this, but on the radio
I’ve got an hour of spoken word and live music coming out on Radio Reverb, hopefully on Sun 27 July at 11pm (then repeated three times the following week). A preview of the first two and a half minutes can be heard here. That’s 97.2FM kids.*
It was a buzz to put together – kind of nerve-wracking too… if I manage to hold yr attention, unsettle you a bit: good.
Otherwise, got some gigs coming – including a London leg of Waterghosts.
*& it’s now going out on Sun 24th August. Not sure what happened there, but it’s confirmed for broadcast on this date.
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:
22 Walpole Road
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.
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.
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.
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, weird as that seems now. Anyway, I rediscovered it by accident and thought it might be a laugh to stick it on here.)
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.
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…
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.
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.
Last night’s Interrobang gig was great – good atmosphere and venue, receptive audience, lots of interesting stuff going on.
So – a good place to stop for a week or two, and think about how best to carry on. There’s only so much an acoustic guitar can do, after all; it’s kind of limiting the options. Might be good to try putting a band together… (Although ironically, the new material written for album #2 suits solo acoustic much better, so who knows? The last thing I want is to end up with yet another by-the-numbers indie band.)
With all kinds of as-yet unformed ideas, I’m taking time off from live stuff for a couple of months to try out different approaches. Last night was good enough to make me regret the decision, which proves it’s the right one – if that makes sense.
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.