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The Last Working Day Of The Month
It's the last working day of the month once more, which means it's time for The Last Working Day Of The Month once again! For those who don't know, this is our monthly Newsletter, which as well as being FACT PACKED does occasionally do special offers and BREAKING NEWS too - if you'd like to sign up, you can do so HERE!
It's a particularly RAMMED issue this month, it feels like AGES since the single came out, but it's actually only four weeks, and a LOT seems to have happened since then - CHECK IT OUT!
Chips & Cheese: Another Portion
I had another couple of hours HOME ALONE last night, so filled the time in my usual manner by doing another song for YouTube, this time the HOT NEW HIT Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine (also available in LYRICAL and ANNOTATED format, should you wish). I really like this song and, as I actually WRIT it on the ukelele I thought it'd be a good one to do - see what you reckon!... and if you're wondering why I'm grinning like a MANIAC in the first frame, it's because i noticed that both of the other videos so far start with me wearing my STOOPID FACE.
There IS a difference between that and my usual face - OI!
Abbey Park Festival Weather
On Saturday we went for a LENGTHY STROLL around Maida Vale, which was SMASHING, especially as Scheduled Engineering Works meant we had to take a detour and go via St Johns Wood, and thus ABBEY ROAD. HOORAH! It still gets me all excited, and i have been there MANY TIMES, LO! even having been INSIDE it once when we mixed The Fabians' single. We also had a wander round Little Venice, and AMAZING Garden Centre from a parallel dimension hidden behind some houses, and sundry other WONDERS. And then we came home and i watched QUITE POSSIBLY the BEST episode of Doctor WHo... EVER!
All was lovely and well and things continued in this fashion on Sunday, when I stomped off through the rain to St Pancras, to get me a train up to Leicester where I was due to play at the Abbey Park Festival "After Show Party". For those unaware, the Abbey Park Festival was a LONG running event in Leicester's Abbey Park where, once a year, there'd be a day of local bands. My earliest memories of it are Cornershop (the first time they were famous) playing in a big marquee, but over time it developed to have several stages, including in the last three or four years a Sorted Stage, upon which i played in various GUISES and also helped RUN some times. The last one was about eight years or more ago when (i think) the organisation that had been set up to run it (after the council stopped funding it) went bankrupt.
It was back again this year - SORT OF - as part of a larger festival celebrating 125 years of Abbey Park itself, but unfortunately ALSO back again was the traditional Abbey Park Festival weather. When it was sunny the festival was a BRILLIANT day, as loads of people who'd never go and see local bands would turn up for a look in the sunshine, but if it was rainy it'd be awful, as no-one would bother. REPORTS from the EVENT seemed to suggest it was more the latter this time, which was rather a shame.
It certainly was a grotty old day - after soundchecking i STRUGGLED out into the RAIN, also WIND, to find some chips and after 15 minutes felt MOST dejected, so goodness knows how GRIM it would have been to be doing that in the MUD also. I got back into the warm and was soon met by The Lawsons, Mr Whitaker and Phil, and Ms E Pemberton, dedicated Away Supporter, and we fell into CHAT of a jolly kind for a short time before i was due on stage, where I did THIS:
The set COMMENCED with me feeling a bit NERVOUS/TENSE, as the bulk of the people who were there were PUNKUAL TYPES who'd come to see New York Scum Haters, the RAMONES covers band who were on after me, and there was a feeling in my MIND that there were looking ASKANCE at me. I don't think this was necessarily the case, as there WAS clapping and indeed an ENCORE, but sometimes these ideas get lodged in yr MIND and there's not much you can do about it! I did TWO brand new songs, Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid and Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine, both of which felt quite good, though it was the LATTER I enjoyed the most. After THOSE were done, however, things started to PICK UP for me rather as i CAREERED into what was meant to be my traditional ending SECTION, which starts with >The Gay Train and The Lesson Of The Smiths, then would usually go on to Easily Impressed and Boom Shake The Room... HOWEVER, I got the general idea that AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION might NOT be the best thing to do in this particular case, HENCE the VEERING OFF into a few rather OLD songs - Fucking Hippy was IMMENSELY pleasurable to do, and as Mr Whitaker had been shouting for Payday Is The Best Day I did that too - it felt GOOD!
And then, as I say, my INNER PARANOIA was EXTREMELY surprised to get an encore, though perhaps NOT quite as surprised as the AUDIENCE seemed to be when I paid tribute to Our George. HAPPY now with what had occurred we retired to the downstairs bar, where we were joined by Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey for a VERY pleasant evening of discussion on Subjects Various.
Next morning I left The Whitakery (where I'd been gracefully HOSTED) fairly early, hoping to avoid the legions of Derby fans who'd be going down to Wembley. I failed utterly, as the train was PACKED with them, but I needn't have worried as they were all LOVELY and on EXTREME Best Behaviour - it reminded me of how JOLLY and EXCITED everybody had been all those years ago when I went to see Posh. The best bit though was just as we were Arriving Into Saint Pancras, when the announcer said "Welcome to London, please mind the gap" (etc etc) "... and COME ON YOU RAMS!"
Mr Pete Green
My Bank Holiday weekend started rather GROOVILY with a trip to leafy ISLINGTON on Friday night, to attend Beat Hotel at The Buffalo Bar. I met my young brother and a PAL for a drink beforehand, and together we went downstairs, where I bumped into LOADS of nice people who i knew - this particularly was ACE, as it reminds me of the BYGONE days of The Magazine in The Leicester... ANYWAY we had a bit of a wander round and a chat, and then it was time for Mr Pete Green to come on.
He was BLOODY GRATE - i have seen him on numerous occasions, but this was far and away the BEST. Afterwards he said he'd felt a bit tense, and if this is the case then I would advise people to ring him up and tell him his fridge has broken or that someone is out to GET him before ever gig, as it seemed to make things ROCK. CONFIDENT, assured, in control and all round ACE, it was a MASTERFUL performance which made them there songs of his SHINE OUT. I was a) impressed b) ODDLY MOVED to see him being SO VERY GOOD. HOORAH!
After that we watched Pocketbooks before HOTFOOTING it over the road for a healthy life-giving PINT - the weekend, it had COMMENCED!
As it says in the ACCOMPANYING NOTES this song POPPED into my head first thing this morning, and very happy I was to welcome it into the world. I think PART of the compunction to write it came from the idea currently being floated in Validatory Circles to make our next EP and INDIE THEMED affair (as opposed, of course, to our usual JAZZ ROCK FUSION themes), possibly with Do The Indie Kid as lead track and OTHER songs to accompany it - you can probably guess at least one of them from the new songs list! ONE thought I'd had was to use one of the MUSIC OF THE FUTURE tracks we recorded the other week as a sort of background basis for something else, and it was with an ear COCKED in that direction that i came up with the fairly LIGHT and WISTFUL tune for this one, which, it could be argued, is also slightly INDIE THEMED.
We'll see how we get on anyway, in the meantime i'm quite pleased with it, the last bit especially gets me a bit NOSTALGIC, but then i suppose it would really, wouldn't it?
Oh The Giddy Whirl
This week i am the THE DANDY ABOUT TOWN, as it is ALL GO - after ART at the weekend and TRAVEL on Tuesday you might think me ready for a NAP on Wednesday, but NO INDEED as I met The Pasta With My Bolognase and some of her PALS to go out first for a LIGHT MEAL (it was actually quite HEARTY, but as i understand it ONE refers to such things a slight meals when ONE is out on the London Social Whirligig) and then to a GIG, to see Charlie Parr at Spitz. We had a VERY pleasant evening, meeting Young Myles, TV's Claire Dicko and Mr Stu Baboon (who's gig it was) there, and seeing Charlie Parr, who is a BLUES MAN. During the evening it STRUCK me that Americana is, to me, like GOTH used to be when i was a younger man, INSOMUCH as it's not necessarily my FAVOURITE sort of music (tho it's fair enough and there are some GOOD THINGS within it), but OH MY the NICEST people seem to like it. I wonder if there is a LINK between Americana Buffs and Ex-Goths? Can someone do a SURVEY please?
LAST night yet another person left my work, so it was WORK DRINKS - it is happening so often now that people are Seriously Considering instituting a Secret Santa system for leaving gifts, in order to make sure people get something DECENT in the face of diminishing collection contributors - then TONIGHT I am off to the Buffalo Bar to see Mr Pete Green. TOMORROW we're on a Household Day Out to look round Maida Vale, on SUNDAY I'm going to be playing at the Firebug in Leicester and then on MONDAY... well, on Monday I'm planning to finally have that nap!
Hit The North
I took the afternoon off yesterday, and at lunchtime was happily ensconced on the train to NEWCASTLE, where I had an appointment with ROCK. On the way up I occupied myself with some READING (currently STEAMING through The Pickwick Papers which is GRATE, except that it makes me want to pronounce the letter "V" as "W"... it's wery wexing) and also some HOMEWORK, listening to the current batch of recordings to work out what to play on the guitar and come up with some SUGGESTIONS of the String Arrangements. I had an (I THINK) dead good idea for Do More Eat Less, it is PETER AND THE WOLF TASTIC!.
After a while we got to Darlington, where I disembarked to meet Mr Bob Fischer, from BBC Radio Tees. We drove over to Middlesborough and had a LENGTHY discussion about Gigs, Doctor Who, and JOHN OTWAY, which was all rather brilliant. We parked near the BBC Studio, walked into, through, and out the other side of an office block (a short cut, apparently) then over the road into the BBC where we were soon in a studio having a CHAT, and where I did the following songs:
I had a LOVELY time, as I'm sure will be in evidence when the show gets broadcast - not sure when that'll be, but i shall OF COURSE keep you INFORMED. Bob gave me a lift to Middlesborough station and from there I got the train back to Darlington and then on to Newcastle again.
The gig of the evening was occurring at Newcastle Arts Centre, which I found fairly easily. Soundchecks hadn't really started, so I popped round the corner for some Chip-based TEA then came back to have a read for an hour or so. I did a SUPER FAST soundcheck then went outside to see if anyone was coming. Rather brilliantly the whole KREW from Overground were there - Overground being the people who used to do radio plugging for AAS, as well as Sorted and Fortuna Pop. It was especially nice to see Lee from THEM, who I used to speak to quite often back in days of yore, but had never actually met, and me and he and John The Publisher sat down for BEER and CHAT, during which I was AMAZED to learn that Pear Cider is drunk my MEN in Newcastle. At the Peterborough Beer Festival it is called Perry and is drunk exclusively by The Ladies (especially those who have been dragged along by their significant others on the promise that "there are OTHER things apart from BEER" and so there's always a MASSIVE queue) - i may have gone on about this a bit too much tho... also in attendance were Dave and Susan, old pals of Tim's, lovely people and, in Dave's case, a fellow alumni of such LEGENDARY Bands as The Virgin Actress and The Torture Garden, which loom large in Mr Pattison's personal legend.
While I spoke to them Mr Ian Boddy was playing his AMBIENT set on the keyboards, but soon it was my turn to hit the stage, and THIS is what I hit it with:
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. There weren't a whole lot of people there, and with everyone spread out in sits around the Fairly Large room it felt like i was the auditionee for a BROADWAY SHOW, but they all seemed to enjoy themselves, and i LIKED it. Afterwards there was a good deal more CHAT before we all went and watched thirty minutes of EXTREME NOISE TERROR in the shape of JazzFinger, 50% of whom was Hass from Overground, making FEEDBACK. It was oddly restful - it was like a live recreation of the noise you get in your ears when you get home from a REALLY loud gig.
Afterwards we cleared off, me to John The Publishers to meet his cat, and then to KIP, sleeping SOUNDLY. This morning it was a quick nip to the station then a very EASY journey home, seeing The Angel Of The North on the way down - that's the second Anthony Gormley in a WEEK for me, as went and looked at Event Horizon at the weekend. ART REVIEW: Both THINGS were dead good. I got in to work just after lunch, slightly disbelieving that I'd been in the distant North just this morning, happy to have done so, and KNACKERED!
Reviewing: PIECE OF PISS
It's a BUSY week for me this week (including the Evolution Festival tomorrow night - click on "NERO" for a FRIGHTENING Hibbett Close-Up!) so it was arranged that I'd spend this weekend LOAFING AROUND, and very nice it was too. I watched a LOT of telly and yesterday went to the pictures. Thus: REVIEWS!
Doctor Who: Series One - nearly finished this now. Aaah, wasn't Christopher Eccleston lovely? I'd forgotten QUITE how ACE this series was, once again i CHEERED at the "wipe every last stinking dalek out of the sky" and am preparing to CRY at the "have a fantastic life" bit.
Doctor Who: Series Three - this is turning out to be BLOODY GRATE too tho - it's ALL been good so far, and we've STILL got Human Nature, The Steven Moffat Episode, Captain Jack AND Mr Saxon to go. Me: EXCITED!
Gavin & Stacey - we happened upon the first two episodes on Saturday night and LOVED it, so watched episode three last night and a) LARFED b) went "Aaah! It's FUNNY but also dead SWEET and sort of old fashioned. But mostly funny - HOORAH!
SPIDERMAN 3 - went on Sunday afternoon, it was obviously NOT as good as Spiderman 1 but MUCH better, i thought, than Spiderman 2, largely because it FELT like proper comics, with all the different stories going on and ESPECIALLY because of the TEAM-UP. That was GRATE! I wish Superhero Films would do that more often, instead of BORING Origin Stories or fighting one BORING super baddy. How much BETTER would Superman Returns have been if it had had BRAINIAC in it too, also Batman? Answer: INFINITELY. I also got quite excited about the new Fantastic Four film, he's going to say "It's Clobberin' Time" again isn't he? I am HOLDING OUT for a mention of Aunt Petunia this time!
Control Alt Delete
Another afternoon at home with my ukelele whilst The Women are out, and what's a chap to do but record another Song For YouTube? Just this minute gone online is a UKE-TASTIC version of my old song Control Alt Delete (here's the LYRICS and NOTES, should you require them). It's a song I wrote several years ago now which never quite TWANGED the BRAIN ELASTIC of The Validators, so has languished ever since, waiting for a chance to be GOT OUT. I only ever played it once, when I went down to Brighton that time for The Ukelele Research and Development night a couple of years ago, and INDEED played it on the UKE that time too, but tho it has fallen from the Discography it's never been lost from my HEART, as I really like it.
My only disappointment with this version is that it does NOT include the phrase "Let's Reboot The Mainframe" which appears in the LYRICS, just because that was supposed to herald a LEAD GUITAR BREAK which, being unable to break out AXE LICKS with my toes, I was unable to do. Otherwise I must say I quite like it - see what you think!
Back To Tin Pan Alley
I went off to lunch a bit early today to nip down to Studio Sonic on London's Famous Denmark Street (or, at least, the alley behind it) for another of my Lunchtime Demo Sessions.
It turned out REALLY WELL - for some reason i got THE FEAR just before I arrived, and felt a bit nervy all through the recording of my elected songs, but when I listened back to them they sounded GRATE. I started off with A Million Ukeleles which ROUSED my INNER RABBLE, then moved swiftly on to Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. It sounds EVEN MORE Smithsy on TAPE than it does in my HEAD and i was TEMPTED to go back and overdub the Exciting Guitar LICK i'd thought of, but realised that a) that would probably LOWER the MARR levels and b) there wasn't really enough time, so after a quick bit of tuning I did One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In which came out sounding FAR better than I'd expected. I've been thinking of it as a BIG BAND number and i could just HEAR the BRASS section - nobody tell Frankie tho, he gets AFEARED at the prospect of a return to BRASS. I shall just have to SPRING it on him...
Those three were all I'd really hoped to do, but as we were WHIPPING along I decided to have a go at Never Been Superstitious. As STATED in its NOTES I only really intended this to be a one off for the Gallery Gig a few weeks ago, but thought I might as well record it for POSTERITY purposes if I got the chance. Last night I had a run through of all the songs (PROFESSIONALISM!) and worked out a NEW and DIFFERENT way of playing it which suddenly made it a LOT better... at least, it was when i could PLAY it that way, which wasn't very often. HENCE I left it until the end of the SESSION, but in the end I got all the way through on the second attempt, although i PANICKED halfway through and cut our some sections so did a THIRD attempt which, I must say, sounds rather NICE. It's quite similar to I Come From The Fens, in both structure and PICKING STYLE, but I was surprised at quite how NICE it sounded once finished. I think it may get USED for something after all!
That all done we sat and did SUPER SPEEDY MIXING and before the hour was out i was AWAY and back to work, and as usual I STRODE through London's Fashionable Bloomsbury feeling like i was the Young Singer Songwriter in a 60's film, just going back to his STUDIO FLAT after a morning RECORDING SESSION. It was a GOOD feeling!
OMG, LOL and ROFL - get a load of US, The Kids, for LO! We have SNOCAP on our Myspace!
What's that you say, "What's SNOCAP"? Cuh! Get with the with it GRANDAD, don't you know? It's ... er... it's SNOCAP! Um... it's something to do with downloading music, and it was sorted out for us by those LOVELY CDBaby people who do our digital distribution. Apparently it is Quite The Thing.
In other news, HEARTY Congratulations to Derby County and its supporters for last night's mighty Victory against Southampton (not Gloucester County, that's CRICKET - EVERYONE knows that. Now.) I was amazed to find that they had coverage of the Thrilling Penalty Shoutout on Sky Sports News... until I discovered that it was actually covering of Steve Claridge WATCHING it on Sky Sports Proper and TELLING us what was happening. Aah, Freeview! Will your many wonders ever cease to enthrall us?
At current time of typing i am almost halfway through a FITNESS REGIME/healthy eating kick/all right all right i'll say it, A DIET. About four years ago I realised I had got RATHER FAT due to a) eating too much b) not doing enough, and so made my return to THE GYM and lost about two and a half stone. WHAT IS MY SECRET, you ask? It is two fold: first, obviously, Do More, Eat Less and secondly, spend about six months sitting around on your fat arse eating TONS OF FOOD before you start and you'll find by simply NOT sitting around on your fat arse eating TONS OF FOOD then the wait will simply FLY off.
OK, maybe not to the point that you wear less than you did before you started, but HEY! the Job Specification is "Lose Weight Fast", don't blame ME if that's all it does!
ANYWAY, the reason in introduce the topic is because LAST year I fell off the wagon again a bit, and resumed former bad habits of a) not going to the gym b) thinking that CAKE for lunch is HEALTH FOOD c) thinking that TWIX and FLAPJACKS are healthy alternatives to fruit. THIS time around i only put on about a stone or so, but it was ENOUGH, and so three weeks ago i followed my own advice and did something about it. Also, being of the SLIGHTLY Geek-ish persuasion, I made myself a TICK LIST, with an adjustable scoring system, so that each week i can mark myself out of 50 for my progress. I'm going to the gym THRICE a week, getting off the tube two stops early TWICE, NOT drinking beer or wine at home during the week, and generally NOT having second helpings or cheeky snacks, CAKE for lunch, or chocolate, crisps, cheese, biscuits or anything like that.
It was a COLOSSAL PAIN for the first couple of weeks, as I'd walk past newsagents hearing the Twix's calling out to me, or arrive home to realise I'd have to wait OVER TWO HOURS before I could eat a meal. Truly, i have suffered, but it's getting a bit easier now and the WEIGHT GRAPH (yes, I also record my WEIGHT and make GRAPHS out of the results, it is ACE) is on a gentle downward slope.
The plan is, and has always been, to carry on with this project until my BIRTHDAY (five weeks today! whoo!), on which day i shall have a) BEER b) cheese and salad cream sandwiches for lunch c) treacle pudding for tea and d) TWIX for breakfast. It has been a BEACON OF LIGHT on the DIET HORIZON for me to think of this DAY OF JOY, so imagine my HORROR when I heard about THIS!
GODDAM IT, Mars Corporation, do you REALISE how many POUNDS a YEAR you will be losing from ME ALONE?!? SEVERAL! And SNICKERS too? Snickers is made from NUTS, it's a valuable source of Protein, you SWINES!
Still, it's nice to see that 90% of Cheese is now free from Cow's Knees, I didn't realise that was happening, but still - come on Mars Corporation, make like HEINZ with Salad Cream, and tell us it's an EVIL REVERSO MARKETING PLOY!
I got up LUDICROUSLY EARLY on Saturday morning (6.30! AM!) in order to get the train up to Derby, arriving at 10am to be met by Mr Francis A Machine. We nipped over to Snug where we found Mr T Pattison and Mr R Newman setting up the drums, for LO! it was the first day recording the NEXT ALBUM. Rock Historians, TAKE NOTE!
It took a couple of hours to get everything set up properly, but by noon we were ready to begin. In order to get SEPERATION we had the drums all miked up in the live room and the BASS amp on a floor of its own, downstairs in the practice room. Tim and Frankie were both in the live room together (for maximum RYTHMN SECTION BONDING) and I was stood looking throught the window in the control room, doing GUIDE vocals and guitar. For this first session PRIORITE UN was to get bass and drums down, which made life easy for me as i could BELLOW and play as hamfistedly as i liked without fear of repercussions, although i DID spend much of the day worrying that I was going to smack Robbie round the head with my AXE, as he was sat just next to me at the controls.
Anyway, we got going and took a few takes to sort out Do The Indie Kid to everybody's satisfaction. This was a GOOD song to start with as it's the one we, theoretically, know THE BEST, and it came out sounding PRETTY FUNKY. ALL the songs sounded that way, to me at least, probably because everything had so much bass & drums on it, it was a NICE sound.
Next up was My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once and Best Behaviour (featuring Proper Professional Ending AND drum overdub), both of which took a few takes, and both of which SHAPED UP NICELY as we went through them. One of the (MANY) DELIGHTS of Validators Sessions is that we have done this QUITE A LOT now, so there is not much MESSING AROUND. Well, OK, there's a bit of messing around and LARKISH name-calling, but we are an EFFICIENT ROCKING UNIT, if someone says "AGAIN!" then by golly we knuckle down and do the song AGAIN until everyone's happy - this usually being signified by Tim throwing his sticks to the ground and marching back into the control room.
Satisfied with progress we made our way over the road to the PUB, there to watch the last five minutes of Derby playing Southampton in the first leg of the Qualifiers Semi-Final - all morning Frankie had been slightly DISTRACTED, with a look of FEAR in his eyes, and it was a joy to behold his little face LIGHT UP when he noticed that the SCORE was 2-1 to Derby. LONG MINUTES of SHEER TERROR passed until a look of RELIEF and PLEASURE spread across his MUG - you could FEEL the anxiety flow out of him and, INDEED, most of the people in the pub.
We strolled down the road to another pub to get some GRUB, and passed a very jolly hour or so eating and LARFING. I'm not entirely sure WHAT we were larfing about, but it all seemed very humorous at the time, and we got back to the studio in HIGH SPIRITS, ready to ROCK again.
Over the next hour or so we LAID DOWN Do More Eat Less (JAZZ!) and We Can Start Having Fun (EPIC!), the latter rocking so HARD that i broke a string, and got to get out my Guitar Repair Kit, which i was rather proud of. We sat and listened to our WORK, saw that is was GOOD, and then moved back into position to PUSH FORWARD THE BOUNDARIES OF SOUND.
To some people it might have sounded like we were just pissing around for the next half hour, but what we were actually doing was recording The Music Of The Future. Do The Indie Kid features a BREAK with aforesaid sounds, so the idea was to record different VISIONS of this Music, possibly to overdub onto the original, possibly to use for different versions of the song, possibly to listen to once and say "Ah". We had a LOT of fun doing fast, slow, jerky, sparse, and VERY sparse versions, then swapped instruments to see how THAT sounded. Some of it sounded like NONSENSE, but by heck some of it sounded quite convincing. As Mr Machine pointed out, over the years we've ALL been to see bands whose entire SCHTICK was performing "pieces" that sounded EERILY similar to what we'd just done, especially when the DELAY PEDAL had been bought to the party.
The final hour of the SESSION was spent with Mr Newman mixing down two versions of each track - one a rough mix of everything we'd done, for Mrs Pattison and Mr McClure to use to work out their parts with, and one JUST of Drums and Bass for me to use to overdub my singing and guitaring in another studio, should I choose to go that way. That done we said our goodbyes to Mr Newman and, with Mrs Machine joining us, headed off for a CURRY.
Curry CONSUMED we dropped in to LONDIS for BOOZE before heading over to Steve From Johnny Domino's APARTMENT for a Eurovision Party. I'd had my doubts about this, but it turned out to be GRATE - we had SCORE CARDS to give our OWN marks for the songs, and spent an extremely happy few hours arguing about THAT, heckling the telly, shouting our DIGUST that countries were so obviously voting for their neighbours and historical colonies/colonists and APPLAUDING Brave Ireland and Plucky Little Malta who would NEVER EVER DREAM of doing such a thing.
It was a GRATE night, although I was surpised by how HORRIFIED people were, on telly, in the room, and in the papers next day, at the fate of SCOOCH. It is true that aforesaid nationalism means they never had a chance, but even if that WASN'T the case, surely it didn't help that the song itself was such an appalling pile of crap? It sounded like something KNOCKED UP in someone's bedroom about 10 years ago when irredemably awful HANDBAG stuff like that was SO BRIEFLY considered A Good Thing. I've never gone along with things being So Bad They're Good - why waste time on pretending to enjoy things that are RUBBISH when there's so many things that are ACTUALLY good? ALSO, there's a fine line between CAMP and APPALLINGLY SHITE, and the Creepy Sex Goblin guy making "Outrageous" "Remarks" such as "Would you like some salty nuts?" or "Would you like something to suck on?" at the end of the verse crossed that line at high speed.
Still, it could have been worse: JORDAN!
Anyway, it was a BRILLIANT evening, and it was a very happy TEAM VALIDATOR who wandered back to Chez Machine. It was a LESS Happy Hibbett who woke, yet again, FAR TOO EARLY, but I got home to find The Voting Section In My Televised Eurovision HOME at last from her holidays, and joy and happiness spread around. It was a GOOD weekend!
Hibbett: The Final Sanction
The latest issue of WORD Magazine came through the letterbox a few days, and in amongst the usual heap of GRATE THINGS in it was a competition, asking people to work out versions of popular hits, film themselves playing them on a single simple instrument, post it up on YouTube, and send it in.
Obviously, normally this would have passed me by except for the following FACTS: 1. The Lens On My Camera is AWAY for a few days, so i am at a slight LOOSE END 2. I recently bought myself a digital camera, which has VIDOE on it 3. The chords to "Boom Shake The Room" are just as easy on ukelele as they are on a guitar. THUS i got home and spent a hard working half hour working through the Not Very Clear At All instructions for my camera then filming myself doing aforesaid song, signing up for a YouTube account, and then sitting and watching my slow old computer load it up. This involved me having to do THREE new things with technology (work a digital video camera, transfer the file to my computer, do YouTube STUFF) and so imagine my surprise to find out that - OMG! - it actually worked!
Imagine my FURTHER surprise when, two hours later (i.e. after a GRATE episode of House and an AS EVER quite good in places but generally a bit perplexing/nonsensical episode of Shark) I found that I had made the TOP of the FRONT PAGE of the WORD Magazine webpage. They're basically saying "If at least ONE other person doesn't enter this competition then THIS idiot is going to be playing on our stage - SORT IT OUT!"
I am a WEAPON, forcing INTERACTION!
As I say though, it was INCREDIBLY easy to do, so I'm now thinking of OTHER things I could do, like MAYBE some sort of regular gig thing - you know, like Sandi Thom, but REAL - or something like that. I don't know,I'll have a think, but in the mean time, LUMME, there's LOADS more videos of me on there that I didn't know about, like on Phoenix FM a few weeks ago, or even a bit of the Shadowplay interview from Monday. How exciting!
I tell you what, this YouTube thing, I think it might just catch on!
Strange Days And Pod CASTing
You find me this morning a little GIDDY with oddness, after a swift and slightly KRAZY correspondence with someone at the Political Unit at BBC Northern Ireland, asking about using our song Good Luck In Your New Job for a TV programme about, I presume, the (suddenly, heart-warmingly, but MIND SHOCKINGLY) happy and laughing Messrs Paisley and McGuiness taking on their new positions this week. As it happens it looks like they'll probably not be using it now (note to self: in future, don't let them actually HEAR the song!), but it was one of those moments where the foundations of the Universe QUIVER and you think "Is this really happening?"
In a similar vein, there seem to be a number of people who i haven't even MET saying nice things about us these days, which always seems ODD to me - like in Sheffield on Monday, when people seemed to know the words and I kept thinking "But HOW?" I know, in theory, that you can buy our stuff off the interweb without me knowing about it, or hear it on the radio, but I've never really believed that anyone ever _did_. Anyway, once such chunk of niceness is occurring RIGHT NOW over at the esteemed music blog Spoilt Victorian Child, which was pointed out to me this morning by Steve from Johnny Domino. I'm obviously pleased that he likes our stuff SO much, and especially that he's picked something as relatively obscure (i.e. in a field of songs where it's ALL pretty obscure) as Post-Subsonic Bass, but the thing i like most is that he calls us "STAUNCHly Indie". YEAH!
Rather brilliantly the same chap TALKS US UP on this week's Contrast Podcast, which us rather thrilling. Look at us - Radio 2 one week, PODCASTS the next, are we not a MODERN RENNAISSANCE EXPERIENCE?
And talking of podcasts, you can also hear me BANGING ON over on the Shadowplayboys podcast, featuring the previously mentioned DEBUT for A Million Ukeleles amongst MUCH chat various. You can also see a picture of me GRIPPING the two young chaps involved, looking worryingly FAGIN-ESQUE.
And finally, there's a LOVELY review of my gig a few weeks ago at the Whitechapel Gallery over on the Velvet Sheep Myspace Page. It's written by the chap who organised it, so i guess he COULD be a little biased, but I was pleased to see (from the SquidVicar review) that i wasn't my PARANOIA, and there WERE rather a lot of Soho Haircut TYPES there - it was a lovely night, but by the end of the evening i felt VERY sensibly dressed!
Blimey, that's a WEEK'S worth of FACT in one go - i think I'd better go and have a lie down!
Fuzz Club BBQ
I set off All In Good Time yesterday, and found myself at St Pancras Station, ENRAGED. The 11.00am train to Sheffield seemed not to exits! BAH! I STORMED to the information desk and demanded to know what had happened - was it "planned" engineering works? Was it a bank holiday change? What FOOLISH IDIOT had caused me to be so late?
Ten seconds later i was SPRINTING back down the road to Kings Cross, to catch the 11.00am train to Sheffield (change at Doncaster) which... er... was the one I meant to get anyway, but had by force of habit gone to the wrong station to catch. Good thing I'd set off All In Good Time eh? I dashed onto the platform to see signs saying "FULLY RESERVED!" and a man standing at the gate saying "Don't get on, it's fully reserved, there's no seats." I WHOOSHED PAST and he said "Wait half an hour and get a seat!" This re-ANNOYED me - why do train companies think that the ONLY reasons people catch the train is a) because they are Important Business Men travelling between 7am and 10.48am whose million pound tickets are paid for by their companies OR b) they are light-hearted fools travelling on a WHIM, who care little for what time they get anywhere nor indeed where they actually get to. EVERY time there's a problem at weekends or bank holidays they seem to think "Oh well, people were only travelling BECAUSE THEY LIKE SITTING ON TRAINS, it's not like anything important ever happens at weekend is it?" GRR!!
It felt quite nice to be RIGHTEOUSLY annoyed at the trains again I must say. I ran down the length of the train to find it was indeed completely packed, and that the VESTIBULES got more packed the further you went, so utilised my TRANE KNOWLEDGE, turned round, and ran BACK to First Class. This is my HOT TIP for busy trains: if you've got to sit on the floor in the vestibules, do so in First Class. It's the same floor and the same faint odour of toilets, BUT other people seem to think they're not allowed to go and sit there, so there's nearly always a lot more room. ALSO you can STRIKE BACK against THE MAN by nicking a "free" copy of The Times! HA!
Thus it was with a slightly NUMB BUM that I arrived in Doncaster, was swept away to Sheffield, and soon found myself happily ensconced in a TRAM, speeding towards the University. When I arrived I NOTED a bunch of YOUTHS doing The Breakdancing outside, although to be honest it looked more like SKIPPING. I telephoned Mr Alex Lawson of Shadowplay fanzine, who ran past me out to the breakdancers, then came back and together we went to the studio of SURE Radio, the Sheffield Uni Student station, where we did a VERY lengthy interview (featuring me GABBING ON quite a lot about a variety of TOPICS) and I played the following TUNES:
It was MUCH fun, and it was nice to get A Million Ukeleles an first airing with the WORDS in front of me - it's on air tonight, apparently, and will be PODCASTED anon, i shall alert you when this momentous event occurs!
That done I went off to the Ents Office from where I was led through the building down to The Raynor Lounge, where I met the Ever Lovely Penny. As it was RAINING it had been decided to move the ROCK indoors, and THUS i got to play in aforesaid Raynor Lounge, which i think is one of the very few rooms i HADN'T played in before. There was a while to go yet, so I set off with my FOOD VOUCHER to try out the BARBECUE - I hadn't bothered with this last year, thinking I'd end up just with a BAP, but GOODNESS ME you didn't half get a mighty platter of GRUB. A veggie burger, veggie sausage, baked potato and VAST salad, it was ACE! And to thank you for queueing for grub they gave you a free bottle of San Miguel too - hey! BBQ! You're WELCOME!
I wandered the grounds a little NOTING the fact that the sound of The Band was being PIPED around the gardens and other bars, before finding The Velodrome Posse who, as i may have noted in brief on previous occasions, are an absolutely LOVELY bunch of people, so I spent most of the rest of the afternoon with them having BEER and discussing Las Vegas and Popular Crime Drama, amongst other things, it was ACE. After a while I popped in to see Monkey Swallows The Universe, who did an SMART version of "Ice Cream Man" and then - NERVES a-jangling - it was time for ME to go on, and do THIS:
Oh boy, it was a WHOLE LOT OF FUN. Things began ODDLY before they'd even properly begun, when i was asked to interrupt my Setlist Writing to have my picture taken with somebody! NOTE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE: if anyone ever wants to do this, please do not be shy, it makes me feel LIKE A ROCK STAR!! The set felt a little shakey to start with, as i was A Bit Scared, and my INNER MIND was busy working out how many people had LEFT in the fifteen minutes since Monkey Swallows The Universe, but i BATTLED HARD to point out to MYSELF that, actually, lots of people were coming back in, and the ones who WERE there were GRATE - oh, there was singing along, there was CLAPPING, there was even some LARFS at my GAGS, for which i blame the ALL DAY DRINKING.
I had a BRILLIANT time, and was even a little SCARED by how VOCIFEROUS the DEMANDS (and they WERE demands, not requests) for an encore were. HOORAH! Thanks everyone, that was BRILLIANT!
I talked to a few people afterwards who wanted CDs, many of whom were in their last year at college and it struck me that, as I'd played EVERY time there'd been an all-dayer, I might actually be a TINY part of their University Experience - sort of like Chips & Cheese is for me! This was a LOVELY thought, and i was BUOYED UP by it for the rest of the afternoon, which was spent standing around in the rain with aforementioned Sheffield POSSE having a LARF and a BEER, before sprinting off once more for the train. I managed to get an earlier train than expected to Doncaster, which was HANDY as the train I'd meant to get was CANCELLED - being a bit early meant i could catch the slightly earlier train home, but it ALSO meant it was absolutely PACKED again.
I didn't mind - I sat once more on the First Class Vestibule floor and read the "free" The Times, RUBBING IN the AFRONT to The Man by doing the crossword, Sudoku AND Killer Soduku: TAKE THAT, FORCES OF CAPITALISM - feeling full of the JOYS of ROCK, PALS, and also BEER. What a fantastic day out!
A Million Ukeleles (again)
Bank Holiday Weekend UPDATE! After several weeks of GRADUAL EFFORT I've finally finished writing A Million Ukeleles , and it's up to look at RIGHT NOW, along with fairly copious A Million Ukeleles . FULLY ANNOTATED!
Hope everyone's having a nice bank holiday weekend [in TERRITORIES where this applies], and if anybody's heading to Sheffield tomorrow, I'll see you there!
Dynamic Day of ACTION
The past few days have been a ROLLERCOASTER RIDE of Exciting Things alternating with ... well, with sitting around being a bit bored as the bit of work I've got to do at the moment is that REALLY ANNOYING sort where it's very very boring but required CONCENTRATION. It'd be DULL in any circumstances, but all the FUN stuff that's been occurring round the single makes it feel even MORE so, and add to that the FACT that I'm having to be Self-Motivating about it, ALSO that i've done it five times already (DATA CLEANING! Say WHOO!) and the result is me sitting glaring dully at my computer screen all day, obsessively clicking REFRESH on my Hotmail every 60 seconds in the hope that something exciting pops up. This is NOT, i'll bet, how MCFLY spend the week of their single release.
Anyway, in an effort to GET GOING today has been a day of FRENZIED ACTIVITY on various fronts, not just WORK. I had a LOVELY chat with the MCPS this morning who were very friendly and helpful, even though they were being very friendly and helpful about charging me (as a record label) MORE CA$H to release MY OWN CDs! Still, they WERE dead nice, which makes a surprising yet DELIGHTFUL change from most "professional" music organisations i have ever dealt with. OH YES.
I've also been in DISCUSSION with our PUBLISHER (OH! how i love typing that!) about how best to take advantage of a Big Interview which I will hopefully be doing soon for a Major Monthly Magazine (Rock & Reel, the LOVELY editor of which put on our gig in Cleator Moor last year and so has earnt our ETERNAL FEALTY). We MAY be going out on a mini-tour to RE-PROMOTE the album - we'll have to check the COFFERS before getting to excited, but this may involve a VAN!
I've also done KRAZY ROCK AND ROLL things like ask for a repeat prescription, buy a wedding gift and book the day off work for my birthday (YOW! CRANK UP THE WIND MACHINE!), and just now have had to SHOW OFF MASSIVELY. Yes, I know, it seems UNREAL to think of me doing such a thing, but this was in a good cause: The Never Ending Quest To Play Summer Sundae.
Every year since it began people have contined to say "Why are you not playing Summer Sundae? As a Leicester based band with airplay on 6Music, surely this would be ideal for you?" and i have had to reply by BURSTING INTO TEARS and saying "I know! We keep asking but they never reply! It is Actually Rather Upsetting!" EVERY year we've applied to play but have never heard a DICKY BIRD back from the organisers, and after we had LOADS of people saying it last year we decided to take action, so tried SEVERAL times to contact the booking agency, sending FACT PACKAGES to several people, but never getting anything back from them. We then tried, with the aid of an UNNAMEABLE SENIOR SOURCE on The Leicester Music Scene to be ASKED to play... er... in ways which I don't really understand, but don't seem to have worked as they appear to have ASKED all the proper bands they're going to ask!
THUS, in the FRENZY OF ACTION that i am IN today, I decided to try one more time to go on ROUTE ONE and sent a letter DIRECT to the festival organisers (again), but this time ANSWERING the requirements spelt out in their Unsigned Bands Fact Sheet. I loath the term "unsigned" but we'll not go into that here... NO, BRANE, we WON'T! NO! SHH!! Sorry, BRANE getting steamed up, so anyway i went through and replied to every requirement and it felt a) a bit embarrassing and like showing off but b) REAL GOOD, like a Job Application of ROCK, and an Application which i felt PROUD of.
Of course, many is the time in Job Applications when they get NO RESPONSE despite being GRATE, but at least THIS year if we don't get to play I'll be able to claim that there must have been an internal candidate!
It was VERY exciting, and also rather WEIRD to hear our song followed by the familiar Radio 2 Jingle, it all felt rather STRANGE and UNREAL (especially as the show before had been a documentary about Liberace!!) but also GRATE! It was also a really good show - yes, I know i am probably a little BIASED at this point, but it felt like a proper listen to exciting NEW stuff, unfettered by the needs of any station policy or Afternoon Considerations. It was GRATE - though next time I think I'll listen again rather than staying up, it was WAY past my bedtime!
Also, in SPELLING NEWS, I note that the official tracklisting spells my name WRONG, the website RIGHT, and gets quite PERVERSELY PHILOSOPHICAL about the name of our label Are they? I think not!
Call The Lawyers!
I am shocked and EVEN MORE SHOCKED to discover that we have been BOOTLEGGED! On YouTube, even as we speak, there's a video of me playing Do The Indie Kid on Tuesday. If you've not been to a gig lately and were wondering what this UNRELEASED TRACK sounds like, then... well, obviously, don't go and look at the video, it'll make Lars Ulrich CRY!
The Henry Holland
I had a lovely SUMMERY stroll across London's Fashionable Fitzrovia Area after work last night, to the Henry Holland for my Totally Acoustic gig ("Totally Acoustic" isn't the most THRILLING name for these sort of things, but it seems to be what I've ended up calling them). I was a bit worried about it, as when I'd spoken to the Landlord a few weeks ago he'd said it was fine to book it, but if anybody who had more people coming wanted to have it then he'd give it to them instead. This seems to be the WAY of Room Bookings in That London!
I arrived to find Mr Carsmile Steve and PALS already there, which was LOVELY and a MIGHTY RELIEF. I went over to check everything was OK with the room, and was told that if it didn't get busy upstairs the regulars were going to come and turn the telly on to watch the football! THUS I went up feeling STILL quite nervous about the whole thing - i always get like this ANYWAY when I promote gigs myself, and it's why i try very hard to almost NEVER do it nowadays, but the RISK of GIG IMPLOSION was scaring me. HENCE when a group of ladies came upstairs and sat down I thought it was best NOT to be arsey, and as it turned out this was an EXCELLENT thing to do. They'd just been next door in Selfridges, and elsewhere, shopping and had popped in for a drink. As it turned out they stayed and watched the whole gig!
Other people gradually arrived, including Ms. K Kennedy, PR WOMAN, the lovely George (who always seems to turn up bearing CA$H, this time for the Bowling Alley Gig he put on) and that nice Mr Steve Lamacq, amongst others, and once we got to 7.40pm I thought I ought to start, which I did, and did this:
It was GRATE! I had an absolutely FANTASTIC time - these Totally Acoustic gigs are ALWAYS a whole lot of fun (for me, at least) as they're dead RELAXING, and i can stand there and WAFFLE ON about the songs as much as I like, and i did indeed do this A LOT. Other people arrived as we moved through the set, and I was able to say hello as they did, and BRILLIANTLY two slightly worried looking Tourist Types came in and sat down DURING the "two terrified tourists" bit in The Gay Train. At several points i was SURPRISED to look round the room and realise that pretty much everybody a) knew the words and b) was singing along, and this gave rise to a STADIUM ROCK MOMENT in The Lesson Of The Smiths when i DIDN'T sing the "Peace and love is still a bloody good idea". BY HECK it felt good - i can see why International Rock Types do it!
And the nicest thing about the whole evening was that the SHOUTING was all done and dusted by about 8.20pm, leaving plenty of time for everybody to MINGLE and have a chat, which we very much did. The Rock Around My Clock arrived shortly after half past eight, and we all ended up sat round a big table having a lengthy discussion about... er... I'm not entirely sure. The evening all gets a bit fuzzy for me, I know we got off at Liverpool Street on the way home for PASTIES, but i think all the excitement, also the fact i didn't have any tea, must have gone to my head. It is the only explanation.
Anyway, it was an absolutely FANTASTIC evening, thanks everyone who came, i had a lovely time!
One day in, and the new single seems to be bobbing along quite nicely, with more airplay on Xfm Scotland AGAIN and on Gideon Coe's 6Music show too, which is always LOVELY. Tonight I've got my Totally Acoustic gig at The Henry Holland (starts at 7pm, gig at 7.30pm, details HERE if you fancy coming!) and then on WEDNESDAY we shall hopefully be making our debut on Radio 2. It's all rather NICE really, especially as the fact that it's finally HAPPENING feels like a Rather Lovely Surprise.
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
Apart from RAMBLING INCOHERENTLY about Historial Events (below) i have also been at work in the SONG MINE, with another NEW SONG now available, Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. It's an idea I've been trying to write for a while so am quite pleased to have DONE so, though not as pleased as i am with the TWINKLY GUITARISMS (as mentioned in the NOTES) what i have worked out to go with it. They is JANGLE-ICIOUS!
Ten Years Ago To This Very Day
Crikey, it doesn't SEEM like it, but indeed it WAS a DECADE ago now that Tony Blair became Prime Minister, on a GORGEOUS sunny day just like today, which felt like (because it was!) one of the GRATEST days of my entire life. I'd had a BRILLIANT night round at Tim's flat (above a Kebab shop on Narborough Road) watching the results with him and Simon From Voon, cheering and shouting so much (especially when Portillo went) that the people from the shop came running upstairs, thinking there must be a FITE going on. We drank and cheered and couldn't believe our EYES as FINALLY we realised that the Tories were being deposed, something which had seemed impossible for so long. I went home as the sun came up for a couple of hours sleep, and next day watched Jim Callaghan being interviewed on Breakfast Telly and then just to be OUTSIDE in the sunshine with - it seemed - everybody else, wandering in a DAZE of GIDDY DISBELIEF.
Obviously it's all RATHER DIFFERENT now, but I'm still surprised when I hear people (almost always under 30) claiming that Tony Blair is EVIL or the WORSE PRIME MINISTER EVER. Yes, it's all gone rather tits up and he probably WILL only be remembered for Iraq, but they HAVE done some good things, and even the stupid/wrong things they've done (apart, obviously for Iraq) always seemed, to me, to be a result of IDIOCY or INCOMPETENCE. I think the thing is I'll always be comparing them to the Tories, who always seemed to be GLEEFULLY pursuing policies of PURE EVIL on PURPOSE, going all out to DESTROY everything about this country that I personally consider to be a GOOD THING, and being PROUD about it. Maybe the fact that the current government always seems to be trying (cack handedly) to cover things up is because they at least feel some SHAME for what they've done?
Perhaps it'll be better if Politics goes back to how it was pre-Thatcher, with the ruling parties changing over more often and policies across the board being fairly similar. It already feels to me like I lived through HISTORICAL HISTORY in the eighties and nineties, growing up under the shadow of Nuclear War with bombs going off here and in Ireland, and Thatcher and cronies trying to sell off every asset of the nation and grind down anything LOVELY into the ground, in a way that HOPEFULLY we shall never see again and...
Hang on, I've just realised what it is I'm ACTUALLY saying! All together now: