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Blog Archive: September 2013Cyber Kazoo
The weekend just gone was full of TWO things: firstly various FAMILY engagements, secondly SONGWRITING.
The family stuff was FUN but, with your permission, I shall concentrate on the songwriting events here, what with that sort of being the general idea of this webpage. NB Yes i know The General Idea Of This Webpage has not held me back from waffling on in the past, but let's have a go and see how we like it shall we?
SO, as previously mentioned, this weekend I'd set myself the task of recording a batch of DEMO TRACKS for The Validators to listen to. I had some songs lined up and, over the course of the past couple of days, I sat down and WROTE some more. I recorded four each on Saturday and Sunday, added a few more I'd recorded earlier, and sent them THE LOT to The Validators yesterday under the name "Cyber Kazoo" complete with LYRICS, CHORDS and the below COVER. Here's what was on it:
1.(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
A BRAND NEW song what I woke up with in my head on Sunday morning. As I worked it out it turned out to be QUITE similar to one of the songs the Vlads had sent me, so I let it be even more like that as I developed it. This my FAVOURITE as it's an Actual Proper Love Song, features some GOOD BITS, and has the opportunity for an entire audience to PUNCH THE AIR during the chorus. I have also been singing around the house ever since, a LOT.
2. Hills And Hollows
This unites the POEM I wrote for the John Clare Poetry Competition a couple of months ago with another of the tunes from the Vlads' sessions. I think it's a bit "Smithsy", but whenever I say this nobody in the band agrees. This was the TUNE that they liked the best, i think, so is therefore the LYRIC i am most nervous about.
3. Open Top Bus Tour
Another BRAND NEW song, written last week, in praise of... well, Open Top Bus Tours. The key reason to write this song is to FORCE The Validators to come on an Open Top Bus Tour with me next time we're in a new city with time to spare. When we were in Berlin they REFUSED every time!
4. We Did It Anyway
As heard in Moon Horse and also covered by The Plimptons. This is the ONLY Moon Horse song I included as most of the others turned out to be too tied into the NARRATIVE to survive amputation. The only other one that might have worked was Only A Robot but, as that's already been released as the b-side The Stores Of Not To Be I was reluctant to re-use it. I'm trying to put forward only UNRELEASED songs, otherwise there'd be a load of other solo/show tracks on this list!
5. I Dream Of Superheroes
This WAS meant to be in Total Hero Team but got removed for reasons of timing. I've always really liked it though, so perhaps it will have another chance to be heard?
6. It Isn't An Exam
I wrote this one YEARS ago, not long after Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez came out and it's been in limbo ever since. I've thought about using it several times for compilations or one-off tracks, but it always sounded like a Validators' song, so I've saved it for that.
7. Can We Be Friends?
Another BRAND NEW one - I had the idea for this one in Birmingham after Hibbettfest, and wrote down a VERSION shortly after I got home. I went back to it this week and moved various parts around and adding others (including a Middle Eight) so that it would fit one of the Vlads' tracks. I was surprised to find it fit REALLY WELL!
8. 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
The NEWEST of all the songs, written YESTERDAY based on some notes from Thursday morning after a pub THORT on Wednesday - I'd been banging on about how daft these sort of lists are, because they tell you ASPIRATIONAL stuff to do (ALWAYS including bungee jumps and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro), which is RIDICULOUS. What you SHOULD do during your twenties is lots and lots of reckless idiotic STUPID things that you'll never be ABLE to do when you're a bit more grown-up/a bit less FIT. I'd originally been using one of the Vlads' tunes for this one, but when I realised I'd already used it for "Soft Rock" I had to do a re-write, and came up with something pretty nice. I was also VERY HAPPY INDEED to find, when I counted how many "Things To Do" I'd come up with, that it was EXACTLY 20. Surely this is The Gods Of Rock's way of telling me it's a SUREFIRE HIT?
9. The Last Homo Sapien
10. Cyborg Blues
11. When They Landed
These are three short science fiction songs that I wrote to submit to a Radio Comedy Show. I thought I'd try writing something in a (very) vaguely Jake Thackray/TROUBADOR style, and quite liked what I came up with . I doubt whether these will even WORK with The Validators, but stuck them on anyway, for the purpose of FUN, also DELIGHT.
And that's the lot - I'm going to try and put the lyrics for the newest ones online in the next couple of weeks (there's TONNES of odd songs lying around from Other Things that I need to add to The Database Of ROCK) and hopefully you'll get to HEAR some of them at GIGS and even on RECORDS in the future. In the meantime I sit nervously awaiting the verdict of The Validators!
posted 30/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Autumn Schedule
It was the birthday of The Days In My Year earlier this week, and as well as being a day for CELEBRATION and DELIGHT it also felt like the herald for The Autumn Schedule. We've had a GRATE summer - INDEED, in a rare display of National Unity, the whole UK seems to agree with this - but now it feels like we're striding together into The Next Bit.
It certainly felt like that to me yesterday, as a wide range of EVENTS happened. First of all I got THREE gigs confirmed. The first two were my nights at Robin Ince's Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. These were arranged AGES ago, but ever since I've been wondering whether the offer was just a JAPE of some sort, so was VERY relieved yesterday to see my name listed on the 17th and 19th December. They look like being GRATE nights, with a whole HEAP of pals also playing. The other gig is back at Sheffield University Students' Union, on October 19th. I used to play there all the time, so it'll be LOVELY to be back again!
Meanwhile other aspects of ROCK were hoving into view, as I not only WROTE a whole new song ("Open Top Bus Tour", it's about Open Top Bus Tours) but got going on ANOTHER one and rounded up a whole heap more. I've promised The Validators some new songs to get going on for their next practice, and much to my delight i found i had a HEAP to offer them. I'm hoping to get demo versions recorded over the weekend, so will speak more of them when they're done, but it was DELIGHTFUL to be thinking about Vlads songs again. It's YEARS since I last put a new collection of songs together for them, back when we were preparing for the album that became Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez in fact, as Dinosaur Planet was already DONE when The Vlads came to it, and it felt GOOD to be doing so again. Some of the songs are old, some are brand new, some come from elsewhere (e.g. I Dream Of Superheroes, which was originally meant to be in Total Hero Team) and some have been written based on Validators JAM sessions. It's all VERY exciting!
And finally, the feeling of a new "term" was underlined by the fact that it WAS the first day of term back on my MA. The day started with an email from my MENTOR, who'll be helping me with my script, confirming that he was happy to take the job on. I was VERY pleased about this, as he's someone EXCELLENT, and I'm all excited to actually get GOING on it. Then in the evening we were back in class again, getting dates for the rest of the term and, more importantly, meeting up with old PALS again. It was a LOT of fun, and felt weird to think that it was, on the one hand, only a year ago that we first met, but also that it was A WHOLE YEAR ago that we first sat, terrified, in class together, starting out.
And then we went to the pub. ACE!
As I say, it's been a really really good summer, but I'm very happy to be standing at the start of a whole new ERA. I think it's going to be GRATE!
posted 26/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Poet Laureate Of Peterborough
I headed to my ancient homeland of Peterborough on Sunday, to take part in the Peterborough Poet Laureate competition. I'd first been alerted to the existence of this post earlier on in the year when the post holder for 2012, Mr Simon Stabler, contacted me and we collaborated on a SONG. It all sounded rather interesting so I investigated further, entered THIS year's competition, and got invited to take part in the finals!
I was met at Peterborough station, as I have been SO many times over the decades, by The Parents, and we ZOOMED off to Orton Goldhay where it was all occurring. Whizzing along the Parkways of Peterborough reminded me of the MILLIONS of times I've sat in a car around these roads, all of which have grown to look EXACTLY the same. It's a bit weird really - when the city was turned into a New Town huge buckets of CA$H were spent building the parkway system which links all the new estates and villages. The Council planted trees all along them, which is very nice, but has led to all the roads becoming IDENTICAL. Wherever you go it feels like you're driving through the same weirdly wide road through very tidy FORESTS, interrupted at frequent intervals by ROUNDABOUTS. When you exit from one of these roundabouts you find yourself in an EERILY FAMILIAR housing estate, which you may or may not have ever visited before. I'm sure there must be people living in houses they don't actually own, but have ended up in CONFUSED.
ANYWAY we arrived at the Bushfields Academy (which looked from behind like a PRISON) and found our way in to a LOVELY big theatre where the competition was being held. I met Mr Stabler and we sat down to enjoy the EVENT.
The first half was for the winners of the John Clare Poetry Competition. I'd entered this too, little realising that it was a HUGE global competition that had had over 400 entries - the top three entrants in the under 12s, 12-17 and adult competitions had all come to read out their poems and receive their prizes, and they'd travelled from all over the country to be there. I didn't feel so bad not to get through to the finals when I found that out, or when I heard the some of the ones that HAD one, which were dead good.
Benjamin Zephaniah, one of the judges, spoke then, talking about how he'd changed his minds about poetry competitions. He'd previously said he wanted no part of them, but had recently changed his mind, realising they were a good way to get people WRITING and INTERESTED in writing. He quoted a poem which said something like "Most people aren't interested in most poetry, because most poetry isn't interested in most people" which certainly rang true to a lot of my experiences, not just with poetry but ALL the arts.
Then we were into the Poet Laureate competition - there were eight of us in the final, though two people mysteriously didn't turn up (perhaps they were lost on the Parkways?). Each contestant came on, said hello, read their poem, and then Simon asked them what they'd do if they became poet laureate. It was around this point that I began to feel uneasy. Earlier on in the week The Lines In My Stanza had asked me WHY I wanted to be Poet Laureate of Peterborough, and I had to admit that it was mostly so that i could SHOW OFF. I had ideas to write poems ABOUT events, and to maybe put these all together into some kind of SHOW or ALBUM, but the showing off was still my main motivation. She then pointed out that I'd have to DO loads of things in Peterborough to live up to the role, in a year when I'm ALSO doing the finals of my degree.
The more I thought about it, and the more I watched my fellow contestants, the more I thought maybe it would be best if I DIDN'T win! Still, I gave it my best shot - I read out The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B) as a POEM, and when asked why I wanted the role said I'd like to SHOW OFF. I thought it best to be honest! I did however then EXPAND upon this theme by saying I'd like to sing songs of Peterborough, so people didn't just say to me "Oh, I went past there on a train once". There are, after all, enough songs about New York and London!
The judges went away to JUDGE while a previous poet did some poems and also spoke about HIS experiences, and I felt like even more of a fraud - here were people who really wanted to DO POETRY and LIVED in the area, unlike me who lived in London and, if I'm totally honest, would much rather write songs instead. When they announced the winner as someone else I was GENUINELY PLEASED, especially as he seemed VERY VERY HAPPY about it, read another poem about Peterborough, and then called for people to join him in a renaissance of writing about our hometown. Hoorah!
As we left I spoke to various people associated with this fine event, to thank them for letting me come, and heard a whisper that, in the end, I'd come SECOND. I later realised that this was EXTREMELY APT as a result, as that's one of the main bits of the SONG, but at the time I most felt HAPPY - i was relieved not to have won, but I wouldn't have liked to have come LAST!
posted 25/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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A Sneaky Mini-Break
Back at Easter, The Chocolate In My Easter Egg and I had a JAUNT down to scenic Bath and a) had SUCH a lovely time b) managed NOT to see loads of things we'd have liked to, and c) saw a place to stay that looked SO nice (and handy for the pub) that we decided to go back. THUS we booked ourselves a trip to head down there last weekend. However, a week or so before we set off The Amendments To My Amendments suggested some EXTRA fun - she'd been looking at the MAP and wondered if we could go to Cornwall FIRST and then "break the journey" at Bath on the way back at no extra cost? I had some leave to take before the end of the month, so we spent some time checking out the validity of the plan (including some lengthy discussion with a call centre who didn't seem to know where any of these places were) and decided to DO it!
Thus we rolled up at my Dad's in Cornwall last Wednesday and had a lovely couple of days down there, featuring several pubs, the hotel where my sister's getting married, and a trip to the Falmouth Lifeboat Station. This latter especially was AMAZING! The two of us got a 75 MINUTE personal guided tour round the station and then ON AN ACTUAL LIFEBOAT!! Simon The Guide showed us how everything worked, answered questions, showed us all the equipment and then - not sure if I mentioned this - we got to go ON AN ACTUAL LIFEBOAT!! It was VERY EXCITING INDEED!
There was more ADVENTURE during the second, Bath-based, half of this Sneaky Mini-Break. We did The Bath Skyline Walk, which was GORGEOUS and also KNACKERING. Several days later the back of my legs STILL hurt, for LO! there were many INCLINES! We also went once more to Thermae Bath Spa which was SO relaxing we felt EXHAUSTED for the rest of the day! We DINED out, visited two Museums Of One Thing (The Herschel Museum Of Astronomy and Bath Postal Museum) and made several trips to our favourite pub in the area, The Crystal Palace.
In short, we had a FINE OLD TIME, and it was a lovely CLIMAX to what has been a whole summer of TRIPS and GOOD TIMES. We even got a FREE first class upgrade on the train back home (i.e. nobody came to check our tickets - HA! take THAT, The Man!), although once we arrived back in London this ELITE Holiday SQUAD had to split up, with The Exhibits In My Museum heading back to our house, laden down with bags, while I zoomed off to PETERBOROUGH, where I was due to take part in The Peterborough Poet Laureate competition! To find out what happened there, tune in tomorrow...
posted 24/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Single Release Day
At long last, after MONTHS of talking and writing and recording and designing and filming and editing and STUFF, the great day has finall arrived. For LO! Today our new single is unleashed into the world!
I Want To Find Out How It Ends is our first ALL-NEW material since Dinosaur Planet (apart from Christmas songs!) and is the theme tune to the online sitcom series A Brief History Of Time Travel which is ALSO launching today. We were asked to create a song in the grand tradition of the theme tunes to The Likely Lads, Auf Wiedersehn Pet and Red Dwarf, and so that's what we tried to do, as you can hopefully hear BELOW:
It's available to buy right now direct from us via Bandcamp or on sites such as iTunes, Amazon or Spotify. Bandcamp is the cheapest though, and comes straight to us!
We've also got a rather spiffing VIDEO, which Tim and Emma filmed in Rural Woodhouse Eaves a few months ago. It is a time travel tale with a TWIST, as you can see BELOW:
It's all JOLLY exciting - I hope you enjoy all of the above, and would be most grateful to anyone who cares to spread the WORD. All the details are at http://mjhibbett.co.uk/iwanttofindouthowitends/!
posted 23/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Why The High Street Is Dying
Over the weekend The Goods In My Stock Cupboard and I embarked on a shopping expedition, during which I underwent one of the WORST EXPERIENCES available to Modern British Middle-Aged Gentlemen: trying to buy TRAINERS.
Most of the expedition was a DELIGHT - when I got home from Edinburgh I realised that a large proportion of my clothes were KNACKERED, so had set out to get some MORE. Most of the trip was PEASY, but when I went to get TRAINERZ it was HELLISH. I started off in Sports Direct, which always reminds me of THE WALKING DEAD i.e. it looks like there's been an APOCALYPSE of SHOES in there, with items strewn EVERYWHERE, people stumbling around, and nobody meeting your eye. I found some trainers that looked wearable and then was IGNORED by young people who would - FOR SOME REASON - rather talk to OTHER young people or GURLZ than talk to me. I felt like an unwanted guest at a posh restaurant. Eventually a YOUTH took my single shoes and spoke into a walkie talkie. Eventually he looked in my general direction said "These. Not these" which I took to mean that they had one pair in my size but not the other. Five minutes later they arrived, I tried them on, but could take no more so FLED. Nobody noticed.
My next stop was WORSE. It LOOKED fancier, but inside it was just another trainer shop... though one with a hideous secret. For lo! inside this shoe shop I saw groups of MEN - SHOE SHOPPING FOR PLEASURE!
I could scarce believe mine eyes - what on earth has the world come to? Have we run out of football teams to support? Have all the shelves been attached to all the walls? Do train sets no longer exist? Do trains go unspotted? For here, at the weekend, were groups of men MERRILY LOOKING AT SHOES as if it was FUN. Backs were slapped, jokes were made and SHOES - SHOES!!! - were looked at. Were there really NO record shops they could have stood in? OR PUBS?!?!?
I went into a couple of other shops and had the same experience - SURELY there is a better way to buy shoes than THIS, i thought? Surely they could just PUT OUT the shoes they actually HAD? And put AWAY the ones people had already tried on? CLOTHES shops seem to manage different sizes and styles of items, is it THAT difficult for shoe shops?
Luckily The Socks On My Feet RANG just as I'd entered my fourth shop, and was about to collapse to the floor, SOBBING. She'd had enough solo shopping so we went and had a CUPPA, bought some SHIRTS at high speed from M&S (MIDDLE AGED) and Fat Face (where they were playing Allo Darlin'!), then went to the PUB, by which time I had pretty much calmed down from the whole awful experience.
And when I got home I bought some new trainers online for half the price they'd been in any of the horrible shops!
posted 16/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Sorry for lack of BLOGS this week, I have been busily gearing up for the release of I Want To Find Out How It Ends on the 23rd. The video is properly DONE now and I've got a WEBPAGE set up with all the details, including the soundcloud, youtube, iTunes, Amazon, spotify and bandcamp links. It's TOTALLY modern!
I'm also working on the Press Release, and it was for this reason that I needed to check a couple of facts with Mr S Patrick, one of the writers of A Brief History Of Time Travel, the show which has I Want To Find Out How It Ends as its theme tune (and which is ALSO launching on the 23rd). We recorded a batch of instrumental tracks for them for possible use as background music, and I thought I'd better see if they actually HAD used them, before showing off about it in the press release. To my DELIGHT Seb told me that they had INDEED used it, lots of it, and also included a picture of the ARTWORK for the ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK i.e. the package of ALL the music we recorded, which was sent out to some of their Kickstarter Funders. Here it is:
Looks PROPER, doesn't it? I will, needless to say, be BANGING ON about this too when I tell The World's Press about it all. The current plan is to send out the press release AND an mp3 of the single out on the day of release - after YEARS of doing Press Stuff a MONTH ahead of release this feels WEIRD, but it does seem to be The Modern Way. I will also be sending out the Newsletter on the 23rd, a week early so as not to DOUBLE HASSLE everyone with extra mailings, and that will have all the info on where to buy it, listen to it, see the video and/or listen to the sitcom.
It feels like AGES since this was all started, I can't WAIT to unleash the finished STUFF upon the world!
posted 13/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Back To Skool
You discover me this afternoon sat at my desk, looking out at a grey rainy Monday afternoon, feeling very much back in the jug agane. For LO! yesterday I got back from HOLS!
We were, as per, in Majorca, in the same places as last year though NOT in the same apartment... we were in the one next door, where we've stayed before anyway. We had a GRATE time - we usually either go in May or later in September, so it was quite a bit HOTTER than before, and the sun shone for the first five of our six full days (and was just a bit cloudy on the last). However, the weather forecast said it would start raining in two days time every time we checked, so we spent the whole week saying "Well, we can go on trips/do Active Things when the weather's not so good, so we might as well just go to the beach today." THUS we got into a ROUTINE of basically going into town (Port de Pollensa), going to the beach, having BEER, toddling home for a cuppa, sitting by the pool reading our Good Books (The Pages Of My Novel was reading "Three Men On The Bummel", which involved a lot of CHUCKLING, and I had "Our Mutual Friend" which took AGES to get going, but then it all KICKED OFF) having a swim, going to the BAR for a MASSIVE Jack Daniels (or two) and then having TEA either in the flat or the restaurant. It was BLOODY BRILLIANT!
Now we're back and things don't seem QUITE as much fun, but I do at least have a list of things to do to keep me going - whilst on holiday, every time i thought of something to WORRY about, I put it on my List Of Things To Worry About When I Get Back. This was excellent for making the holiday fret free, but now I AM back it's all a bit worrying! Still, huge chunks of it are for GRATE things, like gigs and the single and the Total Hero Team video series, so it should be fun. Still, I'd rather be worrying about it all on a sun bed!
posted 9/9/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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An Artists Against Success Presentation