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Blog: On Listening To 'WE VALIDATE!' Again

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I don't use Last FM, and part of the reason (apart from the whole Can't Be Bothered/Own an iPod/Work In A Shared Office kind of thing) is that i would DREAD anyone ever seeing my "Top 3 Artists" Auto-Tweet for LO! it would ALWAYS look pretty much like this:

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: MJ Hibbett & The Validators (3,000,000), Paul McCartney/The Beatles (28) & Whatever Came Up Twice On Shuffe This Week (2)

It is thus fair to that I spend a LOT of time listening to my own recordings, for TWO particular reasons. First of all, because i LIKE them - some people make a big deal about NOT listening to their own stuff, which always makes me think "If YOU don't like it, why the hell are you FOISTING it on unsuspecting PUNTERS? Record something you DO like and let us hear that instead. You big wazzock". A lot of what i like about our songs is that I've still not quite got used to the idea that I'm ALLOWED in studios to RECORD stuff. Every time I listen to anything I've been involved in I think "COR! I did that! ME! With overdubs and EVERYTHING!" and get a bit EXCITED, also HAPPY, which are two of my FAVOURITE states of mind.

The second reason for listening to my own stuff is that I'm usually CHECKING it. For instance, over the course of the past YEAR I have had about five different versions of Dinosaur Planet to listen to, as we go through recording, mixing, overdubbing, re-mixing and re-re-mixing it. This has been ESPECIALLY the case with this album as there's SO MUCH and also there's all the dialogue bits to think about, but whatever our CURRENT PROJECT is I always listen to it a LOT. There's also a very rough version of Moon Horse that's getting a lot of play at the moment too.

Put those two things together and it's a LOT of listening, but it always means it's pretty much all RECENT listening. There isn't a NEED to listen to, say, Wonderful Wednesday as a) it's FINISHED and b) i listened to it SO MUCH when I was putting this together.

The reason i am BANGING ON about all this today is that earlier on this morning I got an email from Mr P Shuttleworth, part of which was to ALERT me that he'd used a couple of our songs in one of his YouTube videos. I hadn't heard Better Things To Do for AGES - actually, probably YEARS - so it suddenly sounded sort of NEW to me. "Cor!" i thought, "i LIKE that - maybe I'll listen to the ALBUM on the way to work!"

The album it comes from is WE VALIDATE! which is STILL, in many ways, our Most Succesful Record. It's the one we've sold most of, had by far the most airplay, and seems to be the one that people LIKE most. This has always felt a bit ODD to me - I always think Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez is better (possibly because it's most recent) but it's WE VALIDATE! that seems to appeal to people most. I have occasionally thought that, in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that we ever get to do one of those Recreate A Classic Album gigs then THIS would be the one we'd have to do.

So it was with mixed emotions that I put it on at Leytonstone Station - but very soon i was AMAZED by how much I liked it. It's SUCH a long time since I'd heard it that I had FORGOTTEN the running order and indeed half the songs so when, for instance, Dino At The Sands came on it took me completely by surprise, and I found myself listening to my CONSTANT HECTORING (goodness me, there's a lot of me HECTORING on this album, right from the very start) like a HECTOREE for the first time. I tell you what, there's some good songs on there isn't there? Why don't we do Tell Me Something You Do Like any more?

(That sound you just heard was the distant sound of Tim EXPLODING on the other side of the world, unable to contain THE RAGE of SO many setlist discussions when I refused to do half the songs I know think would be A Good Idea. My condolences to the remaing Pattisons)

It also reminded me of WHAT FUN we had recording it. We went down to DEVON for a week to do the main recordings, and I was awash with lovely memories of that time. For instance, listening to the end of The Gay Train i remembered coming back from a morning at the beach with Tim, the Junior Pattisons and The Sand On My Shore (where Tim and I had built CASTLE VALIDATOR) to find Frankie and Emma VERY EXCITED about the harmonies they'd been recording. "It's like The Beatles", said Frankie, knowing EXACTLY what I would like to hear. Or, at the end of The Fight For History where the "Miner's Choir" (as we called it) gradually fades in - i believe BEER had been taken when we did that, there certainly had been when we moved on to record The Advent Calendar Of FACT the same evening - or thinking of the Hector Collectors sample at the start of Mental Judo or... well, you get the idea.

The nicest part of the WHOLE experience, however, was realising how much i - DON'T TELL THEM I SAID SO - miss The Validators. When Tim and Emma first went off to Mauritius I think we were ALL fairly calm about it. It wasn't going to be THAT long and, anyway, there were plenty of other things for everyone to be getting on with. Now, however, it's been SO LONG since we did a gig all together (holy CRAP - it's nearly a YEAR since we played Indietracks, and before that it was BERLIN and a Christmas gig!) that - AGAIN, DON'T TELL THEM - I'm now really looking forward to when we can start getting ready for Dinosaur Planet gigs.

Obviously that won't be for a while yet - 40% of the band are in the Southern Hemispher for a month or two, and then 20% of the band will be spending most of August in Edinburgh - but it has made me realise how SENSIBLE it is when Proper Bands take a year off from sitting in VANS with each other to pursue Solo Projects. Concept Albums, as the old saying goes, make the heart grow fonder.

But don't tell The Validators I said so - they think of me as ALOOF, IMPERIOUS and STERN, and I'd like to keep it that way!

posted 26/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett

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I prefer RER, I think it works better as an album but "We Validate" was closer to hand when putting the song on the video. And it was very very slightly more relevant. 30 hits so far! That's nearly a meme.
posted 26/5/2011 by pete

Cornwall - not Devon surely. And thanks for not mentioning that it's the BEST because I produced it not Tim!
posted 26/5/2011 by Frankie

It's definitely my favourite, it all works so well as an album as well as having some of my favourite songs on it. I love the SOUND of it.
posted 26/5/2011 by Vom

'wazzock' - I've missed that word so much. thanks for the memories x
posted 26/5/2011 by boyflea

I agree with Pete, RER works better because it was produced by me, NOT Frankie! Also - why don't we play Looking at My Hands!
posted 27/5/2011 by Tim

I too listemed on the way to work this morning, and the first thing that hit me was the line "the new series of Dr Who...fantastic" Blimey that was Eccleston, they're getting through Doctors faster than we're recording albums!
posted 27/5/2011 by Tim

Bless... ya big softy.
posted 27/5/2011 by Em

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