MJ Hibbett & The Validators


Dealing With The Professionals
This week I've been working hard on PROGRESSING the new album towards its official release, and have been DELIGHTED to find myself working with Actual Professionals.

The CD manufacture is being done by Key Production, who have been LOVELY. Emails have been zinging backwards and forwards as they've explained things, checked things, and then checked things again. In the past I've shopped around for the cheapest deal and ended up struggling to work with some RIGHT cowboys - the last time this happened was when Dinosaur Planet went through TWO (2!) disastrous attempts to get made before I finally went crawling to the aforesaid Key Production who sorted it all out for me, so this time I went STRAIGHT to them and have been SO very happy with how it's all gone.

I've had a similar experience with the digital version, which is being done by Emubands. I got myself a bit confused while uploading the tracks, realising halfway through that I'd used OLD versions rather than the final ones, but they very quickly and happily sorted that all out for me. They were similarly PATIENT when I sent them the wrong ISRC codes (which identify tracks) - it's literally YEARS since I did any of this stuff, so I am not quite at the top of my game!

It's all been surprisingly pleasant I must say - I may not clearly remember HOW I did all this for other albums, but i DO remember it being a TRIAL OF NERVES every time! Spurred on by how pleasant it had all been I went on to register everything for PPL (the people who pay radio royalties for the RECORDING, as opposed to PRS who pay for songwriting) which was also less AGONISING than I remember!

Once all this is done the next big job will be the publicity campaign. I've already got a list of Things To Do and spent a large portion of Wednesday working out how to get it all done, so I now have a very detailed schedule with lots of ACTIONS pretty much every day for the next two months, leading up to release day on July 4th. After that nothing much is scheduled to occur - hopefully something will though!

posted 29/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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A couple of days ago The Characters In My Message and I both got an unusual text from our chum Mr M Sutton. "Are either of you available tomorrow evening?" it said. "I've got a free ticket to see ELO."

As it turned out one of us WAS available, and so it was that on Tuesday night I met Mark at the front of the O2 arena, ready for some Electronic Light ROCK. I do like the O2 - myself and The Seats In My Arena have been there SEVERAL times as a) it's REALLY easy to get to from our house b) it has very comfy seats and a good view wherever you are and c) you can book tickets near an AISLE for easy access to BEER and TOILETS. Gig going in middle-age, it's PEASY when you know how!

Before we went into the actual auditorium we stood in the corridor/walkway outside having a beer and a natter. "Is that The Feeling playing?" asked Mark. I thought it was just the pre-show music being played, but we went to have a look and it turned out it WAS The Feeling, doing the support slot! You could tell they had done this sort of thing before - the singer kept saying "You're about to see ELO!" and got a huge round of applause every time. CUNNING!

Usually we book tickets to one side, but Mark had got his RIGHT in the centre, looking toward the stage. We were almost DEAD centre so when Actual ELO started it felt like all the SCREENS and LAZERS had been set up specifically for us. It looked pretty AMAZING - there was a huge circular screen which had SPACE stuff on it and with all the lights and things swooshing around it was MESMERISING!

The actual music was pretty good too - I'm not OVERLY familiar with ELO, but even I know a GIGANTIC HIT when i hear it, and "Livin' Thing" is definitely one of those! He seemed to do quite a lot of songs from his new album, but to be honest I couldn't tell the difference between those and the old ones, and after a while it did all start to sound a bit samey. It's a very distinctive sound he's got, has Mr J Lynne, but it does take over the SONGS after a while. Still, it was all very lovely and, with the light show whizzing away, very relaxing!

The GIGANTIC HITS came back after a while, with an ENORMOUS version of "Don't Bring Me Down", which was GRATE. "Two more songs after this," said Mark. "Sweet Talking Woman" one of them. "Then Mr Blue Sky?" I suggested, just as the band kicked off "Sweet Talking Woman" followed by "Mr Blue Sky". The band went off stage and I struggled to think what they'd do for an encore - it was their odd, long, LOUD version of "Roll Over Beethoven"! Of course it was!

We got out easily and speedily - we were amongst the youngest of a very seventies, very HAPPY audience! It was a lovely evening - if anyone else has free tickets for a ROCK LEGEND within half an hour of my house do let me know!

posted 28/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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We're On The Way!
Yesterday we zoomed past a massive milestone on the way to releasing our new album: I sent the MASTERS off to be MANUFACTURED!

This has been a big old job - it's taken YEARS (years!) of writing, recording, mixing, mastering, re-mixing and re-mastering to get the audio parts done, and it's taken MONTHS of back and forth and TWEAKING to get the artwork for the cover done. The biggest job over the past couple of weeks has been sorting out the COLLAGE that forms the inside cover - there's a LOT of pictures in there, and a lot of checking needed doing!

This all culminated in a nervous weekend during which I LOOKED at the artwork about 1,000 times, got the Validators to agree it, and had final checks with The Team In My Internal Comms Team before burning it to CD, putting it all in an envelope with the order form, and taking it down to the post office. There is now a GRATE sense of relief around, a sense that will come crashing down in about a fortnight when we begin the process of waiting for the CDs to actually ARRIVE, so I intend to enjoy it while I can!

There's a TONNE more to do - I've still got to finish logging it with iTunes etc, get various promo items ordered, write a press release, send it out to reviewers, make some videos and all the other bits of ADMIN that you need to do in the futuristic world of being your own record company - but this is one HECK of a step forward. We're very much hoping to get it ready for release on July 4th - I can guarantee that I'll be keeping you informed along the way!

posted 26/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Viewable On Demand
I've been going ON and ON about the SHOWCASE what we did at City University, so it seems only fair that I give people the opportunity to SEE what I was talking about. THUS here is a PLAYLIST containing VIDEOS of all the pieces we put on:

I think it's all come out pretty well, though it did take AGES to put together. We had hoped to record it on TWO cameras, my fancy one at the back of the room on a tripod and a futuristic bluetooth device connected to Ms E Morgan's phone near the stage. Unfortunately somebody STOOD in front of Emma's device for half the show, and their PHONE interfered with it throughout so we couldn't use the audio - oh, the future, what new and exciting trials you bring us!

Still, it did make editing a bit more straightforward, and hopefully you can still hear the words OK. Looking at my pieces though, especially the monologue, I am reminded of what I said last week about trying to rip of Victoria Wood!

posted 25/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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I Heard It In Soho
I was buying my comics in Gosh last night when Steve took a phone call behind the till. It was Nat downstairs, ringing to tell him that Prince had died. Steve told me, I checked twitter, and we both expressed our amazement. What on earth is going on?

I left the shop and walked through Soho, and for the next five minutes all you could hear was people getting phone calls, saying "What!?" and then explaining what had happened to the people they were with. Everywhere you looked, everyone was checking twitter to see if it was true.

t will surprise approximately nobody to learn that Prince doesn't figure QUITE as highly as Victoria Wood in my Pantheon Of ROCK Heroes, but still, crikey! If this is a band IN HEAVEN being put together with him on guitar, her on keyboards, Lemmy on bass and David Bowie on vocals then I can only hope that someone is keeping an eye on Ringo.

I am imagining that band right now. They sound AMAZING!

posted 22/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Don't Starve A Girl Of A Palaver
When one is an International Rock Star like what I am one spends a lot of time doing interviews. All right these are pretty much always IMAGINARY interviews in your head on the way to work, but still, one of the main questions asked is "What Are Your Influences?"

This is an excellent question to answer because it means you can acknowledge your debt AND show off a bit about how super eclectic you are e.g. in my case I usually say "Billy Bragg, John Otway and Half Man Half Biscuit, obviously, but also The Mahavishnu Orchestra and the traditional sounds of the nose flautists of Bolivia, do you know them at all?"

I have been saying this sort of things for years, but it was only yesterday that I realised that it is pretty much a FIB. Not the nose flautists - their experiments in alienation and reappraisal are seminal - but the rest of it misses out someone who, I now realise, I have based most of my songwriting on. That person is, of course, Victoria Wood.

There's been a lot of celebrity deaths this year, and some of them have effected me a lot - when David Bowie died there was suddenly this Bowie-free world that felt WRONG, for instance - but nothing has brought me as close to tears as finding out about Victoria Wood. I went to look at some videos of her, like I guess half the population of the UK, and was stunned by a) how brilliant it was and b) how I had pretty much ignored her for decades. Like most people my age, when I was growing up the whole family would sit and watch her on the telly at weekends. My Mum would LARF a LOT and maybe because of that I thought the shows were a bit naff (sorry Mum) and so never watched later stuff like Dinnerladies. I realise now that all those shows seeped into my BRANE to such an extent that I have, basically, been trying to rip her off for DECADES. This goes for THE WRITING (I've just been watching a video of my MONOLOGUE that was performed at our showcase last week and you can HEAR me straining for Victoria Wood-ness) but especially for my effors in ROCK. Pretty much everything I've written, it turns out, has been a half-arsed effort to rip her off!

For instance, everyone was tweeting about The Ballad Of Barry And Freda yesterday because, well, it's FANTASTIC, especially when you read the lyrics on their own. Every LINE is funny - not just the punchlines, but ALL of it. There's some incredible bits in there -"I'm on fire with desire, I could handle half the tenors in a male voice choir" for instance, or the the astoundingly brilliant couple of lines "Don't starve a girl of a palaver / Dangle from the wardrobe in your Balaclava." I love the way the first line has an INCREDIBLE internal rhyme which most people would consider the crowning achievement of their writing career but which turns out to just be the set-up for the second half, which as well as being hilarious AND rhyming AND having an avalanche of words that fit perfectly, it's also full of sympathy and enjoyment for the sort of life that ART traditionally sneers at or ignores. I love the bit where the bloke pleads "I must refuse to get undressed. I feel silly, it's too chilly". He's not being mocked, you can feel his TERROR yet it doesn't make you enjoy the woman's enthusiasm any the less. It's beautifully balanced and funny and tender and well observed and just bloody GRATE from start to finish.

And that, of course, is exactly what I've always been striving for - what we all should be striving for really, and the fact that we'll likely never get anywhere near what she achieved doesn't really matter. I'm only sad I never realised this properly while she was still about, but I will do my best from now on to put her first whenever that question comes up in an interview, even if it's only me asking!

posted 21/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Minutes Of The Meeting
Saturday found me in distant DERBY for a VERY important band meeting with The Validators a.k.a. CURRY NIGHT!

For LO! The album is pretty much finished and thus tradition demanded that the five of us get together to a) toast its completion b) discuss what we're doing next c) tit around d) eat curry. We managed to do ALL these things very successfully.

After checking into the swanky new Premier Inn I went to meet The Family Machine in The Silk Mill, a very pleasant pub nearby, before Mrs Machine dropped myself and Frankie off at The Rowditch, traditional site for the FIRST half of these meetings. We happily trotted to the door only to find it SHUT. PANIC! Then, realisation that it was 6:58pm so probably just not open yet. PHEW! We skipped across the road to the offie to purchase our beers for later (our next destination was BYOB) and faced the traditional dilemma of How Many Beers To Buy. "Two each will probably be enough", we agreed... and then bought a four pack each. Well, you wouldn't want to run out, would you?

We emerged to see Mr T 'The Tiger' McClure and The Pattisons heading into a now opened Rowditch, which worked out RATHER nicely as it meant that Emma was getting the drinks in when we got to the bar! There then followed HUGS and LARKS and CHAT and also, squeezed in between, a Proper Meeting. Here is what we discussed:
  • Gigs And Festivals - We agreed on accommodation for Festival 8 (some in tents, some in a van, SENSIBLE people booking a hotel), decided to try for a launch gig in London and another in Leicester, and that ALL Validators would be making the trip to appear at HIBBETTFEST this year. We also agreed to officially GIVE UP on ever hearing from Another Festival, allowing everyone to get on with booking holidays/trips to weddings/tickets to go anyway!

  • Merchandise - We settled on a design for BADGES and made some changes to a T-SHIRT. They look NICE!

  • Promotional Activity - I presented my PRESS PLAN, a lengthy document of who and when I'll be contacting, and we discussed the modern need for VIDEOS and TRACKS and basically anything we can give to BLOGS. Several good ideas were suggested and we agreed to THINK ON for the future. So modern!

  • Signing Off - everyone was now happy with the actual ALBUM and so that was unanimously signed off. The artwork, however, still had a little bit of work to do - there's a collage on the inside cover, and there were still a few people to check with to make sure they didn't mind appearing in it. Once THAT'S done (hopefully later this week) I can send it all off to be MADE!

That done we closed the meeting and adjourned to Balti International, traditional site for the SECOND hald of these meetings (we even got Our Usual Table!) for more LARKS and also delicious curry. I have no idea what we talked about, but I know it was a LOT of fun. Also, two cans each would have been enough.

We left full DELIGHT, also CURRY, ready to face whatever came next as a TEAM. Throughout the evening we'd been taking SELFIES (to maybe use for Promotional Purposes... also for FUN) and this one provides documentary evidence of quite how much fun we'd had:

We said our farewells and Frankie and I staggered down the road to a micropub where two blokes who had clearly never heard 'Streets Of London' were singing 'Streets Of London' so that the whole pub (NB it was tiny, so this mean about 15 people) had to sing the choruses AT them to make them do it right. It was a lovely end to a lovely evening - let the ROCK commence!

posted 18/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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City Showcase
I was back at my ALMA MATER City University last night, for the Lost City Writers Showcase. This was an event that featured actors doing rehearsed readings of a bunch of scripts by myself and my colleagues Ms E Morgan and Ms N Racklin. SPOILERS: it was GRATE!

It felt a bit weird for it to be actually HAPPENING tho, as it's been in the works for about a YEAR, from talking about it with chums to several meetings and emails with Ms C Feltz of the Alumni Office, to getting the director and actors, doing promotions, arranging rehearsals and finally the actual evening itself. On the plus side this meant that by the time the event itself rolled around it felt like a BONUS for the work everyone had done, rather than anything to particularly worry about!

Well, I say that, but there WAS a fair bit of worrying, from people actually turning up (they did!) to whether the scripts would work (they did too!). As with previous Lost City Writers stuff we've done we got a proper director in, who arranged the actors and did the rehearsal, which meant that I saw my three bits all anew. I'm used to learning the lines and working it all out MYSELF (with Steve) over the course of about six months, so it was like MAGIC to see it appear before my very eyes like that.

My three pieces were Marjorie Meets Gareth, Gareth Meets Marjorie , Architecture & Mortality and The Invention Of Sex, all of which had been performed by other people in other places, so it was AMAZING to see them again done by different people in very different ways. My main concern, to be honest, was just whether they would get LARFS, and much to my relief they DID - my favourite being halfway through Marjorie Meets Gareth, Gareth Meets Marjorie when you could HEAR the audience all go "Oh THAT'S what's happening" all at the same time!

Everyone's pieces went down really well, in fact, and we even got some free BOOZE at half-time (and also at the end, when we HELPFULLY tried to save the Alumni Office the bother off taking undrunk bottles away). Afterwards there was PUB and CHAT and much happiness all around. It was like SHOWBUSINESS!

I've also got VIDEO of all the pieces, so hopefully I'll be able to get them online soon to share the experience. It was a LOT of fun - would do again!

posted 15/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Tracklisting
All across the land (well, The MIDlands anyway) Validators have been listening to their new album, and as of this morning we have confirmation from all concerned that it is DONE, completed, and ready to ROCK!

Final confirmation will come during Saturday's band meeting, but as it's looking like pretty much a done deal I thought I would take the opportunity to share the TRACKLISTING with you, thus:

  1. 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  2. Can We Be Friends?
  3. That Guy
  4. In The North Stand
  5. Burn It Down And Start Again
  6. (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  7. Hills And Hollows
  8. The 1980s How It Was
  9. I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  10. We Did It Anyway

Note those titles well, for LO! they will surely be burned in FLAMING LETTERS across the SKY of ROCK in a few months time! Or, at least, hopefully mentioned on a couple of blogs. I can assure you that it does all sound GRATE though - all The Validators think so, and they wouldn't fib about a thing like that would they?

posted 13/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Brand Management
It was a KRAZY day yesterday for managing MY BRAND, as pretty much EVERYTHING was going off at once.

First and foremost was the release of Hey Hey 16K on DVD which I spent quite a lot of time talking about, organising things for, and THINKING about - I need to find some places to send it to for REVIEW and I fear I have pretty much NO idea!

I also spent some time finishing off this month's Totally Acoustic Podcast which is a RIGHT cracker featuring Aidy from The British IBM, Michael L Clamp and Ruth from PO! - it's very much available to download and I suggest you do so immediately!

Meanwhile, across town, rehearsals were underway for the Lost City Writers Showcase which a) features three PIECES by me b) is happening on Thursday night and c) has tickets very much still available, if you'd like to come.

I was unable to attend said rehearsals due mostly to WORK, but then in the early evening I was also prevented from going due to a prior, DELIGHTFUL, arrangement to meet Mr T Eveleigh and record some items for his many and various podcasts. We went and had a bit of a sit in front of the Arcelor Mittal Orbit (AKA The Red Squiggle) and spent a MARVELOUS half an hour yakking away, culminating in me recording a couple of SOLO songs for later use while planes flew noisily overhead and passing cycles casually veered out of their route to have a look at what was going on.

As well as just being FUN this also counted as the first stage in the rapidly approaching PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN for the new Validators album, 'Still Valid'. On Saturday we have a BAND CURRY booked when, all being well, the MASTERS and COVER will be SIGNED OFF and I can send them off to be MADE. In preparation for this I have been allocating a small amount of time each day for PLANNING and PREP - I'm currently STILL trawling through music blogs, looking for likely candidates who might mention it. The main thing I have learnt from this process is that everyone is talking about a band called The Goon Sax. I really ought to have a listen to them at some point.

As you can imagine, with SHOWS, Totally Acoustic, solo performances AND The Validators all swirling around my head, I was quite relieved that The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum videos had all been released last week! So many BRANDS - this must be how The Beckhams feel ALL the time!

posted 12/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Hey Hey DVD
It gives me ENORMOUS pleasure to say that the DVD of Hey Hey 16K is finally available to BUY from those lovely people at Go Faster Stripe and it is ACE!

I know it's ACE because I watched it myself last night whilst doing the ironing, and although it did make me SHRINK from the screen a few times when I noticed bits that I did WRONG I can confirm that it is a complete and accurate rendering of the live show experience, except that we don't come and talk to you at the end in sweaty shirts. Although that, of course, can be arranged.

It's a right proper recording with lovely packaging and an AMAZING title sequence, which you can witness in full for yourself HERE:

It's also my first experience of someone ELSE (i.e. not me) releasing something (apart from on a compilation) for YEARS and so I am, of course, feeling a bit guilty about Mr C Evans of Go Faster Stripe PAYING for it and thus would be grateful if as many people as possible could give him some CA$H. On the other hand I'm quite excited about the FACT that releasing a DVD means I've had to update The Database Of ROCK (which runs this whole site) in order to set up a new category in the discography!

It's all VERY exciting really - at last, after all these years, you can see one of our shows PROPERLY without having to actually go in person. The dream, FULFILLED!

posted 11/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Next Email Is To Morrissey And Marr
We've had some pretty brilliant nights at Totally Acoustic over the years, and CRIKEY last night was amongst the MOST brilliant!

It kicked off in a fairly normal way with ME doing a bunch of songs. I'd actually had a PRACTICE this time, to make sure I actually COULD still sing (where "sing" is relative to my usual ability), what with being a bit un-gigged lately. I did Clubbing In The Week, In The North Stand and, to celebrate the fact that the Hey Hey 16k DVDs had arrived (more - LOTS more - news on that next week!), Mr S Hewitt joined me for a rendition of We Did It Anyway. It seemed to go all right!

After that was Aidy from The British IBM, who was ace. Halfway through his set I suddenly thought "Hang on, have I ever actually SEEN The British IBM?" I don't think I have, something which I ought to rectify!

Next it was Michael from Lazarus Clamp, who I have been meaning to ask for YEARS but somehow never have. It's very odd - every time I make a list of "People To Ask To Play Totally Acoustic" he's been on it, but I never got around to actually ASKING until this time, and I'm SO glad I did because he was excellent. To be honest, as so often happens with Totally Acoustic, I was almost as pleased to see him for a chat beforehand as I was to see him play i.e. Very Pleased!

And then we finished off with Ruth from PO! Ruth from PO!!! When I went to see the film "The Avengers" at the pictures I remember sitting there thinking "Yes, it WOULD be good if there was a film with Iron Man AND Captain America AND Thor in it" and had to keep reminding myself that there was and I was watching it. That's what this gig was like - "Wow," I thought, "Wouldn't it be AMAZING if I could get Ruth from Po! to come to London and play my gig and do a PILE of my favourite songs? Oh, hang on..." I basically sat and grinned like a pillock throughout, as she was AMAZING! She did 'Sunday Never Comes Around'! And 'Look For The Holes!' And 'Appleseed Alley' And ... well, you get the idea. The only downside of the whole set was that I had to struggle NOT to sing along with everything and spoil it - turns out I still remember ALL the words!

Afterwards there were the usual hugs, the usual dishing out of CA$H, the usual BEERS, and also an UNUSUAL secret encore as I came back upstairs to find Ruth playing 'Haunt You'. It was FANTASTIC - though it's going to be a hard job editing down the podcast!

posted 8/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Lyrical Revisionism
A week on Saturday (April 16) will be a big day in ROCK HISTORY, for LO! The Validators are convening in Derby for a BIG MEETING (and, mostly, a curry) at which we hope to finally SIGN OFF the music and artwork for our new album 'Still Valid'. We're currently listening to the re-tweaked MASTER of the album and final amendments are being made to the cover so, all being well, by the time we have accepted complimentary spirits at the end of our meals it will all be DONE.

And that, of course, is when The Real Work begins, not only with steering the album through the MANUFACTURING process but also with PUBLICITY! I've been PLOUGHING through old databases for the past couple of weeks looking for press contacts as well as badgering CHUMS for new people to send the album to, as my lists are so out of date, and am starting plans to REVAMP the webpages so they're COHERENTLY BRANDED. I'm also going to take the opportunity to FINALLY change things around so it's not IMPOSSIBLE to use read on a phone - I can't say I'm looking forward to this particular job, but one must move with the times!

One aspect of the revamp I HAVE been enjoying is going through the LYRICS for all the new songs to make sure that they're a) present b) correct. This has been an INTERESTING experience as every single song has had to be CORRECTED - when I write a song I tend to get all excited and put the lyrics up IMMEDIATELY (partly so that I can look them up when I inevitably forget them!) but it then usually takes AGES for us to get round to RECORDING them so, by the time they are IMMORTALISED in plastic, the words have invariably EVOLVED through PERFORMANCE. Sometimes it's only a couple of small things but on this album there have been some BIG differences. The whole chorus to Can We Be Friends has altered, for instance, while Burn It Down And Start Again has a whole new MIDDLE!

It's been rather good fun to go through them all again, not least because it means I have an excuse to LISTEN to the album several times over. It's sounding DEAD good - a lot simpler than our last couple of albums, with more HITS than ever before and also quite LOUD. At the moment we're looking at early July for the Official Release but, as usual, I'll be making it available a bit earlier for Newsletter subscribers.

You can sign up for the newsletter if you don't want to miss out, but I'm sure I shall be mentioning again between now and then!

posted 7/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Yellow And The Grey
I haven't had much to say about THE WRITING on here for a little while, mostly because not an awful lot has been going on. I mean, I've been THINKING things and WRITING stuff, but not with a huge amount of consequence. I have a big TABLE listing every script I submit, with columns for who it went to, what the deadline was and when I think I'll hear back. If I get a positive result (e.g.placing in a competition) I shade that row in YELLOW, if they email to say NO I shade it GREY and strikethrough the details, and if I never hear back from then (but find out it was a "no" by myself) I turn it grey but don't do a strikethrough, just so I know they were RUDE. It usually an a) QUITE efficient b) pleasantly fernickety system but for the last few months it has been an ever growing wall of GREYNESS.

This all got a bit DEPRESSING so a couple of weeks ago I ARCHIVED all the old stuff leaving a fresh table full of UNSHADED rows of POSSIBILITY. I know it sounds a bit daft but this was a HUGE relief - I know everybody always says The Writing is all about rejection, but CRIKEY I never realised quite how much of it there is!

HOWEVER. Once I had archived all the DREARINESS something rather odd started to happen i.e. YELLOW started to reappear on my chart! Captain Wonderful, as mentioned the other week, got performed in Bedford! A script that I wrote for The Impact (a collaborative film by Create50) got SHORTLISTED! A script I wrote for Twisted Showcase ALSO got shortlised , 6 Billion To One got accepted into The Movie Park Action Film Festival and then on Friday I found out that a version of My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, heavily re-written since being in The Sitcom Trials, has been shortlisted for a possible reading in That London!

Now, i realise that all of these shortlistings may not come to anything, but it's STILL a lot more fun than just a bunch of rejections! There's also the small matter of the SHOWCASE I'm doing next week at City University. It's an evening featuring THREE short pieces by ME as well as slightly longer pieces by my fellow alumni Ms N Racklin and Ms E Morgan. We had a bit of a wobble last week as the amount of tickets sold (NOT MANY) meant we might have to CANCEL, but I think we're safe now... though if anybody cares to help us to safety by buying a ticket that woud be DELIGHTFUL!

It's all jolly good fun although, OF COURSE, I do realise that I will soon have to put it all on hold. The album's due out this summer, I will probably be too busy CAVORTING around THE BRIT AWARDS to do any writing once that's unleashed, right kids?

posted 6/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Batman VS Superman VS Deadpool
Over the long Easter Weekend (VERY long in my case as we got an EXTRA extra day to go with the two USUAL extra days University employees always get at Easter - for leap year maybe? - meaning I had a WEEK off work!) I went to see TWO superhero movies. My reactions to each were SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT.

The first movie was "Deadpool", which I saw in the Odeon on Tottenham Court Road i.e. the place where I have historically seen nearly ALL the superhero movies. I don't really have any knowledge or affection for the character Deadpool as he was invented in the 1990s when I wasn't reading comics at all - I stopped then because of a lack of CA$H at the time, but I'd like to imagine that subconciously I knew that the 1990s were going to be a decade of comics being mostly RUBBISH. I'd heard some good things about the film though and liked the idea of someone doing something a bit different with THE GENRE, so thought I'd give it a go.

I am SO glad I did because it was BRILLIANT! I knew people had SAID it was rude, sweary, violent and silly but I wasn't quite prepared for HOW rude, sweary, violent and silly it was going to be. CRUMBS! Some sections made me embarrassed even though I was there on my OWN, while other bits made me properly LARF OUT LOUD. I loved the fact that it committed UTTERLY to the character and carried on being the way it was throughout, with even the obligatory ROMANCE being a) in keeping b) actually quite moving. I spent the next day thinking about it because it was so ACE!

This also happened the day after the OTHER superhero film I went to see, but for entirely opposite reasons. For LO! it was "Batman VS Superman" which was not only TERRIBLE but ANNOYING. I should have known - I hated "Man Of Steel", thought the Christopher Nolan Batman films were BORING and had read many reviews - but then I'd seen SOME people on twitter saying it wasn't THAT bad so, once again, thought I'd give it a go.

I'm KIND OF glad I did because it should save me the trouble of bothering with the rest of the DC Universe, but CRIKEY I did not expect it to be QUITE as STUPID as it was. Whole chunks of it made NO SENSE WHATSOEVER e.g. hopefully not a spoiler but instead of Superman saying "Hey Batman! Lex Luther has let's team up for entirely sensible reasons" he says "No time to talk" and then spends AGES having a POINTLESS FITE. Superman! More time telling Batman WHY you should team-up and less time hitting each other in the face for no reason! ARGH! And then the REASON that particular fight ends... NYARGH! It is SO IDIOTIC it makes me want to fly around punching things through buildings EVEN THOUGH I have said out loud that THAT IS A BAD THING.

Many of the annoyances were the same as with "Man Of Steel", like the way the whole film goes "HOORAH for the Military Industrial State!" or that NOBODY says anything funny EVER (there is a SINGLE mild joke in the ENTIRE FILM and that is in the TRAILER anyway) and instead prefer to speak in hugely ponderous STUPID statements that make no sense. IT IS AWFUL!

Having said that, I do think Ben Affleck makes a good Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is MEGA BRILL (even though she seems to spend most of her time EITHER being mysterious OR looking at trailers on YouTube). That, however, doesn't make up for how RUDDY THICK Superman is throughout - it's like Zack Snyder read "Dark Knight Returns" and said "Yes, THIS is the way Superman SHOULD behave, i see no problem with it whatsoever."

ALSO they detonate an ATOM BOMB above A CITY and that is apparently fine. Sod off, "Batman VS Superman", you are RUBBISH!

"Deadpool" is dead good though, go and see that instead!

posted 5/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Monday To Friday
It feels like AGES since Mr John Dredge and I completed the first series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum but we have not been IDLE in the time since, for LO! we have been busy writing, filming, re-filming and now UNLEASHING a whole new WEB SERIES called 'Monday To Friday', the first episode of which is out TODAY, HERE:

The next one will be out on Wednesday with the final episode on Friday (Monday to Friday - clever!), and you can keep up with the SCHEDULE by a) following me and/or John on twitter or b) LIKING our Facebook page where all of them will be appearing.

However you SOURCE the series I hope you enjoy it - it's taken a while to get sorted but I think it's pretty good!

posted 4/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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A Day Of Cultural Culture: We Saw Some ART
Bank Holiday Monday found The Curator Of My Exhibits and I heading into London's fashionable London area of London to get ourselves some CULTURE. An Itineray had been prepared the night before by the aforesaid Date On My Ticket the night before while I had been watching the (Cor! Actually Quite Good!) FOOTBALL against Germany, and we were RARING to go.

Our first stop was Somerset House to see "Out There: Our Post-War Public Art". It took us a little while to find it as the SIGNAGE inside Somerset House is APPALLING. The signs that WERE there were either wrong or unclear (e.g. one sign pointing to two different doors) but mostly they were missing. It RILED me up no end - I nearly SAID something, that's how riled I was!

The exhibition itself was DEAD GOOD. It told a fascinating story that caused a RANGE of emotions - DELIGHT at the good intentions of the movement to install art in public after the war, SADNESS at the way it has been neglected/uncatalogued/often stolen, and ANGER at the way working class people were sometimes lumbered with bloody awful lumps of metal and/or concrete in the middle of their neighbourhood. Don't get me wrong, lots of the public art was BRILLIANT, but a lot of it also seemed to be an expression of ANGST, DESPAIR and ISOLATION which, to be honest, is not something you want looming over your home. As The Statue On My Plinth said, you don't tend to see that sort of public art in POSH neighbourhoods.

It was, as i say, a RANGE of emotions and THORTS, which I guess is what you WANT from an exhibition! We also LEARNT stuff (I never realised EVERY tube station has a Labyrinth tile all of its own), talked to a GRATE Old Lady (I think this may be what we DO on outings now) and thoroughly enjoyed a wall covered in Visitor Comments. It was GOOD!

We had planned to see THREE exhibitions at Somerset House but ended up seeing FOUR because the signage was so terrible that we ended up on another one by accident. This was an "imaginary" museum which was supposed to tell a story about two lives but, like most times when Fine Artists try to tell a story, it looked very nice but had no NARRATIVE. Art Criticism!

We ambled round the corner and found the exhibition we'd been looking for, "Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias of the Street". It had one of those descriptions at the start in HUGE letters that (once more in the words of The Colon In My Art Exhibition's Title) you could read all the way through and still not have a clue what it was about. It reminded me of a GAG on Stewart Lee's show the week before, where he said something was a joke because it had the RHYTHM of a joke. This had the RHYTHM of an Art Gallery description and so WAS one, all strings of long words saying art "does a thing, does another thing, and then does ANOTHER slightly opposed thing which challenges, a synonym for challenges and the viewer and makes them reappraise, reasses and another word beginning with 're' whatever it is they were on about in the first place". As with email scammers, if Artists ever learn to speak Clear English we shall all be in trouble!

The last thing we EVENTUALLY saw (after a signage-free wander round a WING) at Somerset House was "Stables and Lucraft: Ulmus Londinium" (colons!) which was an installation about ELM TREES and had trees, beetles, chairs and various wooden things. It was one small area that looked FAB and didn't have a lengthy description. I liked it!

That done we strolled over to The National Gallery for even MORE culture. Well, a cup of tea first but THEN we went to see "Visions of Paradise: Botticini's Palmieri Altarpiece" which was AMAZING. They've taken ONE piece of art, the alterpiece of the title, and then shown it with other relevant things e.g. another altarpiece, a bust of the chap who commissioned it, some historical STUFF from the era - you get the general idea. It was TOTALLY ACE. There's
a picture on Wikipedia where you can see that it is RAMMED with all sorts of characters looking in many cases DISTINCTLY non-serene and annoyed with each other. Even better was Fra Angelico Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven which looked AMAZING, with almost PHOTOGRAPHIC portraits of saints and wotnot, all mixed together and GOLDEN. We liked it!

While we were there we WHIZZED through and did the traditional National Gallery Exit Strategy i.e. Let's Find A Famous Picture On The Way, accordingly ZOOMING past Venus In The Toilet (sic) and a couple of Turners. We then attempted to go to see EVEN MORE Art, but the two private galleries we wanted to look in were both closed so instead we went to Oxford Circus and closed our viewing schedule with a good look at Barbara Hepworth's Winged Figure on the side of John Lewis, as featured in the Public Art exhibition earlier. It was dead good!

We celebrated the end of our day of Cultural Culture with a pile of delicious grub at Tibits and also some BEER. We had, by this point, EARNT it!

posted 1/4/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Down To Margate
I've lived in East London for just over 13 years but have never been down to Margate on a bank holiday... until now! For LO! on Good Friday myself and The Obtuse Reference In My Rhyming Slang got the High Speed Spanish (Spanish Main, Train) down to the aforesaid Margate in order to sample its DELIGHTS.

And the DELIGHTS were many, much to my surprise as I thought it would be more like other seaside towns in the area that I have been to also i.e. Not Salubrious. Maybe it was because it was such a LOVELY day but I thought Margate was NICE - there were big golden beaches, happy faces, lots of little cafes and a general VIBE that made it feel like we were all on the front cover of a Beano Summer Special.

Frankly it wasn't at ALL like the Thanet that you hear about on the telly, although whilst sitting in a CAFE having some rather exciting SUN RIPENED VINE TOMATOES on ARTISANAL TOAST (it is very much East London on sea!) we did see three big fat racists stomp by wearing England flags carrying some HORRIBLE placards. It made me Quite Annoyed, so I looked at them. STERNLY.

After that though it was all delightful all the way. After a quick visit to the Turner Contemporary (best bit: big windows) we set off on The Turner And Dickens Walk from Margate to Broadstairs, which turned out to be EXACTLY the sort of walk I like i.e. well documented on a MAP, reasonably well sign-posted, and not too long! We strolled across farmland (farm news: fields full of cabbages REALLY smell of cabbages), through The Longest Churchyard In Britain, past a restored windmill, and were just thinking "Wouldn't it be nice if we could find a pub?" when we stumbled across The Four Candles, apparently the smallest brewpub in Britain. I don't know if that's true or not but I DO know that it is one of the NICEST. Ooh it were lovely, we had a couple of DELICIOUS halves and sat outside in the GLORIOUS sunshine (as forecast by Tomasz Schafernaker on the telly and used by The Degrees In My Temperature to select the day of our trip). It was like SUMMER!

Eventually we had to tear ourselves away and stagger into Broadstairs Actual, which was noticeably POSHER than Margate with actual proper seaside-y bits that reminded me of Whitby and/or Cornwall. We had a mini-picnic on the front, watching an old chap stood on a band-stand singing to a backing track for a SIZEABLE crowd, and then wandered off along the cliff tops, where we ended up chatting to a MARVELLOUS lady who VERY proudly told us she was 83, walked this route every day, had worked at Hammersmith Hospital, had had two husbands and MUCH MUCH MORE, including slightly fuller than I would have liked details about losing her second husband. She was a) talkative b) GRATE!

We ended our trip with a look round the harbour before heading back to the High Speed Gene Kelly Singing In The, which took us back to the old East End, where we agreed that our Bank Holiday outing had been a SUCCESS. It was a GRATE start to a very long weekend!

posted 31/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Tiger VS Frankie - The Dawn Of Validation
Last night Mr T "The Tiger" McClure and Mr FA Machine were in Snug Studios, working with Mr R Newman on the final MASTERING of our forthcoming album, "Still Valid". I say "final" but I was pretty sure before they went in that it wouldn't actually BE the final session - it never turns out that way and, indeed, it didn't this time either!

I didn't feel the need to travel all the way to Derby for this session for several vital and important reasons i.e. 1) it's a long way 2) I knew it wouldn't be particularly exciting and most vital and important at all 3) I trusted the pair of them to get it done. One of the many delightful things about being in a band like The Validators for SO LONG is that it's a bit like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE in that whenever I email the band it EXPLODES 60 seconds later. No, hang on, that's not what I meant - what I meant was that we have a MENU of EXPERTISE in all sorts of different areas from which we can pick the best combination of people for the task at hand. For example, if we need two people to go in and tit around with keyboards, percussion items and Making Silly Noises then OF COURSE I would be up there like a rocket and expecting Mr T Pattison to come too. If, however, I want people who will listen intently to what we've already done, check it's all roughly in tune, sounds PROPER, and WORKS then I would call up the aforementioned McClure and Machine.

Having said all that, it did feel strange to be sat at home watching telly, well knowing that an album we'd spent YEARS making was being finally put together approx 113 miles away. On other occasions I have PESTERED Tom (who is almost invariably there for this bit) to find out what's going on, but this time I thought I'd best leave them to it. As well as doing some final mix adjustments and MASTERING they also had a big list of other jobs to do, including intro and outro THINGS, "radio" edits (taking out swears), checking the unused tracks and getting STEMS, so probably would not benefit from me sticking my nose in. THUS the first I knew of a successful completion was a TWEET from Frankie saying it was "DONE" and then the appearance of FILES in my Dropbox.

Next morning there were emails from both of my colleagues, Frankie bemoaning the lack of THRILLZ (they had clearly worked hard!) and Tom saying that he'd had a listen on the way home and noticed some minor TWEAKS that were still needed. We agreed long ago in our ROCK CAREER that we would always take the time, if it was available, to go back and FIX things like this - if you say "Oh it'll be FINE!" and LEAVE it then you end up spending the next 20 years thinking "I wish we'd fixed that" - and so, as suspected, there'll be another (hopefully shorter) session before it's all REALLY finished.

But then it WILL be finished! At last! I'm also very close to finishing off the album artwork too, which means that in the next couple of weeks I'll be emailing Key Production (who did our last album - or more specifically did our last album when the first two attempts with other manufacturers went wrong) to ask for a QUOTE and then it will be time to start ORDERING! The current plan is to officially release it end of June/start of July, with various gigs, videos, and hopefully some PRESS, but all being well I'll have some copies for sale at GIGS as soon as its ready. I must say I'm rather looking forward to people finally HEARING it, partly because we've all worked so hard to get it done but mostly because it's GRATE!

posted 23/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Come And See A Showcase
Over recent months I've been going on about some of my SHORT PLAYS what I have written and have been performed in places various. I'm sure many people have thought "This is all well and good, but when is he going to put several of them on at the same time, possibly with pieces by other people, at a cost of less than a tenner?"

Good news! Your THORTS have been answered, for LO! THREE of my short plays (Marjorie Meets Gareth, Gareth Meets Marjorie , Architecture & Mortality and The Invention Of Sex) are going to be performed as part of the Lost City Writers Showcase at City University on April 14th and tickets are available right now for just seven quid! Who says I ain't good to you?

This is something we've been working on for MONTHS. The idea was first suggested by the City University Alumni Office after Ms Emma Morgan and I had a readthrough at The Poor School. They wondered if our group ("Lost City Writers" i.e. various CHUMS who did the MA in Creative Writing together) would be interested in doing a readthrough at the college. "We'll pay for NIBBLES" they said and we said "You had me at 'We'll pay for NIBBLES'!"

It's taken a while to get everything sorted out but now, at last, it's about to happen. The night will be in two halves of about 40 minutes each, with PIECES by myself, Emma, and Ms N Racklin. It's a really good mix of STUFF and it would be LOVELY if we could get some people down, so why not pop along if you're about? It's only seven quid and, if you don't like it, you can always try to get your money back in NIBBLES!

posted 17/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Delayed Acoustic
First of all, apologies for the long delay in writing this blog. I'm sure fans of Totally Acoustic the length and breadth of the country - NAY the WORLD - have been desperate to find out what happened at the show a couple of weeks ago, but I'm afraid this REPORT was delayed by me going on holiday the next day... and then, when I got back, thinking "I might as well wait until I've done the podcast before I blog about it."

Well, the wait is OVER for LO! I have done the podcast and you can hear it RIGHT HERE! You may well notice, in your listening, that the starting theme tune is missing rather the usual LEAD BARITONE during the OOH in the theme tune. This is because Mr S Hewitt was not in attendance. If this sounds scarcely believable then a) I feel your pain b) I took a photograph of him not being there to prove it.

Has there ever BEEN a sadder chair? I think not. Anyway, somehow I struggled on SANS Steve and did my set THUS:

  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Hills And Hollows
  • Get Over It

  • This was my first ever LIVE performance of Hills And Hollows and I did it as a POEM because a) that was how it was originally written b) we had POETRY later in the night so it seemed fitting to do it that way and c) I had no idea what the chords were on the recorded version, as it was done as a JAM. It seemed to work OK, I might do it like that again!

    After me we had Mr Royston Vince and a HOST of guests doing a LOVELY set full of covers, also HARMONIES. The band that gradually accrued around him featured a young man doing that thing where he plays drums by sitting on a BOX and slapping it. It always sounds dead good, and makes me wonder why drummers make such a fuss about having gigantic KITS. Guys! Just get a box!

    Next up was Ms Molly Naylor who, after worrying about whether to use a STOOL or not (the King & Queen now has a BAR set up where the performance area is, and there had been bar stools set up before it), did a WONDERFUL set that made me feel bad/stupid for saying "Poems is easy" earlier on. I really like the fact that we have loads of POETRY at Totally Acoustic these days, it's always GRATE and she was no exception.

    We finished with the ever-marvellous Mr Martin Austwick who had also bought a BAND with him who sounded FAB. Indeed, I feel they may have got TOO used to sounding as good as they did, as they tried to engage the audience in some participation involving MASSIVELY lengthy and complex harmonies. Chaps! We are an audience! We will go "WHOO-OOH!" and possible singalong with the chorus, but we shall leave the fancy stuff to YOU. Although, actually, thank you for thinking we might have been up to it.

    It was, as ever, a lovely evening which somehow ended up with me getting DRUNK and staggering out at 10:30pm suddenly aware that I had a plane to catch first thing the next morning. As stated previously, that all worked out very well indeed, but I think for the NEXT show I'll try and stay in the country for a couple of days afterwards!

    posted 16/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Sweet Bedford
    The Trains On My Platform and I headed SLIGHTLY NORTH on Saturday night, to BEDFORD, where my play Captain Wonderful was being performed at The Place Theatre as part of the StageWrite Festival.

    Getting there seemed PEASY as we were going from The Olympics to St Pancras on the javelin train then going directly from there to Bedford. However! There are two entirely different sets of platforms run by different companies which send different trains between the two stations, and we went to the wrong one! We spent a CONFUSED few minutes looking at the train times board and saying "But NONE of these times were on interweb version" before The Times Of My Departures realised what was going on and directed us back upstairs, past a couple of barrier guards who were clearly very familiar with this sort of thing, and onto the correct train. Phew!

    We got to Bedford at high speed and then wandered across town, passing a West Indian Social Club on the way. "It's just like Peterborough" I thought as we then saw a Polish Club. "All it needs now is an Italian Social Club" I thought... then turned round and saw it!

    We met Bedford resident Mr J Kell in a nearby pub, which was GRATE because a) we hadn't seen him for ages and b) him writing a SCREENPLAY version of Dinosaur Planet a few years ago was one of the things that got me interesting in The Writing Again. After a bit of a chat my PARENTS arrived in their car and we all headed off to The Theatre.

    Ooh, it was right nice! If you look on their website you won't see much to indicate what it's actually like in there - it was LOVELY, much like the StageWrite people we met during the course of the evening. As the aforesaid Actors In My Cast would later point out, it's amazing when people spend so much of their free time DOING stuff like this i.e. putting on a whole week of new plays just so that people can come and see them. It was fab!

    We shuffled in and watched the first play, "Lions" by David Weir. It was about a man waiting to be presented with an award while the secrets of his past gradually seeped out. It was interesting, ENTHRALLING, funny in places and all round dead good, and was followed by a Q&A session in which the audience asked questions of the author and were themselves asked to respond to questions that the author had submitted with their piece. I must admit I'd forgotten all about this bit. "Do you have to do that?" asked my Mum. "Aren't you nervous?" I have to say I wasn't - partly because I'd had a PINT, partly because I'm not entirely averse to showing off, but mostly because it all felt quite separate from me as MYSELF. It was AGES since I'd entered the competition, I wasn't IN the play, and I hadn't read it since I'd sent it in, so it was as if someone else had written it!

    This feeling only increased when we came back to the bar for the second half of the evening - the play itself! It was brilliantly done (all "off book" i.e. read from scripts) by the cast and really well directed and for most of its duration I sat NODDING vigorously. "Yes, that is RIGHT!" I kept thinking. There's a whole bit about the origin of Spider-Man and the fact the Shakespeare has lots of supernatural elements that I nearly hurt my NECK during, such was the level of AGREEMENT. "Whoever wrote this has the right idea about EVERYTHING!" I thought.

    On other occasions when I've seen my own stuff performed I've been AFEARED and anxious, but I really enjoyed it this time. It was GRATE! Afterwards I went and sat with the cast and GRINNED HAPPILY about how much fun it had been. Even better, when it was all over, I was presented with one of the two Captain Wonderful t-shirts that feature in the script!

    It was an all round EXCELLENT evening spent with delightful CHUMS and FAMILY which ended with an even easier journey home in time for a celebratory DRINK. The Theatre: it's really rather good fun!

    posted 15/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Twenty Five Years Of Voon
    Today is an auspicious day for LO! it is the TWENTY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of the first ever Voon gig!

    It wasn't my first gig, or my first performance, or even the first thing Voon (me and Neil) ever did, but by GOLLY it was a big deal at the time. It still feels like one now - this was the evening that The Gods Of ROCK said unto me "Oi! Hibbett! This will probably be your thing for the forseeable - get used to it."

    To celebrate this SILVER JUBILEE I have done two things. Firstly I have RE-MASTERED our first EP "Yoghurt Flange" and put it up on Soundcloud, HERE:

    I've put all four tracks together to a) preserve the original TAPE experience and b) to make it easier to sort out all the FIZZ and HUM that was on it. It sounds surprisingly good I reckon, all things considered, though there was nothing I could do about how POOR my vocals are on "Stop Wasting My Time". Also how rubbish the lyrics are - I still feel bad about them a quarter of a century later.

    As ever with all things Voon I am reminded how much BETTER at all this Neil was - my songs all sound a bit FORCED and TRYING, whereas his are EFFORTLESSLY GRATE. This also applies in the SECOND of the two things I have done - a facebook PHOTO GALLERY of the EP's recording sessions. We did these in the loft of Mr C M Lawson on Brazil Street in Leicester and I wrote NOTES on the back of all the photographs - notes which I have painstakingly (and often painfully) typed up for you "enjoyment" right here in the future. I thought I was being dead clever, actually I was being a bit of a twit!

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy this celebration of a BYGONE TIME and who knows? I've got a TONNE of other photographs under the bed and BOXES of tapes, I might do some more one day!

    posted 11/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    What I Learnt On My Holiday
    Hello all, sorry for the SILENCE of late but I have been on HOLIDAY to TENERIFE. As well as being an ADVENTURE (we booked last minute rather than our usual six months in advance AND it was to a NEW PLACE!) it was also a Learning Experience. Here are some things what I learnt:
    • Hummus totally counts as a LIQUID as far as hand luggage goes, but the nice people at Gatwick security are prepared to let you go off and SCOFF it before going into the Departure Lounge. We didn't, but it was nice to know we had the option.

    • Two people fit MUCH more comfortably on a row of three aeroplane seats than three do. Thanks, Mysterious "Emma" Who Missed Her Flight!

    • Tenerife is REALLY HILLY. It makes Edinburgh look like Peterborough.

    • Shopping for essentials when you know the only bus back to your hotel goes in 10 minutes is DEAD exciting, though you may end up with more SALAD and BEER than you probably need.

    • A hotel reception with live entertainment suddenly becomes MAGICAL when most of the other guests (mostly in their mid-60s) get up and start ballroom dancing.

    • Having a hotel breakfast every morning is BRILLIANT. Pancakes with strawberry yoghurt? YES PLEASE!

    • The package holiday Welcome Meeting is a thing of DELIGHT. Our REP was like someone off a TELLY programme, very much giving the impression that a) she would rather be in Tunisia, where she'd been before here and b) she was the sort of person who would never visit a MacDonalds (but loved Primark).

    • Tourist Information in Tenerife is not a very friendly place to be on a Saturday lunchtime. "Can't you just DRIVE?" we were asked when trying to book a bus trip. "All the travel companies are CLOSED!" ("YOU IDIOTS", she didn't say but STRONGLY suggested).

    • Tenerife is keen on food labelling and also has at least THREE veggie restaurants. El Limon is Quite Nice for fast food but CRIKEY El Mana was AMAZING! If you happen to be just off the coast of AFRICA I highly recommend it! We also found another place by ACCIDENT near the Botanic Gardens (which were lovely, and made me sing the Language Of Flowers song in my HEAD all the way around) but didn't go in. REVIEWS!

    • Tenerife is also DEAD CHEAP, has its own ALE breweries, and also its own LAGER, Dorrado, of which we drank a LOT. It also seems to have NO IDEA about measures of whisky - we asked for a couple of Jack Daniels at the bar in the hotel and were told there was only enough in the bottle for one. When we said it would be fine there turned out to be about a PINT of bourbon in there!

    • If your phone BREAKS on the first day of your holiday it is actually QUITE NICE, especially if the main person you use it to ring is right next to you the entire time. Even when you haven't got it in your pocket, however, you still find yourself thinking "Is that my phone ringing?" approx every 10 seconds.

    • There don't seem to have been many famous people who come FROM Tenerife, so if one VISITS then they tend to name things after them. They are MAD about an explorer/scientist called Alexander von Humboldt who was there for SIX DAYS, and Agatha Christie had a whole BIT in the Orchid Garden (REVIEW: really nice) because she'd been on holiday there once. I fully expect there to be an MJ Hibbett Bar Stool in our hotel next time we go!

    • Cosmos Travel are not very good at giving locations for pick-ups for their bus excursions. On our last full day we spent AGES wandering between three possible points of pick-up (after having to go to a hotel the day before to check because the shop we were supposed to be outside had changed its name) and saw NO BUS. The Times In My Schedule rang them and they insisted it had BEEN, but who knows WHERE? Instead of that we HOPPED on a bus taking the LONG way round to Santa Cruz - VERY adventurous, we hadn't even RESEARCHED it beforehand, let along booked in advance - where we had a most pleasant STROLL around. Santa Cruz felt a bit deserted, has a Tourist Information point approx 10,000,000 times more helpful than in Puerto Cruz (a Nice Young Man drew us our own walking route!) and we found a VERY nice bar for more DORRADO. Dorrado! It's as fun to say as it is to drink!

    • You tend to recognise other people on the same holiday package as you, see them around, and give them NAMES. My favourite of these were THE SISTERS, two SPECTACULARLY grumpy women (retired teachers according to me, retired local government administrators according to The Meetings In My Diary) who were ALSO like sitcom characters. They were sat behind us on the bus into town one morning when we saw a Burger King ahead. "Burger King!" said one. "Hmph!" replied the other. "The last three burgers I had were really disappointing." This, I feel, is possibly the MOST AMAZING THING anyone has EVER said! Did she count them? Was the one before much better? Why didn't she stop at two? It was like an Alan Bennett monologue in a single sentence!

    • People in Tenerife love dogs and are VERY good at picking up the POO. It was noticeable. They also like to have PUBLIC ART everywhere you look. Perhaps the two are somehow linked?

    • Black sand is a bit WEIRD as you expect it to make your feet dirty when you're Dipping Your Toes In. NEWSFLASH: it doesn't!
    In summary, having an ADVENTURE is very exciting and Tenerife was a lovely place to do it. Well done Tenerife!

    posted 10/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Social Media Angle
    After bemoaning the demise of REVIEWERS yesterday I'm happy today to bring news of two things that ARE still going.

    First of all - RADIO! Last night I went through my lists of DJs and radio shows and was delighted to find that the vast majority of them are STILL AT IT! Approximately 70% of the people I looked up were still broadcasting, still excited, and still happily playing GRATE songs. It was a beautiful way to spend an hour or so being a) delighted to see enthusiasm alive and well and b) reminded of the GOOD TIMES I spent in the past with these excellent people. I VERY much look forward to having more of the same with them in the near future!

    The SECOND, possibly slightly less exciting, thing that is still going is The Validators' Twitter Account. I originally set this up about four years ago to protect the NAME "The Validators" from that bunch of twits who were tying to STEAL it (as detailed HERE) but hadn't really done much with the actual account. After all, if people want to know what's going on with The Validators then surely they can follow MY twitter account? That way they get the added bonus of finding out what I've been watching on telly!

    Anyway, while I was going through all the radio and website contacts I thought "Hang on, shouldn't I be doing some TWITTER stuff as well?" for I am NOTHING if not up to date with the happening trends of late 2013. I've been told several times that these days you need to LEVERAGE your TWITTER PRESENCE in order to contact media types, and one way to do this is to send them messages. I've always felt a bit embarrassed about doing that sort of thing - my twitter account is MY twitter account, and it always feels a little VULGAR to use it to bother people I don't actually know - but I do accept that it is sometimes necessary. THUS, I reasoned, why not reactivate The Validators account and use THAT for all the Official New Album communications?

    With that in mind I logged back on, updated our profile pic, explained what I was doing, and then started FOLLOWING people. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to go through finding people to follow and then getting recommendations for MORE and MORE accounts to follow, it's like drunk shopping on Amazon or collecting TRADING CARDS or being Captain and picking a TEAM at school ("No, YOU can follow the NME"). THE POWER!!!!

    It's all set up and looking DEAD professional, so all I need to do now us remember NOT to leave it three years until I tweet from there again. You can follow us if you like to see how it goes, but I'm pretty sure I'll do better this time. Goodness knows there's going to be enough going on, with various VIDEOS and SINGLES and GIGS all planned, and then I can use MY account for making HILARIOUS remarks about things on telly!

    posted 2/3/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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