Thursday, 30 September 2010
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010
Saturday, 25 September 2010
I never got to see all my favourite punk bands. I've since seen some of them live, and although I'm sure they never sounded as good, or played quite so well, they obviously lacked the naivety, the energy, and the youthful spirit that drove them through their finest 3 minutes. They were also playing venues the size of the Forum in Kentish Town and the Astoria, once to be found on the Charing Cross Road. I can't imagine what it would have been like to see the likes of the Stranglers or the Damned at the Hope & Anchor, where last night we put on another PUNK-ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP gig, featuring some of the oldest punks acts in town that you may not have heard of yet but you should have, namely Tres Retros,The Outbursts, Live Wires and The Lone Groover. Back in '76 it would have sounded much the same as it did last night, their just would have been more sweat, more spittle, more pogoing. Stuff, at our age, we could probably do without anyway, eh?
I had a punk band at school but we never graduated to real instruments from our cardboard ones. Last night I played electric guitar in my first proper punk band. I have to confess I was just a little nervous, mostly because I didn't want to let the Outbursts down. And it was a somewhat tentative debut when compared to the confident playing of the two guitarists that followed me in covering for the missing Neale Muldowney, but it was a start. And it was really fun.
It's not that I haven't played hard and fast before. I did in the 90s. Here's the link to proof. But we weren't technically a punk band. We certainly didn't look like one. And my guitar playing these days with Pocket Rocket is fairly clean, so sticking on all that distortion was refreshing. It was funny too not having to sing. Well, maybe funny is not the word. Different, is. I could have done some BVs too, had I been a little less worried about my C-G-Bs. Or at least, which order they came in.
Anyway, first up was stalwart of the RTYD live scene on both sides of the stage, Brian Caulfield, tonight playing punk-folk songsmith The Lone Groover, and later playing himself, punk fan and a supporter of live music locally.
As the Lone Groover, Brian got the ball rolling and the room warmed up, delivering a bespoke set of aptly chosen and dramatically executed cover songs of 7" inch punk classics, all of which he brought along on vinyl and displayed at his feet for all to reminisce over. He is the new star of the scene.
I wanted to make it up to the Live Wires after they took to the stage at the previous PUNK-RTYD gig closer to 11 o'clock than I like to go without a duvet over my head (FYI, I've always slept with the duvet over my head) (who cares? - Ed). Anyway, I love that they come to the scene with their black shirts, their jagged guitar riffs and one-word song titles; Like it's 1979; Like things are changing; Like the black before it's over-painted gold; Like the short hair before the flicks and the highlights.
Then it's my moment with The Outbursts, as described above. Two songs later, and it's all over. Just when I was relaxing into my new position, too. Following me, though, is deputy guitarist number two Paul Warwick of Trad Arr. He takes on some of the lead playing I couldn't possibly manage, with aplomb. And looks very 1978, to boot. Don't ever ask him to borrow his guitar strap, though (I should explain that, but get down to see him play with The Outbursts again, and all will be revealed).
Andy Golding, front man of Trad Arr, and guitarist with 80s band The Wolfhounds, is guitarist 3 and Thunderbird 1 to my Thunderbird 3. Or something. He starts by turning the amp up. Good idea. And proceeds to play the guitar with Hendrix-like extension-of-the-body proficiency, his tremolo arm rarely leaving his strumming hand. He is on fire, and adds a real vitality to the Outbursts sound. Go see them soon. And Trad Arr. And the Wolfhounds, when they play their reunion show at the Lexington, N1, in November.
I was introduced to Michael Fleck of Tres Retros by Otto from 14 Carat Grapefruit. Michael's musical career began in South Africa where he played with a punk band that enjoyed some success there. He came to England in the late 70s, and the early 80s for good. He saw the Clash and Sham and went to The Roxy, and did loads of other great things that I am totally envious of. Tonight his three piece turned all the knobs, pulled out all the stops and rocked like their lives depended on it. I wasn't sure what their punk 'schtick' was from their sound check, but their headling performance revealed that they clearly come from a pre-'76 US school of punk rock. This is confirmed by a cover of Search & Destroy and contradicted by a Lady Gaga one.
(Incidentally, as one has yet to surface, I'm offering a free RTYD T-shirt to the first person to send me a photo of me playing with the Outbursts)
Friday, 24 September 2010
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
Met with Helen Martin of Helen Martin Productions today. Helen's a promoter from down Brentford way. Adam Donovan of the Jetsonics, passed on her details to me.
Chose a lovely day for it, too, we did. I even took my DMs and socks off half way through the day, and put the old sandals back on, which was liberating.
We sat on the South Bank outside the National Theatre, shared our stories, and compared notes on promoting on the local live music scene. Helen gave up a proper job in probation not so long ago to focus on promoting. (Is she mad? - Ed). She is well connected. And has a more business-like approach to promoting than me, which isn't hard, I know.
She recently organised a charity gig with local musician Nick Lowe (Who? - Ed), on the bill. Her husband plays in a number of bands, including the Bitter Springs, and had some success back in the day as a professional musician. This seems to be a key motivator in her new enterprise.
She has some connection with a few old punk bands, which I hope will result in a co-presented gig at some point. So watch this space.
Monday, 20 September 2010
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Thursday, 16 September 2010
The Outbursts guitarist Neale Muldowney is out of action so the band have been forced to employ a series of guitar deputies to fill in him for him. Steve Istvanski of the Stabilisers picked up the first gauntlet, learning the a set of songs, with Mick Taylor-virtually-over-night efficiency. However, he is unable to commit temporarily to the role. His replacement is a small army of guitarists including Andy Golding and Paul Warwick of Trad Arr. and myself...of er, Pocket Rocket.
Last night was our first and only rehearsal before the Punk Rock-Til-You-Drop gig next week, Thursday 23rd October at the Hope & Anchor in Islington (Tres Retros, Live Wires and The Lone Groover also play). I haven't played in a punk band since the Playschool Barmy Army, my school punk band split circa 1983. It was an honour to be asked, and a pleasure to play with the band, who I love dearly.
I get to play the first two songs in the set next week, Law 'n' Order (an original) and Good Guys Don't Wear White (I don't know who this is by originally, but I am familiar with the Minor Threat version). The other boys have more songs to play, and are committing to further dates with the band. I better get my own house in order, as it were. House of PocRoc.
It was funny though being in someone else's rehearsal space. It was a bit like seeing a friend's bedroom when you were a kid. It was cool. New space. New toys. New sounds. And interesting to see how other bands rehearse. It was fun for me not to have to sing a lead vocal, and play simple conventionally-tuned bar and open chords in a straight ahead fashion with a lot of fuzz. I enjoyed it. And Matt Outburst kindly gave me a lift home from Tottenham Hale to Chalk Farm, during which we talked non-stop about our experiences of being in bands that both nearly made it in the 80s and 90s.
Forgot to get someone to take a photo me, though. Bummer.
It was the first Sunday back after the summer break and the sun shone down on the Borough and threw a beautiful light upon the small stage at the front of the Libertine pub in Great Suffolk Street.
Wheres Spot, comprising Chris, Jan and Dean, as pictured above, opened proceedings with some proper singing and three-part-harmony-heavy cover versions including a Beatles medley, An Englishman in New York and....er, Lindisfarne. I must say, I don't know who they are, or why they want to buy dreams from a dream seller, but I'm a little too scared to find out.
The whole event was being broadcast live to the web by RTYD member and Kryptic Klu guitarist Liam Barnes, whose video gig promotion enterprise Gigvert.com is using RTYD gigs as a testing ground for a proper business in the near future. I am honoured, and it's also good because it shows RTYD to be employing all the latest in digital media to promote itself.
Paul Chatterjee AKA 'Chats', lead guitarist with London's leading covers band Creak, was up next, to challenge himself to his first ever solo performance, about which he was suitably anxious. He was chatty, as his name suggests, and the audience's reception of his song choices seemed to tranquillise him somewhat. Though not too much, or he'd have had to sit or lie down.
The Lone Groover is a regular at the RTYD acoustic afternoon as well as a RTYD gigs in London. He has grown in confidence as a solo performer and since I first met him. His songs are rife with romanticism, nostalgia and protest at the current state of the world. They are protest songs for the RTYD generation.
Finally, Aaron Zimpel is Antipodean. Nothing wrong with that. Nice bloke. Great voice. He knows the boys from Creak. He sang soulful renditions of funky songs including Sexual Healing, Superstition and MissYou which were enthralling. Great stuff.
See you next time.
Tuesday, 14 September 2010
Peter Parker has taken off across the rooftops of the West End in search of a new home for his Rock 'n' Roll Club. The is a shame because I liked how ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP at Peter Parker's Rock 'n' Roll Club sounded. And I liked the guy. I hope we can co-brand events further down the road.
However, the good news is the new manager Isabelle is lovely and ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP will continue to put on events there on the first Saturday night of the month between 8-10pm.
The inaugural gig there on Saturday night went very well. Both bands made an event of the evening. The Lone Groover, Matt Russell of the Outbursts, Dove Jones and Liam Barnes of Kryptic Klu all turned out, too.
Liam's created a RTYD backdrop which was projected on the stage and looked great, and he took some film of the bands, which you can check out at ustream.tv/channel/gigvert.
FATKAT were super-professional and you can see why they are getting the supports to the likes of Eddie & the Hotrods and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. They, like The Beast (above) before them, have been going on and off since the 80s. They also have all their hair - more than their fair share in fact. So, as well as feeling inspired, I have to confess I also felt a tiny bit envious.
I videoed my bands rehearsal last night and had to sit through extended coverage of the back of my head, which I did not enjoy. I wouldn't mind losing my hair if I had a nice shaped head. And good teeth.
Note to self: Keep hat on at ALL times. And keep my mouth shut.
Monday, 13 September 2010
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Friday, 10 September 2010
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
I bought an album the other day. A new album by a contemporary group. Remember doing that? I'm sure some readers still do. Unfortunately, I listen to a lot of new stuff on Spotify these days and rarely buy CDs. My other source of new music, I'm proud to say, is of course bands associated with ROCK-TIL-YOU-DROP.
I often walk into record shops now and spend most of my time weighing up whether it is worth paying as little as three quid for a CD, when I can listen to it on Spotify. As for new releases at eight to ten quid, well, I had better go home and listen to it on Spotify before risking that sort of money! A sad state of affairs, really.
Anyway, as well as having my clothes fastidiously folded away Benetton-style, one of the perks of being married to my Californian wife is that most summers I get to visit the huge second-hand record shop that is Amoeba Records in Berkeley. However, as much as I look forward to visiting it, even there I have trouble parting with a few bucks. This summer, though, I took a risk - a 10 dollar risk - on the new Arcade Fire CD.
Now, I am one of those music fans who is wary of bands that are hip and happening and that are on the cover of the NME, and in the process I often miss boats containing bands like the Smiths and Arctic Monkeys. I then get into them when the media hype has died down, or they are in fact history. And when everyone seemed to be going ga-ga over Arcade Fire, I made a point of not listening to Arcade Fire. I can be so contrary.
The other thing is, I read music magazines about as often as I go to WHSmiths at Heathrow's Terminal 3, which is about as often as I go to the US. As a result, I'm easily impressed by a good record review, and ultra- suggestible. So on this trip I bought my annual copies of Mojo and Q, and in both I read a good review of Arcade Fire's new album. I then come across the CD in Amoeba in Berkeley and, as I said, I decide I will risk taking the word of a couple fo music magazine journalists, whose opinions I don't value and names I can't remember.
The album is entitled 'The Suburbs'. It is not conceptual but it does have a theme running though it about growing up in the 'burbs. This is a subject, their singer tells me on US radio, that is somewhat taboo in rock songs. Not mine, so maybe I relate, and that is part of the reason I buy.
It comes in a nice digipak with a glossy gatefold cover. Inside is also a booklet of lyrics. Self-consciously scribbled so as to be hard to follow, which is annoying, but lyrics to read all the same. Just like the old days.
We do a lot of driving in California as you might expect, but I quite enjoy it because like the music magazines, and trips to WHSmiths Heathrow and Amoeba Records Berkeley, I only do it about once a year. I like the right hand side of the road too, now. And being automatic, the cars out there are like big toys.
Anyway, we (my wife and daughter and I) make a point of taking my new album on every journey. We listen to the whole thing, which incidentally is a little long, but I know I like it from the word go. It's cohesive. It's dreamy and romantic without being wet and Coldplay. It's rocky US indie without being too REM. It has a full sound, a well-produced sound, it's clearly guitar driven and the songs' narratives and the overall sound are at times a little Springsteen-ish, without being too Springsteen-esque. We play it over and over. Track one and two begin to take, and we skip around a bit to expedite the process of enlightenment, and then before you know it, we are listening to the songs in between, and the album in its entirety. And of course it is the best, as well as the only, new album I've heard in a while.
It also inspires a guitar riff, which I realise on my sister-in-law's acoustic, and I begin working on my second song of the holiday. This keeps me out of the in-laws' hair.
So, if you haven't tried buying a new album by a contemporary band recently, do. It might just be worth every penny.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
And this will also be RTYD's maiden gig at this Denmark Street basement bar underneath what was formerly Regent Sounds Studio, where the Rolling Stones recorded their first album, the Kinks recorded 'You Really Got Me', Black Sabbath recorded 'Paranoid' and the Sex Pistols used to rehearse.
From 2nd October, when The Great Outdoor Experience play there, the plan is to put on monthly Saturday night 2-band gigs with performances between 8pm and 10pm. This means all those who want a reasonably night can have one. Those that don't, can stay on for the club or hit the West End.