Saturday, 29 August 2009

Colin Gillman: A RTYD Case Study #3

The news Friday evening is that Colin has had another bite from the PartySounds site. This time it's a 53 year old 5-string bass player from Slough. He's into The Faces apparently, which of course ticks a big box on Colin's checklist, and Deep Purple - well I'm not sure about them. But Colin sounds buzzed about this guy.

The guitarist guy I mentioned in Case Study #2 seems to have freed himself from Colin's line. Colin reckons he scared him off. Surely not!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Arctic Monkeys, Wembley Arena, 26 August 2029

My name is Toby Burton. I am 42, and I am an Arctic Monkeys fan.

There’s nothing unusual about that, is there?

Well, there obviously is ‘cos last night at the Arctic Monkeys gig at the Brixton Academy, I was not surrounded by my greying, balding, sagging peer group, as I usually am at gigs these days.

Now, had it not been for my wife, who knows all the best news sites, and some of the worst, and who picked up on this fansite-members-only show, I would probably have had to wait until something like 2029 to finally get to see the Arctic Monkeys. This is mainly 'cos I won't pay the over-inflated prices of gig tickets these days, but also 'cos I'm so out-of-touch with gig news that shows are often sold-out by the time I get round to attempting to buy a ticket.

So come the summer of 2029, the boys are in their 40s, and doing a greatest hits comeback tour which includes 3 nights at Wembley Arena (if it’s still standing – Ed). The thing is they have gotten too big for their comeback-boots and have added a fourth night which doesn’t sell as well as they expect. This is how and when I eventually get a ticket. I am 62, and most of those in the audience are still youngsters at 45-50.

Anyway, last night’s gig is a warm up for their appearance at the Reading Festival on the weekend. Tickets have gone on sale, on a first come-first-serve basis, maximum of two per person, to fansite members, which includes my wife. Tickets are named and ID is required for entry. While this seems like a palaver, this is a great way to beat the touts, and those buying tickets to sell at inflated prices on the internet. I hate those bastards.

The support is Very Special Guests that turn out to be a ‘supergroup’ called 'Them Crooked Vultures' comprising Josh Homme of QOTSA, Dave Grohl, John-Paul Jones of Led Zep and some other guy, who co-produced the Arctic Monkey’s lastest LP with Homme.

Now you might think, this is going to be great, what a line-up! Well, like the star-studded Poseiden Adventure, it is not. It is a total bore. The sound in the half-full Academy is atrocious. This is not helped by the fact each and every member of the band has to play constantly through the set. There is no room in the music. Grohl is tubthumping and shows no sophistication or creativity, it’s all clich├ęd drum fills and lacks any sensitivity. He is no John Bonham, that’s for sure. It worked for Nirvana, but it doesn’t work here. It only exacerbates the dreadful grunge-prog-rock-dirge. Occasionally, you hear the faintest hint of a song. But it is soon gone, or bypassed, in favour of further stuttering turgid over-complicated riffs and ‘bits’. They play for an hour. An hour of new riffs, new ‘bits’ and time signatures, and a few useless guitar solos. I am so bored I can’t stand it. The audience at the front are stationary. Probably gobsmacked that all this talent cannot make anything resembling a decent noise. But they cheer and applaud because they are English and polite like that.

We wait at least thrity minutes for the stage to be re-set for the Monkeys, and the wait is worth while. They come on and immediately sound fantastic. Which is a hard task in the echoey, capacious Academy. Their noise is a thing of beauty, so well crafted. Tight as you like. It has definition and clarity. It has tune. It's the sound of real buddies. Of best friends. It doesn’t harp back. It looks forward. It a new noise. No one makes a noise like this.

They open with My Propeller off their new album Humbug. They follow it by making Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand, sound like their own compostion, before playing their current single Crying Lightning, which employs Turner’s now classic vocal octave-gear shift, something Stephen Malkmus and Pavement perfected too. They play a good mix of songs from their three albums and unlike Them Crooked Vultures, use down-tempo numbers to break up the barrage of rock noise a bit. They encore with 505, a song that has clearly developed into a live favourite for both band and audience.

I didn’t buy or get into the first Arctic Monkeys LP, until after I got into the second. As is usual with me, I tend to be so cynical of bands hyped by the media, that I choose to stubbornly ignore them. I then find myself having to investigate them retrospectively. I did this with The Smiths too. Serves me right, I suppose. I bought Favourite Worst Nightmare on the day of its release, can't remember why, and it is now one of my favourite LPs of all time. I prefer it to the first LP. I’ve yet to fully listen to the new album, cos I'm looking for 45 minutes to sit down, alone, to give it my undivided.

Back to the gig.

I am so inspired by rock music like this. Alex Turner’s wit and verboseness inspires me and takes me back to the days when I could pour lyrics out. A couple of joints and the pen wouldn’t stop. Then it was a case of editing them into a song. I miss that.

Matt Helders is an astonishingly good drummer. It’s the negative space. It’s what he doesn’t play, quite often that makes what he proceeds to play so fucking good. His snare too is so on-it. And his drum patterns make beautiful sense of Turner’s riffs which veer from the childishly simple, to the jerkingly offbeat.

They’ve grown their hair too, no doubt inspired by the time spent in an American studio in the desert recording there new album. If I was 21, I’d be doing the same. But I am 42, and simply cannot.

Oh the hair. I’ve said it before, I miss the hair.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Colin Gillman: A RTYD Case Study #2: Colin's 'Gone fishing'

And the latest is that he has already had a couple of bites on PartySounds. Both sound promising.

The first, a lead guitarist/songwriter, formerly of a black-T-shirted heavy rock band, who have been know to do the odd tribute to Lizzy and the like, has his own studio, transport and has experience of playing as one-half of a twin lead-guitar section. Perfect for Col's vision. And he can collaborate with Colin on the songwriting. He is from the 'south' of England, Colin's not sure where exactly.

The second is a bass player. I can't remember what Colin said about this guy but he sounded worth meeting and/or trying out.

Colin is a little taken aback by the speed of the responses. I think he needs to act fairly quickly or they might wriggle free of his line.

Click here to see Colin's ad on RTYD.

To be continued.

Monday, 24 August 2009

No nutters, stalkers or political activists: Just three guitars, a hammond organ, bass, drums and two backing singers, preferably black.

So it seems that I witnessed the final Magic Ship gig on Saturday night. At least Magic Ship fronted by one Faces-obsessed, Hawaiian shirted, Colin Gillman.

Colin has left Magic Ship, and he is keen to branch out creatively. To move away from the trappings of Magic Ship's brand of classic rock and explore melody and instrumentation beyond guitar, bass and drums.

So I thought, well he actually thought - 'cos he's the PR consultant - that it might make an interesting 'case study'-type thing to follow his progress on my blog. I think he's right, so I'm gonna give it a shot. From one man and a musical vision to a three guitar line-up with Hammond organ, drums, bass, and backing singers - preferably black. The ads, the auditions, the doubt and the dilemmas, the joy and the jealousy (not sure about that last one -Ed) - I'm gonna attempt to cover it all.

Colin has already posted an ad to the RTYD Musicians' Ads pages, and I believe to He has been to but found nothing but a bunch of youngsters.

Now, he actually already has drummer and RTYD member Roy Phillips on board, which is great. Roy's a fantastic drummer, and a bit of an all-rounder by all accounts, so he and Colin are planning to work up a few songs with two acoustics over the next few weeks and play at one of my acoustic gigs at The Libertine in the near future. Just to keep the juices flowing, like.

And why not.

So watch this space.

The latest is, he's been down the Offy to get some beers in. Unfortunately, they are all out of his beloved London Pride. He is dumbfounded. He is incredulous. He is.... living in a lager-obsessed drinking culture. Poor bastard - I hate that too.

Friday, 21 August 2009

The mud that didn't stick; And how to feel lucky and ashamed at the same time

Had to clear my art studio today. I can't afford to keep renting it. I can't even afford the artist's materials. I simply can't afford to be an artist. Neither could Van Gogh, I know, but he wasn't a mature musician, a budding-promoter, a freelance drug treatment co-ordinator, and stay-at-home dad, as well as an artist. At least I don't think he was? (He wasn't - Ed)

So what could I be? A teacher? Possibly. It's a career move, I suppose. Which is what was aiming for when I went back to school to get my first degree 5 years ago. So I should be making something resembling a career move at this point. I am 42. I'd need to go back to school for at least another year, though. Which means at least another year without any money. I do miss having money. I've got to the point that I'm looking at the parking attendants and envying them their salary.

See, the wife is the bread winner. Now should I feel emasculated by this? Should I feel ashamed? Or just very lucky. Or both? That's it, I do, I feel lucky, lucky to have the opportunity to throw mud for a while, and somewhat, slightly, ashamed - at the same time?

A small amount of work at the clinic is bringing a few quid to pay for RTYD flyers and stuff. And the year started so well 'cos thankfully even junkies make new year's resoultions. Usually, as soon as the cold turkey sandwiches come out. (That's not funny - Ed) But since about May it's gone very quiet, with only the occasional three-thousand-four-hundred quid being taken out of a branch of the UTFB (Under The Floorboards Bank) to fund a quick fix rapid detoxification.

So, I'm 42, and I'm still wondering what the hell it is I want to do with my life. The thing that plays on mind, of course, is this effing Rock-Til-You-Drop. Could I make a business out of it? Or not. Or am I dreaming, all over again?

There's no money in promoting, not yet anyway, and not for a while, I'm sure. But what if I was to introduce a premium membership of the the online social network with an annual fee? What could I offer Mr M. Musician, aged 48, of Farnham, Surrey who wants to connect with other musicians but doesn't know where to start? What would justify that fee? Is a 25 quid annual fee, worth paying to get you back in the loop? And is the loop big enough yet?

Could I limit access to the musicians' adverts to premium members? Could there be a service whereby premium members can have their music/releases/web presence critiqued by other premium members or a panel of 'experts'? Could I limit postings to the gig calendar to premium members' bands? Or offer to promote all premium members' gigs to my mailing list? Could I limit other aspects of the site, too?

Could I also go to bed without thinking about it?

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Help wanted

So once I finished the blog last night, I shared some of my frustrations with the wife. She reckons I need help to run Rock-Til-You-Drop if its gonna be successful, but that my problem is I am unable to delegate. I think: who the hell is gonna help me with a non-money-making enterprise like RTYD?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Have flyers, will flyer

18 years ago you would have often found me, and my very supportive partner at that time, standing outside the Camden Falcon in all weather, handing out A5 photocopied flyers to promote my band's gigs around town.

In the next few weeks, you may well find me again with hand outstretched, bearing a flyer (full colour, these days! - Ed), though not outside The Falcon, 'cos like many venues of the early-90s, it has since been turned into flats (that's another blog - Ed again).

This month I'll be mostly flyering the Punk-Rock-Til-You-Drop gig at the Dublin Castle on Wednesday 16th September.

Now, there's a series of punk gigs at the Underworld in the next couple of weeks, which would be good to flyer. There's one tonight, but the wife's out, so that ain't gonna happen. Never used to have that problem, of course, 18 years ago; the 'wife' then would come too. That 'wife' and I, though, didn't have a 6 year old daughter.

I'd like to get out to see more gigs, flyer more gigs, meet more people, and bands, but there just isn't the time there used to be to do such old fashioned things.

Did get out to see The Gowletts the other night in Willesden, and I'm going to see Magic Ship at the Half Moon in Putney on Saturday night. But more often than not, I am duty-bound to stay in and forced to promote Rock-Til-You-Drop to the outside world, like this. And I fucking hate the pressure to blog, too. That Colin Gilman is a natural. Not me.

I will have already spent bloody hours doing god-knows-what and appearing to achieve very little, before I get round to the matter of the blog. I also feel too guilty to spend too long at the computer. I spend a lot of time with my daughter at home, and I don't wanna give her the impression that being on the computer is most of what I do. Or more importantly, what she should do. I'm sure that's a modern-parenting hang-up; it used to be watching too much TV, now it's spending too much time on the computer that is the concern. It's probably my fault that my daughter is already working on her own website and .com business. Thankfully, though, she also likes drawing, and is already showing an interest in making music.

So I get back on it (the computer, that is) when she's in bed, and by 11:00pm, my hands ache, my back aches, my eyes are burning, my head is spinning. Like now. I have to stop. But there's still so much more to do. Like the links on this blog. Then the wife comes in, in a loquacious mood after a few too many, and wants to chat. And I can't listen, cos I just wanna get this fucking thing finished.

I'll shut up about it now.

Anyway, the next punk gig at the Underworld that is worth flyering is on a night that I am rehearsing with my band - so that's out, too. Another is on a Sunday night. Great! Going out at 10:30 on a Sunday night to flyer a fucking gig.

I hope you enjoyed the blog, anyway.

Friday, 7 August 2009

It's a dirty gig but someone's gotta play it

Now in Oakland where I have use of an acoustic guitar. Already got a riff to play with that continues in the vein of recent songs I’ve been writing. A choppy 2-chord riff with offbeat 6ths or 7ths or 11ths (or whatever they are?) which opens out into verses, and closes down between verse and chorus forming a musical hook. No words, no chorus. But this is something to work on, which is what I like, and need, on holiday.

Rock-Til-You-Drop moment 1: At the American Legion Social Club in Newport Beach watching a covers band which comprises: a keyboard player/singer, tall, thin and muscular with greying Coverdale-style hair and tight T-shirt, who is covering lead and bass lines, Manzarek style; an upstanding drummer/percussionist; and a saxophone player. They are doing covers of the Eagles, the Cars and other MOR US standards to entertain right-wing ex-military types who are drinking, dancing and flipping burgers; Its dirty gig, but someone’s gotta play it.

The North Will Rise Again by John Robb is a great read. Musicians, DJs, promoters and scenesters reminiscing about the Manchester music scene since the Pistols came to play there in the summer of 1976 and inspired so many bands to form, including The Buzzcocks, The Fall, and Joy Division. One of the most interesting aspects for me is reading about the part my hairdresser Andrew Berry played in the early-80s scene there, as a DJ and hairdresser at the Hacienda and other clubs. His friend Johnny Marr described him as an exotic character and incredibly important. Every 6-8 weeks when he cuts my hair at Viva in Soho, Andy and I talk about music especially punk and Roxy Music and Bowie, and although I was aware of his friendships with Johnny Marr, Bernard Sumner, and Jon Savage and so on, he is modest about his importance to the whole scene back in the 80s. He was even issued a Factory number (FACT 98) for his role as Hacienda DJ and hairdresser, and promoted the first Smiths gig among other cool things.

Rock-Til-You-Drop moment 2: Meeting a nice guy in Sausalito called Sanjeev Brar, a musician working for a small business run by a relative of my father-in-law. His band is called The Worship of Silence. I showed him the RTYD sites and we chatted for a while about some of the problems we shared getting good, and regular, gigs. The venues that his band plays sound much like many of those in London, in that bands get paid if they bring enough people through the door. They too suffer from dwindling peer group support and the best gigs they play, he says, are to University students.