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Better Than The Beatles
I spent the past couple of days FEARFULLY looking at weather reports, for LO! i was due to head up to DERBY for the day yesterday and didn't want SNOW to stop me from so doing. In the morning there was nothing in London, so I got to St Pancras fine and dandy, but there'd been reports of LOTS of it in The Midlands and even more to come later in the day. I got on the train in FEAR - how long would I be sat in this chair, i wondered?
Just over an hour and a half, as it turned out - to my IMMENSE surprise everything worked perfectly and I was soon WHISKED away by Tom in The Tigermobile and off to The Snug, where we were booked in for a MASSIVE day's work.
As mentioned previously, we're not going to be doing many gigs at ALL this year, as Tim and Emma are MOVING... to MAURITIUS!! It's only for 11 months and they'll be coming back, so it means a year of LESS Validators rather than an all round CESSATION, but it DOES have rather serious implications for the recording of DINOSAUR PLANET i.e. they're leaving in just over a week and although we can wait until Easter to record Emma's part we HAD to get ALL the basic rhythm tracks done before they left otherwise we'd have NO chance of getting the album finished before we go to Edinburgh.
Obviously it wouldn't be the end of the world if we DIDN'T, but life would be SO much more pleasant if we DID, and thus I arrived at The Snug to find Rich setting up microphones and Tim happily HITTING things. Aaah, The Setting Up Of The Drums! Is there a more delightful sound? (yes)
Once that was all done we settled down to work out a PLAN. Tom is taking over a Producer/PROJECT MANAGER for this one, so he had a CLIPBOARD and LIST with him. Looking through that we decided that our best bet was to a) try and wait until Frankie arrived before doing the ones we'd PRACTICED with him b) also save (theme from) Dinosaur Planet until he arrived, as it had lots of BASS in it but c) ATAK For The Fate Of The Earth WITHOUT him, on the basis that TWO people who weren't sure what they're doing are more likely to achieve success than THREE.
Anyone who's seen the show will KNOW that For The Fate Of The Earth is an EPIC with lots of stops and MOOD CHANGES in it, so we tried a wholly new TACK for learning it: I played it and everyone else LISTENED to me doing so. This may seem obvious, but usually we LEAP IN to the song as we go along, stopping when we get to difficult bits. This time, not only did I sing it all the way through but Tim and Tom took NOTES! It was BRILLIANT - i think I'm going to try and introduce this at GIGS! They had sheets detailing the whole thing and scribbled furiously throughout. At the end we had a SEMINAR session when we discussed Important Aspects! HA!
It was thus surprisingly easy to record - Tim went into the live room and we did an Actually Pretty Good run through from start to finish before DIVING in for a proper go. We ended up doing several drop-ins i.e. when something went wrong or could be done better we rewound, and leapt in at appropriate moments to try again. After half an hour or so we had a, frankly, ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD version.
We did a couple of minor tweaks but soon realised that, when we come to mix it, we can improve ANY PART of it with the addition of EXPLOSIONS! This, i feel, will be our major contribution to The History Of Rock Recording. In the future people will say "Hmm, it sounds a bit flat, can we add some EXPLOSIONS?" to which Engineers will reply "Isn't that a bit obvious? How about we add DINOSAURS and SCREAMING CROWDS instead?" HELLO HISTORY!
Full of GLEE we moved quickly to record "Strangely Attractive", the LOVE BALLAD which has recently been added and which we briefly played through at the last practice. It sounds LOVELY. We found ourselves then with about 15 minutes to spare before Frankie was due in - should we have a bit of a break, we wondered? NO, we decided, ONWARDS! And so Tim went back into the live room and we recorded TWO more songs!
All right, the songs were basically the same as each other - Here Come The Dinosaurs and We Are The Dinosaurs, but we DID do them slightly differently from each other, and they both sounded SMASHING. To celebrate Tom and Rich went downstairs to make a nice big pot of coffee, which we enjoyed alongside the arriving Frankie with some CHRISTMAS CAKE that Tim had brought in specially.
Coffee and Cake! We are NOTHING if not SOPHISTICATED!
And so we moved on to the second part of the session. With Frankie plugged in we moved on to the OTHER addition to the show, Please Don't Eat Us. This was plugged in to replace It Isn't Nice To Eat Your Friends - everybody seems to Theoretically Like it, but it ALWAYS died when I played it live, so i decided a change was in order. The Validators were initially slightly resistant to this but, once we started playing Please Don't Eat Us its predecessor was never mentioned again, for LO! Please Don't Eat Us ROCKS! It's The Breakout Hit!
Full of the joys of ROCKING we next moved on to The Battle Of Peterborough, or "The Spanish One" as it is known. That's how it's always felt to me anyway, and maybe my SKEWED VISION of the song is what caused us so many problems. "Your guitar playing's putting me off", said Tim, so we tried a take without guitar. "No", said Frankie, "It's your singing". Hmm... was this a break for a CLIFF-LESS SHADOWS that I was facing, i wondered? We ended up doing it with DABS of me playing and singing in the verses (the singing DOES go clattering off at a funny rhythm and i DO tend to get distracted from the guitar playing) and then joining in more at the chorus, and all was WELL.
Now it was finally time for Tom to plug in, for LO! It was HORNPIPE O'CLOCK! Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates was originally meant to be a very brief, slightly jokey, semi-song just to re-assure people about the fact that, well, that Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates, but in Edinburgh it grew to feature a DANCE NUMBER and in the rehearsal room it grew further to be a MASSIVE CEILIDH SPECTACULAR! We had several run throughs of this one - we got it pretty much right on the first go, but it's such a lot of FUN to play nobody seemed to mind it going on a bit. We even did the Traditional Speeding Up At The End THING which they always do to annoy/confuse The Fiddle Player! It WORKED!
Looking at the clock we were amazed to find we had a good two HOURS left in which to record the final batch of songs, tho as these were the Various Versions of (theme from) Dinosaur Planet I wasn't HUGELY convinced we were on easy street just yet. We HAD had a go at this previously but it had been, frankly, AWFUL - it had gone off in entirely the wrong direction and sounded CLATTERING and WRONG. With some trepidation we gathered to try again...
This time we started off with the BASS - I'd spoken to Frankie about using a version of the bassline I'd done for the TRAILER which he took on board and modified to be MORE GOOD. Tim took this and RAN with it, and soon we were ROCKING BUT GOOD. Hoorah! It all sounded BRILLIANT! This was the TITLE MUSIC to the whole thing and it was GRATE - I was SO relieved, and also so GRATEFUL to have a) such a Tight Rocking Unit who b) didn't mind me saying things like "that sounded awful, let's do it entirely differently!" Mind you, I HAD only recently taken it WELL when THEY'D told me "your singing and guitar playing is putting us off. Stop it immediately" so I guess it DOES go both ways.
The only difficulty we faced at this point was the intro, which I wanted to do to fit the VOICEOVER which will go over the top. It took us AGES to get it right, but then we FLEW through... until the end of the second chorus where, it turns out, "What could make a Tyrannosaur Scared?" has ONE more syllable than "The Earth Is Under Attack." See, if I'd had a Classical Musical Training that's probably the sort of thing they teach you on DAY ONE, but it meant we had to go right back to the start again, and this time we ZOOMED through, right up until The Reggae Middle Eight... where we STOPPED DEAD.
We'd decided to take the sensible option and do that later, so instead skipped ahead and did the END of the song, before RIPPING through the final two tracks necessary - the INTRO version of (theme from) Dinosaur Planet which starts the whole thing off and the GRAND FINALE version which finishes things. They're not EXACTLY the same as each other and so I am therefore counting them as two WHOLLY OTHER SONGS for the purpose of counting at the end!
At last it was time for the final piece of the jigsaw, the long dreaded Reggae Middle Eight... which turned out to be LOVELY. Tim found a COWBELL and Frankie got into the GROOVE - so much so, in fact, that he kept forgetting to do the Correct Ending, as he was so INTO it. I ended up abandoning most of the lyrics and just SHOUTING "He comes the D bit - D! D! D!" through the window to make sure he got it OK.
When it was completed we nervously gathered to listen to it all put together. Rich LABELLED everything clearly and then GINGERLY slid The Reggae Middle Eight into position, so that the final beat of the main theme is replaced by the first one of the new section... would it work, we wondered? How many times would we have to re-do it until it fitted? Would it EVER?
IT SOUNDED FANTASTIC! The whole roomed CHEERED AS ONE! It was SEEMLESS - you know that bit about how George Martin slowed down one take of Strawberry Fields and found it fitted exactly with another in a different key? It was like THAT, only BETTER! HOORAH!
We were almost DONE - our final bit of recording was for Tim, Tom and Frankie to gather in the live room to record a THIGH SLAPS overdub for Please Don't Eat Us. Many MANY remarks were made about how this might be Tim's final ACT OF ROCK for the next year, and i DELIGHTED in taking several photographs of this occuring.
The three of them LIMPED back into the control room for a quick check and then that was that: DONE! Ahead of schedule! TEN SONGS (see above for qualifications)!
We said our farewells to Rich and then to Frankie, who had to get home, with Tim taking the main HUGGING ACTION, what with him leaving the hemisphere and everything, then the Cleator Moor Validators popped into the Brunswick for a swift pint, there to sit around being AMAZED by all we'd done. People make a big fuss about The Beatles recording their debut album in a single day but a) they only recorded 10 of the songs that day, the same number WE did and b) they took longer to do it and c) had been playing most of those songs on a daily basis for YEARS, whereas we'd only played some of them ONCE before and some NEVER! Therefore i think i can safely say that we are BETTER THAN THE BEATLES!
With this generally agreed there was further BIG HUGS and we went out seperate ways, Tim and Tom to their respective households and me for an entirely snow-free journey home. I still can't quite believe we did SO much!
Hello everyone, hope you had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying my FAVOURITE aspect of The Christmas Holidays: THE ENORMOUS INTER-FESTIVE GAP!
I LOVE this time of year - as somebody who has spent their entire GLITTERING CAREER working in Academia i've always got just over a week off work around now, and it's BEAUTIFUL. Christmas is DONE, the New Year is yet to get going, and there's a glorious few days when you've really got not much more to do than sit around the house drinking tea and eating whatever's left in the house. BLISS.
I was really REALLY pleased to hear it - we were DEVASTATED last year when we didn't get anything in, and a huge part of our 2009 Release Schedule was thus based mostly on MAXIMISING our chances of getting in! Happily it worked out and we can SWAN AROUND for the rest of the year. RAH! It's a PROPER Festive 50 as well, very much in the John Peel mould i.e. there's some GRATE songs, a couple of Corporate Hits that I'm amazed Dandelion Radio listeners liked, some unlistenable nonsense and some AMAZING tracks I'd never heard of. EXACTLY as it should be - and it's available from their website for the whole month. Go listen, it's BRILL!
Hello all, you find me sat at home gently gearing up for our Christmas Dinner, which is TONIGHT! I'm off to see my Mum tomorrow so we always have our Christmas Day on The 23rd - The Decorations On My Tree and The Landlady are both at work today, so I'm going to be a WHIRLWIND of VEG PREP later on. We're having Roast Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Peas, Stuffing, Linda McCartney Sausages, Yorkshire Puddings, Bread Sauce, Cranberry Sauce, Gravy and BOOZE so there's a lot to do before it all gets going!
But anyway, I thought I'd pop on here to say Happy Christmas, especially to those of you who pop by regular to read these MIGHTY MISSIVES. I hope you have a FANTASTIC yuletide period, and I'll see you on the other side for the Traditional STAT ATAK!
I was all ready and KEYED UP on Saturday to do my Final Gig Of The Year, until I realised it was ALSO my Final Gig Of The Decade! It's been a long long KRAZY ROAD OF ROCK AND ROLL for me in The Noughties - ten years ago I was getting excited about releasing Say It With Words and was mostly gigging in Leicester, where I lived. A Decade on I am getting excited about releasing Dinosaur Planet and mostly gigging in London, where I live. We've come a long way!
Well, we have really - I'll do a PROPER look back at the year when I've finished work and maybe even a DEWY EYED look at the decade too, but every time I try to THINK about what I'd say I get distracted by all the INCREDIBLY GRATE things that have happened - being on the radio! The Hey Hey 16K business! Doing gigs abroad! Rolling Stone! Going to Edinburgh! And Many Many More! Most of all it's been ten years of ENJOYING doing gigs, meeting loads of lovely people, and having FUN. I think if the 29 year old me had looked forward to NOW he would have been amazed at all the ADVENTURES he was going to have, and a bit AWESTRUCK by how happy it would make him.
So yes, with all that in mind as I hopped on the train to Oxford, I was sort of hoping that this final gig would be all right really! Things were looking good for travel anyway - there's been so much talk of Travel Chaos I was surprised to find tubes AND trains running smoothly, and I arrived at The Jericho Tavern EXACTLY on time. I wanted to get there by 5.15pm as that was when Project Adorno were on. As I walked through the doors ON THE DOT i thought "Ho! But this is an all-dayer, everything will be late anyway, IT IS THE LAW!" and was DOUBLE AGOG to find them JUST THAT SECOND going onstage!
They were dead good - I'd heard of them in many ways before but never seen them, and thoroughly enjoyed their set, especially the DANCING, and managed to contain my urge to HECKLE when they did a song about Commodore 64s. Well done me!
Next up was Superman Revenge Squad - I was a bit worried about how he'd go down, as the room was COLD (the heating didn't - COULDN'T - come on until 7pm, apparently) and people were spaced out around the room, and I thought they might not "get" the way Ben's stuff works but he CAPTURED them, HELD them, and was BRILLIANT. The host described him as "mordant", an excellent word I shall use in all future descriptions of him, and the whole thing was GRATE. Full of songs and LARFS and all round GOOD TIMES.
After his set we gathered downstairs for a COUNSELLING SESSION. This was IMMENSE fun as we took it in turns to VENT and AGREE with each other about various Issues Relating To Solo Singer Songwriters. People like us should do this more often - when you're with a band you can MOAN about things together as and when they happen, but when it's just you on your own you have to a) be polite to other people at gigs but b) can BORE people RIGID if you try to talk about it later. Between us we covered about five years' worth of GIG MOANING (not about the gig we were AT, i should say, but ones we'd done). Our IRE was especially raised with regards to Acts Or Bands Who Don't At Least Make A Show Of Watching Other Acts Or Bands. If you're playing with other people you should ALWAYS watch a BIT of their set - it's polite, but more to the point if you just SWAN OFF then you make precisely ZERO new friends and nobody will feel obliged to watch YOU.
We then realised that we were saying this in the downstairs room, while other people were playing upstairs. Ah.
At this point The Songs In My Set arrived, accompanied by our friend Helena, as did Mr J Pennycook (seperately). Things were looking, also feeling, VERY Christmassy so, after a beer or two, I made my way to the stage to do THIS. FOR CHRISTMAS!
It seemed to go WELL - at the start people were standing FAR AWAY and there was lots of talking from the back. The room was gently filling with people although, as is the way of The All Dayer, lots of them had come to see a specific band and so weren't hugely bothered about watching me. THUS I did something i have RARELY done on stage - i said "People who want to see me, how about coming forward a bit?" I'm always a bit nervous about things like that, but was DELIGHTED to find a Large Body Of People DID move forward and together, I think, we had a FINE old time. As before there was a bit of CHAT, there was joining in, and there was Setlist Alteration - I'd previously thought of finishing on "Boom Shake The Room", but swapped it when i GOT to the end, as I thought I'd rather end the decade doing one of my OWN songs.
I also HURT MYSELF - the end of my right index finger is STILL chopped to pieces, due to playing without plectrum in cold weather, but i BRAVELY a) carried on b) use it to type now. Pop Music IS suffering! Especially when it features me!
With the gig done we hung around a bit to watch some of the next band then said our farewells and marched a few doors down to enjoy a well-earned Post-Gig CURRY! It was DELICIOUS, and a wonderful way to sign off ten years of ROCK. If at the end of 2020 I find myself doing something similar I will not be disappointed!
I strode out into the SNOW last night for my penultimate gig of 2009 at The Wilmington Arms. It was COLD! This year I have finally had to admit DEFEAT in the grim battle with AGE and HAIRLINE and get a HAT - last year I convinced myself it was just Unusually Cold at the level of My Head, but this time I faced the FACTS and became the proud owner of a Woolly Hat. It was bought for me by The Warmth In My Winter Warmer, I couldn't quite face going and buying one myself, and it's LOVELY. Oh the wintry walks I've walked in warmth since then!
But even WITH my new headgear it was BLOODY COLD and I arrived at the venue SHIVERING, to find Rob Airport Gurl and, inside, Mr George Damnably. We had a bit of an old chat about Issues Various while the last band soundchecked, then i did a LINE CHECK and went for some TEA before hunkering down for a PINT.
It was a bit of a Leicester reunion, with George AND Rob AND me all on the bill, and the Leicestery-NESS was reinforced when I realised, about two minutes before we kicked off, that there was precisely ONE paying customer in the room. More people came in just then tho and there was a gradual filling until, while not RAMMED or anything, the room was comfortably peopled.
The DISTANCE we've travelled since Leicester was brought into sharp focus for me by chats with George (who's hopefully about set up his own VENUE) and especially with Fortuna Pop! Generalissimo Mr S Price, who FINALLY, in the shape of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, has a band on his books on the verge of Making It. It's all very exciting, and he told me all SORTS of things about how it all works with the comings and goings of Major Label A&R Men and suchlike. I tried to muster up some jealousy that it was THIS Fortuna Pop! ARTISTE who was getting all the attention and now, say, an earlier one, but I couldn't quite manage it. It all sounded like a lot of effort and work BY and ON BEHALF of huge companies, with frightening amounts of money being bandied about, and I'm quite happy doing everything I do in my own little way. Disappointingly, for ROCK BIOG purposes, all I felt was GRATE PRIDE in Sean for having stuck it out this long and finally getting to do his Record Company DREAM!
All this thought and discussion took a couple of Strong Christmas BEERS to get through, and I was feeling slightly squiffy when it was time to go onstage and do THIS:
The SQUIFFINESS was very much in evidence during the first song, which i totally mangled and didn't even manage to finish, but I SORTED myself out as I went through it. I'd had a discussion with The Excellent Soundman beforehand about how annoying it is when Solo Singer Songwriters TELL OFF audiences for not paying attention. "If people are talking it's because you're BORING!" we agreed... which is all well and good, but is a bit disturbing when you find yourself on stage later that same evening with 50% of the room TALKING while you're on, as happened to me in the next few songs. HOWEVER I managed to do enough SHOUTING and SENSUAL DANCING (what? always!) so that by the time I got to My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once everyone seemed to be paying attention - especially a couple in the front for whom it seemed to be EXTREMELY relevant, judging from their LARFS!
After that it was all good fun, for me at least - having done the first half with MINIMAL introductions I ended by GABBING ON at EXTREME LENGTH about diverse topics, especially Advent Calendars before The Advent Calendar Of FACT, which I enjoy more and more every time I sing it. Would people REALLY mind if I sang a Christmas Song at other times of the year?
With the job done there was just time to polish off a final beer before heading out into the SNOW. That was my 68th gig of 2009 done, with only one more to go before I get a month off. Roll on Oxford!
Last time we did a Totally Acoustic
Leigh, the bar manager/landlord (I'm not sure which to be honest, but I'm fairly
sure there's a difference) gave me his email address and suggested I book a few
evenings in advance next year, as he was going to try putting on some nights of
his own. This, I felt, was The Gods Of ROCK speaking, as I'd been considering
doing this very thing for quite some time. Up until now I've contacted people who
I'd like to play and seen when would be convenient for them, before checking with
the pub to see if those dates were available, but that's tended to make things a
bit slow moving, also DIFFICULT when dates AREN'T.
However, i was WARY of having dates booked WITHOUT acts to play them, as that
would tend to run the risk of turning me into some kind of GIG PROMOTER. I've done
nights like that before - LollopaLeicester, for instance, back in the last
century, started out as me doing gigs in Leicester for bands I liked and swiftly
turned into me DESPERATELY shovelling bands I'd never heard of onto the bill, just
so there'd be someone THERE.
But, as I say, The Gods Of ROCK had spoken and so I've taken the plunge,
tentatively at least, by booking THREE dates for Totally Acoustic in the new year. Diaries
ready, here they are!
Tuesday 9 February 2010
Tuesday 16 March 2010
Tuesday 20 April 2010
EXCITING eh? I've also got a list of BANDS/ACTS who I'd like to play, but I think
I might wait until AFTER Christmas to start doing that. I've got a whole MONTH of
not doing gigs coming up, I'll need something to worry about!
Rather wonderfully, I Got You What You Want For Christmas appeared in the B3ta newsletter on Friday - even better, with the headline "A Very Hibbetty Christmas"! As ever this MARVELLOUSLY kicked off all sorts of interest and we've now had about TEN times as many people visiting. If you're one of them, hello!
I do like it when we have one of these SURGES on a video, not least because I take some Perverse Pleasure from Idiotic Comments. Ever since Do The Indie Kid got on the front page of YouTube I have made it so that comments have to be approved by ME before they can appear - as anyone who's ever experience it will tell you, getting a Featured Video is LOVELY but does rather expose you to The Legions Of THE NASTY, and even tho i consider myself a HARDENED VETERAN of The Interweb some of the "remarks" made upset even ME.
Having the POWER to just REMOVE them and BLOCK the poster does make it less unpleasant, and I do take the aforesaid Perverse Pleasure from doing so now. Much to my disappointment, however, we've only had ONE such comment this time. "There do seem to be a lot of commie bastards in your office" said the idiot concerned (I'm doing this from memory so correcting grammar and spelling as i go). "Let's hope they get their wishes so they can be disregarded." He's hardly going to make a living as a Shock Jock, is he?
Perhaps it is the general aura of CHRISTMAS MAGIC that surrounds the video that is stopping idiots? "CHristmas Magic?" you may say, "Give us examples!" CERTAINLY! Word arrives that someone's Christmas wish for PIGLETS has ALREADY come true, as you can see from these pictures, while I'm told that a gift of (a book about) SLOW LORIS has been presented to the person asking for it TOO. On Christmas Day i reckon there are going to be SEVERAL Dukla Prague Away Kits, LOTS of lego, and HEY! Maybe even some WORLD PEACE being given out!
But BEST of ALL these Christmas Gifts was one I received over the email a couple of days ago from Lucy (Horsebox/Riding Hat) saying that she'd done her OWN version of the video with her class of 12 year olds. She sent me a copy of it and, reader, I am not afraid to confess i cried CHRISTMAS TEARS OF JOY. It is a BEAUTIFUL thing - these days we all seem determined to think of The Kids as RUBBISH, but this is three minutes of imagination, wit, emotion and JOY. It really is FANTASTIC and I WISH I could link directly to it now but, as is the way of such things, they have to get full parentel consent before it can be made public.
I really hope they can, it's SO lovely and it makes me EXTREMELY PROUD to think that something so gorgeous could be kicked off with a daft song of mine. It's CHRISTMAS!
There's been a lot of talk these past few days about this whole "Get Rage Against The Machine To Be Christmas Number One" THING. My initial thoughts were "BAH!" but also "HUMBUG!" as Sony own both that and the X-Factor song, and both songs are POO. It was a misguided piece of foolishness, I thought.
"AHA!" I thought, "Actually, YES IT WOULD BE!" for LO! loads of people will get their knickers in a RIGHT twist about it, and JOY will thus be spread around for everybody else. "But who will it righteously annoy?" you may ask. Here's a CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN:
AT FIVE! Simon Cowell! Imagine him on telly having to pretend to "enjoy the joke" as his annual parade of THUNDEROUSLY DULL Number Ones screeches to a halt.
AT FOUR! Pompous Rock Critics! Yes, we know the song's a cacophony of the obvious and AMAZINGLY we're even aware that it's also on Sony but guess what? WE DON'T CARE!
AT THREE! Over Serious Emo Kids! We bought it FOR A LARF! We're not even going to LISTEN to the silly old song as we believe it to be RUBBISH! Now, stop sitting over there moping and have some EGGNOG!
At TWO! Grumpy Old Sods! No, it won't make a difference to the global corporate nature of pop music, but then neither does sitting around MOANING about it, does it?
AND AT NUMBER ONE THIS WEEK! Rage Against The Machine themselves - who will be forced by a nation DRUNK ON CHRISTMAS JOY to appear LIVE on Christmas Top Of The Pops wearing Santa Costumes, driving a reindeer sleigh laden festooned with GIFTS, to sing a special CHRISTMAS version where the course will go "Heck Yes, I will do what you ASK me - and pass the cranberry sauce to my NAN."
Isn't that a BEAUTIFUL VISION of Christmas Larks? I'm off to buy my copy after work - I just hope the Virgin Megastore's open late!
ME and Pagan Wanderer Lu, in fact, for LO! we both have free cover versions to download onto the MP3. His is a Guided By Voices song, mine is an INSTRUMENTAL version of "Good King Wencelas", which I recorded LAST year and was very pleased indeed to be able to UNLEASH onto an unsuspecting Universe this time around. I think it is quite CHRISTMASSY, hope you do ALSO!
Sunday early evening found me STRIDING through Islington, taking the long walk from Angel to The Hope & Anchor - due to a) "essential maintenance work" on loads of the tube and b) wanting to find a curry house for later - in order to attend our gig at the PopArt Christmas DO.
I arrived to find large amounts of PopArt chaps in attendance, watching a band who, to mine eyes, didn't seem to be very CHRISTMASSY. That will be as close as I'm going to get to a REVIEW, but even that much criticism made me feel bad for thinking it.
However, soon The Validators arrived, or at least 75% of them, with Emma not attending this time, and we went downstairs to find the other band had finished... and taken the kick pedal for the bass drum with them! Suddenly i felt slightly JUSTIFIED in my unchristmassy thoughts! There was PANIC as the room was SCOURED for replacement pedals, with NONE to be found. Tim was DESPONDENT, not least because this was going to be our last band gig for a very long time (more news on THAT later in the week). "What a way to go out!" he said, looking full of WOE and DESPAIR. "Might as well have a drink..." he said, GLUMLY.
We went upstairs to do the setlist where he cheered up a bit, largely due to us PRODDING him with HILARITY STICKS, and we were soon back downstairs to find a WEALTH of delightful people, including Team Papermint and Helen from Helen Llewelyn Product 19, had arrived. Then we did THIS:
It all seemed to go rather well - you could feel the lack of bass drum on some songs more than others, and Tim MANFULLY filled in for it with Other Drums. It felt a bit strange (and the sound mix wobbled a bit throughout, which added to the oddness) but I have to say I had a WHALE of a time. I'd been BADGERING everyone to do a version of Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth by Bowie and Bing, and even though I was eventually OUTVOTED on that one things did still carry on in a MEGA FESTIVE way - The Advent Calendar Of FACT ESPECIALLY sounded GRATE. It's one of my favourite songs that I've written EVER, it really is, I wish we could do it more often!
There was also a fantastic singalong in Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid, a LOT of discussion of setlists and Transformers Advent Calendars (I was extremely pleased to get such a HORRIFIED Mass Intake Of Breath when I said "it's got 25 doors"!) and a great deal of JIGGING ABOUT. It was a heckload of festive fun, in fact!
With that done we had to say some pretty SWIFT goodbyes, although not all were fast enough - I went over to say cheerio to Helen from HLP19 only to find her onstage, ready to take part in "Deal Of Snow Deal" - I waved goodbye and then EVERYONE onstage turned and waved. It was lovely!
As INDEED was the reason for our early exit - The Traditional Validators Christmas Curry, which was DELICIOUS. We discussed the Implications of our forthcoming HIATUS in some varied detail and, mostly, had a RIGHT old LARF. Only the addition of CRACKERS and HATS could have made the Yuletide any jollier and it was a much cheered group of Validators who parted company an hour or so later, me to take the walk down to Angel, them to FLY up the motorway to their Midland Homes. It may not have been the most spectacularly Musically Easy gig to have as our Last Gig For Quite A While, but it ended up being a LOVELY evening all the same!
There's not a huge amount going on right now - we're gently preparing for The Last Validators Gig Of The Year on Sunday (about 6.30pm at The Hope & Anchor in That London, at the PopArt all-dayer - do come along!) and we're booked for a MAMMOTH recording session for most of December 30th, but apart from that things are generally Winding Down For Christmas. The Christmas Videos seeming to be causing CHEER and GOODWILL across the land, so in that spirit I thought I'd put the online decorations up.
And here they are! Well, here they are if you're looking at the main homepage version of the blog, they probably won't be if you're looking at it via Myspace or Facebook or Futuristic BRANE Hologram. In those cases, do pop by and have a look won't you? I have tried to be DEAD CLASSY this year, tho couldn't resist including out ACTUAL CHRISTMAS TREE from home - almost in life size detail, in fact!
All is STILL here at The House Of Hibbett as the MENTALLY BUSY year that was 2009 finally gets a bit quiet. It feels WEIRD - the last few gigs of the year are sorted and just need PLAYING, all videos are DONE, there's no albums or singles to be worrying about, and the future, in the shape of Dinosaur Planet is PAUSED until we go back into the studio just after Christmas.
Thus I spent a jolly evening last night simply POTTERING ABOUT. I'm currently, FINALLY, putting all the remastered Beatles albums onto my iPod (and am getting VERY excited at the prospect of sorting out all the covers! Ooh!) and last night ALPHABETICISED my comics collection. Yes, that must be something of a surprise - a rock and roll animal like me having a comics collection!!! Eh? Oh. In that case it probably won't come as too much of a shock when i say i faced an INTERNAL STRUGGLE trying NOT to make a DATABASE of them all. If left to my own devices for too long over Christmas this will HAPPEN.
So yes, it's all a bit quiet at the moment. I know this'll change if anything happens with I Got You What You Want For Christmas and there's plenty of gigs and recordings to look forward to, but for now I'm REALLY enjoy the CALM TIME.
I wonder if this happens to Proper ROCK Stars? Does Mick Jagger secretly get all excited about the DVD Box Sets he's got waiting for him at home? Does Jon Bon Jovi wake up EARLY, unable to sleep for the thought of the fun he'll have doing IRONING the next morning? Does Bruce Springsteen sit back after an hour's Finally Putting Away The New CDs and breath a sigh of CONTENMENT? If they don't, they SHOULD: it's GRATE!
I've been banging on about it for ages and AT LAST they're finished - ladies and gentlemen, I am VERY proud to present BOTH videos for my Christmas Single I Got You What You Want For Christmas:
I am INORDINATELY PROUD of how these have turned out, and can't even begin to sufficiently thank everyone who took the time to think up and idea and send it to me. Why, it's making me feel all CHRISTMASSY just thinking about it! I'm also very excited about the fact that there being TWO videos means that FITES will break out over which is better: the ladies or the gentlemen? ALSO the time is RIPE for their use in academic comparisons of The Gender Difference In Yuletide HOPES. It's a Festive Treat that keeps on giving!
If you'd like to get a copy of the song it's available on the download version of the Christmas Blues EP from Helen Llewelyn Product 19 . You can get it from Amazon, iTunes or pretty much any download store, and, though I can't say it would make the IDEAL Christmas Gift (an mp3 is NOTORIOUSLY difficult to wrap) I'm sure Santa won't mind if you buy one for yourself!
I stopped off in glamorous BETHNAL GREEN on the way home, to go to a MEETING! Yes, a MEETING, i am SO grown-up!
I was off to visit a software company called Avaloop for something John The Publisher had contacted me about earlier in the week. He's LINKED up with one of them, Doctor Babsi, who also runs an agency getting music into video games. She'd looked at the SUMMARY of his ARTISTES (hem hem), saw my description and said "He'd be JUST right for our game!"
One thing led to another and before you can say "Does it need a ram pak?" I'd written a song for them about their forthcoming game, PAPERMINT. They wanted something a bit English sounding and wonky to use for a video, so that is what I gave them, with added CATCHINES, and I was off to their offices to talk to them about it.
They're based in one of those huge disused DEPOT buildings that should, by all rights, be appearing in Life On Mars. From the outside it wasn't very nice, as it was DARK and WET and there was no signage, but they came and collected me and inside it became more like a Multimedia Office from off the TELLY - there were guitars, video gsmes, all manner of cushions. "Gosh!" I thought. "This isn't our office", said Babsi, "we share it with someone else." Their ACTUAL office was a much smaller room where lots of WORK was clearly going on, featuring Martin and Claudia aka the rest of the team. They moved over from AUSTRIA a few months ago to work on the final aspects of the game and they're now a week or so away from LAUNCHING the game and so were obviously hard at it, but still they were the SMILIEST office I think I've ever been in. Honestly, they seemed SO happy and EXCITED about what they were doing that when I left my face was ACHING from joining in all the smiling!
They said they really liked the song, and also ANOTHER one, written by The Words In My Lyrics a couple of weeks ago, which I'd sent them. It was all very exciting and we discussed ways to USE them - I'm going to make some minor ADJUSTMENTS to the theme tune over the weekend, and then I guess we'll see what happens when they've got a bit of time free!
After that I had a TOUR of Papermint itself - it was AMAZING. I'd had a go on it at home the night before and got CONFUSED, like my NAN when she first got a video recorder. "You're not really the target audience" they TACTFULLY agreed when I mentioned this, for LO! it is basically for Young Girls, which I am clearly NOT. It does look fab tho - you get to design a character (AVATAR, i guess) who wanders around a world made entirely of sheets of paper. There's LOADS of ways of interacting and changing your clothes (you can design your own), making things, earning currency, buying clothes and flats, talking to other people, showing emotion (i nearly CRIED when they showed me a character doing SAD DANCING) and... well, just THOUSANDS of different cute little ASPECTS which all put together a) confused my befuddled old mind but b) looked EXACTLY like the sort of thing The Youth seem to enjoy.
It was TREMENDOUSLY exciting and they were BUZZING with all sorts of ideas for how they could improve it and move it forward. It all seemed DRIVEN with a desire to make something GOOD and LOVELY too, which is how THEY all seemed to be too. An Example: when I came in Martin said "Would you like a coffee?" I said YES PLEASE and he disappeared... for ten minutes! He came back with a TRAY containing a cup and saucer, individual coffee percolater, a small glass of water, a small glass of milk, and a plate of CAKE! NICE cake too! And the coffee was DELICIOUS!
So yes, I went home with a big SMILE on my face eager to help out in any way that I could. I think this is going to be DELIGHTFUL!
I've got TWO things to tell you about today, i shall do them in the following order: The First shall be first, The Second shall be second. It's a crazy idea but it just might work.
FIRST: The download for I Got You What You Want For Christmas IS on iTunes, honest, but it may be a bit difficult to find due to it being mislabelled. It's on there as "Got you what you want" by "MJ Hibett". I don't know how that happened - it's fine on the Amazon shop so I don't know why it'd go wrong for iTunes. Helen at Helen Llewelyn Product 19 says that they ALSO got a couple of songs labelled the wrong way round, which seems to me to indicate that a SURLY YOUTH, possibly the song of Mr iTunes, has been given a Christmas Job labelling Christmas Songs and can't be bothered to do it properly, knowing full well that he, Jasper iTunes, can never be fired. It's going to get SORTED, apparently, but in the meantime here's the link!
SECOND: Those fine young men at Pop Art are once again running "The Twelve Questions Of Christmas" for ADVENT over on the DIGEST. The first responses were from ME! Apparently I had a very busy year!
It seems like AGES since we last did a Totally Acoustic and I was slightly WORRIED that a) the pub would have forgotten about us and b) nobody would come. The LATTER seemed about to come true when, on the way, I got a text from Chief Regular Mr S Hewitt saying he couldn't come. DISASTER! FEAR! But all was well - I arrived to find nearly ALL other regulars had already arrived and were happily ENBEERED, and loads of OTHER people were swiftly filtering in.
Not least of which was Mr Pete Green, who I'd not seen for AGES and who seemed Actually Quite Pleased to be told that he was the first person to play TWICE. I've avoided re-booking until now, just to try and keep things FRESH but I think we've done ENOUGH that I can now start re-inviting people, and the first one really HAD to be Pete, The Patron Saint Of Totally Acoustic. A few minutes later our other act, Mr Simon Fox arrived, with guitar AND Banjo, and we were complete!
My other worry, that the pub would forget us, was also ill-founded - INDEED, I had a bit of an old chat about it with Leigh The Landlord, who was VERY keen on us coming back in the New Year. "We've put a new sound system in up there", he said, "so you can play music between the acts, and hopefully plug microphones in so you don't have to play acoustically!" Maybe not that last bit, but otherwise GRATE, and his ENTHUSIASM finally convinced me that maybe next year I'll book more than one in advance - I might even go KRAZY and book a whole BATCH, before I've even got people to play them.
The room had gently FILLED and so, not too long after 7.30pm I went on and did THIS:
That setlist doesn't really tell the full story, however, as there was a LOT of Messing About. And by "a LOT" i mean REALLY A LOT - it took AGES to get round to actually SINGING A Little Bit, not least because I'd MEANT to play Never Going Back To Aldi's but got confused/WAYLAID by the fact they sound a bit similar.
Other lovely bits included first Charlie then EVERYONE joining in with shouting out the door numbers in The Advent Calendar Of FACT. This was BRILLIANT - and would have been even more so if I hadn't got all excited and done bits wrong, or indeed if the pacing of the numbers didn't keep changing all the way through. It was ACE tho, and Charlie didn't seem to mind when I compared him to a) MADGE from Dame Edna and b) KEVIN THE GERBIL.
One day I'll get to the point of just not bothering to do songs and JABBERING for half an hour, it was FAB. As indeed was Mr Simon Fox aka World Of Fox who came on next and was ENTIRELY different, and ENTIRELY GRATE. OOH it was lovely, he did SPELLBINDING (Music Journo Talk) songs beautifully played and GORGEOUSLY sung. I wanted to say "It's like Susan Boyle" but thought maybe that wouldn't come across quite how i meant it i.e. that he has a wonderful TONE to his singing that makes you want to sit and LISTEN to it. Here in the world of The Indiepop we tend to make do with the voices we have and not to VALUE The Voice as much as in other areas, so when you hear someone who can SING RIGHT PROPER like that it makes you sit up and take HEED.
There was another BEER BREAK and it was time for Mr Pete Green to take to the stage and be GRATE, as ever - I am sure I do not need to repeat my admiration for Mr Green, it is A MATTER OF RECORD, but I especially enjoyed his set this time because there was LOADS of new stuff in it. Maybe it's because I've not seen him for a while, but it felt like half the material was NEW to me. His Christmas Song was ACE, also MOVING, but best of all was the new song he FINISHED on, "Subterranean Mosely Blues" (or something like that - it is as yet not finally TITLED) which was a huge wideranging PROTEST song, but a GOOD one - like "A Country Practice" by The Half Man Half Biscuits really, covering LOADS of stuff and then thundering back at the end for a PROPER MESSAGE. It was fantastic - when he announced it as his last song I thought "Has he gone MAD? Finishing with a NEW SONG?" but it was BRILLIANT.
And then the evening gently rolled downhill into Just One More Beer, CHAT, and a whole lot of hugging before I strode out into the night, feeling all CHRISTMASSY and EAGER to do a whole lot more lovely gigs like this next year!
On Monday night we had a recording session booked, in order to move even further forward with the recording of "Dinosaur Planet: THE ALBUM". As reported previously we'd learnt up a new batch of songs to start, but these plans were put aside when it turned out Tim wouldn't be able to make it. THORTS whizzed across the interweb and it was decided to convert the session into my FAVOURITE sort of session: one that was all about ME doing MY bits. HOORAH!
I thus arrived at Snug (via a slightly confusing ride where the taxi drive got LOST) to find both Rich AND Robbie ready to ROCK. We made pretty quick work of doing Acoustic Guitars on all the tracks requiring it, including a DELIGHTFUL moment when, just as I was thinking "Now, I'd like to double track the acoustics for this one" a voice came through from the control room saying "Shall we double track the acoustics for this one?" STUDIO SYNERGY.
Next we dove into ELECTRICAL GUITAR. This is always VERY VERY EXCITING for me as I don't spend much time ROCKING OUT and, as a special treat, they plugged in THE ROCK BOX for me. This, in laymans terms, makes everything ROCK. Via a BOX. It was TERRIBLY good fun, especially when i worked out an Actually Quite Good BIT for the end of We Are The Giant Robots which makes it even MORE, well, more LUSH than it was before. Which was a LOT.
Mr FA Machine then arrived, just in time for the BEST bit: VOCALS! I shocked and appalled the more strait-laced, convention-bound members of the TEAM with my first request: to SIT DOWN to record vocals. Everyone was AGHAST. "Do you know nothing of Vocal Technique?!?" asked Frankie, SURELY rhetorically. Against ALL protestations i INSISTED on sitting down to sing - when I stand up I tend to become convinced i am LIAM GALLAGHER or something and waft about bellowing, it's MUCH nicer to sit down and do it. "But you can't!" said the doubters. "Is that what they said to JIMI HENDRIX?" I asked. "Oh no Jimi, your guitar's too close to the amp, you can't make that horrid noise." "Are you comparing your decision to sit down to Jimi's Hendrix's redefinition of The Guitar?" I was asked. NO. THAT IS FOR HISTORY TO DECIDE.
ANYWAY We took about an hour to whip through my singing, developing a strategy where I gradually went through the song, stopping when I went wrong (doing much of the song LINE BY LINE, in the case of A Little Bit) until we'd got to the end... and then doing another take almost always in ONE GO. I believe the plan will be to COMP the best bits from both... tho I hope I don't have to be there to go through it all.
With that done it was BANJO TIME - I'd wanted to do some ukelele on My Grandad Is Nuts but as the change of plan came when I was already out and about I hadn't had the chance to bring it. This ended up being FORTUITOUS as I was able to TEXT Frankie from the train to ask him to bring the BANJO, and he did some GORGEOUS work on the song.
A CD was presented to us and all that was left to say our goodbyes and nip to the pub for last orders. A good night's work, and the PRODUCT of said work sounds GRATE!