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) – 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 – 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 (although the idea that music should be a free, inexhaustible and perpetually-available resource, like sunlight or oxygen, is utterly self-defeating). (Strawman argument, anyone? Sod it – like I said, blurred.)
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 and career-path indie as possible… 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 – or vision, call it what you will. (If the sheer 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 dreamers, so they roll the dice and carry on regardless.
As will I, despite the discouraging recent experience of having a backing 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 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.
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 (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…
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 somewhat askew drum n bass influence. What can I say, we were young, we were foolish (and very, very wired).
Anyway, it was a short-lived but intense period which we moved away from, in small but – with hindsight – inevitable steps, to become an 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 little more than a kid at the time. (And any new band now attracting the volume of write-ups we did, both print and online, would be considered as doing quite well; sad but true…) Very rarely, we’d get an insightful review from someone who might not’ve gone for the music, but appreciated – or at least grasped – 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 a great deal to be proud of. See if you agree.
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 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. (And the new band? Now almost equal in its ferocity.) If nothing else, it’s a nice fit with Hawkwind and The Fall: give the programme a listen.
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.
Hard Science got a play on Radio Reverb 97.2FM on 29th May – thanks to Melita Dennett. (I… <cough> might’ve mentioned it before…)
The programme was archived as a podcast and can be heard on Mixcloud here. It features loads of other interesting music, so do give it a listen.
In August, the mighty Minotaur with full band again: 5 nights, 5 acts – it’ll be madness. Again, keep checking for fresh info. This promises to be unique.
Meantime, there are plans and gambits way into September – more details as and when they’re definite, but so far it’s looking good. Can’t keep up with all the new offers, which is a lovely problem to have.
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, as always, 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” (and so much else)… Unless you’re Metallica, or someone equally lawyered-up… But anyway. Here it is. It’s officially official.
Tattoo it on yr forehead, brand it on yr thigh; do whatever it is you have to, to get a sense of Event in this affectless, wipe-clean, shiny world of ours. Most of all, give it a listen. Oh, and there’s a video too.
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.)