June 26, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 12/10/2003 - The Adelphi, Hull

Filed under: Uncategorized — mjhibbett @ 2:36 pm

sorry about the gap in posting last week - I put the next two entries into Wordpress ready for while I was away from work, but WordPress lost them! Normal service, however: RESUMED

This was the gig that we got booked for without knowing it when Tom and I played a birthday party a few months beforehand. We’d both gone on and ON about how brilliant it’d been so were hoping it’d be AS good when Tim and Frankie came up to play with us.

There was no Emma this time as she was rather too Pregnant to travel, so I ended up cadging the spare seat in The Pattison Wagon and heading North with Tim. On the way there we had a LENGTHY discussion about British City Centres, or rather about ANNOYING OPINIONS on the same. There’d been an article in The Guardian magazine (YES we both read it, WHAT OF IT?) parroting the idiotic idea that “Ooh, all city centres look the same these days, because of the same SHOPS.” This, in my [CORRECT] opinion is a bloody stupid thing to say - if you live in London and only visit satellite towns and THEN only ever go into SHOPS on the high street and don’t look ANYWHERE but straight ahead and don’t TALK to anyone or indeed LOOK at the faces of the staff then possibly, if you’re incredibly thick/lazy/annoying then MAYBE you might get horribly confused. But otherwise - for GOODNESS SAKE there’s a lot more to a city than whether the big newsagents is WHSmiths or not. You know - landscape, architecture, accents, the weather, AND SO FORTH.

We got quite worked up about it (so much so that next day I’d write a song, “City Centres” all about it, which is probably the LEAST understood song I’ve ever written as every time we’d play it someone would ALWAYS say “Yes, it’s all these chains pushing out the local grocers isn’t it?”) so that the journey FLEW by and pretty soon we found ourselves stood in the chip shop. THREE things to note here - firstly, if you’re in Hull it should be ILLEGAL to NOT visit the chip shop, as they are the best in the WORLD. Secondly, it was LOVELY to see that the opening times were labelled “Dinner” and “Tea”. Third and finally the chip shop we always went to is called “The Chip Shop”. It’s a few doors up from the corner shop, which is called “The Corner Shop”. The shopkeepers of Hull are much too DIRECT to be part of a chain!

We got to the venue to find the legendary Mr E Bewsher waiting for us. He had been VERY busy, presenting us with features in the local paper, posters plastered all around the building (some of which said “PJ Hibbett”, but this time it didn’t really matter) and fairly soon a HUGE CROWD of people. Even more excitingly than this, however, was our RIDER. I’d recently heard a RUMOUR about The Smiths that when they started playing gigs they’d demand SHRUBBERY on their rider, and the bigger they got the bigger the vegetation required, until they were demanding a TREE for each gig. Thus when Eddy emailed to ask what our RIDER requirements were I replied “A Tree!”

I thought I was being HILARIOUS. I didn’t expect to GET one, but there it was, on the stage waiting for us. A TREE. Dave The Gardner had selected it especially and brought it in for us - AN ACTUAL TREE! Astounded we decided (also “hilariously”) to mike it up for the PA and afterwards found ourselves having to take it all the way back to Tim’s house with us where I believe it still lives, but at the time our main reaction was “WOW!” Eddy: TOP PROMOTER!

We popped down the road and through the Ginnel (LOCAL SLANG: Alleyway) to a nice pub to do our setlist, and returned to the Adelphi to find it PACKED. We were shocked, and our surprise only grew when the gig itself became one of the BEST we’d EVER done. The reticence of the audience at me and Tom’s debut was forgotten as Eddy’s enthusiastic PIMPING of us to everyone he’d ever met bore fruit in a MASS SINGALONG. For the first time ever it felt like we were PROPERLY HEADLINING, as everyone danced away and, also for the first time ever, we got a MASSIVE “OI HIBBETT!” in the song “Easily Impressed” which nearly blew us off our feet.

There was also a lot of Stage Business with some Christmas Cake - it wasn’t anywhere NEAR Christmas, but someone had brought it specially so when it was offered to the stage we all had a bit, and there seemed to be enough for EVERYONE in the room to have some - it was that kind of night. For the encore (oh yes!) we did “Fat Was A Feminist Issue” a song on which I don’t play guitar, but this time DID do RATHER A LOT of MIME. I also managed to pull off the CLASSIC trick of The Man Who Has Been In Bands A Long Time: at one point I LARFED at how much Frankie was LARFING at my Actions, and forgot the words. Rather than looking sheepish I turned round and GLARED at Frankie - THUS making the entire audience think that HE had cocked up, not me. GLARING, it never fails!

Afterwards Tim, Frankie and I sat in the dressing room (i.e. The Toilet That Doesn’t Work Anymore) backstage GASPING for breath, looking to each other for confirmation that this had actually HAPPENED. Tom, having been talking to his sister out front, came RUNNING back in at this point shouting “CDs! We need CDs!” The chap doing the door was also, thanks to Eddy, a BIG FAN and had been pretty much FORCING people to buy our album as they left, and he’d RUN OUT.

That pretty much NEVER happens, but then we pretty much NEVER get a tree on the rider either. Maybe I should start demanding one again?

June 17, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 29/9/2003 - The Social, Nottingham

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:35 am

PROFESSIONALISM! I’m sure that when people think of MJ Hibbett & The Validators there’s ONE word that springs immediately to mind, and that’s it - PROFESSIONALISM! Need a band who are Edgy, yet Committed? Excitingly Competent? Well Drilled and so TIGHT that you cannot describe them as Rocking without being forced to drop the final “g” and make it ROCKIN’ ? SURELY that’s us?

Well, all right, maybe not, POSSIBLY we are a bit happy go lucky about things, un-arsed about RIGIDITY of performance or vigorously pursuant about financial remuneration, but we ARE still pretty darned EFFICIENT. At least at the start of the evening.

At this gig, for instance, we all turned up BANG on time. If you’ve never been in a band you might think “So what? BIG DEAL! Talk to the hand!” because in normal life that doesn’t mean much, but for BANDS it’s almost an article of faith that you NEVER turn up when you’re meant to, and when you eventually GET where you’re supposed to be the first item of business is to wander off somewhere else. Trying to get bands to do anything makes herding cats look like TROOPING THE COLOUR.

The Validators, however, benefit from literally (OK, not literally) THOUSANDS of years of experience in ROCK which has taught us that if you DO bother to get your act together and TURN UP it means you can spend LESS time fannying about and MORE time in the PUB. ALSO we all have relevant real-life experience of organising OTHER people - most of the band are currently in MANAGEMENT and/or have KIDS - THUS when whoever’s nominally in charge of an event says “Let’s get there on time!” everyone else usually does so, in SYMPATHY.

Unfortunately the venue itself wasn’t so efficient, and we found ourselves with AGES to spend hanging around before we could soundcheck. We discussed where to go to wile away an hour when we were EXCITINGLY approached by someone I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW who asked “What time are you on?” I THINK I was suave, cool, and collected when I said “About half nine” but inside I was AGLOW with EXCITEMENT - someone I didn’t know had come SPECIFICALLY to see us! The rest of The Vlads tried to make out like it was funny that I was so excited, but the fact that they went ON AND ON about it for the rest of the night led me to believe that I wasn’t the only one.

We went over the road to a “Goth” pub. It wasn’t a PROPER Goth Pub - those tend to be old man’s BOOZERS with slightly lower wattage than usual, a disco in the corner and some jolly people trying to look gloomy whilst drinking Real Cider. This was a “Goth” pub in that it was specifically decorated with SPIDER WEBS and PLASTIC DRACULAS. Any “Goths” in THIS pub probably thought the Cure’s BEST EVER SONG was “Love Cats”. PAH!

After much band BADINAGE (largely based on the fact that Tom had injured his wrist from too much violin playing - you can guess the rest) we went back in to find Chris TT and his band finishing their soundcheck. And my, what a LOUD soundcheck it was! The Social has (or had then) a VERY high stage with a MASSIVE PA which faces a WALL about 20 foot away. THUS all sound WHAMS out of the speakers, goes STRAIGHT over the heads of the audience and bounces RIGHT back into the band. It is, to use a technical term, the recipe for a BLOODY RACKET.

Now, for some bands this wouldn’t matter. SOME bands have a gentle acoustic ambience that transcends ideas of beauty, but The Validators are NOT one of them. Even when we’re performing a WISTFUL BALLAD we have a tendency to sound like a SKIP full of ALLEN KEYS being thrown down a concrete stairwell and so on this occasion we were not at our delicate best, but we still had a fine old time. Making a BLOODY RACKET is FUN!

Some of our number had to leave quite soon after we’d finish, and we exchanged the traditional farewell of ANY group who will be playing their next gig in Hull i.e. “SEE YOU IN HULL!” We said that quite a lot.

After us was the excellent Chris TT, who always makes me feel a bit like I’m PLAYING at this Game Of ROCK. Which, in a sense, I very much am. This time we were discussing how much coverage he’d got in the PRESS for his latest record. I’m always impressed by this sort of thing, as it’s something I’m RUBBISH at doing myself, and said “That’s really good! Did you send them all out yourself then, or did someone help you?” “Er… no. The record company has people who do that.” Oh yeah! Record Companies!

It was a good evening, although slightly MARRED by a young man (who would later be revealed to be Sam From Tasty Fanzine) getting suddenly and abruptly HEAD BUTTED. It was very strange - we were all talking happily and then a LOONEY appeared and HEAD BUTTED him. The LOONEY was swiftly removed and Sam appeared to be all right - and indeed would come to and even PROMOTE many of our gigs in the future - but it was all rather strange.

The evening ended with more shouts of “SEE YOU IN HULL!” before Tom and I set off in The Tigermobile. We were on the ROAD. The ROAD… to HULL!

June 12, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 20/9/2003 - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 12:37 pm

There were TWO all-dayers going on in Leeds on this Saturday, and I very glamorously FLITTED from one to the other. Well, I FLITTED to the first one anyway - it was run by that Marvellous Label WRATH records, and I enjoyed an hour or so watching some GRATE bands there before, SOCIAL GADLY-LIKE, saying my farewells and heading off to my own gig on the other side of town, at the Gogojohnnygogogo do.

Here is where the flitting ENDED, due to a simple geographical FACT about Leeds: it features HILLS. Being of Fenland Stock I am at best SUSPICIOUS of cities on hills - there’s so much nice FLAT land around, what reason could there be for building a city somewhere so INCONVENIENT? My only answer: just to be difficult. ALSO being of Fenland Stock means that I am GENETICALLY DISADVANTAGED when it comes to inclines and ascents, and by the time I got to The Brudenell Social Club, where the gig was happening, I was a WRECK of a man. A good sit down, a lot of WHEEZING, and BEER was required.

Once recovered I realised that there was STILL a long time left before I was due to play - when you’ve been in the world of ROCK for as long as I have you find that the mere fact that you’ve not packed it in means some people can be fooled into thinking this is because you are A Bit Famous, and not just because you’ve got no other hobbies to do instead. THUS occasionally I get to play a bit later on the bill, which is generally a GOOD time as people tend to be slightly more DRUNK. The DOWNSIDE of this is that I TOO tend to be slightly more DRUNK, so steps have to be taken in order to ensure that the thin thin line between Jovially Tipsy and HAMMERED BEYOND MEMORY is not crossed before taking the stage.

THUS I went round the corner and had a very strange vegetable lasagne in an Indian Restaurant. Yes, I know, its is not exactly a CLASSIC of Indian Cuisine, but I’d not had a vegetable lasagne for YEARS. It used to be the ONLY Vegetarian Option available ANYWHERE when I first went veggie (sometime before the Agrarian Revolution), so when other options became available I went for THEM instead. It was thus NOSTALGIA that swayed my ordering, although it soon became clear that I was the only one with ANY memories of lasagne, as the CHEF seemed never to have been near one. You know when you have CURRY from a Chinese Restaurant, and it’s basically chip shop curry sauce poured on Sweet & Sour Vegetables? That’s sort of what this was like, except with LASAGNE.

It was all VERY confusing and mentally ADDLING - so much so that I might as WELL have sat and drunk beer all afternoon. When I got back the oddity was added to by the venue itself. The Brudenell Social isn’t some club with a funky name, it’s a real-live functioning Working Man’s Club, with proper stage, lights, two tier seating, and those little copper covered tables that you used to have in all pubs everywhere in the 1970s. I felt like a TURN at the end of the Meat Raffle.

My COMPOSURE was further ruffled when I got on stage by crap heckling. As I’ve said before, heckling, when done well, is GRATE. It adds excitement and WIT to the evening, bringing out the best in performer AND in audience. Unfortunately it is almost NEVER done well, usually being EITHER a drunken twat SHOUTING because he’s upset that somebody ELSE is getting all the attention OR a small group of people mumbling things that are vaguely HUMOROUS to them three but is both MEANINGLESS and annoying to everyone else, for whom it is too quiet to understand but JUST loud enough to BUG them. Both versions: RUBBISH.

However, almost as if The Gods Of ROCK were trying to restore the karmic balance of the evening, on the OTHER side of the room was the antithesis of Crap Mumbling Hecklers: GIRLS DANCING!

GIRLS DANCING at gigs is, officially, THE BEST THING EVER. GIRLS DANCING is like the Top Trumps car with a 10 Cylinder Engine, it beats EVERYTHING. Ask ANYONE in a band and they would rather have GIRLS DANCING than any number of encores, famous attendees, record companies or, indeed PAYMENT. GIRLS DANCING! GRATE!

The only way GIRLS DANCING can be improved is when you get GIRLS ASKING QUESTIONS afterwards, and that happened too, with a young lady questioning me pertinently about a song I hadn’t even played. This was all very exciting - the idea that someone has not only HEARD some of my songs elsewhere is thrilling enough, but if they’ve actually LISTENED and had a think about it, that’s AMAZING. And, of course, as everyone knows, it counts DOUBLE when it’s girls.

GIDDY with all this Girl-Based EXCITEMENT I was a little under prepared for the rest of the evening, which heavily featured the most DIFFICULT PUB QUIZ EVER. I don’t mean one of those where the history round is a bit tough when you’re tiddly, even understanding THE QUESTIONS needed more mental effort that an entire normal quiz put together, and the ANSWERS were beyond the entire ROOM working as a team. It was like an angry mob of cryptic crossword setters INVADING an infant school on a drowsy Wednesday in June and DEMANDING they learn LATIN.

THUS I was battered mentally from both sides when I watched The Cribs, one of the few bands I’ve ever played with to go on to be A Proper Famous Band Off The Radio. As usual when I play with or SEE bands who go on to do this, I had no INKLING that this might happen, quite liking them but not being that keen on the fact they sang with American Accents. Still, A&R is not really my JOB, so let us look kindly on the slightly drunken and VERY confused Hibbett who stumbled round the corner to the Taxi Office, too DONE IN to risk walking to the station up and down those accursed hills. Poor chap, it had been a tiring day!

June 10, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 14/8/2003 - The Windmill, Brixton

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:50 am

This was the second leg of the AAS fifth birthday celebrations. The first one had been a couple of weeks earlier in Derby when, as mentioned previously, The Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken stole the hearts of all of Derbyshire with their magnificent brass-led ROCK. It also heavily featured me getting extremely drunk, partly because I never had time to get something to eat. Every time a band finished I’d get ready to go then realise that I REALLY liked the next band, so would have to stay. It took me a while to work out that I liked ALL the bands, REALLY a lot - that’s why we put their records out. AHA!

The second leg was a smaller affair as it involved transporting everyone down to That London. I was in a bit of a panic about the whole thing for some time beforehand - I don’t like promoting gigs AT ALL. You can spend up to a MONTH worrying about it, getting things ready, clearing things with bands, putting up posters, sending out emails, and then STILL nobody might come and it will all be YOUR FAULT. The worst bit is at about 8pm (i.e. an hour before things officially start) when the promoter has to go and stand outside, rubbing his hands, looking PENSIVE. This is VOODOO MAGIC - ALL gig promoters have to do this, or else the GODS OF ROCK will not allow the gig to continue.

I didn’t know at the time, but I was right to be slightly worried about attendance as I’d put the wrong date on the press releases! I didn’t discover this until a two days later when I got concerned emails from people saying they’d been along the night AFTER it’d all finished. OOPS. Still, the fact that opening band Plans & Apologies a) were young b) had loads of pals and c) were playing one of their first London Gigs meant that they’d been able to bring the traditional COACHLOAD down with them, so an audience was ready supplied. HOOPLA!

The DOWNSIDE of this was that Mr F A Machine had come down with these young tykes and, like many an Older Gentleman On A Coach before him, had been trying to keep up with their drinking. And mostly failing. Francis and I have stood together in ROCK many many times over the years and though we have often played Tiddly (bordering on Squiddly) I don’t think I’ve ever seen him quite as ALARMINGLY drunkened as that night. I was so surprised it took me a while to work out what on earth was going on - WHY did he keep wandering over to other members of the band, mumbling and giggling? How come his basslines were suddenly so… JAZZ? How is it possible to get LOST on the way back from a microphone to your amplifier, three feet away?

The venue itself is GRATE - The Windmill doesn’t look much from the outside (and bear in mind, I say this having seen The Hull Adelphi) but inside it’s a little bohemian oasis of drunken regulars and BAND STUFF. It also has the best SOUND you’ll get in any similar level venue and a real genuine actual windmill just round the corner. I know this because Tim The Gig Booker took me and Tom to look at it. We were amazed - it was like something out of NARNIA, a real-life WINDMILL stood in the middle of a playground in Brixton! ACE!

Brixton did, however, live up to its Slightly Dodgy Area reputation in one way. To celebrate our fifth birthday we’d made up GOODIE BAGS for everyone who attended each leg. We’d pressed up a brand new compilation featuring contributions from most of our bands and packed these into specially purchases VALID BAGS along with a selection of free singles and albums. When people arrived in Derby to be presented with these Sacks Of Goodness they were AMAZED. “But this is TONS of stuff!” they said, MARVELLING at, amongst other things, the bright pink heavy vinyl 12″ of The Wandrin’ Allstars single that was included in most of them, “Are you sure we don’t have to pay for this?”

We enjoyed appearing MUNIFICIENT. What people didn’t seem to realise what that this was a CUNNING PLAN to clear space in our various LOFTS. Myself, Mr Whitaker and Frankie, who ran the label between us, each had HUNDREDS of copies of old releases at home, with no real hope of ever getting rid of them. Just throwing them away seemed WRONG, so we came up with the plan of the GOODIE BAGS. This way we not only go to look DEAD GENEROUS, we also got to clear some shelves!

It was hilarious, then, in Brixton when we realised that someone was trying to NICK some. A Dodgy Character had slipped in near the front door and seen the huge pile of goody bags laid out for customers. We watched as he gingerly edged towards a bag, before FLEEING when he saw we’d seen him. We were disappointed - we wanted to help him carry them out to his car!

June 5, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 1/8/03 - Upstairs At The Garage

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 1:51 pm

I was on the escalator for the tube, heading off to this gig, when I realised someone on the up escalator was waving to me, shouting “MARK!”

It was the broadcaster and journalist Steve Lamacq, who’d I seen not a couple of hours ago when recording a live session for his radio show. I waved back happily, NOTING as I did how VERY much different this was to many of our previous meetings, many of which would involve me being drunk in pubs shouting “STEVE LAMACQ!” as he left. It’s funny actually, I met him several times before he had me on his show, but he never mentioned it - I was that drunk guy in the pub, the one who gave him a demo tape. How could he NOT remember me?

I arrived Upstairs At The Garage to find Rachel Silver Rocket, the promoter, sporting a STRANGE t-shirt - across her chest was one of those animated LED lights which could show messages. This was all very clever and brilliant, but it did mean that EVERY time you spoke to her your eyes would inexorably drift down to look at her CHEST to read it. This felt RUDE, also IMPOLITE.

The first band on were a Local Band - they weren’t local to the venue or anything, I think they may have been from Stoke in fact, but they were definitely a Local Band and so had done the thing ALL Local Bands do when playing in London for the first time: they’d brought a coachload down with them. They ALWAYS do this - Local Bands think that when you play in London you will INSTANTLY get signed by Mr Big (of Big Records), but only if you can IMPRESS him with your ability to draw a crowd. That’s what Mr Big likes - CROWDS - and if he sees one he will IMMEDIATELY assume the band concerned attract people from all over. He will NEVER notice that they are ALL on first name terms with the drummer’s girlfriend and that they all leave at exactly the same time, to spend fifteen minutes sat in the mini-bus waiting for the singer to finish talking to someone who he THINKS might be from a fanzine.

For the Local Band Audience, meanwhile, a coachload is a GRATE excuse to spend a day in That London BUYING stuff and then to go out in the evening and get all drunked up whilst watching a ROCK show. THUS they always are, and certainly were this time, VERY excited, also PROTECTIVE of the band they’ve come to see. They cheer like mad, dance to all the songs, and are generally KEEN.

This is all very lovely, and sometimes the JOIE DE ROCK can carry on to the other bands… but not always. Sometimes, as in this case, the audience has been so well coached in the need to make the Local Band - and ONLY the Local Band - look good that they go out of their way to be MEAN to anybody else on the bill.

This they did with me - it wasn’t too bad to start with, there was just LOUD TALKING throughout my set (featuring the sort of idiots who are ANNOYED that they have to shout to be heard but aren’t BRIGHT enough to realise that maybe the situation could be alleviated if they weren’t STANDING NEXT TO THE PA SPEAKERS RIGHT AT THE FRONT OF THE STAGE) and the occasional crappy heckle, but after a while the Mates Of The Band got a bit RAUCOUS and decided to turn EVERY between song BIT into extended CONVERSATION. After all the day’s excitement I wasn’t really in the mood for it and, I’m afraid, chose instead to just keep on playing songs and hope it’d be over soon. FAIL!

After me, however, there was a band who were NOT going to take this sort of nonsense. It was Lapsus Lingae, who on the face of it were one of these Post-Rock sort of bands. I say “on the face of it” because Post-Rock bands are often dreary stuck-up wankers who think that by playing the same thing for ten minutes they are BRINGING THE WALLS OF CONVENTION CRASHING DOWN when, in actual fact, they are merely drawing the kitchen blinds of boredom. Lapsus Lingae, LIKE post-rock bands, played pieces of music that weren’t conventional songs, but that’s about as far as the similarities went, because they were AMAZING. You really DID feel that you were watching something BRAND NEW, and also slightly TERRIFYING.

They were really nice chaps too, although you’d not have known it from seeing them onstage. One of the Local Band Mates began to make “remarks” and they GLOWERED at him with such FEROCITY he was STARED and STUNNED into SILENCE, at which point they ROARED into the TERRIFYING ASSAULT of their first “song”. Local Band Mates rallied after that and tried again, only to be met with SPAT replies of such CRUSHING DISDAIN even I, stood at the back and watching on, felt ashamed of myself for being part of the same SPECIES as the idiot who’d even tried.

It was MAGNIFICENT, and because Upstairs At The Garage only had ONE room and the Local Band Mates thought they had to STAY there for when Mr Big turned up, the whole LOT of them had to stand and watch the entire eviscerating set. FANTASTIC! For me it had been a bit of a failure, but for the True Spirit Of ROCK: A MIGHTY VICTORY.

June 3, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 1/8/03 - BBC 6Music Studio

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 12:02 pm

One afternoon, shortly after “This Is Not A Library” had been released, I got a call on my mobile phone. “Hello, is that Steve Dresden?” asked the voice on the other end. I wasn’t sure what to say.

Artists Against Success was run by three of us, but we had an ENTIRELY FICTIONAL extra board member - if we needed to blame someone for something going wrong, or email a band we didn’t want to release, it was Mr Dresden who got the crappy job. This was very handy, so when I did the press releases for “This Is Not A Library” I got him to sign all the accompanying letters for me. I thought this was a good idea - it always feels a bit WEIRD writing a letter saying “I am GRATE! My record is AMAZING! MJ Hibbett (me) is FANTASTIC!” but if Steve wrote it instead then it all felt OK. Unfortunately I’d not worked out what to do if someone tried to RING him, so said “Er… no, this is Mark… sorry, MJ Hibbett, I have his phone.”

The caller had obviously dealt with pillocks like this before, and said “Ah! Hello Mark - Henry here from 6Music - love the album!” I said “Oooh! Er… thanks?” for LO! it turned out he was the producer on 6Music’s afternoon show which, in a week’s time, The Journalist And Broadcaster Steve Lamacq would be taking over while the regular present was on holiday. Mr Lamacq, apparently, LOVED the new album, would be playing songs from it every day on the show, and wondered if I’d like to come in and do a session one day.


I spent the next week in PANIC in case anybody changed their mind, and EXCITED at the prospect of Actually Meeting Steve Lamacq properly! I’d met him IMPROPERLY a couple of times - drunk, at The Bowlie Festival, shouting “AAWUUUGGHAAAGH STEVE!” (me, not him) and, AS IS TRADITIONAL, in the bar at The Bull & Gate, saying “Er… I’ve got a demo tape for you” (again me, not him). One night over tea The Frequency Of My Radio asked me if I’d given any thought to what I’d actually say if he interviewed me.

Only every day. For the past fifteen years.

And so the week of The Broadcast dawned and I huddled EXCITEDLY around my digital radio on the Monday afternoon… and DIDN’T hear any of our songs played.

DOOM! FEAR! DESPONDENCY! The next day: SAME THING. By Wednesday I was a quivering wreck, not least because I had told THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE UNIVERSE that Steve Lamacq would DEFINITELY be playing our songs all week - possibly several times a day, and would quite probably be renaming the afternoon slot THE HIBBETT SHOW. I got so worried that I ended up RINGING Henry The Producer, trying to sound confident by saying “Hi! Just checking we’re still OK for Friday?” but probably sounding more like “BOO HOO! ME FRIGHTENED!”

He was very nice about it, said of course it was all still go, and that he was looking forward to it. Again, I think I may not have been the first Terrified Band Member to get The Jitters before such an auspicious occasion. By Friday I was in a state of HIGH NERVOUSNESS - if ever I had had The Fear before, it was as NOTHING to this, THE KING OF THE FEAR which had descended upon me. I set off for Broadcasting House (wearing my best shirt - RADIO) a bit earlier than necessary as I thought I might need to have a bit of a sit down and some deep breaths on the way.

When I got there I was WHISKED up to the 6Music Offices and then into the studio itself, and there was Mr Steve Lamacq looking EXACTLY like he does on the telly. Amazingly, once the track before me had finished, he looked up, mouthed hello, then leant into the microphone and SOUNDED exactly like he does on the radio!

It was GRATE! Suddenly we were chatting away and I was IN a situation I had IMAGINED about a million billion times, and it was all going FINE. He was being very nice, I wasn’t (I think) sounding ENTIRELY like a drunken yokel who’s been bonked on the head with a lump of firewood, and the chat FLOWED. “Are you going to do a song then?” he asked. “SURE AM!” I replied, “This Is ‘Things’ll Be Different (when I’m in charge)’!”

I began to play! I got to the first line, and thought “Hang on - what ARE the words?” The intro went on slightly longer than normal and I realised I had NO IDEA AT ALL. So, live on air, I stopped, turned to a STUNNED Mr Lamacq and said “Do you know what the words are?”

He looked TERRIFIED. Somehow the situation had been reversed, as I was quite calm and relaxed - despite being on the very brink of cocking up the entire thing - while he was thrown into CONFUSION. “Er… I’m not sure”, he said. “No, hang on! I’ve got it!” I said, as my brain realised it was an EMERGENCY, and off we went again.

I did a couple more songs, had a bit more chat, and it was all LOVELY. Soon the show was over and Henry The Producer came back in, producing a bottle of WINE which we drink from out of plastic cups. “THIS” I thought “is how it SHOULD be!” We stood around and had a bit of an OFF-AIR chat and I discovered that in real-life Mr Steve Lamacq is PRECISELY as Decent and Amusing as you’d hope he would be from hearing him on the air i.e. a LOT.

Pretty soon it was time to go, as I was playing a gig in Islington that night. I said my goodbyes and then popped across town to my office, where I’d left some of my gear. “A gig straight after playing live on The BBC?” I thought. “Surely this is going to be AMAZING, right?”

Have a wild guess!

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