I’m on Radio Reverb this Sunday as part of an hour-long programme of spoken word and improvised music – that’s 28 July at 11pm, on 97.2FM. The programme’s repeated at the following times:
Tue 30 July 7am
Wed 31 July 11am, &
Fri 2 Aug 5am
sneak preview: live readings
Something different… In a week’s time I’m back on Nigel Staley’s programme Under The Table on Brighton & Hove Community Radio, Thursday 27th June, 6 – 7pm. (Not bad going, considering the last occasion was only a couple of months back.) This time I’ll be performing eight spoken word pieces, with ambient interludes from Susumu Yokota’s album The Boy and the Tree. The pieces will include three extracts from this novel, Leland Poet – which I’m re-releasing onto Kindle the following week, on Monday 1st July.
It’s quite a step away from strumming guitar, but there’s many hooks to grip you with.
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).
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 – details very soon – and am hatching schemes and plans enormousfold.
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…
It’s been a while, but then this time of year’s rarely very dramatic.
Lately, the focus is on improvising, found sounds and field recordings – for instance, a spoken word piece I just did with a sound artist named Jamie Sturrock.
He’d produced a very eerie soundscape called water ghosts, based on noises obtained by dangling a mic into an underground cavern in Scotland. I wrote a response after sitting in the dark with it, then recorded this with him. The results, when finished, may be released at some point – but that’s out of my hands, and part of a larger ongoing project. More news on this if/when I have it.
Anyway, it’s very exciting so far; Jamie’s website (with water ghosts toward the bottom of the page) can be found here.
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 dreary thought. Death!
So what happened? (I’m still asking myself that, 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. Met some potential collaborators in the last couple of months, had a few tantalising overtures; 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 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.
You 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 mine, in a shit internet sort of way.
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, and hopefully I’ll have some recordings as evidence soon.
Thanks to Nigel & Pierce – and btw, James Herbert has oddly sketchy handwriting (his was the previous entry in the guestbook)…
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.
notes from waaay underground, Sept 2012
It’s hardly an original observation, but we’re in an unprecedented place with music right now. And that’s leaving aside the hopelessly blurred question of illicit downloads.
What we’ve got is an ever-more-entrenched top tier – the trad music biz – with a chokehold on all outlets still, despite everything. Shrinking but sucking up all the gravy, digging in, skimming off as much short-term profit on karaoke, lukewarm EDM and career-path indie as possible… (The money nowadays is in being a middleman – a 360-degree platform, or whatever… basically smoothing a load of unexpected bumps out of this level playing field, or claiming to.) And then there’s practically everyone else. Okay, there are exceptions when someone interesting somehow gets over the fence, but you know what I’m saying.
“Everyone else” being the huge semi-pro DIY mass, squashed in a corner, playing the long game. Doing it for the love of it, waiting for a break, gambling on longevity – or persistence – or bloody-mindedness… (If the volume of ever-accumulating stuff out there on the internet hasn’t made a nonsense of ideas like “back catalogue” and “posterity”, for unknowns anyway.) This in itself isn’t a new thing; it’s the extent of the lower tier that’s new. There simply aren’t enough outlets that pay – either in terms of making a living, or the finer commodity of sustained visibility. Of course the situation could eventually stabilize, even improve; something unexpected might come along and change the game again. Until then, though…
They believe in what they’re doing, these hidden musicians, so they roll the dice and carry on regardless.
As will I, despite the discouraging recent experience of having a band blow up on the launchpad. Discouraging, not fatal – with 20/20 hindsight it’s best in the long run, for reasons I needn’t go into here. Gave me ideas on how I’d like to continue, which is something; time now to get on with it.
Another year, another gamble: thankfully, the work is its own reward. Clearly lots of other people feel the same.
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 somewhere on here. Go to the site, though, it’s all good writing (and they clearly have excellent taste).
Wish me luck – or a gloriously messy death. x
GLOW IN THE DARK – album #2 – is now available from Bandcamp, Amazon, Spotify & 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.
Two more reviews for Glow in the Dark, first from Stu Huggett in Brighton Source magazine:
…And second from Ringmaster Reviews, here. An ambivalent one, this – “at times not easy to get a handle on”, but “to ignore it would be a mistake”… and “a sinister caress with less than healthy intentions which leaves one rattled but needing to feel its shadows again”(!). Still, it’s in-depth, which is aces with me. And uncertainty isn’t a bad thing… I’ve evoked some colourful images in the writer’s head: my work is done.
I haven’t fronted a band since Empty Vessels on 14th Dec 2006 at The Montague Arms (SE15): so what’s changed? Happily, very little.
Solo acoustic 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, I’m ashamed to admit – and the sheer power and physicality of the experience was… well, there aren’t any words. I just love feeling the drum-cracks and noises 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.
oh, and many thanks to Andy Clarke, without whom…
As mentioned before, in a previous life I had a band called Empty Vessels. It started off as a duo with – hard as it seems to believe now – a heavy but mildewed drum n bass influence. What can I say… we were young, we were foolish, and guitar-based music seemed even deader than it does at present.
Anyway, it was a short-lived but intense period which we moved away from – inevitably, with hindsight – to become a very guitar-chord-based, oafish art rock trio; and even to make a tiny commercial dent. But at the time I speak of, we met a… polarized response. Some people loved us, some absolutely hated us; I just got off on the ructions, being a kid at the time. Very rarely, we’d get an insightful review from someone who might not’ve gone for the music, but appreciated what we were trying to do.
Such a review appeared on a literate and thoughtful site called Misfit City, which has been inactive for quite a while but recently started up again. Here’s the re-issued and updated article on EVs circa 2000…
It’s true what they say: be it ever so obscure, you never can escape your own past. But in this case, there’s nothing to run away from, and maybe something to be proud of. See if you agree.
the past: cobwebs or stardust? discuss
- A Certain Ratio – Do The Du
- Joy Division – Warsaw
- Hawkwind – Death Trap
- Adrian Sherwood – Boogaloo
- The Lovely Eggs – Watermelons
- Monkeys In Love – I’m Alan
- Can – And More
- Sky Architects – Cave In
- Gespenst – The Bloodline
- The Fall – R.O.D.
- Althea and Donna – Uptown Top Ranking
- Power Switchblade – Keep it Light
- Jake Bugg – Taste It
- Empty Vessels – Monkey
- Stanley – Obstacles
- There Will Be Fireworks – Harmonium Song
- New Order – Vanishing Point
- X – Johnny Hit and Run Pauline
- Kingsley and Perrey – Unidentified Flying Object
- Bauhaus – Spy in the Cab
- Human Don’t be Angry – Asklippio
- Porcelain Raft – Put Me To Sleep
- Mugstar – Serra
- Ennio Morricone – L Estasi Dell Oro
- Signalsundertests – Kapelle
Thanks, as always, are in order. The song was recorded live at Rooz Studios, nr Old St in London, as part of an EP/album thing (it’s complicated). I’m told it was available in shops, back when that sort of thing mattered. Anyway, it’s a blast from the recent-ish past; my principles are unswerved, my delusions intact. If nothing else, it’s a nice fit with Hawkwind and The Fall.
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. Managed not to swear or otherwise disgrace myself – can recall that much.
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… 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).
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 corner-of-the eye spectres… Also, just been offered a BBC radio session, so more news on that soon.
My latest single – taken from upcoming album Glow in the Dark – is now available. It can be found on Bandcamp – plus Amazon, Spotify, iTunes etc (frankly the Bandcamp version’s better, because it comes with extras).
It’s been trickling out through various cracks in the internet already, which makes a nonsense of an “official release date”… Unless you’re Metallica, or someone equally lawyered-up… But anyway, here it is. It’s officially official.
Here’s a review of forthcoming single Hard Science on God Is In The TV’s site.
It’s a good one: “If these two avant-pop tracks are anything to go by then the album should be, at the least, intriguing.”
Read the article, listen to the tracks when they’re released at the end of this very month, and see if you agree. (In fact, Hard Science can be heard on the Bandcamp player at the top of this page. If you like, you can watch the video, too.)
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.
The Facebook link above has the necessary, but bare bones: it’s at The Hydrant in Brighton, suggested donation of £3 for entry, starts 7:30pm – I’m onstage 7:50ish. It’s also the last solo gig I’ll do for a while, all being well.*
It’s also, needless to say, in a good cause: ie. to help prevent Benefits being stripped from those who need them most by a bunch of blinkered, sociopathic Victorian mill-owner types… who wouldn’t know genuine, compassionately-motivated positive intervention if it lined them up against a wall, blindfolded and executed them by firing-squad. Anyway, enough frothing. There’s bands and comedians and stuff – should be a nice night.
*(See previous: got a good band behind me now, locking down tracks from album #2. Speaking of 2nd album, I’ve got the rough mixes and they sound great. Will be mastered and finished within a week.)
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.