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Blog Archive: March 2010

Chris T-T
Last night I met The Chorus In My Pop Song for a Delightful Romantic Meal (yes, ANOTHER one! i know! WE ARE AN EXAMPLE TO ALL) in London's Fashionable West End. We went to Zilli Green again, it was GRATE, not least because a) i wasn't paying b) i got to have AFTERS!

We then set off to distant Clerkenwell, to The Slaughtered Lamb to see all round good guy Chris T-T on the last night on the tour for his new album "Love Is Not Rescue". As I may have SHOWN OFF about previously, I got a pre-mastered copy of this a few months ago and found it to be LOVELY. Time has not withered its appeal and I was very much looking forward to hearing it played in its entirety.

We bumped into Chris just as we were going in, so had a quick chat and then went in and settled ourselves down with BEER and SEATING. I was a bit wary about how The Slaughtered Lamb would work as a gig venue, having been there last year doing The Disc Jockeying, but it was actually LOVELY. Most people were sat on sofas and chairs and so the room was relaxed and also JUST RIGHT in being plumply full, but not unpleasantly so.

Then Chris came on and (brief version) was BRILLIANT. He did the whole of the album in order, which worked INCREDIBLY well. Obviously it's helped by the fact that it's an ACE record with some of his best songs, but also the fact that we knew we were going to get a big CHUNK of stuff seemed to relax everybody into really listening to what he was talking about. I really do love his stuff - I know this sounds a bit wanky, but it's really BRAVE. What I mean is that he doesn't shy away from singing The Emotional Songs in the live environment. When it's ME I always get NERVOUS and usually CHICKEN OUT of playing the Honest Emotional songs, preferring to go for the Easier Live Wins, but Chris stands in front of a big crowd of people and opens his heart up, confident that the songs are so good that people will follow him and react to it. It's brilliant, especially when he does songs like "Tall Woman" which, in that kind of setting, GRAB you by the heart. My dears I have to confess to WELLING UP during that one. I was also rather touched by him dedicating "Blueness" to my favourite artiste I.E. ME because I disagreed with his analysis of Religious Art. Futute Rock Historians please note: when The Great Rock Religious Art Schism is written about, THIS is where it began!

The whole thing was moving, involving, thought provoking and EXCITING, and this carried on to the second part of the show when he came back and did REQUESTS and a whole heap of songs i'd never heard before, like "Hedgehog Song" which was fab. He did "Huntsman Comes A Marchin'" (I'm beginning to think maybe we should follow the lead of Mr F Turner and make it LAW that ALL Acoustic Guitar Based Singer Songwriters cover it) and a FANTASTIC version of "Preaching To The Converted" too. It was not just BRILLO, it was brillo PAD!

Afterwards we said our farewells, got a poster SIGNED, and headed out into the night singing "Tall Woman" as we walked. As we strolled it struck me that soon Chris is going to be recording his vocals for some of MY songs, when he comes along to play GRANDAD in Dinosaur Planet. I felt BLESSED!
posted 30/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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Preparing For Relaunch
The other day on the tube i briefly PAUSED my current iPod album rotation (Allo Darlin, The School, Allo Darlin, Standard Fare, REPEAT) to have a listen to Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez. And do you know what? It was DEAD GOOD.

I know, I know, you'd THINK that's how i'd feel, but I was actually quite impressed with it. As with all albums we've EVER done I had bouts of listening to various mixes whilst recording it and then listened to it pretty non-stop in the three months between final mastering and release day, but then pretty much stopped, so the songs now live mostly in my HEAD as the LIVE versions that I do at gigs. Going back to them again, I was really rather pleased!

CONCURRENT with this, I've been doing quite a bit of work on the Database Of ROCK, allied to the forthcoming switchover of the webpage to a different server, and noted that, though Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez has been selling pretty well it's still a way off catching up with its predecessor, WE VALIDATE! Looking at these figures, and with a listen fresh in my mind, I thought "That's a real shame - in my opinion Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez is a MUCH better album and deserves to have LOADS more people listening to it. I should sort that out."

And LO! An idea was born - we're going to do a RE-LAUNCH! Now, usually this just means sending out an email and saying "Whoo! Re-launch!" and maybe doing a gig, but this time I thought I'd do something a LITTLE bit different, and stick it on Bandcamp. If you're unaware of Bandcamp it's basically a site where BANDS can upload their albums and PEOPLE can go and download them. The gimmicks of THIS site are that it's [currently] FREE [for the bands], you can download EXTREMELY high quality versions of the songs, there's free streaming of EVERYTHING, and you can add extra tracks and all sorts.

It looks pretty good, so I'm currently working on putting that together. The bandcamp version of the album will be available to download for a FIVER and will come with a free pdf booklet, HAND TOOLED new individual covers for every song and a Super Duper Bonus Track, The Drummer's Lament which I listened to the other day for the first time in over a year and thought "GOOD GOLLY!" as it is QUITE The Thing. Anyway, that's the plan - the actual CD album will of course remain available from the usual outlets (including direct from us) but hopefully this'll be a way of enabling a few more people to HEAR the songs and, with any luck, PURCHASE them.

"This is all well and good", you may be thinking, "but how do you expect to attract these new listeners to the site? MAGIC? EH?" To which I would reply: GOOD POINT. I've been flexing my MIGHTY BRANE on the subject for the past week and yesterday came up with a brand new GRATE IDEA for a video/advert that will be, I hope, sufficiently AMUSING and GOOD to not only get people looking, but also to go and investigate the album. It is, as I believe they say in advertising, a DOOZY of an idea!

I should have the bandcamp page finished in the next couple of days, so I'll put the details in the newsletter next week, and then the video will be heading your way shortly after. In the meantime, here's the OLD promotional video for your delight. I wonder what happened to that "new single" it mentions?

posted 26/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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Secret Meetings Revealed
In the comments section I have asked about that SECRET MEETING me and Mr S Hewitt had the other week about Edinburgh, and the various other TOP SECRET people it involved. "Who was it?" people have asked, excitedly.

Now the truth can be told! Over the course of the past couple of months I've had a number of emails from people asking how they should go about putting a show on at The Edinburgh Fringe. I don't THINK this is because I am particularly GURU-ESQUE, rather that it is fairly unusual for someone from The Krazy World Of ROCK to do such a thing, and also because I do know and LIKE quite a few people who could quite easily expand their GIGS into an actual SHOW. After getting three such requests in the space of a week I decided to see if we could gather together and go as a MOVEMENT, cross publicising our shows and also synchronising BOOZING.

THUS there was much DISCUSSION, the most succesful of which was with those marvellous fellows in Being 747 who have rather brilliantly arranged to take their show Amoeba To Zebra up for the same week as us. I'm IMMENSELY excited about this - they're GRATE chaps (we've gigged with them MANY times, always resulting in DELIGHT all round) and the show itself looks AMAAAZING. They've been playing it around schools this year, and have some SPLENDID VIDEOS too.

(there has just been a ten minute break in BLOGGING while i went and watched some - this is going to be BRILLIANT!!)

We've also been speaking to the similarly delightful Chris T-T. I'm not sure if Chris is still planning to come or not - he's on TOUR at the moment and has just released his WONDERFUL new album "Love Is Not Rescue" so he's been just the TINIEST bit enormously busy just lately! We DID, however, manage to fit in a MEETING with him last month, and thus HE is the first of the two people mentioned, and the other was his pal (and chart-topping popstar) Jim-Bob from Carter!

And WHAT a lovely chap he was too - oh, but we had a LOVELY evening in the pub! He was thinking of doing a show allied to his BOOK which is out soon, as he's going to be going around the country doing a mixture of GIG and BOOK READING soon anyway, and was interested in finding out how it all WORKS. In the end he decided NOT to do the whole Edinburgh thing, which is a shame really as I think it would have been BRILL, but I would advise anyone who can to go and have a look at the book tour, as it all sounded great. Or, indeed, to go to the PUB with him, as he was VERY good indeed at that!

posted 25/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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Edinburgh: The Proper Announcement
Right then, here's the FULL DETAILS of Dinosaur Planet: The Musical at this year's Edinburgh Festival!

As discussed the other day, myself and my colleague Mr S Hewitt will be performing at The GRV every day from August 5th to 14th at 12 Noon. It's a full-cast (hem hem) musical, based on the script for the concept album which we're currently recording, and will include ALL the songs (with three news ones not done last year) and even MORE dinosaurs, robots, space ships and planet-shaking battles.

It'll hopefully be even MORE exciting than last year's version and, if nothing else, being on at NOON means it should be quite a bit more SOBER. As stated previously, it wasn't our first choice of timeslot but HEY being on that early does mean we'll not clash with much, and enables me to devote EVEN MORE time to What The Festival Is All About i.e. BEER and CURRY and Deciding Not To Go And See Things.

We're doing it as part of the five pound fringe this year too, so ALL tickets will be a fiver apart from the first two nights which are officially PREVIEW shows and thus half price. We'll ALSO be doing a few warm-up shows around the country before we go up, and I really ought to BOOK those, as well as a couple of nights at The Camden Fringe when we get back.

Before then though there's WORK to do - as well as learning lines there's flyers to design, costumes to buy, other costumes to MAKE, songs to learn and choreography to CHOREOGRAPH. It all felt like a long way off when we had our first practice, now suddenly it seems CLOSE. I can feel the DINOSAUR BREATH on my neck!

posted 24/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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How Does It Feel
Get ready for some Shocking News: I went out on Saturday night. DISCO DANCING!


I reckon it must be about 100,000 years since I last went out and did this purely for FUN, rather than as part of a gig or something, and it was all thanks to the fact that Mr & Mrs Hodgkiss had come over to That London for Mr I Hodgkiss's birthday, and had asked me if I fancied coming out for a) a pint b) some of the aformentioned disco dancing. As it turned out, i DID!

After a few delightful beers in The Green Man, just round the corner from The King & Queens where I'd played the night before (SIDEBAR: I'm still doing my London Walking Circle, and if nothing else it's certainly giving me THE KNOWLEDGE as regards The Pubs Of Fitzrovia) we headed round the corner to The Phoenix, in order to attend Legendary Indie Disco How Does It Feel To Be Loved. I've wanted to go one of these for YEARS but never actually managed it - I have, of course, seen Mr I Watson, Proprietor, DJ at numerous events, not least Indietracks, and have even PLAYED at a How Does It Feel night, but alarmingly this was my first time at a DO itself.

And it was BRILLIANT! I remembered Saturday Night Indie Discos as being the last resort for those not prepared to give up on the drinking/looking at girls part of the weekend, but here it was out and out FUN! The tunes were GRATE (they were playing Allo Darlin' as we walked in), it was FULL of lovely people who i KNEW (including Stuart The Editor and various Gresham Flyers and Pocketbooks) and, perhaps best of all, i got RECOGNISED!

That was BRILLIANT - I was wobbling over to the bar when a Young Man said "Could you explain to these girls why you're famous?" Talk about myself? To some young girls? Well, if you insist, but first I had to check WHAT he thought I was famous for as I didn't want to start out all cocky and then find out he though I was Harry Potter's Dad or something. It was, of course, Hey Hey 16K, so I happily told them I was only famous in basements, then realise i WAS in a basement.

That pretty much made my NIGHT for me, but there was much fun still to be had in the form of chat, and beer, and even THE DANCING. It was whilst doing this that I even managed to get myself into the Also Legendary How Does It Feel Photo Gallery. ZANG!

I staggered out into the night in search of my last tube home FULL of the joys of dancing, pals, and fun - i had a GRATE night, I'll try and not leave it another decade before I do it again!

posted 23/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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I went out on Friday night to do something relatively RARE for me these days - a GIG!

I was due to play at Scaledown, a regular night where they have six or so acts on doing fifteen minute sets. I was rather looking forward to it, partly because I'd actually PRACTICED and partly because my pal Mr S Wilkinson was coming along too. I reckoned that the audience was going to be pretty much ALL people I didn't know (I was right), which is all very jolly for meeting new people, but sometimes you want to have somebody there who you can have a right old YACK with.

Which we did. At some LENGTH, so much so that we unfortunately missed a couple of the other acts, which I always feel a bit bad about. I was otherwise on BEST BEHAVIOUR tho, returning to an old trick of alterating pints of BEER with pints of DIET COKE, thus not getting TOO drunk and also getting very slighty ZAZZED.

It was a good job i DID pursue this policy, as things were running slightly late - when I arrived I was pleased to find that,I could just do the whole thing without any amplification, but did NOTE that part of the reason for the late running might just be because there was a band in the middle with four members, ALL of whom were fully miked up, both instrumentally and vocally. It was actually quite heartwarming tho - they'd been booked by the guy doing the sound who made no secret of how much he LOVED them and was DELIGHTED to have got them playing. Only a CHURL would complain about such HIGH GLEE, and in the end it was only about ten o'clock when it was my turn to go on and do THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • (theme from) Dinosaur Planet
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • I had a LOT of fun. I LOVE playing to rooms like this, where there's loads of people who have never heard me before but are willing, EAGER even, to be won over. I have to say there WERE a couple of people who seemed very INTENT on NOT being gathered in, so I did what i ALWAYS do in these situations, and focussed on their girlfriends. When I am PROFESSOR OF ROCKOLOGY this will probably be my TOP TIP for anyone faced with a crowd containing people who wish to sit at the front, looking STERN: ALWAYS smile at their girlfriends. This nearly always works (for some reason The People In The Next Band Who Don't Want You To Do Well nearly always forget to BRIEF their girlfriends on being stoney faced), not only a) getting extra members of the audience on board b) MASSIVELY WINDING UP the stoney face but especially c) making me VERY HAPPY INDEED.

    And this was only a couple of people, of course, everybody else was WELL up for it and I had a WHALE of a time. I love gigs where, as I say, people WANT to have fun and are prepared to be entertained by a midly drunk man BELLOWING at them, and Simon and I returned to our beers with pleasure, to enjoy several more pints and chat with some of the aforementioned lovely people who wandered by for a chat. I love doing gigs, gigs are GRATE!

    posted 22/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Edinburgh: SORTED (nearly)
    As mentioned yesterday, I got into a bit of a PANIC yesterday about our plans for this year's Edinburgh Fringe. We'd applied to a new venue (new to us anyway) as we wanted to go somewhere a bit more Theatrical and with more other shows on, and so got our forms to them back in January. Since then I've become increasingly worried about it as we got closer and closer to the Early Bird Application Deadline, which is today. If we didn't get our forms sent in by close of play this evening then we'd have to pay an extra hundred quid or so, which i REALLY didn't want to do!

    Also, of course, loads of OTHER people would be trying to get their venue sorted out by today, so I knew that if the one we were after fell through then we'd be in a bit of a PICKLE. I started hassling our venue a bit and, last night, got an email through saying we couldn't have the time slot we wanted (around 6pm) on the 10 dates we were after but COULD either have a different, larger, room for just the first 6 days OR have the NOON slot.

    PANIC! What to do?!? A FLURRY of text messages zoomed through the ether between myself and Mr Hewitt as we tried to work it out. He consulted some pals in the pub who were Edinburgh Veterans, who seemed to think noon would be OK, and I got the same message from The Time On My Watch, who also pointed out that at least that way we'd have the rest of the day free for LARKS. I was a little upset at the idea of losing some of the MASSIVE LIE-INS I've enjoyed so much, but also glad that a) we won't be clashing with Being 747's show {NB they're the other people we've been discussing Edinburgh with for the past few months} and b) it pretty much guarantees we WON'T be doing ANY shows too drunk this time around!

    Steve also demonstrated his in-depth knowledge of my Showbusiness Nature by RULING OUT the larger (80 capacity) venue in favour of the smaller 40 seater thus: "40 SEATS - EASY TO GET A SELLOUT!" How RIGHT he was, and so i hit the email and LO! we are all sorted, and will be playing The GRV from Thursday 5th to Saturday 14th August inclusive at NOON every day. PHEW!

    In a FIT of excitement we've also got our flat booked so we are basically FULL STEAM AHEAD - we're just finalising the application form as we speak and, once that's done, all we'll need to worry about is learning our lines. But that'll be PEASY, right?

    posted 19/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Allo Darlin'
    I was going to do a blog today about something else entirely - I emailed the script and sound files for Dinosaur Planet out to The Cast today, it's all VERY exciting - but then got a bit waylaid by trying to sort out our venue for the Fringe. It all got a bit vexatious (sorted now tho - more news on that tomorrow hopefully!) so I thought "What can I listen to to sort myself out a bit? To cheer me up and fill me full of The Joy?"

    So I put the Eponymous Allo Darlin' album on. MY GOODNESS ME but it didn't half do the trick, it's AMAZING. I bought it last week in Sheffield and have been listening to it ever since (sharing ear space mostly with the above mentioned Dinosaur-based tracks and the Standard Fare album, which is also GRATE) and LOVE it. However, sitting and listening to it tonight it did that thing which The Albums You Will Always Love Forever do where they suddenly LEAP OUT at you and go "HA! Thought I was good did you? Listen to me KNOW! I'm FANTASTIC!"

    My most clear example of this happening was with "Grand Prix" by Teenage Fanclub, which i listened to a few times, thought was OK, and put away. But then I listened to again a couple of months later and GOT it - all of a sudden EVERY song was BRILLIANT, i just GOT it, and it's been one of my favourite records ever since. This evening "Allo Darlin'" by Allo Darlin' did pretty much the same thing. Songs that had been smile inducing and catchy revealed themselves to be HUGELY CLEVER and RAM PACKED with genius lines. My favourite at the moment is "it gets bad, but it never gets Batman bad" but there are MILLIONS of other bits which GLOW with a life affirming, optimistic, witty JOY that hardly anyone else ever gets to do.

    Now "Heartbeat Chilli" has come on again. It's GORGEOUS.

    I don't think I'm doing a very good job of explaining this - I just wanted to get it on record that A New Favourite Record entered my life properly today. All I can suggest is you EITHER go to a gig (they're at SXSW at the moment, I think, but are back touring with The School soon) and buy it NOW (hey, I went all the way to Sheffield to get my copy and it was UTTERLY WORTH IT) OR be sure and BUY BUY BUY it when it comes out later this year.

    In summary then: it's really really good, and i LIKE it!

    posted 18/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    We were back at The Lamb last night for another Totally Acoustic and I was a little WORRIED about how it was going to go, as I knew that SEVERAL of my REGULARS weren't going to be able to attend. You've got to look after your regulars, because if they're not around it's a bit SCARY.

    I calmed down when I got into the pub, however, to see a couple of people already there, and didn't even have to get into a PANIC about The Acts turning up, as The George Death Experience were already there and, just as I was saying hello, in came Orange Nichole. PHEW!

    There was minor panic upstairs when I found that the room had been arranged DIFFERENTLY, with the Big Green Chairs arranged into one corner, rather than along another side. As I was MILDLY FREAKING OUT Leigh The Landlord popped his head round the corner. "We're having a big refurb next month", he said, "it's all going to be modern and different up here!" I don't like the sound of that I must say, i LIKE the upstairs room as it is, but we will, I guess, have to wait and see and hope for the best.

    With the room sorted out and some more pals drifting in it was soon time to get started, and this is what i DID:
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • (theme from) Dinosaur Planet
  • 2000AD Nans
  • It Isn't An Exam
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once

  • It all seemed to go OK, though there was a LOT of talking (by ME) and I forgot the words a couple of times - NOTABLY in It Isn't An Exam where the line I forgot was "You don't have to revise". Clearly i DO - I do feel a bit out of practice with gigs at the moment, and I think it's more me WORRYING about forgetting words, rather than not knowing then, that makes me go WRONG. Brand new song "2000AD Nans" came out pretty much correct, and sounded rather good I reckon.

    We then had a short break before The George Death Experience (i.e. George with a colleague playing Fancy Guitar) came on and was, as usual, BRILLIANT. He was very VERY funny and, in his own words from last time, had us all "in the palm of his hand". There were bits where everyone was laughing so much we started laughing at jokes that weren't actually THERE in the song. It was ACE.

    As indeed was Orange Nichole, who came on next and was totally different from George (except that she ALSO was added by Fancy Guitarist) but also totally GRATE. Fantastic, winning songs put across with style and CHARM, everyone sat watching with a huge GRIN plastered all over their faces.

    A lovely night of song, then, which didn't end there as we all sat around for a bit of a chat before going downstairs for another pint and a bit more YAKKING. I sat talking to some people from Boston USA and some people from ESSEX, and thought "This is really what The ROCK is really all about: THE GOOD TIMES". The morning after, I have to say I think I might have had a point there.

    posted 17/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Two Days In The Studio
    Still a bit WEARY from all the Rock Action in Sheffield i had to get up Extra Early on Saturday morning (7.30am - ON SATURDAY) in order to catch my train to Derby, where I was due to meet with Mr R Newman to finish off the first stage of my BITS (Studio terminology) for Dinosaur Planet.

    After a DELIGHTFUL journey I arrived at Snug Studio five minutes early, and was just TWITTERING this fact when Robbie came strolling around the corner. We went inside, and BEGAN.

    The first chunk of business was to finish off all my VOCALS. Once again I used my REVOLUTIONARY "Sitting Down To Sing" method and with Robbie gently GUIDING my vocal stylings (ranging from the gentle "maybe one more try" to the positively HARSH "and how did YOU think that went?") we got it all done in good time, including some rather exciting WHOO OOH OOHs for the main track. We decided to AUTO-TUNE it in order to a) make it sound WEIRD b) make it sound LESS AWFUL and after one minor snag (it was all auto-tuned a semi-tone out - "I wondered why you were singing all the black notes", said Robbie) it was all done and we were ready for me to try and do a GUITAR OVERDUB.

    Unfortunately for all concerned this was on the Cod Reggae Middle Eight for (theme from) Dinosaur Planet, which LEAPS in to the track at a SLIGHTLY different speed from the rest of the song, and on an entirely different rhythm. That's my excuse anyway. It took AGES to get right and eventually we had to use some sneaky Cut And Paste to get it right. Crikey tho, when we did it sounded MEGA!

    All that was left then was to do a Rough Mix... Of the ENTIRE ALBUM! This took a couple of hours, but was extremely worthwhile as I needed proper mixes of everything in order to get the Vocal Overdubs done for our GUEST CAST next month. Along the way we also STRIPPED OUT some vocals that I'd done which we didn't need and even found a song where I'd forgotten to sing the bits i DID need.

    It was a long yet EFFICIENT day of WORK but by the end I had a CD PACKED with ROCK.

    On Sunday, however, I decided to do the GUIDE OVERDUBS - most of the songs have additional vocals that will be recorded by other people, so I thought it'd be a good idea to do rough versions of these myself, lay them over the tracks we'd alresdy recorded, and then send them out to the people concerned. A good idea... Which took BLOODY AGES and sapped all the JOY out of the tracks. Only for a couple of hours, mind you, but GOOD GOLLY what a long couple of hours they were. Who would ever have imagined that pretending to be a Space Dinosaur and saying "YARR!!!" could become boring? IT DID.

    I guess that is one of the big advantages to going into a Proper Studio, as opposed to doing things at home. For one thing, I would guess that Mr Newman would be slightly more ADEPT than me at slotting audio files together, and for another I could have gone to the shops or Gazed Blankly Out Of The Window while he actually did it, instead of GLARING at the SCREEN for an hour. It was RUBBISH and, as usual with RUBBISH things like this, every time I thought I'd finished I would settle back to finally enjoy listening to it and IMMEDIATELY hear a mistake.

    So it's STILL got to be finished off, but at least it IS nearly done, and i can start sending files out to people this week. The next stage is to gather most of the CAST together and go into ANOTHER Studio, this time in That London, and record vocal parts, I've a feeling that might be EVER SO SLIGHTLY more fun than doing it on my own!

    posted 15/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Sheffield Sans Guitar
    The whole "not doing as many gigs" THING this year is bringing out all kinds of effects good and bad. On the one hand, loads more time at home not feeling knackered and hungover, but on the other not seeing some of my friends as much. A particularly PIQUANT example of this is Sheffield - normally around this time I'd be getting ready to head up to play a Bank Holiday Fuzztival, but due to Various Events that's not happening AT ALL anymore, so i am down at LEAST two visits to Sheffield and it's Delightful People.

    I was BEMOANING this general Lack Of Seeing Pals a few weeks ago at home when The Bands On My Bill said "You could always just go and SEE them." I was stunned - go and SEE my friends? Is that allowed? As luck would have it I'd ALSO seen that there was a gig with an AMAZING bill happening in Sheffield, so decided to try out this KRAZY SCHEME.

    So it was that I found myself getting off the train in Sheffield last night, feeling WEIRD. Every single other time I've EVER got off the train in Sheffield I've had a guitar with me, and the LACK of same this time was FREAKING ME OUT. As I walked along the tramway I had to keep reassuring myself that, contrary to what my SPIDER SENSE was telling me, i DIDN'T need to run back to the train to retrieve my AXE.

    I still felt ODD half an hour later when I got into a CAR without even my GIG BAG, but managed to QUELL this by entering into a Good Old Chat with Ms S Jenkins who'd picked me up, and we were soon in Walkley, striding up a HILL. And then STAGGERING up a hill - not Steph, who was POORLY, but ME, as I just can't deal with inclines. It's not natural.

    We met Ms P Blackham in a curry house and settled down for further chat, also DELICIOUS CURRY. I had a Sag Paneer and it was the CHEESIEST paneer I've ever had - it went all stringy like Asterix In Switzerland!

    We were only allowed to sit at out table until 8pm due to Reservations (for the table, not about us...) so we popped over the road for a Swift Pint before Steph, in a move of immense Adult Sensibleness, went back home to continue her Recovery, while Penny and I got a taxi into town to The Stockroom, where THE GIG was happening.

    Unfortunately i MISSED the first band, The 10p Mixes, who i haven't seen for AGES, but DID get to see The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut, who appeared to be on ROCKING form. There was a TON of new material of a DISTINCTLY rocky nature, and New Drummer Fairy was slotted RIGHT in. It was ACE!

    Next up was Allo Darlin', who I don't think I've ever seen before, and not heard much of either. I've seen Elizabeth play on her own, I think, but everyone keeps going on about how GRATE they are so I wanted to find out if they were right.

    They were VERY right - COR! They were ACE, it was a half hour of TUNES and jumping around and general EXCITING SCENES of How Gigs Should Be! BRILLIANT!

    At this point I bought a whole BATCH of CDs, had a bit of an old chat (various) and then settled in to see The School - see, i told you it was an AMAZING BILL. They were, of course, FANTASTIC as they always are, and it was a very very happy Hibbett INDEED who said his farewells and stumbled out into the Sheffield night and back to The Ibis. Turns out going to see you friends WITHOUT having to do a gig works out pretty good!

    posted 12/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    It Begins
    Last night we had a house guest, in the shape of Mr S Hewitt, who had come round for the first rehearsal of Dinosaur Planet: THE MUSICAL.

    Before we go any further, let's get some BRANDING CLARITY on the many different versions of Dinosaur Planet that exist. So far we've got:
  • The Stand-Up Version - the original, as performed by me from last year's Fringe up to the other week at The Leicester Comedy Festival
  • The Concept Album - currently being recorded in various studios, set to IMPACT and change forever the world of ROCK later this year
  • The Animated Proposal - a script for a cartoon version has been written by Mr J Kell, and it was this that we performed at his writers' group at the start of the year
  • The Musical - this year's Edinburgh Show, wherein myself and Steve play all the characters and ACT OUT the whole thing

  • PHEW! That is a whole lot of versions - and hopefully ALL of these will later feed in to the WEST END SHOW version which I'm planning on working up once all these other ones are sorted out. It is the Franchise that just keeps on ROCKING!

    So yes, it was The Musical that we were working on, with a script that has been developed over the past few months, based on the one for The Concept Album but with several adjustments to make it work with just the two of us. We had a complete run through of the whole thing, and by JINGO but it was good fun. With all due modesty I must say it was actually QUITE FUNNY - I'd been a bit worried that the talky bits might drag but much to my surprise a) they WHIP by at high speed and b) are full of GAGS!

    It does need some work though - there's still a few sections where it stumbles over itself with the changing of COSTUMES (yes, COSTUMES), there's some scope for EXTRA GAGS and I need to look at one of my Accent Choices - the IDEA of Sean Connery playing Terry's Grandad is a GRATE one, but does slightly impinge on the CLARITY of what's being said.

    Most of all though I need to look at sharing at the SINGING more, especially in the first half, where most of the songs are sung by ONE person. This is fine for gigs and the recorded version, but when we're doing it as a DUO a) it seems a bit flat when just one of us is singing compared to b) it's a LOT more fun and offers more scope for ACTING and GAGS when there's two of us. Our next practice is in a couple of weeks, so it's RE-WRITE weekend for me!

    All in all though I think it's looking like being pretty FAB. My favourite bit is a LINE if have written for MYSELF as Terry's Mum which is so RIPE for AMAZING ACTING that they might as well just GIVE me the TONY AWARD right now, but it's PACKED with Good Bits. Now all we have to do is LEARN it!

    posted 11/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    An Interview In Song
    Here's something rather GRATE: an interview I did with Robots And Electronic Brains in the form of a SONG!

    As you might guess, this took AGES to do as it is MUCH MUCH HARDER than you'd think. If you are now thinking "Well, i think it would be EXTREMELY hard, so there!" it was still MUCH MUCH HARDER than that. It was DIFFICULT!

    It took us MONTHS to get it done, but I must say I think it worked out quite well. I've recorded a version of it WITH MUSIC too, which will hopefully see the light of day fairly soon-ish, once Mr J Possession has done his vocals. Doing songs AS songs is MUCH easier!

    posted 11/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Croydon, City Of A Thousand Dreams
    On the way to Croydon last night I realised that this was actually going to be my first proper gig of the year. Everything else has been EITHER Dinosaur Planet OR bits and bobs in the middle of other things, but NOT an actual normal whole-bunch-of-songs with setlist written just before going on. PANIC!

    Well, not panic, but NERVOUSNESS anyway, not least because things were going to be a bit different this time. I love going and playing at The Green Dragon, as it's always a good night AND you get FREE BEER if you play AND the beer is DELICIOUS, but also because it's run by Mr T Eveleigh and there's usually someone else I know playing. This time Tim was off on holiday and all the other acts were unknown to me, so I wasn't sure what would happen.

    I walked past the "Excellent Nandos", as featured in this week's Harry Hill, and into the pub where I noticed a sign on the wall saying that "rubbish EDF" were going to be turning off the electricity at 10pm. "I wonder when that was?" I thought. Mark The Soundguy (who tonight was also Mark The Event Organiser) BOUNDED over to say hello and also to tell me that that was TONIGHT. "We've got to be all finished by half past nine", he said. Ah. That would be why everyone was paying so much attention to the chap soundchecking, then. The gig had already BEGUN.

    This chap was Adrian Taylor, who was soon joined by Simon Metheringham. Simon went on after him, and was joined by ... Adrian Taylor! I wasn't sure if this was HEINOUS CHEATING, but it didn't really matter as they were LOVELY - ooh, they did proper harmonies and EVERYTHING, it was ACE!

    And then it was MY turn to go on. Usually at these evenings Tim asks three questions, one of which is "Do you have a fascinating fact to tell us about yourself?" This time, WISELY, Mark had asked everyone to just LEAP on stage and get going, in order to make sure everyone got a decent slot, but I couldn't resist telling everyone my fascinating fact ANYWAY, which was, of course, The Whole Judge Dredd Business. People looked IMPRESSED, and so I launched straight into THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B)
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • (theme from) Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It all seemed to go pretty well. (theme from) Dinosaur Planet went down the BEST, and it was good to feel that Don't, Darren, Don't works as a song OUTSIDE of its Parent Musical too. Crikey tho, i really MUST be out of practice because I could feel my voice start to BUCKLE after the first couple of songs, and was starting to Properly Strain by the end. Bad Hibbett, extra practice for YOU!

    After me it was the very funny Mr Jay Foreman who, as the title would suggest, was very funny, and then that was THAT - time to pack up and GET OUT. Mark led a happy band of us round the corner to his local pub for a swift post-gig pint, which was GRATE. Usually after Green Dragon gigs I have to FLEE at high speed to go and get my last train home, so it was brilliant to be able to relax and have a bit of an old chat. Hmm... starting and finishing gigs early to enable relaxing PINTS afterwards? That's not a bad idea...

    posted 10/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    High Speed Action
    I had a delightful day out at the weekend involving the HIGH SPEED TRAIN. It was GRATE!

    As you may or may not be aware, the 2012 Olympics will be happening in London, mostly in Stratford which is about half an hour's walk, or a five minute tube journey, from mine own humble abode. As part of the MASSIVE construction work (during which much, though most would say not enough, of Stratford itself has been FLATTENED) they've been building a High Speed Rail Link from London St Pancras to Stratford and then all the way out to Kent, along the same route (i think) as the Channel Tunnel. Stratford International Station opened for business a little while ago and, as it was LOUDLY HALLOOED as only taking SIX MINUTES (where normally it takes about half an hour on the tube) my good friend Dr Neil Brown and I thought we would give it a go.

    The Glamour And Excitement got off to a good start with us queuing at a wooden BOOTH outside Stratford Station for longer than the journey itself would take in order to get tickets. The ticket lady assumed I wanted a ticket to KENT, and looked at me like i was a LOONIE when I said "No, to St Pancras please." It cost us a fiver each, or £3.30 with Neil's railcard. BARGAIN!

    With tickets in hand we went through the barriers and along to Platform 11 at the far end of the station, and then walked all the way long it until we came to a GAP in the fence. Here we SURPRISED a Transport Employee, who pointed us in the direction of one of his colleagues, leaning out of a portakabin. "Have you got tickets?" he asked. We showed him "No no, don't waster your time showing me," he said with a smile, "Just get on the bus!"

    Another of his colleagues put down his newspaper and strolled to the bus that awaited us. This is the only way to GET to Stratford International - apparently it's going to have a link road, pedestrian walkways and DLR link when it's finished, but for now you have to get a Shuttle Bus (which contained 2 other passengers when we went) which takes you on an EXCITING JOURNEY through the MASSIVE construction site.

    The walk and then bus trip had, once again, taken us longer than our eventual High Speed Train was meant to, if only just, but it was worth it when we disembarked at Stratford International. It's a MASSIVE station that will be a huge transport HUB in a couple of years, but for now it was DESERTED, and the huge ceilings, enormous windows and shiny floors only made it seem more so. For some reason there were ticket machines switched on - even though it was impossible to get that far without a ticket - and a clutch of further Transport Employees, AMAZED to see anyone.

    We went down to the platform which looked like something out of "Survivors" or, as Neil said, one of those Virtual Life games where there's absolutely nobody about. The train soon came in, at HIGH SPEED, and we were the only people to get on. It was quite full with passengers who must have been slightly NARKED that an extra few minutes was added to their journey so that nobody could get off and two KRAZY GUYZ like us could get on, but we were soon ZOOMING away.

    The trip FLASHED by and five minutes later we emerged from the tunnel near St Pancras and started to slow down for our arrival. As the ROBOT TANNOY said "This is St Pancras, where our journey ends" (a very nice way of putting it, I thought) it really looked like the six minute story was going to hold true... until we ground to a halt and sat in SILENCE for about five minutes, waiting for a platform to come clear.

    WELL DONE EVERYBODY! I can't really complain, it WAS only five minutes but when that basically DOUBLES your journey time it does seem a bit much. Still, we eventually got to disembark and come down the Mysterious Stairwell that has sat right at the BACK of St Pancras ever since it opened, and emerge BLINKING into the centre of town. It was GRATE!

    After that we set off on a HEARTY WALK along Regents Canal, stopping off for an ENORMOUS and DELICIOUS and CHEAP meal at Indian Veg in Islington before nipping into The Palm Tree in Mile End (one of the LOVELIEST and most PUBBY pubs in all of London Town) for a couple of Well Deserved Pints then making our way through A BIT SCARY Tower Hamlets Graveyard and HOME. It was a LOVELY day out and, BY GOLLY, I slept well that night!

    posted 9/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    In my career in ROCK there have been many highs - playing live on Radio 1, the whole Hey Hey 16K business, gigging around the world etc etc - but on Friday something happened which pretty much eclipsed THE LOT. It was THIS:


    What you're seeing there is a character in this month's Judge Dredd Magazine who is NAMED AFTER ME!

    REALLY! A few people have said "Are you sure it's not just a coincidence or something?" And i say "YES! I am COMPLETELY SURE!" for LO! this story is written by the GRATE Mr Al Ewing who a) is surely the HEIR to writing Dredd come J Wagner's eventual retirement b) i have met on a number of occasions and found to be VALID c) CONFIRMED it to me via the medium of twitter.

    So just to confirm: OH MY GOOD GOD! There is a character named after me IN JUDGE DREDD!!!!! If anyone knows of a HIGHER HONOUR than this then, goodness me, you can keep it to yourself for it would surely BLOW MY MIND! You can keep your Mercury Prizes and your Brits - THIS is pretty much THE most exciting thing EVER! Is there a Judge Him Out Of Radiohead? I THINK NOT.

    And if there is, don't tell me.

    Crikey - thank you Mr Ewing, and thank you THARG THE MIGHTY for letting it happen. Now, how long until the Constable Hibbett Summer Special is ready?

    posted 7/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Exciting Gig Announcements
    It's all a bit quiet in the world of ROCK at the moment - the Validator Hiatus is in full effect, rehearsals for Dinosaur Planet: THE MUSICAL are yet to begin, and I'm waist deep in PHP and SQL as i skip happily through the fields of PROGRAMMING towards completion of the new look website.

    SIDEBAR: yes, after my MOANING about Blogger and it's cessation of FTP Blogging Provision I went out looking for alternatives and eventually found that I'd need to get a new service provider in order to make ANYTHING work and, once I'd got THAT sorted out and rediscovered the JOYS of online databases, realised that actually the simplest thing of ALL would be to just do it MYSELF. So that's what I'm doing - hopefully this BESPOKE version of the webpages will be up and about before the end of April, and will feature EVERYTHING that's here now (in slightly different locations) and a whole HOST of extra features. I'm MOST excited about the possibilities of running parts of The Database Of ROCK online, so that not only will you be able to see where, say, an individual song has been released, you'll also be able to see EVERYWHERE that it's ever been played. ZANG!

    Anyway, as a result of all this things are as stated a little quiet, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a couple of GIG ANNOUNCEMENTS. Here goes!

    First of all I'm very very VERY happy to announce that The Validators' ONLY festival gig this summer will be at the Indietracks Festival! HOORAH! I know it's probably not that much of a surprise - and it wasn't like Monsters Of Rock were banging our door down or anything - but we're VERY excited about it. We'll also hopefully be doing a warm-up gig in the Midlands a couple of days beforehand, and then that'll probably be IT for us doing gigs together until November at the earliest!

    In the meantime though there will, of course, be Dinosaur Planet: THE MUSICAL to look forward to and though we can't announce dates and venue for the Edinburgh run just yet (mostly because we haven't got it actually BOOKED just yet...) I am EXTREMELY happy to give the proposed dates for our post-Edinburgh Lap Of Honour. We're going to be doing TWO nights in London, on August 28th and 29th, at The Camden Head as part of the Camden Fringe Festival. Myself and Mr S Hewitt are rather CHUFFED with this, as it's a GRATE venue for it and who knows? We might even have got the hang of DOING it by then!

    If you need further details of these or ANY of the THRILLING live performances we have scheduled do pop over to the GIGS section, and maybe see you at one of them!

    posted 4/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    Blue Screen Of Death, Where Is They Sting?
    I've been having a really annoying time of it at work for the past few weeks, as my computer keeps on CRASHING. It started off when I got a Virus, some horrible MALWARE, but even when that was finally sorted out it kept on happening.

    I didn't make too much fuss at first because, to be honest, the things that seemed to cause it weren't exactly Work Critical - watching YouTube or listening to streaming radio, for instance, were pretty much GUARANTEED to make it hang and/or go to the Blue Screen Of Death. Things gradually got worse and worse though, especially when I had to do some web stuff for work, and once it was crashing every hour or so I decided enough was enough and called in the Main Site IT Guy.

    He came last Wednesday, when I was Working From Home, tried loads of stuff, and gave it a THOROUGH SCRUB. By 11am on Thursday it was crashing again! He thus came round again this morning to see what was going on, and we got TWO YouTube channels open, 6Music streaming live (featuring Lauren Laverne being BRILLIANT re: the just announced decision to kowtow to R.Murdoch and destroy huge chunks of what is good about the BBC), a flash animation, a STATS package and Photoshop opening HUGE pictures.

    Nothing, of course, happened. "I've got a song about this", I said. "Is it indie?" he asked. I was astonished. "I saw your trainers" he said. Ah. "Yes", I admitted, and showed him this:

    THAT didn't do it either so eventually he went away.

    Twenty minutes later, of course, it crashed again. Just as I was halfway through writing this blog...

    posted 2/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Weekend Of Pals
    I had a lovely weekend, heavily featuring several pals of long acquaintance.

    On Saturday I went to Peterborough to enjoy a long discussed PUB CRAWL with Messrs Guest, Hare and Myland with whom what I went to school with. We generally only ever all get together for The Peterborough Beer Festival and have been talking for AGES about DOUBLING these reunions, and this weekend we finally managed it. We kept the them of getting very very drunk in Peterborough, however, and saw a LOT of pubs, many of whom I hadn't been in for nearly TWENTY YEARS. We started off in The Botolph Arms, which we used to go in a lot in the sixth form and shortly after and I got ACTUAL VERTIGO from the WEIRDNESS of walking in with the same group of people and finding it EXACTLY the same.

    We had a BLOODY LOVELY time from start to finish, although i didn't particularly enjoy staggering out of BOGARTS (it claims to be called something else now, but isn't) at half past nine RATHER TIPSY and then realising I had about two and a half hour worth of TRAVEL to go before I could get to bed. You know when you start to get hungover while you're still drunk, and have to concentrate REALLY HARD on staying awake? THAT happened.

    I was thus feeling RATHER delicate the next day when I had to set off to the final day of London Popfest 2010, where myself and Mr S Hewitt were due to present the POP QUIZ. After last year's rather shambolic affair we had, along with Mr J Jervis, made great efforts to ensure that this year's was rather more ORGANISED, which was a good thing as I don't think I would have PHYSICALLY COPED any other way. You know when a hangover PROPERLY kicks in at midday and makes your hands go numb? THAT happened. As The Alcohol In My Booze commented later on, it's not THAT long ago that we all used to do Ridiculous Drinking of this kind EVERY weekend and think nothing of it. Sorry, my insides!

    Anyway I soon sorted myself out with coffee, juice, and Hair Of The Dog, and the whole quiz went off, I thought, RATHER well. I particularly enjoyed doing the Britpop Ink Polaroids round (i.e. Britpop album covers described in the style of Stuart David when he was in Belle & Sebastian) and Steve proved himself to be the MASTER of pub quizes by RAMPING up the tension throughout.

    At the end we gave out GOODIE BAGS. I'd ordered some LOVELY paper bags and dug out the VALID stamp to decorate them, and myself, The Jerv, and Mr B Clancy had PACKED them with Rare And Little Seen Items Of Back Catalogue (hem hem) which everybody seemed quite pleased to partake of. After that there was just time for some chat with some of the MANY delightful people who were there before wandering home, there to sit quietly and watch telly, recovering from my exploits. What a lovely weekend that was!

    posted 1/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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