photos by Paul Newman
Here are three songs taken from last month’s London gig – In The Evil Empire, Self Possession and Moon Madness. Scrutinize at leisure.
amazing what you can do with £0.00
Am playing a free all-day gig in London – Smile Acoustic @ RichMix, E1 – this Monday (25th). On 4pm-ish, I think. There’s loads of musicians involved – here’s the event page. Looks fun.
Also, been recording another full-length effort lately… Self-produced, micro-budget, with assists here and there from talented friends. It already sounds exciting, might even end up as the best thing I’ve done so far.
Anyway, come to the gig and hear some of the songs that’ll be on it.
Well, you takes your vote and you makes your choice. And the nation has chosen. For FUCK’S SAKE (yes, I fully understand the concept of democratic representation – that’s what makes it so depressing).
Instead of curling up and weeping with despair, I’ve got a gig – Thur 14th May, Icarus Club @ Pelton Arms, Greenwich, free entry, doors 8pm. The format’s a bit different: all 5 acts do 2 short sets each. Also appearing are Bruise, Yeti Love, Charlie Hole Music & Little Beach.
It’ll be great, and in an Age of AUSTERITY it’s free to get in. Come!
Those lovely people at White Rabbit are holding another evening of storytelling and theatre in London: Are You Sitting Comfortably? on Fri 12th Oct at Toynbee Studios. The theme is FILTHY, and one of my stories will be featured (“Lucky Bleeder”, which appears in forthcoming compilation Gift of Fear).
Here’s the basic info…
Fri 12th October 7:30
Arts Bar & Café, Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London E1 6AB
Box office 020 7650 2350 or book online at www.artsadmin.co.uk
according to the reviewers, they’re…
“fantastic alternative fun” Time Out
“storytelling made supremely sexy” Latest 7 ****
“comic.. haunting.. an enchanted night” Total Theatre ****
…Having seen them at the Basement in Brighton, I can vouch for all of that.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 – do 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’s worth a look. It brings back the chaos and superhuman focused energy of those days – which, with a new band, are about to come round again.
Tue 27th Sept, 7:30 – 9:30, doors 7pm
@ The Book Club, 100-106 Leonard St EC2, London
Tax £5/3 concs
Stage-time? Not sure, possibly quite early; but anyway, this is the kind of night you want to see all of.
It’s also the last gig I’ll do for a while, say 2-3 months; some lateral thinking and re-defining’s needed on that front, like maybe some more musicians, as I’ve mithered on about before. So. Roll up, roll up…
funny how things can take the most unexpected tangent
At one point, I had a feeling This Mucky Age was going to turn into some smirking 80’s rip-off. You know the kind of thing, no doubt; a winkingly crap pastiche artefact, a Weimar signifier, plastic ties and charity shop sunglasses in a Hoxton shebeen and snorting vegan whizz off a spunk-streaked 7″ of Hot Gossip’s (I Lost My Heart To A) Starship Trooper… which technically was late 70’s, but like the vast avid Toad of Depression, all bad things announce themselves by squatting on the horizon with a premonitory chill… Like that, then.
It was mainly that the guitar on one track made me think of 1980’s roller discos, Van Allen Belt-stripping hairspray and its uglifying effect on women’s features through the medium of ungainly, paralysed hair, and Fright Night. You’ll have to listen to the album if you want to figure out which one. Just something in the sound, just a suggestion, faint as icy winter memories in a distanced and dyspeptic summer. (I was tempted to do this in a William S Burroughs kinda style, but thought better of it; train whistles down a dusty St Louis avenue… twinge of nostalgia in the junk-sick morning as he probes for a vein… sepia photo nostalgia descends as he shoots smack into his balls. Nahh.)
So yeah, the 2nd album was all set to be quiet and introspective and statement-tastic and shit, the kind of thing that says, Remember Dylan? Leonard Cohen, even? No, of course you don’t, you attention-deficit chimps. (And actually, you’re not missing much.) Well I’m the new guy. Listen to my Serious Serenades in your Bedsit of Romantic Dejection, and weep!
…Thankfully, I got off that trip; think I might’ve had a mild head injury or something. Anyway, it was a quiet album; then I got this weird idea that one of the guitar riffs should sound like an angry, black-haired woman with imperiously flashing eyes, saying “make love to me, you fool,” in a driven whisper; and then it all went a bit retro. The riff in question won’t make the cut because it doesn’t quite work – from my unremittingly male viewpoint, it’s more like a quite plain girl who occasionally looks beautiful at odd moments, peevishly telling you your breath smells of meat and death – but I think it points the way. Already, one reflective folky number’s turned into a hellstorm of cloddish beats, camp electro noise and squealingly macho guitar. It’s Tim Curry’s worst amyl nitrate flashback nightmare.
This, by the way, is an entirely good thing. I love music, and its endless surprises.
so debt-o-geddon didn’t come. The world economy abides. Celebrate yr disposable income: see a gig
2 more gigs coming up soon – London on Tuesday 2nd, Brighton on Thursday 4th.
London gig’s in Camden & info can be found here…
doors 7:45pm – onstage 8:00pm
Right then. I’m playing a Club Fandango night tomorrow at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town. Not only is Club Fandango “the undisputed daddy of London’s indie showcase scene” (sez Time Out), but the B&G itself holds a sentimental weight with me – well, as sentimental as I ever get over London nowadays. My old band in its various line-ups played there a lot, running the whole gamut from unbelievable triumph to unhinged, drunken, bleeding-all-over-the-guitar disaster. Anyway, it looks like a good night and is £6 in, or £5 advance or with flyer. In these debt-stricken times that can’t be bad.
Advance tickets here.
Or if you prefer, flyers can be found here.