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Don't Stop Me Now
What WAS that just then? Was it a whirlwind? A hurrican? A MAELSTROM?
It was NONE of these things, for LO! It was ME! DYNAMICALLY DOING THINGS!
The ACTION commenced as far back as WEDNESDAY when I not only started booking some GIGS for the ALBUM TOUR (more news of which when it's DONE) but also wrote a whole new SONG for Dinosaur Planet. Just the one mind - i was KNACKERED from the ROCK of the night before.
Yesterday was a different story, a story first of all of WORK as I visited TWO seperate Databases what I had done, also their owns, and went AT IT with my BRANE. Luckily for passers by a BRANE EXPLOSION was avoided by going to the PUB to meet Mr Ray Dann, with whom I drank, ATE, and then went off to the first night of the Popfest, featuring some really rather TERRIFIC bands. I'd not seen nor heard any Smittens before, but thoroughly enjoyed Side Project (i think) Let's Whisper, featuring Colin From The Smittens who turned out to be a dead nice chap.
I bought his album, a School EP and the new Pocketbooks album, which i was VERY looking forward to hearing (and still am!), then settled in to WATCH Pocketbooks, who were GRATE as ever. The only MISHAP for me was halfway through when they UNVEILED the first chunk of the line-up for this year's Indietracks... I didn't know they were even booking anyone yet, but they do seem to have booked a LOT of bands, none of which were us. I have to admit, a shard of DOOM descended at that point - we'd LOVE to be able to play again as TECHNICALLY SPEAKING we didn't last year - but happily the DOOM could not stand up for long against Pocketbooks in FLIGHT.
And if I HAD still had The Glums these would have dispersed ENTIRELY once The School were on, who were BRILLIANT. I always seem to be having to be somewhere else, usually gigging, when they play so haven't seen them HALF as often as I'd like. Such SONGS! They're GRATE!
And then today MORE action, but also more DOOM as I got an email telling me all the tracks selected to appear on the French Madness Tribute Album for which we recorded "House Of Fun"... a list which did NOT include our version of "House Of Fun". OOF! Two rejections in a row like that would sure FLOOR most bands FOREVER but The Vlads are made of sterner stuff and so i DIVED into GIG BOOKING, sorting out ANOTHER gig for the TOUR and also sending out FEELERS on a wide variety of others. I'm actually quite hopeful of getting this sorted out for next week now, when I've got a meeting with some people who might be doing our PRESS. OOh!
In summary, then, it has been ALL GO. Thank goodness it's the weekend!
Bob DID come back for his guitar yesterday evening and together we strolled over to The Lamb, where we settled in with our REGULARS and some of Bob's pals. All was well except for the absence of Mr T Eveleigh - I knew he was coming, he'd said so on the Facebook, but there was no sign. What had occurred? I'd JUST decided to get started, with me going on first, when he came in FLUSTERED having had a journey of DOOM, so he sat down with a reassuring beer and I did THIS:
After me Tim had calmed down sufficiently to do his set, which was GRATE - I've never actually seen him play before so was a) relieved it WAS good b) gladdened to discover that the extensive talking he does when introducing other people on stage is as nothing compared to the extensive talking he does introducing his own songs! It was lovely, i DO like a bit of chat.
Which is lucky really as Mr B Fischer, who was on after the traditional Beer Break likes it very much TOO! He was his usual excellent self, and I was especially pleased that he did "The Last Biscuit In The Barrel" at the end - that's my favourite one, it's BRILL!
As ever at Totally Acoustic the GOOD TIMES continued long after the gig had finished - LONG after in this case, with us making it all the way to closing time with IN-DEPTH discussions ranging over topics VARIOUS, including some HEATED debate over Doctor Who. Just for a change.
Bob stayed over at ours last night, and I've just escorted him to the Overground station, where we had to RUN up the stairs to make the train, with me shouting "Blackhorse Road! Get off at Blackhorse Road" as we SPED FORTH. I hope he heard me all right!
The Blitz Spirit
So what did YOU do during The Great GMail Outage? Personally I summoned up all my PLUCK and GRIT, stiffened my UPPER LIP and... er... did a surprisingly large amount of work. Then went to the gym a bit early.
It was good I DID go early, for when I emerged I had a message from Mr Bob Fischer who was waiting round the corner, so's he could drop his guitar off and go A-WANDERING before tonight's Totally Acoustic. As he strolled off into The Big City it struck me that this was a REALLY good way of doing it - usually I spend all day PANICKING in case my Guest Artistes don't turn up, but Bob's GOT to come back, I've got his guitar! ZANG!
Going Up West
The Script Of My Show and I headed UP WEST on Saturday night, to London's Glittering West End to go and see THE SOUND OF MUSIC. My parents had got tickets for it and, as they couldn't go, asked if we'd like them. In all honesty I was slightly dubious about it - a West End show? I mean, YES, clearly if it'd been a minimalist PIECE confronted Western actions in the Middle East through four hours of mime and shrieking then OF COURSE I'd be first in the queue, but The Sound Of Music, at The London Palladium?
It was BRILL. It's AGES since I've been to the THEATRE, largely because I've tended to find it a bit boring and, frankly, not as good as telly, but this was GRATE. It's proper plays, it turns out, that annoy me because they pretend it's all REALLY but - and I'm sure BRECHT would back me up here - you don't get that in musicals, it's self-evidently not really and also, VITALLY, it's got loads of GRATE SONGS in it.
Ooh, I did enjoy it. I didn't get SWEPT UP to the extent that I started CLAPPING ALONG WITH EVERYTHING like some people did, but we had a FINE old time. Musicals! YEAH!
Next day I met the aforesaid parents to say thank you, listened to them have a FRANK DEBATE about The Effects Of British Colonialism With Special Focus On Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (it got quite heated) then went to meet Mr Simon Wilkinson for a BEER. We were off to BALHAM to see a BBC Recording of an Arthur Smith programme, which I was rather looking forward to. The fact that almost the entire rail/tube network for London was SWITCHED OFF didn't really help (instead of closing ALL the lines on a Sunday, why not get all the engineering teams to concentrate on ONE at a time, and get it done quicker? YOU CAN HAVE THAT ONE FOR FREE BORIS) but we DID get there at 6.45, as directed to by the BBC... to find they weren't checking tickets until 7.30, at which point there was a MASSIVE queue of people stood next to the whiffy toilets. This queue had started not long after we'd got there, so rather than stand outside said whiffy toilets we had a BEER and decided, actually, it was all a bit annoying. We'd just been discussing how GRATE it is when, as a grown-up, you think "NO! I'm not putting up with this, I'm OFF!" and thus fuelled by righteousness, also BEER, we decided HANG IT! and headed BACK into town where we had MORE beer, toasted our DEFINITIVE ACTION!
That's TWO BBC shows I've had tickets for and BOYCOTTED in the past few weeks. Maybe I should just stop applying for them?
It felt like AGES since I'd last journeyed to foreign lands, there to ROCK, as I set off for Brighton yesterday, and I've missed it a bit - sat on the train south, reading some comics, listening to the MyPod (I bought "Hunky Dory" by Mr D Bowie last week, it's BLOODY GRATE, honestly, i think that young man may do well) I thought "Aah, this is nice!" For LO! It was.
I got into Brighton and as soon as I stepped off the train I was surrounded by people going "BRIGHTON! BRIGHTON!" Not literally, I mean in their appearance and actions - the lady who was taking over as train driver had a mohican, the streets were awash with knitwear, and every other person seemed to be carrying a guitar. BRIGHTON!
I'd left work a bit early so I could get there in time to visit the Vegetarian Shoe Shop. I like their shoes but I must say the High Street Retailer side of the operation could do a bit of work - unlike last time, when we were SCOWLED at, the staff did actually speak to us this time, if only to apologise for not having ANY of the shoes I liked the look of in my size... or, indeed, ANY over a size 9. Call me crazy, but surely the point of visiting a shoe shop is to try on SHOES, and therefore it might be an idea to HAVE some?
Slightly disappointed I strollled off through the gentle rain until I found myself at my hotel, where they seemed to be having some trouble sorting my booking out. I got out the printout from laterooms, who I'd done the booking with, to see if that would help, and then noticed that I had INDEED booked the room for Thursday the 19th... but Thursday the 19th of MARCH. Oops! They were very nice about it tho, and found me a room a little further along the seafront at a sister hotel, which was CHEAPER. PHEW!
Duly check in and WASHED i was soon back off out again to The Komedia, where I was playing. Walking past earlier I'd been a bit alarmed to see how HUGE it was - I mean, I like The Lovely Brothers, I like The Bobby McGees, but we'd never fill THAT would we? I was thus somewhat relieved to discover that no, nobody was expecting us to - we were in the tiny room round the back. PHEW (part two) !
I helloed The Lovely Brothers, did my soundcheck, and thought I might as well find a nice pub for a nice PINT and found one that was so nice that LOADS of people had gone, and SAT on all the seats. I lurked around for a bit before going and sitting outside where it was a bit cold, also too dark to read in comfort, so headed BACK, bumping into Ms E Kawasaki and Mr C Wood, who were heading to the gig. I've known the various memebers of The Chemistry Experiment (of whom Emily is a member) for EONS, since they did their first gig in fact, and as they were SO VERY YOUNG back then I've always felt slightly UNCLEY towards them all. THUS I have always looked upon young Craig as a sort of FAVOURED NEPHEW-IN-LAW and most times when I see him i have to prevent myself from giving him a farthing and a bag of toffees. I held back and dealt out HUGS and PINTS instead, fighting back the urge to buy them both ice creams too.
The Lovely Brothers had put out little FORMS on all the tables, saying "This Is A List Of..." and then five numbered spaces to list things in. OH THE HILARITY as we did our various lists, forcing Jimmy of The Bobby McGees, who'd just arrived, to join our LARKS. I was particularly pleased with one i did saying "This is a list of... NUMBERS" and leaving the rest blank. When I say "particularly pleased" i mean, of course, DELIGHTED WITH MY OWN GENIUS.
Soon it was time to get going and kick the gig off, which I did as follows:
I tell you this - I really MUST try and keep a close watch on certain HABITS gained from doing Comedy Shows. Even I thought "Come on Hibbett, stop showing off now" at some points as I SHAMELESSLY milked it for laughs. It was good fun though, and I was especially pleased with how well All The Good Men went down - I never really considered that song as a candidate for the solo set when we were writing and recording it, but I think it may find itself a HOME for this year's gigs.
After me Jimmy went on a GRABBED the ENTIRE ROOM. Watching him do a gig like that, it's a MASTER CLASS in HOW TO DO IT RIGHT. He's brilliant - everybody should go and see The Bobby McGees at EVERY opportunity, there's nobody working a crowd as well as they do, be it solo, as a duo or EN MASSE.
And then it was The Lovely Brothers, a band I've seen SO many times but yet always manage to surprise me with just HOW EXCELLENT they are live. They are VERY EXCELLENT and were on top form last night, especially that "It Makes Me Happy For The Rest Of The Day" one (I don't think that's the proper title) which made me HOOT with laughter this time.
It was a LOVELY evening, and there were several HUGS before I set off back to the seaside. This morning I woke to sunshine and had a BRACING wander along the BEACH on the way back to the station, it was GRATE.
Stern, Professional, Business-like
I was watching The Brits last night, just about managing NOT to hurl PHYSICAL OBJECTS at the parade of vile venal money grabbing shits paraded across the screen saying "Hey! Isn't British Music Great?! Whoo! It's KRAZY, anything can happen!!" from a podium with MASTER CARD written on it in HUGE LETTERS. ANARCHY!
So yes, I was sat there thinking "PAH! The Music, it is NOT a business and should never be, it is FREE EXPRESSION OF THORT, not an INDUSTRY. BOO!" and yet, today, you find me being BUSINESS LIKE. For LO! I have been DEALING WITH things.
The DEALING WITH began yesterday really. Not long after we last corresponded I got a call from the print shop. "I've had another go", he said, "And I think I've got it a bit better." I DASHED around and LO! He had INDEED got it done perfectly, printing direct from THE DISC in much the same way as certain members of my household had told me I should do it last night. There was to be a LOT of me saying "You were RIGHT about that!" later in the evening. A couple of hours AFTER that visit I got another call and ran round AGANE to pick up 300 copies of the BOOKLET! HOORAH! They look GORGEOUS!
It was however TODAY that the DEALING WITH came into it's own, when I got a phone message from our MANUFACTURERS, asking me to ring them about PROOFS. I had discussed this ALSO with The Binding Of My Book, as she works in Communications/PR and so does LOADS of printing things, and she advised me to get a Printers Proof, just to check it all looks right. I was thus in a STERN POSITION as I spoke to the chap at the other end of the phone, saying things like "MMmm, I see, so why does that cost so much extra?" and "What is the different between these kinds of proofs, my good man?" It was actually beginning to be FUN - usually i QUAIL at the prospect of such things, but now I was like one of those BUSINESSMEN you sit next to on busy trains. You know the sort, they sit there saying ridiculous things like "It's our ass on the line. The bottom line. His loss, we need a team player. I need it on my desk now, dammit Mac" with a STRAIGHT FACE. I bet INSIDE they're are going "HA! I can't believe I'm getting AWAY with saying this nonsense!" Or, at least, I hope I do.
Anyway, we had a good DISCUSS about it and I must say I was impressed with the way they answered all questions, and in a way I think I actually UNDERSTOOD, and didn't seem to mind being ASKED them. Over the years I've DEALT WITH all sorts of shysters and bullshit merchants who treat you like a MUG, like they're doing you a favour taking your money, so it's always nice to get to DEAL WITH people who treat you PROPER. Hopefully this will continue when we actually GET the MERCHANDISE!
Merchandise! Dealings! Proofs, Invoices, schedules and units - this is how people become members of The BPI isn't it?
This Is Why Other People Use Record Companies
I got home last night with jobs to do - print out the replacement page for the booklet, re-do the album master with the gaps. It seemed an easy job, but would nearly lead to TEARS.
First of all I showed the booklet to The Words In My Story. "These aren't good enough" she said, pointing at the photographs. SHE WAS RIGHT. I'd deliberately fiddled with them to look murky and a bit unclear, like in the sort of mass printed textbook we had at school. This looked all well and good, but when printed like the sort of mass printed textbook we had at school they came out DOUBLE MURKY. ARGH! There was lengthy discussion about what to do, and i eventually realised that I was going to have to re-do the WHOLE THING to make the pictures look clear NOW so that the murk would only come in at printing time.
Sat at my desk with this all to do AND the album to do too I was overcome with DOOM. Before we go any further, YES I KNOW it is not the worst thing that's ever happened to anybody and I am fully aware it is daft, but I felt WOEBEGOTTEN. WHY of WHY does this ALWAYS seem to happen when I'm trying to do something like this? Why can't it ever be EASY? Why is it always COMPLICATED and DIFFICULT? WHY?!
Rather than saying "Don't be such a pillock, GET OVER IT" as she would be well within her rights so to do The Font Of My Letters said "Just remember, this ALWAYS happens at this point, and you ALWAYS manage to get it sorted out" and, of course, she was right. This bit DOES always happen, i DO always sit DEFEATED, GROANING and MOANING, convinced that the entire UNIVERSE is against me and resolved NEVER to do ANYTHING like this EVER again. THIS is the reason why a) after months of listening to the album concerned almost full-time I suddenly start to listen to anything BUT and b) record companies are able to exist in the first place, because no matter how vile, corrupt, corrupting and incompetent they may be, THEY do this bit, not the ARTISTE.
Anyway, I trudged on and re-did ALL the photographs in the booklet, changing contrast and brightness so it was nice and CLEAR, but still looking a BIT printed ready for today. I've just been in and got ANOTHER test version done, which does indeed look MUCH better - still a bit printed-looking and murky, but in a GOOD way. However I'm now in THAT PLACE where I am unconvinced that ANYTHING is all right, so took a sample away for further checking.
This feeling was added to by the rest of the evening when I spent HOURS trying to get my CD software to JUST BLOODY COPY WHAT'S ON THE DISC. We spent ages doing EXACTLY the right gaps between songs and Nero JUST WOULDN'T DO IT, SNIPPING off chunks of silence whenever they were at the end of tracks. ARGH! DON'T DO THAT? NERO! Did I ASK you to do that? No? SO DON'T! Good grief, this is the WAY the world is going, with computer programs just DOING stuff for you because IT THINKS IT'S BEST. I tell you this my friends, I TELL YOU THIS: it's not through government conspiracies or super-villains that we will be turned into degraded slaves of the giant computer hive mind, it is through SOFTWARE UPGRADES to make software understandable to PEOPLE WHO WILL NEVER USE IT ANYWAY.
EVENTUALLY I got the bloody thing to do what I wanted it to after HOURS of checking internet forums FULL of people having slightly different problems, and did the analysis of the files MANUALLY. IT WORKED. Or, at least, it APPEARED to work, by this point I could tell right from wrong no more and, given the opportunity, could quite possibly have KIDNAPPED AN HEIRESS or ROBBED A KWIKSAVE without a trace of guilt or regret.
It was also late - TEN TO MIDNIGHT - by the time I'd finished, pausing only to email the Gideon Coe show (which I was listening to live for a change) about the lack of Colourblind James Experience CDs - I can't find any (not for under a MILLION QUID anyway), surely SOMEONE could re-release them?
I went to bed with brain THRUMMING and got up early to sit and listen to the entire album again, just to make SURE. I THINK it's all OK but, like I say, I no longer have any way of knowing, so put it in an envelope and posted it to the manufacturers. That's it now - it's GONE. It's OFF.
Now I just have to panic about how THAT all turns out! OY! When is it time to do GIGS again and be DRUNK?
The Long Slow Slog To Perfection
According to my ROCK CHART I should today be LOLLING AROUND, relaxed and relieved, having sent the album off to the manufacturers on Monday. This is not the case.
After my gentle hints yesterday at being slightly upset by difficulties in burning mixed mode CDs I did some further investigation and worked out what was going on. In order to eliminate all the clicks between songs I needed to copy the CDs as "Disk At Once" rather than "Track at once". Next time I do this somebody PLEASE remind me as it will save me hours, also several GALLONS of GRECIAN 2000. I was very very happily listening to the CD in the kitchen last night, MARVELLING at the way CDTEXT was WORKING and bringing up all the song titles. Happiness reigned.
This morning I thought I'd best have one final check, concentrating on the segues and noticed that some of the gaps were a little short. Specifically at the end of "side one" and "side two", when there's supposed to be quite large silent gaps, there AREN'T. Either there had been official GAPS between songs for those ones OR Nero had decided they were unnecessary and WIPED them off.
I was calm and collected, NOTHING was thrown around the house FOUL LANGUAGE was not uttered and precisely NO yelps of AGONY were heard to disturb the elderly cats nearby. I simply packed up and went to work, safe in the knowledge I could try again tonight.
In order to make sure I had done SOMETHING today I popped to my local print shop to get the BOOKLETS done. These are the A5 SONGBOOKS which will come free with the first hundred or so bought direct from this website, and very VERY nice they look too. I've spent a LOT of time working on them, as indeed has The Text Of My Letter, who spent several hours over the weekend proofreading them. I ALSO went through them again and again, making sure everything was exactly right, and it was with some satisfaction that I got back to work to gently flip through it.
Then I noticed: Chapter 7, "Red Black Gold" is followed by Chapter 7, "My Boss Was In An Indie Band." AAAAAAAAAARGGGGGHHHH!!!!! The Chapter numbers are HUGE and I hadn't noticed UNTIL NOW!!!!!!!
One quick phone call later and it's all FINE, and now that TOO is postponed until tomorrow. One day, my friends, ONE DAY we will get this thing FINISHED. Just not today!
This Is How Skynet Got Started
It was all set to be a big day of excitement yesterday as myself and The Summit On My Mountain made our FINAL ASCENT on completion of the new album. I received the final items to go into VLADFACTS (the only OFFICIAL Validators news magazine) and was working through the PROOFING amendments that The Red Ink In My Biro had spotted. Once those were completed she had a FINAL FINAL look, and found a few more issues which i RESOLVED, and that was THAT. I then did some very very tiny re-jigs to the artwork (to make everything SHARP), burnt an artwork CD for the manufacturers, wrote them a nice letter (having paid a DEPOSIT on Friday, meaning it's all DEFINITELY HAPPENING) and settled down to the last little job - making a mixed mode CD containing the music AND the multimedia extras.
NGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!! AAAAAAARGHHHH!!!! GGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! Has ANYTHING, EVER been as FRUSTRATING and ANNOYING as trying to burn mixed bloody mode bloody CDs? Answer: NO IT HASN'T. HOURS i spent trying to do it, HOURS - first trying to see if Nero Essentials (version that came with my computer) would allow me to sort it out. NO: apparently IT'S NOT ESSENTIAL ENOUGH. Next, does any other program on my computer allow it? NO IT DOESN'T. But surely my old version of Nero has it? Yes, but that is INCOMPATIBLE WITH VISTA, apparently. Several attempts at FUDGING it I managed to get it working, to find it left two second GAPS in it. YEARS of STRUGGLE later I managed to get rid of THOSE (and do bare in mind that every ATTEMPT means about 20 minutes of opening an closing, ratifying files, giving them names, entering data to see if it'll register on our stereo in the kitchen etc) to get myself a mixed mode CD with no gaps between the carefully segued tracks... BUT HUGE GREAT BIG CLICKING NOISES INSTEAD.
DEATH TO COMPUTERS! By this point my hair was standing up on my hair SO MUCH it was actually making a bid for the CEILING and ACTUALLY FLAMES were emerging from my nostrils, so The Hot Water In My Cuppa suggested that maybe I should leave it and have a bath before I exploded and left bits of Hibbett, still WRITHING WITH RAGE, all over the house.
I concurred, and today have Mr F A Machine and Mr R Newman, both of Derby, working on the problem for me. This DELAYS the commencement of manufacturing by an AGONISING couple of days, but will at least mean I will still be in vaguely human shape when we go on tour, rather than a big of angry pulsing CHUNKS OF PERSON in a bin bag.
I thought computers were meant to be more EASY these days? Or is that more SIMPLE?
Hibbett Won't Shut Up!
I've just noticed that they've used my Guest Blog on the Leicester Comedy Festival Blog. It's my THORTS on the difference between ROCK gigs and Comedy Gigs (again). Very nice of them to ask me, very nice of them to use it too!
Being a virtual RECLUSE like what I am, practically obeying a vow of interweb SILENCE(etc etc) it must come as something as a SHOCK when I occasionally break cover to utter a MORSEL of INSIGHT, so please BRACE yourselves accordingly before going and having a look at this here interview that I did for A Layer Of Chips.
Having re-read it I should say, do be warned, the album doesn't really SOUND like Giant Steps... it does FEEL a bit like it though.
Bank In Hopelessly Incompetent Shocker
Last night I worked LATE, hitting a BIORHYTHMICAL HIGH which peaked around 6.30pm, tailing off completely just before 9 o'clock. It was thus a Happy Hibbett, full of JOB SATISFACTION who strolled off down the road to get a TUBE to see The Gresham Flyers, who I'd not seen for AGES, stopping on the way to get some CA$H out for the evening's fun. MISTAKE.
For LO! I checked my balance, saw all was well, asked for fifty quid and then... NOTHING! Nothing until the machine said "YOUR CARD HAS BEEN RETAINED!"
A telephone number FLASHED across the screen for about 0.2 picoseconds, to be replaced by that ALWAYS annoying (and now significantly MORE so) twee little picture of a robot saying "Sorry, this cashpoint isn't working." SIDEBAR: as i think I am on RECORD as saying, i like a bank that doesn't hide the fact that they're a bunch of money-grubbing bloody nazi's and find this whole thing about "some of the nicest people come through these doors" and "ooh winky dinky woo, i am a holey in da wally ickle woo want some pennies for sweeties" a load of old BOLLOCKS. It's a BANK - a hateful enterprise dedicated to increasing the coffers of THE MAN, why is it pretending to be a KINDERGARTEN?
Anyway, after a couple of attempts I worked out the correct number to ring and spoke to some poor sod in, by the sounds of it, India who asked for my account number. I couldn't tell him as IT WAS ON MY CARD but he was able to get it from his MACHINE after I'd given him Secret Information. He could see where I was and how much I'd asked for but NOT WHY IT HAD HAPPENED. He then happily told me my new card would be there in 7-10 Working Days.
WHAAAAAT?!? GODDAMIT, I know they always CLAIM the reason for call centres is to cut costs, but it seems the REAL reason is to stop people going into a BERZERKER RAGE. I KNEW he had nothing to do with it, and kept thinking "Don't shout, don't swear, it's not his fault" and so was left FURIOUS and RAGING as I STOMPED HOME, plans for GIGGAGE foiled by a) no money b) TOO ANGRY.
After being sympathised with and cheered up by The Money In My Account when I got home I was somewhat LESS RIGHTEOUS this morning when I popped into a branch to get out some CA$H (who knew a PASSPORT could be so useful?), although this didn't last long after I'd asked if they could tell me what had happened. "You need to go into the branch nearest the machine" "I ALREADY AM".
They hadn't got a clue, and did that annoying thing where a queue of several people ask the next person along a question until it reaches a BOSS who passes it all the way back to me - all done behind a glass panel - instead of talking directly to ME. Eventually I was sent to see a Personal Banker who, for some reason, could tell me more.
Now, I know banks pay a lot of money to their staff (SIDEBAR TWO is it me, or are all the people who say "oh yes, we must pay vast sums of money to attract the best people" about AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE from ANYBODY's idea of "the best" for ANYTHING that it's possible to guest? ALSO: if only bonuses attract "the best", does that mean they haven't been paying them for the past 10 years then? ALSO ALSO: surely, actually, paying vast sums of money does NOT attract "The best" but rather "THE GREEDIEST"?)... that was a long sidebar wasn't it? Anyway, yes, I know they pay a lot of money, but I was astounded to discover it was enough to allow them to employ CRISTIANO RONALDO on non-match days. Yet there he was, speaking SOOTHINGLY while looking at his computer. He, of course, had no more idea than anybody else, but he did seem authorised to a) appear more apologetic and b) at least entertain the idea that it wasn't my fault. He also looked like he was about to CRY at any point, which i guess is the transferable skill which first attracted Barclays to him.
So that was that - a complete bloody mess caused by The Banks who offered pretend apologies but will do absolutely nothing about it, leaving The Public massively inconvenienced. My LIFE is turning into a SOCIETAL METAPHOR!
Leicester: Second Night
After FINISHING THE ALBUM (ZANG!) on Saturday we regrouped (SANS Frankie, whose poorly foot was still poorly) at The Criterion for our second show. In contrast to the FORTY tickets we sold for Friday we'd only sold ONE ticket for this evening, though a whole bunch of people turned up WITHOUT, including several PALS and indeed The Performance Details On My Ticket so that by SHOWTIME we were looking pretty full again. It was all a bit STRANGE I must say - this number of people NEVER came to gigs when I've played on my own, and once again I was forced to think Have I Been Doing It Wrong All These Years?
The show BREEZED by, with me actually remembering to do Professional, Competent, Rocking And Tight this time and we once again ENCORED with Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. The strangest aspect of the evening was when I looked through the windows to my right and saw that there was a TV CAMERA looking back at me! I pointed this out to the audience and we WAVED at them, wondering what on EARTH was going on.
This morning I got an email telling me I'd been on TELLY - they used a tiny tiny clip of me POINTING AT THE CAMERA on "Inside Out", the BBC Local News programme, East Midlands version. We watched it on the iPlayer (here's the link, I'm on about 10 minutes in, at the start of the Comedy Festival feature), it was EVER so exciting!
With the show finished we said our goodbyes to Validators leaving (for a DO in The Village) and thanked the front of house staff, who'd been GRATE, before settling down for some BEER. Several people joined us including Maddy who saw Mr S Hewitt and GASPED. "Is that... CARSMILE STEVE!?!?" she said, for LO! she had been on similar mailing lists to the great man, where he is an INTERWEB CELEBRITY!
He wasn't the only one - when we went to The Firebug for a final pint someone saw a flyer for the show, with me in my Hey Hey 16K t-shirt. He looked STUNNED. "Did you... did you write Hey hey 16K?!?" he asked. HOORAH!
I retired to my hotel very happy INDEED with how it'd all gone, and with lots to think about. Luckily I had PLENTY of time for that, as Engineering Works meant our journey home was nearly TRIPLED!
What A Busy Day
Crikey, but yesterday was a KRAZY BUSY day, all SORTS of things happened. You know those days when you sit there GLARING at your inbox, DESPERATE for something to come in and, when it does, cheers you RIGHT up? It was like that every hour ON the hour yesterday. Stuff just kept on coming in!
Much of the morning was taken up with talking to some nice people who might be doing our PRESS for us when the new album comes out. We've always done pretty well, I think, with the online and RADIO side of things (thanks to our GRATE Radio and Online Department: ME) but have been HOPELESS at getting ANYTHING into the Actual Press (no bonuses this year for our USELESS Press Department: ME) so I'm trying to get someone else to do it this time. It's all been quite exciting really, if a little SCARIFYING and PROPER. I've just sent them a CD to see if they actually like the album, i REALLY hope they do!
After that came two FANZINE missives in quick succession. One was from A Fog Of Ideas, for whom myself and Mr Phil Wilson did a sort of SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT "How We Met" kind of interview last year, letting us know that it's going to be out in March. HOORAH! Shortly after that was a request from Sam at A Layer Of Chips, asking if I'd care to BANG ON ABOUT MYSELF in an interview for him. As should be clear by now, this is something i absolutely HATE doing, but felt I could make an exception in this case. I'm all heart.
I then got a LOVELY email from the chap who runs Leicester Comedy Festival, saying he'd seen a bit of the show and really enjoyed it. I was WELL chuffed by this, even more so when he said that, if I had any more shows booked, he knew an AGENT TYPE who might like to come along. I'm thus currently in the process of a) booking a show for March at The Hangover Lounge b) daydreaming about MY OWN SITCOM.
And finally, as if all THAT wasn't enough, I got an email from a lovely bloke offering me a possible gig in SWEDEN. In SWEDEN! How cool would that be? Answer: VERY VERY COOL INDEED! By the time I'd finished worked and STAGGERED HOME i was EXHAUSTED - what a BUSY BUSY DAY!
I woke at the UNGODLY HOUR of 7.30am on Saturday morning thinking "What's all the noise? Is there ARMED CONFLICT down the corridor?" I then remembered that I was Chez Pattison and that that's what it's like in house full of small children. I crept gingerly to the loo hoping not to be notice, but was immediately spotted by Miss L Pattison. "Hello Mark!" she said cheerfully. When I emerged from my ablutions she was stood in exactly the same position, only this time GRINNING HUGELY, clutching a ukelele.
I realised I had absolutely no chance of going back to bed, so accepted my fate and thus found myself giving ukelele lessons at 8am, ending with a ROUSING family singalong of "She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain". This is NOT what usually happens in MY house on a Saturday morning!
I got given poached eggs for breakfast, which was the start of an EGG ODYSSEY for the rest of the day - Egg sandwiches and Traditional Studio Egg Custards in the afternoon, Pizza Fiorentina (sp. - EGG) for tea and SCRAMBLED egg sandwich for breakfast next day. EGG TASTIC!
Anyway, Tim and I were soon ON THE ROAD, heading for Derby where we were due to finish mixing the album and, if possible, MASTER it to boot. We were met by Mr R Newman just after 10am and we FLEW into action. One of Tim's MOST GRATE innovations as Producer of these sessions has been The Spreadsheets Of Varying Degrees Of Thort And Finality, and this time we had The Spreadsheet Of FINAL Finality to tell us what needed doing. In a fairly brief time we therefore:
We WHIZZED through it, then I stood up and, for the first time in these sessions, SAT in The Production Chair. As EXECUTIVE PRODUCER I've tended to sit around at the back or, indeed, at HOME, but I had a big PLAN for One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In so needed to take the wheel. The song sounded a bit UNLOVED so I went AT IT with a big list of changes - we HACKED OUT vocals, drums, bass and violins all OVER the shop, all trying to make the SOUND of it more like the WORDS, until it was sounding WELL BLEAK. It was doing this that reminded me how GRATE The Validators are as a ROCK TEAM - Tim BAULKED somewhat at my suggestions, but happily let me have a go at them and then came up with OTHER suggestions which we then similarly tried. GO TEAM!
The beginning was giving us some difficulty... until I realised we could just REMOVE it all together! RADICAL LAST MINUTE REMIX ACTION! When THAT was done Tim pointed out that the start of the song now sounded like a BAVARIAN DRINKING SONG, so i was back in the live room to re-do THAT.
If all THAT wasn't exciting enough it was then time for the GAPS! Doing THE GAPS is, I think, the BEST bit of ANY album recording - for one thing it's the LAST thing you have to do, so it means it's all nearly finished, and it's also EXTREME INTUITIVE FUN. There's something GRATE about all three of you shouting "NOW!" at the same time when you know EXACTLY when the next song has to start.
JUST as we were finishing it off The Tiger arrived. Tim hopped into his car with a CD and drove off for some SHOPPING also LISTENING while The Tiger sat in The Producer Chair whilst I went back to the live room the re-do the vocals for our version of "Glory Days" for a Bruce Springsteen covers album. I'd originally Anglicised the words ("senior school" instead of "high school", "cricket" instead of "baseball", that sort of thing) but Mr J Jervis was slightly afeared that The Boss might OBJECT so as we were in the studio anyway we thought we'd sort it out.
Tim arrived back just as we'd finished, happy with what he heard and eager to go SLEDGING, so headed home. Tom went and sat in HIS car for a listen (HOT STUDIO TIP: listening to stuff on different sorts of speakers is a REALLY good idea) whilst Robbie and I went to the PUB. On the way he said "It's come out sounding a bit WEIRD really hasn't it?" and I suddenly realised, actually, YES IT HAS. If you've heard the single version of Do The Indie Kid you'll know it has some RATHER RUM sections to it and, to be honest, that's a pretty good indicator of what the whole album's like. There's really an AWFUL LOT of bits where one of us has had a GRATE IDEA and, well, DONE IT!
The Tiger arrived 48 minutes later with a few changes to be made and on the way back we rang Producer Pattison to CHECK if these were OK. He had a couple of EXTRA changes which had occurred to him on the way home, and these we ENACTED.
And then that was that - we had an ALBUM! There were photographs, there was HUGGING, there was faint DISBELIEF, but soon we were in The Tigermobile heading back to Leicester for the second night of the Comedy Festival.
Tom and I listened to the album all the way back at EXTREMELY HIGH VOLUME. There was a lot of GIGGLING and EXCITEMENT. It sounds UTTERLY BLOODY FANTASTIC!
MJ Hibbett & The Validators SELL OUT
It's felt like a long time coming but this weekend it was finally time to head to Leicester for our two night "run" at The Leicester Comedy Festival. There's been LOADS of organising to do to get us all there for this, gig for gig I think it's the most effort I've put in for ANY gigs we've EVER done!
The weekend got off to a good start meeting my colleague Mr S Hewitt in The Betjeman at St Pancras for a DELICIOUS pint before getting the Super Fast Train to Leicester. We wandered across town, me FASCINATING him with a guided tour of Pubs That Aren't There Any More, climaxing in me standing outside the building that once was The Durham Ox, PEERING through the window almost WEEPING for the loss of The Windmill in The Corner.
We arrived at The Criterion and had a quick chat with Russell The Landlord before settling in for MORE BEER. I checked my email on my phone and was STUNNED to see an email from The Comedy Festival saying that we'd sold out of ALL the allocated tickets for that night, all 40 of them. What on EARTH was going on? There were another 20 or so places available on the door, so people couldn still get in, but still - EH? What?
The Validators arrived and LO! there was much sitting around chatting and drinking of THE BEER while we gradually got ourselves set up. There were also three young ladies who were working as our Front Of Staff, who were FANTASTIC. When I'd been told there would be STUDENTS doing WORK EXPERIENCE on the door for us I thought "Whoo. Three surly youths with their trousers drooping round their arse, picking their noses sullenly". I could not have been more wrong, they were BRILLIANT, and basically sorted out EVERYTHING for us, not least gently persuading all the people comfortably seated in the front bar to get up and go into the other room so that they could let people IN.
A LOT of people came in - so MANY that we ended up COMPLETELY SELLING OUT and had to turn people away!!! It was ASTOUNDING, all the more so in the fact that I only recognised ten or so people, including my friend Scotty from school who I've not seen for AGES. Everybody else there had just come on the off-chance - THIS, i think, and indeed said MANY times over the weekend, is the big difference between music and comedy gigs. Nobody EVER says "Hey! Shall we go and see some BANDS? At random?" whereas that seems to be EXACTLY what comedy punters love doing most.
A little AWESTRUCK by the crowd we went on - slightly EARLY, as everyone was IN - and did THIS:
My oh my but we had a LOVELY time - I think there were more LARFS as we got to the second half than the first, possibly just because people found those stories funnier, possibly because I got a bit more into the swing of it then. Mind you, I must have already been enjoying it quite early in as I was so busy YACKING that i COMPLETELY forgot to do Professional, Competetent, Rocking And Tight.
EAGLE EYED READERS will note that we DIDN'T do "Boom Shake The Room" at the end, as I used to do in the Edinburgh Version - I cut that story out because it's not really necessary to the NARRATIVE FLOW and we really needed to make the whole thing a bit shorter to fit more comfortably into the hour we had. Not that that stopped us doing an ENCORE of course, and we did Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid largely because we were a bit EXCITED about finishing the album next day.
Job done we said our farewells, collected the sign saying "SOLD OUT", and headed off EN MASSE to London Road for the long dreamt of VALIDATORS CHRISTMAS CURRY. There was BEER, there was TAWA (a kind of curry I'd never heard of before, but appears to be BALTI in frying pan rather than a wok) and DISCUSSION. We were quite well behaved about the discussion this time - usually when we're all together it dissolves into SHOUTING and LARKS but we did manage to sort out some things, mostly to do with the album tracklisting. Mr F A Machine rarely dallies in the email-based chitter chat that has formed much of the decision making process for this album, choosing instead to SAIL IN at important moments and LAY DOWN THE LAW. He did this a few weeks ago when we were discussing the tracklisting and did so again on this occasion when we were debating the inclusion of IT Guy Addendum. The entire table - indeed, RESTAURANT - HUSHED when he said "I've been thinking about this..." His decision? TO BE REVEALED!
By midnight we had drunk and eaten SUFFICIENT, and set off on our seperate ways. Frankie home to Derby, Messrs Hewitt and MacClure to THE TIGERCAVE, and me with The Pattisons to Woodhouse Eave. Tonight we had SOLD OUT, tomorrow we were finishing THE ALBUM!
CORKS! Who knew a Life Of ROCK AND ROLL would involve QUITE so many charts, lists and spreadsheets? I never realised this was the case until now, but I assume that Lemmy, Elvis, AND J Rotten must have ALL done their time at the keyboard, scheduling meetings to arrange tour dates. I guess they just didn't go on about it in order to not upset their colleagues with the range of their skills.
At the moment we're mainly PLOTTING for the weekend, when we've got the final MASTERING of the new album, as well as My Exciting Life In ROCK, but there's a few other things starting to take shape now, most notably the LAUNCH GIG for said album, which will be at The Fly on New Oxford Street on May 9th. I was REALLY KEEN to do this launch gig with those fine fellows at Pop Art so was MIGHTY PLEASED when they said YES. I was also pleased that this meant we "had" to move our release date BACK a week, to May 11th, to properly coinicide, as it gives me an extra week's LEEWAY in the aforementioned CHARTS. Is it tempting fate, do you think, to book the gig before you've actually finally finished the album? It WORRIES me a little I must say, but i HAVE left an awful lot of space in the SCHEDULE. I'm sure it'll be all right.
EVERYBODY TOUCH WOOD! DO IT NOW!
In other news PHOTOGRAPHS are continuing to be put up over on my FLICKR page, if anyone's interested. I'm currently very gradually putting up pictures from my PHONE, which aren't exactly HIGH ART tho people of a more AESTHETIC INCLINATION may enjoy the pictures that The Lens In My Camera took of all the SNOW on Monday.
They're lovely pictures, tho if you're wondering where I was the answer is, of course, that I was sat indoors, much like Kurt Cobain, working on a DATABASE.
Greetings from SNOW-LOCKED LONDON, where I have bravely - some would say heroically, i wouldn't necessarily go that far - stayed at HOME today, rather than deprive valuable emergency workers/nurses/ORPHANS of what valuable travel resources remain. Instead I have chosen to Work From Home - not "Work from home" I should add, I actually brought some work home for the weekend which I'm now finishing off. Yes, for the weekend, that's right: I AM CAPTAIN DILIGENT.
It's actually been another weekend of HUGE ROCK ADMIN, as all sorts of plans are starting to reach various MILESTONES, not least plans for this weekend when we're doing My Exciting Life In ROCK in Leicester. ASTONISHINGLY word reaches us this morning that tickets for the Friday night have almost SOLD OUT! I guess there'll be tickets on the door, but as of today 38 of the 40 tickets available in advance have GONE! COR!
Don't worry tho, Midland Gig Goers - 39 of the 40 tickets for Saturday are still VERY available! PHEW!
A lifetime in ROCK will bring you MANY transferable skills. The obvious ones are things like setting up PA systems, Sound Mixing, Poster/Cover Design, and moving hundreds of large cumbersome objects up and down stairwells and into the back of an Austin Allegro. Less obvious, but understandable, are skills like Understanding How Printing Works (CMYK and so forth), Dealing With Manufacturers, Writing Press Releases and, if you're lucky, Project Management.
However, every now and then you find yourself doing something in ROCK that you never in your LIFE expected you'd end up doing, and today was a day when this happened. For LO! I spent most of this snowy Sunday morning proof-reading a CROSSWORD PUZZLE. How on earth did it come to this? Surely Sunday mornings in ROCK should only exist as an extension of Saturday NIGHTS, and involve night club, Jack Daniels, supermodels and Motorbikes? Surely it should NOT involve me PORING over the consistency of the use of ELIPSIS?
It's all in aid of the Multimedia Extras coming on the next album which, as I'm sure I've mentioned, is mostly going to be tied up in VLADFACTS MAGAZINE, the only OFFICIAL source of Validators Information. Tim has spent much of these week valiantly COMPILING the aforesaid crossword for this very publication, which is why I spent much of last night trying to solve it and today correcting it. I think we might have to make it a PRIZE crossword, it really is rather hard - I thought it was anyway, and most of it's about songs what I WROTE!