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Blog Archive: May 2011

Newsletter Day
I've just sent out the latest edition of the newsletter and, looking through it, everything appears to be VERY organised and efficient. All projects appear to be steadily striding towards completion like the very MODEL of multiple strand brand extension. If I didn't know any better I would be IMPRESSED!

I must a confess, however, that it doesn't feel that way from this end! There is a TON of stuff going on and I am barely keeping it under control as it IS. Take Moon Horse for instance - as well as learning lines, GRAPPLING with props, and preparing for the preview shows (which start next week - YIKES!) I've also been beavering away on the RADIO version, which I'm going to go and hand deliver THIS VERY LUNCHTIME for someone to have a look at. In the same lunch hour I'm ALSO popping round the corner to see someone about a new venue (and, possibly, whole new MODUS OPERANDI) for Totally Acoustic - by "new modus operandi" i just mean it might be MONTHLY, rather than ELECTRICAL or anything, don't worry! We're hoping to have a SUMMER SPECIAL in London to go with the two Edinburgh ones, then MIGHT switch over to a regular night every month starting in the winter.

ALSO MEANWHILE the lumbering behemoth that is Dinosaur Planet rumbles on. I've started work in EARNEST on the eventual multi-media aspect of the CD - the SCRIPT is pretty much done, and over the weekend I finished transcribing THE CHORDS. This was actually quite restful - drawing chord diagrams for the (not very many!) chords required was oddly relaxing, and now I just need to add some PHOTOGRAPHS to make a rather nice little package. When that's done I really need to get on with NOTE TAKING for the MIXING SESSIONS which begin in a couple of weeks. Oh, and there's the contents of the CD Booklet to work out too!

And then there's also various OTHER gigs - not least one a week today when i am [EEEK!!] COMPERING - and SECRET PROJECTS including a SONG I've got to learn for someone next week and new batches BADGES and possible T-SHIRTS and... well, you get the idea.

I think the best thing I can do to make things easier, rather than actually GET ON and DO some of these things, is to write a lengthy blog about it and drive myself into PANIC about it all! AAAARRRGGH!!!

posted 31/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Writers' Group
I usually Work From Home on Wonderful Wednesdays, but this week I headed in to TOWN on Wednesday evening (going the opposite way from usual) to attend a Writers' Group meeting with Mr John Kell. I'd been with him before when we had a reading of part of the film script of Dinosaur Planet, and this time we were there for the same thing for the RADIO script for Moon Horse that I was on about a couple of blogs ago.

We gathered at a Casting Studio in London's Fashionable Soho Area Of London, which was SWANKY to the MAX, and spent a good few hours with people reading out and discussing SCRIPTS. As with last time this was FASCINATING, both for the points raised AND the way people reacted to them. After a 10-15 minute reading there'd be a discussion, during which people put forward criticism and ideas, all of which varied from INCISIVE and THOUGHT PROVOKING to... well, a bit less so. It was SCARY to start with, especially when it was OUR SCRIPT and people DARED to say there were things they didn't like, but it was also INSPIRING. I had to keep thinking to myself "You don't have to make ANY of these changes, it's just THORTS" and with that in mind it was GRATE - once you RELAX and REALISE this the BRANE opens up and actually LETS IN new ideas. For instance, the biggest point I took on board was that our PILOT EPISODE is a bit like a series of SKETCHES - that was the IDEA, but someone suggested there could be more of a THROUGH STORY connecting the whole thing, which is such a simple idea but I'd never considered it.

Other people said things which i TOTALLY disagreed with, but which made me sort of happy to HAVE there. There was an opinion amongst some people that it was like a KIDS show, and needed EDGE to make it more like adults. This is an opinion i DO NOT agree with - I don't see why you can't still have a bit of DELIGHT also MAGIC when you are over 18 - but it's obviously something that OTHER people will think (and may not express it quite as constructively and nicely as the people at the meeting) so needs to have an ANSWER, and if possible one that doesn't involve me CRYING and saying "LET MY BABY BE!"

So yes, it was a brilliant thing to go to - and maybe if I ever tag along again I'll feel brave enough to actually ADD IDEAS when it's someone else's script. I didn't DARE to this time, despite sitting there thinking "MMMM!! You should let the Old Man Walking His Dog be married to Old Lady Later On In The Pub, that'd be BRILL!" for ten minutes without putting my hand up.

And blimey - imagine if they did this sort of thing for SONGS! Would anybody ever emerge UNINJURED?

posted 27/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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On Listening To 'WE VALIDATE!' Again
I don't use Last FM, and part of the reason (apart from the whole Can't Be Bothered/Own an iPod/Work In A Shared Office kind of thing) is that i would DREAD anyone ever seeing my "Top 3 Artists" Auto-Tweet for LO! it would ALWAYS look pretty much like this:

My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: MJ Hibbett & The Validators (3,000,000), Paul McCartney/The Beatles (28) & Whatever Came Up Twice On Shuffe This Week (2)

It is thus fair to that I spend a LOT of time listening to my own recordings, for TWO particular reasons. First of all, because i LIKE them - some people make a big deal about NOT listening to their own stuff, which always makes me think "If YOU don't like it, why the hell are you FOISTING it on unsuspecting PUNTERS? Record something you DO like and let us hear that instead. You big wazzock". A lot of what i like about our songs is that I've still not quite got used to the idea that I'm ALLOWED in studios to RECORD stuff. Every time I listen to anything I've been involved in I think "COR! I did that! ME! With overdubs and EVERYTHING!" and get a bit EXCITED, also HAPPY, which are two of my FAVOURITE states of mind.

The second reason for listening to my own stuff is that I'm usually CHECKING it. For instance, over the course of the past YEAR I have had about five different versions of Dinosaur Planet to listen to, as we go through recording, mixing, overdubbing, re-mixing and re-re-mixing it. This has been ESPECIALLY the case with this album as there's SO MUCH and also there's all the dialogue bits to think about, but whatever our CURRENT PROJECT is I always listen to it a LOT. There's also a very rough version of Moon Horse that's getting a lot of play at the moment too.

Put those two things together and it's a LOT of listening, but it always means it's pretty much all RECENT listening. There isn't a NEED to listen to, say, Wonderful Wednesday as a) it's FINISHED and b) i listened to it SO MUCH when I was putting this together.

The reason i am BANGING ON about all this today is that earlier on this morning I got an email from Mr P Shuttleworth, part of which was to ALERT me that he'd used a couple of our songs in one of his YouTube videos. I hadn't heard Better Things To Do for AGES - actually, probably YEARS - so it suddenly sounded sort of NEW to me. "Cor!" i thought, "i LIKE that - maybe I'll listen to the ALBUM on the way to work!"

The album it comes from is WE VALIDATE! which is STILL, in many ways, our Most Succesful Record. It's the one we've sold most of, had by far the most airplay, and seems to be the one that people LIKE most. This has always felt a bit ODD to me - I always think Regardez, Ecoutez Et Repetez is better (possibly because it's most recent) but it's WE VALIDATE! that seems to appeal to people most. I have occasionally thought that, in the EXTREMELY unlikely event that we ever get to do one of those Recreate A Classic Album gigs then THIS would be the one we'd have to do.

So it was with mixed emotions that I put it on at Leytonstone Station - but very soon i was AMAZED by how much I liked it. It's SUCH a long time since I'd heard it that I had FORGOTTEN the running order and indeed half the songs so when, for instance, Dino At The Sands came on it took me completely by surprise, and I found myself listening to my CONSTANT HECTORING (goodness me, there's a lot of me HECTORING on this album, right from the very start) like a HECTOREE for the first time. I tell you what, there's some good songs on there isn't there? Why don't we do Tell Me Something You Do Like any more?

(That sound you just heard was the distant sound of Tim EXPLODING on the other side of the world, unable to contain THE RAGE of SO many setlist discussions when I refused to do half the songs I know think would be A Good Idea. My condolences to the remaing Pattisons)

It also reminded me of WHAT FUN we had recording it. We went down to DEVON for a week to do the main recordings, and I was awash with lovely memories of that time. For instance, listening to the end of The Gay Train i remembered coming back from a morning at the beach with Tim, the Junior Pattisons and The Sand On My Shore (where Tim and I had built CASTLE VALIDATOR) to find Frankie and Emma VERY EXCITED about the harmonies they'd been recording. "It's like The Beatles", said Frankie, knowing EXACTLY what I would like to hear. Or, at the end of The Fight For History where the "Miner's Choir" (as we called it) gradually fades in - i believe BEER had been taken when we did that, there certainly had been when we moved on to record The Advent Calendar Of FACT the same evening - or thinking of the Hector Collectors sample at the start of Mental Judo or... well, you get the idea.

The nicest part of the WHOLE experience, however, was realising how much i - DON'T TELL THEM I SAID SO - miss The Validators. When Tim and Emma first went off to Mauritius I think we were ALL fairly calm about it. It wasn't going to be THAT long and, anyway, there were plenty of other things for everyone to be getting on with. Now, however, it's been SO LONG since we did a gig all together (holy CRAP - it's nearly a YEAR since we played Indietracks, and before that it was BERLIN and a Christmas gig!) that - AGAIN, DON'T TELL THEM - I'm now really looking forward to when we can start getting ready for Dinosaur Planet gigs.

Obviously that won't be for a while yet - 40% of the band are in the Southern Hemispher for a month or two, and then 20% of the band will be spending most of August in Edinburgh - but it has made me realise how SENSIBLE it is when Proper Bands take a year off from sitting in VANS with each other to pursue Solo Projects. Concept Albums, as the old saying goes, make the heart grow fonder.

But don't tell The Validators I said so - they think of me as ALOOF, IMPERIOUS and STERN, and I'd like to keep it that way!

posted 26/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Whole Lot Of Scripts
Although it may SEEM from previous information that I spent all of last week RELAXING and LOAFING AROUND, the actual truth of the matter is that I spent a large amount of time working. Working at The Hardest Job In The World.

For LO! I took the script for Moon Horse with me and DILIGENTLy spent large chunks of my day LEARNING it. Even when i lay apparently COMATOSE on the beach my mind was AWHIRRING with the activities of Geoffrey Livingstone and co, running through all the lines and occasionally CHORTLING at the jokes - jokes which i wrote myself. That means they must be REALLY funny, right?

This needs doing as we now have only THREE practices until our first PREVIEW SHOW in Northampton, which is suddenly a bit SCARY. Very very soon this will cease to be an excuse for me and Steve to LARK ABOUT and become a Deadly Serious Theatrical Endevour. All right, maybe not deadly serious, but still: if anyone turns up they will have paid CA$H MONEY to see us, and so minimising the RAMSHACKLENESS is a good idea.

These attempts at BUFFOONERY REDUCTION have taken a bit of a knock in the past couple of days due to SCRIPT confusion, as there is a DIFFERENT version of the show now knocking around inside my head. A couple of weeks ago I did a mini-mailshot to people who I thought we might be able to interest in a RADIO version of the show. The idea was to see if we could persuade them to come and see it in Edinburgh, by which time Mr J Kell and I hoped to have worked out a half hour pilot version with which to IMPRESS them. To be honest I didn't expect anyone to be in the slightest bit bothered, so you can imagine my ALARM when a couple of people WERE - especially when one of them said they'd be happy to see the SCRIPT which a) I'd said we had available but b) we hadn't actually written yet.

Cue DISCUSSION, THORT, and last Sunday a FRENZY of typing as I attempted to finish off a draft John had begun with about 20 minutes of STUFF. It actually worked out pretty well - about half of it was lifted from the existing version and the rest had been MULLED OVER by the pair of us in PUBS, but still I was quite chuffed to be able to sit down and DO it, especially when i realised I could gently ease Control Alt Delete into a GAP and thus not only save myself writing a NEW song but also re-use one i really LIKED.

While I was away John read, cogitated upon, and revised the script, and I'm now working through CHECKING it ready for a READTHROUGH tomorrow night before sending it off. It's all terribly exciting - as I say, I never thought anyone would want to see it - but my poor old brain is getting a bit care-worn trying to marry up the two. It's like trying to remember the differences between Marvel and Ultimate Marvel - is this the one with Madeline P Hartington (MSc) in it? Or is that the one where Reed Richards is a BADDIE?

It's tough, but HEY! that's why they call it The Hardest Job In The World.

posted 24/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Home From Hols
HOLA one and all, you find me today TANNED and RESTED (VERY tanned and VERY rested) after an DELIGHTFUL week off in Majorca with The Islands Of My Balearics. We had an ACE time - weather was FAB and we therefore did a LOT of Traditional Sun Bathing, Traditional Swimming In The Sea and Traditional... er... drinking beer at lunchtime, eating biscuits and reading books.

The one and only thing I would seek to REVISE next time around is our flight time back - we went off on Monday lunchtime which was GRATE, as the plane was only two thirds full so we got a seat easily (we went Easyjet) and had a row of three to ourselves. We came home on Sunday morning - that's home from Palma Airport, on the last day of the weekend, flying back to Stansted Airport. There were A GREAT DEAL of Stag and Hen parties returning to ESSEX on that plane, and OH MY GOODNESS it was hard not to notice. Anyone who knows me will know I am ANYTHING BUT A SNOB (hem hem) but my dears, goodness me, some of those people were a little less than charming.

VERY CHARMING INDEED, however, was my one of my FAVOURITE occurrences the day before. We went for a bit of a LOAF around the pool for the early evening of our next day, just as most people were leaving for TEA. There were two young scottish kids in the pool, a brother and sister aged about 10 and 12 who were having a FINE OLD TIME of it with an inflatable ring. It was like watching an IDEALISED RECOLLECTION OF CHILDHOOD acted out as they laughed and giggled and messed around and unconsciously made US laugh at a) their antics b) the reminder of LIFE BEING ACE.

Meanwhile two full grown men were trying to do LENGTHS. The hotel pool where we stay is quite big as such things go but is STILL a splash pool, there for mucking around in, but they wanted to be SERIOUS - tho not as serious as a THIRD swimmer, who I watched with growing INCREDULITY as he stripped down to his trunks and then PUT ON A WETSUIT! A wetsuit! In a hotel swimming pool! When it'd been PROPER SUMMERTIME HOT all day long! He then put in PROFESSIONAL NOSE PLUGS and PROFESSIONAL GOGGLES and joined his friends in the pool for Serious Swimming.

It was MAGICAL. The three of them would gather at one end and have a Serious Discussion about Matters Arising From Serious Swimming (and, I think, cycling - there are LOADS of racing cyclists on Majorca these days and they looked like The Type) before setting off in UNISON to SCYTHE through the pool. When they all got back after two laps - in unison they would recommence their discussions. They spent about TEN MINUTES discussing how long the pool was (for their FITNESS SPREADSHEETS, i guess). "You should be able to tell by how many strokes you take" said one, and the others NODDED KNOWLEDGABLY before heading off again.

But all the time they were doing this, Ewan and Amy (i think), the Scottish kids, were still LARKING ABOUT. "WHOO!" they would shriek, as they pushed their inflatable off from the side, forcing the stern athletes to swim around them. "You paddle and I'll steer!" they would LARF at each other, as the swimmers mentally adjusted their lap times to account for the diversions caused. And my favourite - "I think I just jumped on that man!" just after the young boy HAD JUMPED ON ONE OF THEM as he sliced by through the water.

The whole time the swimmers COMPLETELY ignored the kids, not even smiling hello at them, too intent on their SERIOUS POOL USE. Me and The Water In My Pool lay there giggling away, trying to be inconspicuous, DELIGHTING at the PURE METAHOR being played out in front of us, illustrating exactly the aspects of childishness we should never lose sight of, whether in the correct use of an outdoor swimming pool on a gloriouslly warm early evening in summer, or indeed in life itself.

It was, like the whole week, BLOODY GRATE!

posted 23/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Out Of Office Auto-Reply
Today is my last day at WORK for a week as NEXt week myself and The Pool Near My Lounger and i are off to sunny (hopefully) MAJORCA for our HOLS. HOORAH! Anyone who has MET me will probably be aware of the fact that we go to the SAME PLACE every year and that is VERY MUCH what we are doing this time too. It's LOVELY - the reassurance that you KNOW where to get the bus from, you KNOW where the supermarket is, you KNOW how the BUFFET works (should you wish to get a little bit KRAZY and do that one night instead of HOME COOKING) and you KNOW it's really NOT a good idea to have more than one of the Poolside Bar Mega Quintuple Whiskies. Also: ooh! look! They've changed the name of one of the cafes!

I am, as you may have guessed, getting a bit EXCITED about it and am already planning my ROMP around the book shop at Stansted, hoovering up some HOLIDAY READS. Today I am thus finishing off all things that need finishing and TOYING with the wording of my Out Of Office Auto-Reply. It is EXTREMELY tempting to set a PRE-HOLIDAY one that says "I am not on holiday yet, but will be within a matter of hours. Therefore: don't give me any work to do, SUCKER, because I am unlikely to do it WELL!"

Probably best not tho eh? Anyway, what this means is that ALTHOUGH we will hopefully have interweb access I am going to try my hardest NOT to look at it too much and instead go and LOAF ABOUT outside and enjoy some RELAXO-TIME. There's tons of things kicking off when I get back, and those Moon Horse lines aren't going to learn themselves!

SO! Everyone look after yourselves while I'm away, and see you in a week and a bit!

posted 13/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic: The FINALE
I spent a rather large CHUNK of yesterday editing together the GRAND FINALE of this season of Totally Acoustic. For this second series I had made things a bit easier for myself by KEEPING all the setlists I'd written down when editing the individual episodes (which I didn't do for the first series, so I had to go through and work out half of it all over again) AND, with HUGE CUNNING, selecting tracks to SAVE as I went along. Well done, ME OF THE PAST, you saved me a LOT of work!

Chopping out the tracks was thus A DREAM, although joining them together took a little bit longer (usually it's PEASY, as I can cross-fade CLAPPING, but different days and audiences means you can suddenly TELL when that happens) and doing the talky bits in between took AGES. I thought "Oh this'll be easy, I'll listen to the end of the last song and the start of the next, and just say what each is" but as soon as I began my BRANE intervened and made me say STUPID things or, surprisingly often, IDIOTIC remarks which, when recorded, could be VERY EASILY taken to mean other things. This happened A LOT - and even when I managed to say something pretty SIMPLE I suddenly found that I was unable to SPEAK PROPER. I don't just mean the sudden YOKELISATION of my voice - although, as usual, the microphone somehow MANGLED by normal crystal clear BBC Home Service Accent Free voice into ONE OF THE WURZELS - but my inability to say SIMPLE WORDS. I tell you what, it gave me RENEWED RESPECT for Disc Jockeys and TV Continuity Announcers!

Once that was FINALLY done there was time for a little bit of - dare I say it - FLAIR. As you'll hear I have managed, in a couple of occasions, to do that DJ TRICK of fading a track in UNDER the introduction. I know some people don't LIKE that so I only did it a couple of times, but CRUMBS! It doesn't half sound PROPER!

With that all done, and apart from my bumbling and mumbling, the actual podcast sounds AMAZING. Even tho I BOOKED it I was still impressed by the DIVERSITY of stuff and the EXCELLENCE of the performers - there really is some CRACKING stuff on there, and i'm hoping that, if we can get a few people to HEAR it, it'll introduce some of the ACTS to a wider audience. With that in mind, I'd be extremely grateful to anyone who can PUBLICISE it in any way for us, whether it's blogging or twitting or EVEN - KRAZY IDEA - just mentioning it to their friends!

RETRO, i know, but still, it might just work! For those who like to know such things, here's the full list of CONTENTS:

Jenny Lockyer - Skinny Jim
Simon Fox - Don't Talk To Me About Love
Peter Buckley-Hill - Slobodan Milosevic Is Dead
Superman Revenge Squad - The Angriest Dog In The World
Matt Tiller - The First Dog In Space
The Understudies - Chip Pan Glam
Keith Top Of The Pops - Nicky Wire Can Suck My Cock
Vom Vorton - The Future Is Disappointing
Owen Tromans - Old At 21
Tim Eveleigh - Perfect
More Bad Times - Those Trainers Are Fucking Crazy
A Fine Day For Sailing - Summer Blonde
MJ Hibbett (and Steve) - We Did It Anyway

Why, if that were a compilation I would BUY it, if it were a MIXTAPE I would give the person who did it for me a great big sloppy KISS. Or possibly manly hug, should the situation require it. You don't have to do EITHER of those things, just go and have a listen. Go on, you'll like it, it's GRATE!

posted 12/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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A Whole Decade Of ROCK
Today is an auspicious day in the annals of ROCK for LO! it is the Tenth Anniversary (or "Tin Anniversary" which sounds suspiciously like whoever thought of it was put on the spot and came up with the closest thing to "ten" he could think of. We came THIS close to giving each other Suntan Lotion for ten years) of the first time me, Frankie, The Tiger, Emma and Tim did a GIG all together! Get out your bunting!

The gig was at The Bull & Gate, playing, I think, with The Fighting Cocks. Some aspects of it I remember VERY clearly, other parts are very fuzzy - I was reminded of it by Mr S Hewitt who thinks it MIGHT have been the first time he saw us, but there were OTHER Bull & Gate gigs around then that it could be. There's SEVERAL people whose first Validators gig it could be too, but it's all a bit confusing.

I definitely remember Tim and Emma getting THE HASSLE from an official in the Kentish Town tube station, and me being MIDDLE CLASS about it and saying "It's not good enough!" I also recall we went to eat in NANDO'S beforehand, and got so excited we had our picture taken, THUS:

So Young!

Look at us! So delighted! SO HAIRY! So... purple? The first three pictures in this gallery were from that night - I think this was when we'd JUST got a scanner at work, so i was THRILLED to be able to put pictures up on the interweb. It was THE FUTURE!

Looking back through the NEWS ARCHIVES I see that this was a night of SEVERAL things occurring - I had a quick chat to The Drummer From Ween (who seemed like a nice man) and someone who worked for NEWSROUND, who briefly floated the idea of me writing some political songs for KIDS, like a 21st Century Richard Stilgoe. Talking to The Drummer From Ween DOES seem like a decade ago, but I can't believe the Newsround thing was - I still sit and wonder if they're going to call me!

It was also the one and only time we performed our cover version of "Stan" as a full band - and even then we got CURTAILED by the soundman so only did about 30 seconds of the intro before realising the vocals weren't switched on. It's funny, I remember bits of the evening very clearly and, looking through ALL the gigs from 2001, have memories for ALL of them. I've been thinking this a lot lately - gigs from WAY BACK WHEN seem to all have stories attached, much more so than gigs from the past few years. At first I thought "Is this because I have become old and boring? is it all a SLOG now?" then fairly quickly realised that a) i do about THREE TIMES as many gigs a year now as I do then and b) most of the Humoroous Stories centre around me travelling a MILLION MILES to do gigs to NOBODY and then getting drunk and falling over, something which happens less often these days! Also I have got into the habit of doing large chunks of my gigs in the same venue (like Totally Acoustic and Edinburgh).

Anyway, the point I came here to make was this: Goodness me! Ten marvellous years of Classic Validators ACTION! There are MANY MANY stories allied with this line-up, and almost ALL of them revolve around us having a GRATE time - but then, they're all so LOVELY it would be difficult to be any other way, wouldn't it? Here's to another ten years, by which time we may even have finished "Dinosaur Planet"!

posted 11/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Saw Thor: COR!
On Monday night I met my old pal Mr Steven Carter last night and we went to see THOR. It was GRATE! It was my first new 3D film - Steve tells me the big PUSH for 3D films is from the studios, as it means people can't PIRATE it. Clever eh? We're basically wearing massive versions of the ELITE decoder lense on our FACES and PAYING for the privilege! I don't really see much other reason for it - I mean, it's OK, but why would you CHOOSE to see a film made to look like it's three layers of moving cardboard?

It made it look more like a COMIC than a film, which isn't all bad, but reminded me of the THICK LINES you used to get around foreground figures in Proper Old Fashioned Comics to denote closeness. Other than that it was ALL GOOD - the plot of the film basically goes like THIS:

WHAM! WHAM! BANG! Anthony Hopkins. WHAM! JOKE!
BANG! JOKE! Samuel L Jackson.

I don't think I've missed anything have I? This was EXACTLY what I was looking for in a Superhero film - too often the producers seem to think "Hmm, this character/story has been popular for forty years. The reason for this CANNOT BE the actual CHARACTER or STORY, it must just be THE NAME so we'll change EVERYTHING ELSE and make it BORING" and add in layers of a) IRONY b) KISSING c) some useless idiot wandering around a desert very much NOT SMASHING THINGS. Since Marvel Comics have come along, however, they do seem to have made wonderful strides in the art of Making It Like The Comics and I was most impressed by how VERY faithful to THOR it was, especially with The Warriors Three and SIF. They were the BEST!

So yeah, all round it was SUPER DUPER and I am now EAGER for "Captain America" to come along and then - YOINKS! - The Avengers!

posted 11/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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The Hardest Job In The World
This week i have FINALLY forced myself to sit down and start learning my LINES for Moon Horse. It's HARD WORK - not because it's particularly difficult, but because it's SO VERY DULL. Man alive! Just the thought of having to start doing it fills me with DREAD - you know when actors bang on about how "difficult" their job of PRETENDING THINGS is? I start to wonder whether they talk about EMOTIONS and that all the time just to disguise the fact that actually the difficult comes from the main effort being so BORING. Once the words are IN your head, of course, it is all good times and LARKS, but this bit his rotten.

Still, they do seem to be gradually going in all right. I'm mostly doing it on the TUBE of a morning, learning a SCENE at a time and then spending the rest of the day repeating it inside my MIND like some kind of LOONIE - if you see me wandering around talking to myself over the next few weeks FEAR NOT: i am learning my lines. If you see me doing it at any other point in time... er... that's just me agreeing with myself.

The nice side effect of all this is that I'm starting to think that this new show might be QUITE GOOD. Little chunks of it are already filtering into my everyday thought processes and conversation (e.g. "That wouldn't be... TOO difficult to organise" and "By Moon Poo Defeated!") which is a good sign, and I've even ALMOST got the order of the PLOT arranged in my head. There's a lot of going backwards and forwards this time - Dinosaur Planet was LINEAR to the MAX, but this one's in THREE segments, the first two of which run alongside each other, so it's not QUITE as straightforward. In fact I would advise people coming to see it to watch it TWICE, just to make sure they get the full effect. It works for Doctor Who, why can't it work for me?

posted 10/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Cover Versions
Today I have some MARVELLOUS videos to show you - don't panic, they're not going to be me trying to persuade you of the virtues of House Of Lords reform or anything (altho these opinions are very much available iN PUBS should you require them), they are some COVER VERSIONS of MY songs!

A few months ago I received an AMAZING video from Mr Driek Heesakkers of him doing an acapella version of We're Old And We're Tired (and we want to go home) which was BRILLIANT... but he was a bit too NERVOUS about it for me to share it with anyone. HOWEVER I now have the following non-acapella but LIVE IN CONCERT version which i CAN share with you, THUS:

Isn't it FANTASTIC? I love the way he sings it so casually, and everyone JOINS IN! Even though he's singing in FOREIGN!! This reminded me of a couple of OTHER cover versions, the first of which features Mr J Walsh doing Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine

I LOVE the way he does ALL the music - this is one of my FAVOURITE songs that I've ever done, so am especially MOVED to see it being covered, not least by someone who - SURELY - would be too young to even REMEMBER Polytechnics, let alone their discotheques?

On a similar A Million Ukeleles TIP here's the title song from that album performed a couple of years ago by Jules:

Another lovely version - which always seems to be to be being played in a MUCH more fancy way than I ever managed - altho people with a delicate constitution do be warned, it was filmed by an ACTUAL small child so does tend to get a bit SHAKY!

Next here's Mr Robin Harbron of THUNDER BAY (Robin's bought quite a few of our CDs over the year, and it always feels VERY EXCITING to send stuff to THUNDER BAY!) performing a GRATE version of We Only Ever Meet In Church:

You may also note that he is playing it IN A CHURCH for extra Song VALUE! Excellent work sir! Next we have one by Mr G Weiss, which a NUMBER of people have emailed me about saying "Have you SEEn this? What is THIS about?

As I recall Gregg (who is the SAME GREGG, by the way, featured in I Did A Gig In New York) had an idea that LOTS of people could do similar sort of versions to his - it was an idea I was FULLY behind (hey! every time one of my songs is played on YouTube I get 0.00000001p [approx] from the PRS!) but didn't quite catch on. Maybe it's time has yet to come?

And finally, for now, here's a cover version featuring ACTUAL VALIDATORS. You may have noticed the incredibly MULTINATIONAL feel of the songs so far, well get THIS: this one was recorded on the tropical island of MAURITIUS!

Not only does this feature the aforesaid ACTUAL VALIDATORS (I thought they were meant to be WORKING out there, not LARKING ABOUT!) but also some of the ACTUAL CHOIR OF CHILDREN that appear on the finished version of this track. Why, it's like bootleg footage from St Winifreds, but TROPICAL!

Thanks very much INDEED to EVERYBODY who's been in these videos - it's been lovely to go back and be reminded of them, and if anybody knows of any MORE, do let me know in the comments bit below, I'd LOVE to see them!

posted 9/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Dinosaurs Make Everything Better
Whilst typing (HAMMERING OUT) yesterdays somewhat GRUMPY blog I noticed at the top of the screen that an email had appeared in my gmail account. "I'll finish this before I look at it", i thought, wanting to get the GRUMP out of my HEAD and out into the ETHER as soon as possible, but also thinking "It'll be something ELSE annoying I'm sure."

OH HOW WRONG I WAS, for LO! It was the OPPOSITE entirely, something so very wonderful that even my Personal Best GRUMP Of 2011 was dispelled IMMEDIATELY, replaced by some giggling and the suddent need to nip outside to SCAMPER ABOUT a bit with GLEE.

"What could this email BE?" you are doubtless thinking. Allow me to SATE your delightful curiousity: it was an email from Mr John Allison, creator of my FAVOURITE web comic Bad Machinery. I've been following his work for YEARS and can often be seen sporting his T-SHIRTS (e.g. the "It Is Rock O'Clock", "Space IS Weird", "Books Rule" and MANY MANY MORE), so when I realised I would need a Proper Artist to DRAW the cover of "Dinosaur Planet" his name was top of the list.

And THUS i am very happy to report that he IS going to be doing the cover for album, and that the email in question contained the first CONCEPT ART for this very thing: AND THAT IT LOOKED AMAZING! As with the actual music itself I am trying VERY HARD INDEED to keep things under wraps until they are all completed, so won't be showing anything here for a while yet, but do please take my word for it when i say IT IS GOING TO BE FANTASTIC! He's also going to be doing us some ILLUSTRATIONS for the CD Booklet - so far we've seen a rough sketch for one of General Truelove negotiationg with the Space Dinosaurs and IT PRETTY MUCH BLEW MY MIND!

But wait! There is one more thing you must know! THERE ARE GOING TO BE T-SHIRTS TOO!!!

So yes, as you can probably tell, I am MORE than a little excited about it all and very very happy with how this particular aspect is panning out. We're even booked into the studio in a few weeks to do the PENULTIMIXES - it's going to be a good old while yet until the album is available to BUY, as there's mixing, mastering, MANUFACTURING and all sorts to get through yet (with a big gap while I go off and do Edinburgh) but rest assured, progress is PROGRESSING and it is VERY much going to be worth the wait!

posted 6/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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One Last Yes
Before we go any further, I'd just like to mention that the Podcast for the last Totally Acoustic of the current season is available on the podcast page right NOW. It is, i think it's fair to say, something of a CRACKER, featuring as it does More Bad Times, Tim Eveleigh, A Fine Day For Sailing and ME. It's the last live one for a while, but we'll have an end of season FINALE available at the end of next week featuring EVERYBODY!

Now that's out of the way we turn to matters political, for LO! It's VOTING DAY in the referendum! I set off this morning to VOTE and found the polling staff surprised to see anyone, for it was not exactly SUPER BUSY. I can fully understand why people AREN'T excited by it - Electoral Reform is VERY EXCITING INDEED for some people (e.g. ME) but I can understand why the prospect of changing the way we choose our MPs every five years for one that is A Little Bit Fairer doesn't set the world ALIGHT for everyone.

I have to say I'm MYSTIFIED why so many people are decided to vote "No" though. The first even VAGUELY reasonable argument I've heard has been today from The Man In The Falafel Shop where I get my lunch who said he wanted to vote for one thing and, if he couldn't have it, he didn't care. It's not something I agree with, or think is a GOOD idea, but at least it was an honest one that he actually believed in.

Everything else seems to split into THREE camps. Firstly there's the POLITICAL arguments i.e. "It will favour/not favour the party I support/hate and I do not care whether that is democratic or not" which has the advantahe of being HONEST, if not HONOURABLE. Secondly the idea that because AV isn't proportional and/or the electoral system needs a lot more than just that fixing we should vote "No" to AV because ... er... I'm still not sure. This is known as the STARVING MAN REFUSING ANY FOOD BUT CAVIAR argument and is usually backed up by saying that AV probably won't make MPs work harder or end safe seats so... um... we should stick with a voting system which DEFINITELY won't do either of those things.

And finally there is the wide range of IDIOTIC MENTALIST ARGUMENTS, which have been merrily paid for by THE LYING BASTARDS of The Conservative and - HELLO DAVID BLUNKETT - New Labour groups. Things like the 250 MILLION POUNDS that we would have to pay THE ELECTION PIXIES for the NON-EXISTENT VOTING MACHINES. FOR FCUK'S SAKE. Or "It Isn't British", as if ANYTHING is MORE British than slow, very mild reform based on compromise and fudged deals. GOOD GOD we are a nation that has "Anything For A Quiet Life" as our NATIONAL MOTTO, you'd think we'd be wrapping BUNTING round the ballot boxes! And let's not forget "It helps extremists" when a) it does the OPPOSITE and b) the way to combat extremism is through argument and persuasion, NOT THROUGH KNACKERING THE VOTING SYSTEM.

The most upsetting thing for me though is HOW MUCH this final group of arguments have been repeated. All my life I have clung obstinately to the optimistic viewpoint that PEOPLE ARE NOT DAFT and if you TRUST people they will show themselves to be DECENT and HONEST. That's why I've always LOATHED Marxists ideas about "False Consciousness" (i.e. "the reason the working class haven't done what we've told them and thrown over Capitalism is NOT Marx's fault, it's because the working class is thick" - i PARAPHRASE, but that's the basic idea). But over the past few weeks I've seen SO MUCH BILGE sprayed out by the Tories and their lackeys and so often heard it parroted back by people in all walks of life that I do start to wonder.

Sorry if this is a bit GRUMPIER/ARSIER than normal, it has all been in my BRANE. I'm very much looking forward, next week, to NOT thinking about this so much (and probably not getting to talk about it SO much for the next 30 years...). It's been INTERESTING to have one of MY personal bugbears become a subject of National "Debate", but it'll be a relief to get back to the simple joys of JUST ROCK AND ROLL soon!

So come on everyone, let's have one last singalong before it fades into history - take it away, Me Sat At The Computer!

posted 5/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic
Last night was the final episode of this series of Totally Acoustic and though there were no actual EMERGENCIES with the venue this time, the actual LINE-UP had been the most fraught with difficulty.

I say "fraught" - it was just a bit hard to NAIL DOWN people really. Mr G Gargan had been booked right from the start, TRANSMUTING into his new guise as part of More Bad Times a couple of weeks ago, but i went thru SEVERAL options for the final act before, yesterday, just emailing a couple of people who were coming anyway and saying "I don't suppose you fancy doing half a set do you?" As it happens, this worked GRATE.

On stage first, as ever, was ME (and, often, Steve) and we did THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • Things'll Be Different When I'm In Charge
  • I'm Saying Yes
  • Clubbing In The Week
  • Let's Have A Go
  • We Did It Anyway
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • As with Sunday I got CHATTED to the MAX and ended up being on for AGES, YAKKING away and Making Points. It was HUGE fun, getting a bit EMOTIONAL during the world premiere of We Did It Anyway and especially enjoying a couple of old songs I hadn't done for AGES. Also, the sections of Moon Horse a) seemed to work b) felt good to be doing and ALREADY messing about a bit in. I think that the fortnight in Edinburgh is going to be FINE!

    After us we had the first of our semi-setters, the marvellous return of Mr Tim Eveleigh, who was unaccountably NERVOUS - so he said afterwards anyway, it didn't seem that way from the set. He claimed not to have performed his first song for AGES but it was still in MY brain from the last time I'd heard it, and will probably be in the brain of THE WORLD when it gets on the podcast.

    After a short break we had More Bad Times, who speedily managed to CHARM the entire room in much the same way as they'd done to me the other week in Brixton. They are GRATE - they do a combination of ramshackle FUN that seems to be being made up as they go along, but then sneak in beautiful and TOUCHING songs that just happen to have some SWEARING in them. They are KIND OF like an English/Italian ANSWER to The Bobby McGees... SORT OF. Except not like that at all. But ACE!

    And then we finished off by fulfilling the secret THIRD purpose of Totally Acoustic (the first two being the get lovely people playing with other lovely people, and to give me an extra opportunity to SHOW OFF), which is to save me the trouble of going to OTHER gigs to see people I'd like to see by getting them to come to ME. Cunning huh? I have a LIST of people I'm going to ask to play the NEXT series of shows and "A Fine Day For Sailing" have been on it from the start because I keep HEARING people online say how good they are, but have never actually got round to seeing them for myself. I was thus PLEASED last week when Thom from them got in touch to see if they could play in future and I was able to REVEAL my plan to do just that - so when I saw on Facebook that they were coming along for a band OUTING I immediately LEAPT at the chance to get them on.

    And this was an excellent idea because they - or at least Matt and Sharon from them, in this STRIPPED DOWN version - were EXACTLY the sort of band i LOVE having at Totally Acoustic. GRATE songs done with FUN, some LARFS between songs but not afraid to do a really gentle quiet song which made the whole room go SILENT. They were BRILL, and I'll definitely be getting them back again for a proper set if i can!

    And that was the series DONE - all that remained was to lurk around for a while having a chat and a beer to put the SEAL on it all. This series had been a DELIGHT to do, both for the gigs and the podcasts, and I'm ALREADY looking forward to the next batch. We've got a couple of SPECIALS up in Edinburgh during August, then hopefully back in London Town around October/November time, maybe even at a new venue!

    Exciting times ahoy, but LOVELY times achieved already - thanks LOADS to everyone who came along to one of the shows and who's downloaded a podcast. This show'll be up later today, then we've got the SPECIAL series round-up in a fortnight. It's going to be AMAZING!

    posted 4/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Darling Gigs Of May
    The start of May found me LUXURIATING on the wonderful DLR as i ZOOMED out to Lewisham for my first gig of the day, at FOXFEST. Foxfest is a bit of a Lewisham institution, run by 2bob at The Fox & Firkin, home of SO MANY lovely gigs for me and, when I arrived, HEAVING with people on Day 2 of a weekend of BANDS and BEERS.

    They really do a good all-dayer there - all the staff were in special Foxfest t-shirts, there were TWO stages (and "acoustic" and a main band-sized one) at opposite ends of the room and, between the two, TV screens for those who - I guess - were unable to turn their heads 90 degrees in the other directions to see it happening live. It was MARVELLOUS. When i arrived I discovered a band featuring the legendary Nathan Persad onstage, doing a BRILLIANT set which features two cellos, a violin and keyboard playing alongside the more usual line-up doing some AMAZING ELO-Squeeze FUSION songs. It was ACE!

    I bumped into Mr Tim Eveleigh and we went out the back for a bit of an old chat, in amongst various CRAFT STALLS, before it was time to head back in and do my set, which went like this:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • I'm Saying Yes
  • Fucking Hippy
  • The Fight For History
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I had a WHALE of a time - after a PARTICULARLY SPLENETIC version of I'm Saying Yes which featured A SPEECH I got even MORE enraged via Fucking Hippy and The Fight For History, which was a) lots of fun but b) a bit daft, as i totally buggered up my voice. I had to ask Mr Eveleigh to get me a PINT in order to soothe my tortured tonsils and when I came off was ALARMED to find that even this magical elixir had not sorted me out.

    I was AFEARED because I had another gig to head off to, so bought some COUGH SWEETS before heading back into town (via a NIP IN to my work office, where i utilised a bit of INTERWEB) and off to CAMDEN for our gig at The Camden Crawl. I've wanted to play the Camden Crawl for YEARS, so it felt a bit ODD that I'd FINALLY get to play it... but as part of the COMEDY Crawl. I'm sure there is a lesson there somewhere.

    I arrived to find Mr and Mrs Hewitt already in situ, and sat down for an hour or so of rather enjoyable comedy before it was our turn. My favourite was Nat Luurtsema, who was GRATE, but the whole evening was very pleasant... although the audience gradually DWINDLED until, halfway through OUR bit, we found ourselves with exactly HALF the tables in the room emptied. Here's what partly caused it:

  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • The Battle Of Peterborough
  • Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates
  • Moon Horse
  • We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter
  • We've Done Something Evil
  • That Was Margaret Thatcher
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I'd been worried about this gig for WEEKS but actually ended up REALLY enjoying it. It was a small room with only about 15 people in so was something i was USED to, and the fact that we were a bit "loose" didn't seem to matter as much as it had done LAST time me and Steve did a Comedy gig. INDEED it seemed to make it all feel NICER and this time i RELAXED into it to the extent that there ended up being QUITE A LOT of chat between the songs. I _think_ this worked OK, if we ever do another thing like this I'll try it again!

    The songs seemed to work out pretty well too - we had spent AGES choosing them after all, and it seemed to pay off, although I think maybe we should try doing the FULL version of That Was Margaret Thatcher in future, rather than the "single mix" caused by me LEAPING to the last verse before the CODA.

    It was all JOLLY good fun, MUCH to my relief (i really have been worrying about this for AGES) and we settled back for the last act... only to find there wasn't going to be one! Apparently they didn't think there were enough people there to make it worthwhile - now, i am on RECORD as thinking this is NOT RIGHT, and have been SHOCKED when I've been at OTHER Comedy gigs where this has happened, but at least in this case by PUNK ROCK DISMAY was allayed a little by the organisers buying everyone a DRINK to say sorry! AND it meant that I could get the tube home without RUNNING, but still, i think it is a NAUGHTY thing to do. Why, if I'd had a policy of NOT doing gigs just because there were less than five paying customers in the room... well, I would have done SIGNIFICANTLY less gigs in my life, and missed out on many of the BEST EVER!

    posted 3/5/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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