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Blog Archive: February 2008

The Insane Glamour Of ROCK
Last night I went to a GIG, and pretty much as USUAL it was The Fighting Cocks! It was just around the corner from my work at The Metro, which was EXTREMELY handy as it meant I could pop round the corner for a PINT with Charlie while he waited for his soundcheck. We then went to the venue and found a LAD from the last band, who offered to ring him when it was his turn, so we went and had another - this, i feel, is EXCELLENT Gig Management!

The HANDINESS meant I could also pop back to work while the soundcheck went on and enjoy the traditional sport of Very Slightly Tipsy Amazon shopping. HOORAH! There's a Mambo Taxi album on it's way to me NOW, thanks, The Beer!

Back at the venue we were chatting away when we spotted Jody From THE RADIO come in. She's worked at the NME and all sorts of things, but MOST IMPORTANTLY she grew up in Deeping St James, as indeed did Georgina, the PAL she'd come with, so we had a BRILLIANT time going "Deeping St Nicholas! The Bell!" and so forth. It was GRATE, especially when it turned out Georgina's Grandad had BEEN James The Baker.

If you grew up in Deeping St James in the 1970s, you would now be saying "WOW! James The Baker!" One of my earliest EVER memories is going there to buy Hot Cross Buns with my Dad - why, that must have been... er... quite a while ago.

Anyway, we broke up the reminiscing to watch The Fighting Cocks, who if anything are getting EVEN MORE BRILLIANT. Most impressive this time was the FRIGHTENINGLY Choreographed Pom Pom routines, but the whole thing was an RIOT of leaping around dancing FUN. I know I always always say this, but it is because it is true: The Fighting Cocks are BLOODY GRATE!

So it was with a MASSIVE GRIN all over my chops that i wandered the few feet out of the door and into the tube station for home, thinking happy thoughts of the smell of baking from James The Baker... Mmmm! Lovely!

posted 29/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Back At The Mixing Desk
More Transferable Skills ACTION for me last night, as I spent several hours at home hunched over the computer MASTERING the FAWM album. I say "mastering", but that may be to make it sound a bit more CLEVER than it really was, as what I was ACTUALLY doing was going through thinking "I wonder what the difference is between Normalisation and just increasing the volume? How does compression work? Why do tambourines always come out so LOUD?" There was a LOT of staring at WAV GRAPHS, application of LIMITERS, and trying to work out whether one song sounded EVER SO SLIGHTLY louder than another. For our most recent couple of Proper Efforts we've sent everything up to The Snug and they've squirted it all through one of their Magic Loudness Machines, but as I'd done everything else at home I thought I ought to finish it off there too.

And I must say, tho i say so myself as shouldn't, it's all sounding Surprisingly Good. As i was remarking to Mr FA Machine the other day, it's like I've stumbled on an entire album that I recorded unconsciously. I can remember BITS of certain songs, but the FACT i did it at such a PACE means I've never really gone back and listened to it that much, and have sort of assumed it'd be 50% rubbish, but I don't think it is. Of course, i ALWAYS think that when I demo new songs and am SOON disabused by The Validators!

The plan now is to make the finished article available to any newsletter subscribers who'd like one over the weekend (and ONLY over the weekend!), then send it to the CD manufacturers next week. In the meantime I'm going to put the updated versions up on my FAWM page - they should now be of a reasonably similar volume, and a couple have been remixed a bit to sort them out. I must say, I've REALLY enjoyed this PROJECT, tho I'm glad it's 11 months until I even have to THINK about doing it again!

posted 28/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Confusion Resolution
I seem to have caused a bit of confusion with the last blog - UNDERSTANDABLE, as it was confusing ME, but allow me to try and clarify matters.

Basically, there have been TWO large-scale mailouts in my mind. The FIRST was just to people on the Promo Mailing List (radio, fanzines etc) to ask them if they had a record player, ready for when i send out copies of our new single. If you didn't get that email, don't worry, it was JUST to the few people on that list! The single itself will be officially released on April 7th BUT people on the normal newsletter mailing list will be able to get it a few days early, if they'd like to.

The SECOND mailout I was on about is THIS month's newsletter, which will be going out as usual on The Last Working Day Of The Month (Friday). In THIS you will find details of how to order the EXTREMELY limited edition version of my FAWM album, which will only be available until Monday. If you've not had that email, FEAR NOT, it hasn't been sent yet!

Sorry for any confusion there, but thanks very much to the people who DID panic about it, it made me feel all warm inside to know you were worried!

posted 27/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Swan: Still Paddling
I'm very conscious of the fact that things may have gone ever so slightly quiet here on the blog. This is not because nothing is going on, FAR FROM IT, it's because LOTS is occurring which is EITHER preventing me from doing this bit OR is just a continuation of other things previously mentioned and, as i'm sure everyone is well aware, i would NEVER repeat myself. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. (etc)

For instance, as part of my preparations for the new single I have done myself an ACTION PLAN. This is partly to make sure everything gets done and partly to stop myself worrying about it. This has been DEAD useful as i am also working on a PARALLEL project to do my FAWM songs as a proper album, and there are Multiple Cross Pollination Opportunities e.g. I'm probably going to Colour Photocopy the covers for said FAWM album, in a way which will leave about a third of a sheet of A3 FREE, which i can use (i realised with a BLINDING FLASH yesterday) for the covers for the promo CDs of the single! CUNNING huh?

THUS yesterday I followed the plan and emailed everyone a) who is on the mailing list b) whose email I have and c) whose Record Player Ownership i am unsure of, to ask them if whether they have the ability to play singles. DELIGHTFULLY many of them have already replied, with EXTRA info included too, such as the FACT that there's going to be a review of A Million Ukeleles in the next issue of Rock N Reel Magazine. COOL HUH?

TODAY I have been Self-TASKED with doing the onbody artwork for both the promo CDs AND for the FAWM album - which, BY THE WAY, is going to also feature the COLLABORATION between me and Tom Lardpony, which was finished off today. It's HERE if you fancy a listen. I did the words, Tom did the rest, including a RATHER LOVELY Guitar Solo. NICE!

So, as you can probably tell from the slightly BOGGLE EYED nature of this post, it is all GO here at the moment. Hopefully I will have some covers and Ordering Details for one or both of these items by the end of the week and, as stated previously, a VERY EXCLUSIVE OFFER for people who've signed up for the newsletter. Stayed tuned for more FACT!

posted 26/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Scene
Still in my previously mentioned ROCK STAR HOTEL, I awoke in THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and thought "I wish it was 6 o'clock or something, then I could just get up and go home." It was QUARTER TO, which was near enough, so at 6.30 AM (AM!) I was on the train back to THAT LONDON. Getting the RIDICULOUSLY EARLY TRAIN is always lovely, except in ONE particular point: it is RIDICULOUSLY EARLY, so although it meant that I was home for breakfast it also meant that i was KNACKERED all day. What i needed was the Rejuvenating Power of ROCK.

HANDILY this was readily available to me, as The Cereal In My Breakfast Bowl and I had TICKETS to go and see The Atomic Beat Records ROADSHOW at the Betsy Trotwood. This was pretty much the EXACT OPPOSITE of the night before, it was like being in a room with almost EVERYBODY i have ever met through ROCK. Before we'd even got through the front door we'd said hello to about a MILLION people, and once inside it was like the GLAMOROUS INDIEPOP version of HEAT magazine - half the night was spent with me whispering breathless MINI-BIOS into the ear of The Headline Of My Main Story as another ROCK LEGEND hoved into view.

I had a GRATE time, and also, BANDS! This ALSO was brilliant - Mr Pete Green kicked off to a PACKED downstairs room (it was a SELLOUT SHOW!!), and did my favourite ("One Monday Morning") AND i got to hear the New One about NME Best Band Supported By Shockwave, which was GRATE. After that we got our second dose of Pocketbooks for the year, and we, frankly, BOOGIED. I think I may have said this before, but it is SUCH a relief that Pocketbooks are SO VERY GRATE. After AGES of hearing about them and never actually getting to see them it would have been AWFUL if they were RUBBISH or something, but thankfully they were QUITE the contrary, and it was really Quite Exciting. Always A Good Sign At Gigs: the members of the band who don't have microphones, singing along anyway. This happened A LOT with Pocketbooks, it was FAB.

FINALLY we watched Parallelograms who were EXCELLENT VALUE as ever - especially ending EVERY song with "2-3-4 CLANG!" Call me NON-ROCK if you will, but it was just all so NICE, and we managed to MISS the last band by sitting around upstairs CHATTING to people. This was perhaps a bit daft, as they were from ABROAD and i wouldn't get the chance to see them again, as opposed to all the others who I will have AMPLE chance to hopefully see again, but there were just SO MANY really nice people there. As I said before, i sometimes get INTEGRITY CRISIS about, you know, hanging round with so many dead nice people who i really like who do GIGS, but also it sometimes FREAKS ME OUT a bit. I spent years - DECADES! - doing gigs and not being in any kind of SCENE at all. There'd be bands I knew and liked who were scattered all over the place and neither knew each other NOR were particularly liked by many people at all. In the last couple of years, however, we seem to have somehow fallen into a whole INDIEPOP CROWD full of GRATE bands, Friendly Promoters, Excitable Label Owners and LOADS of Actual Nice Human Beings who want to go to gigs.

I am at a loss to explain how on EARTH it could have happened, and especially how WE managed to get to hang around with them, but not since (er...) around 1993/1994, when everyone hanging round the MAG was in a band and Cornershop and Prolapse were in Proper Bands On labels, has if felt so GRATE to be part of - HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS - a SCENE. I am sure that at any time soon someone will notice us standing in the doorway and politely ask us to LEAVE, but at the moment it is LOVELY! Gigs, they are GRATE!

posted 24/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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UnScene
Sometimes I suffer from a CRISIS OF INTEGRITY! It is, frankly, a bit daft but it works like THIS: when i/we do a few really nice gigs in a row, when people we know and like turn up and everyone's friendly and it's a pleasant place to be and the WORDS are known and we go down well, then i PANIC. "BUT!" I think, "Are we not turning into one of those bands I always use to DISDAIN?" A band who only play to their friends, who only do EASY gigs, and never make an effort to reach out further? FOR LO! if we only EVER play to people who like us, doesn't that make us SOFT? Doesn't that mean we become UNUSED to WORKING, and so when TOUGH GIGS do come up, we will be unable to COPE?"

Now, i know there is a Simple Logical Flaw in all this: sometimes bands play gigs to people who like them BECAUSE MORE THAN TWO PEOPLE LIKE THEM, but most of my thoughts in this direction were during the (long long long time) when this was very much NOT the case for this, and it became INGRAINED. Nowadays we are in the FANTASTIC position whereby almost TEN people cam be named who DO like us, as so GOOD/FUN Gigs tend to crop up more often. But still, when people come to more than one gig in the space of a year, i start to get my INTEGRITY CRISIS.

With this in mind, let me escort you back in time to LEICESTER on Friday night, where we'd gathered for Mr Steve Haggis's Birthday DO. It was just the Cleator Moor Validators, and as we weren't required to do a soundcheck we spent a CHARMING hour or so sitting around having a CHAT and discussing BUSINESS - this was actually DEAD GOOD and between us we managed to pretty well SCHEDULE all the forthcoming ROCK PROJECTS for the year ahead. It needed doing.

We ambled upstairs to see Eastfield who, I MUST BE TOTALLY HONEST, i was not expecting to enjoy particularly. I was expecting a Typical Punk Band, playing everything VERY FAST, VERY LOUD and VERY BORINGLY. You see those sort of bands A LOT, and though I'm sure it was very TERRIFYING to the state in 1978 nowadays it is a bit dull. HOWEVER! They were NOTHING LIKE THAT AT ALL. The sound was (almost bizarrely) GRATE and everything was AUDIBLE, and also SOUNDING GRATE! It was all TUNES and SHOUTY BITS and CHORUSES and ... well, they may not thank me for thinking it, but it was all DEAD POPPY, also FUN, also ACE. Oh they were really good, and I fear i may have gone ON a bit about it to them later. It was GRATE!

Our set was a bit less so, I think. I think we PLAYED all right, the delightful people who'd asked us/come to see us seemed to like it, but for the rest of the audience, we were NOT what they were after. Nobody was IMPOLITE or anything, but it very much did NOT feel like one of those "easy" gigs I was so disparaging of as a YOUTH. THIS is what we played:
  • The Gay Train
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • Do not misunderstand me - we had a LOVELY night, it was GRATE to be asked to and also TO play at Steve's Do, it was just one of those times when we did not CROSS OVER to a Different Audience. Or maybe it was just that we didn't do the CMV THEME TUNE, Mental Judo - perhaps THAT was what was required to win over THE PUNKS?

    Anyway, there was more BEER, more DISCUSSION, and more CHAT to the various lovely people who'd asked us over and/or come to watch us, and it was a happy Hibbett who got a lift back to HIS HOTEL (ROCK! STAR!) that night.

    posted 24/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Whole Other Album!
    Here's a THORT I've just had - GET READY!

    The other night The Olives In My Olive Bowl and I went for DRINKIES at Mr John Kell's CLUB. Oh yes, he has a CLUB and it is a RIGHT posh one too, it was MOST impressive. While we were there he asked whether I was going to release my February Album Writing Month ALBUM as an ACTUAL album. My initial thought was "NO!" but on maturer reflection I thought "No, really no" because... well, some of them aren't NECESSARILY the kind of thing I would normally EMIT. INDEED, that has been sort of the point, for me, in doing it - to let my BRANE have a go at doing things I wouldn't normally do, FREE of the FEAR of putting it on a record.

    HOWEVER, at 11o'clock last night I had a GRATE idea for a way i could PACKAGE such an item (and it really IS a GRATE idea!), although it would be a bit LABOUR INTENSIVE to make. However, just NOW, i realise I could make, say FORTY of them and do them for a fiver a go for people on the mailing list. That'd be OK, I think - it would only be heard amongst FRIENDS, and it would be a nice sort of thing for people who wanted it.

    So i THINK that's what I'll do - stand by for FACT on HOW to get hold of it, should you want it, in the newsletter, and if you've not signed up so far, please do so!

    posted 22/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Like A Swan's Feet
    It may seem QUIET here on the old blog at the moment, but GOODNESS ME, 'neath the surface it is all go as we start to start up the motors for this year's ROCKING.

    Today's main business has been trying to ORGANISE ourselves ready for a SLEW of GIGS, some booked and some in the AIR. The most EXCITING of these is occuring in Nottingham on May 1st, when we will be playing with our own, our very own, Mr Frankie Machine and also the IMMENSE LEGEND (also, lovely chap) Mr Phil Wilson! We are SOMEWHAT excited about this, it's not often you get to play with one of the very ARCHITECTS OF INDIE, especially one who has emerged, KING ARTHUR LIKE, from decades of slumber. It will, i think, be QUITE GOOD.

    The other gigs are around the same time and, I think, are working out RATHER NICELY to be officially termed as a TOUR for the SINGLE. This is especialy pleasing to me as it means I don't have to BOOK any more, which is always a bit scary. The rather unexpected side effect of all this excitement is that it has FRIGHTENED me slightly - i am very MUCH in Record Label mode at the moment, only yesterday i APPROVED ARTWORK for the single, after liaising with our ART DIRECTOR, and the thought of dashing about all of a sudden doing a bunch of gigs in close proximity fills me slightly with NERVES. I am having to think calm thoughts, most notably "these are all at least a couple of months away AND far apart from each other, it will be FINE" but it is STRANGE how quickly my BRANE switches from GIG MONSTER like it was last year over to CAPTAIN CARDIGAN.

    I'm also WHITTLING about EDINBURGH and putting the album out, neither of which is going to happen for at least six MONTHS as yet. Maybe this is why LABEL EXECUTIVES have to spend so much money on MASSAGES, to relieve the STRESS? Somebody fetch me a CIGAR and some sunglasses, i fear i may PANIC!

    posted 20/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Form Filling And Neil Gaiman
    I spent a LARGE part of this weekend TOILING over forms and burning CDs, ready to send Do The Indie Kid transformed into 300 real live vinyl SINGLES, and 0-Infinity virtual Online Downloads. As usual I had half forgotten what an old FAFF it is to get it all organised (THIS, i guess, is why LABELS exist!) and COMPLETELY forgotten how expensive vinyl singles are. CRIKEY! It's going to cost more than it did to put the last ALBUM out, for about 1/3 as many copies! NOW i remember how amazed I was when we did the FIRST album, by how CHEAP is was compared to vinyl singles.

    STILL, hopefully it will be an item of BEAUTY - release date is now VERY tentatively set for 7 April, tho it will be available to pre-order a week or so beforehand for people on the mailing list. ALSO, I'm planning to send it out to some Indie Discos, so any top tips gratefully received!

    The OTHER thing I did over the weekend was GOGGLE in WONDER as the hits for the Alan Moore song pretty much DOUBLED over Saturday night. I logged on on Sunday morning to find a FLOOD of emails about it, and wondered what on earth could have happened. As it turns out, the reason was that it got mentioned by the MIGHTY Neil Gaiman on his blog. Neil Gaiman! That's bonkers, ESPECIALLY as he properly embedded it so, right in the middle of learned talk of book tours and The Writing Process, there's me and my ukelele, BELLOWING!

    It's lovely when things like that happen - it's what i REALLY like about doing this whole Business Of Rock in the sort of half-arsed/Gentleman Amateur type way that we do it, rather than trying to be Corporate or Rock about it. Although it means i DO have to spend large parts of a weekend filling in forms that other people would have OFFICES full of people to do for them, it also means that lovely things like this have a habit of happening. Status: CHUFFED!

    posted 18/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Always Take Care Of Your Regulars
    In all the EXCITEMENT of Edinburgh and Singles and that sort of thing it is, I feel, easy to forget some of the Aspects Of ROCK that simply trundle along quite happily on a daily basis, so HEY! Let's have a look at a couple of them shall we?

    First up, in case you've not been looking, the My Exciting Life In ROCK blog over on the PopArt Digest continues to be updated every Tuesday and Thursday. I'm actually about two weeks AHEAD of myself on this one at the moment, so service should be provided on a fairly regular basis - COMING SOON: BOMBS! Weddings! VIOLENCE! Discussion of the state of the national rail network! WHOO!

    Meanwhile, I'm continuing KEEPING ON with February Album Writing Month. I've now got EIGHT songs up there and available for your listening pleasure - I've slowed down a bit this week, but I'm hoping to get a move on over the weekend and get into double figures. I'm still REALLY enjoying it I must say!

    And finally, I've just updated the Totally Acoustic website with lots of PROPER information. I realised that just sticking a flyer up for the gig before last was perhaps NOT the best utilisation of such a FUNKY domain name (www.totallyacoustic.com! YEAH!), so have now stuck up some actual INFORMATION, especially to do with it just being a function room, not a gig venue! I've just broken one of my MAIN MANIFESTO PLEDGES for this, in that I'm now booked TWO gigs in advance, rather than just one. I've not wanted to book too far ahead with it, for fear of it getting to NORMAL. I've seen too many gig promoters (INDEED, have BEEN one) who've started off putting on just bands they really like then ended up HAVING to book bands they couldn't care less for just to fill up spaces, so am trying very hard to keep Totally Acoustic SPECIAL. However, the chance of booking a) The Bobby McGees in March and b) Frankie Machine in April, was NOT to be passed up.

    If I start getting Ticketmaster to organise the whip round tho, THAT is when I'll have SOLD OUT!

    posted 15/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Let's Make This The Big One For Validators
    The big news of the moment is that Tim did a final FINAL mix of Do The Indie Kid on Monday night (we had a DETAIL CONFERENCE by phone when I was heading home from Edinburgh) which has somehow managed to sound EVEN MORE GRATE than the previous one, which was VERY GRATE. We've all got a bit excited about it, it sounds like a PROPER SINGLE now, with all sorts of BITS in it and PRODUCTION.

    Similarly there's a new version of The Drummer's Lament too, now with MORE vocals, LESS reverb, and slightly LESS ALARMING Miners' Choir. It's all rather FAB - I'm just finalising the ARTWORK (designed by Tim, formatted by MOI), have got a QUOTE from the manufacturers, and am just waiting for the CD to arrive of the MASTER and then we are GO GO GO for launch!

    I've also ordered a couple of hundred 7 Inch Single MAILERS too, for the promo copies and, hopefully, SALES! Ooh, it's been AGES since we did a proper vinyl single, it's going to be BRILL.

    I may even buy a record player!

    posted 14/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Edinburgh
    Slightly bleary eyed, but full of EXCITEMENT, I met Mr S Hewitt outside WHSmiths at King's Cross at 10am (ON A SUNDAY), ready for our trip to the distant North where we were to undertake a RECCE of venues for doing My Exciting Life In ROCK: The SHOW. We supplied ourselves with SUPPLIES, found decent seats, and off we went.

    It is a LONG LONG LONG way to Edinburgh, tho happily we were travelling on the East Coast Line (FANTASTIC Scenery, some of the most impressive Stations in the country, views of many Cathedrals, STUNNING views of Lindisfarne and Berwick, The Angel Of The North etc etc etc) as opposed to the West Coast (Crewe) so there was lots to look at, also lots to DISCUSS. We got MANY aspects of The Show sorted out - not least, I was reassured to be told, that I DIDN'T have to make it like the MJ Hibbett version of "WE WILL ROCK YOU" and have every story DIRECTLY linked into a song. We also had a GRATE idea for the Multi-Media Visualisations, also for PUBLICITY.

    On arrival in Edinburgh we met Steve's friend Alex and went STRAIGH AWAY into Action, checking venues. COINCIDENTALLY the first one we went into was a REALLY nice pub, where we were joined by another pal, Keith, with whom we DILIGENTLY viewed the venue itself, before marching off without thought for personal comfort to the next venue. It too was a really nice pub.

    After that there was ANOTHER really nice pub which I don't THINK was a venue, then another, then a CURRY. I believe it is VITAL to get some local colour on these visits, don't you? I also HURT myself - Edinburgh is full of HILLS, which is all a bit much for the likes of me, and whilst walking up (or down?) one of these i failed to notice that the steps leading down to houses were actually partly cut into the pavement, and fell down one. I WAS VERY BRAVE - it didn't actually hurt much until the next day. I wonder why?

    When we got back to Alex and Mrs Alex's flat, where we were staying the night, we looked at their kitten (aaah) and then i SENSIBLY went to bed - Steve had allowed me the spare room and GALLANTLY taken the sofa in the living room for himself. His management style, it ROCKS.

    Next morning we got up LATE, after our hosts had left, and Steve realised he didn't actually know where we were... happily a MAP was discovered and off we set on our MISSION. There seemed to be even MORE hills in Edinburgh by now (WHY do people insist on living on top of hills? It is KRAZY!) so once we reached the Royal Mile (pretty much THE TOP) we allowed ourselves some Well Deserved Breakfast.

    Following this there was MORE looking round at venues, tho this time it was mostly peering through windows, before ending up outside the Teviot, KNACKERED. We popped into a cafe for a CUPPA and Steve revealed that THIS was the place we were due to visit later that afternoon. As it happened the manager had just arrived after us, so we were able to go downstairs and CHECK IT slightly early.

    This had worried me at first - he'd gone and got his DIARY and I thought we were going to have to book it RIGHT AWAY. We went downstairs and it was ACE - you know when you go looking for somewhere to live and you find THE PLACE and your whole body goes all ZINGLY? It was like THAT! We were both looking around thinking "WHOO!" and totally failing to do the Calm Controlled Non-Commital Face that you're meant to, and when he quoted us a VERY reasonable price we both had to RESTRAIN ourselves from giggling. He even let us have our cups of tea for free!

    When we emerged we agreed the best course of action was NOT to run straight back in and try and pay him RIGHT AWAY but to go for a PINT, and this we did. The night before we'd been all keen on doing the Free Fringe - not least because he'd been to the gig the night before, which was a VERY nice surprise - but seeing this place we pretty much knew it was THE ONE. They were set up for Acoustical Gigs ALREADY, there'd be all sorts of time for setting up and doing merchandise, it was in an INCREDIBLY location ... and basically, WE KNEW.

    Full of EXCITEMENT we popped into The Fringe Shop where the guy behind the counter seemed very willing to CHAT. So we did. THEN it was off for the purchase of a fridge magnet, a quick look at the Castle (or, rather, the car park) before settling down to enjoy our last hour in this fair city feeling VERY pleased with ourselves over a PINT. Whilst there we noted some INCREDIBLY expensive whisky - twenty six quid for a NIP! That's a SINGLE! Why do I get the feeling i will be tracking this down and DRINKING it when next we go?

    The trip back featured less discussion and more contented NAPPING, and we got home rather MORE excited about the whole venture than we had been when we set off, which was already Quite A Lot. This is going to be GRATE!

    posted 12/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    London Loves
    I headed off for the gig at London Loves at a VERY reasonable time on Saturday night, having sat down and HAD me tea already. NICE. It was an Totally Acoustic type gig, so there wasn't really any need for soundcheck and THUS i was able to arrive at 9am to find Team London Loves in the basement of the Albany setting up tables. There was also a Man Trying To Look Stern just SITTING in the corner watching them do it, which was a bit odd - later on he would turn out to be "security", which mean he would walk to different corners of the room and LOOK at people, then NOD sternly as if to say "Yes, i see you are behaving ACCEPTABLY now, with your indie dancing and your drinking of cider, but if there is any TROUBLE, you can expect to be GLARED at - so be told!"

    Anyway, all seemed to be going well except for a rather grim ODOUR emanating from the toilets - we took it in turn to do the joke about somebody having a cigarette to hide it but eventually someone went and got some CANDLES which did the job very nicely, ALSO made the room look NICE.

    I lurked around upstairs and got some beer - at which point the barmaid rather astonishingly said "What can I get you, FOUR EYES?" I was too flabbergasted to say anything at the time, and just BLURTED my Beer Order, and i THINK that, being An American, she didn't realise quite how UNPLEASANT a term that is, but it was still RATHER surprising!

    I had a chat with young James (TEAM LL) upstairs and also Mr John Kell, then we moved downstairs to find a) LOADS of people and b) a slightly excited/worried Denny (TEAM LL) looking a bit flustered. He GATHERED me into the back kitchen to tell me that SOMEONE had come to SEE ME! I must have looked a bit confused - OK, it's not like LOTS of people come to see me, but occasionally it has been known! - then he RESTATED his position - it turned out it was the chap from The Free Fringe, who Steve had mentioned the gig to when organising our Venue Recce (more of which later). This, I thought, was really rather nice of him!

    So, we hung around for a bit as the room filled up further until it was time for me to go on and do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I had a REALLY good time - I'd thought VERY vaguely about doing some older songs (as I'd had a request for We'll See What We Can Do and had LEARNED it up) but I decided that as this was - brilliantly - a room full of people who had pretty much entirely never heard me before, and more importantly were out on a Saturday night for DANCING FUN, I had better do some of the more FUN/LOUD/FUN ones. So i did!

    I also TALKED quite a bit, half to see how it would go and half because doing a gig SANS microphone tends to ENCOURAGE such behaviour, and nobody seemed to mind - tho i do seem to go into a sort of BERTIE WOOSTER-esque self-caracuture when I do this at any length. Anyway, people seemed to like it and bought CDs, and Free Fringe chap seemed rather enthusiastic - he actually seemed like a dead nice chap, tho he expressed FEARS about being able to fit our one week SLOT into his gigs.

    After that there was time for another BEER and some CHAT before Mr Kell SENSIBLY said he'd better get home and I realised that I TOO ought to do that, for tomorrow i was off to EDINBURGH - it's in a different country!

    posted 12/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Mixmaster Pattison
    Mr T Pattison, PRODUCER EXTRAORDINAIRE, was in the studio last night, mixing our next single. This morning he put up the RESULTS for us to listen to and so far they have been met with RELIEF, and IMPRESSEDNESS.

    RELIEF because, although he's been at the controls SESSION-wise pretty much since we started doing this, last night was his first proper mix, and so, tho i off course TRUST him implicitly, i was not to know how they would sound. IMPRESSEDNESS because - PHEW! - it sounds BLOODY GRATE! Who could possibly have known that the Artists Formerly Known As One Of The Most Important Punks In The Country was ACTUALLY a Funkadelic Space Cowboy riding his AVANT STARSHIP out through the patio doors of THE FUTURE? Goodness me, there are a LOT of whizzes, SPLOINGS and BITS on it, even APART from the "Music Of The Future" bits, for LO! the A-Side is Do The Indie Kid and it is THE BUSINESS. It's got GLOCKENSPIEL on it!

    Also included is The Drummer's Lament, which may have to go back for a slight tweak - i LIKE Massed Miners' Choirs as much as the NEXT chap, but when they LEAP out of the speakers and ATTACK you it can be a bit startling. ALSO also done last night were FOUR mixes of ACTUAL "Music Of The Future". We recorded little CHUNKS of this during our first session, spending a very happy half hour LARKING AROUND, and there's been talk of UTILISING them somehow as part of the single, so since then everybody's been in and ADDED to them. I've not heard them since the basic tracks were done, so when I heard the final results this morning I was AMAZED, and also a little UNSETTLED. They really do sound quite FRIGHTENING in a strange sort of way, and also DEAD GOOD - i see a GRAND future career for us in AVANT JAZZ, we done it EASY!

    So, next step is to get QUOTEs for the single and get the artwork finished and then - LUMME! - we're OFF!

    posted 7/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Mafia In Her Neck
    I received a rather FINE item through the post the other day - the LONG awaited Frankie Machine remix album. It's been DONE for AGES (INDEED i think most of the finished version is based on an early version he sent me about a YEAR ago, which was called back into service when the Frankie COMPUTER crashed), and APPEARS to be RIPPING OFF the sleeve design for A Million Ukeleles. Of course, NOTHING could be further from the truth, and even if he COULDN'T use Google I wouldn't start spreading the rumour that it was, for LO! those LOVELY sleeves were originally bought for this very project, I just nabbed them.

    Anyway, it LOOKS gorgeous and sounds GRATE and it's only four quid, so I would HEARTILY endorse heading over the the website and NABBING one. There's even some GIGS coming up - HOORAH!

    posted 6/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    More Moore
    I've been GRAPPLING with Windows Movie Maker - it's not exactly FRIENDLY is it - and have done a couple of VIDOES for some of my FAWM songs. The first attempt was a fairly simple LIVE version of Giant Robots And Gorillas (riding dinoaurs) which I just stuck some subtitles on.

    I sent this to Rich Johnston, who writes the GRATE Lying In The Gutters, but foolishly sent it too SOON, so he couldn't see it yet. HOWEVER, he did go and listen to one of my OTHER songs, Alan Moore, which he liked so much he said he'd put it in this week's column and - ULP! - pass it on so the MAN HIMSELF could listen to it.

    I must admit i am slightly AFEARED at this idea - if tomorrow i have been turned into a FROG you will know why. Anyway, EXCITED at this idea I decided to have a go at a slightly more SOPHISTICATED vidoe, and had a happy few hours putting together THIS!.

    I CONFESS, i am RATHER chuffed with it - the lip synching goes a bit awry and the ANIMATED section isn't particular...well, animated, but it was HECKLOADS of fun to do. Go see!

    posted 4/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    FAWMing about
    As mentioned below, I'm doing the February Album Writing Month THANG at the moment, and so far have TWO songs written. I'll put them up on this here website all together when it's over, but if you'd like to have a listen to them, and see how I get on with it, you can see them going up on my profile page on FAWM.

    I'm quite pleased with how it's gone so far - my CO-HABITEES appear less so... can't think why, what could be MORE pleasurable than someone singing "Alan Moore, Alan Moore" for four hours?

    posted 2/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Indietracks!
    Well, there was me being all MYSTERIOUS about the "exciting offers" to put on My Exciting Life In ROCK and one of them's out of the bag ALREADY! Here's the announcement:

    We're delighted to announce that this year there will be an additional "fringe" festival show on the Friday night.

    But not just any old show, there's more than enough bands playing throughout the weekend.

    We're having the WORLD PREMIER of MJ Hibbett's new show "My Exciting Life In ROCK", written for the Edinburgh Fringe. It's an adaptation of his ongoing blog, telling the story of how he's spent ten years bouncing from one ludicrous disaster to another while still managing to get an Album Of The Year in Rolling Stone, play live on Radio One, and have a worldwide smash hit (though only amongst computer geeks). It features brand new songs alongside old favourites, all performed by The Validators, and a lot of talking between them!

    This will take place in the tin church at Swanwick, and is limited to just 100 people.

    Afterwards there'll be an on-train disco. On-train discos are so much fun, we can't do them on the Saturday or Sunday as there'll be too many people.

    It makes the Friday a very special show.

    How can you be one of the 100 that'll get to experience this? Just as easy as buying one of the first 100 weekend tickets for the festival.

    Tickets go on sale on Monday morning (4th Feb) at 9am. (OK, 9am-ish, by the time the office staff have their cups of tea and a natter). Call the railway on 01773 747 674 to book.

    Weekend tickets are £45, with a
    posted 1/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    SUDDENLY, Lots Happens
    It was a bit of a GIDDY WHIRLWIND of STUFF yesterday afternoon, as all SORTS of things came up, as follows:

    ITEM! This past week or so I've had a bout of The Old Trouble - my CELLULITIS flared up, as it's been threatening to for a while, so I decided to take ACTION. I've got antibiotics to try and wipe it out properly, and seven days when I'm not going OUT when I can TAKE them THUS this morning i began my course of medication.

    ITEM! Me and Carsmile are now BOOKED onto a train to go up to Edinburgh a week on Sunday to CASE OUT THE JOINT for the My Exciting Life In ROCK SHOW, and we've also had a couple of VERY exciting offers for places to do The World Premiere and a London Warm-Up. This is GRATE, tho a little scary as it means i've really got to sort it OUT. I've got vague ideas for some of the stories I want to get into it, but I realise that it's probably going to need some NEW SONGS to make it all work.

    ITEM! Tom from Lardpony posted a link to February Album Writing Month. It's a rather clever thing where you sign up and try to write a whole 14 song album during February. It sounds BRILLIANT - indeed, i have signed up and so far written 75% of the first song ALREADY (subject: Alan Moore), i think it is going to be FUN.

    ITEM! I ordered some new recording software for my whizzy new computer, as the one I used to use was, i believe the term is, "hooky". It arrived this morning.

    So, that's what happened - I've got a week ahead of me of not going out, a new piece of music recording software to try out, a project that needs some new songs writing for it and a SCHEME that means I've got to try and write and record loads of new songs. Why do these things happen at once eh? If only there was some way to combine them all...

    HANG ON! I've got an IDEA!!

    posted 1/2/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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