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Whoo! You find me today carefree and giddy, for LO! I have now pretty much done EVERYTHING on my Big List Of Things To Do (ROCK). I've had this list in various forms since pretty much the start of the year, and it included everything from recording sessions and band practices to t-shirt orders, trips to the post office, and deadlines for press release drafts. There was a LOT of stuff on it - yesterday i posted out the last of the Tour Press Releases and this morning i've just ZAPPED the latest issue of The Last Working Day Of The Month to our lovely mailing list (many of whom seem to be spending today in meetings, judging by the automated responses), and that really is pretty much IT! If you're on the mailing list you can expect a couple more emails about GIGS and the album coming out, but other than that all I've got to do in July is ROCK! Yeah! Also, WHOO!
And just to get us started off, another LOVELY review's come in, from To Hell With. It's a GOOD one!
Background Music: EYE OF THE TIGER
Monday afternoon saw me at St Pancras, trying to get on a train to DERBY for our pre-tour BAND PRACTICE. However, down the road at King's Cross there had been a small fire so, in the words of The Evening Standard (nearly every day) it was CHAOS. The train I wanted to get on was COMPLETELY FULL and so Midland Mainline had brought in their EMERGENCY PLAN: An extremely peed off employee was stood in front of the closed gate, GLARING at people, getting more and more annoyed with people trying to ask him questions (especially if they'd, you know, BOOKED A SEAT ON THE TRAIN - the CHEEK!) and doing his best to IGNORE them. Meanwhile, downstairs the police had gathered people together - not, obviously, to tell them anything that was going on, just for the sake of it - AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ESCALATORS. GENIUS! This meant, of course, that people were bashing into each other, fighting through ever growing crowds to get upstairs to find that they couldn't get on the trains, then getting panicked because they didn't know if their tickets would still be valid because NOBODY WAS BOTHERING TO MAKE ANY ANNOUNCEMENTS.
So business as usual for the TRANES, really. I worked out which platform the (late) train to Derby would be going from and LURKED there, and ended up RACING someone along the platform to make sure i got a seat. HA! VICTORY TO ME!
I eventually got to Derby, went for some chips, bought some BEER, and then met with THE VLADS at The Music Shed for, slighty surprisingly, our first practice in about six months. We had a great big LIST of songs split up into FOUR categories: "New Songs We Theoretically Know", "Old Songs We Do Know", "Old Songs We Might Know" and "Songs We Need To (Re)Learn". The last list was by FAR the longest.
Tim assumed his role as SETLIST GUY, and into action we LEAPT with a rousing rendition of "Tell Me Something You Do Like" before meandering down MEMORY LANE with stuff like "Post-Subsonic Bass", "You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor" and, for the first time EVER as a proper band, "Born With The Century".
Halfway through we had a listen to some songs in The New Improved Pattison Wagon, DROPPED quite a few that we'd considered, and as a group worked out how to play "Falling For Trust" - Tim had a GRATE new idea about how this could be made to work, as we've never played it live, and work it DID. It sounded so good we played it THREE TIMES!
By the end of the evening we had a list of 22 songs to choose from, which was EXTREMELY pleasing, and headed to the PUB to work out the Travel Itinerary for THE TOUR, pausing only to go "OOH!" at the penalities in The Football. I've left it to the others to sort it out, but it all sounded very sensible to me, and EXCITEMENT ROSE yet further at the prospect of our week ON THE ROAD. Today I've got some press releases to send out about it, and then that really is IT - all preperations will be complete, and we will be READY TO ROCK!
If you would like to purchase a copy (and i personally think it would be a Good Idea) you can get it from Record Shops, or from Amazon or indeed from our own shop. You should also be able to pre-order the album WE VALIDATE! from all of these outlets also.
Unfortunately my work isn't near ANY Independent Record Shops, or at least not near enough to enable me to nip in, have a look if the single's there, and if so make sure it's placed RIGHT at THE FRONT. I feel slightly sad to be missing out on this Traditional Ritual, but then slightly relieved to be missing the USUAL outcome of said ritual i.e. going in the shop and finding it isn't even there...
Hopefully some people will ALSO be taking part in THE HALLS OF VALIDATION - i look forward to receiving your photographs! And if you don't know what THE HALLS OF VALIDATION is, then it is time to join the mailing list!
A stroll, a train, and then a confused, slightly lost and rather longer stroll and I was at the CB2 bar in Cambridge last night, once more to play at The Living Room, the regular acoustical club. I arrived to find the first band soundchecking, and very lovely they sounded too, doing loads of cover versions and making stuff up and generally being rather NICE. I popped outside to speak to my Mum on the phone, and got some news about my Nan, who's not very well at all right now, so spent much of the rest of the evening a bit worried about her.
Thus I was a bit distracted for much of the rest of the evening, which at least meant I wasn't getting afeared about the GIG, or the general lack of people there. It was a lovely evening, the students had gone home, and the FOOTBALL was on - even half of the bands who were meant to be playing hadn't turned up! Thus the first band just stayed on stage after soundcheck and had a bit of a singalong, which was lovely and actually quite a bit more fun than when they started their set proper and got all Serious with their own songs.
Phil the promoter had actually suggested they didn't bother using the PA, and it would have been more friendly if they hadn't, so I decided to have a go that way myself, and was REALLY glad I did. There were a few more people there, including Kat our ACE PRESS PLUGGER, but still few enough to enable me to BELLOW and be heard, and this is what I played:
Better Things To Do
Dino At The Sands
It Only Works Because You're Here
The Fight For History
The Lesson Of The Smiths
Back For Good
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it, I cheered myself up NO END - you might be able to tell this from the fact that I played "Back For Good" halfway through. I was talking about Take That to do with "The Lesson Of The Smiths", as is my wont, then said "And now a cover version", intending to have another crack at "Everybody's Talkin'" but as somebody shouted for "Back For Good" i thought I might as well. It was a PLUCKY ATTEMPT, i think that is the kindest way to put it. The whole set was very CHATTY though and, as I said, very much fun for ME at least.
That done I had to pretty much FLY off straight away, thus missing the singer who'd originally meant to be on before me, so I could catch my TRAIN... and also so I could visit the Marks & Spencer Simply Food at Cambridge station for some NICE TEA. It was a very nice tea INDEED.
It's Never A Mistake To ROCK
Last night I played at what must surely be the nearest venue to my work, POP just off Oxford Street. I was a bit worried about the evening, as originally it was supposed to be at a different venue, which had CLOSED, and so I was playing at 7.20pm as a "warm-up" to some bands who'd play much later.
When I got in I found Gareth, the organiser, dashing around trying to sort things out, whilst the band soundchecking were THE VERY EPITOME of The Local Band. Over-excited singer? CHECK? Singing in American Accent? CHECK! Not quite understanding how soundchecks work? CHECK? Guitar player sullenly playing JAZZ during the soundcheck of other instruments? CHECK? Bass player wearing a hat? Do you need to even ask?
Bless them though, it was ever THUS, and I had to CHECK my own MEANNESS. "Be not such an Old Sod, Hibbett" I chastised myself, "Were not you yourself like that once?" "No, inner voice," I replied, "I wasn't really, but I know what you mean - these bands have always been with us and always will be, to be upset about them is like being upset about the very WEATHER." Me and my inner voice, we speak like that to each other, it is a relationship of MUTUAL TRUST.
Time moved on and soon it was 7.20pm, so off i went to do my gig, and this is what I played:
Better Things To Do
Dino At The Sands
Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
Breaks In The Journey
The Fight For History
The Lesson Of The Smiths
I'm calling it the nascent stages of THE NEW-BER SET! Oh yes! You'll note that it's ALL new material from the album and single, along with a new song which I learnt a couple of weeks ago. Not that many people seemed to care either way - I'd had a lot of sicknotes over the course of the afternoon, so when I begun there was precisely NOBODY there to see me. The Local Band gamely sat and watched me, despite the best efforts of The Lead Singer to get as much attention as he could - sat with his back to me he talked animatedly throughout my set, breaking off only to try and clap along and then to wander the room trying to talk to the other guy who was playing and thus distract HIM from my set. I don't say this unkindly, it's just what he was like, and again, IT WAS EVER THUS. Also watching were a couple of Friends Of The (other) Band who'd got there early, and who wisely moved from their position RIGHT down the front after a couple of songs, and Gareth The Organiser, who, GOD BLESS HIM, seemed to really enjoy it!
He wasn't the only one, for LO! i really enjoyed it to - i found inter-song BANTER a bit difficult considering that most people were studiously ignoring me, but I enjoyed the loudness of it and the chance to run through all these songs. Still, I did feel a bit ... not AGGRIEVED exactly, nor upset, perhaps PERTURBED about the whole thing. Was this how all the forthcoming gigs were going to be? Had all the preparation and effort for the new albums been but for NAUGHT? "Hibbett, don't be such a berk!" said my inner voice, correctly and also quoting itself, but i felt a bit ODD about the whole thing.
I sat down next to someone I thought I recognised, who turned out to be Mr Jon Pennycook with whom I had recently corresponded about a Parcel Mislabelled (I'll not BREAK YOUR THRILL RECEPTORS by recounting the full story, suffice to say two trips to the post office were required). Not only had he paid to get in but had actually travelled all the way from READING to be here. Suddenly i felt immensely guilty about him making all that effort when all I'd done is trudge round the corner from work, and resolved to SORT THINGS OUT.
THUS we left behind our rather pricey beers, said cheerio to Gareth, and headed round the corner to THE JOHN SNOW, one of my most favourite pubs in all of That London, for a couple of PINTS and a jolly good chat, where we discovered that NOT ONLY did he live in Leicester during much of the 1990's (and had been to many of the same gigs as I had, including the GRATEST GIG EVER by The Council) but also had family in Bourne, near Peterborough.
On the way home I considered the FACT that there is no such thing as a Pointless Gig, nor should you just pass off "unsuccesful" gigs as "Good Practice!" (people always say that). Like - GET READY FOR HE-MAN'S SPECIAL MORAL MESSAGE AT THE END OF THE EPISODE! - so many things in THIS LIFE OF OURS, there's nearly always an opportunity to rescue something GROOVY from the night out, and thanks to Jon turning up that's exactly what we did. HOORAH for GIGS, Reliable Rail Services, and THE PUB!
Racing Up The Charts
Today I went to the post office to send off some copies of WE VALIDATE! and Better Things To Do to the distributors, thereby passing yet another Great Milestone on the long walk to Release Day, and got back to work to find that, actually, they are NEEDED. For LO! All day long we have been RACING up the Amazon Sales Rankings - this morning we were somewhere around 23,000th but AS I TYPE we have SHOT up to 6,433th! GO! US!
Meanwhile there's further JOY to be found in an absolutely GRATE review of the album over at TANGENTS. It's a great site ANYWAY, with lots of thoughtful and also INTERESTING thought on musical subjects diverse, so it was something of a JOY to read such nice things said by someone whose opinions i also RESPECT. Go look, it's a good one!
Members of THE MAILING LIST should look to their inboxes today, for LO! you should have received a message about our EXCITING NEW SCHEME: THE HALLS OF VALIDATION! It really is RATHER an exciting new idea, which hopefully we shall be hearing more of ANON.
Also quite exciting here in my household is the fact that today i am DOUBLE 18! Half my lifetime ago i became A MAN and also did my first ever gig. It seems like MILLIONS of years ago - on Friday night The Wrapping On My Gift and I were out in the pub celebrating another birthday, and I ended up talking to some people who were RETIRED. They said that they felt exactly the same now as they did when they were 30, which sounded good to me. That sounds pretty good to me - although i must say i feel like an ENTIRELY different person to how i did when i was 18, and that is a VERY GOOD THING INDEED.
It strikes me as slightly odd that Double 18 doesn't get ANY attention as an auspicious birthday - maybe when you REACH this TWICE MANLY age you don't feel the need to draw too much attention to it? I'm not having a DO or anything this year, so maybe I'm following the trend - I'm having the day off to mess around and watch the football then meeting The Star In My Flag Of Ghana for a couple of BEERS after work before returning homes to watch MORE football and have a curry. I am, in fact, doing EXACTLY what I would most like to do. Perhaps THAT is the true mark of being DOUBLE 18!
The process of updating CONTINUES APACE - I've just made a few adjustments to the menu to the left which i know isn't HUGELY interesting, but it does HERALD the rather larger change I'm hoping to be making to it next week. It will make things look NICER. I've also updated some details on the GIGS page - it appears that the fashionable price for a Validators gig this season is VERY MUCH four quid.
Also added is a page where you can buy our stuff via AMAZON, as the listings for WE VALIDATE! and Better Things To Do have JUST gone online. I'm actually rather excited about this, as it's a LONG time since our new stuff has been on Amazon, and hopefully it'll mean a few more people will be able to get their hands on it.
If you ARE considering buying the new album, you might like to consider joining the MAILING LIST, as next week I'm going to be sending out details of how to take part in THE HALLS OF VALIDATION! This is the new REWARDS SCHEME for people who buy the album and/or single in the shops. It's all rather JOLLY, but it's ONLY open to people on that there MAILING LIST, so if you've not signed up yet, now would be the time!
And finally, while I'm here - I've just been listening to the forthcoming album "The Completist's Library" by SARANDON and it really is BLOODY GRATE - twenty eight (28!) songs of EXTREME poppiness and ACENESS in under an hour, it is a JOY to listen to. It's not out until August (yes, look at me, i got a PREVIEW COPY!) but I HEARTILY recommend it. Is ACE!
It's been brought to my attention that we've never actually Officially Revealed the covers of WE VALIDATE! or Better Things To Do. I can only apologise for this gross omission and attempt to make up for it by saying LOOK! Here they are!
The cover for WE VALIDATE! is licenced from The Charles Babbage Institute, who I must say were EXTREMELY helpful and generally LOVELY. If you ever need to licence a picture of historical computer usage I heartily recommend them!
Better Things To Do, meanwhile, is a picture we had taken a couple of months ago at Chez Pattison after we'd had our BIG MEETING - there's another picture from this SESSION on the inside of the album, and OUTTAKES include in a rather GRATE one of Lola Pattison's head obscuring half the band as she tried to see what was going on. We tried all sorts of other ideas before settling on this one, and I must say I was rather surprised that nobody expressed upset at the fact we've got our OWN FACES on the cover. Perhaps the fact that our Most Indie members are on the back cover helped?
Anyway, ALL of this was done by Mr Tim Pattison, and LO! he really has done a GRATE job of it all . Both single and album look GORGEOUS, like minature versions of vinyl singles and albums in fact, and it gives the whole project a sheen of CLASS which i feel we may have missed when it was ME doing the designing...
So kindly join me in a SALUTE to our Rhythm Section Powerhouse: he has made us look SMART!
Ooh, I've just had a DELIGHTFUL experience in retail. I've been searching around for the past week or so for a print shop where I can get some postcards made - the plan is to send a load of them out to record shops to ALERT them to the FACT that our album's coming out and that we're going to be on tour, so they MIGHT possibly want to order it in. I've not had a lot of joy, and was just walking along Bloomsbury's Scenic Street Of Sandwiches, Store Street, on the way to the post office when I realised there was a shop there called The Printing Centre. Might THEY be a place where Printing was undertaken, perhaps?
They were, and MY WORD what printing they did! They did me 15 sheets of A4 on card and then cut it into quarters, and charged me £2.50. The cheapest quote I'd got anywhere else was MORE THAN TEN TIMES AS MUCH!! I was ASTOUNDED, and the bloke there was really friendly, he even said how nice the finished items looked. I therefore recommend to you The Printing Centre, 30 Store Street, That London, for all your Bloomsbury based printing needs! I NOTED with interest that they also do really cheap prices for printing booklets, and was seized by the sudden URGE to do a fanzine or something, THAT'S how nice a retail experience it was.
And he was right about the postcards too, they look GRATE - i might do some more now!
Another couple of updates to the Exciting New Look today - hopefully you can now see our delightful PHYSOGS along the right of your screen now. These are taken from the back cover of WE VALIDATE!, in case you were wondering. We should also have another UPDATE quite soon replacing the slightly dowdy headlines to the left with more pictures, just as soon as we've worked out what they should be - I realise now it was all looking a bit STERN, so this should brighten things up a bit.
Oh yes, and another amendment is that now the URLs for the site should default to mjhibbett.tripod.com or www.mjhibbett.net. The usual www.mjhibbett.com will still get you here, but this way you'll be able to see the actual URL of each screen, which means you'll be able to bookmark individual pages much more easily and also, should you so wish, forward them on to other people.
Call me a VAINGLORIOUS FOOL, but I'm really starting to like this here new look to the webpages, mostly because most of it seems to WORK properly now, and also because I keep finding new bits I'd forgotten about - the PAST GIGS bit, for instant, has a TON of new fact in it. There's another SLIGHT CHANGE coming tomorrow (if i get round to it) too, which should pretty things up a bit. Well, as much as more pictures of us CAN pretty things up, but you see what i mean.
Meanwhile another nice review's come in from those nice people at Vanity Project. Thanks chaps!
As you've hopefully noticed, the long threatened redesign of the webpages has FINALLY happened! The typewriter design has served us all well over the years, but to be honest it was a bit of a nightmare to do anything with, especially if you wanted to show a picture of something, and so after seven years of sterling service I thought it was time for an update.
This version should be a LOT easier to navigate too, especially if you go to the www.mjhibbett.net version, as then you'll be able to see full addresses for all the pages, and even FACT them to other people. If you wanted to.
There's been a TON of updates too - sections like The Gallery and Articles have had a THOROUGH cleaning out, there's a new About Us section which has THRILLING interviews with all of us, and at last ALL of the songs should be working in the SONGS section. I've had a MAJOR overhaul of this bit in particular, updating all the ANNOTATIONS (writing an awful lot of new ones!) and sticking in a new Appearances feature so you can see what song's been where.
As ever, it's not all going to be working properly straight away and there's BOUND to be errors and missing pages, so do please bear with us while we get it sorted out. Also I know some people dislike white text on a black background, so I'll try and work out one of those Dynamic CSS things so you can change it if you like.
I really hope you like the new look, it's been a long time coming but hopefully it'll be worth it!
Pete Green/Gresham Flyers
After a day of FOOTBALL (NERVES followed by JOY for the England and Trindad & Tobago games, respectively) i set of to Bethnal Green, there to see Pete Green and The Gresham Flyers. I thought it was going to be a PACKED night as it was, with four bands playing, but I arrived to find a FIFTH band had already started. I don't know what they were called but they were dead good - they were Swedish, had a trumpet which they were unafraid to use, and when band members had nothing else to do they stayed on stage and DANCED. I thought this was a good use of time.
Next onstage came Pete, whose GRATENESS was slightly hampered by the fact he was sitting down - he's got lovely and/or touching songs about STUFF which always make me think there should be CANDLES and CIDER laid on to accompany them, with "Share Your Kit" being my especial favourite, probably because it reminds me of seeing him at The Jug Of Ale and how that's ALWAYS a good night. Anyway, the trouble with him sitting down was that it gave some of the audience the idea that he was PASSIVE and could be talked over (loudly and squeakily by a group at another table who i just KNEW were going to be Friends Of Another Band). It's horrible when that happens - you can't say "OI! SHUT IT!" even in the East End because then suddenly you ARE The Teacher, but there's talking and there's talking obnoxiously loudly, and then CLAPPING and WHOOPING at the end of the song like they were doing only draws attention to it. You could SEE the ANGER in Pete, my dears he was like a COILED TIGER, and I felt that if only he had been standing up he could have VENTED that RAGE into the set itself. At other points too he looked like he was going to get up and start dancing - He was dead good, but I say unto he: Pete! Get a Guitar Strap! BUST SOME MOVES!
After him the next band turned out to be Quite Good, but as predicted had MASSIVELY ANNOYING FRIENDS. Ah! Some things never change! I have played with This Sort Of Band for my ENTIRE CAREER - they themselves are nice enough, although one or more of them will always be EXTREMELY COCKY, and they always have pain in the arse friends who Do Not Know How Gigs Work and spend the entire night trying to attract attention to themselves. This time it was two Band Girlfriends who were whooping, dancing throughout, and later on just holding guitar cases. I AM WITH THE BAND, they said. WE KNOW! we all replied.
The other thing about These Sort Of Bands is that they almost always do a really good cover version, and this time it was "Watching The Detectives", which was ACE. Perhaps foolishly they did it in the middle of the set, which made everything else look a bit poor afterwards. NOTE TO BANDS: Really Good Cover Versions should be played at the END, really, as they make everyone happy and shines a GOOD LIGHT upon what's gone before, rather than raising expectations FAR TOO HIGH for the rest of the set.
They also had a conversation mid-set trying to work out the name of The Lead Singer Out Of Primal Scream, asking the audience for help, then chuckling "Ooh, is that like DIZZY Gillespie?" Suddenly i felt VERY OLD.
Anyway, I wandered around and had a bit of a chat, and soon it was time for The Gresham Flyers, who have suddenly gone all SOULFUL. It's odd - congregated together they look like GIG PALS rather than a band, which makes you think "Aha! A bunch of old pals have formed a band for a laugh, this will be gently pleasing in a ramshackle, twee, and hopefully not too long-lasting way" but LO! this impression is misleading, as they are actually RATHER GOOD - the SONGS felt like songs that belonged to some other band who had been around for years and had CHERRY PICKED their most LARGE numbers, and they played like a band who have TOURED THE WORLD.
It was really really good, and I dashed off for my train thinking warm thoughts of Nice People, DOING WELL.
A quick NOTE to alert anyone who was thinking of coming along that my gig on June 21st is now NOT happening at Number 10 (somewhere in North London) but instead is happening at POP, which is on Soho Street just off Oxford Street. ALSO, instead of being on at 10 o'clock I'm now on at 7.20pm!
Normally i would COCK A SNOOK at such an arrangement, but actually this is pretty good - it's ten minutes walk from my walk and very close to a LOT of perfectly decent pubs, so if anyone DOES fancy coming along it should be a nice and easy to get to if you work round here AND there's an opportunity for Post-Gig BEERS in Actual Pubs afterwards! It's a winner!
It headed out for London's Fashonable SOHO last night to see The Xerox Teens... well, actually I just went to Chicken Royale, the club run by Charlie and Asha from The Fighting Cocks, and they were playing, but LO! it was a good thing they were as they were GRATE!
Okay, they sounded quite a lot like the Fall, but it was very much the GOOD bits of the Fall with a lot of added ACTION and DYNAMISM, also TUNES, and in the tiny little room at PUSH where the gig happened it was all TREMENDOUSLY EXCITING. It was loud and just ACE!
After that i felt the PAIN of Penny Broadhurst who was following them - i know what it is to go on on your own to try and interest people in WORDS when they have been ROCKED quite so comprehensively, and it is NOT EASY. I was even MORE afeared when I realised that she wasn't even playing guitar, it was POEMS. Now, I know it's wrong of me, but I long ago stopped pretending to like Live Poetry, it's almost always BORING, self-obsessed, and packed full of in-jokes for Live Poetry TYPES. And i must confess I also always think "They're just too lazy to learn to play guitar." BUT! She did win me over by the end, even with a poem ABOUT Live POetry TYPES and the need to be original which, actually, applied to ROCK too. ALSO there was a GRATE one at the end about Women's Rights which was ACE, i really liked her.
After that a man who had been PAINTED came on stage and danced around a bit. LONDON!
Adventures In Media
I've just got back from the post box into which i posted the last big batch of promo copies of the album, mostly to radio stations. It's a funny thing, the old SUBCONSCIOUS isn't it? I turned from the post box thinking "Good! That's that ticked off the list of things to do today" but my INNER MIND obviously realised that it was quite a bigger deal than that, and my face found itself breaking out into a MASSIVE GRIN that refused to budge. Milestone, ACHIEVED!
I got home to find we've had our first review. It's TRADITIONAL that the first review we ALWAYS get is from someone who hasn't really listened to it and so rather misses the point AND spells my name wrong.
I mean, OK, i guess you COULD see it that way, but only if you stopped listening as soon as you got the middle bit and ignored the whole last verse which is neither modern (it's FUTURISTIC!) nor a list. I'd also ARGUE that it's not a snipe at things we do to waste time, it's a celebration of the things we DON'T do enough of when we allow what we "should" be doing to get in the way.
And yes, I did spend half an hour thinking about it before i went to bed, and have had to FORCIBLY STOP myself from writing the above in the Comments Section! Does Chris Martin get like this? Is this why Mainstream Acts spend so long between albums, because they spend MONTHS on Message Boards arguing about Bad Reviews? INDEED, does Tony Blair need a deputy because he has to spend so many afternoons defending his policies on Political Web Forums?
Actually, I think the world would be a far better place if people like him DID get upset like that, but somehow I don't think George Bush GOOGLES himself too often!
We're On Tour!
You find me RELAXED and nearly ready for FOOTBALL today, as everything is VERY NEARLY DONE in preparation for the album release. I've got a huge pile of albums to send out to radio later in the week, it's true, but that should be a nice easy job, and then I've got a few bits to do on the webpage and some postcards to send to shops, but basically all the BIG STUFF is COMPLETED.
Not least of these completed issues is THE TOUR! I've spent the last MONTH or so badgering people for gigs and trying to make sure we don't do two gigs on the same day, or 3,000 miles apart, and I think it's looking pretty good. Full details as ever on the GIGS page, but this is how the Official Itinerary is looking now:
Thursday 6 July
The Grapes, Sheffield
Saturday 8 July
Portland Arms, Cambridge
Monday 10 July
Bull & Gate, London (solo)
Friday 21 July
Jug of Ale, Birmingham
Saturday 22 July
The Adelphi, Hull
Sunday 23 July
Carpe Diem, Leeds
Monday 24 July
The Prince Albert, Brighton
Tuesday 25 July
Wednesday 26 July
The Windmill, London
Thursday 27 July
Bunkers Hill Inn, Nottingham
MICHTY ME, that's a PROPER TOUR isn't it? In fact, the only two things that could make it MORE of a proper tour is if we got a van and had tour t-shirts made...
Tom's booking the van later this week. The t-shirts are on order. LET! US! ROCK!
On The Radio!
I was awoken by hungry CATS this morning, outside the bedroom door making a RIGHT old racket, but I was glad that I was, because it meant I put the radio on JUST as the Phill Jupitus Breakfast Show was starting on 6Music. I was sat on the other side of THE BOUDOIR getting myself sorted out for the day when I heard "Better Things To Do" playing. Now, I've heard this song a LOT over the past few months so it took me a few moments to realise "Hang on - that's on the RADIO!" for LO! it really WAS!!
TEXTS were sent to Concerned Parties and then I sent one to the show to say THANK YOU for playing it - hey! Manners, they are important! If you heard the show (or are going to Listen Again) you'll have heard him say "Hello Mark" shortly after reading out the name of the song, and that is the reason why.
It was all EXTRAORDINARILY EXCITING anyway - we're OFF!
I SWEPT across London last night to go and see Lardpony, who were LOVELY. I'd always had the impression that they might be a bit ramshackle in the Live Arena - i'd never seen them before, but they sounded like the kind of band who MIGHT be. My assumption was incorrect, they were TAUT and ROCKING. The set started off a bit AFEARED, i thought, but as it went along they Visibly Relaxed and started with THE DANCING and it was GRATE, especially "Teenwolf" and "Zombie Bride". ACE!
After them it was The Scarlet Tuesday who i have seen before and described as Prog Punk, quite correctly. This time however it was a LOT more Prog - indeed, at one point there were THREE WOODWIND INSTRUMENTS IN USE! AT THE SAME TIME! This, i felt, was A Bit Much. It's funny, a few years ago you could see them being a Post-Rock band, and a few years ago they'd've been like Fairport Convention or something, but here in the NOW they were POPPY and, indeed, FUN. It was also their Last Ever Gig, which is always a BITTERSWEET thing to see - knowing that each song is being played for the last ever time makes it all RATHER POIGNANT, especially in cases where some of the band are REALLY PLEASED to be packing it in and others less so. Don't know if that was the case this time, but it reminded me of the times when I've been in the same situation...
Anyway, after them it was Stuffy/The Fuses, but I had to go and catch a train so didn't see much of them. They did have rather brilliant "I'm Stuffy" and "I'm In The Fuses" t-shirts tho. I thought that was GRATE!
Bothering The BBC Robot
We've just emailed a load of radio people to check if they got "Better Things To Do" OK, and in amongst the usual returns of MAIL DELIVERY ERROR and Out Of Office Replies (although, as with the newsletter, very few of these - is EVERYBODY at work at the moment?) we got a mighty BLATT of emails from The BBC Reply Robot all at the same time, saying that everybody gets lots of emails, and can't reply to them all. BBC Robot, you are SO polite - just one would have done, but thank you!
And speaking of The BBC, i went to the recording of a BBC Radio TWO programme yesterday. It was "It's Been A Bad Week" and it was Quite Good. They recorded an HOUR of it for the half hour show, which was good as some bits weren't that good, but some bits really were, especially Sue Perkins who was DEAD funny, and Mitch Benn's song about the piano up Ben Nevis. It was weird seeing him up there, it was like a PEEK into an ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE possibly - many MANY years ago i used to do LOADS of Comedy Sketch Writing, and had a few things accepted by The BBC (for the Arnold Brown Show), but then got distracted by ROCK and never followed it up. Watching Mitch, with whom i had ROCKED so ODDLY at that Slightly Unnerving semi-comedy gig in Brixton last year, I wondered whether I could have been doing that sort of thing now if I'd kept at it?
To be honest i am quite GLAD that I live here on Earth Prime* with MY lifestyle rather than that one, as comedy gigs always seem like an awful lot of work, and even though it's been over a DECADE since I did one myself I could still feel the ACHING PAIN that is a Laugh Unheard. Also, even in my limited range, ROCK gigs are quite a lot more SEXY, COOL and FUN that comedy gigs. Still, it was a RIGHT LAUGH to watch, it's one of the benefits of working in That London that me (and most people) don't really take enough advantage of.
* although, thinking about it, the COSMIC BEATNIK stylee of my life in ROCK is a lot more Earth 616**, whereas the Slightly Over-Serious And Clean Living nature of comedy is very Earth-1***.
** Earth in Marvel Comics
*** Earth in DC Comics, up to 1988****
**** I guess i can probably forget the bit about being "COOL", can't I?
I trotted off last night for my first (and hopefully not the last) INTERVIEW about the new album, with the lovely Claire Dickinson from Kooba Radio. We had a bit of a chat in the pub before hand then STOPPED before we started talking too much about things that it might be handy to talk about later - i learnt my GRATE LESSON OF RADIO with Claire a year or so ago just after "Warriors Of Nanpantan" came out, when I did another interview with her and spent the whole time records were playing REGALING her with HUMOROUS ANECDOTES about each song... and then becoming MONOSYLLABIC when we were recording ourselves talking. This is NOT the best way to do it, i discovered.
We went into the POSH STUDIO where she works and did the show in LIGHTNING SPEED, it was GRATE. I talked at GRATE LENGTH about a DIVERSITY of subjects, and i think this time i managed NOT to be rude accidentally about ANY of The Validators - i seem to recall i did call Tom's piano part in "Mental Judo" "Surprisingly rubbish", but ONLY so I could then explain the MYSTERY of a) why he should do something that was anything but MARVELLOUS and b) how we thought that in the first place when, on the finished recording, it sounds ACE. So sorry about that Tom, but keep listening, it does get explained!
Of the ten songs played on the show no less than SIX of them were off "WE VALIDATE!", which i reckon is Quite A Lot. They sounded GOOD tho, and I was relieved to hear she liked them - I'm still a bit paranoid that people will say "What were you THINKING? This isn't right at ALL!" when they hear it, so it was nice to be slightly dissuaded. You can judge for yourself when it goes online anyway - it should be available at the Kooba Radio Site later on today, go have a listen if you can!