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Blog Archive: October 2006

Sheffield
We awoke FAR TOO EARLY on Saturday morning, feeling oddly unwell. Who can say why that could possibly be? Tim had taken DRIVERS RIGHTS and got the spare bed, whilst Tom had slept on the sofa and I'd had an airbed, both of us in the front room with Jenny The Dog. Sean and Mrs McGhee brought us TEA and all too soon it was time to HIT THE ROAD. We walked back down to the pub and had another slice of FEAR - nobody was there! We'd been told that we had to be there between eight and nine o'clock, and though it was only quarter to it looked like we'd MISSED the cleaner! FEAR!

Then she arrived and all was well - PHEW! Then THE POLICE arrived and we were AFEARED: had our ROCK ANTICS brought us into trouble? No, it hadn't, they just wanted to say hello to the landlady. Again, PHEW! We packed our gear up and HIT THE ROAD.

After an hour or so of looking at MOUNTAINS we arrived in a village (whose name i can't remember) to get us some BREAKFAST. It was BRILLIANT, also MASSIVE, and to the STUNNED AMAZEMENT of Tom and I it turned out to be SUCH a massive breakfast that Tim had to leave some on his plate!! HORROR! Well fed, we got going again, and arrived ON TIME in Leeds to pick up Emma from her Mum's. The Daughters Of Pattison were also there, and so I played Leave My Brother Alone for Edie, as it is her favourite song of ours. Aaah! I'm hoping to get up to 50 gigs this year, so if I don't make it I may be claiming that as an extra gig!

Off we set again, this time for SHEFFIELD, where we got stuck in HORRENDOUS traffic, arriving at the venue half an hour late. The Mighty Penny came out to meet us, there were hugs and introductions, and we started to unload our gear... at which point BURLY MEN came out and started moving STUFF for us! It was a bit scary - we are really not USED to that sort of thing, and soon we'd been WHISKED inside with all our stuff.

Mr Francis Albert Machine had been delayed by Engineering Works and then by TRAFFIC as he got a bus to the venue, so I started to get a bit PANICKY. He got there about half an hour before we were due to start though, so that was OK, although it did give me One More Reason to get INCREDIBLY SCARED, for LO! I had got THE NERVES! Annoyingly, everybody else seemed to be fine, but i was BRICKING it. Also, the ODDNESS continued as MORE burly men carried stuff on stage for us, and helped us set things up - at one stage Tim had THREE people helping him set his drum kit up! I know this is how it's usually done with Proper Bands, but it just made me feel MORE NERVOUS - if we were being TREATED like a Proper Band, does that mean we'd be expected to BE one? URK!

Maybe that is why, at the point, we all started Acting Like A Band i.e. every time somebody would say "Stay there, something important is about to happen" one or more of us would just WANDER OFF. I realised this was happening when Frankie WANDERED OFF somewhere, then i WANDERED OFF to look for him, and on the way out me Emma WANDERING BACk. KRAZY!

Eventually we were all in one place so went onstage for a VERY quick linecheck, and then we were ON! This is what we played:
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Better Things To Do
  • The Fight For History
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Gay Train
  • Leave My Brother Alone
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Things started off quite BADLY - the BASS turned out to be terribly out of tune, so Hey Hey 16K sounded a bit WEIRD, and then we had to STOP before the next song to manually RE-TUNE. THE FEAR gripped me, i was worried about how we looked, but more importanly about how we FELT. Was this going to FRIT US UP? We were going to BLOW our debut on The Big Stage?!? My BRANE ran riot with worry and i COMPLETELY messed up the words to Better Things To Do - so much so that I ended up making up an ENTIRELY new verse! FEAR!

    I was also a little preoccupied with what songs we'd drop - we'd planned for a forty minute set, but just before we'd gone on had been told we had to be off by five o'clock, so would have to DROP some - handily, as it turned out, it was the two songs that had been put in LAST (Quality Of Life Enhancement Device and You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor) that we cut out, HENCE the fact it was a bit of an UBERSET.

    After that things got BETTER. In fact, in the direct aftermath of the gig MOST of us were a bit down about it, but looking back now I feel EXCITED and PROUD about the fact that, I think, we managed to carry it off. The more i got into it the more i enjoyed doing a LITTLE bit of between song-chat. There were BIG video projection screens, on which we could see our DELIGHTFUL FACES and, best of all, when I introduced The Lesson Of The Smiths people ACTUALLY CHEERED! Whoo!

    I also formulated for myself my first ever Personal Rule Of Big Gigs, and it is THIS: Don't concentrate on watching the EXITS! I started doing things and began to convince myself that everyone HATED us, so tried to look at the whole rest of the (excitingly Rather Large) crowd who seemed to be enjoying us. That was BETTER!

    When we came off stage most of us were a little GRUMPY - all except for Emma that is, who'd REALLY enjoyed it, and put us all to shame! I think it was maybe because it had all been such a MAD RUSH, also a new experience, and also that we had a hard time hearing what we'd been doing. At the time I thought "No, the big stage, it is not for me" but as the day went by and the PANIC wore off I got more and more happy about it... it was BLOODY GRATE!

    There was more DASHING ABOUT to do though, as me and The Pattisons needed to check into our hotel before we were too TIDDLY to do so, so off we went for that. This also gave rise to a bit of WORRY, in me at least, as while we were out there I was thinking "I want to be at the GIG! Exciting things must be happening!"

    Soon we were back though, and there was MORE proper band stuff, for me at least, as I had a PHOTO CALL! SANDMAN had sent a photographer down to take my picture to use with my COLUMN, and so i stood backstage POSING for ten minutes while that was done. I THINK it came out OK in the end, but we shall have to see. After that I went and RELIEVED The Tiger, who had BRAVELY gone and set up on the Merchandising Stall while we were off hotelling. He and I worked it TOGETHER for half an hour or so, also ChATTING to the MANY lovely people who we knew who'd come along, until Bats For Lashes finished on the other stage, at which point LOADS of people came up to us, ALL demanding merchandise for THEM! They'd announced they'd be selling stuff straight after their gig, but couldn't find their MERCHANDISE, so we had to ask people to come back later! I felt a bit like a BRIDE at someone else's wedding, stood there looking left out while people bought other people's stuff, so decided to CLOSE UP the shop, and just get on with having a nice time.

    This was a REALLY good idea, and at last we were able to RELAX and start to enjoy ourselves, and we REALLY did. I had a perambulation of the venue so that I could go and say hello to some more people, which I did, and experienced ANOTHER part of Being (like) A Proper Band that I hadn't experienced before: people TALKING about us!

    The first time this happened I passed a lad saying to his girlfriend "MJ Hibbett & The Validators..." and I turned back to go and say hello, assuming that it must be that he knew us, at which point he said "they were crap!" Suddenly i was stood next to him, so said "Oi! That was ME!" The poor lad didn't know what to do, so turned round and FLED! He walked off like an OLYMPIC WALKER - i followed him to say it was OK, but he was NOT stopping! His girlfriend looked back LIKE LOT's WIFE but was being DRAGGED along - it was HILARIOUS! Shortly after that I heard another couple of lads discussing bands - one of them said "MJ Hibbett..." so I went and stood next to them and said hello, and the SPEAKER nearly LEAPT out of his skin! It was WEIRD, it was only ME but he seemed to think he'd make a TERRIBLE MISTAKE: i gather his friend had liked us, but he'd not been too keen, and he APOLOGISED MASSIVELY. "It's not my genre!" he kept saying, and I ended up having to give him a BIG HUG to reassure him that all was well. BLESS!

    I met several other people who seemed to have enjoyed it though, some of whom i didn't know, many of whom i DID, and it all served to cheer me up NO END. After a while we went for a very quick band meeting, which mostly consisted of us sitting around out the back accusing Emma of being DRUNKENED, and then it was time for Francis Albert to go home. He actually went off to get his bass guitar, got lost, and leapt on the nearest bus, so we didn't have a chance to say goodbye which is probably just as well as a) i hadn't seen him for AGES and b) i was getting quite EMOTIONAL. A luck escape for Mr Machine!

    There was then some MORE chat, watching of bands, and LARFS, but i soon realised i was UTTERLY KNACKERED, so said cheerio to everyone, then made off. Me and Tom loaded his car up and then off i trundled with my Merchandise Bag. I got a bit LOST (as i'd previously DRIVEN to the hotel with the Pattisons), but soon found myself tucked up in bed at the UNROCKLY HOUR of 10.30pm! I was DONE IN.

    Next morning i took advantage of the changing of the clocks and set off bright and early for home, from where i type to you now. I'm still DONE IN with weariness, but also IMMENSELY chuffed how this mini-tour has gone. It's been three (or maybe four!) VERY different gigs - especially between the size of venues on Friday and Saturday! - but ALL have been a whole lot of fun, and I'm especially PROUD of us for actually carrying it off on Saturday - thinking about it, it was a bit of a RISK for Ms Penny Blackham to book us for the big stage, but OH BOY am i glad she did. Thanks Penny!

    posted 29/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Cleator Moor
    After I wrote last I went and got the train up to Leeds... and spent quite a long time just outside Huntingdon. There'd been an accident up ahead of us so ALL the trains were stopped while CSI: Sandy went to investigate. PANIC almost amongst the Vlads, as we were due to meet up at Leeds station at 3pm, and if the delay was going to be significant it would put the whole GIG PLAN out of action. MANY phone calls whipped around but in the end I was only an hour and a half late getting up to Leeds, where I spent another jolly half hour railing inwardly at THE FOOLISHNESS OF HUMANITY as a succession of idiots decided to PARK in the dropping off area and block up the whole system. A Community Support Officer came and SORTED IT just as Tom and Tim arrived, and off we flew, to THE NORTH!

    We had a VERY jolly journey, MUCH was discussed (not least Tom's telecommunications purchasing practices) and there were LARFS aplenty. Unfortunately it was dark by the time we got to the Lake District, so all Tom and I could do was try and PICTURE the peaks we passed, all of which Tim knew by NAME. It took a LONG time to get to Cleator, as it is a LONG way away from pretty much anywhere, but we arrived in good cheer to find Mr Sean McGhee and COHORTS awaiting us.

    We had a chat and IMMEDIATELY knew it was going to be a good night, as everyone was so very NICE. It was a very very INTIMATE venue - we took up about a third of the entire pub with our GEAR and the PA! There was a quick soundcheck and then a trip round the corner for some FANTASTIC chips. The pub gradually filled up with locals after that, and at about half past nine we went on and did THIS:
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • Better Things To Do
  • Born With The Century
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Fight For History
  • Leave My Brother Alone
  • Mental Judo
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • It was GRATE! To start with though I thought people didn't like us at ALL - everyone looked quite Serious when watching us, and a lot of people were taking much more interest in the DARTS in the other room, and i WORRIED, but it turns out that the SeriousNESS was actually people paying ATTENTION and the Darts watching was coinciding with Listening to US, and after a few songs (shortly after we'd stoped Born With The Century, during which Tim had MANFULLY coped with me getting half the words wrong) we were having a WHALE of a time. Somewhere along the line i broke ANOTHER pint glass - i am ROCK! We did Mental Judo by special request, and I was surprised to find it went down REALLY REALLY well, and we had a LOT of fun doing Boom Shake The Room at the end. As stated, it was GRATE!

    That, I thought, was that, and we got back into the PUB and had a LOVELY time chatting to loads of people, also SIGNING lots of CDs and stuff, and I was just relaxing into the rest of the evening when Sean said "Everyone's asking if you're going to do another set - do you fancy it?"

    By this time I was READY FOR ANYTHING, and so we did a whole OTHER GIG, which was THIS:
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Red & White Sockets
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers
  • Looking At My Hands
  • You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor
  • Things'll Be Different (when I'm in charge)

  • Girlfriend Alarmed
  • The Gay Train

  • The second one was even MORE fun that the first! I did the first six songs solo, THUS for the first time EVER I used BOTH my guitars in the same gig ON PURPOSE, rather than just because I'd broken a string. ROCK! I actually only meant to do three or four that way, but I was having so much fun I didn't want to stop. Tim and Tom came on for The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers, after which we did Looking At My Hands because it was being SHOUTED for by DAVE (who later said, VERY nicely, that we'd "blown his skirts up", and the gig was like when he saw Guns & Roses when he was eight or Oasis when he was 16 - he liked us a LOT, and him being excited was INFECTIOUS!) and I was quite AMAZED to find that we could actually PLAY it. Dave also wanted Girlfriend Alarmed, the performance of which at least proved we weren't fibbing when we said we didn't know any more songs! Finishing that shambolically didn't seem right, so we did The Gay Train again, after which we were SPENT.

    WHAT a fantastic night it was though - we then sat around for QUITE a lot longer, by now oblivious to the fact we'd be getting up dead early, had MORE chat, MORE pictures, and even a little more BEER. It was thus getting on for one in the morning when we finally strolled off up a country path back to Sean's house and TO BED. We were very tired, but very happy INDEED!

    posted 29/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Good Ship
    You find me HARING AROUND this morning trying to get packed up ready for the Cleator Moor and Sheffield JUNKET so i shall attempt briefness... i cannot guarantee i will succeed.

    Off to picturesque KILBURN last night for the Maps Magazine residency at The Good Ship in aid of OXJAM. I got there just in time for my soundcheck, which took 60 seconds, and then popped down the road for a BIG TEA of PASTA. It was NICE. On the way I spoke to Mr T 'Tiger' McClure to arrange arrangements for the weekend - i started to PANIC about amps and things, then realised i had ABLE and GROOVY people at the other end of the line, and was much relieved when Tom said he and Tim would sort it OUT. PHEW.

    I got back to the venue to find Mr S 'Carsmile' Hewitt had arrived, so we set to CHATTING, soon joined by Mr P 'He did that mobile clubbing thing that was in the paper' Knight. Oh we had a FINE old time discussing MANY ISSUES, and by the time it came round to my turn to play I was, once again, regretting the need to actually do a GIG. However, a gig i DID do, and this is what it consisted of:
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • It was GRATE, i had a BRILLIANT time. It was, however, a set full of incident. When I started I thought "Nobody is here to see me apart from my two cohorts, nobody will be interested, so i am going to GO for it in no uncertain terms", so when I did the LEAPING IN THE AIR bit I usually find myself doing in Hey Hey 16K I did it with MUCH FORCE. It was dead good... except that it made my newly filled PINT go FLYING across the floor. Oops! But also, ROCK AND ROLL!

    I also turned out to be wrong about people not being interested, as several DID gather round and, oddly, a few people seemed to know the WORDS. It later turned out that several people there had actually been watching the Gay Train video that very day, and were SURPRISED to find me at the gig in the evening! COOL!

    Less cool was a bunch of WAZZOCKS who had come down, it seems, because they thought it was a Drum And Bass night, and had somewhat obviously BEEN ON DRUGS. There were shouting incoherently and trying to sing, I think, Libertines songs over the top of me (and I had to be Quite Brusque with them) and when I went to collect my gear later one of them kept saying "It's him! He's the one who was singing" and trying to alert her boyfriend to the fact, adding "It was inside my HEAD! It was HIM! It was doing my head in!" GOING AWAY FROM THEM seemed a good idea, so i very much DID!

    I'd also thought i RECOGNISED someone who was watching as Eddie Argos out of The Art Bruts, and LO! It was him! I was QUITE EXCITED about this because i think Art Brut are BLOODY GRATE, so thought I'd better go over and say hello. He was a very nice man, despite me doing my PATENTED IDIOCY whenever i meet people in bands i think are GRATE i.e. gushing foolishly whilst simultaneously trying to run away. Oh well, it was nice to see him, and it turned out that Mr Carsmile Steve has a spare ticket for their next GIG in That London, so i am going TOO! HOORAH!

    We then watched most of The Indelicates, who were DEAD GOOD - i think i may have heard and LIKED several of their songs on Kooba Radio or something, as it sounded very familiar, and they were a MOST groovy end to the night. Me and Peter had to DASH for the last train before they finished, so didn't get a chance to point this out to them. We did, however, get a chance to carry on our discussions out towards the East End, and it was a TIRED but very HAPPY Hibbett who rolled into E11 just after midnight. It had been a GOOD NIGHT!

    And now I've got to get myself packed and out of the house for MORE ROCK! I shall report back on how it goes, ANON!

    posted 27/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Approx TWO METRES High
    You find me this morning a little wobbly, a little FREAKED OUT, and also a little (even) more STYLISH than usual.

    For LO! I have got me some NEW GLASSES! I'd had my old ones for about seven or eight YEARS and they were in the final stages of complete collapse - they hung on my face at an angle of about 20 degrees so i was going Boggly Eyed (medical terminology), they slipped down my face so i spent half my day shoving them back up again, and the plastic on the ear bits was all frayed and falling up so they kept getting caught on my hair and HURTING. They have served me well, but it was time for new ones, so last week The Lense In My Spectacles went with me to BOOTS to get the replacements. It was Quite Good as it turns out that mine eyes have deteriorated MUCH less than usual - it must be all that Staring Meaningfully Into The Distance, Deep In Thought that i do on such a regular basis.

    Some might also point out that i am off to my Brother's Wedding in AUSTRALIA next week and so might wish to get some smart new glasses for that. AS IF! Do i look like the sort of person who cares about their appearance? Actually, don't answer that, NO reply would make me look good.

    Anyway, I got a call this morning to say one of my TWO pairs were in so i popped along and got them on. As ever with new glasses the world is a bit WEIRD - it feels like i'm standing on a SLOPE, for instance, as these ones are un-wonky, and the pavement feels slightly too far away. Also these ones are made from a different material to my last pair, so it feels like there's a GLOWING HALO all around the edge of my vision, so that everybody I see looks a bit like KRYSTAL CARRINGTON in Dynasty.

    I'm well chuffed with them, I must say - they're similar to the old ones, but look a little more RESPECTABLE. To be FRANK, they make me look a bit like an AUTHOR having his picture taken for the back of a BOOK. It is all i can do to stop myself cradling my chin in my hand and looking pensive.

    COINCIDENTALLY i am having my picture taken at the weekend - someone' coming to The Fuzztival on Saturday to take a picture for my COLUMN in SANDMAN. That worked out rather nicely, didn't it? What? No, of COURSE it is a coincidence, leave me alone! You're getting in my LIGHT!

    posted 26/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    New Tunes
    I spent another happy lunch hour today round at Studio Sonic recording a few more demo versions, for various useages. First of all I did This Is The Soundcheck. It wasn't, perhaps, the best to start with as I don't really know it very well, but we got through it with Tom The Engineer saying things like "No, do that again", which was GRATE! Throughout the session he would listen in and give suggestions and it was EXTREMELY helpful. Next I had a go at It Only Works Because You're Here, which came out rather nicely in the end. I had three goes at it, giving up when the second one went a bit wonky but then having another try when Tom said it was worth trying again. He seemed to really like it, which was nice, and I must say I do too - so much so that I've just stuck it up on our Myspace Page. Have a listen!

    Finally I rattled through She Tastes Like Sugar, which I needed to record so I could send it to John The Publisher for submission for an ADVERT (commerce in ROCK!). I did it quite fast the first time then tried a much slower one, which Tom STOPPED half a chorus in,to point out that it was now TOO slow. I had another go and that seemed to work out pretty nicely, so then added some HANDCLAPS to it. Overdubbing Fun!

    It didn't take long to mix, during which I noticed that a space on the wall had had several layers of paint removed to reveal an autograph from ADAM ANT saying "Best of luck in the '80's!"!! ROCK HISTORY! I was quite impressed!

    Anyway, I collected my CD, paid my DUES, and left, rather chuffed with a very productive lunch hour. I'll be back!

    posted 24/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Special Offer
    As mentioned below, SEVERAL people have popped in over the weekend to buy either a copy of WE VALIDATE! (the album featuring The Gay Train) OR a Hey Hey 16K t-shirt, so i thought I'd make it easier for people to buy BOTH, should they wish.

    THUS we now have a SPECIAL OFFER in the Special Offers section of the Online Shop which allows you to get both TOGETHER for a frankly INEXPENSIVE price of &//163;15.00, with postage free anywhere in the world, as per usual. If you DO buy these two together i'll email you back to find out what size t-shirt you need, and if you've ALREADY bought one or the other of these over the past few days and feel MIFFED at missing out, just email me back to say so and we'll sort you out with an UPGRADE!

    posted 23/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    BLUE STEEL
    It seems that i have been going wrong in my chosen career all these years - the path of ROCK, it appears, is not for me, and I should instead be concentrating on a life as an INTERNATIONAL FASHION MODEL.

    I say this based purely on the evidence of SALES this weekend, for LO! there have been a few. When the Gay Train video went online last week I hoped it'd encourage a few people to buy a copy of WE VALIDATE!, and indeed a few people did take the plunge and do just that. However, much to my surprise FAR FAR MORE people decided to buy a Hey Hey 16K t-shirt instead. COOL!

    It's been lovely to see so many people coming to visit from so many different places I must say, although a couple have been a little UNUSUAL. I've got SERVER STATS that show me where people have linked to the video, with one of the must used being from the links board of what appears to be a PORNOGRAPHY DISCUSSION forum. The first few posters on this were somewhat unpleasant, slagging off the video claiming it made them "puke". One particularly virulent person said he was STILL vomitting, and would like to beat me up - obviously some issues there with physical contact, one might guess. I thought this was all a bit depressing and unpleasant and a Sad Example Of Online Culture until later in the day when I looked back and found a NUMBER of people saying EITHER a) not to be so stupid or b) that they personally LIKED it, which made me feel rather PROUD. OK, it's still people using a sticky keyboard to post opinions on a Masturbation Webpage, but STILL - even there, there are people who won't let aggression and idiocy go unchallenged.

    My only worry is that several people in various online places seem to have Misread The Situation and taken the song to mean that i am In The Gays - I don't mind if people think that, my only worry is for the MASSIVE DISAPPOINTMENT in The Gay Community when they find out i'm not! Surely that will be DEVASTATING?!?

    posted 23/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    An Exhausting Weekend
    It's been a long tiring weekend - starting on Friday when i got stuck on the TOOB for an hour going home (with no announcements), emerging to receive a message from my Dad telling me that you need a VISA to get into Australia. This is PERTINENT to me because I'm off there in a week and a half for my brother's wedding, and ESPECIALLY pertinent to him because he was at the airport when he found out! I must say i was slightly OUTRAGED by this news - i have been around the world and I, I, I have never had to apply for a visa in advance before NOR indeed to PAY for one... although I seem to recall we had to pay to LEAVE New Zealand. NAUGHTY Antipodeans, does THE COMMONWEALTH me BUT NOTHING to them anymore? I tell you, i got RIGHT IMPERIAL about the whole thing.

    My IRE abated somewhat when I found out how PEASY they are to get online, but still - PAH! Also BAH!

    Friday saw me zooming up to LEICESTER to play at Susan and Martyn's wedding - it was a LOVELY do and much joy and happiness ABOUNDED, although to be honest i pretty much died on my ARSE. I've played a good few weddings in the past and have usually been on well after the meal and speeches when everybody is A BIT DRUNK, but this time I played just after everybody had arrived at the reception from the wedding itself, so everyone was sober, had just spent an hour or so being quiet, and were ready for their TEA. THUS I did the following to a crowd of people who, quite rightly, would rather have been eating!
  • Fly Me To The Moon
  • And I Love Her
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  • I Can See Clearly Now The Rain Has Gone
  • I've Just Seen A Face
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I didn't really mind though, several people said "you were very brave!" and seemed to have like it, and the do itself was LOVELY - especially when they had the First Dance to "Songs Of Love" by The Divine Comedy. BY HECK there was a lot of dust in a lot of people's eyes at that point.

    NEXT day I was back on the train, this time heading for Peterborough to see my Grandad in Bourne and then my NAN in Peterborough, and I had a rather ACE time doing so, FERRIED about by my Mum. I wanted to see them both before I headed off to the other side of the planet, and was really glad I'd done so as it was somewhat INSPIRING. AND i re-tuned my Nan's telly for her: GRANDSON OF THE YEAR!

    It was all KNACKERING, and that was even WITHOUT the KRAZY events to do with The Gay Train... but we'll come to those ANON!

    posted 23/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Greetings B3tards!
    The B3ta newsletter's just gone out with a mention of the Gay Train video in it, and we've just had the traditional B3TA SPURT of people coming over to see us as a result, and so i say unto them: HELLO B3TARDS! WELCOME!

    If you're excitingly new to the site, do feel free to stick around a while and see what we've got to offer. There's TONS of other songs to listen to on our MYSPACE page and in our DOWNLOADS section. There's all sorts of articles to read, as well as LYRICS and detailed NOTES for a frankly TERRIFYINGLY HUGE number of songs, and you can even LOOK UPON OUR BEAUTY if you wish.

    And when you've finished that you can always pop along and see one of our GIGS if you like, and maybe even treat yourself to some of our fashionably priced merchandise - if you want a CD with The Gay Train itself on, then I'd direct you to WE VALIDATE!, and check out some of the SPECIAL OFFERS and T-SHIRTS if you feel the urge to go on a PAYPAL FRENZY.

    Whatever you do, thanks very much indeed to taking the time to come and find us here!

    posted 20/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Exclusive Tracks!
    Since last I mentioned it there's been TWO more songs by me on Last Night From Glasgow, both featuring UNRELEASED (ish) SONGS! Tuesday night's was my current Favourite Song I Ever Did Write, It Only Works Because You're Here, which hasn't even been recorded yet, while last night's was Sod It Let's Get Pissed - a version of this DID appear as one of the songs on the multimedia of Better Things To Do, but it's changed quite a bit since it moved from Slightly Hokey Demo to LIVE version, and hopefully for the better!

    So do check those out, if you fancy it, and I think tonight's song is my EXCITING (but not appropriate for weddings) version of "World Without Love"! ROCK AND ROLL!

    posted 19/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Reading: ROCKED
    A swift train journey after work last night and i was in READING, home to... er... one of the first PASTIE shops I ever saw outside of Cornwall and... oh yeah, the festival! I was met by Mr T Pattison, and we walked then drove about moving GEAR from place to place before settling in at NANDOS for tea. I've not been there before and i was Quite Impressed - my Spicy Veggie Burger was a) proper spicy b) proper tasty and c) a joyous reminder of how Veggie Burgers USED to taste, when they only ones you could get came as dry powder that you had to add water to, leave to stand, and then make yourself. They were DEAD NICE, and, as Tim said, the whole place was Fast Food that WAS fast, but didn't taste like Fast Food. We say, WELL DONE to Nando!

    Newcomers: don't panic, you've not accidentally come to a high class RESTAURANT REVIEW site packed with incisive comment on the state of British Cuisine in the 21st Century, it just LOOKS that way.

    We wandered back to the venue, 3B's, which we'd earlier visited to drop of our STUFF, and found that The Pines were there and getting things set up. We then had a RACE to see whether we could get the PA set up before Tim got his drums sorted out: it was a close run thing but WE WON. If Tim tells you otherwise he is just confused. It was actually another little bit of NOSTALGIA for me, as we used to set up the PA ourselves all the time, many years ago when I was in VOON and The Council and we used to play in loads of Top Rooms Of Pubs, but you don't tend to need to do that sort of thing when you play normal Venues. I enjoyed doing it, I must say - Setting Up The PA is one of the MANY valuable TRANSFERABLE SKILLS that A Life In ROCK has given me.

    We did a quick soundcheck, after which the landlord said we had to turn everything down. The only thing going through the PA system was the vocals and, as anybody who's ever seen us play will know, there is NO Volume Control on Tim, so i craftily PRETENDED to turn down the guitar amp... HA! Take that, THE MAN!

    Soon it was time to start playing, with The Pines going on first and being GRATE. There were SKIFFLE-ICIOUS throughout, even going so far as to do a Lonnie Donegan song, and their whole set was really "songy", if you know what I mean - PROPER SONGS with ace tunes and - excitingly - PROPER GUITAR SOLOES too. It was LOVELY - honestly, go have a listen on their website, especially "On A Roll".

    Soon it was time for me and Tim to go on, and this is what we played:

  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • Better Things To Do
  • Leave My Brother Alone
  • The Saturday Lunchtime Wrestlers
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Boom Shake The Room

  • We had a BRILLIANT time. One of the main reasons for doing the gig was that Tim works down in Reading a couple of days a week, which meant that LOADS of people from his work turned up, and there was a proper crowd who - increasingly upsettingly for me - would CHEER WILDLY whenever I mentioned his name. GAH! There was also a bunch of blokes who sung along RAUCOUSLY with Leave My Brother Alone, and a sect of KNITTERS who had come along to promote KNITTING by sitting in the pub, KNITTING, many of whom got into the gig and ALSO danced. At one point there was a mini-moshpit at the BACK of the room, centered around Mr J Pennycook who had obviously reached his TIME TO DANCE level of drinking. It was just GRATE - everybody seemed to enjoy it, there was a LOT of chat between songs (and this is by my own LOTS OF CHAT standards, i.e. there was REALLY a lot) and MUCH fun was had.

    Afterwards we went over the road for a swift After Gig PINT at REFLEX, Reading's EIGHTIES CLUB, which served Tim the FOULEST pint of Lager i have been near in MANY a year. My GUINESS was very nice though I must say - I had also had a couple of DELICIOUS pints of Davenport's Bitter earlier on, it was REALLY nice. Loads of Tim's work were there, and I chatted to a bloke who knows how to play The Sitar, which was quite exciting.

    We strolled home to the hotel TIRED but very happy. We ROSE at a reasonable time this morning, met for BREAKFAST, and then headed off, Tim to work and - i expect - a HERO'S WELCOME from his colleague, and me to the train. When i got on the tube I saw Neil Kinnock standing on the platform at Oxford Circus! It's not particularly relevant to the gig, I know, but it WAS quite exciting!

    So there you go - READING, we shall RETURN!

    posted 19/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Gay Train
    AT LAST, it is finished! Last night I headed to Kentish Town once more where myself and, mostly, Mr Rob Manuel FINISHED the video for The Gay Train.

    If you'd like to see it you can do so via Youtube, Google Video or MySpace - all tastes are catered for!

    As regular visitors will know, this has been a LOT of work to do and a LONG time to finish, but personally i rather think it has been worth it. I'm EXTREMELY chuffed with how it's come out IMMEASURABLY grateful to Rob for doing it, also to Lucy and Angus, also at B3ta Towers, for putting up with me coming round so often. Thanks, The Manuels!

    So now we sit back to wait and see what happens - it IS the Official Follow-Up to Hey Hey 16K but I'm not expecting it to be QUITE as Ludicrously Popular as that was, but maybe other Thrilling Craziness will ensue. All we can do, my friends, is wait and see!

    posted 18/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    New Song/Old Song
    There's an EXCITING NEW SONG up in the New Songs section, it's called She Tastes Like Sugar and I wrote it over the weeekend TO ORDER, vaguely as a song to try and send to a Soft Drinks Company who were asking for something LIKE it, but mostly because i got a GOOD IDEA and enjoyed it. Personally I think it sounds Quite Good.

    Meanwhile, the second of my Last Night From Glasgow bits is online now from "last night", this time it's The Lesson Of The Smiths. Tune in again tonight for MORE!

    posted 17/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dulmarnock
    After typing up the blog on Saturday morning I strode manfully across central Glasgow to the 13th Note, to meet with Chris The Manager Of The Plimptons, The Plimptons themselves, and Mr Brendan O'Hare, LEGEND of ROCK and also producer of the new Plimptons album. It was very exciting to meet him, though I had to resist the urge to say ANYTHING about Teenage Fanclub, lest it be "Grand Prix is one of my favourite albums EVER!" I'm sure he wouldn't have KILLED me or anything, I just thought it might be rude.

    After some delicious healthy GUINESS and a really rather nice Spicy Veggie Burger we got the train our to DULMARNOCK, where Mr O'Hare's studio was and where the Plimptons were putting the finishing touches to their new album. It was only on the way home that I realised that the gig the night before was supposed to have been the launch party for said album!

    Martin and Brendan spent most of the rest of the afternoon in the mixing room, TWEAKING, whilst me, Adam, Rowan and Neil sat around having a very pleasant time chatting, reading the Obligatory Studio Copy Of Viz (the whole place was a LOT like Mr Kev Reverb's studio, it was COSY) or the Amusing Posters (see above). I also recorded my spots for Last Night From Glasgow, and this is what I played:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Sod It, Let's Get Pissed
  • World Without Love
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Easily Impressed
  • World Without Love sneaked in there because I'd mentioned the night before that I'd learned it for the wedding, and decided maybe it'd be inappropriate... anyway, you should be able to download load one of these every evening this week, with the first one available NOW! It seems to have come out all right, and if you can't wait for MORE then you could always watch The Plimptons live in session about 2 feet to my left.

    We had a very pleasant afternoon but eventually it had to draw to a close. Adam and I got the train back into town and said our farewells, with me determined NOT to let it be two years before I returned, and then I got the bus to the airport, hung around for a while, marvelled once again at how stupid the "security measures" are, and flew back home to London.

    I must say I had an absolutely BRILLIANT time up there - Glasgow is GRATE!

    posted 16/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Glasgow
    Greetings from Glasgow! When last i typed i was sat waiting for my PLANE to get going, which eventually it did, and we zipped north. When i got to the airport I was a bit confused as I thought I'd be landing at Glasgow Prestwick and then getting the train, but instead ended up at Glasgow Normal and made myself look like a bit of a twit asking where the railway station was. There isn't one!

    A swift bus trip and I was back in Glasgow - Glasgow is GRATE! It reminds me a LOT of two other brilliant cities, New York and Sheffield, especially New York. It's lovely here, also DEAD easy to find your way around. I checked into my hotel (oh yes, i is POSH!) and then went out on the Open Top Bus Tour. As usual when I go on one of these I can't remember an awful lot about it, although I'm pretty sure that they used to build a lot of ships and steam engines here, and the Winter Gardens were pretty impressive.

    Back to the hotel, showered, and then off i went to try and find the RAFA Club, which took a bit of doing as there were no street signs anywhere. I eventually knew I was in the right place because Ms E Pemberton, all the way from Blackpool, was outside, having also had a bit of a job finding it. We went in and I was REUNITED with Martin Plimptons, and took in the rather GROOVY surroundings - the function room is much like ALL function rooms in these sort of clubs, although there was one vital difference i was to discover later...

    I went out to get some TEA and bumped into Adam Plimptons, my TOUR BUDDY of two previous campaigns, and together we went to Subway. If only all international corporations were like Subway the world, i think, would be a happier place. We got back, soundchecks occurred, and we settled in for the evening. Going through the main room of the club I once again felt like something was WRONG - it's a really nice place, and felt like all the other social clubs I'd been in, with people sitting around chatting, the same sort of chairs and tables and general cosiness you expect, but it felt DIFFERENT. Eventually I realised what it was - it smelt clean! I'd forgotten about the smoking ban coming in this year, and had indeed wondered why I'd seen so many people standing around outside pubs on the way over. It makes a BIG difference i must say, everywhere feels MUCH more pleasant and this morning my head isn't clogged with smoke nor do my clothes stink. Like when I went to Cork a couple of years ago I was REALLY impressed by how affable everybody was about it, it just seems to have slipped into part of the rituals of going to the pub, nobody made a big deal of it and everyone appreciated the benefits. I wonder if it'll go so well when it comes to England, or whether Miserable Old Gits will kick up a fuss?

    ANYWAY people started to arrive, including Mr Sandy Blair and Mr Gary Urquhart and his brother, and we sat down for a chat. I must say i had a GRATE time - they're all lovely chaps and we had a RIGHT old LARF, i started to regret the fact that I was going to have to get up and do a gig and break it up, to be honest. Martin and Adam seemed a bit worried that there weren't many people there, although it seemed OK to me, so we decided to start a bit later than planned. During this time my BEER was TAKEN from me by the landlord - i was a bit surprised, but then he explained it should have a better head on it than he'd done (ENTENDRES: AVOIDED) and so poured me a whole new pint. This was very nice of him, especially as it seemed to have taken him a few minutes to come to the conclusion that it Just Wasn't Good Enough - i hope it hadn't been preying on his mind.

    At ten o'clock we decided to get going, and this is what I did:
  • The Gay Train
  • The Fight For History
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • Mental Judo
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • And I Love Her
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Clubbing In The Week

  • I'd intended to do Sod It Let's Get Pissed and Red And White Sockets too, but instead I TALKED a bit between songs, so dropped them. It all seemed to go pretty well anyway, although And I Love Her (which I've learnt to play at Susan and Martin's wedding next week) wasn't very exciting - thus obviously PROVING My Songs > The Beatles. Obviously. At the end there were - oh yes - REQUESTS for various songs for THE ENCORE, so I asked "Do you want a song about getting pissed and having a GRATE time, home computers, or really loving your girlfriend?" The result was not unexpected.

    So yes, I had a brilliant time, and then there was more LARFS before The Plimptons came on, and were GRATE. Last time i saw them it was just Martin and Adam and, I think, a keyboard, but now they are a full band of ROCK ACTION, and they were brilliant - in The Hector Collectors it was just Adam LEAPING around and putting the FRONT into Front Man, now there are TWO of them at it, and it was fantastic to watch. They were really really really good.

    For the last hour of the night it was DISCO time, which in my case included some NUTTY DANCING and then some determined GROOVING to The La's when nobody else seemed to want to. Gary, Steve and Sandy saw me home afterwards and I went to bed KNACKERED but full of the joys of GLASGOW.

    I'm happy to report that, unlike last time, i managed to stay in my room and not lost, naked and drunk in a corridor. I was relieved, doubtless the hotel staff were too. Today I'm off to meet The Plimptons again, so's we can go off to the studio where they're doing the final mixing of their album. I might be doing a GUEST SPOT on it somewhere, and hopefully also recording a VIDCAST for Last Night From Glasgow - I'll let you know how i get on!

    posted 14/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Brixton
    Greetings from Stansted! I'm just on my way to Glasgow to play with The Plimptons tonight, but as ever with Easyjet There Are Problems so I thought I'd spend the time constructively by giving you the FACT about last night's gig in Brixton.

    I arrived in excellent time, and so took a detour to the chippy to get some TEA, where I met the bulk of Lazarus Clamp, doing the same. We got our chips and headed down the road to find i'd got there SPOT ON TIME for doing my soundcheck, which i went and done did.

    On the way there I'd been thinking about the last time I'd done a gig with George, who was organising the evening and playing as Former Utopia. It was about eight years ago, the EPOCHAL GIG at The Physio with Sienna (Mr F Machine's former band) where NOBODY CAME. Well, one bloke did, but he'd been confused, and soon left. It was that night that finally decided me that i was going to seek gigs outside Leicester and not rely on anybody I knew there to do anything for me - a GRATE decision which has stood me in good stead ever since - and was ALSO the night that the GERM of AAS was planted.

    It turned out that that was also the LAST time George had played a gig on his own, so he was feeling a bit nervous, and this wasn't helped by the fact that his guitar pickup was playing up - it's horrible when that sort of thing happens, it really throws you off balanace. I lent him my, the soundcheck got done, and we retired outside.

    Not many people were there at this stage and we were beginning to sense a slight FLAW in the idea of Peel Day - if everyone's doing a gig, who's going to be left to go and SEE them all? Still, some people did arrive after a while, including Mr Stuart Baboon and Mr Stephen Walker, and also Mr Tom "Tiger" McClure who'd driven at BREAKNECK SPEED to get there for the Clamp gig. As ever he and I soon fell to discussing our COLOSSAL MIGHTINESS, not least some GRATE ideas for how we were going to carry on our ROCK in the new year. It's always fun to do that, and doubtless there will be MORE when we head to Cumbria in a fortnight.

    George was soon onstage and BLESS him i wanted to run over and give him a HUG for LO! one could see his nerves. It was dead good though, he TRIUMPHED over it all, even tho he did the traditional actions of Man Who Hasn'T Gig Solo For Years i.e. tuned his guitar a lot and said "sorry i'm rubbish" when, patently, he wasn't. It was GOOD, and after that Wintergreen came on and were DEAD GOOD too. When I'd seen them at the Bowlie All-Dayer it all seemed a bit chaotic, they were trying to do all sorts of different things that were getting out of control, with samples and loops and all that, but last night it all came together and rather than having to imagine what they were TRYING to do you could actually here it. ACE!

    Then it was me, and after getting to the first line of Hey Hey 16K and forgetting how it went I instead did THIS:

  • The Gay Train
  • We Only Ever Meet In Church
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • The Mystery Train
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Fight For History
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • As intended, rather a LOT of new and different stuff there - a re-worked solo version of The Gay Train, which seemed to go quite well, and also I think the first time I've done We Only Ever Meet In Church on my own at a gig - it shall not be the last! ALSO a DEBUT for The Mystery Train, which seemed to go OK but there's an awful lot of WORDS in there, and I'm not sure it all comes across. It Only Works Because You're Here, however, went down really well (i love that song) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was LOVELY and i was GLAD to be back and gigging.

    Finally Lazarus Clamp came on and, as ever, were dead good, despite Michael bringing up the fact that the first time we met he (sort of) got me and Simon From Voon evicted from our flat... i don't think he meant to though! Now that they are experiencing unprecedented levels of ROCK (this was their third gig of the year!) it's almost like they're getting their own UBERSET of CORE SONGS, most of which I recognised and really enjoyed. They were, and are, GRATE.

    And that was that - all that was left was to HUG everyone goodbye and head into the night. I got back quite late and am thus feeling a bit bleary eyed, also SLIGHTLY ANNOYED by how ridiculous all these "security measures" are. A bloke in the queue in front of me, for instance, had a (sealed) bottle of wine confiscated. DANGEROUS! Walk through the gates and the first thing you see is a shop selling WINE. Brilliant! And the only way to avoid the RIGOROUS procedures to check your footwear is... er... just to walk roound it. Take that, OSAMA!

    Right then, I'd best go and spend the rest of my waiting time queueing for expensive sandwiches. Next stop, SCOTLAND!

    posted 13/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Gods Of ROCK say: Not Yet
    I was back again in rural Kentish Town on Monday night for the FINAL FINAL absolutely LAST session with Mr R Manuel (B3ta) to finish off the video for The Gay Train. We got off to a FLYING start, quickly and efficiently BEEFING UP the last minute or so, turning it into a THRILLING CAVALCADE OF FUN. We then went back through the whole thing and tightened up several bits, notably removing a SEPIA effect halfway through and sticking in some cut-aways from, in order to keep the RYTHMN and sheer unadulterated THRILL POWER going at a high level.

    All that was left to do was a couple of snazzy finishing touches, including a rather smashing little title sequence and a DEAD COOL bit of wizardry that makes the song title and stuff appear at the start JUST like on the telly. We watched it right through and BY HECK it was looking PRETTY DARN GROOVY.

    All that was left was technical stuff, getting the finished thing exported into a useable format, then putting it into the correct format for YouTube, and THEN running off a copy we could use on the forthcoming single. This last bit took over an HOUR to do as Rob was doing it POSHLY, so we got YouTube set up and then made a little webpage for it all to sit in. JOY was UNCONTAINED: soon it would all be finished!

    Some time later YouTube was ready for us, so we looked upon our work. "Hang on", i said, "What's that horrible rumble all the way through?" PANIC. We investigated further and it turned out that the nasty distracting RUMBLE had come all the way through the process, we hadn't noticed it simply because we'd been working on a computer without much in the way of bass speakers. We'd have to go ALL the way back to the start, resample the song again, try and line it up with the original soundtrack, and then RE-DO all the different video formats!

    ARGH! So that's why I'm not leaping around today saying "Whoo! Look at our video!" for LO! it is not yet done... but it will be, very soon. I think we handled it really well tho, OK we did both sit being a bit MOPEY about it whilst the rest of the Family Manuel (NB Lucy and Angus) sat and watched it, but neither of us actually CRIED or tried to brake anything. This is because we are sensible men of the world, who know that if the aforementioned see fit to MAKE PLAY with us, it is usually for a reason.

    I really hope it all comes together next time though, it's dead good and i want people to SEE it!

    posted 11/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    New Stuff
    I spent a large part of the weekend sat at my desk BEAVERING AWAY on the Labours Of ROCK. As mentioned previously I'd had an idea for my column in Sandman Magazine so set to finishing it off, with MUCH help from The Finished Articles On My Spike who, as ever, SUBBED the whole thing for me in her usual INCISIVE way. Also as ever I had to FIGHT the urge to CRY and say "But it's my ART!" before realising that, also also as ever, she was RIGHT. You will know if ever she DOESN'T check it as it will be about twice as long and be RIDDLED with bits that don't make sense and/or are unwittingly but TERRIBLY unpleasant about various bands/people/major institutions.

    So yes, it was a relief to get it all sorted out and has been sent off this morning, which means that it's time to update the Tales From The Conference League ARCHIVE with my chunk of THORT about the tour, which appeared in September.

    ELSEWHERE on the site is the OTHER thing i was working on over the weekend, a new song called This Is The Soundcheck. I've got LOADS of half-finished songs on the go at the moment, with three or four that I'm EAGER to get sorted out... although this wasn't one of them. I'd pretty much forgotten it even existed, until I had a bit of a tidy-up and found it in my Unfinished Songs FOLDER, realised an old tune would work for it, and got GOING. This means that the likes of "The Best Revenge Is To Be Fabulous" and "We've Learnt To Love It" are STILL sitting around undone, but one day, ONE day, I'll get around to it. Hopefully.

    posted 9/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Topical Remark
    Now that Razorlight are at number one, is it me or are The Stereophonics suddenly starting to seem not so bad after all?

    posted 9/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Confession
    Having just BLOGGED about C86 I think I should come clean and admit I've never ever owned or even listened to it. In 1986 I was playing KNIGHT LORE whilst listening to one of the FOUR cassettes that I owned at the time - "Beatles 62-66", "Gracelands", "War Of The Worlds" or "Shakin' Stevens And The Sunsets - LIVE!"

    I feel much better for getting that off my chest - if you'd like to read what people who REALLY fought in The Indie Wars think about All That, you could do no finer than visting xPQwRtz by the excellent Crayola from the excellent SARANDON, or indeed the occasional Best Gig I Ever Done See posts on Frankosonic by our own, our very own Mr Francis Albert Machine. "Best Gig I Ever Done See" is SUCH a good idea that, as with ALL good ideas thought of by members of The Vlads, i shall be NICKING it very soon.

    Hang on - what's going on? Links to other blogs? I have blogged TOO LONG, next thing you know I'll be expressing my feelings in smiley icons and writing poems about the cats - quick! TO THE PUB!

    posted 6/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Compilation Action
    It's a Friday evening and I'm sat at work waiting a) for some data to get processed b) to go to the pub later with Mr S.Wilkinson, formerly of Voon. Who says people in the public sector can't MULTI-TASK?

    As if that wasn't enough i am also SIMULTANEOUSLY listening to that "The Kids At The Club" compilation from How Does It Feel To Be Loved? that I got through the post a couple of weeks ago. It's taken me a while to get round to listening to it because, as one who has listened to MANY compilations over the years, i tend to be a bit nervous about them. Usually with these sort of things there's one or two good tracks surrounded by LOADS of dreary stuff that's there because of one of more of the following: [i] band is mates with compilation deviser [ii] band has one spectacularly persistent member (usually bass player) who has badgered compilation deviser every time he sees him until said deviser has given in, just to get rid of him [iii] band has one or more really nice people in it who everyone wishes had come together to be a much BETTER band (this happens surprisingly often with Nice People In Bands - they are very easy to spot at All-Dayers, for instance) or [iv] some aspect of the band reminds deviser of ANOTHER band who he really really likes, even if it's just the band name or something.

    So yes, there's a lot of ways in which Bands Who Aren't That GRATE get on to compilations, not forgetting the MAJOR BLIGHT of compilations [v] you can get 70 minutes of STUFF on a CD, so people tend to try and fill it up. HOWEVER, in this case, things are slightly different in that so far it's been REALLY BLOODY GOOD - and I haven't even got to The Language Of Flowers yet! It's all very confident and BOPPY and full of HANDCLAPS and "doo-wopping" and Actual Real Live TUNES. There's a lot of trumpets too, which is always RIGHT ON with me.

    I actually bought it for THREE reasons - that "We're From Barcelona" song which is UTTERLY ACE, the aforementioned unreleased track by The Language Of Flowers, and the FACT that it's the first release by The Gresham Flyers (an honourable exception to the Nice People In BAnds rule) that I can actually PLAY, but it's a rather nice surprise to find that there's at least ONE band on it I'd never heard before that's made me go "HECK! When are THEY next playing?" and it's Lucky Soul, whose song is just SMASHING. I have a nagging feeling I may have been AT a gig where they played recently and not hung around. I hate it when that happens - have I mentioned the time I missed the pre-fame Franz Ferdinand, preferring instead to LOLL at THE BAR? That GRATES, and not in the GOOD way.

    Funnily enough i have been thinking of ANOTHER compilation this week, the GRAND DON of them all C86. I woke up yesterday morning with an IDEA for my next Sandman Article vaguely related to it. We're nearing the end of the 20th Anniversary of it's release without anything much being said (although my contact in the world of INDIE LEGENDS informs me there's a DO going on at the ICA at the end of the month) except for the occasional derogatory remark about it's legacy, so I've been having a bit of a THINK about the way people have either MISUNDERSTOOD it by being annoyingly TWEE and CHILDISH, or derided it as such for their own reasons. When I listen to proper OLD SKOOL INDIE i hear excitement, enthusiasm and a burning desire to play something new, irrespective of whether the bands involve have the technical ability to do so, and it's a TRAVESTY OF ROCK JUSTICE that most people see Indie as EITHER uber-posh dullards on Pianos, plodding OR people in their late 30s pretending to be 12.

    Proper Indie, it is NEITHER of these things - and, rather fantastically, "The Kids At The Club" proves how GRATE it really CAN be!

    (HA! I've said it before and I'll say it again - reviewing records! PIECE OF PISS!)

    posted 6/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Another Gig!
    Excitingly I had an email last night from Maps Magazine, about me going and doing a gig for them as part of their residency at The Good Ship for OXJAM. Obviously i said YES, so now a look at then GIGS page will reveal that October is looking pretty busy. HOORAH! I'm feeling revved up for ROCK again now - perhaps this is the way forward, having a month OFF from doing gigs and then a month back ON again? At the moment I am LARNING UP a few BEATLES songs for a wedding I'm playing at in a few weeks time, so GIRD thyselves at gigs around then too for me having a go at them. Yeah, yeah and also YEAH!

    posted 5/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Reading: Moving Up
    We've just had word from those lovely young chaps in The Pines that our gig together in Reading has been MOVED... to a BETTER venue! As you can imagine this is a bit of an Exciting First for us - apparently the venue we WERE booked into would only give us 20 minute slots each, so Tristan From The Pines, bless him, decided to ring around (rather than doing what I would do i.e. say OK and then await the WRATH of Tim) and discovered that 3B's, our ORIGINAL first choice of venue, had had a cancellation, so now we're playing there instead! HOORAH! Well done that man!

    BOUYED UP by this news I've just had a BOOKING FRENZY, and booked my hotels for Sheffield and Glasgow AND flights for the latter. Whoo! Fortnight of ROCK, here we come!

    posted 4/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Books I Read On Holiday
    One of the MOST GRATE things about going on holiday was that I got to read LOADS of books. Here is what I read, along with IN-DEPTH reviews:

    Everyman's Rules For Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany. QUITE GOOD. One of those there MODERN style books that rattle along with Quite Good bits being Quite Interesting but don't really end properly. How many books in the MODERN STYLE would be improved by a GIGANTIC TWIST ENDING ("I must return to the Recruiting Train too... for it is a SHIP OF DEAD SOULS!") or EXPLOSIVE ACTION ("Then the farm EXPLODED... THE END") or some such? Answer: LOADS.

    The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. GRATE. It's like reading loads of Grant Morrison comics (NB the good ones) at HIGH SPEED as about 10,000,000 things happen every three pages and it's all TERRIBLY EXCITING. I really really liked it. Also, no problems with the ending HERE, OH NO!

    Mustn't Grumble by SIR Terry Wogan. GOOD-ISH. Our plane was delayed and i HAPPENED to wander into the Airport Book Shop, OK? And it was LOOKING at me, with an endearing TWINKLE. I recently read Eric Sykes' autobiography and QUITE enjoyed it (although it did rather peter out after the childhood bit into a string of nice restaurants, nice golf courses and nice children) so I thought i'd give this ago. Unfortunately it turned out NOT to be a proper autobiography (he's already done that) but a rather RUM selection of rambling random remarks. YES I KNOW that is what is GRATE about him on the radio, but it did seem to go on a bit e.g. Terry Wogan's Experience Of Buying Land And Holidaying In Spain In The 1970's is PRECISELY as interesting as the description suggests. HOWEVER some bits were HILARIOUSLY BRILLIANT, especially the paragraph where he talks about Jimmy Young's show following his "like a wounded snake". That bit was ACE.

    The Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett. GRATE. No, it really was - SHUT UP. People who don't like Terry Pratchett, it my (correct) opinion are EITHER those who have never read any of his books and been put off EITHER by pictures of him wearing a hat (fair enough) OR by the FACT the books have got trolls and things in OR people who read the first few Discworld books and found it all a bit shallow and MEAN-SPIRITED. Hey, i used to be one of the latter, but then i persevered and they just got better and better and better, and now they're still funny but also really MOVING and meaningful and GRATE and - STOP SNIGGERING! They're brilliant, so there!

    The Historian by someone i can't remember. DEAD GOOD SO FAR - only about a fifth of the way into this one, but it seems to be about to have DRACULA in it, which will be BRILLIANT i reckon. Also it is recommended by Richard & Judy and, frankly, they have NEVER done wrong by me as far as book recommendations go.

    Oh yeah, and also, just before we went, i read All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman which was also GRATE, although I did manage to read the whole thing in three tube journeys - to work, to Brixton, and then home again after seeing The Language Of Flowers. It's a LOVELY little book tho, full of that CHARM and SLIGHT ODDNESS that discerning types like ME like so much, and the ending is GRATE.

    HA! Book reviews: PIECE OF PISS!

    posted 2/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Work's All Right
    Back at work today - whoo! It's not too bad, especially now the weather has TURNED and i've worked out how to change the FREEZING ICY BLASTS from the ageing air conditioning into a WARMING BREEZE, but I must say i would MUCH rather be sitting on the beach with The Sand On My Shore enjoying the first beer of the day in the sunshine... call me crazy if you will, but that's just how i feel.

    Anyway, in Back To School news I've just added the gig at Cafe Iguana to the GIGS page, which now has a rather INTRIGUING selection of ventures to places i've never actually played before. I'm going to try and learn up a few new songs for these too, to begin a bit of a (small) SHAKE UP of the gigging routine, ready for next year when I'm hoping to do slightly fewer gigs that really a bit less on The Uberset. I'm not planning to start playing JAZZ ODYSSEY or anything, and there's a few songs i can think of that'll probably still be staying, but I think it's time i had a bit of a SPRING CLEAN!

    Meanwhile, in other news, we've just sold out of the small Hey Hey 16K t-shirts. I'm planning to do a stock-check at the weekend and get some more in though, so if you're a) LITHE and b) planning on buying one, FEAR NOT! Your wardrobe will yet be enriched!

    posted 2/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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    Slightly Later Than Last Working Day
    HOLA again one and all, I'm back in RAIN SNOGGED Britain after a really rather fantastic holiday, which I'm sure I'll go on about later. For now though we've got the slightly delayed latest issue of The Last Working Day Of The Month ready for you to read. Those of you who've signed up for the email version may be surprised to find that THAT one was sent out on the 31st September, rather than 1st October. Er... Will anyone be persuaded if I say I'm jetlagged and running on Spanish time still?
    posted 1/10/2006 by MJ Hibbett
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