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The News Is Out
I've just sent out this month's NEWSLETTER - as ever, if you've not got it do please join up, and you'll get all sorts of other Occasional Updates too.
Today's LATE BREAKING STORY is that we've got a review in issue 41 of Artrocker, and it's DEAD GOOD - hurrah! This is our first Print Music Magazine review EVER, so it's quite GROOVY - we should be having another in the next issue of (the) WORD magazine too: MAINSTREAM BEWARE!
Day 7: Nottingham
Thursday began with a long queue for our toilet, followed by a BIG BREAKFAST as cooked by ME. Suitably fattened we loaded up for the last time and headed off, only pausing to have lots of photographs taken of ourselves with the van... really we were choking back the TEARS, as we all knew it was the last day. When we stopped off at Cambridge Services for our LAST Service Station Stop Frankie had to buy a copy of The Daily Sport to charge up the ON TOUR BATTERIES a bit, that's how bad it was.
We arrived in Leicester on time and everybody drove off for a quick break at home, whilst Tom did a bit more ADMIN to keep STOCK LEVELS in check and I sat down and WROTE a new song, before heading off to pick up The Pattisons from their bucolic idyll in the countryside, now surrounded by BEES. The plan was to get to Frankie's and record our exciting new song "Other Band's Setlists" (the VERSES of which are made up of setlists we'd collected along the way) ready for use on the next single so, as I say, I'd been FEVERISHLY writing it earlier on and we all had a practice of it on the way to Derby. On the outskirts of town I TEXTED FORWARD to get the studio valves warmed up... at which point we got stuck in a traffic jam for 45 minutes, so that by the time we got to Machine Mansions we had to get straight in the van and go.
It was a real shame, as when I popped into his house for a WEE i discovered that he'd set up his posh microphone LOVELY in the living room, it would've been brilliant if we could have done a recording there and then. Still, I guess it's an excuse for a REUNION soon-ish.
Anyway, to heighten the mood Frankie had brought us some MORE BEER and so we set off, with Tim quickly ringing work to get himself the next day off too, that he might DRINK. We arrived in Nottingham to find it PACKED to the GUNNELS with Guns & Roses fans - the band we playing at the arena next door, so The Bunkers Hill Inn was RAMMED by raddled old ROck Fans in freshly laundered G&R t-shirts and elasticated jeans. The babysitters of Nottingham must have had a FIELD DAY! It was ever so slightly annoying though, as you could NOT get to the bar, and by the time they'd gone most of the lager beer was SOLD.
We got set up and got on with the soundcheck, during which i became MORE ON-TOUR than ever before, and VERY NEARLy had a COLOSSAL STROP just because I couldn't hear myself perfectly right from the off. Oh dear! We then went round the corner to The Most InEfficient Chip Shop In The World, where it took twenty SWELTERING minutes to get served, then headed back to the venue, which was BOILING. I ended up sitting on the merchandise stand for most of the evening, so didn't hear most of the other bands, although Mr Pete Green was as excellent as ever. All sorts of lovely people came, and there was a HEAVY CONTINGENT from BOWLIE, many of whom had been drinking ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY, several of whom were barred from service by the evening's close: ROCK!
DISASTER struck, however, when we went to get set up - Tim's CYMBALS had disappeared! Tempers flared as we tried to search for them, and ended up hunting down some of the other bands. Eventually it looked like another drummer had taken Tim's by mistake, although it was VERY frustrating trying to find out if this was the case as he'd already cleared off home and they couldn't get hold of him. It looks now as if it WAS an accident, but I was still a bit cheesed off about it. It's GOOD FORM to put the drumkit back how you found it, it's NOT good just to clear your own stuff away and go home without bothering to set things right when you've finished. I disapprove!
ALSO panic was in the air about the delay to proceedings, but i was PROUD of us when the whole of TEAM VALIDATOR came to Tim's aid to search and INQUIRE about the cymbals. It was nearly quarter to eleven when we finally got on stage, and did THIS:
As I said the other day, it turned out to probably be the BEST GIG OF THE TOUR! There was a LOT of dancing, MUCH shenanigans on stage, LOTS of chat and MY GOODNESS ME at times it felt like the whole ROOM was singing along. IT! ROCKED! I got told off by Frankie and Emma for LEAPING ABOUT, as apparently that contributes to Strap Breakage, and ended up introducing the whole band TWICE, once mid-set and then again at the start of the encore, just because it was all so LOVELY.
People had been shouting for Billy Jones Is Dead throughout the set, so that seemed to be an obvious song to do, but when it was over it didn't feel like enough - all week we'd had heated debates about the VALIDITY of the two song encore, but this time it really felt necessary. People had shouted for Boom Shake The Room too, but I wasn't sure until Francis gave the nod: "Just play it", he said, so i did. I got two bars in before Tim launched into a JAZZ version of it, joined by Frankie, so I handed my guitar over to Tom and FREE STYLED it - i have RARELY had so much fun in a gig. Emma was singing the choruses, i was DANCING, the band were JAMMING, and the whole crowd were joining in, it was UTTERLY BLOODY BRILLIANT!
Afterwards there was the traditional cavorting and chatting, not least with the young gentlemen who'd written our review in The Morning Star, who CHALLENGED my assertion that I was sweatier than he was. I simply WRUNG OUT a corner of my t-shirt, splashing his shoes, and his challenge was DEFEATED.
It was too late to get more beer, but luckily there was just enough in the van for another each, and we loaded up and set off full of JOY. We all EAGERLY agreed that we'd DEFINITELY do it again, and when we did our first drop-off in Derby we had a MASSIVE GROUP HUG. Tim and Emma were dropped next, and Tom and I were left with a much lighter unload than normal when we got back to Leicester.
Next day we returned the van and I had a VERY SWEATY journey home with a full bag of leftover merchandise and TWO guitars on my back - so sweaty indeed that on the way to the station a slack-jawed moron riding his bike on the pavement said "Uh! Tramp! You wanna wash!" as he BRAVELY cycled past, and if HE could spot it, so could everyone else!
I got home RELIEVED we'd done it, but also SAD that it was all over. Excuse my vanity for a moment when I say it was a HELL of an achievement - most other bands would NEVER go seven straight nights without a break, most other bands would get someone else to drive them round, other people to load their gear, and would generally pay several MORE people to organise it for them, and then expect to be lead by the hand and treated like GENTLE ROYALTY for the week. We organised the WHOLE THING ourselves, drove ourselves around the country (1370 miles!), carted our own gear around, ran our own shop, and generally GOT ON beautifully together. It's only now sinking in what an achievement it was for all of us, and how much I'd LOVE it if we could do it again.
Not for a little while yet though - I'm bloody knackered!
Day 6: London
It was a not too early start on Wednesday, so I had ample time to drop The Buffet Carriage On My Train off at the station, get a new guitar strap then HOY over to Tom's for a bit of admin before we all regrouped, nipped back to The Firebug to pick up our gear, and then hit the road once again. It was another long old journey which ended with THRILLS as we constantly SKIRTED the Congestion Zone, not daring to lean too far out of the windows LEST we fell into it.
We got to the venue slightly earlier so had time to drag all the gear in and then sit around with some BEERS and have a BAND MEETING, wherein we pretty much sorted out how the next single will be put together. Stu from Let's Do Baboon arrived and later so did the soundman, and the soundcheck began.
Oh dear. It was at this point that i got THE FEAR for the first time on the tour. All day my voice had been croaky, and i'd got onto my second packet of lockets, but to no avail, as I discovered i couldn't sing AT ALL. "No Change There", a SATIRIST might remark, but it was really terrifying. When Rod Stewart gets croaky he sounds all HUSKY, when i do it i sound like ADRIAN MOLE. It was SQUEAKALICIOUS. It must be said I got myself into a RIGHT OLD STATE about it, and went ON and ON for ages while we went to get some pizza style grub for tea.
It got so bad that halfway through LARDPONY (who were ACE!) i had to go outside for a Bit Of A Walk, and old method I've used before for calming myself down... which didn't really help much this time, as I got TOTALLY LOST on a VERY SCARY ESTATE, and thus by the time i eventually got home I'd MISSED the second half of Lardpony's set (GRR!) and was even MORE stressed out.
I was chuffed, however, to find LOADS of LOVELY people had arrived including The Voice Of Film Four, Carsmile Steve, Mrs Skif, my entire audience from the Push gig (Jon!) and Mr & Mrs Wilson, amongst many others. The only trouble was I couldn't really talk to them as that meant shouting, which I couldn't do!
Michael from Lazarus Clamp gave me a Magic Throat Sweet, but even that didn't help, and foolishly I was drinking GUINESS, which tends to make me DEPRESSED anyway. Both Steve AND The Air In My Lungs told me just to explain the situation to people as i was Amongst Friends, and then Emma said that BOY GEORGE had always sworn by BRANDY. Mr Machine also agreed that this was a HELP, and even though I wasn't sure about how far i wished us to emulate Culture Club (i love Tim dearly, but not necessarily THAT much) i thought I might as well have a go.
Lazarus Clamp were on by now, and they were GRATE - it's always hard seeing a band you really like play before you, as most of the time you're thinking "Get off, i want to get on now!" but they were dead good - the sound was EXCELLENT, and the songs they did were surprisingly POPPY and accesible and the words were WITTY, they were GRATE - if only they did more than one gig a year more people would know so!
The brandy seemed to be having an effect, both on the throat AND on THE FEAR, so I had another double, and then got myself ANOTHER double before we went on, and did THIS:
Much to my amazement is was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! The guy on sound did a fantastic job so we could all hear ourselves without shouting or anything, Tom was on TOP FORM with his bionic hand (Frankie had given him a Wrist Support Device, which seemed to be doing the trick) and we were ROCKING through what turned out to be a bit of a HITS SET - as we agreed later, we've now got 6 or 7 songs which we "have" to do at every gig, which is pretty good going! ALSO i once again Introduced The Band, which seemed to work really well - I'd not done it recently because i, foolishly, thought it was a way of making it look like we weren't a SINGLE FIGHTING UNIT, but this was WRONG of me, and i shall not be omitting it in future. Also the audience were LOVELY, there was much cheering, shouting, singing along and DANCING, especially the latter from Jon, stood at the back dancing around, and we really DID feel we were among friends. OK, so the brandy had the side effect of making me FORGET the middle bit of Hey Hey 16K, but otherwise it was EXCELLENT, especially when we came back on for the encore and said "Are we OK to do another one?" The voice of Mr Phil Wilson boomed out "Yeah, go on!" and SUCH is his MIGHTY AUTHORITY that the room, venue, and indeed Gods Of ROCK did say "If Phil says it's OK, then LO! You must!"
Afterwards there was a LOT of happy banter, chat, and wandering around trying to HUG people with my immensely sweaty body, it was lovely. We set off to Leytonstone a very happy group, with some more BEER and an EXCELLENT set SPUN by DJ Frankie on the megapod. We arrived CHEZ MOIS and unloaded the van in beautiful SILENCE (in the process making our spare room look the COOLEST it ever has) and settled down to a big bowl of SOUP and some ROLLS and also some DRINK, prepared for us by my delightful housemates. It was ACE.
Day 5: Leeds
After kebabs we'd gone back to our hotels and to bed, meeting up bright and early next morning to go into town for Breakfast at a CAFE we'd had recommended to us by BOTH pubs we'd been in the night before. Thus SATED we went back to the venue collect our gear, and found that the delicious smell of BEER is not quite so delicious next day. We said our goodbyes again and set off to see the sea... which, due to time and parking constraints, we did at fairly high speed HARING down the promenade, waving sadly from the back of the van. Such is life ON THE ROAD.
It was a pleasant journey, though BLOODY HOT, and we got back to Leicester with plenty of time for people to nip off home or, in my case, to The Holiday Inn Express, there to meet The Open Window In My Van, who was coming up especially for the evening, as that's the sort of lovely thing she does. Everyone else got to go home every other day during the week, but I had my home coming to see ME!
Too soon it was time to head back to the venue for LOAD-IN, and I walked through a part of Leicester I used to know, but had now changed beyond recognition (well, nearly) since they knocked down the old football stadium. It was WEIRD! We got loaded in and soundchecked, and then The Fighting Cocks had arrived, our TOURING BUDDIES. They got THEIR soundcheck underway whilst we set our SHOP up - Frankie had already had tea with HIS Mrs, Emma was in Woodhouse Eaves getting ready still, and Tim was waiting for his PALS to come, so it was on The Tiger, The Pasta In My Lasagne, and MYSELF who headed off to the local ASK for a REALLY delicious tea. I saw some people i used to work with in the restaurant too, and said hello... i don't think they had a clue who i was though!
When we got back the venue was gently filling up with a HOST of LOVELY people, like Mr Whitaker and Neil and Chris and Jamie and Dave and Adrian and ... well, LOADS of people, it was brilliant. There were also several people we HADN'T known for over a decade, and SEVERAL who were in Hey Hey 16K t-shirts too, which always looks cool. Setting up the merchandise stall before the gig was a good thing too, Frankie was SHIFTING UNITS like nobody's business. I discovered at this point that maybe being on tour was getting to me a bit, as i CUT ACROSS loads of people at the bar and blithely assumed that all drinks served were for ME. The Validators "joked" all week that it was "All about ME ME ME", and it looked like it was coming true!
The Fighting Cocks went on and were AMAZING, possibly the best I've EVER seen them, with the ladies even MORE glamourous than usual and Charlie even MORE loveable - i apologise for the damage this would do to Charlie's HARD MAN OF ROCK image, but really, when you're prancing around with angels wings on (tied up by ribbons) wearing TIN FOIL underneath your fishing hat... well, what do you expect? They were utterly fantastic though, full of JOY and ROCK and TUNES, and everybody LOVED them.
It was a GRATE gig - a favourite night for everybody (except Rob - this feeling MYSTERIOUSLY coincided with it being the only night he had to drive home afterwards...) with it being hot and sweaty but lots of JUMPAROUND FUN. SO much jumping around occured that I broke the STRAP on my guitar during , and had to LEAP OFF during The Gay Train (which we were suddenly doing a guitar free version of) and ask Charlie for a borrow of his strap, and then do the second half like PETER HOOK with it dangling down by my ankles. A couple of songs later i broke a string and had to revert to my standby acoustic guitar - PHEW! ROCK AND ROLL! Also GRATE was the DANCING that was going on the my right as Emma BOOGIED AWAY, sporting the sunglasses she'd NICKED (well, found) that Shane MacGowan had left behind. There were a LOT of dedications of songs, the encore began with me INTRODUCING THE BAND for the first time in ages, and then I got rather emotional introducing We Only Ever Meet In Church, a song about only seeing friends in pre-arranged social occassions, to a room full of friends at a pre-arranged social occasion like this. It was BRILLIANT.
I leapt off stage to discover that Mr Mark Wilson had just arrived, a VERY old pal from School who I'd not seen for five years, so THE BEAUTY CONTINUED! There was a LOT of swaying around and CHAT and general beauty, which was only shown into sharp relief when we came downstairs to see that a number of the Arsey Pillocks mentioned in Looking At My Hands were sitting around being "cool" by not coming into the gig, ESPECIALLY as one of them was Tim's erstwhile colleague Scottish Mick, who'd come all the way from NORWAY to do so! Opinions of him and they were expressed afterwards!
We thus left HAPPY and full of JOY in the friends we've got and the life we have, ready for the last two days of ROCK ahead!
Day 4: Brighton
It was a LATE night after Leeds, and a fairly early morning too. The Vlads arrived Chez McClure, we loaded up, and sped away again for DISTANT BRIGHTON. As I may have said before, it was a lovely week to have off work, but perhaps not the ideal conditions to be sat for 4-5 hours a day in a VAN. We was WARM. I compensated by instigating BEER O'CLOCK at 1pm, utilising the beers that Tom's dad had so kindly given us. It was a TOUR TRADITION which I would come to love.
Tom was especially KNACKERED from the lateness and heat, so Messrs Machine and Pattison were in the front, where their EVIL SCHEME was becoming clear: on the very first day they'd forced us to listen to MARILLION (Marillion!!), after which they could get away with playing ANYTHING as long as it wasn't that. I seem to recall the trip South being almost entirely soundtracked by The Fall, The Wedding Present, and light chat about B-Sides WAFTING from the front seats.
Eventually we got to our hotel (oh yes! we're DEAD POSH), checked in, variously SHOWERED, and set off for the venue. The Prince Albert is a LOVELY pub, reminiscent in some ways of The Mag in Leicester, except with even nicer beers. Emma had stayed at the hotel to get dressed up (as she does) so it was only the three of us who were regaled by Tim's tales of WOE about his LOT vis a vis Having To Set Up The Drums. THUS once we'd unloaded and he'd gone to park the VAN Mr Machine decided to help him out and set the drums up for him...
TOUR SHENANIGANS! What he did though was to set them up HILARIOUSLY WRONG - TOUR LARKS! How we chuckled as he GOGGLED at the almighty WRONGNESS at what had been wrought - it was, we agreed, a Valuable Lesson, and it must be said Tim did not bemoan his lot any more during the week, possibly because he did not wish to encourage anyone to try PLAYING his kit as well.
Soon Phil The Promoter arrived, who was a lovely guy, bringing with him THE RIDER. It was DELICIOUS, especially the GRAPES and BAGELS, which I had a lot of because The Validators didn't seem to believe it was all for US. HA! It was all a bit cheesy for Tom (NB i mean ChEESY, he has a slight DAIRY INTOLERANCE) so we then went down the road to a Vegi Pub to get him FED. We sat and had a DISCUSS of various TOPICS, and then I DASHED OFF back to the venue, much to the amusement of The Vlads who accused me of wanting to get to see Mr Everett True and do the vaguely agreed INTERVIEW with him before they got back... i mean, REALLY!
We never did that interview, although ET was very much there when we arrived, it was just that his soundcheck melted gently into the gig itself, which was Surprisingly Good. I say "Surprisingly" because somehow, from what I've read of THE LEGEND!, I was expecting it to be a Right Old Racket, but actually it was LOVELY - reminded me of Songs For Drella, in fact, and there is little praise higher than THAT.
However, just before they went on, WEIRDNESS commenced. We were sat watching people coming in, and said "Look at that tosser coming in, who does he think he is? Nick Cave?" ANd then realised it actually WAS Nick Cave! He strolled in, followed by SHANE MACGOWAN! The room ERUPTED with people trying to send text messages, shortly after which the weirdness got GREATER when they and their families (who had also come in) got up and started DANCING to the pre-band mix tape. STRANGENESS.
At this point the pub owner (i think) came in and said hello to me. "I recognise you from the posters!" he said. THUS, for the time it took this conversation to occur, i was more famous than Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan PUT TOGETHER.
After THE LEGEND! finished they all left, shortly after The Bobby McGees had become - thereby proving that WE can stay out drinking LONGER than Shane MacGowan - which was a shame for THEM, as they were GRATE. This time they had DRUMS as well as bass and double UKE attack, and it made it even better - as I have doubtless said a million times, when it's just the two of them it's a bit too twee, but this night they were JAZZ, also ROCK. Tim pointed out that they were sort of like a PROLAPSE from a Parallel Universe. This was a good description.
Soon it was time for us to go on, and we NOTED that there were quite a few people who hadn't turned up - actually NONE of the people I'd thought would come actually did, which was something of a pattern for the first half of the tour. The nice thing, however, was that a roughly equal number of people we DIDN'T know seemed to come along, purely on the basis of having heard us on the radio. This was LOVELY.
Anyway, we went on and had a LOVELY gig, as follows:
You may notice the lack of ENCORE for a change - Brighton gigs ALWAYS seem to be like this, people are dead nice and say they've enjoyed it afterwards, but GOODNESS ME it's always a TOUGH CROWD - "Oi Hibbett" was quiet, "You don't really mean that" was SILENT - they tend to make LONDON look like SHEFFIELD. It was another stern lesson in the dangers of PRESUMPTION from THE GODS OF ROCK though, as we'd actually left Hey Hey 16K off for an encore. We learnt that lesson WELL.
We had a lot of fun though - best bits for me were Fucking Hippy EXPLODING from Drum Issues Fill-In Song to FULL ON BAND ATAK, and Frankie's slightly tiddly attempts to introduce Easily Impressed himself, at the request of a Gentleman Of HippieNess sitting down the front. When we came off stage the ALso Hippy friend of this gentleman went and sat at the piano. INternally we all GROANED with DREAD, but actually he turned out to be a LOVELY PIANIST, and they were actually jolly nice chaps too, and suddenly the AFTERSHOW became DEAD SOPHISTICATED.
My enjoyment was helped by Will The Landlord deciding to by me a BEER, and then me he and Phil having a lengthy discussion about possible gigs on Sunday afternoons. We also enjoyed the FREE BEER we'd got with The Rider, which had come in mini Coca Cola sized cans, and which would sustain us on the road for days to come. Also during this time we looked at the VIDEO Tim had got Mr Michael Larkin to shoot, which looked like REVERSO ROBERT PALMER, with Emma centre stage all glamorous surrounded by four SWEATY BLOKES in black, showing a bit of leg.
As mentioned and as ever in Brighton, we had several people come up afterwards to say how much they'd enjoyed it, and how they'd come because of Radio One (which, by the way, demonstrates how EASY life must be for Coldplay etc - we got about 5 people PER GIG just because of ONE Radio 1 play, it must be PEASY for them to fill those stadiums with the THOUSANDS of plays they get!), and it was a very happy band of Validators who piled back into the van, in search of KEBABS. We got our various kebabs and/or chips, after which a beautiful moment occured: Rob let loose an enormous BELCH, which was answered by one of even more TITANIC PROPORTIONS from Emma. At this point we had to stop what we were doing and have a group hug, for LO! truly now we were A BAND.
Last night was a BRILLIANT night I have to say, ESPECIALLY as several things conspired at the beginning to make us think it really WASN'T going to be, not least of which was some of Tim's cymbals going missing. Full report coming soon (honest!), but for now here's what we played:
You find me DASHING to do essential admin as in the next HOUR i have to WRITE A SONG, then I get in THE VAN with The Tiger, pick up The Vlads, RECORD the aforementioned song, and then head to Nottingham, there to ROCK it.
The very short version of yesterday is that I got THE FEAR due to voice loss, lots of REALLY lovely people came to see us, i discovered BRANDY as THROAT MEDICINE, the gig was BRILLIANT, and we played THIS:
Afternoon all! Me and Tom are just completing TOUR ADMIN and getting ready to get with the other Vlads and hit the road for that London, so there's not really time to tell you about TOUR SHENANIGANS right now. I'll try and catch up later in the week, but basically, Brighton was EXTREMELY SURREAL, also BIZARRE, also LOVELY, the Bobbt McGees were brilliant and indeed so were The Legend, and we played THIS:
A LOT of things happened in Brighton tho, it was pretty darn GROOVY. Leicester last night was the busiest gig so far and was full of SMASHING people. We had a brilliant time, The Fighting Cocks were AMAZING (Best! Them! EVER!) and we played THIS:
It was a really nice night, and I got a bit emotional during We Only Ever Meet In Church. Emma's journey into the depths of ROCK continues, by the way - last night she was smoking CHEROOTS. Tom is getting a bit HOT and BOTHERED by said HEAT, and Tim and Frankie continue their BONDING in the front seat , having both been chastised for playing MARILLION. It's got to a stage when they're FEEDING each other now...
Anyway, that's the news so far, proper details later on. Thanks VERY VERY MUCH INDEED to all the people who've come so far, it really is EXTREMELY appreciated, and hopefully see a few more of you soon!
Day 3: Leeds
Oh what joy it was to awake on Sunday morning to a sunny day, The Grass On My Lawn beside me, a TROUPE of Validators gathered within the house, and a TASTY BREAKFAST awaiting me. We dined out on THE PATIO, and I thought that THIS, surely, was the sophisticated way to TOUR.
We nipped back to The Adelphi on the way in to town, as it turned out we'd forgot a couple of items, which handily were sat where we'd left them, and then we SPLIT. The water In My Docks and I had a LOVELY afternoon exploring Hull (particularly the Marina and the Street Life Museum, which is GRATE) before with heavy heart putting her onto a train for home. Tim and Emma went to Emma's Mum's for lunch, Mr F A Machine went on a nostalgic pub crawl round his former student HAUNTS in Leeds, and Tom... well, Tom BRAVELY drove all the way back to Hull again to pick up the merchandising, which had been left in the front room. OW! As i said to him later, at least it means we'll never forget them again, but he seemed to think he'd rather have been spared the GRUELLING JOURNEY.
Anyway, after much travelling we were eventually reunited at Carpe Diem, where we found the Fighting Cocks playing POOL. It was lovely to see them, as they are so GRATE, and together we all sat and drank and chatted, before adjourning to SOUNDCHECK.
It was at this point that we'd normally go out and get some GRUB, but we knew there was some food coming later, so instead we concentrated on drinking the BEER TOKENS we'd been given, even tho it was a little scary dealing with THE ARSIEST BARMAN - EVER! He really was VERY arsey - people ordering more than one drink threw him into a RAGE, and his method of collecting glasses seemed to consist of HURLING them at the ground. We found out that the GRUB was coming after the Cocks, but there was a pub quiz to do before then. Still, that couldn't take too long could it?
Nearly AN HOUR LATER the quiz drew to a close - an hour which saw only TWENTY questions asked, it was the LONGEST QUIZ OF MY LIFE. It made 'A' levels seem like... well, like a pub quiz, really. We'd only got 10 out of 20 right, having lost much of the will to compete/live during the preceding 60 minutes, but it turned out we weren't alone, as we'd come joint top! The tie-breaker was an ARM WRESTLING COMPETITION and after a very brief inter band mini-tournament CHARLIE was chosen as out spokesman. he battled HARD and it was a LONG MATCH, but alas he was defeated.
HAPPILY our minds were taken from it by THE FIGHTING COCKS, who were BLOODY GRATE. I think they got a bit weirded out by the seated nature of the pub, as people didn't seem to be reacting much to them... until a song finished, at which point the whole pub would ERUPT, but as many of their songs SEGUED into each other this didn't happen too often, so i think they felt unjustly down about the gig. they shouldn't have tho, they were BLOODY GRATE.
FINALLY we FELL upon the food and WOLFED it down (Veg Chill and Chips - VERY nice) before hitting the stage, tuning up, and getting ready to ROCK - it was 10.30pm by now, and we wished to BEGIN, but the soundman said we couldn't as there was ANOTHER ROUND OF THE PUB QUIZ to go! The quiz was done by The Promoter, who seemed a nice chap but did seem to be a little TIPSY by this point and quite insistent on starting. He was also upset that we'd gone on stage and made a RIGHT RACKET, and also that much of the pub had ChEERED the fact it was US and not the quiz, but after a few words it was agreed we could finally begin, and this is what we played:
It was GRATE! We were all pretty WOUND UP, also quite DRUNK so there was a LOT of shouting, pogoing, dancing, LEANING INTO EACH OTHER, and general ROCKAGE, and it was ACE - my favourite gig so far, with possibly my favourite BIT being Frankie's plaintive cry "Leave him alone!" in Leave My Brother Alone, it was BRILLIANT. We seemed to go down dead well too, and VERY PLEASINGLY it turned out that several people had come because they'd heard us on the Radio. One guy said "Hey, where've I heard that song about your brother before?" and LO! I was able to say "Oh yes, Radio 1 I should think". It was GROOVY.
We packed up while the second round of the quiz got going, said our goodbyes, and DROVE OFF into the night, our journey home soundtracked by "The Best Punk Album In The World ... EVER", which Mr Machine had bought from a Charity Shop beforehand. It was GRATE.
Day 2: Hull
Tom and I set off not too early on Saturday morning and headed NORTH, pausing only to SCOOP UP the other Validators on the way. We got to Tom's parents' house, unpacked, then it was HO! for The Adelphi. It feels like AGES since we were last there, and it was GOOD to be back. We got set up and then Tom, Rob, and Tim went off to get us some chips in what turned out to be a BIZARRE ODYSSEY of CHIP FAILURE. Hull is REKNOWNED for the quality of its chips, but the chips me, Tom and Rob got were RUBBISH Kebab Shop chips. Tim and Emma, however, got Fish and Chips which seemed to have come from somewhere else entirely - it had taken the shop about an HOUR to get the order together, so perhaps they had just popped round the corner to get them? While they were away i SCOURED the stage for Other Bands' Setlists, getting ready for a SONG IDEA we're working on - more news of which when we finish it!
We soundchecked and then I nipped outside just in time to collect The Salt And Vinegar On My Chips, who had come ALL the way up from London to see us and LO! we did then fall to general chatting. King Among Men Mr Eddy Bewsher had also arrived, not least because he was putting the gig on, and all was well, if a bit HOT. Earlier it had RAINED quite a bit, but not quite enough to make it UNSTICKY, but we coped manfully with BEER while watching Jody Galvin and then The Rocky Nest, the latter having LOADS of members and even MORE instruments to play.
Then it was our turn to play, and here's what we did:
It was a LONG old set, and also a very SWEATY one! Near the beginning we had a DRUM MALFUNCTION, which is why I Come From The Fens is in there, but otherwise all went well, with We Only Ever Meet In Church getting an especially big cheer.
With that done we had another beer, got packed up (mostly...) and headed back to Tom's parents' again, where we had some TEA, some RASPBERRIES from the garden (NB Tom's Mum had already picked them, we didn't RAID THE PLOT), some LARFS and some CHAT. I also PREMIERED It Only Works Because You're Here for the GROUP, after which Tim decided it would be good to demonstrate his claim that he can play 20 Fall Bass Lines. We chose to retire, tired but happy.
Day 1: Birmingham
After sitting at my desk getting EXCITED all day I decided enough was enough and DASHED giddily to Euston an hour early. This meant i saved about 20 quid on my train fare, which was GOOD, but also meant I had to spend an extra hour in Birmingham New Street station, which was BAD. It hasn't changed.
Mr Francis Albert Machine arrived and we hopped into a taxi... and spent 15 minutes and five quid driving to the end of the road. It was TRAFFIC TASTIC.
Eventually we got to the Jug Of Ale to find everyone else arrived, and set to Setting Up, Soundchecking, and All That. I've still not got used to us going on last - I sat around thinking "When's the Headline Band going to turn up and set their gear up? Oh yeah..." Also I was WONDERING in AMAZEMENT at What We Had Become: it's not the fact we were on last, nor that we had a backdrop, nor even that we had a VAN, parked out the back, but the very FACT that all the gear, including drums, (big) amps AND guitar stands all belonged to us, it filled me with PRIDE. Well done US!
Eventually we were all SORTED, and then Tim said that Magic Word guaranteed to set anybody's heart aflutter: "Balti?" That's the sort of culturally aware band we are, we like to savour the traditional food of everywhere we vist and BY HECk was I glad we did, it was DELICIOUS. We also had a FAMILY NAN, which was the biggest bread product I have ever seen in my LIFE. It was GRATE!
Back to the venue then for some sitting outside - it was HOT - and chatting to the many and various lovely people who'd turned up, including Andrew from cambridge, Tim's old pal Richie, my old pal Guesty, The Bearos's, and SEVERAL more. The other bands seemed very young and at least one of them were doing their first gig, so though there was quite a lot of people through the door not many of them were staying on for the other gigs - a sturdy few did, but faced with the option to go OUTSIDE where it wasn't so BAKING HOT, many did!
So it was a MEDIUM sized crowd of people that we went on stage for, many of whom had sensibly decided to get SAT DOWN, and this is what we played for them:
It seemed to go pretty well, despite the IMMENSE HEAT - afterwards I was able to do WRING OUT the bottom of my shirt and produce a DELUGE OF SWEAT all over the floor, it was Quite Impressive. Several people were very pleased to hear Born With The Century for the first time in AGES, even if Certain People got a bit confused and missed out a whole verse (tho The Vlads coped MANFULLY), there was LOTS of chat with Audience Members, and we even did an ENCORE, even tho we had to have a bit of a DEBATE about what it should be.
Afterwards we GRAPPLED our huge piles of GEAR into the van, had another quick drink and chat to the various nice people who'd turned up, and then headed off into the night... in THE VAN. It's really VERY EXCITING having your own VAN i must say, it felt dead proper. After dropping everyone else off me and Tom got back to his at about 1.30am, to find an ELECTRICAL FIRE at the end of his street - is this how life IS, ON THE ROAD? As Tom's hand is still POORLY i ended up doing quite a bit of heavy lifting, so i am HOPEFUL of even LOSING weight by the end of the week if it carries on like this!
I got in and retired to bed, HAPPY with how things have gone so far - one down, six to go!
Are We There Yet?
You find me this afternoon POISED and ready to HIT THE ROAD - in about an hour's time I'm off to Euston station, there to catch a train to BIRMINGHAM and the start of the tour. I've got everything I (think I) need with me, my bag's VERY full but zipped up, my desk is cleared, my emails are pretty much up to date and I'm READY! Let's GO!
If all goes to plan I'm going to try and update the BLOG every day - I'm staying at Tom's for quite a lot of the time we're away, so will hopefully be able to use his INTERWEB so to do. I'll try and keep up to date with orders via the SHOP too, although it may take a few days longer than usual to get stuff in the post, especially if you're buying from abroad. I'll do my best though!
If you're planning on coming to one of the gigs I hope you ENJOY it, and do come and say hello if you feel like it. Also, if anybody's coming to the gigs AND is short of t-shirts do PLEASE consider buying one of our Tour T-Shirts - i am PLAGUED by NIGHTMARE VISIONS of having to store metric tonnes of them under my bed!
Right then, that's about it I reckon - see you ON THE ROAD!
You find me sat at work trying to gauge how very much I'd rather NOT be here and out ON THE ROAD. Current Estimates are REALLY A LOT, for LO! tomorrow evening we're in Birmingham for the first night of the tour! At last! Also, WHOO!
The van's booked, the backdrop's made, the badges, the CDs and the tour t-shirts are ready to GO, and by jiminy so are we. I've got new flyers printed, we've got pricelists, and to top it all i've JUST finished off the Official Tour Booklet! YES, that's how organised we are, we've got a tour booklet full of FACTS like soundcheck times, promoter contacts, addresses, driving plans and ALL sorts. It sounds very sober and controlled, but READING it is a futuristic trip into a world of THRILLS TO COME! I can't wait!
Tonight I must pack, but also tonight we're having a CELEBRATORY CURRY, as today is a special day all of it's own. Five years ago today i went to CAMDEN for a drink with a young lady with whom i have spent the time SINCE gadding about and having LARKS and FUN with. YASS it is the ANNIVERSARY of me and The Days In My Year, and I think we may even have a small glass of BEER to toast the occasion.
It's all GRATE TIMES round here at the moment I must say - who ever thought it was a good idea to have to interrupt it with WORK?
It was off to leafy Maida Vale and The World Famous BBC Maida Vale Studios last night for our Radio One Session -
WAHEY! The studios themselves are BLOODY MASSIVE, it's a confusing and complex MAZE of corridors and tiny rooms, and
when we first arrived found ourselves transformed into A NORMAL BAND i.e. instead of been our usual calm, collected,
organised selves we turned A BIT DAFT. Cars were parked at the wrong end of the (MASSIVE) building, people got lost,
communications were confused and a lot of time was spent bumping into things. We were, I guess, a bit nervous.
During our confused wanderings around we came across the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Tom was very excited, and LURKED
nearby to LOOK upon them) and Mark Lamarr. We were very COOL about the whole thing, nodding hello and NOT squeaking
"Ooh! It's Mark Lamarr!!"... at least not until we'd gone round the corner anyway.
Finally we got all our gear to the studio, which was FANTASTIC - it was like a MUCH POSHER, much LARGER version of the
studios we've been in before, but with a whole huge balcony area above it where you could (attempt to) RELAX whilst
other people were doing their soundchecks. There was even a dispensing machine for Free BBC Earplugs, AND a coffee
machine, of which we availed ourselves merrily.
Best of ALL the equipment though was the Personal Mixing Boxes. Each of our headphone sets were connected to a Personal
Mixing Box, which you could use to alter what you heard through them so that, for instance, I could have TONS of bass
and drums, SOME guitar and Emma, and ... er... pretty much NO Tom (hey! it's so GRATE it distracts me!). We were all
EXTREMELY pleased to have this going on, as we ALL got to hear what we were doing, although it was a bit embarrasing
when somebody'd say something to me and I couldn't hear them, because all I was listening to was ME.
We got to have a BIG practice of the songs, which was GOOD because... well, some of them we weren't quite as sure about
as others, ESPECIALLY the choruses of "Leave My Brother Alone" which we went through MANY MANY MANY times, as I
couldn't sing it quite right. Still, we eventually got through full versions of each of the three songs, and then went
into the mixing room to listen to it. This was DEAD GOOD, as we could get EXACTLY the mix we wanted to be broadcast,
AND they played out the mix into the LIVE ROOM too over the PA system on the balcony. It was thus an ODD experience as,
if you stood up there, it felt EXACTLY as if there was a band playing downstairs, which was a little disconcerting when
it was my own voice bellowing out over the top of it all.
We also took the time to inspect the walls, all over which BANDS had written their names, as bands are WONT to do. It
was quite surprising to realise just how many people we knew had been here before us. It was HUMBLING to realise we
were by no means the FIRST to do this thing, tho by the looks of things we were probably the first to turn up without
EITHER marker pens NOR stickers.
That done we headed to THE PUB, to pick up our MIGHTY POSSE - we were allowed to take a few people in with us, but it
turned out to be quite a bit less people than we'd originally hoped, so quite a bit of a) apologetically kicking people
off the list and b) not even getting to ask several lovely people we'd have liked to happened. Still, we did have a
good few still, and we all stood around getting a bit nervous and having a BEER. I always find that BOSSING PEOPLE
AROUND makes me feel a bit more calm, so I did a bit of that and soon it was time to head BACK.
When we arrived we got everyone signed in, and then some Radio People came and guided us through the corridors - I
guess it was to make sure we didn't steal the GIGANTIC BASS DRUM from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. What sort of people
did they think we were? And anyway, Tim's boot isn't big enough to fit it. We got everyone into the studio (where Tim
and Emma had hung up THE BACKDROP - we are SO cool), and Mitti The Engineer said "I'm putting the radio on now".
A NERVOUS QUIET hung over the room, as we stood and listened to the show, coming in JUST as he was, I think, first
TRAILING our bit. We stood and listened to a few songs, and then we were ON! There was a brief chat then we did The Gay Train which seemed to go OK... well, apart from the fact that I forgot
about the middle bit like I always do. There was then time for several of us to RUN OFF for a TOILET BREAK, and then we
were back on for MORE CHAT. I must say, by now i was REALLY enjoying myself - i always get TERRIFIED before doing this
sort of thing, but really enjoy it once we get going. I've been practicing doing interview IN MY HEAD for most of my
adult life, so it feels quite natural... and it's also probably why i tend to GO ON quite a bit. The interviewers IN MY
MIND never interrupt, so i tend not to give the ones in REAL LIFE the chance to.
Eventually it seemed like time to do another song, so we did Leave My Brother Alone, which, to me, sounded DEAD GOOD. We've got this whole BREAK DOWN bit in the middle where Rob and Tom join in the singing, and although I couldn't HEAR them when we did it (Mixing Box Settings: ALL ME) it sounded LOVELY when i Listened Again. There was then FURTHER CHAT, and EVEN MORE of Me Going On (i realised I'd not mentioned tour dates, so made an URGENT BID to get them in), and then The Lesson Of The Smiths which all felt rather easy - a GOOD choice for the last song, as it was the one we've played most!
And then that was it! We were all really enjoying ourselves and suddenly it was all over! BAND HUGS then ensued, BIG GRINS emerged, PALS came down to say well done, and The Speakers In My PA System came down and gave me a further BIG HUG, which was RATHER REQUIRED as I suddenly discovered that I was ABSOLUTELY PETRIFIED. It was like that time we went in a helicopter in Hawaii - while it was happening I thought I was fine, but it was only when it was over that I realised i was RIDDLED WITH FEAR!
We packed up, said goodbye to most people, and headed to THE PUB, where i was FASCINATED TO NOTE that FEAR ebbs out of your body through your FEET. I remember after EXAMS at school I could always feel KNOWLEDGE flying out the top of my head, as it escaped back into the wild once its work had been done, and it seems that IMMENSE FEAR goes out through the other end of your body. Anyway, we had a couple of pints and then The Frequency Of My Radio Station and I got a lift home with Charlie From The Fighting Cocks.
It was a long night, it was a scary night, but it was a GRATE night - can we come again please?
At lunchtime I went to the pharmacist to get the DRUGS for the tour... oh yeah, ROCK AND ROLL! Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc, Alka Seltzer, Ibuprofen AND a maxi pack of wet wipes - that sound you hear is KEITH RICHARDS breathing a sigh of relief, as he knows there are worthy contenders at last for his CROWN as KING OF ROCK. Oh yes, we are intending to STAY UP A BIT LATE, and BE SLIGHTLY SWEATY whilst we're at it! Come ON!
Right then, I'm off to Maida Vale for the session now then, full report on how we get on TOMORROW!
They've just announced the line-up for the Bowlie All-Dayer that we're playing at on 27th August. As well as us (or maybe just me - not all The Vlads can come, so we need to work out if it's worth bringing a depleted team down) there's Strange Idols, The Leaf Library, The Gresham Flyers, Wintergreen, Silver Springs, My Favourite Dress, Linden, Brother Francisco, Pete Green and Citizen Helene. It's a FULL BILL. We/I'm on second to last, I think, but hopefully I'll be able to get down for most of the day. Apparently the last two events they've done have SOLD OUT, so if you would like to come, you might wish to GET IN!
A Trip Down Memory Bus Lane
We were awake EARLY to the XTREME (yes, THAT early) on Sunday in order to tune into the Weekend Breakfast Show to hear We Only Ever Meet In Church being played in their GLADIATOR slot, where they do songs of over six minutes long. It was all TERRIBLY exciting, and I must say it sounded rather good. If you'd like to Listen Again you can do so from their website - we're on the Saturday show about 38 minutes in.
As I was up and about I decided to head off on my GRANDPARENT MISSION for the day, and with a stroll and tube and a PACKED train I was in Peterborough, where I got a LOVELY bus (the driver checked I knew the times for my return journey before he sold me the ticket, to be sure I could use it) to BOURNE, there to see my Grandad. It was a gorgeous day and the FENS looked lovely. I like the flatness - it always seems DERANGED to me that people would want to live on the side of hills, it's too much hard work to GET anywhere.
The bus drove the old fashioned route to Bourne, through all the villages that got bypassed by the bypasses AGES ago. It's the route we used to take one or two times a week throughout my childhood going between Peterborough and Deeping, passing through places like Glinton and Northborough, and I was amazed (and PLEASED) to find that they were all pretty much the same. I guess this was helped by the fact that I remember them as sunny and brightly coloured, but it was still REASSURING to find them exactly as I remembered, and also a little strange to find that I still knew every detail of the route, including things like the long corner just before Northborough Castle Farm, even though I'd not been on it for nearly twenty years.
I got to Bourne and saw my Grandad, who wasn't really very well at all - he's been in a home for quite a while now, and is gradually retreating from the world around him. It's really sad to see, as he was such a big sturdy man until a few years ago, and when I left I found he still had the IRON GRIP handshake that he used to insist on giving us when we were little.
It was a much cheerier experience when I got back to Peterborough to see my Nan. I got back a bit early so had a quick wander round Queensgate Shopping Centre ("the capital city of shopping!") and found that that too was pretty much exactly how I remembered it, with only a few shops moved around. I'd had a call earlier in the day from Mr Eddy Bewsher to tell me we'd got a review in The Morning Star which we indeed had. It was really good - our first national newspaper coverage!
After that I went to see my Nan, who's rather AMAZINGLY getting over pretty MAJOR surgery. She's been in hospital for about four weeks now, and a couple of weeks ago we were VERY worried about her, but she's currently STORMING back into full-on NAN STATUS, and it's brilliant. She's GRATE, my Nan, and it was lovely to get to see her on my own for a bit - again, it's half a lifetime ago since I was last really able to do that, as since I left home I've pretty much always gone to see her with other people, but on Saturday we sat and had a good DISCUSSION about many issues of the day. She also advised me to enjoy the tour and the radio session, but not to leave my job. I shall be taking that advice!
After that it was time for the train, some more tubes, a trip to TESCO, and then HOME, where I found myself KNACKERED but happy. On Sunday I caught up with Lost and started writing a song - this was RATHER MORE RELAXING.
Set The ALARMS
I've just seen that we're going to be played on Natasha's Weekend Breakfast on 6Music tomorrow morning - they have a spot called "Gladiator Tracks" where they play songs of over six minutes duration, a category into which We Only Ever Meet In Church rather happily falls. I'm setting my alarm for it, but it appears that most of the other Vlads are usually up at that time on a Saturday anyway. Is that even ALLOWED?!?
Meanwhile planning continues for MAIDA VALE on Monday - I am oddly CALM about the whole thing I must say, possibly because I can't quite believe it's going to happen. We're taking a few people in with us this time, unlike when we did the Raw Talent Session up in Hull, and played to nobdoy, so hopefully it'll be a bit less TERRIFYING than that one was!
More Online FACT
Shane from Unpeeled has just ZAPPED me to highlight the FACT that they've got us on their front page at the moment... it's a lovely bit of a review, and I must remember to wander off slightly tipsy without asking for any money more often!
Meanwhile the interview I did with Subba-Cultcha is now online. Hey, i go on a bit, but I think I answered the question about THE SPEED OF LIGHT pretty well. This is due to Tim telling me how it worked, several years ago. The Validators: always educating!
And while we're at it, there's a new review of the album at Velvet Grooves - the poor chap who wrote it apparently had his laptop die after writing our review and had to do it, and several others all over again. THAT, my friends, is the power of ROCK!
A Quiet Night Out
I gently strolled and tubed it over to fragrant KENTISH TOWN last night to return to The Place I Have (probably) Gigged In Most: The BULL & GATE. I love playing at the Bull & Gate, the people who run it are nice, the sounds good, and there's always a nice atmosphere. I did a quick soundcheck, then went into the ANTEROOM to find Mr Charles de les Fighting Cocks arriving, so he and i discussed MANY ISSUES.
Some time later he went off to do Chicken Royale ADMIN and I went and had some chips. Many years ago the chips next door to the B&G were RANCID, so I was pleased to see that since then they have improved MARKEDLY. I got back in time to see the first band, who were a little ropey, and then was pleased to be joined by James From The Mailing List and his friend Eileen. We had a bit of a CHAT, and then collectively, i think, rather enjoyed the second band Les Ruprettes. People in the other room later remarked that they were a bit "Rock School", which I could sort of see, but they were also a LOT of fun - sort of like them American College Bar Bands you see in FILMS and that - but most importantly they had an ELECTRIC UKELELE, which they used A LOT. It was GRATE!
Then it was my turn to go on, and this is what I did:
It was a funny old set really, as I wasn't sure what to play. There was hardly anybody there at all, and i guessed (correctly!) that most of the people who'd come for the other bands would either LEAVE or not really be very interested, so decided to do the LOUDER songs rather than just NEW ones, and it seemed to go OK, but after the ROCK ANTICS of Cambridge the week before it all felt a bit QUIET. I must say I did ENJOY myself tho, especially doing a rather SLOWED DOWN version of Billy Jones Is Dead at the end, that felt GOOD.
Afterwards we sat around and had a bit more of a CHAT, then made for the TUBE. When James and I were changing at Euston we bumped into Ian 2Bob who, bizarrely, I'd also bumped into the LAST time i went out in That London at Chicken Royale the other night. LONDON! It is TINY! THUS we had had a chat all the way to Liverpool Street - on an evening when I'd brought BOOKS with me to tide me over being on my own I ended up getting involved in THREE seperate CHATS, it was actually rather LOVELY.
The Album's Out Today!
After what seems like YEARS of waiting (to me anyway), WE VALIDATE! is FINALLY released today! HOORAH!
If you'd like to purchase a copy you can do so very easily in a number of different yet hopefully satisfying ways - from Our Online Shop, through those lovely people at Amazon, or indeed via your local record shop (you may need to order it though - if they get SHIRTY, tell them it's distributed by Proper Distribution.
Whatever way you get it, i hope you like it - we're dead chuffed with it, and it's going to be GRATE to finally have other people hearing it!
Radio One Times
We've got the TIMES for our Radio One Session (i love typing that) next week - we're going to be doing our first song at 9.20pm then a couple more just after 9.30pm, so nobody needs to stay up too late to hear us! As previously stated that'll be on MOnday July 17th... on Radio One! Whoo!
A stroll, a tube, a tube, a train and a taxi ride and I was at in Cambridge on Saturday afternoon. Rather than try and DASH BACK via the last train after the gig (which I would have missed anyway) or go back to Tom's then trek home in the morning, I realised it would be easier AND cheaper to get myself booked into a B&B, so that's what I did - it was GRATE! No hassles getting to and from the venue, I could hang around as long as I liked then leave if i wanted to, and next morning i gots me an OMLETTE! B&Bs are ACE!
Having unpacked and had the traditional Cup Of Coffee Whilst Watching You've Been Framed (an essential part of any bit of WEEKEND ROCKING away from home - ask BONO) I nipped down the road to The Portland Arms. What a LOVELY pub - the venue bit was GRATE, the PUB bit was a proper pub, the BEER was DELICIOUS, and they even did GRUB. I should like to play there again!
Colonel Bastard were already there and The Validators soon arrived, full of FUN but for one slightly TERRIFYING sight: Tom's arm is, once again, BANDAGED UP. He has been ROCKING TOO HARD! Hopefully this week it'll get a chance to heal up a bit before we do our Radio One session, but he's got a concert at the weekend, so we are a bit WORRIED about him. If you see Tom this week, please be gentle with him.
We soundchecked and then sat down for GRUB, discussion of The Football and some BAND ADMIN (including passage of Receipts from Mr McClure to me - we are Very Organised), before we GIRDED ourselves for writing the setlist. I'd spotted someone in a Hey Hey 16K t-shirt so asked him to pick a song from the Big List Of Songs We Theoretically Know (which is something I'm hoping to do at every gig - not just ask that particular chap [he may have other commitments] but to find someone before to PICK one) and it all got written TERRIFYINGLY EASY.
During this time they put the telly on in the pub for the football... and showed a brief glimpse of "Doctor Who". Half of the pub ERUPTED into shouts of "NO! I'm VIDEOING IT!"
This was followed by a lengthy period of Bumping Into People, including Kat Our PR Lady, her PALS, someone who MANY years ago was part of The Shady Organisation Known As The Lunch List, and, slightly oddly, Mr Daniel Boschi, who I knew at school, and who usually I see once a year at The Beer Festival! It was all rather GROOVY.
The first band on, Karmadillo, were rather lovely, but somehow ran a bit late so it was a MAD DASH to get on stage. Tim suggested that, to save time, I do all my between song banter FIRST while Tom was plugging in his pedals, which i DID do. It seemed to work rather well, allowing us to FLY through the following set:
Half from the new album, half from our first album! It was an unusual set for us, but seemed to go pretty well and we REALLY enjoyed it. I did ROCK STAR TRICK NUMBER ONE a couple of times (NB allowing Audience to sing the chorus instead of me doing it - BRILLIANT!), didn't chat too much, and instead expressed my emotions through the medium of DANCE. It was a whole LOT of fun i must say, and really cheered us up after our slightly ropey performance in Sheffield.
With Cambridge safely ROCKED we packed up swiftly and fell into more Wandering Around and CHATTING, with me speaking to quite a good few dead nice people who'd come along. The only problem with this was that i missed most of Colonel Bastard, who were apparently GRATE, and certainly had been when I HAD managed to get in to see them.
After that The Vlads had to SPEED HOME, with calls of "See you at The BBC!" echoing down the A14, and I went back into the pub for more delicious BEER and discussion of Dr Who, Belle & Sebastian, and the gradual transformation of MANI into VERA DUCKWORTH.
A stroll, a train and a taxi and BEHOLD! I was in Sheffield last night, clutching a copy of The Sheffield Star, which had a lovely big article and even bigger picture of US in it. All was slight chaos as I was late getting to the venue, Rob was unable to get there until 8pm anyway, Tom was somewhere North of Nottingham stuck in traffic on the M1, and Tim and Emma were about half an hour behind him.
I passed the time by reading SANDMAN Magazine, which not only featured the interview I did a little while ago but ALSO a really rather good review of the album (which I'll link to when it goes online). Later we would read through and MARVEL at how many times we appeared in the magazine - Frankie was claiming victory as he had a gig listing of his own, but I pointed out that my name was ALONE on the cover and that, therefore, I WIN. It's important to keep these things clear, I feel.
Gradually people arrived, and we made the horrifying discovery that Tim had left a bit of his High Hat behind, so it didn't work. We all looked a bit bemused at his HORROR, as surely a little thing like that wouldn't make a difference, we thought? We thought FOOLISHLY, because actually it REALLY WOULD...
DREAD was somewhat lessened, however, when Emma unveiled her SECRET PROJECT: we now have a BACKDROP! It's VERY exciting, we've never HAD such a thing before, and it not only LOOKS GRATE but, having felt letters on it, it FEELS GRATE too! RAH! Frankie arrived and was made to go upstairs TWICE until he realised that that backdrop was OURS, then we went for chips, before returning for Setlist Argument. This particular Setlist Argument went on for QUITE some time, and even then it was to be CHANGED when we realised some songs were unplayable without the high hat OR not well known enough by various of our number.
Chat, beer, watching of the other bands, and then we were ON, and this is what we eventually played:
We got off to a bit of a shakey start when Tim's SNARE when SPROING halfway through the first song, which is why I ended up playing The Perfect Love Song whilst he fixed it, and we generally seemed a bit NERVY really. I mean, HEY! we were still pretty good I think, but we've GELLED and ROCKED OUT TOGETHER a bit better. It also felt a bit QUIET, as there was MUCH LESS people than before, but to compensate the people who WERE there were dead keen, also LOVELY. Also, please note DEBUT PERFORMANCE of
We Only Ever Meet In Church - it felt GOOD!
We packed up, had a chat to various people, LUGGED huge piles of merchandise downstairs, then set off into the night. Tom and I had a LENGTHY discussion on the way home about SHOP METHODOLOGY, for LO! this was also pretty much the first time we'd had any kind of SHOP set up for a gig, rather than me wandering round trying to get people to take stuff off me. It seemed to go OK, but Valuable Lessons Were Learnt. It was a good PILOTTING EXERCISE, but hopefully anybody who comes to see us on tour will be IMPRESSED by our efficient mastering of the post-gig retail system.
Today I went to the bank and got us a FLOAT - NONE! MORE! ROCK!
We're On Tour!
You find me this afternoon all EXCITED as the tour is about to COMMENCE: I've got my tour t-shirt on, my gtr is ready, the bag is PACKED with merchandise, and it's all i can do to sit still at work and not DASH for the train and for Sheffield early. Whoo! Tour! ROCK!
Meanwhile there's a few more nice reviews that have just turned up, at Indigo Flow, New-Noise and Subba-Cultcha. They're all good, though I have a particular fondness for the last one, as it's reads like it was written very enthusiastically on the bus on the way to school, bless.
Anyway, must dash, I've still got to put keys and feathers in my hair, tie on my bandana, and see if i can find some SKULLS to dangle from my microphone stand. Woollies seems to have sold out.
The Exciting News
Right then, looks like we're confirmed now, so here's that EXCITING NEWS i mentioned yesterday - on Monday July 17th we're going to be playing a LIVE SESSION on Mr Steve Lamacq's show on RADIO ONE!
Mr Lamacq rang yesterday to talk about it, we're going to be doing three songs one of which (he DEMANDED) must be The Lesson Of The Smiths (which was an odd coincidence as only the night before Mr F Machine had produced a RADIO EDIT of that song, without CUSS WORDS, for possible use as The Next Single), and we're going to be doing it at famous MAIDA VALE studio.
It's all worked out rather brilliantly TIMING WISE too I must say - we've got two whole gigs between now and them to get LIMBERED UP for it, and hopefully it'll also ALERT people to the fact that the tour proper starts a few days after it goes out. Also, of course, it means we get to go and record a session at MAIDA VALE - AMBITION ACHIEVED!
I must say we're really quite excited about it! WAHEY!
It's really WEIRD at the moment with The Album and all that - we've been SO VERY ORGANISED about it this time around that pretty much everything that needs doing has been DONE, and it's STILL not Officially Released yet! I find myself thinking "Nobody has told me whether they like it or not - ARGH! PARANOID FEAR ATTACK!" then realising that this MAY be because nobody's really had much chance to GET it yet. It's ODD.
But things are gently on the rise as we move ever closer to the start of the tour (Thursday!) and the Final Actual Release Date At Last (Monday!). I was THRILLED to get the latest edition of the Bull & Gate gig listings newsletter at the weekend, and find I'd made it to the Front Cover! YEAH! I've been getting these since roughly The Dawn of ROCK (about 1994, in my case) so that was VERY exciting.
ALSO today I see that we're listed on the front cover of this month's Sandman Magazine - ZANG! I did an interview with them a while ago, so that should be in there hopefully with a REVIEW - of the album, that is, not my interview. I'll get a copy on Thursday when we're in Sheffield, i am also VERY excited about it.
And then there's this OTHER bit of VERY VERY EXCITING NEW INDEED that I can't really tell you about yet, just in case it doesn't happen. It almost definitely WILL happen - i have indeed just spoken to the man HIMSELF, whose idea it was, so it is almost entirely definite - but I'll await the email confirming it before i GO KRAZY about it, but it is one of those LIFELONG DREAMS (ROCK): FULFILLED!
GIRD yourself for a INSANE FLURRY OF CAPITALISATION!!
I got a text from Carl 2bob on Friday evening asking if I'd be able to FILL IN at their regular acoustical night on Sunday, so of course i said yes... little knowing the DANGER it would put me in for LO! I always go there via the DLR and have to change at Canary Wharf... or, rather, TORCHWOOD TOWER!
There appeared to be some building works going on, i decided not to investigate (etc)... actually, to be honest, I really DID get quite excited about being there, and let me say here and now, HEY HEY, after yet another FOOTBALL disappointment the BEST EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO: EVER was JUST what i need to cheer me RIGHT up. Crikey, the Living Rooms of Britain must have RUNG to the sound of people going "WARGH!! DALEKS! ARGH!!" at about 7.43pm on Saturday. I know ours did!
ANYWAY, it was a slightly quiet evening, as it turned out, and also very HOT, but also rather pleasant. Here's what I played:
Better Things To Do
The Perfect Love Song
Dino At The Sands
It Only Works Because You're Here
The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers
The Fight For History
The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
The Lesson Of The Smiths
I also treated the assemblage to my David Beckham Impersonation and enjoyed Actually Quite A Lot of BANTER. Also also a bloke clapped along with a couple of songs, and i managed NOT to accelerate feverishly for a change. It was GOOD!
Afterwards I had a DELICIOUS CORONA BEER (beer of choice CHEZ NOUS at the moment), chatted to some very nice people, then got the TRAIN OF DANGER home. It was NICE!