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Today's The Day
FINALLY, after getting ready for it for SEVEN months, our Exciting New Single, The Lesson Of The Smiths/The Gay Train is officially RELEASED today - HOORAH! If you'd like a copy of it you can find out the MANY delightful AND convenient ways to do so over on its own page, and if you'd like a PREVIEW LISTEN you can get that on our MYSPACE page.

I'm EXTREMELY glad to have reached this stage at last I must say - I'm VERY pleased with how the single turned out, but BY HECK it didn't half take a lot of effort to get it here!

And in other news, the fact that it's the last working day of the month means that another issue of our fabulously factual monthly newsletter, NEWSLETTER has just been sent out, PACKED with thrilling news of a SCINTILLATING nature. As ever, if you're NOT on the mailing list and would like to take advantage of its monthly updates, last minute local gig ALERTS and occasional SPECIAL OFFERS (and, in a SANE WORLD, who wouldn't?) then do please SIGN UP. It's free and, frankly, it's QUITE GOOD.

posted by MJ Hibbett, 30.4.07
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Bring Back My Banjo!
You find me in my WORK waiting to head out to the PUB, so I thought I'd tell you about the ACTION PACKED WEEKEND I just had. It started in RAMSGATE, heading back from the gig - i was actually only a few miles from the EARTHQUAKE (I'd just got on the train at Ramsgate when it hit, in fact) but sadly didn't feel anything. BAH!

Shortly after I'd got home myself and the Epicentre Of My Earthquake headed out down Leytonstone High Road to Holiday Music, there to buy a GUITAR. The aforesaid Rating On My Richter Scale has been learning to play guitar for the past six months or so, and so far we've managed it so that i'm not playing a GIG when she's got SCHOOL, so she's been able to use my guitar. HOWEVER, Tuesday's GIG at The Henry Holland is a DIRECT CLASH, so a new AXE was required.

When we arrived I noticed that the BANJO i'd coveted since we last went to the shop was still there. I EYED it longingly for a few minutes, until two blokes came in and picked it up, LAUGHING. "Stop laughing at my banjo!" I thought, and then became more upset as they LARKED ABOUT trying to play Duelling Banjos on it. "HOw Humorous! LOL!" they seemed to say. "GET OFF, Leave it ALONE!" I fumed, inwardly.

And then they took it to the counter and BOUGHT IT! Right in front of me!!!

I was Quite Upset, but BRAVELY battled through and into a VERY enjoyable session of Guitar Trying, which culminated in the purchase of a WELL POSH Cort Acoustic. OOH, it's lovely! I've spent a LOT of time "trying" it (I'm very helpful like that) and now i am ALSO coveting the LOVELY guitar bag we've got for it - mine is falling to bits, but this one's all PADDED on the inside with DELIGHTFUL straps and is all round COOL. WANT ONE!

Today we all rose early as a household to go on an outing. It has been EXHAUSTING, but SATISFYING: if anyone in London heard a loud noise at intervals today it was the reverberations of us TICKING things. We went to Trafalgar Square, had a coffee in the National Gallery Cafe, popped downstairs to look at some of the Van Goghs, and then went back outside to see some of the Vaisakhi festivities. NEXT we strolled through Covent Garden, bought some trainers (nice), then got some FELAFELS for lunch. ALL these items had been on a List Of Things To Do, my dears it was an operation of RUTHLESS efficiency!

We then NIPPED into the museum, on paper to see the Elgin Marbles (called The Parthenon Sculptures officially, to avoid RUBBING IT IN i guess) but actually being a lot more interest by the Rosetta Stone, which is GRATE.

And THEN, charged up with A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE we went on an extensive WALKING TOUR of Bloomsbury, that we'd got out of a BOOK. It was LOVELY - Bloomsbury is ALWAYS pretty, but it was especially so in this weather, and ESPECIALLY especially Queens Square, which I've never been to before. As we discussed on the way round, it all felt like a trip back in time, not to Georgian Times but to the SIXTIES, such was the sunny laid back atmosphere of it all.

We finished up with a walk through the Brunswick Centre, which looked like an ARCHITECTS IMPRESSION as it was clean, green with trees, and full of Happy Shoppers, Chatting Merrily. We were KNACKERED though by this point, so the Shops In My Shopping Centre and The Landlady headed off to see if they could get themselves on the outside of a DRINK, while I nipped in here to do some ADMIN, before my previously mentioned trip to the PUB.

It's lovely to do things like this - when you actually LIVE in That London you seem to see less of the Exciting Bits than tourists do, so it's GRATE to force yourself out and about every now and again, but LUMME, it's a bit knackering!

posted by MJ Hibbett, 29.4.07
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Ramsgate
A gentle stroll and a pleasant train journey found me in RAMSGATE on Friday evening, there to play The Derby Arms. Ramgsate, like so many places at the very END of the country, is a funny old place - it looks like they ran out of things to put their, so everything is a bit too spaced apart. I walked down the hill to the PUB where Mr D Lock had asked me to play, to see a poster saying that, tonight, Ramsgate would be added to my list of CONQUESTS!

I said hello to Dan, dropped off my luggage, and then went for a STROLL down into town. It turned out to be a bit further than expected, but once there i CHECKED OUT the harbour and then went down onto the beach - hey, it would have been RUDE not to. It all seemed slightly FADED, like once upon a time people used to GO there, but now the only customers for the arcade machines were locals.

A HIKE up the hill back to the pub, and I was soon enjoying a CHAT with Dan and Pals, which I rather rudely interrupted to do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Red & White Sockets
  • Mental Judo
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • This was my FIRST set, which Dan And Co seemed to quite like, but didn't exactly win over the locals. In one corner were the Pigeon Racers Club (I'd thought they were NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS as they all carried what looked like Geiger Counters, but actually they were Pigeon Timers) who resolutely carried on their meeting, in another corner was a CARD SCHOOL, and in front of me were some REGULARS, many of who DETERMINEDLY refused to even LOOK at me, despite me being a) LOUD and b) about two feet away from me. In my SECOND set on bloke sat within touching distance of ME, reading the paper and refusing to even turn round. AS IS HIS RIGHT!

    Being ignored in such a determined way is perhaps more worrying than being GLARED at - I did manage to force a couple of them to smile with a West Ham related Topical NOTE during Boom Shake The Room tho, which felt like a VICTORY, and they were quite friendly when i WASN'T disturbing their Friday Night Outing. Still, after about 40 minutes of BEER and LARFS it was time for me to go back and do THIS:
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • It felt a little bit like I was now going TOO FAR - they'd put up with me the first time, but to go back again was being RUDE - but I actually quite enjoyed myself. As stated, there was a small group who seemed to quite like it, and an even smaller group (aforesaid D Lock) who were singing along, and it was good fun to be doing some of the OUTER REACHES of my setlist. ALSO it's always jolly when people try to ignore you - the FREAKOUT in Do The Indie Kid was the longest I've ever done it solo - so it was all FINE really. It WAS however nice to be able to get back into the BEER and CHAT section of the evening!

    I retired tired but happy to kip in - PERHAPS - the very room that Frank Muir was born in (or at least one he'd TODDLED in) and arose early next day REFRESHED and full of SEASIDE AIR. It wasn't the MOST ROCKING performance I've ever done, but it was certainly an ADVENTURE!

    posted by MJ Hibbett,
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    CRUNCHIE!
    You find me this afternoon with That Friday Feeling, both specifically today AND more generally. TODAY I am EAGER for the day to get moving so's i can NOT be sat around a bit bored but INSTEAD be on the train to RAMSGATE, where a) i've never been before and b) i shall be visiting, to ROCK, this evening. I'm playing in a pub, and usually gigs like that are DEAD good because... well, they're in a pub! Hopefully tonight will be similarly FUN. Then I've got a weekend of buying GUITARS (not for me, but still), wandering round LONDON, and going to pubs with PALS. Come on, OH TIME, get a wiggle one!

    More generally it feels that way because I'm pretty much DONE with working away on the ROCK front and I'm ready for the FUN stuff to kick in properly. I've just, reluctantly, done the LAST of my List Of Things To Do (MYSPACE action) and after an extended period of Lists Of Things To Do (ROCK) and sending stuff OUT I find myself sitting around waiting for stuff to come back. Hopefully some of it WILL, but if all feels a bit STILL and QUIET today - come on, world of ROCK, i am ready for you! Let the weekend COMMENCE!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 27.4.07
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    I'm So Futuristic I Have To Eat Breakfast Before Going To Bed
    Meanwhile, in the BLOGOSPHERE (yes!), two rather jolly items for you. First of all, the lovely Ms Jude Rogers blogs about our single HERE in a review which will cause me to SWAN ABOUT when next The Vlads convene and say "Yes, my playing is MARRESQUE!" ACE!

    Secondly, there's a new podcast from One Man And His Mic celebrating 25 years of the ZX Spectrum, which features Hey Hey 16K, which is rather nice - I've seen several Retro Retrospectives this past week or so, and they all seem to be just on the VERGE of quoting the song, and never do!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 25.4.07
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    I've Never Paid For It In My LIFE
    An exciting adventure into ADVERTISING begins for us today, as our INTERWEB ADVERTISEMENT debuts over on Daily Dinosaur Comics. They've got this ACE thing called Project Wonderful which allows you to BID for space on comics sites, and since i read Daily Dinosaur Comics ever day and LOVE it, I thought perhaps OTHER people who did might like us TOO. More importantly, I got all excited and did a JAUNTY little animated GIF for it, so once that was done I HAD to go forth and put it online - look, here it is now!

    ADVERT!

    Nice isn't it? I wonder if it'll do any good?

    posted by MJ Hibbett,
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    There's Only One Way To Find Out...
    Crikey! VIOLENCE IN THE CITY! On the way in to work this morning I popped into the post office to send off a few CDs, and two people behind me in the queue was a bloke talking VERY loudly on his mobile phone (like how people used to when it was something to show off about) to his daughter, wishing her well at school. This wasn't me eavesdropping, by the way, the whole queue and SHOP knew all about it. In front of HIM was an Intense Faced Looney who kept making REMARKS about the conversation, as they are WONT to do when in Post Office Queues. Soon he was shouting "Please keep your conversation to yourself! I was well brought up!" in that OTHER way Post Office Queue Loonies do i.e. LOUDLY, intensely, not looking at the person they're shouting out, with a SMIRK on their face as if they are speaking for everyone.

    The Loud Phone Guy then started shouting ABUSE at him, and then HIT him!! A SCUFFLE ensued and RACIST ABUSE started flying! I was by now at the counter, so turned round and started doing the "hey hey! Calm down!" thing that one is DUTY BOUND to do, whilst the Post Office Lady told them BOTH off. She was just remarking that the Post Office Queue Looney was one of their regulars, when they started AGAIN, with Loud Phone Guy getting more and more objectionable and violent (this after he'd just been speaking to his infant child...) and LOONEY continuing to be a LOONEY. I turned round to tell them BOTH off again - FISTS were being used! - and other people in the queue ROUNDED on the Loud Phone Guy and it all got A BIT MUCH.

    I said "You are BOTH being arseholes, now just calm down!" and HANDILY Post Office Lady had dealt with this kind of thing before and told them they wouldn't EITHER of them get served if they didn't stop it, and then we both pretended all was NORMAL. Crikey tho, i got me the SHAKES and the walk into work was one of INTERNAL DEBATE: who's most at fault? Loud Mouthed Racist Phone Guy or Obnoxious Post Office Queue Looney?

    Harry Hill, i feel, may have had the answer...

    posted by MJ Hibbett,
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    New Look!
    As promised yesterday, we've got a NEW LOOK for the webpage - hope you like it! It's meant to be a bit quicker to load up, a bit clearer to look at, and a bit like the cover of the EXCITING NEW SINGLE.

    Talking of which - the EXCITING NEW SINGLE is available to buy from us RIGHT NOW!. It's officially released on Monday next, but you can order it directly from us and I'll post them off as soon as they're ordered. I've also updated the SPECIAL OFFERS pages, with some new BARGAINS, in case you fancy getting some EXTRA Validator Action in your life!

    And while we're on the hard sell - if you don't fancy using Paypal you can also buy the single via Amazon (as you can with quite a lot of our stuff now) or, for the INSANELY FUTURISTIC among us, even on iTunes. You can also have a LISTEN to some of the tracks over on our MYSPACE page!

    Hopefully that will answer the NEEDS of anyone wanting out stuff, and I'll stop the AGRESSIVE CAPITALISM now, before Alan Sugar gets on the phone AGANE demanding my advice...

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 24.4.07
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    NEWS ATAK!
    Lots of FACT for you today - let's GO!
  • The GIG in Nottingham on Wednesday has been CANCELLED - boo!
  • New song, Let's Leave Our Jobs And Move To London available for your reading pleasure NOW - HOORAH!
  • Over the weekend we went to a DO, where I met Jonti from Weebl's Stuff - I said to him, JOKINGLY, "Aha! Now I have met all THREE of the Interweb Illuminati" and he - INSTANTLY said - "Oh, me, Rob and Joel?" It was a CHILLING INSIGHT into the TRUTH!
  • Early-birders on the Newsletter have but a few hours to take advantage of the Early Bird Offer, for LO! tomorrow we launch the NEW LOOK website, and the single's officially OUT there!
  • Talking of which, here's a couple of reviews, one over at Zaw Towers (excellent cover spotting!) and one at To Hell With. Thanks chaps! If anyone sees any more, do let me know won't you?

    That's the lot for now, but tomorrow: ALL CHANGE!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 23.4.07
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    Bloomsbury
    I set off on a LOVELY Spring afternoon yesterday to go and meet Mr Francis Albert Machine from the train station - he's met ME from stations so often i thought I ought to at least repay the favour ONCE. Off we strolled through scenic Bloomsbury, stopping briefly for a pub PINT, and reached Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes to find a) THE TIGER had arrived b) everything about to start happening. It was a WELL groovy little venue, like several COMPLEXES that had had a bizarre teleport accident, with a nice stage, a bar, karaoke booths, a DINER, a CINEMA and obviously BOWLING ALLEYS all jumbled up together. COOL!

    We went and sat for a chat, then The Tiger and Mrs The Tiger went for a stroll. As me and Frankie were chatting away a waitress came over and asked if we'd like any food. "Maybe some Nachos?" she said. We politely declined then spent the next half hour thinking of NOTHING BUT NACHOS. Next time she came by we GIBBERED WITH HUNGER, "Could we have some Nachos please?" I asked. "No", she said, "We don't serve them on Sundays." It was CRUEL!

    Soon The Tiger returned and The Pattisons arrived, and we sat down to DISCUSS. The rest of us had formulated a setlist even before Tim arrived - we were worried about his reaction, as it is HIS JOB, but he simply IGNORED it completely, writing out a list of EXCACTLY the same songs on the SAME piece of paper as if nothing else had been written. His wrath was thus AVOIDED. PHEW.

    More people arrived, including The Corn Based Chips In My Plate Of Nachos, and much DELIGHTFUL fun was had, as it always is on the rare occasions when the expanded Validator Family is gathered. Soon it was time for us to go on, but our commencement was DELAYED by an amp which had DIED before we'd even had a chance to mess it up. The sound guy tried to mean it to no avail, but luckily Fight Fire With Water had a SPARE and so we got going, and did THIS:
  • The Gay Train
  • Dress Sexy At My Funeral
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • We had a GRATE time, best gig we've done together in AGES! I was a bit worried about doing "Dress Sexy At My Funeral" (our SMOG cover, as it was International Smog Day and everybody had to do one) but it seemed to work out all right, and Emma was a bit worried about My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once as her vocals were really loud in the monitors, mine were very quiet, and she was DEAF in one ear due to poorliness, but everyone else seemed to think it was FINE. After those worries were passed we had an ACE time, there was DANCING and POSING and CHAT and, according to eyewitnesses, much FUNKINESS about the all round band sound. It was GRATE to be doing quite so many new and/or different songs, and it was ESPECIALLY nice to get a CHEER at the start of The Lesson Of The Smiths... although that may have been someone scoring well on the Bowling Lanes next door.

    THUS it was a happy band of Validators who packed away, with Frankie then having to RUN for his train and The Pattisons and Tigers following shortly after. Myself and the Finising Time For My Marathon Runner stuck around and watched Fight Fire With Water who were GOOD, in a very Math Rock Stylee, and then enjoyed Airport Girl doing an EXTREMELY Old Skool set - it was like seeing them about 8 years ago!

    I met several really nice people, thanked George The Promoter for doing a BRILLIANT time, and then it was all too soon time for us to go, unfortunately missing Wintergreen's set. We had a lovely day though, hopefully we will get to play there again some time!

    posted by MJ Hibbett,
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    Back In Action
    Hello England! We're back back BACK from our holiday, tanned, relaxed, and, in my case, HAIRY, as I forgot to take my razor with me and now I've got to wait a few days to shave lest I end up with the BIG WHITE ANTI-TAN around the chops of the defenestrated post-sunshine MUSH. We had a really really good time - a WILD night out in Palma on Saturday (featuring: lovely pals, DELICIOUS wine, a rockabilly club [it's the sound the kids are digging in Palma - i AM Kristian Guru Murphy!], TEQUILA, an American bar where i became CONVINCED the jukebox was telepathic before eventually realising the barman was stood behind us, listening to the bands we were talking about, and finally some angular dancing to The Cure and a STAGGER home) then a whole load of LOAFING about in our apartment, drinking PIMMS by the Pool, cooking Holiday Stew, and generally having an ACE time.

    I returned to find all SORTS had been going on with the new single, notably airplay on XFm in Scotland, 6Music, BBC Ulster, BBC Lancashire and on Marcelle Van Hoof's show to name but SOME. I've spent most of the morning packaging up and posting singles to members of the Mailing List who took up the Early Bird offer (thanks!) and then moved on to various ADMIN, including preparatons for when the aforementioned new single goes on sale. It's all been rather exciting I must say, hopefully it's the start of all MANNER of thrills, more news of which, as they happen!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 21.4.07
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    Out Of Office Auto-Reply
    It's quarter to seven and I'm in a PACKING FRENZY, so this is just a quicky to say a) gig was GRATE last night b) thanks everyone on the mailing list who's EARLY-BIRDED so far and c) have a nice week, I'm off on my holidays!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 14.4.07
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    More New Single Stuff
    Excitement MOUNTS as we move closer to the release of the new single ... well, it does where I'm sitting anyway. I've just sent out the traditional SPECIAL OFFER to members of the Mailing List, which will give them the chance to get a copy a week early and a quid cheaper - if we keep on having BENEFITS like this we shall soon have to get a Smart Club Wallet And Badges. Hmm...

    ALSO moving along the road to release, I've just put THREE of the tracks from the single onto our MYSPACE page, so's you can have a TRY before you BUY. There's also a MINI-preview of some of the artwork too.

    I'm off on holiday next week, but when I return there'll be a HEAP of new things on the site - an exciting fresh NEW LOOK, for one thing, as well as proper previews of the cover art, an update to the Special Offers in the shop and, obviously, a sales page for the single itself. It's been a LONG old time coming, i am GEARED UP like NOBODY'S BUSINESS for this to finally get going!

    I'll try and do a very quick update before I go, probably after tonight's gig (me onstage at 8.20pm!), but if I don't I hope everyone has a LOVELY week, and I'll see you when I get back!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 13.4.07
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    Yes, The Telegraph, that is CORRECT
    I am indebted to Mr D Haldane for pointing out to me THIS article in The Telegraph about how the humble UKELELE is a MUCH better choice for first instrument than the recorder, especially for the CHILDREN, for VARIOUS reasons.

    It is EERILY SIMILAR to THIS article about how the humble UKELELE is a MUCH better choice for first instrument than the recorder, especially for the CHILDREN, for VARIOUS reasons - including several NOT mentioned in the previous article.

    Does this mean we are SETTING THE AGENDA for BLUE SKY THINKING in EDUCATION now? Hey, it is a responsibility i am happy to take on, but HEY! The Media! at least give us a LINK eh?

    In other news - YIPE! Eighteen months down the line and i STILL haven't written that song - to WORK!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 12.4.07
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    What is this Earth Thing you call "Work"?
    I don't know about you but I had a GRATE Easter - Easter! Like Christmas, but for grown-ups! A festival of loafing around, drinking beer, eating chocolate and hot cross buns, and NOT having to go our and BUY loads of stuff (NB except beer, chocolate and hot cross buns) or DO anything particularly.

    I personally PARTICULARLY like this season because I work at a UNIVERSITY and so get the Thursday and Tuesday either side off EXTRA, which is just BRILLIANT - yesterday myself and the Freezing Of My Ice took the opportunity to go to the PICTURES and see "Blades Of Glory" which was a)daft b) funny c) GOOD, which was all very pleasant and, all in all, it's been six GLORIOUS WORK FREE DAYS full of GIGS and PUBS and LARFS and CHOCOLATE and general good times. HOORAH!

    HENCE i now find myself in the traditional post-Easter LULL where I find myself back at WORK almost as if i had never left, having to do things that OTHER people want me to do rather than... well, sit around watching telly, eating chocolate, drinking beer and all that sort of thing. STILL, THIS time i have hatched a cunning plan to come in to work THIS week when other people have gone away on holiday then NEXT week - AHA! - i am off on holiday MYSELF, just when they'll have come back. HA! It is a GENIUS PLAN!

    Meanwhile, in ROCK, i learn that we've already had the first official play of the new single, over on wonderful Phoenix FM. Thanks chaps, hopefully it will be the first of SEVERAL!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 11.4.07
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    Poptimism
    The giddy whirl of ROCK (or in this case, POP) continued to whirl giddily yesterday as myself and the Day Off In My Bank Holiday Weekend headed over to scenic Clerkenwell for the POPTIMISM ALL-DAYER, as organised by King Of All Chaps Mr Carsmile Steve. We arrived to find young Myles, of the Kooba Radio, in the bar and then went upstairs to find a whole HEAP of other people loafing around playing board games and drinking beer, and also listening to a chap called ELI playing guitar. He was playing, it seemed to us, a bunch of old country and western tunes (tho I'm not sure if they were actually his own songs) and it was all round a DELIGHTFUL way to spend a slightly boozy Good Friday afternoon.

    I'd been alerted earlier to ISSUES with the venue, in that the chap next door had been complaining about the noise, so things needed to be kept down to a quieter level of SOUND than normal. Rather than being FRUSTRATING or YOKED DOWN BY THE MAN, this actually made for a very pleasant AMBIENCE, as nothing was ever too loud to blot out CHAT, and all was very nice indeed. After some low level DJing it was then time for a young lady whose name I can't remember who did some very nice FOLKY type playing, then some more music and then a trio who were an electronic-ISH type of band, who played GAMELY through with electric guitar, mandolin, and a MAC full of samples. It was so quiet that you could hear the STRINGS being played on the electric guitar louder than the noise it was meant to be making, and this was UTILISED to excellent effect when they said "The guitar should sound like this: GRRRRRR!! Use your imagination". This was a VERY good thing.

    And then it was time for ME to go on - as the PA was a) so quite and b) a bit dodgy, it was a pretty PEASY decision to go Totally Acoustic and do THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Red And White Sockets
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Oh boy, i had a GRATE time! Being unfettered by electricity meant I could have a bit of a DANCE AROUND, and being in the corner of the room meant I could turn and play different bits to different groups of people. It was just a LOT of FUN, and people ALSO seemed to enjoy it - there was singing along, there was LARFS and there was even - rather brilliantly - a GROAN as someone realised how the last chorus was going to be RE-APPRAISED just before it happened in My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once. My favourite favourite bit though was Mr C Steve SINGING ALONG LOUDLY to the "Peace and love is still a bloody good idea" bit in The Lesson Of The Smiths - he'd been making an excellent job of HOSTING all afternoon, and suddenly here we were JAMMING like Jools and Weller on the telly. Except, you know, a lot nicer. I also did an ENCORE of Hey Hey 16K BEFORE the end, when someone requested it before I did my last song, which actualy worked out rather nicely.

    So yes, it was a very happy Hibbett who sat down after the set, to be presented with a form for the LIVE FOCUS GROUP. This was to be a live version of something I've occasionally taken part in by email, where Tom from Freaky Trigger sends out a list of 20 songs which people mark out of 10 and then post COMMENTS. I'd envisioned the LIVE version being a bit - sorry to say - dreary, with people taking it in turns to POSIT OPINIONS. How WRONG i was - it was INSANELY GRATE! It was like a Bits 'n' Pieces POP QUIZ round but - believe it or not - EVEN BETTER! He'd play a song, we'd write down our SCORE, argue between ourselves in small groups about what each of us was going to comment and then, when we'd had enough, hold up a picture of a SAD KITTEN to indicate this. It was ACE - FURIOUSLY displaying a picture of a sad kitten in the face of crap songs is a LOT of fun, singing along LOUDLY to Take That when other people have raised the kitten is ALSO hilarity GUARANTEED, and there's a bit of NERVES involved in looking around to see what everybody ELSE is doing with their kittens before decided when to raise yours. The only disappointment, frankly, was that NOBODY (well, except me) wrote or drew anything on the REVERSE of the kitten. In a pub situation it would surely be only SECONDS before someone was holding up a picture of a willy, but last night there was only i showing "GRATE!" during Take That. Maybe next time eh?

    After all that fun it was time for us to leave, escorting young Myles as we left. It was a lovely lovely way to spend a Bank Holiday and, in the words of The Carpenters, it's only just begun!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 7.4.07
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    Leicester
    Back once again to Leicester yesterday for a gig that was proving DIFFICULT to sort out. As noted a little way below, this was subject to last minute alterations, and quite a bit of stress at this end to sort it out. The short version is that we'd originally booked to play at Sumo, with us onstage at 10pm. We later discovered that the chaps who'd booked us were THEMSELVES playing a gig at The Charlotte that night which was night, to say the least, an IDEAL situation. You can't expect someone to promote YOUR gig when they're also promoting THEMSELVES just round the corner! However, there was a tragic accident earlier in the week when a young local chap died suddenly - he was a much liked member of the local SCENE too, so everybody was really upset and especially the guy doing the sound at Sumo, who was unable to do it now.

    It looked like the only option was to move us over to The Charlotte after all - in theory it was a good move, as there would be people there anyway, but the only way they could fit us on to the bill was for us to play first, at 8.30pm, upstairs rather than downstairs. CANCELLATION was also an option, but as I knew people were going to be coming down ANYWAY, and as I'd also BOOKED and paid for my hotel room, i wasn't keen!

    As well as this Emma was off SICK, and Frankie ended up having to drive - our lovely little plan of a nice gig in Leicester where we could play the songs we'd been learning at a nice time to some PALS at a convenient time was all in DISARRAY. As is my WONT I tried to put a POSITIVE SPIN on things, but found that, actually, when time expressed his annoyance at the situation i could actually AGREE with him. This felt BETTER, as I was no longer INTERNALLY FIBBING, but also made me feel like a bit of an ARSE, as I was complaining about things that really, On The Grand Scale Of Things, don't really matter, ESPECIALLY in the light of the week's events in Leicester. You can't really in good conscience have a STROP about your starting time when somebody's friend has died, can you? GUILT!

    We went round the corner to The Criterion and had a LOVELY pint, and noted with INTEREST that there was a stage there, and we harboured delicious DREAMS of playing a proper gig in a place with NICE beer... then went back to The Charlotte to do our soundcheck. There was no official soundman upstairs, so we sorted it out ourselves, then went back downstairs to look for Frankie who arrived with LESS THAN A MINUTE to spare, marched upstairs, and played THIS:
  • The Gay Train
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • The gig bit was PRETTY GOOD I must say, or at least it felt that way to us, tho it seems that we are still not exactly EXPERT at doing our own sound. I messed up Hey Hey 16K, which i seem to ALWAYS do - in fact, it was me thinking "Aha! We seem to be playing the song CORRECTLY for a change!" which made me lose my place and go WRONG - and which was a SHAME as i NOTED a couple of people in the audience actually singing along. People crowded round the door quite a bit, which meant that halfway through there was a MOB of people who couldn't get in! As Tim said, it must have seemed to THEM that this was the BUZZINGEST GIG EVER, even though there was AMPLE space once you got in!

    So yes, that was all NICE and people seemed to quite like it, and the organiser chaps seemed happy - again, they're such nice blokes that i felt IMMENSE GUILT at even INWARDLY complaining about the way things had been moved round. Frankie left for home - we should TIME him, i'm sure there is a WORLD RECORD attempt at SPEEDIEST In And Out At Gig in the offing - and then we went downstairs, to once again SWAY in feelings, as I realised that there were now LOADS of people downstairs, including a couple of folks who had just been to the Sumo to see us, discovered the change, and dashed over to just miss us. ALSO the fact that our early playing meant other potential VIEWERS weren't there, and ALSO the fact that this was, after all, in LEICESTER, where one is ALWAYS keen to LOOK GOOD, and I found myself heading downwards to THE DUMPS again. I'd wanted to watch My Sad Captains who were on next, and had been ACE when we played with them last year, but found that what i REALLY needed was to HIE round the corner for a PINT.

    So that's what we did, pausing only to say farewell to Tim who was off to - ROCK AND ROLL! - do a big shop on the way home! In the pub I discovered a juke box full of ELVIS and also tables full of PALS, which helped IMMENSELY in the cheering up stakes, and the evening continued in an extremely JOLLY way.

    I still feel a bit fed up about how a gig I'd been looking forward to so much went wrong, and also IMMENSELY GUILTY about a) feeling that way in the circumstances and b) even WANTING the gig to be more. Part of me thinks "Ooh, look at him - does a radio session and suddenly thinks he's LIAM GALLAGHER or something, to GOOD to play the upstairs room at The Charlotte!" and I wish that part of me would pack it in!

    I got back to my HOTEL at a reasonable time and woke this morning at a very UNREASONABLE hour which meant i was able to get the train and be HOME in That London by 9am - ACE! WHen I got back The Topping On My Pizza pointed out, WISELY as ever, that this is all part of the ROLLERCOASTER of EMOTIONS that is ROCK - there'll be gigs just like this again in the future, just as there'll be GRATE ones, and that is all part of the RIDE. She is CORRECT of course, and hopefully this evening's gig at POPTIMISM will be back to ROCKING FORM.

    I hope so anyway - if not, we may turn EMO!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 6.4.07
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    And They're Off!
    You find me today QUITE EXCITED, as I've just returned from a trip down Leytonstone High Road, posting envelopes as i went, for LO! this morning i spent a merry hour or so STUFFING ENVELOPES for the Grand Promotional Campaign for the new single. About 120 of the 140 have GONE, with the rest waiting for new STAMPS, then there'll be another BATCH going to PRESS in the next week or so, so please LISTEN OUT for it on the AIRWAVES won't you?

    It feels as if all this has happened a bit suddenly - it's been SUCH a long process to get the CDs done and ready (originally we were going to release it last October!) that it feels MIGHTY STRANGE to think it's actually out soon. Mighty Strange, but also MIGHTY FINE.

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 5.4.07
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    Tomorrow Night - CHANGE!!
    I've just found out that there's been a Change Of Plan for tomorrow night's GIG, we're now playing at The Charlotte, NOT at Sumo, and we'll be on EARLIER, either at 8pm or 9pm, depending on other bands playing.

    Sorry to anyone who this messes around, it is due to Unfortunate and Unavoidable Circumstances, but hopefully it'll work out OK - the evening starts at 7pm and there's a whole BATCH of other bands playing, including Dirty Backbeats and My Sad Captains, both of whom we've played with before and LIKED!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 4.4.07
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    A Mighty Storm Is Brewing
    Off to Derby for me last night for BAND PRACTICE - as with last time, I stopped off in Leicester on the way for some TEA, and had some Indian-style Mexican food, which was ODD but NICE. It's always a little strange to be told you have PANEER on your BURRITO, but i guess that is the beauty of a COSMOPOLITAN place like Leicester.

    I hopped back on the train, went to the Brunswick Arms for my traditional pre-practice pint of PEDIGREE (which was DELICIOUS) then went to the practice room where i was AMAZED to find all Validators (with the exception of Emma, who is POORLY) already there!! I am nearly always the first to arrive, so this was a bit of a SHOCK.

    We got set up, discussed topics relating to the new single, and then BURST into an extremely organised and PRODUCTIVE SESSION. We ran through Do The Indie Kid with EASE (we know it now!) and then had a GOOD couple of goes at My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once - last time it felt like we'd run it into the ground a bit, but this time we slowed it down a tiny amount and generally played it BETTER (technical term) and we were back on track with it. Then we had a Proper Practice of Best Behaviour - when i say PROPER i mean we went back and re-did things, tried out different ways of doing stuff, and were generally THOROUGH about it. It's even got a proper worked out ending, GET US!

    It was also at this point that i got set my HOMEWORK - to finally learn how to play BARRE CHORDS! I can do the E minor shape FINE, at least as far as a F or F# minor goes, but that's about IT, and as complaints were raised BOTH about the way I play B flat AND C minor, I resolved there and then to put some EFFORT in to get it RIGHT.

    During all this PROFESSIONALISM I'd broken a string, and once again it took nearly 20 minutes to change it, as my guitar, lovely though it is, has a LUDICROUS system of String Management that makes it INCREDIBLY FIDDLY to get broken string out. That done we went through the SURPRISE HIT of the last practice, We Can Start Having Fun, which sounded GOOD, tho the lack of Emma was ESPECIALLY noticeable.

    Happy with our work we then had a go at learning Dress Sexy At My Funeral, the song we're doing for the SMOG gig in a couple of weeks... as discussed previously I had intended to WRESTLE this one to the floor but it turned into an ALL OUT WAR - and one that I think we WON. Further to my own adaptations we gave it a THOROUGH going over, changing the key, then the tempo, then the entire structure, until it was a) EXTREMELY ROCKING b) VERY DIFFERENT INDEED. I think we got at the GOODNESS of the song (especially Tom, who makes it RECOGNISABLE!), but it will be interesting to see how People Who Like Smog take it. I am picturing GLARES!

    By now we were MOTORING so decided to have a go at Do More, Eat Less. It wasn't really working in the scratchy, jerky kind of way I'd written it, but then Frankie unleashed a MASSIVE bassline which made it all work in a very different way (although he may regret DOING so, as the PAIN of playing it could be felt on the other side of the room). We all joined in on a version that was QUIET and oddly DYNAMIC, ESPECIALLY on the BRIDGE which previously had been a bit crappy and embarrassing but which now The Rhythm Section have made into an understated thing of JOY. It is DEAD GOOD - and the song will be even better when the ILL-ADVISED GUITAR SOLO that emerged, groaning, towards the end is replaced with VIOLINS.

    With all that done we had a quick attempt at The Stores Of Not To Be, which didn't really go anyway, before falling into discussion of recording and practices - here Tim's years of experience came into play as he made one of the BEST suggestions we've ever had in these sessions: "Shall we talk about this in the pub?"

    Thus we DASHED back to the Brunswick, getting in JUST as the last orders bell was going, for a bit more chat and a bit more BEER. We left full of THORT and PLANS, ready to meet again TOMORROW to bring some of them into the light of GIG!

    posted by MJ Hibbett,
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    The Social
    It's really nice and EASY doing gigs in London's fashionable Fitzrovia, as it is about 5 minutes walk from where I walk, and last night I was able to do TWO things there. First of all I nipped to The Yorkshire Grey, a NICE pub, to see if i could book their upstairs room. I COULDN'T, which was a bit of a bugger, but i DID meet my brother and his young lady, who were having a BEER there in preperation for my gig later that evening.

    Said GIG was occurring at The Social just round the corner, to which i removed myself shortly afterwards. It all started really early, at 7.30pm with Former Utopia a.k.a. GEORGE, who also put the gig on. It was the first time I'd seen him play an ELECTRICAL set and was MOST impressed, especially by his guitar playing which was ACE - he is one of those PEOPLE (like Mr F A Machine) who seem to be able to play anything well. I do not find this annoying and upsetting, and anyone who says I do is fibbing.

    Shortly after this the Chord Diagrams In My SongBook arrived and it was time for ME to go on, and do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • Never Going Back To Aldi's
  • Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Gay Train
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I got off to a bit of a SHAKEY start, with an version of My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once having to be ABORTED because I'd completely messed it up, and words in several of the other songs early on going AWRY. This happened because I had a bit of NERVES - The Social is a funny old venue, it's NICE but does not seem to have been designed by somebody who has EVER been to a gig - the sound desk is behind the stage, you can't get to the toilets if there's a drummer, and it's all arranged so that people sitting at tables wanting to have a chat are RIGHT at the front next to the stage, whilst other people get tidied away along a long corridor. As I say, it's got quite a nice atmosphere, and would be good for a) quiet JAZZ b) CHATS but feels WEIRD for GIGS. It's also quite a LONDON COOL sort of venue, with people being COOL in it, or at least that's how it always feels to my COUNTRY BOY INNER BRAIN, so I managed to convince myself that everybody near me would DISLIKE me intensely, so i would have to WORK to win them round.

    Thinking about THAT, and how to DO that took up quite a lot of my BRANE ENERGY, and when THAT happens areas which would usually be TASKED with Remembering The Words get seconded to other facilities, and so i PANIC and forget things, and that is what happened here. HOWEVER i WRESTED control of the functions and managed to FOCUS myself a bit better, and after that things all seemed to go OK, and I rather enjoyed it. I enjoyed doing a couple of OLDER songs on request, and especially liked It Only Works Because You're Here, just because it is NICE.

    After that we watched Michael L Clamp from the back of the room, who was as ACE as ever - he always makes me feel FRIVOLOUS, such is his MIGHT - and then we had to LEAVE. I've got a band practice tonight and didn't want to be out late, so felt it best to FLEE before Thee More Shallows came on, so I wasn't barging my way out during their set. HOWEVER, good intentions rather failed when we emerged and saw a PUB, into which we WENT, so this morning i am a little tired and worn. Still, it's EASTER soon - add this to the FACT that I work for a University, and you get TOP UNIVERSITY PERK NUMBER ONE: a free (nearly) week off work, starting on Thursday! HOORAH!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 3.4.07
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    Never Been Superstitious
    There's a fresh and exciting NEW SONG up in the SONGS section today, called Never Been Superstitious, which I wrote especially for a GIG in a couple of weeks. I'd promised to write one, so i am quite chuffed/RELIEVED to know I'll NOT be sat writing it on the tube on the way there!

    posted by MJ Hibbett, 2.4.07
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