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Blog Archive: December 2019

Christmas Time Is Here
One of the great institutions of INDIE CHRISTMAS is the Very Cherry Christmas Album, which is now, incredibly, in its FOURTEENTH year! It's an annual round-up of indie types doing Christmas songs which has featured myself and The Validators on MANY occasions, and this year contains a brand new song from John Dredge & The Plinths called "Christmas Time Is Here".

Close observers of the above video will note that I am not in it - this is because it was filmed a couple of weeks ago when I had to do WORK, so John and Andy had to get in not one but TWO people to do my parts. YES that is RIGHT, it takes TWO (2) people to reproduce the intricate melodic complexities of my AXE WORK!

As ever, the album is available directly from CherryAde, and features a TONNE of top tune by other delightful people. They also have a PREVIEW TEASER that features glimpses of ALL the tracks in just over five minutes, which is well worth a listen:

This is SUCH a brilliant idea I think I might NICK it for our next album!

posted 9/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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E17 in E20
On Thursday night myself and The Tinsel On My Tree were joined by Ms H Arnold for a trip to the traditional turning on of the Christmas Lights in The Olympic Village (where I live, but don't like to go on about it). In previous years this has variously featured local choirs, snow machines, Street Artistes and light shows, but this year's one was focused on the fact that the lights were being turned on by EAST 17! All right, TWO of East 17 (not Tony or Brian) anyway, but it was still quite exciting, although when I heard the PA being soundchecked on my way home it sounded more like The Jesus & Mary Chain, such was the INTENSE VOLUME. It was LOUD!

We got to the event at 6.30pm, just in time to hear the MC say that East 17 would be onstage at 7.00pm, so we popped into our Mother Kelly's where it was warmer, quieter, and had BEER. When we emerged at 7.00pm we were just in time to hear the MC say that East 17 would be on at 7.30pm, so we had a wander round, listened to a GRATE steel drum band doing "Feliz Navidad", watched the lights get turned on (not by East 17) and managed to sneak into the lobby of a nearby building where it was warmer, quieter, but sadly had no BEER.

This time we waited until East 17 were actually announced before we came out, and got into the crowd just in time to see the group take to the stage. I wonder if Tony Mortimer had done the backing tape for them as a favour? It certainly sounded like the original, though it was a bit odd hearing it sung like someone from an X Factor audition rather than Brian Harvey, and also to have holiday camp band audience participation addded, like him singing "Oggie Oggie Oggie" and then holding out the microphone for us to go "Oi Oi Oi". I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the original version.

They started off with "House Of Love" and then did another one which caused most of the crowd to google "East 17 hits" on their phones to work out what it was. There were a few songs that weren't hugely familiary, though they did do "Its Alright" (NB MY REVIEW OF THE GIG) at (I think) the end. They definitely finished on something that wasn't "Stay Another Day", which led to the whole crowd standing around going. "Eh? What? That can't be it can it?" We expected an encore, but then the event MC then came on and - VERY STUPIDLY - pretended like that genuinely was the end, and started thanking people for coming. This was IDIOTIC as the atmosphere took a TURN and people started ACTIVELY BOOING, at which point he went "Oh, it sounds like we forgot something..." I guess he thought this would be HILARIOUS, but it very much was not!

East 17 came back on in WHITE PARKAS and did, of course, "Stay Another Day" with the SNOW MACHINE at full pelt and everything felt VERY FESTIVE. They THEN came back on to "say a few things" and I cannot have been the only person who wondered if it might be them taking a chance to slag off Tony Mortimer or something. Thankfully it was NOT that - what they wanted to say was that the non-original member was actually the bloke from ARTFUL DODGER and then launched into one of THEIR hits! It wasn't particularly Christmassy, and it was also COLD, so we decided to go somewhere WARM and with BEER again instead!

Next year I'm hoping we get "Naughty Christmas" by Fat Les with only Damien Hirst from the original line-up, joined by one of TrueSteppers on tambourine!

posted 6/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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A Brief History Of ROCK Promotion (and a Call To Action)
This week I have been LEARNING about How To Do ROCK Promotion In The Twenty First Century and it has been MOST illuminating, and also CONFUSING.

I first learned about this sort of thing way back in the last century, thanks to Sean Fortuna Pop!. Back then promoting records involved posting ACTUAL RECORDS, the use of Fax machines, and paying plugging companies to get your songs onto local radio stations for you. It was all very exciting and fun, especially on a (I think) Friday when I'd get a pink FAX printout in my pigeonhole at work telling me that British Forces Broadcaasting had played my song, or that Bradford Community Radio wanted a session. I'm still in touch with some of the lovely people I got to know in those far off days, not least John The Publisher who used to work for Overground and now publishes our SHEET MUSIC via Wipeout Music!

Things soon changed when The Internet happened, and it all started to become about email lists and Social Media Presence, although you did still need to buy a whole heap of JIFFY BAGS for posting CDs out. Luckily Mr G Gargan of Damnably told me where The Secret BBC Window was (on a sidestreet near Broadcasting House), where you could hand in ALL your jiffy bags for BBC shows and save TONNES of money on postage. We started doing our own VIDEOS too, which was GRATE!

It all took a lot of KEEPING UP with though, which I have always found difficult. Around the time of Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez I hired a PR COMPANY to do it for us, and they were UTTERLY DREADFUL, so I returned to self-promotion. This was all right when we did Dinosaur Planet because I could send it to lots of SCIENCE FICTION places that I was interested in, but after that I must admit I lost touch a bit, especially as we did LESS stuff.

SO when we put out our new single last week I was somewhat TREPIDATIOUS about what I was actually supposed to DO, especially as I knew that this time there was no point in sending it to UK radio stations, as they are BANNED from playing Political DYNAMITE during an election campaign. THUS I forced myself to dive into the world of SPOTIFY, which has turned out to be initially MYSTIFYING and then surprisingly FAMILIAR.

It was MYSTIFYING because I don't really USE it much myself, so all the talk about Artist Profiles and Playlists didn't make an awful lot of sense. HOWEVER, once Mr Ian Watson of How Does It Feel told me that I had to GET my Artist Profile on Spotify it started to become a little clearer. We do all our online stuff with Emubands (who are ACE), and it turns out that this means I was automatically RATIFIED for our Spotify Artists Profile. I read further and discovered that the way to get onto Official Playlists is simply to SUBMIT them - as it happens I am WAY too late to do it properly for this single, but it is PEASY and VERY do-able, so I will VERY DO it when we put out the next batch of singles in the new year. It turns out that all you need to do is log in and SUBMIT the new song, and then it automatically/algorithmically goes to ALL the relevant Spotify Playlist people. It's a virtual Secret BBC Window!

There also turn out to be loads of OTHER playlists you can send stuff to. I paid $10 (i.e. spare eBay ca$H) to have a go on a site that lets you SUBMIT to various playlists, which did no good whatsoever, but did introduce me to the fact that they EXIST, and led me to search out various others that didn't cost money to do it with. Yes, it was a virtual PR company wasting my money, and then a virtual ME googling for the email addresses of virtual Local Radio!

I've even watched some SPOTIFY VIDEOS about the whole thing, which were Surprisingly Pleasant although VERY MUCH targeted towards YOUNG GROOVERS and not GRIZELLED VETERANS like me. Still, one interesting point it made was that you need to do "CTAs" or Calls To Action i.e ASKING people to do stuff to help you, with one of the KEY ones being asking people to follow you on Spotify. This would BUMP us up the listings for playlists, apparently, so if you have a chance, please follow us!

It has all been VERY interesting - I just hope that it doesn't all change AGANE before next year!

posted 2/12/2019 by MJ Hibbett
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