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Blog Archive: October 2010

Crazy Christmas Clearout
Newsletter today, bringing with it the FESTIVE JOY of our Crazy Christmas Clearout!

This is a HUGE sale of nearly everything in our back catalogue, including ALL of our singles and ALL of the albums pre-Regardez, Ecoutez, with the albums at just TWO POUNDS FIFTY and the singles LESS! And postage, as ever, is FREE!

"But what has brought on this fit of manic benevolence?" you may well ask. It's partly a wish to spread the word further, partly my general feeling of Christmas... but mostly it's because I had a big sort out of our spare room/home office the other week and realised i've got HUNDREDS of CDs stacked up in boxes which I'd rather like to get MOVED! This has been EXACERBATED somewhat by the arrival of Forest Moon Of Enderby, and with the Dinosaur Planet album coming next year... well, suffice to say any help anyone can give in clearing out some space would be VERY much appreciated!

There's quite a lot of OTHER news in this month's edition, some of which we'll be going into in further detail over the next week or so, but do sign up if you've haven't already, it's the one stop place for ALL the latest THRILLING news!

(the thrilling news about US, anyway. Not necessarily for other areas of interest)

posted 29/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic 26/10/10
I got to The Lamb on Tuesday night at half past six thinking I'd be the first there, and so was amazed to find LOADS of people already arrived. By seven o'clock I not only had all the ARTISTES for the evening but also a TON of them from Totally Acoustics past and future, it was DELIGHTFUL!

We thus managed to kick off pretty much PRECISELY punctually - INDEED I had to go downstairs for an extra Nervous Look Around just to stop myself from starting EARLY. As ever I went first, and this is what I did:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Good Luck In Your New Job
  • Leave My Brother Alone
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • The Fight For History
  • Other Bands' Setlists
  • Easily Impressed

  • As with the first episode, I messed up the theme tune pretty badly, but once that was laboured through I had a LOVELY gig. Last time I'd been a bit nervous about doing it, partly because I hadn't really done many gigs lately, mostly because I was EXTREMELY conscious of being taped and worried whether it would work. This time I felt like I'd practiced the "new" songs sufficiently and all was well - i ESPECIALLY enjoyed doing Good Luck In Your New Job - it's funny how some songs just slip out of the setlist and I forget that, actually, they tend to go pretty well. Back in the setlist for THAT one i think!

    Next was Mr Winston Echo, who i have known for YEARS and has always been fantastic but who now seems to be entering into a new GOLDEN AGE of performing - he seemed more ASSURED and CONFIDENT than ever, but in a CHARMING way that draws you in to his disarmingly clever songs. His inbetween song chat was GRATE too, especially the long description about what he does in his job, and I know there were many there who had not seen him before but will, i think, be GAGGING to do so again. An excellent set!

    And finally we had the man that people are calling (well, I'm calling) The Patron Saint Of Totally Acoustic, Mr Pete Green. Right at the start of doing gigs Totally Acoustically Pete and I went on a NATIONAL TOUR of Upstairs Rooms Of Pubs, and he's been coming back on a semi-regular basis ever since. I really wanted him to be in this first run of podcasts to give it the STAMP of AUTHENTICITY and so was delighted to have him, this time doing a self-labelled more WISTFUL set than usual. That was his intent, at least, though I must admit that MY favourite bit was when he did "Up The Mariners"... though I wish it would STOP RINGING ROUND MY HEAD, as it has done ever since.

    With that all completed there was the usual time for beer and TALK before heading off into the night, with a head full of PODCAST THORTS and BEER. It was a lovely evening, and if you'd like to CHECK the VERACITY of this statement, you now CAN!

    For LO! the podcast is online now! And it's GRATE!

    posted 28/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Waiting Room
    The full-on proper Dinosaur Planet TOUR started on Sunday, and so myself and Mr S Hewitt gathered at Kings Cross just after lunch, ready to hop on a train and head NORTH for the gig at The Waiting Room, in Eaglescliffe.

    The train was PACKED, but we handily found a double seat... and soon realised why it was free, for LO! we found ourselves sat behind some Newcastle Fans going home after a weekend in London which they recounted to each other AT INCREDIBLY HIGH VOLUME FOR THE NEXT HOUR. As Steve said, "I don't mind a bit of high spirits, but..." You know when you see a bunch of 14 year old boys excited to be out together on a bus or something? You always get one who's in charge, surveying the conversation, a couple shouting jokes, and then a couple of others SHRIEKING WITH LAUGHTER and then looking around nervously to check they've done it right? Like THAT, only with 50 year old men. FOR CHRIST'S SAKE! They were BELLOWING racism and the usual bollocks bravado about FIGHTING at such volume that even the iPod was unable to block them out - again, understandable for teenage boys off the leash for the first time, but bloody annoying and pathetic from six middle aged men - and gradually the carriage emptied as people SQUEEZED into the rest of the train.

    MAN ALIVE, the quiet carriage had never FELT so quiet! It was BEAUTIFUL, and felt slightly wrong when we very quietly WHISPERED our way through a lines practice. We were restored to full sanity well before we arrived in Darlington, where we were met by the ever delightful Mr Bob Fischer, who took us over to the BBC Tees office where we recorded a quick SESSION for him, doing some of the tracks from the show, and did an interview about the tour and the forthcoming concept album. I think it'll be on this week, and it WHIPPED by!

    Having done that he very kindly gave us a lift over to Eaglescliffe where The Waiting Room is located, and where we enjoyed a DELICIOUS tea of Shepherd's Pie. It was LOVELY - it also came with EXTRA potatoes, which some might think was maybe TOO MUCH potato in one meal. I didn't. It was ACE.

    Soon Bob was back, as was Mr C Steward, sole audience member from the last time I played up this way and we settled down to watch The SouthMartins - a Housemartins/Beautiful South covers band with perhaps the most PERFECT name of ALL Tribute Bands. They did a LOT of Beautiful South stuff, almost all from the first couple of albums i.e. The Quite Good Ones That I Used To Have On Tape. It was all rather lovely - INDEED you did Forget How Many Hits They've Had, or at least _I_ did. Lots of the audience seemed to be BIG fans of them, especially a few people sat just behind us who, despite singing along and CHEERING like mad for everything, also seemed to want to SHOUT conversation at each other throughout the gig. I was on ALERT for later. "These could be trouble!" i thought.

    I was not incorrect, as they decided to TALK LOUDLY thoughout OUR set. Half of them LEFT after ten minutes, saying "THIS IS DOING MY FCUKING HEAD IN" as loudly as possible as they walked out, and another kept trying to INTERJECT all the way through, but actually this was FINE. Everyone else came on board pretty quickly and properly got into it, and it may be that the couple of people trying to spoil it made them want to get on OUR side even more. It was all HIGHLY enjoyable - I'd been a bit worried about how much we'd remember, but we did it almost ALL right, and even when we didn't it was fun. My FAVOURITE bit was when me and Steve did a knocking on the door bit in PERFECT synchronicity - we were so impressed we forgot where we were!

    Full credit to Mr S Hewitt on this one too, who was not swayed in the LEAST by interruptions, and indeed INCREASED his volume along with me to match. It made for a DEAD good show I thought - although we still didn't convince one heckler, who bellowed "GET THE OTHER LOT ON STAGE, I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS CRAP!" "I'm stood right behind you!" i said, as her husband shook his head in despair.

    Soon it was time to FLEE, and we HUGGED our goodbyes to all and sundry as we set off into the night courtesy of Steve's Mum, at whose house we were staying and where TEA was supplied. Next morning would find us up EXTREMELY early to get home via a train SO VERY FULL that we had to stand up for most of the way, but for now it was time to RETIRE, safe in the knowledge of a tour well begun!

    posted 26/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dinosaur Planet on BBC Tees
    On Friday night I had a phone call from Distant Middlesbrough, home of BBC Tees and, more specifically The Bob Fischer Show. Mr Fischer was ringing me for an INTERVIEW and we spent a delightful quarter of an hour WAFFLING ON at each other about Topics Various, though mostly concerning Dinosaur Planet in both its concept album AND live two man Rock Opera formats.

    Anyone who enjoys hearing grown men GIGGLING at each other might enjoy a listen to this... if such people exist, but HISTORIANS OF ROCK might ALSO enjoy it, for LO! Bob also played a couple of rough mixes of tracks from the aforesaid Concept Album. If you go to the Listen Again pages you'll find, about 28 minutes in, huge CHUNK of dialogue and the theme tune then, after the General Larking About section you'll get a MASSIVE slab of dialogue and the GLORY that is Here Come The Dinosaurs.

    As I say these ARE very rough mixes (there's no Emma on either of these versions, nor Violins on the main theme) but the DO sound, i must admit, rather ACE! If you fancy a listen you've got until this Friday!

    posted 25/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Entire Back Catalogue ONLINE
    I've just come to the end of a BIG PROJECT - getting (nearly) all of our mighty BACK CATALOGUE put onto our bandcamp page! There is a LOT of it!

    It is, in fact, pretty much EVERY song we've ever released via Artists Against Success. All that's missing are the Christmas songs (which will be coming soon in a SPECIAL THING), the two unique b-sides on It Only Works Because You're Here and some of the odds and sods from various multimedia extras over the years. Apart from that though, wherever you go through our discography, if we WROTE it you can listen to it!

    I must say I am VERY happy about the way bandcamp have enabled us to do this. We might never SELL huge amounts of downloads in this way (most of them have been available from download stores for ages anyway), but what's BRILLIANT about it is that it's let us put little STREAMING MUSIC boxes onto every SONG page. It's ESPECIALLY ACE for songs like It Isn't Jetpacks, a song that i REALLY like but which hardly anyone has had the chance to hear. Now you can!

    I'm THINKING of doing a MINI-SERIES of blogs over the next few weeks to HIGHLIGHT a few of these songs, Just For Fun - songs that are liked mainly by ME and which I think could benefit by being heard by... well, somebody else. There IS quite a lot coming up over the next few weeks though - including the development of this year's CHRISTMAS SONG and ensuing CHRISTMAS ALBUM - so it might take a while. In the meantime, why not wander over and have a listen? Go on, it'll be FUN!

    posted 22/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Festival Of The Spoken Nerd
    I went to a COMEDY GIG the other night - although it started off with me sat in a pub with Mr S Hewitt LECTURING him at some length about the plot of MOON HORSE. Last time I did this we both ended up looking a bit confused and lost, but now I have RE-JIGGED it we both got QUITE EXCITED. Well, I got quite excited, Steve mostly got HYSTERICALLY AFEARED. If you happened to be in The Fitzrovia Area the other night and heard someone screeching, manically, "I'd forgotten about THE RAP!" then that was us. Sorry.

    Anyway, we soon hightailed it round the corner to The Green Man, to attend The London Air-Accordian Society's special event "The Festival Of The Spoken Word". It's a regular night run by the ACE Helen Arney, who we saw in Edinburgh a couple of times, and is very MUCH one of these new fangled Indie Comedy Nights. They don't seem to CALL them specifically "Indie" comedy nights, as far as i can tell, but that's very much what they are - independent, run for fun, and of a slightly BOOKISH bent.

    You'd think, really, there'd be more crossover between the music and comedy sides of things wouldn't you? I wonder why there isn't? I know that _I_ rarely go to comedy nights, just because my Going Out Time is so very taken up with ROCK, but maybe that's true of everybody. Does anybody know? Or IS there a huge crossover going on that I don't know about? APART FROM LATITUDE, Everyone Who Just Said That.

    ANYWAY (again) we went upstairs to find everything DEAD POLITE - it was, in fact, pretty much how people seem to THINK Indie Gigs are, but aren't really i.e. lots of quite polite people looking slightly awkward but willing for GOOD TIMES to occur. It was the POLITENESS that threw me a bit, as everyone calmly found seats and sat down to a light chat before SHUSHING immediately the event started.

    The first half was THEMED on sound, and as well as some GAGS featured quite a lot of EXPLAINING which was ACE - by jiminy, if science at SCHOOL was taught like this we would be a nation of MEGA BRANES, it was GRATE! My favourite bit was when one of the tutors... sorry, COMEDIANS, demonstrated the shape of sound waves with SAND on a vibrating sheet of tin VIA an overhead projector. I could FEEL my 'O' Level Physics grade INCREASING with every passing second!

    The second half was two COMEDIANS, Martin White who does the Dave Gorman show, playing ACCORDIAN rather excitingly, and a chap from We Are Klang who did Normal Stand-Up in an EXCELLENT style. It was, i must say, all round pretty brilliant and, as usual when I go to comedy gigs, made me think "I wish I went to comedy gigs more often" KNOWING full well that I probably won't.

    But why, i ask again, IS that? Are Comedy and ROCK doomed to be like two pleasant but otherwise engaged NEIGHBOURS, always saying hello in the street but never popping round for tea? Or is it just ME?

    posted 21/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Like Radio 4 With More Explosions
    I got up at THE CRACK OF DAWN (well, about half past seven) on Saturday morning in order to make a journey to The Centre Of ROCK... or Derby, as it is otherwise known. For LO! I was booked in for a day at Snug Recording Studio in that fair city, there to make a start on the sound effects for the Dinosaur Planet album.

    After a healthy STRIDE through the city centre I arrived to find Messrs Collins and Newman already set up and RARING to go - INDEED, I had barely sat down before they had their copies of the SCRIPTS out and were cueing up the first song ready for working on. They seemed to be quite EXCITED about it all - I'd set them some homework that last time I'd been there, a long long list of ALL the sound effects I thought we were going to need, and by golly but they had been busy SOURCING them. It was all rather lovely, I felt like a teacher in a STORYBOOK who returns from the summer holidays to find an eager crowd of BOARDERS overflowing with joy at the PREP they have done.

    We began pretty much at the beginning, with the scene in Norwich Police station. This has already been wrangled around a bit, as Mr Phil Wilson lines were recorded down in Devon, several hundred miles away from Dean Street, London, where most of the rest of it was done. It was to be further WRANGLED to within an inch of its life, however - we put down a BED of Office Noises (gentle), applied appropriate ECHO to everyone's voices (including a rather fantastic BIG NARRATOR voice to Mr J Yeah), sorted out various changes of scenery, volume, and character placement, and spent a long while debating the best version of various footsteps, police sirens and GRAVEL.

    The more we did the more we realised MORE was needed, and so we moved to the realm of FOLEY. FOLEY, as I am sure all students of RADIO and FILM are aware, is the process where you add in physical sound effects - it usually gets explained by someone making "Walking In The Rain" by stomping around in a bucket of water, or INDEED "Horses Approaching" with coconuts. Rich did "Paper Rustling" by... er... rustling some paper, then I did "Not Quite Audible Telephone Conversation" by going "PHWARR PHWARR PHWARR" in TWO (ACTING!) different voices, before Robbie recorded Standing Up And Stepping Forward From A Squeaky Chair by,... well, I'm sure you can guess.

    It was GRATE fun, and when we'd finally got it all working it sounded AMAZING! We carried on for the rest of the day in a similar vein, creating a SPACESHIP in a FOREST, a LOT of DINOSAUR noises (they'd somehow FOUND some roars, although we did have to inject a bit of ELEPHANT at the start of them main Theme From Dinosaur Planet to make it sound TERRIFYING enough.

    The SCARIEST thing we did was the introduction to Here Come the Dinosaurs. Again, this has been very gradually put together, with Mr Bob Fischer EMAILING (modern!) his bits and then The Clip Clop Of My Radio Horse Shoes popping in a couple of months ago to add HER bit. This had EXPLOSIONS, screams, and HUGE dinosaurs added onto it, along with some frankly HORRIFYING sounds of someone being DEVOURED. It's amazing how convincing it all is though - even though I'd sat there gradually slotting it all together, when we listened back to it I was STILL a bit scared at the "Oh my God! Here they come!" bit when the dinosaur does his first HUGE ROAR.

    The very last thing we did was a Creative Idea from Rich, which was to have a tiny bit of HOLD MUSIC for when Professor Peter Probersite is on the phone with The General. "We thought maybe a MIDI version of Strangely Attractive or something?" he said. "OR!" I replied, EXPLOSIVELY, "If it's a University, surely Literature Search is what we're after?" ZOINKS! Off he went and DID it, and it sounded a) FAB b) precisely the right level of ANNOYING.

    It was a GRATE afternoon of a) work b) FUN, and the chaps were SO good at it, and so full of IDEAS, that I suggested they simply carry on and finish it off THEMSELVES. Not only would this get it DONE much quicker, it would also give them a bit more CREATIVE INPUT into THE PROJECT. And, as a side issue, would save me a few hundred quid in train fares! They READILY agreed to this idea, and so are going to try and do it all over the next month or so, so that I can go back in December to finalise it all.

    When I got home I played it to The Waves In My Sound Signal SEVERAL times. "It's Amazing!" she said, and I was forced to agree - I glued together most of what we've got so far into a single FILE, so I could send out a copy of it all to everyone else who's involved with it, and it sounded INCREDIBLE. We've only done a BIT of the dialogue, and there's loads more work to do mixing songs and blending everything together, but I'm starting to think that this ridiculous idea might actually work! In fact, I think it might be the best thing we've ever done!

    The last time I was THIS excited about what might happen when people finally HEAR what we've been up to was many many years ago when I sat a Mastering Studio in London's Soho, cutting the very first AAS single, listening to Clubbing In The Week thinking "This is going to be a NUMBER ONE SMASH HIT!"

    All right, I may have been a bit wide of the mark there, but still: I'm incredibly proud of what we've all done on this daft idea, and wish there was some way of getting it HEARD by everyone else MUCH quicker. It looks like it'll be a good while yet before it's all done, but MY GOODNESS, it really is going to be worth it, honest!

    posted 19/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Launch Day
    At last the GRATE day has dawned, when Forest Moon Of Enderby is FINALLY released into the world.

    If you'd like a LISTEN you can do so from our bandcamp page or on Spotify. Awhole HEAP of our albums have just turned up there too, which is VERY exciting!

    And once you've had a listen you can, should you wish, PURCHASE it in a variety of exciting ways. You can get it direct from us, online shops like AMAZON (where we're currently RIDING HIGH in the Top 35,000!), download sites such as iTunes or INDEED from ACTUAL SHOPS, not least those MARVELLOUS people at The Sheffield Phonographic Corporation!

    I must say I'm RATHER impressed/amazed by the fact that EVERYTHING seems to have come together so well - it's everywhere it should be! This pretty much never happens normally, HOORAH!

    Whichever way you choose to hear it, I REALLY hope you enjoy it - we're dead pleased with how it's all turned out!

    posted 18/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Dinosaur Script Meeting
    I strolled up through Idyllic Islington (and Charming Clerkenwell) last night to meet Mr J Kell for another Script Meeting. We were discussing his adaptation of Dinosaur Planet into ANIMATED format, something we'd started a week or two ago but had only got about half way through, due to a) me having to go off to a gig and b) it all being ALMOST TOO EXCITING.

    This time was very similar in that John who had to go off to a gig AND it was DEFINITELY too exciting, but we did manage to get to the very end of it, with a couple of HUGE moments of us both going "COR!" Last time we talked about CHARACTER ARCS and how we needed some Big Emotional Moments and, BY GOLLY, we certainly got those in. We also had a long argument about, basically, ONE word ("regrouped" or "retreated") which revolved around the most SENSIBLE route an army being chased by Space Dinosaurs would take across East Anglia. These things are important.

    The BEST bit was when we came up with a whole new FRAMING SEQUENCE which leads to a MIND BLOWING TWIST at the very end. Anyone who's seen the show will know it ALREADY has a MIND BLOWING TWIST at the end, but this is a whole OTHER one. We used a traditional technique in our plotting - talking about it, reaching an IMPASSE, one of us going to the toilet and then, once back at the table, the IDEA would have arrived - and in this case John sat down to find me CLEARLY IN A STATE OF AGITATION. "John", I said, "Prepare to have your MIND BLOWN." He looked a little dubious, but once the idea was expressed he had difficulty EVEN SPEAKING. "Wow" he remarked. "That's... that's quite good."

    It was all a WHOLE LOT OF FUN - chucking ideas around together led to all MANNER of hilarity, I ended up LARFING for about five minutes at the mental picture I had of a new GAG featuring a Classic Double Take during a chase scene, for instance, and as we left I could feel my brain A JANGLING with all the new ideas buzzing around in it. John is going to take the HEAVILY AMENDED script away and re-draft it, then I guess we'll have to see what we can do with it. I'm sort of thinking of maybe trying to turn it into a COMIC, like one of those old Alan Moore Future Shocks with rhyming couplets or something, but we'll see how we get on.

    Whatever happens it must be treated with utmost care - for LO! in the wrong hands, it will make BRANES EXPLODE!

    posted 15/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    The New Album from Mr P Wilson
    I received a THRILLING package through the post yesterday, the new album from all round good guy Mr Phil Wilson a.k.a. Phil From The June Brides.

    I'd heard CHUNKS of the album earlier on in the year when myself and The Ducks In My Duckpond went down to Devon to see The Wilsons, and had been MIGHTILY impressed by what I'd heard, but this did little to prepare me for how BLOODY GRATE the finished article would be. CRIKEY! I'd heard most these songs live and on CD on a number of occasions, but they seem to have been sent to MASSIVE POP SCHOOL for the Summer and come back as star pupils, as it all sounds AMAZING. The sound is all HUGE and the TUNES... golly gosh, but the tunes are FAB.

    I listened to it at HIGH volume whilst making a Pear and Raspberry Crumble (COOKING SIDEBAR: when crumble is so DELICIOUS and PEASY to make, why does the world still contain pie crust?) and got myself ALL EXCITED dancing round in the kitchen to it. It's not just good in an Low Key Indie sort of way, it's the sort of thing you can forsee everyone leaping around to in the Discotheque for years to come, also on the RADIO. A LOT.

    As I've said before and elsewhere, I have a slightly unusual relationship with The Music Of The June Brides in that, despite having HEARD of them for YEARS (and indeed occasionally being COMPARED to them, especially round the time of our first two albums) I never actually heard the records themselves until just after I met Phil, and also Pam, at The Fox & Firkin in Lewisham a few years ago. THUS to me they've always felt like a NEW band that I've just got into, and i tend to forget the whole ARCHITECT OF INDIE bit that is Phil's due right and title. So, to me, this all sounds like a fairly speedy follow-up to that stuff, rather than the Grand Return To The Fray that it actually is.

    And it also sounds like a STEP FORWARD from the original "album" - i love the June Brides stuff but, honestly, this lot does sound even BETTER! I really hope it takes off like NOBODY'S business too - I always feel a bit GUILTY about the fact that many of Phil's earlier Return To The Fray gigs were with ME, and so probably not the Massively Audienced Celebrations they OUGHT to be, but now I look forward to ACCLAIM, PHOTOSHOOTS and all round GRATENESS.

    Or, to put it another way, I look forward VERY much to SHOWING OFF LIKE MAD, saying "Oh yes yes, Phil Wilson - I knew him BETWEEN him being famous." The album's out on November 9th (i just looked it up on Amazon) and I would HEARTILY recommend it to anyone who loves TUNES and POP. It's ACE!

    posted 14/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Podcast is GO!
    Exciting news for all fans of GRATE THINGS: the very first Totally Acoustic Podcast is now online! And it sounds FANTASTIC!!

    If you go to the main podcast page you can subscribe to it, either via iTunes or directly through us, or just download it or even stream it live. It's a THRILLING range of options and no mistake - hope you enjoy it and, if you do, please tell other people about it!

    posted 13/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    ART
    I headed off to London's Fashionable Knightsbridge last night to see some ART. ART! I am, as anyone who knows me will tell you, a big fan of ART and this was just another Private View like what all the others I am always at. The fact that it featured my little brother is, of course, just a coincidence.

    Excitingly i got the BUS there - usually i avoid these because I have something of a history of getting LOST on them, but as it went from just outside my office to just outside the gallery it seemed CHURLISH not to.

    I arrived to see a small group of people waiting outside, including Cheryl who I'd not seen for AGES, and there was delightful time ofr a delightful chat before we went in. For some reason, when I mentioned my attendance at a Private View on twitter, lots of people said "Enjoy the free beer!" I was AGHAST at the very IDEA that this might have played any part in my decision to enjoy art, and so was not moved in the slightest when I found out the beer needed to be paid for. I hardly noticed, in fact.

    The show is called Screening and I must say i rather enjoyed it - the BEST work, of course, was by The Artist Tom Smith (NB although surely his name is Thomas, IT IS HOW HE WAS CHRISTENED?) hem hem, especially the 20th Century Fox logo one which is MY FAVOURITE - tho there was lots also there that I liked, ESPECIALLY a video by Oliver Michaels. It was two people having a conversation, although it quickly became clear that they were mixed together on screen from DIFFERENT conversations. Every few minutes one of the people disappeared to be replaced by someone else, and gradually I worked out who had originally been talking to whom. It was incredibly well done, as ONE'S BRANE very quickly ignored the obvious fact that they WEREN'T real conversations and convince itself that it WAS. It was amazing, each time it started to almost make sense and ALSO to be very funny. My review: It was GRATE!

    The one thing I DID wonder though, was when does something become art, and when is it still a really clever idea that someone's posted on b3ta? Not to take anything away from EITHER venue, but lots of things from the gallery could very happily have gone onto the website, and vica versa. Is it just that one is done by Arts Graduates and one by, well, people with Computing Degrees?

    With such thoughts of CULTURAL ANARCHY bouncing round my head I hugged my goodbyes and popped into Marks & Spencers Simply Food, where for a minute i thought I was queueing behind THE QUEEN. I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but it was a bit odd - but then, as I realised on walking out, posh people DO look a bit odd, with their bulging foreheads, insufficient hair and Old Yet New clothes.

    A night, then of HIGH CONTEMPLATION and CHALLENGING THORT. But that, as I'm sure you're aware, is what THE ART is for, right?

    posted 13/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Return Of Totally Acoustic
    For the first time in AGES I strolled through London's Scenic Bloomsbury to The Lamb last night, for the first of the new SERIES of Totally Acoustic. It was GOOD to be back!

    I found my colleague Mr S Hewitt already there, gradually followed by various regulars and new faces. Alas The Beer In My Pint Glass was POORLY so couldn't make it, but I was hopeful that I could at least take a RECORDING home with me for her, for LO! Tonight I would be making an PODCAST also!

    I was a bit worried about how that'd work, not least because I'd only brough my four track rather than the ARMADA of recording equipment I'd planned ot lug along. I was also a bit worried about whether the ACTS would come, but happily by just after 7pm both Dr Neil Brown and Mr Gavin Osborn were in the building, and so we were able to start pretty much ON TIME!

    First of all it was ME, and this is what I did:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • The Merchant Ivory Punks
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Missing The Misery
  • I Come From The Fens
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I got off to a bit of a bumpy start by forgetting chunks of the words, also TUNE, for the theme tube - it was mostly caused by my KEEN AWARENESS of the recording device on the table, which caused me to GABBLE ON a bit (NB more than usual even) in the first half of the set. I know this because I listened to it this morning and thought "DO shut up Hibbett"! I also had a bit of trouble with tuning my guitar, as I kept adjusting it WRONGLY, but things calmed down by the end and I think I'll be able to edit together a fairly creditable SET.

    I'm planning to have about HALF of everyone's gig in the actual podcast - the idea of this is to make it a manageable length, and also to be able to save some songs for later compilation versions between seasons. I thought this would be easier, but having sat through the other acts last night I think I may have some TOUGH DECISIONS on my hands. For LO! next was Dr Neil Brown who was, as ever, COMPLETELY GRATE. Sometimes Neil does gigs as a long GLARE at the audience, almost DARING them to disagree with him, but this time he sat down and, with a SMILE and a thoughtful turn of phrase, allowed everyone to come to HIM. It was EXCELLENT, and I was especially happy to FINALLY hear "Sea Of Lettuce", a song he has spoken of for... well, DECADES, but which I have never heard. It was BRILLO!

    As indeed was our headliner, Mr Gavin Osborn. GOOD LORD but he was brilliant - funny, really moving, and with lyrical GENIUS strewn around willy nilly. I must admit to having a bit of an old CRY at the end of "Albert Goes To Rock Shows" and a mighty LARF at his opening NEW song which, apparently, is going to be part of a concept album about MARRIAGE and all that. It was wonderful, and as ever I thought it a SHAME that he is not much MUCH more widly known, for he would make very many people very happy indeed.

    It was, as Mr J Kell was later to remark, pretty much the PLATONIC IDEAL of Totally Acoustic - just the right amount of people happy to enjoy some brilliant performers at the top of their game in a lovely evening, only slightly marred by a shouty fenlander at the beginning. LOVELY. I just hope it comes across that way in the podcast!

    posted 12/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Cornwall, land of the Secret Gig
    On Friday afternoon I met The Crust Of My Pasty at Paddington and we ZOOMED South to Scenic Cornwall, for a SECRET GIG

    It had all been organised by my DAD - Lin, my Step-Mum, is going off to New Zealand soon to see my brother and his family, and Dad's not following on for a month or so, so he wanted to give her a Special Surprise Send-Off. THUS he'd booked their village's social club for a SECRET GIG (and mostly PARTY) featuring ME and his band MAWBUS.

    I've had to be SUPER QUIET about all this, MUCH as I would have loved to talk about it, as both of them are ACTIVE on the Facebook - INDEED, when i tweeted/facebooked "We're on the way!" on Friday afternoon Lin was thinking, she later told us, "Where are they off to?" I wanted to send my Dad a CODED MESSAGE to let him know we were on the way... but had forgotten to tell him WHAT the code was, so 2 minutes later got a worried phone call from him, to see what had gone wrong!

    Anyway, we arrived in St Austell where my lovely sister Laura picked us up and WHISKED us to the club where, an hour or so later, Lin was VERY SURPRISED INDEED! It was GRATE - loads of their PALS were there and a DELIGHTFUL time was had by all. We both did TWO sets - in each case Dad had LEARNED WELL from my TEACHINGS and insisted that Mawbus go on first. I RUED THE DAY when I had said to him "Always go on first if you can, that way you can safely get drunk."

    Mawbus is Dad and Lin with a couple of their friends, and I FILLED with pride watching them, on only about their third or fourth gig, ROCKING away, it was GRATE. I was impressed with Dad's insistence that, tho they are a FOLK band, they finish each set with a BEATLES song so that everybody could sing along. I COPIED the idea by ending each of MY two sets with cover versions, THUS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • I Come From The Fens
  • Back For Good

  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • As I say, it was a LOVELY night which ended, for the singing at least, with another of their friends standing up and singing "Cornish Lads" and "Bound For South Australia." COR! It was like being in a BBC4 documentary or something as he stood there completely unaccompanied until gradually the whole ROOM joined in. It was GRATE!

    Next day we went off to Perranporth where the wind was MASSIVE - there were HUGE waves coming in to shore and all the SAND was being whipped up. It looked incredible, like something out of a MOVIE on MARS, with RIPPLES of sand and great long twists and tails of it wafting off into the sea. Myself and The Sea By My Beach agreed: it was AMAZING!

    There was a pub stop, some telly and tea, and a DELICIOUS curry down the road before we gathered that evening around the wireless set (well, the Sky Box set to RADIO anyway) to listen to Mr Steve Lamacq's Radio Two Show. I'd bumped into him in London Town a few days ago and he'd told me he'd be playing Other Bands' Setlists which brilliantly gave us all a chance to get settled down with a WHISKY or TEA to listen to it, and LO! there was much HALLOOing when he did so. It was all RATHER exciting!

    And then on Sunday we returned home, slightly worn out but fully FUNNED UP after a lovely weekend. Cornwall, it is GRATE!

    posted 11/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Pre-Orders and Updates
    As we close in on RELEASE DAY for Forest Moon Of Enderby I thought it was about time that i UNLEASHED the MIGHT of pre-ordering. AND SO I HAVE!

    THUS, you can now pre-order your copy of Forest Moon Of Enderby direct from us, so it'll be at your house in time for release day of October 18th. Actually, it'll more than likely be there BEFORE then, as I'll probably get a bit excited about it!

    To celebrate this momentous occasion I have done a great big all round UPDATE. If you're reading this on the main webpage you'll hopefully have noticed that I've changed everything round to ECHO the lovely design of the new album.

    I've also gone all RETRO and Actually Updated Our Myspace page. It's been a LONG time since I've done anything to THAT page and... what? COme on, Myspace! You MUST remember! It was really exciting about two or three years ago - MYSPACE! The one that was like Facebook with bands but no Farmville Updates. THAT'S it.

    Anyway, I've updated our Myspace page with a whole HEAP of songs from the new album which you can now preview, and while I was at it I went and updated our Facebook page too!

    All right, all I did there was change the main picture, but STILL - I'm not going to start investing HOURS uploading songs and discographies to Facebook. Now there's a film about it coming out it'll probably go the way of FriendsReunited within a couple of months, and I'd rather stick to bandcamp for songs these days.

    So yes, apart from that History Of Social Networks LECTURE, the news today is that I've updated all of our web presences and you can pre-order Forest Moon Of Enderby! To this news I say the following: HOORAH!

    posted 8/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Made In Dagenham
    Yesterday The Pictures In My Film went to the PICTURES to see 'Made In Dagenham'. We haven't been to the pictures in AGES - we used to go a BIT, but had an Unfortunate Incident when a SECURITY GUARD (a security guard! at the pictures!) at West India Quay Cineworld REFUSED to let us in to see a film because we had a carrier bag of shopping with us. Obviously HUMMUS is a TERRORIST THREAT or something.

    HOWEVER we had gotten hold of some FREE tickets to see anything we liked, so headed back to West India Quay to give it another go. There were no security guards this time and we strolled in to see our chosen film, which was GRATE!

    It seems to be being sold as a SASSY Romantic Comedy or something, so I was surprised how Proper and Serious it was. It was still a BIT romantical and funny, but it was amazing how much of the Actual Politics there was in it, and how unusual it was to see a film saying "YES! COllective Action is a GOOD THING!" NOR did it flinch from ISSUES and was generally ACE.

    All right, I know a few people have said that the ACTUAL women were NOT quite as young and attractive as the ones in the film, and that various bits were skirted over/around, but I thought for a British film being made NOW about that sort of thing it did an EXCELLENT job. OKAY YES being a British film that you could actually SIT THROUGH without CRYING TEARS OF DESPAIR is a thing of joy in itself (Yes, yes, I did see "Sex Lives Of The Potato Men", and yes, it did SCAR ME FOR LIFE) but this was a proper thoughtful yet also FUN film like what I thought only The Americans could make.

    I only discovered when I got home that the "title song" (which, as usual, was stuck on over the end titles as if they were ashamed of it) had lyrics by Billy Bragg! If I'd've known that I'd've stuck around! But all in all: i recommend seeing this film, it was dead good.

    Watch out C WINKLEMAN, you have COMPETITION!

    posted 7/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Between Lists
    Sometimes people say to me "Oh Mark! How do you do SO much stuff?"

    Well, all right, they actually say "WHY do you do so much stuff?" but STILL - a LOT has been going on and the only way to make sure it all gets done is to be Captain Organised, and to that end I use a lot of LISTS. Lists for the day, lists for the week and a QUARTERLY ACTION LIST OF ACTION so that I can write down everything that needs to happen WHEN it needs to happen. This has the added bonus of stopping me from PANICKING about not having done everything and ALSO stops me trying to do it all in one go.

    I mention this because I've just come to the END of one of these MEGA LISTS. The last one included everything to do with Edinburgh, Indietracks, getting Forest Moon Of Enderby released, booking Totally Acoustic, sorting out the tour for Dinosaur Planet and much much MUCH more, so it has been RATHER a busy period. Now, however, it's all pretty much DONE and I find myself in the unusual position of not knowing what I ought to be doing.

    This might seem DELIGHTFUL but I always find it a bit WORRYING - i can't quite believe that there ISN'T something URGENT I need to get on with, so the fact I'm not DOING anything like that leads to a mounting air of DREAD and FEAR. I've tried to get past this by GIVING myself things to do - this lunchtime, for instance, I went to look at CHRISTMAS CARDS as part of a GRATE IDEA i had this morning for the VIDEO to go with this year's Christmas Song - but that just led to me thinking of things I'm GOING to need to do in the future. PANIC!

    So I've made myself a NEW list, going all the way up to December, featuring the tour, Totally Acoustic podcasts and all MANNER of exciting projects, not least the ongoing writing of "MOON HORSE".

    I can RELAX now. There's LOADS to do!

    posted 5/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Camden And Mauritius
    What a weekend of ROCK it has been for The Validators, in BOTH hemispheres.

    Here in the Northern Hemisphere I went to Camden TWICE - which is two more times than I'd usually choose over a weekend, but STILL. On Friday, after an extremely profitable SCRIPT MEETING with Mr J Kell (during which was said things like "Yes, but what JOURNEY is Terry on?") I went to the Camden Barfly to see Allo Darlin'. They were MARVELLOUS as ever, despite playing in a horrible venue with really really crappy sound. Why OH WHY do some venues - and ESPECIALLY ones which make a really big deal about the fact that they put bands on - have some shite sound? Do soundmen REALLY think "What this gig needs is incredibly loud snare and bass drums - I'll turn the vocals RIGHT down, just to make sure THOSE come through nice and clearly"? And do people who GO to such places think "The BEST place to have a really long conversation is here, in the gig room, rather than in the QUIET ROOM downstairs SPECIFICALLY SUPPLIED for the purpose of having a good old chat in"?

    The GRATE thing tho was that the band didn't seem to let this get to them and INDEED appeared to ROCK UP the performance to compensate. Give me half a pint and five minutes and I will REGALE all and sundry with my Grand Theory that ALL bands should be forced to go and play toilet venues like this on a regular basis (NB until the age of 40 anyway, hem hem) in order to keep TRAINED. It's far too easy (and NICE) to JUST play to people who already like you and get a) LAZY b) RUBBISH, and it was BRILIANT to see a band not only DOING this but doing it SO WELL. My GRUMPINESS was entirely dispelled by how ACE they were, and the fact that there was always Bill From Allo Darlin' GRINNING on stage throughout was certainly a large part of it. It was, in fact, SO GOOD that I felt BAD about being such an Old Misery Guts.

    Then on SATURDAY I went back to Camden AGAIN, for Mr Simon Wilkinson's birthday drinks. It was very noticeable that the more MATURE of his guests all arrived EARLY for the PUB section of the evening, where we had a DELIGHTFUL several hours of chat and BEER and good times. The YOUNGSTERS arrived just before we headed down to the Proud Galleries, where I found myself in a Night-Club! On a Saturday night! I stayed in said place for over HALF AN HOUR before realising I was too tiddly, too sleepy, and possibly too MATURE to stay for much longer, so HUGGED and left. Night-Clubs! It is nice to know they are still there for those who require their services, but I am very glad not to HAVE to go to them any more!

    And while all THIS was going on there was ROCK of a more ROCKULAR nature going on approx 1,000,000 miles away in MAURITIUS where Mr T Pattison did not one but TWO gigs on that paradisical island where he and The Family Pattison are spending 2010. Of most interest, to ME at least, is the SECOND of the two, for LO! on Saturday night his Excting New Band played Please Don't Eat Us, featuring not only Mrs E Pattison on lead vocals but also a CHOIR OF CHILDREN! I am promised YOUTUBE evidence of this which I cannot WAIT to see!

    What a weekend of inter-continental THRILLZ it has been - i now await the offer of a tour of The Indian Ocean!

    posted 4/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    News From The Warehouse
    Thanks very much to all the Newsletter Subscribers who've ALREADY leapt in for the austerity-measures SUPER CHEAP pre-release of Forest Moon Of Enderby. I spent a DELIGHTFUL evening last night updating The Database Of ROCK, printing out labels, and then packing them all up. As I stood at the post office counter this morning dispatching the ABROAD copies I thought once more about how LOVELY it is to know that there are people all over the world who are SMASHING enough to want to buy our CDs, and how GRATE it is to be able to do it in this personal-type way.

    I know some people BLANCHE at the idea of doing their own record label, and sometimes (e.g. when dealing with PRINTERS) I can sympathise - after all, one gets into the business of ROCK mostly to talk to GURLS rather than DO ADMIN - but I think divorcing yourself from the nitty gritty of Actually Sending Out CDs To People Who Want Them means you miss out on one of the nicest aspects of DIY ROCK. By the very nature of the mailing list, most of the people buying THIS CD have bought other albums in the past, and so when I went through sticking the labels on the envelopes it was like seeing a parade of old PALS going past. MOST of the people I was posting to, I think, I haven't actually MET, but I recognise addresses and have chatted on email, and it all gets a bit, well, CHRISTMASSY, seeing them fly past again. Particular locations, like THUNDER BAY in Canada, for instance, which pop up each time never fail to fill me with JOY!

    Hopefully when it's OFFICIALLY released in a couple of months there'll be some NEW people - whose house moving history I'm NOT acutely aware of - buying the album, maybe even some through online shops and downloads whose names I'll NEVER get to see, but for now I'm very very grateful INDEED to all my regulars. Thanks everyone!

    posted 1/10/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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