MJ Hibbett & The Validators


An Article About Articles
A couple of days ago I was trying to think of something to write a fanzine article about and thought "Didn't I have exactly this problem around this time last year? What did I write then?"

And LO! I looked through my files and found that last year I'd written an article about a songwriting course and ALSO the year before that I'd done one about the differences between ROCK and comedy. I hadn't put either of them up on the articles section of the website, so I did that, and now you can read them if you like!

Having said all that I STILL haven't got an idea about what to write this time, so any THORTS would be much appreciated*!

(* except rude ones)

posted 28/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Macca Attack!
On Sunday night we went to see Sir Paul McCartney at the O2. If you haven't got time to read the rest of this blog here's an Executive Summary: IT WAS AMAZING.

Originally I hadn't been that bothered about going. He announced the Saturday night gig first and I thought "Well, I'm doing a gig in Nottingham that night so I can't go anyway." When the Sunday was announced it took The Hits In My Setlist saying "It's Paul McCartney! How can we NOT go?" to make me realise that, as she said, it's Paul McCartney! How could we NOT go?

If it had been at a different venue I still might not have bothered, but the O2 is my FAVOURITE big venue. All right, it's the ONLY big venue I would really ever go in - having been before I know a) it's mega easy to get to from my house b) the sound is dead good c) the seats are comfy and d) you can actually SEE, four things which most big venues entirely fail to supply. Also we got seats on the AISLE which meant I would be entirely free to do the two things that big gigs usual make difficult i.e. getting to the LOO and back and even more vitally getting to the BAR.

When the day of the gig came around I found myself NERVOUS and EXCITED. Excited because, obviously, this is one of my all time heroes and also IT'S PAUL MCCARTNEY, and nervous because I hoped it wouldn't be slightly disappointing and a bit dull. I'd been saying to people the day before that the trouble with Paul McCartney gigs (from the 3 I've been to and the many I've watched/listened to) is that he plays it really safe. He's got a MASSIVE back catalogue full of all kinds of stuff, but he seems to only want to play the mega mega MEGA hits that EVERYONE knows, rather than just the super colossal hits that only a few hundred million love. I mean, I like "Hey Jude" but did I really want to see him do it again?

He came on and did "Eight Days A Week" first, which was pretty amazing as I've never seen or even heard of him doing that at a gig before. However, the sound was a bit muddy, people around us were jiggling seats, and it felt like being at a gig in a car park. Apparently there were three hours of this, was it going to be OK?

It took about ten minutes for my doubts and worries to evaporate. I went to the bar with EASE to get another beer, and then realised that this WASN'T Totally Acoustic where I have my own table and everything set up JUST to please me, and should therefore enjoy the experience for what it was: a massive communal outpouring of happiness. People all around us were going DELIRIOUS with DELIGHT and pretty soon so was I, right about the time that he did "Got To Get You Into My Life" and it sounded INCREDIBLE! Next he did "Listen To What The Man Said", an international hit of NUCLEAR PROPORTION but, as far as he goes, almost obscure and then - ZANG! - "Temporary Secretary"! Temporary Secretary! And it sounded FANTASTIC!

So that was pretty much it for me, everything thereafter was STUNNING. The next hour or so was an inspired selection of Not Just The Massive Hits, with stuff like "I'm Looking Through You", "1985", "Being For The Benefit Of My Kite" and - BEST OF ALL - "Ram On"! He did "Ram On", i couldn't believe it!

He also, of course, did the stuff I'd expected, like utterly bloody wonderful versions of "Here Today" (which sounded x 10,000,000 better than the already ACE original due to AGE) and "Something". When he did "Let It Be" i looked around the arena to see hundreds of people waving their phones around like super modern lighters and, not for the first time, was PROFOUNDLY MOVED. I kept thinking "This is Actual Paul McCartney! He changed the WORLD!"

The main set ended with "Hey Jude" and I must admit that, rather than being bored of hearing it again, I had A Bit Of An Old Cry. It's talked about of as one of the greatest songs ever because it IS, especially when you're singing it with thousands of other people, all celebrating being human beings together. Also, NOT WANTING TO BE SOPPY, but the bit about "you have found her now go and get her" did cause me to cast SOPPY GLANCES to The Words In My Song next to me. WHAT?

As I say, I was PROFOUNDLY MOVED. I thought I'd be maybe jaded, maybe bored with a three hour set, but it was honestly one of the best gig experiences I've ever had. On top of all the songs, and a huge part of how much fun it was, was the fact that Macca himself was in TOP FORM between songs. On past occasions he's been a bit stagey and showbiz, but this time he was telling stories and Actually Funny Jokes and, with the O2 being such a great venue, it felt like we were all right up close to him.

The two encores were a summary of the gig itself - obscure-ish/odd/amazing choices like "Hi-Hi-Hi" and "Another Girl" then finishing off with "Yesterday" and the closing medley from Abbey Road. I mean, crikey, you can't argue with that can you?

So yes, in summary: I enjoyed that and was quite glad I went! HOORAH!

posted 27/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Hey Hey Nottingham
On Saturday Mr S Hewitt and I met at Kings Cross Station to travel to distant Nottingham, where we were due to do a preview of Hey Hey 16K. We were both feeling a bit "tired" so agreed to spend the first leg of our journey in quiet contemplation and then do our LINEZ practice when we got to Grantham - it being a bank holiday weekend the rail networks had, of course, decided to muck about with all the trains so we couldn't go on our usual direct route.

When we got to Grantham we were distracted by the sight of many many families trying to get themselves and their copious luggages onto a small train heading to Skegness. It was half term so they were all heading off on their holidays, and CRIKEY I felt like I needed one after watching the struggle. Steve had to be restrained from going BERZERK and screaming "JUST get ON the TRAIN!!!" as they dashed up and down the platform trying to find a completely clear vestibule. It looked like some of them didn't manage to get on, which was odd because when the train pulled out of the station the last carriage was half empty!

Anyway, we got on our train, arrived in Nottingham, strode through town and found the gates next to the alley leading to The Chameleon LOCKED, with a "Planning Application" sign attached to them. Were we at the right place? Was this even the right day?!? Luckily PANIC was abated by the arrival of Mr Joey Chickenskin, who was also playing, so at least if we were wrong we were all wrong together. We popped to the pub next door for a swift half, during which our promoter Mr A Hale texted to say he'd arrived and the venue had been opened. PHEW!

We got in, got set up, sat around for a bit, and then welcomed Mr Peter Knight and Mrs Marina Knight. Pete used to be a regular at Totally Acoustic amongst MANY other things but I'd not seen him for YEARS, so was delighted to be doing so again!

Joey got up and did his set of MEATYARD songs which I enjoyed even more after learning the true story of their history, then professional Alexander Hale lookalike Alan Poirot did an excellent set culminating in a new NON-SHAKIRA cover which I heartily endorse (NB: Spice Girls!). At this point the Machine family arrived, also Sarah and Geoff, and we were set for SHOWTIME!

Well, we were NEARLY set for showtime - Steve and I realised that we'd not actually worked out a new way to do History's Re-written to make it more SPRIGHTLY, so we had a quick go and THEN it was showtime!

It all seemed to go pretty well - there were SEVERAL moments when we forgot what we were meant to be doing but I think that adds to the CHARM, and people appeared to follow what was happening, also LARF!

Afterwards there was hugging and thank yous and then a small group of us went round the corner to the Ned Ludd and some PINTS before Steve and I had to wend our way back to the station for our first train, back towards Grantham. Things didn't look too good when we arrived as the platform had a liberal sprinkling of VERY DRUNK PEOPLE. The ancient legend that Nottingham has 7 times as many women as men (which, apparently, WAS true-ish back in the days of the Lace industry) attracts a lot of Stag parties, many of whom had clearly started VERY EARLY. The train was full of beer and sick and sat on the station for what felt like AGES. An announcement came over saying we were delayed because another train had had to call THE POLICE due to people being drunk, so we set off about 12 minutes late... which meant that we, and about 200 other people, were going to MISS our connection to London! ARGH!

When we all piled out at Grantham the driver was very annoyed by the fact that a couple of people were politely asking him what they should do. "It's a different train company," he snarled, "I've no way of knowing." Now, I'm pretty sure that he could have GUESSED that a lot of people would be having this problem, and that he could have rung Network Rail to ask them, and they could probably have held the connecting train by approx 4 minutes to make sure we all MADE this connection, but as SO OFTEN happens with trains he seemed to have not thought of it. MORE annoyance came as we all trudged over to the other side of the station where more staff looked perplexed and harassed to find that, on a bank holiday weekend when hundreds of people would be coming through their station due to planned engineering works, there were hundreds of people coming through their station. They seemed ANGRY that we were doing so and then having the cheek to ask them questions about a situation that they would have had full knowledge of for at least half an hour.

As you can probably tell I found the whole experience a) EXTREMELY ANNOYING and b) a reminder of how train travel used to be when I first started gigging around the country. To complete the experience a tannoy announced that although we had arrived late from Nottingham (i.e. it was our fault for being tardy) and so had missed our reserved seats, they would allow us onto the next train, coming through in 40 minutes. SO KIND!

The next train was a lovely, massive, mostly EMPTY Hull Trains train so we had an entirely pleasant journey back home again and said our goodbyes at Kings Cross in the full knowledge that we'd be back a week later for our next gig, in historic YORK. The preview tour had very much BEGUN!

posted 26/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Overdubs In Derby
I was back in leafy DERBY on Thursday, recording my second batch of guitar and vocals for the new Validators album.

I arrived at Snug just after noon to find Mr R Collins ready and waiting to ROCK. We kicked off with the guitar overdubs, breezing through Can We Be Friends? (which is rapidly becoming my new favourite) before reaching a Very Precedented Difficulty on History's Re-Written i.e. the fact that our guitar player can't play barre chords. Who is this fool oh yes it is me. The start of the song has STRUMS but, due to my low level competence, I was having to LEAP from one to the next rather than gently sliding along the fretboard, so we had to record it in two sections - firstly doing the first and third chords in the sequence, then the second and fourth as a seperate track. Thank heavens for TECHNOLOGY!

We had another competency issue with In The North Stand, although this time it wasn't just down to me! The song starts with Just Guitar, which I'd played (correctly!) along to a click track. However, when the band all come in after the first verse we do so at a SLIGHTLY different speed, due to the fact that We Fear Click Tracks. "It does Ebb and Flow" said Rich, tactfully. He CUNNINGLY re-timed the click to match the ACTUAL speed we did it at, so that when I then re-did the guitar it all sounded CORRECT. Hoorah!

Even MORE issues arose with The Future Is Amazing, tho again not wholly down to me. The guitar was BUZZING slightly when I played a D, and after checking for User Error Rich suggested we put a capo on the guitar and play the chords higher up to avoid this happening. Nothing could be simpler for someone who's spent a small portion of his 20 years in bands actually learning to play properly, but for ME this involved 15 minutes of MY BRANE DISSSOLVING as I tried to transpose a song I don't actually know very well to start with!

We had one song left to do after all that, and this was the one I'd been saving until last because I thought it might be difficult!! The ever polite Mr Collins described Get Over It as "a bit chaotic", others might more accurately label it "a right old racket", but astonishingly, once we got going, I found it PEASY. It has vast weird gaps and sounds like a pack of wolves drunkenly attacking the bin outside a music shop, but as I played along I realised that, possibly for the first time ever, we had recorded a band song in EXACTLY the style I usually play my solo stuff! In the verses I merrily BASHED AWAY at the guitar as if it had wronged me, while the chorus had this weird KIND OF off beat, KIND OF wrong beat, KIND OF stupid way of playing that I use when I get bored of my usual LOUD playing.

I found it a joy to play, and so when we moved to vocals I did that one first. Again: PEASY. It has HUGE entirely differently lengthed GAPS throughout, but once Rich put the guide vocals in I found I could sing along with my own timings easily. It's almost as if there is some method in my idiocy! In fact, all the vocals were fun to do, due in no small part to the TACTFUL working methods of Mr Collins. He has a GRATE system where I sing along to a bit of the track to get the levels/remember how it goes, then do one complete take of the whole song. Then I do ANOTHER complete take, straight away, and wander back into the control room where he goes through it line by line, picking the best version of each. Finally, where there's no "best" ("listenable") version of certain bits I go back in and re-do them until they're OK. It's a lovely way to do it because I know I can always have another go, but also get to enjoy singing the whole song a couple of times and get properly into it.

The only song I didn't have time to do in this way was In The North Stand, although I did do another GUIDE to go with the new intro. That's all right though - as well as Emma doing her backing vocals we've easily got a day's worth of bits and bobs to do (e.g. a couple more violin tracks, a bit more guitar, hopefully TRUMPET) so we can do my last bit of singing then.

I left the building EXTREMELY happy with my work, and trooped across town to meet Mr FA Machine in The Alexandra Hotel for a Cheeky Pint. "Ooh, I've always dreamed of popping in here on my way home from work, but it seemed a bit sad to come in on your own," he said. I was glad that - YET AGAIN - i was making his dreams come true, but did suggest he keep his voice down as the room was FULL of people who had very much come in on their own!

It was a delightful end to a marvellous day, and hopefully the start of a Summer Of Occasional Validation. We've got this (pretty GRATE) sounding album to finish off, and in three weeks we're together again in Congelton for Going Up The Country! I can't wait!

posted 22/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back To Work
Hello all, I'm back from my HOLS! Why yes, thank you, we DID have a lovely time - we stayed in the same apartment in the same complex in the same town that we have for over a DECADE and, having already been on all the trips and looked at all the history, did pretty much NOWT for the entire week. It was LOVELY.

We got back on Saturday evening but on Sunday afternoon it was straight back to work for me as I was playing host to a recording session with Mr S Hewitt. While I was away Mr J "John The Publisher" Esplen had emailed me with a BRIEF. This is one of those occasional emails he sends me where an advertising agency is looking for a song and have a vague idea what they want. What generally happens is that I have a go and get absolutely nowhere with it, but have FUN doing so, and this looked like no exception. They wanted a duet between two blokes but did NOT want it to be "polished or professional". My speciality!

It wasn't until we were on the way home on Saturday that I showed said brief to The Days Of My Holiday. I wasn't sure what the song was, so when she said "Isn't that the theme tune to The Golden Girls?" I was DELIGHTED - not only do i KNOW that song, I also know most of the words ALREADY!

On Sunday I diligently printed out the words and practiced the song for almost a whole TEN MINUTES (hey, they said they DIDN'T want it too professional sounding) before Steve turned up, and we then spend a very happy half hour BELLOWING it between us until we got a version that we were happy with i.e. got to the end without going TOO horribly wrong. We then overdubbed some ukelele, kazoo, hand-claps and RHYTHM (me whacking the back of a box file and Steve clanking a beer bottle), did a quick mix, emailed it to John and LO! we were all done and off to the pub to celebrate.

As usual I thought "HA! There is NO WAY that they won't use THAT!" a sure sign that they'll end up using something entirely different, but HEY! it was a heckload of fun and an extremely good welcome back to WORK!

posted 18/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Leaving The Country
Well, last night was a rum old do wasn't it?

It all started so well too - the upstairs room of The King & Queen was RAMMED with people, even including some who weren't in either of the bands! Me and Steve did a short, thoroughly enjoyable (to us at least) set, and then Simon Love and A Little Orchestra sounded AMAZING. After the break Keith Top Of The Pops and co were brilliant as EVER, and we all strolled downstairs to continue the jollity and get ready for a fun night of election results as we wended our way to (hopefully) a Labour government of some kind.

As I say, it was all going so well... until 10pm when the Exit Poll came onscreen and everybody's jaws DROPPED. "It can't be true!" I said, and kept saying it until approx 1:30pm when it became clear that things were turning out even WORSE. Bollocks!

Still, in the cold light of day I reassured myself that techically Cameron now has a SMALLER majority and will be at the mercy of his right wing loonie backbenchers. Back in 2010 when everybody else said the coalition would only last 3 months I had a feeling that it'd last the full 5 years (the 5 Year Parliament Act is the ONLY bit of constitutional reform the Lib Dems got in, and they LOVE constitutional reform). This time I have a feeling that it'll all be too much for the LOONIES and that the Tory party will destroy itself over the European referendum (Tory Loonies LOVE destroying their own party over Europe) and it'll all be over by 2018. Well, you've got to have hope haven't you?

I was feeling fairly pleased with this thought as I sat down this morning, ready to start editing the podcast of last night... only to discover that my four-track had gone wrong and recorded NOTHING. ARRRGGGHH!!!

So that's it - I'm leaving the country.

(for a week - we're off on holidays, please try and have a revolution while I'm away!)

posted 8/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Election Day
You find me this morning all EXCITED, for LO! it is ELECTION DAY and i have just been and done VOTING!

This election campaign has a) been b) FELT incredibly long and by the past couple of weeks even I - someone who TAPES programmes about constitutional matters and SQUEALED "Hooray! It's Gus O'Donnell talking about the Cabinet Manual!" the other night and MEANT it - was getting fed up with the whole business. As my close associate Mr P Myland has remarked (in regards to The Football, but still), "it's the hope that gets me". Every time I see an opinion poll saying Tories and Labour are on the same percentage, every time I read an article about how Mr D Cameron can't possibly put a coalition together, I get a little leap of JOY at the idea of getting rid of this shower of hideous shitehawks. And every time that happens a little voice in my head whispers "remember 1992?" and I get SAD.

However, as soon as we set off for Chobham Academy, our local polling station, this morning, I was EXCITED. I love voting, it's the democractic equivalent of going to buy STATIONERY i.e. dead sensible but also THRILLING (NB yes I am one of those people who think Mr E Milliband is a bit of a racy risk taker). Every other time I've voted I've wondered in, gone straight to the table, got my ballot slip, and been out in minutes, but this time there was a QUEUE. A very BIG queue too, of about 50 people, nearly all of whom were looking at their phones and doubtless tweeting "I am in a QUEUE to vote!" This made it all even MORE exciting, like being in a newly democratised country or something (CHANCE would be a fine thing, AMIRITE everybody?). I was hoping to be dipping my finger in red ink at the end!

As we shuffled along I looked around at my fellow citizens and swelled up with PRIDE. There's been so much cynicism and pretending not to care, but here we all were, British people of all shapes, shades and sizes, politely waiting to do our CIVIC DUTY. I live in an EXTREMELY safe Labour seat and for the past few weeks have been a bit depressed about the fact that my vote (like most people's votes) doesn't really make a difference at all, but once in the building I knew that, although voting reform surely MUST come this time around, that isn't the whole story. As we waited with our neighbours we knew that all around the country other people were doing exactly the same thing, patiently queuing to be PART of something bigger than all of us.

By the time we got into the last bit of queue I was genuinely GIDDY with it all, so when The Names On My Paper said "What would happen if you shouted 'Let's kick the Tories out!'? Do you think they'd still let you vote?" the temptation was GRATE. I almost GIGGLED when I got my paper and then, as usual, I went straight to PANIC when I got to the actual booth. EVERY time I have ever voted I am always CONVINCED that I will somehow accidentally put my cross in the wrong place and end up voting BNP or something (whatever happened to THOSE guys eh?) so do it VERY VERY carefully. And then check it again. And then check it AGANE just before I put my paper in the big box.

Into the big box it went though and that was that done. In a funny sort of way it now feels like CHRISTMAS. We've had the weeks and weeks of build up and now it's finally happening so we can sit back and enjoy the day. I'm already thinking of the chums who I know will be staying up, who I can BUG via email as the night progresses, and thinking of the Essential Supplies I'll need to see me through. I do have a GIG tonight (it's Totally Acoustic at the King & Queen, with Keith Top Of The Pops and Simon Love - come! it'll be GRATE, also finished by 10pm!) so chances are I might be a bit piddly and SNOOZE for some of it, but I'm ready for the long haul. Let's just hope it's more 1997 than 1992!

Happy Election Day one and all, and fingers crossed for a Merry New Government!

posted 7/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Into The Woods
I was back on Hampstead Heath with Mr J Dredge this bank holiday Monday, commencing filming on our EXCITING new WEB SERIES!

This one will be using all the facets of modern televisual film making, as not only will it feature 5 (five) episodes with each one taking place in TWO (2) locations but it will also feature my first use of panning AND close up microphones! How's THAT for pushing the boundaries? It's like two years of film school all wrapped up in one afternoon!

Our job this time was to do the outside sections, which meant quite a while filming in the WOODS of Hampstead. Here's a thrilling behind the scenes shot which I feel captures some of the excitement on set:

PHEW! Hope you were sitting down for that one!!

Once all that was done we headed out onto the dangerous streets of downtown Hampstead itself to do one final shot. This took ages as ruddy people kept PARKING where we were trying to film or driving past or talking or just GETTING IN THE WAY. Honestly, what were they thinking of? Didn't they have better things to do on a sunny bank holiday weekend than go to the park?!?

Eventually we gave up on our first choice of location and went round the corner to a quieter spot where we managed to film our last shot without getting run over, though it was fairly close at times.

Job done I headed home and had a check at what we'd done. The film looked GRATE and the sound seemed to have worked as well, which was a HUGE relief! Next job will be to get the inside scenes shot, then we start on the epic journey of EDITS. It's a long way to go - we're looking at JULY before it's released - but this was at least a good start!

posted 5/5/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Today I'm very excited to announce that I'm adding yet ANOTHER domain to my vast portfolio of Domain Names Basically There To Help Me Show Off With: www.markhibbett.com!

Ever since I started on THE WRITING I've been sending interested (or more usually uninterested) parties all to the same web address, www.mjhibbett.co.uk and indeed using it on BUSINESS CARDS too. To start with this was fine, but ever since THE WRITING has been An Actual Business it's become clear that I should really have a seperate website to deal with all of that sort of stuff. As The Words On My Page has pointed out, if I email someone to say "Hello i am ab sensible person who you should employ to write a screenplay" it doesn't really help if I send them to a webpage all about GIGS and ROCK and LARKING ABOUT.

To be honest though the main thing that made me set the new page up was the prospect of some DATABASE DESIGN. I love doing database design and get THRILLZ at the thought of complicated SQL queries (NB this is not sarcasm, sadly) so when I realised I could do a whole HEAP of the above if I made a new website I LEAPT at the chance. I spent ages drawing diagrams for how I was going to create a system to keep my writing CV up to date, more time complaining to my old web providers that their site crashed every time I changed something (EXTREMELY annoying), yet further time moving everything over to Mr T Eveleigh's server, and then finally JOYOUS EPOCHS testing, re-testing and then just mucking about with it.

When I'd done all this the aforesaid Lines In My Code said "Couldn't you have just copied it from the original Word file?" Well, yes, i COULD, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun!

At the moment the main item of interest IS the CV - the rest is a brief bio, links to films and a differently formatted version of this here blog, but in the future I'm hoping to get some downloads up there too. Do have a look and see what you think and HEY - if you're a bigshot Hollywood Producer, CALL ME!

posted 30/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Ghost Of John Bonham
I was back in Derby on Monday afternoon to start recordings of the second half of the next Validators' album. I rolled up in town at about 4.30pm with plenty of time to spare so popped round the corner for a cheeky half before arriving at the studio to find that I'd STILL got there before Mr R Collins and Mr T Pattison had even BEGUN the drum soundchecking. Rookie error!

Mr FA Machine showed much more experience and skill by arriving JUST after Tim and Rich had finished setting things up, and by just after 6pm the three of us were ready to WORK. Around this time I received a text from Mr T "The Tiger" McClure to say he was just heading off from Leicester. I PANICKED in case we got everything DONE before he arrived (because that was ENTIRELY likely to happen) so asked which songs he didn't know so well, so we could prioritise THOSE. It's this kind of efficient production management that has made us the well-oiled ROCK machine that we are today!

OBVIOUSLY I needn't have worried, as we spent about half an hour getting levels right and then reacquainting ourselves with History's Re-Written. Tim complained that he'd only played some of these songs three times which is a) not entirely true (we'd done practices so it would be at LEAST three before we'd even arrived - what's he on about?) but anyway b) a lot more times than we ever played some of the songs on Say It With Words and This Is Not A Library, and they turned out PERFECT, right?

As we worked through the song we put a STOPPING section into the third verse - we've been quite good at NOT putting stops into ALL of the songs this time around, as we do usually have a tendency so to do, but hey! that just makes it part of our Trademark Sound, right? It sounded pretty good anyway, and we got the basic track recorded just as Tom arrived. He came in with a bag of CHIPS which smelled DELICIOUS, so the rest of us popped to the shops to get OUR tea while he ate his and got the violin set up.

I gave up on the 5:2 diet after approx 10 weeks due to it making me MISERABLE, but Tim is still at it so while Frankie and i bought BEER and QUICHE Tim had to settle for Low Calorie Soup. As you can imagine, no further mention of this would be made during the session, at all.

Once we were back we got down to WORK and did Can We Be Friends, In The North Stand and Get Over It. As usual we worked through several versions of each song until we'd got a good one, and were joined throughout by a MYSTERIOUS PRESENCE. Whenever Tim would do the CLICKS for the intro we'd hear a ghostly SNARE DRUM. Rich insisted this was because Tim was leaning too close to a microphone that had been set up to trigger samples, but the more obvious reason is that THE GHOST OF JOHN BONHAM was joining in with us!

The songs went pretty well, even Get Over It which Certain Members Of The Band are less keen on than others. "More showbiz!" I called through from the control room (where I was singing and playing my bits), and by the end we had a PRETTY DARN SHOWBIZ version done. It's ALL stops and fills and things going crash bang wallop - goodness only knows how we're going to get the vocal overdubs done in time with everything else. Maybe that'll make it even MORE showbiz if we don't?

The above Certain Member was flagging a bit so while he went and heated up his SOUP The Tiger took the opportunity to nip in and do some FIXES on his parts for Get Over It and In The North Stand. The plan this time is to do a LOT less overdubbing - not only no orchestras, dinosaurs, choirs of children or EXPLOSIONS, but also not much in the way of extra instruments either. There'll be a couple of bits and pieces but nothing like on previous albums, which meant that, for instance, once Tom had fixed his violin part he was DONE! I know this isn't exactly unusual for bands, but for us it is a bit of a SHOCK after the previous two album's application of the kitchen sink, kitchen fifteen guitars and kitchen EUPHONIUM onto everything. I've already done all my guitar and vocals for the first half of the songs, so all that's left is for Emma to finish of a couple and they too are DONE. It's so simple, it feels like cheating!

Anyway, there was one song left to do - The Future Is Amazing - which we rattled off in a few takes, and that was us finished. There had been talk of re-recording I Want To Find Out How It Ends to make it sound similar to the rest of the tracks - we haven't got the original files anymore and thought the finished version might be a bit "shiny" and overdubbed", but I had a listen on the way up and it was FINE, so we didn't bother.

All that was left was to hug our goodbyes, and then for me, Tim and Frankie to nip to the pub (Tom was driving to TAUNTON next morning, so thought he'd best not stay out late). We went to Frankie's local, where they brought us out some COMPLIMENTARY SAMOSAS. They were proper crunchy East Midlands samosas too, like what you don't get in That London, and they were DELICIOUS - Tim took a spare one home with him to have when his fasting day was over!

Another pint, MORE free samosas, and soon I was heading back to my bed at Machine Mansions. As I say, it felt WEIRD to have come so far so quickly with recording the album - another three or so sessions for overdubs and we're DONE - but it's sounding DEAD good. I confidently predict we'll have it finished by the end of this year, which means it'll probably be out in 2018!

posted 29/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The London Premiere
Myself and Mr S Hewitt gathered in London's Angel District Of London on Sunday afternoon for the LONDON PREMIERE of Hey Hey 16K. Before we started a couple of people said "You seem very calm" and indeed I was - after all, we had done this show HUNDREDS of times hadn't we? Hadn't we?

Before kick-off we grabbed hold of Mr J Jervis and made him come over the road with us for a PHOTO SESSION. We've been using the same set of pictures (taken for Moon Horse) for YEARS so I thought it might be a good idea to get some new ones done this time around, so we stood against a white wall over the road while Jerv snapped away. He did a GRATE job, as it turns out, if these don't get us in the paper nothing will - you can see for yourself in the shiny new "PRESS" section of Hey Hey 16K site.

That done we went back to The Lexington, gathered up the Quite Large crowd of chums and interested parties, and went up to do the show. The FACT that we started rehearsals SO long ago and did the Leicester gigs all the way back in February always makes me feel like this show has been on the go for MONTHS, hence my general calmness, so it was only once we got going that I realised that we REALLY HADN'T done it in front of people many times. Nerves were variously in evidence and we got all sorts of bits slightly wrong, but luckily a) we'd warned everybody in advance that this would happen b) if nothing else we're used to it and, most importantly c) it was a lovely audience who seemed willing to forgive us.

The STRANGEST thing, for me, about doing this show live is that there are big sections of NO LARFS and I have to remind myself that this is FINE, for LO! these sections are THE DRAMA and/or THE EMOTIONAL CORE. People seemed to enjoy it though, as I ascertained through slightly needily going round and ASKING everyone. Well, it WAS a preview, so harvesting "notes" is part of the general idea, right?

With that done we settled down for a chat and a well-earned PINT before it was time for me to toddle off. We're out on the road again next month in Nottingham and York, then we REALLY get going with a whole heap of gigs in July before - YIKES - we're off to Edinburgh! This is finally, actually, happening!

posted 28/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Morrissey Goes Mexican
On Saturday night myself and The Chilli In My Burrito went to London's Barbican Centre to see a show called "Morrissey Goes Mexican". We'd seen it advertised as a Mexican Mariachi band performing the music of Morrissey and The Smiths, which seemed like it might be a lot of fun!

Clearly we weren't then only ones to think so as the show was a sellout. When we arrived we found that it was a mix of middle-aged Smiths fans (you know, THOSE guys), younger people dressed up in semi-fancy dress, and a few Actual Mexican people. We got a drink, waved to Mr J Jervis and cohort who'd also come, and then took our seats for the show.

You get LOVELY seats at The Barbican, comfy and nice and wide, and we'd booked early so we were right near the front on the second row, and thus could watch the roadies fiddling with DI boxes from up close. Someone a bit further back was clearly A Bit Over-Excited and/or had never been to a gig before, as every time (EVERY time) one of the roadies came on he let out a YELP!

After that was all done the lights dimmed and two men came out and picked up their instruments - one a small guitar, one a MASSIVE guitar which, if you closed one eye, made it look like he was an ELF with a ukulele - and proceeded to speak entirely in Spanish between two INCREDIBLY long Very Authentic sounding songs that went on for five minutes EACH. It was, to be honest, INTERMINABLE - at first I squinted with my ears trying to work out what they were singing ("Is this Jeane"?) and then a great worry descended over me and, i feel, the entire audience. Was this IT? Had we been LURED into an ART or - even worse - FOLK MUSIC project of some sort? We'd come for fun, were we going to get CULTURE instead?

Luckily for us, after ten minutes, the rest of the band came on, picked up ROCK instruments, said "Hello" and launched into a fairly faithful version of "Last Of The Gang To Die". PHEW! What followed was a whole heap of HITS, heavily biased towards "Bona Drag" (which we had revised thoroughly, well done us!) all sung in SPANISH and with a slight hint of Being A Bit Mexican. A few songs into this section I suddenly thought "HANG ON - we're listening to a covers band! This is CLEARLY a bunch of Mexican chancers who said to each other 'HAHA! Let's see if anyone in England will pay money to hear us do Smiths songs!'", sort of like YEARS ago when London Bands used to RAKE in audiences with double tribute bands (most famously "GABBA" - Abba songs done in the style of The Ramones). As I thought this I looked up and saw that this is EXACTLY what had happened, and warmed to them IMMENSELY. Each of the band was clearly thinking "CRIKEY!" (or the Mexican equivalent) "Look at us, we're in flipping London playing the flipping Barbican!"

With all that settled in my mind I had a GRATE time. Some of it was distinctly odd - a big rock stadium version of "Everyday Is Like Sunday" with the lady singer BELTING it out like she was on The X Factor, striding from side to side of the stage was particularly RUM, and the mid-encore decision to do "La Bamba" left much of us BEMUSED - but it was also ACE. There was a big screen behind them showing animations, and The Lyrics In My Songsheet suggested that it could have been put to better use showing us the lyrics - several times they said "Sing along!" but we all had to reply "We can't! We know the English words but are not sufficiently adept at Spanish to translate!" (mostly in apologetic facial gestures, but I think they go the idea) but other than that it was a LOT of fun.

Now, does anyone know if there might be a market in the Oahu Barbican for a set of slightly tatty indie versions of Hawaiin Folk Songs? It would be ART!

posted 27/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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More Meetings
I had a lovely day on Thursday doing some proper WRITERLY stuff i.e. not actually doing much writing but a lot of sitting around in cafes talking to people and/or reading books.

For LO! I was In Town for the afternoon, first of all meeting Mr J Dredge for our regular weekly CHAT. We covered a wide range of topics, including a new Character Idea that made us both LARF, and also secured a date to start filming our next THING. This one's going to be a WEB SERIES and will, I hope, be Quite Good.

After that I went and got a HAIRCUT ("A bit less mad Professor" I agreed with my STYLIST) and then wandered around town for a bit. It was a lovely day so I went and sat in Soho Square for a bit to read my book. The other week I finally got my hands on a copy of Steve Lamacq's "Going Deaf For A Living" biography. I'd wanted it for YEARS but it always seemed to cost about thirty quid, so when I spotted one online for Significantly Less i SNAPPED it up. It's dead good and very Steve Lamacq-ily funny, but also the fact that it came out about 15 years ago means it has a NOSTALGIC GLOW to it. Aaah! The days of Radio One being ALL RIGHT!

Around 4pm I headed over to my FAVOURITE PUB, The King & Queen, for my final appointment of the day, with Mr M Tiller. Matt came to the readthrough of The Department a few weeks ago and offered to get together for a PITCH AND PINT session. He works in TELLY so I was eager for his WISDOM - I reckon I've got time to do one more Big Script Project before going to Edinburgh but have THREE ideas, so I PITCHED each of them at him to see which he thought was the best to go for i.e. which was most COMMERICAL. He listened to my ideas (tentatively titled "The Utopians", "Mum & Dad" and "Mick's Comics") and LARFED in the right places for all of them, but suggested that "Mum & Dad" was the one to go for, though possibly with a different title. We then went through the same for three ideas that John and I are thinking of working on next and again, after Correctly Placed LARFS, he gave some Excellent Tips.

It was lovely and, I guess, a Proper Meeting, though due to the good times and also BEER involved it didn't really feel like a meeting at all. As ever with people I've known in ROCK for a while it's always a TREAT to be able to sit down and have a bit of an old chat WITHOUT one or both of you having to dash off after ten minutes to play a GIG and it was a SPECIAL TREAT to be able to do this in the aforesaid lovely pub where I pretty much ALWAYS have to go and do a gig instead of sitting around chatting.

It was a DELIGHTFUL end to a DELIGHTFUL afternoon - who says The Writing is hard work?

posted 24/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Thought Shower
I was back in London's Angel area of London last night for a BRANE STORMING session or, as I believe the current terminology would have it, a THORT SHOWER.

This was all in aid of the new show that Mr A Dawson, Producer of the SELLOUT "Sexy Seven" show, is putting on during The Camden Fringe this year. We've got The Hen And Chickens booked for 26-30 August for "London Calling" which will hopefully feature new stuff by about eight of us, and so we had gathered to talk about what we were actually going to DO.

When I arrived I found that Alex had gone to town with the Synergetic Creativity Processing Enabling, not only putting up sheets of paper and laying out coloured pens but also providing SWEETS! It was jolly exciting, and we were soon into the full swing of... well, having a bit of a natter really, but after THAT we got down to business with IDEAS.

I'm a great believer in The Big Idea MANIFESTING itself of its own volition i.e. The Big Idea can take care of itself and will appear unto you given time, rather than you having to bash it out first of all. To be honest I have mostly come to this approach via album titles, as the final album title is NEVER the one you spend three hours arguing about in the pub (or six months discussing on email), it's ALWAYS the one that pops into someone's head when they're not expecting it, and then everyone says "Oh yeah, of course that's it." THUS I argued strongly (bossily) against deciding the theme of the show first, suggesting that we read out what we'd GOT and then see what it all SAID to us.

Amazingly this seemed to WORK. Most of us had got snippets/sketches/SCENES to read out and/or discuss and as we did so, and Alex wrote them on his big sheets of paper, The Big Idea appeared before us on the wall - basically a theme of old vs new, or the constant cycle of CHANGE in London, how that works and what it means. SORT OF.

It all felt very good and there was a TONNE of ideas for us to take away and work up into Actual STUFF for the next meeting, allowing a small group of us to relocate to the PUB for the traditional "That was good wasn't it?" discussion and the even more traditional "oh go on then, just the one more" recital that always follows a good evening. Obviously there's a way to go before the show's written, let alone cast, rehearsed and performed, but I reckon it's going to be GRATE!

posted 23/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Most Money Ever
Sometimes after gigs people come up to me and ask "Do you make a living doing this?" Sometimes they say it with barely suppressed disbelief, but sometimes they seem to think it is actually possible, so I do my best to disabuse them of the notion calmly without, if at all possible, SCREECHING with laughter and then bursting into tears.

For LO! I very much don't - in fact most things I do tend to LOSE money. Yes, incredible as it may seem, not enough people a) come to gigs b) buy my records to recoup the EXTREMELY MODEST expenses they involve i.e. my visits to the Ibis, rail travel, and essential nutrients hem hem BEER. However, every now and again something comes along which DOES pay out more than I or we have put into it, and when this happens it is a time for great celebration. Examples of this have been That Time We Played A Wedding, That Time I Wrote A Song For A Viral Advert Thing and, of course, That Time We Recorded The Soundtrack For An Online Sitcom. These have never ever been life changing sums of money but it's sometimes been WEEKEND changing money and is all the more enjoyed for that! This week however we have received more money than EVER BEFORE. Again, it's not going to involve moving house, but it's definitely a BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND changing amount of CA$H and it's for something we had pretty much NOTHING to do with.

Several years ago The Fighting Cocks released a song called "Hang Up The Moon" which featured a tiny sample of the instrumental version of Dino At The Sands from the end of WE VALIDATE!. Being a decent sort Charlie From The Fighting Cocks gave an eighth of the publishing of the song to ME - he didn't have to, but he seemed determined to do it and I was very grateful for the 18p or so that I subsequently got for it via the PRS.

However, some time later the song got picked up by a credit card company to maybe be used in one of their adverts. Sums of CA$H were spoken of, lots of negotiations were gone into, a Major Hollywood star was brought in to do the voiceover, a video was made and mixed... and then at the very last minute the advertising agency picked a different song. So near!

A little while after THAT, however, someone noticed that the version of the advert with The Fighting Cocks' song on it had been put onto the interweb. I guess someone just uploaded the wrong file, but nonetheless there it was online, and NEGOTIATIONS were re-entered, ending up with the various publishers of the song getting some Compensatory CA$H.

We got the aforesaid EIGTH of it, which I completely forgot about until this week when John The Publisher sent it on to me along with this year's PRS money, and LO! great joy did spread around - joy which was IN NO WAY DIMINISHED, indeed probably INCREASED when I remembered that this share of an eighth of the total wasn't all for me and that I had to ... I mean, was lucky enough to be ABLE to share it with The Validators.

I couldn't really complain about sharing it out though - after all, this was money for a sample which doesn't appear on the part of the track that was used, in an advert which was never really shown, which I had done absolutely nothing towards making happen! Even more to the point, there's a weekend coming up which will definitely benefit, when The Validators are all together in Congelton for Going Up The Country in June. When that occurs we shall definitely be raising a pint to The Fighting Cocks. Who knows, maybe even a pint of CHAMPAGNE!*

(* or probably Cava. It wasn't that much!)

posted 21/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Stand Up Put Up
A few weeks ago I did a stand-up gig (as reported previously) which was VIDEOED for posterity. I got the video a couple of weeks ago and haven't been brave enough to have a look at it yet as I fear that what I remember as CHUCKLES and LARFS may actually, in the cold hard light of an MP4, turn out to be coughs and uncomfortable shuffling.

So I thought I might as well put it online so that you, gentle reader, can have a look at it for me, THUS:

I think the main thing putting me off watching it is the cameraman's unusual choice to film it all in the old 4:3 aspect ratio and then stretch it out to WIDESCREEN. That IS what he's done isn't it? It's the only explanation.

posted 16/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Share Your Toys Launch
I was back in London Town on Sunday afternoon for a VERY auspicious occasion: the launch party for Mr Gavin Osborn's Share Your Toys album. I was VERY excited as it was a reunion with not only Gav but also our other touring partner Ms G Petrie, all hosted by Isy Suttie From Off The Telly, and it had SOLD OUT!

Unfortunately the dawning realisation that I was about to play to OVER A HUNDRED PEOPLE all in one go made me SICK with FEAR, so I spent much of the early part of the evening PANICKING and walking around nervously when I would much rather have been chatting to the aforesaid chums and indeed the ORGANISERS of the evening, Vinnie and Markie of My Little Owl. However, one upside of the pacing around was that I spotted someone upstairs who i thought was Her Who Wrote Those Two Episodes Of Banana (Charlie Covell, i later googled). I only watched the first half of her first episode (the one about the transgender woman getting internet stalked) because it was TOO UPSETTING but I LOVED the second one about the woman with a TONNE of neuroses who, for instance, has to have three goes to get out of the house NB just like I tend to. I worried about it for ages then decided TO HECK WITH IT and went over to say hello and that I loved her show. It turned out that a) she was coming in to the gig b) I'd previously forced a copy of 'Dinosaur Planet' onto the friend she'd come with and c) Grace had ALREADY gone up to her and said "Ooh it's you, can I have a picture please"?

By this time Mr S Hewitt had arrived with his supply of HUGZ, which was handy, and as we moved towards showtime I started to feel a bit better, helped by the aforesaid HUGZ, some BEER, Wise Words from THE LABEL, and also a bit of jumping up and down. Also, the fact that Issy, hosting the evening, was HILARIOUS cheered me RIGHT up and I LEAPT onto the stage full of beans and did THIS:

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

  • I had a LOVELY time! It was a Comedy Audience so they were very willing to LARF (which made for quite a lot of CHAT from me) and also ready to CLAP, which was brilliant to play for. I also managed to get ALL of the songs right, which was pretty bloody amazing. Four songs in I thought "Wow! I haven't made any mistakes at ALL yet! OH NO. That means I now INEVITABLY WILL" - I mentioned this to Steve after and he said "Yes, that's roughly when I thought that too." In fact the only FLUFF was during It Only Works Because You're here when the traditional tour-buddies "LA LA LA" sounded out and I got confused with DELIGHT, as I always seem to, but I think that counts as CHARMING rather than an actual error.

    Issy then introduced Grace, who was BRILL. As is my wont I stood at the back and felt IMMENSE PRIDE. As ever I know it's nothing to do with me how GRATE she is, but STILL. I've seen her many times now and always MARVEL at her immense stage presence, but this time I also had a SMALL CRY when she did a new song about her niece. CRUMBS. It was dead good!

    After a break we were back for the second half, which was Gav + BAND. Beforehand he'd been saying how relieved he was to have finally recorded all the songs, as he's been doing some of them live for ages, which was GRATE for me because it meant I could sing along with pretty much THE LOT. My favourite one at the moment is "In Another Lifetime" which he did last and was BRILLO!

    Alas I could not stick around for encores as I wanted to dash home, to where The Germs In My Contagion was lying in bed still POORLY. I went round and HUGGED as many people as I could find before FLEEING out of the door - in the process leaving behind a batch of MERCH which, happily, Steve was kind enough to pick up for me.

    Next morning my twitter and facebook feeds were full of people talking about what a lovely evening it had been. It's always a sure sign of a beautiful event, when people talk about it as a way of keeping it all going just a little bit longer. It's testament to the My Little Owl team for organising such a brilliant gig and of course to the sheer MAGNIFICENCE of Mr Osborn for making such a GRATE album. Go and have a listen, you won't regret it!

    posted 15/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Museum Of Computing History
    Saturday found me undertaking a FLYING visit to Cambridge to do a short set at The Centre For Computing History before a screening of the film Bedrooms To Billions.

    I've been playing gigs for well over a quarter of a century, so you'd think I might have realised by now that when people say "Soundcheck at 6pm" they don't actually mean "The soundcheck will happen ONLY and EXACTLY at 6pm and if you're not there THE SHOW IS OFF", but it seems not for LO! I RACED through the backstreets of Cambridge (noticing, as ever, that people in Cambridge are MAD for putting posters in their windows - they bloody love it!), practically RAN through an industrial estate, and found a surprised Aidy From The British IBM clearly NOT expecting me to be there at 5:59pm!

    We went and looked at the classroom I'd be playing in, decided I really wouldn't need a PA, then had a tour of the museum. COR! It was BRILLIANT! They had a TONNE of old computers, many of which were ON and ready for playing, similarly enabled arcade machines (including a proper table Asteroids machine which was BRILL), the original artwork for the ZX Spectrum manual cover, a wall of tapes, and then THIS:

    That may not look particularly exciting to the neutral observer, but it made me suddenly WELL UP with emotion, as it's the Amstrad word processor that I got for my 18th birthday (NB not THE machine, obvs, but the same model) and which went with me through my Polytechnic career. All of my first attempts at COMEDY RITING were done on it, and also a few essays (NB NOT MANY). I stood and stared at it for AGES... then went and spent half an hour playing DIG DUG in the main room.

    By then it was getting close to SHOWTIME. I was very very aware of my train times home and was eager to get things moving, so ended up following Aidy around the building as he rounded people up, him being polite and me saying "Come on! this is happening! NO ESCAPE!" We herded approx 35 people into the main classroom, turned the lights on, and then I did THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • That Guy
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Hey Hey 16K

  • Some of these songs were performed as "single versions" i.e. my BRANE was nervous and so I missed bits out! The reason for the NERVES was because this was, after all, a screening of a FILM so I got the impression that none of the people trapped in the room had actually come to see ME and, indeed, most of them hadn't realised I'd be inflicting myself upon them before they could watch the film! Also, when I've played these sort of gigs before, Hey Hey 16K has gone down well while other, Less-About-ZX-Spectrum, songs have done markedly LESS well. I thought that if I explained all this before I started it might help, and the audience seemed to go along with it, although it was fun to look out and see the range of expressions from DELIGHTED to CONFUSED, from POLITE to MILDLY IMPATIENT. They were all very nice about it though, and several of them definitely appeared to like it!

    As soon as I'd finished I packed up, pausing only to be greeted by another former Peterbrugian who, it turned out, used to live near All-Saints Church Hall (as mentioned in The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)). I very very rarely meet ANYONE from Peterborough (apart from OBVS when I go there) so this was rather lovely, though I didn't have long to chat as I had to thank Aidy and then RUSH for the station. I hot footed it back through the poster-augmented side streets, over a rather bouncy pedestrian/bicycle bridge (which made me seasick whenever a cyclist passed me) and arrived at the station SWEATY but on time.

    ALAS my train wasn't, so I had 15 minutes waiting during which I MUSED upon the gig. It definitely fitted into the category of "Gigs Other People In Bands Don't Seem To Do" and in some ways I can see why, but then again it was a very pleasant gig in front of people who otherwise I'd probably not have met, I DID get to meet a fellow Peterborough escapee, DID see my old computer and, VITALLY, got on the high score table of Asteroids! Other People In Bands should do MORE of these sort of gigs, they're smashing!!

    posted 14/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Moving Experience
    It's a very special day for the website today as, after many years with my old service providers, we are MOVING. Best of all, we are going INDIE!

    It's all come about because Fastwebhost, who I was with until very recently, became RUBBISH. It's a terrible shame as, when I first signed up with them (when they were called eHostPros) they were ACE - everything was super reliable and the help was GRATE. However, once they changed name things went rapidly downhill and the site was forever crashing, especially when I tried to update any of the pages. I spent a couple of weeks FUMING and lying in bed at night GLARING at the ceiling with thoughts of SERVER RAGE before realising that I could just MOVE.

    Thus I asked online for TIPS and received a) lots of helpful advice b) a TONNE of automated spam from webserver companies and c) the offer of space with Eveleigh Information Systems AKA the server of Mr T Eveleigh, longstanding chum, promoter and Totally Acoustic Super Sub! We got ourselves sorted out and, after a fortnight of altering CODE (i.e. stuff that i FUDGED about 5 years ago and which needed doing) we have today set the wheels in motion to shift mjhibbett.co.uk, .com and .net all over here!

    It's all TERRIBLY exciting - the .com and .net move has already gone through and with any luck .co.uk will follow within the next 24 hours (the background on the new server is, temporarily, a slightly brighter shade of red), bringing with it all my various other sites. It's all a bit nerve-wracking to be honest, but once it's all gone through we can look forward to uninterrupted service and maybe even some NEW STUFF! Also, of course, getting back to regular blogging - I've got a couple of ACE gigs to tell you about once we get going!

    posted 13/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Rye Look
    Last weekend The Days Off In My Bank Holiday decided to have some TIME OFF i.e. not just do loads of JOBS at home but actually relax a bit. In order to help this cunning scheme along we decided to go on a DAY TRIP and, as it was only an hour and ten minutes away via the Javelin we thought we might go and have a look at RYE.

    Short version: it was all right. Slightly longer version: it felt like the sort of place that should have an enormous cathedral or Fascinating Legend and allied Museum but it didn't. The cobbled streets and pretty houses were all very nice, but it felt like there should have been something around which they were all prettily gathered. On the plus side, this meant that we could walk around the Nine Point Plan of Rye (an EXCELLENT document provided by the Tourist Information Centre), stopping for relevant a) historic towers and b) historic pubs as necessary and STILL be all done in a couple of hours.

    As we were so far ahead of schedule The Points Of Interest On My Tourist Map suggested we go to Camber Sands. She'd spotted it on the map and we'd got a bus timetable at the aforesaid Tourist Info so off we went, ploughing through the Fenland-ish landscape (apart from the hills, obvs) until we drew up outside an oddly familiarly building. For LO! It was PONTINS, site off the Bowlie Weekender what I went to approx 300,000 years ago, looking EXACTLY the same as it had done back then! We couldn't go in, of course, so we did something I manifestly failed to do all those years ago i.e. go to the BEACH!

    Ooh, it was lovely - huge sand dunes then a beautiful open beach full of people and dogs and fresh air. We strode along, we bounced up and down dunes, and generally had a Healthy and Pleasant time. To make the whole thing a pretty perfect day out we got the bus back to Rye and only had a short wait for our train, speeding us home. If you're ever thinking of a trip that way I'd highly recommend going to Camber, and maybe Rye if they manage to build a Cathedral between now and then!

    posted 10/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Quiet Night In
    Last Thursday was the latest edition of Totally Acoustic, this time featuring Mr P Buckley Hill and Mr J Osborne. I'd thought it might be a bit quiet, as a) it was the night before the Easter Bank Holiday and b) people would probably be at home watching The Leaders Debate on telly... and I was quite right!

    The acts both arrived nice and early, just after I'd got the seats set out (Steve wasn't even there, THAT'S how quiet it was, so I had to do the tables and chairs myself! Shocking!) and by 7:30pm we'd got just sufficient audience to outnumber performaners! We kicked off, and had a thoroughly pleasant time. I did a few songs and then the legend that is PBH got up and did his anti-pre-penultimate gig. Foolishly I thought this meant he had two more to go before retirement, but maybe it's three? Anyway, he played the room as if it was PACKED and we responded accordingly. Even the chap who I think is the father of the owner (and maybe the previous owner?) of the pub who usually sits downstairs came in to watch, which felt like a HUGE honour, and he enjoyed PBH hugely!

    After the break John Osborne did a set of his brilliant poems. It was ACE. I feel I should give more REVIEW than that, but that pretty much says it all - it was moving and funny and charming and, well, ACE. The only way I felt it could have been improved would have been if a young GTR TOTING lad with a funny haircut and 10 tonnes of JANGLE had rolled up and asked him to join his Manchester based indie band. In the 1980s. With gladioli.

    After that everyone went downstairs for a PINT - it was a shame more people hadn't been there to enjoy the show but it did mean that the whole audience could join the performers around a table for a BEER and a YACK before heading out once more into the night. The next show's on May 7th, and hopefully we'll have a bigger crowd - I don't think anything political's on the telly that night, is there?

    posted 8/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Easter Bunny
    It's almost that most wonderful time of the year - Easter! The Christmas for Grown-Ups, when the Spring Santa comes round and gives all the good ladies and gentlemen what they most wished for i.e. a couple of extra days off work, some chocolate and maybe a film. Hoorah!

    To celebrate the season myself and Mr J Dredge have done another one of our films, which you can see below. It's called "The Easter Bunny" and it features ACTING!

    posted 1/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Break In Service
    Apologies for the rather drastic drop-off in BLOGS just lately - the reasons for this have been TWOFOLD.

    Firstly there hasn't been an awful lot going on. Well, there HAS, but it's mostly been "I spent all day sat at home AGANE doing Admin/Editing/Typing stuff out and then I went for a swim/to the shops". This is, of course, nice for me but would not make HUGELY engaging reading if repeated daily. Fear not though, more films, gigs, shows and even a Validators album* are on the way! (*terms and conditions apply, delivery may take up to three years)

    Secondly I've had all SORTS of problems with the website lately. I've been trying to set up a new section for just THE WRITING but every time I changed a page the entire site CRASHED. Then, when I didn't change anything, the whole site crashed ANYWAY. It got to a point where it was going down four times a day whether I did anything or not, which led to me going DERANGED with RAGE having to talk to the "live" "help" "desk" run by my hosting company. Every time someting went wrong they'd get the site back up OK but would refuse to answer any of my questions, give me a different CLEARLY MADE-UP excuse, then say "We are monitoring the server". After a while MAD VEINS in my neck would start to THROB whenever I even THOUGHT about the internet, so I decided it was probably best to get it moved elsewhere. THUS one of the "Typing" activities mentioned above has been me doing the necessary re-coding and adjustments necessary to get everything moved. We're not quite there yet, but hopefully when it is done the only differences you'll notice is that the site WORKS all the time! So, it's back to work for me then - these afternoon repeats of Wogan aren't going to watch thems... I mean, there is IMPORTANT CODING to be done!

    posted 31/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    For the past ten weeks I've been spending my Monday nights at a stand-up comedy course. I've not mentioned it here much because there's not been a HUGE amount to mention - we go to a room above a pub, Mr Chris Head tells us some things about stand-up comedy, we do some exercises and then each have a go at a few minutes of material - and also because I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to be doing.

    I signed up for it after going to that Comedy Conference last year with Mr J Dredge. I noticed that all the people over 50 on the panels were saying "The best way to get into comedy writing is by sending stuff to the radio" but all the people writing things NOW, usually in their thirties, ALL had a background in stand-up comedy and had ALL got their first break that way. "Aha!" I thought, "If I want to get my WRITING to Producers I must do some stand-up comedy!"

    This had been my plan approx 25 years ago when I'd had my first attempt at this sort of thing (the attempt that ended when I got into BANDS and BEER instead!) and I'd based my entire career plan on that of Mr B Elton, so it was an idea I was familiar with and have TOYED with every now and again during this second attempt. The only things standing in my way were a) I don't like stand-up comedy very much b) I don't like most stand-up comedians very much c) I really really really don't want to have to go and do 2 or 3 open mic nights every week then spend a couple of years schlepping round comedy clubs. Apart from that it all sounded good!

    Around the time of the conference John was doing a stand-up comedy course so I thought "Right! Let's DO this flipping things and once and for all give it a proper go!" and signed up for the next term. Unfortunately, approx 0.02 seconds after paying my money, I had a sudden realisation: Radio was the way to get into comedy in the 70s and 80s, and stand-up was the way to get into it in the 90s and 00s but the way people were starting to do it NOW was ONLINE! This seemed to indicate that I'd signed up to spend ten weeks doing something I didn't really like that probably doesn't work anymore. CURSES!!

    Still, I'd paid up so went and DID it, even though pretty much every week I thought "Can i just phone in sick this time?" The actual sessions were fine - the other people were lovely, it was GRATE watching everyone develop and try new stuff, and much to my surprise (hem hem) i actually enjoyed the chance to SHOW OFF for 3-5 minutes every week. WHo'd've suspected THAT eh?

    The main problem I had with it all was that the course sat there in my MIND all week, saying "Have you written a routine yet eh? have you?" Every time I got worse and worse at actually writing anything, so that by the last few weeks I was thinking "Sod it. I'll just do one of the stories from My Exciting Life In ROCK." Admittedly it worked out all right - I know the stories, and it turns out that half the battle with stand-up is looking as if you know what you're doing, so 20 odd years of ROCK experience came in handy - but it did feel a bit like cheating!

    The final night of the course was an ACTUAL GIG, which took place this Monday just gone at The Wenlock And Essex in Islington. As per I thought "Right, I'm going to put some effort into it and write a proper set this time!" and come Sunday night found myself thinking "Yeah, I'll sort that out tomorrow." On the advice of various people on the course I ended up (mostly on Monday afternoon) WELDING together two stories - the time we supported Zodiac Mindwarp, and various things to do with Hey Hey 16K - into something that seemed OK, and set off for the gig.

    By the time I arrived I was BRICKING it. It would appear that making up something in front of 12 friendly faces is FINE, but doing it to a Paying Audience is a bit more scary, especially a SOLD OUT room of paying punters. Mondays are usually one of my "5:2 Diet" days, so I've stuck to Diet Coke for classes, but this time a beer was NEEDED. Beer was TAKEN!

    I was on in the second half, so got to relax a bit in the first half as people got up and did their sets. It was BRILLIANT to see how much everybody had come on - everyone had LEARNT and had GAGS and was confident in the room, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Chris who runs the course had said that this was the thing he concentrated on more than other courses - giving people the ability to interact with the audience and with whatever happened in the room, and this certainly came across as everyone made extra REMARKS and GAGS.

    Come half-time I discovered that First Gigs For Comedians have one very definite thing in common with First Gigs For Bands - everyone gets their CHUMS to come but some of those chums leave when the person they've come to see has finished. Thus by the time we filed back in the room was about 25% emptyso it was a bit more work for everyone, increased by the fact that there were TWELVE of us coming onstage, one by one, and everyone was getting TIRED, meaning that the poor mug who was on LAST was going to have his work cut out.

    And LO! It was ME! When I'd first seen the running order I'd gotten all excited and thought "Ooh hark at me, HEADLINING!" but very quickly realised that no, in this case it was very MUCH going on last! Still, this did take a bit of the Internal Pressure off me - I'd been worried that I was telling a STORY, which therefore had less LARFS in it than other people, but decided that if nobody laughed AT ALL then it was just because they were feeling worn out.

    Happily people DID laugh and I had a LOVELY time - it felt a bit strange not having a guitar round my neck but once I got up there it all felt perfectly normal and I thoroughly enjoyed SHOWING OFF once again. QUELLE SURPRISE!

    Afterwards there was CHAT and BEER and MUCH RELIEF. One common question buzzing round was whether people were going to do any more, and I surprised myself with how quickly I said "NO!" It's not entirely true - I quite enjoyed the Just Making It Up and talking to the audience stuff, so might do something else in that direction - but I certainly don't want to have to Write Comedy Sets or go out and do gigs. I always said that part of the idea of doing the course was to get it out of my system, and it certainly seems to have done that!

    It was an interesting thing to do, and I met some very nice people, but I'm RELIEVED it's all over - no time for a REST though, as me and Steve start re-rehearsing the new show this week, and that's got lines I really SHOULD know properly!

    posted 26/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Double ROCK
    As mentioned yesterday I was in Leicester at the weekend, accidentally seeing the Richard III procession but purposefully there to do a double dose of ROCK.

    The first shift commenced outside Stayfree Studio at noon, where I met Mr F Machine to watch the various bands lurking around outside waiting to be let in. Everyone was dressed according to their GENRE - the Britop Dads looked very Britpop, the Metal Band looked very Metal, and we looked very half-arsed indie. All was right with the world!

    Inside we were joined first by Mr T "The Tiger" McClure and then by Mr T Pattison, who had probably been waiting outside building himself for the deluge of Very Mild Joshing RE: Prolapse Gigs that ensued. Once that was out of the way we moved onto the business of ROCK, rampaging through versions of the remaining four songs we had been rehearsing ready for recording - Can We Be Friends?, In The North Stand, The Future Is Amazing and Get Over It. The original idea was to have another practice before going back to the studio, but we WHIPPED through them so easily there didn't seem to be any need. Tim suggested having a go at History's Rewritten too and, after a bit of persuading, we did. It was dead good!

    We were joined by Mrs E Pattison for about 10 minutes (on her way into town for the procession) making us briefly QUORATE for the first time in ages before she left closely followed by Tom, heading off to ORCHESTRA. This left "The Dresden Validators" to have a runthrough of a couple of other things and vaguely discuss album titles. I told them how GRATE the "album" is sounding so far, and discovered that they hadn't heard the latest mixes so promised to get that DONE, and also to sort out another studio day. Who knows? We might get it finished THIS YEAR!

    With all that sorted out Tim and I headed into town, him to the procession and me to Cafe Bruxelles for my second slice of ROCK for the day - the traditional post-Leicesterval afternoon of Totally Acoustic, curated by Mr A Hale. I'd been worried that nobody would be there due to the Royal Events, but there was a nice cosy crowd and a delightful set of acts, including Alex, Mr Joey Chickenskin and Mr D Ransome. Unfortunately I missed large chunks of everyone else's sets due to INTENSELY SLOW bar service. It's a lovely place, Cafe Bruxelles, but crikey oh riley they can't half make a fuss of getting you a beer. At one point I was waiting 15 MINUTES for them to find a pump that was actually working!

    Apart from that it was lovely to see people and also lovely to be able to take to the stage and do THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Red and White Sockets
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • History's Re-written
  • In The North Stand
  • The Ballad Of Alan Moore
  • That Guy
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30

  • It was a slightly odd set botched together with suggestions and vague ideas - Red and White Sockets was a request from Mr M Whitaker, who had brought his son along for his First Ever Gig (always an honour to be there for such an event!) and History's Re-written was there because I'd enjoyed doing it earlier with the band - but it all seemed to go off OK, leaving me with plenty of time to actually GET some beers before the King went past! If only all gigs could climax so regally!

    posted 25/3/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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