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Another evening of Solo Album ACTION last night, as I - GET READY FOR EXCITEMENT - created Acid Pro files for the last few songs that didn't have them. IT'S LIKE LED ZEPPELIN! BUT MORE ROCK!
Well, it needed doing, especially as I needed to get near-finished versions of some songs OUT to some of my Guest Artistes. One such song was Born Yesterday, which got some backing vocals from Mrs Emma Pattison in Derby in Monday. Unfortunately i hadn't realised that the fact that some ROUGH MEN were in the next room making a RIGHT OLD RACKET would get picked up on the sensitive microphone (INDEED you can HEAR me say "Okay, see how you get on", leave the room, walk along the corridor, go next door, and start making aforesaid RACKET) BUT i managed to use CUNNING to extract everything necessary, and it sounds LOVELY - Emma always does slightly MELANCHOLIC harmonies, it's dead nice.
Anyway, I did THAT and a few other bits and bobs, including extracting DRUMS, and I'm now ready to get started on the last couple of songs. The PLAN is to get most of my bits done before I go on holiday next Thursday, so that the aforementioned GUEST ARTISTES can do their bits while I'm gone - it's going to be TIGHT, but it's looking good!
And in other news, the NEWSLETTER just went out, a day early as tomorrow I'm off to Peterborough for the day. As ever, if you DON'T get it sent direct to your email, and would LIKE to, SIGN UP!
Podcasts and PLANNING
First up, I'm told that the new edition of the The C64 Take-away podcast podcast is online now, featuring TALK and PLAYING of Hey Hey 64K - I met the chap who does it at the BITLive event I did a couple of months ago, he seemed keen on the song!
In other news I am continuing to EXECUTIVE PRODUCE myself by doing even MORE in-depth planning for the solo album, which now has a SECRET but pretty definite TITLE. CLUE: it's the name of one of the songs, and ALSO sort of descriptive of the general sound. WHAT CAN IT BE? OoooOOoooh! Anyway, I'm off on holiday in a week or so and, as I want it all to be ready to RELEASE in October I thought it best to have a fairly detailed PLAN OF ACTION - the previous version divided tasks into WEEKS but, to be honest, this wasn't enough to stop me from PANICKING so I've now got a DAY BY DAY plan with one or, sometimes, TWO items of ROCK to ACHIEVE each day. I've already DONE today's item (emailing people about some gigs) and I've started a couple of others, so it's ALL GOOD. LIFESTYLE TIP: when making a Big List Of Things To Do, always put some DEAD EASY things in, for LO! IT FEELS GOOD!
And now I'm doing the first draft of the NEWSLETTER which will be coming out a day early i.e. TOMORROW. Blimey! Did we get through AUGUST already?
For some reason the train companies have had a VOLTE FACE re. Bank Holidays and APPEAR to have decided to make trains run QUITE WELL on such days - I don't know WHY they've decided to completely revise their usual plans i.e. "Hey HEY! We don't want MORE people using trains, so lets make sure they're AS BAS AS POSSIBLE on days when people who don't absolutely HAVE to use them travel - HA!" but my trip to scenic DERBY on Monday evening, and indeed my one back this morning, was DELIGHTFUL.
Also, it being a Bank Holiday, i DIDN'T have to go ludicrously early so arrived in time to pop and get something to eat (a COB, as the chippie was closed) before meeting a SPLENDIDLY BEARDED Mr McClure and heading to the PUB. We were soon joined by The Pattisons, who came bearing me the GIFT of a Ctrl-Alt-Del T-SHIRT and then by Mr Frankie Machine, and LO! We were QUORATE!
There was DISCUSSION on many issues, notably deciding that we'd do our GIG at The Boardwalk as a BAND, and also that we'd try and book some recording time in October, thus to BREAK THE BACK of album sessions. It felt GOOD to move on, and so we moved FURTHER ON, all the way into the Music Shed for our scheduled practice.
They've started booking us in a DIFFERENT room than usual, which is REALLY GOOD as this one is slightly bigger and ISN'T half full of computers, amplifiers, and, for no good reason, dainty chinese screens. For some reason it means you can hear the vocals much better, which is always nice. We got set up and i found that i was the only person standing up - Tim, of course, occupies the HOLY STOOL, but the rest of the band had found DECKCHAIRS. They popped in their EAR PLUGS and leant back, so what with all the "EH? What did you say?" going on it felt like Tim and i were playing an afternoon gig to a coach party in BOURNEMOUTH.
Thinking about it, it may just be that we DID most of the INDIE ROCKERS in the first set of songs, although there is still one left - Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid which, once again, we spent a lot of time on, FINESSEING the moves into the different sections. This one featured rather nice HARMONIES between me and Emma - by this i mean that i managed to actually DO them for the most part, instead of getting confused and just singing the same as Mrs Pattison.
That done it was BOSSANOVA TIME, as we FINALLY tried out Tim's long proposed THESIS that It Only Works Because You're Here would work in a BAND ARRANGEMENT if we did it BOSSANOVA - we'd tried it previously in a more straightforward way, and it had sounded HORRID, but Mr Pattison had splashed out on some HOT RODS which he brought out especially, and BY GOLLY it really worked! I TAPED it on my exciting new four track and, though it needs some WORK, especially in the GUITAR DEPARTMENT, it does sound rather GRATE!
That done we took ten rather strange minutes to tape Tim doing some drums for me to sample for a couple of songs on the solo album, during which the pensioners... sorry, other Validators started to drop off. NEXT Emma and I went next door and got her set up to practice and record some (rather lovely) backing vocals, again for said solo album, while I returned to the main room where we WORKED UP A SWEAT writing a new song, tentatively called "Kinder Scout".
It was a long old night and I was fair PLUM TUCKERED by the time we got back to Machine Mansions - HECK tho, we had achieved A LOT!
Whole Lot Of Weekend
Happy Bank Holidays one and all! Well, at least to those of you who are enjoying this FINE [non-sarcastic] holiday weather. I personally am taking advantage of the sudden SUNSHINE ATAK by... er... sitting indoors on the computer, cleaning up tracks for the solo album. It's what Summer is THERE for!
It's been a very big get up and get out kind of weekend so far though. On Friday I scooted off to PETERBOROUGH for my annual pilgrimage to The Peterborough Beer Festival which was, as ever, BRILLIANT. I hung around with FAMILY and OLD PALS, drank some GRATE beer (those GOLDEN RULES, they really work!) and got my highest score on Seeing People I Haven't Seen For Years EVER by finding Mr Sanjiv Bali, who I went to Junior and Senior School with, lived round the corner from in Leicester, then haven't seen for 16 years. It was LOVELY to see him, also a bit weird as within 10 seconds he was taking the piss (he hasn't changed, it appears) and I was leaning on him and calling him Sanj. HOORAH!
I awoke Saturday feeling less DRUNKENED than for many a year, also very PROUD of myself for Not Drinking Ludicrously, and headed home a BATH and some more RECORDING. On Sunday we headed out on an EXPEDITION to the Epping Ongar Railway, which is the RESTORED version of the old shuttle service that used to run at the end of the Central line until 1994. It was LOVELY - i must say, after my THIRD volunteer restored railway service of the year i am getting QUITE the taste for it, especially as this one ALSO was full of DELICIOUS BEER. We went there and back from Epping Station on an old double decker, went up and down the line a few times on a GROOVY old train, looked at some Steam Engines, talked in a MANLY FASHION about ENGINES to some BLOKES, and generally had a WHOLESOME time of it.
The Piston In My Engine and i stayed aboard the Central Line heading homewards (upon which I had had to STOP myself from thinking "Ooh, look at the way these old trains are MADE, you don't get that these days... oh, hang on" ALL THE TIME) and headed back into Central London, where we went to see Jim'll's Brain playing at one of these regular afternoon GIGS that seem to occur with alarming regularity in the Clerkenwell area. He was only doing a few songs, but the few he did were, as ever, GRATE, also LOVELY - the lack of blue face paint this time made the touching songs even more touching, and the FACT that he LOOKED like the sort of person who would NORMALLY play these sort of gigs and take ANY opportunity to play for MUCH longer than was necessary made the sudden SHORTNESS and desire to STOP before you'd had ENOUGH, let alone MORE than ENOUGH stand out even MORE. It was GRATE! We also had a chat to Jim'll and Mrs Jim'll after, who turned out to be a LOVELY as you'd have hoped. HOORAH!
So, a lovely weekend all round so far, and this afternoon I'm off to DERBY for a band meeting and a practice - there will be DISCUSSION, DECISION, and also ROCK: more news on what occurs, TOMORROW!
It was a very short stroll through London's Scenic Bloomsbury for me after work on Wednesday to The Lamb, for what I was hoping would be the start of a semi-regular residency for Totally Acoustic gigs. I was getting a bit worried about it all - I'd been CONVINCED that NOBODY would come, until someone emailed to say they were bringing some pals and i PANICKED and went online to check the capacity of the room, to see how many we could CRAM IN.
I needn't have worried either way... I arrived to find Mr Carsmile Steve already ensconced, and other people gradually and BEAUTIFULLY wandered in over the next hour or so. I went upstairs and set things up in The Cabaret Style i.e. with tables and chairs ARTFULLY scattered around. I worried a bit more, not least because Mr Pete Green had yet to arrive, so went downstairs and did The Promoter's Hand Wring. You'll see this RITUAL going on outside venues up and down the nation every evening, as a GIG PROMOTER has a PANIC (usually WELL before things kick off, often before doors have officially opened) so goes and stands outside to look up and down the street, WRINGING THEIR HANDS.
It had the desired effect as Pete arrived shortly afterwards along with pretty much EXACTLY the right number of people, making the room FULL, but not unpleasantly so. The room upstairs at the Lamb is LOVELY and, as it was full of lovely PEOPLE the atmosphere was... well, LOVELY really. We waited a few minutes for Pete's sister-in-law to arrive and then he was ON, and he was GRATE. It's really brilliant seeing him play these days as he's got PROPER STAGE CHARISMA, also confidence, but in a really nice, CHUMMY kind of way - i stood right at the back watching him WIN OVER the room almost instantly, and take them along. He even did SINGALONGS and SONG VOTING, it was like a ROCK AND ROLL MASTERCLASS. "HOORAY!" i thought, also "I've got to follow that!"
Pete finished and we had a brief BAR/Toilet/Fag break, before i went on and did THIS:
OH but I had a BRILLIANT time, i REALLY enjoyed myself. Everything seemed to go down well, i had LOTS of fun doing INTERACTION (perhaps too much, looking back it was bordering on TOMMY COOPER) and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves. These sort of gigs ALWAYS feel more PALLY and pleasant than ordinary ones, and this was no exception.
Afterwards one of the more BRILLIANT aspects of Totally Acoustic gigs showed itself: because we'd started at 7.30pm we were all DONE by just after nine o'clock, so there was LOADS of time for everyone to sit around having beers and chat, which is exactly what we did. INDEED we had such a brilliant time that The Hands On My Analogue Clock and myself found ourselves being CHUCKED OUT AT CLOSING TIME! In That London! This almost NEVER happens, but we'd been discussing MANY Issues Of Import with people various, including me and Steve's planned trip to The Edinburgh Festival next year (we sealed the deal with a HUG - thus PUB TALK must be backed up!), so time had flown. We said our farewells then hit the TUBE with Mr Peter Knight and arrived home very late, but very happy. It was brilliant - we'll DEFINITELY be doing THAT again!
Executive Production: THE FACTS
Today i have been EXECUTIVE PRODUCING The Solo Album! OH YES! What this means is that I haven't really done anything AT ALL on it for the past couple of days, and certainly won't be tonight (as myself and Mr Pete Green are ROCKING The Lamb), so INSTEAD i have been a) MULLING b) HASSLING other people.
MULLING has taken the form of... er... listening to what I've done so far, and thinking about what needs doing next. There's nine songs now begun, so I thought it'd probably be a good idea to work out what still needs doing on these, and how to go about recording the 1-5 songs (not decided yet) I've yet to begin. This IN TURN led on to me sorting things out to the POSITION where I can get my GUEST ARTISTES sorted out with what they are Very Kindly going to do. I've already recorded THE BODHRAN of Mr Charlie Flowers and yesterday received some rather MARVELLOUS violins and vocals from Mr Tom McClure, and should have more coming in from various others soon, including Mr Pete Green, Mr Phil Wilson and Mr Francis Albert Machine. I'm still hoping to get the Pattisons ABOARD too, tho they're on holiday (AGANE) at the minute so will have to wait on that one.
It's all very exciting and fun anyway - according to my ALBUM COMPLETION PLAN I need to get the basics of my stuff sorted out before I go on holiday in a couple of weeks then mix it when I get back, and THEN we should be ON TRACK for a release mid-October and - HOPEFULLY - a bit of a TOUR to follow. WAHEY!
Actual Mixes, Mixed!
After our adventures in Leicester on Friday night I found myself home by lunchtime and with the house to myself for the rest of the day, so did what any hot-blooded all-American teenager would do, and THREW A PART-TAY!
Oh no, hang on, no I didn't - i made myself a cup of tea and went upstairs to LABOUR over four-track and computer for seven hours. ALMOST the same thing.
Most of Saturday was spent on She Tastes Like Sugar - after BACKING UP and moving files around on to new memory cards I appeared to have LOST the version of this I'd started a week or so ago, so BEGUN AGAIN. Several hours later, with a MUCH better version done, I found the original again - AIN'T THAT ALWAYS THE WAY? That done I set to the guitar solo, which took a LOT of doing but, i must say, WAS WORTH IT. Ooh, it is GRATE - if you've heard any of my guitar solos before, it's basically like THAT, but more so. A LOT more so.
Full of excitement and STILL with the house to myself I decided I might as well have a go at MIXING. Until now I've been bouncing down and mastering on the four track itself, but this a) is a bit hit and miss b) doesn't allow for fade ins, EN MASSE or on individual tracks and anyway c) doesn't allow much flexibility in stereo, effects or anything like that. I've been meaning to try it out on my main computer for ages, but was AFEARED as to how difficult it'd be - actually it was PEASY. For some reason I appear to have ALL the correct gadgets, gizmos and ITEMS needed to do all this, which is NOT my usual situation - I downloaded a WAV Extraction Program onto my Work Laptop, plugged in the four track, and EXTRACTED each individual track as a WAV. I then put all those files onto my Portable Hard Drive which I carried next door and plugged into the Big Computer. I FIRED UP Acid Pro, imported them all into THAT, and then had a VERY jolly hour or so compressing, applying EQ, CREATING ENVELOPES and all that sort of thing. It was ACE!
Sunday saw me concentrating on A Million Ukeleles and Hey William. I'd already started a version of THE LATTER but it wasn't really going anywhere (not anywhere GROOVY anyway) so begun again and got on MUCH better. I wanted to get some GOOD UKELELE on it but had all sorts of problems with the chords until I realised "HEY! I know someone who's a) GRATE at BANJO b) is going to do some OTHER stuff for this album and c) would probably do this LOTS better than me!" so decided to ask him, Mr P Wilson, to do it instead.
FIRED UP with this idea i moved on to A Million Ukeleles, which the aforementioned LEGEND OF INDIE has already worked up a BANJO and MANDOLIN part for. This was LOTS of fun to do - i spent a while trying to work out basic drums and then a REALLY LONG TIME with pen and paper trying to work out the proper program for them (Drum Programming: generating warm feelings towards Real Drummers since 1975) - it's lovely my four track, but BLIMEY the drum machine could be better.
Mind you, one DEAD GOOD thing about it is that it has an 808 drum kit, which sounds MARVELLOUS - I've done a couple of songs with other kits where, because of the type of song, it sounds FINE, but anything SLOW-ISH makes the fake drums sound ROTTEN. THUS, using LOGIC, it turns out that the fake version of a fake drum machine sounds the LEAST FAKE OF ALL, so I've been using it quite a bit, it's lovely. That sorted out I ROCKED through the song, which is LONG but also Quite Groovy, before transporting BOTH songs to portable hard drive, mixing them, and emailing them to Phil.
It was a GOOD weekend's ROCKING... and then this morning I recieved an MP3 of Tom "Tiger" McClure's work on Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine: it is AMAZING. He's done a PILE of strings and ALSO some VOCALS which are... well, just BRILLIANT. It's all turning out REALLY nicely - i am EXCITED!
I nipped out of work a little early on Friday and went up to St Pancras where I met The Furnishings In My Hotel Room and HO! off we went to scenic Leicester for GLYNFEST, the birthday do of Glyn Who Goes To Millions Of Gigs In Leicester.
I'd booked us into the Ibis - i LOVE Ibis hotels, especially the one in Leicester as it is QUITE LITERALLY five minutes from the railway station - and not the entrance either, but the PLATFORMS. I love them in GENERAL because they are almost EXACTLY the same wherever you go. We got into the room and, although I'd never been in that PARTICULAR one it was already like being home, or at least in the spare room of a PAL. I know some people like hotels to have "character" or "romance" but, personally, i think you can find that much more easily in the PLACE you go to and the PERSON you go with. Usually when I am travelling it is to see ONE of these, so the presence or otherwise of FASCINATING CHANDELIERS IN THE LOBBY is not something i am that bothered with.
Anyway, we got ourselves sorted out before heading over to ASK to meet with, also to eat with, Tom "Tiger" McClure. We had a very pleasant time, and i THINK i have persuaded him to grow a BEARD.
Soon it was time for the next stage of our journey, and before long we were sat upstairs at The Firebug, waiting our soundcheck. That done there was BEER, and soon Mr Whitaker arrived. He was in EXTREMELY high spirits and a JOY to behold, and the four of us passed our time very pleasantly until first myself and then Tom HIT the stage, and did THIS:
The first few songs were done solo, with Tom joining me for Mental Judo, which I announced "HILARIOUSLY" as "A song i wrote about Tom... it's called WHY YOU SO SEXY?" Well, I thought it was funny at the time anyway. The set was all very pleasant and lovely and, as Mr Whitaker later said, from the BANTER you could TELL we had done this a few times before. I must say I'm VERY pleased we've got the Hibbett/McClure double act working again, it is ALWAYS fun.
That done we retired to the bar for MORE CHAT, which was highly pleasurable, and a close observer might have observed a slight WOBBLE to some of our GAITS when we said our goodbyes. Next morning The Bacteria In My Fermentation Process and i HURTLED out of our hotel to make the 10am train to London, there to meet said Whitaker heading South for a STAG DO. We were SHOCKED and AFEARED to find, via text, that he'd MISSED the train! IT'S A MYSTERY HOW THIS COULD HAPPEN!
Best. Redesign. Ever.
Well... certainly the quickest i've done recently! PSYCHOLOGISTS might like to NOTE that this came about because, this week on the web, each Validator simpsonised THEMSELVES, and THUS the new header is a fair indication of how we view ourselves in The Springfield Context. DRAW YOUR OWN CONCLUSIONS!
At It Like Prince
It's been a busy couple of nights in THE BOUDOIR for me as The Solo Album ACTION continues APACE. On Monday I got an email from John The Publisher asking if I had any songs available for a BRIEF asking for something positive, mentioning rainbows, that builds up and is QUIRKY... so i wrote one! It's called Pass It On and I had a VERY jolly evening recording it, before writing and singing the words then MIXING it next morning. I doubt anything will come of it though, in which case it will join Save A Meadow and She Tastes Like Sugar, both of which were written similar, on the forthcoming PLATTER.
LAST night I did some more work on the aforementioned Save A Meadow and then started on Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine. I wanted to get some kind of working version of both of these done so that I can try and get The Tiger to record some kind of STRINGS on them this Friday, when we're playing together in Leicester. Save A Meadow was fairly easy going, based as it is on the BODHRAN from last week, but I had a RIGHT time of it trying to play along to drums for Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine as a) my lovely four track has a pretty rudimentary drum machine with only two waltz time patterns, BOTH of which are just click tracks which give me trouble anyway and b) there's a bit in the middle where it slows down and MAYBE goes to a different time signature, so eventually i just did it WITHOUT, and it seemed to work all right. Actually, on an EMOTIONAL LEVEL it worked a bit too well, as it made me feel a bit SAD and NOSTALGIC - it's one of my songs that ALWAYS does this to me, which i think is a good sign, but does make for some MOPING.
The next job, I think, is to finish of She Tastes Like Sugar and then sort these out, after which I should be about halfway done. I've got to look into MIXING too, as it MIGHT be easier/better to transfer all the files to my computer and do it THERE, although that will of course be actual HASSLE as the transfer takes ages, but other than that, it's all going RATHER nicely, also EASILY.
Mind you, i cannot speak for SOUND QUALITY: it's becoming clear to me that, despite nearly ten years of MATURATION and DEVELOPMENT, it all sounds EXACTLY like my Cassettes used to sound like, just with MORE UKELELE. Whether this is a GOOD thing or not, i cannot be the judge of!
Onto the little local train on Sunday afternoon and off to Victoria I went, there to catch the train to HOVE to play my gig with The Lovely Brothers and The Bobby McGees. I must admit to being quite PLEASED with the way I'd worked things out - several times before I've gone down to Brighton only to find myself walking MILES to venues which were actually in HOVE, and it's taken me this long to realise that, actually,you can go straight there by train. BRAINS!
It was a lovely afternoon when I got there and I strolled down to the venue, saw Ben from The Lovely Brothers, then wandered round the corner to my hotel. I know it's a bit FINANCIALLY INEFFICIENT to do gigs this way, but staying in a hotel every now and again is just GRATE - you don't have to dash off to catch trains, you don't have to wait around for other people, you can have a cup of tea when you like and, BEST OF ALL, you can have a right proper shower in the morning before you head back to work. This latter I did this morning, and it was BRILLIANT.
Anyway, after eating the Complimentary Biscuits I nipped back to the venue to find The Lovely Brothers starting to soundcheck, so nipped down the road for Traditional Seaside Tea: CHIPS AND PEAS. LOVELY. When i got back they were stil soundchecking, with Metal But Lovely SoundCheck Guy - there are several kinds of Soundcheck Guy, and Metal But Lovely is one of the BEST kinds. He's the one who, initially, you think doesn't UNDERSTAND anything but METAL and gives every impression of being about to be horrible and/or make everything sound rubbish BUT turns out to COMPLETELY know what he's doing, be full of knowledge which he is eager to SHARE, and makes things sound ACE. HOORAH for Metal But Lovely Soundcheck Guy!
Once he'd sorted them out the Bobby McGees, who'd JUST arrived, did their soundcheck, then it was my turn - we had some ISSUES with my pick-up making a noise, but otherwise all was GOOD, not least because I'd discovered the bar upstairs was serving BADGER BEER. WHOO-HOO!! When I'd arrived I'd thought "MEMO TO SELF: Do NOT drink grotty tap bitter and DEFINITELY not lager, it is GUINESS for you my lad" so was OVERJOYED to find one of my favourite beers EVER was readily available.
I sat around having a chat to people various and soon it was time for my set, which was THIS:
It was REALLY good fun. Most Brighton gigs I've done have been a bit disappointing and EITHER ill attended OR ignored, but this went DEAD well, not least because, halfway through the first song, a bunch of LOAD people came in, cheering, and proceeded to DANCE throughout. RAH! I'd intended to do a quiet set with loads of new stuff and no Easily Impressed or Boom Shake The Room, but I changed my mind when they DEMANDED these songs at the start and must say i was rather glad - what could have been a bit DULL and UNSURE turned into a ROCKING set, complete with ACTUAL ENCORE (prompted by ANOTHER chap who'd come in T-SHIRT) and a burst of I Come From The Fens as an EXPLANATION of my pronunciation of the word "Love" at the end of The Gay Train. Someone said like I am "Northern", which I suppose, in HOVE, pretty much EVERYBODY is.
After me it was The Bobby McGees, who did a very different set from Friday night - there was no double bass and no make-up, so it made things LESS like a Performance and MORE ... well, intimate really. Both are good and this was LOVELY, with quite a lot of NEW songs thrown in - and AAAH, it was lovely watching them being all SUPPORTIVE of each other when they tried out some of them solo. AAAH! Also, BLESS!
And then finally it was The Lovely Brothers who, as ever ROCKED THE HOUSE, and did so HARD. They really are a FAB live band, and every time I see them it feels like i've forgotten exactly HOW FAB they are: VERY. The excellent sound (manned by now by Eleanor McGee, as Metal But Lovely Soundguy had gone home poorly) really brought out the ROCK DYNAMICS of the songs, which you sometimes miss from the costumes, and it was GRATE.
It was thus a very happy Hibbett who straggled down to the sea front to see if i could see any meteors. I didn't see any, but HEY! I saw many STARS!
I headed over to Highbury & Islington after work last night to meet Mr Charles Flowers for a SESSION in his VAN. OH YES! We met in the pub and then nipped round the corner where the aforesaid van was parked before setting to recording some HOT BODRAHN ACTION for the solo album. My initial plan was to put my Lovely Four Track near the Bodrahn and record THAT whilst i lurked on the other side of the van playing ukelele, which I'd brought with me, but we soon realised a MUCH better way to do it would be to record Charlie playing the basic rhythm then record EXTRA stuff over the top of it, then later re-do it for LOOPS.
And that's what we did - we got three tracks worth of stuff for Save A Meadow and four for I Did A Gig In New York and had a RIGHT larf making a PROPER RACKET - i can heartily recommend a VAN for recording sessions, should you be wondering, it has a GRATE acoustic and is EXCELLENT for Very Loud Foot Stomps. This morning I spent a happy hour or so sampling and LOOPING these different bits and i think it is going to turn out RATHER WELL.
Before that, however, it was HO! for the Buffalo Bar with my ukelele on my back - on entering a Bobby McGee said "Everyone's got ukeleles!" and he was RIGHT, for all THREE bands that night were using God's Own Instrument. We were there to SEE the Bobby McGees and i must say they were BRILLIANT, very shouty and exciting and funny and all round GRATE - I'm playing with them again in Brighton tomorrow, i can't WAIT!
Wikkity-WAH! Catch the ZEITGEIST baby, for LO! i have been TAGGED with a MEME! It's the FUTURE!
This one is the Eight Things You May Not Know About ME THING that a few people have been doing, and it comes to me from that nice Mr Fitchett at Unpopular. HERE WE GO!
My Great-Uncle Harry invented a widget that, according to their Director, at his funeral, saved Bass Breweries. I feel this means they owe me BEER.
I was the national champion of the "Sabre Wulf" on the ZX Spectrum for two months, according to the listings in Personal Computer Games magazine. My brother witnessed my completion of the fame in record time, and my Mum signed the certification.
I go to the YMCA Gym, just off Tottenham Court Road - i try to go three times a week, and I wish this was something that people DID know about me just from looking, but it REALLY isn't!
The only time I have ever fainted was one Christmas when I was about 10 - my brother and I got a black and white portable telly and I was so amazed I passed out!
The long running night club Shag Frenzy in Hartford, Connecticut, U!S!A! is named after a pretend band invented by ME on uk-indie.
My favourite AFTERS (don't call it dessert) is steamed treacle pudding.
The first mailing list I ever joined was advert-L, the blur list. After that I was on the Billy Bragg list, but got chucked off for arguing with a "left wing" American, and then I moved over to uk-indie.
The first time I met Drumming Sensation Tim Pattison he was pretending to be an A&R man from Wiija records. Whether or not i believed him is STILL a source of contention between us.
I know what you're thinking - "How did i ever LIVE without these fascinating FACTS?" I FEEL YOUR PAIN. Apparently you're supposed to TAG other people to have a go - i'm not sure any of these KRAZY ROCK & ROLLERS will want to do it, but let's link to them anyway:
Stand by with the Caps Lock Repair kit, for LO! Last night The Beer In My Bottle and I went to see JOHN OTWAY, and it was UTTERLY GRATE!
We booked our tickets AGES ago, as The Dates In My Listings noticed he was playing at London's Famous 12 Bar, which is TINY. This is someone who's sold out the Albert Hall, so we thought it'd PACK OUT immediately, but as it happened it was merely PLUMPLY FULL. I don't know if the 12 Bar limits the number of people to just those who'd fill up the back room, but for the whole night it was JUST RIGHT. It may also be because they have REFURBISHED a bit, mainly by taking out a couple of foot of the BALCONY - it used to be that if you were downstairs you could only see the lower legs of the person on stage, and if you were upstairs you were looking directly onto the performer's PATE, but with the shortening of the balcony it's a MUCH better view from all points.
Anyway, we arrived at the venue at about 9pn to find a queue... and standing politely IN that queue, Mr Otway himself! This, we agreed, was a mark of the all round LOVELINESS of The Great Man - he could have barged through or DEMANDED TREATMENT, but he simply stood and waited his turn. Once inside I noticed he was stood near the bar, and was seized with THE URGE TO BUY HIM A PINT. I felt i OWED him several, as years and years ago he gave me THE BEST ADVICE EVER: he was stood in the bar of the Princess Charlotte and I asked him why he wasn't hanging out in the dressing room. "If I come out the front before the gig", he said,"people buy me drinks and tell me I'm great." This is THE BEST ADVICE EVER, and any person TRADING in ROCK who doesn't follow it is a TWIT.
I got back from the bar to find The Chorus Of My Pop Hit in conversation with him, and so i joined in. I felt PRIVILEGED to be able to chat to one of my ALL TIME HEROES, but also found it a bit difficult, for another URGE had arisen, this time the URGE to say "I LOVE YOU! YOU CHANGED ME LIFE IMMEASURABLY! YOU ARE GRATE!" Happily for me i am not ALONE in this feeling, as on the way home we agreed we'd BOTH been fighting the urge to GRAB him and HUG him. Instead we tried our best to CURTAIL such urges, and just told him how much we loved his songs and gave EXAMPLES of how much some of them had meant to us. Otway was the epitomy of GRACE through all this and, to my GRATE EXCITEMENT, went on to inform us that he's writing a sequel to his BOOK! HOORAH!
It was still hard NOT to start HUGGING, but I didn't want to come across like one of those MAD STARING GIG LOONIES you sometimes see, so was sort of relieved when someone else GRABBED him and said "Mr Otway!" Unfortunately this person turned out to be a DRUNKEN GIT, ANOTHER of the TYPES you meet at gigs, and a TYPE that even one such as i meet occasionally. They're always blokes, always sweatily drunk, and think that it's HILARIOUS to tell you a) they think you're good but b) loads of other people think you're shit, and then to give examples. Don't get me wrong, pretty much ALL the people i meet at gigs are LOVELY, so when you DO meet someone like this it's a bit alarming/upsetting, but Mr Otway dealt with it in his usual CHARMING and PATIENT way, talking calmly to the chap for a while before making his excuses and leaving "to work out the setlist". I was just wondering whether i had perhaps MISJUDGED my fellow fan as just a bit over-enthusiastic, but then he was told to stop verbally abusing bar staff or be BARRED, so i felt LESS HARSH.
Soon it was time for the GIG ACTION itself, and it was rather a DIFFERENT affair - I've seen him at least TWENTY times and most of those times have featured a fairly uniform setlist, and indeed a fairly uniform set of GAGS. THIS time he'd been told it was a Singer Songwriter's night, so he'd decided to JUST do his own songs, and had been PRACTICING them during the day. THUS we got a rather unusual set, with him starting off a bit nervous and unsure of how it'd go.
This did not last for long, and it was BRILLIANT to watch him realise that, actually, it was going to go VERY WELL INDEED. He's got FANTASTIC songs, and it was lovely seeing him win people over with the funnier ones (and watching him work out NEW BITS there and then, and seeing the DELIGHT on his face as he got NEW LAUGHS) before SLAYING the room with his GORGEOUS love songs. MAN OH MAN I don't think there are many songs as touching as "Geneve" or "Poetry and Jazz" and he did WONDERFUL versions of both last night.
It was just AMAZING from start to finish - as always with an Otway gig, the room filled to the brim with LOVE pretty much from the start, and this time there was an extra slice of GLEE as the GAMBIT paid off. I'd seen on his setlist earlier that he was planning to do a couple of cover versions for his encore, so it was ACE to see him decide, when it came to it, NOT to do this, and do a couple more of his own songs instead. HOORAH!
Just before we left I nipped back in just to do THE THUMBS UP. When he saw me he GRINNED and said "It worked out didn't it?" He seemed SO happy, also RELIEVED, it was just fantastic to see someone who's meant SO much to me (and hundreds of other people) and been such an INSPIRATION, in ROCK and in LIFE, getting such a kick from realising exactly how GOOD he is at what he does.
We left VERY HAPPY INDEED. OTWAY! If you've never seen him, DO SO - if you HAVE seen him, you'll know what i mean!
Work continued APACE on the SOLO ALBUM last night, as I spent a very happy hour or so working on She Tastes Like Sugar. Having messed up the recording of DRUMS the night before i re-did them before recording double-tracked acoustical guitars - this i did on the two DIFFERENT acoustical guitars currently residing in our house, my GIG GUITAR and the RATHER POSH one belonging to The Strings On My Ukelele. Brian Eno says you should use different instruments when you're double-tracking (well, he said quite a LOT of things re. recording different versions of the same instrument, but that was one of them) and AS USUAL in these manners he is RIGHT: it sounds MUCH better.
Having done something GOOD I then spent the next half an hour falling into HOME RECORDING TRAP NUMBER ONE: TOO MANY EFFECTS. My exciting digital four track has TONS of different guitar effects, 90% of which go "WHOOOOSH! " or "FIZZZZ!!!" or BOTH and I thought I'd avail myself as these, so recorded a whole OTHER guitar part going "GRR! FIZZZ!" and then another one going "WIDDLY DIDDLY WHOOOOOSH!". It was, obviously, a whole lot of fun, but the best was yet to come, as it was BASS TIME!
Whoo! BASS TIME! I LOVE playing the Bass and, if i'm honest, the opportunity to DO so is one of the main THRUSTS behind all this. It's the main instrument I feel comfortable playing - when I see other people playing guitars and doing Fancy Pants Axework i always think "How are they DOING that? And why can't i?" yet hand me a BASS and it is WIDDLY DIDDLY WHOO-HOO time. After one run through I had a super bouncy extra widdly bass part all worked out and, a couple of goes later, completely PLAYED. I wish I could do that with the singing and the guitaring!
After tea I returned to the headphones to discover that those third and fourth guitar parts were A BIT MUCH and so, this morning before work, did a new BOUNCEDOWN without them in it. It sounded MUCH better - now all i need to do is handclaps, a LEAD guitar part and... er... probably 100,000,000 tracks of backing vocals, and then it'll be done! HOOPLA!
Work continues... sorry, "work" continues on the solo album, as last night I finished off the drum programming for She Tastes Like Sugar and had a BRANESTORM, realising that I could tape them off the computer just by PLUGGING IN THE FOUR TRACK. I got a bit OVER-excited, trying out guitar effects before eventually realising they sounded FINE dry. It was a big relief to be able to do this, as I was worrying about doing the whole album using the Not Actually That Good drums that come with the four-track.
That said, i DID then go on to use the rather lovely 808 KIT on the NEXT song i started, Hey William which is sounding Oddly Funky. It's really nice to have the return of this little HOBBY in my life again, it's LOVELY popping upstairs for half an hour to play a bit of bass, and i'm REALLY looking forward to doing FIELD RECORDINGS of other instruments, starting this weekend when I'm getting some BODHRAN from the back of a VAN! HA!
Actually, i did some ACTUAL field recordings last night - i sit and do the recordings in our bedroom, at the front of the house, and as i was COMPING the guitar for Hey William (i.e. CHEATING) i got the sound of some KIDS playing in the street mixed onto the start by accident. I really liked it, it fitted DEAD nice, but i had to take it off to re-do the take... somehow I don't think it'd look good if i went out to try and RE-CAPTURE the sound.
Meanwhile, NEW GIG! After the JOY of the Guard's Carriage Stage at Indie Tracks I've decided to have a go at bringing back the Totally Acoustic gigs, and thus myself and Mr Pete Green are going to be playing upstairs at The Lamb on Lamb's Conduit Street in That London on August 22nd. As usual we'll be starting early, with the entire gig starting at 7.30pm (PROMPT!) and finishing by 9pm, after which there may well be BEER and CHAT. HOORAH!
Return Of The VIDOE
Oh what a lovely weekend that was, with much of it taken up by the work of ROCK. Hunched over the digital four track I recorded pretty much ALL of Hell On Earth (Birmingham New Street) for the solo album - now featuring ukelele, whistling AND guitar solo! I also finally got round to doing a new YouTube video which, should you wish, to can see HERE! It's a version of NEW SONG I Did A Gig In New York, ALSO bound for the solo album, and i _think_ I did it right most of the way through. Have a look!
Last night The Dishes On My Menu and i went OUT, to the pub, for a meal and then to a GIG at the Betsy Trotwood to see Jim'll's Brain. The Beer In My Pint Glass had heard some of his stuff on Myspace, really liked it, and suggested we go and see him - as it turns out, this was a REALLY GOOD IDEA.
We got in and sat having a quick sip of our beer before we went downstairs - they were playing "Tapestry" over the pub PA, which probably helped my good mood, and I thought "I LOVE GIGS!" - it's the routines and the rituals of it, the not knowing what you're going to get, the BEER, the company, the chance of bumping into people you know AND people you don't, and the EVER PRESENT THREAT of ADVENTURE!
Anyway, we went downstairs to watch the end of a young Australian woman's acoustical set and almost straight away noticed how VERY much better it was down there since the smoking ban. Previous gigs down there have been HORRID, it's always HOT (and still is) and breathing gets harder as it fills with SMOKE and STINK - now, however, there was only the comparitively gentle aroma of HUMAN, which doesn't stick to your clothes quite as much.
We looked around and straight away spotted Jim'll as we'd seen his picture on his myspace, and also because he was the person in the room wearing skintight silver sparkly trousers and a cape with his torso and face painted bright blue. Soon he took to the stage and was INSTANTLY loveable - obviously a bit nervous but transmuting it into CHARM and CHARISMA, and rather unexpectedly launching into a trio of really sweet, very touching songs about mental health problems. NOT what I expected - initially I felt disappointed, then concerned (I always worry when people go out of their way to make others laugh AT them) but soon realised the only problems were with ME and my own GIG FILTER - why can't someone dress as a superhero/smurf and STILL do, actually, realy good, charmingly vulnerable songs? Most acts you see would be VASTLY improved if they did ONE of these TWO things!
After these he leant down to the floor to "Mr iPod", where he'd store backing tracks - and blimey, that's really cool isn't it? Sometimes THE FUTURE comes up with some REALLY good ideas. The rest of the set were a _little_ more like what I'd expected but, actually, much better and all round GRATE. He reminded the both of us A LOT of Mr John Otway, in that all the songs were GRATE and, as I say, LOVEABLE, and so was he. The room was full of LOVE for him, everyone was smiling at, also WITH the songs, and the tunes were ACE. Best of all they were all REALLY short - many of them ended after what would usually be the middle section GUITAR SOLO (which, also, was invariably BRILLIANT), when he'd obviously thought "I've covered that topic - NEXT!" This is a policy that, i feel, ALL people writing songs would benefit from immensely, also people LISTENING to them.
It was all rather fantastic - there room was filled with HAPPINESS, only added to when his Christmas Song (which was VERY Christmassy) was accompanied by everyone getting presented with a GOODIE BAG containing a CD, party poppers and various SWEETS. We spoke briefly to him afterwards, resisting the URGE to HUG him for fear of getting covered in BLUE and soon left the pub with great big silly grins on our faces, talking all the way to the tube about how FAB it had been.
It's all part of the build up to properly starting work on the SOLO ALBUM - i'd intended to have all of next week off work to get going on it, but things didn't work out like that so instead I'm going to have to settle for working in the evenings, but I'm still hopeful of getting it all sorted out by October... especially as i now have LOADS of ideas for the cover, the inserts, and getting it OUT to people. It's just a shame I have to wait around, just because I haven't recorded any of it yet!