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A Half Century Of News
I've just sent out this month's newsletter, the FIFTIETH such monthly missive. Fifty! That's a whole lot of FACTS!
Included amongst the HEFTY pile of information this time is the news that we've had the first review of the new album, over on the A Layer Of Chips. It is with some EXTREME RELIEF that I report that the review is rather complimentary - this is always a DELICATE time in the birth of an album, as after three years of putting it all together and thinking it is GRATE there is always a worry that someone will say "No, hang on, but it's ridiculous, isn't it?" and you'll go "DOH! What was i THINKING?!" so it's very nice to have at least one person suggest that it was worthwhile.
This time next week the final batch of promo copies will be going out, and then it's not long until people can actually BUY it! Please excuse me if I seem a little EXCITED about this fact, the reason for this behaviour is that i AM!
Travelling into London Town on a Saturday may be a bit odd, but doing it on a SUNDAY at the moment is a clear mark of INSANITY. As detailed before, right now North East London (or "my manor", to use the correct local terminology) is TOTALLY unserved by rail tranport on Sundays, with the Central, Victoria AND Overground being switched off. This means you have to either a) get a Rail Replacement Bus that take FORTY FIVE MINUTES to do a train journey that normally takes FIVE b) wait for a local bus which does it more quickly but goes no more often than on a normal Sunday and will be PACKED due to lack of other options or c) try and WALK to the transport infrastructure.
I chose Option C and got within ten minutes of TRAINS before a bus eventually came. It was nice to find it so do-able and ALSO meant I had BURNT CALORIES which could later be recharged with BEER.
A tube, a train and a delightful STROLL towards the seaside saw me at Brighton Seafront Travelodge and in a room with an Actual Genuine view of the SEA. I was there to support The Fighting Cocks, who themselves were meant to be supporting the chap who was also meant to be promoting the evening. I say "meant to" because when I got to the venue I saw absolutely NO sign whatsoever that the gig was actually occuring - never mind flyers or posters, we weren't even on the MASSIVE gig list that took up most of an entire wall of the downstairs bar!
Upstairs I met Charlie and his fellow Fighting Cocks, who were Trying Not To Be Cynical - the promoter had texted that morning to say he wouldn't be playing, as he'd been called away on an Emergency, and that we'd need to take charge if we still wanted to do the gig. Not Being Cynical was made a LITTLE difficult by the aforementioned total absence of any sign that ANYBODY would know about the gig, but we tried our very best.
After popping out for PROPER CHIPS (surprisingly difficult to find - Brighton seems to be FULL of Kebab Shops but precious few Proper Chippies. At the SEASIDE?!?) I returned to find we had an AUDIENCE, in the ever charming shape of Mr Jimmy From The Bobby McGees. When it came to SHOWTIME he, Leon The Soundman and The Fighting Cocks formed a seated circle while I did THIS:
I started off with I Did A Gig In New York because it had THEMATIC RESONANCE with the evening in progress i.e. there may not have been a Proper Audience but there were still GOOD TIMES to be had, and with that in mind I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself. I decided to have a go at a chunk of Dinosaur Planet, with a couple of songs making DEBUTS, and I'm starting to discover that there are JOKES to be had. I think it may actually work!
Once I was done Jimmy, Leon and I were treated to a PRIVATE SHOW by The Fighting Cocks, and it was MAGNIFICENT. This was the final date on a week long National Tour, and it SHOWED - they're always a FANTASTIC live proposition, but this time they made it all look EASY. It was especially GRATE to see DJ ASSASSIN on the WHEELS OF STEEL at the back, and also DANCING AROUND. I felt privileged to be watching one of the GRATEST Live Acts currently available, especially sat alongside one of the OTHER ones. The Fighting Cocks: GO see them!
With the business of the evening concluded we said our farewells and Jimmy escorted me up the road to The Evening Star, a completely BRILLIANT pub that I've walked within METRES of on many occasions without realising it was there. We had DELICIOUS BEER, topping off what was actually a pretty GROOVY evening out in Brighton town. Going to do Gigs is GRATE!
AAAaaart And Other Good Times
The Picture In My Frame and I set off on Saturday for a Big Day Out in That London - coming into town every day for WORK means it always feels a bit strange to be doing it AGANE at the weekend, but there were plenty of LARKS to be had, starting with a trip to The Hayward Gallery, to see Mark Wallinger's 'The Russian Linesman' Exhibition.
It was GRATE - in fact it was MEGA BRILL. I always say The British Library Museum is BEST MUSEUM EVER because it's PACKED with GRATE stuff, like a Museum Greatest Hits, so that instead of SCHLEPPING round lots of To Be Honest Quite Dull exhibits you get THE BEST STUFF all packed together in a tiny room. Well, this was very much like that - not a huge place, but nearly everything was interesting and CONCEPTUALLY fitted together so that, for once, it actually WAS Thought Provoking.
As an AESTHETE and a gentleman I, of course, go to LOADS of Art Galleries and seen METRIC TONNES of things that are meant to be Thought Provoking, but usually the only thought provoked is "Can I go to the pub now?" THIS lot was brilliant tho - my especial favourite was "Berlin Remake", where they showed Communist Propaganda films along side exact re-shoots, done in the present day. It was beautiful, also SPOOKY, like you were watching the ghosts of old events, which is what Berlin feels like when you're there ANYWAY. Also the Mussolini Head, The CORRIDOR, and the string panes of glass. They were NEARLY my favourites.
We then wandered into an exhibition next door which was a bit ANNOYING (the ARTIST had made lots of stuff out of nets, and was trying to make out that the fact her NAME was Annette (A. NET.) was somehow CLEVER, when actually it was ANNOYING) but got cheered up by THEN going to look at Ujino And The Rotators upstairs, which was ACE. A guitar was being played by a vacuum cleaner, how could it be anything else?
A cup of tea, some cake and a STROLL found us in Covent Garden, where we went to The London Bead Shop. It was a BRILLIANT place - it was a shop, selling BEADS, and it REALLY made me wish i needed some BEADS. The String Of My Necklace made her purchases, we went to a nearby Delightful Restaurant for some TEA, and then headed to a PUB for a PARTY! Yes, even after all THAT we were ready to PARTY, and PARTY... er.. gently. The little baby brother of one of my oldest pals was having his birthday party - I was surprised they let him IN a pub, as SURELY he is under-age, as he's a couple of years younger than me, but apparently it was OK.
The DO had an OTWAY theme, as Paul (for it was he) had had his Otway love RE-IGNITED by going to see him when we all went to Putney a couple of months ago, and so there were MANY and SEVERAL songs performed. I did 'Geneva' because a) it is my favourite and b) i learnt to play it years ago, but the BEST one was Paul himself and an Colleague doing "Best Dream", which was LOVELY.
Further Adventures In ROCK
This lunchtime I wandered into London's NOTORIOUSLY SHADY Soho district, to deliver some copies of the album to the synchronisation agency that John The Publisher is ALLIED with. As I walked down Old Compton Street I thought "This feels really COOL, like something an Independent Musician might get up to in a FILM." I had VISIONS of their office being down a shady ALLEYWAY, and going up to their office to find MEDIA TYPES like off the telly, but thought to myself "No, Hibbett, get thyself not all excited. It will probably be an anonymous office building where you will simply leave your box of CDs at the door."
I arrived to find their office was DOWN A SHADY ALLEYWAY - behind an ANN SUMMERS SHOP! HOORAH! I rang the door bell and was invited IN, going upstairs to find the two chaps EXACTLY as I'd hoped - practically JUMPING UP AND DOWN with enthusiasm while wearing Fancy Jeans! EVEN BETTER they said "HEY! We've got a project on the go RIGHT NOW! What do you think to THIS?!?"
It was BRILLIANT. Sometimes The Gods Of ROCK smile down upon you and say "LO! And today it SHALL be exactly as if you were in a Richard Curtis Film or something!"
Todays huge LUNGE forward involved me making an early morning trip to the post box, there to send off the First Official WAVE Of Albums. Last week I posted off copies to Validators, FAAAAMILY and various people who'd helped us out, but TODAY I was sending them to the fanzines and early-recieving radio types. I've got a big PLAN of who to send stuff to when - next I'm doing ABROAD then next week it's mostly bloggers and the week after it's mostly RADIO. I may very well get over-excited and send them ALL in one go, or - more likely - I may get FATIGUED with all the press release folding, envelope stickering, note writing, envelope stuffing and STAMPING that goes into the process.
There's a LONG way to go until it's all done, but it does feel like I'm finally getting to the FOOTHILLS OF ROCK. It's been ALL ADMIN for the past few months and, GOODNESS ME, there has been a LOT of it, but now I can just sense the faint TANG of THE SEA OF ROCK in my nostrils and (EXTENDED METAPHOR ALERT) the countryside is starting to get sandy as we HURTLE towards The Seaside Resort Of Good Times.
The only really big job after THIS will be to update the webpage and prepare things for the Early Bird Offer for newsletter subscribers. The album comes with a PDF version of a BOOKLET containing lyrics, notes and CHORDS for all the songs, but the first hundred or so people who buy it directly from the website will ALSO get a REAL LIFE PROPER BOOKLET version of it,which I have to say is a REALLY nice item. The idea is that I'll make it available to newsletter subscribers a fortnight earlier than anybody else, so they'll get first DIBS on the booklets.
Ooh! And we'll also be doing a combo deal to sell the last few remaining t-shirts off SUPER CHEAP, so hey! If you like a BARGAIN, get thyself subscribed!
Will The Transferable Skill Set Never Be Exhausted?
Just when you think your CV has been BLESSED enough by Work Experience in The Krazy World Of ROCK, The Krazy World Of ROCK turns round and gives you even MORE Transferable Skills.
For instance, last night (and part of this morning) I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours making a TELEVISION ADVERT for our new album. Now, before anyone thinks I've gone SPENDING MAD - which, in many ways, I HAVE, but not THAT much - do not be alarmed, we're NOT going to be putting the advert on Actual Television or anything. Well, not unless... NO! BE QUIET BRANE! We're NOT!
No, but we ARE going to be doing one for the popular video download site You-Tube. The idea was SUGGESTED to me on Saturday night by A Friend Of The Band, who offered to do the voiceover for us - this sounded GRATE but, I thought, what was the point of us having a television advert if we couldn't put it on telly? It was only yesterday, when noted percussionist Mr T Pattison said "It'd be GRATE on YouTube!" that I realised that, AHA, that was the PLAN!
Thus I have now fashioned the first, 58 second long, version of what will hopefully be a 40 second KNOCKOUT BLOW. And I have to confess, it does look really rather good - you know those old "And now, from RONCO!" adverts? It's a bit like THAT, with LOTS of spinning album sleeves, things ZOOMING in from the distance and an abundance of SLIDING. It also features the phrase "HIT after HIT after HIT" AND, at the very end, an actual real-life bona fide JOKE! HOOPLA!
I must say I am rather pleased with it so far, it actually looks like something that people might want to SEE. I'm also quite excited about the idea that, if this looks good, it might actually SAVE me a whole lot of work. As I may have mentioned before, we're going to offer Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid as a free download single (available from www.mjhibbett.net/beinghappy and our myspace) from April 27, and I was planning to do a VIDOE to go with it. We filmed several BITS for this video in Derby on Saturday, but it now strikes me that, if the ADVERT looks good then it would make a LOT more sense to just release THAT on the 27th to accompany it, rather than doing a whole other video at the same time that would DISTRACT from it.
And also, on a VERY MINOR NOTE, doing that would mean I could actually spend EASTER watching telly and talking to people instead! ZANG!
We'll see how it goes anyway - if the video passes muster with The Validators I'll be sending it to our Voiceover ARTISTE later in the week and then, if he likes it, editting the whole thing shortly afterwards. It's all feels jolly exciting tho - hardly anyone's even HEARD the album yet, and ALREADY the Strange ANd Daft Adventures are beginning. HOOPLA!
My Exciting Life On The Buses
Living in That London is usually a DELIGHT, helped along to a massive degree by the huge web of transport links that allow you to be WHISKED from one glamorous hotspot to the next in the wink of an eye. Except, it seems, on a SUNDAY.
Now, I travel THE NATION by train on a fairly regular basis and I very quickly got used to the FACT that the controllers of The Rail Network are EXTREMIST PURITANS who HATE the idea that anyone would want to travel ANYWHERE on a Sunday. It is THE LORD'S DAY, they seem to think, everyone should be locked indoors preparing themselves for another week functioning efficiently at the workstation. Suggest to The Rail Network that people want to use public transport for reasons OTHER than moving to and from your designated workplace on a Monday To Friday and they will first SCOFF, then FROWN, and then bellow "The trains PARTLY run on SATURDAY, you syphillitic PLEASURE MONGER! What MORE do you want?!?"
But I had not noticed their influence creeping into the public transport of Swinging London. I should have guessed when they managed to gleefully close The Victoria Line at 10pm on a school night for most of last year ("GO TO BED!") but it was only yesterday that I saw what was occurring, for LO! Yesterday there was NO EXIT from North East London by train or tube. The Central Line STOPPED at Liverpool Street, The Victoria Line was closed COMPLETELY, and The Overground also was SWITCHED OFF.
This left two options - the BUS, or the rail-replacement BUS. Which is really one option, isn't it? It thus took me AN HOUR AND A HALF to travel the five miles across town using a bus, a train and two tubes. It would have been quicker to WALK to whole way!
But anyway, when I arrived it was WELL worth it, with a small but DETERMINED band of lovely people with whom I first of all DRANK and then went upstairs to do My Exciting Life In ROCK. In theory this was the last time I'll be doing the show in London, but somehow I think it may life again as it's SO much fun to do. This one was especially jolly - I must admit I was a bit AFEARED for the first ten minutes or so, and had to keep thinking to myself "Slow DOWN, be CALM, it will be FINE" but as I went along (and, actually, as the sun went down outside and the room got a bit darky) i really got into it and had a FINE old time, and was disappointed when I realised I was on the very last little bit.
Afterwards there was time for a bit more chat before it was time to begin the long journey home, which didn't take NEARLY as long as going back. Clearly THE MAN wanted me home in time for an early night ready for work!
Win A Day In A Britpop Band
What a STRANGE, BUSY and EXCITING day it was yesterday - by the end of it it felt like someone had bought me one of those EXPERIENCE GIFTS (those boxes you see at Christmas for people who have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what to buy someone), this time "Win A Day In A Britpop Band".
Things started off fairly unglamorously with an EXTREMELY frustrating half hour at St Pancras where it seemed there was only ONE ticket machine for about a MILLION people. I was fairly sanguine for the first twenty minutes queuing but things did get rather FRAUGHT towards the end, especially when the backpacker in front of me discovered that the last letter of the code for his pre-booked tickets had wiped off his arm, where he had written it. EYEBROWS were RAISED, and there was much SHUFFLING SLIGHTLY FORWARD.
One slightly delayed journey northwards and I was in DERBY, where I somehow got chatting to a Match Official as we crossed over into Pride Park, where I met The Validators and our Britpop Experience Day BEGAN. Mr Will Stone had joined us to take some pictures, for LO! It was time for a PHOTO SHOOT!
We've never really done one of these before, but I thought it was necessary - hey, if we're going to be plastered all over the news networks then we can't really re-use that picture of us all in Tim and Emma's conservatory (which isn't even THERE anymore) from about eight years ago. We spent the next hour looking slightly uncomfortable, POSING while large numbers of people passed on their way to the football ground. Perhaps Match Day WASN'T the best day to choose for this? Still, we did get some really quite good pictures taken - in some of them we even look like a REAL BAND. In some, we do not.
Next it was time to shoot a VIDEO - as I may have mentioned, we're planning to release Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid as a free download single a couple of weeks before the album comes out, so I'm going to make a VIDEO to go with it and, as we were all in one place for the first time in AGES I thought we might as well take the opportunity to shoot some BAND shots. Will stepped in to man the camera for this, and we sat in the car park of the pub nearest the ground attracting a LOT of LOOKS, but got it all pretty much done. I'd worked out what needed doing WELL in advance - on the train up, in fact - so I'm SURE i can't POSSIBLY have missed anything.
With that done we went our seperate ways, with Mr F Machine heading over to the football ground where we met Master Machine (who'd got there on the BUS - but surely he's still only FOUR?!?) and went in to watch Derby County play Barnsley. I was quite excited - it was The Championship! - and my excitement was only increased when we went into the new stadium. It was AMAZING, also HUGE - I've not been in one of these new stadiums before, so was amazed at how BIG and also how OPEN it was, it was one big space full of people!
I was impressed by the HUGE amount of well practiced CHANTS Derby County have, although their Own Proper Song is nowhere NEAR as good as "Posh We Are", but then i suppose with the rough times they've had of late they must have had to find SOME way to cheer themselves up. It has to be said the GAME itself wasn't particularly inspiring - INDEED it took me back to the many MANY times I've seen Peterborough before the recent Ferguson-based UPSURGE, as the majority of crowd reaction was of the "What are you DOING?" and "You're going THE WRONG WAY" nature. I felt quite at home!
Afterwards I JUST managed to get the early train home, and HOPPED OFF at St Pancras expecting to be home soon... before bumping into Radio's Mr Steve Lamacq, just returning with a pal from the Leicester/Colchester match. We ended up going off to his pal's PUB in London's Fashionable West End, it was all a little KRAZY really. I have to say this particular pub had some DELICIOUS beer in it, and so it was a Slightly Confused Hibbett who strode out an hour later... and headed off in entirely the wrong direction, having to double back and walk round the block to get back to the correct tube station.
All in all, then, I would heartily recommend the Britpop Day Out Experience - I missed out some bits, like The Good Mixer, The Dodgy Night Club and The Disappointing Second Album, but I had a MARVELLOUS time!
That's No Moon...
Just as I start to glimpse, far off in the distance, a chink of daylight which MAY be the first hint of not the beginning of the end, but at least the end of the beginning of the Regardez Ecoutez et Repetez Preparation Onslaught, the NEXT GRATE Media Project HOVES into view.
For LO! The first deadline for signing up for the Edinburgh Fringe is next weekend. You don't HAVE to get all your details in by next Friday, but if you leave it any longer than that you have to pay another ninety quid or something, which does rather focus the MIND on getting it sorted out. THUS my colleague Mr S Hewitt and I have BANDIED ABOUT a paragraph to go in to advertise Dinosaur Planet, and have come up with THIS:
Sixty million years ago dinosaurs disappeared, and now they're back! A new one-man Rock Opera from indie legend MJ Hibbett ('Genius' - Steve Lamacq). It's War Of The Worlds with more dinosaurs, more jokes and a better ending.
Does that sound sufficiently INTRIGUING? I THINK it does - I'm especially fond of the bit about it having a better ending than War Of The Worlds, not least because the ending I've thought of it DOUBLE OMG MIND BLOWING WHOO (hopefully) - and I reckon it might possibly at least TANTALISE a few people. The next thing we have to sort out is how much we're going to charge and, crucially, which SECTION we're going to put it in. Music? MUSICALS AND OPERA? Or do we - DARE we - stick it in the Comedy section this time?
We're doing Dinosaur Planet's, illustrious predecessor, My Exciting Life In ROCK at The Salmon & Compass this Sunday afternoon (details on the GIGS page - it's more than likely going to be the last chance to see it in London, at least for this year, so do come along if you're local, haven't seen it yet, and would LIKE to) so with any luck we WON'T just drink The Guiness but WILL get it sorted out. Tune to this station on Monday to find out how we get on!
And we're OFF
Yesterday I sent the first BATCH of CDs off - I'm doing it in STAGGERED BATCHES - mostly to Vlads and PALS, and thus did the final process of People Actually HEARING The Album begin! It's been a LONG time coming!
The BIG one though was this morning, when I STAGGERED myself all the way down Leytonstone High Road to the post office, to send of a HUNDRED copies of the album to our PR people. Have I mentioned this properly? If not: we've hired a proper real-life grown-up PR company to do the PRESS for this album. It's all quite exciting really - I'm still doing the radio and some online stuff myself, as usual, but I've never really ever gotten the hang of The Print Media, and have hardly ever managed to get us ANY print coverage. This time around I thought, rather than getting all UPSET about it I'd actual get some EXPERTS in, so that's what we've done. To be honest, the best thing about it is that i know that i won't have to worry about it, but also there's a slight tinge of THRILLZ with the idea that, this time, we might actually get a review in a magazine or something!
We'll see how it goes, but the Personal Upshot of it all is that, after SO much getting things prepared, if finally feels like we're about to start The Good Bit! ZANG!
Spinal Tap: DOCUMENTARY
Yesterday I was waiting for ALBUMS, today I have been waiting for POSTCARDS, although I chose this time not to TWITTER about it this time (I am SO modern, I am TWITTING like ...er... at TWIT at www.twitter.com/mjhibbett). Yesterday I tried to SUMMON UP the delivery man by electronically SINGING to him - it seemed to work, tho did seem to drive the unlucky few who had to listen to me DOING so to distraction, so decided not to repeat the experience.
It seems it isn't strictly necessary anyway, as upon my return from lunch I found the postcards had arrived! HOORAH! I'd ordered a THOUSAND of them as a nice little Promotional Item, and also because I always use postcards as NOTES anyway when sending out stuff people buy in the shop, so thought it'd be good to have some Official ones for future use.
I fairly SKIPPED downstairs with the MASSIVE box of them. Would they be all right? I wondered. They had been QUITE expensive - a bit more than I expected, actually - but if they were good then HECK IT, they'd be worth it.
I opened the box - they look AMAZING. Just GORGEOUS things, except for one tiny TINY little problem. You know how, to get a postcard sized piece of paper, you fold an A4 sheet of paper in half once, then twice? And that that means it's A6, right? And not A5?
Clearly I had NOT realised this when ordering them, as LO! They are BLOODY MASSIVE! They're like postcards you'd send to POOLS WINNERS or something - I did the back just like a normal postcard, divided in two and with a space for a stamp, so I can't even pretend they're ART PRINTS or something, they're just LUDICROUSLY HUGE POSTCARDS!
Still, they fit into envelopes fine and they DO look nice - and hey hey, SOMETHING was always going to go wrong somewhere with this whole process, and so I'll be pleased if it's just this that ERRS!
I can only dream that one day I'll be able to post one JUST as a postcard, and blow the postman's MIND. "I'm holding it at arm's length... but it still looks so NEAR!"
Look What I've Got...
Today I have been working from home, CROUCHED over a hot keyboard, ears aglow ready for the fateful knock at the door that would mean... well, see for yourself, this is the scene in my HOME OFFICE even as we speak:
ZOINKS! It's the new album - a THOUSAND COPIES of it! And they look GORGEOUS!
They also SOUND pretty bloody fantastic - they've even got the thing where your car radio will know what the song's called! ZANG! Also: HOORAH!
Apologies for anyone who couldn't get onto the site earlier today - my service provider, Tripod, decided once again that it's MUCH EASIER to DELETE MY ENTIRE WEBSITE than to send me an email saying "Your bank card is out of date". I've only been using them for a FCUCKING DECADE, so it'snot like they owe me any courtesy is it?
I've re-done my details and things seem to be coming back online, but mjhibbett.net seems to be a bit wobbly. Hopeuflly it'll all be working again soon, but the basic message is: Tripod! I do not recommend them!
Off To Edinburgh
Before I go any further, apologies if I seemed slightly GRUMPY in that bit about Cambridge. I got a lovely email from Mr A Smith who said he'd been there and enjoyed it - which made me feel BAD as he'd then gone online and seen me slightly SLAGGING it off. Sorry about that - it was my FOURTH NIGHT OUT IN A ROW (ROCK!) and so I was KNACKERED, also SLIGHTLY GROUCHY.
The full EFFECT of this was felt chez moi over the weekend INSOMUCH as I did do quite a bit of the old RELAXING, often involving sitting in bed watching my EXCITING new DVD Purchase: Series One of DEEP SPACE NINE. MAN OH MAN but that was a GRATE series - I'd thought that the first couple of series would be a GRUELLING SLOG through a load of old rubbish, but on viewing I realised that my memories were tainted by watching V*y*g*r and that ACTUALLY Deep Space Nine was BRILLIANT right from the very start. It is ACE!
ANYWAY, even during this MASSIVE GEEK ACTION there was ROCK, as I did some more work in Dinosaur Planet, writing a new song with several ACTUAL JOKES in it. It's a song about the obliteration of Peterborough in a massive BATTLE, so, really, HILARITY would be very difficult to exclude.
This was spurred on by the news that we are now BOOKED for this year's Fringe! HOORAH! We'll be doing Dinosaur Planet at The Medina again, from Friday August 7 to Saturday August 15 (no show on the Tuesday tho) at 7pm 7-13 and at 3.30pm on the last two days. KER-ZANG! I am WELL chuffed about this - for a while it looked like we might not be able to do the second weekend, but now all is SORTED and all I've got to do now is finish writing it! How hard can it be, right?
Before making my way to Cambridge last night I had an ASSIGNATION with an heroic figure, Mr T Eveleigh who runs the Freedom Of Expression gig which I played in Croydon on Tuesday and where, FOOLISHLY, I'd left my diary behind. Like a SUPERHERO he SWOOPED back to the venue and picked it up for me and, as he was off to ROCK Peterborough that night, we met at The Surprisingly Nice (for a station pub) Betjeman Arms for a PINT. It was GOOD!
As I set off for Cambridge it was with some slight trepidation as I was staying at the Travelodge, where Richard Herring had stayed mid-week and written about on his blog, in an not entirely favourable manner. I arrived to find that it was FINE, and there were no bogies on my shower curtain - I was quite disappointed really!
I got me a taxi to the venue where I soundchecked, got some grub, and settled down with a coca cola - I was KNACKERED, this was my FOURTH (4th) late night out in a ROW and quite frankly I was feeling DONE IN, so thought a medicinal coca cola might perk me up a bit. PERKING UP, however, was achieved by the sudden arrival of Mr P Finch of Newmarket - I wasn't expecting him at ALL, it was a LOVELY surprise and his arrival suddenly made it feel like the evening was worthwhile! HOORAH!
The gig itself was a bit rum - the first act was a lad who skirted close to having songs with tunes in without ever making the break for them, and who seemed to have brought a large chunk of the audience with him - this was LESS charming than the night before, however, as he led them out just as he'd finished. One normally wouldn't mind but he made the ROOKIE MISTAKE of leaving his gear next to the stage so that, at the end of the evening, he had to come back in to get it and PARADE his lack of attendance to the other bands who were still there. ROCK TIP: if you're going to leave before everyone else is on, ESPECIALLY when they have sat through your set, ALWAYS take your gear with you.
Next up was a girl who started off with a REALLY sad song, said "It's all uphill from here!" and then ended up nearly making herself CRY. She also said "I don't know what this song's about, they're all a bit vague" but then got VERY involved with it and, again, seemed on the verge of BLUBBING. It clearly DID mean quite a lot to her, tho none of the rest of us were given much clue what.
And then it was ME, by which time nearly EVERYBODY had left - the last band on were still there, Paul was there, and about six other people including a couple down the front who talked REALLY loudly THROUGHOUT my set. I tried REALLY hard not to be distracted by it - i hate it when people on stage take the audience to TASK, especially if they've PAID to get in, I always think it's the job of the PERFORMER to STOP them talking through ROCK - but nothing I did (leaving bigger gaps, singing quietly etc etc) had any effect, as I did THIS:
It was a bit of an UBERSET, as the PR people we're hiring said they might come along and I wanted to do THE GOOD STUFF, but in the end I think it was probably best they didn't seem me Not At My Best! It was quite a short set too - beforehand the sound guy said they'd like me to do half an hour, but he was showing me The Universal One More Song Sign after about twenty minutes, and to be honest I was happy to go along with it.
I know it seems like I am having a bit of a MOAN, but really it was FINE - Cambridge is lovely, and afterwards Paul and I STROLLED by the river and through a park back to his car, as he was very kindly giving me a lift to the station. You never know when a gig's going to be GRATE or not, and when one occasionally isn't that is the pay off for the ones that aren't. Also, Paul being there really DID make it all seem all right, as he's a lovely chap and I haven't seen him for AGES!
Back at the hotel there were louds of - it seemed to me - TINY DRUNKEN TEENAGERS squealing down the corridors. "Will I be able to get to sleep?" i thought, SIPPING at the WHISKY i'd treated myself to. The answer: LIKE A LOG. HOORAH!
The Phil Wilson Big Band
The Ink On My Hand Stamp and I headed to The City Of London after work last night, to visit Gramaphone. We were there to see Mr Phil Wilson's band, and had a GRATE time of it. The ever delightful WILSONS were in full attendance, and it was lovely as PER to see them, and the band just keeeeps on getting better. They've just done a tour of Germany where they were treated to many BUFFETS and, perhaps as a direct result of this, although possibly not, they have returned, like The Beatles after Hamburg, a MIGHTY ROCKING UNIT. They really were fantastic, and they had a new song ("I had to write one because I knew you'd tell me off if I didn't" said Phil beforehand - THE POWER!) which was HUGE. I'm going to have to tell him off MORE in future, I am EAGER for an album!
Rather brilliantly the other bands we saw were GRATE - we came in to find The Fallen Leaves on stage, who sounded BRILL (man oh man, the guitarist played SO FAST it was like he had eight hands all playing together) and LOOKED like a proper band from off the telly. They even bought their own Posh Microphone to complete the LOOK. ALSO they had a GRATE bass player, who played proper Lead Bass, it was MOST exciting.
The next band, The Spencer McGarry ... er... somethings, weren't quite as ELECTRIFYING sounding but were very good indeed for a band who seemed to be just starting out - i THINK this to be the case because, we soon realised, they did appear to have a few parents in the audience. I know this ISN'T what bands want people to think of them but AAAH, it was really SWEET, ESPECIALLY the bass player who spent the whole gig looking INCREDIBLY nervous about everything but simultaneously REALLY REALLY EXCITED to be playing. It was heart-warming to see someone obviously doing a gig for ALL the right reasons, it made you WANT them to do well, just so his excitement/apprehension was rewarded.
And then we didn't see much of the other band, due to BEER, then Phil came on and was GRATE. It was a fantastic night, HOORAH!
Who Watches The Watchmen? ME!
Like the great migration of SALMON, this week Gentlemen Of A Certain Age And Inclination have moved EN MASSE, as if SIGNALLED, towards the cinema to see WATCHMEN and I am no exception. After WEEKS of anticipation I finally went to see it last night, with my oldest friend in the WORLD Mr Steven Carter.
He'd booked us tickets at the IMAX in Greenwich - I was under the impression that an IMAX is like one of those massive DOME CINEMAS you get at amusement parks and in MUSEUMS (largely because my brother works in one, in a museum) so was a little DISAPPOINTED to be told that, actually, it's just a very very big screen. This came on TOP of a rather annoying LONG QUEUE for POPCORN in the lobby, which was full of very annoyed people who, you know, wanted to see their FILMS.
My HARRUMPHING was very swiftly ended when we arrived on the very top floor to discover that we got FREE POPCORN! Free popcorn! AND you were allowed DRINKS! We strode through to discover a) the film had just started (so I'll have to go again - DRAT!) and b) we had IMMENSE chairs to sit in. It was like going in the first class compartment at the PICTURES!
I must say I didn't really notice any big difference to a normal cinema - well, apart from the comfy seats and that - but apparently that's the IDEA. It was all SO VERY WELL TUNED that I didn't notice, tho we WERE sat right at the back so maybe the MIND BLOWING happens more if you're right at the front.
Also, to be fair, I was a bit distracted by the fact that OH MY GOOD GOD IT'S WATCHMEN MADE INTO A FILM! It was AMAAAAAAZING, especially having just finished reading it - even TINY little things like Laurie's snow globe which - SPOILERS - doesn't really festure in the film in the same HUGE way as in the book - is THERE on top of the telly for you to JUST notice. It was ALL like that, it was GRATE.
The whole thing was pretty GRATE I must say - once my BRANE calmed down a bit (not a lot, but a bit) from going "AAAAARGH! LOOK! It's EXACTLY LIKE THE COMIC!" (JINKIES - it really was, especially EVERYTHING to do with Archie The OwlMobile) I really really enjoyed it. It's a bit long, but most of the bits cut out made sense (especially going STRAIGHT TO MARS without passing GO, althought I MISSSED all the bits with The Newsvendor and all the people on the streetcorner, those were my favourite bits!) and the ending... HA! OF COURSE! I was VERY worried about it, but when it happens you think "Oh yes! That makes a LOT more sense!"
PHEW! We came out GOGGLING with a) relief b) PLEASURE, it had been GRATE. Well worth waiting for, it was just so well done - especially the "normal" superhero bits. If they ever decide to go MAD and make a sequel I would pay GOOD MONEY for "Nite Owl And Silk Spectre" - the bits with them superheroing were THE BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE ... EVER! SO VERY GOOD!
So yes, all in all I would say WE CAN ALL NOW RELAX. Now, when's the special DVD with ADDED PIRATES out? I WANTS it!
Some New Things
Some medium ITEMS to FACT you with:
ITEM! The album "Two Of The Beatles Have Died", which I recorded a song for, should be coming out in MAY. You can hear a few of the tracks, including MINE, at their myspace page. It looks like being a KRAZY GRATE THING!
ITEM! I've just updated the GIGS page with the first few TOUR DATES and also an extra performance of My Exciting Life In ROCK in STOKE, Curry Capital Of Europe.
ITEM! Progress PROGRESSS towards the new album being finished - the actual albums should be back next week, we've LOGGED it with iTunes (and so on) and the physical distributors, mailing lists are being solidified and TOUR DATES are being booked. There's still a lot to do, but I'm beginning to see a time when, rather than PREPARING everything as I have been for the past three months or so, I'll actually be able to start a) DOING b) ENJOYING activities more closely related to ROCK! HOOPLA!
ITEM! And finally, I don't think I've put the COVER up on here yet have I? In which case, here it is:
NICE, isn't it? I hope it looks as nice when I've got a THOUSAND copies of it in our spare room!
A World Premiers In Croydon
It was away to CROYDON for me last night, hungrily reading "Watchmen" as I travelled - I'm seeing it TONIGHT with Mr Steven Carter so was DESPERATE to finish it (for the millionth time, but still) before going. I actually got to the end this morning, and COR! It's GRATE!
I know this is hardly NEWS or anything, but BLIMEY, EVERY time I read it i think "It's bound to just be a bit boring and not as good as i remember" and EVERY time it's AMAAAAZING, but this time even more so as, for the first time in at least a DECADE I re-read all the text pieces too. LUMME! There's all SORTS of stuff in there I'd forgotten about or, INDEED, completely not noticed the first time around.
I am thus VERY excited about going to see it tonight, and this feeling was only increased when I got to the venue to find that Mark The Soundman a) HAD already seen it b) LOVED it and c) wished to SHOUT HIS LOVE TO THE ROOFTOPS. He even played the SOUNDTRACK before the gig started, we were all a FROTH of expectation.
There weren't very many people in - Tim had READ my previous remarks about how he always says there've been LOADS in on other weeks and never understands why people don't come when they KNOW I'm playing... and again said "But there WERE loads of people before, I don't know why they're not here again!" How long can this go on, before he REALISES? A WHILE, i hope - you get FREE BEER at The Green Dragon on Tim's nights, and the beer there is FANTASTIC!
I was trying to work out what to play and then, inspired partly by having a big catch-up on Richard Herring's blog where he's forever talking about trying out new stuff in front of an audience, I thought "RIGHT! Let's do Dinosaur Planet then!"
So that's what I did. Sort of. I realised early on that I was only SURE of two songs all the way through, so did THOSE ((theme from) Dinosaur Planet and My Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet) at the appropriate points in the story, doing CHORUSES or whatever I could remember of Don't, Darren, Don't, It Isn't Nice To Eat Your Friends and so forth. It was DARING and EXPERIMENTAL and it SEEMED to go OK - it was a LOT of talking but thankfully everyone seemed to go along with it, especially a table of GIGGLING SET DESIGNERS near the front. It did rather TAIL OFF towards the end, where I've not really thought about how to do it OR indeed what songs should go there, but i DID learn a few VITAL POINTS about the ORDER (My Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet suddenly appears much earlier AND will re-appear later as a REPRISE) some of the JOKES (The Axl Rose Gag is a WINNER), and the SURPRISE TWIST ENDING (needs pruning, but otherwise: ZANG!).
It was GOOD to do, and I'm very grateful for everyone there for letting me BANG ON for such a long time - it took about twenty minutes to get through the whole thing, which BODES WELL for the final version which will have Actual Songs inserted. I DID have time for a couple of songs at the end, so did The Lesson Of The Smiths and It Only Works Because You're Here. It felt EXCITING all of a sudden to be doing songs that actually lasted more than a chorus!
After I'd done it was time for Jenny Lockyer again, who was GRATE - several songs I'd not heard before this time, dealt out EXPERTLY. She really is brilliant - every time I see her I think "But surely she should be on the TELLY?" Her stuff's SO funny and so briliantly performed - when I have my star-studded international light entertainment career (it can't be far off now surely?) i shall have her on my show as special guest EVERY week!
Data Storage Thing mp3
In the comments down below someone's asked where they can BUY a copy of Data Storage Thing so I spent... er... about three minutes trying to find a way of $ELLING the mp3 online without waiting 6 weeks to get it uploaded to iTunes and all that. Having discovered this was a TREMENDOUSLY dull, also ANNOYING thing to try and work out I thought I'd just stick it up on our myspace page.
Which I have done! I must say I'm EXTRAORDINARILY pleased to finally have it available for people to hear, it took me AGES to write, re-write, re-re-write and re-RE-re-write it, but now it is DONE! HOOPLA!
Battling Bravely On
Apologies for the lack of THRILLING UPDATES the last few days, I've been a bit poorly. Only a bit poorly, but still, ENOUGH poorly to mean sitting in bed watching DVDs was even MORE of a good idea than it normally would be!
In the meantime, do you remember, gentle reader, a little while ago when I was writing and re-writing a song called Data Storage Thing for an online advert? Well it's FINALLY online and looking rather fabulous. LOOK!
I must admit there's sizable chunks of that where i have NO IDEA what they're talking about... but also sizable chunks where i DO, also where i think "OOOH! COOOOL!" Especially when he opens EVERYTHING. ZANG!
A Grand Day Out
I went to a MEETING yesterday about doing some PR for the new album - it was all very nice, although I was a bit SCARED about entering the meeting venue as it was an EXTREMELY posh Restaurant/Bar. There were THREE posh ladies (THREE!) working in the reception area (reception area!) and I did rather get the impression I was not the sort of individual who frequented their workspace on a regular basis.
It was thus a relief to be back on familiar territory later in the evening when I met my brother Mr Thomas "Tom" Smith for BEER in a PUB. PHEW! We then LEAPT onto the tube to head to LEYTON where the mighty Posh (aka THE BLUE BRAZIL) we playing Leyton "The O's" Orient. I'd already been for a LOOK a few weeks ago to CASE THE JOINT and so our entry into the ground was EASY.
As was much of the first half. HA! It was all rather STRAAANGE to be honest, I am used to going to see Posh and witnessing one team being hopelessly out-classed by another who have at least a modicum of idea about how to play The Football, but it's never usually Posh who are doing the Out-Classing. It was all rather brilliant, and even the TERRIBLE weather (it was FREEEZING, also WET) didn't dampen the excitement.
Neither did the APPALLING referee, tho BLIMEY, I know I don't really know ANYTHING about The Football, but I do at least know how HAND BALL works. The clue is in the name. As ever when i go to The Football I spent the first twenty minutes or so singing along and clapping etc. rather self-consciously, looking round me thinking "Oh how jolly, we are singing 'Posh We Are' and it's all SUPER". Come the second half I suddenly find myself STANDING UP, POINTING at various items screaming "FAAAAACKING HEEELLLL! WHAAAAT?!?!" looking DISGUSTED and then, shortly afterwards, APPLAUDING A SAVE with the air of someone who has a clue what he's on about. It's GRATE.
The second half was LESS GRATE but still, it was A Crucial Win At This Point In The Season (also Leyton's Home Form Is Disappointing and other HITS from the programme) and we DID have our traditional Coffee at half time (tho no Kit Kats! BOO!). We retired to the nearby Birkbeck afterwards, a pub I'd walked past LOADS of times but never been in - it was like a PROPER BOOZER out of EASTENDERS, but with ALE! HOORAH!
The reason James Brown says "OW!"
On Saturday lunchtime myself an Mr Ray Dann set off for EAST LAAANDAN, home of pork pie hats and Krazy Fashions, to attend the all day section of the London Popfest. Unfortunately for me the "all day" section of it was to be abandoned - I spent TOO LONG in the pub, albeit having a DELIGHTFUL time - so by the time I got to the actual gig I was, to say the least, TIDDLY. This did not prevent my enjoyment of the acts I DID see - Mr P Green and his Corporate Juggernaut were as marvellous as ever, and I was VERY pleased to discover that the reason people have been making such a fuss about Town Bike is that they are GRATE. Cor, I was WELL impressed with them and bought yet ANOTHER CD to remind myself of the fact.
After that, however, I began to suspect that maybe I should go home - the main indicator being falling down a very small flight of steps and ending up sliding across the floor on my knees. I thought I had managed to save my DIGNITY by going "Ta-da!" at the end and, LIKE JAMES BROWN, staying down there for applause. Unfortunately a) i wasn't getting up because I was a bit STUCK and b) I probably looked more like Peter Kay.
THUS I took the wise option and headed HOME for curry and for BED. While this meant I missed some bands it DID mean I was fresh and SPRY come Sunday when I met with Mr S Hewitt at The Salmon & Compass, where we were due to host the QUIZ. I'd spent the morning working out some Belle & Sebastian songs on UKELELE for my round, Steve had brought one of his own, and between us and Mr J Jervis, Mr B Clancy and various others we managed to bash together a fairly respectable quiz, I think.
It all seemed to go down pretty well anyway, and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed doing my Belle & Sebastian songs, with added WHISTLING, as follows:
The State That I Am In
The Boy With The Arab Strap
Judy And The Dream Of Horses
Is It Wicked Not To Care?
We Rule The School
Stars Of Track And Field
Belle And Sebastian
String Bean Jean
Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
It was all very lovely but once again I decided to follow THE PATH OF SENSE and headed home not long afterwards, FAREWELLING this time with rather more SOBRIETY than on the Saturday. To be honest I think I should have spent a bit LESS time sitting around in the pub on Saturday and a bit MORE watching actual bands, but HEY! I had a GRATE time doing it, so i think I shall chalk it up to experience. I just wish my KNEES would stop hurting. OW!