Saturday, 28 January 2012

Gig report: Trevor Jones Band @ Black Bull, Godmanchester

Band: The Trevor Jones Band
Venue: The Black Bull, Godmanchester
Date: 27/01/12
Audience: Busy, very nice
Set: All I Am, Badman, Shine A Light, Alive, I Don't Wanna Talk About It, Old Fashioned Woman, Roll On The Rain, Can't Take This Anymore, Falling, Solid Ground.
Notes: It's been a good while since the full four-piece Trevor Jones Band played an electric set (I think the last time was late last year at the Troudabour), although we're reasonably well rehearsed I have to say. The 'band nights' at the Black Bull are ambitious events - to be honest on arrival I sensed my patience might be tested, but I was proved wrong simply because I enjoyed myself a lot. There's 8 bands on the bill - 4 in the acoustic small room, and 4 in the main live room, with the plan being that there's music on solid for the whole night, although the schedules are planned so that you don't miss a track from any of the bands, it's very clever. But that's a lot of bands, basically a monthly festival. We were headlining, which means a late start - on stage 11.30pm (and I was aware that I had to be up early in the morning for a screen test for a potential new Oscar Pike short film), and a long time to be spent in one venue considering I turned up 2 hours before the show even started to set up my kit. But it turned into a lovely evening - great to catch up with friends who made the trip over (Marcus, Tom - who was also playing, Aidy - we (as The British IBM) are playing the venue in March) and some really good bands, the time just flew by. Roger Smith was excellent - an old mate of mine who played early on, indie band Jakobi were punchy and brilliant to watch, whilst Australian singer-songwriter Cody completely knocked me sidewise with her jaunty, quirky tunes with a subtle hint of heartbreak - as soon as her set finished I approached her and offered to be her drummer (foolish considering I'm turning down drum work all over the place at the moment, but I was just blown away by those songs). With the night quickly passing, it was soon our turn to hit the stage and amazingly, despite being late, a decent crowd remained to watch us. The sound was excellent, and despite having a heavy cold Trevor was on good form, responding well to the excitable, but completely positive young audience. We played well I think, me less so - I'm having real issues with my snare sound at the moment, last night it was toooo sharp, a head overhaul is needed and it's an annoying distraction on my playing, but nobody would have noticed. A really nice gig, and we all came away feeling very happy, and an absolute top-notch event too despite my many initial reservations.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Gig report: Jon Orchard @ Lakeside Lodge Complex, Pidley

Band: Jon Orchard (duo set)
Venue: Lakeside Lodge Complex, Pidley
Date: 24/01/12
Audience: Plenty of them
Set: Not sure - lots of covers, a few of Jon's originals
Notes: A quick Tuesday night gig - a bit of a strange one, Jon and I were the acoustic act in the corner, playing a few tunes to a bunch of office workers following their day at the complex. Naturally a lot of them were talking business the whole time so we were pretty much background music, but it was nice enough; and a good reminder that when Jon and I have warmed up a bit we play those original songs really well.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Recording with The British IBM (and other musings)

Hello, this is tired Paul writing this. I may get ranty, we'll see. Anyway, spent pretty much the whole weekend recording drum parts for the British IBM album. The British IBM is essentially Aidy, Dave and I rebranding, although - apart from the name change, there is a slight change in the music too. It's nice, actually. Having gigged with these two scallywags a lot last year including the tour there's a nice rapport there - we all understand each others playing, and there's a lot of banter. But this project also seems to be a way for Aidy to move away from the solo thing (in which Dave and I were very much his backing musicians) to the three of us actually being a proper band. At first I wasn't so keen on this, simply because having worked and gigged a lot to get the Aidy project sounding tight I felt it would be a bad move to change the name and effectively start again. Also, the songs have changed a little; Aidy has gone a bit more singer-songwriter these days. But this weekend proved a simple fact; sometimes I am wrong, and this does work - it works bloody well too. Recording at Half Ton (where I've previously recorded with Eureka Stockade, Ethan Ash, Under The Streetlamp, Flaming June, The Losers, Our Painted Nature, Michelle Bessant, Alighting and probably a few other acts I can't remember right now) I've always felt comfortable there - and working with Bugs for the first time (a producer I've met before, and someone so highly regarded I can't work out why I've never worked with him previously) we were in good hands - the drums sound lovely. The songs are really good you know, I'm not just saying this - some of these tracks are marvelous, I was a bit concerned as they're so new, but during the course of the weekend they've become proper songs. We recorded drums for 13 tracks; 10 that'll end up on the album, and 3 of the regular Aidy set - almost as a safety blanket just in case, they're sounding wicked. We got the drums down pretty quickly in theory - I estimate about 12 hours for the whole lot. There's much to be done, with the rest of the bass (Dave recorded lots of bass this afternoon), rhythm guitar, lead guitar, vocals, guest instrumentation etc to be added, but I can't wait to hear the finished product. I do fair bit of studio work, but this genuinely feels like it could end up as something really strong, really brilliant.

On another note, I had a really exciting start to 2012, and there's no reason why this can't continue, but I'm just getting a bit frustrated. Perhaps it was because I had such a good start that I was expecting things to carry on at this - they couldn't have done at this rate, there was a point about about a week ago where it felt like every day there was an exciting opportunity being offered to me. Those opportunities still exist and I'm working on them and it's all good, but the last couple of days I'm just sensing that the wheels are starting to maybe fall off a bit. Just a few negative things, I'm taking my foot off the record label gas this year (I love running Cracking Tunes, but it feels too time consuming so whilst it won't close down it won't be particularly active this year) and as a result I've found myself very angry with a certain distributor, and also I was due to play a show with a recently signed former band (as a dep) this week in Manchester only to hear today that the management has cancelled the show - it was going to be hard work anyway but I was starting to look forward to it and it had taken a lot of effort to re-arrange my diary for them. Also, some people are just rubbish at replying to emails, that's all. My existing projects look great - there's some really exciting stuff on the cards (especially in early February) but even with those I just get the sense that I'm not fully on the ball with them just yet. Next week I will be though; 2012 - no faffing around, just get on with it, Richards.

Currently listening to: The Divine Comedy - Casanova, Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
Currently reading: Up Pohnpei - Paul Watson
Currently watching: Match Of The Day, The Mighty Boosh

Gig report: Flaming June @ CB2, Cambridge

Band: Flaming June
Venue: CB2, Cambridge
Date: 20/01/12
Audience: Busy, seated, nice
Set: Not sure
Notes: I should really write down the Flaming June sets as this was a goodun. Anyway, I liked Friday's gig a lot, even if it has taken me two days to post this. Having spent many months there over the years rehearsing theatre productions, the cellar of CB2 restaurant is like a second home to me - even the bar staff know me by name, which is both strange and nice. We were headlining an acoustic evening, I was pretty relaxed about it all for a majority of the night - some friends (Jack and Ken) had turned up, so had my sister, there was a nice vibe, then the other acts on the bill were so brilliant - in particular Alice Walker, and I felt strangely worried about it. Shouldn't have worried though, it was all all good - I felt perhaps at the Cornerhouse gig a week previously we were a touch rusty, but for this one we'd hit our stride again and it was a decent performance. It's always interesting to see how an audience reacts to certain songs; as they were all seated the atmosphere was a little quiter - yet far more attentive, than we're used to, but with 'The Insane Ex-Girlfriend Parade' any sense of artist/listener boundary had been broken because they loved that and it felt like we couldn't do a thing wrong from that tune onwards. A nice evening.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Gig report: Flaming June @ The Cornerhouse, Cambridge

Band: Flaming June
Venue: The Cornerhouse, Cambridge
Date: 13/01/12
Audience: Busy
Sets: Not sure
Notes: First gig of the year and nice to play in front of a big-ish audience, was pretty busy in there on Friday. Dave Greeves - a friend who often guests with Eureka Stockade, opened the show and was absolutely brilliant, never knew he could do solo stuff like that, awesome. Despite not having done anything for about a month our set certainly wasn't bad, from a completely personal point of view my performance was a bit 'first gig of the year' - because it was, a little sluggish perhaps, but the others were sharp enough and the audience were responsive, especially my mate Steve. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but a good one to blow the cobwebs away. Swamp Truck were headlining - they sounded pretty nifty in their soundcheck, but I couldn't stay to watch them as I seem to have 3 plays and 7 short films to write, as well as contemplating a very interesting music-based offer that only added to the feeling that 2012 is going to be rather great.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

HELLO 2012

Christmas was nice enough, a bit sleepy perhaps, but a nice chance to spend time with family and friends, drink and be merry and all that. It was merry - it was nice, I was just a bit knackered by the end of the year. Spent New Years Eve in Gamlingay, it was a lovely party hosted by some lovely people, but the hangover pretty much denied me the first two days of the year, I'm getting too old for this.

So, 2012. Yeah, let's have this. I've got a new haircut - I'm all short hair and clean shaven-ness now, to be honest I feel like David Mitchell without the intelligence or success, but I feel good about the year ahead. I'm exercising every day, I'm working hard to get my posture in shape, I'm eating less pizza, this new me for the new year probably won't last but I can feel the benefits already.

The year has started brightly, Flaming June have gone and won a FATEA award for our EP from last year, 'Nerves Of Steel', and generally all of my musical projects feel in really positive shape. Alongside Flaming June, Eureka Stockade are working on new material and we'll be recording soon, Trevor Jones Band are working hard to book some nice shows and to generally take things up a gear, and - one which I'm particularly excited about at the moment, Aidy, Dave and I are re-branding as The British IBM and we start recording the debut album at the always excellent Half Ton Studios later this month. Was out with Aidy last night and his visions for this are really clear, it's a real positive move forward, it's all very positive. The Laura Tapp album is out soon too, just waiting to nail one final track (the genius that is my old chum Alister Bunclark has been roped in to play piano on it), and The Prisoner Of Mars has released his latest album - easily his best yet - and I'm selfishly happy with my conga contributions on it.

With the writing, things feel equally exciting. I can't really go too much into detail right now, but I'm surrounded by some lovely people who don't mock these slightly over-ambitious ideas of mine but instead back them completely. In short though it looks like we'll be doing TWO Edinburgh Fringe shows this year - had an inspiring meeting with Izzy on Friday night about this and it CAN be done, we just need to work our backsides off to sort the funding. There will also be a little YouTube series (an equally inspiring meeting with Michelle Golder today about this), everything seems to be falling into place nicely. In short, I've got 2 Fringe shows, a 4 minute short film, 6 short episodes for YouTube, a full murder mystery show (for the fundraiser), and another stage show (for the Young Minds charity) to write within the next...well, as soon as possible really. I'm also working pretty intensively for a new music website which launches next month - I've had my journalistic cap on all week and will do for the next week too to get these articles done in time, all roughly on schedule to hit our target, I think. Yet it doesn't feel like I've taken on too much - I'm refreshed, I'm going for this.


Currently listening to: Slow Club - Paradise, Madness - Divine Madness, Ed Harcourt - Lustre, Randy Newman - Harps & Angels
Currently watching: Football, lots of it
Currently reading: Just finished reading Rob Brydon - Small Man In A Book, after a brief break to read a book on Only Fools & Horses by Graham McCann. Not sure what I'll read next - probably 'Eleven' by Mark Watson