Monday, November 08, 2004

Monday Morning blues? Banish them with some great 1980's Italian Hardcore

Monday, November 01, 2004

Damn, the new Blogger interface doesn't really do this justice at all. Still, as lateral webmong humour goes: it's hard to beat.
Today's piece of web silliness: this.
Jesus, it's already starting to get dark. At 3pm. Sheesh. Just *how* much do I really love November?
Oh, I love November: it's like the whole country is bracing itself for the oncoming assault of winter. There's a steely resolve in the goose-egg grey of the sky, the trees send out an almost imperceptible shiver: and there's an unseen cape of fallen leaves trailing behind my train as it slices the still air on its way back to London. As the weather flexes its muscles, the countryside tightens its fists: I'll say it again- I love November.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Back in Brighton, at the opening of a new letting agency... i'm sitting in the office whilst people flit around me, drinking wine and chatting. Dear reader, can you tell that this is the week that i've decided to stop hitting the bottle? *takes out frustration on keyboard*
Rah! This video has turned up again on the interspazz. Some of the most genuinely heart-stopping breakdance moves EVER. It's not as good as the first one (might be in the archives somewhere, i'll go look) but it deserves your undivided attention nonetheless.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Gah. I have a cold.
On the positive side though, someone's just delivered some free pizza to the studio.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ok, last word on the John Peel thing. Other people have made far more eloquent tributes to the great man, so i'll leave it to them (when I tried to do it on-air yesterday, my voice almost went..)
So, this list serves as evidence of his catholic tastes, his willingness to champion the underdog and his dogged pursuit of musical excellence. Want to pay tribute? Then do what he would have done: listen to something out of the ordinary. Go on, that one song might lead you somewhere you'd never expected. That's the whole point of this.
Favourite MP3 blog (*points down*) of the moment is Bubblegum Machine. It's got that open-eyed sense of wonder about music that's a prerequisite for me....
And after all the soul-searching yesterday with the sad news about John Peel, that sense of wonder is an important thing indeed.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Polar opposites are what keeps me going, musically speaking. So, one half of my brain has been reeling under the weight of some fabulous Japanese minimal Glitch-Techno , and the other side has been 'aving it large with the most strident Grime anthem of the year.(Lethal B - Forward Riddim..'bout halfway down the page)
And also, on an unrelated point, I performed onstage, Friday night, with Dead Men Walking. That's me, a Spear of Destiny and a Sex Pistol, on the same stage.
*Grins*

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Been rocking some serious prog goodness as well. I sort of...reversed into Be Bop Deluxe. Started off way more interested in Red Noise and just drifted backwards.
Ooops.
Sorry about that. Look, i've been busy, honest. One of the reasons is undoubtedly MP3 Blogs: I stumbled across one, checked the links section...and, well..that was it. Lost in a labyrinth of blogging musical heaven. What's nice about MP3 blogging is its responsible attiude towards downloading: MP3's aren't up for long, and always come surrounded by links suggesting ways of either getting more info on the featured artist or buying their product. This is the future: count on it.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Today is soundtracked by one song: "I Apologise" by Husker Du, from "New Day Rising" (clips here). There's something wonderfully unspoken about them: half the time I've no idea what Bob or Grant are bellowing over that shining river of noise, but it doesn't matter. Listening to a song like "I Apologise", you just understand. There's an emotional connection to the power and the melody that shoots the underlying ideas straight to your synapses.
On a related note, Bob Mould now has his own weblog. He seems happy, content, doesn't wallow in Husker nostalgia and devotes a lot of his musical energy to dance music. I love it when people transfer their initial excitement for music along a steady stream of genres across the years, instead of letting it fester where it first bloomed. Proof of this for me came a couple of weeks ago at the Streets session at Neighbourhood. I was talking to Ben Watt in the DJ booth, telling him how much I'd always loved "North Marine Drive", whilst trying to make myself heard over the ridiculously banging Drum'n'Bass I was playing...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Yikes! Aromatherapy just got weird. Why not just live above a cafe?
Oh, this has just put the most enormous grin on my face.....a double CD of pop goodness- but for me the best bit is the chance to get "Safety Net" by the Shop Assistants on CD at last. Yes, it's true: I have a secret C86 past, one day i'll tell you more, but for now, i'm off to find that Jesse Garon demo tape.....
There was an odd luminescence to the sky this morning...bright sunshine cloaked in some fine hazy fog: added an extra frisson of surreality as I travelled back to London with some Tintinnabulation on the ipod. Feeling somewhat maudlin, must be that autumn weather getting to me. Will do my best to banish those demons with judicious use of alcohol tonight. Rah.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

It's a pleasant evening back in town and I'm listening to Derek and Clive. Genius, pure and simple. Death Disco tonight, a possible v/o tomorrow morning, which, if it falls through, will be replaced by a trip to the launderette. \m/ \m/

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Well, the office is full again, but I feel much the same as yesterday. Tired, a little soft around the edges. There are a multitude of tunes zooming around my head today...some Ray Baretto, maybe a little Belle and Sebastian (not too much, don't want to weep in front of workmates) and some George Clinton. Feeling flabby as well, might get down to the gym tonight, then ruin it all with a feast to follow. All in all, i'm happy, but teetering on the edge of all that's unknown. Mind you, that's just the way it should be isn't it?
*sighs, gathers up paperwork and heads for the studio*

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bank Holiday Blogging......
...In a deserted office. It's been a rather tiring weekend, chiefly due to my being at the Reading festival on Friday night. It's just an excuse for a giant lig, but it was really rather good. Great to see so many people I've know from the music business across the years. I love you all.

Want some fun on this overcast Monday? OK then, try downloading this gem from The Helio Sequence. Guaranteed to make you feel better.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Records that mean the most to me: Pt. 3 : "Tubular Bells" Mike Oldfield (Virgin Album, 1973)
Ok, I know it's not really all that cool, but that's missing the point. These tunes that define me can never seem just to be a hipsters bible, or a distillation of musical excellence. They are, simply, the records that occupied my time, kept my company or my counsel throughout my life. I've always believed that the tunes choose you as opposed to the other way round; this was definitely the case with "Tubular Bells".
I grew up in Wiltshire, my parents were, at the time of this episode, a nurse and an officer in the Royal Air Force, I was at a primary school in a tiny village near Salisbury Plain. I suppose I was what you might call a "Latchkey Kid". After school, my sister would visit friends in the village whilst I would walk home, sit on the sofa and watch TV. In the corner of the living room sat my Dad's stereo: at that time, he was the only person I knew who had all this stuff, there was a pair of reel-to-reel tape recorders, a tuner, a cassette deck (in 1974-5 this was positively revolutionary) an enormous amplifier and a gorgeous old Dual record player. All this stuff sat proudly on a set of non-more-70's Ladderax shelves. I didn't ever really use the stereo, I didn't have any records of my own. "Tubular Bells" was the record that changed all of that.
At this point, and despite my protestations above, I'd like to point out that my first real vinyl purchases are actually infused with punk-era zeitgeist: first single "In the City", first album: "The Clash". But "Tubular Bells" was probably the first record I owned, a Christmas gift from my grandfather in (I think) 1975.The reason I actually requested it as a Christmas present is worthy of discussion itself: I was just fascinated by the sleeve. At that time, I was a passive user of record shops: I was normally being dragged around them by my Dad, who had a major vinyl addiction. He would trawl the racks looking for trad jazz, Dylan, Miles Davis or Simon and Garfunkel, while I would patiently kill the time until he'd finished searching (and sometimes it was hours) by absentmindedly flicking through the racks myself. This process was subconsciously filling me with information; I was starting to recognise certain sleeves: Wishbone Ash, Free, Sandy Denny...And all those compilations! Top of the Pops, Hits in Super Stereo Sound, Party time with Mrs Mills. Most of the time, I could at least make what I believed to be an educated guess as to the contents of these records: This was the era of progressive rock with all it's pomp and bluster: some of this pomp naturally spilled over from the vinyl to the cardboard that surrounded it; gatefold laminated sleeves were everywhere. Most seemed to have been designed by the bloke who'd done the artwork on the Yes albums. If I looked at a copy of a Fairport Convention album..Well it just sort of looked like a folk record. The sleeve advertised the sound of it's contents. But this wasn't always the case.
I was aware of Virgin records: I'd actually got the poster of the logo on my wall- a slightly risque thing which involved a naked woman with two bodies sitting on a hill which was encircled by what looked like a giant lizard. The script was in this luscious cherry red and swirled and bulged like over-ripe fruit, almost dragging the poster off the wall. It was rather salacious to be totally honest: I'm not even sure why my parent actually allowed me to have it. So I knew what to expect from a sleeve from Virgin : mysticism I supposed, maybe some stuff about dragons and naked girls. Hippies and CND badges, folk music, perhaps even pot. Hippies did that didn't they? I was so clued in.
So, anyway,I stood there in a record shop, sometime back in 1974 or 1975 and looked at this album, "Tubular Bells". It just had a picture of the sea on it. But it seemed weird, not really....Real. But the thing that befuddled me most was the big Tubular bell in the middle. It was sort of.......Well, it just looked odd. It was bent into a shape which looked more like a metal puzzle, the sort that fell out of your cracker at Christmas. It seemed to be floating in space, not really connected to the seascape which surrounded it ( I actually found out years later that this was down to the image having been created by cutting out the Tubular bell, gluing it to the photo of the sea and then taking a photo of that to make the final image...Virgin started with a fairly small art department). I tried to imagine what it sounded like, but nothing happened. My curiosity began to grow, over the next year or so, the album began it's journey to iconic status, it topped the charts for what seemed an eternity and was pretty much everywhere you looked. But I'd still never heard it. So, I asked for the album as a Christmas present.
Finally listening to it for the first time, that Christmas day morning (my Dad played it for me as I sat under the tree) my initial reaction was to cackle with laughter: it sounded like an army of weirdos had all got together for a laugh...Nice little piano riffs would suddenly and inexplicably morph into great walls of clanging guitars which suddenly cut to what sounded like Doctor Who landing his Tardis in the corner of the room. I had no idea how to grasp this record I now owned, it seemed to large, too impersonal, too impenetrable. It was only after about six months that I finally started to get it. As I said, I was a latchkey kid and now, when I got back from school to an empty house, I had something to do: I could play my record. So I did. Again and again and again. "Tubular Bells" became like a surrogate friend, a companion through seemingly endless wet autumn evenings. As the light faded and the clouds gathered over the hills I looked out at, the album kept me company. Now I understood its ebb and flow, the way the piece built up and then fell back, as if it were drawing breath. I learned to whistle and hum its many melodies, air-guitar to those huge chopping riffs..Even the ending became an education in itself. After all, who else among my school friends could tell the difference between an acoustic an electric and a Spanish guitar? The real importance of the record to me was that it shaped the way I evaluated music: change and invention became what I looked for: stasis was no longer an option. The myriad of styles in "Tubular Bells" meant I was never ever going to be just a hippie, or a punk or a pop fan or a Folk-rocker with a finger in my ear. I wanted to be everything. "Tubular Bells" is, for me, the sound of limitless possibility, of striving to be different, of the search for individuality. It was my first real music lesson.
And it's got tunes.
What more could you want?

Monday, August 09, 2004

Wanna know why?
Well, I can trace it back to a dream I had about ten years ago. I can remember waking up and knowing exactly what had happened. I was in a youth club, or a village hall- a venue which wasn't actually a real gig. I was standing in front of a PA system. I can remember (in my dream) placing my hand on the speaker grille: feeling it's contours, the spaces between the grille and the cone of the speaker. I can still feel the texture of the plastic covering on the speaker casing, the worn metal corners. I'm fast asleep, deep in dreamland, when the PA comes to life.
It's loud: really loud. I can feel every beat of the song in my bones. And the song? Well, it's "Another Girl, Another Planet" by the Only Ones; but in truth, it could be any one of a hundred thousand songs. The amazing thing for me is that even while I'm fast asleep, I can recall a song like that in absolutely exact detail. Every note, every nuance, every rise and fall of the song is there. I'm asleep, but, for all it matters, I could be awake.
And that's when I knew. If the tunes have gone that far in, then they're going to run my life.
And that's what's happened.
I'm not complaining.
I'm beginning to suspect a conspiracy....I'm uploading "3 Feet High and Rising" in itunes and after an initial ripspeed of about 11x, it's slowed to 0.9x! Damn! Wasn't the aforementioned album the one which kicked off all the sample wars? Are they still pissed?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Get yourself some of this, it's great. Another sunny morning, listening to Fairport Convention and getting ready for a weekend back in Brighton with my folks.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Records that mean the most to me Pt 2.
The Pursuit of Happiness "Beautiful White" (Chrysalis Records Album Track 1989)

It's an odd one. I'd never heard anything by the band at all, ever. But, we were put on the same bill at a rock festival in Ghent, Belgium, early in 1989. We actually played about two bands after them, so I suppose that made us bigger than them at the time. The Stone Roses were headlining, they turned up about ten minutes before playing, surrounded by a huge crowd of hangers-on and were among the most distant musicians it ever been my displeasure to meet.
Anyway, back to TPOH. I'd got changed into my stage clothes somewhat too early and had a bunch of time to kill. The festival was organised so that there were two stages next to each other at one end of the hall. One band would play on one stage whilst the next band on would soundcheck behind a curtain on the other stage. Once the changeover was complete, the curtain would open on the other stage and the audience would shuffle 20 yards to the left or right. I wandered out into the main hall to see what was happening. Not a lot, is the short answer. I think RDF were playing, or if they weren't, it was someone scarily like them. It was awful. Then, to what seemed like complete indifference from the crowd, TPOH came on stage. I only knew it was them because I had a copy of the running order in my pocket.
What were they like? Well, a lead singer with big glasses and long hair, really dorky. A female guitarist with Stevie Nicks hair. A bass player who looked as though he'd just come from Bryan Adams' band. The omens were not good. And then, they started playing.
TPOH's sound is hardly revolutionary, it's a little bit Stones, some Faces, some big chords and some obvious melodies: I wasn't really hooked. But then, they played "Beautiful White" .It's a simple little song really: it sound a bit like "Start Me Up" but with a more yearning minor chord in the main riff..It surges and builds in a wonderfully organic way. The song is about being with a woman who doesn't really care about the clothes her lover gives her: she tosses them nonchalantly to the floor, leaving her naked: "Beautiful White". And that was it. I burst into tears, it was utterly perfect.
I finally got a copy of the album it comes from ("Love Junk") about two months later, and there wasn't a day that I didn't play it for at least five years. Even now, I play it at least once a week. It's perfect. And it makes me thank god that I'm alive. I actually realise that some of you reading this will never even hear it and probably won't even care..But you know what? I don't care. It's one of the most perfect songs ever, and I'll love it till the day I die. Game over.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Oh and BTW, i'm loving this at the moment.
Banksy gets a telling off. And how.
*chuckles*
It's now a truly lovely day, i'm suitably energised after my first visit to the gym in a week (!) and i'm just updating the blog before I head off to the Tube. I'm still loading up the itunes as well..currently rocking a little bit of Johnny Moped. There's a wonderful picture of the band, playing in a feld, throwing some serious rockstar shapes, as a herd of cows look on with utter indifference. Will see if I can find it online.
Another day of huge thunderstorms yesterday...you'd think they'd learn lessons, but no. West Cross route was flooded again and the whole of shepherds bush went into gridlock. On the plus side, this morning has that wonderful ozone freshness to it. Must go to the gym, feeling a little corpulent.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Another week, another Monday afternoon. Feeling somewhat listless today, not really sure why. Off to the Barfly tonight, maybe a skinful of lager will align my skewed personality.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

This site is one of the first sites I'd recommend to anyone who has any interest in music whatsoever. But, perhaps more than that, it's for those out there who integrate their musical experiences into a wider expansion of all of their horizons. Glenn, nice one. (And no, I'm not plugging it because you seem to be the only person who liked "Already")


Nice bit of Radiohead animation......
You know how much i'm obsessed with Homestar, right? Well, if you're that way inclined as well, there's a totally awesome Wiki with more links than you could ever imagine.
Been reloading all my CD's into the ipod (long story, don't ask) and i'm once again staggered by some of the stuff i'd forgotten about. Top of that list at the moment: "Terms Of Psychic Warfare" . That's what it's all about- a melodic fist wrapped in an iron glove of buzzsaw guitar brutality.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

My three most-played tunes on the ipod at the moment?
1) The State I'm In - Belle & Sebastian
2) Like Glue - Sean Paul
3) Release The Bats - The Birthday Party

It's all good inside my ears at the moment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

And BTW, while I'm talking about blogger updates, was speaking to my best mate Nick last night...And he's got a blogger account set up and hasn't taken the plunge yet. Go on mate, it's even easier now. I'll link you up, as well......*points right*

Back from Holidays.
Antibes rocks. That's official.
Also, blogger seems to have had another makeover....it's a lot more intuitive now, which is aces.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Oh, also...Meg is back. Hurrah! The new site is great, sort of like...a blog-plus.
*plays Razorlight, fires up Popbitch, presses f5*
Up in the Air
Last night was pop quiz night at The Eagle back in Brighton (We came 4th). Got overly sousled, seeing as Cambpell was back from his tour of Dohar. All this meant that today's train journey was a little bit...strange. Everything seemed to be in cinemascope, widescreen images filling my eyes. It was all about the tunes and the planes. Passing Gatwick, a lovely old DC 10 freighter roared overhead, close enough to see the tread on its tyres: momentarily, a faint whiff of jet fuel rushed through the train. Tune at that moment? Wim Mertens "A Tiel Leis". Then, as we approached Clapham Junction, a BA 747 started to roll into a low G turn over Crystal Palace, sunlight glinting off its fuselage. Tune? "Barcode Bypass" by The Mull Historical Society. Then, lastly, another 747, hung suspended in the air over the Thames, framed by the towers of Battersea Power Station. Tune? Nick Drake "Hanging on a Star"

Monday, June 28, 2004

Gotta Love Shepherds Bush. Not just one crack-addled looney fighting on the pavement today, but two. Well, that's probably four, seeing as it was two seperate incidents. They're a little ...erm, tense today. Can't be the weather, it's a beautiful day.
All Apologies.
Been rather busy of late, what with one thing and another, so I've been rather lax on the update front. Also, got a new laptop and was forced to endure lots of problems getting the broadband up and running (again). Any\y, enough of the excuses, I'm back. It's the start of another week, wonder what it'll bring?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Shit
How can a mere football match leave me so pissed off? Apologies to anyone reading this in Switzerland, but I hope we stuff you later this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Records that mean the most to me (An occasional series) No. 1

Ultravox! - "Hiroshima Mon Amour" (B-Side of "ROckwrok", Island Records 7", 1977)

This is the biggie really: as far as life-changing musical experiences go, this is the one that did it for me. Before HMA (it's easier),I was a bit of a musical spectator, lacking purpose and commitment. After HMA, I was pushed onto the path that I'm still walking to this day. It's no understatement to say I owe my current life and career to this one little piece of plastic.
SO what's it like? Well, that's tricky, I could point you to some sites on the net with Ultravox mp3's but they do tend to be the post-John Foxx era and if HMA does turn up, it's the LP version. This one is on the B-side to the 7" of "ROckwrok", the first to be taken from the second album "Ha!-Ha!-Ha". Ultravox! (they still had that "!") were in the throes of a full-blown obsession with Punk...Spiked hair, amphetamines, searing guitars, walls of feedback and noise..It was all a bit of a far cry from the Roxy Music imitators most people had assumed they were, following the release of their debut LP. But this was 1977!, time for some musical insurrection! So, Ultravox threw themselves into it with gusto. "ROckwrok" is an uptempo punk/glam stomper, with a faintly malevolent fairground keyboard sneezing away in the background. So far, so good...But it was that b-side that would change me forever.
It's 1978, I'm in my third year at Lavington Comprehensive School, in Wiltshire. I get most of my cool music leant to me by the boy next door: Steve McCullough. He's older, cooler and hipper than me. He's got the "Snuff Rock" EP, and all The Flys 7"s; he's got loads of early Stiff stuff, and he's obsessed with Ultravox!. In a daze of hero-worship whilst round at his place after school one night, I ask if I can borrow the Ultravox! Stuff? I leave shortly after with a bundle of vinyl, all begging to be played and understood. The trouble is, I don't really understand it: there's violins on it for god's sake! (and what's that funny wailing noise? Feedback? What's that?) I listen to the singles and the live EP for good measure and head off to bed. Next day is a Wednesday, mum and dad are both off to work early so there's about ten minutes before I leave for school when I have the house to myself. I put on one of the singles, thinking it's "ROckwrok". It's not, it's the other side. Bollocks, I still don't get it. It's a four minute wall of choppy guitars and sawed violin, with a guitar riff that sounds like Mott the Hoople and a bit in the middle where it all spazzes out. Hmmph. Off to school.
Last lesson of the day, for some reason, I'm not doing games, as is normal, I'm doing Latin. Sitting in a cold, draughty mobile classroom on the edge of the sports field, looking up at the clock as it reaches 3.55. And then, it hits me. Ever so gently at first. I think to myself: "oh, I can go home and listen to that Ultravox! b-side again". I'm now walking out of the classroom, swinging my briefcase by my side. The wave of music washes over me once more: this time it takes longer for me to emerge and when I do, I gasp for air with a greater urgency "Oh shit, I've got to get home and play that song!". I start to walk home, but the song is now in my head, playing loud and clear. I can hear every note, every wail of feedback, every flex of those guitar strings. It's so loud I almost think that everyone else can hear it as well, so I start to run, just in case my friends stop me: "hey Iain, what's that record coming out of you? Sounds great!" Sod 'em, this is mine, it's all mine. I get the feeling it's all I will ever need. I run the rest of the way home, get inside and breathlessly place the record on the turntable and play it again and again and again...

So that's it really, everything since then is all a result of the feelings that one piece of music instilled in a twelve year-old kid, full of wonder. I'm almost glad I can't offer you a clip: I'm pretty sure it would never have the same effect again. I'm actually prone to wonder whether it was actually created with the sole intention of changing one life (mine) forever: once it had served its purpose, it could retreat, contented, into the shadows. Indeed, if I listen to it now, all I can hear is a faint echo of its power and it's hold over me. It knows that it created me, and that keeps it happy.
There will be more installments in this series from time to time, but HMA had to be first.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Ah, that's just great: another cold. It's always at times of the year when the temperature fluctuates so wildly. Will attempt to nip it in the bud by taking full doses of the appropriate potions ASAP. It's always a bit of a bind though, trying to do the show and maintain the excitement. Still, that's what I have to do. *shrugs*

Monday, June 07, 2004

*sighs*
Today is one of those days where I feel as though i'm like an ant trying to get out of a Scorpion's pit in the sand.
Utterly fantastic selection of Strawberry Switchblade downloads. The version of "Sunday Morning" is amazing.
So Where Have I Been?
well, I got my laptop virused (again), which meant I lost lots of posts, then I seemed to have a week of gigs, booze and fun. Hey ho.
Anyway, i'm back. Miss me?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

It's been an odd day , today. Absolutely everything went wrong at work, culminating in the entire desk freezing up. Finished my shift in the old production suite for Capital FM on the 3rd floor- it's a tatty little studio, with it's only saving grace being the fact that it's got an analogue desk. Analogue is so much snappier than Digital: the segues and links become razor-sharp. But...as I said, the studio had seen better days.
Then, all the email servers locked up and every printer in the building went off-line. By the time I left, I was fighting a rising sense of resignation and tension, allayed only by the purchase of some musical goodness from Fopp on my way home. Tonight is therefore full of Faust and might end up with me checking out "The Ice Storm". It's also a day which follows a night of restless sleep for me: i'm sure it's got a lot to do with the weather. I'm one of those people who seems to have in-built sensors to detect the moments when the weather swings between phases; hot to cold, high to low pressure. Today has seen the clammy heat of the last few days bottleneck itself into one of those situations where release is the only option. As I'm typing this, I can feel the temperature sinking like a stone: Thunder and Lightning can't be far off. Being so high up here, that's always a near biblical experience. The clouds are already fat with rain, heavy and brooding, the noise of the planes flying through them bouncing back to earth with greater intensity. They become more opaque as well: West London is wearing a wooly cloak of cloudy luminescence. I'm listening to Wim Mertens, sipping a Vodka and Coke, resigning myself to a long and peaceful sleep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Absolutely immersed in all the This Mortal Coil CD's at the moment. *Drifts off to sleep in a state of advanced reverie*
I wish you all bliss. G'Night all.
Great night tonight, went to the BMG/Zomba pop quiz up in town (we came second) then got a taxi home. The whole of Hyde Park must have had its grass shorn today, the smell of grass clippings filled the cab as we sped past Lancaster Gate: it was actually quite intoxicating.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Been a busy couple of days, lots of gigs. Saw Keane over at the forum; but was solely in attendance to see the support acts: Thirteen Senses and Bell X1. Thirteen Senses were slightly hesitant, but then again, playing a big venue like that early on is always fraught with difficulty. Bell X1 were wonderful, their set containing one of the most magical pieces of gig theatre ever. To precis, singer starts to jump around the stage,falls over bass guitarists monitor wedge, lies on ground with legs waving in the air, continues playing, finally gets to his feet obviously mortified and the audience rewards him with a cheer of genuine love and affection. If you can make a total cock of yourself in front of that many people and look truly contrite, they'll love you forever.
Another voice-over booked for this evening (hurrah!) then it's off to meet Kirk in the Spanish Bar.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Sorry. I've been rather lax of late as far as updates go..but it's been an odd few days. first I find out that an old friend of mine died at the weekend, then another long-lost friend turns up. Bad news is, he's in jail. I'm really overjoyed to hear he's fine, but slightly humbled to be the only person chosen as a conduit to the outside world. It's all left me a little detached. Off to the Thirst bar tonight for some DJ action...then some sleep would be nice. *Sighs*

Friday, April 30, 2004

Rain, rain ,rain. Where did summer go? It was only here for two days. Bah, I was starting to obsess about skating everywhere as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Do guitars have souls?
Got my '74 Tele yesterday evening, it's the most wondrous thing i've ever owned. But, the strange thing is, it's a little bit tricky to play. The action is great, the neck is a dream... it's just...sort of involved. It's as if all those people who've played it before me have imprinted their musical knowledge into its DNA: as a real novice, I get knocked back by the guitar when I try and play it. All that expereince that's buried deep in the grain of it's body...seems to resist being unlocked by a mere chancer such as I. However, it's as I would have expected, this is a guitar with some serious history: i've got to treat it with some serious reverence and i'll get back so much more.
Great night last night, off to Death Disco. Wish I could remember it all. *takes some more resolve*

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Oooh, nearly forgot. Cool screensaver which will turn your monitor into a plane (Sort Of.)
A day of strange weather yesterday, when I got off the tube from work, the air had that wonderful ozone freshness to it, but things changed really quickly. By 7 o'clock, we were enduring a huge thunderstorm, hail and flash floods (one closed the M41).
Hmmmmph. I was rather loooking forward to another week of fine sunny weather so I could get skating again. IT's always round about April/May that the urge to skate appears: if I do nothing, my dreams end up full of smith grinds.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I'm currently listening to one thing. One thing only. Made to Love Magic. Tears in my eyes again.
Back in London after a wonderful sunny weekend in Brighton. It's really the most amazing place in the spring: there's a real sense of excitement about the coming months, whereas London still seems shrouded in a fug of laissez-faire bewilderment.
Looks like I may have got myself a vintage Telecaster. It's only been a month since I started to play, but the Tele seems to have it's claws in me: I became obsessed with the idea of an old guitar supplying me with knowledge via some strange form of musical osmosis. The upshot of all this is that a '74 blonde Tele should soon be mine. Hurrah!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Busy couple of days....Tuesday night was the launch for the new David Devant album over at Lock 17 (which used to be Dingwalls) Good gig, great night out, but the trouble with midweek aftershow parties is that by the time you're hitting the free bar it's nearly midnight. Felt like shit this morning. Tonight was the launch of Wall of Sounds new compilation CD "Two Cultures Clash", which is a fabulous idea: get the of UK and european dance music producers (Cassius, Roni Size, Howie B, etc) and get them over to Jamaica to record with the llikes of Ward 21, Danny English, Cecile and Bling Dawg. The finished results are amazing. A truly pan-cultural dancehall explosion.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Yes, it's real. And, I got linked; which is the coolest thing that's happened to me in ages. When I started this little blog, it was purely as some sort of pressure release valve. I write most of it when i'm away from home, in my little garret in West London. So it's a strange feeling when it's embraced by others; there's comfort in anothers embrace- mingled with a smidgeon of fear, as if the tide is pulling you away from the shore, into the unknown.
It's a sunny evening, the sun is actually so bright i'll have to draw the blinds. Will sit on the balcony, look at the sky and listen to some Lowgold. It is the golden hour, after all.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Today, it's all about these two sites: Teenage Angst Poems, and the 10 worst album covers ever.
Great gig last night, like watching the BMX Bandits playing the first Voidoids album.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Where did the sun go? And there was me thinking it was summer. Hey ho. *shrugs*
Tonight it's Tigermoth over at rouge.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's a glorious day. Sunny, warm and still. Just about to sit on the balcony, practice my pentatonic scales and luxuriate.
I'm also having one of those weird little musical "blips" at the moment. I'm always afraid of missing out on something, leaving a hole in my tastes. So when i'm trawling the racks at the secondhand shops and I suddenly turn up something which has passed me by, I always hear that voice inside which says "why don't you own any ____ albums?" This time, it was Yes. So, i'm delving into "Close to the Edge". I went through a similar thing a little while back with Tangerine Dream, lost about a week of my life listening to "Phaedra"

Monday, April 12, 2004

Back from my Easter break: lots of food and drink, lots of friends, relations and fun. Cookery rotated around a couple of dinner parties in Brighton: one saw real comfort food in the shape of a giant Cauliflower cheese, the next night saw the return of my ultimate Tom Yam Goong. It's all about those fresh chillies. Yesterday we went down to Kent for an Easter feast and then a relaxing walk around the local countryside. For the first time this year, I was really aware of spring; wildlife and flowers were everywhere. New-born lambs stumbled in the fields, bees droned lazily in the bluebells and primulas which spilled from the hedgerows- and gorgeously-plumed cock pheasants scattered through the sprouting crops of Maize and rapeseed. We walked the lanes, making reed-whistles from fat juicy blades of grass, stuck tendrils of "sticky weed" on each others clothes, listened to the sounds of horses hooves thudding out from behind the freshly shorn holly bushes and willow trees which leant down to kiss the tarmac around our ankles.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

And let's not forget the Belle De Jour blog storm. Was it real? Was it a literary fake? Who knows. All I know is that since the seeds of doubt as to its veracity was sown...Well, I haven't bothered reading it. It was supposed to be based on a personal insight into life as a call-girl: once that premise is gone, well.. The whole thing falls apart.
So is it wrong for me to seek out honesty on the net and get a buzz from that unique energy? No. In fact, I'll give you an example. This blog is purportedly about a wife being suddenly widowed by her husbands suicide. It's far too touchy a subject to fake. My instincts say it's the real thing. And if it is: then it's literally unmissable.
Bus Blogs? That's where it's at.
Music wise, can i suggest you check this out? It's great, trust me. Also, if you're in a download kind of a mood, then give Mashit a try. If crazy jump-up breakbeat nonsense is your bag.....you'll be in heaven.
Hurrah! i'm back!
Well, the cold petered out after a week, but it left me feeling weak as a kitten (as always). Thankfully, that's all in the past. I'm back! Miss me? Oh, OK. *sulks*

Monday, March 29, 2004

Oh, that's just great.
Got a raging headcold. Mind you, it's my first for ages, so I shouldn't complain. Feel like i'm about to pass out at any moment, very dizzy and somewhat "disconnected". Only one soultion in these sort of situations and that's to load up on the cough medicine and head for the land of nod.
This week? Well, we'll see how the cold pans out; but it's Snow Patrol Friday, Screamfeeder Wednesday, so far.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Holy Shit
David Bernal is back. Check the new clip on his site, seriously incredible stuff. Watching him move, you can almost believe he's not actually human.
Been doing some remembering tonight, the time when me an my best man Nick hitched a ride from Lancaster at 2am. It might well have been after an Age of Chance gig. It was cold, breezy and the sky was stuffed full of stars. Seeing as it was a midweek, there were no buses, no way back to campus except to walk. Every car that passed, we would try and hitch a ride. Of course, no-one took any notice of two pissed students, singing REM songs at an inky void above them. Finally, an old Land Rover stopped and picked us up. it was a short wheelbase model, so we perched on the flat back, just over the wheel arches, facing backwards. The tyres sang out that low drone, chunky tread on smooth tarmac as we headed home. Two guys, drunk, happy, faces red with joy, happiness, beer and the Lancashire breeze.
To the man like Speight, nuff respect.
Feel rather let-down that Belle de Jour (find it yourself, hmmmph) turned out to be a fake.....
So, by way of an apology I give you Magnetic Liv, the greatest blog in the world right now.
Been refining the congee recipe recently, the secret seems to be lots of flavourings (lime leaves, mushrooms, holy basil) and a pinch of sugar to offset the fish sauce.
Today there's some DJ action after work (some sort of Cuervo tequila thing) and then some more guitar.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.............

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Back in London after a weekend of serious relaxation. Went to the in-laws on Sunday for a wonderful Roast Lamb...fell asleep in front of the fire, fine wine, cheese and biscuits... a textbook lesson in how to do Sunday right.
This week is going to be filled with Thai food, I think. Time to rattle the pots and pans and update my equipment here in the Bush. I need a butchers block, a chinese cleaver...and ideally, one of those little Global paring knives. Love affair with the Telecaster continues unabated, now got D minor in the mix, so i'm starting to actually be able to play whole songs.

Friday, March 19, 2004

It's official. May 24th is the most important day of the year.
Was due to see easternlane last night, but beer got in the way. Went to the Spanish Bar, which is great, in a slightly soiled sort of a way...Tonight sees me returning to Brighton, to play on the other Telecaster (Had to get two, one in each location) and hopefully eat Curry. Vindaloo, you will be mine. Tomorrow it's Chelsea vs. Fulham, a needle match that means i'll be hoarse for Saturday night, but hopefully content. Come on, you mighty Blues! Rain is lashing on the windows outside, might have to indulge in a little musical therapy before work. Some Lucinda Williams perhaps.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

And it was messy indeed.
Good night out, livened up by the realisation that "Temptation" by Heaven 17 is really rather good. Pinball is also still good. Top of the pile though is "The Rat" by The Walkmen: it's playing non-stop at Baker Towers at the moment....
Right, time to drag my sorry, hungover arse out of bed and greet the day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Greatest article ever. (For the moment)
Another long day today....tonight it's Ash at the Islington Academy and tonight is St Patricks Day as well. With the whole thing being sponsored by Jameson, it's going to be messy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Hurrah! tuesday night means Brat Camp! Kill 'em all!! Sitting here as always, sawing away on the Telecaster. I'm starting to feel a real love for the damn guitar. I mean, it's obvious, Joe Strummer played one, they rule. It's like an old Blue Beat 7", the more knackered it is...makes it even better.
My favourite Lee Perry rhythm has always been "Give Me Power", I've got about a dozen takes of it across various CD's(this being a good place to start) and I'm now trying to locate them all on vinyl. Actually, anything by The Stingers comes with a strong recommendation, they only cut about 6 sides (?) for Perry, but they're all good.

Monday, March 15, 2004

And today's piece of utterly stupid distraction? Well, that would have to be The Bible according to cheese.
Favourite little band at the moment? Tigermoth. Get over to the site and check out the latest demos, great stuff.
Back in London after a hectic few days. First up, Snow Patrol in Norwich: great gig, great night, appalling train service. The poor commuters on the line from Liverpool Street just looked resigned to their fate: as if an hours delay was a sad but normal occurrence. After the sheer luxury of the Virgin train to Birmingham, the rolling stock was a shambles, falling to pieces and looked exactly like the trains I caught to university in the 80's. The DJ set was a noble struggle which bore rich fruit: a tough hall to get going, but once they were up- no stopping 'em. The Kid Symphony tune in particular, sounded amazing over a big system. Jim Benner (Xfm co-promotions honcho) and myself made the fatal error of trying to prop up the hotel bar at 2am...The journey back the next day wasn't pretty. And we were delayed by another hour. Again. Gah.
Weekend? Well it ended up being a busy Saturday and a wildly loose Sunday. Met Lorraine and her son William for a pizza in the Lanes, then Louise and her daughter Lauren came over for afternoon tea. William liked Warhammer 40,000, while Lauren wanted to watch Tweenies. My mind was mush by the evening. Sunday was dominated by a pub lunch at the Pond in the North Laine with Sam and Pete....went back home and carried on drinking until evening, playing my guitar as I went. I have great callouses on my fingers and a very sore head. On my return to the City, TV crews were prowling round Embankment station, reporting on the increased police prescence to counter heightened fears of terrorist attacks. There were, of course, more TV reporters than Police. If we get attacked, at least the coverage should be great.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Played the guitar until my fingers hurt tonight...the odd thing is, it's strangely calming, even though I should be getting pissed off at my lack of ability. A nice sober one as well, getting ready for Snow Patrol in Norwich tomorrow. Another voiceover today, for the new N.E.R.D. single, one of those times when it works within about three takes. Voiceover work is great (and not just for altruistic reasons) I enjoy actually using my voice, rather like an instrument. Let's face it, I was never the most accomplished keyboard player in the world, so it makes a pleasant change.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

This is the saddest news of the year for me: John McGeogh has passed away. A lovely man and a truly great guitarist. John was at his most brilliant for me on "Secondhand Daylight", which i'll be playing as soon as I get home tonight.
Last night, Jet at the Islington Academy. The crowd reaction was the most insane for any session we've done in the last couple of years: utter pandemonium. The gig? a little bit like seeing Brinsley Shwartz at the Southend Kursaal in 75 (i'm guessing here) but enjoyable nonetheless.
Guitar update: callouses on their way, chord count is now 8. Ish.
Beautiful sunny morning today, up and at 'em. You know the drill: Nick on the Stereo, a little Gym action, then work.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

There's a moment in A Skin Too Few where they put all the photos from the back cover of "Five Leaves Left" into a kind of moving flipbook. Halfway through, it's like Nick actually moves his head. Yikes.
Did the deed. Am now the proud owner of a telecaster (copy, obv.) I can play four chords.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Oh holy shit. I'm feeling proud and ashamed in equal measure tonight. Just watched a video with all our band stuff from US TV. Found out we did the Arsenio Hall Show twice. Can I remember the second time? Frankly, no. Indeed, just say no, kids. Busy week or so ahead for me: DJ-ing in Birmingham tomorrow night with Keane, then it's Jet on Monday and Snow Patrol on thursday.
Went to see The Alarm at the Scala last night....how does Mike Peters manage to put about ten choruses into each song? Amazing. Punchy as hell live, nice Steve Jones-esque Les Paul action going on. Talking of which, in my quest to let 2004 be the year that I return to making music, i'm thinking about learning the guitar.
Today starts with congee again, will then involve gym/launderette/mainline railway station/record shop/pub. It's a long one....

Friday, February 27, 2004

Whatever your views on The Darkness, this weeks issue of the NME makes pretty depressing reading. The story is this: NME misses the boat on The Darkness, goes grovelling on their knees for forgiveness, band relents, NME writes unjustly snide piece, band rejects the NME's advances, NME throws toys out of pram.
So, this weeks issue sees the logical conclusion to all of this; there are thinly-veiled derogatory references to The Darkness on almost every page. It's childish and utterly stupid.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Another night, another gig........off to the academy for the Jet/Snow Patrol gig, i'm DJing the Aftershow party. Tonight is one of those nights when i'm utterly exhausted; hopefully a bit of loud tuneage will sort me out. A nice steaming bowl of Congee has certainly helped.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Ordinary Boys? well, they're The Chords, but seeing as that'll mean virtually nothing to most of you.........
Good little band actually, the version of "Maybe Someday" was blistering.
Keane? I'm not swayed. Yet. Sounds a little bit 1987, Danny Wilson, Deacon Blue, Hue and Cry to me. But, undeniably, the public are going to lap 'em up. Lots of people there, including little Cawood, which is always a pleasure. I'm going to force some tunes into my ears for about 30 minutes, then hit the hay. G'night all.
Back up to the Carling Islington Academy (sheesh-rebranding..) for The Ordinary Boys and Keane; should be a good 'un, reports later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Music that i'm rocking at the moment? Last Days of April, sort of swedish emo....and Team, intense but poppy at the same time..........
Add on a healthy dose of Dancehall and some Wim, i'm sorted.
Well, i'm sure you know I love 'em, but what a band. Great gig, atmosphere was amazing, a couple of beers with good friends, who could ask for more? And now? Even the website snores; that tells you all you need to know.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Off to see Lowgold tonight, in a strangely sober frame of mind. Will temptation win? We'll see....

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Well, the cooking lager was a success: perhaps too much of a success, i'm feeling a little frazzled this morning. It's time for me to de-clutter the flat today, lots of boxes of CD's to return to the playroom down in Brighton. Thinking about it, it's virtually everything i've put on the ipod- and I need a Car to take it home. Can you see why Ipods are popular?
In other news- feel like some cooking is in order tonight, need to rattle those pots and pans. Can't justify carpaccio tonight, but maybe some sort of pasta? with lots of garlic and truffle oil.
*pauses*
Right, better have some breakfast.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

About to head off for another night of DJ-ing. I feel ludicrously relaxed tonight, a long soak, some cocoa butter on my tired skin, Wim Mertens on the stereo...but ahead of me lies some musical fun and my latest obsession: cooking lager. All that guff about premium beers, "reassuringly expensive....left to mature.....blah blah blah" Five pints of Stella and i'm on the floor. What I want is the lager equivalent of the cheap cooking wine you save for the stew: hence, cooking lager. You'll be still standing when others around have fallen. Let's put it to the test shall we? Mine's a top, cheers.
Thoroughly dope guide to all things dance, from horror-core to illbient, it's all there.
Vis-a-vis the increased power I'll be needing to start running all that music creation software: I'm heading in the direction of Fujitsu at the moment. Whatever happens it's always reassuring to know I'm getting twice the laptop for less than the cost of the one it will replace. Modern life is definitely not rubbish...
Holy shit. Take a look at the list of tunes that legendary drummer Hal Blaine performed on.....there's certainly a difference between being a run-of-the-mill session musician and being a performer...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

It's games all the way at the moment, all of 'em emenating from Japan. Check out GROW, it's a wonderful little flash game which manages to be calming an frustrating in equal measure. Top score possible is 20,000....took me a couple of days to work it out, can you do it any quicker?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Crikey, this site is awesome. Playing it as we speak...
Warning: it's a bit of a huge download, but this reggae mix is top quality stuff...it's nice to see some dancehall getting the space it deserves, instead of the usual mash-ups. Been somewhat busy of late: had a meeting last night to ponder the future of the band, which went rather well- we appear to be working towards the same goal. Also, i've been debating a return to actually making music, for me, that's been about a ten year gap. I think it's time to do it again. I've got myself a sampler, a sequencer, so i'm just a midi controller away from doing it. Mind you, i'd need a nice new laptop to handle all the processing, but i've been looking for an excuse...
It's a drizzly morning in Shepherd's Bush, must rouse myself and toddle off to the gym.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Tonight is nice and quiet. I'm sitting here thinking about charity, about goodness and piety. I'm listening to Nick Drake, watching the candle flicker in the corner of the room. Even the police sirens outside seem to be passing with less frequency than they normally do at this time of night: maybe everyone in London feels this way.
Now, if you have any interest in reggae whatsoever, this slice of dubbed out brilliance is essential. I think it's the epic scientist production that does it: he was really on top of his game in the 80's... However, the thing that seperates this from the chasing pack is a three-note b-line of simple genius from Aston Barrett; RIP, Family Man.
I'm finally over the Jetlag, so back to business with the blog. Miss me? Oh well, never mind. The computer problems which arrived in their legions after the instillation of BT Broadband are nearly sorted, there's just a couple of strange quirks to iron out. There's the bewildering failure of XP to shut down properly and the strange , niggling thought that there's a virus on the system, when there isn't.
Other news? Currently rocking a number 3 crop, which I love: low-maintenance haircuts are the future.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Okay then, here's part two...............




Konnichiwa Tokyo, We’re Jesus Jones…and we’re back.Oh great. Another four hours of fitful sleep should stand me in good stead for the rigours of another day in Japan…The day starts with a brief stroll around the Akasaka area: it’s changed a great deal since we were here last, lots of new development, most of it connected to high finance. It’s an area of Tokyo which equates quite nicely to the City of London, wide roads, office blocks and tiny pockets of shops to provide for the legions of salary men. The place is also ludicrously clean: not a speck of litter in sight. Our bus journey to the gig site is another chance to marvel at the sheer spectacle of Tokyo: the buildings seem to be so much larger- both in size and spirit. This is a place that has a great deal of confidence-and it loves to make that point clear. This confidence never seems to border on the arrogant though; it’s done with too much pride.
Tonight’s gig is an even bigger “barn” than yesterday, with a slightly different set-up. In Osaka, the two stages were at opposite ends of the venue, here; they are in the two corners on one side. It all means we set up whilst Pleymo are absolutely rocking it about fifty yards to our right. Pleymo are a bit of a revelation for me; I’d never heard of them before but resolve to seek out some CD’s. They seem to be French, yet the singer has a fluent command of Japanese- this enables the band to connect with the audience and fire them up. Yet, even with this rabid reaction, there is still the silence between songs. Now I realise: we have to get the crowd going, make them go crazy- whilst understanding that the silent reaction is just the way they are. But this knowledge might not be enough to secure a good gig: we’ve got major problems with the computer. All of our samples, which once meant we carried a huge flight case around, housing a huge bank of samplers, can now be fitted onto a laptop. We’ve got a laptop on stage to provide all of the samples…and it doesn’t want to work. It’s crashing repeatedly. Looking at our watches, then the crowds, we realise that in 30 minutes, 20,000 people might be forced to endure a dramatically shortened set with no big tunes (Right Here, Real, Who Where Why) and other crucial samples missing. Sean and Maki look on, powerless, as Mike and I struggle with the problem. With 20 minutes to go, I have a tiny thought: try loading the set from last night, which was shorter, but loaded fine yesterday. It Loads fine again. Then another thought: well, if a shorter set loads, maybe it’s a memory problem. I run and tell Mike, who at this point is trying to warm up for a disastrous gig. We sit and divide the set into two smaller chunks to see if it will help. Hallelujah! The set loads. We must have been about 500kb into territory where the program was beginning to disintegrate: dividing into two has solved the problem. We look at each other and laugh out of sheer amazement: a second later, we’re in each other’s arms, hugging tightly. The relief is a palpable feeling.
Time to get changed. Time to rock!
The gig is great from start to finish…I was right about the audience; they just needed firing up a bit. So, from the outset, we’re bounding around like loos, clambering over the PA (me), letting out huge rock screams (mike), and scaring the beejesus out of the camera crew (oh, that’s me again). The film of the gig (which we watch afterwards) is awesome; hopefully it’ll end up on the band site at some point in the future! It’s a complete contrast to yesterdays gig as we walk off stage in a state of near-euphoria.
We were planning to leave the venue about 30 minutes after the show, a decision reached after reflecting on last night’s events. Now however, the agenda has changed somewhat. Time to drink some beer. Limo, Kim and Megumi Dan have made it to hostility (that’s hospitality, folks) so we wander off and say hello before finally collapsing on the bus about 2 hours later than planned. After watching the video (phew, no major gaffes) we plan tonight’s activities. Jez wants to stay in and eat spag bol, his hotel meal of choice, the rest of us have different ideas. A quick shower, then it’s down to the bar. Plans are eventually hatched to go get food, we find a restaurant that serves a Japanese approximation of tapas: lots of little dishes to explore. We get some yakitori, noodles, agedashi tofu, Kara age and oknomiyaki. This last one I’ve had before, it’s a Japanese pancake made with egg and vegetables- but tonight’s comes with flakes of tuna on the top. These dance and move in the heat and make it look as if they’re alive (which they aren’t); I’ve always aid that there’s one thing a day in Japan which will freak you out- moving food is definitely it for today. We return to the hotel for a nightcap but they’ve shut the bar: we turn 180 degrees and head back to whence we came. Our final night in Japan sees us toasting the success of the weekend with cassis and Ume (Japanese plum wine).
I wake at about 6am, with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. It takes me a little while to work out that this time I’m really going to miss this place: we haven’t really been here for long enough. Another bus ride and we’re back at Narita Airport for the flight home.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Right..........Time to fill you all in on what I've been doing.
Wednesday Night/Thursday Daytime.
Thirty thousand feet over St Petersburg.

Well, where do I start? it's now Friday, not Thursday as it should have been. The flight was delayed by 21 hours, due to a light dusting of snow on the wings. We arrived at Heathrow sometime yesterday afternoon, Jez, Al and me in a cab on the Hayes Bypass, driving at occasionally ludicrous speeds and catching sight of our 747 as it floated down to a chilly runway. Little did we know exactly how much time would actually be spent on the selfsame plane over the next 10 hours or so. After a stress-free check-in, we drifted amiably through duty free, fielding anxious calls on our mobiles and looking out at a cold but snow-free airport. As we finally got the call to progress to the gate, the weather had changed dramatically. Snow was swirling around the planes as they squatted behind the huge windows of the departure lounges. We wandered onto our flight as the temporary blizzard was abating, with a warning about the possibility of a delay while we waited to be de-iced. While we waited, the delay stretched to an hour. The crew were told to serve dinner and, against all regulations, serve us alcohol as well. And then? Well, thats it really. We drank and waited. Waited and waited. Departure time was 6.15pm. When 11 rolled around, we knew it was all going slightly awry. The rest of the night begins to unravel at just about that point. The crew finally left the plane at about midnight, having told us we could sleep on the plane if we wished, then again, the departure lounge could also be used as a makeshift camp. By this time we were all in a kind of hyper-excited party mood, good vibes flowing with the Asahi, bands bonding and all of the standard rules of engagement vanishing into the icy blackness outside. I can vaguely remember dialing directory enquiries at two in the morning, trying to reach some sort of customer service department: I needed to vent my spleen, despite secretly having a quite exquisite time. I can also remember going to sleep in Economy and waking in Club Class- how'd that happen? At 7am, some 14 hours after walking on to our Boeing Bedroom, they finally roused us from our otherworldly dreams and turned us out into the lounges. A deep and powerful hangover settled over us like the snow on the wing and we went in search of Breakfast. Clutching the vouchers, which JAL had tried to placate us with, we piled into the full English as if lives depended on it. Actually, they probably did. The next four hours passed at a crawl, we eventually decamped to a corridor outside gate 4 where we attempted to relax and unwind, whilst simultaneously trying to maintain straight faces as Tony appeared to be in danger of soiling himself. As the flight actually got inexorably nearer, I actually got a little nervous...it's been a couple of years since I was on a plane and some of my old fears momentarily bubbled to the surface, no doubt buoyed by the dull tired ache that was gnawing at my bones.
But fly we must. JAL 422 eventually departed Londons Heathrow at around 2pm on Thursday, some 21 hours late. The moment when the cabin crew announce the flight time was particularly annoying, the realisation the it would be another 12 hours before this journey would finally end: 48 hours in the clothes we were wearing. After dinner and some Vodka, I grabbed another couple of hours sleep: roughly my sixth hour of sleep in two days. Kansai, here we come.
Getting our Kix at last.JAL 422 finally touches down at Kansai International Airport (or Kix, as the locals call it) at 10.30am Friday morning. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, melting away some of our frustrations as we leave the terminal building. Makiko, or Maki, our translator for the weekend, meets us. With typical Nipponese efficiency we are shepherded onto a bus and whisked away to the festival site; by now we're running so late that sound check is already upon us. After all of the privations and problems of the last 48 hours, the very least we expected was a nightmare of technical difficulties and appalling sound- not a bit of it. Onstage, everything runs like a dream. We play four songs and leave with big grins on our faces.
Backstage, it goes even better: the catering is a revelation with chefs on hand to ply us with foody comestibles such as Nigiri Sushi and Chicken Yakitori. Best gig catering ever!!
Another bus takes us away from the Osaka Intex Arena to our hotel in downtown Osaka. Rather confusingly, there appears to be two downtown areas, we're in South downtown, at the Osaka ANA hotel. After a long shower slowly removes some of the grime of our journey, jet lag bites me on the arse: I lie on the bed and fall instantly asleep. However, this being jet lag, I wake an hour or so later to vivid hallucinations, I can hear people having conversations about me, despite them being on totally different floors of the hotel. It's now 6pm, we've agreed to all meet up and go exploring- there's just one problem: everyone is still asleep. It's just me, Sean and Maki who venture out to see what Osaka has to offer the weary traveller on a crisp and clear Friday evening.
Osaka is a vibrant and exciting city, its bustling heart of fun food and frolics is Dotonburi and its to there that we head after exiting the subway. We ooh and aah at the neon and smile at the giant mechanical crabs that festoon the buildings, then start our search for Beer and nibbles.
First stop is the Kirin building in the heart of Dotonburi: they brew on site, which means the Weiss beer we order is incredibly fresh and even more satisfying as a result. We chow down on some spicy shredded Korean squid, watch the world go by and hatch our plot for the night. Basically, we intend to wander around and eat and drink whatever takes our fancy. Luckily for us, Maki is a local, so we are treated to the best food in town. First, some gyosa delicately drizzled with shoyu sauce and accompanied by Kim chi pickle: it doesn't get much better than this. Hang on a minute, it does; next stop is a tiny Takoyaki restaurant, the tiny little balls of savoury octopus are as light as a feather and unbelievably good, i'm in food heaven. A final nightcap of Corona beer and a shot of Old Parr, then it's a cab ride back to the hotel.

Gig Day. Birthday Day. Whatever Day.
The day starts with the rather odd sound of Alan celebrating his birthday with a vigorous early morning workout in his room, next to mine. I can hear him huffing and puffing his way through some sit-ups and what sounds like skipping- either that or he's disco dancing. I grab Al and Sean and we head off to Dotonburi again for a stroll and Breakfast. Upon our return, Jet lag rears its ugly head once more: I fall into a fitful sleep, hallucinate for an hour or so, waking up feeling somehow even more tired. Bah. We drive off to the Intex arena and await our first Japanese gig in nearly 10 years.
While we wait, we play what seems to be the latest fad in Japan: musical PS2 games. There's one in the arcades, which seems to involve playing some sort of giant mandolin, but the game that is most popular is a Drum game. The rules are simplicity itself: the game controller is replaced with a scaled down ceremonial drum and you play along to the song on screen. There are different drum strokes to play at various points in the song: rolls, rim shots and a flourish where you slam both sticks on the drum at the same time. Oddly, it seems as though i'm a better drummer than our own drummer, Tony, which is a little worrying. So at last, it's time to play. We're shit. No really, the gig is awful. It's all a bit bewildering, seeing as the sound check went so well. Some of the blame must fall on our own shoulders: we're tentative which means there's lots of niggling little mistakes, Mikes tuner lead gets pulled out in the middle of the first song: I could go on, but won't. But what also throws us is the audience reaction. For most of the set it feels like they're ignoring us. Applause fades about three seconds after we finish a song. As a confidence boosting experience, this gig is a non-starter. The mood in the dressing room afterwards is heavy, despite Maki making the effort to get Alan a birthday cake. We were planning to spend the time between the gig and our departure to the airport getting stuck into the backstage bar, but our hearts aren't really in it.
Our flight from Kansai to Haneda airport in Tokyo doesn't leave for a few hours so we sit and listen to the other bands. Evanescence are second headliners and seem to be having the same audience reaction as us. Could it mean that it's just the way the crowds are at gigs like these? Hmm, we'll see, I guess.
By the time we leave for Kansai, we've drunk more wine than we perhaps should have; our spirits rise just a little. The flight to Tokyo is great- 50 minutes, no one on the plane; we walk into the terminal about five minutes after landing.
Our base for the next couple of days is the Capitol Tokyo Hotel: it's a traditionally styled Japanese hotel, which means lots of muted beige and screens instead of curtains: it's an oasis of calm, which is just what I need. It's also in Akasaka, which is the district of Tokyo, which we first stayed in, some 13 years ago. Relaxed, and on "home turf" it's a good omen.
In the lobby are our old friends Kim (in fine form and 8 months pregnant!) and Limo. They want to know if we're off out for a drink or some food? Well, it's midnight, we're knackered and pissed off, but you know what? We do want to go out, actually. Jez and Al hop in a cab and read for Roppongi, the rest of us go looking for ramen. Maki finds an all night noodle bar that supplies me with a great bowl of char siu ramen, and then all we have to do is find Jez and Al. We end up at an Irish pub in Roppongi, watching Liverpool versus Everton, drinking cooking lager and laughing at Jez dancing. A glorious end to a day that looked like it was beyond hope.


...So, people: that's part one of our adventures. Part two arrives when I can write it all down.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Phew. I'm back.
It's been a long 10 days or so, all to do with BT broadband....it's finally working, but at a price: it wiped my hard drive. I'm going to push them for a refund on my first months bill and some sort of goodwill payment to cover the sheer nightmare of the whole process. If there's anyone out there contemplating broadband, you might want to think carefuly before gravitating towards BT.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Now, this is the coolest thing I've seen for ages- your chance to own the Beastie Boys defunct record label! As of this moment, there are no bids. Fancy being a CEO?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

It seems to be getting harder and harder to actually fill the ipod to capacity- current total number of songs? 4900 and climbing. Slowly.
As far as I can see this lady has the honour of posting the most amazing blog in the country at the moment. Despite the (virtual) presence of a "parental guidance" attitude hanging over it, it's strangely asexual. There's also a quite blinding sincerity to it which renders any protracted sexual details impotent (sic). Fierce intellect and passion for life bubble to the surface every time: that's what makes it so special. Don't feel like a voyeur, dig in: you'll be rewarded.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Memo to self: must see "Lost in Translation" before I hit Tokyo at the end of the month. Need that extra emotional resonance. Have already begun making ipod playlists in anticipation of staring out the back window of a people carrier at a steamy neon vista. One of the playlists is about three hours of drones designed to knock me out on the plane.....If it doesn't work, it'll be a long flight indeed.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Take a bow, BT Broadband. It's 10 days since my official activation date and i've spent an average of one and a half hours every single day on the phone to the technical department. (Do bear in mind that it can take up to 40 minutes to actually get connected to the technical department). Every third call or so, one of the helpers will slavishly get me to go through the same old tests. Net result: nothing. Nada. Zip. We've not moved one inch in 10 days. BT, you SUCK.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Last nights 80's Matchbox secret gig was aces. It was over at The Fortress in Old Street, which is slightly reminiscent of the Ambulance Station on the Old Kent Road (ask your grandad) but without the hash cakes. Despite what I thought to be an amazing gig, the band seemed rather upset with it all: after a set-closing "Mister Mental" Sim threw his bass on the floor and stormed off: he's normally the quiet one. It does seem to be a bit "make or break" for them at the moment, maybe the pressure is getting to them a little. The only downer of the evening was the non-appearance of the genius new tune that they've played the last two times I've seen 'em; the search to indentify it goes on.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Oh that's just great. In order to try and conserve battery power on your ipod, turn off the eq (so it sounds like shit) and try not to use the ff and rew buttons. How stupid is that? Create a machine whose raison d'etre is based on the ability to peruse a huge selection of tunes....and then force you to sit through all of it, even the tunes you'd rather not hear. Or, you can do what you want, but the battery will last for about 2 hours. Pah.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Different year, same old hangover.
Might have to go straight edge before our little jaunt to foreign climes later this month.
Incredibly, the Broadband problems still haven't been resolved: i'm starting to lose patience with BT Openworld. Plus, I got hit by the blaster virus within an hour of signing up with them last year....the milk of human kindness is starting to curdle.