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Blog Archive: May 2012

The Vandella
I arrived in Shepherd's Bush last night to see something DEEPLY UPSETTING: Mr S Hewitt, reduced to sitting in an O'Neills. It was against all that is good in the world, and had been caused by him arriving before The Vandella (venue for the evening's gig with me and Mr G Osborn) had opened. Luckily it looked like it WAS open, so we put the whole appalling situation behind us and went over the road.

There we found that The Vandella was Quite Swanky, with a range of POSH BEER (i had bright red, white and... well, BROWN coloured beers over the course of the evening), POSH FOOD and a VERY fancy backstage area. I think it's mostly a COMEDY venue, hence the PLUSHNESS.

Within all this we found the aforesaid Gavin "Osbourn", as the board outside said - it felt odd to be playing with someone ELSE's name spelt wrong! He seemed a bit NERVOUS about the gig, but he explained he was FLUSTERED as he'd been playing FOOTBALL all afternoon with COMEDIANS, and was a bit done in. First rule of GIGS: don't play football in the afternoon beforehand!

The room gently filled up, and we couldn't help noticing that the gender balance was about 30/70 men to women - Steve said this was because of Gavin, I thought it must be because women admire the bravery of CERTAIN PEOPLE who, even though they trapped their right hand index finger in a car door (FOR EXAMPLE) a few days before were still prepared to STRUGGLE BRAVELY ON and do a gig. It's the only thing that makes sense.

This HEINOUS INJURY meant that I had to have a HARD THINK about what songs I could play, as even my very rudimentary version of finger picking would be impossible, and I ended up doing THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Strangely Attractive
  • Chips And Cheese, Pint Of Wine
  • We Did It Anyway
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • It seemed to go pretty well - concentrating on FINGERS meant i was also concentrating on the SONGS, so there weren't too many mistakes, although STRUMMING It Only Works Because You're here felt a bit weird. I was a bit nervous to start with but once I got going I settled down and enjoyed CHATTING. There was quite a bit of CHAT! I also think I have FINALLY got the hang of playing to Comedy-Type audiences. They don't like SHOUTY songs very much but DO like the gentler stuff, where they tend to laugh more at the, well, more GENTLY WRY parts rather than any GAGS anywhere. This is a very happy realisation, especially as it means i CAN play those sort of songs a bit more. I hope I DO get to do some more comedy gigs - doing them WRONG for the past couple of years may have put people off!

    Anyone requiring a MASTERCLASS in how to deal with ANY kind of audience would have done well to take notes for the evenings headliner, as Gav came on and, despite protestations of shambling, WOWED the very happy crowd with a PILE of fantastic songs. Pretty much ALL my favourites were there, including "Sweet Bedford", "Over Thirty" and "Albert Went Out To See Rock Bands", and I was happy to realise that MOST of the set was stuff from his wonderful NEW album, "Come On Folks, Settle Down". Beforehand I was telling him he should DO loads of them as it WAS an Album Launch, but they were all so ACE you weren't really conscious of it, if you see what I mean - sometimes a band does The New Album and everyone's waiting for THE HITS, but this time it ALL seemed like HITS.

    He also played the new songs that he'd PREMIERED at Totally Acoustic the other week AND slipped in a couple of older ones I'd not heard before. It was MAGNIFICENT and I HEARTILY recommend the new album too you - go on! You can get it direct from the label or Leading Retail Outlets. It's GRATE!

    The evening ended with thank yous and chat before heading off into the BALMY evening, amazed to find that summer was CONTINUING to shine. Next stop for the Osborn/Hibbet/Occasionally Frankie Machine TOUR: HIBBETTFEST!!

    posted 30/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Weekend Of Ups And Downs
    On of the GRATE Rituals Of My Adult Life has always been The Peterborough Beer Festival. Almost every year I've gone and met up with Robin, Mileage and Guesty, three of my friends from school, and almost every year we've said "We really should meet up more often, not just at The Beer Festival."

    A few years ago we actually managed to DO this, going on a pub crawl in... er... Peterborough where we all got SPECTACULARLY drunk and I ended up having a NIGHTMARE three hour journey home on TERRIFYING public transport, clinging on to the edge of SOBRIETY for DEAR LIFE. After that we spoke of doing something a bit more ambitious, and it was THUS that we met last Friday in Castleton, in the Derby Dales, for a whole WEEKEND of DELIGHT. I managed to SLAM my finger in Mileage's car door on the way there (which is a bit worrying for the Gavin Osborn gig tonight!) but otherwise everything was AMAZING!

    As anyone currently living in Great Britain will tell you, we certainly picked the right weekend for it, as the weather was AMAZING. We didn't see much of it on Friday night (PUB) but on Saturday we rose bright-ish and early-ish to do a BIG WALK. We STRODE out of town, got slightly lost, found ourselves, got slightly lost AGANE, and eventually found ourselves at the start of the Great Ridge Walk, starting at Losehill and then marching all the way along to Mam Tor itself. It was SPECTACULAR - we had to keep stopping to GAZE in AWE at the landscape, and ended up sat for a good long while at the end, only partly because we were A Bit Tired.

    Then we did a TERRIFYING DESCENT down the CLIFF FACE - it was VERY steep and VERY VERY WINDY and when we finally got to the bottom and looked up I did think that it might NOT have been the best way to do it. Still, we were all in one piece so had an ICE CREAM and then went down the Blue John mine. I'd been there aged 7 and it seemed EERILY SIMILAR - I guess ANCIENT CAVES don't change much, but the LOO looked like it hadn't been looked at since the Silver Jubilee too! The trip itself was FANTASTIC tho, and we emerged full of KNOWLEDGE, with THROBBING BRANES and ACHING LEGS.

    The weekend involved a LOT of hills and THOUSANDS (NB REALLY) of STAIRS. Four chaps from the FENS should be APPLAUDED for managing it!

    We walked back to town via some more CAVES (which we didn't go in) and LANDSCAPE, then went out in the evening to a) eat b) watch the football [which was APPALLING - i didn't think my expectations could GET any lower, but LO! they did!] c) watch the voting on Eurovision and d) BEER. It was ACE, tho I did feel a bit delicate next day.

    Robin was flying back to Holland at 3pm, so to fill the time we went to MATLOCK BATCH, one of the most GORGEOUS parts of the entire country IF NOT PLANET, where the four of us tried to SCARE each other by saying "I'm sure we won't DIE" in the Cable Cars. Once again I discovered when I got to the other end that I had been TERRIFIED! We went all round The Heights Of Abraham, which I was surprised to find was LOVELEY. We had another ice cream, went down another cave, visited the GIFT SHOP and went up an observation tower... which turned out to not be as high up as a significant part of the ACTUAL HILL.

    Towards the end of the trip I thought "Haven't I done well? All these hills and steps and I haven't falled over ONCE!" INEVITABLY I then tripped on some stairs and GASHED my knees. As with my CRUSHED finger, however, I was terribly brave. This was when we got ice creams, which really helped.

    After descending by cable car once more we began our goodbyes - Guesty set off home, the rest of us went to drop Robin off, and Mileage then took me back to Peterborough - and I was soon on the train home, reflecting on what a BRILLIANT time we'd had. I was actually rather PROUD of us - we COULD have just sat around in the pub all day, but instead we went on a proper big trip and DID things, visited ATTRACTIONS, saw a lot of the COUNTRY and did Proper Stuff... and then went to the pub. And it was EASY - all it took was a will to DO something and a lack of need to put the DAMPENERS on stuff. We could all have this sort of ACTION FUN all the time!

    Having said that, maybe not ALL the time - my legs are still bloody killing me, all these stairs and INCLINES are AGAINST NATURE!

    posted 29/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Single Release Day
    As readers of the (slightly early this month) NEWSLETTER will be aware, today is the official release day for the Battle Of Peterborough free download single!

    The single is available to download for free from the main Dinosaur Planet webpage, or indeed RIGHT HERE:

    (right click here for direct download.

    It's accompanied by a RATHER SPLENDID VIDEO shot entirely on location of Google Steet View, which you can witness AT YOUR OWN RISK, THUS:

    (direct link to YouTube)

    As always on these occasions I would be TREMENDOUSLY grateful for any mentions, links, likes or retweets - I'm very proud of this, especially the video, and I'd rather like it if it kick-started the mighty NEXT PHASE of the Dinosaur Planet PUBLICITY ENSLAUGHT. There's LOTS more to come this summer, hold on to your HATS!

    posted 28/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Mercury Prize
    After much (well, a bit of) consideration, I have decided to enter Dinosaur Planet for the 2012 Mercury Music Prize!

    The reasons for this are various - as I keep saying, I'm very proud of the album and would like to get it to a wider audience, and am interested in the PROCESSES of something like this - but mostly I thought "It's 204 quid, I don't know when our next album will be out or whether I'll be able to afford to do this again, so why the heck not?"

    I put myself onto their mailing list a while ago, and recieved an email earlier this week telling me how to register. This i duly DID, and got a PDF full of EXCITING ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS. I say "EXCITING" because one of the things they ask for is a PRESS KIT, which is an excuse for me to go through the facebook page and compile my favourite REVIEWS and MENTIONS.

    SIDEBAR: Coincidentally my FAVOURITE of these was mentioned on the Actual Radio yesterday. Steve Lamacq's doing a THEME on local newspapers this week, so I sent him the story of when the album was in The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, and how the printed version had ALL of the lyrics to The Battle Of Peterborough... apart from the last verse! He read it out, include a POETRY PLEASE-esque reading of said lyrics, it was all terribly exciting - all right, he didn't actually play the SONG, but you can't have everything can you?

    This clipping, along with the ones from Word, SFX, Comics Alliance and THE SMITHSONIAN will, if nothing else, make for a more DIVERSE range of reviews than ADELE or whoever will be contributing, and I am sure this will DEFINITELY get us onto the shortlist. In the UNLIKELY event that that doesn't do the trick they've also asked for a selection of VIDEOS - it's pretty much in the BAG, isn't it?

    Last time we did this several people asked me about it afterwards, so THIS time around I'm going to try and BLOG the whole process, from getting together the entrance requirements all the way through - INEVITABLY - to when we - WITHOUT DOUBT - turn up at the Roundhouse for Awards Ceremony. Buckle up chums, it's going to be a THRILLING RIDE!

    posted 24/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Thrilling Webpage Updates
    It's a beautiful day today and I'm sat inside playing on the computer, and NOBODY CAN STOP ME! Being an adult, sometimes it is GOOD!

    One of the things I've done is a bit of an update to the Dinosaur Planet website, ready for the release of the new download single on Monday, just putting the new video on the front page and updating the videos and singles pages. It's all part of the gentle build-up to release day, which until now has mostly featured me BCCing hundreds of different people to tell them about it!

    I do like this part of THE PROCESS, when everything is slowly put into place ready for a MASSIVE LAUNCH... even when, as usually happens, nothing much comes of it. Obviously it'd be nice if HUGE FAME ensued after a single launch, but to be honest (and especially in this case) I usually enjoy doing the video, writing the press releases and even sending out the POSTAL CDs so much that whatever happens next is - to quote EVERY INDIE BAND EVER - "a bonus".

    The next stage is to RE-HASSLE people about it - all the CDs should now be on the way to reviewers, I've sent an email to tell them so, and then on MONDAY I'll be emailing them AGANE to say "OH HELLO! It is RELEASE DAY! WHOO!" And then, of course, INTERNATIONAL RICHES!!

    This is all part of a mighty PHASE TWO of the album - there's going to be at LEAST another two videos, a pile of Validators GIGS, and the revival of the original stage show at Green Man. As I keep saying to everyone who'll listen (and many who won't) that I'm EXTRAORDINARILY proud of this album and am DETERMINED to do everything I can to get/FORCE people to listen to it. As I say, the aforementioned CA$H/FAME wouldn't be the worse thing to happen, but really I want people to HEAR what we've done. Hopefully that's what'll occur!

    posted 23/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Battle Of Peterborough
    On Monday we're releasing The Battle Of Peterborough as a free download single, along with a VERY VERY VERY EXCITING VIDEO. Here is the similarly exciting PRESS RELEASE!

    Effects As Good As The Avengers For 0.0001% Of The Price

    MJ Hibbett & The Validators are releasing a special effects laden blockbuster video for their new single 'The Battle Of Peterborough' which challenges 'The Avengers' for science fiction thrills with a budget approximately ten million times smaller.

    "Clearly 'The Avengers' is a bit longer than our song," says MJ Hibbett, "But I still don't see why Joss Whedon had to spend 260 million dollars on it. We did ours at home using camera phones and it looks incredibly lifelike."

    In 'The Battle Of Peterborough' Space Dinosaurs obliterate townships and villages all along the A47 before wrecking havoc in Peterborough itself. It's hard to believe that the whole thing was filmed by waving plastic dinosaurs in front of Google Street View, such is the terrifying realism on display.

    (terrifying realism)

    The single is taken from the band's new album, 'Dinosaur Planet', which has been received with great acclaim in the science fiction community. SFX magazine said it was "Jeff Wayne's new competition", Comics Alliance called it "The Greatest Story (About Space-Faring Dinosaurs) Ever Told" and io9 said it was "the space dinosaurs vs. giant robots rock opera you've been waiting for". It's been greeted more with confusion by musical reviewers, notably David Hepworth in Word Magazine who said simply "You have to admire their nerve."

    posted 22/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Webpage Fun
    I'm having a DELIGHTFUL couple of days full of Things Not Working Properly. One of these Things is the very webserver you look upon now - my webhosting company have done an "upgrade" which, as usual, leads inevitably to Things Not Working Properly. I was a bit annoyed that they didn't give me any NOTICE of this happening, but they DO tend to reply to emails very quickly and seem to have got it all sorted out now BUT I have somehow LOST yesterday's EXCITING blog post!

    Oh well - basically it said "I went to the Secret BBC Window and posted some CDs", and then went on to show the video, but in a Funny Kind Of Way that doesn't matter, as I'm going to RE-POST that today anyway. I just thought I'd add this bit in case anyone found it ODD. "That's not like Hibbett", they would say, "To repeat himself. That's not like Hibbett." (etc etc etc).
    posted 22/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Out Of Office
    You find me this Saturday morning in a state of QUIET PANIC, for LO! we're off on holiday in about 45 minutes!

    Packing so far is within more than acceptable parameters, TFL says the tubes and Overground are running OK, and there's no strikes. I've got a PLAN for the day's travel with all our connections (we're taking a train, a tube, a train, a plane, a bus and another bus) and this is about the EIGHTH time we've made this particular journey.

    So you can well understand why I'm in such a PANIC - this is the bit in the movies where THE METEORITE STRIKES BEGIN!

    We're going, as usual, to Puerto Pollensa in Majorca for the week, where we shall a) drink Cava b) read books c) REPEAT TO FADE. When I get back we'll have a brand new video for The Battle Of Peterborough, a DELIGHTFUL press release, more gigs and all KINDS of other stuff, but in the meantime look after yourselves and I'll see you in a week!

    Unless, of course, THE METEORITES STRIKE.

    posted 12/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    I rolled up at The King & Queen last night to discover Mr Gavin Osborn outside, RARING to continue our gruelling tour - third date in with only a fortnight's break!

    We went in and had some DELICIOUS beer, a bit of an old chat, got the chairs sorted out, and were soon joined by various lovely people, including The Beer In My Pint Glass. We were not, however, joined yet by Mr Francis Albert Machine, our TOUR BUDDY and other act for the evening. I'd read online earlier that trains into London from the Midlands were taking an extra 70 minutes, and that added to the fact that I couldn't get through to him on his phone led me to PANIC and ring MRS Frankie Machine... just as Frankie came over the horizon, thus easing MY worries but inadvertently handing some over. Sorry Mrs Machine!

    The room slowly filled and soon it was time for me to hit the stage and do THIS:

  • Totally Acoustic
  • Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time
  • Strangely Attractive
  • The Stores Of Not To Be
  • Leave My Brother Alone
  • I Come From The Fens
  • Hey Hey 16K

  • It was the most fun I've had at one of these for AGES - I did the "never podcasted" songs at the start and once i knew those were fine the rest of the set was a JOY! I had a lovely time, with a LOT of chat. SMASHING!

    Next up was the ever-marvellous Frankie Machine, who did possibly even MORE chat than I did - which is always EXCELLENT. I do like the way he can go from these subtle, emotional songs into SUPREMELY DRY remarks and/or MILD LEWDITY and then back again. He finished with the song I mentioned last time about his lad, now called "Never The Breaker" and it was the perfect combination of both the above APSECTS. It was BRILL!

    Then the GIG section of the evening finished off with Gavin, doing THREE brand new songs, all of which were FANTASTIC. I particularly enjoyed "I've Got Merch", which he'd been talking about as just an IDEA on the train to Bristol on the tour, and now had as a fully formed HIT, with Audience Participation and EVERYTHING. He also finished with my current favourite, "Sweet Bedford", which always makes me WELL UP.

    You don't, by the way, have to take my word for how ACE it all was - the PODCAST is available RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

    After we'd finished we went down for the main part of the evening, and another SONGWRITER SUMMIT as we were joined by Ms Jenny Lockyer and Mr Pete Green, amongst others. OH what a FAB time we had - chat! LARFS! Incisive Comments! THORTS! GAGS! We gradually thinned out as various of us DRAGGED ourselves away from the THRONG and by the time myself and Messrs Green and Machine headed out the chairs were on the tables and the lights were going off.

    One of the best Totally Acoustics EVER I reckon, and a lovely lovely evening!

    posted 11/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Great Escape
    I was out of the house at the UNGODLY HOUR of 7:50AM (a!m!) today to head to Brighton, where I was due to take part on a panel called "DIY Artists - Getting Started" at The Great Escape Convention.

    I felt quite EXCITED about being part of such an AUGUST INSTITUTION. I was only asked last week because somebody else had dropped out, but still, even as a Super-Sub it's very nice to be thought of. I was, however, very NERVOUS - i was acutely aware that this is a Proper Industry Conference, which people had PAID to come to, and that i would have to BEHAVE and be GROWN-UP about it all. On the other hand I didn't really want to turn up and be The Boring Guy On The End - I used to RUN conferences a decade or so ago in Leicester, and I have seen FAR too many of Those Guys to ever want to BE them.

    It was all very similar to those conferences - registration was a scene of PANIC, and everyone seemed to be turning up at the last moment, and though there was a PLETHORA of A4 signs stuck up over all and every surface, delegates were still wandering around confused. It brought back a LOT of memories, of getting up at EVEN LESS GODLY hours in hotels in other countries to try and sort out other people's badges for them.

    Once I was all sorted out I saw Mr Chris T-T, said hello, then nipped over the road to The Old Courtroom where my session was due to happen. It was the first of the day and so, AS TRADITION DICTATES, it started ten minutes late... and then FLEW by. Mr Chris Cooke was hosting and asked me a bunch of questions first, which i THINK i answered all right, but may have GONE ON a bit. He'd sent me some questions beforehand and I'd spent the past few days THINKING about them, so had a wide and various range of POINTS to make, some of which hadn't necessarily been asked, but it seemed to go all right. As ever I tried to make points with GAGS, which didn't get MASSIVE LARFS but then it WAS still first thing in the morning. Everyone else on the panel was dead good too - I spent a LOT of time NODDING - and at the end I think I caused some disagreement in the audience when I said that only a TINY percentage of GEEKS give a toss about high quality audio. I think I was right tho - everyone else listens to SONGS, not recordings, on crappy little headphones or driving at speed through tinny car speakers.

    The next session was about "Getting Noticed", again for DIY Musicians. Everyone kept saying "DIY Musician" as if it's officially A THING now, which made me very happy. When i first started on what must now be called THE DIY ROUTE it was just called "Unsigned", which was a rubbish description for a MODEL that was all about independence from The Bad Old Ways. It's only over the past couple of years that "DIY" has become the accepted lingo, and I'm very glad of it.

    Anyway, the "Getting Noticed" panel featured all round hero Chris T-T - he, like me, was the only actual DIY Musician on the panel (the other speakers on both panels were very good, but it did seem odd only to have one actual PRACTITIONER on a panel with three service providers) and, like me, talked a lot MORE than anyone else. This was fine with me as he had much WISDOM to impart. The most interesting bit, I thought, was when he said that if you're starting out you should be PATIENT, and WAIT until you're Actually Any Good before doing your first gigs.

    Initially this got my BACK UP. "What?" i thought. "Surely you should get STRAIGHT OUT THERE and LEARN YOUR CRAFT! That's what I did and... oh... hang on..." for LO! i started doing gigs on my own as soon as I could nearly play TWO CHORDS, and did lots of gigs where I was TERRIBLE. This MAY be why large sections of the East Midlands still think i am LIKE that - I played so much that way that it DID leave a lasting impression of DREADFULNESS, and maybe it would have been better to BE better first.

    It was certainly food for thought, though I didn't have much time for MULLING. I had a quick chat with a couple of very nice people (and gave away more BUSINESS CARDS than ever before i.e. TWO!) then had to ZOOM OFF for my train. As with the Horizons event on Saturday, I really wished I could have stayed - there were lots of fascinating discussions going on and TONS of interesting people, but I the LIFESTYLE of the DIY ARTIST (hem hem) does seem to be one of constant dashing around. I had to get back to work for the afternoon, and tonight it's Totally Acoustic. The rock and roll treadmill, it NEVER STOPS!

    posted 10/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Nuts In May
    Having already played a gig before NOON on Saturday it was time to head up to The Lake District, ready for Sunday's gig at The Nuts In May Festival. I thus RENDEZVOUSED with THE TIGERMOBILE at Leicester station and myself, Tiger and Cat hit the ROAD, FLYING up the country towards our first destination: Cockermouth Travelodge.

    Staying in Cockermouth was EXCELLENT, mostly because saying "Cockermouth" is INHERENTLY HILARIOUS. We checked into our rooms, finding them to be SUPER SPACIOUS. It looked like there was meant to be a LOT more furniture in them which hadn't arrived yet, but otherwise all was well, so we ordered ourselves a TAXI and headed off to the festival site.

    Nuts In May is, I guess, a BOUTIQUE festival, with about 1,000 paying customers, on a compact and bijou site where the two main stages are only about a 2 minute walk away from each other. There were happy people, kids, teenagers, foodstuffs and a lot of folk music, and happily not much MUD. The only mud ANYWHERE, in fact, was at the Cup Of Wonder Stage i.e. the huge MARQUEE where we'd be playing next day. I think the whole SITE would have been muddy earlier in the week when it was put up, but everywhere else had dried out by the time we arrived.

    We were soon joined by the entire CLAN PATTISON and LO! there was BEER and YAKKING and EATING and discussion of the Festival Programme, which featured a little write-up of us, accompanied by a photograph... of Frankie Machine! We later saw Mr D Proud, who'd booked us to play, and he was mystified by how it had happend! Before long it was KERSHAW O'CLOCK! The great man Mr N Kershaw HIMSELF was playing, and we'd all been excitedly wondering what he'd play - well, I say "wondering", certain members of Team Percussion had got SO excited that they'd been online googling setlists.

    He was EXCELLENT - ALL the hits were played, including "The One And Only" which, of course, he wrote, and even the NEW stuff sounded good. It was a GRATE set, made even more delightful by the sight of so many hard core anarchists in "Destroy Capitalism" t-shirts getting GIDDY when he played "The Riddle".

    More beer was taken and then we decided to call it a night, as it was COLD, and we ended up back at the Travelodge for 11pm. SENSIBLE!

    Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we headed into Cockermouth ITSELF, where we looked at the RIVER (mercifully NOT flooded) and then had a wander round the Wordsworth House. It was Quite Good - personally I prefer these sort of places to have more of the actually WRITING by the author, like they do at the Samuel Johnson Houses, or indeed the Dickens Museum, but this was National Trust so I guess they're more interested in the house. It was GOOD tho, and we then strolled down the street for a PUB LUNCH with The Pattisons.

    WHAT AM I SAYING?!? That isn't what happened AT ALL, ignore ALL THE ABOVE. What actually happened, ON TOUR, is that we stayed up all night then rode on motorbikes into Carlisle to visit a CRACK DEN. That's definitely it.

    Reports were coming in from The Frankie Machine Camper Van Machine that their battery had run out, but by the time we got back on site all was well and we were QUORATE. Beer, chat, ALL THAT, and soon it was time to soundcheck.

    Ooh, it is nice to play on a big proper stage - there was plenty of ROOM, everything sounded GRATE (Tim ESEPCIALLY was BORN to play STADIUM GIGS!) and we even got to have our own monitor mixes, it sounded FAB. The other stage was running late, so they asked us to hold back a while, so it was just after 6pm when we went on stage and did THIS:
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • A Little Bit
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Playing on a big stage is GRATE... but it doesn't half make your audience look small! We had about 30 people in, which would have been FINE in normal circumstances, but did leave rather HUGE spaces in the rest of the tent!! A few people wandered in during the course of the set, and a few more wandered out - we didn't really fit with the more folky sound of the festival, I guess, and the sun WAS out and the main stage WAS, i think, restarting quite soon, so there were all kinds of reasons not to be packed out (i personally think the photograph of Frankie Machine was to blame!), and anyway, we had a LOVELY time. The sound was AMAZING and, much to our own surprise, we seem to have become a TIGHT ROCKING BAND in our old age!

    It was HUGE fun to be all together and sounding so good, and I was rather proud of our MATURITY in the face of tiny crowds. Not so long ago it would have got us down, but the people who WERE there were ACE, and we gave them a RIGHT PROPER SHOW. I did, I must admit, miss out the usual "Introducing The Band" and "THE TIGER'S ROAR" bits, and didn't do as MUCH chat between songs (our 9 song set was thus about 15 minutes shorter than our 9 song set at Firebug last month!!) but other than that we WENT for it with full GUSTO. It was GRATE!

    And then afterwards I was amazed to find a QUEUE had formed of people wanting to buy CDs! Best of all, at the front of the queue, was a young lad who wanted us ALL to sign his copy for him - it was wonderful! I also met a man later in the day who VERY STERNLY wished to tell me that he REALLY enjoyed it and thought it was EXCELLENT. I got the distinct impression he'd been talking to some people who disagreed!

    With our job done we relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the day - I had a chat to Mr Sean McGhee of R2 magazine who, hilariously, had lost track of time and kept saying "I'm really looking forward to seeing you", and we watched an EXCELLENT covers band doing "Enjoy Yourself" and some proper Irish folk songs. We even smiled benignly when the band AFTER us PACKED OUT the tent doing a cover version of "Motorcyle Emptiness!"

    It was a beautiful day out, and it ended with the whole lot of us sitting around outside the Pattisons' tent eating biscuits, drinking beer, and talking a load of old nonsense. We ALWAYS say it but, really, the actual GIG part of these expeditions is such a tiny tiny part of the whole thing, it almost gets in the way of the sitting around talking to each other.

    Next time, however, I hope we manage to do it somewhere a bit warmer, as it was BLOODY FREEZING. Hugs were had and soon we were back in the warmth of the Travelodge at the SUPREMELY SENSIBLE time of 10.30pm. It was good to get some kip - the next day I ended up travelling for nearly EIGHT HOURS to get home.

    It had been a fantastic weekend though, with two very different but equally lovely gigs, and it's always brilliant to see The Validators. I wish we got to do MORE festivals really, they're ACE!

    posted 9/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Horizons At The BFI
    I was up SUPER EARLY on Saturday morning, so that I could ZOOM across town to the BFI where I was due to appear at Horizons: The Sinclair ZX Spectrum At 30 as part of the Sci-Fi London festival.

    I arrived super early because I knew that the South Bank (where the BFI is) is NOTORIOUSLY difficult to navigate, and this wasn't helped by the fact that I had foolishly printed out the BFI's own Simplified Map. Aaah! The Simplified Map! Has there ever been a WORSE idea? "Hey, fellow design guys! This boring ordinary map is too complex, with all its street names and representation of actual geography. Let's simplify it so it LOOKS nice!" "But boss! Won't that make it impossible to use?" "GET THEE AWAY, young Novice Design Guy! Maps are meant to LOOK NICE, who cares if they actually work as MAPS?!?"

    Eventually i found the BFI Southbank - UNDERNEATH a bridge, not on a street running parallel to it as the Simplified Map had beautifully described it - and after some wandering about with a fellow lost soul (who I was following because he looked like he knew where he was going... but he turned out to be trying to follow ME) we found our way to the Blue Room, a very pleasant 100-ish capacity room. I was quite relieved to find out it WASN'T a cavernous space, as it made doing my soundcheck much easier i.e. I didn't NEED any amplification, so didn't have to do one.

    More people arrived, including someone running a STALL selling old ZX Spectrum tapes, which everyone gathered round to DROOL over. There were also copies of the original ZX Spectrum User Guide, my BRANE went ZANG with MEMORIES!

    While we waited to start people kept coming over saying "AHA! You must be MJ Hibbett!" For AGES i thought "Gosh, I must be WELL famous" before I realised that a) I was the only person there carrying a guitar and b) I was wearing a Hey Hey 16K t-shirt. That would probably explain it.

    This actually worked out pretty well as lots of nice people came over to ME for a CHAT, which was lovely. There were a couple of people there with a Posh Camera filming the event, and they came over to say hello too - they were making a documentary about the effects of the ZX Spectrum, and asked if I'd mind them using "Hey Hey 16K" over the end-titles. I told them I didn't mind that ONE LITTLE BIT, and excitedly exchanged BUSINESS CARDS!

    Soon it was SHOW TIME and, after a brief intro, I took to the stage and played Hey Hey 16K. I'd been really worried about it beforehand, as I nearly ALWAYS get it wrong, but this time I not only got it RIGHT but also played it at a reasonable TEMPO too. It turns out that playing songs at 11:30am when you HAVEN'T drunk loads of beer makes it MUCH easier to remember the words!

    I then delivered a couple of REMARKS about how GRATE the legacy of the Spectrum is (my idea to go "AHAHA! The Commodore 64 is RUBBISH!" was vetoed by the same part of my BRANE that remembers lyrics before noon) and then I did Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time, which seemed to ALSO work pretty well, then GOT OFF.

    I had time to hang around for a LITTLE bit afterwards, but I soon realised that that would mean shuffling around getting my gear together and noisily leaving during someone else's TALK, so thought it best just to get GONE. It was a shame as the rest of the day looked BRILLIANT, and I wish i could have stayed, but I had another appointment to keep, so dashed off to St Pancras, and thence to Leicester, where the rest of the weekend was waiting for me.

    posted 8/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Ron Mueck And Posh Pubs
    Living in London is often ANNOYING, but it's also MEGA-BRILL, as it's FULL of exciting things to see and do every single day. So much so that it feels RUDE not to go and do some of them occasionally.

    Thus on Thursday, having been and placed my vote on the way to work (now waiting for them to pick the WINNING vote - though I'm not sure what the prize is?) I went AFTER work to Saville Row, to visit the Hauser Wirth Gallery for their Ron Mueck exhibition. I'd been to see his last exhibition,tipped off to its ACENESS by my brother Thomas, and so when I saw that THIS one was happening I alerted the self-same sibling, and we met in the gallery.

    It was GRATE. I'd read a couple of reviews online and seen some pictures, and had assumed that the four sculptures shown were highlights... but actually they were the WHOLE THING, so it only took ten minutes, at a slow pace, to see them all! They're basically super-realistic sculptures, painted to look entirely lifelike, but at odd sizes, and they are LOVELY. The woman with sticks was my favourite, I think, but they were all (well, maybe not the giant chicken) CUDDLE-ABLE. I strode round with a big silly GRIN on my fave, LOVING them... though I must say by the time I got to the last one the THEME had become a bit over-powering. "YES!" i thought, loudly. "IT's JESUS! I GET IT!"

    Finding ourselves finishing much earlier than expected we retired to a nearby pub - I'd had a look on Fancyapint before coming out and found one called The Windmill which turned out to be SURPRISINGLY nice. That bit of London is full of a) tourists b) MEGA-POSHOES so PUBS are a bit rum, but this one was delightful, with a HUGE range of Beers on. I drank OTTER all night - we ended up staying for ... er... more than a couple, as DISCUSSIONS RAGED on subjects various - but there were about NINE choices!

    It was also hilariously full of the MEGA-POSH, most of whom didn't seem to understand how pubs worked. Some of them looked displeased to constantly be asked to move, not having realised that standing IN FRONT OF THE STAIRS LEADING TO THE TOILET might NOT be the best of plans, while others appeared to be using a BAR for the first time. The bar area looked constantly PACKED, three deep, but it kept turning out that they were ALL going TOGETHER, EN MASSE, as if they thought you had to be age-identified individually. It was quite sweet really.

    It was all part of a marvellous bit of London-Useage - something which continues tomorrow morning when I ZOOM over to the BFI to play the Horizons: 30 Years Of The ZX Spectrum event. It looks like being a FANTASTIC week of events - all of which I shall miss as i THEN zoom off to a train, in order to catch the TIGERMOBILE from Leicester to Cumbria, where we're playing the Nuts In May Festival.

    It's a busy weekend ahead, I shall report back if I manage to get home in one piece!

    posted 4/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Bands And Stand-Ups And Competitions
    A few months ago there was a HUGE FUSS in the world of stand-up comedy when a Stand-Up Comedy Competition was seen to be CHARGING people to enter. Those of us from the world of ROCK threw up our hands in MOCK ASTONISHMENT. "What? Charging people to enter a competition? That would NEVER happen here!"

    For LO! For us a Battle Of The Bands Competition (which is the direct equivalent of all these stand-up comedy talent shows) is ALWAYS a complete rip-off. You pay a fee, drag all your friends down to a local pub on an otherwise quiet Monday night, and whoever gets the most friends in WINS their round. This is repeated EVERY Monday night until the Grand Final, when the band with the haridest followers gets a prestigious three hour session in the local studio and everyone else goes home. The only lasting legacy of ANY of these is that any bands still going at the end of it all learns a valuable lesson: NEVER give money or time to ANYBODY who asks how many people you expect to bring along to the gig.

    Over in stand-up though it does appear to be different. Comedy bookers actually GO to these sort of shows, so appearing in them (at least, appearing in the finals) CAN to lead to other bookings. Comedians not only ADMIT to winning competitions but put their awards on their CVs, PROUDLY - any band who did that would surely be a LAUGHING STOCK - and the competitions themselves are regarded as a VALID, WHOLESOME part of a young comedian's career.

    The situation seems to be even MORE different in the world of WRITING, where I have also been dabbling of late. Here there are competitions GALORE, with prizes AND publication at the end of it, and special SCHEMES set up SPECIFICALLY to FIND new writers. Even more than that, whenever I've sent SCRIPTS out to Producers and Script Editors I've ALWAYS had responses - not from everyone I've sent them to, but from SOME of them. In all the years I sent demo tapes out I never EVER got a reply, and I certainly didn't get the constructive criticism and MANNERS I've had from Script Rejection Letters.

    But WHY should this be? Whenever I've spoken to people about it the first answer is usually "Because there's MONEY in music" but it's actually COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE. Musicians are FOREVER getting stiffed for CA$H - we OFTEN don't get paid for gigs, or just get petrol money, are stuff is forever being used without permission, and hardly ANYBODY makes a living doing it. The old MYTHS about making your fortune with a song are OLD OLD STORIES perpetuated only by people who think they can make money out of young bands willing to sign away their lives on the promise of a Rolls Royce in a swimming pool.

    But you only have to turn the telly on to see how many opportunities there are for writers, and especially COMEDY writers. There are hundreds of TV shows on all day every day on hundreds of commerical TV channels needing THOUSANDS of writers to keep them going, and there's also films, radio, commericals, magazines, even comics - a MASS of outlets desperate for anyone who can string a few words together, CRYING OUT for even a HINT of humour. It's a world where you CAN and DO get paid for writing things - you'd think that all the SCAM ARTISTS would gravitate there, rather than piddling around in local pubs on a Monday night.

    Or maybe that's why it actually DOES work. Maybe it's the fact that there IS money to be had that means there's a huge structure of Producers, Script Editors, Agents, Talent Scouts, Festivals and so on - there's a Financial POINT behind it that means it NEEDS to work, unlike here in the silly old music "business" where decades of crooks and charlatans have occasionally got lucky, while in the meantime millions of other people have just got on with MAKING music for the fun of it.

    So I think what I'm saying is this: OI! THE ARTS! Stop funding grants and outreach for poets and novelists, and go out and buy some ALBUMS instead. We need it, they don't!

    posted 3/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Campaign Relaunch Ahoy
    The Dinosaur Planet CAMPAIGN may have appeared to have quietened down a little of late, but like minds immeasurably superior to our own (although, to be honest, not very much like that) the CAMPAIGN TEAM (me) is drawing up PLANS - plans which took a big leap forward today when a hundred of THESE arrived:

    They're the PROMO SINGLES for The Battle Of Peterborough, which we'll be releasing as a FREE DOWNLOAD on May 28th, along with a REALLY REALLY EXCITING VIDEO. I've just put the finishing touches to this and, as promised, it does indeed feature some QUITE ASTOUNDING special effects. I'm hoping to put the video up a week or so before the "single" itself goes live, partly to Maximise Promotional Awareness, but MOSTLY because I'm so excited about it I can't really WAIT much longer!

    The CDs, by the way, are just for sending out to radio stations and a few print media outlets - I haven't done this with any of the previous free downloads so I thought I'd see if this made any difference to airplay - so i WON'T be making them available for sale. If they DO work, however, and I end up doing a couple more, then i might do some BOX SETS of them later in the year.

    For LO! there is more - MUCH more - to come, with at least TWO more videos in the works, a batch of Validators Gigs to play, a mini-revival of the STAGE SHOW in the Autumn and maybe some EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH too. As well as being an all round top notch PERFORMER, Ms J Lockyer also runs STORYTIME at weekends at The Green Dragon in Croydon. As part of the half-term excitement in June she's running two days (Friday 8th and Saturday 9th June) based on Dinosaur Planet, with stories, arts activities, workshops, music - THE LOT. It's all TERRIBLY exciting, and it's making me think about making some resource packs available to Schools,Youth Groups, Libraries - that sort of thing. Does anyone have any THORTS/IDEAS about the logistics/common sense of this? I've got scripts, songbooks, and copies of the artwork that I can give away for free, LOADS of CDs, copies of all of our videos and all manner of stuff like that, and I'd very much like to hear from people in the KNOW about whether that might actually WORK. I recorded Dinosaur Planet with the idea of it being HEARD, especially by KIDS, without really worrying about BOUNDLESS RICHES, and I think this might be a nice way of going about it.

    I've also just had my CRB check through!

    In summary then: watch the skies my friends, there is a DINOSAUR PLANET looming once more upon the horizon!

    posted 2/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Many Mighty Meetings
    I was off work yesterday with the POORLIES (I am being very brave about it and have STRUGGLED IN today) but before that I attended a wide and fascinating range of EVENTS.

    On Thursday The Members Of My Movement and I went to St Bride's Church on Fleet Street to see a DISCUSSION about a) Capitalism b) Occupy c) Other. It was simultaneously FASCINATING and ANNOYING - fascinating because there were loads of people with really REALLY interesting things to say and viewpoints I had never really experienced, but annoying because there were people with nothing to say who wanted to say it A LOT in ways I have heard many times. This latter section reminded me very much of Student Union Meetings at Leicester Poly, 1989, when the Social Worker Party would merrily take over all and every discussion by going "But look! LOOK AT US! LOOK!"

    This, as ever, got my GRUMP up, but they were roundly outnumbered by people like the Crusty Lad (hem hem, my stereotyping) who talked about the need to be open-ended in their aims (i.e. he said it much better than me!) or the Veteran Feminist who talked about capitalism co-opting feminism, or the market trader who spoke about shareholders taking on big companies, or indeed the PANEL of Naomi Colvin, Giles Fraser and Robert Phillips from Edelman. It was like going to see Billy Bragg in a funny old way, in that i came away ENERGISED and MILDY AGGRIEVED - ENERGISED with a BRANE full of old ideas challenged and new ideas inserted, but mildly aggrieved about Unneccessary Poetry instead of An Excess Of Woody Guthrie. GOOD TIMES!

    The next day I went on a COURSE to learn about Taxation For The Self-Employed (booked MONTHS ago when I thought that I would, by now, BE self-employed). I learnt a LITTLE bit about the subject, including getting some answers to questions I'd been WHITTLING about for a while, but mostly I learnt about the interests, practices and incomprehension of MATHS of several reflexology students who were doing this day course as part of their diploma. You know THAT GUY who says "ha!" at every "joke" in a presentation, or "Yes!" at every statement, or basically reacts volubly to EVERY SINGLE THING EVER? Often with Lenghty And Irrelevant Anecdotes? He was there, and so were many of his friends.

    My FINAL meeting of the weekend was MUCH more fun, being a reconnoitre with my old pal Mr S Carter to go and see "THE AVENGERS". I went in thinking "I bet I'm going to enjoy this" and BY GOLLY I DID. The first half was PRETTY RUDDY GOOD but the second half... CRIKEY! It was pretty much everything i love about a) comics b) exciting films c) Mr J Whedon all jumbled up together and labelled "WARNING: ALMOST TOO MUCH FUN". I think the only problem I had with it was that I kept thinking it was all an end-scene. "Ah!" I would think. "Here is Samuel L Jackson. I can put my coat on and go home now". Also I kept thinking things like "Yeah! It would be SO COOL to see a FITE between THOR and IRON MAN, especially if they got the proper actors in" as if my MIND could not HANDLE the FACT that THIS WAS ACTUALLY HAPPENING!!!

    It was MEGA-BRILL - and who could have guessed that ALL the best bits would be THE HULK eh? Not me, that's for sure. It topped off a trio of BRANE CHALLENGING events in the best possible way. It's not wonder my body needed some time to recover!

    posted 1/5/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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