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The Beer Festival
I was in Peterborough last night - fittingly, after a day when (according to Mr P Myland) our new video was "going Viral in Peterborough" - to experience its greatest cultural event i.e. The Peterborough Beer Festival!

I used to go to the Beer Festi EVERY year but haven't been as regularly in recent times, largely due to the fact that I tend to be up at The Edinburgh Fringe at this time of year or, if not, at home RECOVERING from same. I was thus DELIGHTED to be able to go and meet Mr P Myland, also Mr O Myland, off the BUS at Peterborough Bus Station and then stroll off in the general direction of the embankment. On the way we bought a cagoule for Oliver (and discovered that Young People In Shops have no idea what a cagoule is, but do if you say "Pacamac"), popped into Charters (aka "The Boat Place"), said hello to Mrs C Myland, handed over the aforesaid Oliver, and then continued on our way. It was an efficient use of time and energy, not least because I got to try a pint of Shiny Bitter in Charters, as brewed by young Mr J Machine, Son Of Frankie. It was nice!

The festival site was much as it has always been i.e. three HUGE tents linked together with a bar all the way around the inner perimeter and LOADS of beers. We got pint glasses but Mileage suggested that this time we drink HALVES. I was unsure but he pointed out that you get MORE this way as bartenders were often "generous" with the measures. He was not wrong, we got LOADS of FREE BEER! ALSO it means that if you have something you don't like - e.g. that smells like old socks full of lavender - you don't have to drink a whole pint of it!

We were soon joined by THE PARENTS and the four of us spend a very jolly evening wandering around, spotting people (excitingly, we saw Cynical Hippy Who Used To Work In The Comic Shop, who now looks like GANDALF), discussing beer and general YACKING. It was ace - what kind of fool would schedule a trip to an ARTS festival and miss out on all THIS?

By 10pm it was time for me to head home, and I was reminded once again how TERRIFYING it can be when you're a LITTLE bit tiddly and have to navigate a two hour journey featuring walking and trains. It is A BIT terrifying! Still, it was TOTALLY worth it, and hopefully it won't be another year until I'm back again!

posted 26/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The 1980s How It Was
Today I am a) proud b) DELIGHTED to share with you the brand new video for our song The 1980s How It Was, which you can see right HERE:

All of the pictures were taken by Chris Porsz, who very kindly allowed us to use them, during the 1980s - all except for the last one, which is part of Chris's "Reunions" project, restaging some of his old pictures with the same people.ALL of his work is worth having a look at, as it's GORGEOUS!

I was VERY pleased to be able to use Chris's pictures as the song was initially INSPIRED by seeing a book of his photographs, which captured growing up in the 1980s EXACTLY how I remembered it. The song was then used to express this very THORT in Hey Hey 16K, and I liked it so much that we ended up recording it for Still Valid.

As ever, any mentions, tweets, links or just LOOKS would be very appreciated - hope you enjoy it!

posted 24/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Annual Art And Architecture Adventure
As I'm sure is clear by now, The Artworks In My Curation and I are WELL sophisticated and are out and about ALL the time looking at art and that and definitely NOT at home watching telly. The idea!

Take this weekend, for example, when we went out for a WHOLE heap of culture. We kicked off with a trip to a new pop up cafe what has opened, a little place that calls itself Pret A Manger. Yes all right, but it was the VEGGIE Pret A Manger what has opened in Soho - it felt rude NOT to give it a go, as it's their experiment in trying new veggie/vegan recipes, and I must say the experiment is a SUCCESS as we ate TONNES!

That done we staggered down the road to the National Portrait Gallery to see the BP Portrait Award. We've been to see this exhibition pretty much every year for AGES, so are qualified to say this wasn't a vintage one. It was OK and there were a couple of good things (I liked the portrait of the Dunkirk Glider Pilot), but nothing was particularly OUTSTANDING. There seems to be even more of that thing where you can't tell if it's a photo or not, which is quite impressive at first but after a while you think "Why not just take a photo?" The HIGHPOINT tho was bumping into Mr D Hill, late of Airport Gurl, who I'd not seen for YONKS.

That done we headed off to distant West London to have a look at The Serpentine Pavilion. We go and see THIS every year too so are qualified to say that THIS one was pretty much the best pavilion EVER. It was AMAZING! It's a WALL of boxes which have been moved outwards to form a sort of curvy church of AIR and BOXES and - well, go and have a look at the architect's website or even better go and see the actual thing if you can, it was like something from a SCI-FI film, but also something that WORKED. A lot of previous pavilions have felt FLIMSY or UNCOMFORTABLE but this was a lovely place to BE inside and to look out from the outside. It's hard to put into words how AWESOME it was, kind of like a modern cathedral, or an ice cave, or space-age flats, or LEGO. Have a look!

Duly impressed we had a quick walk roun the Alex Katz exhibition in the a gallery actual (DEAD good) and the "summer houses" linked to the Pavilion (OK) then wandered through the park. "There's a parrot!" said The Birds In My Spotters' Guide. "There's another one," I said, and suddenly we were SURROUNDED by them. The trees were FULL of bright green parrots which were flying around and LANDING on people all about us, I have never seen the LIKE!

Finally we went and tried ANOTHER new restaurant - Mildreds' new veggie restaurant in Kings Cross, it was LOVELY - before heading home, FULLY cultured up. I think we can safely watch at least THREE full seasons of US sitcoms... I mean, Important Documentaries, before we need to get charged up again!

posted 22/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Poetry On The Underground
I travel to work on the tube most days and it's not the MOST calming of experiences, but it's made even WORSE when I see one of those bloody awful "poem" posters that are meant to promote Travel Etiquette. They're made by Travel Better London and you can see a selection of them here.

The pictures are perfectly nice and I'm fine with the sentiment, what I object to is the fact that the "poems" DON'T EVEN BLOODY SCAN. This is fine for AVANT GARDE poetry but for these ones it is clear that they are meant to, they just DON'T, and it drives me up the WALL. Even THINKING about them makes me angry. Take this one:

We're all eager to reach our destinations
In crowded platforms and busy trains
Remember to stop at the next station
When feeling dizzy, sick or in pain
Some water, a break or maybe a bandage
Please don't suffer inside the carriage

ARGH! Stop! It's so VERY SLIGHTLY wrong that it hurts MY BRANE! Did nobody try SAYING them out LOUD before putting them on posters? Did they all go "Poetry is a spontaneous outporing of powerful emotion therefore we can't do a second draft"? And bandage/carriage? WHAT THE?!?

You can see LOADS more at their tumblr page but be warned, they are ALL SUBTLY WRONG and will make your MIND EXPLODE with RAGE.

There is, however, ANOTHER set of adverts which use RHYME in a perfectly DELIGHTFUL way. I speak, of course, of the Just Eat adverts which mildly alter the lyrics of popular songs to suggest being excited about having a takeaway e.g. "Man, I feel Like a wonton", "Oh, I wanna dansak somebody" or "Sashimi rollin', they hatin'". What i like about these is that they are SIMPLE and they WORK and, actually, are MILDLY AMUSING. There doesn't even need to be a bit at the bottom to tell you what song they're copying, as they have been done in such a way that you can HEAR them in your head, FITTING the lyrics.

I know none of this is VITAL or IMPORTANT but it is something I feel strongly about!

posted 18/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Heavy Horses
The Stalls At My Fete and I had a LOVELY weekend just gone, down in Cornwall with PARENTS. This featured MANY delightful aspects, including pub, fancy barbecue, olympics, paddling in the sea, pub, and a family CURRY outing, but perhaps the highest of the high points was a trip to the Tregony Heavy Horse Show.

This was NOT, as one might expect, Red Rum, SeaBiscuit and Black Beauty sitting round watching The Monkee's "Head" at 2am saying "WHOA what if we're all a dream and our DREAMS are reality?" It was instead a PROPER slice of Traditional British Life, a big FIELD full of entire WORLDS to which most of us never gain access. There was a whole DOG show, CRAFT stalls, vintage sports cars, Viking re-enacters and all sorts of social worlds that clearly meant a LOT to their practitioners but which had never really entered into our consciences at all. A good example was the Viking guys who were all dressed up in specifically different eras of Viking clothing and who spoke very knowledgably about ALL of it. The best bit was when my Dad said "They never wore the curly horns did they?" and they ALL said "FALLACY!" as one.

The main attraction though were the heavy horses, GINORMOUS animals that I am more used to seeing in porcelain on top of an elderly relative's fireplace in approx 1982. They were GORGEOUS great things who a) looked placid and calm but b) I would NOT want to get on the wrong side of. There was also a display of SHETLAND ponies, and one particular pair of horses that The Horses In My Stable took a great liking to - a great big Shire horse and a tiny Shetland called Harry, who apparently travelled together because the big one got scared if he had to go alone, but was fine if his tiny friend was with him.

It was AMAZING, like finding four smaller Indietracks (which, after all, features train restoration AND indiepop) welded together in one place!

The low point of the weekend, by the way, was our journey home being delayed by FOUR HOURS. Still, we did see a Steam Train at Bodmin Parkway, and there's always Delay Repay!

posted 17/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Beneath The Surface, Frantic Action
I don't seem to have blogged here much this week, for which many apologies - nobody has actually COMPLAINED but I'm sure you were all just being polite!

The reason for this lack of communication is that, after the EXPLOITS of The Summer Of ROCK things have quietened down a bit, at least on the surface. Much like a SWAN who is late for a meeting with its Supervisor, however, underneath this image there has been ACTION.

For LO! the next stage of the Still Valid Promotional Campaign is going to be a whole HEAP of videos, THREE (3) of which are in progress as we speak. As mentioned elsewhere, I FILMED the basics for We Did It Anyway while I was in Leicester, but have instead been concentrating on (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock as a) it is a bigger job b) I was rather enjoying it. The PLAN is to do it as a live action/animation HYBRID, with me doing a SORT OF Roobarb And Custard animation, basically in MSPAINT. What I've done so far looks GRATE, but it's taking ages!!

With that in mind I have brought forward the THIRD planned video, for The 1980s How It Was. This song was partly inspired by Chris Porsz's book New England, which features AMAZING photographs of Peterborough in the 1980s that look EXACTLY how I remember it. I got in touch with Chris a few weeks ago and he very kindly agreed to let us USE some of his pictures to make a video with. I've thus spent the past few nights trying to choose which photographs fit best with which lines in the song. It's a LOVELY thing to do, even if it's sometimes hard to pick just one, and a LOT quicker than trying to draw animation, so hopefully that'll be out quite soon!

There are vague plans for OTHER videos - Tim is very keen on us doing one for Burn It Down And Start Again, for instance - but I'm ALWAYS open to some of the more OLD FASHIONED avenues of promotion like GIGS and AIRPLAY, so as ever, if anyone has any IDEAS or OFFERS in that direction, they would be very much appreciated. We're really proud of this here album, we want to FOIST it onto as many new people as we can!

posted 12/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Summer Of Rock Finale
It was Pride weekend in Leeds this weekend, so when I rolled up I found it full of scantily clad people ALREADY DRUNK, being LOUD in the streets in search of good times and BOOZE and SHOUTING. There were also people getting ready for Pride! LEEDZ!

I checked into the hotel with some time to spare, so flicked through the channels. "There's nothing ever on when I do this," I thought, but then was AMAZED to find that "The Birth Of The Beatles" was on! I haven't seen this for YEARS - it's a TERRIBLE/BRILLIANT telling of The Early Beatles, where EVERYTHING anybody says is A Famous Quote OR A Future Song Title. It is ACE/DREADFUL - SO much so that I made Mr FA Machine watch a few minutes of it when I went to collect him. He was delighted!

Frankie, Mr T 'The Tiger' McClure and I were all staying in the same hotel, so we went together down the road to our venue for the evening's gig, The Wharf Chambers, which was ACE. It is a COLLECTIVE so had The Big Notice Board of EVENTS, VEGAN grub on the bar, LOADS of excellent beers and an all-round LOVELY atmosphere. It basically reminded me of The Mag in Leicester!

Downstairs we found The Family Pattison and Mr S Gibb, who was promoting for the evening. We got ourselves soundchecked, had a beer and a chat (some of us hadn't seen each other for TWO weeks!!) then wandered off into Leeds Actual to pay a visit to Zam Zams. We'd last visited this establishment seven years ago, while touring 'Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez' and had enjoyed it so much that we took a picture, THUS:

The return did NOT disappoint, as you can see BELOW:

After a lovely curry tea and some DISCUSSION (possible London gig! this year's Christmas song!) it was a very FULL Validators that returned to the venue to the other acts, including an EXCELLENT Housemartins covers band. Cor, The Housemartins were good weren't they? Their set was FULL of HITS!

Shortly after 10pm we were ready to get onstage, but Stu asked that we wait a bit. "People like to have a chat between acts, and they're all outside", he said. This reminded me of an OLD TRICK that we used to do when I was in VOON and we played at The Charlotte. We noticed that people would NOT come into the gig room UNTIL they heard music playing, so rather than have everybody miss our first song we would begin with some JAZZ IMPOVISATION, so there was a NOISE to bring everybody in. THUS The Validators set looked like THIS:

  • We Haven't Really Started Yet
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • We Did It Anyway

  • It worked! "This is amazing", I thought during the first song. "We are SO IN SYNC we can improvise a whole song!" I mentioned this later and Tom said "Yes, it's almost as if they're generic", which SURELY can't be right can it? I prefer my version!

    The set was THOROUGHLY enjoyable, for us at least - the sound was GRATE, we knew what we were doing (even when some people forgot the word to verse two of Do The Indie Kid and went the long way round to get to the chorus, everybody else managed to follow) and after WEEKS of (almost) CONSTANT touring it feels very natural to be YACKING onstage between ourselves and the audience. It was ACE!

    It was also very HOT, so a clean shirt was needed before I could enjoy the rest of the evening. The Pattisons left shortly after the show, but the rest of us STAYED UP until WELL past 1am! ROCK AND ROLL!

    The only sadness of the day was that this was the END of our SUMMER OF ROCK. The next Validators gig isn't until NOVEMBER now (we're supporting The Wave Pictures in Nottingham) which is MUCH too far away! It's been a LOVELY few weeks of saying "See you next weekend!" to The Validators, I don't really want it to end!

    posted 8/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic SE08E11
    Last night was Totally Acoustic night, incredibly the ELEVENTH in the current series. That's a LOT of nights in The King & Queen, which can never be a bad thing!

    I arrived to find Mr B Botting and most of his band already arrived, so after a quick chat I took them upstairs so they could have a bit of a practice. I went back to the pub where I discovered Mr J Jervis, that delightful man, and we chatted SO HARD that I almost forgot the time, so showtime itself was nearly upon us before i remembered my responsibilities and was able to greet Mr D Leach and Mr B Dolan (aka Non Canon) and gather everybody upstairs for what would turn out to be an a) busy b) GRATE night.

    Not that it was without its SADNESS of course, for Mr S Hewitt was NOT in his usual seat - he is GADDING about in Edinburgh even as we speak - so he was MISSED, especially during the "Ooh" in the Totally Acoustic theme tune. I struggled on manfully, did 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 and (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock, then introduced David Leach onto the stage. Oh he's VERY good is David, taking the audience firmly yet kindly in the palm of his hand and not letting them go throughout. One of the many things I love about Totally Acoustic is when the audience is all mixed up, so they see people they normally wouldn't, especially when they end up being as ROYALLY won over as they were in this case.

    After a short break we returned for Non Canon which, it turns out, is pretty much an acoustical version of his more usual Oxygen Thief moniker. He was ENTHRALLING but what I enjoyed most was his OBSCURE references. "That last song," he said, "was called 'Splinter Of The Minds Eye', which is of course - " He turned to me, and I found myself saying "The Star Wars novel sequel written by Alan Dean Foster." Bearing in mind I often can't remember what DAY it is, I was very impressed by this!

    And then our final act was Bill with his backing band, which was something of a minor uk indie celebrity all-star group. I wonder where I've heard that before? Bill was MARVELLOUS and the band were GRATE - we don't often have GUITAR SOLOES at Totally Acoustic, but this was more than made up for during their set! It was a lovely sound, with eight people twanging along together, I could have listened to them all night!

    With that done we hugged our goodbyes, doled out the whip round, and then The Cash In My Glass and I headed out into the night. We've got ONE more show left for this run, on the first of September, then we'll be having a two month break before the next series starts. The way I feel today, I think a rest will be needed!

    posted 5/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Fortuna Pop Finale
    On Saturday afternoon in the Merch Tent at Indietracks I got chatting to Mr S Price of Fortuna Pop. "How's it going?" I asked. He looked surprised. "Haven't you heard? Fortuna Pop is ending - it's in the programme!"

    I WAS surprised - why on earth would he think somebody would have actually read the programme at this stage? The only pages anyone reads on-site are the band times, the rest of it is for, SHALL WE SAY, the next morning when you have some "quiet time" to deal with the events of the night before. Or when you have a poo.

    We had a brief chat about this news and I CONGRATULATED him on his 20 years in ROCK, as he has Done Really Well. All right, he may have BROKEN several rules along the way (e.g. making records people BUY by bands people LIKE - this is not The Indie Way!) but he's brought a lot of joy to a lot of people, done well by some pretty GRATE bands and HELPED a lot of us along the way too. The Fortuna Pop mailing list has been passed around from band to band and label to label so much along the years that it is probably not far off assuming SENTIENCE, and he's always been ready with ADVICE on how to do stuff. He has basiccaly been one of the tent poles that has held up the great big indiepop tent for the past couple of decades.

    I was surprised AGANE though about people's reaction to this news, in that they all seem to be SAD about it. It's not SAD - when a mighty WARRIOR lays down his arms and retires from the battlefield it is a source of HAPPINESS, surely? He's CONCLUDING, not being stopped, and he's doing it at his time of choosing, on his terms, rather than being FORCED to do so by life/money events. Retiring, rather than Retreating, is something very few people in this KRAZY BUSINESS ever get to do!

    So I say to one and all, congratulate, don't commiserate, and if you need to find a way to pay TRIBUTE to Sean and his work over the years, how about BUYING a TONNE of his stuff next time you see him? And not the acclaimed, popular stuff either - get some of the other records, lots of it is GOOD and I bet he's got LOADS of it left!

    posted 3/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Saturday lunchtime found a VERY excited me, Mr S Hewitt, Ms C Birkby and Mr T 'The Tiger' McClure ZOOMING towards Ripley on our way to INDIETRACKS. INDIETRACKS!

    As soon as we got to the car park we started bumping into people we knew, and this continued for THE WHOLE DAY. It was BRILL! Christina had not been before, so we explained to her that everything took AGES to do because, wherever you went, you would meet approx 300,000 people on the way and have to stop and chat to them. This proved very much to be the case!

    There were also BANDS playing, not least Mr FA Machine playing on the train in FULL BAND mode, which was RATHER excellent. We also saw The Numberz (I'm used to bands LOOKING like they're 10, so seeing a band who WERE about 10 was quite a relief) and The Just Joans (ACE) in the Merch Tent, and I spent half an hour GRINNING like a LOON at Po! in the Tram Shed, who were AMAZING. I also, I can now reveal, did a whole gig of my own in The Merch Tent, which went like this:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • We Did It Anyway
  • I was REALLY nervous beforehand and had been panicking about a) what I was going to play and b) whether anyone would turn up. Last time I played the Merch Tent was one of my favourite gigs EVER, I was scared that this one would be EMPTY. As it happened, it totally wasn't and we had a RIGHT good sing song, as you can see BELOW:

    It was GRATE - thanks to Mr J Jervis for allowing me to play, and to Frankie for lending me a guitar. ALSO thanks to everyone who bought a copy of the album, that was VERY much appreciated!

    With that done we partook of FOOD and GRUB and also witnessed the CAN CRUSHING. This is when they use a traction engine to flatten a load of cans. It happens every couple of hours and GOODNESS ME but the 9pm flattening was QUITE the raucous affair. There was a HUGE crowd who ROARED as the traction engine ploughed forward, it was a) exciting b) a bit alarming!

    It was a lovely day out, as it always is at Indietracks - though a day is ENOUGH for me, I would have DIED if I'd gone back, so "tired" was I on Sunday! It's a slightly different festival now to how it was nine years ago - there's a LOT more children, and also the People I Don't Know almost outnumber the People I Do - but it's still the beautiful event it always was. Thanks to the organisers for organising, and seeee you next year!

    posted 1/8/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Chatting To A Colleague About Linux
    For the past three days I have been on a COURSE. I haven't been on a course for AGES but it turns out that they are EXACTLY the same. Guy Who Thinks It's A One To One is still there (and still giving ANECDOTES about how he knows a different way to do all this which is better but he's here anyway and has forgotten how to switch a monitor on), Awkward Chats during breaks are DE RIGEUR and you will Finish A Bit Early On The Last Day.

    I'd actually forgotten this last aspect, and was reminded of it before I set off by The Chapters In My Manual. "The course leader will ask 'shall we just have a half hour lunch break, then go home?' on the last day," she predicted, so when he said EXACTLY THAT at the start of day 3 I was AFEARED. Have I been courting a SOOTHSAYER all this time?

    The course itself was an introduction to LINUX. Linux! In my current job I have been thrown into a great big pool of LINUX without a boat, rubber wings or indeed TRUNKS so had engaged myself on this course to try and get some sort of clue what was going on. As it turns out, I sort of knew some of it already, I just hadn't USED any of this knowledge for 25 years. Computers have changed a LOT over the past quarter of a century but, it appears, Linux has NOT. "Oooh", say Linux fans, "You can do anything on Linux!" Yes, you can, but it takes about a million years and 300 key strokes to do THE SIMPLEST OF TASKS and if you get anything wrong THE COMPUTER EXPLODES. I think the big difference between Linux and other operating systems is that Linux is for people who want to do things TO computers, the rest are for people who want to do things WITH computers!

    Still, it was actually quite interesting also a RELIEF to have got my head round it a bit more. The only disadvantage to 3 days of solid LINUX THORTS is that now I find myself THINKING in Linux. "I'll just grep the pasta and pipe it to the plate," I thought, later that evening. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!?!?

    posted 28/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Mostly Friendly
    Last night I headed to distant BRENTFORD with Mr P Myland to witness a friendly between Brentford and Posh. We were there entirely for reasons of SPORT, definitely, and certainly not because of any pubs that may or may not be theoretically on any corners.

    The games might have been a friendly but the trip did not start off that way. Before meeting Mileage at Waterloo I queued to get some cash out of a machine. There were two machines, both busy, so I formed a single queue for both. Another chap came and stood behind me. All was civilised. Then an AMERICAN stormed over. "Which machine you queueing for?" he shouted. "Both", we said, and explained to this colonial how it worked. This felt like it was going to be CHARMING except that he then got VERY ANGRY about the whole process. "That ain't how it works!" he shouted. We explained that it was in a DELIGHTFUL way. "We are explaining queueing to an American!" we both thought. "Here, this is our culture in microcosm, enjoy it!" but he wasn't having ANY of it, and however WHIMSICAL we were he replied with RAGE. I finished my transaction and left, only to see that the OBVIOUS LOONIE had decided not to get cash out at all but to follow my fellow Brit up an escalator, telling him to "get lost" using FOUL LANGUAGE.

    It was all a bit discombobulating to be honest, but luckily for me COMBOBULATION was very much on the cards. I met Mileage, we got a TRAIN BEER each, and had a very enjoyable train ride discussing Amazon TV shows, time travel conspiracy theories, and Marvel comics in modern culture. "I'm 46!" we both told each other, and several other people, over the course of the evening but really any listener would have guessed that for themselves.

    In Brentford we were clearly a bit lost about which way to go to the football stadium - almost as if something had clouded our memory of previous visits - so a very nice (German I think) lady gave us directions and, when she saw we'd gone the wrong way, walked us pretty much up to the ground! Things were now all FRIENDLY again, although we were SHOCKED to discover that The Legend Of Brentford ("There is a pub on every corner!") is now not true: one of them is SHUT.

    This didn't matter too much as the two NICE pubs were still going, so we went to one of them, met some CHUMS, then avoided the middle, less pleasant, pub, to go to The Griffin, where more pals arrived. I must say I had an entirely LOVELY time. We stood around drinking beer and talking a load of old bollocks/expressing important viewpoints on the modern world (delete as applicable) and it came as something of a shock to be wrenched out of this reverie by calls to attend kick-off. SOME of our party decided they would finish their pints and so miss the first ten minutes ("We're not rushing, we're 46") which does mean that they missed the only goal of the game, but hey - it WAS only a friendly, and it was only a fiver to get in!

    Apparently Posh were also simultaneously playing ANOTHER game that night in Lincoln (officially a reserves match, but a bit weird to be playing at the same time) so attendance here was barely into double figures, and it got down towards ZERO before full-time as certain people (hem hem) sloped off for another pint well before the end, and then were joined by everybody else within ten minutes. We'd shown our support, it didn't mean we had to watch it all!

    And thus it was a rather RELAXED Hibbett who wandered back to the train station and home. The general consensus was that it looks like being an "all right" season for Posh, probably mid-table once again, but I must say that if all MY visits are like this one it's going to be DELIGHTFUL!

    posted 27/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Quarter Of A Century In The Making
    Friday afternoon found me heading to Leicester for a gig TWENTY FIVE YEARS in the making, for LO! A quarter of a century after first seeing PO! at The Magazine Hotel in Leicester I was FINALLY going to be sharing a stage with them. My excitement was HIGH!

    There was, however, other business to attend to first. This time I was NOT staying in My Usual Suite at The Ibis but had decided to try out the Premier Inn instead. It was EVEN closer to the Railway Station BUT, crucially, did NOT overlook the platforms which meant I WOULDN'T get woken up at 6am by station announcements. ALSO they do have nice beds and ALSO ALSO a Comfy Chair in the room, which I was going to use for VIDOE filming.

    Living in the Modern World as wot we do I am aware that the VIDOE is an essential tool in the modern media arsenal, so had planned to spend a happy hour or so filming a framing section for the forthcoming video for We Did It Anyway, which required a) a comfy chair and b) a COMEDY WIG, which I had extricated from my large box of Fringe Show-based WIGS. The plan was SUCCESSFUL!

    That done I popped back to the train station to collect Mr F A Machine and the two of us strolled across town for a pint in The Criterion - well, it'd be rude not to - before returning to The Firebug were Mr T 'The Tiger' McClure had just finished listening to Po! soundcheck. PO! Soundchecking! I still found it WEIRD that we really WERE going to be supporting Po!

    Tim then arrived saying "Didn't you hear me shouting? I need help carrying gear upstairs!" I genuinely HADN'T heard him, perhaps my BRANE was just filtering it out for me? We duly trooped downstairs where the INDIGNITY of having to lug drum bits around was at least a little assuaged by the fact we got to see Emma's NEW MINI. She's got a MINI! I still refer to these as "the new Mini" but I guess maybe they're not so new anymore? Anyway, it was ACE!

    We lugged, we set up, and then we did the SOUNDCHECK what we RECORDED for use in ANOTHER video - we are nothing if not EFFICIENT in utilising our together time! This will be used for (you make me feel) Soft Rock, which meant that we had to EMOTE a bit while we were doing it, which always feels a bit WRONG for a soundcheck. When it is eventually ISSUED there may be a bit at the start where I appear to be having an HILARIOUS conversation with Frankie. What was actually happening was I was saying "You have to stand up or else we won't be able to see you."

    That done it was time to do discuss the setlist, and chat to the LARGE variety of lovely people who had rolled up, including Ms A Bates, late of The Durham Ox Singers. I hadn't seen Ann for YEARS so it was a DELIGHT to do so again - there was actually quite a LOT of that going round!

    Soon it was SHOWTIME, with The Sunbathers on first. I've seen them lots of times but this was definitely the best, possibly due to the addition of VIBRASLAP to a couple of the songs, It was FAB, and reminded me that I need to get them down for Totally Acoustic next season. I've made a note!

    Then it was US and this is what we did:
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • That Guy
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • We Did It Anyway
  • It was, I must say, PRETTY DARN GOOD. The EXCELLENT soundman at The Firebug, who's done us quite a few times now, was again EXCELLENT, especially a couple of songs in when, for me, everything sounded GRATE. Also the FACT that we have now played together several times in the space of a month made it all feel quite RELAXED. Everyone was on fully their game so we sounded ROCK and I was also able to relae enjoy some CHAT with the audience. I do like a bit of that!

    Also, I have to say, finishing with We Did It Anyway is BRILLIANT. We'd been joking about how we should have split up a few years ago so we could now be doing a COMEBACK. I introduced the song saying "This is why we never split up" and, my dears, I MOVED myself!

    So yes, it was great fun and then after that Po! were a) FANTASTIC and b) like they'd never been away. I am very much looking forward to seeing them again, not in another 25 years but in a WEEK at Indietracks!

    The evening finished with Validators being parted once again, for what felt like AGES this time. Me, Frankie and The Tiger will be seeing each other on Saturday at the aforesaid Indietracks, but we'll not be seeing The Pattisons until the week after, when we play in Leeds. That's AGES away!

    posted 25/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Lessons In Commerce
    The launch of a new album is always fraught with WORRY, especially around SALES. After the initial RUSH of lovely people who buy it as soon as it's UNLEASHED there's always a massive drop-off while you wait for other lovely people to find out about it. As I say, this ALWAYS happens, but that doesn't mean you ever get used to it!

    In an effort to try and UNDIP the sales figues this week I thought I'd try an exciting new media strategy: I would ASK people to buy the album. No, stay with me, this may SEEM like an impossibly radical idea that has never even been attempted before, but I thought it might just work so, on Monday, I tweeted this: INCREDIBLY it actually WORKED, and several people DID buy the album. I could hardly believe it! However, I have worked in Academic Research for DECADES and are well aware of the dangers of a small sample size. It COULD have been that people were going to buy it anyway that day and it just so happened that my REVOLUTIONARY TWEET went out at the same time. So, on Tuesday, I tried again, THUSLY: And guess what? IT HAPPENED AGAIN! I am now AFEARED of what I should do with this KNOWLEDGE. Should I spread the information around the world? If I did, might there be a chance - a tiny chance, but a chance none the less - that someone might use this "asking people to buy things" power for EVIL, rather than good? Might it even become some kind of SMALL INDUSTRY that might, maybe, one day, ask people to buy things that WEREN'T in their best possible interests?

    It is a weighty responsibility, and one that I will MUSE upon further. While I do that though - hey! - if you haven't bought our album yet, why not do so via this purchasing link? You can take it from me that it is Quite Good, and I should know - I've listened to it a LOT!

    posted 20/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Festival 8
    The Summer of ROCK continued at the weekend as The Validators travelled NORTH to play at Festival 8, just outside Grimsby. Executive Summary: we had a lovely time.

    I met up with Mr T 'The Tiger' McClure and Ms C Birkby the night before at the Grimsby Premier Inn, our base for the weekend. Everyone there was VERY friendly, apart from a barman who, in his defence, had spent the previous 2 hours dealing with a pub full of CHILDREN. Apparently everyone else was there for EITHER a junior football tournament OR something to do with BALLET, so there were a LOT of kids!

    On Saturday we headed over to nearby Cleethorpes to collect Mr FA Machine from Cleethorpe's BEST, also Cleethorpe's ONLY, real ale pub, where he had taken a ROOM. On the way he texted to ask if we had time for a BEER there. My BRANE clicked over into TOUR mode: of COURSE we did - I texted back "3 pints of lager and a coke please" then added "Everyone else can buy their own" because I am ENTIRELY HILARIOUS. Nobody laughed when I repeated the joke several times over the weekend, I can only assume this is because it was TOO hilarious.

    Post-pints we got ourselves rounded up and headed to Cabourne Parva, where the festival was taking place. It's theoretically a FARM but seems to be used for lots of events, as the PARTY BARN where we were playing (they're ALL party barns when WE play them etc etc) had a bar installed and floorboards, and there seemed to be several permanent structures for cafes and suchlike. There were also LOTS of tents and big tops, mostly of a ETHEREAL theme e.g. yoga, healing, that sort of thing.

    It reminded me VERY MUCH of Glastonbury in Olden Tymes when I used to go or festivals in general from back then, there was a LOT of juggling, pantaloon trousers, dreadlocks and so forth going on. As with festivals of yore, it was also a VERY friendly, VERY safe atmosphere into which we relaxed like the old hands we are.

    We found Mr E Bewsher, long time CHUM and the person who suggested we apply, outside the PARTY BARN and then The Pattisons INSIDE. They were watching the act before us so we all stayed to watch too.

    Soon it was time to go and collect GEAR ready for SHOWTIME. When I got back I was told to report to the Stage Manager, who wanted "some words to describe you for when I do the introduction." "International Indie ROCK" I said, which seemed to please her, although I think maybe she had read a handwritten version of the running order, as she introduced us ON and then later OFF as "MISTER Hibbett And The Validators". I reckon it sounds quite sophisticated! Here's what we played:
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • That Guy
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • I Want To Find Out How It Ends
  • Burn It Down And Start Again
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • We Did It Anyway

  • It was All A Bit Crash Bang Wallop to start with but we soon relaxed into the gig, and I remembered that a large part of the fun, for ME at least, in doing Validators gigs is the opportunity to BICKER with Emma. There was quite a lot of said bickering and I am now convinced that That Guy is her FAVOURITE song and she just says it isn't so that we can argue about it. We didn't have a HUGE audience, but the people who were there seemed to enjoy it and I did get to have a debate with one gentleman about which end of Lincolnshire is the flattest!

    We'd intended to finish with Easily Impressed but there seemed to be a slight misunderstanding about our set length (we thought 45, the schedule apparently thought 40) so we had to cut it off, though it ended up being quite SUITABLE ending with We Did It Anyway. As was said several times over the course of the day, other indiepop bands might be playing the Fortuna Pop! weekender that day or will be playing Indietracks in a couple of weeks, performing for audiences who've come specifically to see them, but we're the only ones playing in a Barn near Grimsby! I genuinely think ALL bands should do more of this sort of thing - it's fun playing to people who probably like you already (actually, it's a LOT of fun), but you've got to get out and about to find NEW people!

    With that all done it was time for the main business of the day i.e. finding some SEATS and then sitting drinking BEER and YACKING for the next four hours, which we duly did. It was GRATE! Tom found himself elected to a new POSITION i.e. The One Who Asks About Money, and he fulfilled this task SO well that it has now become a permanent role. Congratulations Tom! He even managed to get us some BEER VOUCHERS, so it was a fairly DELAPIDATED group of Validators who staggered off to the campsite at approx 9:30pm to enjoy a final group discussion while sharing a bottle of WHISKY.

    It was, basically, a lovely way to spend a weekend - thanks VERY much to the organisers of Festival 8 for having us, we really enjoyed it - and it was made all the lovelier by the knowledge that in a few days time we're all back together AGANE to ROCK Leicester (supporting Po! at The Firebug)! HOORAH for The Summer Of ROCK!

    posted 18/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Shy And Retiring
    After leaving the post-Hibbettfest pub on Saturday evening I headed to Birmingham New Street Station (which despite the new shopping centre plonked on top is still Hell On Earth) to catch a train to PETERBOROUGH, where I was due to attend and also perform at Mr CM Smith's retirement DO. I was stood on the platform looking at twitter and, after about ten minutes, realised someone was stood next to me. It was Mr Mark Collins! "I've been stood here for ages!" he said. In my defence there'd been a LOT going on in The Politics, which we then went on to discuss all the way to LEICESTER, to which he was returning.

    After Mark had disembarked I went to the LOO to get changed - it had already been a long day and a change of clothes was very much needed. Of course, this being a MODERN TRANE it had a toilet with a very confusing LOCK and, OF COURSE, the door flew open at the worst POSSIBLE moment for such a thing to happen, though luckily for me (and any observers!) no-one was there to witness the moment of HORROR. Phew!

    I arrived in Peterborough just as planned and, a few minutes later, so did The Points On My Plan, who had come direct from London. We hopped into a taxi and were soon in HELPSTON, at http://mjhibbett.co.uk/gigs/venue.php?venuecode=383>The John Clare Cottage where the DO was being held. My MUM works there sometimes so it had seemed like an logical place to have it.

    What followed was a DELIGHTFUL evening. Various family were there and some LOVELY old friends including Mr S Carter and The Mylands. They'd also laid on SPECIAL food just for me and The Meals On My Menu, which was MOST appreciated, especially next day when we ate the leftovers out of tupperware!

    There was catching up, there were presentations, there were speeches, and also there was ME doing a few songs. I wasn't really sure, beforehand, whether this would be a good idea but when it came time to DO it I realised that I'd just COME from one gig in a back garden so another one should be no bother at all. ALSO it gave me a chance to boss around an audience featuring many of my parents' friends, which was MOST enjoyable. Here's what I did:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Come From The Fens
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Can you spot a theme? "Boom Shake The Room" seems to have become a FAMILY TRADITION now, and I was aided by Mr P Myland, formerly of The Durham Ox Singers on Backing Vocals, as you can see below:

    What a team! And also: what a night! I must admit that when PLANNING this ludicrous day of travel ACTION I'd expected to be EXHAUSTED by the time we got to Helpston, but actually I had a LOVELY time. That may have been helped by the BARRELS of Oakham JHB that were laid on (that is a NICE beer), I cannot say. What I CAN say however is that it caught up with me next day - even if the Euros Final had been INTERESTING I'm sure I would have dozed off, in the state I was in that evening I stood NO chance!

    posted 13/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Hibbettfest 2016
    The morning of Hibbettfest 2016 began for me at the UNGODLY hour of 6am (on a SATURDAY!) as I had a HECKLOAD of travelling to do. The plan was to zoom up to Cradley Heath for a band practice at 11am, go over to Kingswinford for Hibbettfest itself, pop back to Birmingham for a PINT and then get on ANOTHER train to Peterborough for Mr CM Smith's RETIREMENT do. PEASY!

    It was a BUSY schedule which i was dealing with HEROICALLY by MOANING to The Validators, only to be told by Mr T Pattison that HE had been up since 5am and was flying into Birmingham from AMSTERDAM, having been in Ghana the day before. Honestly, some people make SUCH a fuss don't they?

    The first part of the journey went fine and I met Mr FA Machine at Birmingham Moor Street Station just after 10am to catch our train to Cradley Heath. We arrived at 10:36am with almost half an hour to find our way to the rehearsal studio, which turned out to be NEEDED because the address given on their webpage was NOT, it turned out, where they actually were. "A rehearsal studio not having an entirely accurate and up to date website?" we said, STUNNED. "Surely not?"

    The only place we could find open on an Industrial Estate at that time of a Saturday morning was a DANCE studio, so we went in to ask for help. As soon as we entered it was clear that we were in the MOST WRONG place for two men of distinguished age to be. The whole BUILDING turned and LOOKED at us, parents, teenage girls, and MORE teenage girls. "Are you lost?" said a kindly lady. WE WERE. She took us back outside, where a man washing his car said "Are you looking for the rehearsal studios?" He told us where they were (round the corner and up a different road). "It's round there somewhere," he said. "I can hear them playing LATE AT NIGHT."

    Duly advised we went down a dirt track and discovered the studios HIDDEN, also ALARMINGLY CLEAN. I thought about complaining to the managament - the toilet not only had loo roll in it, but also SOAP! What is the world coming to when basic rules of rehearsal studios are not obeyed? I blame BREXIT.

    Mr T McClure was next to arrive (I'd rung everyone to tell them the actual address) and after a short delay brought on by TRAFFIC so did The Pattisons. As we set up we discussed many issues of the day and agreed that, for the duration of this SUMMER OF ROCK (we're seeing each other pretty much every weekend for the next five weeks!) ALL REMARKS would be phrased in terms of SEARING Brexit-related SATIRE. This mostly came about because we had VOTED on what songs would be on our setlist and so there was much "I only voted for Lesson Of The Smiths as a protest" etc etc etc and resigning from things with heavy hearts and so forth. It was HILARIOUS and there is NO WAY that it will not STAY so until mid-August. If it does, no-one will ever know because, as Tom said, "What goes on tour REMAINS on tour."

    Please feel free to pause a moment while GUFFAWS subside.

    We RATTLED through the thirteen songs we'd chosen (13 because three songs came joint 11th, and 10 wouldn't have been enough), pausing for FURTHER LARFS and also FILMING ourselves for possible video use. After that we packed up then most of us headed off to Kingswinford, with Frankie returning to Derby for a Family Committment. As we said bye to him we got to say "See you next week!" which was RATHER LOVELY.

    We arrived at the Hibbettfest site to find the event in FULL SWING. There was a garden full of lovely people, including Mr R Kirkham and his parents, several dogs and a LOT of small children. Hibbettfest may have started out as a small event, but over the 11 or so years it's been going it has grown primarily via existing audience members MAKING more audience.

    Ray proclaimed the BUFFET open, we ATE (it was PARTICULARLY delicious this year - especially the AFTERS, of which I had HELPINGS) and then Mr A Hale got up to do a set. Originally there was going to be THREE other acts playing, but it had been reduced to one by the day itself and Alex filled the space ADMIRABLY, even though I was a bit distracted by the fact he uses my old guitar!

    I had decided to PACE myself this year i.e. NOT drink ALL the beer, in order to be in a sensible state when I saw my parents in the evening. However I almost made a terrible ERROR when I said to Mr Kirkham Senior "Have you got any of that Rhubarb Wine left?" This was a beverage he had given me a couple of festivals ago, saying "I won it in a raffle". This had NOT ended well for me, so I was only JOKING but he LEAPT at the chance to get rid of some more, producing an entire DEMI-JOHN of it from the garage. I managed to avoid drinking TOO much of it - I think it may need another DECADE or so to mature properly.

    Anyway, soon it was SHOWTIME. Here's what we looked like:

    And this is what we did:
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • We Did It Anyway
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • That might not be the EXACT order we did it in - we made up the list as we went along - but I should be able to CHECK*, as Ms L Handcock very kindly FILMED the whole thing for us, in the hope that we can use it ALSO for a future video. Hey, we live in the modern era, it's the way we're going to connect with THE KIDS! (* UPDATE: have checked, this now the correct setlist!)

    It all seemed to go pretty well, then all too soon it was time to say "See you next week" to the rest of The Validators and hop into THE PARTY BUS aka the taxi into town which Ray had ordered. The PARTY decamped to The Wellington as is traditional, but ALAS I had time for just one pint as I had a whole OTHER party in a back yard to get to, of which more NEXT time!

    It was, yet again, a BLOODY MARVELLOUS Hibbettfest. It really is my favourite festival roll on next year!

    posted 12/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    For The Rabbits
    I'm very VERY pleased to say that today we're PREMIERING our brand new video for 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 over on For The Rabbits. Go an have a look, it's GRATE!

    The video was put together over many weeks in VARIOUS ways. Firstly we put out a call for help asking people to submit CLIPS to go with the lines of the song. A core group of MARVELLOUS chums answered this call and, once those were all in, I coerced Mr S Hewitt and Mr W Pilkington to help me fill in a few of the gaps. MEANWHILE Tim, Emma and Tom gathered on a street corner in Leicester to film UN HOMAGE to That Bob Dylan Video What Everyone Rips Off for use in the CHORUSES and elsewhere.

    I'm pretty sure that this methodology is used in HOLLYWOOD, by the way. "What, we didn't film enough light saber battles? Quick, let's go to the pub and film a bit there, it'll be fine!"

    I then spent a couple of evenings lining everything up and TEST SCREENING it to The Audience In My Auditorium and Validators, then gently re-editing it until it was the MEISTERWERK you see before you today. I'm quite pleased with the results I must admit. It might not be the SLICKEST or most COHERENT video you'll ever see, but it does feature some of the MOST DELIGHTFUL people!

    posted 11/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Tuesday
    I felt TEMPORALY DISCOMBOBULATED at Totally Acoustic this week, a sensation I put down to the fact that it happened on a TUESDAY rather than the more usual THURSDAY. Either that, or someone had put some BOOZE in my drink, but that sounds very unlikely.

    For LO! we had gathered in The King & Queen for a rescheduled day this month - CJ at the pub had suggested moving from our usual Thursday as there was Euro 2016 ACTION scheduled and there was a possibility it might have been an England match. This seems LAUGHABLE now of course, but this was all arranged back in those crazy optimistic days of MAY, so we weren't to know!

    Acts, audience and regulars all arrived in good time, and we kicked the show off with me leading everyone through the THEME TUNE as usual before doing (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock and Burn It Down And Start Again. I wasn't intending to DO Burn It Down And Start Again but I asked for requests and somebody shouted for "song 5" on the album, so I thought I ought!

    Next up were My Favourite Andy, who were ACE. They'd emailed to ask about a gig, I'd listened to their tracks and thought "These are really good!" and so was DELIGHTED to find that, live, they were ACE. I don't think they'd DONE a gig like Totally Acoustic before either, as they were REVELLING in the freedom of movement, also in the EXCELLENCE of the audience!

    After them we had FakeDaveGreen '80s Synth Singalong (feat Denmark Massive) a.k.a. Dave, his friend Rob, and a PILE of instruments including a toy piano that was THROWN to the floor at the end in a fit of ROCK ABANDON. They played a host of 80s synth hits which we all SANG ALONG with (as the name would suggest), helped by song sheets. It was FAB, though I couldn't help noticing that the songs chosen were almost EXACTLY the same as the ones Dave suggested I do WAY back in Christmas 2000 when I played at the Need To Know Christmas Party - I've still got the list and CHORDS somewhere, the only song he omitted was "Move Any Mountain". NEXT time!

    Finally Mr Kriss Foster performed a selection of songs from his forthcoming "Very Small Museum" show that he'll be doing at The Fringe. I love Kriss's stuff, as I have remarked many times before, and this time he was precisely as MARVELLOUS as ever i.e. TOTALLY. He passed a box containing museum exhibits (well, pieces of paper in this instance but it'll be ARTEFACTS by the time he gets to Edinburgh) around the room, getting audience members to choose one at random then he told a story and/or sang an associated song. It worked really REALLY well, it almost made me want to go to the Fringe in August!

    And that was that for an entirely LOVELY evening. The only DOWNSIDE of the entire experience was, as I say, the TEMPORAL DISCOMBOBULATION waking up next morning thinking it must be Friday and the disappointment of realising it was only Wednesday - back to our usual day of the week next time!

    posted 7/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Reviews Begin
    The new album has only been out for a few days but the MEDIA ONSLAUGHT is already reaping rewards!

    At time of writing we've had 2 (two) reviews, and both of them are LOVELY. This one in Sounds XP is FLATTERING ("Me, a renaissance man? Coo er gosh I couldn't comment hem hem") while this one on The Album Wall is pretty much my favourite review EVER, featuring as it does the reviewer getting his MUM in to help advice on Middle Aged Issues. Give them both a read, they are FAB!

    We've also had some radio play, with tracks on Pete Jackson's Dandelion Radio show, The Breakdown and Brutha Voodoo's Playlist Obscura, and I remain hopeful of a few more plays ELSEWHERE. There is a lot of Radio Listening going on chez moi, just in case!

    We're EXTREMELY grateful to everyone for mentioning us - as I keep saying, we're doing it all ourselves and REALLY want to get people to listen to this album, so as ever we can do with all the help we can get!

    posted 6/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back To Brentwood
    I spent the Saturday afternoon just gone catching the fast train to Shenfield for what would apparently be my SEVENTH appearance on the Brentwood's Only Alternative radio show. I was meant to have been there the week before but it had rained SO much that the trains had been CANCELLED. It worked out MUCH more easily this time, and Mr P Golder picked me up from the station to headed on over to the Phoenix FM studio.

    The FIRST time I appeared on Phoenix FM was 12 years ago ("You are The Fall to my John Peel", said Paul), when it had had a temporary licence and had been based in a small room above a youth club disco. It's MUCH swankier now with ROOMS and EQUIPMENT and CHAIRS and EVERYTHING. Paul and I relaxed in the second studio while we waited for show time and had SUCH a right old natter that we forgot the time and had to RUN into the main room before the news finished!

    This would be pretty much how the entire session would go - we started NATTERING and went on so long that I had to keep reminding myself I WASN'T just sat in a pub and so MUST NOT SWEAR. We covered diverse topics such as If Kratfwerk Did A Panto and Cover Versions Of Other Radio Shows but also managed to go through ALL the songs on Still Valid, explaining what they were about, and I did THREE songs, THUS:

  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • In The North Stand
  • We Did It Anyway

    The songs actually went quite well- I'm not gigging much at the moment so I always worry that I'll a) forget the words and b) not be able to sing at ALL, but it seemed to go OK. You can judge for yourself with the videos BELOW:

    I had, it must be said, a BLOODY LOVELY time - it would be WRONG if we ever released an album without going to tell Paul about it, so I was most pleased to have managed it in DEFIANCE of the elements!

    posted 5/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Still Valid is OUT!
    At long last, after YEARS of writing, rehearsing, arguing, gigs, recording, arguing, beer, mastering, arguing, curry, sleeve design, curry, arguing and BEER our brand new album Still Valid is officially released TODAY!

    This time around the actual CD version is ONLY available to buy directly from us, either via these very webpages or at one of the upcoming gigs. You can buy it DIGITALLY though in all SORTS of ways - direct from us via our bandcamp page, on iTunes, Amazon or pretty much ANY digital downnload site.

    "But Mark", I hear you say, "How are we to know whether we'd LIKE the album 'Still Valid' by MJ Hibbett & The Validators?" This is an excellent question, for which there are TWO answers. The first answer is "Because I am telling you it is GRATE!" and the second is "By checking for yourself, with this here STREAM thing:"

    We're all RATHER excited that this is FINALLY out and about for people to hear. We hope you enjoy it and HEY! If you DO, it would help us ENORMOUSLY if you could spread the word by telling other people. It may SEEM, from the SLICKNESS of our COMMUNICATIONS, that we are a high powered media conglomerate, but in reality it's just US and a book of stammps, we need all the help we can get!

    posted 4/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Ongoing Onslaught
    The Media Onslaught for Still Valid continues today as a stream of the ENTIRE ALBUM is premiering over on God Is In The TV. You can listen to THE LOT - go on, have a listen!.

    Once again, as with our appearance on Louder Than War recently, this was sorted out for us by Mr G Gargan, so many thanks to him for that. He has been patiently explaining to me how all of this WORKS nowadays, with yr exclusives and yr premieres and so forth, and I am very grateful indeed to him!

    NEXT week we have the ACTUAL Official RELEASE of the album, which means it'll be on Spotify and iTunes and all that sort of thing. We should also have the VIDEO premiering too - I'm about halfway through editing it at the moment and it's looking pretty good. After that - well, I don't know what happens after that. What I do know is that AT LAST you can hear what we've been working on these past four years, and what I HOPE is that you enjoy it!

    posted 1/7/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back On Set
    Regular readers may recall my appeal for help making a video for 20 Things To Do Before You're 30. We got a lot of GRATE clips sent to us, but there were still a few GAPS which needed filling, so last night I met with Mr S Hewitt and Mr W Pilkington in central London to see what we could do about it.

    We met at Russell Square and headed up the road to The "Laundrette" Launderette to film the line about... well, going to Launderettes. This took approximately 20 seconds to do so we retired to the nearby Lord John Russell pub for a well earned PINT and then to film another four lines. This took over two minutes to do, which was EXHAUSTING, so decided to go inside and sit in the warm for a bit, also for some more PINTS.

    It was all rather delightful I must say - quite apart from anything else it was MARVELLOUS to be sat in a pub which such charming fellows discussing Vital Issues Of The Day, especially at a time when there are so MANY Vital Issues to be discussed. I'm beginning to think that we need to STAY in the pub full-time in order to prevent the entire country collapsing about itself - this is, I feel, pretty much the only SENSIBLE policy anybody's suggested all week!

    posted 30/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Comics Crossroads
    I got up at an HORRENDOUS hour on Sunday in order to be in Canterbury at 10am for a CONFERENCE. That's right, I AM dedicated to my ART and my ART is COMICS, for LO! I was attending "Comics Crossroads", and all day symposium covering VARIOUS aspects of comics studies.

    When I got to Canterbury I thought I knew the way to The University Of Kent as The Students In My Study Group and I had passed through it a while ago when we did The Crab & Winkle Way walk. We got a bit LOST that time though, so I was not entirely confident I'd get there, but my worries disappeared when I spotted someone who looked very much like he was going to the same place as me, so I followed him. Turns out he totally WAS!

    The University Of Kent is one of those PROPER University campuses (aka Former Polytechnic campuses) built in the 1960s/1970s, where the whole place is miles from anywhere in a FIELD with loads of small buildings and, for some reason, hexagons. The event was happening in an actual THEATRE that looked EXACTLY the same as the one we went to in Bedford earlier on in the year to see 'Captain Wonderful', I guess maybe there was a DESIGN going round that everyone just used?

    Anyway, the day itself did my HEAD in as it was FULL to BURSTING with IDEAS and TERMINOLOGY and THEORIES that I never even knew existed, let alone had thought about. My supervisor, Professor R Sabin, apologised for the lack of SUPERHERO stuff in the day (as that's what I'll be doing when I start my PhD in October) but I didn't mind at all. It was GRATE to be exposed to the world of CULTURAL STUDIES and so forth. I learnt about linguistics, philosophy, art history and ALL sorts, it felt like getting a GROUNDING in a whole new world, into which I shall be dropping SUPERHEROES later in the year.

    At about 6pm I STAGGERED out of the building, mind REELING with THORTS and set off for the railway station. Imagine my DELIGHT when I saw, just ahead of me, the same person I'd followed there in the morning. Turns out following him BACK worked as well!

    posted 28/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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