Monday, 31 August 2015

Forgot to say...

I don't update this site any more. You've probably noticed that.

Much love,

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

So that was 2014

2014, that just flew by, didn't it? I'm having my yearly reminisce about the last 12 months, now that I'm finally in a position to slow down for a couple of days and enjoy the somewhat excessive festivities. It's not been a bad year, this one...January started off with gigs with FRED'S HOUSE - a band I continue to spend most of my gigging/recording life with (and love doing so), alongside a studio session with PILLARS. I recorded a whole album overnight with Alister Bunclark, Chris Lawrenson and Trevor Jones under the name of BLEARY EYED BY DAWN, it was a cold, exhausting session but I still enjoy the recordings a lot now. I also played live with THE PRISONER OF MARS, and - alongside writing various bits of new material, filmed series one of our online sitcom, AND THEN THINGS GOT COMPLICATED FOR EMILY AND MICHAEL with Izzy Rees. It was launched a month later and it's still something I'm really proud of.

Apparently all four episodes of series one were later shown on a cable channel in Michigan, but I'm struggling to find any evidence of this apart from an email from their producer. Either way, it's a lovely and fun concept, and came out remarkably well considering it was all filmed on my old iPhone. In February I started a run of lounge shows for my GETTING LOST IN MY HOMETOWN piece - this is a show I performed 59 times this year and has been my most successful production to date, picking up a string of decent reviews (and one bad one, but we won't mention that), although let's be honest - the early lounge performances were pretty weak. It got better, I rewrote and rewrote as you should do until it became a 'proper' show. It was my second ever completely solo show, and the first one I've actually cared about. Also that month, we (Fred's House) played at the Cambridge Corn Exchange as part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations and we were the only non-Chinese act on the bill. It was a brilliantly confusing evening. I entered the studio to record drum parts for the new FLAMING JUNE release, played at Trinity College with THE DOWSING SOUND COLLECTIVE and, in the space of four weeks, made my début feature-length film, THE MANY STRUGGLES OF OSCAR PIKE. It's as lo-fi as they come, but there's something about making a whole movie on a phone that is a bit of a victory. I worked with a lot of lovely people on this movie, special thanks should probably go to Guillaume Tucker for the French reggae scenes - they were scary to film (especially as the audience at that open mic session didn't know we were making a film so their reaction to our scenes was hostile, which was perfect for the footage but also a little unnerving). The piece itself, a rather bleak movie, it has to be said, featured the talents of Vikki Gavin, Abi Sage, Jessica Smith, Marcus Hood and Daniel Smith alongside myself as Oscar, plus a nice cameo from Gaf from Fred's House as a bassist in the final scene. Although it's downbeat, it was a happy time making it.

In March I played my first gig of the year with TREVOR JONES, performed, tweaked and generally bettered the Getting Lost... show, and we filmed a promo video for the Fred's House title track, Bonnie and Clyde, which involved lots of wool. 

We then started a UK tour to promote our début album - a tour which saw us perform in Chesham, Hertford, Bedford, Harborough Magna, Stroud, Bristol, Norwich, London, Leicester, Thriplow, Bishop's Stortford, Finedon, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Bracknell, Cambridge and Market Harborough. I made a documentary on the road but to be honest, we were all so nice to each other and there wasn't any disasters at all so it doesn't make for interesting viewing; it's just basically us being happy and audiences really liking us. I can send you a private link if you want to see it, but nobody really wants to watch a band getting on well, do they? The tour stretched into April and was a success, with a live album later emerging from the Bedford performance, which was probably the best date of the tour. In the brief gap between tour dates we had the première of Oscar Pike, and my book was released, THE STATIONERY SELLER AND OTHER SHORT STORIES. I might as well stick a link here, just for the sake of it, although I'm pretty sure everyone who was gonna buy it has bought it by now, but here it is. With the band stuff briefly calming down, in May I accepted a second Edinburgh fringe show for the year - confirming that I'd be taking a show called THE PAUL RICHARDS DISASTERS up there alongside Getting Lost... and then I toured the latter around the UK. It was my first ever solo tour as a comedy performer and was a tough one. I went to Halesworth (they didn't get it), Liverpool (they forgot they booked me and offered me £50 to go away), Leeds (nice show but venue too big, it was a struggle) and North Creek (I confused them). I also organised and performed at a huge charity event for Wood Green Animal Shelter, and we (members of Fred's House, plus band friend Chris Bradbury) recorded a World Cup single. A pop song for England manager Roy Hodgeson, Roy! was a pleasure to be part of, despite it looking a bit UKIP when making the video. For some reason I can't get the video to work on here, but here's the link

June was just daft; recorded with The Dowsing Sound Collective (a track called Reality Checkpoint as part of the Cycle of Songs project, later available on an app for Tour-de-France), festival season kicked in with gigs everywhere with Fred's House, I organised and hosted a charity event for Magpas at The Ferryboat in Holywell, performed a bunch more lounge shows as Getting Lost...continued to grow into a better show and then I performed it publicly in Wales (cracking show), Ludlow (above a Chinese takeaway, not the best) and a 3 night run at the Barnstaple Fringe (all 3 nights a joy). The same weekend as Barnstaple I was also scheduled to play a festival gig with Fred's House; somehow I managed to just about do everything, cutting it all fine but that weekend I drove over a thousand miles but it was all very much worthwhile. I filmed a sitcom version of The Paul Richards Disasters and launched it online, but I've now removed it as it just wasn't very good. Promotion for Roy! continued, with us taking over a radio station for an hour and also recording and releasing a regular podcast as World Cup fever hit the nation, we were also played on Radio 5, among other things. As the fringe got nearer, press coverage ramped up and brilliant independent film-maker Karen Cann interviewed me in a really nice way: 

As if June wasn't busy enough, in July I decided to release a short story a day on YouTube for the whole month. I did so, under the title of ALL I'VE GOT IS AWKWARD. 31 short stories, I reckon about 15 of them were quite good, you know. More festival gigs, a studio session with Prisoner of Mars, and then a particularly ridiculous weekend when I played 2 sets with Fred's House in Cardiff, had 5 hours sleep, and then played two shows with The Dowsing Sound Collective at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds. I performed Getting Lost... at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, and then in Haslemere, where I got so lost on the way home I somehow drove to Portsmouth. And then I had the Reading Fringe; 2 performances, the first was great, the second I was very late for thanks to major traffic problems. Stressed, arriving in Reading 10 minutes before my show was due to start but still not at the venue, I decided to dump my car and run to the venue, set in hand. I ran for a short while, before realising I wasn't where I thought I was, and then ran back, getting cramp along the way, falling over, into a road, nearly getting hit by a moving bus but managing to scramble away in time. Eventually found my car, my sat-nav took me everywhere apart from where I needed to be, eventually made it to the venue 40 minutes late and did the show. Got a 4 star review that day. Also that month I foolishly confirmed a third show for this year's Edinburgh Fringe, a dark comedy called THE MOMENTS OF MADNESS THAT MAKE US: THE DEATH OF A STORYTELLER. Confirming and then writing a show 2 weeks before a festival is basically creative suicide, I should have known better. We filmed and released a second series of Emily And Michael, I was just as proud of this one as I was the first four episodes, and the stage version of The Paul Richards Disasters, which I appeared in alongside the superb Kimberly O'Brien previewed in Cambridge. The stage version was so much better than the sitcom idea. 

August? Well, that would be the Edinburgh Fringe, then. A dramatic, rollercoaster of a month. I performed 33 times in 21 days. In short, Getting Lost... generally went down very well, sometimes exceptionally so. There was only one day when I found myself telling the audience, "look; you're not enjoying this, I'm not enjoying this, how about you go and find a show you like and I can go and get a beer?" but the rest of that run was more than fine. The Paul Richards Disasters was fun and well received, The Moments of Madness... was largely ignored. I love the fringe; it's a struggle, it's a triumph, it's what I live for. Naturally, I made a film about it: 

Also up there, I started filming scenes for my new film, 50 Ways to Leave Your Drummer. I still haven't finished it, but not far off; I reckon there I'll have a feature film done by February.

A day after returning from the fringe I was back to being a drummer again with Fred's House, and I played 7 gigs in 9 days, and moved house. Also, on returning from the fringe, I quit the day job. I just saw enough in myself in Edinburgh to know that maybe, just maybe, I could go full time at this. And the drumming, of course. Obviously, I hated the day job with a passion, which made the decision a bit easier, but still; it remains perhaps the most exciting but foolish thing I've ever done. I also played my one and only gig of the year with THE BRITISH IBM and also played live with the wonderful CLAUDIA MCKENZIE AND THE BRADY BUNCH and another one with Flaming June.

I needed to calm down a bit; October was luckily a little easier. Studio sessions began for the second Fred's House album and we also recorded the Christmas single then too, I also played more shows with them and also Flaming June and ANDY BROWN. I also organised a charity event for Macmillan Cancer Support, recorded an album with my close friend, Matt Corrall called PAUL RICHARDS READING SOME SHORT STORIES WHILST A MAN CALLED MATTHEW PLAYS HARMONICA GENTLY IN THE BACKGROUND and performed Getting Lost... in Leeds. I created a character called Skanky Lad and made a 15 minute video called THE UNFORTUNATE ADVENTURES OF SKANKY LAD which nobody really enjoyed. I still think there's mileage in that concept though, with a bit of work, for next year.

November; my first month as a 'professional' saw me back on the road with Getting Lost... with performances in Kings Lynn (great fun), Bury St Edmunds (sold out, quiet audience but very friendly), Lewisham Fringe (nobody turned up, nobody at all - not one person. Show cancelled), Castle Actre (they put me in the main bar, not the function room, but I won them over eventually - lovely people), Colchester (hell. A career low. Hell.), Banbury (a complete joy) and finally the last ever performance in Maldon (a wonderful night). My second collection of short stories, MY CAR DOESN'T DO HILLS, was released containing 25 little adventures - ahem, here it is, here. And naturally, gigs happened all over the place, as usual. And suddenly now it's December, a month I've had my eye on for ages because I like Christmas projects very much indeed. The Fred's House Christmas single was released and it's very festive thing indeed:

My Christmas novella (a short novel) which I wrote in October was released - it's called HAVE YOURSELF A RIDICULOUS LITTLE CHRISTMAS and is here, I wrote 24 short episodes of a series called THE IZZY REES AND PAUL RICHARDS ADVENT CALENDAR and filmed them with, well, Izzy, as you might have guessed. She has been a joy to work with again this year, I've worked with Izzy a lot over the last four (or five?) years and we've still not really fallen out, apart from *that* one incident at the fringe this year when she accidentally ended up being a gooseberry on a date I was on. Our Christmas feature film, made in October on my mobile, CHRISTMAS WITH EMILY AND MICHAEL was released, complete with very low-key première, and it's been going down well.

The Dowsing Sound Collective Christmas gig was, without questions, one of my favourite things of the year simply because it just shouldn't just really, really, shouldn't, but such is Andrea's vision and ambition and the fact that everyone buys into that vision to bring it to life, is such an amazing thing. The Christmas gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange just felt great, it was one those nights; a spectacular, exhausting, exhilarating evening that I'm still thinking a lot about now. And of course I had a couple of Yuletide stage shows myself, the sometimes worryingly dark PAUL RICHARDS WILL MAKE YOU FESTIVE (run of Cambridge shows plus a couple of lounge performances) and FUNKY PANTO: 8 PANTOS IN AN HOUR with Izzy and a brilliant houseband featuring Claudia, Marcel and Edd, which went down surprisingly well considering how quickly it was out together.

The above video was courtesy of Antony Carpen from Dowsing, by the way.

So here we are then, Christmas, finally, hurrah! A chance go back to the family home (which is an hour away, meaning I can listen to Driving Home For Christmas 20 times en route). Just looking back over the last 12 months I'm happy. See, when projects come and go so fast, when things get done so well but so quickly, you tend to forget about how good some of them really are. I'm pretty sure I've missed out a few things but I've rambled enough already, but it hasn't been bad. I've been lucky enough to have met some of my comedy heroes backstage this year (Alex Horne, Adrian Edmondson, Arthur Smith) and with Fred's House I've been on the bill with some of my favourite artists (Slow Club, Chris TT, Mark Morriss). I've moved house twice and my car still hasn't died despite the fact that I've put it through another 30,000 miles this year - my little old Fiesta is made of strong stuff.

Quickly some stats:

Gigs played in 2014: 101 (well, will be once the last one of the year, on New Year's Eve, is done)
Full shows performed as a comedy performer: 92
Books written and released: 3
Feature length films written/produced and released: 2

This is me; knackered. Give me a few days to do the whole family thing and then next year I'll come back fighting. 2014 was good; 2015 is the year when things will really start to happen. Let's do this! MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Christmas show, the Dowsing show

Christmas really shouldn't be this stressful, but I guess a lot of people are saying that for different reasons at this time of the year.

It's been an exciting couple of weeks; being professional is a bit of a rollercoaster to say the least. Before, if things don't work out, you can say "ah, well it's just a hobby" but now when it all goes wrong it's your LIFE. I've never had a show cancelled before as a comedy performer and I had 2 cancelled in the same week recently. Both due to poor ticket sales; both very much out of town performances so I (obviously) had no following there. It's a proper kick in the gut, it's impossible to not take it personally even though you know you've done everything you can to get people in. And, I know I've said this before, but it shouldn't be about audience numbers, it needs to go back to being about the art; if that's okay, everything is okay.

Audience numbers weren't great for the Cambridge performances, but I was doing 4 nights, and those who were there (I've made a list of you all, just in case I ever earn enough to reward you or something) seemed to really enjoy it. I enjoyed myself a lot, it's such an odd show - the idea being that I don't know what I'm doing, although of course it's all very, very scripted and I'm in 100% control of the situation despite what the audience may think. It's a fun concept, elements of which will end up in next year's Edinburgh show.

We had the Dowsing Sound Collective Christmas show on Sunday night and it was, without question, my favourite gig ever. Maybe it's because I was expecting it all to fall apart, such is the complexity of the project. Maybe it was because it was just bloody brilliant in every way possible; the arrangements, the voices, the musicianship, the's just one big giant ball of epic musical bliss. The audience noticed that too, clearly, hence their conga during the show. It was just a raucous, unpredictable party that everyone bought into. When we get it right, like we did on Sunday, it's just a thrill, a thrill that no other project can possibly ever give you. I'm continually flattered to be their drummer, it's a real privilege.

The comedown is hard to take, we played a stripped-down set tonight in Ely which was nice, and for now I guess people can turn their attentions to Christmas. I've still got a panto to get through first, that opens tomorrow (well, technically today), the signs are this will be a good one, but who can really tell?

Monday, 1 December 2014

Great shows, terrible shows, that time of the year when everything comes out

I haven't updated this blog for a while now; it's ironic that even though I quit the day job I actually have less time than I used to. It's probably because I care more, pretty sure that's what it is. I'm working harder than I ever have done, just to prove that this can be done.

I've been working on some new material recently; the show which I thought I'd be taking to Edinburgh next year, Layby, just doesn't work. It's a shame; tried it out at a new material night and although there were some absolutely cracking moments in it, I can just tell this a show I wouldn't want to be doing for more than a couple months. And that's thing - the next solo show has to be a show that lasts all of next year, it has to be a show that's flexible for both comedy clubs and theatres, a show I can tweak without ruining it's chore elements.

Getting Lost in My Hometown became that for me. True, so I had some bumpy rides with it - the huge charity event in Godmanchester, one or two of the Edinburgh performances, but on the whole it's been a show that has been so good to me - from the very early lounge shows right up until last night, the final performance. My patience has been tested recently, though. In Castle Acre they put me in the main bar, not a function room, in their bid to attract more of an audience. A pub! Should never of worked, but really, really did. But then in Colchester I found myself in the same situation and they hated it. I'm not being arrogant here; I'm used to my shows being liked. True, so they never leave people crying with laughter and with them unable to breath due to sheer joy, but they're gentle enough to either be enjoyed or politely ignored. In Colchester they hated me though. I hated them too. It was a tough evening. Paul Richards a year ago would have crumbled with that one. Paul Richards in 2014 can happily chat in the corner of a pub or an hour and get paid for it. The next couple of shows, Banbury and the final one in Maldon were both spectacularly good, as was the BBC Radio Essex performance, so I'm happy enough, In short; 59 performances - Liverpool, Ludlow, Colchester, 1 of the Edinburgh shows and Lewisham didn't like it, but I did well with it everywhere else. I'd be more than happy with that sort of return for next year's show, whatever that may be.

As a drummer I've been busy recording with Fred's House for the second album, which is already shaping up really nicely. Also, the Dowsing gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange is creeping up and I have some drum stuff with a few other acts lined up for next year.

As a person I'm promoting everything at the moment because, in case it escaped you, it's basically Christmas now. I have a new book out, a film, 2 shows and the band have a festive single. I don't know if it's possible to promote everything in one go and keep the attention of potential audiences, but it looks like I have no choice in the matter and will have to give it a go. Either way, Christmas is awesome and we're nearly there, guys, nearly there.

Monday, 10 November 2014

An odd weekend

I've got four shows to write, so really shouldn't be distracting myself with this but, well, that was an odd weekend - and purely on a professional level, too.

With my first week as a full-time arty dude being just a bit slower than planned (although I did write the festive novella, which has now been proofread and is virtually ready to go), I was looking forward to this weekend of shows. In fact, I was anxiously gearing myself up for them. The first one on Friday in Bury had sold out, which was amazing. I arrived fashionably two hours early and thought about things far too much. They were a nice crowd, but they weren't a laugh-out-loud kind of crowd, they just sat and smiled throughout the whole thing. I'm grateful, but there was that niggling doubt in my head that they were just being polite. I don't know, for some reason during the show it felt like I lost my way a bit, nobody would have noticed but the alarm bells rang a bit in my head. This was the 57th time I performed this show; it ended with a warm applause, and then another warm applause when I came back on to pack away, so I must have done okay but I know, deep down, that was by far my best performance. No excuses; nice venue that I know well, a show I know well, just sometimes it's difficult to be completely on it.

On Saturday, fired up because I was below-par the previous night, I drove to London to perform at the Lewisham Fringe. I decided to drive because driving in London is always difficult and I just felt the need to stretch myself a bit. The drive itself, both ways, was a doddle. A slow doddle, but still counts. The show? Well, it just didn't happen. I'd been plugging it like crazy, but not one single person turned up. You can't make people turn up to your shows; I'm not sure what else I could have done. London is a tricky beast for shows, remind me to stay away from it for a while, that was just awkward and horrible.

Got back to Cambridge by 5.30pm and decided to drive down to Bristol, it's only 3 hours away and this is a small country - when 606 football phone-in stuff is on the radio any car journey just flies by. Really great to drink beer with Matt, and to see Anna for her 30th. She made us all go to a club, which, despite my polite protests, was remarkably enjoyable.

On Sunday morning I drove back to Cambridge and moved house. Yep, that's how I roll. My reasons for leaving the last place were mostly financial (and being freelance it's good to keep my overheads as low as possible), but this new place is seriously great and I feel very at home already. If anything, it's too nice and I may get too comfy to do stuff, we'll see...

Thursday, 6 November 2014

"What are you doing on Monday?"

As my final day in 'proper' employment came to a close last week, my (then) boss asked me, "so, what will you be doing on Monday?"

It was an important question; she wanted to gage what exactly my plans to be an 'artist' actually involved. I get the sense she was secretly hoping that I'd say "I have no plans, please take me back to your wonderful world of spreadsheet slavery" so I made a point of not saying that. Annoyingly, my show for Monday in Somerset was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. They weren't bad, if it was a local show I would have done it, but it's a long way to go and fuel is quite expensive and I probably would have lost money on it, which isn't great given the situation. But telling the boss that on my final just gave her the opportunity to turn to my line manager and raise her eyebrows. She did that a lot in my time there.

Taking days off is acceptable, I don't plan to have any until next Saturday (when my young lady is back for the weekend so I can actually see her), but your first day? I was never going to let that happen, so I've spent the week writing a Christmas novella (half a novel), with the plan to nail it before the week is out and get it out there. A couple days before that I performed the solo show in Kings Lynn, then dashed to Market Harborough to play a long gig with the band, and the next day I had meetings about how to do the whole self-employed thing (tax returns etc) and then a photoshoot for next year's Edinburgh show. I've also found the time to work on the press release with Griff and Vix ahead of our Christmas single, went to dinner with good friends Adam and Vanessa (who seem really, really into the idea of '50 Way to Leave your Drummer' - must finish this film at some point) and play a gig in London. I also turned down a job doing telesales. Tomorrow the solo show heads to Bury, Saturday I'll be performing in London, Saturday night I'll be in Bristol socialising (but let's be honest - there will be an element of networking involved, as always), Sunday I'm moving house, again.

And then suddenly it's mid-November and I'm on a proper run of the solo show and all things Christmas kick in. I could have done with Monday off, really.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

It'll all be okay. Calm down, Richards

That's what I tell myself before going to sleep every night, before beginning a fictional television interview with myself. Sounds deluded? Not at all, if anything it's modest because I bore myself so much, so quickly, I sleep really well.

But I think it will be, this whole 'turning professional thing'. I'm in my final couple of weeks of working out my notice in the day job but they've already replaced me (charming!) so I've got very little to do apart from make something of myself. Which is cool because I really need the time at the moment, tour dates from management hasn't quite worked out so I'm doing it myself. I've sent out 182 emails in 2 days; got 4 show offers already. These are on top of existing bookings - Leeds, Kingsbridge, Taunton, Bury, London, Essex.

The last few weeks have been super busy, with recording for the new Fred's House album continuing (sounding beautiful) and gigging with them (AlexFest in particular was superb), Andy Brown and Flaming June. I hosted a charity gig for Macmillan Cancer, confirmed my panto (FUNKY PANTO) and the house band to go with it. I've finished editing the Emily & Michael Christmas film, only for Izzy to (rightly) spot a couple things, which I'll now tweak - we should still (just) be on schedule for an early December release with that.

A couple weeks back I recorded a lovely spoken word/harmonica album simply titled, 'Paul Richards Reading Some Short Stories Whilst a Man Called Matt Plays Harmonica Gently in the Background.' It was recorded with my very close mate, Matt Corrall, who is a genius (as both a designer - he does all my artwork, and as harmonica player). 7 short stories of me sounding a little flustered at times, but his playing is brilliant and somehow compliments it. Anyway, it's available in the usual places as a pre-order and is out on November 24th.

On Sunday the new-look Dowsing band got together with the choir for the first session of the season and it was so much fun - remarkably smooth, the Christmas gig is going to be amazing. Christmas is very much the buzz word at the moment...

Tonight I performed the solo show for the first time since Edinburgh; it was a warm-up performance before the Leeds show at the weekend. Literally haven't touched it for two months, not looked at the script or anything. It was a gentle warm-up; a lounge show around my mate Phill's house. I've performed a lot of shit around his house over the last couple of years but both he and his many housemates always respond well so it felt like the perfect time to return. It was okay tonight - by the end it was great, I felt, when I got angry and shouty it was like I was back on form. The start was as shaky as anything though, but that's to be expected. Anyway, I know the words, well - most of them, enough for it to look like a show'll all be okay. Calm down, Richards.