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Blog Archive: April 2012

The Stores Of Not To Be
As subscribers to the newsletter will by now know, today sees the release of a brand new SINGLE by me - The Stores Of Not To Be.

It's been released by those marvellous young people at House VS Home as part of their monthly singles club, and comes complete with another brand new recording, this time of Only A Robot (from out of off of Moon Horse. It also has a rather SMASHING cover, THUS:

Good eh? It's all available RIGHT NOW at a "name your own price" kind of price. I must say I'm quite PROUD of how it turned out, hope you enjoy it!

posted 30/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Museums Show Off
I don't know how it's happened, but I seem to have become ADDICTED to doing gigs at The Camden Head - I seem to be have been there more than any nearly other venue over the past couple of years, and I was back there again last night to meet Mr S Hewitt before our performance at Museums Showoff.

The idea of the evening is to get people who work in (or, I think AROUND) Museums to come and talk about aspects of their WORK - it's a Slightly More Specific spin-off of Science Show Off, and this was their first, or PILOT, show. We'd got on board because, like, Museums have Dinosaurs in them?

After dropping off our gear and saying "We won't need the PA thanks" we hopped over the road to The Maharani where we were soon joined by The Spice In My Balti for a DELICIOUS curry. MAN but that place is good - maybe THAT is why i am so drawn to the Camden Head? I don't think ANYWHERE else has SUCH a nice curry house directly opposite!

We got back to the venue just after things had started, to find the room PACKED OUT. As it was the first show I'd thought it might, at best, be half full, but I forgot: this is the world of COMEDY, where gigs GET FULL! Pretty much ALWAYS!

The format of the evening was that each person got nine minutes to talk about their topic, and of course Academics being Academics nearly everyone got OVER-EXCITED and had to RUSH their last few slides - when I used to run conferences many years ago this ALWAYS happened and it's rather CHARMING to see it still goes on in a NEW GENERATION. I used to think it was bad planning but now I realise it's because these people LOVE what they do and are THRILLED to have the opportunity to tell everyone else about it, it's LOVELY.

There were all sorts of FASCINATING things talked about, with an audience who HUNG on every word. I can think of no more impressive demonstration of how KEEN everyone was than the following: towards the end of a GRATE talk about a Collection of TATOOED, PRESERVED, HUMAN SKIN the presenter showed a recently discovered picture of the original "owner" of the skin. He was totally in the NUDE and you could see his PENIS. VERY CLEARLY. And did anyone LARF? Did anyone POINT or mention it AT ALL? My friends, they did not. I was EXCESSIVELY impressed!

Someone, however, had to bring down the tone and this was OUR job as we went on at the very end of the evening and did THIS:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet (overture)
  • The Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet
  • A Little Bit
  • Literature Search
  • Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates

  • After everyone else had been so LEARNED and PROPER I thought we might struggle a bit, but BY GOLLY it went REALLY well! We were both a) quite surprised b) very pleased! I guess we should have expected playing A Little Bit for a crowd made up almost ENTIRELY of people who work in research MIGHT go down quite well, but the whole thing seemed to work out well. I did most of the talking, Steve did most of the singing, and the FACT that we'd actually THORT about it beforehand and worked out the setlist didn't half help. Of the many shows we've done of Dinosaur Planet (and, indeed, Moon Horse) excerpts, this was far and away the BEST. HOORAH!

    Afterwards we sat around for a bit and had a chat to even MORE interesting people, including a group of paleontolgists who were very polite about me saying "Like Ross from Friends?", and then headed out into the night, full of the joys of RESEARCH. A bloody lovely evening!

    posted 26/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Green Man
    At last, after months of me DESPERATELY fighting the need to SHOW OFF LIKE MAD, it can finally be revealed: me and Steve are doing Dinosaur Planet at The Green Man Festival!

    We were actually ASKED if we'd be interested in doing this LAST year, but it clashed with our shows at The Fringe and we couldn't work out a way to do BOTH. THIS year, however, with NO Fringe planned, we were well up for doing it and were very VERY pleased to be asked again. This is the main reason for the abbreviated version we were practicing the other day, and also the THRUST behind the performance at The Camden Fringe.

    It's all VERY exciting, bit least since I've discovered PALS like Mr G Osborn and Mr B Moor will also be playing, and I'm RIGHT looking forward to seeing Jonathan Richman. INDEED, myself and The Hills In My Valley got SO excited about it that we're actually staying on for a week AFTER the festival's finished - we're having an ever so grown-up holiday in THE BRECON BEACONS, staying in a cottage and going for walks (to the pub).

    I should say at this point that it IS just me and Steve - I'm not sure why it says that The Vlads are playing, but hopefully we can make that come TRUE another year. It's a real honour to be asked to play at such an PRESTIGIOUS festival, and rest assured we're going to be spending the next four months learning our lines in preparation!

    posted 25/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    An Afternoon Of Dinosaurs
    I was up to my neck in DINOSAURS for most of this weekend. Myself and Mr S Hewitt are performing a selection of songs from Dinosaur Planet at Museums Showoff tomorrow and as it's been a while since we performed any of those songs we thought it might be a GOOD IDEA to get together for a practice.

    This we very much DID - we have a 9 minute slot, so worked up a 7 minute SETLIST, finishing with a DANCE ROUTINE, which ought to do the trick. After that we moved on to a performance of a revised version of the entire SHOW. We're reviving the whole thing for a couple of gigs in August, one of which will be at a Festival That I'm Not Allowed To Tell You About Yet, and the other will be a WARM UP for said extravaganza at The Camden Head on August 13, as part of the Camden Fringe.

    The main lesson I learnt from doing the two-man version of Dinosaur Planet was that BORING BITS aren't much fun for everyone. I distinctly remember how getting to certain points of the show and thinking, every time, "Oh well, we're putting the Robot Heads on soon, it'll pick up again then." When I wrote Moon Horse I tried my best to eliminate ALL boring bits, and almost succeed - anyone who's seen may remember the whole "rhyming section" which never worked as I'd hoped, but otherwise I think it managed at least not to SAG at any point.

    With this in mind (and especially considering we'll be doing it an an ACTUAL FESTIVAL where people might be sat a fair way away) I PRUNED the story, cutting out some characters (Sgt Phil, Professor Probersite) ENTIRELY and generally trimming back some of the less, shall we say, EXCITING parts. It seemed to work pretty well - we both expressed dismay at various removals, but largely agreed on the changes, and made a recording of the whole thing so that we can learn it up over the next few months. There's not much time for practicing between the end of THE OLYMPICS (which, as you may know, Steve is basically the STAR of) so it seemed like a good idea.

    Not satisfied with all THAT we then spent a GLEEFUL fifteen minutes MANIPULATING LIZARDS. I'm making a video for The Battle Of Peterborough (due for release in about 5 weeks, I will MOST LIKELY be mentioning it a few times between now and then!) which uses ASTONISHING SPECIAL EFFECTS, and some of these require two pairs of hands to make work. Thus we sat in front of my computer WAVING DINOSAURS around in front of the camera. It's very difficult NOT to make Dinosaur noises when doing this sort of thing... so we didn't try, and had a very lovely time going "GRAAAGH! NGGG! RARGLE! GRRRR!!" and EMOTING via plastic.

    Then we went to THE PUB for a couple of WELL EARNED pints. It had been an afternoon FULL of Dinosaurs, and we were WORN!

    posted 24/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    What It Did Get Me Today
    Today is (INCREDIBLY) the 30th Birthday of the ZX Spectrum and, rather wonderfully, my entire twitter feed is ALIGHT with people singing it's praises.

    And so they should - as I've mentioned elsewhere the Spectrum had a MASSIVE effect on my entire generation. It's hard to believe now, but when I was a young teenager me and all my friends would spend huge chunks of our spare time CODING for FUN. We'd swap program listings between us, which we'd TYPE into the machine by HAND, and by doing so we learnt how to program a quirky version of BASIC.

    Obviously we ALSO swapped tapes of GAMES between us - A LOT - but even that had unforseen Education Benefits. Playing games (A LOT) led you to understand how they were made, and therefore how programming was done too. Working out that the pieces of the AMULET in SABRE WULF appeared in one of four groups of locations, for instance, led to an understanding of ARRAYS, and wondering how they made the MAPS of Lords Of Midnight led to all manner of investigations into DATABASES.

    And to think, all those times I told my Mum that playing on my computer was EDUCATIONAL, I was actually RIGHT!

    Of course this BUBBLE didn't last, and new pre-programmed games machines came along which not only didn't REQUIRE coding knowledge, but didn't even ALLOW it. I was stunned when I did my computing MSc a decade ago to find that, though people of MY generation had an in-built understanding of how computers ACTUALLY WORKED, people younger than us had no idea AT ALL. We'd WHIZZ through Javascript like it was second nature, but to them it was a whole new THING.

    As well as all that, of course, it had a MAJOR impact on my life when I went and wrote Hey Hey 16K, first in 1999 when we made it The World's First Ever Internet Single (all other contenders: SHUT UP) and then in 2004 when Mr Rob Manuel turned into into one of the first ever viral videos. We had over two million hits for his flash animation in the first FORTNIGHT of released - pretty incredible when you consider that there was no YouTube, and most people didn't even have the internet at home - and it's continued to be a MAJOR part of my gigging life ever since.

    So, today, let us all SALUTE the mighty little machine that changed the lives of my generation and - if you want to get PRACTICAL about it - made this country a MAJOR PLAYER in the FUTURE, with a ready made nation of PROGRAMMERS who could take on THE WORLD. Thank you Sir Clive, thank you very much indeed!

    posted 23/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Final Night Of The Tour - Birmingham
    On the second (FINAL) day of the tour I woke up to a TEXT from Mr Chris T-T, who'd been also playing in Bristol the previous night. We arranged a MEET UP and so I found myself at 11:30am struggling up an ENORMOUS HILL to the Boston Tea Party cafe for a SUMMIT ... on a SUMMIT!

    I was soon joined by Chris and Ms Laura Kidd, who is TOURING with him, and a little while later by Gavin, and OH WHAT A TALK we all had. It was BRILLIANT - you know when you're yacking away and someone says "OOh, we should go really" but it's all SO INTERESTING you just keep on going until, 15 minutes later someone says it again but... well, you get the idea. SHOP was very heartily TALKED, some DELICIOUS BREAKFASTS and coffee were consumed, and new FRIENDSHIPS were ablossom. It was GRATE - meeting and chatting to COLLEAUGUES like this is usually one of the BEST BITS of ANY gig, so it was fab to get an extra bonus bit in!

    We finally said our farewells and me and Gav went DOWNHILL to the railway station, for a most pleasant trip to Birmingham which FLEW by in a WHIRL of FURTHER CHAT. Goodness me but Mr Osborn has had an Interesting Career, I never knew the half of it! He never knew the half of what I was banging on about either, but LUCKILY FOR HIM i TOLD him!

    We were booked into The Britannia Hotel, which Mr Frankie Machine had described as "Adequate and Cheap". Reviews online had been APPALLING but we found it to be, well, ADEQUATE. It was the kind of vast lump of CONCRETE that Birmingham City Centre used to be famous for, and had clearly seen MUCH better days, but apart from having the THINNEST WALLS I've ever experienced in a hotel it was FINE.

    Mind you, when Frankie arrived he found himself in reception with a man shouting "THIS IS THE WORST HOTEL EVER!!!" so maybe I was just too full of the joys of THE ROAD to judge correctly? While he (Frankie, not the angry man) went to get checked in the rest of the party retired to Harvey's Bar, where Happy Hour mean LUDICROUSLY cheap drinks - which is probably why it attracted several NE'ER DO WELLS who were almost immediately CHUCKED OUT. It was EXCITING!

    Frankie came downstairs, further TALES were exchanged (including an EXCELLENT one Gav had heard the night before from Mr Graeme Garden about Larry Adler - it was SHOWBIZ!) and we hopped into a taxi and out to The Station pub in Kings Heath.

    They sold Butcombe Bitter on tap. Three grown men thus spent the rest of the evening saying "Mmm, i love the taste of Butcombe" AGANE AND AGANE. Life On The Road!

    Mr R Kirkham, PROMOTER, arrived shortly after us with a DELICIOUS pile of GRUB, we set the room out, and a CROWD gradually arrived. It was a proper crowd too, it was ACE!

    Ray had been worried about people talking, so asked me to, basically, COMPERE, so I could tell people NOT to. As it happened nearly everyone was FINE - the only exception being the pals of the BAR STAFF, who didn't seem to realise we could here them. I never understand this - it's happened a few times when doing Totally Acoustic stuff, everyone else is mega polite, but the bar staff (who've SURELY worked during gigs before) YAK AWAY.

    It was fine really tho - it only happened a couple of times, and during my set I did STERN LOOKS and QUIETNESS and it stopped, it just felt a bit ODD!

    ANYWAY the evening kicked off with Mr David Leach, who did a GRATE set on his ukelele. He was brilliant, even tho he almost LOST the audience by doing a song about how he used to think TWENTY TWO was old. You could HEAR a whole section of the room GROAN, and following it up with "I'm 26 now tho" didn't really help! He was ACE tho, and we did a CD swap later, leading me to have a KNITTED CD case!

    Frankie went second and held the room in the palm of his hand, with them all craning forward to get every drop of his beautiful songs. "Black Eyes" and "How Grate Thou Art" stood out, as did closing with a song about HIS BOY which... well, you'll have to hear it, it's the sort of song only HE could write, being beautiful, sentimental, and ASTOUNDINGLY BLUNT all at once!

    Mr Osborn came on third and won over THE LOT. As I said before, I can't understand why The Indie COmmunity hasn't taken him as one to their BOSOM, WRESTLING him from a world of Comedy Type Gigs and claiming him as OURS. He was, as ever, touching, funny, and DELIGHTFUL in equal measure. And then I went on and - HO! - spoilt the mood by doing THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • IT Guy Addendum
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it - after YEARS of SHOWS and ALBUMS it's lovely being FREE to do whatever I want to play, and I'm particularly happy about bringing IT Guy Addendum into the live set, doing Strangely Attractive all by myself (it works!) and getting an ACTUAL NEW SONG involved in the shape of The Stores Of Not To Be. It was FUN all round, for me at least, and the room seemed to quite like it too. GOOD TIMES!

    There was more conversation and HUGS before it was time to go for the TOUR CURRY we'd promised ourselves. Ray took us to one nearby which turned out to be CLOSED, and so we HOPPED in a taxi and asked to be taken to FOOD. The driver recommended Dirwan Balti, which we'd been to YEARS before, so that's where we went. The food was FANTASTIC, but after a few minutes we realised that it was a Bring Your Own Beer place, and we were there LONG after the closure of all off-licences.

    A strange MATURITY took hold (which, to be frank, was very little in evidence from our conversation at this point!) and we all realised this might not be such a bad idea, and so the evening - and, indeed, the TOUR - ended with us swapping stories over curry and glasses of WATER. We taxied back to the hotel full of a) food b) JOY, and said our farewells, ready for different journey times next day.

    It was a BLOODY LOVELY couple of days, seeing LOTS of pals, talking LOTS of nonsense, and drinking a surprisingly UNLUDICROUS amount of BEER. Let's do it again some time chaps!

    posted 20/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The First Night Of The Tour - Bristol
    On Monday lunchtime I headed out ON THE ROAD for a tour which had originally been planned as a week long JAUNT around the NATION... but which, due to some double bookings, some short notices, and some, well, lack of interest, had boiled down to just two dates. Still, they were on subsequent days and I was staying away from home both nights, so it still COUNTED!

    The first night was at Mr Wolf's in Bristol, and I arrived at 7pm to find Mr G Osborn, my TOUR BUDDY, already there with some pals including his PIANIST, John. We sat down and IMMEDIATELY fell into LARKS and LARFS and I knew that this tour was going to be FUN - before setting off I had a slight worry that it might be a bit low key and pointless, but now i was actually ON TOUR I remembered that this sort of thing ALWAYS has a point - and that point, my friends, is ROCK!

    There was usually an Acoustic Night on Mondays at the venue, and the organiser wanted us to, basically, play ALL NIGHT LONG from 8.30pm to 11pm, so I suggested that we do TWO sets each. This seemed more sensible than both of us trying to do HUGE sets - not only would it give US and the AUDIENCE a rest from our voices, it also meant that if people came and went there be more chance for them to see BOTH of us.

    A whole bunch of people came - many of whom, it must be admitted, were there to see John The Pianist's Brother-In-Law, a lovely chap who'd just got back to Blighty after two years in THAILAND - we had some FREE NOODLES, and soon it was time to commence. Here's what I did:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • A Little Bit
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • IT Guy Addendum
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • I must say i REALLY REALLY enjoyed this set, it had a whole PILE of the "quieter" songs which people seemed to LISTEN to and enjoy. It was a bit unusual for me as it was on a proper stage so I couldn't actually SEE anybody, but it all seemed to go OK.

    Gav came on next and, as ever, was BRILLIANT. He's got a new album out called Come On Folks, Settle Down which features some of my FAVOURITE of his songs (like "Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands" and "Over Thirty") and loads of other LOVELY stuff, like "Such A Cheeky Rascal" and "You Were Invincible", all of which got AIRED. It can't understand why he's not better known - everyone! Go and listen to his records! They're ACE!

    We had a brief break after Gav's first set, then I went on and did my SECOND batch, THUS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • The Gay Train
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • In theory this was my set of BANKERS, in that it's the LOUD ones and/or THE HITS, but I must admit I didn't really enjoy it as much. Doing the quieter stuff in the first half was much more fun, although i did THOROUGHLY enjoy saying to the soundman - who'd been playing VERY LOUD DUB REGGAE at every gap in proceedings "I bet you really liked that one, it's your sort of music isn't it?" after the middle bit of Theme From Dinosaur Planet. He did NOD, so he must have agreed!

    There then followed another half and hour of MARVELLOUSNESS from Mr Osborn before it was time to pack up. The DUB REGGAE went straight back on... which pretty much cleared the room, tho there was time to say some goodbyes, not least to the PROMOTER, a lovely and VERY enthusiastic chap who bought all the CDs we had on us.

    Gavin and I went outside, intent on finding a PUB for a quiet drink and a chat, but quickly realised that a) he was driving b) we'd be spending all day tomorrow chatting c) neither of us knew where a good pub might be, so went home instead. It was a Sensible Decision after a really rather beautiful evening - and it set a pattern that would be followed in the second, climactic, half of the tour next day!

    posted 19/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Podcast is GO!
    You find me this sunny morning poised to TOUR, but before I head off onto THE ROAD I thought I might mention that the latest episode of the Totally Acoustic Podcast is online NOW.

    As discussed last week this was a particularly delightful evening and it's led to a particularly delightful podcast, featuring Mr Benjamin Shaw and Mr Chris T-T (and also ME). Every time I edit one of these I think "COR, this is DEAD GOOD!" because... well, because it is, and not just because it means I can take out the songs I got wrong or the GAGS that were least HILARIOUS! What I like MOST about this one is that the three of us in it are all doing the Singer Songwriting Thing, but all doing it DIFFERENTLY, not just from the standard Keening Brit School Whining Haircut way but also from EACH OTHER. Like I said last week, if only The Melody maker was still around we could call it a MOVEMENT!

    And there's yet MORE of The Movement to come this week, as I'm off tonight to play with another prime exponent of the art, Mr Gavin Osborn, in BRISTOL. We're on at Mr Wolf's tonight, and then tomorrow we head to Birmingham to team up with Mr David Leach and Mr Francis Albert Machine at The Station in Kings Heath. There will be SONGS, there will be REMARKS and, if The Gods Of Rock are smiling on us, there will be BEER. It'd be nice to have an audience too, so if you're about do pop along if you can!

    posted 16/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    As I STRODE towards The King & Queen last night for Totally Acoustic I noticed someone on the other side of the road, carrying a guitar. "I wonder if that's Mr Benjamin Shaw, who's playing tonight but who I've never actually met?" I thought, handily explaining to myself why I wasn't sure.

    IT WAS. We went in and had a bit of an old chat while we waited for the upstairs to clear out (due to a PARTY) and were soon joined by The Guests At My Function and then Mr Chris TT. For the first time ever ALL the acts were present before I'd even gone upstairs to set the room out!

    We got set up then had some FURTHER chat, during which Chris revealed that he'd been to a DINNER at Google and ended up talking to two people who were fans of ME. I was rather pleased, though I suspect it may be because I am one of their top customers. "Who's googling MJ Hibbett AGANE?" they doubtless ask. "Oh. It's MJ Hibbett. AGANE."

    ANYWAY, people drifted in and it was soon time to start, so i did THIS:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • The Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet
  • My Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet
  • The Perfect Love Song
  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Billy Jones Is Dead

  • A slightly LONGER set than of late at these gigs, partly because I'd had an AUDIT of songs that I haven't yet put in a Totally Acoustic podcast, and had realised that i had some fairly EASY options. It's a GOOD THING that podcasting these shows FORCES me to do root through the back catalogue to make sure I'm not repeating my own songs, but it doesn't half make it difficult sometimes, and does tend to lead to me being a bit NERVOUS at the gigs. HOWEVER, as I'm only going to be doing a couple more of them this year I thought I could RELAX and use up some songs that I KNOW a bit better, like Payday Is The Best Day. I haven't actually played that one LIVE for a couple of years, but the FACT that I played it at pretty much every gig when I was first starting out seems to have LODGED it in my BRANE!

    Next up was Ben who, as stated previously, I'd never actually seen LIVE. A while back someone emailed me with a couple of suggested for acts to play Totally Acoustic - I do occasionally get emails like this and USUALLY it's from people who've never actually BEEN and seem to think it's a FOLK CLUB, so I always listen to these suggestions with some TREPIDATION. I was thus SURPRISED to hear how GRATE Ben's stuff was, and was surprised a whole lot more during the set. I said this to him afterwards and don't think I made it clear - what I mean is that every song had a SURPRISING turn of phrase, or chord, or something that I just didn't expect. Most times I see a Singer Songwriter you can pretty much guess what the rhyme'll be or how it'll work out, but he had some FANTASTIC lyrics that LEAPT to totally unexpected, yet CORRECT, places. He was a BIT like Superman Revenge Squad, in that the songs were massively downbeat but KIND OF amusing/heartening/enjoyable without asking for sympathy or excusing their own emotions.

    I'm trying to say it was GRATE, basically! Watching him though, ENTHRALLED as I was, I thought how brilliant it was to get to see such UNIQUE performers, like him or SRS or Jim'll's Brain or... well, any of the acts that we've had on at these gigs. I always feel there's a KINSHIP between the people we get on, though most of us are out there in our own SCENES doing this ALONE. If only The Melody Maker was still going, they could call us a MOVEMENT!

    And talking of KINSHIP, we finished with someone who i QUITE FRANKLY look up to as a HERO of This Sort Of Thing, the incomparable Chris TT, who did a MAGNIFICENT set which, i later realised, didn't really have any of [what I think of as] his HITS in. There was a LOAD of songs from "Disobedience", his AA Milne Show, and a MAGIC version of "Love Is Not Rescue" but none of the big singalong "LET'S STORM THE RAMPARTS!" songs, yet the whole thing was bloody magical. He really is an INSPIRING FORCE in all of this, and if you get a chance to see him on the MEGA TOUR that he's starting off this weekend, I'd URGE you to get along!

    It was all rather wonderful, and I wandered off home thinking how marvellous it is to be able to DO this sort of thing. There's only TWO more of these shows coming up this year, with Frankie Machine and Gavin Osborn at the next one on May 10th - do come along if you can, it'll be GRATE!

    posted 13/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Space Dinosaurs Backed Up By SCIENCE
    Yesterday afternoon I got a DELIGHTFUL twit from Norman Records, THUS:
    @mjhibbett have you seen this?!?!?!

    ASTOUNDINGLY it turns out that an Actual Proper Scientist has suggested a way that Space Dinosaurs could be REAL, in terminology oddly similar to Dinosaur Planet!! As other people started to ALSO tell me about it a PLAN had formed in my BRANE: Let's Do A PRESS RELEASE!

    THUS I say myself down to write one and have JUST sent it out to Leading Media Outlets. You can read the whole thing at (and if anyone would like to link to it or RE-TWIT it I would, as ever, be extraordinarily grateful), but the GIST of it is as follows:

    MJ Hibbett's Theory Of A Dinosaur Planet Could Be True, Says Professor

    A report in this month's Journal of the American Chemical Society suggests that the terrifying Space Dinosaurs from MJ Hibbett & The Validators' album 'Dinosaur Planet' could very easily be real.

    In the paper 'Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth' Professor Ronald Breslow theorises that Tyrannosaurus Rex and other dinosaurs may have evolved on other planets to become more intelligent than humans.

    Click for larger version
    (Space Dinosaurs: artist's impression by John Allison)

    Professor Breslow, of Columbia University, says: "Elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms (which) could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth. We would be better off not meeting them."

    Alarmingly this is almost exactly what does happen at the start of the rock opera 'Dinosaur Planet'. Space Dinosaurs (whose ancestors escaped the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction event 65 million years ago) return to Earth as "kill-crazed psychopathic fans of war and death" armed with high tech weapons of destruction, intent on wiping out humanity.

    "I did do some research into the science of dinosaur extinction while writing the album and came up with some ideas about what could have happened to them", says lead singer MJ Hibbett, "I never expected to be proved right!"

    The album, which has also been quoted in the magazine of the Smithsonian Institute, goes on to posit the theory that the Dinosaurs were kidnapped by Giant Robots who will follow their prey to Earth and destroy the planet. "I'd be quite happy to be wrong about that," says MJ.

    (Dinosaur planet is available to purchase from all online stores, download sites, and from the band themselves at

    EXCITING, isn't it? I'm going to email Professor Breslow and send him a copy of the album to make sure he doesn't MIND me taking his name ever so slightly in VAIN. I'm hoping he won't - I'm guessing that someone who suddenly mentions SPACE DINOSAURS in a paper about AMINO ACIDS has a sense of humour - and I'll be sure to thank him VERY much for backing up the idea!

    In the meantime, all Validators are on STANDBY for the - surely - INEVITABLE STORM of MEDIA INTEREST!

    posted 12/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Easter Breaked
    Well hello again, it seems to have been a WEEK since last I blogged, a gap which can only be explained by EASTER!

    Aaah, Easter! That most special time of the year when people who work for Universities not only get Bank Holiday Friday and Monday but ALSO the Thursday and Tuesday TOO, making for an IMMENSE and FREE nearly-a-week when PROJECTS may be undertaken. I personally have undertaken MANY.

    There has been RECORDING, for instance - I'm releasing an ONLINE SINGLE soon via House VS Home Records which needed finishing off, with two NEW recordings that I finally got done and sent off yesterday. I've recorded versions of The Stores Of Not To Be and Only A Robot, very much in the style of A Million Ukeleles i.e. at HOME, though I don't think there's any ACTUAL ukulele on either of them. I think this'll be released next month - more news as it happens!

    Meanwhile there are VIDEO plans afoot. As well as two - SO FAR - Secret Projects which are otherwise ONGOING I'm also planning to do my OWN video for The Battle Of Peterborough. I'm planning to use a Revolutionary Animation Technique and so I needed to do some TEST SHOTS to make sure it would WORK before PLUNGING into production. Initial reports say they DO work, so stand by for an EXPLOSION of ACTION over the coming months!

    I've also been down to CORNWALL to see some parents, during which The Seats In My Auditorium and I visited The Minack Theatre. Holy moly, what a place! As you may have noticed (from me GOING ON ABOUT IT) I'm doing an MA in Playwriting and Screenwriting later this year. Until visiting the Minack it had never really HIT me that I'd be doing PLAYS, but being around such an EXCITING place got me all of a quiver about it!

    There's been all sorts of other activities and ADMIN ACTS going on - not least the booking of several new gigs - but I think you get the idea. Easter has been a time of PLANS and CREATION, and now I'm ready to step into a SPRING of ROCK!

    posted 11/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Lost Property Office
    The podcast of Mr Pete Baran's SOAS radio show "The Lost Property Office", which I recorded with him last week, is online now for LISTENING and/or DOWNLOADING.

    Fans of that classic genre "Grown Men Being A Bit Silly" are in for a TREAT, as is anyone who enjoys sitting behind old ladies on a bus NATTERING about How Things Were. It's actually, I think, really rather JOLLY as we go on at each other at a fair old clip. You know those RADIO TALKS where it's all quite stilted, with nobody having much to say, and things move painfully slowly? This is NOT like that!

    As you can probably tell if you listen, we had a LOT of fun recording it, and I had almost as much LISTENING - Pete is dead good at this, so even though I'd ALREADY answered the questions I wanted ME From Last Week to shut up so ME NOW could answer a bit better.

    AMAZINGLY, it's been online for three hours and how many local radio stations do you think have rung to offer us THE BREAKFAST SHOW? None of them, that's who! SHOCKING! You'd think someone would at least have been in touch about DRIVETIME!

    posted 4/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Stand Up Tragedy
    If another Universe that isn't far from here yesterday would have been my first day of unemployment/the start of my glittering freelance career. Luckily our HR Department informed us (an amazing TWENTY FOUR HOURS in advance!)that it wouldn't be and so instead I trotted along to the Leicester Square Theatre full of the joys of EMPLOYMENT, ready to do a short set at Stand Up Tragedy.

    When Mr D Pickering booked me he told me that the idea was to do a cabaret night concentrating on the more TRAGIC side of things, and this caused me MUCH CONTEMPLATION. Most of my songs have happy endings and/or concentrate on the POSITIVE, what could I do that would fit? I'd pretty much worked out a set that dealt SORT OF with this, but also with my unwillingness to HAVE unhappy endings in songs, and had many intentions of talking about this during the set, but luckily for all concerned when I TIMED it (all acts had a strict limit of 10 minutes) it turned out that the world would have to do WITHOUT my Philosophical Musings, and I should just concentrate on the songs!

    With several (over THREE!) practices behind me I rolled up at the venue, did my sound check, then popped round the corner for a pint and to finish reading the autobiography of Olive Postgate, which has been a) heart warming b) thought provoking c) a little bit SAD, before returning to the THEATRE to find Not Many People Arriving. Dave and co were a bit PERTURBED by this, but we were certainly in double figures by the time the gig started and it was a lovely, receptive, LISTENING audience.

    The other acts dealt with the topic in various ways, including Bec Hill doing a sadness based but actually dead FUNNY comedy set, and a short story about a family going on holiday in SPACE (which was Proper Science Fiction done as a homespun monologue). It struck me on the way home that apart from me and Dave (who compered) EVERYONE performing was a woman and that, actually, nearly ALL the comedians I've done The Comedy Gigs with have been women. Also, nearly ALL the people who've BOOKED the aforesaid comedy gigs have been women too. And yet I keep reading articles saying the reason there are less women on TV panel shows is because there aren't that many female comedians. TV Producers! Come to my gigs, you'll see LOADS of them!

    Anyway, at the end of the show it was time for ME to go on and do a set. Normally at this point I'd give you the setlist, but thanks to the wonders of Modern Technology I can show you the entire GIG, THUS:

    I'd been NERVOUS and worried before the gig about how it would all work but I must say I really REALLY enjoyed it. After all the other comedy gigs I've done where I've felt out of place and/or slightly incompetent, this one felt just RIGHT. Maybe this is what I've been doing WRONG before - trying to be COMEDY, going AT the audience and demand they LARF at songs which, actually, don't have the required number of Funny Lines to qualify as Funny Songs, and thus being talked over by an audience used to musicians coming on and doing Quiet Stuff. This time I did some GENTLER songs that WERE sort of sad but DID have funny bits in, as well as, in some cases, having Vaguely Twiddly Bits that people always seem to like. The Perfect Love Song even has a GUITAR SOLO in!

    I started off with that, which led nicely into Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine (which I'm REALLY enjoying playing again) and then finished off with It Only Works Because You're here for the first time in AGES, including the "Please don't cry for main site IT guy" CODA which i don't think is on the video.

    It was, I must say, a little bit of a REVELATION to me, to suddenly see where I might have been going wrong. It was also nice to finish the whole thing at 8pm and so get home in time for tea!

    On the way home to aforesaid TEA I thought how glad I was that this WASN'T the start of my unemployed/freelance career, but if it HAD been it would certainly have started out with some LESSONS and Things To Think About for the future. If/when I do another comedy-type gig on my own, I shall be doing it THIS way instead!

    posted 3/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Moon Horse - The Season Finale
    The fourth and final episode of Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter is released today, featuring myself and Mr S Hewitt. "The Enemy Is Revealed" brings with it DANGER! REVELATIONS! CONCLUSIONS! and a very very exciting announcement.

    As ever you can listen to it via Totally Acoustic feed (also on iTunes), get a direct mp3 download or simply listen to it right HERE:

    Now that the story is finished you can also opt to download it as a single ALBUM (without all the recaps) directly from us at our bandcamp page. It's one of these modern Pay-What-You-Like downloads, so I think you can even get it for FREE if you like, but any CA$H would be much appreciated. The download also comes with a free VIDEO of the entirety of our show at the Camden Fringe last August. There's all sorts of differences between that and the recorded version (which is based on two shows in Leicester this February) and the addition of VISUALS means you can finally see what was going on during Only A Robot!

    Me and Steve had a BLOODY GRATE time doing these shows and are really rather FOND of them, so we hope you enjoy listening. And do listen to the very end of this week's episode, there's THRILLING news of even more ADVENTURES to come!

    posted 2/4/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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