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Blog Archive: January 2008

Newslettered
It's FINALLY the last working day of the month (January, it takes a LONG time), so I've sent out this month's exciting NEWSLETTER. It's got some quite EXCITING stuff in it about My Exciting Life In ROCK and our NEXT SINGLE, which I don't think i have Officially Revealed before. EXCLUSIVE!

In other news, The Jangle In My Indiepop Band and I headed to CAMDEN again last night, this time to The Enterprise for the Spiral Scratch night there. I'd somehow managed never to go to the Enterprise before, so was STUNNED to discover they served BASS. BASS! One of my favourite beers EVER and VERY rarely seen in That London, even MORE rarely tasting nicer, but this was WELL GOOD. More gigs there AHOY!

We were there to see The Deirdres and Pocketbooks, both of who were GRATE. As ever with The Deirdres it started off sort of ramshackle and self-conscious, and i thought "Hmm, i wonder if these cold hearted londoners will take to them?" but it didn't take long for their JOY DE VIVRE (sp.) and sense of FUN to melt their Metropolitan Ventricles and allow the SONGS themselves to peep over the ramparts, especially "Michael Aspel" which was EXCELLENT. After them Pocketbooks seemed like GLACIALLY COOL Popstars... well, for a bit they did, then my BRANE adjusted and i really REALLY enjoyed them. As stated previously I'd never got a chance to see them LIVE before so was VERY pleased to find them so good - ooh, it was all TUNEY and WORDS and POPPY. ENDEARINGLY, just when it might have been on the verge of OVER PRECISE their (actually, dead good) guitarist broke a string. This had NEVER happened to any of them before, and it appeared than none of them realised a) it sounded funny because breaking one string sends the others out of tune and b) it'd only take a minute to re-tune. This made the last couple of songs sound a bit DISCORDANT and indeed slightly RAUCOUS. HOORAH!

We skidaddled before Sparky's Magic Piano, but I will be back for the BASS, the beautiful BASS... er... and gigs too.

posted 31/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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My(space) Exciting Life In ROCK
I'm not sure if I've already mentioned this, but there is a BIG PLAN to go up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year to do a SHOW! "SHOW" is perhaps a bit of a GRAND way to describe it - it'll be me, doing a gig, POSSIBLY with SLIGHTLY more talking between songs than usual - but i am RIGHT excited about it. The estimable Mr Carsmile Steve is acting as Stage Manager for the GALA PERFORMANCE EXTRAVANGAZA, and he's been looking through the list of venues to see which ones look good, before we head up North in a week or two to have a LOOK at them.

All RATHER jolly, and as part of the PREP he suggested I set up a seperate myspace page for the ROCK OPERA ON ICE, so i have DONE so, at www.myspace.com/myexcitinglifeinrock. As you may gather, the WEEK LONG SELLOUT ARENA RESIDENCY (I'll stop that now) is going to be called "My Exciting Life In ROCK", after my entries on the PopArt Digest, and I'm planning to get some OLD entries from THAT moved over to the myspace as a sort of ARCHIVE, and will also stick some songs up.

The idea is that it'll be somewhere that VENUES can go if they want to check up on us, and with that in mind, I'd be MOST grateful if people could go and befriend me. I know Myspace is terribly old hat, and I'll probably do a modern young person's Facebook thing for it nearer the time, but if a few people COULD befriend this new page it'd look a bit more impressive for said venues. Thanks!

posted 30/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Red Black Gold
There's a new song in the NEW SONGS section now, based on not one but THREE distinct conversations recently had. It's called Red Black Gold and it also features much spoken of on here of late. See what you think!

posted 29/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Durham
After a DELIGHTFUL morning drinking tea, having Singing Practice with Emma, going to a Garage, sitting in a Leisure Centre Cafe reading the paper and then heading off EN MASSE with Les Pattisons to a NOODLE BAR it was time to get back on the road of ROCK. The Tiger arrived, we said our goodbyes, and The Cleator Moor Validators were AWAY!

We were all EXCITED but also TREPIDATIOUS about this gig. We'd booked into an Apartment for the evening which SEEMED too good to be true, but if it was OK, and the gig went all right, then Durham would be an IDEAL location for us to come back to on the way to or from band gigs in The Scotland. We REALLY wanted it to work!

It was a journey of many discussions and ONE disappointment - we stopped at Boroughbridge Services, which are RUBBISH. It's miles from the road and when you get there it's just a GARAGE in Morrison's Supermarket car park. We didn't even get any food - i felt CHEATED!

As we entered Historic Scenic Durham we rang the apartment to tell them we'd be there after dropping off our gear at the venue, The Fishtank. Once there I rang Kate The manager to ask her to let us in - just as two STAFF happened to walk by. Either that, or she had MIND POWERS. We unloaded then LEAPT into the car to search a) for BEER and b) for our flat. We found a WAITROSE, got all excited, then spent a frustrating 15 minutes trying to park and then get INTO it, before discovering it to be CLOSED. Disappointed we headed off and got LOST, so had to ring the apartment again. I dialled the last number called and handed it over for Tim to have a VERY confusing conversation, as actually I'd rung Kate at The Fishtank. Ah. We got Marcia At The Apartment again instead, found our way there, and were soon MARVELLING at the apartment.

It was INCREDIBLE - look, see for yourself, we couldn't BELIEVE we were allowed to stay there. It had TWO bathrooms, a PLUSH living room,all breakfast items laid on and also it was DEAD cheap. Goodness me it put a LOT of pressure on the gig to be good!

Back at the venue we met Mr Pete Green, did our soundcheck (two attempts at We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home) to see if we could learn it enough to play... we couldn't) then had CHIPS before heading down the road to the PUB to meet Tim's pals. Mr Green joined us and we had an Excitable Discussion about his new band, Pete Green's Corporate Juggernaut (GRATE name), as well as the FACT that a new band is like a new girlfriend INSOMUCHAS you will be GRILLED by yr peers as to what they're like - have they been in many other bands before? what do they drink? does the drummer have a kit? And OTHER questions you ask of friends with new girlfriends.

Back to the venue to see first band, Rich And Ollie (whose Official Name changed several times during the course of the night, so i'm not sure what it was by the end) who did some really nice stuff with one of them LOOPING pedals, various keyboards, and a UKELELE. The room was gradually filling up by this point, much to our surprise, with familiar faces like Alex from Shadowplay and Graham (of the Bobby) McGee(s) too. It was LOVELY, but also NOISY, so when Pete went on i was slightly worried - part of the reason for him GETTING a band together is he's fed up of being ill treated or IGNORED by audiences just because he's a solo artiste, and it felt like it was about to happen again...

I need not have worried, it was a COMMANDING performance. All the ACE SONGS as usual (and good golly, that "One Monday Morning" one is PARTICULARLY GRATE) but with ASSURED between song BANTER and LARFS - an especially TOP QUALITY bit was when he said "Anyone here at University?" (mumbled YASSes) "Was it the entrance exam or the interview that got you rejected from Oxford or Cambridge?" Not only did this DARING strategy (of insulting a large chunk of the audience) PAY OFF BIG TIME in getting BOTH the students and non-students ON SIDE it also got a big LARF and began great debate around the room, as people worked out which it was.

Pete having finished we MADE for the stage. We'd been told that the music had to stop at 10.30pm, so I was looking at my watch a LOT as we did THIS:
  • The Gay Train
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Mental Judo
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was BLOODY GRATE. We had a FANTASTIC time - there was LARKS, there was CHAT, there was SINGING along and ALL sorts. My favourite bits INCLUDED me talking in public about our Growing Obsession with our Festive 50 placing - pointing out that The Lesson Of The Smiths was four places below Pete's single, at which point Graham McGee put his hand up and said "We were at number 14" and we all went GRRR!! and waved our fists at him. I did the Walking Off The Front Of The "stage" (there wasn't a stage, but you know what I mean) BIT in Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid in order to incite Singing Along, and it WORKED. When we finished we moved off and people started shouting "MORE!" and so forth - a chap nearby pointed out we needed to go completely out of the room before we could come back, so we spent an uncomfortable couple of seconds with the three of us CRAMMED into the ladies toilet, before coming back to do a REQUEST version of Boom Shake The Room, complete with much Havant & Waterloo MENTIONING.

    It was LOVELY. Afterwards we stood around for a bit chatting before collected all the gear up and piling it into Tim's friend Mark's car. Tom nipped back to the flat to open the garage while they drove round, while another bunch of us lurked about for a bit drinking BEER before heading over for a SOIREE.

    It was a very nice INDEED Post Gig Soirree, although SOME PEOPLE did get a bit silly and start singing songs in a high pitched cod-Geordie accent... in front of five Geordies. Luckily they took it in good heart, tho i did wake up next morning going "ARGH! WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?" Also there was much cavorting around wearing Complimentary Towelling Dressing Gowns.

    The party broke up around 2am, and we got up just slightly not enough hours later for BREAKFAST of Posh Cereal, Proper Coffee, and CROISSANTS. OH YES. Being insane monsters of rock like what we are we then did the natural thing to do on a Sunday morning: went out for a walk and a look at the Cathedral. It's what Alice Cooper would do, I'm sure. It was dead good, also the Castle, also Durham in General, and I bought 2 fridge magnets AND a mug - a clear message of it's GOOD NESS if ever there was.

    Back in the car we headed South, SNUBBING Boroughbridge, and I got dropped off in Doncaster for an easy journey home. There were HUGS and also a general agreement that, once again, The Cleator Moor Validators had ridden to VICTORY. Durham, we shall see you AGAIN!

    posted 28/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Laying Down Some Tracks
    My weekend of IMMENSE ROCK commenced on Friday afternoon with some CUNNING use of THE SYSTEM. I was due in DERBY for recording that evening then was heading to Durham next day before returning to London on Sunday. I therefore bought a return ticket to SHEFFIELD, a delightful city which, this time, i had no intention of going anywhere NEAR. It is THE MADNESS OF THE SYSTEM: this ticket meant i could get off early in Derby on a train going TO Sheffield and then, on Sunday, get dropped off in DONCASTER (as to get from Sheffield to London on a Sunday you usually have to first go NORTH to Doncaster) and come home that way. MUCH cheaper than any other way, including SIngles AND/OR a ticket to Doncaster via Derby. A Ticket to DURHAM, by the way, would not only be HEINOUSLY expensive but also involve Rail Replacement Buses. Yes.

    Thus feeling RATHER pleased with this act of STICKING IT to THE MAN I arrived at Derby's famously thrilling SNUG studio to discover Robbie and Tim looking even MORE pleased with themselves, for LO! they had gone INSANELY MAD and ... wait for it!.. used a FLOOR TOM as a RACK TOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Apologies to anyone whose MIND has BLOWN from reading that, and to anyone who doubts if this is PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE I can assure you that, yes, it is. For any readers unaware of the IMMENSITY of what had occurred - the floor tom is a drum that usually sits on the floor next to the bass drum and is slightly larger than the one (or two) marginally smaller drums that sit on a rack atop the bass drum. O! M! G! STUDIO MADNESS!

    We got the drums set up, which always seems to take AGES but which this time was probably sped along by Robbie's dreams of SOUND ON SOUND MAGAZINE features on "The Newman Method: How To Set YOUR Spare Floor Tom As A Rack Tom". We then set up a microphone for me to do GUIDE vocals, plugged my guitar in for guide GUITAR, had a quick warm up until Francis Albert MAchine arrived, then GOT ROCKING.

    First up was a RE-TAKE of All The Good Men, as the PREVIOUS version had been a bit TOO "nuanced" i.e. we sped up, slowed down and got variously excited to a NOTICEABLE extent throughout. By this time Rich had arrived and leant his Ear Of Precision to proceedings - it was a bit like having a JOB interview, as we waited for his word of APPROVAL. Things were made more difficult for me by the fact I was so used to listening to the old version that i TRIED speeding up where we used to, but with WILL and some Technical Jiggery Pokery we got there in the end.

    Next up was It Only Works Because You're Here, which we did to a BOSSANOVA beat. Well, OUR version of bossanova anyway - Tim had got himself some HOT RODS so he could in theory play it a bit softer, but made up for this buy HITTING them even harder than usual! We had a couple of goes at it with all sorts of FILLS emerging, and ended up doing a few DROP INS to get it all to the end, but it sounded a) DIFFERENT and b) pretty darn GOOD by the time we'd done.

    Following this we did We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want To Go Home), a song which NEITHER Frankie NOR Tim had ever played before, so we spent a little time LARNING it up before delivering it in an EVEN MORE Skiffle style than I'd expected. I must say I was WELL CHUFFED with how it turned out, it's EXCITING. Ukelele, I feel, we be called for.

    Tim and I ZOOMED off for CHIPS at this point, enjoying the rare treat of SCALLOPS when we were there, and returned to find Frankie finishing off an overdub of his bass lines for It Only Works Because You're Here. It sounded LOVELY, especially as it drowned out the sound of a band practicing downstairs,who had treated us to "versions" of "Angels" and "Purple Rain" that made up for what they lacked in EVERY OTHER WAY by vigorous useage of CHORUS pedals. It was all A Bit Much my dears.

    Anyway, for our final track we embarked on a song CODE NAMED "Kinder Scout" - a JAM we'd done at our last practice. It was LUCKY that we'd taped it as Frankie (and, later in the weekend, both Emma and Tom) denied ALL knowledge of it. Our attempts to JAM IT UP a bit more were slightly curtailed by a COMPUTER CRASH, during which Rich tried to look calm and Robbie went "AAARGH!", but VERY HAPPILY all was eventually well. The song has two distinct SECTIONS, seperated with a gap which will probably be chopped down a bit as it was quite LARGE by the time we managed to get it all right. Still, it all sounded pretty good and I'm now halfway through some WURDZ for it.

    At this point Mr Machine left us and we moved to our final task - the vocals for The Drummer's Lament. This was Tim's LEAD VOCAL DEBUT and he approached it with some nervousness, tho carried it out with APLOMB. I was expecting it to sound OUTRAGED and GRUFF, but clearly the Deep Sadness inherent in the lyrics affected him and it came out sounding surprisingly SOFT. The same could not be said for the Miners' Choir Backing Vocals that I then went in and did, three tracks of me BELLOWING which were LAYERED UP by two each from Robbie and Rich to give us a NOISE where you can practically HEAR Foaming Jugs Of Ale being Heartily Swung.

    Job done we finished for the evening, heading off to Chez Pattison, then heading back ten minutes later to get Tim's keys, then going all the way home to his house where we WOUND DOWN from our ROCK ANTICS by some of the INSANE METAL BEHAVIOUR for which The Validators are known: we had a small glass of white wine each and watched a BBC4 Documentary. OH YEAH!

    posted 28/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    STATS! Where The Magic Happened
    Just time for a quick GRAPH before I head off to catch my train for Derby (RECORDING) and then Durham (ROCKING), and it's this one:

    Where Gigs Happen


    The last time we looked at this graph I noted how it gets progressively STRIPEY as we move our might weapons of ROCK further around the country, and if anything the addition of old data this time around shows that this has become even MORE so over time. It may appear to be the same or even slightly LESS stripey in 2007 and 2006, but that's only because of the record number of "Other" places (i.e. Cities I've only been two three or less times EVER) that make that particular category swell. If I'd done it by individual city 2007 would have been Stripier than Sergeants in The Army Of Tigers using a zebra crossing to chase some wasps i.e. VERY!

    posted 25/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Vote Validators!
    Slightly BIZARRELY, we are up for Best International (non-Scottish) SINGLE in the Is This Music End Of Year Poll!! It seems a bit BONKERS to me, but it's very nice, so if you fancy having a go please do. Most CONTENTIOUS category for me: Best Venue. SURELY the Hull Adelphi must WALK it?

    posted 24/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Morrissey
    Me and The Black And White Photograph On My Smiths Album Cover headed off to fragrant CAMDEN last night, to see Morrissey at The Roundhouse. It was LOVELY. In many ways it was like going to a RE-ENACTMENT as many people had clearly been delving into the back of their cupboards to bring their Gig Clothes out of retirement, and the pin badges were many, varied, and historic. It was also nice to be at a gig and feel YOUNG.

    The roundhouse turned out to be pretty OK - it felt like the BAR was a little small, but there turned out to be several more inside, and though the beer was hardly CHEAP it wasn't as offensively so as at crap-holes like Koko. The venue was pretty good too - the PILLARS all round the edge, where we were stood, got in the way a bit but the sound was good and the stage was almost visible, so for a Big-Ish Venue it was GOOD - which was a relief, as we're off to see Mr Billy Bragg there soon.

    MOZ came on EARLY and was, basically, DEAD GOOD. It reminded me of when we went to see REM a couple of years ago - yes, there were fairly long sections featuring New Material, Album Tracks and Obscure B-Sides, which was a bit boring, but when he hit his STRIDE it was AMAZING. Just over half way through he did "Last Of The Gang To Die" (which was BRILLIANT) and "How Soon Is Now" (see above), and it was UTTERLY FANTASTIC... but then he went back to a same-y sounding one that was EITHER new OR from one of the solo albums i don't have, and it took it down a bit. Not a LONG way - he was CHARISTMATIC throughout (although he did seem disappointed when he said "Has anybody been watching that programme Honest?" and everybody claimed not to, i bet he had a BIT worked out) and BEEFY, the band were LOUD (tho they did the Delicate Guitar Intricacies of the Smiths songs really well) and at the end he RIPPED off his shirt and threw it to the crowd, like John Otway on steroids. So yeah, on average it was Really Good, in parts it was AMAZING. It was MORRISSEY!

    On the way home we shared my MyPod and had a TUBE DISCO listening to The Temptations - it was ACE!

    posted 24/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    It Can Only Go Downhill From Here
    COR - last night's gig, i shall not lie to you, was AMAZING! It was Totally Acoustic at The Lamb again, which is ALWAYS lovely, but this time it was EXTRA WOW.

    I arrived to find my REGULARS - Pete, John, Dan and Steve - sat at a table, READY, with my Brother and Cheryl just round the corner. Straight away Worry //1 ("What if nobody comes?!?") was REMOVED. I went to the bar and paid for the room in advance, so as to avoid a repeat of last time's FARRAGO when i forgot all about it and had to go back again next day... this also removed Worry //2 ("What if they've forgotten the booking and somebody ELSE has it?") which left me with only Worry //3 ("What if LOADS of people turn up and it's too full and they can't get in?") which, frankly, is silly.

    Next to turn up was The Allen Key In My Self-Assembly Kit, then Charlie, then... well, LOADS of PALS turned up, it was fantastic! Even Nic and Emma, who I think I last saw when we played at their wedding, were there, it was all LOVELY.

    Andy from Pocketbooks arrived with time to spare, everyone came upstairs and settled in, and i kicked off with THE FOLLOWING on ukelele:
  • The Drummer's Lament
  • The Last Of The Gang To Die
  • Ask
  • Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine
  • A Million Ukeleles

  • It was all pretty GRATE - The Drummer's Lament went down well, I think i PROVED my point re. Morrissey songs being suitable for ukelele (tho maybe doing Ask as well was pushing it), and i was REALLY pleased that I'd learned up A Million Ukeleles, for LO! When I got to the last couple of choruses SUDDENLY people all around the room pulled out ukeleles and started playing along! It was MENTAL - it turned out Pete had organised it as a Ukelele Flash Mob THING, with song sheets, instructions and EVERYTHING. INDEED, he'd apparently had it lying in wait at a couple of OTHER gigs when I'd NOT played the song - i wondered why he kept asking if i'd be playing the ukelele! It was all RATHER ASTOUNDING, i had no idea - COR!

    Next up Andy a.k.a. Sunny Intervals played - I'd asked him to do it because every time his main band, Pocketbooks, play I always seem to be doing something that precludes my attendance, usually a gig of my own, and as everybody keeps saying how ACE they are I thought booking at least ONE of them to play would mean I'd finally get a chance to see him/them. I was REALLY glad I did - as ever with these things I did wonder if he'd be OK SANS PA, but it made the songs, tunes, and especially WORDS shine out - i was VERY impressed, it was brilliant. I'm going to be going to see them in full band mode TWICE in the next few weeks now - HOORAH!

    We then had the cigs/wee/beer break and I retook the stage with GTR to do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • The Girl Who...
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was MUCHO FUN. It was GRATE to be back doing a gig again, and nice to feel I was doing something at least a LITTLE bit different, with loads of new ones and especially getting The Girl Who... back in the set again. My FAVOURITE bit was during Do The Indie Kid when Pete and Steve performed The Music Of The Future on ukeleles. It was very very very good.

    We then settled into the BEST bit of the evening, the BEER AND CHAT section, which was even nicer. It was SO lovely to see so many TOP CLASS people there, and much NONSENSE was spoken and BEER drunk and I staggered out of the building thinking that I had maybe done the BEST gig of the year ALREADY! HOORAH!

    posted 23/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    STATS! Where Is Everybody?
    A whole BATCH of STATS today, as we turn our enquiring gaze upon the location of all those people lucky enough to be on newsletter. Here's where everyone is in THE WORLD:

    Global Location Of Mailing List Members


    Not the most fascinating of diagrams, tho VERY informative. As you'd expecting from my Gigging History, most people are in the UK and especially England, with a surprisingly LARGE amount of Americans And Canadians, bearing in mind that I've only ever played in North America the once - perhaps GIGS are not the only decider?

    Let us then DIG DOWN a little bit further, and see whereabouts the UK contingent lives:

    Location Of All Mailing List Members In UK


    Now THIS is a bit more interesting, tho it does still seem to support the direct relationship between Gigs and Mailing List Membership, which is a little odd as I pretty much NEVER take one of those clipboards with me to gigs - you know the ones I mean, where you write your name down to join the mailing list. Pretty much always EITHER i forgot to pick them up OR all the names are illegible anyway, so i tend not to bother. INDEED membership of the mailing list pretty much always comes about when people buy something from the shop, sign up for the newsletter, OR if they're some sort of Media Contact who I've STUCK there. It would perhaps be clearer if we REMOVED this last group of people, leaving us only with people who ASKED to be on the list:

    Location Of Fans On Mailing List In UK


    Before we go any further - MANY apologies for the use of the phrase "fans" in that graph. I really don't like that word - I don't think of people on the mailing list as "fans", it's really big headed and also demeaning, i think. UGH. People who come to my gig are, obviously DELIGHTFUL CONNOISSEURS of fine taste and excellent manners... but that didn't fit in the label, and "punters" just sounded rude.

    Anyway, with that in mind, this is a MUCH clearer picture of who's on the list, with London suddenly dropping DRAMATICALLY - INDEED, falling to third place behind The Midlands and North East England (which in this context starts in SHEFFIELD, so it's a big old place), with those three areas being MUCH more represented than the others, which are all of similar size, apart from Wales and Northern Ireland, where there's hardly anybody. I've never played in Wales (tho i would REALLY like to), but I HAVE played in Northern Ireland - come on, Northern Ireland, buck up! America's had as many visits as you and there's LOADS of people on the list from there!

    In short then it looks like Gig Visits DO have some influence on how many mailing list members there are. Next STAT will show us exactly which cities i HAVE been to most: EXCITING!

    posted 22/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    PandAz and Kittens
    A stroll, a tube, a FUTURISTIC MONO-RAIL, another FUTURISTIC MONO-RAIL and a HIKE and I was eventually in distant LEWISHAM last night, there to attend the Kooba gig which featured Plans & Apologies. Mr R Newman had mentioned it to me last week when were in with him in the studio, and from the way he was speaking of it i was slightly afeated that he and the rest of the band thought it was going to be a Gig In The Big City. I mean, technically Lewisham, like Leytonstone, is IN London, but its streets are hardly thronged with celebrities nor its pubs with A&R Men and Pop Stars.

    They all seemed to be in GRATE spirits when I arrived tho, and impressed with the facilities - the Fox IS indeed a SMASHING place, I always have a good time there ESPECIALLY now that they actually sell NICE beer. I had a delightful chat with them as I admired their differently staged BEARDS. They're all growing BEARDS this year, which is a laudable intent, tho some of them were NOTICEABLY hairier than others. I guess that's the way it goes.

    Mr J Yeah came in at that point, and thus began my general GADDING ABOUT, as the whole KOOBA KREW (Lewisham Branch) were in effect, and, slightly disconcertingly, Paul and Sarah and, less disconcertingly Nick Who Lives In Lewisham, from The Chemistry Experiment BUNCH. It was GRATE.

    Aside from the YAKKING there was also some ROCK in the shape of The Bonsai Kittens, who were dead good - I'd heard them several times on Kooba, but live they were even more good, mostly because of all the talking. I do like a band who'll talk to the audience, and they really WENT for it, keeping going until it got to something funny and then going into song again. INDEED, with their gtr/bass/drum machine POWER DUO line-up it reminded me of a Lady version of VOON.

    After that those cheeky Plans & Apologies got up and ROCKED - they've lost their drummer recently (surely he'll be in the last place they put him down?) but this doesn't seem to have had any effect, as their shared the STOOL CHORES between them, and it still sounded as if there were about fifteen different bands all GOING AT every song. They're BLOODY GRATE, and I'm always a bit confused as to why more people haven't heard of them, for LO! if they had they would LOVE them.

    It was getting a bit late for me by this point so I said my goodbyes and headed off into the night. My journey there had been a LONG one, mired by the need for a WEE, and the trip home would doubtless be worse on BOTH counts, so I got me a taxi. The taxi driver was from Afghanistan, so we had a LONG discussion about how to Fix The Situation. Our conclusion? People need to talk to each other. So now you know!

    posted 20/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    STATS! Month Gigs Played
    Back to the STATS then - here's the one that shows which month all the gigs were played, broken down into the YEARS in which the ROCK occurred:

    Month Gigs Played


    The GRATE thing about getting all these old gigs into the system is that it DOES give us a clearer picture of what OCCURS. Last year everything was SKEWED somewhat by our Summer Tour, but this EXPANDED version does even it out a bit, and we can see that there's two particular months when THE ROCK occurs A LOT: March and October. It's easy to explain - October is when The Students Are Back, so everything kicks off again and there's LOADS of gigs. I know Students aren't SUCH a massive part of the DEAL to bands like us these days, as we're all a LITTLE BIT more "mature", but historically it's the time when venues put on more gigs as they try to FLEECE their beer money before it's all spent on... Well, beer. It's also when everybody's DEFINITELY back from their holidays and/or festivals, so PUB GIGS go LARGE.

    For similar reasons March is always busy - despite Christmas Gigs things slow down MARKEDLY in December,and promoters are too busy DRINKING and (possibly simultaneously) doing Christmas Shopping/Christmas Visiting to organise much for early on in the New Year. Come January, however, everyone's fed up with the cold and the dark, so starts BOOKING events which all start to HAPPEN in March. And THUS does the age old CYCLE of GIGS move on!

    posted 18/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    mudneddA
    One thing I forgot to mention yesterday and wanted to because it was so ACE was a tiny little bit we did on Do The Indie Kid. After the AVANT JAZZ FREAKOUT section there's some acapella vocals before it goes back to the chorus, and Tim had an IDEA for it. "We need a sort of BRRRRMMMM noise, like a car starting" he said, and we LOOKED at him. "Something building up!" he added. "AAH!" i replied, my The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions sense TINGLING, "You mean a BACKWARDS instrument!"

    So Robbie and Rich LEAPT into action and soon we had a backwards cymbal and backwards Bass SCHLOOPING up to the chorus, and sounding GRATE. We turned to look to Producer Tim, and the look of SHEER CHILDLIKE GLEE and WONDER on his face told its own story. Recording stuff is GRATE!

    posted 18/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Indietracks Vote!
    I've just seen that IndieTracks are planning to have a (nearly) ALL NEW line-up for this years festival BUT are putting it to a Public Vote to see which of last year's acts can come and play again THIS year. So if you're thinking of going this year and would like a SAY in who plays, well, there you go!

    If I was to vote, which of course would be wrong, as WE'RE IN THE LIST (not that i was planning on mentioning it) I'd base my decision on who REALLY REALLY wanted to go back and play again. You know, the sort of band who'd mention on their website, for the good of the festival, not as a feeble attempt to get people to vote for THEM or anything. That's all I'm saying!

    posted 17/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Pass Me My Jam Jar, Bring Me My Pumpkin Seeds
    I had the afternoon OFF yesterday, which was RATHER delightful - it was dead nice wandering off to the station NOT thinking "Yipes! Officially i am Working From Home, WATCH THE PHONE!" NOR "Yoinks! I must RUN lest I miss the last available Non-Ludicrously Priced tickets!" for LO! I was off to DERBY for a Recording Session.

    I got to SNUG just after three o'clock, and was greeted by BOTH Robbie and Rich, who were huddled round the bar heater. We LEAPT into action and got my vocals done for One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In, Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something (including PARALLEL UNIVERSE double-tracking...oooOoooOOOh!) and Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid. The first couple were pretty much done in one take, with some little RE-DO sections along the way, and I was Quite Pleased - earlier on in the day I'd been CONVINCED i was about to have a cold, so drank LOTS of Orange Juice and had a Lemsip which, remarkably, seemed to work!

    Vocals were the MAIN thing that needed doing, so that Emma could come in and doing HER vocals, so anything else was for THE FUN. THUS I moved on to do SPANGLY GUITAR for Do The Indie Kid, with an idea I'd had a little while ago, practiced a LOT, but never actually managed to play correctly all the way through, so we ended up doing it in BITS. My SHAME was HIGH, but it did sound pretty good. With GUITAR in hand we then did REALLY A LOT of Guitars on Leicester's Trying To Tell Me Something with not one but TWO different Very Loud Guitars. It was GRATE - I can see now why some bands end up with sixty guitar overdubs on a track: because it is SO MUCH FUN.

    Plans to then do some acoustical guitar were put on hold due to the lack of acoustical guitars, so we HAULED out the keyboards and had a go at some of THAT. It is always, i believe, a mark that Things Have Gone Well when you have time for KEYBOARDS, also known as The Instrument Of Messing Around. I had an IDEA for some Boogie Woogie Piano at the end of Best Behaviour which once again i was unable to play, so once again we did it in two bits. Thus Tim arrived, fresh from work, to find me MANICALLY playing the chord D then STOPPING for an equal length of time before HAMMERING AWAY at it again. It felt a bit daft, and i was once again ASHAMED for my inability to change from one extremely simple guitar chord to another, but once done it sounded ACE.

    At this point Producer Pattison took over The Instrument Of Messing Around - he had THORTS for MELLOTRON on The Drummer's Lament, so DID some, and did HIS bits in one go, the clever clogs. After THAT we went back to Do The Indie Kid and SLAPPED on some ATMOS in The Music Of The Future, and also a sound called The Lonely Spaceman, which seemed appropriate, both on the Mellotron. I THINK it just made the same noise whatever you played, but Tim still WENT for it, hammering away on the keys like The Muppet Composer. I also added some VOCALS to that bit, going "NANG NANG NANG" which, once done, seemed never to have NOT been there.

    STILL on that track, Tim and I popped into the live room to do some handclaps. This, i think, was my favourite bit. We stood there CLAPPING in unison, and I thought "Goodness me, this is fun" and THAT, i think, is the DEEP DARK SECRET OF ROCK: when it comes down to it, it really is just Good Clean Fun. You can dress it up in tassly hats and bullet belts, neck a bottle of heroin and inject whiskies into your eyeballs all you like, but it's all an attempt to disguise the fact that Making Music is THE SAME whether you're a raddled millionaire or a class of infant school children: FUN. I'm sure if SLASH was given scrap paper and some colouring pencils he'd make THAT an excuse to draw nudey ladies or something, but you can't hide the FACT that the Making Music is a LARK beyond compare.

    BIZARRELY, halfway through, Tim said "good guitar part there, by the way", and we were both so surprised we had to stop clapping. There's no space in the GRIM AND GRITTY world of The Serious Studio for THAT kind of nonsense! He made up for it shortly afterwards when I did my LAST task of the evening, an overdub of rhythm guitar for the VERSES of Do The Indie Kid. I couldn't play the main riff specifically as Tim wanted it, so I did it in two parts: the A chord (NER! NER NER! NER NER!) and then went back and did the WHOLE song again just playing the E (NER NER!). It was EMBARRASING, and not helped when Tim asked if HE could play the E bit. "NO!" I said, "It's bad enough as it is, without you playing it for me!" ALSO it would have meant there'd be THREE of us credited with "GTR" on the SLEEVE, and that would never do!

    By this point it was Train Panic Time, so we BURNT a CD of The Drummer's Lament for Tim to practice to (he's doing the vocals), said our cheerios, and DASHED for the station... where I found the train was half an hour late.

    This did, however, give me time for CHIPS, so it was a well fed, FUNNED UP Hibbett who journeyed back to London, and ended up being still WIRED some four hours later about how well it'd gone. This album is going to be GRATE!

    posted 17/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    STATS: Gigs Played
    SCLAIMERS first - although there has obviously been a LOT of HISTORICAL DATA recovered since last year, allowing us to reach back to distant 1988 (over half my lifetime ago. AAAAAARGGHH!!*), we should bear in mind that there are still some sizeable CHUNKS missing, especially around 1994-1996, when I did not keep very good records AT ALL. This problem is doubled because one of the REASONS i didn't keep very good records is that I was out doing GIGS in millions of different bands, so I have a strong suspicion that those years were actually a bit busier than they look. With that in mind, here's THE GRAPH:

    Gigs Played


    With that in mind, we can see that there's a VAGUELY regular patter of doing 15-25 gigs a year, at least until we get to the KRAZY TIMES of the past three years. What i DO find surprising is that it's not more than that - I remember the 90's (well, i MOSTLY remember the 90's) as a time of constant GIGGING, but compared to now I wasn't doing very much at all. Perhaps the fact that it was nearly all in Leicester made it seem like more than it actually was? It certainly did for the people who LIVED there anyway!

    It does make the LEAN years stand out a lot more, with 1998 and 2002 looking even MORE quiet now that we've got the old data in. One DISADVANTANGE of getting the historical data in, I fear, is that I've had to do away with some of the RICHNESS of the information found in last year's stats, when I was able to differentiate between solo, mixed and Validators gigs. Going back to 1998 means we've got LOADS of other line-ups, such as The Masters Of Nothing, Voon, my FORAYS into stand-up comedy, and many many MANY MORE. We can still, however, identify WHEN in the year those gigs happened, and that'll be the subject of our NEXT Stat Blat.

    * SIDEBAR: last night I was looking online for the words to "Ask" by The Smiths, and found THIS page, with a rather sweet correspondence at the bottom between, I guess, YOUNG fans who have absolutely no idea what Morrisey's on about when he mentions "the bomb". No matter how ghastly the world gets, it's nice to know that's ONE bloody horrible thing that, if not totally removed, has at least drifted far enough away from IMMINENT THREAT to be unknown to The Kids.

    posted 16/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    STATS! Average Day Of The Week For Gigs
    Right then, things seem to be ticking along so I think it's about time we got on with the annual STRATAGANZA! For those who wish to cross check the data, last year's stats are still available over here, and I'm going to try and go through and recreate most of the charts and tables from then. THIS time, however, as well as having a whole batch of extra 21st Century information we've ALSO got data going back all the way to the primitive pre-historic times of the 1980s! What was going on, back when we ROCKED 'neath The Shadow Of The Bomb? Here's some FACT!

    Average Day Of The Week For Gigs


    The reason I do a graph for Day Of The Week is that it's a ROUGH way of showing Progress. Sunday is the crappest day to do a gig, as everyone's knackered from Saturday and/or not wanting to be out before the first day back at work, while Saturday is the BEST for precisely the opposite reasons. THUS we can see from this graph that since 1998, when I first started the SOLO ROCK, I have gradually averaged gigs later and later in the week, getting slightly better gigs as I've moved along. I _think_ the fact that the average goes DOWN after 2004 is because I started doing a HUGE amount more gigs after that, and so the days of the week got a lot more scattered about just so I could fit them in. That's my excuse anyway.

    But look at the gigs before then - the peaks in 1994 and 1998 correspond with the heights of Voon Classic and the Voon Reunion gigs when we were playing a LOT, but apparently also playing WELL. Back then we (or I, in the various other bands that I was in at the time) were playing almost ENTIRELY in Leicester, so one could suggest that this is a symptom of the fact that Voon were FAIRLY well known amongst the gigging community in the city at that time, so tended to get asked to do weekend gigs more often. Or maybe everybody just liked Voon more than ME!

    Answers may also come from the NUMBER of gigs played - that's next!

    posted 15/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Weekend OUTPUT
    WHAT an Active weekend i have just had. It commenced on Friday with a night out featuring some of my oldest PALS, and we had a GRATE time, featuring BOOZE. It was lovely, although i must once again draw the attention of pub landlords to the VIRUSES that seem to populate so many of our public houses, for when I woke up next day i felt AWFUL. Come on, sort it out, if i wanted to feel worse LEAVING an institution than when I went in I'd check myself into hospital!

    I BRAVELY battled on through the mysterious headache, dry mouth and BOWELFULNESS of the rest of the day and got quite a lot of Creative Type Stuff DONE. I've got a Recording Session this Wednesday so dutifully sat down and PRACTICED doing my singing, as well as working through and RE-WRITING a couple of songs. Most notable of these is One Of The Walls Of My House Fell In, which has had the whole of the last verse re-done. I've never really been happy with it in its previous form, which featured a list of ENTIRELY FICTIONAL Girls, rejecting my advances. It felt NAUGHTY to be so cavalier with the truth, so I moved it in a different direction and THEN found myself SWERVING from my traditional Here Is The Moral Of The Story at the end and doing something slightly different. I like it, and sang it MANY times.

    I also got on and wrote a couple of new articles for my Tales From The Conference League column in Sandman Magazine. I thought this had totally ground to a halt, as I'd not heard anything from them for MONTHS, but it turned out I'd just left them a LARGE stockpile which they've now worked through. I'm WELL chuffed to be doing them again I must admit, as I do rather like it - the first few (which you can see on the updated list of previous articles, should you so wish) were a bit WORTHY but after a while it changed into something like My Exciting Life In ROCK, and I think, if I get to keep doing it, I'll try doing a few stories from gigs BEFORE 1997, when My Exciting Life In ROCK starts. There are MANY stories.

    I also did a MASSIVE BODGE JOB pretty much GLUING some brackets for a blind to a wall, I'd like to think this ALSO was Being Creative, tho it may turn up to Being Cranally Wounded when I try to put the actual blind up tonight...

    posted 14/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Official Number One UnOfficial Fighting Cocks FanSite Homepage. Official!
    I left work last night heading for a Fighting Cocks gig with my TFL JourneyPlanner map securely secreted in my back pocket. I was feeling a bit POORLY and was starting to worry about whether i was about to get The Old Ailment again, and was thus DISTRACTED from noticing that said map had fallen out of my pocket on the way to the tube. I briefly considered going home and to BED, but BRAVELY decided to carry on, so headed off to Caledonian Road, as instructed by TFL.

    Handily i pretty much remember the name of the road I needed to walk down, so trundled along it getting more and more SCARED, as it made its way through a SERIES of Scary Estates. You know the sort of place I mean - probably absolutely FINE, but in the dark, with HOODED YOUTHS wandering around and years of TV DRAMA in my mind i was a bit SCARED, especially as I was going to be walking back that way much later on, and the sight of two Community Police Officers wandering past only made me think "YOINKS! Are they NEEDED then?"

    I got to York Way with an HOUR to spare so went to find something to eat - i was JUST about to settle for Nasty Kebab Shop Nasty Chips when i saw a BALTI HOUSE! HOOPLA! As is the norm, BALTI turned out to be PRECISELY the medicine I required, and roughly an hour later i was STRIDING down the road to the venue, feeling MUCH better about life and living in it... until I discovered NO PUB.

    I walked around and around for a bit and even asked some locals, but to no avail, so rang CHARLIE who instructed me to walk back into town. TFL seems to be acting PECULIARLY at the moment, and checking now it seems to want to send me to different places, and thinking back the only OTHER time I've had trouble with it was when I was going to see ANOTHER Fighting Cocks gig. Have they OFFENDED the TFL JourneyPlanner somehow?

    Anyway i was soon bounding along and saw a) The Eurostar and b) a FOX, which is always CHEERING and arrived at The Cross Kings in HIGH SPIRITS. Maybe it's just because it was my First Gig Of The Year (and first time unaccompanied in a pub for about THREE WEEKS!) but it seemed to me a LOVELY place, and with surprisingly OK beer too, especially for a VENUE. I WALTZED through to the gig area, and it was only after a few TRAVERSES from pub to venue that I realised there was someone on the door, by which time i had WALTZED too often to confess my mistake, so kept doing it. TOP TIPS for Free Gigs: just WALTZ through like you own the place, approximately 80% of the time you'll get away with it: FACT.

    It was a full Fighting Cocks line-up and everyone was hithering and thithering getting CLOTHED and so forth. Before them were a Psycobilly Band who were... well, they were OK but were VERY polite, which is of course GOOD but seemed to distract a bit from the overall Pysobilly idea. They DID have a lot of pals with them, who were a mixture of Proper Psysobillies (Mohican Quiffs and Tatoos) and People They Worked With (suits with tie loosened), which would turn out to be a REALLY GOOD THING.

    The Cocks went on and were instantly GRATE. The sound was really good, there was JUST enough room for everyone to dance, and everyone REALLY DANCED. The five of them looked like a Mirror Universe Spice Girl Reunion (with Sporty in the middle looking butch), it was a WHIRL of arms and legs and general GO. As I always say, the current line-up is ACE, they act like a BAND together and they're ALL Making An Effort and doing the choreographed dance moves BUT it's such a bunch of strong personalities that everyone ends up looking completely different. AND they all look like they're having a BRILLIANT time.

    Sometimes this doesn't get over to the audience, possibly because I've seem them quite a few times playing to audiences of MEDIA TYPES/Shoreditch Wankers/THAT sort, who are far to COOL to be seen to be enjoying themselves. This was very much NOT the case last night. Let's be honest, if you're going to go out dressed as a PsychoBilly you're NOT going to be too bothered about what other people think of you, and also, COUNTER-INTUITIVELY, the sound of the Fighting Cocks really WORKED in that environment, so they gradually started dancing too - semi-ironically at first, but very quickly with GUSTO. The other half of the audience were Normal Human Beings out for a good time so THEY joined in too, and by the end it was like a gig off the TELLY, it felt like the entire ROOM was leaping up and down.

    My favourite part of this was Charlie trying to give instructions to the soundman to turn the sound up ... or maybe turn it down. It was hard to tell as he was indicating with his hands while POGOING, so you couldn't be sure.

    It was FANTASTIC, an opinion shared with Mr A Malloy of Kooba Radio (who informs me of a SCHEME he has to have the song A Million Ukeleles performed by... well, not a million, but a LOT of ukeleles. I support his endevour) who I spoke to afterwards. I know I always go on about them, but The Fighting Cocks really ARE GRATE, honest, see them if you can!

    I headed off into the night, having remember to return the camera upon which I had taken a LOT of fairly low quality photographs, relieved that in the end I WASN'T going to have to walk through scary estates, and full of The Joy Of Gigs. Also, BEER.

    posted 11/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Glamourous Pals
    There I was listening to the radio yesterday afternoon, when all of a sudden Tom Robinson comes on and says, in a Tom Robinson-y way, "HI! On my show tonight, Ukelele Action with The Bobby McGees!" HOORAH! Thinks I - i must listen! It was GRATE - everything SOUNDED brilliant, as one might expect (tho now augmented with WIND INSTRUMENTS!), but my favourite bits were the INTERVIEW section, which was HILARIOUS - I have known Jimmy for a LONG old while, and so am USED to his CHEEKY-NESS, but Tom Robinson very much wasn't. OH how i LARFED, especially when he fell for the old "Get us on the Glastonbury bill Tom" GAG. As ever, i HIGHLY recommend them to ALL - here's their myspace and here's the Tom Robinson show for Listen Again ACTION - it was Tuesday!

    Still full of GRINS from listening to that and thinking "Aaah, hasn't he done well?" I headed off this lunchtime to TRAFALGAR SQUARE in That London. There's this thing called GetReady London (or something like that) which is PARTLY about finding a band to start the Olympic Games off, and they were having a DO in the square to launch it. And of course, if you're going to pick a band to be involved with that, you're going to pick THE FIGHTING COCKS aren't you? Of COURSE!

    It was GRATE - I arrived to find a couple of those inflatable tents that look like upside down bouncy castles, with Charlie, Anna and Ilaria standing around outside looking SHIFTY. A lady came on and did some of that Very Pretty But Incredibly DULL Folk Music which, as usual with these sort of ARTISTES, took TEN MINUTES. Ten minutes! When she was done The Cocks LEAPT into action, plugged in their CD, and SPRUNG into their one and only song, The One with "Beer" And "England".

    It was FANTASTIC - there was pom poms, there was dancing, there was TOASTING and there was Charlie shouting "COME ON! LOUDER!" at me, Anna's boyfriend, and about twenty BEMUSED tourists, including, at the end, a bunch of teenage boys on a school trip who were QUITE interested when they heard the music and A LOT interested when they saw LADIES DANCING.

    I walked back to work with a MASSIVE daft grin on my face - i LOVE gigs like that, you can say what you like about Respected Venues and Prestigious Support Slots,but it's the LUDICROUS gigs that you remember and get to talk about for All Your Years, and they're the ones that make it all FUN. And this time I didn't even have to do it myself!

    posted 9/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Journeys in TIME
    I'm sure the interweb world at LARGE has already realised this, as they've been clicking REFRESH manically since before Christmas, but just in case - i've started putting new episodes of "My Exciting Life In ROCK" up on the Pop Art Digest. I'm going to keep on with the PLAN to do these every Tuesday and Thursday, and so I'm TRYING to get ahead of myself in the writing of them. My FRANKLY UNLIKELY plan is to get SIX WEEKS ahead of myself so that I can go back TO THE START and write up some of the really old gigs, but as I've only ever managed to get ONE week ahead so far, and always seen that get swallowed up by Not Being Bothered To Do More, it does seem a bit unlikely.

    Still, in a New Year bid to show willing I spent a happy hour or so digging back through The Archives, working out which gigs would be worth writing about, and on the way discovered quite a LOT of gigs and, especially, Radio Sessions that were unlogged on The Database Of ROCK. I had a RUDIMENTARY root through a couple of months ago when I started the BLOGGUM and thought I'd dug out all the stories worth telling, but as I've gone through it I've remembered all SORTS of other things. I've now done twenty of them, but have yet to reach item EIGHT on my original list - all these OTHER stories keep popping up, and over the next few weeks there's going to be a LOT about the release of Say It With Words, when i got all excited and told our lovely plugging company, Overground, that I'd do ANY radio sessions, WHEREVER they were. THUS I spent many MANY happy hours on trains to places like Bristol and Middlesborough.

    Of course, i've learnt SO much since then, and would NEVER spend about twenty times as long GETTING to and from a gig as I would actually playing it... Which ANTI-REMINDS me, on a totally different TIP: we've booked ourselves an APARTMENT to stay in when we play DURHAM! WE IS THE CLASSY!

    posted 8/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Gigs And Gigs And Gigs
    Today my head is SPINNING with GIGS, past present and future. Much of the weekend was spent in frenzied discussion of forthcoming Vlads gigs in Durham, Leeds and London, as negotiations and organisation went on to get a surprisingly LARGE number of us into position. Rather delightfully, Tom has suggested that INSTEAD of going to a service station for breakfast on the way back from Durham (where, I am reliably informed, the gig is happening above a CHIPPY - RAH!) we drop into the Black Sheep Brewery instead. Who am i to disagree?

    We've also been getting sorted with recording sessions, and appear to have THREE seperate sessions booked now. Going on past evidence i am CONVINCED that almost NONE of them will actually happen, but if they do then we'll be WELL on the way to getting the album DONE, and also MAYBE sorting out tracks for a SINGLE. Again, this may all come to NOUGHT, but it feels good to be CHANNELLING New Year Despond through the New Year OPTIMISM filter and into ACTION! Why, i even had a SINGING PRACTICE on Saturday, i NEVER usually do that. You can probably tell.

    Meanwhile, Gigs Of The Past have been concerning me since Mr C Lawson sent me details of the three Ernie & Joe gigs we did, back in the mid-90s. This is a bit of a cloudy period in both our lives - he'd just had a BABY (oh stop it, you know what I mean) and i was in the middle of the BEER AND GOING OUT section of my life, so neither of us can recall much about it - INDEED, i was convinced we only did two gigs, but apparently not. All we both CAN remember with certainty is that, when we played The Pump & Tap, two girls in shiny silver dresses came down the front and danced a lot. Isn't it strange what the MIND recalls eh?

    SPURRED ON by that I've had done some research on other gigs, and think I've pretty much tracked down all the Durham Ox Singers gigs as well as some decidely DAFT ones, like the Ashby Magna PopFest (piss-up in someone's back garden) and The Framlingham "Festival" (playing to no-one in a shed, then later members of The Freed Unit fell in a pond). Aaah, happy days!

    And during all this, news of GIGS PRESENT - my first gig of the year is another Totally Acoustic night at The Lamb on Lamb Conduit's Street in That London, and I've now got confirmation that my Special Guest will be Sunny Intervals, aka Andy from Pocketbooks. I'm really chuffed to have got him to play, as every time i TRY and see Pocketbooks I'm either poorly, at work, or doing a gig myself, so it'll be GRATE to finally get to see even ONE of them. It should be a good night that one, i am READY to ROCK!

    posted 7/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dat Doity Rat
    Ooh, there's been a FLURRY of activity here this morning, as we've booked not one but TWO recording sessions, to BUMP START the Difficult Fourth Album, which has so far only proved difficult insofar as it's HARD getting five grown-ups TOGETHER enough to actually get on with it. I'm off to do my vocals the week after next then I'm in with The Rhythm Section the week after THAT to do the last few Basic Tracks, and in the meantime hopefully The Tiger will be in to do some more STRINGS. EXPERIENCE has shown me that it's best to BOOK loads of stuff at this time of year when New Year Enthusiasm/Post-Christmas Resolution is HIGH, before the long LETHARGY of It Still Being Dark All The Time sets in.

    MEANWHILE, in JOLLITY news, i note that the Kooba Radio Christmas Special is now available for download - it features NOT ONLY my version of "Down And Out" but lots of other RATHER GOOD versions of similar from Kooba Bands. On top of this you have Charlie from the Fighting Cocks in a Small Theatrical Role, and The Voice Of Film Four being INCREDIBLY vulgar. It's rather good!

    posted 4/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Festive Fifty
    Exciting News reached me by TEXT from Mr Whitaker over Christmas - The Lesson Of The Smiths got in at number 41 in the Dandelion Radio Festive Fifty. HOORAH! I was EXTREMELY chuffed about this, although slightly confused. I'd not made a BIG fuss about it, so i don't THINK there would have been many people just going over and voting for it, and i certainly didn't nominate a song or anything - could it be that Actual Human People That I DON'T Know had heard it and like it? Is that POSSIBLE?

    It felt really good anyway, and a lovely CAP for a year where it felt like we REACHED OUT a bit. Of course, my happiness was ONLY INCREASED when i found out that Mr Pete Green was HIGHER UP than us, with "Sparkly" - as anyone who knows me in ROCK will be perfectly clear about, i have NO sense of competitiveness WHATSOEVER, and if it ever LOOKS like I am plotting to wipe out ALL OTHER BANDS, that's actually how i look when i'm INCREDIBLY PLEASED that people I really like have done well.

    BUT SERIOUSLY, it does feel like there is Something Occurring when SEVERAL of "Us" do quite well like this, and the very fact there IS any kind of "Us" is a BRILLIANT difference from a few years ago - I'm always WARY of SCENES, as I think they STOP bands from going out and playing to new people, but the current INDIEPOP scene does appear to be geographically spread out enough to stop that happening to much. Or maybe i WOULD say that, since we're partly IN it?

    Anyway, it's all GRATE, and the FACT that GOOD PEOPLE like Pete are getting some recognition is a thing of BEAUTY. That said - The Bobby McGees were even higher! CALL THE ASSASINATION SQUAD!

    posted 3/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Getting Back To Normal
    Hello everyone, and happy new year! Already today i've completed TWO of my New Year's PLANS: I got to work at a Reasonable Time and i had an Extra Walk to get here. Actually, i DIDN'T eat tons of food whilst doing so, so I guess that makes it three doesn't it? Whatever, I must say i am THOROUGHLY enjoying the gradual resumption of Normal Service. I did have a very nice Christmas, saw lots of people, got about and did a LOT, but it's EXTREMELY pleasant to feel things fitting back into The Old Grooves. If only I could also fit into my pre-Christmas TROUSERS quite as easily.

    As part of that return to the NORM there's some UPDATES whipping up around the site - I've finally put together a PDF version of the booklet for A Million Ukeleles, which you can download HERE, and I'm just about to update the GIGS pages too. I've also nearly finished the first episode of My Exciting Life In ROCK for 2008, which will be up on the PopArt Digest tomorrow, all being well.

    It's nice to be back!

    posted 2/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett
    (click here for permanent link)

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