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Sessions and Newsletter
It was a HEFTY weekend of ACTION for me - much of it NON-ROCK based, but some of it WAS, as i set to recording a SESSION to take with me to Ireland this week. I tried all SORTS of different ways of doing it with a combination of four track, microphone, MIXER (which hadn't been used for about 10 years, since VOON recorded with it), guitar pickup and COMPUTER. I ended up plugging the microphone DIRECTLY into the back of the computer and recording BOTH vocals and guitar on it by, cunningly, stepping back a bit. It actually sounds pretty good, i was a bit FRUSTRATED that such LOW TECH would have the best results, but am quite CHUFFED with what I ended up with - versions of "Clubbing In The Week", "Hey Hey 16K", "Red & White Sockets", "Breaks In The Journey", "Sod It Let's Get Pissed", "Two Little Boys", "The Perfect Love Song" and "I Come From The Fens". I also recorded a version of Billy Braggs "Brickbat", but it sounded a bit rubbish, so I did "Two Little Boys" instead as a) i LIKE it and b) it keeps getting mentioned in comparison to "Leave My Brother Alone". A I say, I'm quite pleased with it, and I'll see about getting some of it stuck up on the website when I get back.
Meanwhile, I've just ENACTED a NEW IDEA - a newsletter! I seem to be emailing people quite a bit at the moment with gig news and stuff, so I thought I'd try doing it properly with a monthly mailout called (CUNNINGLY) The Last Working Day Of The Month. This month's issue is HERE, and if you'd like to get sent it regularly do let me know won't you?
Whole Lot Of Hibbett
PHEW - i tell you what, I'll be glad when it is SPRING. I've worked in a University Context (hem hem) for pretty much ALL of my GLORIOUS CAREER, and I have long looked in BEMUSEMENT at friends who work in the private sector, with their LONG HOURS and their "taking work home." Imagine how DISCONCERTING it has been for me this year, then, to find myself STILL in Higher Education BUT working stupidly long hours AND coming in at weekends. It is, in fact, a bit RUBBISH, and i apologise to anyone whose owed an email from me who hasn't had one lately - WORK is the reason!
Mind you, part of the reason why I'm still at work at this ungodly hour on a Friday evening is that I'm beavering away to finish off stuff before I do my next GIG SLAB. This is going to be DEAD EXCITING, also A BIT SCARY, as I'm doing my first INTERNATIONAL gig (as Scotland, i guess, doesn't really count) when i FLY over to CORK on Wednesday to play at the An Bróg Bar with The Chalets, and then (get) DRIVE(n) up to Dublin the next night to play at Slattery's with Gavin Glass. I thought these gigs would be tiny gigs in the corner of PUBS, but further investigation has shown that, actually, they might be RATHER BUSY, with ACTUAL PEOPLE. EEK! FEAR! After that it's off to The Tapton Music Festival in SHEFFIELD, which is a sort of all-dayer of MANY BANDS, and is thus IMBUED with all the usual UNCERTAINTY and multiple possibilities of such events. WHOO!
Anyway, what i MEANT to say here is that the new Claire Dickinson show on Kooba Radio, and it contains a WHOLE LOT OF HIBBETT. God bless her, she plays "Fucking Hippy", "Leave My Brother Alone" AND "Walkman In My Head", and i was ESPECIALLY pleased when she compared "Leave My Brother Alone" favourably to "Two Little Boys". YEAH!
I STRODE through King's Cross last night, and once again found it Not Very Nice. As a regular user of St Pancras station i always imagine the area around it will be LOVELY, as St Pancras serves THE MIDLANDS and would therefore act as a Midlands Embassy, suffusing its environs with it's Midlands loveliness, also a regular supply of samosas.
This is not the case, and so i was quite relieved to get to the venue, where i bumped into THE FIGHTING COCKS, also preparing. We entered to discover that the first band were soundchecking, and LO! they were a BONGO and SITAR combo. Charlie had WARNED me of this, but I'd thought he was joking. I dropped a full pint glass upon the floor in horroseeing this... or maybe it just slipped, but STILL it was quite a sight, and it gave me the chance to INVESTIGATE the sitar a bit, as I've always wondered what those nobs along the side to. They appear to hold STRINGS. Aha!
The Cocks then soundchecked, so i went in search of FOOD, and instead found some PALS in the next room, so we did a bit of the PUB QUIZ. This was VERY OBVIOUSLY organised by some people who didn't do pub quizzes, as the questions were all Clever - not DIFFICULT, but CLEVER, i believe the quiz masters may have been some of Islington's famous Guardian Readers, and they were LOVELY - and they didn't take the prize money until AFTER we'd answered most of the questions. Also the prizes outnumbered the teams - everyone else seemed to know each other, although i don't think FIXING was the reason our team came third out of three... we just didn't have the knowledge of caribbean republics that they did.
During all this I did my soundcheck and soon it was time for the first band to go on... and on... and on. SUDDENLY we were drastically behind schedule, but the promoter didn't seem arsed about it. The second band came on eventually, and though they TOO seemed like nice enough chaps, they weren't really MY THING, and they especially weren't when they TOO played for longer than they OUGHT. ALSO their last song was called "Mediocrity" (which, really, is ASKING for trouble), and was about how TELLY is RUBBISH (which it isn't) and is full of GAME SHOWS, which it isn't. I got a bit PEEVED and asked the promoter what the PLAN was, as by now we were half an hour later. He seemed to think that if this band finished at 10, i could get on AT 10, do half an hour, and then the Cocks would start at half past - he didn't seem to realise there are CHANGEOVERS here in the world of ROCK, and went on to say "I don't know how it's got so late..." "Maybe it's because you haven't made anybody start, or indeed FINISH on time" i DIDN'T say, but i THOUGHT it very hard. I THEN asked if it'd be a problem if, in the eventuality that it took MORE than ZERO SECONDS to changeover, the Cocks went on past 11 o'clock, and he said there certainly wouldn't.
I was a bit RILED by now and anxious to get on, so it was nice to see that PEOPLE had arrived - thanks, by the way, to everyone who came, it was VERY much appreciated, especially to those people who had to LEAVE for TRANES before i eventually managed to get on! Band 2 came to a halt, having stood around INFURIATING me by DISCUSSING what song to do last for THREE HOURS (or so it seemed), and i DASHED HEADLONG into my SET. Here's what I did:
Work's All Right
Red & White Sockets
The Perfect Love Song
Another Man's Laundry
Rock & Roll Mayhem
Bands From London
Billy Jones Is Dead
Peterborough All Saints
Clubbing In The Week
It went really well! I SPED through it, cutting out "Mr Right" and "Leave My Brother Alone" as i went along, because I wanted to keep it SWIFT and PUNCHY, and then adding "Easily Impressed" to the otherwise All-Warriors SET at the end because i was having FUN. Everyone there PROPER got into it, so it felt like i was fighting AGAINST the cheering between songs, just to get on with it - it was GRATE! I think "Fucking Hippy" will be making a re-entry into the Uber-Set, and the rest was FUN, especially "Easily Impressed" as i DIDN'T do the explanatory bit... everyone had done unprompted participation in "Bands From London" so i was feeling confident, until the "Oi HIBBETT" section APPROACHED, when FEAR gripped me. Luckily all was well, and i came off stage a HAPPY Hibbett. PHEW!
I'd come in under time, so cleared up FAST, and then AMAZINGLY it took The Cocks more than NO TIME AT ALL to get themselves set up, so it was quarter to eleven by the time they got going. They were LOVELY. Now boasting even MORE WOMEN than before, they're a bouncing dancing bunch of GLEE, with DANCE STEPS, with Charlie jumping up and down in the middle trying to look SCARY but, actually, looking sort of SWEET. This is NOT something that happened during previous incarnations. Brilliantly, Asha started introducing the band halfway through, it was GRATE to see them FUNCTIONING as a BAND of people all ENJOYING it, and shortly after Charlie said "It's GANGSTA Karaoke!" It was - and in a GOOD WAY too.
Just as it seemed JOY would flow untrammelled, a VERY apologetic soundman said it was no eleven o'clock, and so the show had to END. The Promoter, oddly, had CLEARED OFF well before then, it was discovered, and only after a lot of SHOUTING (NB of "Oh go on, let them do another one") did the Landlord RELENT.
So yeah, the evening was a FUNNY one. The actual DOING A GIG bits were GRATE, it was just the event itself that WOBBLED WONKILY at times. STILL, many beautiful people were there who it was LOVELY to see to talk to, especially the KOOBA chaps, with whom i talked VEGETABLES. Also, The Cocks have tentatively agreed to VOYAGE with me once more to THE MIDLANDS. Leicester! GIRD Thyself!
My Drinking Is A LEGEND
We gathered around the kitchen table last night to listen to the Sound of The City programme about LEICESTER on 6Music last night. It was DEAD exciting! There was a BIG chunk of KEV talking, and i GIGGLED throughout - "It sounds just like KEV! That's the sort of thing he says when we see him!" i HOOTED, apparently convinced it was Alastair McGowan impersonating him. Later on Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey appeared, and that was even MORE exciting, especially when they detailed him CA$HING IN on Cornershop's number One... by selling 38 copies of the Frownland EP that they were on. Bless. ODDLY they didn't use ANY of the EXTENSIVE interview that I did - i sense the DREAD HAND of THE MAN here, obviously couldn't HANDLE that much TRUTH and FACTUAL FORTHRIGHTNESS! Yeah! That MUST be what it was - still, it was perhaps even MORE GRATE to have someone ELSE describe me as a LEGEND, and they even played a chunk of "Another True Story" to prove it! OOOH, it was REALLY exciting, AND they played lots of Prolapse too! GRATE!
I wonder if RINGO sat through the whole of The Anthology like this, going "LOOK! It's ME! on the TELLY!"? I bet he watched the first episode all the way through once, dutifully, and then fastforwarded it to HIS bit every other time. Hey, I just did EXACTLY that on the Listen Again thingy! Ringo, there's no shame in it at all!
Something I Didn't Know
I went and bought a new guitar case yesterday - my old one's a bit knackered (it has ROCKED HARD over the years), and anyway i need a new hard case for my trip to EIRE next week. Ooh, that's come along quick, my first INTERNATIONAL gig! Anyway, I went into a music shop on London's Famous Denmark Street and found a nice, CHEAP, hard case that was labelled "Dreadnought ONLY!" What on earth does THAT mean, i thought - so i asked. The very nice chap behind the counter, being VERY unlike the Stereotype Music Shop Person, clearly and politely told me that that's what you call the normal sort of acoustical guitar that ISN'T a classical guitar. Well blow me, i never knew that! I've been playing the things for over a DECADE and have never heard that term used before. If everyone else already knows this then i apologise for my foolishness, otherwise i include it here for general consumption.
Funnily enough I then heard it used SEVERAL times, for LO! the OTHER guy behind the counter really WAS a Stereotypical Music Shop Person, with pointlessly ridiculous haircut (Roadie Circa 1970), obscure band t-shirt, and LOUDLY talking on the telephone to someone who probably didn't WANT him to recommend different types of guitar. Hilariously, just after I'd spoken to his colleague, he shouted "Yeah, DREADNOUGHT guitars are fine for ARENAS, you can use a DREADNOUGHT there, but a DREADNOUGHT in an intimate venue isn't as delicate as a CLASSICAL. DREADNOUGHT DREADNOUGHT DREADNOUGHT."
Bless. I wasn't impressed tho - i KNOW what a Dreadnought is now. HA!
More Things From The Future
I've just discovered that the Sounds Of The City show that I did an interview for is on TONIGHT! This is the series where they DOCUMENT the SCENE in a city - they're doing Brighton, Leicester and Newcastle, so guess which one I'm talking about? When I did the interview I basically sat in front of a microphone and BLARED THORT at it for 20 minutes, and when I saw Mark The Presenter later he seemed a bit AFEARED by the LEVELS of said THORT, so I don't know how much will make it into the finished thing... anyway, it's on at 9.30 tonight, or you should be able to Listen Again to it tomorrow, should you wish to do so.
And in other Things Coming Soon - this link should start working in a day or too... ooh! MYSTERIOUS EXCITEMENT!
Songs of THE FUTURE
At Wednesday's Gig i'm going to try and do a whole set of songs from "Warriors Of Nanpantan". I'm a bit nervous about it, but I reckon I can't get away with ALWAYS doing versions of the UberSet, especially as it's only a month since my last London gig, so yesterday I sat myself down to have a PRACTICE. Things were going quite pleasantly until, as usual, i got DISTRACTED by my BRANE and decided instead to try some NEW songs instead. I've got quite a pile of half finished songs at the moment, which are starting to worry me, so I sort of hoped i'd get in a GROOVE and finish a couple of them off this weekend.
What actually happened was i spent two hours with a guitar, notebook, and eventually THESAURUS (this is a CLEAR sign of desperation, it never actually HELPS anything but at least huge lists of useless words stir the BRANE into thinking of BETTER ones), not really getting very far. Well, I say that, but i DID have some movement on a song called "The Other Rush Hour", and I think i may well have FINALLY found a way to finish it... anyway, as a MARKER to myself and also in case it's of interest to you, dear reader, here's a list of the five songs currently sitting on the TO DO list:
The Other Rush Hour - as mentioned above, this was originally about me getting up extra early after staying at Tom's in Leicester and seeing loads of people going to work at an ungodly hour, but it now involves me getting up early to wait for a parcel to arrive, seeing aforementioned people off to work while I'm on the way to the paper shop, and then never finding any MENTION of this whole section of society in any part of the media. Actually, this one is sounding Quite Good.
"Goth Song" - my homework from going round to Rob From B3ta's the other night. It's going to be about an older Goth bemoaning the modern incarnation of his sub-culture, turning it away from well rounded cat-lovers and towards Vicar frightening Marilyn Manson clones. "I don't want people to die, i want them to tie-dye" is possibly going to fit in somewhere.
Proper Grown Up Love - something I've been trying to lever in for AGES, and top contender to be REJECTED as Too Soppy by The Validators, this'll be about how GRATE it is being in a RELATIONSHIP where getting a bit annoyed with each other occasionally is actually OK and part OF it, rather than THE END OF THE WORLD and DOOM. If i can there'll be a CHUNK about standing around at the bottom of the stairs waiting to go out, and MARVELLING at the FACT that you have BECOME a character in a 1970's teatime sitcom, and how that is a GOOD thing.
Only Slightly Odd - just a vague idea here, about meeting people who've grown into slightly odd adults and how, considering the life they've had, that is a TRIUMPH. Needs thought!
How Hard Can It Be? - a RANT! I've covered 2 sides of A4 with RANTS, so all I really need to do is make it RHYME. My favourite bit so far is a CHORUS which goes:
How hard can it be to repair the rail network efficiently?
How hard can it be to stock the shelves in Sainsbury's?
How hard can it be to learn how to use an Apostrophe?*
How hard can it be to schedule American television on the BBC?
I'm talking Buffy and Seinfeld.
* examples of my own misuse of the apostrophe are NOT requested.
So yeah, that's where we're AT at the moment - i reserve the right to forget, re-use, or otherwise MANGLE any of the above, contents may settle during transit etc etc. I've got four or five weeks until we start Phase TWO of the Validators Song Devising SESSIONS, so hopefully there'll be ample time for some Finishing Off ACTION between now and then. I shall keep you INFORMED!
Old Songs, General Idiocy
I spent a very pleasant 90 minutes yesterday afternoon listening to the second half of Steve Lamacq's Sunday Session yesterday, and experience made all the NICER when i checked the tracklistings and found that, in the first half, he'd played "Clubbing In The Week" off of "Warriors Of Nanpantan"! HOORAH! I was all CHUFFED about this, although when I Listened Again this morning felt a bit QUEASY at the thought of THE NATION hearing my slightly dodgy singing in the middle section. HOWEVER, this queasiness was CURED when i heard the GUITAR SOLO that immediately follows it. Ooh, i do like that Guitar Solo, it ROCKS!
He then PLUGGED the gig on Wednesday, although he couldn't remember where it was (it's at Lark In The Park in That London) - there seems to be a SHROUD OF CONFUSION surrounding this event. I emailed a load of people to tell them about it last week, and got the DAY of the week wrong (it's this Wednesday), and THEN did FLYERS for it, on which i got the DATE completely wrong (it's the 23rd). GOODNESS ME! I fully expect to turn up on Wednesday to find that, actually, they've got the HUMAN wrong and it's somebody ELSE playing instead of me!
First of all, there's another LOVELY review of Warriors HERE at the always rather LOVELY Friends Of The Heroes. Two things seem to be arising from the reviews - firstly that the people i've sent it to have no shame in using words such as ACE and GRATE (which is DOUBLY nice!), secondly that the title initially confuses them, as everyone seems to think it's going to be HEAVY METAL.
It really really isn't.
That's all very nice and jolly - ALSO nice and jolly was what I did last night, having been to my local COMIC SHOP in the afternoon. This week saw the final issue of Promethea by Alan Moore, which seems to be his GREAT (and GRATE) STATEMENT on LIFE, REALITY, and COMICS... and all sorts of other things. It really is mind blowingly amazing. He DOES things with THE MEDIUM (yes i know how tossy that sounds, but STILL) that nobody else has done yet, AND he makes it make sense AND mean something AND also be moving and funny. It is BLOODY GENIUS.
Over the 32 episodes there's been all sorts of clever things going on, but this was the best ever for LO! to enjoy it properly you had to take the whole comic apart, and reassemble it as a POSTER! There's lots to be said about DISASSEMBLING THE MEDIUM (ESSAY title ahoy!) and suchlike, and I must say i really did feel like i was part of an ACT OF CREATION. The comic's partly about the use of imagination to create real things, and here i was involved as a reader not just READING the comic, but putting it together. YEAH!
Most of all, however, it reminded me of collecting the back pages of 2000AD for weeks to make a gigantic poster of Judge Dredd crossing THE CURSED EARTH. OH the joy on my face when I'd finally assembled that tatty collection of newspaper pages together to form a MASTERPIECE of MOTORBIKES, MUTANTS, GUNS and SHOULDER PADS. I also had a Dan Dare Poster Magazine which folded out into a poster, which also needed regularly appliances of sticky tape to hold it together, and my BRANE swam with happy thoughts as I snipped and stuck.
I haven't actually READ it yet, i've just LOOKED in AWE - i'm going to need a good hour and a stiff cup of tea to get through it, and I'm also going to have to buy it again to read in the conventional way to. That Alan Moore, he CLEVER!
New Methodology Action
I headed round to the home of Rob From B3TA last night - he'd had an idea to have MUSIC CLUB, where people played Toy Instruments to make songs, like in a school music class. It was a lovely idea... except it didn't quite work out that way, and ended up being just me and him, looking at each other over the top of guitars. As he rightly said, there was a time when you'd get home from college, sit with a mate, and SPEW OUT a TORRENT of SONG, easy peasy. How did that happen? Maybe it's easy when you're in a tight social SCENE, and have EVERYTHING in common, or maybe actually it never happened that way, and I remember only the times VOON wrote an album in an afternoon, and NOT all the times we gave up and went to the pub instead.
HOWEVER, rather than sit and glare at each other we turned to TECHNOLOGY and, basically, had a mess around with his computer software. Whoo! Modern THINGS! I've always superstitiously AVOIDED this sort of thing, staying stolidly ANALOGUE wherever possible, because a) I work with computers all day at WORK and b) i have an ITCH in my head telling me that doing things the long way round means you have to think about what you're doing a bit more, and so take more CARE. Thus it was a JOY and REVELATION to me to find it so EASY, and we very quickly built ourselves two LOOPS. We did it in RELAY, so I did the drums for the first song, he did the bass, and so on, then vica versa. AMUSINGLY the First Law of Jam Sessions applied as much here as it does for Validators: The First Thing You Play Will Always Sound GOTH, and that's the one I've taken away with me to WORK on. I've got the first verse and chorus sorted out, with the general idea for the rest of it LOCKED IN. Indeed, it all came out in an alarming SPLURGE, it was almost like talking in TONGUES when the idea arrived in Rob's study. I hope it didn't afear him. He's got the second song to sort out, so we'll see what happens.
Meanwhile, away from the GLITTERING FUTURE TOWERS of this endevour, another REVIEW appears, HERE. It's a review of the Hull gig, from This Is Ull, and as the Plug In My Socket has remarked, it's more like an ESSAY than a review, such is the CARE and ENTHUSIASM that's obviously gone into it. It's GOOD!
Into ... THE FUTURE!
I've just booked our next block of practices, and we're now BOOKED right up into MAY! MAY! The rehearsal place hadn't got things written down for APRIL yet, and rightly so too - what sort of band is it that PLANS three months in advance for ANYTHING? A band who need to book Apex Tickets and Baby Sitters, that's who.
We're doing this lot at three weekly intervals (as Mr Fleay has hurt his right arm... somehow, and needs to "rest" it. CHORTLE!), and even though the first one isn't for about 5 weeks (SEE ABOVE!!! I've been in bands that lasted less than 5 weeks! Mind you, they were rubbish) already i am EXCITED at the prospect. Tim has already expressed his DIGUST at the delay in getting started, and i can see his point - personally i am CHOMPING AT THE BIT to get out and do some more Band Gigs, as the last lot were GRATE and FUN, but what with the London gig next week (next Thursday, Lark In The Park, cockney readers), then my hop over to IRELAND and Sheffield, and THEN in early March our delayed Demo Session, the schedule is pretty full with ROCK. This, i feel, is ACE.
It feels quite COSY and SAFE, i must admit, knowing that there's ROCK ACTION booked in for the next few weeks, and yes, I know this is WRONG and un-PUNK, but HEY DIDDLE what's to do? Tonight, however, I'm off out to "Music Club", a SHADY gathering of people who, I'm told, are going to write new songs using unfamiliar instruments such as RECORDERS and TRIANGLES. They asked me to bring a guitar - is it the way I play it that makes people THINK it's unfamiliar to me?
More Links And Plays
I spent yesterday afternoon, as I have spent so MANY Sunday afternoons, listening to Steve Lamacq on BBC 6, and was OVERJOYED to hear him play "The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)". It was really exciting, thanks Steve! Also, hello anyone who heard it and has come here for the first time as a result. HELLO!
Also over the weekend, Tiger Tom McClure heard "Symbol Of Our Nation" played at a DISCOTHEQUE (reports of him BUSTING A MOVE on the dancefloor may have been exaggerated though). There's a couple of pictures of us IN ACTION in Nottingham HERE, with several MORE pictures of our gear lying around, and MANY of the main act - i recommend watching it as a quick slideshow, it's SMASHING!
And finally, a REVIEW of Warriors of Nanpantan HERE. Is it a good review? It's ACE!
We've had the first review of WARRIORS, from those fine people at Vanity Project, and it's HERE.
Also, a couple of LIVE reviews, one from Between Planets of the Bull & Gate gig, HERE, and another from the Offbeat forum, HERE. I like live reviews, it's a means of SWANNING AROUND just that little bit more!
Toe Cramp/Cold Thumbs
I wish I'd taken my gloves, yesterday it was COLD and i was about to spend a lot of time LURKING AROUND outside. For LO! it was HO! for NOTTINGHAM, for the long awaited (by us, possibly by nobody else) Half Man Half Biscuit support. HOOPLA!
Due to the rum ticket I'd bought I had to change at Loughborough - we'd previously arranged that, if in the area, Tim might come and pick me up at Nottingham station, so i ZAPPED him to alert him to my POSITION, and he came and GOT me from Loughborough instead. This was all good, EXCEPT that it was really cold, I didn't have my gloves, but DID have a guitar to hang on to, so got REALLY COLD THUMBS. Is it just me that this happens to, or is it a common yet unheralded phenomenon? My thumbs, MAN they were cold!
So, we got to Nottingham pretty sharpish and caught our first glimpse of EXTRAORDINARILY and ACTUALLY long-awaited Nottingham TRAM! Ooooooh! What a sight to see they were, sleek, modern, exciting - what on EARTH were they doing in Nottingham when such a wondrous thing should, BY RIGHTS, have been in LEICESTER?!? Bah! You can take the Hibbett out of LE3, but a part of me will FOREVER be Midlands, and thus look ASKANCE at the claims of that fair part of the country's SHOW OFF city. Boo!
Anyway, we got unloaded, everyone (apart from Emma) arrived in quick succession, and we were STUNNED to find that the Biscuits were ALSO there. They are legendary for their usual LATENESS (usually because they've got lost, or someone's got out of work late), and we were as surprised to see them as they seemed to be to be there. Nigel arrived halfway through, having been doing an INTERVIEw on the radio, and it was all done QUICK. Also done QUICK was OUR soundcheck, it all sounded OK, even though we were doing our best to be Quick, Easy, No Trouble Support Band.
After this i had a quick chat with Nigel - what a LOVELY man he is, he was very enthusiastic about "A Mighty Wind", so i recommended he go and see "School of Rock" ALSO, as it's not SIMILAR except for the fact it gets band stuff RIGHT. I then headed off in search of CHIPS, discovered Nottingham's Street Of Food, and then dashed back because we were ON.
Not that I needed to worry - TIM was in charge last night, so i felt no FEAR, and was almost JOLLY when we were tuning up, with "Preposterous Tales" being played in the background. OFFBEAT were DJing, which was GRATE as I've never been able to make it to Sheffield when they've had one of their nights, and they played the new Charlotte Hatherly single later (her new album, by the way, is BLOODY GRATE), which made me think i actually would probably LIKE it there. It also gave me the excuse to say "We're The Support Band" at the start, which I thought was quite clever... er... as it's the title of an I,Ludicrous song and, well, we were the support band.
I tell you what, our bit was DEAD GOOD. Wary of going over our half an hour, and also of the fact that Biscuit Audiences can be a little grumpy with support bands (i know this because i am usually IN the audience, BEING grumpy) we played a nice SWIFT set, with me being VERY conscious of keeping banter levels LOW. For this reason i DIDN'T introduce the band between songs, even though it was hard not to. I have LONG been aware of how MIGHTY our rhythm section is (and they, by the way, seem to be engaging in a TEENAGE COURTSHIP and appear to be making compilation tapes for each other - last night Rob arrived with a Bogshed Boxset for Tim. It is called, I think, BONDING) but it's only when we get GOOD SOUND, as we did AGAIN last night, that i really appreciate how GRATE Tom and Emma are. This happens ESPECIALLY when we do the new songs and I get to hear their BITS, indeed it is a bit DISTRACTING and I have to concentrate on what I'm doing. I did this so much that i got TOE CRAMP! It felt like the toes on my left foot had wrapped themselves around each other, due to the fact that I'd leant so hard on one foot for half an hour, BOUNCING NERVOUSLY.
If i have one criticism of the gig it would be that certain members of the band really should try and learn the last verse of "Symbol Of Our Nation" properly, as once AGAIN it came derailed. Sorry. Other than that all was beauty - there were people down the front who knew the words, the people down the front who were there to get a good spot for the main act were SMILING by the end, and what was a DESULTORY couple of claps at the start turned into PROPER APPLAUSE by the end. OH! We were HAPPY, and when we came off stage NUMEROUS people grabbed me to say they liked it, several CDs were sold, and joy and beauty shone around. HOOPLA!
Especially for Tom - for some reason THE KIDS really DUG his violin. Obviously, everyone SHOULD do - what i mean is that last night they TOLD him so, quite a lot. Well done, TIGER! Anyway, The Biscuits came on then, and they were GRATE, especially a new bit about The Book Of Revelation, not Revalations ("see also Mary Hopkin - she must despair"). It was UTTERLY PACKED, and I spent a rather dodgy first 20 minutes stood right at the back CRAMMED IN amongst the people who spend the entire gig shouting "WHAT DID GOD GIVE US NEIL?" which does get a bit annoying after a while, so i went upstairs where the People A Bit Too Old/Knackered For The Moshpit were, also a bunch of THE KIDS. It's really good these days, you see YOUNG PEOPLE in increasing numbers at Half Man Half Biscuit gigs, obviously the albums are STILL being passed around the sixth form common room, yay verily, just as they were a million years ago in Peterborough.
It was BRILL, and when it finished i hung around outside in case anybody leaving wanted to buy a CD - and someone did! ZANG! We then got packed up and stood around CHATTING WITH THE BAND. What a LOVELY bunch of people they are, Neil even put up with me, for some reason, telling him a lengthy pointless story explaining why Mr Paul Myland hadn't been able to come (he was poorly), and how this was a shame as it was HIM who forced upon me my first tape copy of one of their Peel sessions. We said goodbye, shared a Validators Group Hug, and sped off into the night.
And that was the end of this SPATE of gigs for us - I've got quite a few solo ones coming up, but nothing really BOOKED for the band. We'll probably go back and do some more New Song Learning now then, and also PRACTICING because i have to say IT WORKS! I see now why other bands DO it (although not why so many do it so MUCH instead of actual GIGS), through this sequence of outings we've actually got QUITE GOOD! Yes! I came back to London on the train this morning thinking not only am i in a band of ABSOLUTELY GRATE PEOPLE, but I'm ALSO in a band that are GOOD!
The band who played LAST on Friday night were GALITZA, who were GRATE! We'd IMMEDIATELY warmed to them during their soundcheck simply because they were AS old, or even OLDER than WE were! HOORAY! Like explorers out at the very EDGES of charted territory it's always nice to bump into some company. We then went on to like them MORE because they were really REALLY good - really EXCITING to watch and listen to. LOADS of bands have iron-on "Attitude" (especially at the moment, both in the charts and the dipsticks who impersonate them), which usually involves JERK! Y! MOVE! MENT! on stage, pulling TORTURED faces, leaping about "excitedly" for absolutely no reason, and wearing inappropriate CLOTHING for their exertions. It's really BORING to watch people pretend to be carried away by THE VIBE (especially when there is no discernible VIBE to speak of), so it was extremely THRILLING to watch people get carried away who really really WERE. MAN there were some faces PULLED, some postural positions STRUCK and some shapes THROWN, NONE of which were out of the B.Gillespie Big Book Of Fake Moves, ALL of which were obviously heartfelt and spontaneous. There were, in fact, BRILLIANT, so it was a bit disappointing to learn they were doing two more gigs then packing it in... although that might explain why they WERE going for it so HARD.
Did i mention the New Song in the Song Blog and Annotations? I realise it has been a LONG time since i kept this up to date, and plan to do so MORE in future - especially since i recieved a LENGTHY and INCISIVE list of corrections and questions from a Dr Lloyd Wood, which only made me feel WoRSE about the whole thing. As a starter, this New Song is something i thought up on the TRANE back from Leeds on Saturday, there's not a HUGE amount to it, but i think it's quite cool. More to follow, honest!
We're supporting Half Man Half Biscuit tomorrow night - YAY! If anybody's coming along, we're on about 8pm (!), so judge your entrance accordingly. Excitingly, this will be my first usage of Nottingham's TRAM network! OH YEAH!
Friday morning found me ASLEEP until very nearly Friday afternoon. It was LOVELY. We had a DELIGHTFUL luncheon with Tom's parents, finished watching the video of the Bull & Gate gig, said our goodbyes, and then headed off onto PHASE 3 of our Yorkshire Tour.
Our first top was Hull's local comic shop - we knew we were approaching by the small huddle of GOTH TEENAGERS smoking self-consciously nearby. We found it CLOSED, so popped round the corner to look in the Tom's Model Shop Of His Youth, which was ACE and nostalgic for me also due to having been a child of the '70's and had a Model Shop Of MY Youth too. I wonder if The Kids Today know the simple joy of a well joined spitfire wing? ANYWAY, we then nipped back to the comic shop, got my PROVISIONS, and then it was HO! for the Open Road!
The journey was GLORIOUS, as we sped along listening to "Warriors Of Nanpantan". This was the first time i'd listened to it EVER in a proper CD player (as opposed to a computer) so i was MIGHTILY RELIEVED to find that it worked, and we were BOTH quite surprised to find ourselves enjoying it so much. Hey! Some of these songs aren't bad! We got into Leeds full of CHEER, and then got lost, and then got GLARED at by a RIGHT ARSEY car parking attendant, which rather took the edge off things. Still, we got out, got INTO the Marvellous Queens Hotel, LEEDS, checked in, and said SEE YUZZ to each other.
There then followed a BEAUTIFUL 2 hours in which i had a BATH, then sat watching telly and drinking tea. It was LOVELY. For the first time in several days I was CLEAN.
We regrouped, and went back to the long stay car park to find we'd got it a bit wrong, and that it'd cost us ANOTHER 16 quid to take the car out, so HAULED Tom's MASSIVE amp down four flights of stairs to try and find a taxi rank... which we couldn't find, then waited 20 minutes for a taxi to arrive as ordered by the hotel. STRESS! EVENTUALLY we got to the venue to meet Mr Pattison and soon Mr Fleay, and STOOD AROUND for a couple of hours while nothing much happened. For some reason the venue wanted NO SOUNDCHECK whilst The Rugby was on, so JUST when we could have got started, they had to stop doing things...
ARGH! I was so BORED i could understand WHY people start on the DRUGS. It wasn't so much being BORED as being WIRED at the same time ... anyway, Emma had by now turned up, and so myself and Messrs McClure and Pattison headed off to get some CHIPS, leaving her and Mr Fleay to CHAT. We walked MILES to find the Proper Yorkshire Chip Shop we'd been recommended, and we found it closed. We thus went to the Dodgy Looking Kebab Shop next door, and were AMAZED to find it serving UTTERLY DELICIOUS Onion Bhajii's. If i could work out how to get the pictures off my phone i would show you the PHOTO i took.
When we got back it was time for a quick soundcheck at half-time - WHY the venue insisted on no noise during the game i do not know, for precisely NOBODY was watching on the three small tellys (which all had the sound turned off anyway), and there was a massive sports bar next door anyway. Oh yeah, and the game ITSELF was in LEEDS. BAH! We did "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device", which sounded pretty groovy, and a YOUTH came up afterwards and promised to return for the whole set later. He did too - it was like playing an ADVERT or TRAILER.
By now the place was getting PACKED, and getting packed with... shall we say, "younger drinkers". Everywhere you looked were KIDS falling about and/or SNOGGING each other. It was all very sweet, although a bit worrying that THE POLICE were ALSO there, FILMING the shenanigans, as a Licence Check. Hmmm.
EVENTUALLY the rugby finished, the first band on finished, and it was US! HOORAH! It was SUCH a GRATE feeling to get started at last, and by GOLLY we had a good time - here's what we played:
The Gay Train
Hey Hey 16K
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Billy Jones Is Dead
Breaks In The Journey
The Fight For History
Never Going Back To Aldi's
Things'll Be Different
The Symbol Of Our Nation
MAN! It was FUN! There were a few small CLUTCHES of people who seemed to know the words to the old songs, which is ALWAYS a JOY, and as I looked around I could see people GETTING INTO IT. It was LOVELY! My favourite bit was in Easily Impressed when I saw someone at the back of the room doing the "OI HIBBETT!" bit, then looking DISTRAUGHT when she forgot what came next. BLESS. THE KIDS, in general, seemed to DIG it, and we rode a WAVE OF JOY all the way to the end.
And then we had LOTS to DRINK. AT LAST! We'd all been MIND BENDINGLY careful beforehand, over the course of FOUR HOURS not one of us had had more than three pints - ASTOUNDING! Mr Fleay FLED for Derby, and the rest of us got STUCK IN to the BEER. HOOPLA! The Pattisons left sometime before 12.30am, and me and Tom went to chat to the lovely Tasty Fanzine POSSE. Unwilling to end the evening when the bar kicked us out at 1.30 we invited them back TO OUR HOTEL, where a small group of us held court with MORE BEER until the No Longer Particularly Early Hours Of The Morning. ROCK! also ROLL! I distinctly recall correcting Sam Tasty firstly on his choice of BOOZE ("Lager is not a drink for a MAN! It is for CHILDREN!") and secondly on his opinion of the Beatles - this latter was MOST fun as his co-organiser AGREED whole-heartedly with ME - "He's right - you'll come round one day. You'll see."
Well, I enjoyed it anyway. LESS fun was how i felt the next morning when Tom and I met for BREAKFAST, and even LESS fun was how i felt on the EXTREMELY LONG journey home. Still, I was WARMED by the thought that it was all over and had all gone RATHER well. That was a WHOLE lot of fun, being on Tour, it's BLOODY GRATE!
I meant to write about our adventures in LEEDS today, but haven't really had time, so instead of our scheduled programme here are a couple of SHORTS.
First of all, why not pop over to the Sorted Records site? Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey is intending to make his VIDEO ARCHIVE available online, and he starts off this month with footage of VOON playing "Pilchards Of Death" in The Durham Ox, back when we used to play pretty much every other Sunday night. It may not be so for you, but for me it was a bit AMAZING to see the slender WHIP-LIKE figure of the younger Hibbett, goodness me...
Secondly, nip over to The Noble Savage for an INTERVIEW with ME! I did this quite a while ago, hence all the stuff about going off to The Isle Of Wight, but it seems to come across OK. The site has a rather groovy LINKS section too, which in a VENN DIAGRAM STYLEE intersects pretty heavily with things that I look at during the day. In my lunch break. Obviously.
Panic On The Radio
When last i typed I was sat in the reception of BBC Humberside. Shortly after I'd finished the other Validators arrived, as did Mr Eddy Bewsher, KING OF HULL, and also the team from Raw Talent. Hellos were said, cups of tea and coffee were provided, and gradually we got things together. It seemed to take ages to get going, but eventually we heard Mr Alan Raw saying "And after this track, it's time for our session from MJ Hibbett & The Validators." At this point THE FEAR set in.
As I've mentioned before, THE FEAR is something I tend to get before gigs, which usually disappears as soon as we start. This time, however, Things Were Different. I was EXTREMELY conscious of the fact that people could HEAR this - at gigs, if i forget the words, it doesn't really matter too much, as I can mumble or make something up and, generally, nobody really notices. THIS time though the WORDS were coming through VERY loud and VERY clear on BBC Leeds, Sheffield, York and Humberside. OH NO! I wrote out the words to Quality Of Life Enhancement Device in BRIEF, as I tend to have problems with that one, and hoped for the best.
We began VERY slickly - he said "MJ Hibbett & The Validators", Tim CLICKED, and we started "Billy Jones". It went all right, but i was TERRIFIED. Usually i look around and GRIN at my band mates, but I spent almost ALL of our set GRIPPED by TERROR, staring straight ahead. When the song finished i had to resist the URGE to say "Thank you", and introduced US and the next song, which was "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device". I started to get pleased with myself for singing it right, then realised DANGER DANGER, as this is always when I start thinking "Hmm, what a tight rocking outfit we ARE! I wonder what I shall say before the next song? What song is it again?" and LOSE it, so returned to my STRAIGHT AHEAD STARE of FEAR. At the end of that one I leant down to have a sip of water, and Emma helpfully went to take it from me when I'd finished... however, i thought she was trying to PINCH it, and PANICKED. FEAR! DREAD! That went ahead FINE - I'd been told NOT to leave any gaps between songs, as Dead Air = BAD On Radio, so was trying to sip water, say words, AND adjust my glasses all at the same time. "Never Going Back To Aldi's" COMMENCED, then we headed home with "Easily Impressed", when Emma did the "OI HIBBETT" bit with a serious look on her face, which always makes me LARF, and i felt BETTER. We ENDED with "Easily Impressed" after which i DEMANDED HUGS from the band, as i was EXHAUSTED by the TERROR. Also, the FEAR!
We went back into the proper studio, where Eddie was looking after Edie and Lola, The Pattison Girls. It was LOVELY having them there I must say - it's very difficult to get bored or arsey when there's two little toddlers beetling about the place, and everybody else kept coming through to see them. They were EXCELLENTLY well behaved too, it was IMPRESSIVE. Anyway, we left them a little while longer with Eddy and went through to do the interview which, I must be honest, was MUCH more fun than doing the session itself. Aaah! RELAXATION! We HURTLED through it, and had a thoroughly LOVELY time, even if we did seem to spend half of it slagging off Battles Of The Bands Competitions. Mr Fleay joined in HEARTILY, especially to LAUD the band Candid Bench, and everyone else seemed a bit QUIET. With that done we left via the back door, shared some FURTHER HUGS, especially with Eddy, who we were now saying cheerio too, and SPED off into the night, safe in the knowledge that the rest of us would be seeing each other again the next night, in Leeds.
As we drove back to Tom's parents' house we listened to the CD of the session we'd be given, and HEY! Guess what? It was PRETTY DARN GRATE! This whole Practicing The Songs lark seems to be WORKING, especially on the newer songs. I always realised that our mighty rhythm section ROCKS as you can't get away from hearing them, but with a good mix of the SOUNDS like we got from the session I could really hear Tom and Emma's bits this time, and my WORD but they've got some Good Bits. The way we practice the songs means that it takes a while to notice when things SOLIDIFY - does that make sense? What I mean is, I'm usually so busy trying to remember the words that I don't notice that, say, Tom's got a GRATE RIFF going in the chorus, or that Emma has got some HARMONIES going. Do not think me a SWINE for this - on the way home Tom LARFED at one of the lines in QOLED, as he hadn't really been paying attention to them before. We were WELL chuffed with what we heard, and once again I got all excited at the prospect of our NEXT album. HOOPLA!
We got back to the house, said hello to Mr and Mrs McClure, and then RAN (and i mean RAN) round the corner for last orders. HURRAH! We made it! We then STROLLED back for a glass of whisky and to listen to the tape of the INTERVIEW bit (as that wasn't on the CD, so Tom's Dad had taped it), which actually sounded all right, before saying goodnight. I retired to the attic room, tired but happy, ready for PHASE THREE of our Yorkshire Tour to COMMENCE.
On The Road
Greetings from HULL! I'm sitting in the foyer of the super swish new BBC Building, waiting to load in for our radio session, and LO! They have free interweb access! COOL!
Last night's gig was pretty smashing - as ever in HULL, it FEELS like a Tough Crowd, but people seemed to really like it. If someone in Hull GLARES at you, that means they're really enjoying it, and so it was last night - I had to keep thinking "Remember! This is how it is here!" In London people WANT to show off and tend to go more MAD than they feel, in Hull it is quite the opposite - afterwards there was much LOVE and CHAT, it was LOVELY. I did the new improved version of "Mental Judo" for the first time, and it felt sort of OK, and Tom did the "This Is Not A Library" bit in "Things'll Be Different", and got people JOINING IN out of sympathy! Also, we got FED beforehand, and got free BEER - GRATE!
We've played so many times now that me and Tom both KNOW quite a few people, so there was MUCH wandering around and chatting to various people, then it was HOME, to Tom's parents for TOM and to Eddy's for ME, where there was a mini-party. LIFE on the RoAD!
I started today with a game of LUDO against a CHILD - it was a draw, all right? - then Tom came round and we headed into TOWN. We wandered round some of the pubs of his youth, and I thought "Hey! It's Thursday afternoon, I'm in a PUB, and last night I did a GIG! Life, she is GOOD!" Then we went to Hull's Street Life Museum, which was BRILLIANT. Not very Rock And Roll, I know, but we got to sit on TRAMS and in a CARRIAGE and look at old BIKES. Oddly, many of the exhibits were things i have OWNED (like the weird Pink Panther car, with a huge wheel in the middle), and it felt a bit odd to see MY past in THE past, if you see what I mean. We were the only people in the building, so someone came and found US personally to let us out when it was closing time. It's an ACE museum tho, i RECOMMEND it!
And now we're at the BBC Building, waiting to ROCK! This is FUN!
Right then, this is pretty much me OFF for the rest of the week. I'm playing in HULL tonight at The Lamp Bar, if anybody fancies coming along, and then tomorrow night I'll be on BBC Radio across Yorkshire and Humberside (all of them!) at about 9.30pm on Raw Talent, accompanied by The Validators, doing a LIVE SESSION! Yes, we ARE a bit scared!
If you'd like to listen to it, you can do so ONLINE from their website or, indeed, via THE RADIO WAVES. The next day we're back in LEEDS again, playing another Tasty Fanzine night at Carpe Diem with Galitza, Heavy Stereo, and ESPECIALLY Johnny Domino. This will be GRATE! HOPEFULLY!
I'll try and keep you ABREAST of events as they happen, but i may be too KNACKERED to get to an internet cafe, so don't worry if you hear nothing, I'm sure I'll be FINE. In the meantime, here's a REVIEW of Saturday's gig. It's rather nice! And talking of gigs, have a look at the GIGS page while I'm away. LOOK! INTERNATIONAL TOURING!
Also, thanks very much for everyone who's bought a copy of Warriors Of Nanpantan so far - they're on the way! If anyone else would like one, you can get them from the SHOP right NOW, and I'll post them out on Monday when I get back. Right then! Let's go and ROCK!
HOORAH! Sing hosanna, praise the Lord, wipe the surfaces and get the good cutlery out, for LO! "Warriors Of Nanpantan" has ARRIVED!
And it looks GRATE! No, REALLY GRATE!
To say i am DELIGHTED would be like saying THE MOON is a long walk away, and to say i am RELIEVED would be like saying the companies charged with running our rail network could do their job better i.e. VAST UNDERSTATEMENTS. Just like in the songs, i now feel ACTUALLY DIZZY with GLEE. Indeed, this morning I posted about 70 copies of the album out to various people, and almost burst into SONG on the way back to work! YIPPEE!
And to think, only yesterday i was RUING the DAY that i decided to listen to Tim and Rob and DO this! KERZANG!
Me and The Man
"Why oh why do people SIGN AWAY THEIR LIVES to THE MAN?" i am forever asking. "Why don't ALL bands do what we at AAS do, and release things THEMSELVES?"
It's days like today when I think "Oh yeah, THAT's why" for LO! the CDs have STILL not arrived. As regular followers of this sorry tale will know, they were meant to be coming on Friday, but didn't make it across the mountains of Eastern Europe in time. I waited at home for them yesterday, but a backlog due to BROKEN VAN put it back to today. I arranged for them to be delivered to me at work, but as my NAME wasn't on the forms people here REFUSED to accept them, as they had no idea what this mysterious "AAS" delivery was.
OH! i could WEEP! So, tomorrow morning i have to get up early AGAIN, come in and WAIT for them, HOPE they arrive before lunchtime, STUFF 100 envelopes, post the ones pre-stamped, take the international ones to the post office, and THEN head off to HULL in the afternoon. If THE MAN is listening and he wishes to TEMPT me he could do little better than to send a LACKEY round tomorrow morning to say "You know, we have a whole department of people PAID to do this for you", for i fear i may be at my WEAKEST when it happens.
Mind you, when they DO arrive I shall be LEAPING AROUND for JOY so - AHA! - send your LEGIONS, THE MAN, i shall DEFY the lot of them!