Monday, 29 September 2014

But is art enough?

Scruffy man, 33, incredibly gentle but old people are scared of him. Has quit his job but has quite a long notice period...he has until 31st October. Has a car which is evidently on it's last legs (but plans on touring in it for a living), rents a property that is probably slightly out of his price range - even with a 'proper job' (but who wouldn't want to live in a Victorian cottage in a lovely village next to a church?), keeps forgetting to get a haircut so now it's almost a mullet (but he's pretending it's intentional), has started dating a girl who has just moved to Leeds (but she's only there for a year and they like each other very much). In a successful band and is very much in demand as a musician; can confidently hold his own for an hour onstage as a comedy performer. 7 offers for the novel (which still isn't finished) and with genuine industry interest for his playwriting skills. Has just under five weeks to turn this into a living.

It feels like I've sent hundreds and hundreds of emails over the last couple of weeks...actually I have. I feel like I've been spamming people (maybe that's why nobody ever replies) but only with honest questions and show offers that I hope they will find appealing. I'm getting a sense that the arts industry is the same as any other profession; it's purely a numbers game. Tour dates are slowly trickling in - it's harder now that I'm self-employed because I can't just give the show away like I used to (and quite enjoyed doing), I've got bills to pay and a point to prove. My tour dates so far are all for early November which is handy as it looks like I have a bunch of professional lounge shows for the middle/end of that month. There's too many TBC's for my liking, but if I can get those over the finishing line and confirm one or two more things then my first month should just about be okay. I have offers as a drummer too but that feels tricky, because I'm running out of evenings and the big key to being in demand as a musician is often flexibility and availability but we'll see. I'll worry about December as soon as November is booked up, but I have a Christmas show and a panto lined up.

We've finished the filming of our festive movie, Christmas with Emily & Michael, which sees Izzy and I reprising our roles from the little YouTube sitcom only in a format that is suitable for the big screen (and filmed on a better camera) alongside Phoebe and Stephen, both of whom were great. I'm editing it as we speak, in between writing this, because my software is a bit slow. For the other film, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Drummer, well...this one is taking a while, being sacked by 50 different bands will take time, but we've got some more amazing footage recently (including a spectacular on-stage sacking by The Hired Gunns), I still think I'll have everything I need to be in a position to edit this by Christmas. I tried out some new material the other night at CB2 and most of it didn't work, which was a shame, but that's what new material nights are for and I'm certainly not precious of anything I write when it's this new, and I have a new book coming out in November, My Car Doesn't Do Hills. Later in November I'll be trying out two new stage shows, The Unsurprising Death of Oscar Pike and Layby: Loneliness of the Long Distance Drummer - which will probably be my tour show for next year. Fred's House continue to gig everywhere and recording starts this weekend on album number two, I gigged with Claudia McKenzie the other night, I'm back with Flaming June this weekend and last week band sessions begun for the latest Dowsing Sound Collective show. I'm drumming and writing like a madman, and when I finally shake off the day job I'll also get to sleep too. Just need to send another couple hundred emails first...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Making the jump

I really enjoyed the Edinburgh Fringe this year; it felt like for the first time (in eleven attempts) I had a show that really, really worked - a show I was comfortable with, like I'd finally found myself. I came back from Scotland to a bunch of gigs which I loved very much, but then I had to go back to the day job. People have often said to me, "I can't believe you have a day job" - this is of course relating to the fact that I have so many other commitments (not the fact that somebody as illogical as me could get one in the first place) but the thing is...I have rent to pay, I have a car, I have quite a nice social life.

Something changed coming back to work this time around; normally I come back from the fringe, having failed miserably, and my office chums are all chatty, and asking questions about how it one of their team had gone into the big scary world of artistic adventures but has returned to be 'normal' again for another twelve months. This time I came back to the office and it didn't feel right...I was energised in my drive to work, I was up for putting in a good shift of spreadsheet stuff but as soon as I walked in I felt drained, my skin felt dry, my expression felt flat. This isn't me, anymore, I couldn't fake it any longer.

Yesterday I resigned from my comfortable, safe little office job, where I type information into a computer all day and hear lots of corporate talk. I work with nice people, I have a desk by the window.

I had to go. When the boss announced it today, the reactions of my colleagues was one of slight confusion and even, well, concern...why would I leave without any set plans? I liked this.

I leave the restrictions of the 9-5 on October 31st. I have tour plans for November/December, I'm not convinced this will be enough to make a living, but I'm also filming three feature-length films, writing a new stage show for Christmas (Paul Richards Will Make You Festive) and a new hour-long comedy show for next year (Paul Richards: Layby). There's a second collection of short stories coming out in two months time and my novel is making good progress. I'll also drum a lot for money, I think, and probably get confused by tax returns. It's a scary new world, but I'm 33...if I don't do this now, I never will. Wish me luck, I'm making the jump.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


After a full run at the Edinburgh Fringe, any performer with an ounce of common sense would probably take a little time out to rest, or at least adjust to 'normal' life again. However, in my position, being away from the band for the best part of a month meant only one thing...the gigs were going to build up. 5 hours after arriving home from rainy but beautiful Edinburgh I was back on the road and, in the space of 9 days of being back, I've played 7 shows with Fred's House already. It's a treat to be back, I've missed it all; my drums, the tunes, my bandmates. We've been dashing all over the country again playing some festivals (some of them great, others less so - but that's how this circuit works) and the odd private function. This is a special band, you know, and people outside of the project seemed to have noticed too - the following continues to grow, there's a continued buzz about it all. Last night we were back in a tiny rehearsal room working on material for what will eventually be the second album; the new stuff that Griff and Vix have come up with is brilliant, they're growing as songwriters and as a unit this band are growing together too. Another gig tonight (a corporate show), and then another three shows this weekend - a welcome return to London, and two festival slots, plus I'm back with The British IBM for a special one-off gig.

In between all of this I've been moving house. Possibly bad timing considering my schedule, but it all worked out okay in the end. I've moved closer to Cambridge into a very nice Victorian cottage in a peaceful village. It's a very quiet house, something I'll have to get used to, but I can see myself writing some good stuff there. I'm itching to write new material, just need to unpack first before finding my perfect creative slot, although looking at my schedule for the next couple of weeks I get the sense I may be living amongst a sea of boxes for a good while yet...