my old COMRADE. We were joined again by Mr Fleay and went to the SHOP where we stocked up on what surely must be The Drink Of 2005: SHANDY BASS! MMMM!!! Shandy Bass! I'd never drunk it until this summer, when the Sand On My Beach introduced it to me on holiday on the Isle Of Wight, and i have never looked back. SHANDY BASS! Delicious!
We got back to the hall and were all soon joined by CHIPS... all except for ME! Everyone else had Fish & Chips, but for some reason the Just Chips hadn't made it, so I made do with a cup of MUSHY PEAS and some chips DONATED by Tim and Rob. To be honest this was probably a GOOD THING, as my NERVES were reaching FEVER PITCH by now. Emma and LADIES returned, and we had a full final soundcheck with her there, when we agreed that we could hear no vocals WHATSOEVER. URK! Emma went back and got another AMP from someone in the village to use as a MONITOR, whilst the Cheese In My Sandwich and i went to the PUB, to meet up with my FAMILY and my FRIENDS.
And there they were - almost ALL of VOON (i.e. Neil, Simon, and Chris) and Chris's FIANCEE Karen sat round one table, and next to them my PARENTS, my BROTHER and his lovely LADY, and their friends Joan and Gerry. BLIMEY! Suddenly i was RACKED with even MORE PANIC - it was like some huge WEDDING RECEPTION, and i PANICKED that everyone would actually GET ON with each other. I always have this FEAR when friends and family from different AREAS of my life meet up, and GOOD GOLLY it was re-doubled now. FEAR!
I sat and had a chat to FAMILY for a bit, most of whom hadn't seen me do a gig for over a DECADE, so i think were a
bit surprised to see quite HOW doubled over with FEAR i was at this point. All was well though, I was VERY pleased to see them all there, and after about half an hour headed back to the hall, wondering what I would find there.
What i found was many smiling faces, and a CROWD! While we'd been away people had TURNED UP, and the room was THROBBING! Their were more PALS - Jamie from VOON turned up (making the VOON count FIVE, easily beating Tim's MEAGRE The Torture Garden count of THREE - HA!), Mr Whitaker was there, Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey soon arrived, there were VILLAGERS, there were TUBE BAR TYPES on an away day into the countryside, it was BRILLIANT! The Tube Bar was starting to swing too, helped by Turk BERATING the entire room into dancing, and it was watching this that gave me my PENULTIMATE stab of PANIC - oh no! People are DANCING and having FUN! They'll HATE it when we go onstage!
We put things off by going into the basement under the stage to have our PICTURES taken by my brother, for use on "Warriors Of Nanpantan", and then going for EMERGENCY TOILET ACTION. We gathered in the doorway to the hall, and then I felt SAFE. As happens every so often I realised what a LOVELY band I've got - honestly, it cannot be over-stated how WONDERFUL it is having a band like The Validators (NB I'm hoping they've got bored by now, so won't see this bit, don't want to give them IDEAS) - never mind how GRATE they are at playing the songs, it's just lovely getting to hang around and DO so many things with such a nice bunch of people, especially people you know you can RELY on. Together we MARCHED across the room to take the stage. AND SO IT BEGAN.
It began a bit shakily with me forgetting half a verse of "Things'll Be Different", but things got BETTER as we went along - the monitor amp made a BIG difference, and, to me at least, we sounded GRATE. Halfway through i had my final bit of PANIC when i thought "Hang on - these people have come for to have some FUN. Most of them don't know us, they want some Christmas CHEER, and yet here we are ELBOWING IN to their party and RANTING at them about Diverse Topics! YIPE!" however this too passed, and soon i was back to having FUN again. My brother NOTED that i kept GRINNING like mad whenever I looked around and the aforesaid BRILLIANT BAND, and it was true, a GOOD TIME was had, so much so that we came back on for a PROPER ENCORE of "Fat Was A Feminist Issue", during which, i believe, my DANCING and MIME attained new levels of BEING UNNERVING TO CASUAL WATCHERS, followed by a FESTIVE RERUN through "Give Us A Kiss (For Christmas)". Here's that yuletide setlist in FULL!
Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)
The Symbol Of Our Nation
Give Us A Kiss (For Christmas)
Never Going Back To Aldi's
Hey Hey 16K
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
Post Subsonic Bass
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Gay Train
Payday Is The Best Day
Fat Was A Feminist Issue
Give Us A Kiss (For Christmas)
You may notice there are FOUR debut band versions of songs in there, and it seems that that whole "actually practicing songs" THING was a Good Idea after all, as they sounded PRETTY DARN GOOD, to MINE ears at least, and if I hadn't said "this is a new song!" every time I don't think anyone would have noticed. COOL.
I was staggering off stage, exhausted and SWEATY, when i was GRABBED to do the Raffle Draw. MAN ALIVE, if I thought doing GIGS had potential for FEAR, it is as NOTHING compared to the bowel trembling TERROR engenderd by drawing a raffle - i shall never cross a VICAR again, i tell you. There were catcalls, there were boos and cheers, and when my MUM won a prize i feared for my LIFE! Needless to say, when it came time to AUCTION off the final item I passed the baton on to TURK, who coped with it MANFULLY. All in all I'm told we ended up raising over 500 QUID for the Toddlers' Playground Appeal in the village - IMPRESSIVE, no?
Believing most of the EVENTS to be over i retreated to the basement underneath the stage, but even THEN i was not safe from EVENTS, as my friend Chris came down and, in a MANLY BANTERING STYLE, asked me to be BEST MAN at his wedding. LUMME! I was a bit STUNNED, but also EXTREMELY CHUFFED by this - I've now got 18 months to involve him in some Amusing Stories that don't involve one of both of us getting HORRIBLY DRUNK and being APPALLINGLY RUDE to people. THOSE stories I have ENOUGH off. Crikey tho eh? WEDDING ACTION!
AGLOW with JOY i went back upstairs where, for the next two hours, i DANCED with the GRATEST DANCER i have ever met, also with various PALS and FAMILY MEMBERS, and had a FANTASTIC TIME. It was odd to be at a Tube Bar with NON-Tube Bar initiates. People of our age seemed a bit surprised by the choice of song, but the Older Attendees fell RIGHT into it. When "Show Me The Way To Amarillo" came on i WHOOPED with joy, and was SHOCKED by the number of blank expressions on the dance floor - SURELY this is the number one FLOOR FILLER anywhere?!? Or is that just at the Tube Bar then?
Anyway, a RIOTOUS GOOD TIME was had by one and all, ending after midnight with a surprisingly LARGE number of STOP-OUTS high kicking in a circle. We packed up what we needed to pack, and headed back to Tim and Emma's, for a cup of tea and a lot of saying "Cor, that was really good wasn't it?"
It really was too - a BEAUTIFUL evening in fact, surrounded by many MANY of the people i like most in the world, having a REAL GOOD TIME, and HEY! for CHARITY also! and for CHRISTMAS! That's jollity CUBED! Next day it was baby Lola's first birthday, which was more JOY for all, then followed by a lift to Loughborough, a BUS to Leicester, a wait, another BUS to Bedford (and I don't care what Midland Mainline say, it does NOT take OVER TWO HOURS to get from Leicester to Bedford unless you're doing it WRONG), another wait, an EXTRAORDINARILY long train journey to London, a tube, a tube, a walk, and then FINALLY home, arriving FED UP, WEARY and KNACKERED. Today I'm off work feeling POORLY as mentioned, but also HAPPY. Saturday was a lovely LOVELY day - let's hope the promoters like us and'll have us back again!
There must be something in the water at the moment, for EXCITING things are occurring all around... this morning i got a call from Henry The Producer (of Steve Lamacq's show, amongst other things) asking me to go in again the week after next - he says I can do one of my "Greatest Hits" (his words!), and also a NEW song that's "a bit Christmassy". RIGHT! I've had a bit of an old think, and so far i have a verse and a CHORUS for a song called "The Day After Boxing Day", which is, in my MIND at least, extremely catchy, and has clapping in it. We'll see how we get on - I'm going to be on the show on Sunday 19th, but I'd LIKE to get the song written by... er... this weekend, in case The Validators want to come and sing it with me.
BRANE THROBBING from thoughts of THAT, i turned to one of my favourite webpages, LinkMachineGo, to see what links of INTEREST it had for me today. Usually it has a new Good Thing every day, to do with geeky stuff like Politics or Comics or Music etc etc - Things I Like, basically, and today was no exception for LO! It's Hey Hey 16K!
It's like this summer just gone all over again, except colder!
Hello to anybody who'll have come to visit after hearing B3TA's Ginger Fuhrer Rob Manuel on the Phil Jupitus Show this morning! For everybody else - Rob was on in place of Interweb Overmind Dave Green (from Need To Know - SEE how far my TENDRILS of Knowing A Couple Of People STRETCH!) who usually does the TECH SPOT on a Tuesday morning. Rob sounded EXTREMELY NATURAL and RELAXED, also a bit like John Ronson, i was most impressed, ESPECIALLY so when he was BIGGING UP "Hey Hey 16K" on that Office Attachments Awards thing. It was dead good - ESPECIALLY especially when they played a bit of it and you could hear Phillip Jupitus DANCING AROUND. I think that's what it was anyway, it was EXCITING!
If you weren't listening in, and are INTRIGUED, it's about an hour and 35 minutes into the programme on the Listen Again feature, and if you did listen and came here specifically because of it, then WELCOME!
The Sofa In My Sitting Room was OUT last night, and as I'm doing a bit of Work On The Side (DATABASE THRILLS!) I thought "Ah! I shall sensibly use this evening to get on with that, so that I am not leaving it until the last moment. That will be sensible of me."
HOWEVER, I had to visit the DISTRIBUTORS on the way home, so had to DASH OUT and thus forgot to take anything with me... I was off to the DISTRIBUTORS by the way to pick up unsold copies of Shed Anthems. Several years ago we stopped using such people as, to be frank, I found them a bit useless. They'd always said "it's not our fault we hardly sold any copies of your record" (NB by "sold" they meant "persuaded shops to STOCK them, sale or return"), "we would have done better if you had gone on tour, or had some press coverage, or done some radio sessons, or were better known." This time i DID go on tour (and have played all OVER the place), got LOTS of reviews, played on Steve Lamacq's show for a MONTH, AND there was the whole flipping Hey Hey 16K business, and they managed to get about 20 (twenty) copies into the shops... now, i realise that me and The Validators are hardly BILLY JOEL AND THE JOELATORS, but still, that's not very good is it?
I was quite happy to pick them up though, for one thing i had promised Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey (MIGHTY co-releaser of Shed Anthems, via whom we used said Distributors) I'd sort it out AGES ago, and for another I AM RUNNING OUT. HA! Take THAT, so called professional distribution company!
So yes, due to all that I found myself at home WITHOUT thrills of a database nature, so thought I might as well have a go at some work on Warriors Of NanPanTan. I've been BRANE BLEEDING these past couple of weeks trying to get INSPIRED about how it should all look, and spent a fruitless half hour last night trying to draw a DISNEY-ESQUE fantasy landscape for a Caravan-esque TWEE-SCAPE. HOWEVER, then i remembered a rather nice idea I'd had for a compilation EP about six months ago, so dug that out, changed it around, and came up with THIS:
NICE, isn't it? Apart from looking COOL, being SIMPLE, and (hopefully) looking NICE with a black case, it's also a DESIGN SCHEME i can use for the CD Extras... thus, ENLIVENED by this breakthrough, I sat down and recorded the SONG "Warriors Of Nanpantan" in a HEAVY HEAVY EIGHTIES STYLEE - my dears, you could almost SEE the DRY ICE wafting round my corner studio. It sounds DEAD GOOD i reckon, i was MOST chuffed with how things turned out, and ended up listening to it MANY MANY times before bed time.
It's all working out OK - Messrs Pattison and Fleay have been beavering away hard on their bits, and now I've done the cover all i need to do is the back cover, the on CD printing, and write and design the CD extras! Hello Christmas!
My dears it has been an EXHAUSTING weekend for me. On Friday i went to Kentish Town to a PARTY, from which I did not get home until gone MIDNIGHT. The combination of WINE and LAGER i had drunkened meant that i AWOKE at 6am and couldn't go back to sleep... so decided to set off to our local 24 hour TESCO to do the weekly shop... did you know that you have to wait until 8am to buy BOOZE? I do! Now!
Later on in the day I headed out again, this time bound once more for LEICESTER, where Tom and I were booked to play at the Ultimate Frisbee Christmas Party. Oh yes! Ultimate Frisbee, as far as i can make out, is like NETBALL, but with FRISBEEs, and is generally played by Physicists. I don't know why this should be so, but apparently it is.
On the way i had a foodstuffs-based MOOD SWING - HUNGRY from my journey i went in to Burger King in search of Veggie Whoppers. Burger King is in the less pleasant bit of Leicester, i.e. the half of the city centre which is EAST of a line joining the bus station to the railway station, along which most of the horrible bars are, and which on most Saturday nights is filled with drunken aggressive people, as indeed it was THIS Saturday night. On EDGE already i waited in Burger King, where the person in front of me turned and walked straight INTO my guitar and then, after ten minutes waiting, I was told that the one and old BEAN BURGER they'd had (which they'd sold me as there were NO veggie whoppers) had been dropped on the floor. Nobody said sorry, or offered to do anything about it, and when i asked for my money back they had to fetch the manager who was EXTREMELY arsey as if _I_ was putting HER out, rather than vica versa.
Full of RAGING ANNOYANCE i stomped across town and soon found myself in Market Street, where LO! there was Mirch Masala, a brand new modern VEGGIE CAFE! Serving Italian, Indian, Chinese, and "American" food, ALL of which was VEGGIE - there were V's on the menu, they meant VEGAN - HOORAH! I had a DELICIOUS Dhosa and a BEER in a place where everyone seemed happy and was NICE about things, and eventually emerged with my mood changed UTTERLY, warm inside and full of LOVE for the world, thinking "and I nearly ate in Burger King - HOORAH!"
I arrived at the party, got sat up, and waited NERVOUSLY to begin. We'd decided NOT to use a PA as it was only a small room, and though Tom needed my practice amp, I thought I could manage without, as I'd done so in a couple of gigs lately. HOWEVER, the gigs where I'd done this had BEEN gigs, and not Christmas Parties where people would much rather chat to each other, NOR did they have two groups of people in the middle of the room who REALLY wanted to talk to each other Quite Loudly...
Things started out OK, but as said people, quite rightly and legitimately, talked to each other, OTHER people thought "ah! it is OK to chat!" and did so. Gradually i lost my IRON GRIP on the audience, and although when Tom came on to join me halfway through it brought BACK a few people, i could still feel it slipping... i was quite pleased with my BEHAVIOUR tho, throughout I kept going, kept trying to engage with the people near the front who were into it, and at no time CRIED or was RUDE to the persistent talkers in the middle of the room. It was THEIR Christmas Party after all, and it wasn't for me to tell them what to do - and it was a bloody good job i didn't HARASS them, for afterwards i discovered that the REASON they were talking so loudly and not paying ME any attention was because they were Profoundly Deaf. AH!
So yes, things weren't going brilliantly UNTIL we got to the last two songs, "Easily Impressed" and "Boom Shake The Room", which swung the whole thing round, got everyone joining in, and was a MIGHTY RELIEF to Tom and I. "It's a good job you did those last," he said, and i replied "That's WHY i always do those two last!"
I'm such a PRO. We politely ignored the carrying out of the WHIP ROUND, were pleased with what we were to recieve, and then spent much of it on DRINK! HOORAH! I was staying round AAS Emeritus Director Mr Whitaker's house afterwards, so we even went RECKLESS CRAZY and had a celebratory pizza! HOORAH!
We stayed up late, then next day i left the house at 9am to walk to the station and get the train home again. I was KNACKERED i tell you, KNACKERED!
In Your Face, Younger Me!
You find me this evening EXHAUSTED, yet TRIUMPHANT for i have beaten my Nemesis: ME, Aged 12! HA!
See, I've been doing a lot of swimming just lately, and it's always been in the lengthy shadow of my younger self. Sure, swimming 30 lengths of a lunch time (i.e. 750m) is all well and HEALTHY, but it as NOTHING to the 52 lengths (1300m, metric fans) i swam in the Deeping Leisure Centre, aged 12, and i did THAT without stopping every ten lengths for a breather. PAH! I didn't used to mind when I used to go swimming in Leicester, but the pool i go in now is exactly the same length as the one in Deeping, so it always RANKLED.
However, RANKLE NO MORE, for this very evening i swam 60 (SIXTY) lengths (1500m!), WITHOUT stopping, and thus CRUSHED my younger self LIKE A BUG! HA! Eat my LUNCH, 12 year old me, i have made your achievements as NOTHING with my mighty efforts! YES!
Actually I am rather fond of Little Me, and in some ways it's a bit SAD that i have finally surpassed the Athletic Height of my youth (it wasn't long after the record was made that i fell into FOOD and COMICS to a much greater level) but hey! those are the sort of thoughts I utilised to FUEL my marathon swim. In fact, it's a bloody good job humanity has developed an INNER VOICE, as if i had been Speaking My Mind as i swum there would have been TROUBLE. There's a Kids' Class in my pool on a Friday afternoon, so there were real live 12 year olds messing around and GETTING IN THE WAY - FUELLING my thoughts of VENGEANCE - and it wouldn't have looked good if i had been barrelling along shouting "HA! Puny 12 year olds! You are RUBBISH!" now would it?
When I got out i heard two of the 12 year olds talking about getting PIERCINGS, and I thought "Hey, The Kids! Do not try to grow up so quick, being one of The Kids is not all that bad, and your Older Self will probably thank you for taking care. He may try and beat your ATHLETIC RECORDS but he is old and has recently discovered HAIR growing out of his EARS (NB true, and TERRIFYING), so do not judge him too harshly."
As I say, thank heavens we don't say everything we think OUT LOUD...
Going Down VALIANTLY
The battle rages hard, and STILL those pesky badgers are ahead of us in the Office Attachments Awards. We're in a STERLING second place at the moment, but they're along way ahead... reinforcements may never come, but we shall know that we went down FIGHTING my friends!
Actually we just went past 2000 votes, and it struck me that - flipping heck - that's 2000 people who've been and voted for us, and that's BLOODY GRATE! Thanks EVER so much to everybody who's voted so far, I've had loads of emails from people who've been joining in and spreading the word, which has been LOVELY, so thanks very much everyone for doing that, it is MUCH appreciated! TA!
Here Come The Cavalry!
It's all getting rather exciting over on the Yahoo Office Attachments Animation Awards site. Since last night we have STRUGGLED MANFULLY up from fourth to second place, but there is still a long long way to go. Battle has recently been joined by the MIGHTY FORCES of b3ta, but also many OTHER small brigades of VALIANT REBELS are rallying to our flag, standing tall against the EVIL MIGHT of The BAdger Empire. They must be SMITED! Or SMOTEN! Whichever is the correct way to say it, that's what there must be!
Okay, so the badger song still has four times as many votes as us, but surely they have peaked too soon? Over 2 MILLION people downloaded Hey Hey 16K, if we can get a TINY fraction of those to vote (for us, obviously) then this can still be won. Americans! Imagine it is a RE-RUN of the election, and we're Kerry (oh come on, you remember, John Kerry?) but nicer, more normal, and SEXIER. Brits! We've gone in a TIME MACHINE back to 1992, John Major is a BADGER and the leader of the opposition is a rather over-talkative ZX SPECTRUM! Will YOU allow history to repeat itelf?