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Day Three: London
Day three began, as predicted, with a MASSIVE KIP. It was BRILL. If only more International Rock Stars could take delight in having a MASSIVE KIP rather than, say, heroin, fighting or underage girls, then the world of ROCK would be a more delightful place.
Suitably recharged I headed into town to have a look at The Curve (Leicester's new theatre: STUNNING), The High Cross Centre (Leicester's new shopping centre: AMAZING. Also, where on EARTH did all that space come from? There's even an cinema!) and MY LUNCH (Veggie Roast and BEER in The Orange Tree, FAB). I then spent a happy hour or so sat in the "beer garden" (formerly known as the "car park") of The Criterion drinking delicious beer in the sunshine. It was FANTASTIC - I seem to spend so much of my time dashing around DOING things that I always seem to surprise myself by how nice it is to just sit around doing NOTHING MUCH.
I was soon joined by Frankie Machine and we were just getting towards the end of our pints when TIM appeared round the corner - imagine our HORROR to discover that, while we'd been relaxing with PINTS, the rest of The Validators had only only ARRIVED but had also loaded the vans. I can't even begin the descibe how upset we were.
It took us a while to LEAVE, due to pints being finished and several Idiot Checks of the venue, but eventually we were on the road again, trying to tune into The Football, specifically Newcastle vs. Aston Villa. For much of this season certain members of the band have been enjoying the fact that Tim's team, the afforsaid Toon Army, would be joining THEIR favoured teams (specifically Derby and The Mighty Posh) in The Championship. It had been half joking for much of the time, but today was CRUNCH DAY, and we were GLUED to the radio all the way down the M1.
SHAMEFULLY certain members of the band (i.e. those not legally related to Tim) let out a HUGE CHEER when Aston Villa scored, and we did feel a bit guilty when we saw quite how UPSETTING it was for Mr Pattison, so much so that when we arrived at The Wilmington we left him to go through the final moments of relegation in the van on his own. We are KIND like that, also we were in the PUB.
He BORE UP very BRAVELY and after soundcheck we wandered off for TEA - there was much debate about what to have and we settled on a healthy looking compromise, only to be informed by a WAITER that they had stopped serving. HEARTBROKEN we went next door. For a CURRY! HOORAH! Astoundingly this was our first curry of the tour, and it was ACE!
I missed most of the first band as I was CHATTING in the sunshine/the pub to The Shine In My Sun and the various other PALS who had delightfully come along to see us. Like most of the gigs on this tour there wasn't a HUGE number of people in attendance but the LOVELINESS LEVELS of those who WERE there was breaking all known records, so it was with some delight that we went on and did THIS:
It all seemed to go pretty well, and sounded GRATE - the other Common Trend amongst most gigs on the tour was Good Sound, and the Sound Lady at The Wilmington is REKNOWNED for a) getting everyone to turn things down b) making it sound GRATE. It was thus a happy Validators who made their way for some BEER, returning to watch Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring, who were FANTASTIC. I'm sure I've seen them before - their is a BADGE amongst our collection of Band Badges in the kitchen which seems to imply so - but I don't remember them being quite this GRATE. I thought to start with it was all going to be one long song, as the first one went on for AGES through all sorts of changes, all laden with TUNES and beautiful sounds, but eventually they DID stop and start others, and it was all FAB. I would HIGHLY recommend getting a look at them, they were GRATE.
Once they'd done we finished our beers and started to pack away, and I was surprised during my Idiot Check of the basement (where the bands keep their gear there) to be asked by the bass player form Their Hearts... "are you doing an Idiot Check then?" It's nice to know such TECHNICAL TERMINOLOGY is in common parlance!
We took a bit of a detour on the way home to drop some pals off - if any of us or them had known the WAY it would have been a lot quicker! - but eventually got back to CHEZ NOUS to enjoy a STEW cooked by The Ingredients In My Recipe, also some BOOZE, before retiring for the night. I couldn't quite believe that we were now over half way through the tour - too much fun, moving too fast!
A Public Statement
Reading this blog you are, of course, used to only the highest standards of accuracy and punctuality, so I feel I must apologise to you, to my family, and to the institution of ROCK for recent failures in both.
A number of people have noted that I have listed an INCORRECT setlist for our gig in Bristol last week, with me inserting the setlist for the London launch gig instead. I can only apologise for what was an honest mistake - it was not an attempt to mislead nor gain any advantage financial or otherwise, and I can only apologise and ensure everybody that the error has now been rectified.
As for punctuality - this is heralded as an "almost daily" blog and has not been so for several days. Firstly, of course, this was due to being On The Road and my intention was to catch up quickly but these high hopes were soon waylaid, first by workload in my place of employment and then illness. I have risen from my sickbed, WRENCHING myself away from Season Two of Deep Space Nine on DVD, just to alert anyone who might otherwise have been desperately worried about my lack of communication. It is an Old Problem for which I am applying The Usual Remedy (lying around in bed for 48 hours) with, hopefully, the usual Excellent Results.
I realise these may appear simply to be excuses, rather than solutions, and I apologise to anyone who feels betrayed, angered, short-changed or misled. I hope I have not damaged the great institution of ROCK and place myself at the mercy of my constituents come the next gig.
In the meantime, please stay out of the moat and keep quiet near the duck island. Thank you for your understanding.
DAY ONE: Bristol
At Paddington Station, waiting for my train, I got a text from Tim - the first song on the iPod Shuffle as they set off on the album tour was the TITLE TRACK, "Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez." SPOOKY! Then I bumped into Delia From Mambo Taxi (and countless other band) -surely these PORTENTS OF ROCK were pointing in the direction of GOOD TIMES?
It certainly appeared so when I got to Bristol Temple Meads about 15 minutes late but JUST in time for The Validator Van to swing by and pick me up. UNITED we zoomed to The Mother's Ruin where we UNLOADED and set to out first, MUCH DESERVED, pint. At this stage we were all still a bit in Work MOde, and personally I was very much finding myself still trying to organise things. The past 3-6 months have been FULL of preparation and sorting stuff out but AT LAST it was time to start ROCKING. Gradually, but with increasing speed, I ceased worrying so much and began having fun.
We soundchecked - during which we were asked by the management NOT to play unless absolutely necessary, as people didn't want to hear that sort of thing, and Tim should learn to play a bit more quietly - then split up, Pattisons for their hotel and the rest of us to find our Apartment. It was in a slightly RUM area but VERY luxurious, and the Proper Bristol Accented chap who showed us round seemed VERY pleased with it. As well he might!
Back in town we found an excellent place to park and went off for an Italian Meal, which was GRATE - eating properly is VITAL for Tour Health, and is also much MUCH nicer than our former Tour Staple of Chips & Cheese. We is DEAD SOPHISTICATED!
We saw The Pattisons strolling by so got back together and headed to the venue, where we found several lovely people had turned up, and watched Horowitz, who were dead good the words were much more audible than usual, so you could hear the Proper Pop Songs within the Trademark GUITAR SWIRL much more clearly.
The next band reminded me of several from long ago, though The Rhythm Section said they sounded like The Pixies, which i suppose is the same sort of thing. They'd bought a bunch of friends with them, including one who was dancing like MAD. It turned out he WASN'T actually a friend of theirs, rather a LOCAL LEGEND - BIG JEFF. He was BIG, also GRATE - he stood right at the front throughout our gig too and danced THROUGHOUT. It made the whole thing even more EXCITING as HIS dancing got ME dancing more NB I say exciting for ME, my extra dancing may not have been so for anyone else. Here's what we DID:
We then had to pack up at high speed and HOPPED into the van to drive to Rocker's house - that's Dandelion DJ Rocker, who'd not only organised the gig but had got us in for a SESSION the next morning. We PILED all our kit into his house then ZOOMED back to the pub for a last pint before saying our farewells and heading once more to the flat, where me, Tom and Rob enjoyed some TOUR WHISKY and had a long chat while listening to Belle & Sebastian and WINGS through the Ceiling Speakers.
Day Two: Leicester
Even a band as DYNAMICALLY EFFICIENT and endowed with a Tour Booklet as US sometimes has to behave like a band, and so it took us a little while to get together on Saturday morning - we left the flat only to have to all go back, seperately, because we'd forgotten things, and then stood around for ten minutes at the fountain in the centre of Bristol (a GORGEOUS morning, featuring a Mysterious Queue outside the nearby theatre - X-Factor auditions?) wondering where The Pattisons were whilst they sat mere FEET away in a cafe, wondering where we were. It's an unavoidable part of being A Band On Tour.
After everyone had finished being ALARMED by the fact that I was eating a Baked Potato for breakfast (I hadn't seen a Veggie Breakfast on the list... and unlike Tom didn't think to ask for one. FOOLISH) we went back to The Van, hopped in and indulged in further Band On Tour ACTIOn by getting LOST. Fantastically i TWITTERED this fact and, within minutes, got a phone call from Rocker to tell us how to get to his house. THE FUTURE!
We arrived to find that Rocker's entire HOUSE was a studio, and that we would be recording in his kitchen. Whilst Tim set up his kit I had SEVERAL cups of tea - Emma and Tom went off for a wander so i drank Emma's too - then me and Francis PLUGGED IN to the guitar amps, which were placed under the stairs and on the landing respectably. We gathered to play and found that we had to do everything WITHOUT singing, as it was all close miked, which was a TINY problem for doing Clubbing In The Week because we didn't really know it well enough! We PERSEVERED tho, also doing My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once and Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid to, i believe, a HIGH STANDARD.
I did my vocals next - I was feeling a bit THROATY and asked Tom to collect The Tour Whisky, but instead found succour in some POLISH HONEY VODKA that Rocker had in a cupboard. LIFE ON THE ROAD! When that was done i did a solo version of It Isn't Nice To Eat Your Friends and headed out into the SUNSHINE.
It really was a GORGEOUS day, and I spent the next hour or so sat out on the steps of Rocker's house in the sunshine, CHATTING and reading the paper. The Tiger was next in for his overdubs, with Emma then WHIPPING through her vocals at XTREME speed. We were thus able to say our farewells not long after our Estimated Leaving Time, and were back on the road, this time bound for LEICESTER.
This was our first opportunity to play IPOD ROULETTE - we'd agreed to SWAP between Tim and my iPods on SHUFFLE, changing when they played anything someone in the van had played on OR Paul McCartney/The Beatles (me) OR The Fall (Tim). We never got past four or five plays on mine before a swap, but got through slightly more on Tim's... especially when it turned out it'd been playing songs alphabetically instead.
Back at Tiger Towers Emma leapt into The Pattison Wagon to nip home, then I got dropped off at The Ibis, where I was kipping that night. Everyone else went to The Criterion and I was MOST upset to arrive half an hour later to find they'd unload everything. DEVASTATED, in fact.
We thought Sound Guy was arriving at 6pm and were hoping to get off for an early curry afterwards, but discovered he wasn't booked until 7pm. THUS Tom went to take the van back to us while those remaining settled for BEER and PIZZA. Life On The Road: sometimes it can be REALLY HARD.
The Criterion was having a BEER FESTIVAL, and I found a beer called Pride And Joy which was only 2.8% BUT was also quite nice, so STUCK to it. A GOOD IDEA, as there was MUCH beer between us sitting down and starting playing. As it was we spent a happy hour drawing COMEDY PENISES on our OWN flyers, also haircuts, moustaches and so forth. GOODTIMES.
Sound Guy turned out to be really good and many MANY people had turned up by the time we were onstage, doing THIS:
It was MAGIC, definitely the best of the tour and PACKED with fun and GOOD TIMES. There were huge REAMS of lovely pals there, including some people from Tim and Emma's village who, MUCH to my delight, found my constant literal song explanations/introductions (e.g. "This song is about how being happy doesn't make you stupid. It's called 'Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid'") to get FUNNIER every time I did it!
We had a lovely time and once we'd hurriedly packed all our gear into a neat pile in the corner were able to CONTINUE our exploration of the East And West Sussex ALES that were in the festival.
Come closing time Frankie and I went round the corner for the AFTER SHOW - well, that's what it felt like anyway, as half the people who'd been at the gig were there too. It was GRATE. We discussed [TACT]all the people who we'd known from the Leicester Music Scene of ten years ago, none of whom had been able to attend[/TACT]. And then drank some more BEER.
I dropped Francis off at Leicester station for his return to Derby and went back to the hotel to INDULGE in something I'd been looking forward to for the past 48 hours: A MASSIVE KIP. It was GRATE!
You find me this afternoon slightly DAZED as i sit back at work slowly - METHODICALLY, some might say - going through my Work Emails, doing bits and bobs and generally NOT being on the road. Most of the rest of the band have got the day off today and I must admit I wish I had done the same, i is KNACKERED.
Knackered, but HAPPY - it was a LOVELY weekend. In discussion on the way home from Sheffield last night we agreed that this tour probably HASN'T Taken Us to "THE NEXT LEVEL" or anything, and probably didn't SHOWCASE OUR WORK to many new people - audience levels were, on the whole, a little bit lower than on previous JAUNTS - but by GOLLY it had been a lot of fun. We saw some GRATE bands, were treated DELIGHTFULLY by ALL of the promoters (which may make us UNIQUE amongst Indie Bands In A Van!), met loads of PALS, drank A LOT of very nice beer, had several curries, enjoyed some sunshine and generally LARKED ABOUT like a bunch of twits on holiday. It was ACE.
I'll do a fuller report, including SET LISTS and that starting tomorrow - for now tho, I think I'm off for a NAP!
Greetings From THE ROAD
Afternoon all, I am in VERY Sunny Leicester at the moment, after a GRATE gig last night. The tour is going EXTREMELY well - he had a lovely night in Bristol too, and then yesterday morning recorded a session for Rocker's Dandelion Radio show. Much BEER has been drunk, many PALS have been bumped into, and everyone so far appears to be in fine health.
It's London tonight (Wilmington Arms, we're on at 8.45) then Leeds and Sheffield - I'll do a proper HUGE blog about it all when it's all over, but until then - see you ON THE ROAD!
Leaving, On A Train
I've just sent out this month's edition of the newsletter - I sent it EXTRA EARLY as I'm aware that I've been doing rather more Email Pestering than usual lately, so thought that if i COMBINE the traditional "We are on tour PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEEEEASSE COME" email with the newsletter it would at least mean everyone gets a break from us for a while!
With that done all that remains for me to do now is to get PACKED, PANIC a bit, and then head to Bristol for the Opening Night. I REALLY hope a few people can make it along for the tour - not for me, you understand, but The Validators will CRY if nobody turns up - and I'll do my best to let you know how it goes. For the most up to date HEP NEWS though, you can always follow me on twitter, where I intend to GAB ON throughout the next few days.
So, that's it for now - hopefully see you ON THE ROAD!
A Trip To The Theatre
I had the afternoon off yesterday in order to indulge in some THEATRE, for LO! myself and Mr C Lawson had tickets to go and see Captain Picard and Gandalf... NO! we had tickets to see Professor X and Magneto ... STOP IT! tickets to see Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in Waiting For Godot.
I was VERY excite - i REALLY like Waiting For Godot, if I had a favourite play that would be IT, having seen it several times, DONE it at college, and even put on a Production of it in my first ever trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. Also, of course, it had Proper Famous people in it, tho Chris and I did try NOT to get Sci-Fi fanboy about it all... and failed. Within SECONDS of entering the theatre bar we were talking about the new Star Trek film. This did involve in a GRATE JOKE from Chris tho: I said I really hoped that it would be the proper cast, not understudies. Chris said it'd be fine if Patrick Stewart could do it, Jonathan Frakes would have to step in.
ARF! STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION based HILARITY!
Er... so, yes, we went into the auditorium all excited and STAYED that way, because it was BLOODY GRATE. There've been some snotty reviews about it, saying it is "funny", and that that is a terrible misunderstanding of the play. I would, respectfully, say that's a load of old bollocks. It's a funny play ANYWAY, there's LOADS of gags in it and if you MISS them then that's you're own fault for confusing Intellegence with DULLARDRY. They made the absolute MOST of them AND made things I'd never thought of as funny before get BIG LARFS. Not just English Teacher Laughs either, but proper LARFS. I was amazed, it was GRATE!
Halfway through the people sat behind us had a bit of a moan - a moan clearly meant to be heard by everyone around them. "Oh, but it's a play about cruelty, they seem to have missed the point." I nearly turned around and DEBATED the point with them - it CAN be, but it's also about friendship and The Things We Do To Make Life Less Unbearable, which very MUCH came across - but Chris got us an ice cream so I ate that instead.
The second half was even better - in many places they were channelling the spirit of ERIC AND ERNIE - and at the end they even did a dance routine during the bows. After THAT the fire alarms all went off. We'd been warned this would happen as we'd gone in, and everybody shuffled out EXACTLY as slowly as they otherwise might have done, but with slightly less chatting.
THEN we went and stumbled upon The Ship And Shovell, which was LOVELY, had a PIZZA, walked up to The Ship in Holborn and then HIKED up to St Pancras to drop Chris off. By the end of it i was exhausted - exhausted, yet FULL OF CULTURE!
Rock N Reel
On Monday I got home to find the latest issue of Rock N Reel (or R2, as it's now called) waiting for me. I was VERY excited to see it as I've been SCOURING newsagents for it for weeks - it's always a bit difficult to find, but this time I think I may have been foxed COMPLETELY by the change of title and logo. The especial reason for my search was that we were meant to be on the covermount CD and LO! there we were! We've never done anything like this before, so it was all RATHER exciting.
Even MORE exciting was the ADVERT inside - something ELSE we've never done, but which looked TERRIFICALLY PROPER when i flipped through. I don't know if either that or the song on the CD will actually persuade anybody to BUY it, but even if not it's definitely been worth the Very Reasonable Sum Of CA$H just to see us looking like a Proper Band!
And talking of which - we're going to be entering ourselves into a COMPETITION in a few weeks. I don't want to go on about it too much for fear of JINXING any already LUDICROUSLY MINISCULE chances we have of getting ANYWHERE with it, except to say that one of the items you need to send in is a DVD of any VIDOES you have made for songs on the album. I spent a difficult hour or so early yesterday trying to get Windows DVD Maker to work, and then an OVERJOYED 15 minutes a) discovering it HAD worked and b) watching some of our VIDOES on THE BIG SCREEN.
Well, the portable telly in our kitchen, so not THAT big, but still - I was AMAZED by how GRATE they looked. I haven't watched ANY of them for AGES (apart from to snip bits out for the Album Advert), so had forgotten how - excuse my vanity - ACE they are. There's SO MUCH in them, how did I ever find the time to do all THAT?
It looked so good and was, in retrospect, so PEASY that I'm now seriously considering doing a proper DVD of ALL of our vidoes. It won't be for a good while yet, mind you, but it'd be GRATE, wouldn't it?
Well, for now anyway. I sort of get the feeling I might end up doing it again some time in the future - I still harbour a desire to properly WRITE it all down at some point, so will probably end up wheeling the ACT out again, but after THIS gig it was all going to be the new album and then Dinosaur Planet. The question toppermost in my mind was "Will this be a FITTING end?"
Yes. Yes it was.
I met Mr S Hewitt in The Rake, a tiny but GRATE pub which is FULL of all sorts of AMAZING beers. I also met Mr Al Ewing, he who what writes GRATE stuff for 2000AD - I had been thinking, only last Wednesday, how BRILLIANT his Judge Dredd is and so took the opportunity to tell him so. Probably at rather too much length, but still.
Some BEER later we set off for London Bridge station and the train to Brighton, where after some SEARCHING we found the train to Moulsecommb and hopped on. We were booked to do the show at Moulsecoomb community allotments, as part of The Brighton Fringe, the STORY behind which is thus: I really wanted to play the Brighton Fringe Festival, but applications were right in the middle of me doing TONNES of work getting the new album ready, so I never got round to it. A month or so after the deadline had passed I saw an email from the organisers asking if anybody could do a benefit gig for the allotments, who had recently had their OVEN stolen. It sounded like a GRATE cause (and if you look at their website you'll see it is IMMENSELY worthwhile) so I said I'd like to have a go. And they said yes!
I'd had an email from Warren The Organiser to tell me how to find the allotments and we HOPPED off the train, down a little cutting and were soon striding MANFULLY up the hill through the allotments. Everyone was busily chatting, chopping wood, managing fires etc but we soon found Warren himself, who told us that they'd had LOADS of applications to do the show, and they'd chosen me because i seemed the most laid back. I was CHUFFED. He said they were thinking of doing it more as a thank you for the volunteers and kids (a lot of the work they do with children from the nearby estate who, as he said, "don't have a lot of fun at school") than a big show, which was fair enough i guess, but I did hope that others might be able to find it!
We wandered off to look for an Off Licence, finding the surrounding area to be very reminiscent of Braunstone in Leicester. When we got back I found myself chatting to one of the volunteers who rather sheepishly admitted he'd just bought one of my CDs from a charity shop. He though I might be upset, but I was MASSIVELY PLEASED to think that we had made it to the extent that we were appearing in The British Heart Foundation! It might sound strange, but to me that's an affirmation that we make PROPER RECORDS that people actually MIGHT alight upon excitedly next to all the unwanted copies of "Be Here Now".
Phil from Victory Records arrived, who I'd not seen for AGES, and then it was soon time to get going. I made a trip to the Compost Toilet, Steve went for a walk around the allotments waving the SIGN at people, and then i HIKED up hill to The Forest Clearing, which they'd cleared out especially. It was like a natural ampitheatre (and is apparently OFFICIALLY part of the South Downs National Park now!), although i did find it a bit SCARY being on a SLOP like that - there was also a big HOLE near where I stood, which I managed, somehow, NOT to fall into.
People filtered up, shepherded by Steve who tried to get everyone close enough together to be able to hear my properly, and I ASSESSED the audience. They do quite a bit of work with Adults with Learning Disabilities, some of whom had been shouting a bit further down the hill - i thus thought there might be some calling out during the gig and so, during The Business Before We Begin, I did take pains to remind everyone that I could hear them as much as they could hear ME. I was, however, worrying about the wrong people.
Right in front of me, in the middle of everyone, were four teeange boys and one lad in his early twenties who I'd spoken to beforehand and seemed to be Slightly Lairy but OK. I LAUNCHED into the first song and the first story and all seemed well - they were quite excitable, laughed and joined in, but almost immediately started going too far and shouting things out. The whole "have you ever thought of writing a book... instead of making that horrible noise with your mouth?" was SPOILT by this, and I have to admit, dear reader, it SHOOK me a bit.
Not THAT much tho, and I carried on, but was soon facing the Classic Teacher's Conundrum: What DO you do about Disruptive Elements? Shouting out continued and then changed to Throwing Sticks, first at each other, then at ME. After The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B) I stepped towards the rear of the clearing where my BEER was, and Steve whispered "KEEP GOING!" - much needed! - and I thought to myself "I really do have to DO something here." I tried making them aware of my PRESENCE by standing near them, I tried ENGAGING them by asking them specifically to join in with the DANCING in Do The Indie Kid, but it was only drawing attention to them. LIKE a teacher I realised that if I spent ALL my time on then then i was REWARDING bad behaviour and reducing the CARE I was giving to everyone ELSE... and also i was getting really annoyed, so just stopped doing the gig, POINTED at one of them and gave him a PROPER TELLING OFF. AHA!
Much to my surprise this appeared to work, as over the next few minutes they got up, one by one, and nonchalantly wandered off as if that was the plan all along, led by the lad in his twenties. It was a BLOODY MASSIVE RELIEF I have to say, and the whole rest of the gig felt HUGELY more fun. Everybody else appeared to think so too - we'd got through the disruption and, happily, had done so just in time for the Much Quicker And Funnier Second Half! HOORAH!
After that it all seemed to go REALLY well, and at the end there was a LOT of cheering... especially for Steve, who practically got a standing ovation! He handed out badges, I did 'Boom Shake The Room' and that was it, DONE!
We were just packing up, however, when Mr Nick Stockman appeared, out of breath having cycled around up hill and down dale trying to find the way! I know Nick because he used to put me on at his ACE gigs at The 12 Bar but he's now in CHARGE of the Fringe Festival himself, so I was really pleased to see he'd found the time to come over and felt HONOUR BOUND to comply with his request for at least one song, and did him The Lesson Of The Smiths. It was the least I could do!
We said our thanks and farewells, made our way down to the station and were soon back in Brighton. I have to say i REALLY needed a pint and really REALLY wanted to go back to the Evening Star. I was SO glad we did - me, Steve and Phil had a couple of LOVELY pints, got into conversation with two blokes and a DOG about Diverse Topics, and bumped into a surprised/REFRESHED Ben From The Lovely Brothers!
It was FAB, and we even had time for an M&S JAUNT before getting the train home again. A fitting end to the show all round!
The Day After Album Of The Day Day
PHEW! What a day of EXCITEMENT, also Listening To The Radio it was yesterday! As stated, I was up at 7am and GLUED to the radio to catch the first play, which was for We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home) on the Breakfast Show. It was pretty clear that neither Danny Wallace nor his co-presenter had a clue who we were or what the song was, but they DID read out the full list of who we are which was a) GRATE because it included "Tom 'Tiger' McClure" (which I always enjoy) and b) TREND SETTING as they joked that Emma and Tim were twins...
A dash to work and then I found myself listening to the George Lamb show. If anyone ever says to me "Pah! Being an International Rock Star is an EASY JOB!" I will point out to them that i have PAID MY DUES, by listening to almost ALL of a George Lamb show. I know it's not DESIGNED for people like me - over 25, trousers properly pulled up, likes music, can string a sentence together - but still, CRIKEY. I am using TACT here when I say I Can See Why Some People Get So Worked Up About It.
Still, when he eventually DID play our song it was all very exciting, and Do The Indie Kid sounded GRATE when it kicked in. I was all excited, and then EVEN MORE SO when it got to The Music Of The Future. As usual I'd forgotten it was coming up, and was DELIGHTED to think that THIS was going out in the middle of George Lamb's show! HOO HAA!
The presenter himself was not QUITE so delighted, as he STOPPED the track before it ended, much to the pleasure of his "posse", blew a referee's whistle and then said something in SPANISH. I was hoping it was something derogatory which we could have used on POSTERS - someone like George Lamb thinking we're rubbish is probably worth MORE than the approval of someone who people Actively Like - but it turns out that all he said was "enough is enough". He can't even be RUDE properly! Still, the fact that The Music Of The Future BLEW his TINY MIND is something i may possibly referring to in future live appearances. SHABBA.
Things were significantly more pleasant when we got to Nemone, who TRAILED the Album of The Day with GRATE excitement - it sounded like we were a Proper Band and EVERYTHING! Much to the surprise of The Validators she played My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once (we thought Steve Lamacq might have BAGSIED that one) and then afterwards read the names of the bands out again... including "Emma Pattison and her brother Tim."
Had Danny Wallace put this in people's minds, I wonder? One e-mail and a couple more songs and Nemone read out a CORRECTION! It was all very lovely, also quite sweet and funny! BLESS!
By this point there was a Validator POOL going on to work out who'd play what, and we'd pretty much agreed that, surely, Mr Lamacq would play Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid... but no! Much to our surprise he played Red Black Gold, which, if you'll pardon my lack of humility, sounded UTTERLY GRATE! Especially when it got to the end with all the russian stuff, it was BRILL!
He was, as ever, SUPER GRATE about it all, and had clearly read the BOOKLET that explained the stuff about Kremlin funded service stations. He gave out tour dates and then read an HIGHLY COMPLIMENTARY email from someone called Johnny (I'm guessing it was Kooba Radio's Jonathan Yes, perhaps?) who'd been to the launch gig. It was all VERY exciting and a LOVELY way to end the day.
Or so we thought - but I've just Listened Again to Marc Riley's show and although he didn't play anything he DID mention us... because Frankie sent him an email! He did say he'd be in touch about getting us in for a session... but only IF they liked what we do! I did send them a CD, so he may just have been being polite (and he may have had a producer on the other side of the room VIGOROUSLY SHAKING HER HEAD as he said so!), but I'm off to the post box with another one in a minute anyway. You never know!
And so THAT was Album Of The Day Day. It was all EXTREMELY exciting but goodness me I don't know how Coldplay or U2 cope with being on all day EVERY day - by the end of it i was KNACKERED!
As you might expect i am DEAD EXCITED about it - in theory this means that FOUR of our songs will be played throughout the day, and I'm going to try and be listening when it happens. I wonder which ones they'll choose? As stated: EXCITEMENT!
I'm hoping that being played so often will send a few people over to these pages to find out about us, so if that's you - WELCOME! There's LOADS of stuff here, including YEARS of blog stuff, lyrics to all the songs,
articles, GIGS, a newsletter, and all SORTS of ways to follow us across the interweb. Hope you like it!
Come on come on come on
The trouble with GRATE, also EXCITING things happening is that as soon as they CEASE happening (even if temporarily) the old ROCK STAR EGO is thrown into panic, also TANTRUMS. Some particularly demented cases may even end up RE-GOOGLING themselves every 30 minutes, just in case something's happened - imagine that!!
Anyway, TOTALLY CHANGING THE SUBJECT, I found a couple more reviews. Here!
Keep Pop Loud "Peterborough's best music export" - HA! Take that, so-called Andy Bell From Erasure!
I found these reviews by MENTAL MAGIC, of course, but if i HAD spent hours re-googling myself I'm sure I would have been AMAZED by how much that slightly snotty BBC review has propagated itself - there seem to be HUNDREDS of websites whose only purpose is to run syndicated content from other news sources. What on earth's the point of it all? I could understand if it was a Traditonal Links Blog or something (like the ALWAYS GRATE linkmachinego, for instance) but this appears to be done by ROBOTS. ROBOTS who ESPECIALLY enjoy telling me that our album is "the return of the comedy rock album". AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN.
BBC Music Review why do some people think a song being "funny" means it can't be anything else at the same time? And why do some people think singing about ACTUAL LIFE EVENTS is "mundane" while YET ANOTHER LOVE SONG or some twerp saying War Is A Bad Thing as if it's a revelation is somehow "important"? Apart from that, "'as wise as it is poignant' - BBC Music Reviews" will be on a LOT of our future press releases!
Phoenix FM Another very nice one, somewhat shorter too!
Tell The Internet I like reviews where the reviewer has actually paid for the album he's talking about - parting with cash makes you think properly about whether it was actually WORTH it. If all reviewers had to PAY for their CDs there'd be a lot less nonsense - luckily, in this case he thought it WAS worth it. PHEW!
And that's all the ones I know about for now - that's quite a few though isn't it? I thought there'd been hardly any, but that's pretty good and most of them seem to like the album too. HOORAH!
If anyone would like to review my review of these reviews feel free, but do note I may review your review of my review of these reviews, AND SO FORTH UNTIL TIME ITSELF DOTH END!
At last release day is upon us, which means you should be able to buy Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez from most download stores, onlie retailers (some seem to think it's not out until next week, but it should be orderable), and of course DIRECT from us.
To celebrate this we've got a brand new VIDEO, HERE:
Thanks LOADS to everyone who's bought a copy so far, it's VERY much appreciated - hope you're enjoying it!
The Launch Of An Album
At last, after YEARS of gestation and MONTHS of preparation it was Album Launch Day. I had an early morning BOOZE CRUISE to Tesco, to get ready for having The Validators stay over, a BIG BATH, and then headed into town wearing my SUIT. It was a special occasion!
I arrived at The Fly to find The Tiger and The Pattisons already arrived and setting up, and we were soon SOUNDCHECKING. The soundguy, Luka, was GRATE - there are loads of LOADS of arsey incompetent soundmen, a small group of NICE ones and an even smaller group of competent/can actually be bothered ones, so when you meet somebody who is ALL these things it is worth SHOUTING about. Mr F A Machine arrived as we were mid-CHECk so we finished off with a full compliment all, as stated above, pretty full SOUNDED.
As The Fly is in my WORK HOOD I knew PRECISELY where to go for a decent pint, and we were soon stood outside The Museum Tavern ("surprisingly nice" - EVERYONE, EVER) having some TASTY beer, after which we ended up in Pizza Express having a) tasty pizza b) traditional pre-gig Setlist ROW. This went on for quite some time - one might have thought that, having REHEARSED and AGREED the entire setlist for the tour, choosing the songs to play this time would be PEASY. NO.
The "discussion" was still RAGING when we got back to the venue, and we spent a happy 90 minutes watching bits of Typewriter and The Kiara Elles (both of whom were dead good, and I would certainly benefit from seeing them when NOT massively nervous) and greeting the various lovely people who turned up. I think the loveliest thing about the whole evening was seeing so many DIFFERENT people from different BITS of My Life In ROCK all rolling up, not least my sister-in-law Annie who i haven't seen for AGES. It was GRATE!
But things could only remain delightful for so long and so, at 9.30pm PRECISELY, we went on stage and did THIS:
Proper Album Launch setlist! It was BLOODY GRATE! I was a bit worried about STARTING with The Lesson Of The Smiths but it seemed to set things up nicely, and the new stuff seemed to stand up - to be fair, a LOT of it isn't that new to our Gigging Agenda, but there were at least two songs in there we'd NEVER done live as a band before, and several we'd only done once or twice. We Can Start Having Fun was slightly waylaid when SOMEONE (there's no point in apportioning blame, is there?) went AWRY with the lyrics, but we managed to bring it back round again, and Do More Eat Less sounded GRATE - I'd worried about what to do in the middle INSTRUMENTAL/LIGHT OPERA section, but it turned out to be an ideal opportunity to take my jacket off (Album Launch: WEAR A SUIT) - if we carry on with this kind of STAGE CRAFT we'll have LIGHTS and GANTRIES by the end of the tour.
We've never properly done Clubbing In The Week as a band but it felt very very NATURAL when we DID do it, and led us into the BIG FINISH when there was MUCH Joining In before ENCORE TIME. As with the COSTUME CHANGES above I have to confess we DID practice doing It Only Works Because You're Here with me starting alone then everyone gradually coming back in... although Emma appeared to forget this and seemed surprised then IMPRESSED when it all started to happen!
It was all GRATE, we had a LOVELY time and even managed to be back home CHEZ MOI by 11.30pm, where we enjoyed a lenghty session of BEER/CHAT/WHISKY before retiring to bed. If the tour is anything like as good as this was it's going to be FANTASTIC!
In all the years we've been doing this I've always had a STERN REPLY to anyone who asks us if we're just a Comedy Rock Band... and yet nobody has ever, to our faces, in print or online, as far as a I'm aware, ever said we WERE a Comedy Rock Band.
It's a little HARSH and very much the Being Funny Is Not A Good Thing sort of review I'd sort of expect from Proper Rock Criticism but, actually, in other ways it's sort of all right and I'd guess anybody who LIKES the sort of things it compares us too would be at least interested - and hey! if that's you reading this now, WILKOMMEN! Also, "the songs are as wise as they are poignant" would sound pretty good on a press release!
To be honest I was hoping for more GUSHING, as it's only been done because the album's the 6Music Album Of The Day on Thursday (did I mention that already? I did? I WILL DO SO AGAIN) but then I guess this is the sort of thing that happens when you emerge blinking and staggering into the big wide world of The Mainstream, asking for opinions. It's all quite exciting really!
And now: time for the BIG SHOP in preparation for The Validators staying over tonight. If you're coming to the Album Launch tonight at The Fly (or if you'd like to - FACT here), then I'll see you later!
Off to fragrant CAMDEN last night, making a first visit to The Electric Ballroom to see Art Brut. I was surprised by how ALL RIGHT The Electric Ballroom is - maybe it's because we went past Koko on the way (which surely must have actively TRIED to win the Worst, Most Annoying Venue EVER BAFTA?), but it seemed unusually OKAY for a venue that size. They DID have the usually Unnecessarily Humourless And Angry Security Guards (Security Guards at Indie gigs! You're only there to make sure nobody sneaks in a bottle of vodka, not fighting for your life, LIGHTEN! UP!) but otherwise the sound was good, the beer was ludicrous but not PISS TAKINGLY expensive, there was enough room to fit everyone in AND you could both see and hear the stage very clearly from the back of the room. The surprise levels were PLEASANT.
The audience was a funny old mix, it was as if some Krazed Scientist had taken a Half Man Half Biscuit audience and a The Killers audience, shoved them into a BLENDER, and unleashed the results on the auditorium. Mind you, I guess one might argue that Art Brut THEMSELVES are a bit of a cross between HMHB and a Haircut Band (in the nicest possible way), so fair do's.
We stood near the back (i.e. near the bar) and were DELIGHTED to see a Carter USM reformation going on before our eyes, as BOTH Jimbob AND Fruitbat were stood a few feet from us, chatting merrily. Earlier on Art Brut THEMSELVES had wandered through the audience: a GRATE idea, I think - if ever I could manage to persuade a couple of thousand people to pay a TENNER to all come and see me at the same time then I would DEFINITELY wander through the audience, just to give them a chance to point at me and say NICE THINGS.
Anyway, as I say, we were stood near Carter USM and when things got going and everyone moved forward I found myself stood in the middle of them. I felt like the DRUMMER!
The gig itself was GRATE - they really are an MAGNIFICENT live proposition, and I was particulary impressed this time around by the MASSIVE RIFFAGE of many of the songs. As mentioned earlier, they sound like one of those Incredibly Competent Young People's Bands that somehow manage to be all, like, rock and roll and couldn't give a toss yet CLEARLY PRACTICE EVERY DAY ... BUT! BUT still fun and exciting and full of GRATE songs and FANTASTIC lyrics. It was an HEADY MIX and Mr Argos certainly knows how to work a crowd. They were BRILLIANT.
And then I staggered off home, to discover this morning that the one foolproof way to avoid getting a Nasty Lager Hangover after going to a gig of this size is to NOT DRINK LAGER. Aha! A Minor Tinned Guiness Hangover is a walk in the park in comparison!
Yes, it appears that a week tomorrow the 6Music Album Of The Day will be Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez! That means that it'll have at least four songs played, one in each show throughout the course of the day. It also, of course, means we can SWANK AROUND all day going "Oh listen! it's US again!"
You find me this morning SHATTERED by ROCK, for LO! It has been Quite A Long Weekend.
It started off fairly quietly with me standing outside a building in Bloomsbury... for FOUR HOURS. I'd (theoretically) POPPED into town for the afternoon to go to the Alan Moore signing at Gosh, and arrived at 2pm to find NO queue outside the shop. "Oh good!" I thought, "I'll be straight in and out!" But then I got closer and saw that, down the side of the shop, there was a MASSIVE queue coming out of a side door. I walked along it, turned the corner, and found it went all the way down the next street, AROUND the corner and then most of the way back almost to the front of the shop. YIKES! Happily i found Mr Dave Green and Mr Ben Moor, so stood chatting with them and ended up being there for the aforesaid FOUR HOURS! By the time we got in it had been agreed that things needed Speeding Up, so I only had a minute or so to tell The Great Man that it was ME who did Alan Moore Song last year. We shook hands like GENTLEMEN, I said "Thank you" properly, and pretty much FLED, GRATEFUL for not being there long enough to make a tit of myself. It was, i think, worth the wait, tho i did feel a bit sorry for Kevin O'Neill - he is UTTERLY GRATE but most of us were a bit too over-excited about seeing Alan Moore in the flesh to give him as much time.
On Sunday The Monday Of My Bank Holiday Weekend and I nipped into town again, this time to spent quality time in a PUB with The Hewitts, who were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary. TEN years! How can people younger than ME have been MARRIED for a whole decade? They seemed very WELL on it I must say, and we had a lovely time before having to dash off to Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, where I was due to play with The PopArt Allstars.
This was for the end of their THIRD Britpop Alldayer, and i have to admit I was feeling a little COCKY about it, as it had been SUCH fun the last time I played with them at Christmas. The closer I got to the venue, however, the more I remembered the time I DISGRACED myself doing "Country House" at a previous event and started to think MAYBE I should have learned my song a bit more. However, the fact that I was still in my SUIT from the Hewitts' Party seemed to work some VOODOO on me and, once on stage I think I managed to do "Do You Remember The First Time" some JUSTICE. My favourite bit was in the instrumental section, when Dom leaned over and said "Do a breakdown, like last time." So i DID, and it was FAB, even tho we were put in the shade by the MAJESTIC finale, when Dave Rees led the audience in a lenghty HILARIOUS call and response section of "Brimful Of Asha." "WHAT does everybody need as a pillow?"
Then on Monday I had to get up SUPER EARLY in order to catch the train to Sheffield, where I was playing at the Fuzz Club BBQ. The journey seemed to take a long time but was DELIGHTFUL and I was soon back back in the University Students Union enjoying a) The Barbecue and b) The Company. There was a whole HEAP of lovely people who turned up this year, tho an ALARMING number of them seemed to have BABIES. By this I mean SEVERAL - it was (OK only slightly) like taking to the stage in a CRECHE as I went up and did THIS:
Just before I'd started the University ROCK SOC had been DJing - there was much discussion as to the FACT that, of all University Societies, the Rock Soc is EXACTLY THE SAME where'ere you may wander through space and indeed TIME. The small group of black-shirted boys who looked so PLEASED with themselves for almost entirely clearing the room had done so with exactly the same pointlessly beligerent crap music as their FATHERS probably did 20 years ago. It was horrible!
THUS it was nice when I started to see a RUSH (well, a speedy stroll) of people coming back in, including about eight teenage girls who were dressed as SHEEP. At first this seemed CHARMING, but this too very quickly became ANNOYING - they stood RIGHT at the front in a circle, SCREECHING, occasionally dancing and occasionally all falling to the floor. At first I thought "Be DELIGHTFUL Hibbett!" and pointed out JOVIALLY that _I_ was the main attention-seeker in the room and that people should look at ME. But then as they stood, RIGHT at the front with their backs to me, I got a bit more annoyed - i asked if they were a CUNNING SATIRE on contemporary students and they looked BLANKLY back at me, and I wondered if it'd be OK just to ask them to sod off BUT luckily the advent of It Only Works Because You're Here made them clear off, obviously quickly BORED. PHEW!
But then, just as I was taking back CONTROL of the situation: BABIES! BABIES being cute! BABIES wandering around near the front! BABIES! When faced with BABIES at a gig there really isn't anything you can do about it, so I accepted my fate, acknowledged their VICTORY, and continued to the end having, actually, a really nice time of it, so much so that i went rather OVER my timeslot.
After that it was time for CHAT, also BEER, which was GRATE although I was a bit alarmed by the STRENGTH of the beer. Apparently they'd just had a beer festival, where all the DRINKING BEER had been drunk, leaving only the LUDICROUSLY STRONG. The calmest thing I could find was a pint of Jaipur IPA t 5.9% FIVE POINT NINE PER CENT!
THUS it was a rather TIDDLY Hibbett who attained TRAIN later that afternoon, having said various farewells to the various lovely people of Sheffield, and who then had a HANGOVER at 8.30pm, just as he had to clamber onto the TUBE. Verily, I had been DONE IN by ROCK once again, but i LIKED it!
Totally Acoustic: Season Two Finale
Back to The Lamb again last night, for the last in the current RUN of Totally Acoustic. What i mean by this is that I haven't got any booked for the future yet, and am unlikely to do for the next few months due to TOURING and Dinosaur Planet - but now that I'm thinking of re-starting in the autumn i have decided to call that SEASON THREE. There may be BOX SETS!
Anyway, I arrived to find The Lime Chalks and most of The Fighting Cocks present, so WORRY LEVELS were much lowered, and we set to sorting the room out. This was made slightly complex by the fact that there seemed to be less tables and significantly more SOFAS than usual (i.e. TWO rather than NONE) but we eventually got it sorted out and soon the room was looking pretty FULL. This was LOVELY although it felt slightly ODD to me as most of the audience were NEW, come for the evening's other two ACTS, and several of my Regulars couldn't make it. I even started QUESTIONING people, asking whether they'd come for the right thing!
Soon it was time to COMMENCE, and THIS is what I commenced WITH:
The two Dinosaur Planet songs seemed to go OK, and then it was into The New Material. I thought I ought to try and do as much of the new album stuff as POSS, just because that's what you're MEANT to do when one has a New Album out. It seemed to go OK - it felt like I had to do a bit of PERSUADING, and there were a couple of people who looked completely FED UP with me at the start which, even through all my MANY YEARS in ROCK, does tend to put me off a bit, but by the end I think we were AS ONE IN ROCK!
Then it was time for the much anticipated Fighting Cocks ACOUSTIC SET. Anyone who has ever seen or heard The Fighting Cocks will now be thinking "Fighting Cocks Acoustic set?!?! WHAT? EH?" but it was FANTASTIC. There were a whole lot of tambourines and SINGING and general LARKING ABOUT - it was JOYOUS to watch a band who, but a few years ago, were all ANTAGONISISM and ANGER and CONFRONTATION and POUNDING DRUMS, be so full of fun and TUNES and GOOD TIMES. I managed to TAPE it on my snazzy digitial four track too, so watch out for The Live Album!
And then there was even MORE tunes after the break with The Lime Chalks, who were LOVELY - guitar and ukelele in concert is ALWAYS a lovely sound, but when allied with a Cello it's really something ELSE. A CELLO! I wonder if anything can fail to sound lovely when it's got a cello on it? The Lime Chalks did NOT fail in doing so, and it leant an delightful summery air to the proceedings as we moved gently but directly from ROCK to BEER. If all season finales were like this the world would be a happier place ... for everyone except Special Effects specialists anyway.