August 28, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: The Hey Hey 16K Video

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:52 am

Some time ago I released “Hey Hey 16k” as an Internet single - indeed, many people consider it to be the world’s first EVER Proper Internet Single… if only because they realise the only way to stop me from saying it again and again and again is to agree with me and hope I’ll go away. Other people have other claims, but I say ours was the first with full cover art, b-sides, formal release dates and modern up to date mp3s and so IS the first.

Also: this is MY blog, so they can sod off.

When it came out, however, there was hardly anybody actually ON the interweb, so it didn’t get quite the media coverage that internet singles do THESE days. It was, however, noticed by some of the people who WERE online at the time, including one Mr Rob Manuel, editor of the b3ta newsletter, who had an idea to turn the song into a Flash Animation.

It took him a while to get round to it - nearly four years in fact - but when he’d finally finished and got it put online (after asking me if I minded him doing so - I said “NOT AT ALL! WHOOOOO!”) we discovered that there were quite a lot MORE people online now and that a significant proportion of them were of about the same age as me, had had ZX Spectrums, and were very happy to be reminded of them.

These people forwarded the video to their friends, who forwarded it to THEIRS, and so in a style which, here in the super-duper media literate age of 2008, we would call “viral” but back in those dim distant primitive times we just called “MENTAL”. The passing on grew and grew until, after just a week online, we’d had over a MILLION hits!!

A MILLION hits! When that happens on YouTube or something these days we’re still AMAZED, but this was one little webpage in 2004, all on its own with nothing but links on web forums or in emails to help it. By the end of the second week we’d had TWO MILLION hits, and according to the Hits Charts it was the FIFTH most popular page on THE ENTIRE INTERNET!! Only news channels were getting more hits than us ON THE ENTIRE PLANET!!!

It was INCREDIBLE, and for a short while it was EVERYWHERE. Pretty much EVERY webpage I visited would have a link to the video somewhere and every web forum would have a THREAD where something like the following conversation would be going on.

OLDG33K: Wow, look at this video! It really brings back memories! ROFL!
GROWNUP: Be quiet you foolish child, you wouldn’t understand. It made me CRY!
OLDG33K: Aaah, remember Jetpac/Atic Atac/Manic Miner etc etc etc
GROWNUP: I’m off to post this to every web forum EVER!

EVERYONE of a certain age seemed to a) like it b) CRY c) start going on about Death Race 2000 and d) post it somewhere else, so that even now this sort of thread pops up every so often:

S1LVRSURFER: Wow, look at this video! it really brings back memories!

There was NO ESCAPE - a couple of days into the madness I got an email from Mr Frankie Machine, our bass player. He doesn’t like people he works with to know about his other life as an International Rock Star, so was rather alarmed when he suddenly started hearing “Hey Hey 16K” coming from a neighboring machine… and then more so as it WHIZZED round his entire IT department. “They’re all listening to it!” he whimpered. “I’m in HIDING!”

Emails started to pour in from people all over the world who’d enjoyed the song. I got a LOT of requests for the CHORDS, mostly from Garage Bands and Old Blokes, but also from some rather unusual places, including a troupe of Canadian Mounted Policemen who wanted to perform it at their next Gang Show and a class of Norwegian infant school children who wanted to put it on for their Christmas Concert. I got quite a lot of mail from Norway, as it had appeared on television there. It also got played on the big screens at that year’s Gay Pride Festival!

Another result of this was that I suddenly started shifting back catalogue - a week before it had all kicked off I’d had an email from someone asking if it was possible for me to do a SPECIAL DEAL for people who wanted to buy EVERYTHING, so I put a Back Catalogue Collection Package online, offering the LOT at a knock down price. I did it specifically for her and never expected anybody else to want one, but suddenly they were FLYING out of the door. It always ALARMS me when people buy one of these - surely NOBODY needs THAT much Hibbett? - but it was a GRATE financial BOON. The album with “Hey Hey 16K” on it, “Say It With Words” lost the LEAST amount of money of any of my albums!

Thus, for one exciting fortnight, I was spending most of my time working as an international mail order company, with a production line set up at home to cope with the demand and FREQUENT trips to the post office. It all quietened down again after a while and things returned to normal, but to this day I can pretty much guarantee that wherever you work, SOMEONE in your IT department will have heard of me - in BASEMENTS at least, I am SLIGHTLY FAMOUS!

August 21, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: Album Of The Year, Rolling Stone

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 10:37 am

Sometimes AMAZING events come along that you’d never expected but which completely change your world. Other times AMAZING events come along which you’d never expected and end up having almost no effect whatsoever. This was one of the latter.

The whole thing started with me GOOGLING myself one day. I’d like to be able to claim that doing this is a vital part of being a modern thrusting totally independent artiste/label, living on the very edge of the perpetual cyber-geist, always keeping up to date with hits from the blogosphere and track-backs on blackberry, but to be honest I just like looking to see if anyone’s said my album’s any good.

Usually I get the same few websites (my page, my myspace, my work address etc) and some blog forums where someone (ME) has been mentioning gigs, but this time around I came across an article in the online version of Village Voice, the super-hip New York paper. It was the annual Pazz & Jop poll, where they ask HUNDREDS of journalists to name their top ten albums of the year, and I was THRILLED to discover that our latest album, “This Is Not A Library” was OFFICIALLY the 625th best album of the year!

I was, not to mince words, COCK-A-HOOP! We’ve NEVER done well with awards or indeed ANYTHING that requires the approval of Those In Charge. We hardly ever get covered in magazines, never in newspapers and only make it onto Festivals by a) ACCIDENT or b) PESTERING - there’s one festival which shall remain NAMELESS (but which happens in Leicester, during the summer months, partly on a Sunday) which we’ve applied to EVERY year, for instance, being local, very MUCH of the kind of music they book and, you know, EAGER, but which we’ve never even had a REPLY from. It doesn’t bother me though, not at all, and the fact that I go on about it all the time is just a COINCIDENCE.

ANYWAY, this means that even the SLIGHTEST acknowledgement from The Powers That Be is cause for excitement. I tracked down the VOTING INTENTIONS articles and discovered that ALL of our votes came from a LOVELY couple of chaps, Mr M Krugman and Mr J Cohen, who wrote a column called “Well Hung At Dawn” for Rolling Stone online. They’d both paid actual CA$H MONEY for their copies of the album and had, wonderfully, liked it and PIMPED it in their column, so I sent them both and email to say thanks and to ALERT them to precisely HOW chuffed I was: VERY.

There the matter lay until a couple of weeks later, when I got a reply saying “If you liked that wait until you see our next column!” Not long after that the aforesaid column appeared online, a large chunk of which was dedicated to their Album Of The Year: “This Is Not A Library” by MJ Hibbett & The Validators! There it was, clear as day and as official as THE LAW: we had an actual real-live clearly labelled RECORD OF THE YEAR in Rolling Stone!

I was STUNNED! This was inarguable FACT, not something I’d made up or deliberately exaggerated or written in myself or ANY of the usual JOLLY SCAMS, it was an album of the year in Rolling Stone! FOR REAL!

I could hardly believe it… and neither could anybody else. Whenever we put out a press release I’d include this accolade at the very top, but everybody, quite understandably, assumed they were missing the asterisk which pointed to a footnote saying “* Rolling Stone, the parish newsletter of Woodhouse Eaves”. MJ Hibbett & The Validators having a record of the year in Rolling Stone? That’s ridiculous!

I can’t argue with that, it WAS ridiculous, but BRILLIANTLY so. Clearly Messrs Krugman and Cohen had realised that this accolade would mean rather a lot more to me than, say, The Libertines, and BLESS THEM had thought it might do me a bit of good. It was a lovely thought and, a year or so later, I was able to buy them some BEER to say thank you, but it was so unbelievable that, well, nobody believed it.

A few weeks after THAT however, something even MORE ludicrous was about to happen that we couldn’t have ignored even if we’d wanted to.

August 19, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 14/3/2004 - The Social, Nottingham

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 11:06 am

The trouble with doing good gigs and having good TIMES is that too much of it can turn you into a bit of a ROCK STAR. This is all well and good as long as things continue in this vein, but when the good times conclude the impact hits you DOUBLY BAD.

In the afternoon before this particular gig I’d played another, LOVELY, gig in Derby to a Sunday-afternoon DRUNK audience with sunshine and friends and all round PLEASANTRY. Myself and Francis Albert Machine, who’d also played, drove over to Nottingham full of expectations of more jollity, for LO! we were HEADLINING the show tonight. The only downside we could see was that we had to be there to soundcheck at 5pm, but hey, that’s the burden of being the HEADLINE ACT.

Being a band of Responsible Adults with Management Skills all of The Validators were there PROMPTLY at five o’clock on the dot… only to find that the venue had not been touched since it closed as a discotheque at 2.20am, so we had to hang around for ninety minutes while the soundman (who, from the extreme SLOWNESS and GRUMPINESS with which he went about his task, had clearly BEEN there until 2.20am, and may indeed have been sleeping in the toilets ever since) lugged lumps of equipment around. When that was eventually sorted out we embarked upon the LONGEST soundcheck I have ever had the misfortune to be part of. I normally like to get these done QUICK - the sound always changes ANYWAY when it’s SHOWTIME, especially if a couple of other bands have been on and moved amps, fiddled with drums, and changed settings, but mostly I like to get these done QUICK because there’s PALS I’d much rather be talking to and BEERS I’d MUCH rather be drinking. Some bands REVEL in extensive soundchecks, but I find them PAINFUL, and as we stood there for about HALF AN HOUR while the sound guy tried to get things working I felt intensely conscious of the other bands who were stood around GLARING at us. “It’s not our fault!” I wanted to tell them… if only the microphone had been working.

FINALLY we got everything sorted out and LEAPT off stage as quickly as we could, so that everyone else could get sorted out. Despite ours, and the other bands’, best efforts, the evening still started half an hour late. The audience didn’t seem to mind though - Frankie Machine and The Liberty Ship (two GRATE bands that I was really excited about seeing) came on, played BRILL sets, and were largely ignored by a growing throng who had clearly come to a) see the third band b) CHAT. It was a bit upsetting but, as I always say, people have paid to get in and so can do what they LIKE. It’s not an easy thing to think but it is TRUE, and is also a LOT less difficult to cope with when it’s someone else who’s suffering.

We were still running about half an hour late by the time they’d finished, with another band still to go on, and I was getting a bit worried - we were supposed to be playing at 10pm, which is risky enough on a Sunday night without getting any later. I was also a bit PEEVED that the third band weren’t exactly making much of an effort to get on stage - Frankie and The Liberty Ship had DASHED to get on and off to try and bring things back on schedule, but the next lot didn’t appeared bothered at ALL, happy to hang around chatting to their friends rather than GETTING ON WITH IT. Why wasn’t the Promoter telling them to hurry up?

It was then that I realised that the promoter was IN the third band, and that the entire audience was his PALS who he was happily chatting to, and had been doing throughout the first two bands. He EVENTUALLY tore himself away, gathered up his band, and got onstage… where they played for TWICE as long as advertised, and then did ENCORES! ARGH!

By the time WE were finally able to scramble onto the stage we were nearly an HOUR late. At this stage, at gone 11pm on a Sunday, you’d EXPECT quite a few people to have to go home, but even we were surprised to find almost the ENTIRE AUDIENCE leaving. I’d been alarmed, talking to someone beforehand, to discover that he was completely unaware that their even WAS a fourth band on stage, and from the way the departing crowd kept looking over the shoulders QUIZZICALLY at us as they flew out, I guess he wasn’t the only one - it later turned out that most of that pretty much the whole crowd had been WORKMATES of the promoter who’d come to see his band and then go home.

We thus went on and played a VERY truncated set to an audience of TWO people. This itself wouldn’t have been too bad if we could have HEARD ourselves, but our half hour soundcheck might as well have been five seconds of us standing in the pub next door, as it just sounded like a bloody racket.

Now, I’m sure by this stage you’re thinking “What a ghastly prima-donna! BOO HOO! So people didn’t want to see you? OH DEAR! I suppose you think now that you’ve been ON THE RADIO that you should be carried aloft on the shoulders of massed fans while a LACKEY plays your guitar for you? GET LOST, CAPTAIN SHOWBIZ!” and you would have some justification for thinking this. We WERE treated in a bit of a crappy way - ESPECIALLY when, at the end of the gig, the promoter refused to even give us the token petrol money we’d been promised, as, he claimed, not enough people had turned up - but it’s not like it hadn’t happened before.

The thing is, there was a large part of me thinking “I was live on the BBC the other day! I thought that meant I didn’t have to DO this sort of gig any more?”, and there was a slightly LARGER part of me feeling disgusted with myself for thinking that way. Outweighing BOTH of these, however, was the part of me that wished I hadn’t dragged The Validators along and put them through it all, and then finally entering the competition as SUPREME VICTOR was the part of me that KNEW the end result would be YEARS and YEARS of Validators taking the piss out of me for booking it.

These last fears, I have to report, have been proved over time to be well-founded.

When we’d finally packed up we slunk out, the venue owner locking the doors behind us, and went our separate ways WEIGHED DOWN with the feeling that maybe our hopes of future ROCK ADVENTURES were to be denied. Little did we know, we were on the very BRINK of some of the most RIDICULOUSLY GRATE ESCAPADES we had EVER been involved with!

August 14, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 7/3/2004 - Caledonian Backpackers’, Edinburgh

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 5:15 pm

Edinburgh is a FANTASTIC place - it’s like the people who made London had another go and thought “RIGHT! this time we’ll make sure it’s nicely spaced out, also CLEAN.” When I’d got checked into my HOTEL (for LO! i was still On Tour and still making use of Cheap Internet Deals) I went and found me an Open Top Bus Tour. I highly recommend making the Open Top Bus Tour your FIRST objective WHEREVER you find yourself in the world, especially if it’s got a Live Guide (instead of a recording through headphones). You will not only learn a LOT a) about the history of the area b) of rubbish jokes, but it also gives you a chance to find out where everything in the city actually IS.

Getting reacquainted with the city felt very strange for me because, as previously mentioned, I’d been there twelve years beforehand, and I was amazed at how VIVID my memories of it were. Every other corner I walked round reminded me of an ARGUMENT or an EMBARRASING DEBACLE… which probably says all that needs to be said about my previous experiences.

This was especially so when I got to the venue itself and realised that I’d been there during the Fringe to see a VERY rum play about The Beatles - it was basically imagining what might have happened if they’d got back together again. It was GRATE for a Beatles Fanatic like me to IMAGINE it, and they actually played (severely dodgy versions of) several Beatles songs during the show, but it was hardly NOTEWORTHY. Which is why it was EXTRA weird when I went upstairs to the actual venue to find a massive Beatles MURAL all over the wall. Surely this was a Coincidence Too Far?

Me and the Hectors did our soundchecks and then left the stage for The Other Band who’d been booked to play. As soon as they’d walked in we’d all SUSSED them - leather jackets over the top of denim jackets, sun-glasses, posh flight cases, HATS. They were a LOCAL BAND and, like ALL Local Bands they soundchecked for about an HOUR, their Edinburgh Accents becoming MYSTERIOUSLY CALIFORNIAN as they did so.

Pretty much as soon as they’d finished it was time for me to go on, and it was all VERY emotional. I started off with a song called “The Back Of The Sofa”. I hardly ever play it live because it’s very PERSONAL to me, also because I can never remember how it goes but The Hectors had requested it. I got a bit carried away with it all and made a LENGTHY speech about how we should all remember this night as a beautiful thing, that BEING here as friends was more important than any idea of “MAKING IT” - INDEED i got so emotional about it all that I ended up writing a song about it, “Mental Judo”, the first two verses of which pretty much EXACTLY describe the gig. The recorded version of the song even starts with a SAMPLE of The Hector Collectors although - ROCK FACTZ! - that actually came from the Glasgow gig the night before.

Apart from The Hectors Massive nobody else was very interested. As the venue name suggests it was mostly a hostel for Australian backpackers who gradually inched their way along the bar the longer i played until they ended up bunched around a table RIGHT at the very end. The rest of the audience was made up of The Local Band and their girlfriends, the latter LOVING my set. I don’t know why (well, apart from my own inherent INCREDIBLE SEXINESS, of course) but the girlfriends of Local Bands nearly ALWAYS seem to really like my songs. Maybe it’s just because they’ve not been to many gigs and are excited to see ANYTHING, but they always seem to get into it, which ALWAYS results in The Local Band boyfriends having a MASSIVE HUFF. That’s exactly what happened this time and the boyfriends got SO annoyed (helped along by me getting the ladies to all join in on the chorus) that they got up and LEFT, forcing everyone else to go with them.

It was all so much fun that I ended up writing ANOTHER song about it, “Let The Weird Band Win”, the first half of which ALSO exactly describes events. Why, if you poured yourself a low quality lager and played one song in either ear it would probably be almost like BEING there!

After me The Hector Collectors went on and played a POINTEDLY LONG set to me, their two friends, and THEMSELVES. It was BRILLIANT - they’d been a bit deflated that this was going to be their final gig, but I pointed out it was CORRECT that they should go out in this way, annoying rubbish bands and delighting their friends, playing whatever songs they wanted and not caring what anybody else thought. It was a BEAUTIFUL night and they finished off by having their picture taken stood in a row with their back to the audience, recreating the Beatles’ photograph that they had taken at their final gig at Candlestick Park. It was a FANTASTIC final statement for a FANTASTIC band.

It was all over too soon, both the gig AND the tour it was part of. There were MANY hugs as they set off to get the last bus back to Glasgow and I strode out into the Edinburgh night full of JOY that I get to be a part of such wonderful evenings. I celebrated in the traditional fashion passed down through the annals of ROCK since time immemorial: a beer from the mini-bar and a nasty pizza. ROCK AND ROLL!

August 13, 2008

My Exciting Life In ROCK: 6/3/2004 - The Captain’s Rest, Glasgow

Filed under: Uncategorized, mj hibbett — mjhibbett @ 12:33 pm

I’m always a bit UNNERVED when I go to places where people are MASSIVELY proud of where they come from. It’s probably because I come from Peterborough, which is absolutely NOTHING to be proud of, but it always seems strange to me when people expect you to give them additional POINTS, just because of where they happened to be born.

Having said that, people like that DO tend to come from places that are GRATE. When I went to America, loaded down with decades of Marvel Comics and Saturday afternoon telly, I spent my entire time them having to STOP myself from SALUTING and singing the Star Spangled Banner, and similarly in Scotland you can see why they like to go on about it so much.

And go on about it they INDEED DO, especially in GLASGOW where I was for this gig. EVERYTHING seemed to be branded as Scottish. You didn’t have television channels, you had SCOTTISH television channels. The Co-op wasn’t just the co-op, it was The Scottish Co-Op. Political Parties, food stuffs, shopping chains, EVERYTHING had to have the word “SCOTTISH” in it - it was as if someone had recently been round accusing everybody of NOT being Scottish, and demanding that they be properly labelled if they were. I even went into a book shop and found seperate sections for “Humour” and “SCOTTISH humour”.

Having spent a happy day wandering the Scottish City Centre, enjoying some Scottish Popcorn in the Scottish Cinema while watching Scottish Lost In Scottish Translation, I went back to the Scottish Hotel and packed up my suddenly rather humble feeling English Guitar to set off for the venue. The Captain’s Rest isn’t somewhere that appears on many major tours as it’s really just an Old Man’s Pub, although “just” doesn’t do it sufficient justice. If you’d asked somebody to create a THEME Old Man’s Pub they couldn’t have done much better - everywhere you looked there were small dogs, GRUFF old men, and PIPES being dutifully smoked. It was lovely, and downstairs where the gig was was even better, as the function room had clearly been decorated in about 1978 by someone who’d watched Top Of The Pops and thought “Yeah - let’s do it like THAT, but with mirrors on EVERYTHING!”

When it came time to do my set I was suddenly assaulted with the fact that, for all my astonishment of The Scottish going on about Being Scottish, i was actually JUST as guilty myself. These dates were pretty much the first time I’d EVER played outside of England and I realised that many of my songs were MASSIVELY parochial, and ended up delivering LENGTHY introductions explaining that the audience might like to view my set as WORLD MUSIC, describing events and opinions relevant to other peoples in distant lands.

After me The Hector Collectors played what would become their PENULTIMATE gig. Ian Smith, who founded the band with Adam Smith (EVERYONE who hails from Motherwell seems to be called Smith), was leaving and so they were going to fully disband and, though there was some joking about the matter, you could see what a big deal this was to them and their audience. Many photographs were taken, also a VIDEO, and you could see that, for everyone there, The Hectors had become a huge part of their lives.

It was lovely to see, and also VERY funny, as Adam is a CONSUMATE frontman. You can always tell a good band by how many of the non-microphoned members are singing along with the songs, and you can tell a band of PALS by how much laughing goes on between the members. There was CONTINUOS singing and a LOT of laughs this evening!

Afterwards I very SENSIBLY declined offers of a pub crawl, and went back to enjoy CRISPS and a BEER from the mini-bar. Next morning my sensibleness was REWARDED - the mini-bar system hadn’t registered my consumption, and when I was SUPREMELY HONEST and confessed all the chap on reception let me off anyway. Free Crisps! Free Beer! THE REWARD OF THE GOOD!

August 9, 2008

formed a band

Filed under: Uncategorized, music, mr solo — mrsolo @ 7:48 am

So we the mr solo band had our first rehearsal in the snug of the basement somewhere in Stockwell. It’s a brilliant space. I mean if there were a studio practice room program where the sexy in a homely way lady came in and offered advise on how to improve things they would find no fault. None of the band members asked me to shove my cape up my bottom but Bummer (we’ll discuss that later) did produce a very large gold one from the boot (bottom) of his car. For a man that espouses the value of “no more signs” this presents a challenge as it is very hard not to see it as a good omen.

Dom actually got to the rehearsal space before me which threw me but did go along with the idea that I am not the leader of this band which we now know was formed by the spontaneous digital generation of a thread on facebook which we all coincidentally became part of. The band formed us – if we are all honest our lives are just a series of blurred snap shots not real histories. Dom had some lovely equipment not least of which was his wife’s theremin, which was manufactured with her name on. I think my wife might like one of those. Felt bad about making dom play the theremin at the same time as his baritone  guitar but by the end he was able to control it with the headstock (see wiki link – guitar parts).
Next came Rhodri who I have presumptuously started calling Rodders – which may in part be due to listening to live cricket on radio 4. I, may I just add, did not go to public school. Rhodri is playing bass and let it all hang out with a squelching synth bass line on the potential endless jam that is “let it all hang out”. My studio tan must have become paler when Rhodri shared his experience of writing for the guardian about auditioning for bands through adverts in loot. He said he has only ever received one email telling him he’s a bastard, which is a good sign – I have had many without writing about how shit the audience was in a national broadsheet. I digress – so it goes. I promise to learn the rap in let it all hang out by next practice.

Then we heard a voice calling through an open window and all that mobile monitoring was knocked into a cocked hat. I mean at one point Rhodri stopped the rehearsal to tell me my phone had gone onto screen saver. It was Richie and Bummer. Richie is a well-travelled musical veterean who resembles a sixth former so bright is his outlook. Bummer has had a haircut and he too looks pretty fresh faced (and he has a new baby!). Bummer is called bomber. When he first told me his name I was perplexed that a man should have such a down beat name but that I have a very good old friend – who did go to private school - called Bummo which was arrived at from the similarity of his surname to Commo as in Perry (are you getting all this?). So whilst rehearsing I can’t decide weather or not to continue with Bummer or Bomber and this results in calling him both at once. Bummer is a great drummer.

We finally depart at around half eleven which is good going and we all are now vaguely acquainted with at least half the album. Hoorah. I dropped the keys to the basement round at Helen’s and came home. Woke up having dreamt of an article in today’s guardian.

August 2, 2008

Formed A Band

Filed under: mr solo — mrsolo @ 7:47 am

As I pressed delete on the lovely (it wasn’t see?) message from an 18 year old unsatisfied customer I ponder the idea of this blog being a record of my plight to form a band around Mister Solo. it is not unusual to hear that I wear a cape and make up as a safety blanket (possibly and I’m willing to go with that) but a stronger view is that I should shove it up my bottom and get a proper job - the youth of today such a touching sense of humour. In fact there were so many refernces to backside functions in the last love/hatemail that I have formed a response in my mind advising the writer that his bile is not aimed at me but his fear and loathing of his own desires. I’m sure this will set him straight and we will become best mates any time soon and he will laugh at how he initially overlooked the obvious allusion of my ‘little DRacula outfit” to the unique and inspiring reciprocal altruism of the vampire bat. happy days.

See in a band its like a gang and it won’t matter if anyone threatens to kill me because they want to smother me in brie but can’t. But the truth is I have never experienced that exact level of loathing when looking out from a group only as a solo Mister Solo. This blog is indanger of sliding into self analysis but hey here goes you never know it could be part of a survival guide for my future band mates. I have never really formed a band - its always just happened. This is how i like to treat pictures and songs too - don’t get in the way of what’s gonna come out. My favourite art is when all those egos finally get out of the way but then unfortunately some artists spend the rest of their career believing it was their ego that created it. I digress.
So lets look at the idea of approaching the forming of a band sideways. A friend of mine called Harry Pye managed to form a band recently and at the same time turned the Sun and Doves into a work of art. It was amazing. Harry had painted a triptych based on a lesser know Lloyd Cole song “Forest Fire” and invited various musicians to come and perform a version of this tune infront of it one evening in May this year. There were some beautiful and diverse renditions and at the end we all got together and went through the entire genre menu on itunes and Forest fire lay panting in a pool of sweat somewhere near the front of the stage. It was marvelous to look around at Harry’s painting midway through the song and in the blink of an eye choose between using it as an aid memoire for the lyrics or lose myself in its colours and general sumptuousness. Amazingly the audience were able to be part of a real process of discovery very much like forming a band without forming angry vengeful thought about what a rip off the whole thing was. This was because it was a JOY! yes forming a band is a joy. This particular band never even had a name and strictly speaking was made up not just of various musicians but an artist, an audience and an urban pub building - bricks and mortar and everything. This is quite some feat of transubstantiation and we gaze on with slack jaws at Harry Pye’s conjuring.
This sideways band forming stance is informed by a suspision on my part of taking the band framework and just sticking to that. Case in point Primal Scream are the mirror (geddit?) of the velvet underground who were cool and nihilistic in a cool and nihilistic way not in a hey lets copy that idea cos its what cool is all about kind of way. Somewhere along the line for some being a band began to mean being mean and moody and generally a bit snotty because there is a propensity among the vaguely untalented to simply skim the surface and unwittingly become a simulacra. I found this on a Flikr site by way of explanantion. Simulacrum (plural: simulacra), from the Latin simulare, “to make like, to put on an appearance of”, originally meaning a material object representing something (such as an idol representing a deity, or a painted still-life of a bowl of fruit).

A sense of a “mere” image, an empty form devoid of spirit, and descended to connote a specious or fallow representation.

A copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy. The simulacrum, therefore, stands on its own as a copy without a model.For the rationalists out there what are the chances of a singer’s impersonation of Sir Mick jagger and Bernard Sumner actually turning him into an uber love child of both of these (now old and grumpy) gentlemen of rock. What you actually get is Tim burgess. Looked at like this bands are a rubbish shallow form of expression but we all know that bands are brilliant! A JOY in fact.

So our first rehearsal is booked in for next Friday and I still can’t decide if we have a name or if it continues as Mister Solo which when its a band is terrifyingly close to mr mister. Also the Voluntary Butler who produced the latest album is required on guitar so if you see him bang a gong.

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