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.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Last Couple Days / Recording Summer #3

[Above] Band practise at Farm Factory Studios in Welwyn Monday & Tuesday nights after work.

[Above] Then, today, I recorded a song at Sam's and Tom came over to do backing vocals. It's sounding pretty good.

Tom also ably demonstrated the trout pout:

Apparently the trick is to blow a little bit of air out of your mouth. He learnt that off of Heidi Klum, no word of a lie.

Gig tomorrow at The Mermaid, St. Albans. If you bring a fishing rod I'll buy you a drink.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Unified Dance Show, 16th August 2010

Considering I'd slept on Tom Mellish's sofa and Batchwood had been, once again, the cruellest mistress, I was feeling pretty good as we pulled up outside the Wyllyotts Theatre in Potters Bar for the tech run.

I didn't know that dance was such a big thing, but here they were; the dance crews in their matching hoodies, sitting in the stalls, tapping feet or bodypopping randomly to snatches of the music coming through the PA. All under 25, some were just kids, and black, white, asian, trainers, cane rows, make-up, skinny waists, tight costumes, big hair, smiles, bored faces. We sat there and watched the dancers run through for the lighting techs, and I talked to Benji who was there armed with his camera.

It's a scene I hardly knew existed, but it was instantly obvious that what we were watching was a high standard of dance. The event was organised by AlterEgo Dance Company, but among the crews performing were Illusions, an all-girl group from South East London, who were incredible, especially the girl with the half-shaved head (call me if you're reading this), as well as Living The Dream, a combination of slapstick humour and ballet, which came off really well. AlterEgo contributed five or six pieces, and there was also Pole Dancing, which was great, and highly inappropriate for a family show. The latent dirty old man in me was loving it, even if the 20-year old me was sitting kind of awkwardly next to someone's mum and dad.

We were on at the end of the first half. Benji got some pictures of us backstage:

And of our show:

Thanks Benji! You can see Benji's website here.

You can see what AlterEgo are all about here.

You can see explosions and boobs here.

Anyway, that was a good weekend. Only five working days until the next one!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dance Show

Playing at the Unified Dance Showcase with Courtney on Saturday. Apparently there will be babes in leotards, there will be streetdance, and there will be us, doing Te Amo by Rihanna, and Make It Mine by Jason Mraz. Courtney chose the songs, but I have grown to love Rihanna. Why d'you never write back, Ri?

Courtney sounds like this:

Which is a pretty good way to sound! It should be fun! But I need to practise.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Get a (Cultural) Life

Get The Observer.

Cheers to Paul Smith, my friend in a high place.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sunday, 1 August 2010


Pioneer Grows Up

Ah, The Pioneer. So many firsts. My first gig. My first drink. My first cigarette. My first broken heart. The first time my mate ever fingered a girl in the disabled toilets. Simpler times.

Anyway, the big news is that the Pioneer has revamped its sound-system, to the tune of about £67,000, and also had a general refurbish. It certainly looks refurbished:

I didn't do much dancing, as I'd had a massive Nando's, but I did enjoy sets by Polly Poison:

Who both put on pretty storming sets. The sound wasn't perfect, but it's early days for the new rig, and hopefully the Pioneer will be able to build on attendance for subsequent shows.

Whichever way you look at it (except maybe from under a Community Support Officer's helmet), having the Pioneer back can only be a good thing. It was instrumental in a scene that produced Enter Shikari and Gallows, but perhaps more importantly, it gave a lot of kids something to strive for in a town which can be carelessly indifferent to their needs. I met some of my best friends there, and I wouldn't be half the musician I am today without having had a place like Pioneer to make my first mistakes. As well as that, it was a place to grow up, to take some hits (sometimes literally) and find out a bit about life and love, between the hours of 6:45 and 11. Now that they've also included an over-18s area, it should be even better as a cornerstone of what once was, and can be again, a thriving local scene.