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That Time Of The Month Again
I've just sent out this month's batch of newsletters, which are PARTICULARLY full of FACT this time, not just about the new album, but also about the accompanying tour which i finished booking less than an HOUR ago. There's actually LOADS of GIGS coming up next month, so if you get a chance, do come along won't you?
So Many Lovely Things!
You discover me this afternoon SURROUNDED by wonderful items, and FULL of DELIGHT to be so, for LO! there have been DELIVERIES.
I was working at home yesterday (bit poorly [THE USUAL] + stuff I could do on the laptop) and though this meant i managed to COLOUR IN and STICK the covers of several of the CD boxes i was DETERMINED to come in today because I knew that at least ONE thing would have arrived, and thus was GLEEFUL to find, when I arrived, that the BADGES had turned up. They are BRILLIANT - i got them, as ever, from the lovely people at Wee Badgers, who are BRILLIANT. They're really quick, dead helpful, and the badges get done so quickly one becomes SUSPICIOUS that they are dallying with THE VERY FABRIC OF TIME. There's TWO designs this time, and if all goes to plan I'll be sending one out with every PURCHASE of the new album, and then have some spare for the TOUR in October.
That was all I was expecting for today, but then a couple of hours ago i got a call to tell me MORE items had turned up - it's the CDs! I was AMAZED by this - I've got so used to them taking WEEKS bordering on MONTHS to get done that the fact it all got sorted within FOUR DAYS is a bit flabbergasting. I guess I shouldn't be - there's only 200 of them, they were copied on a big machine, and there's no packaging, but still, it was a FANTASTIC SURPRISE to see them arrive so quickly. They look GRATE, they sound GRATE (hem hem) and if you're interested in doing a short run of CDs yourself i would thus heartily recommend Short Run CDs of Bristol. They also answered emails within the hour AND sent sample copies AND emailed again to check if they'd arrived. HOORAY!
Finally, at lunchtime, I popped round the corner to Blade Rubber Stamps to pick up my UKELELE stamp. They come up second if you google "rubber stamps" and, as they're five minutes from my office, I thought I'd give them a go. They ALSO were very easy, price efficient and swift, although ONE DEMERIT must be applied: when I went to the shop they thought it was a stamp of a GUITAR. "It's a ukelele", i said. "Whatever", said the lady. IT'S IMPORTANT!
So as you can see, LOVELY THINGS pretty much rock my world today - now all I need to do is get the booklets finished and we're nearly at PRODUCT COMPLETION!
OH the ACTION which has been occurring - it may APPEAR as if all has been still this week, but that is because a) BLOGGER has been playing up and b) i have been busy doing STUFF which has kept me from the BLOGFACE. Tour booking antics continue apace, whilst simultaneously i have been SHELLING OUT - CDs, t-shirts, badges, digital distribution and RUBBER STAMPS have ALL been paid for now, with badges in the post, CDs hopefully on the way soon, t-shirts coming in a week or two, and RUBBER STAMP to be picked up tomorrow, this last a rather exciting way to do the covers for the booklets which will come with the Limited Edition CD version of the new album.
Talking of which, said BOOKLET is now pretty much finished and ready for printing - I got special PAPER for it yesterday, as well as card for the covers, as, like ALL aspects of the packaging, I'm going to be making them myself. Similarly I have today been sat at the kitchen table COLOURING IN the COVERS for the CDs, and then sticking them onto the special cases which myself and Mr F A Machine bought a job lot of. It is pretty labour intensive, and I'm glad I'm only doing 200 of them, but they do look VERY nice indeed.
If anyone fancies BUYING one of these, they should be available for pre-orders quite soon but I'm going to wait until they're actually COMPLETED before i start taking money! There'll be about half of them for SALE, after I've done promo copies and given them to Relevant Persons, and I'll let the mailing list know first that they're ready, so if you'd LIKE to get one and are NOT on the mailing list, well, now would be the time to SIGN UP!
Down By The Waterfront
You find me METAPHORICALLY surrounded by packing cases, shipping containers and large wooden boxes being lifted up in rope NETS, as preparations are made and boardings are undertaken on the good ship ROCK - destination: ALBUM RELEASE. This morning I got a SAMPLE of the CD onbody artwork (LOVELY) and mastered WAV files from Mr R Newman in Derby, which i shall tonight lovingly slide together to create the finished ALBUM. WHOO!
MEANWHILE I've ordered some BADGES, got quotes for T-SHIRTS, investigated some Design Ideas for the BOOKLETS that'll come with the Handmade CD Version, and started sorting out the main ONLINE release. It is, in fact, ALL GO, and in the midst of all this I've also added a couple more GIGS, including one THIS Sunday (the 30th) at The Buffalo Bar, supporting Sarandon. Somebody dropped out of the line-up so i STAUNCHLY stepped forward to offer to fill-in - the fact that I was going ANYWAY and so would thus be saving myself the cost of admittance had really almost HARDLY ANY bearing on my decisions.
Right then, now to try and sort out the Album Tour - BOARDING PASSES READY!
On Sunday, as part of the ongoing Birthday Festival Celebrations for The Bass In My Ska Band, we went to see THE BEAT. Everyone in our household LOVES The Beat, INDEED their CD is one of the few that makes it onto the kitchen playlist to UNIVERSAL approval, so the FACT that they were playing just down the road, for free, at the Leytonstone Car Free Festival has been a point of some EXCITEMENT for several weeks.
When we got there we found that, just like last year, bands were set up on a portable stage just in front of the tube station - since last year, however, the council have put up a big billboard which blocked the from half of one side, so everyone was squidged round a bit. I was a bit worried, with all the build-up we'd had at home, whether they were going to be all right, but luckily they were FANTASTIC. As soon as they started it was NOTICEABLY that the vocalist who WASN'T Ranking Roger was SIGNIFICANTLY younger than the rest of the band. "Aaah", i thought, "It's like someone's got their LAD in!" IMMEDIATELY after that thought Ranking Roger said "I'd like to introduce you to my son - RANKING JUNIOR!"
And they were BRILLIANT together, it was a) fun b) sweet c) GRATE seeing them DANCE as mirror images of each other, and also to watch the Paternal Pride paying off, as THE LAD DONE GOOD. It was a brilliant hour of Proper SKA, although tinged with a little sadness as I thought about how different it must be from the original band, and wondered if ANY of the other members will still part of it, assuming that this was a mini-pension scheme set up to tour Butlins or something.
OH MY GOODNESS, how INCORRECT i was! Later that evening, while answering Questions Raised In The Kitchen (the lead singer of The Selecter was Pauline Black) I looked up Ranking Roger on Wikipedia. BLIMEY! Turns out The Beat have only recently got back together, with over half of the original members IN it and the BLESSING of most of the others, and have a NEW album out soon produced by Adrian Sherwood! AND Ranking Junior was on the Ordinary Boys single! AND Mr R Roger was recently a guest on The POLICE'S world tour!
I was a bit amazed - so what on earth, I thought, were they doing playing Leytonstone Car Free Day? I guess the answer must be the same as the one I give when asked the same thing - "Somebody asked me". However DID ask them, i say this: BLOODY WELL DONE!
Oh, Those KRAZY Gods Of Rock!
Hot on the heels of having the London Loves gig cancelled, I've just had an email saying my gig in Stoke Newington on October 5th has ALSO been cancelled. GODS OF ROCK! Why do you TOY with me so?!?
Aah, but what they take away they also GIVE, for LO! I've just been on the BLOWER to The Lamb again to book the NEXT Totally Acoustic gig, which will be on November 6th. INCREDIBLY EXCITINGLY the Special Guest Star this time will be Mr Pete Weiss, star producer, lead of The Weisstronauts and general ALL AMERICAN GOOD GUY. I am REALLY looking forward to seeing him in Actual Real Life after YEARS of delightful emails and EXCELLENT records. It will be GRATE!
London Loves: Not So Much
Bah! Upsetting news arrives to tell me that I'm now NOT playing at London Loves at The Albany on September 28th. Due to Circumstances Beyon Their Control they've had to move it to October 6th, when I'll be playing in Lewisham. It's a shame as i was REALLY looking forward to playing it, but hopefully we'll be able to do it again another time. But still - BAH!
Great Moments In Rock: TO THE POSTBOX!
You discover me this morning Visibly Excited, as I have before me on the desk something Visibly Exciting: A CD containing the finished MIXES of The Solo Album. Well, it's not QUITE the finished mixes - there's a FADE OUT I'm probably going to do, and an Additional Track I've yet to finish, but the basic album is now DONE, and ready to go off to Mr R Newman of Snug Studios, Derby for MASTERING. Once that's done... well, it'll be finished! I keep getting little JABS of THRILLS about it - unlike most albums, this one's been really QUITE EASY, but also much more INTENSE than usual - even when we spent a whole week doing WE VALIDATE! we then had about a YEAR of TWEAKING and additional bits and bobs to do before it was actually finished - this has taken four weeks (not including our holiday) of pretty SOLID action from start to finish, doing something nearly every day, so it feels a bit WEIRD to be about to STOP.
Well, when I say STOP i mean stop RECORDING - there's still an AWFUL lot of things to do, and i have a DAILY PLANNER to make sure it all gets sorted in time, but at the moment it feels like the end of a Big Process, ESPECIALLY since I think we've got the running order sorted out at last. I say "we" because I have had some CONSULTANCY ADVICE from Mr T Pattison, who did such a good job on WE VALIDATE! that I asked for HELP again, and we have been BATTING ideas around for the past couple of days. After a bit of discussion, the development of a complex GRID system to ensure no two consecutive songs have the same Featured Artistes, and a LOT of listening to the whole thing on my iPod, I think that THIS is pretty much the final tracklisting:
As I say, there's an extra bit to go on the end still but that is pretty much IT, and I must say it's sounding RATHER GOOD. I'm off to the post box in a minute with this CD then, after which it will be time for MERCHANDISING DESIGN!
Weekend, Wedding, Working, Weights
Since last we spoke i have had a MARVELLOUS return to life in Blighty, not least because The Wings On My Plane and I went to a WEDDING on Saturday. It was Miss Claire Dicko and Master Stu Baboon, now to be known as THE GIBBS, and it was ACE - especially the CLASSY TOUCH of getting a Routemaster Bus from the wedding ceremony to the reception, which was in the super posh Staple Inn, which is a sudden slice of ELIZABETHANNESS next to Chancery Lane. It was LOVELY, and there was dancing and drinking and TEARS and eating and drinking and LOTS of chat. The only downside is that there MUST have been something wrong with the ventilation or something, as the next day I felt REALLY QUITE POORLY - lethargic, headachey, i don't know WHAT can have caused it...
When NOT celebrating A UNION OF LOVE I spent my time working away on the Solo Album, which is now on the very VERGE of being finished. I had a fantastic time sliding in the extra tracks that people have sent me - having ONLY really recorded with The Vlads it was ODD to get musical contributions that were a) completely NOT what I expected but also b) GRATE. Not that the Vlads are not EITHER of these things - they are of course very MUCH b) - but we've been together SO VERY LONG you generally have some idea what to expect. I certainly did NOT expect, for example, the MENTALNESS of Mr George Gargan FRETWORK, but i am VERY pleased to have received it. I'm now on the very very last but one MIX of everything, and have it on the MyPod for CHECKING. There's a couple of little TWEAKS to do, but I am fairly confident that by the end of the week it'll be DONE, and though i may end up getting it Independently Mastered, which'll take a little longer, we're still looking good for that mid-October release date.
I have THUS also done myself a FITNESS PROGRAMME again, this time featuring Sir Mick Jagger, the better to IMPEL me to get in TOURING condition! Come on! WORK IT BABY!
HOLA one and all, I am back in Blighty again after a rather DELIGHTFUL holiday. We went to Majorca again - because it is GRATE. We went via Stansted on Easyjet a.k.a. ESSEX AIRLINES with about 15,000 hen nights and stag do's. At the start of the flight i was thinking "Ah! Such charming extrovert young peoples, full of life and laughter and ready for fun!" After two hours i was SOMEWHAT LESS CHARITABLE.
That was about IT for annoyance tho, as once we landed we headed into Palma to the LOVELY CAFE next to the train station and then got the DINKY TRAIN through the mountains to Soller, which was FAB. We spent four days there staying in a B&B that was, like ALL of SOller really, like something off the TELLY, just BEAUTIFUL. Oddly i found myself ACTIVELY ENJOYING loafing around and CHATTING to other Residents, which is something i used to FLEE from - i guess it is MATURITY, yes? We went on a couple of walks, one very nice one through GORGEOUS villages and up and down mountains, and one that ended up being rather longer than expected as the Coastal Walk had... well, fallen off the coast and into the sea. We also went and looked at the Miro and Picasso exhibition which they have in the train station (it was GRATE - altho The Influence Of Picasso On The Modern Art meant the display of his ceramics looked EERILY like a display in Habitat), had a couple of rides on the TRAM, and - AHA! - saw CHIEF O'BRIEN from off of STAR TREK!!! It was VERY exciting, i almost fell off my flip flops!
We then got the BUS around the coast to Puerto Pollensa, going round quite HAIR RAISING bends where I kept thinking "Oh look, another hole smashed through the wall by the side of the road... " and wishing i WASN'T thinking that. We stayed in the place we usually stay in and had a LOVELY few days doing Actually Rather Little, it was PRECISELY what was required, the only LOW SCORING item being the fact that it wasn't any longer.
Still, it was a BRILLIANT holiday and we got back last night sun-tanned, slightly mosquito bitten (especially in my case), and ready to ROCK - there's an album to mix and some DATES to book, so I'd better get on with it hadn't I?
ITEM! I've had a little flurry of Sheffield-based emails these past couple of days, which leads me to believe there may have been a FUZZTIVAL announcement... though I can't find anything about it online. DOes anyone have any idea? I'm going to try and a) stay and watch some bands AFTER me and b) NOT be out drinking until 3am the night before and c) NOT get up at 6am on the day and drive hundreds of miles this year and thus FACILITATE a), so i am EAGER for FACT!
ITEM! I got a lovely email from Mr Vince Hodgson saying he's been doing a cover of Billy Jones Is Dead in his LIVE SET, including sessions at the Sidmouth and the Shrewsbury folk festivals. COR! I am RIGHT excited about this - i LOVE the idea of other people covering our songs, the only time I've ever SEEN it happen was the Fighting Cocks' version of Bands From London (are shit), but that was a LONG time ago. More please!
ITEM! I received a Compact Disc in the post the other day from ROCKER over at Dandelion Radio, containing his show for this month. It is ACE (especially that 16 minute Lancashire DUB one in the middle), and features WE VALIDATE! as his album of the month. We met the man himself at IndieTracks last month and he was a) very nice b) very ENTHUSIASTIC about The ROck Music, which was GRATE. We're ALSO, i believed, featured on the Neil Jenkins show this month, with him playing songs from The Lesson Of The Smiths. I may be wrong, but i believe this is IMMENSELY COOL!
ITEM! I'm off on HOLIDAY tomorrow - HOORAH! I'll be away from tomorrow (Thursday) until the FOLLOWING Thursday, and though I MAY be able to check my emails from Monday onwards, it is FAIRLY likely that I will be LOAFING AROUND in the Majorcan Sunshine instead, so ADVANCE APOLOGIES for any response delay in the next week or so.
A Million Ukeleles
A couple of days ago I received the following, from a Mr T Pattison, of Woodhouse Eaves, with regards to my recent mentioning of The Solo Album:
TITLE. CLUE: it's the name of one of the songs, and ALSO sort of descriptive of the general sound. WHAT CAN IT BE?
Surely it must be HELL ON EARTH, do I win 5 pounds?
HO! With his comical humourisms and rythmical poundings, he's like our own version of RINGO!
Obviously this question is causing much BROW FURROWING, so i thought I'd take the opportunity before I go on holidays to reveal that the ACTUAL title is going to be A Million Ukeleles, and that the putative tracklisting will be as follows:
Not in that ORDER, but them's the ones I've been working on. It's all sounding - EXCUSE me for EGOMANIA for a moment - really quite good, I must say. I've nearly finished all MY recording bits and just have a couple of tracks to get in from some of my HONOURED CONTRIBUTORS, which I'm hoping to have in by the time I get back from holidays, then it'll be MIXING AHOY ready for the STILL ON TARGET release date mid-October, when I'm planning to do a couple of hundred PHYSICAL copies and otherwise release it onto iTunes. Yesterday I had a good old go at re-doing my vocals for Born Yesterday and then having a HEFTY mixing session on Hey William, which is my FAVOURITE at the moment - it's got STRINGS by Mr Tom 'Tiger' McClure and MANDOLIN and BANJO by Mr Phil 'Indie Legend' Wilson, and it all hangs together RATHER nicely. I am CHUFFED!
More news when I get back on MERCHANDISE and general DESIGN, but stand by for a LOT of frankly DELIGHTFUL ukelele pictures!
I got back quite late from Brum but only had a TINY lie-in on Sunday morning as there were HOUSE KEEPING activities going on... so I went and hid in another room, and did some RECORDING, including a RATHER nice, very simple, bass line for Hey William which is sounded LUSH. Time FLASHED past and before I knew it it was time to get onto the little train from Leytonstone High Road and ZOOM into town for the Pop Art all-dayer at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes.
The day was a COMIC BOOK themed one, and THUS i was sporting my Fantastic Four T-Shirt. It's the negative one from the JOHN BYRNE YEARS - i LIKE it. I said hello to the organisers, then my brother and his lovely Mrs arrived, along with some PALS, and so we fell to CHAT until it was time to ROCK, and THIS is how I did so:
It was a LOT of fun, although I fear i may have got a bit CARRIED AWAY with the comics theme. I felt a bit bad about only having TWO songs that mention comics (I Did A Gig In New York and Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid) so during Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid I thought I'd EXPLAIN a bit about The Inhumans and... well, went on a bit. The history of The Inhumans, including the SEEDING of EARTH by THE CELESTIALS, The Terrigen Mists, ALL THAT got mentioned, with approximately THREE people in the room going "Whoo! Yeah! Tell them how THE ETERNALS fit into all this!" and everyone else looking first CONFUSED then SLIGHTLY APPALLED. I managed to STOP myself, only to notice that one of the organised was in a WOLVERINE costume and I found myself saying "Hey hey! Take a claw out of each hand and you could be X-23! Ooh, is that Sabretooth? RUN!" and so on... and on, and on.
Apart from THAT tho it all seemed to go down quite well, I especially enjoyed doing a little DANCE in the relevant part of I Did A Gig In New York, an EXTREMELY AVANT GARDE bit of Future Music in Do The Indie Kid and people CHEERING when I started doing The Gay Train - actually, that was my favourite. I got politely asked to do an encore (actually, by two of the three people DIGGING THE INHUMANS) and asked The Audience to choose between Boom Shake The Room and Hey Hey 16K. I think the result was due to them having ENOUGH Geek Action.
Gig DONE I had a quick chat with People Various then headed home, having promised to make TEA, saying hello to The Gresham Flyers who, bless them, had turned up a bit early to see me. I'd've liked to have stayed on to see them but i had HOMELY DUTIES, and also i am WARY of drinking too much this week as I'm off on HOLIDAY on Thursday, and do not wish to make myself POORLY. Hey, it's not very rock and roll, this i do know, but i'm GASPING for a holiday!
I was up with the LARK on Saturday Morning - the Leytonstone LARK that is, he doesn't get up THAT early but it's ENOUGH on a weekend - and onto the TUBE for Marylebone: NICEST of London Stations. I was PRAISING its virtues to members of my Family on Friday when The Skin On My Snare Drum said "You like it because it makes you feel like you're in the Beatles, don't you?" and AHA! I was FOUND OUT! Funnily enough, I saw Bloke Who Does Beatles Walking Tours waiting in the entrance as i HUNG AROUND waiting for 11 o'clock, when the JUST 15 Tickets started being vended - these are GRATE tickets you can get means you can go to Brum and back for 15 quid!! 15 QUID! That's a SENSIBLE PRICE FOR A RAIL TICKET - who'd've ever thought they'd see the like?
Obviously a lot of other people were impressed by it as the train was PACKED most of the way to Birmingham, but all went well and I EMERGED into Snow Hill, basically the MARYLEBONE to New Street's... well, there IS no station in London or, i would suggest, ANYWHERE that is as horrible as Birmingham New Street, suffice to say i was PLEASED that i was not going to be going there. Instead i RAN upstairs, got my ticket to Stourbridge then RAN back down and hopped about the shuttle that was just arriving.
I was met by Ray at the station and off we drove to his house, with a guided tour of Notable Black Country Sights on the way, of which there are MANY. We got to his house where he was having a Bit Of A Do - parties at Ray's house have been a bit of an Annual Tradition in my ROCKING CALENDAR, and it was lovely to see his FAMILY again and note that their dog Charley has CALMED DOWN and is now just Insistent rather than Shouty- there was MUCH throwing of balls!
We chatted, drank some Organic Beer and, as people arrived, SCOFFED the huge mountains of Vegan Style GRUB that Ray had prepared. It was DELICIOUS, and thus it was a rather STUFFED Hibbett who took to THE GARDEN to do the following:
It was all very JOLLY, even tho i forgot some of the words to Hell On Earth (I've never played it live before) and everyone seemed to like it - except for Charlie The Dog, who objected slightly to the lack of balls now being thrown, i felt a bit guilty.
Anyway it was soon time to head back into TOWN, where a portion of us popped for a quick PINT in Birmingham City Centre before I said my goodbyes and hopped back on the train to Marylebone. A lovely day in The Midlands!