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Bye Bye Johnny!
I just wandered over to the Kooba Radio to site to see what's new and discovered that the FINAL EVER Johnny Yeah Show has been and gone. I'm just listening to it now, Slightly Surprised to realise it's been going for four years, and that I'm STILL the Most Played Artiste ON it. I'm rather SAD that Johnny and co. are winding up the show, tho i SALUTE their reasons for doing so (i.e. While It's Still Fun), but they've been a GRATE support to us over the past few years and, probably more importantly, are ACE PUB COMPANIONS. Hopefully the latter will continue!
This months NEWSLETTER has gone out - it feels like a LONG time since the last one, possibly because it WAS - and I've updated the webpage accordingly. While I was at it i also updated the GIGS pages too, with a couple of extra ones in the GIGS TO COME page and an attempt to at least START the year keeping the PAST GIGS section up to date. We'll see how long that lasts!
Meanwhile, A LITTLE BIRD (where "Bird"="Email") tells me that Mr Steve Lamacq is hopefully going to be playing one our songs (a NEW song!) as part of a FEATURE on his show today. EXCITEMENT!
Rocking All Night Long
Off to DERBY for me last night, to meet Mr Francis A Machine, be served a delicious CURRY by himself and Mrs Machine, see their new CAT, and thence to THE PUB, for a quick meeting of Team Validator before PRACTICE. As usual most of the meeting was spent making HILARITY, but we also agreed a number of IMPORTANT POINTS re. plans for the next single, getting a picture taken of TOM for the MONTAGE that will hopefully be in the GATEFOLD of said item, and how we're going to record the next album (summary: quicker, using TECHNOLOGY). I also had an ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS pint of Pedigree, it was REALLY nice.
The only trouble was that we were having SUCH a delightful time it was a bit of a slog to have to leave and go off to have a practice, but leave we did and settled down to ROCK. It's at least six months since we last practiced, and MUCH longer than that since we set to working out new songs, so the going wasn't quite as SMOOTH as it has been when we're at out CREATIVE PEAK, but GOOD WORK was still done. We got My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once worked out pretty good, and worked up TWO JAMS for possible later useage. Things were held back a bit by my guitar going SPROING, leading to the discovery that I'd got two strings in the same slot, and being unable to sort it out properly, and also by the fact that it was LATE - we didn't finish until MIDNIGHT, that's WAY past my bedtime! We also had a quick go at a few others, including a Beatles Playing Yesterday At Budokan As A Full Band ESQUE version of It Only Works Because You're Here and the FIRST bit of The Mystery Train. Personally i was in the mood for some LOUDNESS tho, so that is what we stuck to.
It wasn't our MOST GRATE practice, but it WAS very lovely to see everyone together, and NEXT time we're going to be starting a bit earlier. THUS i have three weeks in which to write a PILE of lyrics - let's TYPE!
Apart from ROCKING it has been a weekend of FRENZIED ACTION... tho less FRENZIED than expected, for LO! You know Computers? Nowadays? They're GRATE aren't they?
As i mentioned over Christmas, our old computer threw a bit of a WOBBLER, which persuade myself and the USB On My Memory Stick to FINALLY get ourselves a new computer, which arrived on Thursday. I spent that evening and most of Friday GIRDING myself for the doubtless DAY LONG STRUGGLE i was going to have to get it sorted out. I got our old computer about eight years ago, and it had been a RIGHT palaver sorting it all out, and I'd put LOADS of programs on it since then. MIGHTY DREAD did fill my mind as I sat down to begin my awesome task...
... and then, half an hour later, it was FINISHED! It would appear that, since last I bought one, Computers have come on a LONG way and, indeed, are pretty much designed for Normal People to put together with EASE. It reminded me of a conversation i had recently with my Dear Step-Father, who pointed out that in OLDEN TYME everybody had to KNOW how a car worked just because they broke down so often (he gave the pertinent example of a family holiday, when you'd have to pack extra food for the INEVITABLE stop when the engine blew up - I REMEMBER) but nowadays they're SO much more reliable that you don't have to worry. It struck me that the same may well apply to computers. I plugged in the interweb - five minutes later, WE'RE OFF! Printers were installed, programs were put on, and for a GRAND FINALE i put all the old files from the old computer back on. It had taken about THREE HOURS for the old computer to transfer everything onto the portable hard drive (a WONDER DEVICE which itself has TWICE the memory of the old machine), the new one did it in TEN MINUTES!
Hmm... mind you, i shall have to be sure to put a BUCKET OF WATER and a set of LOGIC DEFYING CONCEPTS nearby, just in case it gets any BIG IDEAS about destroying its human masters.
In other ACTION PACKED ACTION there was shopping, cooking, management of my ever growing EMPIRE OF EBAY (the corner of our bedroom is getting tidier and tidier every week!), a quick chat to my DAD (he was SIXTY yesterday - BLIMEY! - and they were onto the PORT by 6pm!), and rather a lot of FUN with DIGITAL CAMERAS. YASS, i bought one of THESE last week two, so that I could take part in a PROJECT with the rest of The Validators. Emails and photographs were flying across the interweb yesterday as we compared our work, submitting entries for the cover of the next single. It's looking rather GRATE so far, although those DARNED PATTISONS seem to be TRUMPING everybody else with their Worryingly Exact photography. Obviously i shall FORWARD the finished product to this very page when it's done, but until then here's one that WON'T be making it onto the final cover:
Picture, along with several OTHERS, courtesy of The Zoom In My Lens. There's PLENTY more where that came from (this one missed out because Tim did a TERRIFYINGLY EXACT COPY of the original) and as I'm sure you can imagine, MUCH fun was had by all - so much so that it looks like the single is going to have to have a GATEFOLD SLEEVE to contain it all!
After a weekend of MUCH activity it felt a little strange to be heading out onto the train again for Distant Brixton, where I was playing a Let's Go Baboon night at The Windmill. I arrived to find Stu Baboon doing the Traditional Promoter's Pacing and general Looking Worried - when a promoter STOPS doing either of these then they have CROSSED A LINE. Worried Pacing Promoters are still EXCITED about putting gigs on and will be UPSET if people do not turn up, and will also attempt to FOIST money and BEER upon you at any available opportunity, they are the GOOD ones to go with!
So yes, everything seemed to go very smoothly, I got soundchecked, had a beer, and after the usual PANIC where I FORGOT almost every single song I have ever written (i really must get round to doing myself a LAMINATED LIST of Songs I Know How To Play, it would cut down a LOT of FEAR) i went on and did THIS:
TWO new songs in that little lot - Dinosaur Planet seemed to go down OK, although Vicar In A Tutu was IMPEDED rather by the fact that the SHOELACE holding my strap to the guitar came unknotted, so I had to play my last song hopping around on one leg, using the other to hold said guitar within strumming distance. It was, in fact, a pretty HAPHAZARD performance all round, as doing new stuff made me THINK AHEAD during other songs, which DISTRACTED me from what i was meant to be doing. Still, i really enjoyed myself, it was a HECK of a lot of fun, and i was ESPECIALLY pleased to be doing so much NEW, and especially especially chuffed to find that My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once was going down so well, as INDEED did The Lesson Of The Smiths ... which is HANDY!
I had another drink (in a SUDDENLY very MUCH fuller pub - had they all been waiting outside?) and chatted to the Now Much Calmer Stu and his lovely FIANCEE, The Voice Of Film Four, who I'd not seen for AGES, and then after the next band decided it was probably best to be getting home. HOWEVER! Just as i got to the GATES at Brixton tube a familiar voice said "Mark!" I looked to see A Guy In A Hat who, like SUPERMAN or something, removed his disguise to suddenly become Thom Chesser, old pal from LEICESTER POLY days, who used to live just down the road from us. THUS my return home was DELAYED as we went round the corner for a PINT and a CHAT - it was lovely to see him and find he's doing RATHER WELL - indeed, he has somehow WRANGLED it so he is a Stay At Home Dad - and I eventually carried on my journey home, full of the joys of LIFE.
If you've not seen the story, basically Coca Cola in Argentina put out an advert that was a pretty direct rip off of one of their songs. This FACT was brought to their attention by THE INTERWEB (notably by Mr Rob Manuel, who explains it all rather neatly) and after some DISCUSSION it seems that Coke has decided to PAY OUT a Substantial Sum to the band. Being LOVELY people they're giving a BIG CHUNK of this CA$H to a couple of charities which are close to the band, and spending the rest on putting out a single. They've also got Management - and not some scummy rip-off merchant either, but PETE JENNER! BLIMEY! And they've ALSO got a whole lot of publicity for the song, which they're going to re-release soon.
And I must say it couldn't have happened to nicer people - I've known of and SORT OF been in contact with them for YEARS through the b3ta connection, but we finally MET them last year when we played with them in Leicester (on the notable evening when they made the ceiling VIBRATE) and they were just LOVELY people, a total pleasure to ROCK with.
Usually in these situations it ends up EITHER with the Massive International Corporation telling The Little Guy to get knotted OR with said Little Guy doing a David Brent and spending the piddling amount of CA$H they can wheedle out on something stupid and SELLOUT that destroys the hobby they used to love, so it's BRILLIANT to see this time around they've actually managed to USE it to get somewhere GOOD and, as I say, it is RICHLY DESERVED. Well done CHAPS!
What Difference Does It Make?
Frenzied BRANE STORMING is the fashion in Castle Validator at the moment, as questions have been raised about the proposed cover for our next single, after The Guitarist In My Smiths Band looked at it and raised some ISSUES of it being a) a bit boring and b) other. We DEBATED the issue at home and I passed on the results of our discussion to The Validators, from whom FURTHER debate was harnessed. We've PRETTY MUCH decided to go for a different, more EXCITING cover, most likely a Smiths Cover Re-Enactment, most likely featuring ME!
THUS at least 60% of The Validators are made happy, ME because the cover will feature ME, The Rhythm Section because it gives them ample opportunity to discuss their favourite Smiths cover art. They like that sort of thing. An extra bonus for ME is that it means i might "have" to finally get myself a digital camera in order to take these pictures. WAHEY!
We've hotly debated a number of covers - Tim suggested me re-doing the art to the eponymous first album... something which i doubt ANYBODY would want to see... and after an early lead by Meat Is Murder it seems that What Difference Does It Make is coming around the bend at high speed, because a) it's the one THEY re-posed, so would be FITTING and b) i can swap the chloroform/milk for BEER.
Sheffield, EXTENDED Mix
On Saturday The Plants In My Garden and I got the train NORTH, to Sheffield, for a full blown GETAWAY WEEKEND. We were there to attend the birthday party of Ms P Blackham, all round GOOD SORT of longstanding, but also took advantage of a Two Nights For The Price Of One offer at the Holiday Inn to have a bit of AWAY TIME. ALSO it was a nice opportunity for me to demonstrate the absolute LOVELINESS of Sheffield And It's People to The Spire on My Church With A Bendy Spire In Chesterfield, and I think i was quite succesful in that. As soon as we got on the TRAM from Sheffield station the conductor was trying to help us read the map, later on when we went OUT for a MEAL the waiters were all LOVELY, and even the taxi driver on the way back was full of PLEASANT CHAT on DELIGHTFUL THOUGHTS.
On Sunday morning we went to have a look at The Kelham Island Museum, which was GRATE. Like all Musuem's Of One Thing it a) was basically about one thing (STEEL) b) did it very well and c) ALSO gave you a very brief yet INFORMATIVE history of the area. I recommend you TWO things to do in every city, go on the open top bus (if available) then visit a Museum Of One Thing, as they are always DEAD GOOD in these ways. It was Oddly Moving as we walked through, because I kept seeing TOOLS that I used to see in the Sheds Of My Grandfathers - one was a butcher, the other a carpenter, so, i know realise, there was a LOT of Sheffield Steel around in my childhood, and a lot of OLD Steel too. There were LOVELY old machines which, again, I remember both of them using, but best of all was the GIGANTIC River Don Engine which was MASSIVE and also STATELY in its BEAUTY. Ooh, it was dead good.
That done we went over to the PUB for the party, and had an ABSOLUTELY LOVELY time. They're SUCH a nice bunch of people, that Sheffield lot. I always think of them as Velodrome 2000, as that was the band most of them were in when I first knew them although it is MANY years since that was actually the case. As I was explaining to The Keys On My Keyboard during the afternoon, ten or so years ago when i first started trying to Solo gigs properly the Velodromes were a MASSIVE beacon of LIGHT to me - most of the other people I knew were either ARSEY or couldn't be BOTHERED to do anything (obviously there were exceptions, but that's how it felt at the time), but every time they turned up to play in Leicester, or occasionally when I went off with other bands who were playing with them, they brought with them FRIENDLINESS and ENTHUSIASM and, basically, GOOD TIMES, commodities which seemed Quite Rare back in them days. They've stayed that way ever since too, and I always look forward to going up to play in Sheffield because I know some of them will always be around. That Velodrome Lot! I SALUTE YOU!
After an hour or so of beer, party nibbles and CHAT, it was time for me to do my SET, and this is what i did:
As I explained at the time, my theory is that Penny was CURSED by an WARLOCK some years ago, and the effect is that she HAS to have me play at every all dayer she ever does, HENCE my presence mid-afternoon in the pub. I am eternally grateful to said magician as I had an ACE time, and especially enjoyed playing. The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B) felt a bit ropey, as I was playing through an amp and singing through the Pub Quiz Speakers that hung from the walls, but that was soon sorted out. That nice Mr Steve Lamacq was also there (another DEAD NICE chap, and I think another person who also recognises the LOVELINESS of the previously lauded Velodrome CROWD), and bless him he came and sat down the front - along with a couple of small children dressed as Alice In Wonderland (aaah!) - and sang along. It was all very nice, and he didn't even seem to mind being used as a RHYME in My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once!
We then fell to more of the nibbles, beer and the chat, before eventually wending our MOST pleasantly mid-afternoon tiddled selves back to the hotel for SHOWERS and TELLY and ROOM SERVICE. It was all VERY lovely - as we discussed at the time, it's not necessarily a model for ALL gigs as it would send my current LOSSES shooting upwards from their current status (Large, But Enjoyed) into the realms of OH DEAR PLEASE STOP PLAYING GIGS, but it was a pretty flipping FAB way to spend a weekend. It was GRATE!
Cor, it was a day of MEDICAL ACTION for me yesterday and NO mistake. First of all i strode manfully off into Leyton to see the doctor, so he could look at a) my scabby elbows b) a LUMP in my back. EEK! He seemed quite concerned about the psoriasis, and gave me FIVE (5) medications various to try, but wasn't bothered about the lump, apparently it's EITHER fibrous OR fatty (i.e. GRISTLE) and nothing to worry about. PHEW! Just as I was RELAXING from that news he said "Would you like a flu jab?" LAWKS! I had to STOP myself from saying "I'd LOVE a flu jab! WHOO!" as they are GRATE - i had one YEARS ago when i worked in Leicester General Hospital and I had an ACE winter of NO POORLINESS, so was KEEN to say the least. FEAR NOT tho, i am not depriving OLD LADIES or anything, they'd doled them out to everyone who needed them and had some spare for their BESTEST PATIENTS and I guess that the fact that i neither CRIED nor SULKED meant i got a free treat. HOORAH!
Off into the East End I walked and thence to WORK and then in the afternoon i took Shanks's Pony once again into the West End, there to GIVE BLOOD. Yes, that's right - I AM A LIVING SAINT. I did think that maybe the Flu Jab would've meant I'd need another appointment, but apparently it makes no difference so once again i was PIERCED and set to BLEEDING. I've been going to these sessions for AGES, but just lately i have started DRIBBLING. It's weird - i was sat in the ANTE ROOM enjoying my BISCUITS (3) afterwards when I noticed my arm felt a bit cold - I pulled down my sleeve and LO! GORE!
The same thing happened the time before last, and it was a bit DRAMATIC - i showed my arm to a nurse and suddenly i was SURROUNDED by them, LEAPING into action and then... er... taking me back into the other room to dab it a bit.
After all THAT it was back to work for a bit before home, standing up most of the way as the TRANES were KNACKERED and so there were much less than usual. Apparently a STRONG WIND means that the entire rail network COLLAPSES (entire country steps back in amazement, supersonic, at the idea that our transport infrastructre may not be the best in the world), and so it was RAMMED. By the time i got home i was UTTERLY KNACKERED and had to a) have a bath b) go to BED! CRIKEY! THAT is how done in I was, and i felt ASHAMED for LO! some people in ROCK pierce themselves with needles every DAY and they seem to stay up all NIGHT. Where am i going wrong?
Anyway, all better now, which is GOOD as tomorrow The Needle On My Syringe and I are off to SHEFFIELD for the weekend, including an afternoon celebrating the birthday of Ms Penny Blackham. I believe it is going to be GRATE!
A Good Session
It was off to DENMARK STREET for me on Monday lunchtime, as I headed over to Studio Sonic to record the latest batch of DEMOES, so that The Vlads can hear what's coming their way when we REGROUP at the end of the month to start learning some new stuff.
I had a LOVELY time. As ever I arrived to find that Andy The Engineer had set everything up for me... then, for some reason decided that I actually wanted to play at an angle 10 degrees to the left. He very patiently moved everything around, checked some levels, and we were AWAY. First of all I did The Stores Of Not To Be, which went off FINE in one take. This was HANDY as, I later realised, it's somehow ended up being over FIVE MINUTES LONG. It's an EPIC! Next I did the CONSIDERABLY shorted Dinosaur Planet which I must confess is currently my FAVOURITE. Working with a basic TUNE by Mr Francis A Machine meant i was forced to do something a it DIFFERENT and (NB according to ME anyway) the chorus and ESPECIALLY the middle bit that i added in to it came out LOVELY. It's all TUNEY, and i LIKE it!
Next it was time to say GRR! and do The Kids Deserve Better. If my younger self could have seen me he would doubtless have been STUNNED, as for the first time EVER i recorded a song using a CAPO. SELLOUT! A HUMBLING aspect of working with Andy in the other room is that he has the MUTANT SUPERPOWER of being to tell not only when one of the strings on the guitar is SLIGHTLY out of tune, but also WHICH ONE. It is a bit spooky, but most handy when using such a JAZZ piece of guitar instrumentation.
FINALLY I did my EXCITING version of "Vicar In A Tutu" by The Smiths, which I'd been WORKING UP over the weekend. It all went pretty well until i got to the "living sign" bit where i LOST MY NERVE and it deteriorated markedly. The rest of the song had been pretty good, I thought, so we did a PATCH IN over the end, ROLLICKING through, and Andy FIDDLED it so you couldn't see the join. STUDIO TRICKERY!
That done we spent a pleasant half hour MIXING it and having a chat. I always feel a bit HUMBLED in these situations, when I talk to people who are PROPERLY IN ROCK, and these days I end up getting a bit WEIRDED OUT when I realise that, actually, i TOO am fairly IMMERSED in it. It's like if i was Talking To Other Men In The Pub About Football, and suddenly realised that I actually knew what I was on about.
Or, at least, i IMAGINE that's what that'd feel like, it's never happened and i doubt it ever will, but in the world of ROCK the feeling occasionally creeps up on me that - HEY! - i HAVE been On Tour now, so can talk about it without fear of getting CAUGHT OUT. Mostly, however, we discussed Girlfriends In Rock i.e. it's GRATE to have an Understanding Girlfriend who doesn't MIND you going off on your own and doing loads of gigs, and how it sometimes gets a bit embarrassing when people see you so often on your own in faraway towns that they don't BELIEVE you actually HAVE a girlfriend e.g. IN SHEFFIELD!
So yes, it was all very pleasant and I came away with FOUR new tracks which will EITHER be used as the starting points for FABULOUS new Validators recordings OR, if for some reason The Vlads TAKE AGAINST them, can be put out as SOLO material. Everyone's a winner!
Weekend of Intense ROCK
You find me glad of the BREATHER afforded by being at work, for LO! it has been a busy weekend. On Saturday i ventured into TOWN with The Prices On My Reciept for various Shopping, Lunching, and PUB items of business including, EXCITINGLY, buying a new computer! WHOO! Rather delightfully it's not coming for a week and a bit, so I'll have time to a) mentally b) physically c) emotionally prepare myself for switching over from the old one which I've had for about seven years. It also means i get to use the - THRILLINGLY BRILLIANT - portable hard drive i got the other week. It's LIKE a hard drive... but PORTABLE! I'm am a little surprised by HOW excited i am about this tiny bit of hardware (it's got more memory than my computer at home and my computer at work PUT TOGETHER! And it's TINY!) but i am ENJOYING the sensation.
ANYWAY, whilst enjoying a Well Deserved Pint at the end of our expedition into commerce i got a call from Claire Dicko, she of Kooba Radio, Virgin Stores Radio, Xfm and, most brilliantly, The Voice Of Film 4. She was recording some people saying "Hello!" for the show she works for on FM, so i RATHER GLAMOROUSLY recorded it there and then in THE PUB. "Ah, the work of an International Rock Star never ends!" said The Sparkle In My Tinsel when it was over, and i was forced to agree.
Next day I got an email from Rachel from The Friends Of The Heroes asking me to take part in this Spoken Word Songs PROJECT she's doing. She's getting lots of different people to read stories she'd written over music by (i think) her band - sounds like a SMASHING idea to me, so i am GEARING UP my VOICEOVER MUSCLES in preparation.
I also got a rather GROOVY email from Mr Jamieson Sutcliffe. Jamie is a pal of MANY MANY years standing who came to my gig in Leicester at Sumo at the end of the year and took part in the VAN GAME, where we all stood round making up song titles involving the word VAN. You might not be surprised to discover that DRINK had been taken at this point, and also that it got funnier as MORE drink was "used".
He was obviously MOVED by the occasion and so has started a WEBSITE dedicated to it -www.thevangame.co.uk. GO JAMIE!
And finally I done went and wrote yet ANOTHER new song, DINOSAUR PLANET, based LYRICALLY on an idea for a FILM i've been carting around with me for years and MUSICALLY on some of the tunes that Mr Francis Albert Machine sent me. In about fifteen minutes I'm off again to Studio Sonic to record a demo of it, along with the other songs I've done recently AND a Mystery Cover Version. News of how it goes, NEXT time!
Top Ten Gigs Of The Year
OK, i know I said I wasn't going to do this... but i did it anyway. It's the TOP TEN GIGS of 2006 that i did, chosen by ME. Hey, i was the only person who was AT most of them (and for a few i was also most of the people who were there at the time) so who better to choose than ME eh? Answer: NOBODY.
That's NOT to say, of course, that the others weren't ALSO GRATE, because the vast majority of them REALLY WERE, it's just that those are the ones that made me GRIN the most when I looked through the list, and filled me with FOND MEMORIES. For instance, from a CAREER IN ROCK point of view playing to a pub in a tiny village probably wouldn't make it to the number one spot, but as far as having LARKS and GOOD TIMES go, it really should. In fact MOST of them got in the list due to what happened AROUND the gig ,like having to get TOUGH in Leeds or just having a GRATE night out in Glasgow, rather than any Proper ROCK reasons. You can read the full details by clicking the venue names in the list, should you so wish.
I also, in a fit of DATABASE ACTION, made my own RATING system for all the gigs I've done ranking them on a scale of 1-5, with 1 representing the time we played at Nottingham Social after everyone had gone home and 5 representing... well, that gig in Cleator Moor, really. I'll not go into TOO much detail, but it's nice to see that 76% of ALL my gigs this year were, according to ME, in the range GOOD-GRATE-VERY GRATE whilst only 8% were ACTUALLY SLIGHTLY UPSETTING (excuse the technical terminology). That's pretty good going, i reckon!
The EVEN MORE INTERESTING thing about it is to compare the average JOY depending on whether I was solo or with The Vlads. On Average VLADS gigs were almost one whole GRADE better than Solo gigs. Or, to put it another way they were 18% MORE GOOD - Solo gigs were, on average, GOOD whilst Vlads gigs bordered on GRATE. CORKS!
The moral, obviously, is to take Vladimators with me whenever possible, to ensure GRATENESS - is this one of those Research Projects you hear about on the news when the conclusion makes everybody go "Well OBVIOUSLY, I could have told you that"? I think: YES.
Live In Leicester
Seeing as it's not actually Christmas anymore I thought it was probably time that I changed to songs on our MYSPACE back to non-Christmassy ones, so if you visit there NOW you'll find four songs taken from our gig at the Firebug in Leicester last year whilst ON TOUR. They're part of the LIVE ALBUM "Live In Leicester" which we're going to be including as part of the MANY MANY exciting extras with the next single. It's all a bit ROUGH but HEY! We were too busy ROCKING for FINESSE!
The Stores Of Not To Be
ANOTHER new song for you today, finished off last night after several evenings of BRANE WORK. This one's the first properly DONE one based on the tunes that Mr Frankie Machine gave me a while ago, although hopefully not the last. The lyrics are HERE and the tortuously long description of how it eventually got written can be ENJOYED HERE!
I know I said that yesterday's BATCH was the last bit of STATS I'd be doing for this year, but I realised i could do another rather THRILLING one, so I've stuck it up. It's a table of Validator ACTION which EXCITINGLY shows which of my COHORTS have played the most gigs this year.
I generated the RAW DATA for this whilst updating my records of 2006's gigs, the FRUITS of which (extensive) labour can now be seen on the 2006 Gigs Page. I've been through and written a brief recap of what happened at each and every gig, and added in a LINK back to the BLOG entry I wrote about each one. It's FACT TASTIC! It also reminded me of some really GOOD FUN gigs I did, like in Glasgow and Reading, for instance, as well as CHALLENGING me to find ways to be diplomatic about a few that were LESS fun. I am TEMPTED to do some sort of GIG RANKING for MOST and LEAST FUN gigs of the year, however I have a feeling that might get into the realms of UNPLEASANTNESS if I have to DERIDE some as Almost NO Fun At All, and after all they are ALL my Gig Children, it would be WRONG to cast any of them down.
So instead I'll probably try and get on with doing the multimedia for the next single - for LO! That is THE FUTURE!
PHEW! Be still my thumping BRANE, for LO! i have just uploaded a whole BATCH of tables to the STATS section, from
Table 5: Sales at Gigs (unadjusted) right up to the brand new Table 9: Individual Releases. It's a whole HEAP of FACT, accompanied by IN DEPTH discussion and all that. I hope you will enjoy DIGESTING it - i personally am off for a bit of a lie down.
It was a right grotty old rainy day on Saturday, the sort of day that i LOVE on the weekend as, traditionally, it gives me any excuse i need to STAY IN, mess around on the computer, watch TELLY, and generally Not Do Much. However, the CALL OF ROCK was strong so just before four o'clock i set off to catch the train to Cambridge, where i was due to do my first gig of 2007.
The journey was FINE, i checked in to the B&B down the road where I'd stayed last time we played The Portland Arms (NB but NOT the one i stayed in last time I played Cambridge, as that one was A Bit Rum), and walked down Chesterton Road to The Loft. I discovered Mr Charlie Flowers already in residence, and we were soon joined by Mr T Pattison, the alloted VALIDATOR for the evening. Soundcheck was DEAD easy - the Loft, BRILLIANTLY, has in-house AMPS and DRUMKIT, a GRATE idea which, i would have thought, all venues would do well to take on board, as it cuts out TONS of worry about who's bringing what.
We then went off to reward ourselves with CURRY, which was very nice indeed, and discussion of various matters, some of which went into The Kids Deserve Better, which I wrote next morning. We wandered back to the venue, chatted further, then went upstairs to find that the gig was WELL underway. I'd been told that the evening would start at 8.30 pm and that there'd be three bands on before us, so i obviously expected us to be going on stage long after midnight, but as well as having the GEAR situation sorted it seems that The Loft has a ROD OF IRON which they utilise as well, as the whole night actually ran EARLY!! This is UNHEARD of!
The band I liked most during the evening were the ones who were on when we came upstairs, The Cougars, at that point doing a TERRIBLE cover version of, I think, "Should I Stay Or Should I Go". It was TREMENDOUSLY ropey, and their next song made me think "Oho, another band of THE YOUNG PEOPLE who want to sound like The Arctic Monkeys", for LO! there were many people Wearing Scarves Indoors, a trend emerging in Sheffield last year, i think, as a Northern equivalent to Wearing Sunglasses Indoors. HOWEVER, it was not LONG before I realised that, far from being a BAD thing, this was actually GRATE. I see bands all the bloody time who are SLICK and COMPETENT and have obviously spent ALL their time Learning Their Instruments, but rarely see bands who are MUCH more concerned about DOING songs, with ENTHUSIASM and EXCITEMENT and IDEA than about how many complicated Bar Chords they can get in. The Cougars, INDEED, seemed to be to be Indie How It Used To Be (in BYGONE DAYS) i.e. ramshackle but UNCONCERNED, bothered about having a GOOD TIME much more than being appreciated by musos. So yes, i LIKED them.
The next band, however, seemed to want to be Razorlight.
And then it was time for US to go on - EARLY! We were both rather surprised, but LURCHED on stage to do THIS:
Look - SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT songs from usual! As Tim had had to come so far on his own to do the gig i had FINALLY relented and agreed to do City Centres for the first time in years - he really likes it, but I'd never been keen. However, after doing a LENGTHY introduction about how annoying it is when people think it's saying the opposite of what it actually IS saying (i.e. it IS saying that just because different city centres have similar shops it DOESN'T mean that they're identical and that THINKING that betrays the person THINKING it as narrowly focussed only on commerce, rather than the broader aspects that make up a city), which was longer than the song itself, i really enjoyed myself.
LESS good, perhaps, was If You're Too Turned On, a song i REALLY like but which, i turns out, I am almost completely unable to play. We learnt the WORDS before going on stage but not, unfortunately, the chords. Oh well. Charlie, beautifully, described it all as "rough as old arseholes" and I later explained it to him as being because it was very much the PUNK ROCK AXIS of The Validators - 50% of the instrument playing musicians in the band are Classically Trained, whereas this was the 50% who learnt to play ON THE STREET. That, as I also went on to point out, is why me and Tim play and sing so LOUDLY - when you learn ON THE STREET it is difficult to make yourself heard above the passing traffic.
For me the best thing about the gig, apart from the several lovely people who'd come specifically to see us, which was MOST appreciated on such a grotty night for going out, was the LIGHTS - We Only Ever Meet In Church especially felt EPIC due to all the smoke and LAZERS and that which were whizzing round - as Tim said, you couldn't see that there wasn't a very big crowd, it felt like being on a STADIUM STAGE. It were COOL!
Afterwards Tim headed back to The Midlands, whilst Charlie and I nipped next door for lasties. That done he went off to find some other people and I returned to the B&B, KNACKERED, but pleased.
The Kids Deserve Better
It's the first fully finished new song of 2007, The Kids Deserve Better, written yesterday morning based on Matters Discussed the night before in Cambridge. It is Quite Forthright, see accompanying NOTES for further FACT!
Aspects of ROCK
I've just SPLASHED OUT on some more EQIPMENT: THE CD SELLER! This is a GRATE idea - as it says on their website, very VERY often at gigs i can't be bothered to set up a CD Sales Table (for various reasons including idleness, not wanting to show off, having to pack up gear and not having anybody to sit at a table, and mostly the awful misery of having a roomful of people studiously avoid coming near you in case you think they want to buy a CD when, actually, they thought you were rubbish) and I often wonder whether this might REDUCE the likelihood of buying CDs. But now, with THE CD SELLER this will surely become a problem of the distant past! Go and have a look at it tho, it's SUCH a good idea, it really is surprising that nobody's thought of it before!
In related Good Idea Previously Unthought Of (by me anyway) NEWS, I've just been writing my latest Tales From The Conference League column for SANDMAN, and had a bright idea: why not ACTUALLY write a Tale From The Conference League? In previous months I've tried to make it a THOUGHT PROVOKING ARGUMENT about Stuff (Various) to do with ROCK, and I've occasionally felt it's turned into a bit of a harangue. I usually have at least one failed attempt to write the column each month (this time, two) and it's always a STRUGGLE, but this morning I thought "Why don't I just write a story about one of my previous gigs? That, surely, is what the title implies?" so i DID, and it was PEASY - so much so that I've got the next two or three months' worth worked out too. Obviously this has yet to be FILTERED through the Editorial Eye of my regular CHECKER, The Ribbon In My Typewriter, but I'm hopeful of some EASIER start of the month writing sessions ahead. After all, I worked out LOADS of these stories at the start of last year for the abortive BOOK EXPERIMENT, so there should be a bit of material to work from.
In the meantime, the article published in November's just gone up. YES it harangues a little, but i think it has a POINT!
I've just sorted out a whole juicy new SLAB of FACT for you, in the STATS section. We've now got four exciting TABLES for you, from Table 1: Where The Magic Has Happened to Stats: Sales In Other Countries, all of which is BURSTING with Interesting Insights and Tabular THRILLS. I must say I'm rather enjoying putting it all together, but am Pointlessly Disappointed to find that 2006, as a whole, didn't make a MASSIVE difference to many of the figures, it pretty much continued in the same VEIN as 2005 did. The only really exception to this is Gigs By Month, and for that reason it is my FAVOURITE.
Anyway, happy FACT FONDLING everybody, more tomorrow!
Happy New Year everyone! Today finds me back at work... and wishing I was back at home, wandering the house finding things to do and bothering/being bothered by The Decorations On My Christmas Tree. ALAS the time has come to get back to THE GRIND again, and much as i Quite Like my job, i really could have done with a few more days/MONTHS of general loafing around. I believe i may possibly not be alone in this thought.
STILL, if it is into ACTION that we must go then let us go there with a) VIM and b) a GLAD HEART, so let us celebrate in the traditional way i.e. with GRAPHS! One of the many JOYFUL EXERTIONS i undertook over the festive break was to revisit the STATS section of this very website. I've just put up new GRAPHS describing VARIOUS topics, from The Average Day Of The Week For Gigs to Items Sold, By Outlet And Year. If you LIKE Slightly Simplistic Depictions Of Obsessively Gathered FACTS then my friends you will be in PIG HEAVEN!
I'm going to try and update the tables this week too, and hopefully get a few more new ones sorted out. Stand by for more MATHS FUN!