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February 27, 2009

Lexicon of pop: V - venues

Filed under: music, editorial — benramster @ 10:53 pm

“Alright mate, Water Rats is cancelled due to a leak in the roof. Gig’s off.” When the plug is pulled it’s dissapointing for the band, as well as the audience. Some comfort can be taken from irony (a canal-inspired venue flooding) but not much. I found myself with an unexpected evening off which I spent in Barnes.

Be it cheery locals, or entering the ‘live’ room through the gents, each venue adds its own distinct flavour to a night out. Bruce Dickinson knew this when he told the crowd at Long Beach arena that Iron Maiden were in it for the music, not to “shag some bimbo in the car park.”

Riding that sentiment, here are my top five greatest music venues:

1. Madison Square Garden, New York. Led Zeppelin recorded their live album ‘The Song Remains the Same’ here over three nights. The venue was also eaten by Godzilla’s kids (1998) but the Zep link is cooler.

2. Rock in Rio festival. Not strictly a venue, Queen played to 250,000 people in 1985. This clip is great as the presenter greets you with “welcome to the pink palace once again.” Oo-er.

3. Plaza Del Toros, Madrid. The setting for AC/DC’s 1996 video ‘No Bull’. Memorable for the golf cart used by Angus Young to ride from one side of the stage, into the crowd, and back.

4. The Junction, Cambridge. A breeze-block venue in one of East Anglia’s crapper towns, the Junction will always have a place in my heart as I saw Elastica (a good band not yet famous) support Kingmaker (a shit band) there.   

5. Rock in Rio. Yes, no one was more surprised than I to find out that the Maiden have been there as well!

December 28, 2008

The PopArt End-of-year message

Filed under: music, editorial, Tamla Tim, PopArt, The label — digest @ 3:13 pm

Hello our darling Smart Kids

What a year 2008 has been for PopArt enterprises. Join us as we sit around the fire with a pipe and a brandy and muse on what has come to pass, and what delights are to look forward to in 2009.

We started 2008 with many board meetings in various pubs, frantically planning and scheming for the year ahead. Once we had dried out the beer soaked minutes and remembered what we said we’d do, we kicked off in earnest with an all dayer - ‘BritPopArt 2: Bargelife’ on the Battersea Barge, the now annual celebration of the glory and the folly of the Britpop wars. This saw the return of the game show ‘Line Up In Line’ with our resident compere, Leicester’s Funnyman ‘The Bullet’ Dave Rees. All the bands did a Britpop cover version and the PopArt AllStars supergroup did a full set of mad ferrit classics. There’s some footage from that event here:

Pete Green doing ‘Inbetweener’ | Goodbye Lennin doing ‘Ready To Go’ - | PopArt AllStars with ‘Babies’ and ‘Trash’

Shortly afterwards we set up home at The Fly on New Oxford Street for PopArt Monthly, the staff have come to both love and fear the second Saturday of the month in equal measure. They always compliment the bands we have on and sing along to our choice of tunes, but are often perplexed when we explain there will be a live game show on stage between the bands. We have had some fantastic nights down in the PopArt bunker, had some of our favourite bands play, had lots of silly fun with game shows like ‘Indie Bingo’ and danced the night away to indie pop, alt rock, soul, hip hop, stadium fillers, lost classics and the odd TV theme tune. London Fire Brigade paid us a visit one month due to a smouldering fuse box and the Smart Kids serenaded them with a disco chant of ‘Burn Baby Burn’ before dancing on to ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Panic!’. We ended the year in our own indie pop prankster style with the PopArt AllStars getting everyone in the yule mood with a set of Christmas covers. Some footage of that here:

‘Santa Claus Is Coming To Town’ with Leiscester’s Funnyman ‘The Bullet’ Dave Rees | ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ with the living legend Mr Solo | ‘Do They Know It’s Christmastime?’ with erm … everyone

From January onwards there will be a whole extra hour and half of dancing at our PopArt Monthly nights. The party people often beg for ‘one last tune’ at the end of the night. We’ve listened and can now bring you lots more tunes until 3.30am! The first night of specially extended mayhem will be on 10th January, with the Bridport Dagger, Fulcher, Smith & Dance (featuring members of Art Brut) and Evilwitch playing live. Plus there’ll be a game show when we think of one.

October saw the third annual celebration of Belle & Sebastian at a bowling alley, namely ‘Bowl & Sebastian 3: Is It Wicked Not To Spare?’. This saw B&S cover versions from the fantastic bands, the return of every twee kid’s favourite American geography based quiz ‘The State That I Am In’ and another high octane set of covers from the PopArt AllStars with guest singers from Lucky Soul, Brontosaurus Chorus and Pocketbooks amongst others. Some footage of that here:

MJ Hibbett sings ‘La Patie De La Bourgeoisie’ | Mr Solo sings ‘Judy And The Dream Of Horses | Andrew from Lucky Soul sings ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’

November saw PopArt London the fledgling record label make something of a splash with the long awaited release of the Subliminal Girls single ‘Self Obession Is An Art Form’. This was the first time we’d done a release that would be on iTunes and HMV and all that and, being like we are, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves. We signed up with a distribution company who would get the single in all the online stores and we started talking with authority about things we didn’t understand. We found ourselves saying things like “Yeah, no problem, I’ll send through the UPC code this afternoon,” and sometimes even knew what this meant. Other times, Wikipedia was our friend. The single itself was by no means run of the mill either. Actual Pop Artist Stuart Semple designed and made just ten special packages which contained the single on vinyl along with all sorts of arty goodness, and these were sold in galleries as far a field as Milan and New York, while we handled the digital release back here in Blighty. It’s still too early to know exactly how it went but it was number 1 in the Play.com indie download chart, which was very exciting, and we were delighted to be involved with such a fantastic song and such an interesting project. If you haven’t got a copy yet you can still download it from:

Play.com | HMV | Or search iTunes.

As ever, keen to run before we can walk or even before we’re potty trained, we are currently working on not one but TWO albums which will both be out in March 2009. This is very much hot off the press, the first whisper of two very exciting releases.

And What Will Be Left Of Them? - The Hi-Fi Low Life Blasting out or Worcester with a song in their hearts and whiskey in their bellies, AWWBLOT? have built up a storming reputation through years of gigging up and down the country. bringing their own charming brand of clatter pop to the kids, not least at PopArt events. This will be their debut album.

Brontosaurus Chorus - You’ve Created A Monster Also the debut album from this London 8 peice (yes, 8 piece) quirky but classic pop orchestra, marrying ringing guitar with throbbing bass with swoonsome strings with soulful trumpet with bitter sweet lyrics. Compared to Belle & Sebastian and Arcade Fire.

The CDs have just arrived and they look and sound amazing. Both will also be available as downloads.

What a year it’s been and we can hardly believe 2009 is shaping up to be even better. Stay tuned for more events and records which we and you, the Smart Kids, can inject with our own ramshakle charm.

Keep a little PopArt in your heart x

November 24, 2008

Diary of a record label #2

Filed under: music, editorial, The label — scoobydom @ 7:02 pm

Dear Diary,

Today we are number one in the Play.com Indie downloads - see for yourself.

Our bar codes arrived over the weekend and I scanned them in. The Quill has added them to the Brontosaurus Chorus album sleeve and it looks like an actual Proper Album. Exciting times!

Today, I’ve been drafting contracts for our 2 upcoming releases. These are licensing contracts. The copyright in a sound recording is held by whoever pays for the recording, which the bands did, and they license the tracks to us for an agreed time. The contract sets out the terms and time period by which we, um, own their asses. The idea did occur to me to draft a clause that forbids band members from endorsing the Tory Party in interviews. However, this idea was quickly abandoned as being a wee bit too Stalinist. We do actually have a 5 year plan, but that was an idea we nicked from the Wu-Tang Clan.

Toodle-pip! x

November 20, 2008

Diary of a record label. #1.

Filed under: music, editorial, The label — scoobydom @ 7:02 pm

So, the idea came to me to write the diary of a record label. The reason is 3-fold.

  1. it’s meant to make good reading. Which is doubtful.I am no writer, as you’ll find out.
  2. it could provide a good resource for anyone out there who might want to start their own label. You can learn from our mistakes.
  3. and this is the major reason, I’m keeping a log of everything we do so I remember how to do it next time around. I wish I’d done this from the beginning of the Subliminal Girls single process, but it’s a bit late now. All that’s happening with that now is sitting on our butts waiting for people to buy it. Oh, and asking people to buy it. Hey, have you bought it? Nope? Buy it now then. Thanks. I’ll wait whilst you complete the transaction.

Welcome back. So yes, as you’ll already be aware, due to the fact it’s been rammed down your throat, we released a single by Subliminal Girls on Monday. As we’re pros now (yeah right), our attention turned a few weeks ago to our next releases. Lots of debate ensued - there is no shortage of great music in our lives due to the amazing quality of bands we’ve put on over the last few years. So eventually we decided on albums by the 2 bands that comprised our first ever release, the split 7″ with And What Will Be Left Of Them? and Brontosaurus Chorus. How brave of us.

These are both records that have been in the pipeline for ages - well over a year. In fact, looking back over my answers to the PopArt Review of 2007, both are listed as expected during 2008. As it happens, they wont see the light of day until March ‘09. But that’s the record business for you, folks. AWWBLOT? have recorded their album from scratch at least twice, and the 8-piece BC have taken since April to complete the mammoth task of recording and mixing such a huge band. AWWBLOT? finished the album a couple of months ago and sent it to a load of labels to see who was interested. I told them we’d release it if they didn’t get any better offers. Which they didn’t. The Chorus album is being mastered on December the 4th. Releasing it on PopArt was always a foregone conclusion, for some reason.

So anyway, we decided to release albums by these 2 bands. What then? I phoned our distributor, Cargo, to let them know. Fine, they said. Oh right, it’s that easy to put out a record. Well, no, as we shall find out. But them being such nice blokes doesn’t half help. Now, generally it takes 2-3 months for a decent PR campaign, and we didn’t want this to cross over Christmas. Which means the soonest the records could come out is March. So there we go. Cargo asked for a few copies of each album around 6 weeks in advance of the release date, along with a sales sheet detailing essential info and press quotes. Then they’ll gauge interest and come back to us a couple of weeks ahead of release with orders for a million copies. Easy.

So now we have some deadlines for our PR promo copies and finished albums. They’re going to the pressing plant on December 5th. Best get the artwork finished, and that includes barcodes, legal copyright info, CD labels, catalogue numbers… this is all being overseen by PopArt’s resident Graphics Guru The Quill. This means I had better tell Pete Adams that we need their finished sleeve art by this time next week… Pete!

October 20, 2008

Lexicon of pop: i - interviews

Filed under: music, editorial — benramster @ 10:47 pm

I’ve always wondered what the best approach to giving a rock interview should be. Do you tell your interviewer to “F*ck *ff” and gob on his shoes? Or give a sincere speech to camera on the dangers of gang violence? I saw Ciara do this second thing on PopWorld after performing her single My Goodies. Chorus “My Goodies, my goodies”. The interview is not online but you can see fans pose difficult questions such as “When did you first hear about MySpace.

When asked (it’s only months away…), I plan to use the approach that Jarvis Cocker took when Pulp played Glastonbury ‘95. That afternoon, he was interviewed by Jo Whiley on the band couch with Mr generic U.S. rocker. When quizzed about their rumoured genital piercings, Cocker suggested that a well placed magnet would answer all questions. What a guy. So Ben Mlini, what is your favourite colour? Here my five favourite rock interviews from the web:

1. AC/DC interviewed on German T.V. (1984). In an NME interview, I remember Brian Johnson asking “Who’s Kurt Cobain”? Buy a 7-inch Figurine of grunge-father here.

2. Did you know that Another Level spourned a spin-off act? Read the thoughts of ‘Upper Street’. Tossers.

3. Prince is said to only sleep only two hours a night, and to treat session musicians like wet wipes. Not strictly an interview with the love dwarf, read whether this insomnia is caused by him being backed up.

4. Suggest that you are a bit ‘bi’. Louise Wener (Sleeper) and Brett Anderson (Suede) both used this tactic to wet the appetites of indie kids around the country. Read a wonderfully angry essay about them here.

5. Ian Svenonius. For mind-blowing theories and great rock and roll videos, the former Make-Up front man is the best.

October 4, 2008

formed a band

Filed under: Uncategorized, editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 6:17 pm

I’m not very good at asking for help - hence the name of my latest musical persona Mr Solo. Once there was a time when I called friends for help and imagined them holding the receiver up hand clasped over the mouth piece and turning to their partener/buddy/wife and mouthing its mr Solo whilst casting their eyes skyward. Well not anymore no sirree now I call people and say “do you wanna be in my band?” No that is a lie i would never be so crass. I might say “do you fancy playing drums for a gig?” “we could practice”. And lo so it came to pass that the oxymoronically named Mr Solo trio came to pass. Dom from Pop Art moving swiftly up the pyramid from baritone guitar (the fifth wheel) to Bass guitar and mikey from Art brut playing drums. Recently a strange thing has happened - i’ve started to notice that practicing  or even rehearsing makes a difference.  I think i first noticed this playing with glam chops. paul from guided missile put by back up by insisting that we go through the song i’d written in the barrel room before we took to the stage. By the time we began the set even i new the chords. After last night’s gig at the Brady Arts centre all we could talk about was how practising had really helped. my view is now that practising is bolder than not practising because its being brave enough to find out how something might really sound if its SOMETHING  and not everything.

Giving a band a name is one of the best things about being in a band so after finishing the biography of Charles fort I was keen to pick a name for the three piece that would reflect my new found passion. One of his books was called “The book of the Damned” -  yes that’s it i mused “The Damned”.  I mean my favourite song is even Smash it Up by the Damned. Hold on they are a band already. So how apt that i should pitch up at the sound check and turn to the fellow next to me and say hello I’m mikey to which he replied i’m rat. i did not as the fans of parisien urban geurilla art say “what as in Blek le…” no after a few seconds i turned back and said “what as in scabies?” Later I wowed said gentleman with my tale of how i nearly called the band the Damned and was able to ask him whty the single version of Smash it Up was more scintilating than the Album version?” i didn’t find time to say its my favourite ever song.

Charles fort author of “The Book of The Damned” (did i say?) speculated in book called X that our lives are predestined and controled by an invisible force called X which may or may not be transmitted from Mars.  I recently read that there is a theory that on a quantum level life truely is preordained and that the equations all add up to neutrons et al  moving along a preconfigured route. Love song was a the second single i bought and i recently learnt it for an exhibition party and was pleased to discover mr Scabies had penned the songs most engaging vaudevillian lyrics.

Later I stood talking to a Rock and Roll Friend From Bourmouth and told him how i got over nerves by reminding myself that I didn’t write my own songs really they just appeared out of the ether. This is the sort of thing I tell students in my illustration classes. My RRFFB was seen to momentarily gaze into the middle distance but was kind enough to save me with a “yes I think i know what you mean”.

Rambling now but I think the first outing of the Mr Solo Trio was a triumph. We even became the miste Solo Quintet as Simon Breed and keith TOTP joined us for the rousing finale of ‘It Makes You Wonder’.

I days of yor I was treated to some vocal coaching by Arista records (you know). On the wall of my coach’s shack  were the likes lenny henry and heather Smalls but who else should be nestling there but one dave vanian (you know from the DAMNED). My vocal coach had a very aprticular approach involving keeping your apple down and singing from the diaphram (see heather Smalls  etc). I began to notice that dave vanians later works all had this distinctive style. Mr Scabies seemed almost gratified to discover the source of the change in vocal timbre which had hitherto been a complete mystery.

And yeah Smash it up is my fave song ever.

July 12, 2008

Its been an adventure

Filed under: editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 8:20 am

“we won’t know where we’re going until we get there….” and so sang a vaudevillian character in the film Overlord, a film I saw the night after I effectively killed off the solo version of Mr Solo at a venue in Camden called the Undersolo. A good place to bury that particular incarnation of the solo franchise. Will, I ask myself, Light Speed Champion find a suitable venue to bury the hat (yet)? I had meant to write stuff here more often but things have become frenetic and I have found myself swapping hats at a more frequent rate than the afore mentioned festival main stay. In one particular week I seemed to perform everynight in a different guise ; singer in a david devant tribute band, humble show stealing broken ankled guitarist in keith TOTP’s minor indie celebrity all star band, guitarist and erstwhile side kick to Mr Argos in the last orthodox Glam band on earth (although we are more a cooperative than a group), co lead singer with Ed in the Green, Singer in David devant and his Spirit wife and then rounding the week off with a performance in a gallery as mister Solo the clinically sane painter of men with monkey faces in floating boxes surrounded by celestial fire www.sartorialart.com. Its a list and not a story but some how I had intended it to appear more riveting written down than having to stoically take in the miriad oddities of some on else’s dream. I read somewhere that there is snothing more boring than listening to someone else’s dream - unless you are a paid freudian analyst in which case you will pass the time looking at the clock nodding going “ah ha I see” and stroking your chin. i believe in the power of dreams but I Am an accidental anarchist so refuse every dogma known to man. This preamble is growing into a mountain trek so time to tell you how my blogging leviathan was roused from slumber by the events of yesterday. Glam Chops (the last orthodox glam collective in the solar system) were booked to hit the sheep dip stage of Lounge on the Farm at 7 pm last night. Being the anarchist that I am I duely arrived as advised by the appropriate authorities at 5 pm (the specified 2 hours in advance). Fearing I was behind the pack (school cross country trauma incident) I was swift to telephone the lead singer ed Argos who clearly described his location as near Heathrow. Oh gosh I thought. Come seven twenty I was advising our democratically elected accidental leader, Paul GUided Missile, that we should dig in and wait for Ed at least until they tell us in no uncertain terms to go on. So … I annouce us as two thirds of glam chops and we begin the set with a song I sing about my personal struggle to coralate the optimism of Glam from my childhood with a certain hunted man (ne gad). This is not quite what the festival goers had expected from the last orthodox glam cooperative in the universe… but come the final layered series of rounds combining various glitter band choruses a feeling that the uncomplicated euphoria of child like creative reverie can once agian be restored has descended on atleast two members of the crowd assembled to see the last orthodox glam union in England. Or perhaps they just liked the chance to sing ‘dya wnna be in my gang my gang’ in a safe unreconstructed environment. That song done we now have to play a number ed would normally co-sing but I feel pretty confident taking the lead. People often say to me how extrovert I am on stage but they are mistaking a big wig for showing out - I’m just trying to remember al the chords. To do justice to what happened next I would really have to contact the artist who rendered “tough of the track” in Scorcher comic and ask them to show it in a series of sublimely inked panels. As we approach the second chorus Ed bounds onto the stage and nearly takes out Paul guided missile. It is with explosive elation that we become a fully restored co-op as we flank the front of the stage, arms aloft, for the drum break down “don’t be glum - be glam - be glam - i am”. This moment , as i said to Paul afterwards was an all time classic - its the last panel in the comic strip which was proceeded by intercut pen and ink images of ed hanging out of a movin splitter bus with security stewards diving out the way shaking fists from the hedgerow intercut with close ups of my sweating brow with sideways glances. And then ed bounds on to the stage. During the next song “european festivals” make up is applied to his face! i’ve done a few shows in my time but never one that combines comic book adventure with orthodox glam rock!
people stared at the make up on his face…. I unwittingly killed off the solo mr solo on the eve of the 35 anniversary of the death of Ziggy Star dust. The serendipity of this would be harder to explain in a comic strip. celebrating life’s introverted moments and bringing them out into the open is why I am clinically sane but not content with one persona or hat. did i ever mention how i was once paid with a hat shaped from felt into tatlin’s tower?

April 2, 2008

PXPL & THE CATHEDRAL MATRIACH

Filed under: Uncategorized, editorial, PhoeniX Phil — pxpl @ 5:12 pm

02 Apr 2008

PXPL & THE CATHEDRAL MATRIACH
Current mood:
nervous
Category: A little lost & found
Writing and Poetry

 

So then… did you miss me? I didn’t mean to leave y’all dangling… time flew by and here we all are in the now. So you last time you saw me I was in the Metro club covered in some unknown girl’s sick while a foreign girl called me rude for resisting her dance request… it’s now a year later and I should really write a blog entry called “PXPL & The Missing Year” but I’ll leave that for the vultures to compile with various message board posts after my death like that sh!te Pink Panther film made with Peter Sellers outtakes after his death.
 
Anyhow, Don’t cry for me my dear reader… the truth is I never left you.
 
Let the second season begin……

PXPL & THE CATHEDRAL MATRIACH 

Despite the many wise lessons I learned growing up there are huge gapping gaps in my development thus far. These tend in be in situations that are very easy and obvious for other people. Two huge examples of these gaps are ”Family / Circle Of Friends gatherings” and also Religion.
 
Regarding the “Family / Circle Of Friends gatherings” thing… well despite being lovely friendly people my parents tended to keep themselves to themselves and thus our household was place of natural calm and individuality. I’ve barely met most of my uncles, aunts, cousins etc. and we never did things like throw parties in church hall for landmark birthdays / engagements / passing driving tests etc etc or hire out a villa for a shared holiday with another family.
 
This has meant that due to lack of practise (and to be more honest; embarrassment) I find it very hard to switch into what I call “introductions/anecdotes/conversations mode”.  This is where people act ever-so-slightly-different in the company of others… for example it’s where people say things like “You should really see this play me and Julian went to see the other day..” and get measured responses like a hushed  “Oh really?” instead of “You’re wrong… you’re f*cking wrong! I really shouldn’t go to see that play… I have no interest in plays and neither do you really… if we we’re all being honest we’d all much rather be sitting in our front rooms in our underwear scratching our itches!” Naturally even at my worst I wouldn’t go that far I’d just say “No way it’s sounds boring…” before trying to enter a flawed (or should I say Phlawed) argument about how wrestling is better than Shakespeare. Naturally I’d end up walking home alone devising an apology as each sobering step I took reminded me how much of d!ck I’d just been.   
 
Most people can do this “introductions/anecdotes/conversations mode” with natural ease (during the few instances I saw my parents socialise I’ve seen them be masters at it and pondered if they had secretly practised in their bedroom before hand).
 
I’ve learned to live with it being a social norm but it used to really annoy me at 6th form college… all these fun little boys who used to have in depth conversations about things like “if you were in Neighbours who would you try and sex first?” and would laugh at girls crying over spilt milk suddenly turned into wannabe-smalltown husbands discussing doing up their motors with the Saturday job money and they would do the concerned boyfriend act when girls (that they weren’t even going out with) left their purses somewhere stupid and burst into tears. Naturally I got damned for not evolving and took my leave of their friendship. I remained a virgin for two more years.
 
Which leads me to the next one: “Religion”. It’s not that my parents are “not religious“… more that they don’t really care. I mean, they like Christmas and I was baptised but apart from that we never went to church or anything and my secondary schooling wasn’t religious AT ALL. I never had the whole guilty thing that apparently exists about growing up with a religion… I have a conscious and a moral compass but I’ve never got that guilt thing that people go on about. I understand why some people feel the fear of a god’s wrath but I can’t really relate. With that in mind, to my ignorance I never really felt the importance of any religion.
 
I respect people’s wishes to follow a religion (as long as it causes no harm) but sometimes my distance from needing a religion can lead to a Phaux-pas…. possibly with me entering a flawed (or should I say Phlawed) argument about how Kiss’ 1981 concept album “(Music From) The Elder” helps me more than the Bible ever could. Again, I’d end up walking home alone devising an apology as each sobering step I took reminded me how much of d!ck I’d just been.  
 
So as I’m sure you can understand, what my troubles with “Family / Circle Of Friends gatherings” and also Religion, I have been known to “do wrong” at the celebration known as a Wedding.
 
Up until my Twenties, I’d only ever been to one wedding. I was 9-ish years old and I wore a brand new sweatshirt from Sittingbourne market that featured a counterfeit image of the Chicago Bears football player William “the Refrigerator” Perry (what I wore comes into play a little bit later so pay attention please). It was my older cousin Anthony’s wedding and all I remember about it was…
 
1) Seeing the poster for “Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home” on a London bustop during the neverending car journey there and thinking “Oooh they’ve made a new Star Trek film”.
 
2) The seemingly never ending church ceremony in which I endured like a good little boy… no need to for my mum to grab my hand and attempt to smack me as I wailed and tried to escape justice (a.k.a “Grab-Hand-Runaround”) thank you very much.
 
3) A lengthy discussion with my similarly aged cousin James about Transformers. He got the comic every week.. he knew EVERYTHING.
 
4) Me and my cousin James finding the fact that you can sing not only “Vanilla” but also “Aston Vila” over the chorus of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” hilarious.
 
5) Me sliding around on my flecked trousered knees resulting in a quick spot of “Grab-Hand-Runaround” when my Mum caught me.
 
6) Ending up sitting in the back of my dad’s car driving home devising an apology as each sobering turn the tyres took reminded me how much of deck I’d just been.   
 
The next wedding I went to was a friend of mine’s and it was my job to be ”the usher” (and not in the “R&B singer that does outrageously camp dancing” way… unfortunately) anyhow I ended up letting his three year old son eat some peanuts and got a telling off from all manner of his relatives.
 
Then the next wedding I went to after that I fortunately had no official role so I went in a shirt and jeans only to have to fence a barrage of “nice to see you made an effort” snotty remarks.
 
Now then, I know right now that loads of you clever clever smug people out there and tutting and sighing about the last two Phaux-pas BUT in my defence, I have NO FRAME of reference regarding “children”… I know via the much missed Public Service Information Advert bombardment of the early 80’s that Children shouldn’t play with matches, go off with strangers, climb an electrical device to retrieve an orange Frisbee and shouldn’t pick up a finished sparkler by the hot end (or you end up in a never ending “Ground Hog Day” style advert as a little blond girl with bandaged hand who is constantly patronised by your mum and her hag friend in the high street*) BUT I never saw an advert in which Charlie the Cat gargled a hazard warning about children of a certain age enjoying a peanut or two.
 
As for the not wearing a suit to a Wedding charge… I was sat at the back with no obligations. Again nobody ever constantly told me when I was growing up that if I was to go to wedding that I’d have to wear a suit. My only non-usher experience of a wedding was when I wore a brand new sweatshirt from Sittingbourne market that featured a counterfeit image of the Chicago Bears football player William “the Refrigerator” Perry… nobody complained then why would they now? The way I saw it is that all I had to do was avoid skidding abound the floor and I’d be home and dry BUT NO! People had to surprise me with this sudden “people always wear a suit at a wedding” finger wagging. I mean it wasn’t like I crawled out of bed and turned up in a t-shirt…  I had a shirt on… just not a suit. If it’s so important to wear a suit then the dress code should be printed on the bottom of the “invite”… even better put nightclub bouncers on the door so they can send me home with a  ”not tonight mate” and I can spend the day playingstation in my pants instead. And then have Co-CoPops for my tea. Oh yes!
 
So with all this anecdotal evidence ganging up against my confidence, I must declare that I was a little nervous when my fiancée Laura advised me that we had been invited to her cousin’s wedding… in Belfast no less! A different country… I could wax lyrical at length about my PhauX-Pas abroad but these are different stories for different times. 
 
All I had to do to survive was make sure that previous phaux-pas were avoided thus I devised a Ten Commandments / Gremlins-esque set of rules in my head
 
1) Thou SHALL wear a suit. Thou shall check suit for stains and creases a full FULL calendar week before the event and consistently make sure with Laura that it’s the right thing to wear almost to the point of getting a written confirmation / “get out of jail free card” that I can show any “finger waggers” on the day.
 
2) Thou shall blank out whatever religious / traditional things are going on around me. And just sit there politely smiling. Thou shall not ask questions or do traditional niXian activities like pointing and laughing at any statues with penises (note to self: I don’t think that churches… nay, cathedrals have statues of Jesus with his winkle out but it’s best to be on-guard in case they do).
 
3) No matter how much they cry. No matter how much they beg…. thou shalt not feed peanuts to a child. In fact, thou shall just keep away from children. No good can come from being near them. They are a walking Phaux-Pas hive.
 
4) Thou shalt not “entertain”. There is too much at stake to take the “humour gamble”…tis better to be seen as a “gob-shy” rather than a “gob-shyte”.
So fast forward to the big event, I have a suit on and I have made it to my place on the church spectator’s bench with relative ease. I was closer to the front than I expected so I quickly drafted a Fifth rule to my Commandments in my head as I fumbled for the hymn sheet..
 
5) Thou shall make an effort to look alert and fixated on the ceremony. Though shalt not drift off into a daydream and then laugh out loud at unrelated thoughts that pop into thou head.  Though shall remain alert and fixated… possibly act a little moved… maybe force my eyes to “well up”? …no that’d be too much just remain alert and fixated… even anyone glances at you just do a polite smile and then look away quick. Mercy! this is as intense as the Pod-Racing bit on Star Wars Lego.
 
So anyhow, the wedding was a Catholic affair held in a vast Cathedral. The Priest used a microphone to help convey his message, this proved to be more of a hindrance as the sound quality of the P.A. was very poor so what we got was a booming muffled sermon a bit like when Pirate Radio DJ’s yell nonsense during drum and bass tracks. 
 
As long as I sat there and concentrated on the Commandments I’d be fine, there was one challenge to overcome however but luckily it was challenge that most people (even “the finger waggers”) struggle with. This challenge was the most dreaded part of any Church service… the part known as “Hymn Time”!
 
Now don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of “Hymn Time” is amazing. it’s good to have a bit of a sing-along HOWEVER it’s never “the hits”…. if the Priest screamed ”All right you crazy people it’s audience participation time… I wanna hear everybody in the church singing this one… THIS ONE’S CALLED “ALL THINGS… BRRRRRIGHT & BEAU-TI-FULLLL” everybody in the church would scream “YAAAYYYY!” before draping their arm over their best mates and loved ones before singing along with gusto. The Priest would then pace the stage mouthing the words while holding his microphone out to the crowd like Robbie Williams singing Angels at Knebworth. Or picture this… a sea of lighters being held aloft during an acoustic version of “Morning Has Broken”.
 
BUT NO! We don’t get “the hits”…we don’t even get well known “album tracks” like “When I Needed a Neighbour Were You There? Were You There?”. We get hymns only known to the die-hards and the bootleggers, hymns with seemingly made-up titles like “Thy Love Is God O’ Glorious” and “Praise Be Thy God With Compassion Unbounded”. I always feel like the Priest or Vicar might take a perverse delight in breaking out these rare hymns, you can almost see him give a little nod of appreciation to the proper Christians and a bitter smirk out to the Weddings & Funerals day-trippers.
 
So with the Priest suddenly requesting everyone to sing an unfamiliar song, the crowd get a few rusty parps from the church organ to stand up, shuffle their hymn sheet, attempt to learn the words and guess the tune… if innuendos were allowed it could be a game on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?”. Luckily each row in the church tends to have at least one diehard in it and they tend to bellow out the lyrics as if to spite the day-trippers.
 
Unfortunately most of the die-hards tend to be a little a bit elderly so they run out of gas halfway through the second verse leaving a remaining two minutes of  non-committal guessing of the tune / whispering of the words over a never ending cascade of chords tiredly parping from the church organ. The sound of which fills the church the same way that damp spreads up a bedsit wall.
 
With both hymns out of the way, I thought I was home free BUT an unexpected challenge arose… “The Body Of Christ Communion Buffet”. I didn’t think this would be a challenge as I thought that only Catholics were allowed to go up BUT NO the Priest offered it open to “anyone who has been baptised”. I have been baptised AND I have always been curious to find out just what does the “body of Christ” bits taste like ( I imagine that they taste like Snack-A-Jacks without the bumps and ridges) BUT the whole concept of me going up there had Phaux-Pas written all over it. I mean, I’m not mad-keen on wine… imagine if I found the wine in the ancient goblet (that represents Jesus’ blood no less) a little too sour and I gagged a bit… I’d be apologising and explaining through a nervous dry voice all night. The problem being was that I was so close to front that as I was pondering what action to take I found everyone in the two rows in front of me going up. My time was running out and I didn’t want to hold up the queue with my panicky um’ing and erring. Nor did I want to be the first person to say “No thank you please Jesus” …knowing my luck my Baptism certificate would be found and I’d probably get “finger waggers” coming up with “So you’re good enough to be baptised but too good to take communion”. Unlikely I know but with my history of upsetting people accidentally I have to be so careful sometimes.
 
Luckily for me, two people in the row in front of broke the chain of people going up so I relaxed back in my chair and counted the minutes until it was all over and I could finally have the pee that I’d been bursting to have as soon as the Priest started his “Dearly beloved…” opening address.


The cathedral was a drafty one and by the end of the ceremony it seemed that Jack Frost had whipped everyone’s bladders up into quite a frenzy as everyone darted towards the disabled toilet on the right hand side of the toilet. It was while I was standing in the queue for the toilet I first observed
The Cathedral Matriarch. She was a woman in her late 40’s / early 50’s busily pacing back and forth, glancing at wedding guest with suspicious looks that would suggest a slight anger that none of the guest’s had offered to help her tidy up.
 
So anyhow, the Cathedral Matriarch was darting about as I stood their queuing I desperately tried to avoid her accusing looks. “I’ve done nothing wrong,” I said to myself, “I’m just a man waiting for the toilet”. After a while, the queue diminished leaving just me, Laura and her sister Jemma waiting in line. The Cathedral Matriarch suddenly appeared and in a broad Northern Irish accent proclaimed “The Woman’s Toilet down stairs is open if you want to use it”. She sternly looked me deep in my trembling heathen eyes as she emphasiesd the words “Women’s toilets” like a warning. 
 
Laura and Jemma followed The Cathedral Matriarch down the steps to these toilets and I was soon joined by some of Laura’s cousins in the Queue who asked “Oooh where did Laura & Jemma go?”
 
At which point safe in the knowledge that I had a suit on and there were no children or peanuts around I decided to quip, “They’ve been allowed to use the secret toilets down stairs!” I emphasised the words “secret toilets” in sarcastic manner indicating that the huge queue I’d waiting in was unnecessary and cruel.
 
All of a sudden like Carrie’s hand emerging from the grave, The Cathedral Matriarch appeared and came at me with a fully fledged finger wagging vengeance…
“THOSE AREN’T SECRET TOILETS… WE DON’T HAVE SECRET TOILETS. THEY’RE WOMAN’S TOILETS!” she said in a stern fashion. Feeling small and still shrinking I backed against the wall my face full of embarrassed blushing and went to utter an apology but The Cathedral Matriarch decided to go for her killing blow, “THOSE TOILET’S WERE BEING USED BY THE CHOIR BOYS TO GET CHANGED IN… WE DON’T ALLOW ANYONE IN WHILE THE BOYS ARE GETTING CHANGED…” she then glanced at the cousins witnessing this berating of the nix before disgustedly looking me up and down before declaring, “….ESPECIALLY NOT MEN.” She said the word “men” in uncertain tone as if to attack my masculinity.
 
And with that she was gone. I had done so well up to this point but once again found myself in an embarrassed silence. As if by magic the Disable Toilet opened and I crept inside. I stood inside the booth alone devising an explanation to Laura as each stream of pee I squeezed out reminded me how much of d!ck I’d just been.   
 
Oh this lamentable life!


 
Bonus Materials:

* with reference to the reference of the little girl with the burnt hand. I was talking about an frequently shown series of TV ads warning about firework safety. An edited shorter of the version of the ad can be found here;

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=KAB37o44aec
 

  • Kiss’ 1981 concept album “(Music From) The Elder” was supposed to be major cross over masterpiece (via a planned plot-revealing sci-fi movie) and to win them some of the critical acclaim they had found hard to find (via having Lou Reed pen some of the lyrics and Bob Ezrin’s cinematic production). However the mix of a strange new image (keeping the make-up… but short haired and satin clad?) and sheer OTT’ness of the music proved too much even for Kiss’ diehard fans and it ended up a massive flop for the band. It has however provided PXPL with moments of counsel in his most self-doubting moments.

 

”Elder: Morpheus, you have been summoned here to offer your judgement of the boy. Do you still deem him worthy of the fellowship?

Morpheus: I certainly do my Lord. As a matter of fact, I, I think you’re going to like this one. He’s got the light in his eyes. And, the look of a champion. A real champion.”

Dialogue from Kiss (Music From) the Elder

March 4, 2008

PXPL & The Sheer Alien Concept of Dating

Filed under: Uncategorized, editorial, PhoeniX Phil — pxpl @ 2:06 pm

21 Sep 2006

PXPL & The Sheer Alien Concept of Dating
Current mood:
guilty
Category: a little lost &found
Writing and Poetry
There are a lot of misunderstandings about my love life. Some people think I’m frigid, some people think I’m a virgin, some people presume I’m gay (although this seems to be lessening as my beer gut expands)… none of which is true, ultimately I’m a self obsessed scumbag.
 
This is…
 
PhoeniX PhiL & The Sheer Alien Concept of Dating
 
 
A lot of people have been going on about this new “Indie Speed Dating” thing sweeping London. Crikey! I couldnt think of anything worse than “Speed Dating”… to be honest the concept of “Dating” scares the living daylights out of me… talking to a girl? ….SOBER? ….like it’s a job interview at a restaurant or something?

Do people in the UK actual go on dates? like in the tv show Friends?

AWFUL…. I just dont get it… you go on a date with someone who you may / or may not fancy… likewise they may / or may not fancy you… and then you have to talk about your jobs and stuff… and then you go home?

Where’s the magic & the mystery in that?

It’s simply a process to find someone to go furniture shopping with. How vulgar… i’d rather die alone than live in the lie of a convenience marriage.
 
Even if you are so desperate to find anyone available to share your life with, how could anyone find this “dating” thing fun? From what I’ve seen, there seems to be a lot of talking about your job… WHY ON EARTH would anyone want to spend their spare time talking about what they do for a living? It’s ok if if you’re James Bond or a member of Kiss but imagine having to explain the ins and outs of Excel spreadsheet based Vehicle Lease Extensions to some yawning girl… how is that a good way to spend a valuable night off !?!
Ultimately I’d have to say, “I’m not talking about my rubbish job.. I only do it to pay the rent” which means that i’d be seen as not only “surly” but also “lacking ambition”.
“AH”, the pro-dating squad would smugly proclaim, “…But thats where INDIE speed dating comes in. You wouldn’t have to talk about career progression or IKEA… you could talk about music.”
 
This would actually be worse.. i cant fully express my diverse and opinionated views on music within 60 seconds. Imagine if a say “Belle & Sebastian” to a punk girl or if i say “Husker Du” to a twee girl…. or if I get excited thinking about my cd’s and I drop the immortal “I have the entire Kiss back catelogue” bombsell?
Also picture this…
Girl: “I really like the Klaxons. Do you like them?”
PXPL: “umm.. not really. Saw them at Reading… they were Jesus Jones without the tunes”
Girl: “Who are Jesus Jones?”
PXPL: “A band from the 90’s. I’ll burn you their hit album “Doubt” if you want?”
Girl: (gets up and leaves)
 
It’s all just like the moment i gave up trying to find love in meat market indie clubs…
PXPL: (dancing away… fit blonde girl comes up to me is if i know her and says…)
Girl: “hi…”
PXPL: “Um…. alright? how are you doing?”
Girl: “I’m ok… whats your name?”
PXPL: “i’m Phil”
Girl: (after a brief chat about the Beach Boys) “who are your three favourite bands?”
PXPL: “oooh thats too hard depends what kind of mood i’m in? how about you?”
Girl: (and believe me i’m not making this up…) “Well my alltime favourite band is the Kaiser Chiefs… I’d also have to say the Coral and the Datsuns. What bands do you like?”
PXPL: (realising that she will have never heard of Husker Du) “well Pulp…” (girl pulls the blankest expression i’ve ever seen) “Belle & Sebastian” (girl nods but clearly has never heard of them, i desperately search for a cool band who are also really well known…) “I really like The Smiths…”
Girl: “OHMYGOD… Morrissey’s sooooooo amazing. I really hope they play “Irish blood, English heart” tonight. um… do you have a nickname?”
PXPL: “why yes i do… they call my PhoeniX PhiL”
Girl: “OHMYGOD do you know what phoenix means in latin… it means from the flames”
PXPL: (latin !?!) “yep from the flames… like when i wake up tomorrow with a hangover and have to go to work”
Girl: “oh… you work… do you mean you’re not a student”
PXPL: “no… um, i have a full time job”
Girl: (visably disapointed) “oh… i thought you were a student.. oh well, i’d better go find my boyfriend”.
 
 
Whats that all about !?!
 
I dont want to be some sad case loner but increasingly it’s the only costume that feels comfortable.
What with my job, PopArt and generally being PhoeniX PhiL I dont really have time to be an effective boyfriend.
So it’s probably best that I dont try to hard to find a Girlf…
 
…especially with the dreaded and expensive Christmas / Valentines Day period approaching (right lads?  … sorry ladies just a bit of banter).
It would be nice to have a girlfriend but i think i’ve spent too much time alone and “weirded” myself out of the game.
ANYHOW.. enough of this soul searching crap, i’ll go back to mocking the foolish and moaning about supermarkets next time.
And you can trust this
it’s from the lips
of the ‘niX
 
xxxx

February 27, 2008

PXPL & The Sticky Mishap

Filed under: Uncategorized, editorial, PhoeniX Phil — pxpl @ 1:08 pm

PXPL & The Sticky Mishap


Current mood: crushed
Category: a little lost and found
Writing and Poetry

Friday 16th June 2006 T’was a great night… my housemate Ed aka “The Rulez” came along with me to see Lucky Soul play at the Brixton windmill and now he is also a dedicated “Soul’dier”… although the hot weather meant that had a few too many shandies and was probably a bit devastated… I apologise if I upset anyone. This is…

Phoenix PhiL & The Sticky Mishap

Anyhow, the “Lips Are Unhappy” / “Baby I’m Broke” single by Lucky Soul is sound tracking my Summer…. it’s a bittersweet double header that I keep listening to. I remember during the long hot Summer of ‘95 I had Supergrass “Alright” / “Time” orange 7 inch constantly on my Alba mini hifi turntable. If I was about to hit the streets or if life was good then I’d throw the needle onto “Alright”… when I’d come back home from the streets - all tired and defeated, I’d flip the yellow 7inch over and collapse to the melancholic tones “Time”. Well, the new Lucky Soul single has a similar effect on me these days. The bittersweet pop heaven of “Lips Are Unhappy” despite being kind of a break up song was built for hitting the street and the flip side “Baby I’m Broke” is the perfect soundtrack for collapsing on your bed with a big cup of tea while summer rain hits your bedroom window.

Anyhow….

I was so drunk infact, that after the show I got a £1.99 “dirt box” from a dubious chicken outlet. It’s odd, most people get drunk and wake up with a headache and a rash regretting some ill advised night of passion… I get drunk and wake up with a stomach ache and an oily mouth regretting fast food.

Despite the KFC photo on MySpace.. I’m not really a “Chicken Box” kinda guy. I like chow mein in a tupperwear box but takeaways always close at like, 11 or something…. thus by the time your out on the streets feeling a bit tipsy and hungry for fodder they’ve already turned the lights off and gone to bed.

At my most blokey I have been known to “enjoy” the classic Kebab Meat & Chips in a polystyrene tray a “Yellow Sign Dirt Merchants”. I think this is mainly because I order it using my bestest faux-chav accent and then add the necessary “.. yeah and plenty of chilli sauce on that please mate”. Problem is with Meat & Chips is that it makes you stink like filth for the next three days and everyone avoids you like you’re the proverbial wicked uncle.

A classic Chippy is “the bliss” on the way home… just a simple open portion of big British chips… maybe sometimes with a saveloy. Oh the saveloy.. it’s like a sausage from outer space or something. The problem is with the classic chippy is that they tend to be family business and they shut early to avoid exposing their poor innocent children and frail grandparents to the drunken likes of me. And they tend to be located away from the night time world.

Anyhow, that is just some of the fun I have when choosing my post-boozing fodder supplier.

My mother’s right…. I’ll never marry.

SO, the next thing I know….

I woke in my front room at 4 in the morning with my massive Eeyore mug resting in my lap at a tilted angle… I felt a heavy drip…

..followed by another heavy drip

..drip! drip! and thrice, another drip!

My massive Eeyore mug that was resting in my lap albeit tilted at an angle was slowly pouring pepsi max all over my groin… still being a bit drunk, I whipped off my jeans and boxers shorts and left them half-in half-out of the washing machine and sloped off to bed with my bottom half completely naked…

I then woke up at about 10 am. I was lying on top of my bed with no underwear or trousers on… with the window wide open. I shudder to think who may have seen my sticky cola crotch in the early morning light. It would’ve put even the most gluttonous family off their breakfast.

Oh the trials of being “the bad boy twee”.

PXPL

xxx

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