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Last night The News In My Newspaper and I went over to Shepherd's Bush to see Chris TT - he was GRATE, as ever, and this time he was doing a bit of an UBERSET. Giraffes, 7 Hearts, Huntsman, Preaching To The Converted - all the HITS, it was ACE!
Today has been a day of TURMOIL tho - the NEWSLETTER went out this morning, and engendered a FLURRY of emails. First of all we finally got news that the people we'd asked to do our PRESS now couldn't do it - they were very nice about it, but it does put us BACK a bit. THEN I discovered that "Hey Hey 64K" may not go ahead quite as planned... I'm not entirely sure WHAT might be happening now, although there's a few rather groovy ideas as to how we could progress. We might not do it at ALL, we might do it a lot better - whatever happens, we should find out one way or another fairly soon.
It all means the old BRANE is going into overdrive, ready for me to spend most of the weekend at WORK on the multimedia again. I'm hoping to get it finished by Monday thought, which is quite exciting - everything we're doing is getting within SIGHT of completion now, even if in some cases it does mean we're having to stand on a box and squint into the distance, and there will soon come a time when we STOP being a COMPANY BOARDROOM and start ROCKING again. Just as long as we remember to call it a SETLIST rather than an AGENDA, and we shall be FINE!
HERE ARE MY OPINIONS
How hard can it be to get your own column in a newspaper eh? Surely all you have to do is sit on the TRAIN or the BUS or just WALK to work for a bit and then when you get it DRAIN YOUR BRAIN? Here, let us ATTEMPT it!
ITEM! I Read With Interest that the redevelopment of King's Cross is going to involve building new housing, "40% of which will be affordable". This is annoying in TWO ways, firstly the smug assumption that building houses that ACTUAL PEOPLE could buy makes you a LIVING SAINT (whilst still ensuring that the majority will be owned by rich tossers, possibly drinking red wine and laughing with their mouths open too wide like in ALL NEW PROPERTY ADVERTS EVER) and SECONDLY because it is so LOGICALLY RIDICULOUS. If 40% are "affordable", does that mean the other 60% will be BEYOND THE REACH OF ANY POCKET?!? "Yes, this chi chi pied a'terre is 50 BILLION QUID. PER SQUARE FOOT. Oh baby, think of the commision!"
ITEM! I think i am re-entering a POLITICAL ADOLESCENCE as i am receiving MIXED MESSAGES from all over the place. Over the weekend I found myself AGREEING WITH DAVID CAMERON over, funnily enough "affordable housing", although more because he said they should build "beautiful houses" which shouldn't really be a CRAZY IDEA OF REVOLUTIONARY STATUS but does appear to be. If that wasn't bad enough this morning i AGREED WITH DAVID MILLIBAND. Well, actually i think he was agreeing with ME: he was talking about some survey or other, and said "this was of children born in 1970, who were thus 18 in 1988 - at the height of Thatcherism with enormous poverty and inequality and unemployment at an all time high." By GOLLY if only he'd gone on to say that it was also the height of the cold war and there seemed little point in studying of a future that would probably never have come he would be SINGING ALONG with about 10% of all my songs EVER... at LEAST. Oh MING! MING! Come and save me!
ITEM! John Robb and The Marvellous Tom Robinson were on the telly this morning talking about THE PUNK ROCK. Both of them were GRATE - enthusiastic, INTO things, and EAGER to hear new STUFF and DO new things. It was INSPIRING. They were punk, also PUNK i.e. without the individual capitalisation of the first letter. To be punk, also PUNK, is a thing of GRATE WONDER. Halfway through they interviewed some Punks, i.e. people playing _P_unk Music, sneering at those younger than them, saying that they themselves only were GRATE and everything else was rubbish - they were STUCK IN TIME re-enacting their own teenage years over and over again. Being _P_unk is RUBBISH, backward looking and frankly DULL. When the next NEW PUNK comes along it is NEVER going to be this sort of Costume Shop TRAVESTY, it will be something that people like that HATE, and, mind you, also most likely so will i... talking of which...
ITEM! The Bloke From Orson's Hat! In the GYMNASIUM the other day I watched the video for Orson's song - no idea what it is, I've heard it several times but it hasn't STUCK. I actually heard it first on DAVINA (NB IT WAS ON I WASN'T WATCHING IT ON PURPOSE NOBODY IN THE LAND IS) when they were giving it ATTITUDE, BABY, Oh yeah they were so _P_unk they were flipping the V to The Man by ... er... obeying their corporate paymasters and appearing on a prime time BBC talk show and behaving impeccably with their Rock Postures delicately choreographed to fit the needs of the camera men. Actually i thought it looked like Peter Andre had tried to Go Rock but ANYWAY, it was THEM, and i noticed that he has done something I had thought IMPOSSIBLE: he has taken those stupid trilby hats that people seem determined to wear and made them look EVEN MORE STUPID.
Now, obviously I have reached a stage in my life when I think this about MANY things that people younger than I seem to like - I fail to understand why THE YOUTH want to look like they have big fat saggy bottoms and very short legs, for instance, and "your honour, it is a beat combo called The Rolling The Stones" - and those stupid hats are something that simply BAFFLES me. There are only THREE male types of people who can wear a HAT and look cool - Frank Sinatra, Tom Baker, and COWBOYS - and Peter Doherty and his puffy face whining rich kid junkie ILK are NONE of those things. Personally i await the return of THE FEZ to high fashion, surely it cannot be long?
So yes, i accept that I am perhaps not THE DON of Current Fashions, but even I was amazed by how much further The Bloke From Orson had PUSHED THE ENVELOPE OF LOOKING LIKE A TOOL. I can only imagine he was in his dressing room one day and thought "Hmm, with this stupid little hat i do indeed look like a colossal TOOL, but can i not do better than that? What if... oh yes! What if i pull it RIGHT DOWN so I can't even see where I'm going, and it is SQUISHED down over my ears and stupid face? AHA! YES! I now look like the MOST GIGANTIC TOOL THAT EVER WALKED! Into a wall!"
Even in their own video, which they must have been able to EDIT, this ENORMOUS TOSSER has to keep looking around to stop himself walking into walls because HIS HAT IS PULLED DOWN OVER HIS EYES. Does he not realise? I fully expect next time I am in SHOREDITCH to be BUMPED INTO by GOONISH POLTROONS similarly attired, who have sacrificed their ability to SEE WHERE THEY ARE GOING just so as to look LIKE A WAZZOCK. It's much the same effect achieved by those prattish angular haircuts, only this time BOTH EYES are obscured. _P_unk!
I bet even now his EARS are burning bright red with all this talk of his toolishness... although, maybe the fact that ALL WHO SEE HIM must surely speak of this, maybe that is the very REASON why he had to cover them up. AHA!
There we go then - COLUMN-A-LICIOUS, stick a ten year old photograph of ME at the top of the page, that was EASY! i didn't even have to mention how i am a busy working mother juggling a difficult career in the media with three children, a grouchy hubby, and an ABSOLUTE NEED to drive a massive car whilst smoking in restaurants!
There's an exciting WORLD PREMIERE taking place over on our myspace page right now, it's the first airing ANYWHERE (except for in our houses) of a track from the BRAND NEW ALBUM! Whoo! Also, ZANG!
It's called "Tell Me Something You Do Like" and it's very likely to be track 01 on the album. We're just getting into the penultimate mixes of EVERYTHING so I thought it was about time we let one of the songs into the open air - it seems weird but outside of The Validators and our immediate Loved Ones almost NOBODY has heard ANYTHING from the recent set of sessions. It's a far cry from my younger days when i would PELT down the pub straight after a night in the studio and FORCE people to listen to what we'd just done, and it struck me yesterday evening that maybe we SHOULD let something out, just to check we haven't gone STIR CRAZY.
Also up there is my cover version of "Fly Me To The Moon" which I recorded alongside "The Uberset" and was broadcast last year on Marcelle Van Hoef's show. I think it's quite nice! Crikey tho, it wasn't half an EFFORT to get it onto Myspace. I know that it's all supposed to be Web 2.0 and that, but does it all have to be as cranky, unreliable, error ridden and badly designed as Web 1.0 used to be?
Hunched Over A Screen
Today i have BOGGLY EYES. Anyone who works with computers a LOT will know what i mean - my eyes, they are BOGGLY from staring at a computer screen (at VERY close quarters, MAN those INDIVIDUAL PIXELS need watching) for a bit too long, for LO! I spent the weekend WORKING once again.
I also set up the menu system, wrote some text, and then sorted out the PHOTOGRAPHS. AGES ago now I did a "Postcard From Cornwall", which is a MONTAGE of loads of pictures we took while we were down there. I've sorted it now so you can click on a section of the montage to see the full picture, and then EITHER go back to the montage OR flick through the full set. It's DEAD good, i am WELL chuffed with it, it is a thing of GRACE.
Either that or my MIND is going BOGGLY too. Anyway, it's all going very well but I am SURELY looking forward to getting out into the fresh air a bit more next month, when i am VERY MUCH On The Road. I've just added ANOTHER GIG to the big list of gigs - I'm already doing more gigs in April than I did in the WHOLE of 1998, and with a couple of extra possibilities on the horizon I could be on track to BREAK RECORDS: i did 7 gigs in September 2005, could that FEARSOME TALLY be about to be eclipsed?
Whatever happens, i repeat to myself the advice i gave to The Fighting Cocks when going on tour: EAT FRUIT! You know it makes sense!
The Sounds Of Shifting Scenery
Things may appear quiet here on our Interweb Domain, but my dears nothing could be further from the truth. As well as everything ELSE going on that I've mentioned/moaned about, I'm also prepping up a whole lovely new look for the webpages. Oh yes, there will be menus, there will be much easier navigation, there'll be quicker loading times and LO! there will be single pages which you can easily link to. ALSO it will look nicer, be easier for me to update, and a HECK of a lot easier to keep control of in future.
I know. There's nothing more rock and roll than a well defined file structure is there?
This does mean, however, that some things will be going away for a little while, so I can get them sorted out properly for their glorious rebirth, and the first victim of this is The Gallery. This has taken many forms over the years, none of which have been particularly easy to look at, and so I'm going to re-do the whole thing so, again, it's easier to look at and refer to and ENORMOUSLY easier for me to actually get together. This'll mean the task of setting up new galleries WON'T fill me with dread, so hopefully there'll be a few more of them!
Next to go will probably be the DOWNLOADS section, so get in while you can!
Five Dimensional Rock-A-Hula
I had a pretty EXHAUSTING weekend, as i was working HARD. Part of this was stuff for the multimedia bits on the single and the album, and also on the NEW LOOK for the webpage that I'm hoping to LAUNCH when they come out. I spent much of my time working on an Exciting New Format for the gigs, articles, and especially the discography section. I got EVERYTHING I've ever done listed all in one go and am building a page for each of them with tracklisting and a little bit of detail about how they came to be made. This was actually Quite Interesting (NB tho probably just for me) as i had to dig out a couple of old tapes to fill in all the information, and discovered that the Taste Of Tea cassette compilation released in 1993 features me, Tim AND Rob in different bands (Voon, Prolapse and The Alamanacs respectively). It was a bit spooky.
I've also done seperate pages for all of the bands I've been in, so in future when I mentioned The Council, for instance, I can link directly to their page rather than having to explain what it's all about all over again. Yes, I know it's probably HOURS of work for something that nobody will ever look at, but it brought me JOY to see things getting so TIDY after years of Website Messiness.
I also spent a LARGE chunk of the weekend doing some of the Work On The Side I've been doing to get funds together to pay to put the album out - this is, of course, a long held tradition in ROCK. The Edge, for instance, took in laundry to help pay for U2's last tour. However, it was all a bit KNACKERING, so I was very grateful INDEED for the opportunity to go and sample some LIVE ROCK, in the shape of Plans & Apologies at The Buffalo Bar.
They were BLOODY GRATE, and I spent the whole set with a MASSIVE CHEESY GRIN plastered all over my face. Since last I saw them they've got SORTED with being on stage, and where once there were long gaps between songs and nervous glances around the room it now PILES ON from TUNE to TUNE, interspersed with BANTER and JAPES and the sort of confidence you only get when you are REALLY GOOD. I only recognised a couple of songs in the set, but this was fine with me as the newer ones were STARTLING in their excellence, and the way they played them was just BEAUTIFUL - as I believe I've said before, they're one of the most MUSICAL bands I've ever seen. There's about 30 of them on stage, and each one has his own BATCH of melodies to play, all of which work TOGETHER to form something GORGEOUS, yet also ROCKING. One doesn't, of course, want to sound like some kind of hippy, but sometimes when they play you can feel your MIND OPENING - yeah, like a tulip, greeting the sun, man. Whoo!
Not everyone seemed to agree with me though, and to start with i was AGHAST. Coming back from the loo i stood next to three KIDS who were sneering, saying "Oh look, they're going CRAZY" as the band got, justifiably, EXCITED and started leaping up and down. I soon realised that these were pals of the first band who were... well, probably Not For Me anyway. They had vocals but, on most songs, no words, just sort of screaming. They had "situationist" "placards", one of them was wearing a waistcoat and cap, and the songs were LOUD without being particularly memorable. They were, in fact, Very London. In their defence, should it be needed, the people they'd brought with them were into it, and i doubt VERY MUCH whether i was their target audience anyway.
What surprised me though was how COMPETITIVE their "fans" were - it's been ages since I've played at a gig like this, where one or more of the bands are still in their early stages of gigging and are still bringing a loyal MATE following, and so I haven't seen this behaviour for quite a while. It's rather sweet really - some of them were stood making derogatory remarks and some of them were heckling and ALL of them were obviously a bit upset to have to watch a band who were clearly WINNING OVER a lot more people than their pals. Why they thought that sneering, making daft remarks, and occasionally shouting for their mates' band would change the course of the evening is beyond me, as WISER HEADS would tell them it has quite the opposite effect. I suppose it is nice to see people caring, and it's always funny to watch it happening, and notice that, ALWAYS, one of the group will be trying to stop himself enjoying the band he's supposed to be so RESOLUTELY AGAINST.
So yes, I had a GRATE time and Plans & Apologies were MASSIVELY WONDERFUL. I was worn and tired by the time they'd finished so DASHED OUT and got the train home, carried Eastwards on psychadelic rails of WARMTH.
The text messages were buzzing up and down the Midland Mainline route last night, as Tom kept me informed of his progress in The Studio. He was in Memphis last night with Mr Reverb to record his final parts for the album. A couple of weeks ago he went in and recorded piano and violin for "Mental Judo" and a trumpet-esque bit for "Girlfriend Alarmed", and last night he did some new violin tracks for "The Gay Train" and then got them all onto CD before heading off to Derby to pass them on to Mr Frankie Machine for mixing.
I was EXTREMELY impressed to hear of all his activity, and it made my heart GLAD to know that I'm in SUCH a GRATE band that can all go off and get things DONE individually like this if need be. Verily, we are like G-FORCE.
Did anybody else see the documentary last night about Harold Wilson? EH? WHAT? BLIMEY! WHAT?!?
It was basically the story of how two journalists failed to expose a planned military coup against Harold Wilson, and i spent most of the programme with my MIND BOGGLING. To start with it wasn't that interesting, until about halfway through when you realised everyone was talking quite calmly about a proposed military coup that NEARLY HAPPENED. Here were grim faces from the Tory past like William Waldegrave and Jonathan Aitken quite happily talking about hearing of such things, and mixing with the people who were plotting the military take over of the country, as if it was just another bit of jolly old 1970's nostalgia. They had ONE OF the MANY retired military figures who had their own private army, ready to seize power - he looked like the complete stereotype of THE BARMY MAJOR, moustache boggly eyes and all, but he DID have thousands of men at his command ready to take up arms and kill people in order to, basically, protect the wealth of the Aristocracy.
And all through it everyone was quite happy to accept that Lord Mountbatten was going to lead the coup, and had even popped over to the Queen Mother to check that she wouldn't mind! And obviously she didn't!
I was stunned by it - as the programme said, nobody's ever been charged with anything (e.g. TREASON) and none of the "very senior" figures in the military have even been disciplined. It seems that the election of Ted Heath reassured them that their POTS OF CA$H would be safe, and so they pulled back. BLOODY! HELL!!
It's one of those moments when you pull back and realise that, actually, the artistocracy are there not because they're jolly benevolent charity workers or harmless old duffers, but because they're a bunch of semi-crazed ruthless bastards who'll stop at nothing to protect their own interests.
It Only Works Because You're Here
It's all busy busy busy here, as I'm beavering away both to do the extra work I've taken on the PAY for the album and single but also to sort out the multimedia bits that'll go on them. It's all looking pretty good, but it's not the most thrilling thing to have to do.
However, alongside all this Effort and Work the CREATIVE JUICES once again flow as over in the Song Blog you'll find the first new song of the year, "It Only Works Because You're Here". It's a lovely little song this one I must say, I've been singing it to myself ever since I finished writing it last week and playing it whenever I've had the opportunity. As is fairly obvious from the lyrics it's based upon the SUPERPOWER that all IT guys get after a while - if someone's computer is broken it can often be fixed by standing beside it's owner and saying "LO! Show me what is wrong!" and it will suddenly start working again.
Some people have tried to persuade me that this is because the user actually concentrates on what they're trying to do when a computer guy is stood behind them and thus does it properly, but personally I like to think of it as MAGIC. I've been thinking about all this quite a bit lately due to the GRATE programme "The IT Crowd", which is ACE and FUNNY and also VERY TRUE. I was just getting ready for work the other day whilst thinking about it and caught sight of myself in the mirror, dressed COMPLETELY stereotypically for my line of work and thought "HA! COMPUTER GUY!"
For some reason my brain went FTANG! and the idea for the entire song LANDED upon me there and then, and by the time I'd finished cleaning my teeth I'd got it all worked out, including the tune for the chorus. I spent a week or so actually writing it mind you, as I wanted to make sure it was RIGHT, and I was especially trying NOT to make every line 300 syllables long and impossible to sing. ALSO I spent a while trying out Actual Different Ways To Play It, with rhythms and that, which is a bit unusual for me playing stuff on my own, but I think it WORKS. I can't wait to get my next gig sorted out when I can play it - i want to see what people think to it, for LO! i LOVE it!
In The Conference Room
Sunday afternoon found The Validators gathered in Woodhouse Eaves for a MEETING to discuss relevant issues for the forthcoming RELEASES. Usually for these sort of things we have an AGENDA - it's not very rock or roll, but it IS very handy, especially when you're wont to get a bit over-excited and start arguing about what we're all going to where on Top Of The Pops - but this time we had gone MUCH further. There'd been talk beforehand of getting a Data Projector sorted out, which I thought was a joke but NO, Mr McClure arrived with one he'd borrowed from work. Tim, however, had surpassed himself - not only had he got us a real-live projector screen, he'd also set up their dining table in full CONFERENCE MODE. Glasses, bottles of water (which me and Emma had picked up on the way), pads and pencils for all were provided, as well as NIBBLES. Even better, Tim had prepared a PRESENTATION for when he took us through the album design, which made me feel a bit guilty about NOT doing so for my bits.
It was GRATE. For about 2 seconds we all sat round going "Ho ho! Look at us with our conference table, are we not KRAZY?" then GOT DOWN TO IT and ROCKED HARD. I sometimes wonder if maybe we are not fulfilling our full potential by being content merely to ROCK - with the skills base, teamwork and DOWNRIGHT DYNAMISM of the five of us together one can only think that there are NATIONS out there who would benefit from our RULE.
We got a whole lot decided - the biggest item to come from it, for us at least, was that the EP is now NOT going to be an EP, it's going to be a DOUBLE-A-SIDE SINGLE! I know this is pretty much the same as before, but the reasons behind the change are pretty big for us - it's NOW going to be "Better Things To Do/Hey Hey 64K" (not "A Fridge Full Of Nice Things"), with "Leave My Brother Alone" and "The Other Rush Hour" as b-sides (not Other Tracks On The EP). It's all to do with FOCUSSING it as... well, as a proper single really, so we can use it to PUSH the album itself. It'll still have the extra stuff on the multimedia, but it DOES mean we've got to re-re-design the cover.
We then went through design decisions for both single and album, tentatively arranged dates for release of single (26th June), album (10 July) and then THE TOUR (w/c July 21st - diarise NOW!), worked out a schedule of EVENTS to achieve this, argued about t-shirt designs (GET! US!), debated points to TOUR to, and formalised ideas for the running order of the album. It was, in fact, a MAMMOTH SESSION but we got a whole HECK of a lot done, and I believe we all went away PLEASED, and also more than a little bit pleased with OURSELVES for being such a MIGHTY TEAM. Reader, I was PROUD of us!
Now i've got about eight weeks of BIG EFFORT and WORK to do - let's GO!
Weekend of ACTION!
My weekend started on FRIDAY, as I'd taken the day off so i could join other members of The Mysterious Organisation Known Only As "The Lunch List" on a journey... UNDERGROUND. One of our number is an employee of London Underground, so was able to arrange us a trip into Down Street Station, an abandoned tube station on the Piccadily Line just down the road from Green Park.
It was WEIRD, and also EXCITING. It was closed in the 1930s, used briefly as temporary HQ for THE WAR CABINET (until the proper bunker was built), and then pretty much left alone. Every now and again you'd see remnants of the war, like a raised area in the corridor down to the platforms that was used as the typing pool, and we also saw the LOOs that were built for the Cabinet, and the tiny poky little offices that got built on the disused platforms. There were ancient signs painted on the walls, both for the war use and for the original platform, and if you ignored the fact that it was so dark and filthy it was almost like being in a normal station after dark.
The best bit was when we got down to the platform and trains went by - OH the HILARITY! We had to turn off our torches so as not to distract the driver (it would be awful if they lost control of the STEERING, i guess), but as soon as he'd gone by we could switch them back on, point the upwards beneath our faces, and wave at the passengers going "WHOOO!!! We am the TUBE GHOSTS!"
This stayed funny FOREVER. An odd thing was how EXCITED we got about being near the tube trains. "Ooh! this bit of the platform is open to the track!" we cooed, "Er... just like it always is. But look! here comes a TRAIN! Er... just like the ones we all took to get here." We also got to stand right at the end of the platform, where only staff can usually go, so we were SLIGHTLY further away from passing trains than we'd usually be on a platform. I guess it was cos it was so ILLICIT, but it was REALLY exciting!
Then we wandered back up to ground level, the small group of us tromping up another abandoned corridor towards the old lift shaft (which looked like a BADDIE'S LAIR, also like a DURAN DURAN video) past was what MYTHICALLY a blocked up entrance to a SECRET TUNNEL to Whitehall. In the pub afterwards we all GOGGLED at the thought that there's LOADS of these places under London, and plenty of other tunnels, sewers, and underground LAIRS that most of us know nothing of. It was all rather THRILLING!
I then headed off to the station to meet The Track In My Tunnel, and off we headed to LEICESTER, where we enjoyed a MARVELLOUS weekend of relaxification and SIGHTSEEING. Despite me having lived in Leicester for 14 years I'd never been in the Cathedral, so we had a look at that, then The Guildhall, before a gentle stroll around the new Cultural Quarter. On the way we ATE, we popped into The Orange Tree, and we finished up with a visit to the Jewry Wall Museum. It was like a Museum from childhood - some FASCINATING things, but all hemmed in by ODDNESS, like cases containing DOLLS dressed in random historical costume, or some toy soldiers stuck to some green baize or, my favourite bit of all, "From The Stores". This was a random collection of STUFF, like American Indian Arrows for instance, that bore no relevance to anything else, but happened to be there. It was like a journey into the past OF journeys into the past.
In the evening we enjoyed a DELICIOUS curry, and next day availed ourselves further of the hotel's SPA facilities before DIVIDING. The Times In My Timetable headed home, whilst I got the bus to Woodhouse Eaves, there to MEET with The Validators...
Head Spun By Wheels Of Commerce
You find me REELING today after a morning of Actually Behaving Like A Record Company. Yes I have been taking drugs, boozing at lunchtime and have had my hair cut like a pillock - AHA!
No, actually what I have been doing is preparing press packs, emailing and writing for gigs, sending material to our possible publicists, arranging the agenda AND SLIDES (YES!) for our Band Meeting on Sunday, and, just now, talking to DISTRIBUTORS.
Anyone who has ever run a label, and indeed anyone who's ever SPOKEN to anyone who runs a label, will know that distributors are DIFFICULT. They're notorious for never answering phone calls, "losing" packages, never paying invoices, and generally being utter gits. THUS i was quite surprised when I contacted this new lot and - GASP! - THEY RANG BACK! I know it doesn't seem like much, but i was MIGHTILY impressed. I've just been on the phone to them again, and it looks like we now WILL be able to get our new EP and album into THE SHOPS, which is rather exciting, and especially ONTO AMAZON.
The big THING about this, of course, is that it means people who like the new "Hey Hey 64K" song/video will be able to actually BUY it. My dears, the possibilities are SEVERAL for exciting things that could come of this. He ALSO had some WISE and SURPRISING words to say about how to arrange the release of the EP and the album - basically, he suggests, we should do both at the same time, and have the songs from the ALBUM that we want radio to play ON it. It's certainly a thought isn't it?
So now you find me a bit DIZZY with Things To Think About. Also, perhaps a little over-pleased by how nice the Powerpoint Presentation is looking. Whee! Dissolve Transitions!
I went to a MEETING last night, with The Ginger Fuhrer Mr Rob Manuel and Simon From The Toy Company. Simon got in touch a week or so ago to ask about maybe using "Hey Hey 16K" to advertise a new toy/game they're making. It's a JOYSTICK that you plug straight into your telly, it's got an Actual Real-Life Commodore 64 inside it, and it's got 30 or so games pre-loaded on it - it's not an emulator, it's the real thing with the real GAMES inside it. It sounds RATHER COOL i must say (although would obviously be far cooler if it was an SPECTRUM), and they're bringing out a new one that'll have SOCKETS in it so you can plug a C64 keyboard in too.
We spoke on the phone last week - he was all excited about the possibility for the song and video to be a viral HIT, with people passing the link on to each other by email... so I felt a bit bad about telling him that this had already happened. Still, I had a think about it, spoke to Rob and also The Validators, and came up with a NEW IDEA: "Hey Hey 64K!"
We spoke of this in tones of mounting agreement last night - the plan is for us to record the NEW version quite soon (something which Tim has been trying to get us to do for ages) with the new words. I want to do new words because, to be honest, it would feel like a bit of a rip-off to just release it again, and also like i was trying to CASH IN all the goodwill we got from "Hey Hey 16K" the first time around by just making it into an advert. Re-doing it for the Commodore 64 does at least give us a viable reason for a new version, especially as it means Rob's going to do a new VIDEO for it too.
So yes, we'll do the new version, which will probably now be appearing on the "A Fridge Full Of Nice Things" EP, Rob'll do the video, and then hopefully the release of the single, the video, AND the joystick will all come out at the same time, and rather beautifully complement each other.
That's the plan anyway - it could all be rather JOLLY, but I'm trying not to let the old BRANE run away with it just yet, ESPECIALLY as I've now got to write a new verse about Commodore 64s... did anyone out there HAVE a Commodore 64? Were there equivalents to R:Tape Loading Error or RAM PAKS? I'm not looking for rhyming couplets or anything - HEY! that's MY job! - but if anybody has any particular memories they'd be gratefully recieved!
After that Rob and I went to the pub down the road for his regular monthly meeting with the guys who set the Image Challenge and The Question Of The Week for B3TA. As ever when I happen upon these sort of gatherings I think "Yes yes, this is all very well, but when do we start rigging the elections of major countries, OH YOU ILLUMINATI MEMBERS?" I did make some SUGGESTIONS tho for Things Of The Future, and bless them they even politely pretended to write some of them down, so when B3TA do a month when all the challenges are, basically, SEXY DINOSAURS, you'll know who to thank!
I think it's a little unfair to blame me for the iniquities of myspace. http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=www.mjhibbett.net, i think you'll find, has only 6 "errors", ALL of which are piddling niggling things anyway. Hey! don't diss my HTML brother, just don't MESS with me that way!
And on a similar topic, Dan writes:
Was just hearing about the success of MySpace on the radio this morning... you must be proud to be part of the growing empire:
I'm now getting confused when you write things like "Mr Murdoch was very nice indeed"...
It's hardly surprising that Myspace has FALLEN like this - it's hardly the most reliable system ever built, and it's surely one further step towards it falling out of fashion, like friendsreunited and all them others. I still think it's lovely tho, but I must say I've noticed a deterioration in the happiness of TOM THE MYSPACE GUY. When I first joined, WEEKS ago now, he'd send jolly little messages every so often, now it seems like every DAY he's throwing a wobbly because somebody's suggested Myspace doesn't work properly. Tom! Calm down! It'll be OK!
Tahrey reports, about our recent gig in Leicester:
I was one of the slightly star-struck into silence guys in the crowd making way for all your good selves to go back and forth, wanting to say a quick hello, how was the set or something, but only passing by when an incredibly loud band was in full flow ... eh, there's always next time!
And on a similar tip, Andrew said:
I could leave some really rock 'n roll comment like "MJ borrowed a chair from our table", or point out that me and my brother were the ones cheering for QOLED (we heard it in Manchester last year, you see), but I'll just say, TOP GIG and leave it at that...
Thanks chaps, it's REALLY nice of you to come and say such lovely things, and thanks for the chair to! Please do come and say hello tho, this applies to everybody, ESPECIALLY if you've said beforehand that you might come, otherwise i get WORRIED! If you see me wandering around a venue on my own it's usually because I'm trying to find someone to talk to, it's NOT because I have briefly become unstuck from my entourage and am trying to find my way back to the Green Room. Talking to people after gigs, it's the BEST BIT!
Peter adds, about the same gig:
Do all the trees in Leicester have fairy-lights on the end of the branches? The trees by the Phoenix car park do, and so to the ones in the Firefly. Seeing as thats all the scientific evidence we could muster, we came to the inescapable conclusion that Leicester soil is made out of plutonium. I'm not so sure now- and I'm pondering the possibility that trees only glow when they're happy. And trees are therefore at their happiest in Leicester. Its probably the music.
It's that or the easy access to SAMOSAS. Or the large range of nice pubs, or the brilliant people who live there, or indeed any NUMBER of factors. Leicester is GRATE! If you get a chance to go through the city centre proper (NB tho don't try this on a Saturday night, as it turns into All Other Towns On A Saturday Night then) you'll notice that Leicester keeps its Christmas Decorations up all year round. This is because they're not JUST Christmas Decorations, they go on for Diwahli, Eid, and pretty much anything else that's going. Leicester, it is a city that likes to GET HAPPY!
Oh my goodness, Chris T-T came among us and said, in response to my remarks about seperating funny and "serious" songs:
You're entirely right Hibbett, about not separating 'serious' and 'funny'. In my case, esp with the red material, it's 'funnies' that get the point across, while it's not like anyone's shouting for "Court Of You", for example. Comment was an onstage mistake born of my unwillingness to sing "Eminem" and my being moved by your song about Thatcher.
Isn't he a lovely man? Now i feel AWFUL about even mentioning it. Let us consider other topics, such as Peter again:
I was playing The Uberset last weekend, and happened across the "run start.htm" thing. Now every album I possess with one of those things on it always ends up disappointing. A couple of backdrops, maybe a blurry video and thats about it. But wow - theres loads of stuff on Uberset. It was like suddenly discovering it had a B side! Put a real skip in my step. Thanks for your efforts.
Thanks for looking! And yes, if you've not had a go, stick any of our records from "This Is Not A Library" onwards you should find HUGE MOUNDS of FACT. INDEED, I'm currently working through the multimedia for the next couple of CDs, it's looking good!
That's that for this time then - thanks VERY MUCH to everyone who's been making REMARKS, including everyone who pointed out I'd got that Quiz Question about Prime Ministers Without WIVES (not husbands) the wrong way round, and the various HOT TIPS that I've received too. It's always appreciated, it's just HEARTENING to know so many NICE people are reading all this CRAZY NONSENSE! Ta!
The first batch of ROCK for 2006 ended this weekend with me heading up to LEEDS. On the way up I diligently proof-read the ANNOTATIONS for the songs on "A Fridge Full Of Nice Things", and so was ready for some ACTION by the time I got off the train, to find that, as usual, everyone in Leeds was DRUNK. Is there BEER in the water or something? Every time I've ever been to Leeds everybody there has been BOOZED UP, it is Quite Peculiar.
This sensation was only enhanced when I was walking towards my hotel (yes, i stay in hotels these days when I am out ROCKING, for LO! i am dead posh, yes i am) to find that the whole area REEKED of beer. "Has a beer lorry collided with an offy?" I wondered to myself... until I turned a corner and realised I was staying right next door to the Tetley Brewery. Aha!
My hotel was FILLED with women on Hen Nights, shreiking, and it seemed that the streets of LEEDS were also so filled, until the taxi driver pointed out that we were behind a former fire engine, which was now used for carrying round women on Hen Nights. In fact, the only people I came across up to this point who WEREN'T on Hen Nights were men on Stag Nights. LEEDS! City of BEER!
After a quick soundcheck I headed off to get some GRUB. I'd been told there were no chippies nearby, so went to McDonalds. Oh my - i had FORGOT what they are like, ESPECIALLY at about 8pm on a Saturday, when all over the country the fill up with TEENAGERS. It was like being in a really really really awful nightclub, but without the beer and MORE SCREAMING and NO BEER. ALSO it took about 20 minutes for my veggie burger to turn up, i could have DONE with a pint!
When I got back, however, things REALLY go better. The pub was RAMMED with LOVELY people, many of whom had come from far and wide to be there, including a healthy contingent from the might BOWLIE forum. Hey! I played at Bowlie you know! OK, on a table outside the pub on the Sunday afternoon, but it still counts!
Remembering my resolution to Vary The Set a bit I took COUNSEL from people, and ended up playing the following:
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
Hey Hey 16K
Work's All Right (when it's a proper job)
The Fight For History
Clubbing In The Week
You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor
Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
That's the first time I've played "Work's All Right" for ages, and the first time I've played "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" for YEARS - possibly only the second time EVER I've done it on my own, and I had to write out the lyrics beforehand to make sure I could remember them.
It was a THOROUGHLY enjoyable gig, tho a bit hairy in places. Apparently Carpe Diem is a bit of a Mecca for The Younger Drinker - something we've certainly noticed when The Vlads have played there - and it appeared that many of them had been there all day, including one VERY enthusiastic young man who was down the front for my whole set. He was dancing around and shouting things out, and my Inner Grumpy Old Sod thought "Grr!" However, SENSE RULED and I thought to myself "He is a young person DRUNK who is enjoying himself, and he is also enjoying what YOU are doing - so what if he is a bit loud?"
HOWEVER, a few songs in he OVERSTEPPED THE MARK by coming ONSTAGE and trying to grab the microphone. I STERNLY pushed him away, saying in a clear and firm voice "FCUK. OFF." and then carried on with the song - drunk teenagers, they are like unruly dogs, you have to be FIRM with them. Bless them, he and his large mob of Almost But Not Quite As Drunk mates were good as gold after that. I explained that we had to set some boundaries between us, and they accepted this truth. It was very much like being a Primary School Teacher actually, and I realised I was spending all my time on the NAUGHTY children, when there were LOADS of other people there (no, really, it was a Nice Big Crowd) who weren't trying to take over the GIG, and with that realisation i relaxed a bit and THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. It was GRATE!
Afterwards I took my flyers and went for a wander round the room. Handing out flyers is a GRATE excuse for wandering around the pub saying hello and seeing what people think, it was lovely. One chap had seen us at Half Man Half Biscuit in Nottingham (and informed me that they've just announced a new gig in Sheffield, which we are of course BEGGING for the support for), another couple gave me the low down on The Young Drinkers, and then I had a very nice conversation about Bill Bailey, Billy Bragg, and The Fantastic Four with some other people. Truly, I am a FASHION ICON - when I wore my "BOOKS RULE!" t-shirt everyone HANKERED for it, this time somebody tried to BUY my Fantastic Four t-shirt off me. If this carries on i may have to befriend Pete Doherty or something. I also spoke to the YOUTHS, who rather cheekily demanded I give them free CDs to reward their dancing, as I think they'd probably spent all their money on BOOZE. I declined the offer - it would be a LESSON for them in future to save some so that _I_ could spend it on booze instead.
After that we watched SARANDON, who were BLOODY GRATE. 16 songs in half an hour, and all of them varied, catchy, and full of PITH and WONDER. They were ACE, and their bass player had an especially excellent retort for my drunken young friends, who mounted the stage once again. "Go and form your own band!" he said. Fair point! They were aided by Mr Steve Morricone, who it turns out is one of those annoying people who can play ANY instrument and PLAY anyTHING. This time he was playing the bloody SAXOPHONE for heaven's sake, and appeared on half the songs having only ever played with them for half an hour early on in the evening. The git, even worse than that it was REALLY GOOD.
The evening then devolved into some beer, watching The Lodger (quite good, tho I did feel they needed a Charismatic Eyebrow Arching FOP as a fourth member), some more chat, and then even some DANCING. I had an asbolutely GRATE time, and hopefully we will be heading BACK there in a few months when we go on the Validators TOUR. Whoo!
And now no gigs for four or five weeks, and none outside of London until the May Day weekend. I wonder if Midland Mainline will have finished mending their tracks by then? Somehow I doubt it...
Busy Busy Busy
Goodness me, it's all go here. Yesterday I was CHAINED to a computer working on the MULTIMEDIA ASPECT to "A Fridge Full Of Nice Things", and I must say it's looking rather lovely. The main BULK of the thing is pretty smart, with lots of FACT and lyrics and generally looks ACE. I'll be re-using the design of it for the "WE VALIDATE!" multimedia too, and hopefully the webpage itself eventually. I also spent a long old time working on the interface for "Zipcodes", the free "cassette" that's going to come with it. Oh baby, it looks PRETTY DARN HOT.
When not toiling away at that I've been doing some extra WORK to pay for it all to be made - whither weekends? that has been my pinesome cry! I bet THE EDGE doesn't have to spend a Sunday afternoon building a conference organisation database just so that U2 can afford to put a new album out.
Meanwhile TODAY there have been all SORTS of exciting possibilities BUDDING - I'll try very hard not to say anything too much about it until Something Actually Happens this time, but i will say this: "Hey Hey 64K"! Whoo!
I've also been getting ready to go to Leeds tomorrow night (i'm onstage about 9pm I think) working on TWO new songs, and also watching the Lib Dems on the telly. I must say, I voted for Chris Huhne as I thought he'd be Quite Good, but I guess MING will be OK. My piece of advice would be this: please get a better haircut, OH MING, as at the moment it looks awful. As my webpage now seems to be READ by some of the people mentioned therein (see comments to this entry - what a nice man!), i feel sure that it will be taken on board.
Oops! I just noticed that I'd set the COMMENTS on these entries so that they had to be Approved By ME... and then forgotten to ever look at them. Sorry to all the lovely people who have commented lately, they should all be up now, and I've changed it so they appear automatically in future.
Underneath The LSE
A gentle stroll through London's fashionable LONDON area of London after work last night got me to the Quad at The LSE. It was THRONGING with students, unsurprisingly, which did make me feel a little old. Downstairs I met the organisers, also Winston Echo and Chris T-T, and we did the traditional Lurking Around Waiting For Things To Happen whilst The Young Playthings, the only BAND on the bill, got set up.
We chatted a bit, we soundchecked, and then I nipped off to the student canteen to get something to eat. The food was OK, certainly cheap, but I found the whole experience a bit upsetting, as all around me were young students sat on their own, eating a lonely tea miles from home. Near me was sat a lad I (correctly!) took to be German, in smart jumper and slacks, slowly munching through his meal, and I thought that this probably wasn't what he was hoping for when he came over to London. Later some lads he knew sat near him and said hello before carrying on with their own conversation, and I saw him put on his "I'm joining in" face, nodding and smiling along with them, hoping to be invited in.
The sheer loneliness (and, to be honest, familiarity with his situation from when I first went to Poly) was A Bit Much, so I went back to the venue, where I had another chat with Mr T-T about Various Issues Regarding GIGS. It was STRANGE to Talk Shop in this manner, as I very rarely meet anyone who goes off on their own to other towns to play as much as I do, and i was JEALOUS of his plan to go on a solo tour with a TWO MAN TEAM alongside him. It sounded NICE! Also it was good to hear of all the excitement heading his way at the moment, it's always CHEERING when good people do well, and it sounds like he very much IS!
Talking of Good People, The Beer In My Student Union Bar arrived just then, which was especially a relief as all this talk of Gigging Alone was making me feel a bit LONESOME. She arrived just in time to see Winston Echo, and I was much relieved to find that after YEARS of me telling her how ACE he is, also LOVELY, she was moved to very much agree. For LO! He was.
Then it was time for ME to play, and as I thought I'd be playing to a crowd who'd not seen of me before I did the UBER uberset, as follows:
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
Hey Hey 16K
The Fight For History
Clubbing In The Week
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Boom Shake The Room
It seemed to go OK, I certainly enjoyed myself although CRIKEY it felt like a difficult room - it was a big room, but there weren't a huge number of people there, so they were a bit spread out. Also the PSYCHOGEOGRAPHY of the venue, with a number of different levels, raised bits, and PIPES all over the place made it feel very cold and unfriendly. Oh, thou early nineties designers of Student Unions, what WERE you thinking?
In the end, however, it was a LOT of fun and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. As it turned out i wasn't playing to strangers either, as quite a few people had actually come to see ME, not least Mr David McIntyre who'd come from AMERICA to be there... well, he'd come to London for a month anyway, but it still counts. The Dressing On My Salad and I thus had a very pleasant time on the CHAT to the diverse and lovely bunch of people who had also turned up, it was really nice.
The next band, the Young Playthings, were really enjoyable too - they had that GRATE onstage attitude of American Bands, where it's not a GIG, it's a SHOW, and they did jokes (most notably about the blokes in SINGLETS that kept wandering through from the GYM next door) and JAMMED and generally had FUN. No matter what happens in the world it is an UNDYING TRUTH that British Indie Types will ALWAYS get smitten by a band with an American Accent, so I was a bit surprised afterwards to find out that they were actually from Kettering...
Kettering via Hong Kong, anyway, which explains the accent, but it was still DISCONCERTING, especially when I turned round and realised Winston Echo was wearing a WICKSTEED PARK jumper! Crazy Coincidence!
The evening finished with Chris T-T, who was, as ever, GRATE. He did all my favourite ones and we had a good old SINGALONG, especially during "When The Hunstman Comes A'Marching" which was a whole HEAP of fun. It is, as I continually say, like seeing Billy Bragg when he was still good - lots of righteousness, lots of singing along, and some good bits between the songs. One bit between the songs, however, I found myself disagreeing with. He, very kindly, said "I did think MJ Hibbett shouldn't do the stupid songs anymore, as his political ones are so strong, but then realised you can't NOT do the stupid songs" before doing "Eminem Is Gay". It was a nice thing to say and obviously kindly meant, and I know he means "funny songs" not "songs that are stupid and rubbish" or anything derogatory, but I didn't agree with him, and said so afterwards. I really REALLY don't think you should distinguish between the "funny" and the "serious" songs, as if only some of them are ones that you actually MEAN, while the others are just there for a throwaway laugh. The "political" ones AND the ones about drinking with your mates, they're all ABOUT things that actually happen, they're ALL meant seriously and they're ALL true. I think that divorcing them as two seperate "types" devalues both, and leads us into a less jolly world. There's nothing wrong with making a serious point with a bit of humour and warmth, it makes the point more pointED.
I thought about this all the way home on the tube AND all the way in this morning, it's something that i think MATTERS, as you can probably tell! But yes, the loveliness of him saying it as he meant it remains, and he really is a DEAD nice chap and the gig was GRATE! Why, he even invited us round for tea if we're in Brighton again, which is something I have NEVER got at a Billy Bragg gig, and it was a very happy pair of us who left the venue for Holborn Tube, singing "Preaching To The Converted" as we went. It was ACE!