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OH what an evening of ACTION and EFFICIENCY it was last night! I left work a bit early to catch the 15.25 to Derby... and it all went PERFECTLY. HOORAH! I must say The Nation did not APPEAR to be underwater, at least not from my window, but maybe that's just because I didn't go far enough NORTH. Anyway, I got to Derby in good time, got myself some TEA on the way, and headed off to SNUG RECORDING STUDIOS, stopping on the way ONLY to pick up the RIDER for our band practice later on.
Once in the studio Mr R Newman and I made short work of the last batch of vocals, on My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, Do More, Eat Less and Do The Indie Kid. I must say i REALLY enjoyed myself. The FACT that I was relatively smartly dressed (proper shoes and trousers, SHIRT) meant I felt a bit like FRANK SINATRA, and this was only ENHANCED by Robbie's production of The Singer Song-Writer Stool for me to sit on and, CRUCIALLY, a proper MUSIC STAND to lean the words on. Next time I'm hanging my jacket over my shoulder and wearing a HAT!
ALSO really good was the fact that Robbie was LISTENING and sending me back in to RE-DO bits that didn't sound quite right. This was EXTREMELY helpful, and I think we got pretty good VERSIONS of all the songs, in NEAT time. Time was SO neat, in fact, that I nipped in to do GUIDE tracks for It Only Works Because You're Here. I wanted to do some kind of version of this to a click track, so that Tom could use it to base his STRING arrangements on, and I spent a fairly MISERABLE few attempts try to play along to a CLICK. It was HORRIBLE! However, things soon improved when we did it to a DRUM BEAT instead, and soon that ALSO was done.
I got me a CD and said my goodbyes just as a) Plans & Apologies came in to start their evening's practice and b) Mr Frankie Machine arrived to courier me to OUR practice, stopping on the way at The Brunswick for a traditional DELICIOUS pint.
We got to The Music Shed to find everyone else arrived, and after a brief CHAT we set to what turned out to be (in my opinion) one of our best practices EVER! We started with Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something, which INITIALLY looked like being CONTENTIOUS. This was the one that was being JAMMED while I was on the train at our last practice, and was a bit of an EPIC. When I played MY version of it to everyone, including STOPPING chorus, it suddenly sounded a bit QUICK and CHIRPY. "But what about the loud bit?" pleaded Tim.
However, once we got GOING all worries were ended - we DID do it in the former, EPIC style, and the lyrics suddenly sounded DIFFERENT, in a DEAD GOOD way. "How will this work when we get to the chorus?" i wondered... and it worked WELL. With all the LOUDNESS and INSTRUMENTAL sections it sounded very MUCH like a JAM, which made the sudden STRICT stops sound ... ooh, POWERFUL! We got to the end quite SURPRISED by the NEW SOUND we'd made by simply COMBINING other sounds we already did.
NEXT we ploughed into All The Good Men, the OTHER jam from last time which I'd been beavering away at to get finished in time. This ALSO sounded really good, we got back into the FLOW of it pretty easily, and with a few minor adjustments it was pretty SORTED. At this point, HIGH ON ROCK, we took the RISKY STEP of trying our new cover version, "Theme From Sparta FC", which we're learning for International Fall Day next week. We'd ALL done our revision, including Tom's RIFF and Emma's GREEK, and BY GOLLY it didn't half sound good! Who'd've thought Tim's drumming would fit so easily into a Fall song?
Frankie can't play that gig, so he sat OUT of the first few goes, but we DRAGGED him in for the final run through, and it was HAPPINESS all round. At this point there was a break for SERIOUS DISCUSSION (i.e. taking the piss, in HIGH JOLLITY) before continuing with an EXTENSIVE session on Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. We'd already done quite a bit of work on this one last time, moving bits of it around and doing DYNAMICS and that, and this time we did MUCH MUCH MORE. It was like being in a Band Off The telly or something, we stopped to DISCUSS sections, tried out new things, worked on HARMONIES, and ran over SECTIONS to make them MORE GOOD. After about half an hour's WORK we had a TERRIFIC version of it - "It's the new Easily Impressed!" remarked Tim, and he may be right. It was really good!
Finally we had some run throughs of One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In which got SLIGHTLY more JAZZ and was the beneficiary of some SOLO "do do do do" singing from Emma. It sounded ACE. We finished the evening with a run through of ALL the songs we'd worked on and then, realising it was only 10.40pm, decided to get PACKED up and hit the pub. HOORAH!
On our arrival the HIGH PRODUCTIVITY continued even further! NORMALLY when we get to the pub there's CHAT and we don't really discuss much, and certainly don't DECIDE things. "We'll sort it out on the email" is the USUAL catchphrase, but NOT TONIGHT. It was amazing - we all sat down, had GRATE ideas, discussed them and THEN even AGREED some things! What WAS going on?
To SUMMARISE the main points of the meeting, we agreed that there wasn't really any point putting out an EP later this year, as we might as well carry on and put ALL the songs we've done on an album, as we nearly had ENOUGH now. We'd aim to get it all finished off by the end of the year, and then go on tour (IN A VAN!) again in the Easter.
Tim then pointed out that as I had SO many songs spare that we'd not got round to using, we could REPLACE the EP with a SOLO album! Everyone seemed quite happy with this idea, not least, i suspect, because it'll enable me to USE UP songs that I really like without continuing to FOIST them on the band!
Slightly STUNNED by how productive and, to be honest, EXCELLENT we'd all been we staggered out into the night, with me retiring to Machine Mansions for the evening.
It took me AGES to get to sleep - i was all EXCITED!
Today I bring you IMAGES! First of all we have Warren's lovely pictures of me at the Back In Time Live Do last week - note the SWEAT and MARVEL at all the other events of the evening - thanks Warren!
And also we have, AT LAST, our photographs from our weekend in Devon, featuring GEESE! ROCKS! GOATS! DUCKS! ROCK! INTERNATIONAL ROCK LEGENDS! and MANDOLINS! Ooh, it does all look nice, what a lovely weekend that was!
And now i am off to DERBY to have a bit of a practice - FACT to follow!
ATAK of the FACT
I'm working at home today and, contrary to usual expectations and, indeed, Academic Duty, i am doing TONS OF WORK. This is probably helped by the fact that the INTERWEB is in a DIFFERENT ROOM to the computer I am actually doing the work on. It's like GOING BACK IN TIME!
ANyway, LOADS of FACT to get through today, so let's HIT IT, shall we?
ITEM! As reported over on the GIGS page, it looks like i probably WILL be playing at the Cornbury Festival a week on Saturday. It appears that it'll just be a solo gig, and I don't know how what or long they want me to do, but I shall supply more FACT just as soon as i have it.
Back In Time Live
After work on Friday (where again, i was working LATE) i toobed it over to Liverpool Street and thence to The Spitz, where I was due to play at Back In Time Live. This was a retro-gaming DO, run by the same people who did the convention we played at in Manchester a couple of years ago, but this time it was just an EVENING do, rather than a whole weekend.
I arrived to find things in FULL SWING, and was escorted over to a corner and placed behind a small table, there to sell my WARES. Hey Hey 16K T-Shirts were WELL to the fore. I always feel like a bit of an OUTSIDER at these sort of things - to an outsider ALL GEEKY-TYPES may seem the same, but there are GRATE variations and also LEVELS, and my PRIME INTERESTS (comics, WINGS) put me in a different area in the GEEK VENN DIAGRAM to Retro-Gamers. ALSO, of course, this was a primarily COMMODORE 64-based gathering, and as I had a SPECTRUM i felt like a Chip-Ite at a Whizz-kid convention (ARCHAIC REFERENCE).
There WERE a lot of dead nice people there - Chris the organiser, for instance, or regular GIG GOERS of ours like Warren (who gave me a hand with the stall - thanks chap!) and Andrew - but there were a few pockets of ODDNESS. My favourite was the guy who came over and asked what "platform" my songs were on. "Er... a guitar?" I said, and he looked at me BLANKLY. I tried to explain for some minutes before he smiled, SLIGHTLY AFEARED, and hurried away.
As well as NOT being a convention as such the other big difference from last time was the MUSIC. In Manchester it had all been very live and, with the exception of US, rather PROG. It had all been a bit strange - the other bands had been very "Musicianly" and SERIOUS and had done HUGE great long MUSICAL PIECES... all of which were based on the music for old computer games. It seemed UNUSUAL, to me, that they were being so FURROW BROWED and STRAIGHT FACED playing classically themed versions of, say, MONTY THE MOLE. THIS time, however, it was all DJ SETS and MIXING, which felt MUCH more appropriate. The site of a hundred very sweat, very HAPPY, very DANCEY Computer Types doing Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box to SLAMMING BEAT REMIXES of "Eyeball", for instance, is something that only the STONEY HEARTED would not find JOYFUL and FUN. It was like stepping into an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE where Ibiza had been settled by SIR CLIVE SINCLAIR.
Soon it was time for ME to go on - in fact, a lot sooner than I'd expected, as I seemed to have received an OLD running order that said I was on at 11pm, when in fact i was due for 10 o'clock. This PLEASED me, so on I went and did THIS:
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it, and LOOK! WORLD PREMIER Live Perfomance of Hey Hey 64k! An hour or two before setting off I went and looked at the organiser's WEB FORUM and was rather surprised to find they were advertising my appearance as FEATURING that particular song. "OH BOY!" I thought "I suppose I'd better DO it then... er... what are the words?" I've not actually PLAYED it since I wrote it, so printed out the WORDS on great big sheets and hoped for the best.
It seemed to go pretty well, and the rest of the set was a LOT of fun, INDEED after Boom Shake The Room I'd intended to go on and do Hey Hey 16k and almost had to be DRAGGED off the stage. It was GOOD!
EXCITINGLY, there is VIDEO EVIDENCE of most of the set, here's Hey Hey 64K, Control Alt Delete and The Gay Train. Isn't the future BRILLIANT? I've also got PHOTOGRAPHS from Warren which I shall get put up soon (when i do the LLAMA pics, in fact).
That done I spent an hour or so CHATTING to various people and generally having a NICE time, only MARRED slightly by the rather TOSSY bar staff - NOTE to TOSSY bar staff: the reason people keep looking AGHAST at the prices is NOT because THEY are hopelessly GAUCHE IDIOTS and YOU are urban bon vivants with superior taste, it is because FOUR QUID is TOO MUCH for a pint of crappy lager, even down the road in PILLOCK CENTRAL, and this ISN'T Shoreditch.
It made me Quite Annoyed! But apart from that all was LOVELY and WELL, and I headed out into the night full of CHEER and The Good Vibes!
Record Review Time
I had a bit of a MOMENT on the tube in to work this morning, when the new Paul McCartney album went "KLICK!" in my BRANE and I thought "AHA! I see! This is GRATE!" It's taken me a little while to GET it i must say - as a PROPER FAN i, of course, bought it the day it came out, and have listened to it on and off, but today was the first time it SLOTTED IN and made me really REALLY like it.
I know some people have compared it LESS FAVOURABLY to "Chaos & Creation" as it is more WINGS-Y (these people include The Strings On My Hofner Violin Bass, who REALLY liked that particular album) but for me that is one of the REALLY GOOD things about it. I think Wings were GRATE - OK, maybe not so much in the latter half of their career, but the first few years were GRATE - "Venus & Mars", "Red Rose Speedway" and obviously "Band On The Run", these are BLOODY FANTASTIC. As i may well have said before (and almost certainly WILL if you have been in a pub with me and EVEN MENTIONED Wings) they ALL sound like Macca going "WAHEY! I am the famous Paul McCartney and I am going to do WHAT THE HECK I LIKE, and LO! It will be ACE!"
After those records it seems TO ME that he started worrying too much about what people WANTED from him, and the GREAT WOBBLY YEARS commenced, with a GRATE record every few (er... or more) years, like "Tug Of War", "Flowers In The Dirt" and "Flaming Pie" but ALWAYS followed by DISAPPOINTING and/or POO records where EITHER he's trying to sound NOW, OR where he can't be arsed at ALL - I am thinking particularly of "Off The Ground" here, which is RUBBISH.
So yes, I was rather expecting "Memory Almost Full" to follow in that grand tradition, HENCE my Pleasure and Going ON A Bit about it now that it seems NOT to be. I really like it because it's a continuation of the last one in the WORDS (and his words are OFTEN dead good, him like NATURE POET) and THEMES of Getting On A Bit and the Looking Back, but combined with all the INVENTION and KRAZY NOISES of his much earlier stuff. It's ACE - I especially like way it is full of WHISTLING. WHISTLING ROCKS!
And while we're at the criticial coal face - ANOTHER band of (not quite so) OLD who have put out a REALLY GRATE record much to my surprise (LINKING) is The Manic Street Preachers. Bloody HECK, "Send Away The Tigers" is FANTASTIC! I have been listening to it A LOT, VERY LOUD INDEED. It's packed with TUNES and GUITAR SOLOS and SHOUTING and ORCHESTRAS and ... er... a bass solo. I especially LOVE the way they're back in the Too Many Words, In Theory, To Fit In A Line BUT It Really Works GENRE and making it REALLY work (except maybe that "Good God I feel like a liberal" bit, which perhaps doesn't so much, but is THE ONLY BIT THAT DOESN'T). Best of ALL, it is less than 40 minutes long, so once it's finished you can listen to it ALL OVER AGAIN, REALLY QUICKLY!
These, then, are my RECORD REVIEWS: MATURE ARTISTES a speciality!
I SAID IT'S VERY QUIET!
Apologies for the relative lack of FACT this week everybody - this is the traditional two months of the year at work when I'm INCREDIBLY BUSY which involves annoying stuff like me working DEAD LATE (it's nearly eight o'clock and I'm still here - MADNESS!) and indeed at weekends. It's all A Bit Much but at least it frees me of GUILT on those days when I don't get in to work until 11am after GIGGING the night before.
So yes, things may stay a little QUIET for the next few weeks, though I shall hopefully have something talk about next week as TONIGHT I am off to the Spitz, where I'm playing the "Back In Time Live" convention/meeting/piss-up. FACTS to reported when I return!
A few changes today over on the GIGS page, PROMPTED by not one but TWO gigs which are now on their THIRD attempt. The benefit gig for Kooba Radio has been moved again and will now NOT be happening in August but in October - I don't know about you, but this is GRATE for me as it means I can MAYBE go on holiday. Whoo! Meanwhile I've got a new date for playing at Lee Rosy's in Nottingham (where two previous attempts to play have been CANCELLED), now scheduled for July 25th. Dare we hope that BOTH may happen this time?
And while we're at it, I've got a rather smashing EXTRA gig at Indie Tracks. As well as The Validators playing on the Sunday I'm also doing a SOLO spot in the Totally Acoustic stylee on the DISCO CARRIAGE on Saturday afternoon. This, I believe, will be a WHOLE lot of fun, the only DANGER being that there's a LOT of bands I really want to see on the Saturday, hopefully I can SLIP between them.
There's ALSO a couple of rather groovy possibilities in THE FUTURE, with a possible gig in Sheffield in October with The Fighting Cocks (T!B!C!) and MAYBE a spot at The Cornbury Festival in a couple of weeks. As you may recall, I recorded my YOUTUBE version of Boom Shake The Room a couple of months ago for a Word Magazine competition which i WON... because nobody else entered. They emailed me the other day to see if I'd be available IF there was a free slot for me to play on and I of course said "OH YES!" I don't know if it WILL actually happen, and if it DID I don't know whether it'd JUST be to do Boom Shake The Room, or whether i could cheekily slide in a few more songs, I shall just have to wait and see. I shall, however, FACT the outcome HERE as soon as I knows it!
Thanks VERY much to everyone for the Birthday cards/text messages/Myspace/Facebook/Email/FUTURISTIC HOLOGRAM greetings yesterday, I must say it was a BLOODY GRATE birthday! I spent the morning sitting around in bed drinking tea, having a bath, sorting out some PERSONAL ADMIN (and OH! the simple joy of seeing my INBOX reduced to ZERO!) and then making my Cheese & Salad Cream Sandwiches, featuring materials specially bought for me that morning by the Salad Cream In My Cheese & Salad Cream Sandwich. As I've explained VARIOUS times, I've been on a DIET for the past eight weeks which has always had the GLITTERING PRIZE of cheese & salad cream sandwiches at the end of it it. I'd thus looked forward to them for a LONG time, although when I was chopping bread, grating cheese, and tidying up afterwards i DID think "Blimey, is it WORTH all this flipping effort?"
Friends, it REALLY REALLY REALLY was! OH BOY! I've not had them for AGES, but BY HECK a properly made cheese and salad cream sandwich (feat. Malted Bread, proper Heinz Salad Cream and West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, GRATED) is a thing of RARE JOY AND BEAUTY! MAN!
There was then a HOUSEHOLD CRISIS when one of our cats decided to go on a MOUSE HUNT, which was a bit distressing, before we headed out to the pictures to see Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. It was DEAD GOOD - OK, it's not very DEEP or DARK or PSYCHOLOGICALLY CHALLENGING, it was in fact JUST LIKE THE COMICS. And HEY! Call me crazy, but if you're going to adapt superheroes for the FILMS, might it not be a good idea to make them ACTUALLY LIKE SUPERHERO COMICS? I do get a bit fed up with superhero films that spend all their time saying "No, this isn't a superhero film, it's a tense, dark portrayal of a troubled BLAH BLAH BLAH BORING BORING BORING!" COME ON! If you really MUST make a film where everyone spends all their time EMOTING and sitting around in DARK ROOMS then you don't really need to BUY the licence for a superhero to do it, do you? The GRATE thing about Superhero Comics is that they're PACKED FULL of IDEAS and MASSIVE EXCITEMENT and - hey hey hey - FUN and JOKES and LARFS! THAT is what is GRATE about them, so why not make some films like THAT eh?
Or, to put it another way, i THOROUGHLY enjoyed it. I would have liked a bit MORE saying of the catchphrases, FITES and EXPLOSIONS, but still it was FUN. I especially liked the way they a) changed some things to make them BETTER and b) kept in loads of references like Frankie Raye and ESPECIALY the SHADOW of Galactus the first time we see him. THAT was cool!
Anyway, we then went home, pottered about, and then i opened PRESENTS (HOORAH!) and we ate CURRY while watching the last Andrew Marr documentary, which was BRILLIANT. I was a very happy Hibbett, even though i was a little taken aback by the SIZE of the TREACLE PUDDING which I had demanded... although that didn't stop me from WOLFING it down. BRILLIANT!
So yes, it was a GRATE birthday - when's the next one?
Most Useful Computer Thing: EVER
This will probably come as a shock to most people reading this, but I actually work with computers during the day. I know, I know, you probably thought I was an International Espionage Agent or Helicopter Doctor or something, but NO it is computers from which i make my living - even MORE glamorous than you might otherwise have thought, yes?
The reason this is probably SO astonishing is because I don't like to mention it, either here or indeed in song, but today I am forced to make an exception. I have just read, on linkmachinego, the most BRILLIANT WINDOWS TIP EVER. Hold on to your hats, because here it comes: by using Ctrl + C, you can COPY ERROR MESSAGES ONTO THE CLIPBOARD!!!
How on EARTH could this have been kept a secret so long? WHY OH WHY have I been EITHER writing down error messages by hand or doing PRINT SCREEN and printing out whole pages just to keep ahold of it?!? BILL GATES! Here's a thought - when you come up with something ACTUALLY USEFUL, tell us about it! Get the sodding bloody paperclip thing to do it if you MUST, but let us know!
There's a bit more FACT about it on the original page that mentions it. I am sure I am not the only one who will try out the example of closing NOTEPAD without saving it, nor will I be the only one to think "THAT is AMAZINGLY COOL", be slightly ashamed of myself for thinking it, and then TELL EVERYONE I KNOW.
You can copy error messages in windows onto the clipboard! Suddenly, the world is an even brighter place!
It's The Red Arrows!
I was watching News 24 today, as one does if one wishes to be kept up with current events, and thus got a whole HEAP of FACT about the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands Conflict. Now, I was obviously ALIVE at this time and so have much in the way of THORT about it... all of which EVAPORATED completely when i realised HANG ON - there's going to be a FLYPAST, and LAST time that happened the entire LOT flew directly over our house! OH BOY!
We heard the noise of helicopters and rushed out to find whole formations of them whooshing over. This was QUITE exciting, but not quite what I expected. We went back inside and a minute or two later saw the same helicopters going over the Mall. It was only then I realised that aeroplanes go CONSIDERABLY FASTER than helicopters, so would probably be going over RIGHT ABOUT NOW. Just then there was a MIGHTY ROAR and a whole FLYING V flew over us. BRILLIANT!
Global Warning, the complexities of international conflict, ALL THAT disappeared as I leapt up and down going "IT'S A NIMROD! WHOOOO!" Am I alone in this, or does it affect Gentlemen Generally? It was VERY EXCITING INDEED, ESPECIALLY when THE RED ARROWS flew over. THE RED ARROWS!
This was all ON TOP of watching last night's Doctor Who on video this morning (ZANG!). I think I may need to have a little bit of a lie down.
Sorry for the lack of updates this week - after the hefty FACT BLAT about our Devon Weekend I was a little SPENT, and then have had to do Quite A Lot Of Work this week, it has been BUSY.
ANYWAY, it was back on the road of ROCK last night, heading up to Leicester for a band practice. I arrived PROMPTLY at St Pancras with my pre-booked ticket to hear an announcement that there were no trains leaving the station because of a points failure. CHAOS, as usual, ensued - you'd think by now rail companies would have SOME kind of policies in place to cope with this sort of thing wouldn't you? But no, the only announcements we got we STANDARD ROBOTS saying "Please remain on the platform" and you had to go and find a member of staff to find out ANYTHING. This, of course, would upset and annoy them. "It's no good asking me!" said one lady, which I thought was a LITTLE BIT out of order, as she was standing on the platform to give out information. It was Midland Mainline tho, so tho it was annoying the staff were actually quite sweet. I found four of them HIDING behind a closed barrier, not wanting to talk to anybody because, i guess, they are SHY. Are rather BURLY BOSS came over and forced them out. "Come on THIS side", he said "and get onto the concourse and HELP people." They REALLY didn't want to go.
After about half an hour trying to find out ANYTHING I happened to hear on someone's walkie talkie that they expected it to be at LEAST another 90 minutes before anything happened. OF COURSE they didn't THINK to actually TELL THE PAYING PASSENGERS this, and the guy I asked seemed EMBARRASED that I'd overheard ACTUAL USEFUL INFORMATION. GRRRR!!!
THUS I had to make a decision: My original train was going to get me into Leicester 10 minutes before the practice was due to start. Whatever happened now I would be LATE, and if it was going to end up being at least two hours delayed then there wouldn't be much point in getting on the train at all, THUS wiping out a practice that had taken MONTHS to organise. My only option was to go to Peterborough then across to Leicester BUT I knew trains across only went about once an hour, so could STILL miss everything...
I DASHED down the road to Kings Cross and rang home, where THE TEAM went into ACTION to find me my connections - it looked like I could get to Leicester just under an HOUR late. HOORAH! I hopped about the first class carriage and settled down into the Vestibule. TRAIN TIPS: Even when the train is utterly PACKED and people are standing between the seats in Standard Class, there's nearly always space to sit on the floor in the First Class Vestibules. Actually, usually, you could get away with going and sitting in First Class, as the ticket inspectors are usually too ASHAMED (or, on Midland Mainline, COYLY SHY) to check.
We sped North and I was feeling BETTER about things... until I heard an announcement saying the connection to Leicester would be an HOUR later than I thought. Now, I know that if you RING network enquiries they'll very very often get it WRONG as they leave about 20 minutes for you to get OFF your train and cross the platform, but i was AFEARED in case they'd actually got it right. HAPPILY they hadn't and we hopped across to the train to New Street, which merrily sped through Stamford, Oakham, Melton Mowbray towards Leicester. It was a lovely bit of the journey - I've done it MANY MANY times in the past, from 1988 when me and Mileage first went over to look at our new student house to a few years ago just before I finally left Leicester, so it was a trip down Memory Railtrack. The only BLIGHT was a pissed GIT who decided to lock himself in the ONLY TOILET to avoid inspection. BLADDER ANGST!
The end result of all this is that I arrived at Stayfree in Leicester just under an hour late, to find The Vlads mid JAM. We'd gone back to Stayfree because everywhere in Derby was booked up, and again it felt very reasonable to be back at the old homestead. We launched into a fairly ROCKING session, JAMMING that new song a bit more (adding in a chorus like BOSTON - the band, not the town), and later doing ANOTHER one that had hints of THE EPIC.
We also did some of the pre-written ones. We started with One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In which grew a rather magnificent HIGH KICK section as well as an Exciting Ending, then spent quite a while on Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. By the end this was sounding PRETTY DARN GOOD, and had been subjected to a bit of SURGERY, EXCISING a bridge and moving a whole verse towards the end. My favourite bit was the "Hey there Emo Boy" section, featuring HARMONIES!
We had another BASH at It Only Works Because You're Here, and it really WAS a BASH - I think perhaps this one is going to be better served in a non-band-originated format. HEY! I've heard the full-band version of "Yesterday", I think it is a lesson of history we can LEARN! THUS we moved on and had a run through Let's Leave Our Jobs And Move To London. From a ROCKING standpoint this sounded pretty good - it should do, it's basically that Smog song we learnt a few months ago, which we changed to be pretty much unrecognisable, with new words and vocal melody, so in theory at least we've already learnt it! HOWEVER I came to realise fairly quickly that the words need a LOT of working doing on them so, as stated, we had another jam instead.
All done we headed home, with me going to Chez McClure for a good old chat and some POSH WHISKY. NICE! This morning I found myself back on the Midland Mainline with the ENTIRE Quiet Coach to myself - "Very quiet this morning!" said two staff members, before blushing furiously and running away to hide. The ticket inspector later pointed out that I actually had a First Class ticket - "If they run out of standard, they'll upgrade you", he told me. Two things struck me - firstly, the train was almost EMPTY, so why had this happened? Also, Isn't the policy of charging DOUBLE for open tickets to go on trains at this time of day a bit STUPID if it means whole carriages are DESERTED?
Sometimes people ask me why I write so many songs about TRANES!
On Sunday morning The Wilsons took us over to Totnes, to catch our train home. Pam had gone through the timings in a way in which I WHOLEHEARTEDLY APPROVED: allowing plenty of time for ALL eventualities, which meant we got to have a drive around Dartmouth itself on the way and got to the station in plenty of time ... to find that NO trains were going to London for at LEAST two hours, as there'd been a breakdown at Camborne earlier on that morning. Undaunted we went down to Totnes for breakfast (continuing the theme of the weekend i, of course, had BEANS ON TOAST - and there was me expecting it to be all Scones!) and more CHAT. We rolled up a while later to find trains were about to go, so said our goodbyes and hopped aboard. We were heading home!
What with one thing and another the train was EXTREMELY busy, so it was Reading before we got a seat together. We went home, i WASHED, got myself together, and then even though i was COMPLETELY KNACKERED headed out YET AGAIN, to ROCK!
I was doing a gig at the Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, and when I arrived I found that the last band were still soundchecking, so arranged with the (very good) sound guy that I'd come back an hour later, which is how I managed to get back to work and do the BLOG entry yesterday. When I returned I found that NOBODY had come to see me - I sort of suspected this would be the case, though I'm not sure WHY... anyway, at nine o'clock I went on and did THIS:
It was all rather strange - as I say NOBODY was there to see me, and the only people watching at ALL were one of the other bands (who'd sat on sofas at the front, and now couldn't get away!) and the sound man. I was determined to do it PROPERLY tho, and although i had a WOBBLE halfway through (hence the sudden BLAT of covers) I thought "No Hibbett, come on - there may be someone you can't see stood at the back or round the corner who has come ESPECIALLY. If you went to see someone, even if it was only on a WHIM, how would you feel if they just messed around? NOT HAPPY, i suspect!"
So carry on PROPERLY I did, even tho it felt ODD to be introducing songs to NOBODY. Towards the end tho some of the people BOWLING were turning round, and people in Lane One were ACTIVELY DANCING, so it felt all right. I was still KNACKERED tho - so KNACKERED that I left behind half a pint of BEER, so that i could head off home. That, my friends, is evidence ENOUGH!
THUS I got home a little after ten o'clock, very VERY worn out but pleased to have completed another EXTENSIVE weekend of ROCKING. The next full gig's a few weeks away now (the next ACTUAL gig is at Retrovision, but that'll only be a couple of songs), I need the REST!
We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning - not because we wanted to, but because we had to get up for Breakfast. For the second, and not the last time that weekend, i had some beans on toast, which went some way towards curing the MYSTERY ILLNESS i seemed to be suffering from, and illness which was to fade away completely when I had my first taste of that DELICIOUS BEER that the south west is overrun with.
I got my LAUGHING GEAR wrapped round some of the aforesaid later that morning, after a stroll down to Lynmouth where we sat on the green looking at papers, eating potatoes (eventually - it took about an HOUR for the Veggie Curry to get ready, we had to have some CAKE while we waited), EYEING UP the Ukelele stall, meeting pals, and being upset to discover that the staff in the beer tent had worked out how to served halves. CURSES!
As we set off for the railway we walked past a SKIFFLE band playing outside The Rising Sun. I was just about to REMARK to The Tea Chest Off My Skiffle Bass how raggedy they sounded, when the singer spotted me and said "OI! Peterborough isn't it? Good set!" It was GRATE, and I blushed modestly... then he said "VERY BRAVE!" OH the emotional ups and downs of FAMOUSNESS!
We caught the railway back up to the top, got our bags and then went back to The Crown to meet The Wilsons. On the way a passing driver leaned out of her car and said "Are you MJ Hibbett?" "IS THERE NO ESCAPE!?!" I thought, but it turned out she was one of the organisers who then went on to offer me a lift to Woody Bay Station, which was very nice of her. It later transpired that she was my initial CONTACT for doing the festival in the first place, and ALSO that I'd seen her before when she was working at the Cinema. I forgot to mentioned this yesterday - in the afternoon I went to the local 60 seater Cinema to watch a "Naked" gig, which was weirdly similar to BOTH my Totally Acoustic escapades AND to the Banana Grove gig last week, in that the DJ was a chap playing two wind-up 78rpm record players, and the bands were all playing completely unamplified. I didn't see much of the music as I had to dash off to get ready for my own gig, but what I did hear sounded LOVELY. It's always amazing to hear Proper Old Instruments played as they were MEANT to be played, and to realise that, actually, if you do it that way everything IS at the right volume anyway, as that's the volume they were DESIGNED for.
Anyway, as I say we went down to The Crown to meet The Wilsons and they headed out to Woody Bay Station, which was GORGEOUS. It was originally part of the Lynton Barnstaple line, and rather than me get it WRONG i would recommend a quick read of the Wiki article which is DEAD interesting. Suffice to say it was a LOVELY spot, the sun was out, trains were chugging along and we all got sat around a table in the garden. We watched the band before me, who sounded nice but LUMME didn't half need to do a lot of tuning between songs, and then i went on and did THIS:
It was SMASHING - it was such a lovely day, and I was sitting down (they didn't have a DI box for me to plug in to, so I needed miking up) so I did a MUCH calmer set than usual, and towards the end went a bit wayward and changed things about to fit the GROOVE. There was also no SWEARING, as there were a LOT of small children there, especially a pair of little lads who came and sat down together right at the front, causing a STAMPEDE of CHARMED adults to take their picture - including, it must be said, The Lens On My Camera, I'll get the PICS online soon so ALL can go "Oh just BLESS!" They didn't sit through the whole set as their Dad had to come and fetch them away, which led to CERTAIN PEOPLE making remarks about it being "Like Altamont down here - here come the Hell's Angels" and so on. Well, I thought it was funny anyway...
Job done we said goodbye to our PALS who had come along once again and leapt into the Wilsonmobile for distant Dartmouth, stopping off on the way to look at the BRILLIANT new house they'd just bought: IT HAS A BASEMENT! It's going to be THE STUDIO!
We got to their house, had GIN AND TONICS out on their BALCONY, then FEASTED on Beans On Toast (the food of DEVON!). We were then granted a MINI-GIG by Phil on the Mandolin, and he did a Field Mice song, his own versions of "Heroes" and "Century Of Fakers", climaxing with "I Fall". It was GRATE! I got caught up in the excitement and we had a JAM... with me on BANJO. I rather cockily thought this would be fine, until I realised this one had a different tuning to mine, and THEN also saw that Mandolins have EXTREMELY different tunings, so couldn't look over at Phil to see what he was playing for CLUES. INDEED it hurt my BRANE as Mandolin chords are COMPLETELY different looking to what I'm used to, and every fibre of my being screamed "NO! It is WRONG CHORDS!"
But we had a SCOOT through a Krautrock song I can't remember the name of, and also a country number that I can't remember the name of either because i was THINKING HARD about what I was doing, tho I think it sounded OK. After that we went out onto the balcony again to have some more BEER and CHAT. The house has a view down the hill and across the valley, and all along the road most of the other houses had balconies too. It was such a nice night that everyone seemed to be out and there was a lovely sound of CHAT coming from all along the valley, it was a VERY nice way to end a VERY busy day!
It has been pointed out to me that I had a Tofu Burger, NOT a jacket potato on the Saturday at Llama, and that in fact we BOTH had jacket potatoes on the SUNDAY. I apologise for the confusion.
With regard to Steve's comment, to be fair to the Beer Tent, it WAS very hot, they HAD been there since 8am and they DID look very overheated and tired out, so please officer, DON'T ARREST THEM for breaking the Licencing Laws.
That reminds me - crieky, there weren't half a lot of police around. On the Friday night FOUR of them came into the pub with a SNIFFER DOG!
This may explain something else i forgot to mention, when we TERRIFIED the lady in Tourist Information by asking her questions about the Festival - she was very keen to show us walking maps of the area, but looked ALARMED when we asked where the main stage of the festival was. It was quite sweet really - we obviously changed from a Nice Young Couple into an ARMY OF NEW AGE TRAVELLERS before her very eyes!
And now, back to our scheduled broadcast, part two of our trip to Devon...
On Friday afternoon the Scone In My Cream Tea and I headed SOUTH, for DEVON and the LLama Festival. The train down was FULL but we managed to find seats and so had a LOVELY trip down to Exeter where we popped out for an hour and a bit to meet a friend for a drink before REBOARDING for a significantly shorter trip to Barnstaple - aah, rail network! How wonderful you are, when working correctly!
There hasn't been a train from Barnstaple since 1935 when (FACTS i learnt this weekend, Part 1) the single gaugue Southern Railways Lynton to Barnstaple line was closed, so we had to get a taxi into Lynton - we had a very nice taxi drive, but it was QUITE COSTLY - I'd BRIEFED myself to be prepared for it possibly costing over fifty quid, but still, as he and I JOSHED and CHATTED one eye was on the meter, GOGGLING at the price as it reached that magic number.
Still, we got to our B&B fine, unpacked, then went out for a wander to admire the village, which is EXTREMELY PRETTY. It really is GORGEOUS although, personally, I did feel they'd gone a bit overboard on the amount of HILLS. There were REALLY A LOT - i don't like hills anyway, but frankly this was taking the mickey,it is not called England's Switzerland for nothing, and NONE of the reasons are that they have special cheeses. As far as i know.
Anyway, we went down for a DELICIOUS pint of beer (FACT 2: all beer in Devon is DELICIOUS) before clambering back up the mountainside and to bed. We got up PROMPTLY for breakfast, which was served AT 8.30am. Not FROM 8.30am, AT 8.30am - this seemed a bit odd at first, being used to HOTELS and indeed most other B&Bs where there's a LITTLE flexibility, but it did get us out of bed and, a short time later, out WALKING. We went down to The Valley Of Rocks which is - get this! - a valley, with loads of rocks in it. It was DEAD NICE, we climbed up yet another hill, climbed down again, and took the MAGNIFICENTLY SCENIC Coastal Walk back to the village. On the way we saw LOADS of Goats (FACT 3: not native, but introduced from Northumberland in the 70's) who were LOVELY.
It was all VERY scenic. Next job was to pop down to LYNMOUTH which is down yet ANOTHER dirty great hill. It was EXTRAORDINARILY PICTURESQUE and we had a very pleasant view of it from the Rising Sun, the first pub we came to which was a) ancient b) nice c) full of DELICIOUS BEER (see FACT 2). We went down to the Village Green where the main stage was, listened to a bit of BLUES, ate a potato each, and had a 60 PERCENT of beer. Not a half - apparently this was too much trouble to work out the price for - but a 60 Percent. It was, as expected, DELICIOUS.
Happily someone in the area had seen SENSE re. the hills and had provided a FUNICULAR RAILWAY - oooh, i do love a good funicular railway, and this was a GOOD one. It's one of the only surviving ones in the world which is WATER POWERED, it is EXTREMELY CLEVER and also rather sweet as you gently bump up it. Here is a WIKI LINK about it, have a look, it is ACE!
We'd arranged to meet some more friends at The Crown, the pub where I was playing later on, but had ALSO arranged to meet Mr & Mrs P & P Wilson... somewhere. I was getting a bit STRESSED about a) the impending gig b) the eerie feeling that we were missing the actual festival (which at that point was all going on down in Lynmouth still, so Lynton felt EERILY QUIET) and c) whether we would ever find them. The Incline Of My Funicular Railway suggested a STROLL down some back streets to see The Real Lynton and ,within SECONDS of us heading off in the direction we were greeted by the BEEP of The Wilsonmobile, containing said Wilsons. HOORAH!
Half an hour later we were all gathered at the pub, where there was CHAT, also with Mr A Fitchett of Tangents and partner and, soon, the aforementioned PALS. We had a SUPREMELY JOLLY hour or so chatting, and then it was time for ME to make my move for the stage.
When i got there the organisers looked pleased and RELIEVED to see me - earlier on I told The Sound Guy I was there but he hadn't passed this information on (there were all sorts of problems with one of the other stages, which he'd gone to sort out, so it is UNDERSTANDABLE) so they were a bit worried that I wasn't going to turn up. However, I COMPLETELY DID, and did THIS:
It was a JOB OF WORK, but I think I carried it off OK. The stage itself was actually in the STREET, next door to the pub, so I was playing to people in the beer garden and also walking up and down the STREET, where a fairly large CROWD had gathered. I was a bit annoyed at first that a group of YOUNG MEN were sat ON the stage chatting - i get quite Proprietorial about MY stage - but I was glad there were there in the end, as I could use them as STOOGES ... which also made them clear off before the end! It was all a bit of a strange sensation - I felt i was WORKING HARD to get everyone onside, and could FEEL how it was going - when people were listening and getting into it I could really tell, not least because it was still broad daylight and i could SEE them, but when the set SAGGED it was INTENSELY clear to me. This occurred especially in Billy Jones Is Dead, when two lines in i thought "Oh dear - I've got two verses and a MIDDLE still to go!"
So yes, it felt like i was WORKING, but it also felt GRATE. It's not something I've done that often and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it, trying to ENGAGE with that big a crowd, especially that big a crowd who've never heard of me and could very very easily just wander off to the chippy or something instead. People seemed to enjoy it, and I staggered off stage VERY pleased with how it'd gone. HOORAH!
After that there were SEVERAL much needed pints before we headed back to bed, there to finish off the bottle of JACK DANIELS that we'd brought along with us. YEAH! We were ON TOUR!
It's all a bit HECTIC at the moment - suddenly, inexplicably, i have LOADS of work to do, at the same time as we're getting ready to head over to DEVON for the weekend (to ROCK it - also Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes in That London on Monday, bring SCONES), at the same time as i am planning to bake a PIE. OK, so the PIE isn't quite as hecticity creating as the other two, but i am Quite Excited about it.
In the midst of all this a rather lovely email from those TOP QUALITY people at CDBaby arrived to let me know that Warriors Of Nanpantan is FINALLY available to buy via iTunes. It was supposed to go up at the same time as The Lesson Of The Smiths/The Gay Train but somehow got STUCK. As ever with CDBaby, though, all I had to do was email them and within HOURS i got a reply from an ACTUAL HUMAN to tell me they'd sort it out and, LO AND BEHOLD, they actually DID! Big British Companies: Take note, THAT is how you should do it!
In CELEBRATION of this feat i've had a bit of a TIDY UP over on our iTunes page, which now lists ALL the albums and singles we've got available there, and i must say it is QUITE a lot - i was surprised, I didn't know we were QUITE this modern! I must admit i have never (i don't think) actually BOUGHT something off of it - having recently lost the entire contents of my NanoPod i prefer to have everything pre-BACKED UP... you know, on CDs - i do think it is a GRATE thing. I especially like to go and look at our page every day and see what's the most popular song and what other things people have bought. It's not the fastest moving chart in the world, that I'll grant you, but it IS ours!
I was originally thinking of doing Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line), as PROMPTED by The Strings On My Banjo, but when I sat down to do it I realised that i could ALSO do The Lesson Of The Smiths... although, if you watch it you may NOTE that I couldn't play it quite as well as I would have hoped. I got a bit too EXCITED by the playing of it to do the chords correctly all the way through!
A Galactic Alignment
Stop the clocks, hold the phone and fetch the cat in, a MOMENTOUS THING has occurred: we've actually BOOKED a couple of Validators practices!
If that wasn't enough - readers of a nervous or excitable nature look away NOW - they're BOTH within the next three and a bit weeks! Even TYPING those words looks WRONG, like a MISPLELED WORD: surely i mean "One practice is in August, the other is the month of NAKTEMBER, as yet UNINVENTED"? But no, after negotiations that have lasted - literally, and with no word of a fib - MONTHS, we have finally found a couple of dates when we can MEET, and, almost as importantly, found somewhere we can meet IN.
It's bound to go horribly wrong isn't it? THUS the plan is that next Thursday (next Thursday!) a significant proportion of Validators will gather at our old haunt STAYFREE in Leicester, where we will spend several hours learning some of the new songs and, hopefully, writing some EVEN NEWER ones. A fortnight later we regroup back at The Music Shed in Derby to do some more of the same.
After THAT we've got some GIGS (including the INCREDIBLY EXCITING Indietracks Festival) and then if all goes to plan it's back to the studio to start recording some MORE of the new album.
I feel like the owner of the NEW AIRLINE at the the film saying "Pah! Nothing can possibly go wrong! What does it matter if the Pilot is a ZOMBIE?" ALL ABOARD!
Mr Pilkington's review of the gig is HERE - Compare and contrast the FACT with that found below!
There's a VERY short interview with me over at Fire Escape Talking along with a link to a petition that i cannot, of course, comment on.
Has anyone else noticed that's it's taking MUCH longer to get served in bars these days? I don't mean waiting to get someone's attention - i have the condition REGULAR'S FACE which means i don't usually have a problem getting served but DO tend to get roped in to do Regular's Duties (like minding the door at venues) in places I've not been to before - but actually getting your BEER. I don't mind bar staff taking a long time to pour a pint of Guiness... well, actually, i DO, it's bloody ridiculous, but I can at least accept it has historical antecedents, but for HEAVEN'S SAKE, it DOESN'T take long to pour a pint of BEER, and you DO NOT have to leave it to settle, top it up a bit, and then go back and do some more. Even worse, there seems to be a RIDICULOUS FAD for having drinks that take TEN MINUTES EACH to do worse - i was in The Lansdowne in Leicester on Friday night and EVERYONE was drinking things with about ten ingredients each. The week before, also in Leicester, in the Firebug one of the bar staff got a PESTLE AND MORTAR out to mix a bloody drink! Mr D Dixey, Sorted Supremo, opined that bars think that if they take longer to make the drink they can justify charging a lot more. He may be right, but COME ON, BARS! I'm thirsty over here!
Tom and I ZOOMED Northwards in The Tigermobile and got to Leeds in RECORD time. We were filled with fear as we approached the City Centre, as it has been our DOWNFALL on numerous occasions, but we were astonished to find that we got straight to the venue without a single wrong-turning. The Hibbett/McClure Navigation Team triumphs at LAST!
I left Tom guiding the gear and headed over to check in to my hotel, which was another Ibis and so A BIT WEIRD: i went into my room to find it was EXACTLY the same as the room I'd stayed in last night. I'm not complaining - i quite like the way they're all the same in a Utilitarian Stylee, and always think that people who like hotels with "character" should maybe LEAVE THE HOTEL and go and look at the ACTUAL CITY they've gone to, rather than admiring the wonky chandelier - but it was a little UNNERVING.
There was no time to CONSIDER the issue any further as I had to re-pack my backpack and nip back to Carpe Diem, arriving just as Tim got in. We settled down for BEER, and I was OVERJOYED to find that Carpe Diem now sells Drinkable Beer. Previously they sold the same horrible John Smiths On Tap (or equivalent) that is the nearest most venues GET to beer, but now they had Theakston's Best on tap, and it was LOVELY. HOORAH for Proper Beer: it's a health drink!
As we were discussing this and other issues Ren the promoter came over - it was her first gig promoting on her own, so of course we "hilariously" said "We usually get 500 quid - EACH!" and other BON MOTS. Rather than continue in this vein we wandered over to the stage and had a very slow, but ultimately Quite Good soundcheck.
That done we set off in search of ONION BHAJIS. LAST time we played there as a band we'd been to a place that sold the most DELICIOUS Onion Bhajis we'd ever had, and were thus DISAPPOINTED when we arrived to find it was closed down for renovation. HAPPILY one of the owners was in there and he pointed us over the road, where ZAM ZAM'S had relocated. ZAM ZAMS! Let its name live forever in GLORY, for LO! The Bhajis were STILL as fantastic! They also gave us POPPADOMS while we waited, and I had a BRILLIANT Falafel Kebab - "We're just waiting for your pitta", they said to me as they gave Tim his grub, and when it arrived it was a very UNUSUAL pitta indeed - it was, in fact, a NAAN! And it was BRILLIANT! I've been to a couple of places yesterday where I've eaten mad Indian Takeaway versions of Food Of The World, and it's almost always DELICIOUS, if MENTAL, like a REVENGE for the years of Weird English Curries (full of sweetcorns, raisins and banana) that decided at the last moment to be BRILLIANT.
We bumped into Ben Calvert and his band on the way back, RAVED at them about the grub, and then went back into the pub for some more of that tasty BEER. Emma soon arrived, as did Ms E Pemberton in an I VALIDATE! t-shirt and Mr W Pilkington in a Hey Hey 16K one. It was very exciting, and later on i took a picture on my phone!
LUSK played and were good - less INDIE than I'd expected, and more LEEDS - and Ben Calvert was a joy to watch, especially with that great big Double Bass, and then it was time for US. Here's what we did:
It was a LOT of fun, DEAD good. Originally I'd been down to play this one on my own, but we'd decided to do it as (80% of) The Vlads so that Emma could get a run-up back in to singing again - she's had problems with the hearing in one of her ears, so this was a chance to see if she could ROCK still... and BY HECK i think we got the answer to that one: YES! As Tom pointed out later, HARMONIES were BEST YET and she sounded GRATE (especially when one takes into account who she was harmonising WITH), and LO! relief and happiness spread around. The first couple of songs sounded a bit dodgy to me, but this is because, somewhere along the line, my MONSTROUS EGO has wiped the knowledge from my mind that sometimes it takes a couple of songs for the soundman to get it sorted out - on several occasions of late i have wanted to STORM OFF in a ROCK STAR STROP because I can't hear everything PERFECTLY in the first song, it is a STRANGE and ALARMING.
After that though it all sounded GOOD and much fun was had - INDEED I found myself running out of time to make all the REMARKS i wished to make. The BEST bit of the gig was in the Future Music bit of Do The Indie Kid, which went on for a LONG time and ended up with Tim doing HILARIOUS DRUMMING. It's hard to explain really - it wasn't comedy drumming or silly, it was just VERY FUNNY INDEED. Earlier on we'd discussed the FACT that drummers can either be ACCURATE or SOULFUL and I'd said that Tim had "A LOT of Soul!" At the time it was AN HILARIOUS REMARK, but it is also SERIOUSLY TRUE, not many people have that kind of Comic Timing in Percussion!
Afterwards we lurked around and chatted to people and generally ENJOYED ourselves. Various aspects of the band grouped together to discuss future plans, and much FUN was had by all. Next morning I got up at 7am to get the first train back to London and managed to be back at home with a cup of tea by NOON, KNACKERED but happy - the MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK had gone like clockwork from start to finish, had been PACKED with action and, all round, end of the day, SMASHING!
posted by MJ Hibbett, (click here for permanent link)
Snug Media Ltd
I awoke at a RELAXED hour on Saturday morning, happy to discover that the application of a little JHB at the end of the evening had INDEED cured me of a John Smiths-induced HANGOVER, and it was with a light heart and a carefree head that I caught the train to Derby, there to lay down some ROCK.
I arrived at The Snug Recording Company (cheques payable to Snug Media Ltd - POSH!) to find Mr Robbie Newman a) READY b) RARING TO GO, and WHAT a fine old afternoon of it we had! First of all we did ELECTRICAL guitar parts, which was GRATE as we got to use THREE different amplifiers and make them DEAD LOUD.
We started off with My Boss Was In An Indie Band, and I got to try out my REVOLUTIONARY NEW IDEA: PROPER GUITAR PARTS! In the past I've STRUMMED ALONG, but this time i thought maybe I'd actually WORK OUT some PROPER GUITAR PARTS for each song - sounds KRAZY i know, but it seemed to go OK, with a combination of ON and OFF the beat guitars for that one, i was rather PROUD of myself! Next we did Do The Indie Kid with a RIGHT NASTY guitar sound that i personally found VERY EXCITING. The BEST bit though was doing The Music Of The Future in the middle - Robbie would LEAP UP from his seat and open the door to the live room, where the Amps were. I would DASH IN and stand in front of said amp, in order to generate FEEDBACK then, when it was finished, RUN BACK to my seat ready for the end of the song. We did a couple of different guitar bits for this too, so did THAT a couple of times, it was FUN!
EVEN MORE FUN (sounds impossible, but it is FACT) came when we did Best Behaviour - I had a LEAD PART for this one which I wanted to sound "Noingy". Now, this was always the GRATE thing about recording with Mr Reverb at his (Sadly Defunct) studio in Leicester, and he ALWAYS either KNEW what my ridiculous descriptions of sounds meant OR would come up with something much better, so I'd been a bit worried about whether Robbie would be OK with this, but he took it MANFULLY in his stride - apparently the singer in his band (the EXCELLENT Plans & Apologies) is similarly "artistic", and so in THIS case he knew than "Noingy" means "Go get the WAH WAH out!"
Me being, shall we say, UTILITARIAN in my guitar SKILLZ, I needed some HELP with said item, so Robbie got DOWN on the floor and worked the pedal for me as I played - and by HECK, it sounded ACE! After THAT I did some MASSIVE ROCK GUITAR on We Can Start Having Fun, during which i wa sure I could feel WIND MACHINES all over the country start to get upset by the knowledge that THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE.
At this point THE TIGER arrived - we'd meant for him to record some Violin Parts, but as he was KNACKERED we forged ahead with GUITARS, with me doing ACOUSTICAL tracks for We Can Start Having Fun and a DAB of same for Do More, Eat Less. That was ALL my guitar DONE for the current batch of songs, so i finished up with VOCALS for Best Behaviour and We Can Start Having Fun, JUST BECAUSE I COULD.
Robbie commenced the Rough Mixing Process, just as Mr F A Machine and Frankie Jr arrived, DROPPING IN on THE SESSION. He'd brought the Artists Against Success chequebook with him - as the label is now semi-retired, only really releasing stuff by US now, there isn't really a NEED for us to have a seperate bank account any more, so we signed a few cheques to pay out the last remaining CA$H accrued for bands, and I felt a moment of SADNESS as i realised an ERA had finally closed. The glory days of the label AS a fully operating labels were several years ago now, but GOODNESS ME those were some pretty good times. Oh! The JOY of our Record Company Away Days when myself and Messrs. Machine and Whitaker would spend a happy day in a PUB in The Peak District, discussing GRATE THINGS before settling in for a MEAL and DRUNKEN SLUMBER in The Family Room! GOOD TIMES, my friend, GOOD TIMES.
But that was THE PAST, and our focus was soon shifted to the future, by THE MUSIC OF THE FUTURE. Last time me and The Rhythm Section had recorded several short PIECES for possible inclusion in that section of Do The Indie Kid, and we listened now to Robbie doing rough mixes for us. All right, some of it was less good than others, but some was ACE - different bits reminded us of several different QUITE NOTABLE Math-Rock type bands, and it was STRANGE and CONFUSING to think that we had replicated well thought of INTERLECTUAL MUSIC just by PISSING ABOUT for half an hour. SURELY there's more to it than that?
With all that done we said our farewells to Robbie and The Machines and got into THE TIGERMOBILE for the next stop on THE MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK: LEEDS!
The Banana Grove
The first stop on my MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK was Leicester, and I arrived in that most excellent of cities in the sunny afternoon on Friday full of HOPE for what promised to be an Action Packed Weekend. I checked in to the IBIS (HANDILY placed right next to the station) and almost immediately SWELLED with CIVIC PRIDE when I watched an East Midlands Today piece about an Imam and a Priest who worked on opposite sides of the road from each other and had become PALS and gone off travelling the world preaching acceptance of FRIENDLINESS. It was lovely - their respective churches were, of course, in LEICESTER, home town of all things LOVELY.
Mind you, Leicester wasn't looking her BEST when I set off for SUMO, as there seems to be some pretty major building work going on at The Magazine, as the area was festooned with wire barriers and a SPECTACULARLY ugly pile of concrete and rubble which had been poured over one end of one of the underpasses, to make a dirty great wall to stop people using it. It was horrible!
Anyway, I got to Sumo just before Sorted Supremo Dave Dixey, and i LEAPT to help him carry in his DECKS and DJ STASH - in this case two portable wind-up gramophones and a box of 78's. We struggled in with them, not really helped by a bouncer who didn't think it worth his while to, you know, OPEN THE DOOR for us. GRR! We manhandled our way in and went downstairs and got set up. It was STRANGE - as far as I'm aware no-one in my family has owned and/or played a gramophone record during my lifetime, but as soon as he started playing one of those old records it sounded like HOME - the warmth, the crackle, and the happy sound of it was a thing of WONDER. I'm BY NO MEANS a Vinyl Bore, but GOODNESS ME it was a wondrous thing.
I did my soundcheck and then HIED to Narborough Road, where i had a MOST pleasant Curry with Dr N Brown and his old pal Matt. On the way there and back i MARVELLED at the change that has occurred in the area - when I first lived there there were THREE pubs: The Huntsman (which you didn't go in), The Western (which you DID, and which i was glad to discover has changed hardly at all) and The Pump & Tap (which HAS changed, a LOT), but now every second building is a BAR, with Bright Young Things LOLLING out of the windows, and the places that AREN'T appear to be takeaways or - amazingly - swanky restaurants. It's all very nice and exciting and GLITZY, but I couldn't help feeling NOSTALGIA for when it had three chippies, two bakers and a string of dodgy second hand shops. Years and years ago I wrote a song called Down The Narborough Road, which was an attempt to do one of those American Type songs MYTHOLOGISING an area - at the time it was a fairly accurate picture of how it was, NOW almost NONE of the places mentioned in it are still there! It's part of a general feeling these days that MANY of my songs are changing from CURRENT to FOLK!
Anyway, I got back to find Dave downstairs playing his 78s and hardly anyone else there. I was feeling a bit fed up at this point, as I'd spent AGES over the preceding few weeks learning a pile of new (to me) songs, and would be DISAPPOINTED if nobody came to see it... so i was RELIEVED and then PLEASED when a whole BUNCH of lovely people soon turned up, especially as i got to CHAT to them. HOORAH!
We waited for the FOOTBALL to end (the other band playin had pulled out, so we could afford to wait a bit), and then i went onstage and did THIS:
If this looks like a rather BIZARRE set, well, it IS! I should have said earlier - the night was the first instalment of Banana Grove, Mr Dixey's new club night designed to combine the playing of 78s with BANDS perforing new versions of old songs, HENCE my Music Hall TASTIC set. It seemed to go OK - it was RATHER scary doing so many unfamiliar songs, and i completely messed up Don't Dilly Dally On The Way, as even though I had the words blown up to A3 i still couldn't see them. It was ACE forcing everyone to join in on Moonlight Bay and Chick Chicken, and i THOROUGHLY enjoyed doing Dancing In The Week, which was a REVISED version of Clubbing In The Week to make it more old fashioned. BEST OF ALL though was doing Easily Impressed in a VERY revised fashion, with second verse as follows:
I like a nice cup of tea from a china spout
The ease of navigation of the London Underground
A cut throat razor for a hairy face
The futuristic possibilities of radio waves
Letter, Mangles, washing pegs
The trams of Sheffield, powdered eggs
It took me AGES to think of that! But that wasn't the best bit by far - this was in the AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION section. I'd suggested something like "Excuse me Hibbett", which got IMPROVED by the Participating Audience to "I say, Mr Hibbett!" and then, BRILLIANTLY, "I beg to differ!" which made me LARF and, for me, made the whole exercise worthwhile on its own. HOORAH!
When it was all finished a young man came over and said "I'm a bit GUTTED - I thought you'd be doing your own songs, I came specially to hear them!" It did, I must say, seem a bit unfair, so I went upstairs with him and a few of his mates into the front yard and did a SPECIAL GIG for them and the Participating Audiences, who came along too, AS FOLLOWS:
It was LOVELY and, truth be told, yet MORE fun than playing downstairs had been. We went back to listen to some more TUNES and had DISCUSSIONS re. LITERATURE and MARXISM, it was MOST intellectual. Mr Dixey and I then shared a taxi, dropped off his GEAR, and then nipped up the road to The Landsdowne for some DELICIOUS Oakham Ales JHB. It was SO nice that it completely counteracted the effects of the rather dodgy John Smiths "smoothflow" i'd been drinking earlier. The Singer From Kasabian was at the bar, which was quite exciting, and we fell to discussing Important Matters such as Dave Doing Banana Grove In A PUB Instead, Record Distribution and, of course, Doctor Who.
I got back to the hotel just after 1am, full of PLEASANT THOUGHTS, NOSTALGIA, and also BEER. The MIGHTY WEEKEND OF ROCK had begun WELL!
Mind you, i am expected a little MORE interest to be heading this way later this afternoon, as I understand Mr R Manuel is going to be giving it a mention in the B3ta newsletter - the B3TARDS are MANY, and I WELCOME them!
I'll have to wait a while to find out if that DOES happen tho, as I am OFF this afternoon to The Leicester, where I'm playing a set made up of pre-World War II songs ("Don't Dilly Dally On The Way", "Leaning On A Lamppost", that sort of thing) and songs of MINE subtly altered to fit in - I'm onstage about 9 o'clock i think, if you fancy coming. SATURDAY will see me in DERBY first of all, doing some recording, then with an 80% full Validators line-up in LEEDS at Carpe Diem in the evening, with us on about 10 o'clock. It's a BUSY weekend!
In the meantime, as i say, WELCOME to those who've popped by for the first time - please relax and take the time to have a look around, there's AHECKOFALOT to read, quite a bit to listen to, a NEWSLETTER to sign up for and, if you're EXTRA keen, a whole BUNCH of stuff to buy!