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It's Out
I haven't said much about the Referendum here because a) this is a source of amazing ROCK content, not ASTOUNDING political analysis and also b) goodness knows there were enough people going on about it. I was hoping today would be "GOOD that's that over with let's never discuss it again" DAY but instead it seems to be "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHH!!! WHAAAAAT?" day instead.

Normally in these sort of situations I would spring straight to OPTIMISM but this morning I thought I'd make an exception. "TOMORROW I'll look on the bright side", I thought, "today I will just stare blankly at computer screens, shaking my head and resisting the urge to throw chairs through windows/set fire to national landmarks".

With that in mind I did consider changing my ORIGINAL plan for the day, which was to email everybody on the newsletter subscription list with the offer of buying our new album EARLY. "Nobody will want to think about ROCK today" I said to myself. "It would be stupid to even MENTION it."

HOWEVER after further thought I realised that I had PROMISED to UNLEASH the album today, and maybe some people WOULD be up for a cheering purchase, so I sent out the email, not expecting anything to happen. How wrong I was! For LO! my inbox gently filled with a steady stream of people making the purchase and, as this is a mailing list I've had on the go for over a DECADE, nearly all of the names were very familiar to me. Some were people I'd met (often) in real life, others were names and addresses I've written out MANY times over the years, and it was truly lovely to see them again. I gave out actual miniature WHOOPS when familiar names appeared, it was bloody GRATE!

The next task will be to pack them all up and get them into the post, which shall be my grand task tomorrow. If you've ordered one already thank you VERY much for doing so - it's cheered me RIGHT up - and if you're not on the mailing list then FEAR NOT, your time will come a week on Monday, the fourth of July!

posted 24/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Louder Than War Premiere
When I started to think about the Publicity Campaign for the new album I asked several wise heads what was the best way to do PLUGGING nowadays. I was aware that things might have changed in the four years since we last released an album so thought I'd best check - do Melody Maker prefer cassettes in brown jiffy bags or white?

It turns out things have changed A LOT, with pretty much everybody saying that these days you have PREMIERES and EXCLUSIVES of tracks and videos, rather than reviews like in the distant past. With this in mind I asked around a few people to try and rustle something up and the marvellous Mr G Gargan said he would see about getting us something in Louder Than War. And LO! he has only gone and done it!

THUS I am very happy to say that the song 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, the LEAD TRACK from our exciting new album Still Valid is now available to stream EXCLUSIVELY on Louder Than War!

Go and hsve a listen - if you like it then rest assured there is a LOT more like it to come. Release day is July 4th - put it in yr diaries!

posted 23/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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The Hockey
There is a big international tournament of team sport going on that the whole WORLD is enjoying at the moment - I speak of course of The Hockey Champions Trophy 2016! Whoo!

Yes all right maybe there is ANOTHER international tournament of team sport occurring at the moment and MAYBE I am diligently filling in my Radio Times wallchart every night, but that one isn't happening ten minutes away from my front door at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. The hockey very much IS!

The Curve Of My Hockey Stick had got us tickets a while ago and I must admit that, as we set off last night, I was kind of wishing we could have stayed at home and watched the FOOTBALL on TELLY. These doubts, however, soon began to dissolve when we arrived to find that it was like a tiny bit of the OLYMPICS brought back to life. This was partly because the only other time i've watched hockey was when we WENT to the Olympics, but it was also because of the atmosphere - lots of people wandering around, some looking puzzled, others VERY excited about seeing THEIR sport, lots of temporary structures holding exhibitions, shops and cafes, and everywhere you looked volunteers EAGER to help out. It was lovely!

After a quick wander round and an even quicker look in The Museum Of Hockey we found our way into the stadium just as the New Zealand National Anthem was playing. I thought this was HANDY as it meant we could edge along to our seats, but The Words In My Song suggested we go and sit on one of the bank of empty seats in the other direction instead, so we found ourselves with GRATE seats right in the middle of the stand just in time for the British anthem to boom out.

For LO! we were there to watch Great Britain play New Zealand and it was, all in all, jolly good fun. We weren't quite sure what was going on for large portions of it, but things moved so quickly that it didn't really matter and by the end we were both shouting "GO ON!" whenever one of our "girls" got close. It was, in fact, very much like going to watch Posh, not least because we were sat almost EXACTLY where Mr P Myland has his season ticket! There were also long periods of The Mind Wandering, occasional bursts of SHOUTING, and also people nearby making REMARKS to each other under the impression that they were Wise Commentators.

The differences were a) everyone was quite a bit posher than at football and b) it was a LOT slicker. Whenever somebody got BOOKED they played "Trouble" by Shampoo LOUDLY through the PA system (which did not give it the air of a Serious Offence), other music played at appropriate (and occasionally inappropriate) moments, and CAMERAMEN kept running onto the Actual Pitch to film things. We agreed it was sort of like how you'd imagine American Football being, except on a slightly smaller, and more English, scale.

It was all GRATE fun, even though GB lost 1-0. "They have the same problem as England" remarked The Pundits In My Panel. "Lots of pressure but they can't score." She wasn't wrong!

posted 22/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Durham Ox Singers Unleashed
For years and years I have been BANGING ON about how The Durham Ox Singers are the GRATE Undiscovered Art Project of the 20th Century. "Is this because you was in them?" people ask me and of course the answer is NO, hem hem, I would think that even if they were nothing to do with me, honest.

For those UNLUCKY enough never to have heard my CORRECT argument about this, The Durham Ox Singers were a group of six people who were all regulars in The Durham Ox pub in Leicester, run by Mr D Dixey and thus de facto HQ of Sorted Records and meeting place of much of the Leicester Indie Scene of that time. Me and Dave were starting a regular gig night called LollopaLeicester (good name!) and wanted to have a regular THING every month to make it more than just... well, a regular gig night. After much thought and a LOT of Bass Beer we came up with the idea of an acapella group performing hits of the Avant Garde... because you would really, wouldn't you?

Anyway, one thing led to another, we persuaded a bunch of people in the pub one night (half from bands, half not) to have a go and it all went SO well that Dave suggested we record a SINGLE, so we did, with our acapella version of Revolution #9 as the lead track. It is, frankly, AMAZING, and when I listen to it now I am ASTOUNDED that I was ever involved in something SO BRILLIANT. We did a few more gigs (including a QUITE ODD appearance at a folk festival where we were told in no uncertain terms that ENOUGH was ENOUGH) and then did a whole ALBUM with Mr A Jenkins at Cordelia Studios. This album was called Mute Nostril Agony and featured our entire live set (including another version of 'Revolution #9') and BEST OF ALL a pretty darn exciting version of John Cage's 4'33".

And there the story might have ended - LollopaLeicester came to an end, we stopped doing gigs and, as far as I'm aware, nobody ever bought the album so the only copies belonged to the band. Until, that is, a couple of weeks ago when Dave got in touch again to say that he'd found a way to release the album DIGITALLY (and quite cheaply). After some discussion I provided a new version of the album cover (the original had Tom Baker on it and Dave was worried about getting clearance) and LO! a few days ago word came through that it was LIVE, on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and, I guess, ALL other digital download sites!

Let's all take a delightful moment to allow that to settle in. On Spotify there is now an acapella version of John Cage's 4'33" recorded by six twits in Leicester for LARKS. MARVELLOUS. This is a "Deluxe Reissue" too, so as well as the original album you get ALL of the single AND some remixes too!

I heartily recommend a LISTEN to it as it is GRATE, and I look forward to it finally receiving the PLAUDITS from the Avant Garde Community what it has so long deserved!

posted 21/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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New Look
Keen eyed observers of this website will have noticed that we have a whole NEW LOOK today! This has come in for two reasons - firstly obviously BRANDING, what with the new album coming out soon*, and secondly in order to make it easier to use the site on a TELEPHONE. I know that the majority of my regular visitors are probably viewing this on an Amstrad PCW plugged into the wall, but apparently these days THE KIDS are looking at the interweb on their mobile phones so I thought I ought to at least make an effort.

Also - FULL DISCLOSURE - I've often found it really difficult to get to the gigs page when I'm on the way to a venue but can't remember the address!

I hope you like it - I know it's not quite as COLOURFUL as the longstanding Dinosaur Planet inspired scheme, but hopefully it will prove to be a bit more useable!

* talking of which, I'm thinking that we might make the album available to newsletter subscribers a little bit earlier than originally planned. Watch your INBOX on Friday 24th chums!

posted 20/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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What A Day
Apologies for the lack of UPDATES here just lately - ROCK stuff has been occurring but it's been almost entirely ADMIN e.g. posting things, sending emails, getting ready for a website update etc etc etc. Yesterday, however, was basically a WEEK'S worth of THRILLZ all rammed into one day!

It kicked off with a DELIGHTFUL morning highly reminiscent of my life about a year ago, when I was off work and cavorting around. I went first to Gosh Comics, where I bumped into Mr R Johnston of Bleeding Cool, there to film a FILM, and had a right old chat with him about all sorts, including the PhD which I'm starting in October. He said he might be able to help me contact some of the Marvel Bullpen from the 70s, which would be EXTREMELY helpful!

After a chat with Mr N Metcalfe and a TRIM of my Pull List I set off for The BBC Secret Window, that hallowed and SECRET place where you can hand over all your CD packages for DJs without having to spend CA$H on postage. It's moved since my last visit and now you have to BUZZ a doorbell to be allowed inside and then scan all your packages through an X-RAY machine before they'll accept them. I had a LOT so it took a while, but then it was DONE - all CDs have now been either handed over or POSTED to radio DJs, so be ALERT for possible radio play over the coming days!

I wandered happily through Fitzrovia to my next appointment - lunch with Mr J Dredge. It was lovely wandering through that part of town. I'm working mostly in Hammersmith and White City at the moment and, with the best will in the world, it is not QUITE as nice! John and I had a good old chat about a stand-up character what he is working on at the moment, which I am sort of helping to script edit, and we discussed a) high falutin' ideas b) GAGS for a DELIGHTFUL hour.

That done I headed home to watch the England VS Wales game which was mostly boring for the first half and mostly NOT boring for the second. However, while that was going on I started to see the news coming in from Birstall about the murder of Jo Cox. Everybody's had a lot to say on this and I don't think my opinions on it will make much difference, it just felt horribly horribly depressing.

I thus set off for my gig that night at The Croydon Comedy Festival REALLY not in the mood for it. I arrived to find Mr T Eveleigh setting up in much the same way. We talked about how we could make the evening work, as just doing a normal gig didn't feel right. I was happy to pass responsibility for deciding onto others, choosing instead to go for a PINT with Mr S Hewitt and various CHUMS who had arrived. We sat out the back and talked about The Football, which was just what we all needed - chatting and laughing about something that doesn't really matter AT ALL in the face of events which DO, but which feel out of our control.

THUS by the time SHOW time rolled around the mood was back in place. It kicked off with Ms J Lockyer who was GRATE - featuring new songs! - and then ME, doing this:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • That Guy
  • In The North Stand
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I must say I REALLY enjoyed myself. It feels like AGES since i last did an actual gig and I've not done any practicing or anything, so was PLEASED and SURPRISED by how easy it was to get back into it. I also found myself talking even MORE than usual - like everybody else, the events of the day had made me feel VULNERABLE and so I found myself speaking in depth about the stories behind the songs i.e. not my usual pre-song PATTER, but actual FEELINGS. Goodness!

    Next up was Ms G Petrie who was, of course, ASTONISHING. Every time I play with her I am surprised anew by how AMAZING she is - I was very very glad I had been on before her, and did not envy final act Mr G Osborne who had to follow her although, OF COURSE, he managed it perfectly. It was BRILLIANT being back with my TOURING BUDDIES - we're next playing together at the Towersey Festival and I for one CANNOT WAIT!

    The only downside of all this FUN was that, by the time it had all finished, it was 11:30pm and i was in South Norwood i.e. a LONG LONG way from home. Luckily Jenny VERY kindly gave Steve and I a lift to East Croydon so we could catch trains into London Actual, and I managed to get back to The Olympical Village just after 1am. It's been AGES since I was last out that late, but it had been worth it - what a day!

    posted 17/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Croydon Will Not Fall
    Wednesday evening last week saw me wending my post-work way to Croydon, where I was due to appear on the Joyzine Radio Show on Croydon Radio.

    I was delayed on the way by LIGHTNING hitting various train tracks and thus slowing the rest of the network down, so it was a very flustered and sweaty Hibbett who RAN into St Matthews Yard (where the station's based) as the church clock was finishing off its chiming of the hour. Luckily Mr P Maps had started the show with a record, so I was able to slip into the interviewee's chair as if nothing had happened.

    Things kicked off well with some chat and some records. He'd asked me to choose three of my tracks to play and three of other people's, so I went for songs by Frankie Machine, Gavin Osborn and Robberie. I'd thought I ought to pick a Chris T-T one, as his (EXCELLENT) new album 9 Green Songs has just come out, but then I realised that he'd been on the show HIMSELF a week or two ago, so the people of Croydon were already TT-aware!

    Ten minutes in Paul looked CONCERNED. "We may have a problem", he said. Apparently sometimes the broadcast from the studio doesn't work, so the station automatically broadcasts something else instead. He assured me that all was well - most of their listeners come from the podcast, which is recorded separately - so we carried on as we were. We had more chat, played more records, I did live versions of Can We Be Friends and It Only Works Because You're Here, and soon our hour was up, broadcast or not!

    Next morning I got an email from Croydon Radio to say that the podcast was online, and I discovered that we HADN'T been broadcast live as the playlist was the Emergency one that had been put out instead. However the podcast very much WAS the one we'd recorded, and Paul has since corrected the playlist so you can now enjoy it in ALL its glory by listening to it online.

    I think it came out quite well, despite the LIGHTNING and other mishaps - even if my bits aren't much cop, the other records are GRATE!

    posted 13/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Chat The Wizards
    The PROMOTIONAL TREADMILL for Still Valid continued to ROLL on Tuesday night as I sat down to do a SKYPE interview with Trust The Wizards for their podcast.

    I had been right looking forward to this as they are LEARNED types but was not expecting the GRILLING wot I got - cor! Some of the questions were DEAD hard, they right taxed my BRANE. My favourite bit was when Mr C Bounds asked about the STRUCTURE of my songs. He'd noticed that some of them start off with an idea, expand upon it, challenge itself in the middle and then have a TWIST at the end. "Some of them" he said. "ALL of them!" I thought. RUMBLED!! I was actually DELIGHTED to talk about this because it is something I have thought about a LOT and do deliberately, but I don't think I've ever had the chance to discuss AUDIBLY!

    All the questions invoked LENGTHY answers due to being so INTERESTING but this did in turn lead to problems, as he'd only downloaded the free version of the Skype Recording Software which only did 5 minutes at a time! THUS I had to go back and re-answer a couple of bits, so if, when the podcast is released, it sounds like I am really struggling NOT to say "As I said a minute ago" in various sections, that's because i AM!!

    It was GRATE tho, and should be out at the start of next month. My only disappointment with the entire experience was that he was approx 212 miles away so we couldn't go for a pint after. He'd asked me so many questions I felt a bit rude not having asked any back!

    posted 10/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Gigs Are Still Good
    As regular readers of all this will know I am currently GEARING UP for the release of the new Validators album Still Valid, which involves reaquainting myself with all SORTS of things I haven't done for ages like dealing with manufacturers, registering songs for PRS, getting together mailing lists and so on and so forth. With all that happening I thought I might as well go the whole hog and do another ROCK-related thing that I used to do ALL the time but haven't for ages: go to an actual GIG!

    So it was that I found myself in The George Tavern last Friday night with Mr S Hewitt, there to see David Leach and The Thyme Machine. It was WEIRD being back at a PROPER gig - apart from Totally Acoustic most of my gig-going in recent years has EITHER been at The O2 OR to All-Dayers. I can't remember that last time I just went to A VENUE to see a regular SHOW, but it doesn't seem to have changed. AT ALL. The SPACE was still slightly too spacious, the LOO was still covered in Graffiti and the BEER was... well, the beer got a lot nicer after Steve sent the first one back!

    We'd arrived just in time to see David Leach, who was a PRO as ever. He eschewed the PA system which as usual meant some battling with talkers which he did CALMLY and FIRMLY. "Lads!" he said, "we can hear you! Take it outside!" I've seen him approx 1,000,000 times so knew most of the words to most of the songs but was DELIGHTED with the new ones, especially the cover version (I can't remember what it was of - clearly that first beer wasn't putting me off!) which turned into a song ABOUT cover versions on ukeleles. It was ACE!

    We went outside for a chat to chums various where, I seem to recall, I knocked over a TABLE. "That's how I roll" I said, and it was only when I got home that I realised I'd just left it there. Apologies to all concerned - there is a LINE between ROCK AND ROLL ANIMAL and RUDE and I fear I may have crossed it.

    We popped back in the see the last couple of songs by the next band, Suggested Friends, who were GOOD but when did bands all get so ABLE? Back in my day a band as young as them would have broken all their strings, forgotten the words, fallen over the drum kit, never ended a song at the same time and rarely had all four members playing the same tune. Are they teaching COMPETENCE in sixth form or something? Also their last song (according to Steve, who checked on his phone) heavily referenced Harry Potter. This seems to happen a LOT nowadays but I guess it is the same as band's of MY generation referencing Star Wars.

    Finally The Thyme Machine came on and were UTTERLY AMAZING. I think I've only seen them once, at Mr D Ransome's birthday, and remembered them being INCREDIBLE so was happy to find my memory was CORRECT. Mr K Foster, lead singer, has a GRATE manner on stage, calm yet in command, sort of innocent but confident, a bit like Frank Sidebottom but a Frank Sidebottom that you wouldn't mind living next to. ANYWAY he was him and the band were ENORMOUS. They had an (i estimate) 12 year old AXE HERO and, occasionally, an actual real PIANO which sounded BRILL. At one point Kriss asked the whole audience to hold hands and dance in a circle, so we DID, such was his PRESENCE.

    It was one of those times when you remember WHAT it is about gigs that you love so much. I staggered out into the night afterwards SO full of joy that even the fact that the 339 bus wasn't due for over 30 minutes (according to TfL) did not dim my happiness. I went and got a CAB, setting off just in time to see the 339 leave my bus stop! It didn't matter - this was a BRILLIANT night. HOORAH!

    posted 8/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Very Special TA
    We gathered for a Very Special Episode of Totally Acoustic last Thursday, as one of the three musical guest acts was ME! I haven't done a full set at TA for AGES so was a bit worried that we'd be losing a third of our potential audience and also VERY worried because of what I was planning to do. I thought it would be a good idea to do all 10 tracks from Still Valid in order. Well, I thought it would be a good idea three weeks beforehand, now it was about to happen I was distinctly less convinced!

    The first of my worries soon disappeared as a lovely bunch of people rolled up and we kicked off with the JAZZ STYLINGS of Paul & Cathy Tornbohm. When I did the Desert Isolation Discs podcast the other day Mr A Lawson asked me whether I have any particular thoughts or plans when I put the line-ups together for Totally Acoustic, and I answered "No", for LO! what I like most about the arrangement of acts is that they're generally done entirely randomly, so you end up getting acts SLUNG together who would never normally play in the same room. It was similar this evening as Paul and Cathy's world of JAZZ and SOPHISTICATION met our world of NOT JAZZ or SOPHISTICATION. I think the meeting went well!

    Then it was my turn and I THINK it went OK. The nice thing about doing THIS album in order (not that I've ever done any others this way) is that they're ALL pretty good songs, I reckon, that seem to work In The Live Environment. The WEIRD thing is that the order you have songs on an album is NOT necessarily the order you'd do them live, especially starting with 20 Things To Do Before You're 30! ALSO weird was being host AND an act - luckily Mr S Hewitt was on hand at the end to do the bit where I usually come on and BACK announce the act!

    You can hear what I mean for yourself by listening to the podcast, which I've just put online. If you do you will also hear the SUBLIME sounds of Robberie who played last and were ACE. I really like Robberie - not only are their songs GRATE (and VERY catchy - we have BOTH been singing them around the house all weekend), but the GIGS feel as if some old friends have strode on stage and started performing. I always get the impression that if there was an EMERGENCY during the show they would take care of it, no fuss!

    They have an album out right now, which you can buy direct from them. I heartily recommend you do, it is GRATE!

    posted 7/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Poised For Postage
    In the run-up to the release of the past couple of albums I've had some Promotional Postcards made. When I first did them, for Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez, the plan was to post them out to DJs and so forth to tell them the album was on the way, but that didn't really happen did to STAMP COSTS. Instead I used them for writing NOTES when people bought CDs, which was SUPER handy - I always like to put a NOTE in when somebody buys something, but used to have to get a scrap of paper to do it on. Now I looked SLICK... or would have done, if I hadn't accidentally done the postcard THE WRONG SIZE i.e. twice as big as they should have been, so ended up having to cut them in two to fit into jiffy bags!

    So when Dinosaur Planet came along I was VERY careful to get them the RIGHT size. They looked lovely, and I used them for sending out promo AND purchased copies. I got LOADS done so, over the following years, was able to use them for all sort of other things too. I'd like to say this was an exercise in cross-promotion, highlighting a past release while promoting future ones but actually I did it because I LIKED them so much.

    Eventually I'd used them all up and so wondered whether I should do MORE for Still Valid. I had a couple of thoughts about a design but it never looked very exciting - the cover image looks AMAZING and BIG on the CDs, but on the postcard it just looked like more of the same. I spent ages puzzling over it until eventually realising that I could use the INSIDE of the CD instead! The image therein is a thing of GRATE beauty and interest and it didn't take long to get it designed, off to the lovely people at Saxoprint, and a week or so later back in my flat looking like THIS:

    NICE isn't it? As I say, these'll be going out with all copies of the album bought online, OFFICIALLY from July 4 but also SECRETLY for newsletter subscribers a few days earlier. Only a few weeks to go now, it's going to be GRATE!

    posted 2/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Forced To Talk About Myself
    You always hear actors MOANING about having to do interviews as if it is somehow ARDUOUS. I don't know what they're complaining about - all right, I don't LIKE banging on about myself as anybody who knows we will tell you (and as this non-ME-mentioning blog is surely PROOF), but when it's with the right person it can even be FUN!

    For instance, last night I met with Mr A Lawson in The Old Mitre, a LOVELY pub just off Chancery Lane which we'd picked as a (hopefully) QUIET place to do an interview for his podcast Desert Isolation Discs. I wandered around the pub's various rooms until I found one that looked PERFECT - "The Bishops Room" upstairs. As I stepped through I was disappointed to find that someone else was already there, but it turned out to be Alex so all was well! PHEW!

    He got his laptop set up, bought me a pint (doing interviews is GRATE!) and then we kicked off with a LENGTHY chat. The idea of the podcast is that you choose the eight records and one luxury item that you'd want to have with you if you were stranded in the desert. JUST the desert, not an island - any similarity to any other programmes is pretty much definitely coincidental.

    I'd had a good old THINK about the records I'd chosen, including discussing the issue with The Songs On My Playlist the night before. I wanted to make sure I'd not missed anything IMPORTANT, so she GUESSED what artistes I'd picked and got FIVE of them straight away, so clearly a) I had picked the right ones and b) she is an excellent judge of my musical tastes, POSSIBLY because of all these years of me BANGING ON about the same things!

    Before we began Alex asked if I had any particular STORIES about the songs I'd chosen. I was AGHAST - they ALL had stories! I'd picked particular songs to try and tell a TALE of My Exciting Life In ROCK and I had a BLOODY LOVELY time TELLING them. Again, those familiar with me will know how I HATE to give opinions or tell stories, but with a little prompting I found I was able to YACK for about an HOUR!

    We had a lovely time, and afterwards celebrated with a CHAT and further PINT. I've known Alex from when I used to do lots of gigs in Sheffield - I think he was doing the student radio station the first time we met, and he has done VERY well since then. He is one of a group of people that I think of as TEENAGE fanzine types who appear to have become High Powered Journalists while I wasn't looking - he claims to be Business News Editor at a national newspaper, but how can that be? He's only 19!

    Anyway, I had a DELIGHTFUL time and was rather pleased with the range of songs what I chose. The room DID get a bit fuller as we went along but I think we TALKED louder to counter it, so hopefully it will all be clear enough when it comes out. Obviously the only thing I hate more than talking about myself is LISTENING to myself talking about myself, but I think I will make an exception for this one!

    posted 1/6/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    6 And Tickets
    Yesterday I spent several hours booking TRANES and ACCOMODATION for this summer's spree of GIGS. This is something I used to do ALL the time but haven't had to for AGES, and I had forgotten how FRUSTRATING it can be.

    "This won't take a minute" I thought as I sat down. "I'll just book myself into the IBIS all over the place then take advantage of the extremely reasonable price of train tickets when booked in advance. What could be simpler?" Poor foolish me, I had forgotten the AGONY of trying to book at hotel for less than a MILLION QUID at weekends, and also how INSANE and COMPLICATED train travel can be, where one train to LEEDS can cost twice as much as a complete round trip from London to Birmingham, across to Peterborough and then back home again.

    Eventually I managed to book ALL accomodation and MOST legs of my various journeys, with only our trip to GRIMSBY for Festival 8 and to LEICESTER for our gig with Po! needing tickets on the day. Thrillingly I may be buying a TENT for my trip to The Towersey Festival... though I do have a couple of months to talk myself out of it.

    This is all part of the promotional campaign for Still Valid which was yesterday in full on PANIC mode. Still NOBODY had said whether they liked it or not and I was starting to wonder whether anybody ever WOULD. As I've said before, we've spent YEARS working on the album and there's a little voice in my head that keeps saying "Maybe it was all but for NAUGHT? Will anybody even CARE let alone buy/review/play it?"

    THREE CHEERS then for the ever wonderful Mr Steve Lamacq who played Can We Be Friends? on his 6Music show yesterday afternoon. We're about an hour into it, and the song sounds GRATE - I always worry that our stuff will sound WEIRD and/or QUIET next to "proper" songs, but it was LOUD and full of The Wall of Emmas, Mr FA Machine jangling away and SO forth.

    It was a HUGE relief all round, and put me in just the right mood to get on with all the envelope stuffing I've got lined up for the next couple of weeks! PHEW!

    posted 31/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    How To Be An Indie Legend
    Yesterday saw the Grand Promotional Campaign for Still Valid reach another important milestone as I sent the first actual proper REVIEW copies out. I've sent some to various chums, but this lot were the first ones a) going to people I don't know AND/OR b) including a press release, which makes it OFFICIAL!

    That press release took quite a bit of WORK to write, as I had a couple of goes at it (the first one being deemed "a bit boring" by our Internal Comms Team i.e. The Facts On My Document), the Validators checked it, and then the aforesaid Comms Team checked it AGANE. The end result was Quite Good I thought - here's what it said:

    Indie legends MJ Hibbett & The Validators are back with a new album 'Still Valid', which lead singer MJ Hibbett describes as "A Greatest Hits of what we've been up to for the past four years!"

    Opening track '20 Things To Do Before You're 30' - a raucous rant about enjoying yourself whatever age you are - first appeared in 'Hey Hey 16K', a rock opera MJ took to last year's Edinburgh Fringe and recently released on DVD, while album closer 'We Did It Anyway' first appeared in 2013's touring show 'Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter'.

    Two songs were written to help drummer Tim Pattison get ready for his gigs supporting Mogwai with his old band, Prolapse. "Their songs are much longer and faster than ours," says bass player Frankie Machine, "so we did some jams during practices to help him get match-fit, and they turned into 'Burn It Down And Start Again' and '(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock'."

    'Can We Be Friends?' is about two people meeting at the long-running Hibbettfest event in Kingswinford in 2014. "There was a big crowd that year to see MJ be presented with his own tribute album, which the festival organiser Ray Kirkham had put together in secret" explains violinist Tom McClure. "It featured people like Chris T-T and Gavin Osborn covering his songs - the only person who didn't know about it was MJ himself!"

    Every song tells a story. 'Hills And Hollows' was written in a failed attempt to become Poet Laureate Of Peterborough. 'I Want To Find Out How It Ends' was commissioned as the theme tune to online sitcom 'A Brief History Of Time Travel'. 'In The North Stand' was made for a football-themed album also featuring Josie Long and Ballboy, which - like Michael Platini's presidency of FIFA - seemed like a good idea at the time but never actually happened.

    This is MJ Hibbett & The Validators' sixth studio album. Since forming in 1999 they have performed live on Radio One, had a Record Of The Year in Rolling Stone, an Album Of The Day on 6Music, released one of the first ever viral videos, and toured the UK and Europe. They've done all this independently from record labels - writing, producing, designing and releasing all of their albums themselves. "If we could get access to a pressing plant we'd probably make our own CDs too!" says singer Emma Pattison.

    'Still Valid' will be released on iTunes, Amazon and all digital download services on Monday 4 July 2016, with a limited edition CD version available exclusively from the band via their website, www.mjhibbett.co.uk.

    Note the use of the phrase "Indie Legends" right at the start - I have found over the years that if you repeat this enough times people actually start to repeat it and, eventually, believe it to be real. It's the same trick the Tories always play at elections, referendums etc but NOT EVIL. In fact, it 's probably the Universe's way of achieving KARMIC BALANCE. You might not think that's true right now, but give me a couple of years and a few more press releases and hopefully everyone will think it's FACT!

    posted 27/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tuesday Night Is Friday Night Is Music Night Night
    Last night The Members Of My Audience and I found ourselves in HACKNEY, queuing up outside The Hackney Empire to get in to see the recording of "Friday Night Is Music Night". The aforesaid Ballots In My Box had seen the tickets online, thought "That sounds like fun", and put us into the DRAW for possible tickets, and thus we find ourselves in East London of an evening in a MASSIVE long line of Radio 2 Listeners.

    Of late there has been some suggestion that Radio 2 has changed its audience, attracting groovy hipsters and taste makers. That did not seem to be the case last night - we were almost definitely the youngest people there and CERTAINLY the most able-bodied. There were a LOT of crutches clattering when we eventually started moving for the entrance!

    Once inside it was LOVELY. The Hackney Empire is a right proper old theatre with right proper seats and a right proper bar. Often going to the bar at gigs is a HORRIBLE experience fraught with queue jumping, aggression and crappy drinks, but here it was MUCH more civilised. Happy chat between customers abounded, service was friendly, and they even had a range of LOCALLY SOURCED ELB beers available!

    We've been to quite a few radio recordings so are used to some faffing about but once this got going it STAYED going. Mr Ken Bruce came on, the entire audience went "Ooh! It's Ken Bruce!", he was DELIGHTFUL at us, and then the ORCHESTRA played a metric TONNE of Instrumental Pop Hits from down the years i.e. hit songs that already WERE instrumentals, rather than instrumental versions of songs. THUS we got "Stranger On The Shore", "Telstar" and a LOT of TV Theme Tunes and film instrumentals. My favourite one was "Van Der Valk" which is one of those tunes that KEEP popping into my head, so it was nice to hear it out in the open!

    It was all very RELAXING, also INTRIGUING as we watched the Orchestra at work. I always think that the thing people enjoy MOST about live performance is when you see several human beings acting in synchronicity, whether it's a BAND hitting a GROOVE, two middle-aged men trying to tap dance (hem hem) or about 40 people scraping, blowing and thumping things simultaneously to make a MIGHTY SOUND. How it all works so well is a mystery to me though - there was ONE mistake that we spotted on the GUITAR (which they did a short PATCH for at the end) and there was one another patch recorded to cover, we thought, excessive air conditioning, but otherwise it all seemed to go without a hitch. When we've been to see comedians and suchlike there's always LOADS of re-takes and fluffs to cover, you'd think 50 people going AT IT for 90 minutes would need more corrections than a few comedians TALKING for 30, but apparently not!

    The whole thing was BRILLIANT, also WELL sophisticated - there was even an interval - and Ken Bruce was everything you could hope Ken Bruce would be. Apparently our show will be broadcast on September 23rd, and I'm looking forward to tuning in. We were sat at one end, quite near the GUITARS, so some things got blotted out entirely. The percussionists seemed to be VERY busy all night, for instance, I'm hoping the recorded version will let me know what they were up to!

    posted 25/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Fauna And Flora Mallorca
    We had a LOVELY time last week in Mallorca - it's something like the 10th (or 11th) (or 12th?) time we've been, and though many things remained the same this time there seemed to be an ABUNDANCE of WILDLIFE.

    The first example of this came before we'd even left the UK. While waiting for the plane at Gatwick we noticed a group of five MEN enter the departure lounge, causing a WARP in the space-time continuum as they sat together. It was that thing where everybody suddenly notices a change in the atmosphere - nobody was aggressive or unpleasant, but the sudden increase in Forced Laughter and Remarks made everyone look up and NOTE them. "It's just some blokes off on holiday", I thought. "Some of them have grey hair, they won't be lairy."

    Our plane was late boarding as, apparently, there'd been some baggage trouble at Naples or something, and as we sat down the Captain announced we'd missed our flight window, so MIGHT be waiting over an hour. BOO! I didn't want to be spending that long on a plane ANYWAY, least of all with a group of LADS who, while still not aggressive, were getting LOUDER. The Jackal Call laugh of the least important LAD (you know the sound, it's always there) was starting to get VERY annoying!

    A few minutes later the Captain came back and told us he'd arranged another flight path and we could take off after all. HOORAH! We taxied round... and kept taxiing... and kept taxiing, and just when I was wondering if maybe we were heading to HEATHROW or something he came on again and told us that we were heading back to the terminal so that some people who had done something ILLEGAL could be taken off the plane! Everybody looked around wondering who it was, and pretty much everybody looked at the aforesaid group of blokes. They didn't seem too bothered though, so it remained a mystery until we got to the terminal, steps were attached, and THE POLICE entered the plane!

    The police!

    It turned out it WAS that group of blokes, who it seemed had been necking BOOZE they'd bought in the airport. The stewardess had asked them to stop, they hadn't, and so they got kicked off! At first it seemed maybe a bit harsh, but then the Captain came out again and explained that they were taking a firm line on This Sort Of Thing - when they'd previously given people the benefit of the doubt situations had invariably ESCALATED, with assaults, arrests, and forced landings. He apologised for the delay and we APPLAUDED!

    The rest of our journey was incident free. When we got to Mallorca we'd ordered a TAXI to take us to Port de Pollenca where we stay - usually we get a BUS and then another BUS but this time we thought we'd try out the taxi, and it was ACE! It was one of the nicest car rides I've EVER had - super spacious, super speedy, and he played Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits all the way there!

    When we got to our usual place we found they'd given us Our Usual Room - it's not ALWAYS the room we get, but we always ask for it! - which, despite having been painted WHITE and getting some fresh furniture, was pretty much the same as it always was. It's got a view of a POND from which we could watch a fascinating character who came to be known as The Contemplative Duck.

    The Contemplative Duck

    He seemed to spend most of his time sitting by the side of the pond, gazing out, contemplating the universe. Sometimes people would walk past and he'd gently ease himself into the water, float to the centre, and wait until the coast was clear, just sitting quietly and thinking. Once or twice a female duck would come and be Significantly Busier, but mostly it was just him, contemplating. He was an inspiration to us all.

    Also of note were the TERRAPINS. For years we'd sit on the balcony of our apartment looking at people standing on a small bridge, looking at something in the ponds. "What ARE they looking at?" we'd wonder, and then LAST year we found an answer: there was a TERRAPIN!


    This year there were at LEAST three of them - that's how many we saw together anyway - it was BRILLIANT! Sometimes you could see them from our flat, BASKING on the other side of the pond from The Contemplative Duck. If you were REALLY lucky you could see two of them together with THIS character:

    Meow Meow The Cat

    "Meow Meow" was so-named because of the RACKET he made. If you couldn't hear him you could usually see him. There were a few cats around, also this DOG who wondered about with the air of an INSPECTOR, doing his rounds, checking everything was in order.

    Out and about there were yet MORE creatures. We saw a HOOPOE (which looked like a small child had drawn a bird and it had come to life), a whole HEAP of FISH (which at one point SURROUNDED me so I had to FLEE from the SEA) and a whole field of FLUFFY GOATS, thus:

    Fluffy goats

    With all that going on we didn't really have time for much else, apart from eating LOCALLY SOURCED FOOD such as coca, cakes, beer, paprika crisps and BISCUITS, and lounging around generally. It was bloody brilliant - roll on next year!

    posted 24/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Martin Fry In A Caravan Park
    You find me today back at work after a DELIGHTFUL week in Majorca (which I shall tell you about in GRATE detail another time), sorting through various emails and also gearing up for the Still Valid promotional campaign, which began this morning as I posted the first few promo CDs out. There's a TONNE more that will be heading for the postbox over the next couple of weeks as very slowly this THING what we have been toiling over for three or four years gently reveals itself to the universe.

    It's all very exciting, but also SCARY: what if we go to all this effort and nobody actually cares? Whilst on holiday we read The Times most day (it was the Least Awful UK Newspaper available) and one day I read a really interesting interview with Martin Fry out of ABC. In it he talks about the way that his fame DIPPED, as he stopped doing proper gigs and found himself singing along to backing tapes at holiday camps, then gradually worked his way back to doing new material at the Albert Hall via a string of nostalgia tours. It was REALLY interesting (as pointed out by The Words In My Article, this is not surprising as it turned out to have been written by All Round Marvellous Mr Mark Ellen) as this version of The ROCK Life Cycle is fairly new. In olden times bands would usually burn out after a few years then die poor, or sometimes get drug addled and reappear as if from nowhere decades later. Martin Fry and others like him seem to have done it differently, never giving up on performing, managing to work through the lean years while they wait for their core audience to grow up, marry, have kids, and then find themselves 20 to 30 years later once again looking for gigs to go to.

    Apart from, as I say, being a fascinating read in and of itself it also made me wonder about my own, somewhat less auspicious career in ROCK. I've noticed over the past few years that gig offers have MASSIVELY declined - largely,I think, because I've stopped ASKING, but once you stop asking other people stop asking YOU - and there hasn't exactly been a MAD RUSH of people intrigued at the very IDEA of the new album. What if we're at the point now where, on our own scale, we go from Mega Domes to Caravan Parks? This is slightly worrying as playing Caravan parks would be something of a step UP for us - what would the equivalent be? Busking? Shouting out of the window?

    This is probably all NERVES that come as part and parcel of the EXCITEMENT of finally having physical copies of the album - hopefully in a couple of months we will be sharing cocktails with David Bowie on Top Of The Pops (note to self: it's been a while, maybe check yr pop cultural references are up to date) then heading off for a Peel Session. Whatever happens, I can't WAIT for people to actual HEAR what we've done. I listened to it for the first time in over a week on the way into work this morning, and it sounds BLOODY GRATE!

    posted 23/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Album Waiting Day
    Wednesday found me doing something I haven't done for AGES - waiting for my ALBUM to arrive.

    A few years ago, when I seemed to be releasing a CD every few months, this was something NORMAL and USUAL but it's YEARS since we last put an album out so I had to search my BRANE for some idea as to what the experience would be like. A quick skip along memory lane suggested it would be AWFUL, but then again when I waited in for the Hey Hey 16K DVD last month it seemed to go all right, so maybe it would be fine?

    As it happened the only thing that went wrong was ME. The first SEVEN HOURS of waiting passed fairly calmly - I had a tracking number, it said "Out For Delivery" on the UPS site, the delivery window was wide open, all was well. It was only when we neared 5pm that PANIC started to set in - what if it had been delivered to the Management Office of our flats, when parcels sometimes go and they don't TELL you? What if it was being delayed until tomorrow, when I wouldn't be in to sign for it? What if they'd already been but our INTERCOM was broken AGANE? PANIC! I emailed the LOVELY people at Key who suggested ringing UPS themselves and, after getting VERY ANNOYED with a ROBOT, I spoke to someone who a) sounded American b) told me it was still on the way. PHEW!

    And then, a few minutes later, as if by MAGIC, there was a ring on my buzzer and a UPS chap heading up in the lift. Within seconds I had taken possession of two boxes, containing 500 copies of THIS:

    Looks GRATE doesn't it? And guess what? It SOUNDS bloody AMAZING too - during the long years of making and mixing to it I've listened almost entirely on headphones, so hearing it on an Actual CD on an Actual CD Player was one of the very few times I've heard it in THE AIR. As realisation dawned that a) the CDs worked b) they sounded WONDERFUL, it became the most enjoyable listen to it EVER!

    As you can probably tell I am QUITE EXCITED now - it won't actually be OUT until the start of July, but I'll be posting review copies out in a week or so and they'll probably be available at GIGS too. I can't wait for people to hear it, it's BLOODY GRATE!!

    posted 12/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Super Sunday
    I had a LOVELY day on Sunday, made up of two DELIGHTFUL halves.

    In the morning The Sun In My Sky and I, and also approx 95% of all people living in East Village, decided it would be a good idea to go out for a walk in the sunshine. SPOILERS: it WAS! It felt like being in The Mediterranean or something, we were warmed right through. We saw GOSLINGS being fluffy, a whole new BIT of the Olympic Park (they've opened some new Retail Units near the canal ), and roughly 10,000,000,000 small children enjoying the fountains. We ALSO went and used our monthly free tea and coffee vouchers in John Lewis - guys, if you think a My Waitrose Card and free newspapers is a good as it gets, get yourself a John Lewis Card too and LIVE the Partners Dream with FREE CAKE!

    The second half of the day involved me ZOOMING into central London and arriving outside The King & Queen at 3:55pm to find Mr G Osborn and various other lovely people waiting to be let in, for LO! it was the day of our DVD launch! Hoorah! I'd been worried about ANYBODY turning up and, if they did, whether they'd HEED our warning about it starting at 4:15pm, so seeing such a sizeable group there EARLY was a GRATE relief.

    When the doors opened we stormed inside to set up the tables and for me to be asked The Question That Everybody Asks Me At This Time Of Year i.e. "Are you playing Indietracks?" I get asked this SO OFTEN (5 times this week alone!) that I'm thinking of getting a t-shirt made that says "I don't think so, I haven't heard" - it would save time! This conversation did however CEMENT my desire to go on the Saturday, from what I've heard it's going to be an AMAZING day for Bands I Know And/Or Like!

    Steve arrived, we got our beers, and at 4:15pm precisely Gav took to the stage and was ACE. He bookended his set with Songs I Know and did some BRAND NEW stuff in the middle. My favourite was a song called "I Don't Know Enough About That", about not being sufficiently informed about Important Matters to comment. I nodded STRONGLY.

    And then it was time for me and Steve to do the FINAL - no, honestly last, pretty much definitely this time, accept for the West End run - performance of Hey Hey 16K. We hadn't performed it for three months so I'd suggested a REHEARSAL but Steve had said no, suggesting that we didn't really NEED one and anyway it would be more fun to muck around as the audience would feature a lot of CHUMS. He was CORRECT, as it was a LOT of fun, although with surprisingly little mistakes. I mean, SOME mistakes, obviously, but not that many!

    With that done we all went downstairs for some lovely sunny PINTS in my favourite pub before hometime. Doing gigs at 4pm is BRILLIANT, you get to have a lovely leisurely time in the pub and STILL get home in time for tea - it was SUPER!

    posted 9/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Legends Of Spring Time
    An amazing site greeted me as I stepped out of Goodge Street last night - sunshine! Actual proper Spring weather for the first time this whole flipping year, it felt like winter had FINALLY buggered off and GOOD TIMES were heading our way!

    This feeeling of delight was probably partly to do with the fact that I was on my way to The King & Queen for Totally Acoustic. When I arrived I found TWO more aspects of summer waiting for me. Firstly, there was plenty of space inside the pub - usually it is RAMMED on a Thursday, but this time everyone was outside whooping it up, which made for a much more pleasant environment within. Secondly, terrifyingly, they were serving COCKTAILS! Happily they were doing it in a very King & Queen way i.e. instead of doing them one by one so it would take HOURS for anybody to get served they had made one massive BARREL of Mojito to dip into as required. Very sensible!

    I got the tables set up and then very soon my regulars and the ACTS arrived, also quite a lot of audience. In fact so MANY people came (some from AFAR) that at one point there was a QUEUE forming outside to get in!

    Everyone got sat down and we kicked off with ME, doing 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, The Girl Who... and, as my tribute to Victoria Wood, The Ballad Of Freda And Barry. It all seemed to go all right - I'd mentioned before starting that there are a LOT of words in 'Freda And Barry', so everyone seemed prepared for me getting some of them wrong!

    After that I introduced Patron Saint Of Totally Acoustic Mr Pete Green, although he had to wait to start for a couple of minutes while everyone passed chairs over their heads to get more people sat down, orchestrated by Mr S Hewitt and Mr K Top Of The Pops. Once he was able to get going he was a one-man VARIETY SHOW, doing acapella songs, ukelele numbers, POEMS, and even a couple of wistful indie HITS! He was great, also RELAXING - he knows what he's doing, does Pete, and he played the room EXPERTLY!

    Next up were The Popguns, who I must confess I had little prior knowledge of but who impressed THE SOCKS off of me. They were ace - lovely songs BRILLIANTLY done. Actually Being Able To Sing is a bit of a rarity at gigs I go to, so to hear such ACE songs sung so well was a bit of a treat. I enjoyed it so much I bought a CD - no higher recommendation!

    And then we finished with The Catenary Wires who I HAVE seen before and, as ever, thought were GRATE. Perhaps it was an ERROR to introduce them with the story of how we used to sing "Shallow" at my friend Mr S Wilkinson approx 300 years ago because it was on a mixtape his GURLFRIEND had given him (it was next to "Enter Sandman", I seem to recall) but they didn't seem to mind and went on to be FAB throughout.

    It was, it must be said, one HECK of a night which resulted in a MIGHTY whip round for the acts. We've had a right good run of shows just lately, with all the INDIE LEGENDS we've had on. It looks like the NEXT show might feature ME doing a full set though, so maybe that run is about to end!

    posted 6/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Bank Holiday Superheroes
    For some reason I spent much of Bank Holiday Monday cursed with LETHARGY. I can't think how that can have happened - I had been FULL of beans the night before while drinking BEER in The Brixton Windmill. How is it possible for things to change so quickly?

    THUS it seemed like a good idea to go and sit in a large room with several hundred other people and watch superheroes punching lumps out of each other VERY LOUDLY and so that is what I did, heading to my local MULTIPLEX to go and see "Captain America: Civil War." Here is my review: "It was jolly good and had JOKES in it and SPIDER-MAN!!" I liked it a great deal, not least for its best ever Stan Lee cameo, and also because it had SPIDER-MAN in it, being SPIDER-MAN. SPIDER-MAN!

    Later that evening I put the telly on to see how the Spurs VS Chelsea match was going - for the benefit of people in the FUTURE (people of the present having had no choice BUT to know EVERYTHING about it), this was the game which COULD have decided the Football Premiership for this season. If Spurs DIDN'T win then Leicester City would be CHAMPIONS and everyone would jump up and down and get excited and possibly be a bit soppy about how much they love Leicester, love Claudio Ranieri and also think maybe it shows that you CAN beat the people with all the money every now again. Or something.

    Anyway, by half-time it was 2-0 to Spurs and it seemed that everyone would have to wait ANOTHER week until it was all decided so we turned over and watched some Sunday Evening Family Drama ("The Durrells", which does exactly what you'd want a Sunday Evening Family Drama to do, whether it's a Sunday or not). When it had finished we put the news back on and WOT?!? WOT was HAPPENING?? It seemed that Chelsea had scored twice, the game had been drawn, and LEICESTER CITY were CHAMPIONS!!!

    I couldn't believe it - all season the nation had been waiting for the FAIRYTALE to have a GAME OF THRONES ending. Surely THE MAN would crush the plucky midlands team of rejects and Nice Guys? Surely THE TORIES would somehow explode Leicester and stomp on that lovely city's hopes and dreams? Surely the Evil Cabal who own football would say "No no, you've had your fun, but it's time for the Oligarchs to win again now". And yet here we were - thanks to CHELSEA of all horrible teams!

    The only downside to the whole thing is that I am now CONVINCED that a) England will win the Euros and b) every player in the squad will turn out to be a rough diamond given a second chance who secretly invests in windfarms, is vegetarian, and enjoys feminist science-fiction. I've a feeling something could go wrong with that prediction, but I'm not quite sure what so for now let me just say HOORAY for Leicester - team AND city!

    posted 5/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Bluebells And Brixton
    I do love a Bank Holiday, it's LIKE a normal holiday except it doesn't come out of your Annual Leave Allowance, so you can just tit around without feeling bad about it, and LOADS of other people are off, so you have company while you do so!

    Myself and The Dates In My Diary made the most of it this May Day weekend, starting with a day out in glamorous LEYTONSTONE! We went for a stroll in scenic Wanstead Park, where we USED to go a-strolling often when we lived round there but which I haven't been to for a couple of years. It was lovely to be back, especially when the bluebells were out. I don't think I've ever seen quite so many being quite so VIVID - we must have turned up JUST at Peak Bluebell! We then went for a PINT in the Red Lion (which is ACE!), SOURCED some Products in the big Tesco (including VEGAN SALAD CREAM, answer to many prayers!) and then went home and saw this year's first batch of DUCKLINGS in our local pond. I think it may actually be SPRING!

    On Sunday we went to The Holborn Whippet to say happy birthday to Mrs M Hewitt and then I zoomed off to distant Brixton where I was due to play at The Walpurgis Nacht Festival, organised by Mr G Gargan. Lazarus Clamp were also playing, which meant Mr T "The Tiger" McClure was there, a fact we celebrated with Chips And Curry Sauce, as is traditional!

    As it neared SHOWTIME the FACT of my forthcoming appearance began to weigh heavy upon me, and I realised that I was in a room full of people who'd come to see LOUD ROCK of an UNORTHODOX style, which is not exactly what I do, especially when playing solo. I was also very aware that, with the best will in the world, the Brixton Windmill is NOT the easiest place to play - the sound on stage is BRILL but the pub seems designed to encourage SHOUTED CONVERSATIONS at all times and to remove any SIGHTLINES. "This might be hard work" I thought, as i went on stage and did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • That Guy
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • We Did It Anyway
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • As it turns out, it WAS hard work but work hard is what I did - as you can see from this FOOTAGE:

    It was all fine though, and I was followed by Lazarus Clamp who were BRILLIANT - in recent years they have seemed to get better every time I see them, and they were ACE to start with!

    There was then a delightful time for CHAT and more bands and, by about 9pm I was thinking it was probably time to go, at which point I bumped into Mr A Farmer AKA Doc from Bearos who said "No, stay and see Otoboke Beaver, they are worth seeing!" So I did, and he was right - they were AMAZING! It was like a cross between RIOT GRRL and POST ROCK, with very very fast very very loud very very ANGULAR structures and entirely EXCITING noises at 1,000,000 miles an hour. The whole room stood AGOG - nobody seemed to know what was going on, but everybody was enjoying it!

    My faith in ROCK once more renewed I headed off into the Brixton night, heading EAST for a whole extra day of FUN, to be discussed NEXT time!

    posted 4/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Come And Be In A Video!
    As part of the preparations for our NEW ALBUM I have been aquainting myself with the Modern Media Landscape where Things,it seems, have very much Changed. Where once you had to send an album and press release to newspapers/magazines three months before release and then do loads of gigs, now it appears that you have to "stream" lots of "content" to "blogs" and "premiere" "exclusives" before your album "drops".

    Yes daddio, I AM available for consultancy purposes - send me a FAX.

    As long-term chums will know we are not AVERSE to a bit of futuristic media interaction - some would say we were PIONEERS of the viral video, I couldn't possibly comment - and so we have been laying PLANS for STUFF to do. One of these SCHEMES is to do some VIDEOS and the first off these is going to be for 20 Things To Do Before You're 30... and we'd like your help to make it, please.

    We'd like to make a CROWD SOURCED video, with each LINE in the verses represented by a very short clip. You can see examples of this in the video for our song A Little Bit, where people took a line, interpeted it however they thought best, sent it in and the I edited it together. We'd like to do the same again, so if that sounds APPEALING to you, all you need to do is read the words, choose a line, then go to this spreadsheet and put your email address next to the line you'd like to do* - if your first choice is gone you can put yourself down as "understudy" or just choose another.

    Once that's sorted out all that remains is to FILM your clip (about 2 to 4 seconds should work, though I can edit it at my end if needs be), send it to me at mjhibbett2 gmail com then sit back and wait for the ACCLAIM! Closing date is Sunday 5 June and there's further details here - I hope it sounds like fun, I reckon it's going to be GRATE!

    * I know a couple of people had trouble accessing the spreadsheet at first - I've UPDATED the settings now, so if it didn't work for you before please try again!

    posted 3/5/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    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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