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Blog Archive: September 2008

Choir FEAR
The Melody In My Harmony and I went off to ADULT EDUCATION last night, to do some SINGING. I had the idea that it was going to be a bit of a SINGALONG, but as soon as we went in we were SEPERATED, she sent to the Sopranoes (NB singing, not Fascinating Adult Drama) and me (after being asked "What ARE you? A Bass? A Tenor?!?" and me having NO IDEA AT ALL - was it a TEST?) sent over to The Tenors. All I know of Tenors is that there were three of them, but there seemed to be a few more of us than THAT. Everyone seemed quite pleased to HAVE me there, as most of the blokes were sat nearby in the BASS section, but I couldn't help wondering if this was a SLIGHT on my masculinity. Or are Tenors the cool ones? WHO is the lead guitarist in a choir? I HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT WORKS.

Most other people there were old hands, so there was a bit of CHAT before we launched into our first song, and i was GRIPPED by TERROR as i had NOT A CLUE what to do. The VERY excellent teacher lady went through everyone's parts, and it seemed to me that while everyone else was doing TUNES we were doing STRANGE NOISES. It was all Ooh AAAH ooh AHAA ARGH LA LA BOING, or so it seemed, and I PANICKED that everyone else seemed to get it, while i DIDN'T. This too was made all the more SCARY by the teacher RUNNING over to listen to me and Other New Guy to check we were in the right SECTION... JUST at the moment when I'd almost entirely given up on EVER knowing what i was meant to be doing EVER AGAIN.

I got some REASSURANCE from The Leafs In My TeaBag during the break, after which we did "Big Yellow Taxi." "HOORAY!" i thought, "I know this song!" Once again though, everyone else was singing TUNES and we seemed to be YODELLING, it was all rather confusing. I also had to BERATE myself for feeling so - "HIBBETT!" I admonished myself, "Stop being so daft! You KNOW it will all work when put together, get on with it!"

When it was finally all over i STAGGERED out, my throat dry and my brain close to CLOSEDOWN, so The Food In My Meal took me out for a MUCH NEEDED BEER and some GRUB, during which I realised my shoulders were hunched in FEAR and STUCK there! As she said, it was me WAY WAY WAY out of my Comfort Zone, and though I know this is a GOOD thing to do, and that it will All Work Out In Time, whilst you're in it, the Uncomfortable Zone is rather... well, uncomfortable.

Still, back to it NEXT week, when we're getting PRACTICE CDs, so hopefully I'll be able to do some REVISION and not feel QUITE so scared. Anybody hoping for a solo album of CLASSICAL OPERA from me any time soon though, don't get your hopes up!

posted 30/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Into The World Of NEWS
Back To School... sorry, work, for me today, and the journey in offered the DELICIOUS PROSPECT of watching a bit of The Final Collapse Of Thatcherism on my way in, as if I get off a couple of stops early I can walk past a big branch of Bradford & Bingley. As I approached I thought "Naughty Hibbett! This is people's life savings and NOT something to be sniggered about, ESPECIALLY if you're secretly hoping to see a big queue of people taking their money out. NAUGHTY!"

However, I clearly wasn't the only person thinking like this, as outside were not one but TWO camera crews, the one patiently waiting for the other to finish THEIR "on the spot" report about the aforesaid Last Nail In The Coffin Of A Vile, Corrupt Ideology before they could hop up and do their own. The bank itself was DESERTED, except for one lady sitting at a desk, clearly ringing Head Office to tell them about it.

That is, I must say, one of the nice things about living in That London. National Broadcasters are SO London-centric, also LAZY, that pretty much every report on ANYTHING happening around the country will feature Stock Footage of chunks of central London. Working just off Tottenham Court Road means that most of the shops/banks I go to at lunch time have been on the telly at some point, and now every time there's a report on I think "Ooh, I wonder where that is?" When it's NOT somewhere I recognised I am momentarily PERPLEXED.

I did intend writing a song called "That's Capitalism!" trying to EXPLAIN how The Capitalist System works, as, while watching the news last week on holiday, there did seem to be an awful lot of people CONFUSED by it all. It seems that huge numbers of people have been wandering around thinking banks are CHARITIES who care for nothing but their much-loved customers and think that the mention of money is slightly distasteful, while The City is an institution concentrated SOLELY on ensuring that the economy runs smoothly and NOT AT ALL a bunch of venal shits who would - LITERALLY- sell out their entire family a) for a quid and b) just to make sure they weren't the last ones to do so.

I'm now put OFF the idea slightly because, with everyone now going Nationalisation Krazy and the Tories - THE TORIES!!!! - saying there needs to be regulation of the "very few" greedy people in The City (there are greedy bastards in The City like there are birds that fly - the occasional penguin sighting does NOT make it a Laudable Institution) by the time I get round to RECORDING it and playing it at gigs people will be saying "EH? What's that Comrade? Capitalism? Well, it rings a BELL I must say, but I'm not sure I'm with you. Do that song about Increased Productivity in the Data Mines again!"

posted 29/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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Out of Office Auto-Reply: OFF
Afternoon all, you find me a) relaxed b) very slightly tanned c) not exactly READY to go back to work tomorrow, for LO! I am BACK from our HOLIDAYS! Me and The Water In My Pool had a LOVELY week in downtown Majorca where we actually managed not to do TOO much, spending a lot of time LOLLING about either near a pool or in our apartment, though we DID manage to go on a BIG bike ride one day. On the way there I thought "This is like being a KID again! Flying along without a care in the world on an adventure into FUN!" On the way back it LASHED it down with rain, which was ALSO like being a kid on a bike again!

It was all GRATE tho, and we both returned ready for what feels like a new TERM full of THRILLZ and escapades. As we speak I am getting my new pencil case ready, wondering why my new jumper itches, and especially looking forward to seeing my pals again. Let's ROCK!

posted 28/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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The Buffalo Bar
I was getting myself a bit worked up about this gig, as we weren't going to be able to make it for a soundcheck. We were "headlining" (on last) which meant we were supposed to be there at 5pm - and as Tim and Emma weren't going to be able to drop Young Team Pattison off at babysitters at 6pm, that was probably not going to happen.

So, as I say, I was getting myself in a LATHER about it, PANICKING, but as ever there was really really no need. Rose, the promoter, was completely fine with it, the other bands brought loads of gear, and a quick chat with the (EXCELLENT) soundman mean it'd be FINE. I thus RELAXED and went upstairs for a fine chat with some of The Young People, and was having a RIGHT old larf when Tim, Tom and Emma arrived. We settled down to eat our tea (a nice, but TINY, bowl of chips).

I was trying very hard NOT to drink too much, so did a lot of FLITTING between pub and downstairs venue, also returning to my old scheme of drinking COCA COLA in between Proper Beers, which all worked out rather well. The other bands were mostly DEAD YOUNG, and some of them were of the kind of band that are Trying To Make It - it was a bit STRANGE for me really, as we rarely play with those sorts these days. My favourite one was in the middle, they had a great big Andy Kershaw Band From The '80's Sound (i.e. JANGLY), the same shirts, the same haircuts and played their guitars ALARMINGLY high on their chests. The band after were sort of like M People, sort of, but also fairly MODERN - the sort of band who are a) very competent b) very friendly but c) ALWAYS play for too long because d) they've brought loads of friends.

The GRATE thing about this was that, as always with this sort of band, the Loads Of Friends were Normal Human Beings (i.e. not people who go to loads of gigs), so up for a night out and happy to stay and watch other bands, which in this case was US, so along with the variety of PALS who'd come along (including Mr S Hewitt with a BRILLIANT badge saying "I'm Missing Newsnight For This" - T-SHIRTS AHOY!) we had a fair crowd as we went on and did THIS:
  • Better Things To Do
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Mental Judo
  • Glory Days
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • We had a GRATE time - as ever, the sound was FANTASTIC, you could hear everything really nicely, and from reactions I believe the audience could hear too. Better Things To Do and It Only Works Because You're Here sounded DEAD good too, BOTH, i feel, nudging their way into the next lot of setlists, and we got a GRATE response for the "Oi Hibbett" bit in Easily Impressed.

    My favourite bit though was doing Glory Days... or rather, not doing it for quite a long time, as I was playing the Ukelele Chords rather than guitar ones. It allowed for an EXTENDED period of CHAT - if there's one thing I know how to do, it is to cover up COCK-UPS with BANTER, as i have had a LOT of practice - which in turn led to an awful lot MORE talking between songs.

    It was all HIGHLY enjoyable, made even more so by the knowledge that the Victoria Line was running for a change (The Buffalo Bar is RIGHT next door to Highbury & Islington Station, which is usually DEAD handy but lately the tube has STOPPED at 10pm in the week, which makes getting home RATHER difficult) so we could all get home with EASE. It was still quite late though, so we all got packed up and ready to go. I had a quick chat with Rose the promoter, who seemed a bit depressed about the lack of big crowds, and I don't think me CLEARLY thinking it WAS a decent sized crowd helped much!

    We said our goodbyes and set off home, me sitting on the tube REMARKING to myself how strange it had been to dip our toes back into that world of Bands Trying To Make It. I think that was maybe why Rose had been fed up, as in that sort of circuit you're MEANT to have massive crowds going NUTS, and the usual DIY/doing it for a LARF kind of medium crowd of people smiling, the sort that I LOVE, won't really do. It was nice to have a TOE DIP, but I don't think we'll be fully immersing ourselves in it.

    The evening came to a proper end with a DELIGHTFUL coincidence on Leytonstone High Road - earlier in the evening I'd been telling Mr N Golding about the GRATE pub "The North Star" in Leytonstone, as he'd recently moved into the area. I was just thinking "I must remember to drag Nick to the PUB sometime" when a 257 Bus came to a halt next to me, and there was Mr N Golding, getting off it! He was thus able to show me EXACTLY where he lived!

    It was a nice end to a nice evening, and set me up good and proper for next week, when I am off on holiday. HOORAH!

    posted 19/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Working For The Man
    I got home last night with thoughts of a fairly relaxing evening in mind. The only bit of ROCK ADMIN I had to do was to put together a SAMPLER of some of my WORK SONGS i.e. songs that I had written for COMMISIONS and that. This was to give to the Synchronisation Company (they do music for adverts and that) which John The Publisher has ALLIED himself with, just to give them some idea of the kind of STUFF that I do.

    I got home to find an email from the aforesaid JT Publisher, with a BRIEF for a song required by FRIDAY! I thus FLEW into action, writing a song for a NEWSPAPER advert, which needed to build and become more BUSY over the course of 60 seconds. I worked on it up until TEA TIME, then carried on afterwards, GRAPPLING mostly with the lyrics. The CHORUS was GRATE, but I just couldn't get the verses to work.

    I did a rough mix and SLEPT on it, waking just after 7am (SEVEN! A! M!) to have another go. I kept thinking "It feels like everything in the BRIEF is in the CHORUS,what on earth can the VERSES be about?" then realised I could just do WITHOUT verses, and once THAT decision was made it all moved fairly easily.

    I've sent it off to John now, who seems to like it, and listening to it again at lunchtime, having had a few hours to GET AWAY from it, it DOES sound pretty good. The only thing I don't like is that it ends too soon, but then I don't really have any more instruments that I could have stuck on it, so I guess it's just as well.

    All this ACTION did mean, however, that I didn't have time to practice before tonight's gig at The Buffalo Bar. I'm SURE it won't matter - it's not as if we're not going until eleven o'clock, giving me three hours to BOOZE the words out of my head, is it?

    Oh dear.

    posted 18/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back At The Lamb
    When I arrived at The Lamb last night it felt like AGES since I'd been there last for a proper Totally Acoustic. The last time I'd been there hadn't been THAT long ago, but it'd been the "dress rehearsal" for My Exciting Life In ROCK rather than the usual FORMAT. Actually, thinking about it, everything ROCK at the moment does rather have the air of gradually returning to normal after The Show, it's a bit like starting a new TERM at school or something.

    Anyway, I met Mr J Kell who'd just come HOTFOOT from the LibDem Conference, so I was able to partake of his BRANES. We also discussed the fact that The Lamb just keeps getting SLIGHTLY better - it's always been a really nice pub, but they recently improved it by having GUEST ALES on, and this time it was improved SLIGHTLY MORE by having St Austell Tribute on, which is GRATE!

    We were soon joined by Mr S Hewitt, Mrs M Hamilton, The Crisps In My Crisp Packet and the star of the evening, Mr Owen Tromans. It was GRATE to see him again - the thing with Mr Tromans is that when you hear him SING you'd think "LOVELY singing voice, but I bet he's DEAD SERIOUS and SOMBRE and probably wears those angular glasses, also polo neck jumpers." You WOULDN'T expect him to be SUCH a lovely chap, nor to have quite as many opinions about West Brom.

    We went upstairs and were soon joined by Mr P Jones, who'd seen me at the Blyth Power weekender and realised that The Lamb was only just round the corner from his work, and a colleague, and thus was the audience COMPLETE. It was a bit of a small turnout, and I felt a bit bad about there not being MORE people there to see Owen, but it did make it a VERY cosy, EXTREMELY chatty evening.

    So, off we went, and I did the following on the ukelele:
  • Glory Days
  • Billy Jones Is Dead

  • For some reason I felt EXTREMELY nervouse doing these, and was glad to only be doing a couple of songs before getting off and letting Owen take the stage. He came on and was BRILLIANT - he's got a FANTASTIC singing voice (lots of people can do the singing, but actually a proper Good Singing Voice UTILISED properly is a rare thing) and he sings all these big STORY songs that are a BIT folk, a BIT Math Rock, but a LOT good. It was ENGROSSING and also a bit EXCITING when he burst into GUITAR SOLO, all interspersed with CHAT. EXCELLENT!

    There was then the usual beer/toilet/cigs/chat break, before I RETURNED and did THIS:
  • Better Things To Do
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • (theme from) Dinosaur Planet
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I felt a lot more relaxed by now, and so there was a LOT of chat, ESPECIALLY when I did (theme from) Dinosaur Planet, where the explanation took CONSIDERABLY longer than the song itself. It seemed to go really well, especially the audience joining in with the "Ah-ooh, ah-ooh, ah-ooh" bit in the chorus and, I'm afraid to say, it has made me SERIOUSLY RECONSIDER the idea of writing MJ Hibbett's Musical Version Of Dinosaur Planet PROPERLY ready for next year's Edinburgh...

    With all singing DONE it was time for Owen to go and get his train, and for a few brave stragglers to regroup downstairs to talk of ORATORY and POLITICS before wending our weary way home. It had been small, COSY night, and a pretty GRATE one as a result!

    posted 17/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Pattison ATAK
    The Performing Pattisons were in the studio last night, recording Emma's backing vocals for "Glory Days" and then, as I understand it, some vocals on the remaining album tracks. It's very nice having Tim officially in charge of PRODUCTION, as it means I don't have to spend MILLIONS travelling to Derby just so's I can sit reading last month's EMPIRE Magazine, occasionally saying "Yes, that was good". It does feel a bit weird knowing it's happening but not being there, although GRATE when you get Update Phone Calls at 10pm to say the session goes WELL. Perhaps this is what they called EXECUTIVE PRODUCING? Album Credits HO!

    It does mean we are once again edging CLOSER to finishing the album though. Last week I discussed with Tim the idea of recording a couple MORE songs, largely because I'd been listening to This Is Not A Library and wanted it to be like THAT i.e. LONG. Tim WISELY pointed out that we had ENOUGH songs, and though he agreed that making it like This Is Not A Library was not a BAD thing, we could do this more effectively in the Production Stage.

    I think what he meant was "We're not spending another year trying to learn a couple more songs, I want to get on with the bit where we overdub trumpets, tambourines and stylophones", and he was CORRECT. I'm actually getting quite excited at the prospect of doing this bit I must say, the final SHEEN of overdubs is always the MOST PHONE, and I think they're going to be quite a lot of them this time - there's LOADS of bits and bobs on the single version of Do The Indie Kid, for instance, and I think we're all quite keen on trying to get that going throughout the new album. I'm actually VAGUELY considering having a couple of months OFF from doing gigs at the start of the next year so's I can concentrate on finishing and releasing said album... although my resolve will probably weaken the INSTANT someone offers me a gig.

    In other news, and remaining on a Pattison Tip, as I was making my daily visit to the Gideon Coe page to Listen Again (I'm STILL listening to the show in the mornings, A POX on you, 6Music Management!) I noticed that TONIGHT they'll be playing session tracks by "obscure Peel Faves Prolapse". HOORAH! If you're not coming along to Totally Acoustic tonight I would suggest tuning in, otherwise I'll see you tomorrow for the Listening Again!

    posted 16/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Smiley Happy People
    It was once more unto The Midlands for myself and The Cathedral In My City on Saturday, this time heading up for the Wedding Party of Mr & Mrs F.A.Machine. The train journey was LOVELY, partly due to us partaking of the Weekend First Upgrade. Basically you pay six quid and get to go and sit in the PLUSH First Class Section. It's GOOD because there's loads of space and you can get a nice two-er (like a four-er, but just for TWO), but it's not PROPER first class. No-one comes and SCARES you with free wine and pastries, which i always find a bit ALARMING, tho you can get FREE TEA or coffee if you ask nicely for it. It reminded me a bit of the Olden Days of Midland Mainline, when EVERYONE got free tea and coffee all the time. The ABOLITION of this practice when it was taken over by East Midland Trains is but a TOKEN of the Slightly Less PLeasant nature of the new owners.

    ANYWAY, we got to Derby, checked into the Holiday Inn Express nearby, got ready, and watched THOUSANDS of Derby County Supporters STREAM by our window as they headed home, looking slightly perplexed by actually having WON a game at last. We left ten minutes after they'd dispersed, and found that they'd used up pretty much ALL the taxis, so set off on a HIKE across scenic Derby. It was actually really nice, it was a BALMY night, but we were ready for BEER when we got to the venue.

    We had a LOVELY evening - The Machines had, beautifully, come in EXACTLY the same outfits as they'd worn at the wedding a week or so before, and the room was full of a) jollity b) FAMILY and c) all sorts of familiar faces. I was suddenly aware of The Passage Of Time, especially when Mr Whitaker arrived and I realised quite HOW VERY LONG AGO it was when we first started AAS and began coming to Derby regularly. AGES, that's how long ago.

    We sat with Mr Whitaker and family, and also The Validators, and LO! there was chat and DANCING and, perhaps best of all, CURRY. I had been pre-informed of the catering arrangements, but was still AWESTRUCK when we were all presented with proper plastic catering TRAYS, and lined up to get HUGE PILES of DELICIOUS Proper Midlands Curry. PROPER samosas, incredibly spicy bhajis, GRATE Nans and HUGE dollops of delicious curry, it was FANTASTIC.

    We had a GRATE time, tho we would I feel have had to go some way to match the DELIGHT on the face of THE GROOM. Those unfamiliar might have just assumed he was happy because he was RATHER TIDDLY, but long-term observers were almost ALARMED by the RAMPANT GLEE which played across his face and which, from the look of the Wedding Photographs, had been in place ever since the NUPTUALS. Honestly, after seeing SO MANY pictures of him SMILING and then seeing it live ALL NIGHT LONG, it was a bit ALARMING!

    Next day we went off to see our friends The Bates, and went out for LUNCH in a Country Pub, where i had the BESTEST meal in a Restaurant for YEARS. It had pumpkin in it - a vegetable of which I am usually WARY, but this time I found also TASTY. After that, also APPLE CRUMBLE, we went for a walk and saw a DONKEY. It was lovely - I mean, of course, the young girls in our company thought so, I am of course too butch and manly to be CHARMED by such things. Even if he did have lovely soft ears. Aaah!

    We got home KNACKERED, but very happy after ANOTHER lovely weekend of seeing PALS. PALS are GRATE!

    posted 15/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Now I Want To Sniff Some Glue
    I tell you what, I am KNACKERED right now, largely due to the PUNISHING REGIME OF ROCK I have undergone for the past couple of days. After getting back from Croydon LATE I had to get up EARLY yesterday morning, in order to get to Derby in time for our Super Bonus Annual Leave Using Up Recording Session.

    The first part of the journey involved a rather unpleasant section travelling on The Central Line in the rush hour, which I usually do my utmost to avoid as it is HORRIBLE. THIS particular journey, however, was made rather more pleasant than it might have been by the presence of The Engine Of My Locomotive - we discussed BUYING LAND! ROCK!

    One change of tube, a BRISK WALK across St Pancras and a very pleasant train journey later I was in Derby, where The Tigermobile came to pick me up at PRECISELY 11.04am, as arranged, and we ZOOMED over to The Snug, where we could here the unmistakable sounds of a Drum Soundcheck coming down the stairs. Tim had got there an hour before us so that he could get this done and, as ever, I was DEEPLY SAD to have missed most of it. Getting up an hour early in the morning is only IMPROVED by listening to a Percussive MAESTRO hit each of his drums and cymbals one by one first ting in the morning.

    With that done Rich set up the guitar and microphone for my GUIDE VOCALS and we LAUNCHED into the first TASK of the day, our cover version of "Glory Days" by Mr Bruce Springsteen. I'd done a DEMO of how I thought it'd go, and after a couple of run throughs and AMENDMENTS we ZOOMED off through our SKIFFLED UP version, getting it all sorted out pretty much in two takes. Next there was some DISCUSSION about how we were going to do our cover version of The Ramones' "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue". I'd done a demo for this one too, as a folk song in Waltz Time, and Producer Pattison suggested we EXPAND upon the idea of Radical Reinterpretation and do it as a SERIES of different versions, to be linked together later.

    So that's what we did, WHIPPING through folk, George Formby/skiffle, 70's cod-reggae, goth, acapella and Standard Punk versions of it. It was a GREAT DEAL OF FUN, doing each one at HIGH SPEED in much the same way as we did The Music Of The Future for Do The Indie Kid.

    Job done Tim wandered off into town to spend some Birthday Vouchers whilst I did my Acoustic Guitar and UKELELE overdubs. He returned just after I'd done my English Translation Vocals on "Glory Days" and was moving into the Ramones, which was EXTREMELY handy, as him and Tom were able to provide much needed help. Tim was especially helpful when I FLOUNDERED doing the GOTH bit - funny that.

    The Tiger was next up, and he STRODE MASTERFULLY through the process of his four part violin arrangement for "Glory Days". It was GRATE, and when he THORT he'd finished Tim pointed out that he still had to do the Mournful Solo Violin in The Quiet Bit. Because, clearly, we ALWAYS have Mournful Solo Violin in The Quiet BIt. "Do something BRILLIANT Tom", I suggested - after years of practice I am GRATE at Doing Production as you can tell - and he DID, going back to the Old Trick we used on our Early Recordings on double-tracking something he'd half worked out, generating AUTO HARMONIES. It sounded lovely.

    EVEN MORE FUN came with his parts for "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", which involved the Electrical Violin and a LOT of effects. The best bit of ALL was when he did MASSIVE FEEDBACK for the PUNK version. Me and Tim sat GRINNING LIKE LOONS during the SONIC ASSUALT, we are Old Skool gentleman who LOVE that sort of thing. Our expressions turned to TERROR shortly afterwards when he did Unsettling Dissonance on the GOTH version - it was SO scary I had Genuine Real-Life Shivers Down The Spine!

    To finish off Tim went back in to do some PERCUSSION, culminating in some heavily echoed BREAKBEATS which, i am sure, would have made Lee Scratch Perry think "That's a good idea!"

    We packed up the drumkit, got rough mixes, and headed off home, full of the knowledge that we'd had a GRATE session. Doing this sort of thing really is IMMENSE fun... though it made the prospect of coming in to work this morning feel much LESS appetising than usual! When can we be International Superstar Producers and do this ALL the time please?

    posted 11/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    CROYDON
    The planning of my journey to Distant Croydon on Tuesday night was HAMPERED somewhat by FIBS peddled by Transport For London. As anyone who's ever used it will know, usually the TFL Journey Planner is an utterly GRATE, if ever so slightly determined to put you on a half hour BUS journey instead of politely suggesting you walk round the corner. This excellent resource has, however, recently been BLIGHTED by the need to propogate the outright untruth that there is No Interchange At Bank Between The Central Line And Northern Line. There completely IS an interchange there, but TFL don't want anybody to use it so keep on FIBBING about it, and this FALSEHOOD has been added to Journey Planner so that, in this case for instance, it was telling me I had to leave Croydon at 10.30pm otherwise i would NEVER GET HOME. Further investigation showed that I was safe for an extra HOUR if I went via BANK rather than, basically, doing a COMPLETE CIRCUIT OF THE HOME COUNTIES as Journey Planner suggested.

    ANYWAY - sorry, I know that is approximately as interesting as the "national" "debate" about Routemaster Buses, and EsPECIALLY so for people living outside the M25 - I got to Croydon in DEFIANCE of TFL and emerged to WONDER at the TRAMS. Croydon has TRAMS! Unfortunately they didn't really go very near where I was going, so i just LOOKED rather than RODE, but it was still nice to see.

    I strode down to The Green Dragon and got my first INKLING that this night might be pretty good when I saw the sign outside saying "Croydon CAMRA Pub Of The Year." My SECOND inkling was when Mr Tim Eveleigh, promoter of the Freedom Of Expression gigs told me I was going to get my TEA for FREE, also as much BEER as I liked! HOOPLA!

    Suitably FED and WATERED we all went upstairs for soundchecks, then the evening began with OPEN MIC. I found myself thinking terribly HARSHLY to start with - it's a LONG TIME since I've been to one of these and it took me a while to take myself to one side and say "HEY, Hibbett! This is meant to be fun, just people enjoying the chance to get up and play a few songs!" and then I RELAXED and enjoyed it, especially the chap who was doing instrumentals. He made a couple of mistakes but rather than a) PANICKING b) having a STROP he just tutted and tried again. It was lovely.

    That part of the evening concluded with a few songs from Ben a.k.a. Superman Revenge Squad. As with the last time I saw him, also at a Freedom Of Expression gig, he was GRATE - LOTS of words, funny and touching and all round BRILL. Later I asked him to come and play Totally Acoustic sometime - he seemed very slightly AFEARED as he sings quite quietly, but I reckon he would be FANTASTIC.

    Then it was ME, and I did THIS:
  • The Gay Train
  • Better Things To Do
  • Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • It Only Works Because You're Here
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I Did A Gig In New York

  • I REALLY enjoyed it - for once I planned to do a few new/unusual/rarely played songs and actually had the bottle to go through with it, especially doing The Stores Of Not To Be which I'd not put on the setlist out of SCAREDNESS and then put back on. I discovered that it IS actually a pretty good song, tho does rather require sitting down to play, so may not be making into many live sets just yet.

    After me it was Ms Jenny Lockyer, who I'd met at the aforementioned previous gig but never heard play. She was AMAZING - I spent her whole gig with a MASSIVE grin on my face, it was hugely tuneful, inventive, FUNNY and also LOVELY. This will probably not really sell it to anyone, but she was SORT OF like a cross between Laura Cantrell and Pam Ayres. Sort of. She was absolutely fantastic anyway, and as soon as she came off I pretty much BEGGED her to ALSO come and do Totally Acoustic. If all the bookings I have in mind OCCUR it will be sorted until MARCH 2009! Whoo!

    I strolled home EXTREMELY happy with how the evening had gone - two brilliant acts, an all right set myself AND free BEER and GRUB? It doesn't get much better than that really does it?

    posted 11/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back Back In The Midlands
    Myself and The Clock In My Clocktower headed NORTH on Saturday, as we were off to WOODHOUSE EAVES via Leicester for the 40th Birthday of my esteemed colleague Mr T Pattison. The aforesaid Pitch In My Walkers' Stadium had booked us into The Holiday Inn, which was DOUBLE BRILLO as it meant that our stay in Leicester was BOOKENDED by loads and loads of loafing around in the POOL, JACUZZI and STEAM ROOM that they have there. FANTASTIC!

    We got a taxi and went to pick up The Tiger from his LAIR in Newfoundpool. I was quite impressed by the way the drive got us to Tom's house despite me claiming he lived in a street he hasn't lived in for eight years, tho SLIGHTLY LESS impressed when we discovered later that he had somewhat overcharged us. Oh well - it did at least make the taxi HOME feel cheaper!

    The do was in the village's school hall, and it was GRATE. There was DRINK, there was people I'd not seen for YEARS, there was DANCING, there was chat, there was DANCING and then there was even more DANCING. The BEST bit of the whole evening, for me at least, was when Tim got on the DECKS and played Do The Indie Kid and EVERYBODY got up and started dancing. All right, I know this was POSSIBLY just because everyone realised it featured TIM on it, but still, it was FANTASTIC, especiallly when a few GROOVERS started doing the clapping bits. Yes yes, it was just me, Tim and Tom, but STILL. I was also relieved to find we got through The Music Of The Future unscathed.

    After MORE dancing it was suddenly MIDNIGHT and the room had to be CLEARED. Demonstrating our collective maturity, the entire ASSEMBLAGE transformed, on a simple WORD from Mrs E Pattison, from drunken ravers into a CRACK Room Clearance Squad, and within LITERALLY five minutes the hall was ready for assembly on Monday. IMPRESSIVE!

    We headed home and to BED, getting up earlier than one might have expected in order to a) BREAKFAST and b) get some more SPA in. We dashed across town to catch the train for Market Harborough, where we HOPPED OFF for a day trip to Great Bowden... or, rather, GRATE Bowden. GRATE Bowden is LOVELY - we went to an ACE pub (it has TWO!) for DELICIOUS beer, saw some DELIGHTFUL houses, CHECKED OUT the shops, village hall, church, footpaths, and DOGS, and had an all round BRILLIANT jaunt. We went for a look because we've been talking VAGUELY about MAYBE buying a house there POSSIBLY in a few years time when prices are LOW, just because it's HANDY for all sorts of places. It was a KOO KOO KRAZY idea when discussed over the tea plates, but actually BEING there made us both feel KEEN!

    Full of the joys of The Midlands, then, we headed home, where I discovered I was KNACKERED. Dancing + Countryside = BLISTERS!

    posted 8/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    FACT ATAK
    A number of items for general consumption today, let's GO!

    ITEM! I've just put a NEW SONG, (theme from) Dinosaur Planet up. As the annotations explain, it's an idea for a THEME for a FILM VERSION, also maybe a STAGE version sometime. Warning: includes sounds of action violence and sustained PERIL.

    ITEM! Entries for the Djing competition are CLOSED. The winner was Mr S Blower with Mr J Sheepwash in second place standby. It was HORRIBLE having to choose someone, when I put the competition in the newsletter I didn't think anyone would enter at ALL, so never expected the mental STRAIN of it all. Next time: EVERYBODY wins!

    ITEM! Listening to This Is Not A Library on the MyPod yesterday reminded me that I really OUGHT to sort out a proper re-release at some point. Not YET - i think the world has suffered ENOUGH albums from me this year, and we've got Album Project Four to finish off - but maybe next year some time. I also NOTE that we've nearly sold out of BOTH the singles that went with it, Milk & Baubles and Shed Anthems so am STRONGLY considering releasing them alongside it as a DOUBLE CD. Watch The SKIES for more news in the months to come...

    ITEM! Talking of SOLD OUT albums, look at this! A Million Ukeleles on Ebay - I wish I'd written down who got what catalogue number!

    ITEM! And finally, last but the LEAST least thing ever: please join us in wishing a Happy Birthday to Mr Tim Pattison as he passes a MIGHTY MILESTONE today. CONGRATULATIONS TIM!

    The strange thing is, when we first met, I'm sure he was only a couple of years old than me, but now he appears to be AT LEAST ten. How can this be?

    posted 5/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    It's like your own radio station! What?
    The impending (it's a month away, but I'm PANICKING) debut of my DJ CAREER has led me to have a bit of a RIFLE through my CD collection which in turn has led me to FINALLY get it together to put iTunes onto my computer at home. Until recently it's always lived on my computer at work, which has been HANDY as every time I've bought a new CD at lunchtime I've been able to get it onto my iPod for the journey home, but LESS SO in that, whenever I've fancied putting some of my old CDs onto it, I've had to LUG them in from home.

    Project: Home iTunes thus began with me lugging a pile of CDs BACK from home, but once done I set to putting them all onto the NEW version. I was a bit nervous at first - after all, I'd not had my computer long, I didn't want to COMPLETELY fill it with songs did I? And I knew this swanky new iPod Classic was a BIT bigger than my old NanoPod thingy, but surely it couldn't be THAT much bigger, right?

    So it was that I TENTATIVELY put all of the previous batch of CDs onto it, which had FILLED the old one, and had a check to see how much space I had left on my computer. iTunes said I'd used over a GIGABYTE - would everything still work OK!?!?

    Ah. I see. My computer has approximately SIX HUNDRED Gigabytes free, and the new iPod has about EIGHTY! Things, apparently, have MOVED ON since I last paid very much attention - can it have been THAT long ago that I got a new computer at work and was told "This has over a GIGABYTE of memory! You'll never have to delete ANYTHING ever again!"? Obviously so. The iTunes software seemed to MOCK me with it's graphical demonstration - Memory Free: PRETTY MUCH ALL OF IT.

    I have thus been GLEEFULLY putting my ENTIRE CD collection into it, and have just about reached the halfway mark with Ben Folds (Five and Solo Career). My favourite EXITING NEW THING about it all is that you can get it to automatically download album covers - this may not be news to most people, but I was AMAZED, ESPECIALLY when it downloaded some of MINE! WHOO! There they are, on the INTERWEB! ZANG!

    I was even slightly DISAPPOINTED when I found that EVERYTHING I have is on The Gracenote Database (barring homemade compilations - 'Belle & Sebastian When They Were Still Good' didn't pop up automatically). I was SURE some of the more obscure albums would DEFY it, but no. Even "Hangover Square" by The Caretaker Race, hunted for for years and eventually copied for me by Mr W Pilkington, managed to find its way onto it. I wonder how obscure you have to GET before you can defy it?

    Best of all, though, is that I FINALLY get to see what all the fuss was about with SHUFFLE. On my Nano it was never that exciting. "Oh, The Beatles!" I'd think, knowing that a few weeks before I'd filled half of it WITH the Beatles [including WITH The Beatles, obviously], and so it wasn't that exciting. NOW, however, it is like, well, like Having Your Own Radio Station - and a radio station that seems rather obsessed with Half Man Half Biscuit to BOOT!

    I know I'm about five years behind THE CURVE on this one, but CORKS, it isn't half GRATE. Must dash though, I feel the incontrollable URGE to go and spend fifty quid in HMV all in one go!

    posted 4/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    DJs > Bands
    When Mr B Clancy offered me a DJ SPOT at The Hangover Lounge (October 12th - there'll probably be cheap entry for The Ladies, no groups of more than four men, smart casual clothes, no football tops. That's how it is at discotheques, right? This one's going out to Steven, whose 17th Birthday it is today! ANYWAY) he suggested I do a "competition" in the newsletter with the GRAND PRIZE being a chance to DJ at said establishment.

    I was, to say the least, SKEPTICAL, and gleefully predicted the result being having to PRETEND that the winner couldn't come and me doing double time or something, but OH HOW WRONG I WAS. LOADS of people have entered, and it looks like I am going to have to actually JUDGE it! EEK!

    This is a little ALARMING as it means i have to CHOOSE between entries, some of which come from PALS. Although, actually, the fact that over half the entrants have answered the question "Which Validators song would you choose to play, and why?" with the SAME answer (CLUE: involves dancing) does make it a little bit easier. But blimey - who knew it'd be so popular eh? It's almost as if ANYONE can DJ and EVERYONE quite fancies a go, but that can't be right can it?

    posted 3/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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    By My Body BETRAYED!
    After a JOLLY and JOLLY BUSY weekend I got home tired but happy, but also EXTREMELY ANXIOUS. What was going on? It felt like i had THE FEAR, the MAD PANIC I occasionally get just before gigs and Big Things, but this time WITHOUT any gigs or Big Things to be panicking about. What was going on?!?

    I was actually a bit... well, ANXIOUS about it. I know that unexplained ANXIOUSNESS is one of the symptoms of Proper Mental Illness, was THAT what was about to happen to me? I went to bed with heart and mind RACING and a bit WORRIED.

    I woke up RELIEVED - AHA! NOW I remembered! As regular readers may know, i've got mild PSORIASIS (a.k.a. Scabby Elbow Syndrome) which sometimes takes a turn for the worse and becomes CELLULITIS (a.k.a. Glowing Red Bottom), the arrival of which, like Galactus, is usually HERALDED somehow. The Silver Surfer of its Heralds tends to be, with me, SWOLLEN ARMPITS and feeling KNACKERED. Sudden Anxiousness is more like Terrax The Tamer, but still counts.

    THUS I took the only rest-cure available: BED, and spent most of yesterday sat there a) feeling a bit sorry for myself b) discovering that Series Two of Doctor Who is REALLY good and much better than I gave it credit for after Series Three. TODAY I am still ZONKED so will be back there in a minute, but have ANNOYINGLY realised that I'm going to have to CANCEL some Social Engagements. I was off to see The Fighting Cocks tomorrow night (featuring BBC Asian Network FILM CORRESPONDENT Charlie Flowers [1 hr 15 minutes in]) and now CAN'T which is EXTREMELY annoying as I've not seen them for ages, and then to Mr Pete Green on Thursday, who i HAVE seen rather recently, but still.

    BAH! Also, BOO! CYBERMEN are not really sufficient compensation!

    posted 2/9/2008 by MJ Hibbett
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