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Blog Archive: December 2012Take The SECOND Spaceship
Man alive, I wish I'd written a song about the end of the world, I would have been ROLLING in CA$H today from Radio Royalties! If anyone can think of a Big Event happening around 2016, when we'll have had some time to record new material, I'll do some pre-topical lyrics.
For LO! tomorrow is The End Of The World, at LAST. I say "at last" not because I long for armageddon (clarification:I don't) but because it's a date that has been on my Mental Calendar for the entire CENTURY and MORE. Way way back in the late 1990s I shared an office with someone who was VERY into Psychic/RUM stuff - I took it all with a pinch of salt, but then one day she CURED my hangover through AURA massage. NOT A EUPHEMISM. It was WEIRD! So, when she told me that the world was going to end on December 21st 2012 I listened - that was when I first heard about the Mayan "Prophecy" (it's NOT a prophecy any more than there is a PAPERCHASE PROPHECY that the world will end on Jan 6th 2012, when my diary does, but still) and various other INDICATORS.
Apparently there had been lots of VISIONS from PSYCHICS, seeing a Man Dressed In Green causing the end of the world, and Senator John McCain as president. I remembered all this for YEARS - and when, some years later, John McCain RAN for President I was SECRETLY ALARMED, just in case! Anyway, as well as the warning of DOOM she also gave me some ADVICE which I have held close to my heart all these years, and will now share with you.
Do NOT get in the spaceship when the aliens arrive. Wait for the SECOND lot of aliens, and go with them.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't ACTUALLY think the world is ending - if I did I wouldn't have spent quite so much CA$H Christmas Shopping, or indeed have written a new SHOW - but I also think you can't be too careful. Apparently, according to The Psychics of some years ago, when the world "ends" a bunch of aliens will come wanting to save people - but they are NAUGHTY aliens, taking advantage of the disaster, like INTERGALACTIC SMALL CLAIMS LAWYERS or something. The NEXT lot who turn up (late, I guess) are the nice ones, go with them!
If the world DOESN'T end tomorrow, of course, none of this will matter, but if it does - well, I guess I'll be seeing you all in SPACE in the New Year!
posted 20/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Dinosaur Planet: Top Of The Pops
It's that time of year, when people work out and publish their Top 10/20/Whatever Albums Of The Year and, as ever in a year when we've released an album, i have been SCOURING them for mentions of US.
Disappointingly, until yesterday, we had not been mentioned AT ALL - I MOANED about this on twitter and a number of people said they thought Dinosaur Planet had come out LAST year, which it was MEANT to, but due to numerous INCIDENTS (which i am convinced is the reason for the LIGHT DUSTING of grey hairs I now have) with the manufacturing, ended up not being the case. This, obviously,is the ONLY explanation for our non-appearance in ALL charts, but still, it was disappointing not to appear anywhere.
That was until YESTERDAY, when Keep Pop Loud published the second half of their Top 20 Albums of 2012, and LO! we were on it! Not only that, but we were NUMBER ONE!
HOORAH! Now, I know we're all supposed to say "Oh music isn't a competition, it really shouldn't be looked at like that", which is a) true but b) a HECK of a lot easier to say when you're actually IN a chart of what is BEST!
It's funny with this album - maybe it's because I harboured such Ludicrous Dreams of it becoming MASSIVE, or maybe it's because it didn't get featured on RADIO as much as the last two, but I've often thought of it as Not Doing Very Well, when, actually, research shows it has been our TOP PERFORMING album of ALL - it's sold more copies in its first year than ANY of our previous albums, got a TONNE more press (if in rather different places than before - we never got into The Smithsonian Magazine with WE VALIDATE! for instance) and best of all I'm STILL getting emails from people telling me how much they, and often their kids, like it.
And also, of course, I'm IMMENSELY proud of the fact that we actually DID it how we did it i.e. we said "Let's make a ridiculously huge PROPER full cast concept album about SPACE DINOSAURS full of sound effects and EXPLOSIONS" and DID make a ridiculously huge PROPER full cast concept album about SPACE DINOSAURS full of sound effects and EXPLOSIONS. My PRIDE also comes from the fact we had such a vast cast of LOVELY people involved in it, and maybe THAT'S the reason I've carried around this idea of it not doing as well as I'd hoped, because I'd hoped for it to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Maybe one day it will!
And if this all seems a bit daft, that I should be so PLEASED about one blog saying it is THE BEST... well yes, I suppose it is, but it's the TRUTH. It reminds me of many years ago when the "Well Hung At Dawn" column ROLLING STONE made This Is Not A Library their Album Of The Year. They COULD have gone for any of the other albums that EVERYBODY was naming album of the year, but they chose us because, I think, they knew it would have meant a HECKLOAD more for us than for, say, REM. And they were right!
So I guess my MESSAGE here is this: Blogs! websites! news outlets! If you've not done your Top 10s yet, have a think about what it'll mean for the BANDS you mention. Will Alt-J or Field Music or whoever really be that bothered about you saying they're really good, and still be banging on about it in a DECADE? PROBABLY NOT.
Will MJ Hibbett & The Validators? DEFINITELY! You know what to do!
posted 19/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Weekend Of Culture
CRIKEY but I had a weekend of CULTURE this weekend. It kicked off on Saturday morning when myself, Mr S Hewitt, and a range of Exciting People gathered to watch Mr Ben Moor give the first full showing of his new one man show. It was GORGEOUS - like all his stuff it was RICH with STUFF, every sentence an IDEA and GAGS that make you feel better about being a human being. Afterwards you could see ashen faced comedians stumbling away, vowing to do BETTER. It was, in fact, so full of THORTS and MULTIPLE LEVELS that it was more like songwriting than stand-up - THERE IS NO HIGHER PRAISE.
Then we went to see a FILM - "Sightseers", which was dead good, although having gone IN post-Ben Moor wanting to phrase everything we said with ELEGANCE we emerged from the film thinking "Look at that rude sod over there. Let's MURDER him."
Our final cultural stop for the day was to pop to the Southampton Arms in Camden for the start of the Campaign For Really Good Beer PUB CRAWL. CAMRGB is an organisation set up by Crayola from Sarandon to campaign for... well, for good beer (irrespective of how it is made) and good times. I ENDORSE them entirely - I know it is a RADICAL thing to say, but I LIKE good beer and good times. POLITICAL!
Then on Sunday I gathered with Mr S Hewitt for a Total Hero Team practice. It's amazing how much MORE FUN it is doing shows when you know the words - I'd learned up pretty much the first half of it, and THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. I'm doing traditional LINE learning while Steve's doing iPod listening, so he took over Knowing What He Was Doing ENTIRELY in the second half, as I didn't have a clue what was going on! Still, the whole thing sounded GRATE, and I was BOOSTED in confidence about How It's Going To Go.
That's not to say we're not still AFEARED - we're doing our first show on January 7th at the Etcetera Theatre (tickets are VERY MUCH still available),which is a bit earlier than we'd expected, so we booked some EXTRA rehearsal, and I've spent the past couple of days DILIGENTLY learning. It may not be PERFECT by the time we hit the stage (in - YIKES!! - three weeks!!!!) but hopefully it will at least be ACCEPTABLE!
And then the culture CLIMAXED back home with this year's viewing of "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Yes yes, i KNOW it's not TECHNICALLY a Christmas Film, it's Thanksgiving, but STILL: it is NONE more Christmassy and is ACE. We LARFED, we CRIED, it was GRATE - what could possibly be more Christmassy than THAT?
posted 18/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Berlin Stollen-Rave 2012: part three
Our final full day in Berlin began, once again, just before noon, with surprisingly little HANGOVER. I've found this before - German beer is done to PURITY LAWS so doesn't have the CHEMICALS that ours does, and the fact that we'd mostly been drinking out of bottles meant we weren't victim to Night Club Pipes like back home. AND, obviously, having a big LIE-IN every morning certainly helps.
After breakfast (feat. STOLLEN) we headed into town, going to a MASSIVE Christmas Market near Alexanderplatz. There was YET MORE Pretending To Be Joy Division and then we had the Christmasiest time EVER wandering around the market. I mean, LOOK at it!
Shortly after taking these pictures the five of us regrouped to stand underneath that windmill thing, drinking mulled wine in the SNOW while listening to Christmas Songs. Just when it felt like things couldn't get any MORE Christmassy a horse-drawn carriage went by carrying a brass band playing MORE Christmas songs, followed by a parade of SANTAS!
They're good at Christmas, The Germans.
Tim and Emma went off for some Christmas Present Shopping while the rest of us did some BEER shopping, then went round the corner to visit The Museum Of Things. The name ALONE was enough to entice us, especially as it was just around the corner from our flat, but I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone, as it was ACE! It's a floor of an apartment building full of glass cabinets, showing the progression of DESIGN, especially with regards to the WERKBUND, a German Organisation set up to promote good FORM and DESIGN. It explains a LOT of things about Germany (e.g. the cheese slices fit the bread EXACTLY - why wouldn't they?) and was FASCINATING. There was an exhibition of ART by Matias Bechtold who'd taken everyday objects and transformed them into models of FUTURISTIC HOUSE and SPACESHIPS which - for once, ACTUALLY doing it - totally DID make you look at all the other objects afterwards in a different way.
Our minds were BLOWN! We then went to a comic shop, failed to get into a record shop (it had closed), nearly got hit by SNOW due to some YOUTHS throwing snowballs at a BUS, and found a CURRY restaurant nearby. AHA!
Back at the flat the Pattisons arrived and, girded with BEER and, of course, EVEN MORE STOLLEN, we sat down for a BAND MEETING. If the Germans know how to do Christmas then we, The Validators, know how to do band meetings. CRIKEY! The agenda was STUCK to, points were RAISED, issues were DEALT with and we had over two HOURS of DISCUSSION. I can't reveal ALL of the Action Points (one is to do with a SECRET THING for next year) but amongst the decisions was Tim's ASCENSION to Official Booker Of Festival Gigs, a whole NEW way of doing recordings and, indeed, RELEASES in the future. It was all very exciting!
We finished off the evening with a trip to the curry house, which was very nice if perhaps a little SALTY, then headed back to the flat for a surprisingly EARLY NIGHT, ending up all tucked up in bed by eleven o'clock.
This was SENSIBLE as we were up at half six to PACK and set off home again. After a bit of a PANIC when Tim thought he'd lost his car keys (he hadn't) and our train to the airport being a bit late, everything else went FINE. Soon we were back at Luton airport in Baggage Collection saying our FAREWELLS and then onto our respective transport choices home. On the train, just outside St Pancras, I saw this out of the window as we slowed to a halt to wait for a platform:
I don't know why, but for some reason it moved me greatly! INDEED the whole weekend did - once again we had an absolutely LOVELY time, having adventures, messing around, making REMARKS, meeting delightful people, doing a gig, having some beers and eating a TONNE of STOLLEN! It was all due to that HERO amongst men, Mr Martin Petersdorf, for booking us, so let us publicly say THANKS MARTIN! It was BLOODY GRATE!
posted 14/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Berlin Stollen-Rave 2012: part two
I was awoken just before noon in Berlin on Saturday by the sound of Arriving Pattisons. Tim and Emma had set off at Daft O'Clock that morning so we were happily gathered for lunch (MORE STOLLEN) before striding out EN MASSE into a very very SNOWY Berlin. It basically snowed the WHOLE time we were there, it was COLD - here's the view from my window later that evening as PROOF:
On the way we spotted our advert on the TV, and ended up staying on the train for the next time around, going TWO stops past our required station, just to get a picture. TOTALLY worth it!
After that diversion we went to a small Christmas Market, drank some GLUHWEIN (i.e. hot mulled wine, it was ACE) did a bit of sightseeing around the Brandenberg Gate (including a LOT of "Let's Pretend To Be Joy Division In The Snow!" photo opportunities) then walked down Unter Den Linden looking for a CIGAR SHOP, where Tom intended to buy some SCHNAPPS. Opposite this shop was a MIELE appliances shop, which led to some opinions being expressed about the merits of different kinds of vacuum cleaners. I bet that's the sort of thing D.Bowie and L.Reed used to chat about all the time when they were there. We also utilised their INCREDIBLY POSH toilets - it was so posh they didn't have paper towels, they had ACTUAL MINI-TOWELS. A couple of us later confessed to having considered NICKING one, but it seemed WRONG - the reason German shops can HAVE this sort of Nice Thing is that people DON'T go round nicking them. To spoil it felt RUDE!
Round the corner we went to a really nice pub that me, Tim and Frankie had happened upon the FIRST time we'd come to Berlin, then nipped back to the flat to refresh ourselves (i.e. eat EVEN MORE STOLLEN) before hitting the U-Bahn yet again to go to the GIG.
We were playing at a venue called Marie-Antoinette, tucked behind some OFFICES. Martin, Kati and The June Brides were already there when we arrived, but the soundman wasn't, so we took some refreshment in the form of tea and... well, some more STOLLEN, this time made by Martin's mum. It was DELICIOUS! We also tried to buy some beer, but the barstaff REFUSED. We would, apparently, get beer vouchers once the doors were opened, until then we had to wait. NO YOU CANNOT BUY ANY.
I got myself in a bit of a FLAP around this point, worried about borrowing GEAR (which was all fine in the end) and PANICKING GENERALLY - a couple of times I said things like "It's a shame to spoil a lovely weekend away with the annoyance of doing a gig" in what I thought was a LIGHT JOVIAL MANNER. However, it apparently sounded to some of The Vlads that I was saying "I hate gigs! Let us never ever, really seriously, ever do them again and in fact split the band." I wasn't saying that!
Eventually DOORS opened and in came Mr Rich Mayer, who I knew from A MILLION YEARS AGO when I (and also Frankie) were on the uk-indie mailing list. It was great to see him again, and it turned out that in the last NEARLY TWO DECADES he had not stopped being a lovely chap. PHEW!
Beer, music, chat and GOOD TIMES (feat. Michael Knight, who we'd played with at The Bang Bang Club three years ago and who now featured Martin on DRUMS) followed until it was our turn to go on. Here's what we played:
The Gay Train
Theme From Dinosaur Planet
Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
Please Don't Eat Us
My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
Hey Hey 16K
The Advent Calendar Of FACT
Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
Do The Indie Kid
The Lesson Of The Smiths
It all seemed to go pretty well - we had some BIG LARFS and the audience appeared to enjoy it. I only messed up twice, which is EXCELLENT going, and I very much enjoyed playing a gig where I could see THE RIVER directly out of the window! I could also see various people enjoying it - even people I didn't know who KNEW THE WORDS - and near the end someone shouted for It Only Works Because You're Here because they'd heard it on the radio and come SOLELY on the strength of that song. ZOINKS! AND I got to play a Gretsch guitar, which was LOVELY and unusually CHUNKY for an electrical guitar. Frankie played a FIVE STRING bass guitar, which he coped with MANFULLY - it was, in fact, good times all round, as you can see by these rather ACE pictures taken by Mr Heimo Reifetshammer:
After us was the ever delightful Mr Eddie Argos, playing with a SINGLE GUITARIST. To be honest he could probably just do gigs entirely acapella, SUCH is his IMMENSE stage charisma and general EXCELLENCE. He stood in front of the stage and did BASICALLY POETRY and was AAAMAAAZING! HOORAH!
And then the evening finished with the GINORMOUS sounds of The June Brides, who were just BRILLIANT. As with the last time I saw them, in That London, they seem to have COMPACTED their sound into a huge blast of ROCK, they were IMMENSE and LO! the crowd went wild!
For some reason what happened next is a bit vague - I think we had some more beer? And then got the tube home? It's all a bit hazy - although I do definitely recall at the end of the evening Tim insisting we open the bottle of CHAMPAGNE... and then falling asleep where he sat! Before that we had another beer, some more STOLLEN (of course) and then for some reason videoed us all BELLOWING "Do They Know It's Christmas" on Emma's phone. For some reason she REFUSES to put this video online - I cannot for the LIFE of me understand why, it sounded GRATE at the time!
Our revels ended, once again, just before 3am and we all went to bed, tired but very happy. Playing gigs in Berlin is ACE!
posted 13/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Berlin Stollen-Rave 2012: part one
On Friday I met Mr T "The Tiger" McClure at Luton airport to join BERLIN STOLLEN-RAVE 2012: The Validators' now traditional pre-Christmas gig in Berlin. Mr F A Machine had begun it all MUCH earlier - he was to be found having a PINT in East Midlands Airport at 5am, THAT is how ROCK he is - but Tom and I were setting off at a much easier hour.
EXCITINGLY we discovered that Easyjet had SENSIBLY introduced pre-allocated seats, theoretically making the whole experience of flying with them less stressful. They still, however, had priority boarding, mostly it seems so you can get your BAG stashed. For LO! AMAZINGLY for an airline that charges you to put bags in the HOLD, these days nearly everyone takes them in the overhead lockers, so there ISN'T ENOUGH ROOM!
We stood in the RAMMED waiting room, jostling, while constantly called upon by announcements to volunteer to have our extra gear stashed in the HOLD. If we did that, apparently, we'd get priority boarding. But what use would that be, when we no longer had any bags to STASH? It was MENTAL.
Still, the flight itself was fine, and we arrived at the airport to find, once again, NO SIGNAGE. MAN! Everything else in Germany is so ORGANISED, but the TUBE has NO SIGNS to tell you what to do. HUGE CROWDS of travellers wandered the station looking CONFUSED, until a Kindly German told someone that we needed to go to an entirely different ticket machine to buy tickets for town. We ALL went in the same direction, and then Tom and I just followed people with wheely suitcases, as there were NO SIGNS to tell us what platform trains were going from. It was KRAZY!
Eventually we got the Double Decker Train (remembering to validate our tickets first - EVERYONE asked us if we had done this!) to town, got off the tube... and got lost again, going in totally the wrong direction. AT LAST we sorted ourselves out, got to the flat, rang the doorbell... and someone who wasn't Frankie answered.
It was all a bit of a confusing way to start the trip, but one phone call later we'd ALERTED Frankie to our presence and were soon in the flat. The area was all KEBAP SHOPS (German spelling) and the stairwell smelt ODD, but once inside our flat it was LOVELY, with HUGE rooms. We settled down to an afternoon tea of BEER and STOLLEN, which Frankie had kindly been out and GOT, before heading out again, this time for THE RADIO.
I'd had a text from Mr Martin Petersdorf that morning asking if we could go in to do a SPOT on Radio Eins, so of course said "YES PLEASE!" We got the U-Bahn over there and were STUNNED to see, on the TV In The Carriages, a big picture of The June Brides, advertising the GIG! We were OVER EXCITED to say the LEAST to then see a huge picture of US come up! We WHOOPED so loudly that everyone turned round to see what was going on, and we had to explain to a MAN that "That's US! Gig! Us!"
Full of high excitement we found Radio Eins and were asked to come back later, so went and found Martin, our organiser and Berlin Guardian Angel sat in a pub with Mr Phil Wilson, and LO! JOY shone around! There were BEERS and HUGS and then we were BACK at the studio for another try. Phil did a brief interview with the show's hosts - it was a bit strange, they spoke to him in ENGLISH first and then launched into an extended RANT in GERMAN. To begin with it sounded WEIRD like they were asking him questions then slagging him off in German, but thanks to some untranslated words we worked out they were repeating what Phil had said for non-English speakers. PHEW!
I went on next and made some REMARKS, then did a version of It Only Works Because You're Here which both Tom and Frankie noticed I was Enunciating Very Clearly. This was partly because I was conscious of having had a BEER (the radio station had a HUGE BEER FRIDGE full of FREE BEER stood right next to me, REMINDING me of this fact!) but also because I wished it to be clearly understandable by those who do not speak the LINGO as a first language like what I do. It actually made me CONCENTRATE and thus do a Pretty Good Version. It was nice - in fact, here's a picture of the other two ENJOYING it:
Job done we next headed off to Martin's local pub for some more BEERS also HIJINKS and then strolled round the corner to The Magnet Club. Derby band, and pals of Frankie, The Sons happened to be playing there as part of their TOUR. Frankie had seen it advertised but hadn't told them we were going, so it was HILARIOUS when we walked in to watch Lee Lad (the bass player) doing not a double but a TRIPLE TAKE of AMAZEMENT as his brain tried to process Frankie wandering in. It was AMAAAAZING.
We had a few more beers, enjoyed the band, and eventually piled out for the U-Bahn home. We were on it at about 2:30am and it was INCREDIBLY busy, also WORKING!
We got home (having popped round the corner for some PIZZA first) and were in bed just before 3am. Life on the road was working out pretty well!
posted 12/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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The Flashing Santa
Today we can finally UNLEASH upon the world our brand new Christmas song, The Flashing Santa. Look, here it is now!
All of the photographs were taken by the excellent Mr Will Stone (whose other work you can find at www.findthewill.org) and the CAMEO VOCAL is by the ever marvellous Mr Colin Clary of The Smittens. Everything else is by me and The Validators!
As usual we've added it to the Christmas Selection Box album, which is now BULGING with TEN Christmas Songs which you can download, should you wish, from our bandcamp page.
It's all DEAD Christmassy - hope you like it!
posted 11/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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I spent an happy hour or so this morning putting together some ChARACTER PROFILES for Total Hero Team. As mentioned last time, Steve and I spent a rather jolly time last week DRESSING UP... er... I mean, GETTING INTO CHARACTER with PROPS, so that we could send photographs to our prospective Poster Artiste. Looking through it today I realised that, should two man rock opera business ever dry up (hem hem) then we could surely earn a FINE living as Professional Face Pullers. MAN ALIVE there are some daft looks in there!
And you need not take my word for it - for LO! I have stuck them up on the new Temporary Webpage that has been shacked up just now. It's not the CLASSIEST looking of websites, but it DOES feature some a) silly pictures b) DATES, which is a lot more than MANY corporate websites I have dealt with over the years. It's not THAT long until we start previewing, so I thought we ought to at least have the DATES and, where available, links to tickets up before Christmas.
Next stop: LINE LEARNING!
posted 3/12/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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