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Blog: Validators Reunited

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I headed back to Leicester after work on Tuesday, a town I'd not been to for... ooh, just over 48 hours, for the first Validators' band practice of the year.

I met Mr FA Machine at Leicester station and we popped over the road to The Hind for a pint. It's one of those pubs that hasn't changed at ALL since I first went in over 20 years ago, and is one of those pubs where it might be nice if it did a little bit. There were five pumps on the bar, all of them off, but we had a LAGER BEER/Guiness anyway and a Delightful Catch-Up, before Mr T Pattison rolled up to pick us up, his car full of the agonising aroma of Just Finished Chips, and we headed across town.

We were booked into a NEW (to us) rehearsal studio, which was also a very OLD (to us) rehearsal studio - Stayfree! We used to do ALL our practices, and indeed recordings, at Stayfree when we first started out, before we relocated both to Derby. While we were away it upped sticks and moved across Leicester to Frog Island where it now occupies a HUGE space at Lock 42 and, though a bit damp and cold (it IS right next to the canal) was otherwise Surprisingly Nice.

It's also about 500 yards round the corner from Mr T "The Tiger" McClure's house, tho he still drove round as he had an AMP with him, also a rather nice ukulele which he had HAND BUILT and brought to show off to us. It was NICE!

Emma wasn't attending, as she had HOMEWORK to do, but we were otherwise quorate so got set up and commenced to ROCK. We warmed up/set levels with The Lesson Of The Smiths then got to work on one of our new songs, Burn It Down And Start Again, which sounded GRATE. I don't think it's THE HIT of the new stuff, and is the most straightforward one so far, but it isn't half fun to play!

Next we did one that SURELY - SURELY! - is a HIT: (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock. GOSH-A-MIGHTY it's got so many HOOKS in it, it's fab! Tim had come in with a New Idea of how it should sound (as we'd BICKERED about it at previous rehearsals) which I approved of fully because it made it sound pretty much how I'd wanted it to in the first place - don't tell him I said so though, it'll spoil it. He reckons there'll be handclaps, which I can go along with, also SYNDRUMS which I can ALSO go along with, mostly because if Tim starts playing an electronic drum kit I will finally have the chance to turn his volume DOWN!

We put some MORE new bits in this time, including a CLASSIC PATTISON FILL (it's the one that goes "BANG BANG!" just before the start of the next bit, you'd know it if you heard it) and reminded each other that it would look better if we DIDN'T stand there GRINNING LIKE IDIOTS at The Good Bits, as we should make like we do Good Bits all the time. This plan lasted right up until we got to the KEY CHANGE at the end. Come on! We've only been playing together 15 years, managing a key change it AMAZING!!

After that we did 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 which has slightly less BITS in it than (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock but is ANOTHER definite HIT, i reckon. It was a joy to play, although I was a little upset when Tim pointed out a possible problem and said "The thing is, you're approaching 50." "NO," i pointed out, correctly, "YOU'RE approaching 50." The cheek!

That concluded the new songs we'd previously worked on (well, apart from Can We Be Friends? for which I was meant to be writing a new chorus, but had forgot), so we had a go at We Did It Anyway. The early issue with THIS one was that the way I was playing it made it sound VERY VERY MUCH like 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 - I mean, it's a different song with different chords, but the RHYTHM was similar. We paused for thought, then Frankie suggested we try it a bit "Mariachi", "like Dance The Night Away", he said. Unsure which song he meant we asked him to sing the first line then ALL joined in. AHA!

We started playing and, over the next twenty minutes, got a FABULOUS GROOVE going. We SWUNG! Tom got a MAGIC RIFF working and the whole thing WORKED. Humorously there was one bit when we all NEARLY STOPPED then forced ourselves to carry on - I had to halt the song and say "We're going to have to do a stop there aren't we?" LOTS of our songs have STOPS in them so we do try NOT to do them too often but in this case, as Tim said, "It's like GRAVITY, pulling you in!" We had a GORGEOUS stop in the middle of the first double verse, and Tim asked if we could do ANOTHER double verse somewhere, as it sounded so good. "If people like it they can listen to it again" I pointed out, CORRECTLY again.

We then discussed the ending, and Frankie suggested repeating the last line and slowing it down, which he said would make it like (i think) Rodgers and Hammerstein. We tried MANY ways to do this, eventually settling on THREE repeats with a double length last verse. The temptation to do a CLASSIC BLUES ENDING was almost overwhelming, but we managed to... not resist at all, but I'm sure we'll be able to get over it by the time it's recorded.

With five minutes left we had a dash through The Peterborough All Saints Wide Game Team (group B), the version from MY TRIBUTE ALBUM which a) was good fun and b) has a RIGHT old fashioned ending. HOORAH!

We packed up, very happy with our work, and headed towards the station, stopping off for a pint in... The Hind again. As I say, it's an OK pub but I'm not sure I'd like it to become our official Post Practice Pint Place, even though the landlord did come over and say we could have a gig sometime, "once you've got yourselves established".

We discussed Big Birthdays (Tom's 40th is soon, and Tim is already planning TIMFEST for his next big birthday in 2018 - we agreed that DRESDEN would be an EXCELLENT venue!) and soon it was time to head home. I hopped on a train and was HOME just over 90 minutes later - if we can do practices THIS way it's all going to be peasy, and if they all go as well as THIS the next album is going to be GRATE. Who knows, we might even be able to have it ready for TIMFEST!

posted 27/2/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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