[an error occurred while processing this directive]
I set off once more for the Midlands yesterday afternoon, for a band practice and then GIG in Leicester. Me, Tom and Emma convened in Stayfree for the first time in AGES, and were gladdened in the heart to find it hadn't changed at all - the microphones still STANK of phlegm, things that _did_ work were clearly labelled, and the front desk was staffed by EITHER someone LOVELY OR by an arsey twonk who obviously viewed me as a SCION OF CORPORATE DEGENERACY because I didn't know that the loo had been moved to a different floor. It was nice to be back!
Anyway, we set to our Quiet Rehearsal i.e. one for the more delicate sorts in the band, as opposed to the FEISTY and BRUTISH Rhythm Section. We ran through a few songs, picking out who'd play what where, but we spent MOST of our time working out "Mental Judo", and mostly which bits Emma and I would sing. It was REALLY WORTH IT i must say, as by the end it was sounding GRATE, Tom had a CRACKING bit for the choruses, and the song was sounding like a ALBUM HIGHLIGHT. We'd also had a Thorough Discussion about the theoretical implications of Emma singing certain lines or not, it was GRATE!
Job done we headed over the Bar Firefly, which used to be The Lamplighter's but has had an ASTONISHING refurbishment done, so now it is LOVELY, especially upstairs where they've Knocked Through in ALL directions and changed a dirty, gloomy, Top Room Of The Pub into an AIRY LOFT. It was AMAZING, and best of all they'd invested in DECENT SOUND (and a really nice sound guy too), so everything sounded SMASHING.
Sound CHECKED we went for GRUB - again, in contrast to activities with aforesaid Brutish Rhytmn Section, where sitting down to eat your chips is considered effeminate and effected, we went to a RESTAURANT. Mirch Massala was closed, so we went to ZIZZI for Delicious pasta/pizza/salad, and shared a DELIGHTFUL bottle of Pinot Grigio between us. OH YEAH! GET US! Sophisticated or WHAT eh?
Back at the venue it wasn't long before Tim turned up, and suddenly the absence of Mr Fleay was felt rather keenly. I found this to be rather MOVING, in a daft sort of way, that we're so used to being a Proper Band these days that when one of us isn't there it just doesn't feel right. I was forced to use BEER to nurse me through this period of uncertainty, so don't worry, I pulled through.
People ARRIVED, which is always nice, and whilst chatting in the beer garden i got a TXT from Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey to tell me that he was upstairs watching someone do Billy Bragg cover versions. I thought this was his WRY, CUTTING way of telling me there was someone bellowing over an acoustic guitar (i can scarce imagine what THAT would be like...) so was SURPRISED to find it actually WAS someone doing a set almost completely made up of Billy Bragg songs. It was ACE!
Then it was time for US to go on - i knew this because Emma had put on her Gig Frock. This, for me, is the single downside of having her in the band - she shows us UP by actually bothering to get dressed up for the occasion, while the rest of us lurk in the usual black shirts and jeans that we spend the rest of our lives in. Anyway, i went on and did the first song on my own, with the rest done in the Threesome Format, and this is what we played:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Hey Hey 16K
Breaks In The Journey
The Fight For History
Billy Jones Is Dead
Things'll Be Different
It was a VERY UNUSUAL SET! It felt very strange playing it too - I'm used to either playing on my own and doing UBER SETS where every song is going "HEY! LISTEN TO ME!" or playing with The Vlads where audience don't usually have much choice BUT to listen to us, so it was a little disconcerting to be playing a fairly RELAXED and OPEN bunch of songs like this, which didn't GRAB people and DEMAND they pay attention. If I'd been on my own I'd've PANICKED and switched to "Fucking Hippy" and all that, but we held our nerve and i was GLAD that we did so. After we'd finished we were all BACKSTAGE (yes, it really HAS poshed up there) saying that it had felt "Nice", when Dr N Brown came in and say "Wow! That was... NICE!" and we agreed that it was, and that this was the UNUSUAL THING ABOUT IT. As he said, "NICE" is a word derided by the foolish, but something rarely found in the world of ROCK. And actually, as we found, it takes a lot more NERVE to play that sort of set than it does one of LOUDNESS. We'll be doing it again some time anyway, have no doubt!
I then leapt out to hand out flyers, and had a quick chat with Kev Hewick, who said he'd been amazed on Local Discussion Forums to find people a) had HEARD of us and b) LIKED us! I know what he means, it had FREAKED me out a bit to see people in the room who i DIDN'T know who knew the words to songs - it's STRANGE to see this anywhere, but especially so in LEICESTER where until recently familiarity has bred much CONTEMPT of our OUVRE. Apparently tho there is now a Rich and Thriving Music Scene in Leicester, and Kev says it is GRATE, so hopefully we'll be going back to play there a bit more often now.
Anyway, JOB DONE we relaxed and enjoyed healthy life giving BEER. Me and Dave discussed the gig at The Victory on the 18th, and when Tim heard we'd not got a PA sorted he calmly took three steps to the right and SORTED it out for us, as John The Soundman, who'd DONE us at Woodhouse Eaves, was rather wonderfully there and willing to help. HOORAH! We retired to the BEER GARDEN for a bit, then nipped upstairs to see Abi Titmuss Is Missing, the band featuring STEVE who had put the gig on in the first place. He is a lovely chap, tho it was a little disturbing how well the blond curls and evening dress suited him...
All in all then, it was a LOVELY day, and hopefully it'll set the TONE for our return in a couple of weeks time. That's a couple of gigs in a row in Leicester that have been dead good - I don't think i EVER managed that when I actually lived there!
Corks! I mean to say - Crikey!
When we do our practices Rob usually takes his MP3 player and RECORDS anything new we do, which he then UPLOADS to the interweb so's we can all DOWNLOAD them for REVISION, usually on the morning before the practice as is TRADITIONAL with such things. In DISCUSSION about this the other night Tom confessed that he'd not been able to do this much, as he hasn't got access to a groovy connection, so I said I'd burn him a CD of the latest stuff.
I'm listening to it now. BLIMEY! It isn't half GOOD! I mean, I know I'd probably think that anyway, but it's all so LIVE and ALIVE and full of ENERGY and sounds like it's ACTUALLY BEEN RECORDED BY A BAND. It's dead good! We've now got about 14 songs that we KNOW HOW TO PLAY ready to be recorded - it's a STARTLING INNOVATION for us and no mistake - can we go to Cornwall NOW and get it done?
In other news, we're on the brink of confirming a DEAD exciting gig in Manchester - hopefully we'll be playing at Retrovision at the start of September, a convention for RETRO GAMERS. I wonder why they asked us, eh readers? There's also ANOTHER gig on the cusp of agreement later in the year in the same city, and hopefully something in Hartlepool and Hull also. If anyone ELSE wants us to come play, do let me know won't you? We have a whole LOT of songs we want to PLAY OUT with now!
A Hard Working Band
I set off for DERBY again last night, for another of our regular band practices, LARNING up material for the new album. It's a GOOD routine I've got into with this - catch the train about 4 o'clock, get to Derby in time for Traditional Tea (chips and curry sauce from over the road from the station), trip to the offy to buy BEER and COCA COLA for the practice, then a swift PINT of Pedigree in the Brunswick. LOVELY.
Due to Pauly's COMMENT in the COMMENTS about the Brighton gig (when i DEMOLISHED the skin of my knuckles trying to open a bottle of beer) i am now the proud owner of a Key-Style Bottle Opener. Basically, it goes on your key ring, looks like a key, but is actually a bottle opener. IT WORKS! THUS i decided that rather than buying cans of nasty lager, i might as well go to Sainsbury's and buy some proper beer. It was a GOOD PLAN, and one i ruminated on happily whilst sat with my PINT, at which point Emma rang to let me know Tim was in FARNBOROUGH at a meeting still, and wouldn't be getting in until about 9.30pm.
Practice was due to start at 7.30pm, so when I got to The Music Shed i checked to see if we could go on a bit later than normal if need be. I've said it before and i shall doubtless say it again, but you don't half notice the difference in people when you get out of London. Everywhere you go once you leave the M25 behind people seem LOVELY, and Derby is a particularly good case in point. With this CLEARED the rest of us got started on some Vocals and Violins WORK. I had an INSPIRATION FLASH about Emma singing a verse of "Mental Judo" herself, so we worked at that for quite a bit. It took a while for us to notice that Tom and Rob had quietly LEFT THE ROOM while we did this, no doubt MINDFUL of previous ALTERCATIONS when we're doing The Vocals... all was WELL this time, and i got a Bit Excited about how GOOD it was sounding, also "Better Things To Do", which i predicted could well be the RADIO 2 HIT that Eddy The Manager has requested we record.
Best of all though was doing "We Only Ever Meet In Church", when we played like a BAND! I guess you would expect that being IN a band would make you PLAY like one, but this is not necessarily the case. HOWEVER, now we have been playing together for so long we seem to be reaching a new PLATEAU of bandliness - especially evident as all four of us put CHANGED at the same time as each other, without need for any communication beyond the BAND VIBE. Oh yeah! Anyone who's played like this will know what i mean, and when it happens it is BLOODY GRATE.
Also rather lovely was the fact that we really missed Tim being there - again, now we're so used to it being the five of us it doesn't really work the same when somebody's missing, and one YEARNED for a Trademark Pattison Fill to be heard. LUCKILY he arrived shortly after and after MOCKING him for the fact he hadn't yet seen Revenge Of The Sith ("What? So you don't know about CAPTAIN ANTILLES then?") we BURST into "Tell Me Something You Do Like", which sounds ROCK HARD, and then "Better Things To Do". "You know what?" said Tim after that one, "This could be that Radio 2 HIT we're after!" "That's exactly what i said" i said, because it was.
We also gave "The Other Rush Hour" a good seeing to - I'd been thinking about ABANDONING SONG on that one, but having listened back to the MP3 version of it i realised it could actually be QUITE GOOD, and had prepared a FACT SHEET for everyone. It's pretty much the same all the way through, with seven verses and seven choruses, so we needed to work out some DYNAMICS for it. It was quite funny seeing everyone GLANCING OVER at their FACT SHEETS throughout, but it seemed to work OK. No such things were needed for "We Only Ever Meet In Church" in it's full band glory, however, as that sounded BRILLIANT - especially the "Friends who only ever met in church" bit, as there's a STOP halfway through the line, and it all comes back in a VERY EXCITING WAY INDEED.
Ooh, i can't WAIT to get it recorded, it is DEAD GOOD. At this point Emma had to go home at the Previously Appointed Time as their babysitter had an 'A' Level exam the next day (see, this is the sort of detail even MOBY doesn't give you), so we had a go at RESCUING "Zipcodes" from the LAST CHANCE SONG SALOON. We got a little way, but we were tired, the song wasn't really working, and as i said, it doesn't really work when one of us isn't there.
Back at Rob's house afterwards we discovered there had been a MAIL DROP from the AAS PO Box, so we spent a very merry hour or so opening jiffy bags and listening to the contents. I can report that whereas a couple of years ago about 80% of bands sending us Demo CDs DESPERATELY wanted to be Oasis, it now appears that they all want to be BLINK 182 instead. Levels of really quite bad NIRVANA wannabes remain constant, as do Over-Produced Solo Lady Singers From Small European Countries.
It was all pretty rubbish I must say, although i did bring ONE CD back with me for further listening. Sometimes it SADDENS me that we get so little music that's any good sent to us, but I think this may be just because AAS comes high on the alphabetically arranged list of record labels. This is the ONLY explanation i can think of for most of the stuff we get sent - if only people would actually LISTEN to something (anything!) we've ever put out, or even read the website, they might save themselves a bit of postage.
Or maybe there's a Label out there somewhere called AA(a)S records or something who are EVEN NOW thinking "Why do these idiots keep sending us brilliant, quirky, catchy, lyrically inventive pop music? DAMMIT! We want to release loads of records that sound EXACTLY like Blink 182 on a bad day and/or tuneless gothic metal! Especially if recorded by photogenic ladies from Switzerland!"
Well, new-ish anyway - over in the Song Blog and Annotations now you'll see details of a song called "We Only Ever Meet In Church". I wrote the original version of this YEARS ago, but dug it out again recently for possible RE-USE of the lyrics over the JAMMED songs we're doing at the moment, and have RE-WRIT it a bit. I don't know if it'll actually WORK or not, but hopefully I shall find out tonight, as I'm off to Derby for a band practice again.
It does MENTION my need to write down words as soon as I think of them, so I don't forget. Now, i have DEBATED this with several people - notably Mr Frankie Machine and The Hair In My Mop Top, BOTH of whom quote Paul McCartney as saying words to the effect "If you can't remember it without writing it down, it isn't worth remembering." I see what he's GETTING at here - it's like having an internal editor who only remembers the REALLY GOOD STUFF. HOWEVER! I think this is WRONG, for the following reasons:
How would you KNOW? Maybe Macca has written some EXTRAORDINARILY BRILLIANT songs beyond even his OWN published works, and has simply FORGOTTEN that he did so. Having a pretty BROAD knowledge of his solo career, I have to say that there are several songs he DID remember that actually aren't all that marvellous*, so who is to say?
Does this apply to all aspects of life? I personally find SPUDS to be a pretty important part of my VERY BEING, yet i still put it on the shopping list. Perhaps that is why LINDA founded her food company, because Paul kept coming home without VITAL INGREDIENTS due to his refusal to write a list, and so she built a FACTORY to make sure she always got deliveries?
Mostly it's because there's a few more WORDS in my songs than Sir Paul's, and being a bit of an Alliteration Addict (thanks) if i think of a PARTICULARLY funky bit of wordage or rhyme i like to KEEP hold of it.
That's what i think anyway... I'm sure nobody else could care LESS, but then if i worried about things like that I wouldn't be writing ANY of this!
* and let's be clear about this - i don't want to go anywhere NEAR any lazy solo-Macca bashing here, he's done loads of BLOODY GRATE stuff. Come! Let us all listen to "Ram", "Venus & Mars" and "Red Rose Speedway", and MARVEL!
I went to see Star Wars yesterday. I went filled with pre-emptive disappointment, ready to be let down again, sure that at least Dr Who was GRATE so it wouldn't really matter. For the first time in ALL my Going To See Star Wars HISTORY i wasn't even particularly excited about it. When i saw "Phantom Menace" and the "a long time ago..." bit appeared on screen i had to repress a SQUEAL, so EXCITED was i, but this time it just sort of APPEARED and i thought "Oh yeah, it's the final Star Wars film" for LO! i hadn't really thought about it much beforehand.
And then... then it was BLOODY GRATE! I couldn't BELIEVE it! There was ACTION! and FITES! and EXCITEMENT! and even - OH MY WORD - a few JOKES! As with before, YODA has the best lines EVER and the best FITES, but Ewan McGregor ALSO appears to have woken up for this one and started BEING GOOD. I would say that I Won't Tell You What Happens, but here's the thing: you KNOW what happens! And it ACTUALLY DOES! Whereas before it's been a utterly crappy mis-mash of half-arsed bollocks about midi-chlorians, Jedi "Philosophy" that's so stupid it makes you want to join THE SITH, and boring BORING boring rubbish about Trade Disputes, THIS one actually features ALL THE THINGS you HOPED it would. CLONE wars! Darth Vader! The destruction of the JEDI (which was - OH MY - Actually Quite Moving)! Loads of FITES! Wookies! Grand Moth Tarkin briefly! Almost NO Jar Jar Binks! A FITE on a VOLCANO!
For me, the BEST bit was the last ten minutes or so, when there is one MIGHTY FLOURISH of Tying Up Loose Ends. At two hours into the film i thought "Wow, this is actually BRILLIANT - but how on earth is he going to sort everything out in time? What about Yoda leaving the planet? What about the twins? What about C3-PO not remembering anything? What about that whole Jedi Dissolving Trick? Eh? What about all THAT?" and then SUDDENLY George Lucas goes "AHA! Watch me GO! I'll even chuck in CAPTAIN ANTILLES to shut everyone up!"
FANTASTIC! It doesn't quite make up for how innard clenchingly DULL "Phantom Menace" was, but it CERTAINLY excuses "Attack Of The Clone"'s waste of space, and - good golly - it makes me want to see it AGANE! AND to buy the "Clone Wars" DVD! HOORAY!
Truly, it is a GOOD TIME for the rectifying of Childhood Disappointents - INDEED i fully expect Peterborough United to be in The FA Cup Final this afternoon, such is the WAVE of Everything's Turning Out All Right that COURSES through my body.
I have only two questions - firstly, will Christopher Lee EVER appear in the third film of a trilogy again? Or has he learnt his lesson? And secondly - what IS it with George Lucas and HANDS? Was his family murdered by a HAND? Was he bullied at school by a malevolent GLOVE? In ALL the Star Wars films he's busily HACKING OFF hands, and in this one there's hardly anyone left with both INTACT. It is a Bit Rum. Oh, and also - the Jedi really are a bit RUBBISH aren't they? FOr heaven's sake - when they were ALL gathered at the end of the first film none of them noticed THE DARK LORD OF THE SITH stood next to them, and in this one it takes Obi Wan NINE MONTHS to realise that a) Amidala is pregnant and b) hang on, maybe Anakin is the Daddy? What an intergalictic bunch of pyjama wearing show offs!
ANYWAY, in summary: it is better than any of us DARED TO EVEN DREAM! REJOICE!
I was at The Metro last night, for a INDIE UNDERGROUND QUADRUPLE BILL. Beforehand, however, i met with The Jingles On My Tambourine and The Landlady for a DRINK in The John Snow - this is the nearest thing I've GOT to a Local these days, for LO! it is a lovely pub. There are many nice pubs round here, but The John Snow is the one where you're most likely to end up chatting in a JOLLY STYLE to someone you don't know (and, IMPORTANTLY, to someone ALL RIGHT, rather than one of those pubs where all the LOONIES in the postcode fancy a chat) and this time i ended up EMBROILED in a conversation at the bar with a WANDERING STATISTICIAN who tried to tell me the whole history of the place and its name, little realising that i KNEW. It was lovely!
We then popped next door (ish) to MILDRED'S, which is a BLOODY GRATE Veggie Restaurant for TEA. It was all DELIGHTFUL, and as i waved cheerio to the rest of my household and headed to the GIG i felt full of JOY with my life. All was WELL!
All CONTINUED well when I got to The Metro - I'd never been before, and I'd always imagined it being a bit like The Fan Club (as was) in Leicester, a dark upstairs room with a stage at one end. HOWEVER it was actually a dark RED-ish DOWNSTAIRS room - i tell you what, London architects seem to have been WELL KEEN on digging deep, everywhere you round here has almost as many floors underground as they do above. Anyway, I'd got all excited as it was a four band BILL, with The Retro Spankees, The Loves, The Chemistry Experiment and Bearsuit, so was ALARMED to discover it was a CRAZILY EARLY SHOW - DOORS had opened at 7.30pm, and The Retro Spankees had gone on at 7.25pm. No, i can't work that one out either. I was disappointed to have missed them, as they were ACE when I played with them, but consoled myself with a quick CHAT. What i saw of The Loves wasn't as EXCITING and ROCK as on previous occasions, but i think their DRUMMER was poorly or something.
Rather brilliantly, however, for their last song The Legendary Delia got up and played drums for them. Delia is probably the ONE person that EVERYBODY who has ever been in a band and played in London knows - she is SUPER CONNECTED but i haven't seen her out and about for AGES, so it was nice to know she's still there. ALSO at the gig was The Man With A Tail (sans tail though), who I've not seen for YEARS. There were loads of familiar faces dotted around, it was LOVELY.
A couple of these faces belonged to Charlie and Asha from The Fighting Cocks, who were there on a MISSION to find some new WOMEN for their band. I didn't think that a gig as SUPER INDIE as this would be the place to find them, but we did see one OBVIOUS candidate who VERY MUCH looked like she should be in a band... i later discovered she WAS: Bearsuit! They had to leave after a while, but not before we had DISCUSSED BRECHT! Oh yeah! Look at me - i go to restaurants then later catch a show and discuss theatrical theory. LA DI DA!
The Chemistry Experiment were next and OH MY but they are a BEEFY LIVE PROPOSITION these days - Martin and Paul ESPECIALLY are these days a VERY mighty rhythm section INDEED. The BEST thing about The Chemistry Experiment is they are totally A Band - they're always LOOKING at each other, and looking HAPPILY. Martin and Paul were constantly glancing over at each other, for instance, and there was a LOVELY bit where Lee and Emily sang along with one of the songs AT each other over the keyboards. Aaah! This is the sort of thing that really makes bands WORK - when it's just a collection of people playing the same song in time with each other, but where they're all in their different worlds, as is usually the case, there's no VIBE or GROOVE, but when you get a bunch of people CONNECTED to each other like this, it sounds FANTASTIC.
My only criticism - which, as usual, i PASSED ON afterwards - was that it was all getting a bit too JAZZ. The first song, for instance, was ten minutes long and featured MANY time and motion changes. Hey, it was GOOD - as i say, when you've got a band playing THAT WELL together, something like that is EXCITING and JOYFUL to watch and hear, but i KNOW The Chemistry Experiment have lots of ACTUAL TUNES in them, and it would have been nice to hear a few more of them. That's all!
This sort of thing was even MORE in evident with Bearsuit. Again, they are a GRATE ROCKING UNIT, and brilliantly INVENTIVE with the sounds they make - i've not seen them before, so i was DEAD IMPRESSED by the way they used all sorts of SCREECHING NOISES and SHOUTING. It doesn't really come across on records I don't think, but when they're all vocalising away with whoops and yelps and ALL SORTS it sounds EXCITING and WOW! Also there were trumpets and flutes and violins and MANY SUCH ITEMS in evidence, so the SOUND was really brilliant, but I came away without remembering any of the TUNES or anything.
Or am i just being a miserable old sod? I certainly had a GRATE night, it was all ENNERVATING and also LOVELY to see so many people I'd not seen for ages. Unfortunately however the DUAL NATURE of my evening meant I had perhaps over indulged a tad on the BOOZE front, and today feel A Little Wonky. ROCK and ROLL!
I'm getting Quite Excited at the moment about the Recording Possibilities for this SOLO TAPE I'm going to be recording for Popgun Recordings later this year. Recently I discovered that my 4 Track had KEELED OVER - it was the least good of the SEVERAL i have used over the years (the best being one with a BIG BLUE BUTTON on it, the make of which i can't remember, which allowed Automatic Bounce Downs! It was THE BUSINESS!) as it had pretty dodgy monitoring levels, sounded fuzzy and, in the end, couldn't cope with TAPES themselves very well, so everything sounded like it was recorded underwater, through a straw. THUS i have been investigating possible replacements.
DURING my studies i recieved from Mr J Cairney (who put the Brighton gig on earlier this week) a copy of ACID SOUNDFORGE. Now, I have LONG steered clear of this sort of thing, not because i am WARY of technology, but because i spend most of my working day staring at a computer. ALSO, in our house, the computer is in a seperated room from all the MUSICAL EQUIPMENT and generally when I'm in one room ROCKING OUT The Files In My Cabinet can be found in the other, utilising the DESK SPACE. Thus if I ever wanted to record stuff on the computer it'd be annoying for her, and PESKY for me having to tidy up after myself.
HOWEVER! I realised earlier this week: I'm going to record this new tape during the week when both my Housemates are away on HOLIDAY. This is something they traditionally do around this time of year, leaving me to a) go BATCHELOR CHOW crazy cooking grub that only i like b) worry myself silly in case anything happens to the cats and c) mope around the house being a bit fed up on my own and especially missing said Roof On My Building. This year, therefore, i am embarking on this RECORDING PROJECT to keep me busy (and to stop me worrying about feline fatality), and as, as stated, they're both AWAY it doesn't really matter if i fill the ENTIRE HOUSE with musical equipment for the duration.
THUS i have been tentatively experimenting with What It Can Do, and this morning was GLEEFUL to discover that not only does it all WORK, but it's dead easy to use! Yesterday I bought a NEW EXTENDO-WIRE so i don't have to keep fiddling with the back of the computer when I want to plug things in, and before i went to work i plugged in a microphone and multi-tracked me a VOCAL DRUM LOOP!
OK, it sounded RUBBISH, but i worked out how to put effects on individual tracks, alter the recording input levels, and generally MESS AROUND with it, so now i feel READY to get going. I am QUITE EXCITED at the prospect, and have to keep reminding myself that just because i CAN record massed choirs made up of hundreds of ME, it doesn't mean i should. I'm also getting SUDDEN RETRO ideas about SAMPLING stuff - these thoughts increased by the fact that I'm reading the utterly GRATE "Fortress Of Solitude" at the moment, and I've just got to 1979 when SCRATCHING first appears.
We'll have to see how it goes once i get going properly I guess, and I might well end up coming into town to buy an old fashioned four track in the end. It feels ODD, i must say, to finally be contemplating Going Digital when I'm recording stuff for a CASSETTE, especially when MOST of my stuff on vinyl and LOADS of my stuff on CD has been recorded on EXTREMELY lo-fi equipment - nearly half the songs on "Warriors From Nanpantan" were done on various REGENERATIONS of my four track.
There's going to be six songs on the finished thing, and at the moment these are going to be "Born Yesterday", "Ctrl-Alt-Delete", "Sod It, Let's Get Pissed", "Hey William", "If You Need Loving" and "Closer To You" but these may well change as we go along - doubtless i will end up recording something twenty minutes long, backwards, that I think is ACE and will regret the minute the tapes have been made - this is somewhat TRADITIONAL for me. SESSIONS commence at the start of June - all the FACTS will be here FIRST!
A Lovely Time
I headed SOUTH after work last night, for BRIGHTON, to play at The Ukelele Research and Development Society's second monthly night. It was raining and twilighty when i arrived, and Brighton felt LOVELY. I always like a bit of like drizzle and the way it makes the pavements smell, and that combined with the SEASIDE so close yet so INVISIBLE to mine eye made everything feel FRESH. Also the venue, The Fringe Bar Cafe, was close by the station, and involved walking through the little lanes and streets that are round there, which i like IMMENSELY, so by the time i arrived i was feeling in a Brighton POSITIVE mood.
I got to the venue to find all was WELL, said hello to Jimmy who'd invited me, and tried out his GIG UKELELE. It was a bit LARGER than my one at home, but more importantly had an ELASTICATED STRAP (i'm still talking about a ukelele, by the way, don't go getting any ideas) which was GRATE - usually i get ELBOW ACHE if i strum too long (STILL on the ukelele), but the strap gave support AND room to move. It was GRATE.
The evening soon BEGAN, and a lovely VIBE was present - it was SORT OF like going to one of the old FOLK NIGHTS i used to go to years and years ago, except this was friendlier and CRUCIALLY most people were doing short sets that were GOOD. I went on pretty early (as i was AFEARED about getting the train home in time) and did the following, the first half on guitar, the second on ukelele:
The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Clubbing In The Week
The Lesson Of The Smiths
The Perfect Love Song
Boom Shake The Room
It was only later on in the evening when i realised that everybody else was doing TWO SONG SETS! Oops! It all seemed to go pretty well anyway - i didn't use the PA, which ALWAYS feels good, and people seemed to get pretty into it. There were the usual corners of RESISTANCE, who tried not to catch my eye, but i WORKED most of them round i reckon - one advantage of NOT using a microphone is that it puts you much more IN THE ROOM, especially when you're standing on the same level as the people watching. I think using a PA and a STAGE both ALIENATE you from the audience, which is why it's usually so easy to forget that you're in the same room as each other, rather than passively watching on telly.
ANYWAY it was all GOOD, although i did discover halfway through singing it for the first time live EVER that maybe "Ctrl-Alt-Delete" has a limited appeal for most people, so that will probably also be the last time live EVER too.
Loads of other people played and i was surprised how GOOD everything was, especially Chap From Anal Beard who played a couple of songs, The Bobby McGees, and the ever-lovely POG. There was a guy doing MAGIC on when i left - it was very exciting as, AGAIN, we get used to seeing it on telly and taking it for granted, but when somebody starts producing LIMES out of thin air a few feet from your face it's pretty bloody impressive.
As it was so early to be going home i treated myself to a BEER for the journey home, foolishly getting a BOTTLE and so SHREDDED my knuckles (well, a bit) trying to get it open with a key. I succeeded in the end though, and it was a very contented (if slightly bloody) Hibbett who arrived home just before midnight. I'll hopefully be heading back for the Anti-Folk Weekender in July - details added to the GIGS page even now. I look forward to it IMMENSELY!
What You Think
Right then, following a few THORTS from various TYPES, I've taken a bit of a LEAP and enabled COMMENTS for this page. Thanks to Mr Dan Haldane especially for pointing out that this is probably the Least Likely To Be Pompous option, as everybody else in the WORLD has them!
I'm a LITTLE wary of how this'll go, but let's see, shall we? In other news: I meant to go and see Jeffrey Lewis in BRIXTON last night, but couldn't face the three hour round trip so instead drank beer and watched Dr Who and DVDs with The Screen On My Telly. It's a shame to have missed him, as he is GRATE, but it was TOO MUCH, especially as TONIGHT I'm off to Brighton, and then on Wednesday it's off to The Metro to see The Chemistry Experiment, The Retro Spankees, The Loves, AND Bearsuit - now THAT is what i call a BILL!
And while I'm here - COR! Dr Who eh? BEST! EPISODE! EVER!
Just a couple of bits and bobs to mention while i think of them:
I'm playing in BRIGHTON on Monday at The Fringe Bar, if anyone fancies coming. I'll hopefully be on around 9ish, and will be doing a few songs on the UKELELE too. Be AFEARED!
The gig that WAS at Bar Firefly in Leicester on Sunday 29th has now been moved to SATURDAY 28th i.e. the day before. It's the same venue, but The Validator accompanying me on stage has been changed, with Mrs Emma Pattison taking the place of Mr Tom McClure.
I'm currently listening to the new Teenage Fanclub album. It's BLOODY LOVELY.
I headed off to BRIXTON again after work last night to go and see The Fighting Cocks. As previously discussed, there was a time when going to see them was a thing of FEAR: they'd be playing somewhere DODGY (who can forget the classic Garage Showing Dwarf Porn gig?), there'd be a TENSE ATMOSPHERE, quite possibly a FITE onstage, and a general feeling of ANGER and GRR!
Nowadays, since the new lineup of LOVELY PEOPLE all is JOY and BEAUTY. I arrived to find almost everybody relaxed and happy (so relaxed and happy that later on they didn't realise they were supposed to be on stage...), and had a DELIGHTFUL chat with Charlie about whether or not women can be CAMP. I'm pretty sure it doesn't work, but I am willing to be persuaded. Soon they were onstage and there was JOLLITY and NICENESS all round. OK, this does tend to undermine the bits where they go "YO GANGSTAS! POP A CAP IN YR ASS!" and such like, but personally i find it MUCH better all round to actually ENJOY the gig and not have to worry about someone in the band wanting to STRANGLE somebody else. For the first time in AGES they also did a NEW SONG! And it was GRATE! Apparently it mentions ME too, but i didn't hear that bit - but hey, surely that would only make it MORE GRATE?
I set off home full of LIGHT and FUN, only to be THWARTED by the Dark Underside Of London. As i may have said before, I'm not sure if London GENERATES Utter Wankers, or whether it is a MAGNET for them from all over the country, but GOODNESS ME there are an awful lot of them about. The walk down Brixton Hill was PAVED with them, and then when i got ON the tube i was joined in the carriage by a bunch of New Romantics. EXACTLY the sort of people that i was put in mind of when I saw Gary LeStrange - dressed like Wazzocks, and very LOUDLY SELF SATISFIED with themselves for being so. I always think it's the mark of a DULLARD to do this - if you ARE different, go out and BE different. Unfortunately it takes a lot less effort and imagination just to DRESS differently, and so dreary people tend to take this option instead.
Thus PEEVED i hopped off at Stockwell and waited AGES for another train. I got into carriage with two TEENAGERS, who spent the entire journey saying "Gwan rood, naah wah me say, truth?" and suchlike despite REALLY REALLY NOT being from THE BRONX, and a bunch of extremely drunk JUNIOR DOCTORS trying to persuade each other to "Take a SIP! Oh LOR! Be a SPORT!"
I got off at Liverpool Street, later in my journey, for a COMFORT BREAK, and as i walked the length of the TOOB i noticed the train wasn't moving. The reason for this was one of those Standard Issue Drunk Old Glaswegians that, before i came to live in their Spiritual Heartland, I thought were evil outdated stereotypes. He had his arse sticking out of the doors, so that the train couldn't move, and having seen him doing this the whole walk down the platform i thought "RIGHT!" so when I got behind him i turned and shoved him in. The doors shut, the engine started, and i, my dear, felt like BATMAN!
Other trains followed full of even MORE people being LOUDLY TOSSY, but i didn't mind so much anymore as I'd felt i'd at least DONE something now. Don't get me wrong, i LOVE living in London - it's PACKED with GRATE THINGS to see and do (like going to the Houses Of Parliament!) and I've met TONS of lovely people and can't see myself wanting to leave here for a LONG OLD TIME, but GOLLY it doesn't half play host to some wazzocks.
I've just been thinking about this, and actually Martin Carr was very nice when i met him too. Well, I met him by PROXY as i was too AFEARED to go and talk to him myself, but he after my PROXY, Mr Whitaker, had proferred him a copy of my album, he accepted it POLITELY and very kindly gave him a copy of HIS album for me. Isn't that nice? And, of course, Nigel From Half Man Half Biscuit has proved himself a LOVELY CHAP when we've played with them too. So maybe you SHOULD meet your heroes? All the ones of mine I've met have been REALLY NICE - maybe I just haven't met the arsey ones (I haven't seen Macca at ANY Indie All-Dayers, so don't know), or maybe my heroes ARE my heroes BECAUSE they're nice people?
An Exciting Evening
I went to the House of Commons last night and looked around and met Billy Bragg and went to the pub and met Peter Tatchell and came home and it was VERY VERY EXCITING INDEED!
YES! It was for a meeting organised by the Make My Vote Count people who i mentioned a while back. After the LUDICROUS CHARADE of democracy we got after the last election they're trying to WHIP UP a movement to finally CHANGE the electoral system, and this was sort of a LAUNCH meeting for it. To be honest i was mainly going because it was at The House Of Commons, and was a bit nervous in case me and The Speaker In My House would get turned away. So nervous, indeed, that she cleverly directed us to the PUB beforehand for a quick NERVE EASING SNIFTER.
We asked a policeman the way to go, queued up at the St Stephen's Entrance, went through a metal detector like in an airport, and we were IN! We were amazed at how easy it had been, and how we seemed to now be allowed to wander FREELY through the COrridors of POWER, but then there WERE police at pretty much every junction, so i doubt you could have RUN AMOK, even if you'd wanted to. Still, it was quite impressive that we could have such relatively easy ACCESS to the centre of government, and it DID look pretty amazing. Oddly, despite my LIFETIME of being a MASSIVE POLITICS GEEK it didn't feel particularly ASTONISHING to be there. I guess I've seen SO MANY programmes and read so many books and articles about Parliament that it all felt very familiar to me. This was ESPECIALLY so when we got to the committee rooms and walked down the corridor that, only a few hours before, I'd seen Tony Blair walking down on the news. It's more exciting TODAY to think about than it was at the time, funnily enough.
We got in and got sat down in the PACKED ROOM and the meeting began... and was just like all the other political meetings I've ever been to. There were parts of it when things PEAKED and it felt like we were going to RUSH OUT and start a REVOLUTION, there were parts that made me want to stand up and hurl abuse at everybody there, and there were many parts that were just a bit dull.
It started with the chairman introducing people, then Polly Toynbee pretty much Stated The Obvious, and then BILLY BRAGG spoke, and was GRATE. I mean, he always is as far as I'm concerned, and I generally enjoy his talking bits as much as the SINGING, so it was BRILLIANT to hear what he had to say without drunken people behind me going "SATURDAY BOY!". ALARMINGLY, perhaps, he was the most sensible speaker there - he was Quite Nice about Tories and the need to get them involved, for instance, where everyone else had SLAGGED THEM OFF throughout. One of the speakers said "I just wish we could get more Conservatives on board... even tho they are useless lying tossers who are doomed to oblivion, which is a GOOD THING." OK, I paraphrase, but it amazed me that these people hadn't realised that you're not LIKELY to get Conservatives involved with a Campaign when you spend most of the time slagging them off.
Similarly the next speaker, a Labour MP, was INCREDIBLY rude, and DEVASTATINGLY dull with a range of statistics to prove a point that we all KNEW anyway i.e. that the electoral system is unjust. If we didn't already know that, we wouldn't be there would we? There were LOTS of people doing this - after the speakers had spoken they went round the room for comments, and half the people talking basically wanted to say "LOOK! Look at ME! I am HERE!" but did so by restating the facts that had made us turn up in the first place. Perhaps all meetings like this could START with everybody taking it in turns to say their name, and then make a 5 second Pointless COmment? It'd get it out of the way AND it'd make sure people turned up on time!
The final speaker was, I think, a Liberal Democrat PEER, and he was ACE. I warmed to him immediately because he said "I joined the Electoral Reform Society at 15 - i was a bit of an STV GEEK!" and i thought "HA! Me too!" If the meeting persuaded me of anything it was to retain my membership of the Lib Dems, as they are THE BEST, even if he too spent rather too much of his time saying "Actually, if people really want electoral reform they should vote Lib Dem, haha ha!"
And that was one of the DESIRE TO HURL ABUSE points - many people were rather TOO happily satisfied with themselves, and it reminded me why i LEFT the Electoral Reform Society when my first year's membership expired - it was SO VERY posh middle class, slightly smug, and devastatingly inactive. They'd spent DECADES preparing policy documents and signing petitions, but to NO GOOD WHATSOEVER.
That's why it was EXCITING when Peter Tatchell spoke. HOORAH! It was like being at a Rolling Stones gig and waiting for SATISFACTION - would he demand DIRECT ACTION, we wondered? Bless him, YES HE DID! He said that you NEVER got reform by talking about it and palling up to those with a vested interest in the status quo, you needed to INCITE people and TAKE TO THE STREETS! YEAH! He was BRILLIANT, and then another (i think) Lib Dem guy stood up and suggested a campaign of not paying taxes - NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. What a GRATE idea - my vote counts for nothing, yet i pay the same taxes as someone in a marginal seat whose vote DOES, but why should i? As Mr Tatchell said, The Poll Tax got REMOVED because people REFUSED, so why shouldn't this work! EXCITEMENT! YEAH! LET'S GO!
And then straight back to Hurl Abuse time as the whole idea was pooh-poohed by all the organisers. Oh no, we couldn't have that, that might ACHIEVE something, it might INCONVENIENCE some of the lovely ministers who they were pals with. He said the best way to make change was making it an Electoral Issue, so that MPs knew they'd lose votes if they WEREN'T for electoral reform. Yes. He suggested that we put our faith in the very electoral system we'd all agreed was corrupt and useless. GRR! Shortly after that some idiot got up and said "But we have to be careful! With proper democracy the BNP might get seats, and we don't want that do we?"
ARGH! SCREAMING PILES OF GRR AND NYAAARGH!!! I can't STAND people like that - it's DEMOCRACY pal, not a JUMBLE SALE COMMITTEE - if people VOTE that way you have to make it COUNT, you can't just count the votes you LIKE. Rather brilliantly, in the end speeches, Billy Bragg addressed this VERY POINT, saying that many people voted BNP as a SOD YOU to everybody else, as otherwise their vote was impotent - if they had a CHOICE then they could vote for someone who DID echo their views WITHOUT resorting to Fascism. ALSO i personally think that if people thought that their vote would actually make a DIFFERENCE they'd consider what they were doing, but anyway. GRR!
Things carried on in the mostly slightly dull/slightly pompous vein (although a bloke behind me DID say "You should use EMAIL! And i agree with Peter Tatchell!" which was good) until a VERY ANNOYED MAN said "Are you going to let me have MY say?" as the CHAIR had ignored him. EVENTUALLY, after he'd shown off a bit about being ignored, he said (basically) "This is all pointless - there's no POINT in politely signing petitions, you want to take ACTION and get on TELLY!" YEAH! I agreed with HIM! Then we had the end speeches, where everyone returned to form: Billy Bragg said YES to getting it on telly and "I wish I had a song about all this, it'd be a lot less dry", and everybody else slagged off the tories.
Outside The Fire In My Engine and i LURKED a bit, and discussed whether i should go and say hello to Mr Bragg. I wasn't going to, but thought "Hmm... maybe i should at least see if he's busy" and went back for a look. NOTING he was hanging around i STRODE OVER and said "Bill?" and he said "Yes mate?" and I said "You said about singing a song about proportional represention" and then someone interrupted so I politely waited and then said "Well i DID! I saw you in Cambridge and you talked about Englishness so I wrote a song and here it is" and handed him a copy of "This Is Not A Library". He was LOVELY about it, said "Which song is it?" and I pointed at "Things'll Be Different" - only realising shortly afterwards that it ALMOST slags him off in the first verse (it doesn't, but it nearly does) - and he said "I'll listen to that then" and SHOOK MY HAND. Only then did i lose it slightly and say "Thanks Bill - THANKS FOR EVERYTHING" and then WISELY RAN AWAY back to The Beer In My Pint Glass. "How did it go?" she said, and I said "itwentverywellispoketohimandnowwereallyhavetogo. PUB!"
THUS we retired to the PUB to get over it all, walking alongside David Davies as we left the building... yes! ... but the excitement had not ENDED even THEN, for LO! Peter Tatchell turned up. I passed him on the way to the bar and said "You were RIGHT!" to which he, very wisely and in a very COOL way said "About what?" GOOD POINT i thought, so explained, and he said thanks, and went on his way. I later discovered that he'd NEXT bumped into The Signature On My Petition who'd said "I think you're GRATE - all the things you stand up for, it's BRILLIANT!" and he'd replied "Well, we all do our bit." HOORAH!
And that'd be the main thing I'd take from the evening - sometimes you meet people like Billy Bragg or Peter Tatchell who DO things and are famous FOR A GOOD REASON, and probably have to deal with pillocks like ME coming up to them all the time, but do it with good grace. It's like when I met John Hegley on the TOOB and he was REALLY NICE - it only takes a little bit of effort for people like that to be NICE, and it really makes your DAY when they do it. Also John Otway, and indeed Mr Steve Lamacq, people who are Proper Famous and talk to Other Human Beings in a PROPER and POLITE way that just makes you RESPECT them even more. Compare this with some of the ARSEY TYPES you meet in INDIE ROCK, and they are found WANTING.
Especially Billy Bragg - i mean, look at HIS life! He started out as a Solo PUNK complaining about things (admittedly in an ACE and BRILLIANT way) and in later life has turned to ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. In a hundred years time he might or might not be remembered for his albums, but he WILL be remembered, if all goes ahead, as the person who reformed the House of Lords. It's amazing, and also FANTASTIC that a DECENT person with the will to do so CAN change the world around them.
It was a pretty amazing and exciting night all round really. YEAH!
Much excitement (in my MIND) at the moment about the number of new GIGS which have been coming in this week. As you may have noticed, I'm on a pretty hefty GIGS SCHEDULE this month (I'm doing nearly as many gigs in May as I did in the whole of 2002!) and tho that is obviously GRATE and FUN, it always gives me the FEAR when i see the GIGS STOCKPILE go down so rapidly. It's been quite a while since I had NO GIGS booked but it is still something that gives me THE FEAR, so it's GOOD to see I've got several months to go, at least, before i need to worry about it. PHEW. In fact (STATS ALERT!) by the halfway point of THIS year I'll have done ALMOST as many gigs as the whole of 2003, and more than in ANY full year before then. COR! INDEED, if things continue as they are, I'll be doing more gigs this year than ever before. You may ask "WHY?" and the answer is very simple: More people have asked me. COOL, isn't it?
And in other NEW THINGS NEWS, there's full lyrics in the songblog for "Better Things To Do", the new song I was on about the other day, as well as annotations to go with it. These are also there for several other new songs, which I don't know if I've already mentioned or not. Go see, why don't you?
And finally: somebody has suggested to me that I put a FORUM on this site. I am in TWO MINDS about it. On the one hand, yes, it would be nice to have such a thing so that people who meet at GIGS can arrange to do so again (or who meet online can arrange to do so in PERSON), and also for cases like THIS when a Full and/or Frank discussion is required on issues RAISED. On the other hand, it seems a little pompous of me to HAVE such a thing (and as you know, i am TOO GRATE to be pompous) and will probably get swamped by EITHER Foolish Youths saying "You SUX, LAMR!" or "street team" nurs saying "Hey! There's a great new band playing tonight, anybody heard of them?" i.e. like all forums EVER. THUS i am CONFLICTED - if anybody's got any opinions on the matter, do let me know won't you?
Me, The Serious One
I headed across town to distant BRIXTON on Sunday night, to play at The Windmill. The Windmill is a GRATE venue and also a dead friendly pub, but GOOD GOLLY it's a long way away from my house - it's almost quicker to get to IPSWICH from mine! Still, i had my book with me, so it all went pretty quickly. I arrived and had a quick chat to Shane from Unpeeled, who really is a top chap who speaks THE TRUTH. I also had a quick word with Tim who does the promotion, who is very much the similar.
I went to tune up, and got offered a spare Guitar Stand by Mitch Benn who thus ALSO turned out to be a nice chap. NICENESS, however, suddenly disappeared from view as - HORROR OF HORRORS - i SNAPPED! A! STRING! ARGH! FEAR AND DOOM! I did a quick soundcheck without it then spent an EXCRUCIATING 15 minutes crouched on the floor trying to get the old string out and the new one in, whilst PANICKING in a ludicrous style. When i panic THUS i GUSH sweat out of every pore, and this i very much did. It was not pleasant. I came off stage to find Carsmile Steve and co had arrived, as had The (ex)Cambridge Contingent, and tho it was lovely to see them all i felt a bit bad about WHIFFING so very badly at them. I felt LESS guilty when Steve said "So... is this a COMEDY gig then?"
For LO! It WAS! Shaun had earlier said that, at UNPEELED, they do not make narrow genre distinctions and were quite happy to have a night of comedy acts, non-comedy, and those straddling the BORDERLINES, and i KNOW that he is right to say so, but i still found it a bit hard to THINK about. This is largely cos i spent my EARLY CAREER trying very hard to NOT be put down as just a Comedy Turn (which usually meant having to be compere...), and trying to get across the idea that you CAN do funny stuff in a song or SET of songs and be at LEAST (and usually MORE) VALID as all the other bands on the bill being DREARY and singing about the Same Old Thing in the Same Old Way. I FLINCHED at the idea that after all this time i was back where i started, and did TOY with the idea of doing a set of ALL the most STERN and DEADLY SERIOUS songs. In the end i saw sense, however, and did a SUPER UBER SET, as below:
The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Hey Hey 16K
Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Clubbing In The Week
Boom Shake The Room
All killer, no filler! I'd meant to do "The Fight For History", but decided not to due to a)possible string detuning and b) quite enjoying doing ALL really EASY ones for a change. I'd not like to ALWAYS do such a The Obvious Ones set, but it was certainly nice to have NO worries about remembering how to play them, and to be fairly confident they'd all go pretty well. I rather enjoyed it i must say, especially towards the end as i RELAXED. PHEW!
The feeling of strangeness continued as I got the general impression that i'd been assessed DIFFERENTLY by this DIFFERENT audience as MILDER than everyone else they'd come to see, as everyone else was going straight and unapologetically for the LARFS. Things got MUCH MORE STRANGE when The Clashettes came on - four young ladies who dressed and danced almost identically to "Should I Stay Or Should I Go". It would have been fairly odd anyway, but it was made more so by the IRON WILL and DETERMINATION of the lead dancer. THIS was then immediately followed by Gary LeStrange, who did a GRATE and HILARIOUS first song as the ULTIMATE NEW ROMANTIC song. It was really REALLY funny, but then, for me anyway, tailed off a bit as he had to keep doing the same for the full SET, and eventually sounded not like a mickey take so much as a VERY GOOD version of HUNDREDS of Po-Faced Nurs who do it SERIOUSLY. His song "Modern Disguise" would, i feel, have been heralded as a stone cold CLASSIC of the ROMO era. I'm not sure who that's a GOOD thing for.
Then it was Mitch Benn - he was a lovely chap, his songs were EXTREMELY funny and his band were GRATE, especially when they did one about Liam Gallagher suddenly realising he didn't recognise anybody else in the band. It was DEAD GOOD. The only problem for me was that I was still stuck in Normal Gig mode, so wasn't enjoying it as much as if i'd just TURNED UP. This is all MY problem, i was very much aware of this by how much everyone else was ENJOYING it, and i QUESTIONED what i am doing - IS there, i wondered, much difference between what i do and what they do? AM i just doing AN ACT?
I know, but that's the way i think some times - in the end i realised there WAS a difference, when Mitch did his OWN song all about The Smiths. It was DEAD FUNNY and they did an EXCELLENT take off of how the band sounded, but it didn't really go anywhere apart from that. HOPEFULLY if i'm doing a song i TRY to give it a point and try to take it somewhere, whereas if you doing Comedy then instead you go DIRECT to try and get as many LARFS as you can. I don't know, maybe too many long journeys to and from gigs on my own has given me TOO MUCH TIME to think about things!
Anyway, despite the CONFUSION in my MIND and the INNER TUSSLING i had a GRATE night out, and look forward to a RETURN to the Windmill later in the week to see The Fighting Cocks. HOORAH!
And In Other News
We had a household outing to see Hitchhikers' last night, and it was OK, mildly amusing, and All Right. The main problem for ME was that I've read the book about 1,000,000 times, also the Radio Scripts, and also listened to the radio LOTS, so it seemed to me as if people were just RECITING huge chunks of it, but then missing out half the punchlines. The NEW bits made me larf, i LOVE the Dolphins song, but what on earth was the rubbish love story bit for? PAH! STILL, with this and Shaun Of The Dead it's nice to know we CAN now have British Films that do SCI FI stuff properly AND manager to be funny. It just wasn't DOCTOR WHO, but then what is?
ALSO - if anyone's thinking of coming to see me at The Windmill in Brixton on Sunday, get there early as I'm on at about 8.30pm. I shall probably be doing a Genetically Engineered UBER-Uber Set!
Crazy Crazy Crazy Nights
Well that was a rum old do wasn't it? I stayed up until just after 3am, just to check that Everything Was Going To Be All Right, and i THINK it was. I'd really enjoyed the evening as it went along, ESPECIALLY when they FINALLY stopped saying that, for instance, Labour down 10%, Tories down 1% and LibDems UP 11% was somehow a swing from Labour to Tory and started showing the swing from Labour to LibDem INSTEAD. That was really exciting, and i ESPECIALLY liked Peter Snows 3-Way BATTLEFIELD. That was dead good, it was the only graphic that really worked amongst the CONFUSING and STRANGE things that kept happening, and unlike that weird Party Leader Robots STALKING DOWNING STREET thing, it DIDN'T give me the creeps for the rest of the evening either.
Also strange was the way everyone staggered away from the results not sure what to say about it. The Conservatives did APPALLINGLY - less seats than Michael Foot in 1983, and the SAME votes as William Hague got last time - BUT the were really chuffed with themselves. For heaven's sake, they'd just lost their THIRD election for the first time ever and got NOWHERE further with the number of people voting for them, yet they were full of glee and talking it up as a FIGHT BACK. No, it really wasn't! MEANWHILE Labour did pretty badly - 37% of the vote is NOT a mandate - but still managed to win DESPITE the war, and yet they looked as if they'd been kicked in the nuts all night.
The only people who looked as they OUGHT were the Slightly Chipper But Frustrated LibDems, obviously - more votes, more seats, and like Charlie says, a proper NATIONAL party, even though our DISGUSTINGLY SLIPSHOD electoral seat didn't reflect it at all. If anything GRATE comes out of this election i hope it will be that people all over the country wake up to how CORRUPT and PERNICIOUS our electoral system is. Just over one in three people who voted did so for Labour, and i think just over one in FIVE in the country as a whole did, yet they get a WHOPPING majority. It's WRONG i tell you, WRONG!
Still there's always next time - hopefully all them students'll stay LibDem and The Tories will EITHER have RIPPED THEMSELVES APART yet again in their leadership election (and OH BOY already the MPs are thinking of re-disenfranchising their own members) OR elect someone EXCELLENT and INSANE like Oliver Letwin or John Redwood, then LOUDLY disappear somewhere.
It's going to be INTERESTING and possibly FUN. COME ON!
My household was up EARLY today to head off and cast our votes - it was VERY EXCITING INDEED. I always get excited about voting. Anyone who says it's "boring" is, frankly, an idiot - it's direct participation in the future direction of the NATION! As i walked round town at lunchtime i thought "Wow! Most of the people here have either VOTED already, or will be off to do it later - nearly EVERYONE is thinking about their own personal priorities for how the NATION should be run for the next several years!" It's GRATE!
There was FUN when we arrived, as The Ballots In My Box decided she'd have a careful read of the DETAILS of candidates posted outside, just to check that the person she was going to was the right one. "I'm still not quite decided" she said LOUDLY. Stood just behind us were the counters from Labour and LibDems who were VISIBLY biting their tongues at this point - here was a self-proclaimed undecided voter, and they were legally DISALLOWED from saying ANYTHING to her about it! HA! SUFFER!
Votes were cast and we STRODE out, feeling RIGHTEOUS and just a little bit more ADULT and INVOLVED than we had before (well, I did anyway). At lunchtime I popped out and got some SALAD CREAM so that i can make my Traditional Election Night Snack of Hula Hoops, Cheese and Salad Cream (it is DELICIOUS) to see me through what will, hopefully, be an EXCITING night ahead. Hey, it's got to be more thrilling than the last one, right?
I'm In A Band!
Once again i headed NORTH last night, for sunny Derby. I arrived into a LOVELY evening, and sat in the scenic Derby Railway Station car park eating my chips and curry sauce, thinking "aaah! life on the road, it's Quite Nice!"
Soon it was time to get to the rehearsal room, and get set up as gradually we arrived. As FORETOLD by all concerned there was discussion of the two MAJOR issues effecting the country at the moment (Dr Who and The Fall's Peel Sessions box set, obviously) before we LAUNCHED into action. We ran through "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device" and "The Gay Train" for a WARM UP, then went over some songs we'd begun last time. "Mental Judo" is sounding LOVELY (with CABARET section present and correct), and Tom and Rob interacted in a DELIGHTFUL way, as Rob walked UP the bass and Tom DOWN the violin... er... or vica versa. It was nice anyway. Similarly we HAMMERED through "Looking At My Hands" and "Tell Me Something You Do Like", both of which ROCKED in a rather EXCITING WAY. So much so, indeed, that Tom broke a STRING. Luckily he had several more to his bow. AHA!
After this we began some NEW STUFF, during which we made an important improvement in our practice REGIME: Emma came and stood on my side of the room. I know this may not SOUND like much, but it made a GRATE difference - she HELD her microphone instead of having it on the STAND, which made HER feel better; I felt like I was singing WITH her rather than at her, which made ME feel better; and best of all, we got to share the WORDS to knew songs, which made us BOTH feel better. It was, in fact, a QOLED all of it's own. HOORAH!
With this ENACTED we began NEW MATERIAL, attempting a NEW SONG - a song SO VERY NEW in fact that I'd been writing it that afternoon, and haven't actually finished it yet. It's called "Better Things To Do" and I'd mostly thought of it as a song for the solo tape, but having discussed the fact we didn't have many "nice" or "quiet" songs we have it a go, and OOH it sounded quite nice. I was CHUFFED. After THAT we had a go at "Advent Calendar Of FACT" which may not end up being on the album but MAY be part of a SUPER SECRET SEXY PROJECT for later in the year... i tell you what, i felt WELL Christmassy by the end of that, i could SEE twinkly snow flakes falling from the ceiling as we played, it was LOVELY.
We then stopped for a discussion of the Global Consciousness manifesting itself through random number generators. I expect it is much the same when Oasis get together.
THAT done we had a JAM - Tom kicked off and we fell in behind him, and AGAIN it was LOVELY. Whilst playing it struck me how VERY VERY EASY it is to write songs in this way, but later thought that MAYBE it's easy for us because a) we are so GRATE (obviously) b) we've played together quite a lot now and c) we have TIM at the HELM. It was really nice to look over and see what was about to happen next, looking for the NOD or the WINK which'd say which way we'd be heading next, or even the EXTRA CYMBAL that'd give us a clue. The music we played we pretty quiet and gentle, but it felt EXTREMELY EXCITING to be doing it - at the end i started LAUGHING because it was SO MUCH FUN. It felt like i was a MUSICIAN! In a BAND!
This loveliness completed we WHIPPED through all the songs we'd worked out, and then headed off into the night - everyone else to their respective homesteads, me and Rob to his LOCAL. It was a PROPER local too - we got offered sandwiches from a previous function, and ended up being involved in a LOCK IN without realising it. PROPER!
I retired to the guest room very happy and very GLEEFUL at the prospect of recording all this ACE music. On the way to the station this morning we had our traditional Quick Listen to what we'd taped the night before, and LO! my excitement was WARRANTED! Hoorah!
MJ Hibbett Is Unwell
Here's a salutory tale for you. I am a lover of BEER (BEER style BEER, that is), but normally when I am involved in ROCK i end up drinking GUINESS or LAGER, as that's usually all there IS that's available. Imagine my GLEE then when I turned up at The Interval Bar at Sheffield Students' Union last night to find they had not ONE but TWO Proper Real Ales on, and that one of them was the lovely MOONSHINE! "Mmmm!" i thought to myself, "This can only be a Good Thing. Indeed, there can be no possible DOWNSIDE to the easy availability of this lovely beer."
Reader, i was WRONG. Today i feel not so much HEAVY on this inside, more like someone has tied one end of a ROPE to my innards, and the other to the VERY CORE OF THE PLANET. Oh LUMME. But I am getting ahead of myself - for LO! all was sunshine and bank holiday NICENESS yesterday afternoon when i set off. A trouble free journey was followed by a BRACING stroll up the hill from Sheffield Station to the VERY NICE hotel i was staying in, RIGHT next door to The Crucible where all the SNOOKER was going on. I TRIED to be excited by my proximity to it, but to be honest i saw MORE snooker round my Nan's after school when i was eleven than i really NEEDED to last me the rest of my life, so couldn't quite muster it.
After settling in i headed for the glorious TRAM and thence to the University, where i wondered around a bit looking for the venue. I wasn't sure which part I was playing in, and was a bit AFEARED when i realised it was The Interval Bar, where I'd played once before some years ago. Just before that particular gig the Union Exec had BANNED Eminem from all areas of the building, and so i'd learned up "Stan" for the occasion. I'd expected it to be a GRATE EVENT, but the PA was so quiet that nobody even noticed I'd sung it, and the biggest applause of the evening went to a German student who borrowed my guitar and sang "Paradise City" after I'd finished. It was not the most auspicious occasion in my ROCK BIOGRAPHY. HANDILY all other gigs there have been REALLY QUITE GROOVY.
Anyway, I SAW the BEER as noted above, i saw PENNY who was, as ever, organising things, and i saw a surprising number of Lovely People who had come to see ME, which was reassuring. Wandering around just beforehand i bumped into NUMEROUS types who were there for that reason, and it made me feel all WARM inside. Thanks for that chaps! I've said it before but i shall say it again: if you DO come to one of my gigs, do please come and say hello won't you? I LIKE it!
Soon it was GIGTIME - Chris and Gill from Offbeat were DJing, and they played "Four Skinny Indie kids" for my intro music, and then i LAUNCHED headlong into SET ONE, thusly:
The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
Red And White Sockets
The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers
Bands From London (are shit)
Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
The Fight For History
Things'll Be Different
I'd TINKERED with the line-up a bit because i was acutely aware that I WASN'T going to be able indulge myself in some Gentle Acoustical Experimentation (you know, like i so often do) as i was going to have to GRAB these people from the start... which I think I managed to do. There was still a lot of background noise going on, but then there WAS a massive barbecue/all day piss-up going on outside, so i had to FOCUS myself on that. I was worrying about that and sound levels and all sorts for the first few songs, but i kept reminding myself that people WERE listening (many of whom were sat BEHIND me, which was a bit unnerving!), and that in such a big open space there was GOING to be a lot of chat.
All was WELL by the end, even tho i'd SHOUTED a bit too much and was a little HOARSE, so soothed myself with some BEER, and got ready for SET TWO, which went like this:
Hey Hey 16K
Work's All Right (when it's a proper job)
Never Going Back To Aldi's
The Perfect Love Song
Billy Jones Is Dead
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Clubbing In The Week
Boom Shake The Room
This all seemed to go JOLLY well, although i did PANIC during "Never Going Back To Aldi's" and cut out the last verse, then STICK IN "The Perfect Love Song" to make up the difference, but by the time we got to the Traditional Ending there was some VERY LOUD "Oi Hibbett!"s, a singalong with the "Trams Of Sheffield" bit, and some GRATE "BOOM!"s for a finale. Baby, it felt GOOD!
After that several people bought me BEER, which was very nice of them. I got my gear packed up then wandered next door to have a look at The Red Stripes. They are "Jamaica's foremost White Stripes Reggae Covers Band". Yes. When I got into the room they were just finishing "Hotel Yorba", and then said "We don't just do White Stripes songs in 'de' Reggae Style, we also do Reggae Songs in 'de' White Stripes style" (i think they may not actually have been from Jamaica...) and then did "Rat In The Kitchen" in the promised manner. It was all very jolly, tho i did worry about how they might keep this up for a whole hour, so LEFT, that i might not have to see things TURN.
And it was THUS that i tottered off back to the hotel room, only to wake VERY few hours later to a feeling of UNEASINESS on the insides that would only grow on the two hour journey back to London, and to WORK. Still, only a couple more hours to go before i'm back to St Pancras once again to head towards DERBY, for tonight's band practice. Oh Midland Mainline, WHEN OH WHEN will you introduce TRACK MILES for faithful customers such as me?
London and Peterborough
On Thursday it was a nice NIP round the corner to the 12 Bar for the evening's ROCK. I'd already had an Evening of it, as my friend Chris was in town so we went to the PUB and then to Wagamama for tea - it was MOST sophisticated and DELICIOUS. Foolishly I'd written my setlist out TWO DAYS beforehand, so that I could make sure it'd fit into the twenty minute slot I was expecting, so i was rather THROWN when Nick The Promoter told me someone had dropped out, so we were all on a bit later and had an extra ten minutes. I got thus THE FEAR disproportionately, especially as I'd written a setlist containing a couple of songs I wasn't hugely sure about, but wanted to do for Personal Type Reasons - here is the eventual list IN FULL:
The Fight For History
Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
The Peterborough All Saints' Wide Game Team (group B)
Born With The Century
Work's All Right (when it's proper job)
Never Going Back To Aldi's
Hey Hey 16K
Boom Shake The Room
I think it went OK - there was a GRATE bit when I said "This it called The Peterborough All Saints..." and people CHEERED, and "Born With The Century" seemed to go OK, but i most confess i was a bit SCARIFIED for the first half. As The Grass On My Lawn said when I told her about it, there's a REASON that The Uber Set was formulated, and the reason was that it was a set of SURE FIRE WINNERS. It's a GOOD THING to deviate from it every now and again, as i did on Thursday, and being SCARIFIED is the simple price to pay.
It was a good night anyway, especially after I'd finished being on and got to hang around talking to all the lovely people who'd turned up. That's always the best bit, to be honest.
Next day there was more talking to people, and more Public Speaking, as it was my Nan's funeral and I was due to speak - Dad had read the webpage and liked what I wrote about Nan the other day, so he asked me to say a bit of it during the service. This wasn't a very easy thing to do I must say, but I'm glad I did it, and it was a lovely day all round. Nan had a MASSIVE garden that she was very proud of, so the sunny weather was brilliant for us all to go for a wander round, and talk about what it was like in its glory days. We also had a game of football (when the my sister's LOVELY boyfriend showed his DARK SIDE and, frankly, HACKED ME DOWN), some drink, and some talking. My family's a great bit complicated tangle of different factions, but when we get together as wed did on Friday afternoon it always amazes me how WELL we manage to get on together, and once again i was MOVED by the whole thing. There was a lot of that sort of thing going on - I found it slightly unnerving actually, that I could feel pretty together about the whole thing one moment, and then seeing something like my Nan and Grandad's little sign saying "We're Working In The Garden" (they used to hang it over the front door so if people came round they'd know to go round the back) could set me off again. It was also a bit disconcerting to meet QUITE so many people who'd say "You won't recognise me, I last saw you when you were seven", including my old primary school teacher and my Godfather. I told him he'd done very well - i'm WELL Godly I am.
So yes, it's been a pretty eventful couple of days, and I'm now thoroughly enjoying a Bank Holiday Sunday of RELAXING, for LO! Tomorrow I'm off to do TWO sets in SHEFFIELD! TRAM time!