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Blog Archive: February 2018

Rose Tinted Glasses
Yesterday John Dredge & The Plinths (the Plinths being me and Mr A Harland) released the video for 'Rose Tinted Glasses', the second song to be taken from our ACCLAIMED (by us) debut release, The Emergency EP.

As you can probably gather from watching it, this one took a LOT of thought to get right, but I think the results are worth it. We're planning to do videos for ALL the songs on the EP, like some kind of twenty-first century DURAN DURAN - look out for the next one in about a month!

posted 27/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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Leicester Indiepop All-Dayer
On Saturday I was up bright and early to head to Leicester for my first gig of the year. It's nearly March and I was doing my first gig - how things have CHANGED!

There were rail replacement buses on the direct route to Leicester, but I discovered that if I got two day returns, one from London to Peterborough and one from Peterborough to Leicester, I could do the journey in ten minutes LONGER for five pounds LESS and with 100% less BUSES, so that's what I did. The journey from Peterborough to Leicester is one I made hundreds of times when I lived in Leicester and it was never exactly salubrious, and I can report that it has not become any more so in the years since my last trip. It did, however, mean I got to witness a SCENE between the (very pleasant) ticket inspector and two teenage girls Trying It On. The girls claimed that their tickets were on their phone, but that the battery had died (despite them very clearly using it 30 seconds ago to have a RIGHT old go at one of their Mums). The ticket inspector was MOST polite, but clearly did not believe them. Brilliantly someone nearby said "they can borrow my charger!" so she handed it to the, said "You can charge it in first class," then went to check other passengers. The LOOKS on their faces were HILARIOUS as they stumbled towards first class, DESPERATELY struggling to think of a way out - in the end they hannded the charger back and got off at OAKHAM, a dire fate for ANY traveller.

At Leicester I met Mr F Machine, who had further phone news - he had FORGOTTEN to bring his! THUS was he transported back to the 1990s, bereft of time-knowledge, contactability and interweb, but it worked out OK in the end - Mrs Machine texted ME for details of his whereabouts, and Tim told him how Derby had got on!

Our taxi driver kindly gave us a tour of all the cul-de-sacs in the industrial estate where Quad Rehearsal Studios are based, but after consulting the MAP on my phone we eventually got there. Mr T McClure was setting up when we arrived and Mr T Pattison got there soon after. Mrs E Pattison was unable to attend, which is just as well as it was RUDDY FREEZING in there! We thought ROCK would heat us up but I am sorry to report that it did not, although WOOLLY HATS somehow did. A tip there, for future ROCKERS in cold climates: put your HAT on. Maybe that's where The Edge got the idea?

We had a delightful three hours of LEWD REMARKS and cups of tea (which we thought were free but, it turns out, we just didn't pay for!), very occasionally interrupted by practicing some songs. We tried out one of the new ones in an ELECTRICAL arrangement for the first time, and it sounded GRATE, but we agreed that the title was a bit rubbish. THUS after some serious BRANESTORMING we decided to change the name of "In The Pub (Talking Crap)" to Two Nights, One Pub. Much better! We also had a first ELECTRICAL go at Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met) too and COR it sounded BRILLO!

Last time we did a gig - incredibly SEVEN months ago, at Indietracks - we practiced the whole set in advance, which seemed to work well, so we decided to try that again. This meant working out the setlist which, as ever, took AGES. It took especially long this time because we decided NOT to finish with Easily Impressed and The Lesson Of The Smiths as we have since time immemorial, so had two extra songs to argue about!

Eventually it was time to head over to the Firebug, and we arrived to find Mr Simon Tyers, organiser and all-round DOLL FACE, in full control and Emma Kupa onstage in full song. She was one of the very few people we'd EVER played with before who were on the bill though, so it was all a bit weird going backstage and NOT seeing people we knew. We've only stepped off the MERRYGOROUND of INDIEPOP for a little while, but already all the names and faces have changed - when Mr Pete Dale arrived later on in the day, his familiar face was a JOY to behold!

Our Emma arrived shortly after we did, so there was some time for us all to catch up before we went on stage and did THIS:

  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Two Nights, One Pub
  • Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • We Did It Anyway
  • The whole thing FLEW by - maybe NOT doing our traditional closing songs made it feel like we had finished early, or maybe it was just because it was so much FUN. I couldn't see out into the crowd (which I always can at my usual, fully lit, acoustical gigs) so wasn't sure if there was actually any audience, and thus was UTTERLY MOVED when suddenly a whole bunch of people joined in with the end of Two Nights, One Pub. Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met) went down well (which is a good sign for our NEXT gig, in Cologne!), me and Frankie did the Leaning Against Each Other In ROCK bit in (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock and managed NOT to fall over, The Tiger's Roar was heard, Emma disagreed with me A LOT during the intro to 20 Things To Do Before You're 30, and Tim took his jumper off. I do hope the audience enjoyed it as much as we did!

    Afterwards we went downstairs to get a drink and had a chat to Mr James Indiehorse, who had been taking some pictures of the gig, as is his WONT. Emma was keen to see the one he'd taken of me and Rob ROCKING OUT (which you can now see HERE), but we couldn't chat for long as we had to go and get our pictures taken for one of the forthcoming SECRET PROJECTS. "How are we going to do this picture?" we kept saying. "If only we knew someone here who took pictures."

    It honestly took several minutes before I realised that - HANG ON - somebody who was VERY GOOD at taking pictures was standing right there with us! James very kindly agreed to photograph us as ZERO notice, so we all piled upstairs to the Pool Room for ten minutes of us titting about pulling faces and him being Very Patient. I saw some of the IMAGES thus created and they were GRATE!

    After that we watched Fightmilk, a band who I have heard lots about from various people but never actually seen. They were ACE - I especially liked the way they were CLEARLY enjoying a) being on stage b) doing so with each other, and ALSO the way they had Things To Say. It was GRATE!

    And then it was time for us to go. We said our goodbyes to each other, rather thrillingly getting to say "See you in COLOGNE!" and then I headed off for the train station. Gigs are ACE!

    posted 26/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Tack Tack, Tech 'Tecs
    After yesterday's admittance of BRANE FAILURE/confession of unutterable 90s grooviness, I received a whole HEAP of comments from people eager to help out. It was a beautiful outpouring of INTERNET DETECTIVES, scouring the elder corners of the web to find answers.

    Thus, thanks to the efforts of Mr J Kell, Mr M Cresswell, and Mr G Wood we're now sure that I DID play a gig supporting Half Man Half Biscuit, but we do not know what configuration it was in. I don't remember supporting them solo but, as we discovered yesterday, that is no indication whatsoever for whether I did or not. Either way, as I said yesterday, we'll be celebrating twenty YEARS of Validation on May 5th, not necessarily a precise anniversary!

    The experience serves as a reminder of all that we have LOST from those early days of the interweb. Nowadays, of course, it's pretty difficult to ever remove something from the public record, with so many copies, back-ups and archive engines, but right back in the early days, or at least the early days of public access, things were regularly deleted without ever being recorded. It's a weird little window when information that might previously have been recorded on physical media would be done digitally instead, but not kept. Thus I have plenty of souvenirs of my life in ROCK in the early nineties, including flyers, posters and photographs, but there's a couple of years when it all switched to online and was swiftly lost forever.

    I know there's the Wayback Machine and suchlike, but those are just snapshots. Huge swathes of VITAL history is LOST! Although, looking at some of the photographs I DO have from around that time, maybe that's all for the best!

    posted 22/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    If You Can Remember The Nineties
    Sorry for the relative QUIET on this here blog of late, I hope it has not caused too much distress and rending of garments. The reasons for the silence are TWOFOLD.

    Firstly, I am very gradually coming to the end of my current job - three month notice periods take FOREVER! All is well, but it does mean I've been spending a lot of my time tidying up things that, in the normal course of working life, would get gradually finished off and/or forgotten about over the course of months/years. It looks like there won't be a direct replacement for me in post for a while too, so I have been trying to HOOVER UP as many future TASKS as possible because I am DEAD PROFESSIONAL like that, which means I've not had so much time for my usual Wise Thoughts and Astounding Cultural Commentary.

    Having said that, we're on season 3 of "Friends" now and have found that we can't remember ALL the episodes QUITE as clearly as previous seasons. It's still good though.

    Secondly, there ARE items of ROCK occurring, but not items I am quite at liberty to talk about just yet. What I CAN say, however, is that much of them are based around the gig celebrating 20 years of The Validators, which will be happening on Saturday 5th May at The King & Queen in That London!

    I'll be dishing out more details about this nearer the time, including THE EXCITING THING that we are going to be officially releasing that day, and also THE SECRET PROJECT which we intend to REVEAL that day too, but what I can say for now is that it is HAPPENING, we will probably be doing TWO sets, and that one of them will be accompanied by A Little Orchestra, so put it in your diary! NOW!!

    I originally intended to herald this gig as the actual 20th Anniversary Of The Validators, as it takes place on the 20th anniversary of what I thought was our first ever gig, but now I am not so sure. I know for a FACT that we put together a LIVE BAND version of The Validators in order to support Half Man Half Biscuit at The Victoria Inn in Derby, and I also thought that this occurred on May 5 1998. My gigs page for that year says that I DID play that gig that night, and that The Validators played Abbey Park later that summer, which is another event I clearly remember. However, my gigs page for 1999 ALSO lists gigs supporting HMHB in Derby AND one at Abbey Park AND says the HMHB gig was our first one!

    Normally when something like this arises I would simply consult the blog archives but ALAS I did not START the blog until 2003. I did do fortnightly updates of the webpage, but I did not start archiving these until late 1998, and they are to say the least UNCLEAR about what was going on. It's all very confusing.

    "Hold on though," you may chuckle, "Why don't you just consult your BRANE?!? Surely you must REMEMBER?" I answer that with the simple truism that if you can remember the 1990s then baby you were not THERE. Or, if you were, you were clearly not as uniformly DRUNKENED and/or hungover as what I was for most of the decade. Hey! It was BRITPOP! Being leathered was COOL!

    I definitely remember the events mentioned above HAPPENING, but I can't say for sure what ORDER they occurred in. I know that The Durham Ox Singers were doing their own gigs in early 1999, which I THINK means they must have done some gigs with The Validators before then too, but I could be wrong. I distinctly remember trying to get everyone to clap in time whilst recording one of the songs for Say It With Words and having to a) apologise to Kev Reverb (who was EXTREMELY PATIENT with us) and b) giving up, but have no idea when that actually was.

    I do know for definite that Clubbing In The Week came out in the summer of 1998, and that I spoke to Frankie and Tim about recording Born With The Century as a BAND around then too, so whatever else happened The Validators definitely BEGAN in 1998, and so I am fairly confident that I can call May 5th the start of our twentieth anniversary YEAR, if nothing else!

    What I'm basically saying is that I've booked the pub now so we're doing the gig, and that any inaccuracies in the timing simply prove that I was DEAD COOL at the turn of the century. That, at least, is IRREFUTABLE!

    posted 21/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Future Phone Frenzy
    A few weeks ago I got my regular bi-annual call from an unknown number which I answer in a SHIRTY manner but then have to rapidly Become Polite About, for LO! it was my phone company ringing to ask if I'd like a new phone and also a lower monthly tariff? I always end these phone calls pathetically grateful to the nice young person who's saved me some money, but this time I should perhaps have been sterner, as it was the beginning of several weeks of ANNOYANCE, ending in TECHNO FEAR.

    It all began to go awry a week or so after the call, when I realised that my new phone had not turned up yet. I emailed the company who said it had been delivered to a neighbour by DPD. Are there any more DREAD WORDS than "by DPD" in Modern Britain? Pretty much every time DPD have delivered - or tried to deliver - something to me they have dumped it on some unlucky sod SOMEWHERE in my block of flats, not taken a note of which number it was (they seem to think I know everyone in all 43 flats personally) nor left a note for me, and expected whoever took the parcel in to finish off the delivery. I do realise that DPD are a horrible company who don't pay their workers properly, by the way, so maybe this is a company cost cutting policy, all I know for sure is that their presence in my delivery chain affects my life ADVERSELY.

    There followed two weeks of emails back and forth while DPD "conducted an enquiry", which ended up with my phone company giving up and sending another phone... which DPD again "left with a neighbour". This time however they DID record the flat number so when I got home I popped upstairs to collect it, and discovered the TRUTH behind the whole business: my phone company had put THE WRONG FLAT NUMBER on the package!

    There then followed a delightful community gathering when I had a chat to the person who'd taken my current phone in AND the person who it had been wrongly addressed to, after which I ended up with TWO phones (as the original had gone to the same wrong address)! It was all, to say the least, EXTREMELY frustrating, especially as I'd been NICE to the phone company whose fault it was all along! Still, I DID get to meet some neighbours, and I DO now have my new phone!

    With that mystery solved I sat down and prepared myself for a couple of hours transferring things from my old phone to my new one. You know the sort of thing - adding contacts, installing apps, entering passwords for emails etc etc. Every time I get a new COMPUTER of some sort I do this, and every time I am reminded that it is no longer the 1990s and computers are designed to be used by EVERYONE, and not just bearded computer loons with seven types of screwdriver. I was, however, AMAZED to find that the same principle applies to mobile phones. "Do you basically want me and your old phone to sort this out for you?" said a message which popped up on my new phone (I paraphrase a little, but not much). I said "all right then" and, about ten minutes later, it was all DONE. I didn't even need to connect the phones with WIRES or anything, it did it with THE WI-FI!

    I was flipping STUNNED by the whole process. It was so PEASY and now my new phone has all the stuff my OLD one did, plus (hopefully) I will be able to make phone calls without the SOUND disappearing every sixty seconds. It's pretty good, though I have to admit it's taken a bit of the New Phone Novelty out of it - it's almost exactly the same as the old one, after all!

    posted 9/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Trouser Emergency
    As VERY briefly mentioned previously, I'm starting a brand new job in March. It's all RATHER exciting, as I'll be based at UAL (where I'm doing my PhD) doing Research Databases for the ARTS. I have a fully formed DREAM VISION of my new life frolicking around surrounded by Arts Students in Unorthodox Trousers while ENTHRALLING academics with tales of SQL. I'm pretty sure that's EXACTLY how it's going to be.

    In the meantime though I have LOADS to do in my current job, making sure that everything is sufficiently in order before I depart and they commence The Era Of Great Sadness which will doubtless ensue. It's all going fairly well so far, and I was congratulating myself on my ORGANISATION yesterday when FATE decided to teach me a lesson by instigating a TROUSER EMERGENCY.

    What happened was that I crouched down to pick something up and heard a mighty RIP, then discovered that I had torn THE ENTIRE ARSE of my trousers asunder! It was not, I promise you, due to them being too tight or mine own derriere being too vast (HONEST), but rather I think that the GUSSET was hanging too low like some street tough youth of approx 5 years ago, and so, when I Bent From The Knees to pick something up from the floor, my ATHLETICISM was too much for the fabric to withstand. Luckily I was ALONE when this occurred, and was able to DISGUISE the event by Walking Primly, but still: what was I to do? What is ANY gentleman to do in such a situation? It's not like I had spare trousers stored in my desk, and HOME is a long old way away!

    What I did do was to calmly and quietly put my coat on and set off down Tottenham Court Road in search of Emergency Trousers. My first port of call was Muji, but I could barely even understand what the trousers in there WERE, let alone if I wanted any of them. There were pictures of people with LEGS, but everything seemed to be "slim" or "tapered" or somesuch, and nobody in any of the images looked particularly happy about it.

    I swiftly left, heading for the TOP MAN which has always been on the corner of New Oxford Street, and which I have used for many previous Clothing Emergencies over the years (e.g. The Coffee/Jumper Disaster Of The Early 2000s), but was horrified to find it CLOSED! There was only one choice left to me: I was going to have to go to PRIMARK.

    As a person of a Certain Age my natural clothing destinations are a) Marks & Spencer b) Fat Face c) THAT'S IT, so I have never really entered this popular retail outlet before, so when I DID I felt like a Caveman faced with an AIRPORT. There were so many things! That I didn't understand! EVERYWHERE!

    Eventually I realised that the Men's Department was downstairs (where, in olden tymes, the Musical Instrument Department in the HMV Megastore had once been), but my quest was ALAS not much easier down there as I was faced with EITHER enormous terry-towelling tracksuit trousers OR more of the slim-fit tapered HELL TIGHTS I had been faced with in Muji. It was awful, and again the models in the displayed photographs appeared to agree with me. "I look like a PANTALOONED NINNY" they seemed to say. "Please help me, or at least send an electric razor."

    Eventually I found two pairs of trousers that seemed to be vaguely normal, though when I tried them on one pair were like putting on JODPHURS. I mean, I'm not asking for FLARES or anything, but I do not wish to parade around in LEGGINGS thank you very much. FINALLY I found a pair that DID at least function as Actual Trousers and, as they were only a tenner, I thought I'd chance it.

    THUS i was able to return to my workstation fully compliant with both health and safety AND public decency. It had been a terrifying encounter with modern legwear - this weekend I'm off to M&S to buy 17 pairs of trousers to keep in a range of handy locations so that this TROUSER EMERGENCY never recurs!

    posted 8/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Out On A Saturday Night
    This Saturday was a THROWBACK to the 1990s, as I had a MASSIVE lie-in, loafed about during the day, and then went to a gig in the evening. It only really needed CD:UK on the telly to make it complete.

    The GIG was the Just Joans at The Lexington, which I'd been looking forward to for ages as a) the Just Joans are a GRATE LIVE ACT in their full-band incarnation and b) their latest album is FAB. I met The Hewitts in the pub round the corner beforehand, and had some of that Gloopy Lager you get in fancy pubs. I fear this may have been a mistake, as I have been drinking Very Weedy Lager in the main lately, and found myself becoming quite drunk, quite quickly!

    After some BEER we hied round to the venue, where I was delighted to find that Mr J Jervis was ensconced in his BOOTH. Unfortunately this meant we missed pretty a lot of the support bands due to CHAT, but it was JERV, so definitely worth it.

    There was a TONNE of other chums there to say hello to too, which was delightful. I must say I haven't really missed the GIG aspect since I've stopped a) going to b) playing as many gigs as I used to, but I have missed the PALS I'd always bump into, so it was lovely to see people again. It was like a very small indietracks, in the cold!

    I went down near the front for the start of the Just Joans who, as expected, were ACE. I have known them since before the band even started, when they were all about 12 (approx), so I always think they have done JOLLY WELL to even get down to Big London on their own, let alone ROCK the house, but that is very much what they did. The new songs sounded brilliant and the BIG HITS were MASSIVE!

    I watched the second half of the gig from the comfort of the Executive Box (i.e. the seat in the far corner at the back that nobody seems to know is there) with Mr S Hewitt and then, once there'd been time for congratulations and a bit more helloing, staggered off into the night.

    The next morning I woke up LATE again, feeling slightly DAZED by the hangover and enormous amount of KIP. It was SO 1990s that I fully expected to find myself in the Durham Ox that evening, losing the quiz!

    posted 5/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Important Thoughts About Friends
    Now that we have ALL THE TELLY in our house we use to expand our knowledge with insightful documentaries and foreign language films. Very very occasionally though we find time for something a little lighter, and have thus managed to squeeze in the complete runs of 'How I Met Your Mother', 'Community', 'Parks & Recreation', 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', 'Brooklyn 99', 'Sienfeld' and 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt', just in those rare moments between all the hard-hitting independent films about people gazing sadly out of windows, which we definitely watch most of the time.

    The trouble with ploughing through these (mostly) old series is that when they end they TOTALLY END and there's no new season to look forward to, so you have to go and find another one to watch. As you can see, we have pretty much binged ALL of The American Classics (we already watched 'Cheers' and 'Frasier' back when we just had SOME of The Telly), so have been scrabbling about a bit lately to try and find something else. Imagine then our DELIGHT at New Year when Netflix dropped ALL of 'Friends' on us! It was a LOT of delight!

    We're about halfway through the first season now, and THREE (3) things have become abundantly clear. The first is that, between The Handclaps In My Title Song and I we know pretty much every episode off by heart, and can often recognise the entire story from the first few seconds. I know it was repeated endlessly on Channel 4 for years, but I'm sure I haven't watched EVERY episode multiple times. Maybe this is what my brain was concentrating on during the nineties, instead of remembering anything else? It would explain a LOT.

    The second thing, as so many of your modern 'millenials' have discovered, is that it has, in some cultural respects, not always aged entirely well. For one such as I this is not exactly NEWS, but I guess every generation has to have this moment when they realise that TIME HAS PASSED. For people of my age and FORMAT this came when 'Battle Of The Planets' was released on video, and it turned out to NOT be the most amazing thrill-ride ever shown on television, but actually nonsensical, repetitive, and a bit rubbish. I was DEVASTATED by this, especially as me and my younger brother had sat down out YOUNGEST brother in front of the telly and promised him it would be AMAZING. He was NOT impressed, and I imagine our FEELINGS on the matter are pretty much the same as these hepcats who are now discovering that the programme they loved so much as children turns out to has a distinct tendency to use the word 'lesbian' as a punchline.

    Thirdly, and most importantly, watching it again makes me wonder why on earth JANICE was never given her own show? Janice is THE BEST character in the whole show - I am amazed that The Live Studio Audience doesn't cheer ever time she comes in, although maybe they do and it is just obscured by her CATCHPHRASE. Last night she said "OH. MY. GOD" for the first time, and truly it was a moment of television brilliance. They gave a solo show to Joey, for heaven's sake - if only I'd been in Hollywood at the time I could have set them right!

    As I say, we're only halfway through season one - expect more INSIGHTS in a few weeks when we get to MAGNUM turning up!

    posted 1/2/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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