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Blog Archive: November 2019

You're A Tory Now, Out NOW
It's been a long old time since The Validators last released anything new, so today I am DELIGHTED to report that we have a BRAND NEW SINGLE out, and that it is called "You're A Tory Now"!

It's all about the sudden shock you experience when someone who shares your background turns to THE DARK SIDE, and the ensuing realisation that, actually, you can probably still be friends. I'm basically saying it's a much needed call for UNDERSTANDING in this Divided Nation and should therefore be played on national radio ALL DAY.

The original plan was to release it NEXT year, as part of a SLEW of singles what we have got lined up, but there was always a worry that, what with the inevitable socialist utopia heading our way, there might not BE any Tories by then. Thus, when Mr FA Machine suggested we RUSH RELEASE it in time for the election we all thought it was a Very Good Idea Indeed, and so DID!

Sadly, due to broadcasting restrictions during elections, it will NOT be played on the radio (and that is the only reason it won't), so any mentions, tweets, posts or purchases would be VERY much appreciated. You can see it in the video above, and it's also available on our bandcamp page plus iTunes, Spotify, and all streaming sites.

I GUARANTEE that if enough people hear this track then there will be a change in government within TWO WEEKS. GUARANTEED!

posted 29/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Multiple Soirees
I had quite a Glamorous Gaddabout Weekend this weekend, going to not one but TWO Fancy Dos in different parts of That London. I fully expect to be KNACKERED for the whole rest of the week as a direct result!

The first DO was Mr T Eveleigh's 50th Birthday Bash in Croydon, back at The Spreadeagle where we have showed so many shows. Myself and The Dates On My Calendar went down and had a LOVELY time, and even felt a little bit ADVENTUROUS by Actually Going Out On A Saturday Night. As we walked the streets of South London I couldn't help wondering what so many people were doing OUT - don't they have sofas to sit on and telly to watch?

We got home LATE which became LATER as we were forced to catch up on our sofa sitting and telly watching (and also whisky drinking because we are ROCK), which in turn meant that I did not emerge into the light next day until GONE NOON. Back in my student days (which I estimated to be about 8 years ago? In the 90s?) this would have been the NORM, but here in the futuristic twenty first century it felt quite DECADENT. I had to drag myself back into consciousness because I had been invited to attend the first try-out for Mr Ben Moor's BRAND NEW SHOW "Who Here's Lost?" which I was VERY much looking forward to.

I had a bit of bother with trains so arrived at the pub a little hot and bothered, which made all my resolutions to Not Have A Beer go flying out of the window. If getting up in the afternoon feels DECADENT having beer BASICALLY FOR BREAKFAST feels like being Freddie Mercury on tour with NERO, but it was actually rather nice. I also met various CHUMS, including Mr D Greene, Mr B Wells and Mr T Crowley (who I'd not seen for AGES) before we headed downstairs for the show itself.

It was, as expected, GRATE. Ben's shows always are, due to the wealth of IDEAS and POETRY and EXCELLENT JOKES which occur throughout, and this was no exception. INDEED, when trying to come up with constructive criticism the only thing I could really think of with was that it is almost TOO RICH - whenever I watch his shows I worry that I'm MISSING things, and when there's a JOKE it feels WRONG to laugh as much as you'd like because there's still stuff going on. I love the way he hides HUGE IDEAS halfway through sentences - proper science fiction things that other people would spend a whole show on but which Ben just nudges you with before strolling pleasantly past a display of approx 17 completely OTHER jokes and ideas. He says he'll have a BOOK of this one before it goes to Edinburgh, which is relief to me as it means I'll be able to catch up with everything I missed!

After the show I was determined to head into college, but was waylaid for two halves by Interesting People and Delightful Conversation. It was all turning into a bit of a SOIREE, so I had to be strong and DRAG myself away to do some Important Reading (of Doctor Doom), which for some reason did not flow quite as easily as it ought to have done. It was probably all the HIGH CULTURE what had overloaded me, that must be it!

posted 25/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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Live Plinths And Robberie
I returned to the King & Queen last night with some TREPIDATION, partly because we had LOST one of our acts for the night (PO! had had to cancel because Ruth has tonsilitis) and partly because we are getting quite close to CHRISTMAS, which sometimes leads to SPILLAGE of Amateur Drinkers into the rarified salon-like atmosphere of the upstairs.

Worries around the first item were allayed somewhat by the news that The King & Queen have now got their 2020 diary, so I can BOOK dates for future shows and then get PO! rescheduled. Worries around the second were ENHANCED by a) two extremely drunk women blocking the doorway INTO the pub b) another very drunk woman staggering in and singing at us then c) the original two drunk women coming back and almost falling over, looking for coatsm all before we'd even started. It was all FINE after that though - as ever, the office drinkers start to disperse around 7pm, leaving the bar a bit freer for the ROCK shift!

When I eventually managed to get through the downstairs THRONG and into the upstairs room I discovered that CJ, bar manager and all-round good guy, had set the room up for us already. I was then joined by Mr J Dredge, and we had a quick run through of the Plinths songs that we were going to do. This was all going well until we were interrupted by the very drunk person mentioned above. "I sing for a living!" she said. "What sort of thing?" I asked, and she started singing. "No, I meant in what way do you sing for a living?" "Play something I know and I'll probably know it," she said. "No, I meant, do you sing sessions or something?" She nodded wisely and then sang "Oooh, whooa-oh-oh." I VERY POLITELY thanked her and said we needed to get on with the practice, and she wobbled out again. It was most odd!

Shortly after that Robin Robberie arrived, then a whole heap of other delightful people, including Val and Nik also of Robberie, until we had quite a full room. I'd been a bit worried that the lack of PO! would harm attendance, so was very pleased to see the room at OPTIMUM audience levels. Steve could not attend, which was doubly sad because he couldn't do the "OOH" in the theme song and also because Susan had brought him some Red Leicester Mini-Cheddars as a present. Not only this, but she'd brought enough for everyone AND some Pringles AND some kitchen towel for use as napkins - my regulars are the BEST!

We kicked off with a rousing renditon of the theme tune (with Mr W Pilkington filling his regular role as Super-Sub by standing in for Steve) then I did the following:
  • Bad Back
  • You're A Tory Now
  • Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)

  • It seemed to work pretty well - I was very happy to DEBUT Bad Back and came about as close as I'm ever likely to get to doing Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met) almost right - and it was nice to do three whole songs, expanding my set slightly to make up for the lack of PO! Then John came on for the Plinths section, which was also expanded from one song to three, THUS:
  • Idiots Run The World
  • Where I Used To Be
  • Christmas Time Is Here

  • For me this was a bit of a PANIC, as I had to PROPERLY CONCENTRATE on playing the songs right, so spent most of the set SWEATING while staring at a piece of paper, but whenever I looked up I saw a lot of smiling faces, and John sounded GRATE. These aren't songs I've played very much, so it was lovely to hear them in a room full of people, and they sounded dead good!

    Then, after the break we had Robberie who were, as ever EXCELLENT.

    I love Robberie, they are ACE, and it was all I could do not to sing along all the way through. At one point Robin said "We're doing Mark's favourite song" and I said "Seven Hills?" which was not what they were expecting - they'd meant "This Dancefloor Needs Me" which is ALSO ace and ALSO my favourite, though I must say on this occasion I was moved even more by "Journeyman". What I'm trying to say is that all their songs are ACE!

    We finished just after 9pm, which left a really good length of time to catch up with pals various, including Mr A Lawson who I'd not seen for a while, and sample some of the fine WHISKIES what they have behind the bar. It was a BRILLIANT night, and I can't wait to start booking next year's now!

    posted 22/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Returning To The Saddle Of ROCK Admin
    The snoozing behemoth that is Validators ADMIN has been very much roused these past few weeks, and is even now rubbing its eyes and wondering whether it can get a cup of coffee please, for LO! preparations for the rush-release of You're A Tory Now are VERY MUCH underway.

    As discussed a few days ago there was some last minute re-recording to do, before we settled down to the final MIXES, which I can now confirm are DONE. I have simultaneously been working on a VIDEO which will take the form of one of those Political Virals you see nowadasy, which is ALSO pretty much finished and ready to go. Today I've started the process of getting the track onto Spotify, iTunes and all that, and then the next stage will be to start emailing press and radio types - although Frankie has pointed out that the song may actually be (really!) BANNED on the main radio stations due to Political Content!

    It's all really rather exciting. It's been BLOODY AGES since we last released something NEW, and I'd almost forgotten how much FUN this part of the process is. I know it's ADMIN, but it's ADMIN in pursuit of JAPES and GOOD TIMES, and it's paving the way for the whole SLEW of new stuff we've got coming out next year. Watch out, THE MAN, The Validators are coming back!

    posted 14/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Damp In Leeds
    As mentioned yesterday, I spent the end of last week up in Leeds, where I was attending and PRESENTING at Comics Forum 2019. Flipping heck, it was WET in the North! According to the news there were whole MONTHS-worth of rain falling in a single day and there was FLOODING all over the shop. I was lucky to GET there, and even LUCKIER to get back, as trains were CANCELLED everywhere. I was not so lucky in my footwear, however, as I had foolishly NOT taken my Proper Shoes and thus had cold, wet trainers on for most of the first day.

    The conference took place in Leeds Central Library, which was a GORGEOUS place with a whole Art Gallery attached. I saw lots of interesting talks, with my favourites being one where a librarian said "we need more librarians" (Librarians ALWAYS say this no matter WHAT they are talking about) and another which featured heavy use of SQL QUERIES. It was VERY exciting! My own presentation was about periodising The Marvel Age and I think it went OK, although I was EXTREMELY relieved when the Professor of Art History left the room mere MOMENTS before I started talking about Art History. I also got to wander around Leeds a little bit, notably on the Thursday evening when I blundered from Conference Drinks into the Leeds Christmas Lights turning-on ceremony, and met Santa Claus!

    The only downside, apart from the WET FEET, was that I got my usual IMPOSTER SYNDROME during the day. I know it may appear that I am an INTERNATIONAL ROCK STAR who swaggers about blithely, but conferences always fill me with TERROR. I'm fine at the Listening To Presentations bits, and thoroughly enjoy my own Showing Off Sessions, but it's the bits in-between that always make me feel like I'm starting a new school again. I mean, it's not like I don't KNOW people or anything, especially at things like this, but it's often all I can do NOT to run away and HIDE during the coffee breaks. Actually, that is often what I DO do - and a library is a GRATE place to do that!

    Other than that I had a lovely time, and would very much hope to go again next year - if I do though I'll definitely take some waterproof shoes!

    posted 12/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Panic Writing
    As mentioned last week, we are planning to INTERVENE in the forthcoming General Election by releasing our song You're A Tory Now as a single, thus awakening the nation's latent Anti-Tory good sense and sending Labour/Lib Dems/Greens (delete as applicable to your own prefernces) surging into Parliament on a wave of delight and happiness. Nothing can go wrong!

    OR CAN IT?!? Last Monday Mr FA Machine sent me the latest mix of the song, which sounded GRATE, and I thus played it that evening to The Sounds In My Tune, purely for her information and not at all as a way of SHOWING OFF. We were both happily bopping along to it until the final line, which says "But if you voted Brexit/You are dead to me."

    This has always been FINE in the live environment, when shouted at a room full of people who basically KNEW me, and also were already on-side, and appreciated what the song was all about. HOWEVER, as the aforesaid Ink Of My Newspaper pointed out, somebody hearing outside of those circumstances, especially during a possibly FRAUGHT general election campaign, might think that I genuinely want all Brexit voters to be KILLED.

    We discussed it again in the morning and I was gripped by DREAD. Quite apart from the above, I actually know, like, and indeed love SEVERAL people who for their own (admittedly somewhat KRAZY) reasons voted Brexit. ALSO, obviously, someone was actually MURDERED for their political beliefs in the last election, and I could see that that lyric could VERY EASILY be taken out of context. ALSO ALSO there was an argument that the lyric could even mean that I could happily forgive anybody for being a Tory, but could NEVER forgive ANYBODY for voting for Brexit, irrespective of their usual choices.

    As I say: PANIC! I put forward these points to The Vlads and so began one of the DISCUSSIONS that make me PROUD of the way we operate, mulling over the points and then engaging in a LENGTHY discussion about what we could do instead. In general I would not RECOMMEND this as a way of writing song lyrics, as a group of people emailing each other with suggestions is NOT necessarily the most free or creative way to do it, but along the way I did learn many things, including the fact that "airing" is a Young People's Description of that thing when you send someone an instant message and they do not reply - leaving "air", in fact. That bit of lyrics came courtesy of Validators with children!

    Eventually, after much TO and also FRO, I had about five variations on the closing couplet, which I recorded for Frankie to SPLICE into the track. I then discussed it further with our INTERNAL COMMS TEAM, whittled it down to TWO and then came up with ANOTHER one which I duly recorded and sent off to The Vlads for further thinking. These ideas were all NON-political, swerving the song towards the sort of gags which said "Yes, I can cope with your political views but will NOT abide you saying 'these data'", for instance.

    The consensus that evening (and by the way, NOTE the SPEED with which the mighty Validators machine works in these instances!) was that these were all Jolly Amusing, but lacked the power and point of the original. More suggestions weere made, and further discussion was had on-sofa, which led to a FINAL couplet which now leaves the last verse as this:
    Of course we are both adults Friends can disagree But please God, do not tell me You admire the ERG

    I was very happy with this and, PRAISE BE, so were ALL of the STAKEHOLDERS, and thus on Thursday I recorded it in my HOTEL ROOM - I was up in Leeds for a conference (more of which to come) so had to take my mini four-track with me to get it done. I wish I'd taken my GTR with me too, then I could have recorded a whole album about Being On The Road!

    The new line has now been successfully inserted and we're moving towards a final mix, which means that we're nearly ready for the next stage: sending it out to people!

    posted 11/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Emergency Money
    A few weeks ago myself and The Artefacts In My Exhibition went on a day trip to The British Museum with my cousins The Ritchies, who were over from America to basically ZOOM around the entire country on bikes being SUPER DYNAMIC about everything. We had a BRILLIANT time with them, largely because they are entirely brilliant people, seeing a whole heap of items in the British Museum what we had never seen before, notably the Assyrian Lion Hunting Relief which was AMAAAZING.

    However, there was one exhibition that we wanted to see that we couldn't get ino, because it was closed that day - Currency In Crisis, about German "Emergency Money" during and just after the First World War. We decided that this must be RECTIFIED, and on Sunday just gone we headed into Central London to do just that.

    COR! I am really glad we did because it is RUDDY FASCINATING! I do remember doing German hyper-inflation when I did my O Levels (young people, these were like GCSEs but definitely much more difficult and also cool at the same time), and have a vague picture in my head of someone pushing a wheelbarrow full of banknotes to buy some bread, but there was TONNES more in this exhibition. Towards the end of the war the German government couldn't keep up with the need for currency, so allowed towns to issue their own. The towns used the notes to advertise themselves as tourist destinations (as that was a New Thing at the time) and the notes became collectors items, with FOUR magazines about the hobby going at one point, and specially Notgeld albums produced too. THEN when the economy collapsed they became used as actual currency again, with BILLION mark notes being produced!

    My favourite thing was the fact that sometimes towns preferred people to just COLLECT the notes rather than SPEND them and so, in one of the MOST GERMAN things ever, they issued them in Inconvenient Denominations! THUS there were things like 45 pfennig notes, which were Just Not Very Convenient, so they were less likely to be spent.

    Afterwards we went to see MORE STUFF, with a gently diminishing rate of return. We first looked at Sir Stamford Raffles: collecting in Southeast Asia, which was a Quite Interesting look at colonial attitudes to collecting and other cultures in Victorian Times. Unfortunately, like a lot of things at the British Museum, this raised some awkward questions about whether they should even HAVE all this stuff, as it is CLEARLY NICKED. This was even more the case when we popped in to look at Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies, a 1,000 year old scroll which is only available to view for six weeks a year because it is so DELICATE. We didn't get a close look because there were a LOT of people looking at it, almost all whom appeared to be Chinese, but I did see the an info board about how it ended up in the BM - apparently they bought it from "a sailor", but didn't know where HE'd got it from. I think you can have a good guess, British Museum - he NICKED it!

    We also had a look at Pushing Paper, which was supposed to be an exhibition of drawings since 1970 but had a LOT of material that clearly Was Not Drawings, plus some work by K├Ąthe Kollwitz. They were both ALL RIGHT bit it did seem a bit pointless - as The Graphite In My Pencil pointed out, London has LOADS of Art Galleries, so why does the British Museum need to collect this stuff? My theory is that it is an insurance policy against the time in the future when they have to give back all the STOLEN PROPERTY - at least this stuff comes with a reciept!

    posted 6/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Comics Jam
    On Saturday I went to The Cartoon Museum for a special event called "Comics Jam", all about preserving the legacy of British Comics. It was PRETTY AMAZING.

    As anyone LUCKY enough to have read this blog for a while will know, I have been to a LOT of comics-based events over the past few years, but those have almost all been ACADEMIC conferences, seminars etc etc. There WERE academics at this one, but it also featured several CREATORS and was led by COLLECTORS, who are a whole other bunch of people all together, with complementary but different priorities. THUS instead of talking about the form of comics or Wot It All Means there was a much bigger focus on the actual physical comics themselves.

    The point of the event was to draw attention to the Peter Hansen Collection, a COLOSSAL collection of original comics art and related materials, and the various attempts being made to make this available to THE NATION. Peter Hansen himself was there to talk about it, as well as people like Rob Power from Rebellion (who own 2000AD and a HUGE catalogue of old British comics), who spoke about their attempts to get the original artwork back to the company who now owned the copyright, and who could take care of it.

    As I sat there in a small room in the middle of these fans, who were also collectors, many of whom were also creators, I did rather feel like I had SNUCK INTO a secret gathering, where they were plotting what to do with a huge slice of British history. I was sat near to David Roach, a long-term 2000AD creator who happily, like so many comics creators, looks like he had been drawn by himself, and when I came into the room I had to squeeze past DAVE GIBBONS to get in! Later on I even asked a question of Actual Dave Gibbons and managed NOT to squeak with excitement when I did so!

    There were some amazing stories of how little original artwork was valued - apparently original Frank Hampson artwork for The Eagle was used as a floor covering to stop the carpet getting mucky, and the only piece of art from MISTY to have survived did so because it happened to be used as a cutting board - and it was GRATE hearing veteran creators talk about the fact that they often didn't WANT their original artwork back, as it was too much bother to store it! Later on Posy Simmonds from out of The Guardian spoke, and then Jonathon Ross did a SKYPE chat, and it all felt like a COMICS ILLUMINATI convention that I had stumbled into!

    The REALLY good thing about the day though was that it was housed within the Cartoon Museum, so when there were BREAKS I could go and have a wander round the gallery there, which is AMAZING. I've been before when it was based in Bloomsbury, but its new home is a LOVELY space - airy, open and brightly lit, with lots of space for exhibits, notably a current one showcasing COMICS art (i.e. as opposed to political cartoons). About half of the art there had been donated by the aforesaid Peter Hansen, and it included plenty of work by people who were actually in the room, so it did not diminish my slight giddiness at being there, but it is always exciting to be so up close to artwork that I've known all my life. There was an especially gorgous page from "V For Vendetta", for instance, which prompted me to start re-reading it when I got home. I had forgotten how ACE it was!

    It was, overall, a pretty mind-blowing day. I just wish I had a couple of million quid spare to fund a museum!

    posted 4/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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    Be Afeared, Cummings!
    It's been very quiet here on this blog just lately, not because nothing has been going on, but because the things that HAVE been going on (me going to the football some more, me writing up my PhD, me and The Episodes In My Series watching "Ugly Betty") are all ongoing items which, while FASCINATING TO ALL, I do not necessarily need to go on about ALL the time.

    One thing that has NOT been going on much lately, however, has been ROCK, as gigs have not been forthcoming and releases have not been released. This, however, is about to change!

    Over the past few months The Validators and I have been recording a whole heap of new material which we were planning to release in 2020. A couple of weeks ago Tom and Emma went into the studio to record their last bits on 5 of the 8 songs, and this week Frankie has begun the work of MIXING them. All is sounding lovely and we're gently doing our ROCK STRETCHES to get ready for it all to kick off next year.

    Or, at least, that was the plan until THIS VERY MORNING when there was a message to The Validators' WhatIsApp group (yes, we are VERY modern and with it) with a GRATE idea to RUSH RELEASE one particular song THIS year i.e. before the General Election happens. The song is You're A Tory Now and, as he pointed out, it's vital we release it SOON before the Tories DISAPPEAR FOREVER FROM THIS EARTH (which is definitely what is going to happen).

    This, I think, is a BRILLIANT IDEA. It was only suggested about two hours ago at time of writing, but so far I haven't seen any down sides - there's time to mix it, stick it on iTunes, and maybe even do a video. And hey, if it ends up DESTROYING TORIES FOREVER then surely that can only be a bonus?

    posted 1/11/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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