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It's that time of the month again, as i REAP the whirlwind of OutOfOffice Autoreplies that IS sending out this month's copy of The Last Working Day Of The Month. As ever, if you're NOT on the Mighty Mailing List and would LIKE to be, please stroll calmly over to the SIGN UP page and SIGN UP! As well as getting the newsletter HAND DELIVERED to your email every month you'll also get VERY occasional updates on gigs in your HOOD, also special EXCITING MESSAGES, also OFFERS, when we have new material out. It's DEAD GOOD, honest!
Included in this month's issue are a couple of changes to the GIGGING ITINERARY as I will now NOT be playing in Nottingham on March 28th (REALLY sorry to everyone involved re. this, especially after having such a nice time last time) but WILL now be playing in Brixton on March 29th, which is the rescheduled date from the one I had to cancel when I was POORLY. There's actually quite a few new GIGS that have been listed recently, including my first ever trip to NEWCASTLE, as we gradually LIMBER UP for getting all these new songs sorted out. SUCH are the levels of EXCITEMENT and MOTIVATION at the moment that I'm EVEN thinking that we might get another EP or even MINI-ALBUM released by the end of the year!
This may, of course, change DRASTICALLY when we actually get going, but still - WHOO! SONGS AHOY!
Dynamic Weekend of ACTION
PHEW, it is nice to be back at work at last, if only because it means i can have a REST, for LO! it was a weekend of GETTING IT SORTED.
Things began delightfully on Friday night with a trip to the Buffalo Bar, ostensibly to see Lardpony and The Retro Spankees, but in the end ot see MORE. The evening commenced with Life With Bears who, during their first song, i thought were rotten. HOWEVER! They were doing that WEIRD thing that (as far as i have ever seen ONLY) Bands In London seem to do of doing the Long Monotonous Song FIRST - WHY do people do this? Is it because they think this is what The Cool Scene likes? Personally i didn't like it much and was considering popping upstairs for a Refreshing Beer when the next song they did came around and was GRATE. And so was the next one! Also, THE NEXT! They were a duo who were sort of a cross between Krautrock and DOLLAR, and when they veered to the DOLLAR end of their personal spectrum it was ACE, with dancing around, TOONS and general GOODNESS. Some of the KRAUT also was good, but when it got too far that way it went a bit "Look At Our MOOG!" for me (MOOGs may not have be present but you know what i mean). Hmm, if this sounds Overly Critical i apologise, as what i mean to say is just that they were REALLY GOOD and EXTREMELY enjoyable, also GRATE!
Next were Lardpony who ALSO were GRATE. It felt like i KNEW most of the songs already, as i have listened to their first album A LOT and also a CD of new tracks I got last year. Tom from Them gave me an ADVANCE COPY of their second album (yes, look at me, GLAMOUR!) which I spent a large part of Sunday listening to - it is ACE. It's THICK with words NEARLY all of which are a) funny b) touching c) clever IN A GOOD WAY (there IS no BAD way, but some twits seem to think there is so i thought I'd best get THAT out of the way) and d) FRESH AND NEW. I say "Nearly" however because there is one bit in the song about MATHS in LOVE with says "because I'm really 'integer'" as in "into her" which is, frankly, A PUN TOO FAR, but other than that it was ACE. This one seems to have yet MORE tunes and some particularly BRILLO Guitar Soloes, of the OLD SKOOL, which I am always in favour of.
After THAT was meant to be The Retro Spankees but was instead Das Wanderlust who I'd never heard of before but ALSO rather enjoyed - they were of the A Bit Like Bearsuit GENRE, which THE KIDS seem to be DIGGING quite a lot these days, and i like them. They'd meant to be on last but had lost a drummer so swapped round with the Spankees, which was a shame really as it meant i had to MISS them in order to get my train home. BOO!
SATURDAY saw The Slogan On My Placard and i head out into central London to go on a MARCH against Trident and also to say Please Get The Troops Out Of Iraq - i'd thought people would be holding placards saying "Thanks for getting the troops out, but also Trident!", what with Mr T Blair saying he was going to MEET that particular demand, but nobody seemed to have them. Maybe they'd not read the papers?
It was a nice day out in the fresh air, and we stood behind a group of Longstanding Campaigners from WALES, who were GRATE as they were all in a good mood and SANG the whole time. First it was Popular Songs With New Lyrics in the WELSH CHOIR stylee, followed by Protest Songs From Around the World, ALSO as sung by a Welsh Choir. They kept it up for HOURS (as we had to stand in Hyde Park for about two hours waiting to get moving - turns out we were ALL going through a tiny gate so it took AGES) and it was LOVELY - SO much better than standing near the usual Arsey Sods With Megaphones.
And there were a LOT of them - later on we walked alongside The Hari Krishna, who were ALSO GRATE, especially as they had an ELECTRICAL UKELELE. I have a LOT of time for the Hari Krishna, as, like for instance THE SALVATION ARMY, they find something they believe in and then ACTIVELY DO STUFF ABOUT IT (e.g. doling out GRUB), rather than, say, just bang on in the pub about how GRATE they are. However they were DROWNED OUT for much of the time by some gits behind us bellowing "Tony Tony Tony Out Out Out". What Gordon Brown was doing on the march I don't know.
POLITICAL HUMOUR! What it ACTUALLY was was a branch of one of the MANY MANY MANY far-left splinter groups, each with their own newspaper, who seemed to spend the entire time we were there a) trying to shout more loudly than anyone else b) advertise themselves and say how BRILLIANT they were and c) try and SELL as much merchandise and newspapers as they could. It's the sort of thing that turned me off Active Involvement In Protest Movements when I lived in Leicester and the sort of thing that tends to wind me up NO END nowadays too, but as I say we managed to position ourselves for most of the time between Nice, Also CONCERNED, Older People and The Hari Krishna, so it was pretty much fine.
Anyway, we got to Trafalgar Square after 3.5 hours of standing then walking to find it RAMMED - ODDLY The Met said there were only 2-3,000 people on the march, which is somewhat AT ODDS with my memory of spending 15 minutes at the start of the day walking alongside the END of the march (which was DOUBLED OVER) to get to the back where we could join in. The police walking along WITH us seemed perfectly nice (I jabbed one in the foot with my placard by accident and he DIDN'T brutally DO ME OVER - ooh, it's not like the eighties) so why they wanted to say daft things like that i do not know.
World: SAVED, so we went to the PUB for a VERY MUCH DESERVED pint then did a bit of shopping - it was strange how quickly things returned to normal once you got more then ten feet away from the marchers, but i guess London, she is BIG, and can contain such things. We got home just in time for me to watch Harry Hill, have a BATH, watch The Dinosaur Programme (it's Quite Good isn't it?) then eat CURRY. HOORAH!
And then on SUNDAY there was even MORE to do, as I had some FREELANCE DATABASE work to do (if you have a relational database problem, and you can find me, maybe one day you can hire ... ME. All proceeds go towards feeding the EVER HUNGRY MONSTER OF ROCK), as well as recording demoes of new stuff (all sounding good), rejigging artwork for the single, and also arranging PRACTICES. I am WELL chuffed that we've finally got this latter sorted out, as the latest batch of new songs are sounding GRATE, and I'm eager to get GOING again. It's funny, EVERY time we gather to start learning new stuff i ALWAYS have a big batch of songs which i like AT THE TIME but turn out to be at least 50% Unsuitable For Validators. This was certainly the case this time, though AS EVER it prompted the FLOOD OF TUNE which regular visitors will have noticed lately, pretty much ALL of which is sounding VALIDATOR COMPLIANT. We're now talking about starting doing some recording in MAY - WHOOO!!
In the meantime though I've got re-jigged art to send to manufacturers, a Licence For MORRISSEY to pay off, and then some press releases to start writing. As I say, it's nice to be back at work to get some time to do it!
Save A Meadow (again)
A few days ago I mentioned that I'd written the song Save A Meadow in answer to a CALL FOR SONGS from the people campaigning to save Warneford Meadow. John The Publisher sends these on to me every now and then, like the time I wrote She Tastes Like Sugar for a Soft Drink Commercial's Call For Songs, without noticing the DOUBLE ENTENDRE inherent in the title.
Anyway, he sent it off to them and this week we heard that they REALLY LIKED IT, and wanted to USE it! HOORAH! It's all quite exciting, tho i am HOLDING BACK on getting myself all worked up about it, in case nothing actually comes of it. However, yesterday I spoke to the chap in charge of the campaign and he seemed a) very nice b) very KEEN, and had all sorts of GRATE ideas about getting the song out and about to help the campaign. If HALF the things he wants to do come off it is going to be a whole HEAP of fun, but as I say, I am holding on to expectations until we get properly going.
I tell you what though, it'd probably be a good idea if I sat down and learnt the words properly wouldn't it? HELLO WEEKEND!
The reason i was able to SPOOKILY PREDICT its impending presence was that i had actually already WRITTEN it but, as detailed in the accompanying NOTES, I knew that it needed a bit of WORK doing before it could be presented to the WORLD. As it happened it got quite a LOT of work done on it - Verse Two and the choruses are pretty much as was, the rest has had EXTENSIVE REBUILDING WORK done.
This is probably because I have been reading Stephen King's book "On Writing" this week, and it is GRATE. It was lent to me by Mr Charlie Flowers, who said "you'll like this, it's GRATE" and he was not fibbing. The first bit was all about his life, and it REALLY made me want to read one of his proper books. NOW i am reading his WRITING TIPS, which is ACE because every ten minutes i want to GRAB someone and say "HA! listen to THIS - he's RIGHT you know!" There's a lot about removing unnecessary words, SHOWING rather than telling, doing re-drafts and CRAFT sort of things, but also lots of ace ARTY stuff about Whoo, THE MUSE and that. It's really sweet, as every time he starts to go off into ALAN MOORE territory about the IMAGINI-SPHERE and things he has to SWEAR a bit, or mention his TRUCK, or go on about how HIS MUSE is a sweaty bloke who smokes cigars. It's very ENDEARING, which i guess is maybe NOT what he meant, but very nice to read about That Sort Of Thing without it being full of diaphonouse robes and incense sticks.
He was wrong, i think, about ONE point tho - when he talks about SIXTIES POETS and how nothing means anything SPECIFIC and it's all just unnecesary words he quotes "There Is A Mountain" by DONOVAN, i.e. "First there is a mountain/Then there is no mountain/then there is." Now, i think he is DEAD WRONG about that, i think that's a brilliant bit of ECONOMIC LYRICS about NATURE and the Nature OF Nature and also TIME and... well, you know, DONOVAN STUFF, and fits in with the vibe of a) the song b) the time c) the MINDSET of going with the flow and not being hung-up and personal STUFF (see also THE OUVRE of Mr G Harrison). Also, lots and lots more stuff that I am going on about too much/with little elegance that he manages to fit rather SNUGLY into those 13 words.
They Wanna Make A T-Shirt Outta Yr Dreams
I tell you what, it's all GO round here, so much so i shall have to RATION the FACT in order to prevent people's THRILL-BUFFERS from over-loading!
So, with due care and consideration, here's some news of a NEW RELEASE - it's called They Wanna Make A T-Shirt Outta Yr Dreams, a new compilation from those delightful chaps at Cowboy Democracy featuring my previously unreleased solo acoustical rendering of Sod It, Let's Get Pissed along with songs from Lardpony, Mr Pete Green and a whole BUNCH of others. You can get it INCREDIBLY CHEAPLY from their website or STREAM it in the Modern Fashion from their Last FM page, but honestly, for the price they're asking, it almost seems daft NOT to make the purchase!
That said, I'm hoping to GRAPPLE a free copy out of them on Friday, when Lardpony (for it is they who are behind it all) play at The Buffalo Bar... if, that is IF, i can only get myself HEALED in time!
Give me an "O"! Give me an "M"! Give me a "G!" For LO! even through my FEVER DREAMS of CONTINUING POORLINESS i have ANOTHER brand new song for you, Best Behaviour. This one is based on a JAM from a couple of weeks ago, and you can read the FACT as usual in its NOTES section. It is one i have been getting ROUND to for AGES, so it's nice to be done.
Is this the FINAL outporings of the current SONG FLOOD? I don't think so - in fact i think there may well be another on the way even as we speak. PAC-A-MACS at the ready!
By My Body Betrayed!
You discover me today LAID LOW by my own ENFEEBLED PHYSIQUE, for LO! I have got a recurrence of that rotten INFECTION on my "lower back" i.e. BABOON'S BOTTOM. Yes, my arse is GLOWING CRIMSON again as i struggle with the dastardly infection, it's RUBBISH.
It's ESPECIALLY annoying this time as it means I've had to cancel the band practice we were meant to be having tonight - it feels like these practices were DOOMED from the start, as we've had to cancel the others due to Derby County's move of midweek games to Tuesday... which I'm sure is not something that used to effect THE STONES, for example. I've ALSO had to cancel my appearance at Vic Lambrusco's Caberet Hour in Brixton on Thursday night - yes, THURSDAY night! Two days away! I'm proper poorly, it's RUBBISH!
Still, on the plus side I DO have about 300 copies of 2000AD to read, also most of series one of Life On Mars on the DVD, but still - being poorly is CRAP!
You find me this morning WORN and SPENT and quite frankly KNACKERED, as it's been a Long Old Weekend. I had PARENTS in town on Friday night, so The Drink In My Glass and I took them to the PUB, then a very nice restaurant (yes) and then the PUB again. It was lovely, though we must, i think, BOTH have had some Tesco Hummus or something mixed in, as Low Level Poorliness was in evidence... there can be no other explanation.
Then it was HO! for Covent Garden, where we met them for LUNCH in a pub above a Pastie Shop - it was Surprisingly Nice, i must say, the beer was GOOD the food was GRATE and the sun was OUT, and as we were sat out on the balcony it all felt rather SUMMERY.
After lunch I headed North to distant NOTTINGHAM, where I was booked to play a birthday DO for some of the Bowlie Kids. I popped to MARKS AND SPARKS on the way to get some TEA, watched The Dinosaur Programme, then went to the PUB where it was all going on. I had a LOVELY evening, there were loads of people there I hadn't seen for a while, including The Chemistry Experiment, and in between the talking and that I did the following SET:
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself, tho aspects of the evening were ODD. There was no PA system, so I did the whole gig Totally Unplugged, which I always REALLY enjoy, but it did mean that when people FANTASTICALLY - started clapping along, I couldn't actually hear what I was singing! ALSO i was stood in the middle of the room, with a DANCE FLOOR behind me, so when people DID go and have a dance I had to keep turning round to look at them, especially when I noticed that everyone else was doing so. ALSO I'd stood on some steps which I thought led up to a Private Area but ACTUALLY went up to some Additional Seating, where a whole BUNCH of people were sat, so throughout the set people had to keep squeezing past me on the way to the bar/loo and back.
It was a bit odd but in the end made for FUN and LARKS, also GOOD TIMES, and a rollicking good time was had by ME. Afterwards there was a whole lot more CHAT, also a little bit of dancing, and it was QUITE LATE when I eventually got back to my PLUSH HOTEL and my bed.
It was thus not very long before I was woken AGAIN - I'd set my alarm for 6am as it was Rail Replacement Bus Services from Nottingham down to Leicester, which took longer and longer the later in the day you waited, and I had things to DO. I got showered, packed and nipped downstairs where it took me several minutes to WAKE UP the guy who was sat on reception. He wasn't much help when he DID wake up either, as he seemed unable to work the computer, so in the end I had to leave my Door Entry Card and RUN to the station - if i'd got up that early i did NOT want to end up missing the BUS!
The next four hours featured A bus, a train, a couple of tubes and a WALK and then I was home again. I had a bit of an old NAP, some LUNCH, and before long I was out YET AGAIN and heading for ANGEL there to do a VIDEO SHOOT.
Oh yes, GET ME! This was for the video to "Hang Up The Moon" by The Fighting Cocks, from off of there forthcoming/GRATE new album "Songs For Lapdancers". The song samples "Dino At The Sands (slight return)" from WE VALIDATE!, so Charlie wanted me to come along and pretend to play the Ukelele. I should FESS UP here and say that it's not actually ME playing it on the CD, it's Duke Marmapants, friend and mentor to Jimmy from The Bobby McGees - i tried to do it myself but really COULDN'T, but luckily when I arrived I found the the PLAYBACK PA was MUCH louder than my feeble attempts at TWANGING, so nobody noticed.
I stood around for a while and had a chat to various Fighting Cocks, also to the Actual Real-Live FILM CREW who were doing THE SHOOT - it was DEAD proper, they had a GURNEY (i think) for the camera to TRACK along and all sorts of things. Also there was a FILM CREW FROM JAPAN, there to interview the band. It was like... well, it was like being on a VIDEO SHOOT, As Seen In Motion Pictures, really.
After a while they were ready for me, so me and Charlie did three or four takes of me sitting on a bar stool playing while he flicked cards at the camera and sang the intro. That done I shook hands with the CREW and said "Nice working with you" (that's what you're supposed to say, i saw it ON TELLY) then headed off into the night, towards my TEA.
It felt like about a MONTH'S worth of Going Out And Doing ROCK, and by heck, it's done me in!
YOINKS! Call me CAPTAIN METROSEXUAL, for LO! I have just been and had a PROPER HAIRCUT!
For YEARS - indeed, pretty much since first i came to That London - i have been singing the praises of Mr Topper's Original Six Pound Barbers (formerly Mr Topper's Original Five Pound Barbers) as they do a SWIFT job of cutting your hair and it only costs six (formerly five) quid so to do. There's one round the corner from work so when I'm starting to Look Like One Of The Band i NIP round and get a quick Number Three. It's FAST, it's EASY, it's INEXPENSIVE and... well, to be honest, it's not always all that good. Sometimes you get someone who knows what they're doing and the result is FINE, other times (and lately MOST times) you just get your HAIR shaved off.
Again, this is FINE for a few weeks but then it tends to GROW OUT at different speeds and look RUM: lately for instance i am resembling a cross between DOUGLAS HURD and YAHOO SERIOUS. Aaah, i remember the days when my hair used to grow DOWN into FLOWING LOCKS, now it just grows straight up in a desperate bid for freedom which, in some areas, it is WINNING. The other thing, see, is that I have Low Hair Areas (anyone who says baldy bits IS IN TROUBLE) on either side of my head - me and my maternal-sided brothers have all inherited this from my GRANDAD on that side of the family, who looked like a white haired Ray Reardon from the GRATE BUSHY EYEBROWS (which i also seem to have inherited, but with GLEE this time) upwards. A couple of years ago i got a GOOD haircut and was AMAZED to find that Hairdressing Technology could disguise this somewhat simply by LEAVING SOME OF IT A BIT LONGER (anyone whispering "comb over" - WATCH IT!) so have quested for it ever since.
So yes, to cut a long story short, it seemed like a good idea to get my hair cut PROPERLY this time, and The Blade In My Razor has been EXHORTING me to get on and DO it for the past couple of weeks. The other day I strolled down nearby STORE STREET and realised there was a proper hairdressers there so, this morning, had a second look through the window, then RANG them from the office to arrange an appointment. It was the first time EVER IN MY LIFE i have had to make an appointment to get my hair cut, as i am SUCH a rugged he-man of the old school, and it felt a bit weird, especially as a) i don't really like getting my hair cut and b) i now had five hours to wait until i went under THE BLADE.
I rolled up on time, waited a few minutes for my turn, was asked if i wanted a cup of coffee (i said no - surely there'd be no TIME for this?!?) and then got led TO A SINK! A SINK! I leant back and - get this - an Assistant came over and WASHED MY HAIR!!! Then MASSAGED MY HEAD!
It was all I could do to sit still - what ELSE were they going to try and do to me? She then TOWEL RUBBED it and led me back to their chair, where my head was rubbed again, I was offered ANOTHER cup of coffee, and then they put the traditional SHEET round my neck. This at last was a bit more familiar, until she then put a RUBBER MAT THING (like out of the footwell of a car) round my neck to hold down the sheet. I felt like some DARK SUPERVILLAIN from ANCIENT EGYPT or something, with my FLOWING BLACK CAPE emerging from my ceremonial RUBBER CAR CARPET.
After that the hairdresser guy came over and offered me MORE COFFEE. It was very nice of them, but i still don't see when I'm supposed to have been able to drink it, i couldn't have done when my head was in the sink and I certainly wasn't about to start ducking and diving for cups when there were SHARPENED BLADES flying around my ears. He then spent about twenty minutes snipping away, i was quite impressed with the attention to detail tho not sure that even I would consider my head quite the WORK OF ART he was treating it as.
The whole process took half an hour - not as long as it seems to take for GURLS to have THEIR hair cut, but still about six times longer than most other haircuts in my LIFE - and it looks pretty good. The only thing is, normally I'm used to looking in shop windows and thinking "AAH! look at my HEAD! It is TOTALLY DIFFERENT!" and feeling that that means I've had my money's worth. NOW i look in the mirror and think "Oh yes, that looks quite good - not as DASHING AND HANDSOME as the Personal Image i carry in my MIND, but all right". It's a GOOD feeling, but not quite what I'm used to.
Do The Indie Kid
"Surely there can't be ANOTHER new song?" I hear you cry (as if in PAIN), and the answer is PRETTY MUCH, YES!
Today's hot new sound is Do The Indie Kid, although to be honest it's not ENTIRELY brand spanking new, as it's a re-working of the second (of three) ideas I had for a tune we JAMMED at our last practice. What happened was I sent The Vlads mp3s of the songs I recorded yesterday, including Love Instead, which was ALSO based on that tune. It did not meet, shall we say, with unanimous approval, so I went BACK to this song and wrote it all up again from scratch. I actually finished it off sat here at work, so haven't had a chance to sing it properly yet, but so far am LIKING it for a variety of reasons, SPECIAL amongst these being the FACTS that it contains a) French b) it's own DANCE MOVES and c) a JAZZ FREAKOUT. Whether THIS version ever makes it as far as a recording, however, is in the hands of the Gods... of ROCK!
Back On Tin Pan Alley
I came into work with my GUITAR yesterday, that i might spend yet another very pleasant lunchtime round at Studio Sonic, recording yet MORE demoes. This time I did Save A Meadow (so that John The Publisher could send it off to the people who'd asked for such a song), Love Instead (so the Vlads could hear what i had DONE with their JAMMING) and Do More, Eat Less (because it's NEW!).
I had a different chap from usual, who was as pleasant as everyone else but less CHATTY, so we actually finished slightly ahead of time - SUPER EFFICIENCY! I'd meant to try and record my voiceover bit for the Spoken Word album THING I'm meant to be involved in, but forgot to take the words with me. DUR.
It all sounds pretty good though, I think, this was definitely a strong BATCH and hopefully we'll be able to get AT them next week when we practice. For now though I've got to get practicing, as I'm playing at a Birthday Party in Nottingham at the weekend, and I want to do some of this HOT NEW MATERIAL!
Dude! Surf's Up!
GIRD thyselves - it's YET ANOTHER NEW SONG, Save A Meadow. VERILY, the current WAVE of NEW SONGS is a MIGHTY one and I am RIDING it for all I am worth. It's always strange how these MIGHTY TIDES roll in every now and again - for the first half of last year it was an ARID DESERT of songs, where MUSICAL MOISTURE (Metaphor Stretching Limits reaching CRITICAL) was hard to find, but just recently it has been a FLOOD. Sometimes when this happens I get a bit worried and think "I'd best STOP writing so many songs now, it's getting a bit much" and thus the SONG BUNG gets put in, but this time around I'm going to carry on until the WELL is DRY.
As well as all these aforementioned full formed NEW SONGS there's ALSO a whole lot of half-finished ideas, also Bits And Bobs, which I'm going to store up for DRIER times. As explained in its ANNOTATIONS, the song Do More, Eat Less, for instance, came from one of these leftover THORTS, so it's always good to replenish the STOCK (Metaphor: CHANGING) ready for the next time.
Anyway, yes, as it says in ITS annotations, Save A Meadow was written to ORDER to fulfil a request for somebody to write a song about the fight to save Warneford Meadow in Oxford, but also to be relevant to other campaigns. They didn't ask me PERSONALLY or anything, it was a General Request, so they'll quite likely not PICK ME, but I must say i won't really mind, as that way I can keep it for myself!
The CRANIAL LEAKAGE continues unabated as yet ANOTHER New Song oozes out into the world. This one's called Love Instead, and it's my THIRD attempt to write some words for a JAM we did at last week's practice. As it says in the ANNOTATIONS, I'm quite pleased with it, especially the mention of the British Shoe Bus. Extremely Specific Cultural Reference AHOY!
Yesterday's WHOO-worthy proclamations of near-readiness were a LITTLE over-zealous, it turns out, as the quote i got from our usual manufacturers was a) a bit HIGH, bearing in mind the oft stated lowering of costs for CDs and b) accompanied by a statement that they could no longer barcodes. ARGH! We NEED these to get sold in shops and, vitally, AMAZON, and, futuristically, iTUNES, so it's not really something you can do without these days. They provided me with a link for the main Official Body for barcodes, who appear to want you to sign up as a Barcode Member for a YEAR before you even begin - GRARGH! Also, NGG!
ENRAGED by all this I decided to have a look around for cheaper manufacturers, and found one who seem quite nice, will DO us a barcode, and will cost quite a bit LESS. HOORAH! HOWEVER, they also, like most places now, demand EITHER a certificate from the MCPS OR a Intellectual Rights Statement.
SIDEBAR! This means EITHER a statement saying that you personally own ALL rights to the music recorded on the CD, including SONG WRITING, OR a certificate from the body responsible for licencing such things, the MCPS, demonstrating that you will be paying the appropriate MONIES to whoever DOES own these rights.
Now, this has never been a problem before as we've a) never had to complete this documentation (NAUGHTY!) b) ALMOST always owned all the rights anyway but c) when we HAVE done cover versions have simply not mentioned it (DOUBLE NAUGHTY - QUAKE in FEAR, THE MAN!). It IS a problem this time, however, as we WERE intending to put a cover version on as a Secret Track on the CD and i did not really want to sign a Legal Document to say it WASN'T there, when it really WOULD be...
I thus turned to the MCPS website, which seemed MASSIVELY complicated, and ended the working day yesterday FRUSTRATED and ANNOYED, convinced that The MACHINE Of The Man that IS The Recording Industry was deliberately trying to prevent the HONEST LITTLE INDIE (i.e. ME) doing anything that might loosen their stranglehold on the nation's access to ROCK. Barcodes! Licencing! Forms! MAN!
After some thought I went back this morning to the MCPS online licencing screen and found that, actually, it was quite easy, and submitted my application to licence VICAR IN A TUTU (for LO! that is what is is) for the next single, and have a printed form to show that I have done. Oh BOY did I feel GROWN UP and like a PROPER LABEL when I'd done so. It used to be The Whitaker who dealt with this sort of thing, long ago when he was part of our operation, and I always used to look on in AWE and DREAD as he dealt with it, such was my FEAR of such things, so as you can probably imagine i felt i had been RATHER BRAVE.
I wasn't the only one who's been RATHER BRAVE today in pursuit of EXCELLENCE for this single - Tim has been out and about on the streets of READING today searching for some source material for the CD onbody (i.e. the picture you get to have on the CD itself). As HINTED previously, the cover will feature a re-enactment of the record sleeve of ONE of the TWO bands mentioned in The Lesson Of The Smiths, so it only seemed RIGHT that the OTHER band should be featured somewhere else. STRANGELY, however, although Tim had LOADS of examples of the former lying around his house, he had NONE of the latter, and so he "had" (against his will, he claims) to go and actually BUY their debut album today. He CLAIMS to have been embarrassed by this, especially when the bloke in the shop WINKED at him, but i'm SURE that was just because he TOO recognised the GOOD TASTE of someone buying an album containing BOTH "A Million Love Songs" AND "It Only Takes A Minute". Well done Tim!
Closer and Closer
Here at VALID COMMAND CENTRE we're inching ever closer to COMPLETION of the next single. We've now pretty much agreed the final cover, Tim's done a GRATE design for the CD onbody, and CDs of the DISC itself are now with all Validators for final approval. All we need now is a QUOTE from the manufacturers, a big fat CHEQUE from "the label" (i.e. ME) and a bit of work over the weekend putting everything together, and we're ready to GO! WHOO!
After that it'll be time for me to sit down and try and work out who to SEND it to. So far all I've thought of really is Everyone At BBC6, as that's all I ever tend to listen to, so if anyone reading this has any GOOD IDEAS about radio places we should think of sending it too, also OTHER MEDIA, then i would be very grateful indeed!
After a late night at work - doing WORK! - i had a short stroll across London's Strangely Quiet Fitzrovia to The Social, there to go and see Lazarus Clamp, featuring our own TIGER McClure. I was Pleasantly Surprised by how nice the venue was, as the one in Nottingham is... well, NOT one of my favourite venues, as the stage is about ten foot in the air and faces a WALL so that the sound is ROTTEN, but the London was dead nice, and the sound, as it turned out, was GRATE.
I came in, once again, just as George was finishing, then bumped into Mr Stu Baboon - INDEED it turned out there were SEVERAL Dead Nice People I Knew there, so I had a lovely time CHATTING VARIOUSLY, it was really nice!
The next band on were OK - they were just a drummer and a woman playing guitar, and they were both EXCELLENT at doing both, for the first half of the set it was really COMPELLING watching them, as they were SO good. There's a lot of LOOSE TALK about bands being "tight", as if it is an End In Itself, but when you see people playing together who really ARE incredibly tight, like they're playing as one INCREDIBLY TOGETHER MACHINE, then it is moving AND exciting, it is a GROOVE. I sometimes think this is the POINT of The World Of Music: we spend all our lives TRAPPED within the confines of our own skulls and most of what we do for fun is an attempt to get outside of our own brains and connect with other people's e.g. by LAUGHING to demonstrate we think the same thing to - hey! - falling into THE LOVE. When you see people LOCKED IN and GROOVING together then it has the same sort of function, it feels like there's TELEPATHY going on, and it's DEAD exciting.
However there wasn't that much else going on - like I say, they were FANTASTIC musicians and it all sounded very NOW and DYNAMIC, but while there were playing WELL, what they were playing wasn't anything much. Also there was no real audience connection - with a charismatic singer added on then it would have been FANTASTIC, but hey! if it was as easier to DO as that was to type then the world would be AWASH with brilliance.
Anyway, after that it was time for The Clamp, who benefited IMMENSELY from the Really Good Sound System. Hugh The Drummer wasn't there so they fell back on that traditional Rock Standby line-up of guitar, banjo, violin and cello. As you do. It was all TUNEY and DELIGHTFUL, and also RELAXED - the FACT that they've done more gigs in the past year than in the previous TEN (probably) means they seem a lot more comfortable BEING in a gig this year, and the atmosphere of CASUAL DELIGHT spread across the room. It was dead good.
And after that, and a lovely wander round the room chatting to other people, it was time to head home for LO! i still have Half A Cold. Lemsip HO!
It was another weekend of ACTIVITY for me, as I pressed on with preperations for the next single. I LABORIOUSLY went through every single page of the multimedia, reformatting as I went, then went through again and re-wrote huge chunks of it (especially the annotations) and PROOFED it all. Not for the first time, i had a small attack of THE BOGGLY EYES from glaring at my computer.
That done I set to MASTERING the single itself. This was made MUCH easier on our Exciting New Computer, although once again I was forced to acknowledge how VERY MANY programs there were on the old one which I need to re-install, especially the ones for MANIPULATING SOUND. Still, I think I pretty much got it sorted, and then felt THE MASSIVE FEAR as the time came to stick it ALL on a CD. On previous occasions this has been an IMMENSE palaver, usually involving several DAYS and TENS of CDs as I tried and failed to get it right, using different machines and going to and fro between home and work to TEST each attempt. THIS time our Super-Modern WONDER MACHINE did it pretty much first go, and then with a flourish knocked off copies for The Validators in about ten minutes FLAT. I was CHUFFED!
SIDEBAR: Coo, it really is amazing though. I bought a Memory Card for our new camera on Saturday morning and when I'd finally stopped GOGGLING at the FACT that such a tiny little thing could contain SO MANY photographs i commenced GOGGLING all over again at the FACT that our computer has a SLOT for memory cards in the front of it. How did we FUNCTION without all this TECHNOLOGY eh? It be AMAZING!
Anyway, I then "tested" all the new CDs by listening to each and everyone of them, and I must say I was IMPRESSED by how GRATE it sounds! I've not listened to Never Going Back To Aldi's for AGES and had forgot how ACE it is, and Other Bands Setlists is sounding pretty NIFTY too. It all hangs together really well, I think, and the RADIO EDIT of The Lesson Of The Smiths (i.e. with swearing REMOVED) is a constant source of JOY to me.
Copies went in the post to Validators this morning, for their final approval, and I understand from various conversations with our ART DIRECTOR on Sunday (hem hem) at Little Star Designs that the single sleeve art is very nearly finished too - and it is GRATE. If all goes well then we should have everything ready to send off to the manufacturers by the end of the week, which in turn means we SHOULD be able to get it out some time in April! Clear your diary for the month, then, for ROCK!
1. I had a Cold And Flu jab the other week, and now i have HALF a cold i.e. I've got a sore throat and feel a bit woozy but have NONE of the other symptoms. Is this an NHS cutback?
2. On the news yesterday they had helicopter pictures of the Bernard Matthews factory, where we saw "the grim sight of a lorry full of turkey carcasses, leaving the plant". Call me a LENTIL CHEWING LOONIE LEFTIE if you like, but isn't that what happens there EVERY SINGLE DAY?
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
I have been having to do lots of WORK at work this week (i know - the CHEEK!) so didn't have time to properly say, but Mr Steve Lamacq DID play one of our songs on his 6Music show on Tuesday, My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, as part of a feature about ... well, people whose boss had been in an indie band once. He played the DEMO version that I recorded at Studio Sonic last year. If you'd like to hear it you can EITHER pop over to his webpage and LISTEN AGAIN to Tuesday's programme, or to our MYSPACE, where the full version awaits you. The picture that accompanies it, by the way, was done by TIM, it's him as seen on his company CV and is the SECOND bestest putative single cover he's designed this week... the other, hopefully, shall be unveiled SOON!
Do More, Eat Less
Another new song! I meant to have a go last night at putting some words to one of the tunes we JAMMED on Monday, but I wasn't sure how they went and then got distracted rather by a RIFF that suddenly fitted some old words and LO! After YEARS of attempts I finally wrote Do More, Eat Less. Whoo! As ever, words and explanation available NOW!