Saturday, 25 December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Horoscopes / Morning Rain

Sam Killin and I spent the whole day mixing on a glitchy, horrible version of Cubase. Here's a track off of the new EP, 'Horoscopes / Morning Rain'.

'Scratchcard Winner' EP Drops Dec 29th.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Adventures in Cardiff and also At Home

I recently went to Cardiff for the second time. I went on a MEGABUS which was less mega than it sounds, and more like being on a coach for three hours. However I managed to fall asleep for most of it. Then I got to Sam Killin's house where it's so cold they can turn the fridge off and the milk keeps. It's not actually that cold, but it was pretty chilly and it used to be a brothel. Apparently? And it was so cold Sam wished he was in Norway so he'd be warmer. Also we were talking about the lottery, cos the new EP is called 'Scratchcard Winner', and Sam said that if he won £85million (EuroMillions Jackpot Rollover) he'd be dead by the end of the year. I thought maybe he was right. If you had that much money you would probably want to die. There are only so many things that are made of gold, and once you had bought most of them what would be left for you except religion? And most religions would tell you to give away all of your money, preferably to them, and then how would you eat? As it says somewhere in The Bible, man cannot survive on bread alone, but it certainly helps. Anyway I recorded two new songs in a studio:

Sam was there running the desk:

The new songs should see the light of day some time in the new year. They sound really good. One is a really full acoustic production with string sections and pianos and a 12-string guitar which sounds like a banjo. The other is just guitar and voice. I think they're both pretty good songs. Recording in a studio is the best and if you get a chance then you should go and do it. Also try and use some really expensive microphones because it makes so much difference.

Then I got back to St. Albans where it's been snowing pretty heavily. I went for a night out, when this lucky boy got to meet Santa Claus:

I hope he gets the Lego space shuttle that he asked for. Lego is pretty much the best quality kids toy going. Once or twice I may have played a bit of Lego with my cousins and then just carried on after they got bored and stopped. And then when everyone went to the pub I stayed behind to finish off my base. You've gotta have a decent base in these testing times; I, for one, am not going to become a victim of the economic downturn.

Then of course it was snowing and I walked home after going to a party for a friend of mine from school who's just become a Royal Marine Commando. There was a fantastic buffet. After that I had to get home. So I took some photos of the snow to pass the time.

Snow makes everything quiet because it's like the world is covered in acoustic foam and it soaks up all the reverb. I don't know if that is fact but it seems like a pretty reasonable explanation to me. No sound carries, it's dead like being in a vocal booth.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Patter of tiny valves...

Another new addition to the family...

Selwyn College Snowball, 3rd December 2010

We almost didn't make this gig - because of the recent snowfall there were fewer trains running between Norwich and Cambridge, and Howlin' Wolffe, having only just finished playing at previous gig, was stranded with no hope of salvation and only his cymbals to eat. Even when we had decided that a taxi was the only option, time was ticking fast, with our stage time creeping closer and closer; that valiant driver, that heroic cabbie, floored it all the way on slippery black-iced and winding roads, never letting his needle drop below the 80. With seconds to spare, Wolffe sprinted to the stage, where the band were waiting with guitars plugged in and the beast of rock n' roll roaring inside them, straining at the bars of this hard cage we call a body; until, finally, the moment came, and all hell was unleashed!!!!!

So however you look at it, it was pretty close. We weren't really meant to stick around at the ball afterwards, but we did anyway, sampling many of the fine foods on offer (for free) and many more of the fine beers (also for free). Some brave gentlemen partook of Smirnoff Ice (that was free too). Everything was free. We even took some stuff that wasn't free!

Anyway, it was a great night. Here is an amusing video of our experiences:

The song in the video is 'Adventure' by Be Your Own Pet, in case you wanna know!

Here's a picture of Tom in nothing but a towel and a Subway 'Eat Fresh' hat smoking an e-cig while watching montage videos of Lionel Messi's best goals:

You don't get THAT with Arcade Fire...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)

Again, a recording straight from my room. This was the song that got me into Arcade Fire and probably still my favourite song of theirs. If not my favourite song. When I was seventeen, it meant a lot to lie on my bed listening to this. I don't know why, but there's always been something special about this one. I found it almost by accident in 2007; a friend sent it to me and it lurked on my mp3 player almost untouched for weeks until I came across it on random. Things were never really the same after I got into Arcade Fire. They're the kind of band who you can trust, rely on. Every album, every song, every show is good. They won't let you down. How many bands can you say that about today? How many have you ever been able to say that about?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Music in November

Mixing on the new EP goes on behind the scenes. I can reveal that the title will be "Scratchcard Winner." We're hoping to release it December 20th. There will also be a video. Keep your eyes peeled.

Anyway, music:

[Above] Titus Andronicus at The Haymakers Nov 18th

This gig was so great. The venue was so intimate, and the banter was so knowing, that we might have been seeing a friend's band at the local. Titus rocked out like there was no tomorrow. I was so hungover there almost wasn't. If you don't already, please start listening to this band. They won't change your life, at least not if you're over the age of 21, but they will reflect it pretty lucidly. I also got all of them to sign a copy of Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman after the show. Now it's going to be preserved for all history in Selwyn College Library. I kicked myself for not bringing the Shakespeare.

[Above] On CAM FM Guesting on Night Time with Rhodri Karim, Nov 4th

Rhodri's been doing this show for a while now. You can find the first run of shows here: The show I appeared on (theme: LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN) will be up there soon. It's really worth a listen anyway, especially in the dark.

[Above] Manic Street Preachers (top) and British Sea Power at The Corn Exchange Nov 1st

This was a really slick show; the Manics are old hands and completely in control of what they do up there. British Sea Power came on wearing bits of trees, so they also score highly.

More bedroom-recorded songs to follow soon.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Definitely loads of songs about Maradona

Yesterday, I speculated that only one song had been written about Maradona. How very wrong I was. Here is a selection from Youtube. At least two of them are by Manu Chao, but one's better than the other. Also the one by La Guardia Hereje is pretty special.

1. Si Yo Fuera Maradona [If I Was Maradona] by Manu Chao

Maradona is in this video. Maradona is literally everywhere!

In this song Manu Chao details the things he would do if he were Maradona, including yelling at FIFA, telling them that they are theives. But life is a lottery [tombola] and he’s only a world-famous singer. Them’s the breaks.

2. Santo Maradona [Saint Maradona] by Manu Chao

This song was originally performed by Manu Chao's punk band Mano Negra. It's pretty self explanatory. I like the football chants.

3. Para Verte Gambetear [To See You Dribble] by La Guardia Hereje

Although the title is quite comedy when translated to English, this is a really lovely song. The lyrics describe town folk gathering to watch Maradona play - kids skipping school, people ringing bells and blowing whistles, and no spare TV sets to be found in any neighbourhood. Not only Argentines but Cubans and Brazilians watch Maradona, who, with his chest inflated, is bathed in light, light radiated from within the dreams of the oppressed. In the streets, people cry with joy. Although Maradona was flawed, they say, the town-folk prayed to see him dribble - a kid with a smile and a warm heart, who could turn his left foot into a hammer. The song ends saying there's no need anymore to squint at TV sets to see what Maradona has inspired. Beautifully played as well.

4. El Francotirador [Sniper] by Attaque 77

This band sound a bit like an Argentine Your Demise, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on who you are. In this song, Maradona is called the revenge of the poor - a saint and a sinner, a winner and a loser. He is an ideal of anti-corruption, and he is a sniper who can shoot through the abuse of power. It's interesting how Maradona's legend status bleeds into all the different scenes and traditions of Argentine music and culture, from the punk scene to acoustica.

5. Maradona Blues by Charly Garcia

Charly Garcia has got the blues like Maradona. But it's a woman, not cocaine, who is his drug. Nice blues.

Right then, that was interesting. Now I'm off to write a song about David Seaman.

Le Mano De Dios

The best (only?) song about Maradona ever written?

The best (only?) song about Maradona, that Maradona has sung himself - about himself - ever written?


Here is a rough translation* of the lyrics which I have tried to make sensible (sacrificing syllable counts):

Le Mano De Dios [The Hand of God]

Born in a hamlet,
By the will of God
He survived and flourished.
Enduring hardships,
His humble composure
Expressed his desire to win, to build a life,
With every kick

Forged in the pastures,
He inherited immortality;
Thirst, ambition to arrive, to prove himself
burned within him -
To devote his life
To the World Cup Dream
And use his fame
To rescue his family from poverty


(For the largest in the world eh?) [that’s a fat joke]

[repeat first two verses]

Soon he would debut
Marado, Marado
The twelve other men [in the Argentine squad] chanted
Marado, Marado
His dream was favoured by the stars;
Blessed with goals and winged feet
And all the people sang -
Marado, Marado
The Hand of God was born
Marado, Marado
Joy spread through the towns
Watered this dry land with glory

(For the world's number one!)

His shoulders were destined to bear a Cross:
To be the best -
Yet never safe in greatness
To be confronted
With unusual temptations.
If Jesus stumbled,
How could Maradona not?

Fame presented him with a white woman - [I think this might be a cocaine reference]
A mysterious flavor
And forbidden pleasure -
With her habit to desire,
And, fulfilled, desire again,
The temptations that stain a man’s life -
But on one day, for one match
Diego was a champion.

[Repeat Chorus]

Olé olé olé olé
Diego, Diego
Olé olé olé olé
Diego, Diego
Olé olé olé olé
Diego, Diego
Olé olé olé olé
Diego, Diego
Olé olé olé olé
Diego Diego

Soon he would debut
Marado, Marado
The twelve other men chanted
Marado, Marado
His dream was favoured by the stars;
Full of goals and winged feet
And all the people sang -
Marado, Marado
The Hand of God was born
Marado, Marado
He planted the seed of Joy in the slum
And he watered this dry land with glory

I love you Diegooooo!

In a lot of ways Maradona is a bit of a villain in the eyes of recent generations of English, but his story, and the song that has been written about it, is a classic example of folk heroism and the glorification of folk heroes in song. The song elevates Maradona into a mythic position; his life is bound up with destiny and superstition, and the ability to provide salvation. Perhaps it's par for the course in such a heavily Catholic country, but he's even compared to Christ. He's also really, really good at football.

What a great song. We need more songs like this. What's going on with your stage set though Rodrigo? Why are you dressed as a boxer? Why is there a boxing ring on stage behind you? Either gigs are a lot different in Latin America, or you are just really weird.

This is also a really good film about him, which gives you a real insight into the man, his trials and his glories, then and now: Maradona by Kusturica.

This is more about Rodrigo, who died ten years ago in murky circumstances: His Wikipedia Page

*If you speak Spanish and can be bothered, I would really like to know what the lyrics mean more accurately.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Stranger In Port

New maritime folk song written today & recorded ten minutes ago in one take in my bedroom. It's an untouched live recording, so you might want to turn the volume up a bit.

It's a free download as well. Just click on the arrow.


Was taken to sea
Crossing an ocean or more
A stranger in port
And she
Had to forget
Had to forget
Forget the place she was born

And she
Ran into me
Like a sailor coming ashore
Like a sailor coming ashore

I was stifled and chained
Landlocked in windows and doors
I ran off to port
And I
Tried to forget
Tried to forget
Forget the place I was born

And she
Ran into me
Like a sailor stepping aboard
Like a sailor stepping aboard

Was taken to sea
But met me down by the shore
Two strangers in port
And she
Made me forget
Made me forget
Forget the pain of before

When she
Ran into me
Like two sailors coming ashore
Like two sailors coming ashore

Broken Tambourine

Regrettably, we sometimes rock too hard.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Slug And Lettuce, Cambridge, October 19th 2010

Here's a live recording. I'm a bit scrappy in parts. Also there are two new songs in there.

It was recorded by Ed from LOUDER! Music, which you can find (as well as some videos) here:

Zygmunt Day LOUDER! at the Slug and Lettuce by Zygmunt Day

It's also free to download if you want to recreate the live experience in the comfort of your own ipod.

Set List:

1. Fisherman's Blues (The Waterboys)
2. Scratchcard Winner (NEW!)
3. The Leaving of Liverpool (Trad.)
4. Albert Street
5. Here, Katy, Here's a Tissue (NEW! [working title])
6. Summer of '69 (Bryan Adams)

In other news, we lost at The Horn last night to some guy who brought more friends down. On the plus side, girls in St. Albans are prettier than I remember. I think everyone looks nicer in the Autumn, wrapped up in coats and scarves. Maybe it's cos I was born in September and the first thing I ever felt of this world was a chill wind. Maybe it's cos I had a shit summer.

In other other news, I'm gonna have to pay to replace the fire extinguisher.

You can download a load of other stuff on Soundcloud. Go over there by clicking this swear word: ARSE

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Ollie, it's 5am. Will you fuckin put down that fire extinguisher and go to sleep!?

[Above] The Shadow-Line. L-R: Bizzle, Monkey Brain, Howlin' Wolffe, World's Handsomest Man, Lurch

So this weekend, the Shadow-Line came up to see me. We did some practise for our next gig on the 21st, we had a pub lunch, and we got irrevocably crunk.

There was heavy lifting to be done as standard. Once again Will won the strongest brother competition. I haven't won since we were ten or something. And even then it was mostly Dutch Courage from drinking too much Um Bongo. Anyway, we had a pretty good practise. We played Summer of '69 whilst swigging on Budweisers, which has got to fulfil some kind of all-American blue-collar fantasy. We're sounding pretty good. Come and see on Thursday in St. Albans.

Once the work was done, the party started. We threw open the doors of the Mansion, filled the Jacuzzi with Champagne and implemented our renowned "bikinis only" policy. With a fine cigar in one hand, and a glass of '88 Sauvignon Blanc in the other, I waltzed through the various themed rooms (regency ballroom; luxury liner; Buckingham Palace) delivering quips and bon mots to my fellow revellers. Everybody agreed that it was simply charming; and the string quartet we'd hired to play in the buffet room created the perfect ambience. I think I may have had one too many oysters, but we all have our little foibles. The butler said that everybody was a gracious guest, nobody got drunk and the Duke of Edinburgh was impressed with our authentic Van Gogh. Here is a picture of that happening:

I only managed to get one, which is a shame. The Turkish dancers were something to behold!

We all woke up with various hangovers and back complaints and realised the football was about to kick off (it was 1 o'clock) so we went to the pub for breakfast / lunch. I had bangers and mash, Tom had Scampi and Chips, and the other lads had Hunters Chicken. It was very nice. Thank you, The Avery. If you don't want to see the results, look away now: Liverpool lost.

Then the boys got back in the tour bus:

Bit of a squeeze in there! We had to leave two of the hookers and some of the cocaine behind. Anyway, good weekend.

Monday, 27 September 2010

I Live In A Mansion

[Above] Shady Bedroom Setup

Over the weekend I moved into the servant's quarters of a Palatial Georgian mansion. My room is in the attic with some slanting ceilings which means the reverb is ok but the headroom leaves something to be desired. I am cracking on with some shady bedroom recording, when I'm not cracking open a can and kicking back at the party. Sorry, my mistake. It's not a party if it happens ALL THE TIME.

Anyway, it's nice to have a room with a view(ish) and a USB microphone. Hopefully at some point I can circulate a shady bedroom demo, in tried and tested lo-fi style. Perhaps I will record it on the built-in mic of a budget boombox and make sure that it can't be copied unless someone transfers it cassette-to-cassette. Because music's just not cool if you can't make it horribly exclusive. And I for one am heavily in favour of elitism. Personally I will only listen to a song if it hasn't been written yet.

Look out for revelations soon. Behind the scenes, hard work goes on towards EP 2.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


I was 21 years when I wrote this post.

I turned 21 today. Christ.

Recording is finished.

I think it's a pretty good one. It's been a long and hard process fitting in recording around full time work, nights out and people's holidays, but in the end, after a couple of sleepless nights for me, we got it done. The EP will be released before Christmas, but not a long time before.

It might sound stupid, but a lot of sacrifice goes into making anything like this, and I want to wholeheartedly thank Sam for being his usual stoic self, and thank everyone who came and played on the record. Thank you Tom, Ed, Ollie, Helen and Conrad.

I can't wait to get this record out there, but in the meantime I will still be playing shows and writing. I have plans to maybe record another EP of acoustic songs before Christmas. Turning 21 has made me feel, even more than I already felt, that time is short, and there's work to be done.

I'm playing a gig at the Horn this evening, the 21st, which seems like an appropriate day this year. Hopefully it will be the first gig of the rest of my life, if you know what I mean.

See you in the morning.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Mermaid, St. Albans, 19th August 2010

Second gig with The Shadow-Line. It was the first night of the Mermaid's beer festival, and we were the 5-star entertainment. It turned out we had to fill more time than we thought, so I did a couple of solo numbers, and then Joe Waters jumped up and did one or two with me. Then we set up the band and ploughed through a couple of boneshakers. Sweat was sweated, pints were drained. All in all, we managed to get paid.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Recording Summer #5

Ed and Conrad made it down to record some Piano and Cello. It was a long night, but we got it done. Suffice to say that stuff is sounding good. Here are some pictures:

And here are some clues for the new EP:

Work goes on. Two weeks left.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Amble Inn, Harpenden, 29 August 2010

It's been a pretty good bank holiday weekend for gigs in St. Albans - although Friday night saw the inevitable pub circuit (we ran it in our best time yet!) followed by the inevitable aaaaawwwwrrrrhhhh, on Saturday the Runaway Boys took over The Horn to announce their name-change to The Zipheads. It was really good! As ever the boys were tight, and as ever there was someone dressed as King Tutankhamun. I also got kicked in the face by someone who was crowd-surfing, but you know, Rock 'n' Roll! If anything, kick me again!

[Above] Ray Waters, Clint & Tom Waters

Then on Sunday night I headed down to Harpenden once more to play a set at The Amble Inn, once again supporting Pete Waters, once again supported by Taylor. This time however, Pete brought along some friends, Baz on bass and Bruce on Mandolin, for what proved to be a storming set of semi-improvised folk songs. Last time we played at The Amble we were all outside under a marquee, but this time we were indoors and I think the atmosphere was a lot better. We also raised some money for a charity supporting homeless kids in India.

[Above] Baz, Pete Waters and Bruce

I managed to get a video of Pete Waters and Friends playing "The Leaving Of Liverpool" from the end of the first half of their set:

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Recording Summer #4

So anyway, there I am in the guitar shop this morning, when I turn round and see this:

That's right folks, it's a gold-plated Les Paul with silver and mother-of-pearl flames on the fretboard that used to belong to Justin Hawkins out of the Darkness. It was £10,000. Did I buy it? Of course I did! I need something to carry around in my Maserati!

In other news, we got a lot of recording done today. I was at Sam's last night too, laying down some bass with Ollie Bissill, and then I went back today with my new amp (a Fender Deville, which cost a lot of money, but I don't care about money! Ha ha! When I have a shower I dry myself with £50's!). It was pretty good to stretch its legs a bit, even if 60 watts of tube power means it rarely needs to go above 3 on the volume gauge.

On a related note, have you ever seen Spinal Tap? You know that bit where he says "my amp goes up to 11"? Well, my amp goes up to 12!!!

The future is here!

Anyway, it looked pretty good:

And we got the tubes glowing nice and red:

Couple more sessions and we should be done. We've laid down about half the guitars now. There's still a way to go. After that, the orchestration will begin! Stay tuned. This is gonna get done in the next 3 weeks!

Also, pictures from the Mermaid, and a video of an acoustic gig at my house, soon.