Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Outbursts and Midnight Purple at the Libertine

The Outbursts headlined The Libertine at short notice last Saturday night. And they saved the day, as well as the night, by playing a great gig and bringing their very own Bromley Contingent, who were suitably vociferous and punk-rock, pogoing and heckling throughout their set.

The Outbursts go from strength to strength. Their onstage antics become more and more entertaining. By day, singer and fisherman Ian Breslin works for Bromley Mencap and when he gets the chance dresses as Postman Pat to entertain children (and adults, I'm sure), but by night he dons the mohair, the bondage, and transforms and regresses to punk stereotype. Like the band and its music, his performance is funny without ever being embarassing; if Eric Morecombe had ever impersonated Johnny Rotten, this is how he would have done it.

Support came from Brazilian pop-rockers Midnight Purple who are over here for a week to play a few shows including the student union at the Institute of Education in central London on 28th and 29th January (7-8pm). Blag your way in if you can. Unphased by technical problems during soundcheck, as the room warmed up with noise and people, they were soon firing on all cylinders. Very professional.

Istvanski's Killercast: Depcast #14

Below is a link to Istvanski's Killercast: Depcast #14.

For the uninitiated, Istvanski's depcasts are his podcast radio shows. This particular one features songs about killing and murder as chosen, and discussed around the kitchen table, by Istvanski, Colin Gillman and myself.

I hope you enjoy it. You can listen to it, and/or download it, here:

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Rock til you drop, not just til Christmas

I've made a lot of new friends as a result of setting up ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP. Nice people that I expect to keep in touch with for many more years. A particularly special friend is Colin Gillman. And the other night, before the arrival of another new friend, Steve 'Istvanski', with whose recording equipment and expert knowledge we would all later that evening be recording a podcast radio show of songs about killing and murder, Colin and I were discussing music that we wanted played at our funerals. No surprise that we both picked eleven minute songs.

While we were talking on the subject, it reinforced for me the deeper meaning behind the 'clever' name, ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP. The fact that most of us really mean it. That we're in this together now. We have created a loop. A social circle. We now know where to find each other, at least on-line, if not on the telephone, and in the real world too. We have each other to turn to for advice. For information. For counselling. This is for life, and not just 'til Christmas.

This common ambition is what brings us together; Me, Colin and Steve, for example, around that kitchen table the other night. The commitment. The shared love of making and listening to rock music. That is what we have signed up for. For the duration, for the longevity. Because we all believe that this is one of a very few things that is certain. The fact that we will be rocking 'til we die; give or take a few days, when we may well be dosed up to the eyeballs with morphine and won't be able to remember our names, let alone what 'rock' is.

To that end, I have set up a temporary home for the Members' Obituaries. Not wanting to tempt fate or anything. But before long, someone will 'drop', and it'd be nice to be prepared, and to have a place for others to share their memories, and pay tribute.

As well as Facebook, I mean.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A Rock-Til-You-Drop moment

It's never nice to have a band cancel on you ten days before a gig. But when this happened to me on Wednesday, I did the sensible thing, crossed my fingers, and sent an email out to my 'London Bands' emailing list.

And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and heartened by the eager response by a good number of bands happy fill the slot. Five! I think that's pretty good. It was, what has come to be known as, a ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP-MOMENT: a situation that arises, even in the world of (usually) reliable mature musicians, which calls for the network to do its job, and to fulfill its purpose. Which it did.

To be fair to the band that cancelled, I should mention that their lead singer/guitarist was more than happy to make a solo appearance. That also says something about the spirit of many of the members of RTYD. But in the end, it wasn't necessary.

Thanks then, to The Beast, The Moths, Bang To Rights, The Gowletts, and finally The Outbursts who pipped the others to the post and will be performing once again for RTYD on Saturday 23rd January at the Libertine in Borough. KO 8pm. Free entry.

Now I'm looking forward to it again.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Outbursts have kindly stepped in to replace TGOE at The Libertine, Gt Suffolk St. SE1, Sat. 23rd January. Midnight Purple support. Free.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Still Gigging. Still blogging. Still tweeting

I picked up the phone today. I should be doing much more of this in 2010. I hate phones. At least I hate talking on them. Drop-kicking them is fun.

Anyway, today I spoke to Neil Fishwick who runs Nice bloke. Much like me, Neil had an epiphany one day; his was a couple of years ago whilst driving his car, and inspired by hearing the Stray Cats on the radio. I wonder whether they're still gigging, he thought? And so it was. The name 'en all.

His website is "a place for legends", and a place for fans and musicians alike to "rediscover, relive & share musical memories". It has a website and a Facebook page. Neil is a music fan, not a musician, and he doesn't promote, but he aims to provide a place on-line for bands who were once more famous than they are today, to be found and to promote themselves.

Sounds similar, don't it? So we shared some anguish and frustration over running our respective sites and social networking and stuff, and by the end I know I sounded thoroughly depressed. I hate phones. I hate social networking. On-line. It's doing my head in. The constant tweeting and pinging.

After the call, I remembered loads of things I should have mentioned like the franchising of the gigs, and the Q&A I want to do with him. See what I mean? I can't think straight on the phone. I hate 'em. Anway, suffice it to say, I hope to stay in touch with Neil in the future, and maybe one day even 'do business' of some kind together. You knows?

Right now though, I'm turning this off and going to watch my Nirvana 'Live at Reading' DVD. And take myself back to a muddy, rainy Sunday night in August 1992. And someone else's pain.

After I've tweeted this of course.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Miss World 2009

'State of the union' stream of consciousness: Part 1

So where's it all going in 2010? Rock-Til-You-Drop, I mean.

I dunno. I got ideas. But I can't see how to make any money from any of them. After a long 'state of the union' telephone consultation with my PR consultant friend Mr Colin Gillman recently, we came to the realisation that this is largely because I don't have the business head.

I don't think like a businessman. I think more like a philanthropist. I know all these bands now, surely there's a way of making some money from this? Enough to make a living wage. Should I start a management company? A record label? A distribution company? Should I promote more, and bigger, gigs?

Probably. Possibly. Maybe.

I'm too altruistic, too honest, though (my wife said 'honest' - not me). I don't know how to be mean or ruthless. I don't like the sound of the word 'exploit'. It's a fucker. Like Miss World 2009 and all the Miss Worlds before her, I just want to help people.

So should I resign myself to the fact that I won't be able to make a successful business of it, and simply 'hobbify' the whole thing? Or should I try harder, and get a business head. Develop a business plan. Pick up the phone to more influential music business types, the press etc.

I could, but I'm also running out of time.

When I completed my fine art degree as a mature student in May 2008, with the support and encouragement of my wife, I left my salaried position at the clinic. It was getting me down after 13 years. I have continued to work for them on freelance basis but the work doesn't amount to much in terms of money - a few hundred quid a month. So when I came up with the ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP idea in October 2008, I thought I could possibly make this into some type of business.

You know the rest.

I've since got myself more work - one or two days a week - at a secondary school in my capacity as 'artist', which brings in more money. But my wife works full-time. She's the main breadwinner, and she's losing patience with me and my RTYD 'enterprise'. I understand. Maybe, I should spend more time looking for a new career. Getting a new full-time job, doing something 'creative'.

I am spending virtually every working hour on RTYD. I got lists and lists of things to do. Ways to improve it. But why, does anyone care? Is anyone really reading or noticing? Maybe in London. But what about Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol etc? What am I doing for mature musicians outside London? Not much.

I want to do more, but I feel overwhelmed by the amount of ideas. The time it will take to get them of the ground.

I have to streamline the on-line aspect anyway. For instance, I can't be dealing with the musicians' ads anymore. It's too much work. I'm closing those down, at least until I can get them automated.

I need a web-developer who's gonna help me 'for the love of it'. Because I can't afford to pay one. I need people to run RTYD nights outside London, and to make some money from those too. I need to believe in myself. I need help. I need to learn to delegate.

Enter violins.

Enough already.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

1000 Die Hard fans

If you haven't read the FingerTipsMusic article called Farewell to the Casual Music Fan, you should, before you read this blog entry. It is a written in response to another blog entitled 1000 True Fans by one Kevin Kelly. Both were posted at the end of last year.

Put simply Kelly puts forward a theory that any musician who can establish a fan base of 1000 die hard or true fans that will spend at least $100 dollars a year on his or her music and merchandise, can make enough to live on. (For bands, multiply these figures by the number of members).

Kelly advocates targeting true fans and side-lining the casual or lesser fans. The latter will of course also spend something from time to time, but can hopefully be drawn into true fandom with time and/or enough good product.

If, like me, you have a record collection that comprises a large percentage of records by bands that you would consider yourself to be a casual fan of, this makes for quite depressing reading.

Just by chance after reading this article I received a email from Lloyd Cole of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions fame, not a personal one but a mailing list one. In it he outlines his plan to raise $60,000 in pre-orders for his new CD in order to fund its recording. His record company, he says can't afford to do so. They would rather plough the little they do have into promotion and publicity. God! I think. How the mighty pop star hath fallen.

But when you think about it, does Cole have a choice apart from following this business model? Without this model, he, like us, would have to get a 'proper' job. Imagine being sold a mobile phone by Lloyd Cole. Or Lloyd Cole working the checkout at Sainsbury's. Or Lloyd as your postman. Your therapist. I could go on; but this is (sort of) serious.

Does this all affect us? Us hobbyists trying to knock out 500 CDs we just pressed? We make CDs, and we hope to distribute them as widely as possible, don't we? So a few thousand die hard fans buying our CDs, pre-ordering them too, and buying our T-shirts, would be unbelievable. Right?

But getting 1000 true fans each? That is a lot of work. And as you know, in most bands there's one, maybe two, people who do all that kind of work. It's a bitch.

No, most of us won't have to worry about a business model for our band. We just have to worry about getting another gig after the last one that no bugger turned up to. But as music fans, this sort of polarisation will impact on us. I don't know about you, but I'm still keen to hear new music. There's only so much classic rock that can be repackaged and regurgitated. So where am I gonna find new music now?

Genre-ised commercial radio. Maybe? Genre-ised internet radio? Maybe? But where's the variety?

First Top of the Pops got the chop, and took the Charts with it. Don't ask me what's number one, I don't know anymore. And these days it appears that musical genres only really collide at big festivals. If you can get and afford tickets, or you enjoy mud and camping and sniffer-dogs at your ankles, festivals are the place for you, once a year, to hear something you wouldn't normally.

There's always watching it on TV, too, I suppose.

The point is, the music business will only become more polarized by this 1000 true fan model, and the collective experience of enjoying the same song for the same few weeks so that it becomes a smash hit that we all remember so well, is over.

It's a bit like TV. It used to be that we all watched the same TV because there was only three or four channels, and one good programme. Enter satellite and cable and very few of us watch the same TV, save the odd TV phenomenon, such as Xfactor or I'm a Celebrity. And when you say to someone, "did you see that programme the other night on BBC4?", they invariably say "No, I missed it, I was watching Ugly Betty. Or was it CSI: Miami?".

There's always the iPlayer, I suppose.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010