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That Time Of The Month Again
It doesn't seem like four weeks since I LAST did it, but it must surely be for LO! It is the last working day of the month, which means I've just sent out the latest edition of The Last Working Day Of The Month. The GIGS section this time is ESPECIALLY busy, funnily enough.
In other news, Mr S Hewitt and myself had our FINAL meeting last night to get Edinburgh sorted out, during which several worries were settled, a HUGE pile of leaflets were handed out, and quite a LOT of BASS was drunk. Today I have a hangover reminscent of MANY I had around 1998-2000, which is all very nice and nostalgic, but also a bit difficult to handle. MEMO to SELF: In Edinburgh, stick to the IPA!
A few bits and bobs to get things tidied up for next week:
ITEM!It Only Works Because You're Here is now available to buy from Amazon! HOOPLA! I know it says "temporarily unavailable" at the moment but I sent the CDs off this morning so it should be sorted out soon.
ITEM! I did an interview over the weekend which should be in the first issue of Three Weeks, the main periodical at The Edinburgh Fringe. This is RATHER exciting!
ITEM! I was rather FLABBERGASTED at the Pocketbooks gig last week to be approached by Sean "El Presidente" Fortuna Pop! bearing a compilation album featuring ME. It's the LONG awaited (original release date: September 2005) Fortuna Pop! Compilation "Be True To Your School", featuring highlights of their first 50 releases. I was flabbergasted because Sean's spent the last four years telling me I wasn't going to be on it, so the first I knew that i WAS was seeing Work's All Right (if it's a proper job) from the Work Is A 4 Letter Word EP in the tracklisting. Flabbergasted, also CHUFFED - I'm not sure when it's actually OUT, but when it is I would heartily recommend reading the booklet, especially if you were THERE for lots of it.
ITEM! A couple of changes on the GIGS page to alert you to: first of all, I'm now NOT busking in "Alcove 3" at Edinburgh all week next week, but I WILL be playing at the Lower Stage on the Royal Mail at 3.50pm from Monday to Thursday and on the Upper Stage at 3.30pm on Saturday. SECOND of all, we've just booked what will be the first Validators LONDON gig for nearly six months, at The Buffalo Bar on September 18th. It will, I think, be FUN.
I think that's it for the minute - NOW for some pre-festival IRONING!
After my trip to the web cafe on Saturday I got the train to Peterborough where I met The Wheels On My Wagon before heading off to my parents' house. My sister is over from Dubai with her THREE boys, which was all rather lovely - seeing young kids on an annual basis like that doesn't HALF bring home to you how quickly they grow up, how all kids develop at lightning speed, and also how soon individual personalities appear. MOSTLY however it brings home how much fun it is running around, shouting, firing foam rockets into trees and making Noises. A LOT!
Chris was having his 60th birthday party in the evening, which was LOTS of fun - The Mylands came, and Mileage appeared to be impressed that the night before people were BOASTING of having met him. We sat around and drank beer and ate food and everyone was having a lovely time... until some idiot got up in front of everybody and sang a load of songs.
It was a funny little set, governed by REQUESTS, also by me thinking everyone would know "Besame Mucho" and finding that, actually, that was just me. I was trepidatious about doing it, as I was VERY conscious that it could be one of those DOs where One Of The Kids DOes Their Turn and you have to be polite, but it seemed to go OK.
There was a sudden upturn in DRINKING, at least at my seat, for the next twenty minutes while I calmed down, and then our little group got onto a proper singalong with my Blue Book Of Songs, which was DEAD good, and we carried on until it was only us left. Or maybe our singing drove people away?
Anyway, we had a lovely time, though CRIKEY: next day i was KNACKERED. If three late nights in a row can do this to me, how am I going to cope with a whole week in Edinburgh? LIE-INS, i feel, may be the answer!
Derby: GOOD TIMES
You find me this fine Saturday morning sat in an interweb cafe in Leicester, waiting around for a train to Peterborough, KNACKERED but VERY happy. It has been good times, ALL the time.
It all begane fifteen years ago (ROCK TIME) on Thursday, when I went up to Derby. Francis A Machine picked me up and we went back to his... for five minutes before hitting THE PUB. HOLIDAY BEERS! Back at Machine Mansions Miss J Machine had made CURRY, which was ACE, and then The Pattisons arrived. We headed over to Joanne's Dad's SPARE HOUSE and got set up. The Tiger arrived and soon we began what was MEANT to be a complete run through of the show...
This plan didn't last for long, as every time I tried to tell a story EITHER someone would disagree with my account OR want to talk about The Fall OR be otherwise distracted. I could see several Validators thinking "Hang on, is this what the show is going to be? Hibbett being called a pillock by a range of close associates? I'm not sure that's very good" so we SKIPPED the talky bits and carried on with the songs. This, I feel, was GOOD.
Job done we set off home, Francis and I doing so via the PUB, getting back to Machine Mansions feeling quite ROCK, but also being tucked up in bed well before midnight. SENSIBLE.
Next morning involved quite a bit of lolling around in the back garden, although i DID have a plan - as I hadn't got much to do all day I thought I'd treat myself to a trip to the pictures to see BATMAN. However, as Master Jimmy Machine was at home it felt a bit MEAN, to go and see BATMAN on my own when there was a 12 year old in the house, so I asked if he'd like to go with me. As it happened it was more like ME going with HIM, as I hadn't got a clue where we were going but he lead us calmly and clearly up about 90 flights of stairs and into the cinema. He coped well with me being a bit EXCITED - firstly about the fact that the film was a 12A and he was 12 and I was an A, and secondly about the small squeaking noises I made when the Watchmen trailer came on. ZOINKS!
The film itself was, as everybody else says, BLOODY GRATE. It actually felt more like a SPY film than a superhero film, even down to having Morgan Freeman as Q, but it was FAB, especially the bit where the car blows up and the BAT BIKE flies out of it. It was GRATE!
By the time we got home it was pretty much time to get out again and soon Frankie and I where on the 91 Bus from Derby to the Midland Railway Museum, to play at Indietracks. I'd been looking forward to this for, well, a YEAR but it didn't feel quite as GLAMOROUS as I'd hoped. As we trundled along past Denby Potteries on the 91, stuck in a traffic jam on the A38, "We're really living the rock and roll dream here aren't we?"
Things DID get a bit more rock and roll, but not before we'd nearly got off at the wrong stop (WARNED by a friendly bus driver) then got hopelessly lost at Butterly station, where the footpath to the main site was cunningly HIDDEN behind an ill-placed train. Soon tho we were wandering down a country path beside the rail tracks, Frankie thinking happy thoughts of "Stand By Me", me sweating quietly and looking at the rabbits. Apparently "Stand By Me" is one of the BEST FILMS EVER - I shall have to get it on DVD.
At last we arrived at the Festival Site, feeling less ODD than I might have expected, it felt like we'd never really gone away. Anne, one of the organisers, also known as The Nice Lady Who Was On The Door Last Year booked us a taxi home for later, Stuart The Big Chief said hello, and we made our way to the BUFFET CARRIAGE where I bought THE FIRST PINT OF THE ENTIRE FESTIVAL! HOORAH!
Horowitz had just arrived and came up to the train, which then shunted along the platform a bit. I leant out of the window and said "Yes, as we're The Headline Band" (OK there were only two bands playing but IT STILL COUNTS) "we asked them to give us a lift ten feet down the platform." I'd like to think they believed us.
The Tiger arrived and had gone to the wrong bit, so we got him to give us a lift the 20 feet to the Marquee where we'd be playing. NOW we felt like we were acting like ROCK STARS! A quick chat with the sound guys and an abortive trip to the cafeteria (CLOSED) lead to us having FLAPJACK for tea and more beer.
The Pattisons arrived, Penny Broadhurst and her band soundchecked, we piled our gear tidily away and people started to arrive. Penny and co played as more people wandered in and there was more BEER, more loafing around in the sunshine, and the Indietracks Usual of HUGGING lovely people who you usually see one by one around the country, but were suddenly all in the same place.
After Penny finished most people went down to the platform for the DISCO while we set out gear up and did a quick soundcheck. Being a little excited I decided to Play The Giddy Goat and do twenty second SPATS of songs with "humorous" word changes for the 20 people still sitting around... which didn't go down to well with Tom, who actually needed to get his levels set up, so we did a song PROPERLY, like GROWN-UPS.
More people arrived and soon there appeared to be REALLY QUITE A LOT OF THEM, filling the tent and spilling out onto the grass at the side. While the soundguy did some last minute changes I did some ORDERS OF BUSINESS, amongst other items I offered people the chance to have an intermission, saying if enough people raised their hands we'd stop for five minutes for a wee. Nobody did, much to the disconcertion of my friend Penny, who ended up asking permission to go on her own - I'm sure a wee can only be improved upon when 150 people have it pointed out to them that you're going.
Anyway, after a bit of extended fannying around we launched into the show, and it went GRATE. NOT doing the stories for The Vlads meant that they actually LARFED in some bits too, and once we got going the whole audience seemed to get into it, and MUCH fun was had, by ME especially. I was playing BAREFOOT, which was really nice, and I felt RELAXED, especially on the couple of occasions where HECKLES/REMARKS led to additional anecdotes. The poor old soundguy decided that my guitar needed miking up halfway through, so spent most of the gig LEANING in to me with it held in his hand, as there weren't enough microphones. This was GOOD, except that every time I played quietly (for EFFECT) he'd lean in a bit closer!
My favourite bit was the SECOND time we introduced the band - the first time around, when I'd said "Tom - they call him 'The Tiger' - McClure" I'd pointed out how BRILL it would be if he GROWLED. The second time around he DID so, it was possibly my most favourite bit of ANY gig we've ever done.
We even got to do an ENCORE, which was "Mental Judo" and basically had a FANTASTIC time of it. Afterwards I wandered round giving out and one chap even wanted his photo taking with me which, after speaking of it in the show, was ACE. I quickly discovered that walking around a damp field with bare feet isn't QUITE so much fun at 10.30pm as it is at 8.00pm, so put my shoes back on and went for the MASS HUG with the departing Pattisons. They had The Girls with them, who'd been EXTREMELY well behaved during the show, with Lola managing to UPSTAGE me again, just as she'd done last year, this time with her demonstration of how to dance The Indie Kid. Aaah!
Francis, The Tiger and I went down to the platform for the "How Does It Feel?" DISCOTHEQUE and had a GRAND old time - the rest of the festival is going to have about four times as many people there as last time, but last night felt JUST like last year, with us knowing about 90% of the people and REALLY LIKING the full 100% of them. There were a couple more pints, a bit of a dance, a LOT of chat, and all too soon we were back on the train to Butterley station. Our taxi arrived BANG on time and with only a tiny diversion to drop Penny and Markie off at Alfreton Travelodge, Official Festival Hotel, we were soon back at Machine Mansions, drinking whisky and playing GUITAR HERO with her and her pals.
It is thus a rather worn out but EXTREMELY pleased Hibbett who sits in a Leicester interweb cafe today. I do still sort of wish I was staying for the whole weekend, but it's a big DO in Peterborough for The Family tonight, and I had SO much fun last night I couldn't really wish for any more. Being in a band and doing gigs, it's FANTASTIC!
Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1998
Oh the glamorous whirl of modern life in London's Fashionable London Area Of London - call me the natural successor to Nigel Dempster if you will (actually, please don't), for LO! last night I went to a book launch AND a concert. GET! ME!
The book launch was for "Wiffle Lever To Full", the new book by Mr Bob Fischer, who I know through doing a couple of sessions for his show on BBC Middlesborough. I went thinking it might be him sat in a corner with a pile of books, but it was RIGHT PROPER - there was a CROWD of excited people, HUGE piles of books, and several People From The Publishers. He seemed a) DELIGHTED b) AMAZED that this was all actually happening, and said so quite forcefully during the bit where he read out sections.
The best bit was when they presented him with a MILLENIUM FALCON, which he'd never got as a child, it was lovely. THEN a great big QUEUE of people formed to get their copy signed - I've only read the first bit so far (as am currently embroiled in Alex James's Rock Biography, which follows ALL the rules of Rock Biographies, and is also BRILL) but it's already LOVELY, FUNNY, and rather heart-warming. It's supposedly about him attending a whole string of sci-fi conventions over the course of the year, but seems to be a LOT about growing up in the 70s and 80s, and so rather touches a NERVE with me - even if I had not been PLIED with free champagne i would be recommending it!
After that I zipped over to Islington to The Buffalo Bar, for an Indietracks Warm-Up Gig featuring Pocketbooks, The Zebras and Airport Gurl. I had a BRILLIANT night, tho it was a little strange. It was full of all the LOVELY people from the current indiepop scene, but also featuring a heady mix of VETERANS like me from the post-Belle & Sebastian scene of 1998. I was sat out the back of the pub DOUBTLESSLY THRILLING some of the youngsters by saying "ah me! Delia From Mambo Taxi is on the door, Sean From Airport Gurl is promoting, Ben From The Meldoy Maker is here and all we need is Mr John Jervis of WIAIWYA Records to get the full set!" ONE minute later we were in the queue to get in, chatting to THE JERV. I fully expected JIM RATTAIL to appear, but I guess he'd gone to see DONKEY instead.
Pocketbooks were, as ever, GRATE, and played a LOT of new stuff. I'm afraid I got a bit over-excited and ended up offering "helpful" "tips" on how they should go and record their new album. Like all the current bunch of indiepop kids they are EXTREMELY polite when confronted by the elderly, and did NOT say "SHAT IT GRANDAD!", which would have been well within their rights, and thus me and fellow 98 VETS stood around saying how much NICER things are now then 10 years ago.
This meant a lot of standing round upstairs (too hot for us old folks in the basement!) so I missed most of The Zebras, but did get down in good time for Airport Gurl, and LOVED hearing all the songs I first heard them play SO many years ago, tho again DISAPPOINTED by the lack of "Judy & The Dream Of Horses", which they'd ALWAYS do back then. I missed the very end, having to SLINK OFF to get the Overground home, but I did so filled with the HAPPY KNOWLEDGE that NOW is the really GRATE time to be doing this sort of thing.
Dedication's What You Need
Edinburgh gets closer and closer, and we're booking me in for various extra SLOTS, in a bid to tell people about the show. I've got a regular spot at "Alcove 3" (which we think may be somewhere near the main box office) at 2.05pm, the "Lower Stage" on the Royal Mile at 3.50pm Monday-Thursday and the "Upper Stage" on the Saturday. I'm also hopefully doing at bit at "Pear Shaped Afternoons" on the Monday. BUSY!
But wait: BUSIER! Once I've finished the show itself on the Monday I'm getting a train to Glasgow to record a SESSION for Jim Gellatly's XFM show - if we include sessions as gigs (and I CERTAINLY DO), then this means I will be SMASHING all personal records and playing FIVE gigs in one day! FIVE! I'm going to be so busy there won't even be time to get drunk! QUELLE HORREUR!
It's all quite exciting, as is the fact that Indietracks is suddenly looming VERY large on the horizone. And in the midst of all this, some STRANGENESS: I got a text from Tim just before 1pm today to tell me that The Lesson Of The Smiths was being played on 6Music. I tuned in and LO! he was correct. But why? I Listened Again to the George Lamb show (which it was ON), and there it was. I mean, I'm not complaining, but it's a bit confusing - there's no explanation of WHY it's there, it just is!
Three Corners Of That London
A PACKED weekend commenced with a trip to Marylebone on Friday night, to play at a Freedom Of Expression night. I arrived to find Tim The Promoter and Ben Who Is Superman Revenge Squad already there, so we stood around and had a bit of a chat about ROCK STUFF and then did soundchecking. I went off to the Really Posh Chip Shop for some ... er... CHIPS, then went back and settled in to wait for the audience.
It would be a LONG wait, as hardly anybody turned up. Ben agreed to go on first, and he had a couple of locals that'd wandered in, but who left halfway through, two pals, me, Tim and his girlfriend Jenny. It didn't really matter though, as he was GRATE. I've heard a lot about him from Sources Various but never SEEN him, or indeed HEARD him. I was VERY impressed - he does this amazing thing where the music disappears under an AVALANCHE of words, songs become lengthy complicated but ACE great big long RAPS, or maybe POEMS delivered at high speed. It's difficult to describe because I've never really heard anything like it before, but i REALLY liked it.
Next was me, and as there were now only five other people in the room I ESCHEWED the microphone and played Totally Acoustically, doing THIS:
Much fun was had, especially by ME, and I was GLAD to do Mental Judo in such a FITTING environment.
After it was over we all went downstairs - there was another act on, but as there were suddenly quite a few people in specifically to see her I didn't feel too bad about missing out, and instead had a LENGTHY discussion about COMICS with Tim (who, as with Mr R Johnston earlier in the week, was of a similar age and disposition to me and so was FULL of love for the early work of Alan Moore) and then ROCK GENERAL with Jenny, who it turns out is playing with me when I ROCK Croydon.
SATURDAY saw The Incline Of My Hill and I heading over to SOUTH LONDON to attend the housewarming DO of The Gibbs. We had a GRATE time - there was a SPREAD, there was BOOZE and there was a whole heap of lovely people who all got on SO well that the CHAT RACKET in the living room nearly gave me a headache!
Then on SUNDAY we all went as a household to the Waltham Forest Green Fair (Fayre?) in Walthamstowe. Last week we went to RISE in Finsbury Park which I personally thought was HORRID, but THIS was much more like it - loads of extremely VARIOUS people wandering around, an ORGANIC BEER stall, GARDENING stalls, and Schools Orchestras everywhere you looked. The only thing missing really was anybody who had a clue what was going on, so we spent the first hour or so wandering around trying to find out where The Men They Couldn't Hang were supposed to be playing. Eventually we found them waiting to go on after a School Dance Group performing an INTERPRETATION of a bit of Romeo & Juliet - the KNIFE FITE bit. I'm not sure if that was the BEST idea for something for East London Kids to be taught at the moment, but STILL.
There was about an HOUR of watching people set up gear and then The Men They Couldn't Hang (or "The Men What Couldn't Hang", according to the announcer) went on and were DEAD good. It was a PROPER festival set of LARKS, rousing TUNES and getting kids on the stage to play tambourine. It was a happy sun-kissed household who strode home, KNACKERED but happy after a VERY busy weekend.
Working To A Brief
I had another DIP into the world of ADVERTISING last night, as I got sent a brief for another one of those viral campaigns. The idea was to present an IDEA for an ad, which was all rather EXCITING and like on TELLY, so i set to PONDERING with one idea coming along just before i got on the TUBE and another when I got home. This latter was what I think they were probably after from me i.e. a SONG which I must say I was rather happy with... tho it DOES have an EXTREMELY catchy tune which lodged in my head all night, only to be replaced this morning by the theme tune to "Moving On", the Adult Literacy programme starring Bob Hoskins which seemed to be on ALL THE TIME during the summer holidays of the 1970s. All together now - "Moving on, moving on, we're on our way again... every day, something new, la la la la la la." A CLASSIC!
In other news I am EXTREMELY relieved to see that the new single is now available on iTunes. I love it when a plan comes together! My only worry NOW is whether or not it'll be available on AMAZON on Monday - if that happens then EVERYTHING will have gone according to plan, that can't be right, can it?
The New Look For Summer
As is TRADITIONAL when we have a new release I've had a bit of a REDESIGN of the main webpage. Nothing too drastic this time, as I quite like the way it works at the moment!
In other news... er... well, not much right now, it's all a bit quiet today! I'm STILL looking for the first airplay of It Only Works Because You're Here - i know it's not OUT until next week, but it'd be nice to know someone had played it! Apart from that it's just a case of waiting around until a) RELEASE DAY on Monday b) Indietracks a week tomorrow and c) The Fringe the week after that, by which time I shall probably be looking back with YEARNING to a time when not much was going on.
AHA! But this reminds me of TWO things - first of all, if anyone's thinking of coming to see me in Marylebone tomorrow night I should mention that SUPERMAN REVENGE SQUAD are ALSO playing. I found this out the other night and am now EXTRA excited about the gig as a direct result!
Secondly, it looks like the Friday Night Show for Indietracks, where we'll be playing the full-band version of My Exciting Life In ROCK for the first and, possibly, ONLY time, will now be open to people who DIDN'T manage to get one of the first 100 tickets. It'll be 3 quid entry, and we MAY be playing it in the main tram shed instead of the church.
If this occurs then I'm hoping we'll be able to play it IN THE ROUND, rather than on the stage. If this goes ahead I would recommend anyone attending to bring CUSHIONS or BLANKETS or SOMETHING, as sitting on the concrete floor might be a bit cold!
Let my name be MR SHOWBIZ, for LO! last night I was off to an advance screening of the ITV2 sitcom "No Heroics". This was at the invitation of Mr Rich Johnston of Lying In The Gutters, who's just featured the video for It Only Works Because You're Here in this week's column. He's very kindly plugged quite a few of our VIDS recently, and it was GRATE to find out that, in real life, he's a dead nice chap. We met in the pub beforehand and almost inevitably fell to discussing what ALL British comic-reading Gentlemen of a certain age will ALWAYS end up talking about i.e. Alan Moore's run on Captain Britain. The word "VARRR!" was, as ever, spoken quietly.
We then wandered round the corner to a VERY posh Production Company where they were holding the screening specially for Comics Blog TYPES. Supplied with free BEER we sat and readied ourselves to rather nervously - it's a new comedy on a digital channel, and it's about superheroes, SURELY we were all about to EARN our beer with laughing politely?
NOT SO. It turns out that "No Heroics" is BLOODY GRATE! It was actually PROPER funny, witn proper likeable characters, DEAD GOOD special effects bits, and lots of LAFFS. I was EXTREMELY a) pleased b) RELIEVED, and I don't think I was the only one. After we'd watched the first episode they showed a DVD extra where the producer/writer wandered round the set pointing at all the amazing background details. Frankly, once they'd pointed out the clever names for ALL the drinks ("V For Vodka" being my favourite) and the MASSES of 2000AD references in EVERYTHING then we were all pretty much sold. It would've been SO easy to make a crappy Laugh At Comics Idiots MEAN show, but this was so obviously done with LOVE you couldn't help but like it. HENCE when we watched another episode the laughs were even BIGGER, and HAPPINESS reigned.
Afterwards we all stood around chatting, and I had a LONG talk to the director. This didn't start off to well as, like an IDIOT i said "Oh yes, Actors and Actresses, they're a bit weird aren't they?" He was, of course, MARRIED to an Actress, but I think we got past that and ended up discussing Carlos Ezquerra for AGES. Turns out both he AND the Producer were MASSIVE Comics Geeks (Drew The Producer was VERY proud that the fonts used in the Bar ["The Fortress"] was EXACTLY the same as 1940's Captain America!) of the same vintage of Rich and I and, indeed, everyone else in the room, and from the casual useage of PROPER TERMINOLOGY and the EXCITEMENT with which they spoke of everything else, it looks like the rest of the series will be as good.
I'm all excited about it now - it's on in September, I reckon it'll be GRATE!
It was, basically, not QUITE as glamorous as I'd thought it might be, but a LOT more fun. "No Heroics",
posted by MJ Hibbett, 16.7.08 (click here for permanent link)
The Press Launch
It's not far from my work to The Cross Kings, the pub where we were having the Press Launch for My Exciting Life In ROCK, but it FELT like it last night. For LO! I was carrying not just my guitar and ukelele but ALSO the easel, the signs, badges AND a huge box full of CDs for sale. CUNNINGLY I had taken a spare shirt with me, for it was a very sweaty Hibbett who arrived at the pub.
I discovered Mr Pete Green there already, along with Atomic Beat Records' Marianthi, and after a quick chat I went downstairs to meet the lovely Soundman, Alex, who was very keen that we should LOVE the sound he was giving us. The sound was LOVELY and so, indeed, was the room itself which had been set out in the THEATRICAL style. I briefly considered changing it to CABARET, but it looked so COOL I decided not to bother.
With that all done it was time to wander round the pub saying hello to the SEVERAL people who had come along, including The Songs In My Musical, who rather brilliantly arrived bearing a CAMERA. HOORAH! After a while it was time to start the round up, to get people downstairs to the basement where we were set up. Mr S Hewitt, STAGE MANAGER, stood and did the door while I did the traditional Promoter's Ritual of going upstairs and looking down the street to see if I could find new people. Surprisingly this kept on WORKING, so well in fact I even managed to get some Mylands in - featuring the gentleman known as Mileage who features in so many songs.
The evening kicked off with Pete doing a HITS set, which was brilliant, especially as he did a LOT of talking between songs and thus, as ever, completely WOOED the audience. After that we had a quick break and it was time for ME to go on, and do the show as follows:
It all seemed to go pretty well - I was trying out doing Fucking Hippy instead of The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B) but it felt a bit AGGRESSIVE so I'll be changing that back. For some reason the whole thing last 69 minutes, rather than the target 60 - I'm not sure how, I took several bits OUT from the 61 minute version we did the other week, and I certainly FELT as if I was rattling through at a fair old pace!
The strangest thing was a couple of points where I found I couldn't say my words properly. SOME PEOPLE may suggest this is hardly UNUSUAL, given my delightful Fenland BURR, but I think this time it was a bit of the NERVES as they came out quite strangely. Still, I think I managed to get it under control and people DID say they'd enjoyed it, so looks like we are GO for the next performance, which is going to be Indietracks. I can't believe it's FINALLY almost upon us!
The evening ended with another BEER and a bit of chat, before I once again struggled MANFULLY with my various items on the train. I'm not looking forward to trying to lug it all ALL the way to Edinburgh, but hopefully I'll be coming back with less than I take!
And We're OFF!
At last, today's the day when everything gets GOING! Earlier on I emailed the Mailing List with an EARLY BIRD OFFER, to allow them to get copies of the new single early, should they wish. I've just had confirmation that it WILL be available to buy from July 21st on Amazon, HMV etc, and it'll be on the site from then too. HOOPLA!
We've also launched the VIDEO for the new single today - if you've been reading this over the past few months you'll know we've been working VERY HARD INDEED on it, and the results are now on YouTube, HERE:
This is ALSO all tied in to the Press Launch for My Exciting Life In ROCK, which is happening tonight in the downstairs bar at The Cross Kings in London Town. If you fancy coming be sure to be there early, as it all kicks off just after 7pm with the ever fantastic Mr Pete Green, before I go on and do the WHOLE SHOW. Do come if you can - there will be BADGES!
And as if all THAT wasn't enough, there ALSO my "celebrity" MUXTAPE online over at Sweeping The Nation, featuring sleevenotes which I spent most of Sunday morning worrying about!
Rocking In The Annex
The Sophisticated Rehearsals continued yesterday as I made my way up to Leicester and then to Tiger Towers to meet Tom for our traditional trip to his EXCELLENT local Offy and then to get our tea. This time we chose Chinese: DELICIOUS.
Fully fed it was HO! for The Tigermobile and Woodhouse Eaves, where once again we were due for a practice. We picked Tim up, looked at the progress of the Pattison's Extension (SO grown-up) and then nipped back down the hill to the Village Hall... or, rather, to the annex.
Apparently something was going on in the main Village Hall, so I was expecting us to be playing in a tiny little shed stuck on the side, but the annex to Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall is of a kind which MOST villages would be proud to have as their MAIN hall. There were proper toilets, kitchen, large cupboard (labelled "The Council Would Prefer It If You Kept This Door Shut": polite, but FIRM) and even a POOL table in the corner, which I am sure GENERATIONS of children have looked at longingly, WISHING that once, just once, they'd arrive for the christening/birthday/nursery class to find it plugged IN. Also, the annex was very clearly labelled: "ANNEX", it said it large bold labels on the outside. GOOD.
As is becoming traditional Tim had forgotten something so he and Tom went back to collect it while I set up the drums, which i set up EXPERTLY. All right, it wasn't anywhere NEAR a full kit, but still, I could tell from Tim's face when he returned that he was IMPRESSED. I also had a quick GO, and discovered that replacing the foot operated bass drum with a stick walloped floor tom makes it MUCH MUCH easier to play in time. Bobby Gillespie: consider your early career FOUND OUT.
Francis arrived shortly after that, and we couldn't help but notice that he'd not bought his Euphonium. He explained his carefully thought out reasons - basically, he couldn't be bothered with it - and, JUST when he judged that our faces had become SAD enough at this news, whipped out the replacement instrument - a HARMONICA! HOOPLA!
We WHIPPED through most of the songs, then Emma arrived and we WHIPPED through them again. Well, I say "WHIPPED" but it was more like a gentle STROLL, as between each song there was time for HILARITY. Band Confidentiality prevents me from revealing what this was about but, as you would doubtless expect, it was the usual mixture of incisive comment about the current political scene and not AT ALL a giggling blend of rude jokes, Dr Who, and GOSSIPING about mutual acquaintances.
It was all sounding pretty good - we're getting there with The Balance, helped by Emma using a microphone, though i think I'll probably need one to. The songs were sounding good, ESPECIALLY (theme from) My Exciting Life In ROCK and the ACAPELLA section in Sod It Let's Get Pissed and it was, i think, a markedly more CONFIDENT Validators that left the annex promptly at 10.30pm.
We said our goodbyes and then Tom and I ZOOMED back to Leicester for a fairly conventional post-practice wind-down, consisting of a BEER and a repeat viewing of the aforesaid Doctor Who. I bet Pete Doherty finishes off his gig evenings in EXACTLY the same fashion.
Waiting For The Future
The Waiting Around For Stuff To Happen continues APACE as I gently wander through the "quiet" time (tho with all these GIGS just lately it actually feels quite ROWDY) before we kick off the My Exciting Life In ROCK stuff properly next week. I'll be sending out an email to the mailing list on Monday which'll have details of the VIDEO, and also of the Exciting Two For One offer we'll be doing for the Press Launch, and ALSO also, as usual, details of how to get the new single a week early. As ever, SIGN UP to get the GOODNESS!
And talking of the press launch, I've done a FLYER, LOOK!
It's "Officially" a press launch, but it's VERY VERY VERY much open to anyone who wants to come, so if you get a chance, please do!
The Red House
When I arrived in The Ibis, Sheffield last night I got a nasty surprise: my room was SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT to usual!
PANIC! FEAR! DOOM! Surely the whole POINT of the Ibis is that the rooms are always, give or take the odd stain or chipped formica, are EXACTLY the same where'ere you do wander? This one was a little bit larger, with a DOOR which could be opened into the next door room to make a SUITE! I was badly shaken, and it was all I could do to eat my TEA (cunningly pre-bought from Marks & Sparks in order to avoid Bad Chips/No Chips) before heading out to The Red House, where I was due to play a Sparklemotion Promotions night.
I got the tram most of the way there and arrived to find it was the same place me and The Validators played in a little while ago - we'd DRIVEN that time, which was why I was a bit confused about where it was. I got in to find Mr P Green, PROMOTER, on the door, and Slow Down Tallahassee soundchecking, and fell into light CHAT and a BEER.
Mr Green's Corporate Juggernaut soundchecked next, and I was AMUSED to see him "have" to go through the Guitar SOLO three times to get the pedal sound right. OK, it was the soundman making him do it, but the newly re-banded Pete could not hide his GLEE at getting to do this. I was JEALOUS!
My soundcheck was dead quick and then there was plenty of time for more CHAT with the lovely people who kept turning up. I'd been a bit worried about what to actually DO - it was advertised as a preview of The Show, but I only had half an hour to fill. I DID briefly toy with NOT doing and of The Show at ALL and just doing a normal set (NB The Easy Way Out) but decided to get up and just do some BITS. These are the BITS that I did:
It all seemed to go pretty well - to start with it felt ODD, that I was just stood there GABBING ON, but after a while it changed so the singing bits felt like they were starting to get in the way of the stories, which I _think_ is a good thing. I did the setlist by asking (in a slightly leading way) which stories people would like - AMAZINGLY everyone went for the one with NUDITY in it straight away!
The rest of the night was BRILLO. There was yet MORE chat (which may have featured SOME discussion of Doctor Who...) and some FANTASTIC bands. The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut continues to get GROOVIER with each outing, and Slow Down Tallahassee were, as ever, GRATE - especially so for me this time, as all the excellent TUNES were familiar from their rather wonderful album. I was MOST excited tho to see The School, who I've HEARD lots of but never seen. They did not disappoint, it was a big proper set of big proper songs done A) BRILLIANTLY and B) CHARMINGLY.
It was all really really good - so consistently so that you pretty much FORGOT how good it was while it was happening, only to look back later and think "WOW! That was an AMAZING line-up!" for lo! it was!
Afterwards there was more chat of a, some would say, SLIGHTLY geeky, also RATHER BRILL, fashion, before it was time to go home. Foolishly I decided to take a shortcut, forgetting that I have never actually WALKED from this particular venue before... and got LOST! PROPERLY lost too - I had a map, but appeared to have walked off the end of it and couldn't see ANYTHING familiar. Luckily after about 15 minutes of trying to solve the problem by Walking Purposefully a taxi came by and SAVED me. I did appear to be going the WRONG WAY, which was a bit of a shocker, and was pleased to be secure in the back!
A pretty bloody GRATE evening all round ... although the getting up early wasn't much fun, and the carriage PACKED with Leicester teenagers on a school trip to London, SQUEALING for an hour, wasn't very helpful either!
Not content with going out TWICE in one night on the weekend, myself and The Days Off On My Annual Leave WallChart went out AGANE on Sunday night, to Shoreditch to watch Lazarus Clamp.
As we strolled down Shoreditch High Street it was UNUSUALLY clear of tits in silly little hats... as they were all inside the many BARS that now litter the street, watching The Wimbledon. It all looked VERY exciting and I kept thinking "Ooh, I wonder who's winning?" then realising I didn't actually care either way.
We got to Catch and said HOLA to The Clamp, including our very own Mr T 'Tiger' McClure. We'd timed it well as we had time for a quick chat before they went off to get ready, and I noticed A Figure From The Past standing nearby. I went and checked and LO! it was Tony The Manager, formerly manager of the band Prolapse. It was he who used to CHIDE me when i'd OPENLY MOCK Tim for having almost NO Rock & Roll adventures when on Proper Tour, saying "That's not what it's like in the real world of touring." This is probably what put me off trying to do it "properly"!
There wasn't much time to do more than say hello tho, as The Clamp were about to start and we HIED it down to the front. Brilliantly, it was a continuation of seeing Bands We Like Being Really Good, as they were GRATE! Lazarus Clamp are the ONLY band from the Durham Ox bands of Leicester, mid-90's who are still going (well, apart from us, obviously) and they TOO have matured into one of those grown-up bands where everybody's clearly a) doing EXACTLY what they want to do b) really good at DOING so and c) REALLY enjoying it. Some people, twits, mostly, say that the most exciting bands contain Young People, as they are HUNGRY and EAGER, but I find this to be INCORRECT. Bands of Young People are usually DESPERATE to be LIKED and/or COOL, whereas bands that have been on the go for over a decade without being troubled by the NME etc are ONLY doing it because they want to and therefore do not have to give a flying shit about what ANYBODY thinks.
HENCE: excitement, experimentation and also GOOD TIMES. I also noticed during the set that Lazarus Clamp have become somehow FUNKY. My inner vision of them is coloured by many many gigs many many years ago when it was all JERKINESS and RAGE and LOUDNESS and, while that's still a part of what they do, it's ALSO mutated into Melliflous Melody, LOVELY interplay between the instruments and a TIGHTNESS of playing that becomes DANCEY, even in the varied time signatures they play in.
Is this starting to sound like Music Journalism? If so: APOLOGIES. Basically it was GRATE to watch, GRATE to hear, and all round FAB. The Words On My Lyric Sheet had been nudging me to ask for a REQUEST throughout ("that one that goes 'we're underneath the moon and the stars'") which happily they DID at the very end (although I'd always thought of it as the one that goes "we're UN! derNEATH! the MOON!and the star-ARS!") and she was so pleased she went and bought a CD. We finished with hugs and congratulations and then strolled off to the train station, singing as we went. Lovely!
This Saturday for, i think, the third year in a ROW i was NOT watching the Dr Who Finale when it was broadcast, as I was going OUT. I don't know why this keeps happening - it's not like I am a regular goer-out on a Saturday night, but I set off once again for POPTIMISM not knowing what on earth was going to happen.
Well, OK, I had SOME idea, having foolishly read SPOILERS, like I always do and regret it, but the full picture ELUDED me. I arrived at POPTIMISM to find Mr S Hewitt ALONE in a basement covered in truly GHASTLY pictures (the cellar bar of The Cross Kings, where Poptimism takes place and where our Press Launch next week will also be happening, has been DONE OVER with a TERRIBLE mural depicting scenes of "hell" as seen through the eyes of a 14 year old heavy metal fan with wrists WEAKENED from Other Activities - CURTAINS, apparently, are on order) wandering round on his own as, it turned out, THE ENTIRE NATION was sat at home watching Dr Who.
It's lovely that, isn't it? Five years ago you'd not have BELIEVED that Dr Who would EVER be so very massive, and also so very GRATE - i DID watch it when I got home from the pub and it was UTTERLY BRILL. Exciting and funny and daft and MENTAL and with crying bits and also GOOD in all senses of the world. As usual I went online this morning and got depressed, AS USUAL, by the idiots on Certain Doctor Who forums complaining stupidly about it (why do people who don't know what "deus ex machina" MEANS keep saying it?). MEMO TO SELF: Next year, TRY and avoid!
ANYWAY people gradually arrived and we sat around having a DELIGHTFUL chap, during which I discovered that the Posadists are a movement combining UFOlogy with Trotskyism. For some reason this pleased me IMMENSELY.
I had to tear myself away from the CHAT, also BEER, and head down the road to The Water Rats to go see The Gresham Flyers. I arrived to find it was a MAD night with about a MILLION bands playing, with the act on stage being trailed as "Morrissey's favourite support band." You could see why - a trilling screeching howling woman dressed like a cartoon throwing herself around playing whoopy keyboards acoompanied by a drummer in one of those little Shoreditch hats. It was all very exciting and dramatic and you could see why the audience who'd come to see her (mostly the kind of very slightly odd looking men of a certain age who probaby have VERY clear views on both Dr Who AND Posadism) really liked it, but it's ALSo the sort of thing that LOSES me very quickly. Yes, it's all DYNAMIC and DIFFERENT but it doesn't DO anything. You remembered the strange frocks and gyrations, but none of the actual sounds.
But still, the odd chaps liked it and CHEERED for ENCORES for TEN WHOLE MINUTES - despite the lights coming on, background music being played, the singer herself coming back on and taking off all her gear, it took The Gresham Flyers setting up to make them realise that, on a night with 500,000,000 bands playing, MAYBE the ten of them shouting wouldn't bring her back on.
This was good for me, as I'd not seen the Flyers for AGES and was EAGER to see them NOW. I stood with Mr C Gilmour and MARVELLED at quite HOW very EXCELLENT they are now - last time I saw them there was a LOT of changing round of instruments, which I personally find All Well And Good In The Practice Room, but REALLY distracting in The Live Arena, which has now calmed down A LOT. In my opinion they could just stop it all together - Thom and New Drummer Guy are such an OBVIOUS and GRATE rhythm section together it feels WRONG to see them parted.
Also in the time since I last saw them there seems to have been a Great Relaxing amongst them, as suddenly it all looked like LOTS of FUN - I always think the KEY to a good band is when the band members A) look at each other GRINNING throughout and B) sing along when they don't have. Everyone was dancing, everyone was happy, and it brought the TUNES rollicking out to the front. It was EXCELLENT, and the fact that Waz was sporting a Back To The Future-ESQUE DOUBLE TIES was pretty much the icing on the cake.
I dashed off as soon as they'd done, which lead to a good evening being topped off by making the last Easy Train home with 2 minutes to spare! HOORAH for Saturday nights!
Lucky for some
There's been a bit of kerfuffle over at the Edinburgh Fringe site, as their booking system hasn't been working properly. Happily it is now MENDED, and is even generating reports to tell you PERFORMERS how many tickets they've sold.
This morning I went to have a look, expecting it to say "Don't be daft", and was AMAZED to find that we've ALREADY sold 13 tickets! THIRTEEN!!! That's almost as many as the pair of us sold PUT TOGETHER last time we both went! Thirteen! ZOINKS!!!
If you'd like to get in on the ACTION (and hey, there's only... er... LOADS of tickets left) you can do so HERE (I think that'll work anyway). In the meantime, I'll be practicing EVEN HARDER - double figures!
The Quiet Week
The last batch of promo CDs finally went out this morning, to OVERSEAS media types, and now that's IT. According to my GANT CHART (NB I am of course NOT making this up, there very much IS a Gant Chart) i have now done pretty much THE LOT, and all that's left to do is put the video online and do some GIGS.
It feels WEIRD, but then it always DOES when it gets to this point - after MONTHS of dashing around trying to get everything done I suddenly find myself with nothing much LEFT to do, but still in ROCK ACTION mode. In a week or two then I can get all worked up again trying to see if we get any reviews or radio play, but at the moment it's too early to worry about any of that. Thus I sit, ITCHY FOOTED, RARING to go but unable to go. Actually, it's quite a GOOD bit, this bit!
Having SAID that, we've had a couple of mentions already, with a rather nice write-up of the dress rehearsal over on Fire Escape Talking and a jolly PLUG in today's CMU Daily. It feels like it's about to actually HAPPEN!
The Dress Rehearsal
It was a short but VERY SWEATY stroll across Bloomsbury for me last night, as I strode manfully from work to The Lamb carrying a heavy bag of STUFF, an EASEL, a bag of placards, a guitar AND a ukelele. When I arrived to find Steve and Pete in situ i was very MUCH in need of a pint. As luck would have it, there were plenty of these available at the bar!
We sat around chatting for a bit, with me getting more and more NERVOUS, as this would be the first time I'd done My Exciting Life In ROCK in full in front of a proper audience. If it all went horribly wrong I'd be a bit stuck! ALSO, among the many delightful people who turned up was Mr S Evers, the bloke who commisioned me to write a book a couple of years ago and who features RATHER HEAVILY in the first story. I was a bit worried that he might not take its telling in the way it was meant!
We got the room set up, I did a LOT of pacing around, and people gradually arrived until just after 7.45pm I was ready to get going, so after a quick bit of Housekeeping I went off "stage", Steve introduced me, and I came back on and did THIS:
It all went REALLY REALLY WELL. I was EXTREMELY relieved! I don't think I did too many serious mess-ups, added some EXTRA GAGS, and got it all done in 61 minutes! HOORAH! I was worried that when faced with an Actual Audience I might go on a BIT and go over our time slot, but I think this was counter-balanced by me doing everything a bit QUICKER. Also quite a bit of time was saying "And there he/she IS!" and pointing at whoever I was telling the story about, which I don't plan to repeat when doing it in Edinburgh!
Everyone seemed to enjoy it, even those who were IN it (much to my relief), though we did run into an unexpected problem when there was an ENCORE as I didn't know what to do... EVENTUALLY I told the story of The Mobile Phone Song and did Payday Is The Best Day, though I should really properly learn up Mental Judo, which would be VERY fitting, should it ever happen again.
Once finished there was time for dishing out of BADGES and CDs and general CHAT which as usual became a bit of a mini-SESSION with MANY lovely people, some of whom I hadn't seen for YONKS. Rather brilliantly The Legs On My Easel and The Landlady had taken quite a bit of stuff HOME for me earlier on, so it was a rather less heavily encumbered (and slightly more TIDDLY) Hibbett who staggered home, full of JOY that it'd all gone off OK.
I hope it goes down as well when people who AREN'T in it come to watch!
Unprecedented Levels Of Practicing
Whilst getting on the train to Leicester at St Pancras last night I noticed a bloke walking nearby had a satchel with "Gavin Estler - Newsnight" written on it. "Unusual", i thought, "I'd've thought these days it'd be Funeral For A Friend or My Chemical Romance, rather than news presenters". Half an hour later, on the way to the buffet, i noticed that the REAL Gavin Estler - Newsnight - was sitting in the same carriage as me, with a BBC TEAM. I was IMPRESSED with their sensible use of licence payers' money, not just for going Standard Class but going when it was CHEAP. When we got to Leicester they had an argument about which way to get out of the station, so i told one of them which way to go. Later on we saw a bit of the Newsnight Special: NHS Midlands. I didn't watch long enought to see the bit where they said the ENTIRE PROGRAMME was saved by my help, as otherwise they'd all be still wandering around in the car park, but I'm sure it was there somewhere.
ANYWAY I then HIKED, VERY sweatily, across town to Tom's to meet him JUST as he got home from work. We went and got ourselves a PROPER CHIPPY TEA from the PROPER CHIPPY down the road and then set off for Woodhouse Eaves, where we were due to have our first (NOT our only!) practice for My Exciting Life In ROCK. We popped into Pattison Mansions to say hello to the younger Pattisons (and to find myself PHYSICALLY COMPELLED by CENTURIES OF EVOLUTION to say, upon noting that Edie's front teeth had fallen out, "Ooh, have you been fighting?" It was all I could do to stop myself from MAGICALL producing a farthing from behind her ear) and to look upon the BUILDING WORK. They have basically built a whole OTHER HOUSE on the side of theirs, it is AMAZING.
Down to the Village Hall where we were joined by Mr F A Machine for a DELIGHTFUL practice, quite possibly my favourite EVER. Tim set up a quieter (NB tho not actually QUIET) kit of just a couple of drums, while the rest of us gathered round. I had my ukelele and guitar to hand, while Francis rather outshone me with guitar, trumpet AND Euphonium. Tom had his POSH violin out, while Emma I think found the RACKET of us, even acoustically, a bit much without a microphone. I was BELLOWING as per, but I think we'll bring a little amp for her next time.
It was LOVELY tho - we sat around running through ALL the songs in the show and they sounded really nice. We practically CONJURED UP a CAMPFIRE in the middle of the room, such was the relaxed VIBE of it all. Rehearsing for us is usually a RIGHT pain and involves spending time in horrible, stinky, HOT rehearsal rooms - I wish we could ALWAYS do our practices this way.
HIGHLIGHTS, apart from discussion of Topics Various throughout, including us all trying to give Euphonium Guidance, a bit of HARMONY, and a SMASHING try-out of CHORAL SINGING for the middle bit of Sod It, Let's Get Pissed.
We packed up, said our goodbyes, and then headed variously home, me going back to Tom's where we drank WHISKY and watched Dr Who - he'd not seen this week's, so the rest of us had to NOT SPEAK OF IT. It was very difficult, especially when actually WATCHING it. I think I managed OK.
And now I'm back in town and gearing up for tonight's DRESS REHEARSAL. Life In The Theatre, it is ALL GO!