The video to my next single, Hard Science (released on Light Crude 28 May) can be viewed above. It was a lot of fun, albeit very fragmented, to make – not the least difficult was finding a vicar’s collar that fit comfortably and didn’t slip out to the side like a broken bone. Anyway, now I know how those evangelicals feel: drunk and throbbing with THE POWER OF THE LORD.
old news and new news…
New: looks like I’ve finally got a band together, at least the strong framework of one. All we lack – perhaps – is a keyboard or synth (or even laptop) player. It’s sounding great so far… Exciting stuff.
Also, been getting some more airplay on Brighton’s Burst Radio – check em out.
Old: my former band Empty Vessels now has a Youtube channel here. There’s live footage in 3 parts, and also loads of free audio on Bandcamp. While I don’t want to make the mistake of raking around in the past too much, it captures the chaos and focused energy of those days – just as well I’ve got a new band, really.
…and also for the re-issue of “Episodes”
Monday 20th Feb sees the digital re-release of my 2008 EP Episodes, with bonus tracks. Here’s a short story to celebrate: one for all you Valentine’s Day romantics out there. (Ha!)
This is a one-off filmed story that was hosted by God Is In The TV zine. Watch it, it’s unusual (and very, very cheap).
*June 2021: as with previous single, this no longer exists as a separate recording but can be heard on the album…
God, this is exciting. After a few false starts, the music vid for Hands Up was shot yesterday. This time it was made with a proper crew and equipment, in various locations, and the atmosphere was unbelievable.
That’s it, I’m saying nothing more for now – you’ll just have to wait.
an explosive conclusion
The final part of this story’s hosted exclusively by God Is In The TV, and brings the story to a cosmic climax – with messy consequences for some…
As before, it’ll be on Youtube in a while – but go to GIITTV first because it’s stuffed with music insight and dissent.
That screen test debacle in full
Ah well – best stick to music, eh. Thought things were going rather too smoothly and a humbling was due; got one in full measure. Can laff about it now, as they say; even at the time it was kind of funny, in a gruesome way. I mean, how likely is it that a complete novice can just walk in and bag the lead in a film…?
Anyway, as detailed below I breezed through the initial audition a while ago – largely because I was cocky and didn’t give much of a shit – and the feedback was good, very enthused. A problem occurred to me once the buzz wore off, in that I didn’t particularly care for the male lead on paper; he seemed a bit drab and it was hard to care whether he got the girl – who was free-spirited, kooky, and kind of irritating, truth be told. The script was almost too acute in its characterisations. (Personally I’d’ve banged their heads together; that film I’d pay to watch.) Big stumbling block if you’ve never acted before and aren’t sure how to get past this pop-eyed scorn and make the guy come to life. This is where the actor’s craft, the actor’s training, the actor’s eerie capacity for self-hypnosis comes in. It’s certainly not something you can pick up in an afternoon on-site, as I discovered.
So I showed up despite my misgivings (or, okay… prejudices), was made welcome, and within five minutes was sitting under two burning pillars of light with an actress I’d never met before, trying to pretend I wanted to charm her pants off with my creepy, earnest smooth talk. Thing is, despite my reservations about the characters, it’d all been a bit of a giggle before; now the sudden sharp knowledge that This Is It, It’s All Real, boosted anxiety right across the spectrum into catatonia. Within six minutes, I knew I’d blown it; within about eight, I’d sweated right through my clothes. Knowing this incredible flop sweat was being picked up on camera didn’t help me get into the moment, to put it mildly; it was about all I could do to speak my lines in the right places, in English, in a robot’s monotone.
I can truly – and happily – say I’ve never died on my arse quite so graphically before. The shittiest gig I’ve ever done has nothing on it. It was an incredibly strange feeling: any small ideas about how to emote convincingly just sieved out of my brain like a bladderful of piss, to be replaced by… nothing. Utter vacancy. What really threw me, I think, was the awkwardness and weird, artificial feel of the situation; a strong sense that whatever happened, almost none of it was under my control. Musicians, as a sweeping generalised rule, have a fair bit of say in how they present themselves and their music. This, however, was like stepping into an uneasy dream where everyone’s smiling and smiling and speaking and you’re following suit, hoping they don’t notice you’re not one of them by some fatal slip, and still they’re smiling, and you’re sitting there wanking. Or in my case, in a pool of sweat.
Thing is, the director still seemed to want to give me a chance – so he gave me some more stuff to do, improv games, different scene with different actress, that kind of thing. This effectively prolonged and deepened the agony, but by then I was so numbed that I just didn’t care, couldn’t even summon the initiative to slink away. (The other guys up for the part were all professional actors, and while pleasant enough I felt they began to look at me a little askance; like, who let this clown in? And how come he’s still here? I may have imagined this, though.) After about a year, I was dismissed – kindly and politely enough – and thought, WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED? But not in quite the same way as the first time.
But I remind myself, it was only ever extra gravy. And the actor’s mindset is fluid and strange and difficult to acquire… etc etc. The short films I’ve made in no way prepared me for it – how could they, I’m using my own words in my own time, on my own planet.
And tomorrow, I’m going to be making a video for Hands Up – a real one with proper crew and everything, which’ll involve running round Brighton with gasmasks and shit. You don’t get that in a romcom.
The Golem knows the way
Here’s part 2 of The UnExplorers, hosted by God Is In The TV. For anyone who came in late, it’s a film of a short story; sadly, there’s no sex or violence, as that’s quite tricky when you’re alone in front of a camera (well, a bit).
Speaking of movies and that, I’m doing a screen test in 4 days’ time for the lead role in the film I randomly auditioned for a while ago (see below) – obviously I’ll write about it afterward, however great or humiliating it turns out.
In the run-up to the album release, a series of short films I made are being hosted by God Is In The TV zine.
Here’s the first one:
The second part will be up around Tue 24th May, and so on in fortnightly installments.
I might have described these vids briefly in an earlier entry, but anyway, they’re filmed versions of previously-published stories.
By saying “filmed”, I don’t want to write cheques I can’t cash (for younger readers, those are pieces of paper – paper – that the older generation used to transmit a sum of money. It sounds crazy, but it’s true)…*
They’re lo-fi, minimal – in the strictest sense of the term – but no less entertaining for that, hopefully. Have a look.
*Note to self: be more careful with the cheap sarcasm
More fun in the capital. Every time I visit London now, a wave of nostalgia hits me – how could I have given up all this? The density, the dirt, the sense of great things doing? Well, I had little choice – but that’s another story. Besides, the feeling soon passes. It’s always good to come back for a gig, though.
So, played 93 Ft East on 28th March – and had a pretty good time, all considered. It’s interesting trying to convert a largely uncommitted audience who don’t know or much care who you are. It can go either way, but this time it worked; crested the uphill part of the gig, fought through the tumbleweed inertia moment, and by the end had largely drawn them in. Maybe it was the megaphone; I’ve always wanted to hassle people who bugger off for a smoke, and this is the ideal tool. In fact I’d better stop using it soon, or I’ll come to rely on it too much… But it helped, which was funny.
Afterward, someone told me my lyrics are “not what people want to hear” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. A compliment, in a way. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!! Call me a pervert, but I was pleased. So I don’t deal in reassuring, feel-good platitudes; why is that any worse coming from a guy with an acoustic guitar than, say, two laptops and a strobe-light tied to his head? Someone explain it to me. Ah what the hell – some people dug it, the rest… just had to sit tight for half an hour.
Spent the following day in Brighton Electric Studios shooting test footage for a music vid. This is to accompany Hands Up, the second single (due in July, shortly before the album). Feels weird, miming – especially trying to play guitar at the same time and make it all look real. Can’t deny it was fun, like some kind of whole-body Karaoke. And some people do this kind of thing a lot – what does that do to their minds…?
Talk about worlds colliding. Last Monday, gigged the legendary rock oubliette Hope & Anchor, N1. I’ve a lot of affection for that place – my old band played it loads of times, and I’ve had some great nights there. It’s an old-school rock sweatbox in the best sense – the power of crowd and sound focus into a great wave of energy, driving you effortlessly, till you feel Olympian and mellow like a 1920’s crooner – even while screaming your fucking head off. Entranced!
Deliberate headlined and I guested on a few songs with them; and as before, Chris added laptop noise during my set to The Black Membrane. This time it was phenomenal – the whole room immersed in surging fog, floes and crackles. I love this shit, I truly do.
Then during the week I met up with a director about a lead part in a film. It was just one of those random things that falls into your lap out of nowhere, and would be foolish (and ungrateful to Luck, Chance, whoever) not to investigate. It seemed to click, so a few days later I went for the audition.
Not something I’ve ever done before. Daunting and alien. A very heightened experience, an atmosphere superficially informal but charged with intent: a camera, lights, a row of people sat watching, and a script I had 5 minutes to look at. I will never, ever take the piss out of actors again.
Anyway, must’ve done okay, because they want me back to screen-test with potential female leads.