visitation of an American Poet
I’m playing at a Lou Reed tribute night in Kemptown, (At The) Coach House. It starts at 7pm, on Sat 7th Dec. Here’s the address:
There’ll be loads of people playing songs from all across his incredible body of work. I’m doing… Actually, no. If you want to find out, you’ll have to come along. Anyway, it promises to be a fantastic celebration (in a unique venue, too).
Doing a free gig on Wed 17th July in New Cross, London, at the Amersham Arms – Facebook event pg here.
For those who abominate Facebk & all its blandishments, here’s the info:
Amersham Arms, 388 New X Rd SE14
doors 8pm – tax £0.00
…Think I’m on 2nd, not sure yet. Fairly low-key, but should be a good night – not gigged a huge amount lately, as I’ve been concentrating on getting more energy-waves onto record & other things creative (more news about all that soon, btw)… On with it, then.
Just been offered a gig this Saturday: At The Coach House in Kemptown, doors 7pm, supporting The Droplets. Excited about this, as it’s a unique and extremely vibey venue – website here. If it’s good enough for Richard Thomas (and Jamie Sturrock), it’s certainly good enough for me.
Also been provisionally offered a July gig in London at the Amersham Arms, New Cross – Wed 17th, details tbc – which’ll be a heady jolt of reminiscence, as my old band played there two or three times in the Earlies, circa 2005. More on that as & when.
(Not updated much lately, but that’s soon to change. Keep it bookmarked for more.)
So… live session on Thursday (25th) went well – Under The Table on BHCR. Despite technical problems at the start of the show cutting into the timeslot (handled with aplomb by presenter Nigel Staley… truly, the man’s unflappable), it was a good programme and a buzz to perform on. The time issue meant I didn’t get to play a couple of pre-recorded tracks – from Glow in the Dark - but did manage to fit in:
Monkey – an old song recorded by my band Empty Vessels in 2006 (on the Parlour 9 Sessions album)
Phantom Party – from the Episodes EP
Undertow – from 1st album This Mucky Age
…Plus live versions of Wet Dream Disaster, Face of Stone & Larkin. I got these recorded, and will no doubt find a use for em soon. A freebie, perhaps. Did a spoken word piece and talked a load of shit about nudist beaches in Brighton, John Peel’s disembodied essence, that kind of thing, and selected tracks by Lou Reed (Waves of Fear) and The Fall (Ladybird) – neither of them get aired enough nowadays.
Yeah, tech issues aside it was pretty sweet to have almost a whole programme to play with. Other than that, I’ve been offered a local gig – more news very soon – and am hatching schemes and plans enormousfold. Keep it bookmarked: back shortly.
always good to get out of my comfort zone, whereas MOST PEOPLE NEVER BOTHER
Right, am doing a live acoustic session on BHCR this Thursday 25th, 6 – 7pm, on Under The Table – the last time was fun, so I’m going back for seconds. Expect good music (not just mine), disjointed talk, spoken word stuff… basically, we’re not going to be discussing chart acts’ sex lives with our feet up and some nice chocolates & pink wine. If that sounds interesting, do tune in; if not, fuck ya – it’s probably not aimed at you anyway.
A track of mine can be heard on Container Drivers Radio, Fri April 13th:
Playlist – Part 1
- The Beat – Stand Down Margaret
- Edwyn Collins – Carry On, Carry On
- Matt Finucane – Degenerate Son
- Rollor – Minority of the Opulent
- Spacemen 3 – Take Me To The Other Side
- Jaguar Love – Up All Night
- King Khan and The Shrines – Land of the Freak
- Flies on You – Spain
- Woodpecker Wooliams – Sparrow
- The John Knox Sex Club – The Devil’s in Your Hands
- Monoganon – Eternal See You Soon
- Pokey LaFarge – Mr. Nobody
- 3th Floor Elevators – Levitation
- The Fall – Spinetrak
Playlist – Part 2
- Dengue Fever – Glass of Wine
- Young Marble Giants – N.I.T.A.
- Netarine No 9 – Found Things
- The Donkeys – Lower The Heavens
- True Widow – Duelist
- Trapped Mice – Arthur’s Seat
- Battery Face – Pugsley
- The Monochrome Set – Ici Les Enfants
- King Tuff – Wild Desire
- Holograms – Apostate
- Cowboy 78 – The Wiseguys
- Richard Swift – Dracula (Hey Man !)
- Roberta Flack – I Told Jesus
…The programme’s up on their site for a while, so give it a listen. Apart from my song (a live acoustic track & B-side to Nemesis), there’s loads of cool stuff on the playlist – as you can see.
Sadly the Edinburgh gig, Tuesday 16th with Rollor, isn’t happening. Such is life…
I’m playing a gig on Tue 16th April at Pivo in Edinburgh – also appearing are the mighty Rollor. (No shit – I’m clearly going to have to raise my game, which is always a good thing: these guys are superb. And it’s thanks to Container Drivers Radio, who put it together.)
Free entry, doors 8pm, I’m on last (as of this writing) – w/ 3rd act tbc. Looking forward to it… got a nice setlist assembled.
[14th April: Sadly, the gig's now cancelled - my apologies.]
Otherwise: waterghost shapeshifts and moves on, seemingly of its own volition; an eerie but exciting feeling. There’s all kinds of stuff happening with this, which I’ll reveal when the time is right. (It’s not my project, so there’s a limit to what I can blurt out at the moment; a fantastic thing to be involved with, anyway.)
Also, am doing a second live session at Brighton & Hove Community Radio on Under The Table, 25th April 6-7pm – this’ll be fun.
Further details to follow.
Alt-music site Independent Music News tapped me for their 1st live acoustic session, a new weekly feature on Soundcloud. I was happy to oblige, and recorded a solo version of Love Unknown, a song from Glow in the Dark.
The track can be found here, along with some biographical intro-type stuff – it’s as direct and honest a performance as I could give of one of my more straightforward, emotive songs.
Check out the rest of the site too: it’s well worth a look.
2012 was bipolar – but I’d do it all again
Well, that was a… colourful year. And who could ask for more? Rather that than the alternative, which is a shuddersome thought. Death!
So what happened? (I’m still asking myself that, in a slightly dazed way, so this summary is as much for my benefit as anything else.)
1) Released 2nd album. Got more, and better, reviews than #1 - which was kind of the idea.
2) Did a brief and eventful tour after release - pretty much broke even: another first. Played a fair few other gigs, mostly solo, some with…
3) A band, which orbited around the songs for roughly 8-9 months and then exploded. With hindsight, it was never going to last, but during that time we played…
4) Live on BBC Introducing: The South (and the single got a little air-time too). This was exciting.
…Besides these bare bullet-points, I’ve just kept on doing it, “it” being more songs. There’s a 3rd album shaping up, and 2013 looks good in other ways already. Met some potential collaborators in the last couple of months, had a few tantalising offers; again, I’m not going into detail yet for fear of The Jinx; in this game, so many promising set-ups tend to evaporate without warning.
But it’s promising just the same. And it’s been a blast – on a gross venal level, the trickle of royalties makes filling in an income tax Self Assessment form such a thrill.
Joking aside, I’m still fuelling off the highs and regret none of the lows - hope you (whoever you are) likewise. Happy New Year.
That was fun. Played three songs live (solo acoustic) and read a short story, on BHCR‘s Under The Table programme, Thur eve. The songs were Into It, Love Unknown and Clumsy – album versions here - and the story was Complaint from the Other World, recently re-published by Ether Books: more on that here.
It’s already starting to feel like an “anthology perennial” in a weird way - y’know how obscure old horror/ghost story writers have that one tale that crops up again and again in paperback collections…? Hubristic as it sounds, I reckon this story’s the fiction equivalent of the bullet with my name on it – does keep cropping up, sorta. And if that’s so, I’m happy with it.
Which isn’t to say ambition doesn’t still gravel my arse. To do better in writing, but more immediately in music. Thankfully, that part went smooth as an adrenaline icecream. Hopefully, I’ll have some recordings as evidence soon. If not, ya shoulda lissened, shoontcha?
Thanks to Nigel & Pierce – and btw, James Herbert has oddly sketchy handwriting… (I signed the guestbook: his was the previous entry.)
Not only am I doing a London gig tomorrow nite (details here )…
…Also doing a 20-25 min live spot on Brighton & Hove Community Radio on Thursday 8th Nov. Their website’s here (with links to live broadcast & archived programmes). I’m on the 6 – 7pm “Under The Table” show, and will be performing a mix of live songs & spoken word. It’s a little different to previous radio stuff I’ve done, and should be a good brain-scorching listen.
Below is a piece I wrote some years ago for a fanzine (on actual paper, yet). Explanation follows.
I arrived at 221B Baker Street to find my friend Sherlock Holmes deep in consultation with a well-to-do lady of middle years, her pale worried features a sad contrast to the richness of her dress. ‘It’s my son Francis,’ she said in a voice cracked with weariness. ‘Ever since he joined this.. “rock band”, he’s been like a perfect stranger. He comes and goes at all hours, refuses his dinner, and seems to detest my husband and I – but worse yet…’
Here Holmes interrupted with a brusque gesture of his nervous fingers. ‘This band. What do they call themselves?’
‘I blush to tell you, Mr Holmes, but they are known as The Fucking Cocksuckers.’
‘Quite so. If you will permit me – ?’ Holmes stretched out a long arm and reached into the jumble of documents and periodicals on the mantelpiece. ‘Hmm. Yes, here we are – this week’s New Musical Express.. Watson, what a catalogue of horrors is here! The lubberly scum of London, the very dregs of the opium dens.. Where was it.. Ah! I quote: “spotted by yr excited reporter picking their noses in a darkened toilet with the Damp Socket Scuzz Collective (formerly We Luv Public School Records) – anti-music – anti-quotes – they wipe their arses on the smug corpse of the Old Previous Cunts – doing it for The Kids, man – tired rhetoric – I play guitar like I’m flogging my old PE teacher – drums like a scotch egg full of Iggy’s spunk…” Enough!’
‘But Mr Holmes, this is not the worst of it!’ the good lady interjected. ‘I listened to some of their.. music.. only this afternoon, and my own Francis was,’ she coughed with embarrassment, ‘..singing, after a fashion, about “snorting bones”. In somebody’s garden shed.’ Her face was ashen with horror. ‘Bones, Mr Holmes!’
Holmes looked grim indeed. ‘Mrs Glendinning, I shall be most glad to rescue your son from these villains. Watson, I would be grateful if you’d pass me the inhaler of benzedrine cough remedy.’
‘Why, have you a cold, Holmes?’
‘Just do it.’
Suitably refreshed, my friend bade the dowager Lady goodbye and stepped out to hail a cab. I found him prostrate with nervous exhaustion a few feet from the porch, his athletic frame splayed on the cobblestones. ‘Quickly Watson – the brandy,’ he croaked, gesturing feebly toward the inner pocket of his greatcoat, ‘and you’d better have some too if we’re to stand a chance of surviving the ghastly work that lies ahead of us. I trust you’ve brought your revolver.’
‘Holmes, you surely cannot anticipate any danger from these noisy children?’
My friend smiled thinly as I helped him to his feet. ‘No. But I might feel like shooting someone.’
We arrived in a swirling fog outside the lowest kind of tavern. The noises from within are beyond my power to describe – and over it all a nasal, tortured yelp as of a man crying out in mortal crisis.
We pushed inside through the heat and throng, eyes watering in the murk, minds assaulted by the din. My cheeks burn as I write it, but the music began to work within me in strange ways – my moral fibre was shaken – my resistance wavered.. I plugged my ears and pushed on, seeing the lithe form of my friend leap onto the stage!
What a scene I beheld: the preening figure that had once been Francis Strathbogie Glendinning, beloved heir of a respectable family, twitching and cursing in language that must not – must not – be repeated. Surrounding him were a group of haggard, perspiring louts, sneering in practised ennui as they mishandled their instruments; a glassy-eyed stare and a shrug was their only reaction to Holmes’ appearance. He grasped Francis’s skinny shoulder and pushed the repulsive figure aside, seizing the microphone – howls of protest rose from the crowd – with his other hand Holmes picked up a guitar and lifted it high above his head, then dashed it to the floor!
I felt a thrill of fear as he snarled, ‘Right you lightweight little shits.. I’ll show you something..’
TO BE CONTINUED
(Except it wasn’t, nor was it intended to be. It was a dig at the then-prevalent mid-00′s fashion for bands made up of crackheads and public-school wankers pretending to be ex-rent boys, and is set in a milieu which at one time my life revolved around – weird as that seems now. Anyway, I rediscovered it by accident and thought it might be a laugh to stick it on here.)
So last night’s gig at The Brunswick - see below – went very well: which after recent torrid peaks and chasms, shooting stars and sucker-punches, actually did come as quite a shock. Okay, it’s hardly front-page stuff but even so - good to know I can still sustain a 40-min solo gig, play new material and grab the listener. Also, without compromising on intensity. Still got it – and still capable of acting like a pro. (It helps that the venue’s super-atmospheric and has the huge asset of a talented sound-engineer.) They’ve asked me back, too. Really, without wishing to sound all Hollywood, it’s stuff like this that makes it worthwhile. Till next time, mes braves.
signs of life…
And here’s another gig, back home at the Brunswick in Brighton – details here. Thur 20 Sept, doors 8pm, tickets £4 or £3 adv from Brunswick site (with unlimited cheap guestlist).
I’m closing the night from about 10:20, and get a 40-min set – which gives me a chance to play some stuff from album 2 that’s not been aired before. The other acts are Jessica Mary York and Daniel Powell. Thanks to Andy Hillion for promoting, and as it’s a nice atmospheric venue this should be a memorable night: looking forward to it.
The 13th August update of Unpeeled has very positive things to say about Glow in the Dark – “once in a blue one, you come across something of genuine interest”, for a start – and I’ve taken the liberty of quoting the entire review on the Press page. Go to the site, though, it’s all good writing (and they clearly have excellent taste, eh? Eh?!?).
Wish me luck – or a gloriously messy death. x
GLOW IN THE DARK – album #2 – is now available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify & iTunes. And the rest. My advice is get it from Bandcamp, where it comes with extras.
It’s been reviewed by Whiteboard Project, here. (Scroll down, it’s the second or third item.) It “will infuriate some and delight others [...] Highly recommended”. Amen to that.
On top of this, I’m part of a brief tour from 15th – 19th August.
As you can hardly miss noticing, just to yr right on this page is a newly-installed Soundcloud player. It features the 4-song set we played a month ago on BBC Introducing: South courtesy of Melita Dennett – and by “we”, I mean me and the band.
It was our first public airing before the New X Inn gig (see below), and it sounds damn good. Compare & contrast it with the quite different album versions, also playable on this page: we rock.
I haven’t fronted a band since Empty Vessels on 14th Dec 2006 at The Montague Arms (RIP): so what’s changed? Happily, very little.
Solo acoustic (or with perhaps one other musician, eg. keyboards) is a totally different animal – I’d forgotten how charged the atmosphere at a real gig can be. The New Cross Inn on Friday was vibey as ever; I, Ludicrous sounded good – well, their soundcheck did, we’d buggered off back to Brighton in the van by the time they went onstage – and the sheer power and physicality of the experience was… well, there aren’t any words, really. I just love feeling the drum-cracks and noise-shreds blast my spine, and aiming my voice right… through… the middle; worth every second, every minor discomfort and expediency.
It went over well, too; nice crowd. It’s good to be back. More to follow, soon.
oh, and many thanks to Andy Clarke, without whom…
introducing the band…
Here’s a Facebook Event pg, but for those of you who shun such things: £3 in, we’re on 9-ish, and – recent 4-song BBC session excepted – this is the full band’s 1st gig, playing a 30-35 min set.
The venue’s great – have played there in the past, so I’m not just blowing smoke – and it looks like a night to be remembered, to put it mildly. Come along, do.
sour grapes or the cold, sharp wine of truth? You decide. But it’ll cost ya… well, nothing actually
There’s a debate – which can only get more heated – about whether music should be free. About the dynamic created for makers and consumers of music by the Free Culture – or Freecult, as I prefer to call them because it sounds stoopider (of course, they’re too numerous to be an actual cult, and are in most cases motivated by the prevalent tech-enabled custom of lax, myopic greed rather than any coherent ideology). To clarify, these are the people who collect music like stamps – and never listen to 90% 0f it – rather than downloaders who then buy the product, or some of it anyway. Yes: Product.
Of course money should be involved in music. It’s been inextricably entwined with art since art existed; without patronage, no Iliad, no Odyssey, no Velvet Underground, no sustainable dance/electro music *ever* beyond the first amyl nitrate whiff of excitement, no X Factor (okay, baaad joke at the end there). True, the major labels are getting what they deserve. Unfortunately, the artists aren’t; while many I know or know of haven’t any problem in principle with giving stuff away – and this includes me – to “donate” the whole lot is, in essence, shutting out loads of artists who can’t afford to do that and sustain themselves or their work. As well as carrying a stigma of bargain-basement loserdom. This stuff tends to get downplayed in the current atmosphere of Future Boomer righteousness – or it did until recently. Strange that it’s taken so long to be examined at a grass-roots level: and what it took was a common enough, albeit unthinking, admission from a National Public Radio DJ (hardly the big bad Music Biz Man).
So yeah, £££. Obviously, it’s all in who the gelt comes from… corporate sponsorship, crowd-sourcing, arms deals… and who it goes to. On any lower echelon than superstar, it’s a vexed question (and I’m sick of labouring it, so will stop biting the hand that… sort-of… feeds now). Besides which, you can chop logic about the moral pros & cons all day, but personally? On a selfish level, I don’t really give a shit.
Perseverance for pennies: gotta be done, innit? Well, up to a point. Beyond that, it’s just slaughtering the golden goose.
If I could think of a viable strategy to get round this impasse, as hopefully someone will sooner or later, I’d be a fucking entrepreneur rather than a musician. Or possibly a writer for sites like Gizmodo.com who “refuted” David Lowery with a barrage of meaningless stats. But my point about sustainability – affordability – stands. In effect, it’s like a new form of something I’d hear horror stories about from the bad old days: Pay to Play. Who in their right mind wants that? (And uh, don’t quit the day job btw – assuming you’re lucky enough to have one.)
A Footnote: speaking of Pay to Play…
Putting together a tour without the cradle of logistic and booking support, I’ve noticed something interesting. I’m sure a lot of musicians in my kind of semi-legit position have run into something similar.
The era of literal Pay to Play (in London): a lot of venues demanded an upfront fee for the privilege of gigging to six uninterested alcoholics, the scarcely-more-animate sound engineer, and maybe two mates who were just there because they wanted into the keyboard player’s pants. A promoter with a great deal of sense and integrity (and taste, obviously, as an ally of mine) urged me on several occasions: Never, ever, ever, pay to play. It just encourages the practise, which must be stamped out. It’s clearly a self-defeating way to go, and I won’t insult your intelligence by hashing over why this individual was quite right. But a lot of venues – feeling the bite, so I fling no blame – are now getting into the habit of asking for a hire fee rather than actually promote a gig. Often, in context, this is fair enough; but the implications are uncomfortable.
This may seem rather off the point of the rant above. (God, I’m starting to moan as much as that St Saviour woman…) But it’s a symptom of the same fucked economic model. One alternative is free no-frills gigs, which in theory sounds nice but in practice means variable quality-control: there, see? Free stuff sucks. Can I buy some soil off you, please?
The BBC Introducing: South live session we played is up on their site for the next 5 days, here.
We’ll get a recording of our songs, which were spread out across the broadcast, so I’ll probably upload it here &/or to Soundcloud at some point… Till then, check out the programme. It includes an interview, which I think went okay – the top of my head was spinning off somewhere in the upper atmosphere at the time on sheer adrenaline. Managed not to swear or otherwise disgrace myself – somehow.
In all, sounded nice and crunchy; in fact we were ear-splittingly loud. No idea how the sound engineer made sense of this tidal sheet of fuzz, but what went on-air was magicked into something very tight and coherent, more so as we progressed. The fact we were lean, ready and up for it must’ve helped too.
Abiding memory? How swift and efficient the whole operation was – totally hassle-free, nice people to deal with – and, uh, playing with a big cardboard cut-out of Beloved National Treasure (and in my book, twat) David Jason as Del Boy, right in my eyeline. That and the chundering monotony of football, everywhere, inescapable.
No, seriously though: it was a pleasure. Had thought I was shackled to the acoustic guitar forevermore, minorly-doomed never again to wring whorls of feedback out of a hard-driven amp… Happily, I was wrong.
Okay, the live session on BBC Introducing: South is going out this Sunday, from 7 – 9 pm. We’re playing 4 songs and doing an interview. EDIT: 1st song goes out at 7:05.
Link to their webpage here. Info:
BBC Introducing: The South, 7-9pm Sunday evenings
BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey & BBC Radio Solent
Listen in Brighton on 95.3 FM
Listen in Sussex & Surrey 104-104.8 FM
Listen in Solent & Hampshire on 96.1 FM
Listen in Dorset on 103.8 FM L
Text during the show on 81333 your normal rates apply, but you must start your text with the word ‘radio’
…I can promise the unpredictable, the colourful, the atom-smashing. Give us a listen, do!
Here’s another write-up for Hard Science from is this music? Good again: I’m a punk poet prepared to push the boat out, it sez. Damn right.
The BBC Introducing: South session takes place next Sunday, 24th June - more details as soon as I have them (probably tomorrow). Exciting stuff.
Here’s a nice write-up for the upcoming album at indiebandsblog.com …
And here’s one at withguitars.com
Appreciated, as ever. Live, the gigs are gradually pencilling in, circling like inky tenebrous corner-of-the eye spectres, hazing toward actuality, an’ shit… Also, just been offered a BBC radio session quite soon, so more news on that swiftly.