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Blog Archive: December 2010

Recording Sessions
End of year greetings, one and all! Sorry to have been incommunicado lately, but it has been for the best of all reasons: The reason of ROCK!

For LO! for the past several days various validators and cohorts have been hard at work in Derby working on overdubs for the Dinosaur Planet concept album. On Tuesday Robbie and Rich put some final touches to the sound effects on the dialogue sections, then next day Tom, Tim, Emma and I gathered to do OVERDUBS. We had a LOT of fun! On Thursday me and Tom went back in to work on the dialogue sections, and then today Tim and Emma returned to finish off Emma's vocals and do a bit more overdubs, including THE CHILDREN'S CHOIR.

We didn't really have time to do proper mixing, which is a shame, as it sounds SO INCREDIBLE i just want to have it all at home to listen to all the time. Honestly, if you ever thought we were going a bit far with the SOUND PICTURE before you are going to be A Bit Surprised by quite how much further we have gone - some might say it makes Sergeant Pepper sound like The Texas Campfire Tapes... in fact, I'd really like it if they did, as it is KIND OF like that!

It's also been METRIC TONNES of GOOD TIMES, as you can probably tell from these video snippets:

We'll be back in next year to finish it off, and hopefully by NEXT New Year's Eve it'll all be done, made, and available to buy. For now though it must remain, like so many things, a beautiful dream of the year to come. Let's hope for LOTS of those to come true - Happy New Year everyone, and see you on the other side!

posted 31/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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It's The 29th Day Of December!
A very happy 29th Day of December, one and all! I'm off to Derby today to give the Dinosaur Planet concept album a right good going over and then, even MORE importantly, heading out for the traditional Validators Christmas Curry with a FULL set of Validators gathered together in the same hemisphere for the first time in almost six months.

While we're away, please enjoy once more our ode to this most special of days and, whatever you're doing today, I sincerely hope it is delightful to you!

posted 29/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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The Christmas Message
This morning you discover me dashing around finishing things off, drawing to a close some of this year's MIGHTY PROJECTS.

Last night I sent the latest Totally Acoustic Podcast out into the world, and BY JINGO it is (if you will excuse a little festive merriment) a RIGHT Christmas Cracker! Truly, it was a beautiful night of fun which I believe we managed to capture on tape, and a fitting end to a LOVELY season of gigs. I'm EXTREMELY relieved that it all worked out so well, and am already EAGER for next year's round of shows!

And this morning I've JUST sent out the latest edition of The Last Working Day Of The Month with a large batch of FACTS and THANKS to end the year with. It really has been a BLOODY GRATE year for EXCELLENT projects and events, and it's not even over yet - there's still a couple of sessions booked for Dinosaur Planet before New Year's and, most important of all, The Validators' Christmas Curry - but for now I feel that much of the work is DONE, allowing me to open a beer and get myself geared up for the Doctor Who Christmas Special.

I'll hopefully be back for more blogging before the year ends and will doubtless continue to get All Sentimental, but I'd just like to say, at this most SENTIMENTAL time of the year, that i really REALLY appreciate the fact that people can be bothered to read me - basically - SHOWING OFF on these pages on an almost daily basis, and look forward to sharing EVEN MORE of it with you in the future. Have a GRATE Christmas everyone!

posted 23/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic
Every time we do a Totally Acoustic i WORRY about it - will the room be booked? will the acts come? Will any audience? Will TOO MANY audience come? It always works out OK, but this time it worked out PERFECTLY.

Things got off to a SLIGHTLY worrying start in that there were PEOPLE in the room when I went up there - a couple sat in a corner and a large table of POSH people in BOW TIES and the like. They didn't seem to want to go, but eventually shifted POLITELY - at which point the whole room LEAPT into action to shift furniture round. It was CROWD-SOURCED action in ACTION! Everyone was chatting and laughing as we moved tables around, and that pretty much set the tone for the evening. Everything was PERFECT!

I came on to do my bit and looked around to see a room PRECISELY packed - it was JUST right with everyone sat down and a few LURKING at the back. Everyone was in mince-pie and sparkly star (NB not drugs slang, The Boughs On My Christmas Tree had bought some Sparkly Stars with her to SPRINKLE around and add to the festivities) fuelled HIGH SPIRITS so i had a LOVELY time doing THIS:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • The Gay Train
  • A Million Ukeleles
  • Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine
  • Walking In A Winter Wonderland
  • I Got You What You Want For Christmas
  • The Advent Calendar Of FACT

  • The aforesaid Decorations On My Tree had ALSO printed out some SONGSHEETS for me, so we had a RAUCOUS singalong for the themetune and some GRATE joining in at various points, as you'll hear on the podcast, although I did LOSE THE ROOM just before I Got You What You Want For Christmas when everybody compared Wish Lists. It sounds very funny on my recording, as i DISAPPEAR beneath the chat - tho i think I will REMOVE it from the auditory record!

    We had a short break and then Andy Pocketbooks came on and did that RARE thing: a THEMED set! He kicked off with a Christmas song and then did SEASONAL SONGS. This was clever, also BEAUTIFUL, not least because it involved him singing "Footsteps", which is my FAVOURITE. Hearing him do his songs in this environment, rather than LOUDLY and with the band, meant we got to hear the way his/their words WORK in a UNIQUE style - the PHRASING of the words in pocketbooks is singular to them, in a GRATE way, and hearing them on their own (nearly) like that reminded me of what an ACE bunch of songs they are. I'm playing with them in Birmingham in the New Year, i look forward to this IMMENSELY!

    Now, I must admit, by the time Chris T-T came on i MAY HAVE HAD A BEER, for LO! I suddenly found myself getting QUITE EMOTIONAL during my introduction, tho it was but THE TRUTH. He then came on and, as expected, was FANTASTIC. i just think he's brilliant, as happily did the rest of the room - I especially liked the fact that he had a group of FANS in who knew all the words and SANG ALONG, especially especially because they did so in a RESPECTFUL low tone. It was as if he was plugged into an octave pedal, as throughout it sounded like there was a low rumble of deep harmonies.

    The whole set was fantastic, and he even did my favourite of HIS songs which is "Seven Hearts". Possibly because I ASKED him to do so when I shoved him back on for an well deserved encore, but still, it's a fantastic song that ALWAYS moves me, and did so once again.

    It was all really REALLY good, and I was extremely chuffed to be finishing on such a high. ALL of the shows this season have been GRATE and FUN, and I'm delighted that we've had so many people listening in on the podcasts, but it was brilliant to finish off with one that had such a lot of people actually IN the room too! Thanks very much if you were there, and thanks ALSO if you've been listening in - I'm going to try and get the podcast done TODAY, as it's too Christmassy not to!

    posted 22/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Christmas Number One: We did it!!
    MJ Hibbett & The Validators would like to thank everyone who helped them to achieve their aim of NOT getting to Christmas Number One this year.

    "We're especially excited", says MJ Hibbett, "because, with the possible exception of Simon Cowell, we're the only group whose Christmas Number One campaign was in any way successful!"

    The campaign began a few weeks ago when the band decided NOT to try and get their Christmas single "The 29th Day Of December" to the top of the charts. "So many people try for the Christmas Number One these days that it's become routine", said violinist Tom 'The Tiger' McClure. "We decided to go the other way - and succeeded!"

    "The 29th Day Of December" was accompanied by a stop-motion animation which has similarly managed not to top the YouTube charts. "That wasn't part of our original intention", says drummer Tim Pattison, "but it's a nice extra Christmas present for all of us."

    The advantages of the band's victory are many. Just this morning bass player Frankie Machine didn't have to get up extra early to appear on "Daybreak" to talk about it. Singer Emma Pattison, meanwhile, didn't have to cancel an appearance on The Andrew Marr show when her flight home was delayed by snow. "Being stuck in an airport was stressful enough", she remarked by telephone, "without having to reschedule TV appearances!"

    Now that the campaign has achieved its goal the group are happy to relax for the festive period. The album is still very much available to buy online from and if anybody now wants to purchase it The Validators will not stand in their way. "It still won't get to number one, because it's not registered for the charts," says MJ, "But if millions of people want to suddenly buy it there's not much we can do about it, except to say thanks very much, and Merry Christmas!"

    posted 20/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back To The Bull and Gate
    Things went a bit KRAZY yesterday - just after lunch I was sat at my desk feeling a bit TIRED OUT from all the recent ACTION, but very much looking forward to seeing my friend and colleague Mr S Hewitt later on for a) beers b) a trip to LIMEHOUSE to see Billy Bragg. HOORAH!

    Then my phone went BLEEP with a message from Ms P Blackham - Penny manages The Crookes, who were playing at Steve Lamacq's "Going Deaf For A Living" do at The Bull & Gate that night. Their support act had had to pull out at the last minute, she said, so would I be able to fill in as a last minute SUB?

    PANIC! Yes, I very much WOULD like to do that, but could I? SHOULD i? I really wanted to see Billy Bragg, but then I would really like to do the gig too... INDECISION reigned, until I immediately saw what i SHOULD do. So i DID - i rang The Tea In My Mug to ask HER. "Do BOTH!" she replied, and formulated a CUNNING PLAN.

    SPEED was of the essence so, like something out of the 1980s, i TELEPHONED people! I know! Using the POWER OF SPEECH I first checked with Steve that THE PLAN was OK with him and then, having affirmation, told Penny that I'd love to, as long as I could go on first. This TOO was confirmed, and we were GO!

    Steve and I met in The Pineapple, the LOVELY pub just round the corner from The Bull & Gate, where he told me all about his recent ACTIVITIES. HELLS BELLS! I suddenly felt like a MASSIVE LIGHTWEIGHT for being A Bit Tired after a couple of outings and some travel, as Mr Hewitt had spent the last week at Karaoke, Bowlie (THREE DAYS of INTENSE Not Going To Bed), to see The Wedding Present and at Christmas DO's! I was surprised he was still STANDING, and even more so that he was able to WALK round the corner, through the snow, to The Bull & Gate.

    Aaaah! The Bull & Gate! Location of SO MANY GRATE NIGHTS over the past... well, let's just say LONG TIME. Everything felt the same - the bar was still packed, you still walk through the toilets to get to the back room, the landlord is still grumpy, the beer is still horrible, the sounds is still GRATE, the "dressing room" even SMELLS the same. Best of all the sound man STILL says the immortal words "It will sound better when there's people here." AAaaah! It's been a couple of years since I was last there but it felt really NICE to be back, and we fell into various CHAT, DISCUSSION and reminiscing. It was DELIGHTFUL.

    As indeed are those young lads from The Crookes - what a CREDIT to their manager they are! So polite! e.g. they lent me their guitar and then went and set up their tuner pedal for me, just in case. They are like the ANTI-DOHERTY, and that is an ENTIRELY GOOD THING in my book.

    So yes, all was set up and that nice Mr Lamacq got up on stage, did me a lovely introduction, and then i SPRANG into action, THUS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • The Gay Train
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Advent Calendar Of FACT
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I had a WHALE of a time, and spoke AT SOME LENGTH on a diverse range of topics, not least the general EXCELLENCE of Mr Bob Dylan's Christmas album. "It's the best album he's ever made" I said, and there were AUDIBLE GASPS OF DISBELIEF. I was really enjoying myself, especially when, during My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once I realised how VERY VERY APT the final verse was. SPOOKILY SO.

    Afterwards a Nice Young Lady came up to speak to me. "I really enjoyed that", she said. I smiled happily, then she went on. "You reminded me of my Dad."

    That's not how it's supposed to go, is it? I feel I may have crossed a very important boundary since last I played The Bull & Gate!

    We HUGGED our farewells to as many people as we could find, and then SPRINTED out into the street, where we HOPPED into a Black Cab. "Limehouse!" we called, and twenty minutes later we found ourselves outside The Troxy, the venue for our SECOND gig of the night. We missed the support act, Grace Petrie, tho this didn't matter SO much as I had at least seen her before - supporting US!!! She'd played with us a couple of times at The Firebug - surely this is tantamount to QUEUE JUMPING then? If it's ANYBODY'S turn to support Billy Bragg, it should be OURS, shouldn't it?

    Anyway, in we sped, entering the auditorium PRECISELY in time, as he'd JUST finished the first verse of "St Swithins Day". EXCELLENT! There then followed TWO HOURS of BRILLIANCE, comprising roughly 45 minutes of MASS SINGALONG and the rest of Mr Bragg talking and the rest of us applauding, nodding, cheering and occasionally DISAGREEING. It was EXCITING and FANTASTIC - it felt like there was an actual DIALOGUE going on in places, with some HILARIOUS heckles. My favourite was when Billy finished an impassioned rant against CYNICISM by giving the kind of negative comments you always get on The Guardian website as an example. "Sorry!" came a lone voice.

    Other highlights included a mass CHECKING OF WATCHES when he started talking about the student protests, as if EVERYONE was involved in a sweepstake. Whoever had 14 minutes, they were the winner. There were some NEW SONGS, including an ACE one called "The Battle Of Barking" and also a CHRISTMAS SONG, and then for the encores WIGGY came on! HOORAH! Also Jack Bragg, his LAD, and together they did "A13 Trunk Road To The Sea". FANTASTIC!

    It was, all in all, BLOODY GRATE, and we STRODE out into the night with our hearts full of JOY and our heads full of inspiration. He truly is UTTERLY BRILLIANT, is Billy Bragg, and I was EXTREMELY happy that the plan had worked out so well. Well done EVERYBODY, what an ACE night!

    posted 17/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Setting off from Paddington last night for my gig in Bath I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. I had my guitar, I had my bag, I had my ticket - but what was it? Eventually I realised that, after all this time travelling about doing Dinosaur Planet, the thing that was missing was, of course, Mr Squishable! Oh, and Mr Hewitt too, of course.

    I could have done with some help when I arrived as I stepped out of the station to find that the map I'd printed out didn't have hardly any street names on it! I had to use my KEEN SENSE OF DIRECTION to get myself to my destination, so I was VERY pleased when I made it to The Travelodge, where i was staying - I'd hoped to have a good look at Beautiful Bath as I did so, but it was all a bit DARK. It DID look lovely, but I'd like to have a go in the daylight - even this morning, when I returned, everything was SO grey and overcast it was practically dark too. ALSO i saw plenty of Open Top Bus Tours, so i MUST return!

    Anyway, once I'd checked in and got myself sorted out it was time to stride forward again, once more armed with my Not Very Good Map. This time I was heading for the suburbs, so was MORE worried about going wrong, but it all worked out OK and I soon found myself in the LARKHALL at the GORGEOUS Rondo Theatre, where I discovered Mr Gavin Osborn in the back room, having a bit of an old practice.

    Gavin is currently ON TOUR, along with Mr Daniel Kitson, supporting Belle & Sebastian, and I must confess to being INSANELY JEALOUS having been a bit of a MAD Belle & Sebastian SUPERFAN one they first started. We chatted about them and I soon realised that, actually, it would be a BAD THING INDEED if it was ME appearing at every gig they did, asking if they were going to play "Pocketbook Angel". Again.

    People gently filed into the theatre, Gavin went on and introduced me, and then I hit the stage to do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • The Fight For History
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • As discussed yesterday I'd been a bit worried about what sort of thing I could do, but once I was on stage I relaxed HUGELY... especially after the first song when I realised that the reason my guitar wasn't coming through the PA was because I'd left the tuner switched on. These non-acoustic gigs can be CONFUSING! But yes, I relaxed maybe even a little too much as my mouth opened and REAMS of CHAT issued forth, especially around The Fight For History when the FULL FORCE of my BRANE THORTS came endlessly out. I was having a REALLY nice time though - it's strange playing gigs with BIG LIGHTS as you really can't see the audience, apart from a couple of people on the front, but luckily they were smiling so on i went - i looked at my watch at what I thought was the halfway mark to find I'd been on for nearly half an hour already so had to give people a choice between "a song about christmas or one featuring full frontal nudity". I Did A Gig In New York was the easy winner!

    We then had a short break and I came back on to introduce Gavin, who was BLOODY MARVELLOUS. I know I've raved about his stuff beforehand, but it cannot be reinstated enough that his songs are FANTASTIC - I am MAN ENOUGH to admit that I WELLED UP a couple of times during his set, especially when he played "Sweet Bedford", which I'd never heard before. Parts of that song - like teenagers breaking into a Rugby Club, or hanging around near The Corn Exchange - are SO universal (at least to English kids) and yet hearing someone else singing about it brings a shock of recognition that's funny AND moving, especially with how we goes on to talk about it.

    Does that make any sense? Basically, it was GRATE, as was the entirety of his set - it's astonishing that he's not better known or lauded, but hopefully the JAUNT with Belle & Sebastian will get him to a much bigger audience. Many people's lives would be hugely improved by his presence in it!

    We got packed up and then headed down the road, along with a couple of PALS, for a celebratory DRINK where we swapped Tales Of The Road and did the beautiful RANTING that you only get to do with people ALSO in bands. It was BRILL, and I even got a lift back to the hotel afterwards - a pretty perfect end to a pretty perfect evening all round really!

    It was thus a satisfied Hibbett who returned to London this morning, having completed his final trip away of a year FULL of trips away, ready for one last gig before Christmas. What a year of lovely gigs and lovely people it's been!

    posted 16/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Cantering Into View
    I'm playing in Bath tonight with the ever wonderful Gavin Osborne, who will hopefully be in a fit state to ROCK as he is mid-TOUR with Belle & Sebastian. I am not AT ALL jealous about this fact. AT ALL.

    In my new MODE of Actually Thinking About Gigs Before I Do Them, brought on by the regular TRAINING and LEARNING I've had to do for Totally Acoustic, I got to thinking last night about what SONGS I should do. It's happening in a THEATRE (the Rondo Theatre, in fact, if you fancy coming along) and on previous occasions when I've played this sort of venue I've found myself FLUMMOXED. At NORMAL gigs (like Sunday's, for instance) I can quite happily do a fairly standard set of The Noisy Shouty ones, but when it's a Quiet and/or Sit-Down sort of venue I always feel I should do... well, more Quiet and/or Sit-Down songs.

    THUS I drew myself up a LIST, featuring a few of the above that I could PRACTICE for insertion into the SET. "Well done ME", i thought, as I walked home, "A proper practice tonight will sort you out entirely. HOORAH for the new era of Professionalism!"

    I got home, greeted my nearest and dearest, got out my guitar... and completely DIDN'T have a practice. For LO! for some reason I had been GRIPPED with CREATIVITY and had not only written most of a song on Platform 2 of Leytonstone Station (scene of SO MANY songwriting epiphanies over the years for me) but had ALSO written the lyrics to ANOTHER at lunchtime. THUS I sat down and finished them off, even going so far as to record a couple of DEMO VERSIONS. And then singing them AGANE, just for fun.

    These two songs are for "Moon Horse", which is cantering closer and closer towards completion. I'm on my third distinct DRAFT of it now, and this version is finally coming together thanks to a GRATE idea i had to split it up into seperate EPISODES. You'll see what I mean when it's all DONE, but it seems to make the whole thing make SENSE whilst retaining all the different THINGS I wanted to put into it. Best of all it is making the THEME appear more clearly, especially to ME. It's been ABOUT various slightly different things as I've written it, but now its TRUE MEANING is becoming apparent. It's funny - you read AUTHORS and so on saying "Oh, the characters told me what it was truly about, la la la, i am an ARTISTE you know" and it sounds DAFT until it actually happens to you. I can honestly say that, this week, TIDDY THE TIN MAN has become a fully formed character who has brought me ALMOST TO TEARS.

    I've now got the last ten minutes or so to tighten up (I've also been MAKING A WARDROBE over the pats couple of days - a self-assembly one, but still - so am thinking very much in Phillips Screwdriver-based metaphors) and LOCK DOWN, but luckily I have about TWENTY minutes of old ideas to extract it from and also - possibly - one of the best songs I've ever written (no, no, stay your excitement!) to finish off for the end. Who knows, I might even be able to SHOW it to people by January!

    But in the meantime I have a GIG in BATH to think about. I'm sure it'll be fine - they have people to PROMPT you working full-time in theatres, right?

    posted 15/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Release Day!
    After WEEKS of gritting my teeth trying NOT to unleash it too early, it's finally Official Release Day for our lovely Christmas compilation Christmas Selection Box! HOORAH!

    It's got six tracks on it for just two quid, downloadable direct from our bandcamp site, or you can just stream it live just HERE:

    There's no physical product for this one, it's a Christmas in THE FUTURE!

    And, as mentioned OFTEN on this very blog, there is an (i think) LOVELY video to go with it!

    There's videos for lots of the other songs over on the album page too - hope you enjoy the songs and videos, and any mentions/tweets and so forths would be very much appreciated!

    posted 13/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Socialising And The Social
    It was a busy old weekend for me this weekend. On Saturday myself and The Tinsel On My Tree went to a WEDDING, which is lovely enough ANYWAY, but this one was added to be fully embracing the CHRISTMASINESS of it all. It was ACE - the wedding cake was ALSO a Christmas cake!

    It was a GRATE day all round - I'd been a bit nervous beforehand because we were doing some VIDEOING of the ceremony and speeches, but that all seems to have gone OK, so we were able to get down to some chatting, a little bit of SNIFFLING and a POLITE (hem hem) amount of TOASTING. SMASHING!

    Sunday found us hard at work as a Household Team doing some BUILDING. We've got a new WARDROBE to set up and the three of us spent about six hours NEARLY finishing it. It was actually rather good fun - MAKING stuff always makes me think of my Grandads, especially the CLAMP that my Grandad Bike used to have in his garage which he used for making DOOHICKEYS and CONTRAPTIONS, and which I always remember as being GREASED and really good fun to USE (though we weren't supposed to). We didn't HAVE a clamp, see, and it would have been REALLY handy!

    We PAUSED in our labours because a) we were a bit knackered with all the lifting, attaching, unattaching, assembling, disassembly, reassembling etc etc that goes on (they don't make it easy, do they? You'd think a stand-up comedian somewhere would spot this and REMARK upon it) but also because b) I had to get ready and go out to ROCK!

    For LO! last night was my pre-penultimate gig of the year at The Damnably Christmas Party down at The Social. I arrived in good time to see Former Utopia, who now have grown a BASS PLAYER. This was an EXCELLENT thing to have as everything got all tuneful and actually Quite Funky, tho GOODNESS ME i think George was playing his acoustic guitar in ways that Acoustic Guitars are just NOT MEANT to be played. It was GRATE!

    Another GRATE thing: as noted by ME on many occasions, BARS these days are gently accepting the idea that some people like to drink ALE style BEER, and The Social has finally come around to this way of thinking. HOORAH!

    Thus armed with some BEER i went on stage and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Gay Train
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It all felt VERY LOUD INDEED, and I'm AMAZED to see that there's a good reason for that: this was the first amplified solo gig I've done for SIX MONTHS - since the Damnably SUMMER party in June, in fact! Since then nearly ALL my gigs have been QUIET, the only exception being with The Validators around Christmas. That would explain it then!

    Apart from that SHOCK all was well - it felt odd to be playing songs in a RANDOM ORDER, rather than dictated by EITHER Dinosaur Planet OR having learnt them up specially, and it was also slightly unnerving at first to be playing to people who hadn't necessarily come to see my sort of thing. Compared to the other bands I did feel a bit DIGANCE, but then i LIKE The Digance and, actually, had quite good fun BEING so. And as I squinted into the light i did see a whole heap of GRINNING faces smiling back at me, so I think it kind of worked. The soundman ESPECIALLY seemed very keen, which is always lovely!

    Afterwards I found Janice and George AKA The TEAM for HUGS and Christmas salutations, but had to make my excuses fairly soon after and head home. All that MANUAL LABOUR had fair done me in, I needed my BED!

    posted 13/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Podcast is GO!
    The latest edition of the Podcast was slightly delayed by DOING STUFF, but it's online NOW over on the podcasts page and it's a LOVELY one this time, with Helen Arney and Tim Eveleigh on FINE form. Go on, have a listen, you'll LIKE it!
    posted 13/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Well Done, The Kids
    I was going to sit and write a blog about Current Events today, but to be honest I think there's too much going on in my head about it at the moment. There's a whole lot of "ARGH! NGGG! WHAT!??" directed at the police and the media, and quite a lot of it ALSO at the 5Live-ish comments from ALL sides (ALL sides) out there on the interweb too. I will therefore restrict myself to the one feeling I hope ALL people of a certain age are feeling today, and that is as follows:


    After YEARS of old so-and-sos like me complaining about how rubbish students have been, at LAST the current generation have a) risen up and b) GOT STUCK IN. You don't have to agree with all the opinions expressed, motives or beliefs to think that this is a BLOODY GOOD THING, and I hope that the fact that we now DO have SO MANY students in this country will mean that the ridiculously biased news coverage will be shown up for what it is by the masses of teenagers going home and telling people what it was REALLY like. As Peter Tatchell said on twitter, "If you were peaceful but got kettled by the police for 6+ hours with no food, water or toilets, you'd be angry too." He is, as ever, CORRECT.

    So please excuse a gentleman of a certain age being slightly sentimental about THE YOUNG PEOPLE today and hopeful that they'll continue to stick up for themselves, to NOT accept that they HAVE to go straight out from college and get high paying jobs to make themselves worthwhile, and to keep on sticking it to THE MAN. They don't always have to be RIGHT about it, they don't always have to go about it in ways that the rest of us thing are BEST, but it's bloody brilliant to know that they're DOING it in their own way. HOORAH for The Kids!

    AND as there's surely NOTHING more Christmassy than getting a bit nostalgic, sentimental and also a little bit PATRONISING to those younger than yourself, I have declared a general SOD IT and decided to make the whole page go CHRISTMASSY in celebration! It's Christmas! Let's DO it!

    posted 10/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Myself and Mr S Hewitt had made eminently sensible arrangements for meeting prior to our trip to Salford yesterday - we'd see each other at the station, but Steve would probably be in The Euston Tap beforehand, so I'd go there if I made it in a bit early.

    I DID make it a bit early, and full of pleasure at this joyouse turn of events was somewhat surprised to walk straight into Mr Pete Green, there with Ms Marianthi Makra, having their OWN sensible meet up on the way to a gig. ACE!

    After a delightful chap and TASTY BEER we said our farewells, and Steve and I made our way to the train. We'd booked tickets so had seats, but that didn't stop it from being a Virgin Train. WHO, i say WHO designed these bloody awful trains? Was it someone who'd never ever been on one? To take one SMALL aspects which illustrates the whole: the lock on the toilet door is NOWHERE NEAR THE DOOR so a) people very often don't realise it ISN'T locked [as i discovered AGANE this morning, in fact] and b) the EMERGENCY ALARM is much CLOSER to the door, so no voyage is complete without it GOING OFF every ten minutes. For GOODNESS SAKE, Virgin Trains! BE LESS CRAP!

    Anyway, we made it to Manchester Piccadilly Station OK and talk a MOVING WALKWAY to our platform. I bloody LOVE moving walkways and if i had an airport near my house would GO THERE just for the fun of using them, and the airport theme was carried on when we found ourselves in a LOUNGE, where we were instructed to wait until our platform became clear. Did someone at Network Rail buy an airport by ACCIDENT when they rebuilt Piccadilly? Coming back i noticed that the whole place looked like a departure lounge, and half expected to be FRISKED for oversized bottles of water.

    We took two local trains to get to Salford, probably taking twice as long to get there if we'd walked (tho making it a lot easier with our PROPS and EQUIPMENT) and got to our MEGA POSH Apartment. The rise of the APARTMENT on the short-term stay market over the past few years has been a thing of WONDER. We got the apartment for MUCH less than the cost of two hotel rooms, even in SUPER CHEAPO CHAINS, and it was GRATE. It felt a bit rude not to stay there longer, but we had an appointment with ROCK, so headed out once more.

    We were playing the gig at The Kings Arms, which was BRILLIANT, a PROPER old fashioned two rooms and a COUNTER downstairs, one GLORIOUS room upstairs type of pub. It was a lot like The Grapes in Sheffield, in fact, that sort of GRAND affair, and there was a wide range of BEERS available to make it even nicer. We met Dan and Hannah from Pull Yourself Together, who were putting us on, and after a bit of a chat and that headed out for FOOD. For a change we DIDN'T have curry, but got Chinese instead from the takeaway over the road. It was DELICIOUS.

    Suitably full, and having found Mr Warren Pilkington downstairs, we went into the high ceiled GIG room to watch Liz Green present Fenist The Falcon, as sort of storytelling affair with musical interludes and a SILHOUETTE show to illustrate everything. It was CHARMING in being slightly ramshackle and fun, but also ENTHRALLING. We felt dead ARTY just for being there, also a bit like the ROUGH LADS with their SHOUTING that would soon be taking over.

    And take over we DID, about twenty minutes later when people had braved the FREEZING stairway to go down and get drinks. As I say we'd sampled a couple of the aforesaid BEERS but once again this only seemed to help, as we did, i think, one of the best shows we've EVER done. It was certainly the most PRECISE, bizarrely enough, as neither of us spotted ANY errors AT ALL, and the door knocking bits were PERFECT!

    It also got LARFS in odd places that never USUALLY do - AT LAST "Now that they are here I must say that I'm surprised / To find that they are, frankly, not very life" FINALLY got a laugh, while "KIDNAPPED!", which almost always DOES, didn't at ALL! This didn't really bother us, and there were MANY larfs throughout, but it was INTERESTING to note that some of them were in different places to usual!

    BADGES were received with much cheer and it was a VERY happy Messrs Hibbett & Hewitt who retired to the bar downstairs for a much needed Last Beer. Now that the words have become ETCHED into our very MINDS the show is even MORE enjoyable than it has been before - and it's pretty always been a LOT of fun - so it feels like a bit of a shame that we've only got four or five of these left to do before it's time for Moon Horse. If you've not seen us yet, or even if you have, do come and see one of the last few shows, we're actually beginning to get quite good at it now!

    posted 9/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    I'm always a bit worried before a Totally Acoustic - will the room be booked? will an audience come? will any ACTS come? - but this time I was especially worried about PEOPLE coming, as I'd had a STREAM of twitter apologies and sick notes. As it turned out i need not have worried - not many people DID come, but it didn't really seem to matter. It was to be an INTIMATE but rather lovely evening.

    Usually me and COHORTS get the tables and chairs sorted out as soon as I arrive, or directly persuant of this milestone, but last night we never really got round to it, so by the time it got to 7.30pm and the hour of commencement it didn't feel quite RIGHT to do so. We'd all been sat around the room having a Large Group Chat and to suddenly enforce false BOUNDARIES and divisions felt INCORRECT so we left the layout as it was and did the whole thing sitting down. This, i feel, was rather a good idea.

    I kicked things off, and this is what I played:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • I'll Never Drink Again
  • Red and White Sockets
  • Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
  • We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home)
  • The Girl Who...
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • Why yes, yes indeed, that IS a rather unusual setlist, featuring a bunch of songs I haven't played for AGES and especially one I haven't played for about 15 years. My SECRET PLAN throughout this series of Totally Acoustic has been to try and play ENTIRELY different sets each and every week and, having used up most of my normal repertoire pretty early on, this has meant quite a bit of DIGGING through the back catalogue. It's also involved quite a lot of PRACTICING, not just because I'm learning "new" (or usually OLD) material, but also because, listening back to the first couple of podcasts, I've realised that me forgetting words to to most of is NOT, as I have always thought "charming" but actually "a bit annoying".

    So yes, I did that and RATHER enjoyed it. We had a little break and then it was time for Helen Arney. I saw Helen several times during the Edinburgh Fringe - Mr S Hewitt had said, as he occasionally does, "You will like her, she is GRATE" and, as he usually is, he was CORRECT. I thought she would be the ideal person to have at Totally Acoustic because she's not just funny, but also comes across as a Delightful Human Being, which is something i am KEEN on. This was very much the case last night, especially when she did a song called "Strong Woman" (i think), which is STILL in my BRANE, and a bunch of Christmas songs from her Christmas album, a copy of which I am rather pleased to now OWN, wrapped in Christmas wrapping with a HOMEMADE TREE ORNAMENT to boot! ACE!

    Another short break and then it was the turn of Mr Tim Eveleigh. Delightful Human Beings was sort of a THEME for the evening, as this is VERY much the case with Tim, who was GRATE as usual - he is an ADEPT at between song DISCOURSE, although his MODE of doing so is INTERACTION rather than explicit GAGS. This worked EXTRAORDINARILY well in the relaxed context of last night's gig - almost too well, in fact, as there was a tendency amongst CERTAIN ELEMENTS (hem hem) to become a little TOO ENGAGED with the subjects he was introducing, and just sit there and chat with him rather than letting him get on with his heartfelt, emotional songs. Luckily he DID manage to get these elements to SETTLE eventually, although the THORTS he ignited about John Cage's 4'33" getting to number one will stay with me for a long time. What if it DID get to Number One? What if they showed it on Top Of The Pops? Could there possible BE a better time to beam 4'33" into everyone's houses than on Christmas Day, with all the family gathered? Or would that be TOO DANGEROUS?

    Anyway, with such thoughts bubbling round our heads we sat for a spell afterwards in gentle conversation before going our seperate ways. It was a lovely evening all round, made even nicer by the knowledge that, even though there hadn't been that many people there in person, there's the opportunity for MANY more to hear it via the magic of the podcast. Sometimes living in The Future really works out!

    posted 8/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Joyzine Advent Calendar
    The Christmas THRILLS just keep coming, as today sees us behind door number seven on the Joyzine Advent Calendar. It's a free download of Give Us A Kiss (for Christmas) from the Christmas Selection Box, and rather DELIGHTFUL it sounds too!

    I'd highly recommend having a snoop behind all the doors while you're there, as there's some ACE stuff up, with LOTS of other excitements still to come. This is the third or fourth time, i think, we've been on the Joyzine/Maps Advent Calendar, it is a Christmas Tradition of GLEE!

    posted 7/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Christmas is GO!
    Having got a bit too excited about CHRISTMAS and sent out the press release for the Christmas album a bit EARLY, I'm relieved to see that it wasn't TOO early to get picked up and indeed MENTIONED by a few people. PHEW!

    We had our first AIRPLAY on Friday morning over on Phoenix FM - also, so far, the ONLY airplay, but it can only be a matter of time, right? Especially now that those lovely people over at CMU Daily have us on their PROPER NEWS PAGE as PROPER NEWS. We're not going to be Number One, and we LIKE it!

    Over on the blogs we've had lovely PLUGS from the likes of Eardrums, John Kell VS Satan, Sweeping The Nation and the ever PERCEPTIVE A Layer Of Chips who are the first to suggest that The 29th Day Of December be celebrated EVER MORE as a special Holiday For Grown-Ups. This, of course, is a matter for others to decide but i must say i wholeheartedly support any MOVEMENT for this and, should it be decided that the INSTIGATOR and ANTHEMISER of this worthy cause be granted a massive annual stiped, also KNIGHTHOOD, then it would of course be distinctly UNCHRISTMASSY to refuse.

    It's all very lovely and I'm looking forward to seeing what ELSE comes along. And as the SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS doth sayeth that it is better to GIVE than to RECEIVE (especially where it concerns mentions in blogs - Santa is MAD KEEN on that sort of thing) I thought I would ALSO give a mention to ANOTHER Christmas song/video combo. It's the new Christmas song from The Boy Least Likely To, herein below:

    When i watched this the other day it had me in FLOODS of CHRISTMAS TEARS - it is really rather surprisingly moving, and I recommend it to you highly. Just have some tissues ready!

    posted 6/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Announcement: MJ Hibbett and The Validators Are Not Going For The Christmas Number One
    MJ Hibbett & The Validators would like to announce that they are not going for the Christmas Number One with their new single The 29th Day Of December.

    MJ explains: "It saves us the hassle of doing a facebook campaign, and gives someone else the opportunity to fight Simon Cowell for the top spot. We're just putting the song on our bandcamp site, which isn't registered for the charts, so even if we sell a million copies we won't be on Top of the Pops."

    The 29th Day Of December is about that wonderful day when all the shopping, eating and visiting is over, and you can relax a bit before New Year's Eve.

    MJ says: "It's now a tradition for us to do a video for our Christmas song, and this year's is my first go at stop-motion animation. I saw one my nine-year-old nephew had done, and thought – that looks easy, I'll do one of those! Now I know why Wallace & Gromit films take five years to make."

    Last year's Christmas song, I Got You What You Want For Christmas, was a big hit on YouTube. The band asked their mailing list to send in film clips of themselves holding up signs saying what they'd like for Christmas, and so many people took part that they had to make two videos to fit all the clips in – one for women, one for men.

    Both these songs appear on MJ Hibbett & The Validators’ new Christmas Selection Box compilation, which will be available to download at from Monday 13 December*. It also includes old favourites The Advent Calendar Of FACT and Give Us A Kiss (for Christmas), and Christmas classics Little Donkey and Good King Wenceslas.

    The band hope to add a new Christmas song to the album each year and, although they can't promise that none of them will ever top the charts, they do promise to always try and make them properly Christmassy!

    * (actually you can download it now if you like!)
    posted 3/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    I Just Couldn't Wait
    For several weeks now I have been calmly, methodically, planning the CAMPAIGN for our THRILLING new single The 29th Day Of December. I've been making the video, recording the song, writing press releases, LIAISING with The Art Department (in their swanky Mauritius offices), uploading tracks and generally getting things READY. The whole plan was to send out a press release on Monday and "officially" release it all on the 13th.

    HOWEVER. The press release that The Headline Of My Article and i wrote the other day is, i think, SO IMMENSELY GRATE that I just could NOT wait to send it out, and so have DONE so. Now that it's all available for JOURNALISTS to see it feels a little unfair not to show it to the rest of you, so I'm going to stick it up here NEXT. I'll still send an official announcement and that on the 13 to newsletter people, but it's all too exciting to keep a proper secret until then. SO! Prepare to be CHRISTMASIFIED!

    Or should that be CHRISTMASALISED? Anyway, STAND BY!

    posted 3/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas
    You find me the ONLY person in my office today in the midst of a SUPER SNOWY London Town, where everything is feeling DEAD Christmassy.

    It's not JUST the snow that's making things feel this way, for LO! we have LAUNCHED into Christmas in a big way, chez nous. A few years ago The Wings On My Plane and I went on a big CIRCUMNAVIGATION around this time of year, and so HAD to get most of our Christmas Shopping done before we left. The next year I was similarly IMPELLED to do so by a trip to New Zealand and so the NEXT year I was getting into the habit of doing it all early. Half my siblings now live FAR away (hence those trips) and so I have to get it done early anyway to stand any chance of getting their gifts to them, but it turns out that Christmas Shopping in November is ACE. The decorations are up in the shops, the Christmas Songs are playing, and NOBODY ELSE is actually buying anything - it's a beautiful WIN that leaves me, come Advent, FINISHED with most of the commerce and free to ENJOY the Christmas Season.

    And so it was this year that myself and The Tinsel On My Tree went to the post office yesterday and posted THE LOT. HOORAH! To celebrate we then put up the decorations, LO, all around the house, and the delightful tones of Mr Bob Dylan and his Christmas Album were heard around the ABODE.

    SIDEBAR: I LOVE Bob Dylan, and i really think this is his BEST EVER ALBUM. It's also the Christmasiest Record EVER!

    With Christmas Spirits running so high we ALSO sat down and finished the press release for our Christmas Album, and today The Art Department (Mauritius) has, we think, submitted the final version of THE COVER. I've got the new webpage design sorted out and now it's just a question of waiting until Monday 13 December to UNLEASH it upon the world. I tell you what, I've been LISTENING to it this morning and I was reaching DANGEROUS LEVELS of SHEER CHRISTMASINESS!

    I DO like Christmas, can you tell? And it's only three and a bit weeks until the Doctor Who Christmas Special! ZOINKS!!!

    posted 2/12/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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