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BlogMedia Onslaught Begins
If you hear distant HOWLS today, fear not, it is merely THE MAN rolling around in ANGUISH as news reaches him that the MIGHTY MEDIA CAMPAIGN for my new album has begun!
FOR LO! Over the past few days I have begun the process of emailig various media types to let them know that the new single Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People? is coming out on Monday, and that this will be followed in due course by the aforesaid ALBUM, The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett.
As with most things related to this album I am doing all the media stuff MYSELF, which has given me an excellent excuse to spend many happy hours building a new CAMPAIGN SYSTEM DATABASE in order to try and keep a top on who I've contacted so far. I spent WEEKS wandering around the Indie Music METAVERSE trying to work out who to send stuff to, and now I'm trying to make sure I don't accidentally send deligtful personal messages out to entirely the wrong addresses. It's a bit headache-inducing, but also good fun thinking that FINALLY the Actual Songs are starting to get out there for people to listen to.
If you ARE a Media Type and haven't had anything from me yet, do not PANIC, as I still have quite a lot more to get through. However, if you remain uncontacted by the end of the week then please DO PANIC and get in touch! In the meantime I shall continue spreading the good word!
posted 27/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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The Future Of Entertainment Formats
So far this month I have UNLEASHED the cover for both my new album The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, and its accompanying single Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?. At the risk of blowing MINDS at a time when capacity for MIND FIXING is low, I will today be unleashing not just the PHYSICAL FORMAT upon which THESE items will be delivered, but also a possible future for ALL entertainment content.
For LO! although both album and single will be very much avaialable in the traditional Digital Format and available on All Good (And Not Good) Streaming Services, there will also be the option to buy them both together as a MEMORY STICK, which looks very much like THIS:
I'm really pleased with how this all works, although less pleased with quite how long it's (still) taking me to copy over each memory stick, which is why I'm quite glad that I only ordered 100 of them! To put it another way, this is a LIMITED EDITION - that does sound more exciting doesn't it? - which will be available first of all to newsletter subscribers, then at gigs, and then from release day on Friday 14 October via our online shop.
What I'm saying is this: sign up for the newsletter if you haven't already, and then PANIC BUY, as these are almost definitely going to be worth A MILLION QUID in a couple of years! ALMOST definitely!
posted 16/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Another Cover Is Let Loose
A couple of weeks ago I UNLEASHED the cover from my forthcoming solo album, The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, and LO! delight filled the world as people looked upon it in WONDER. Today I am DELIGHTED to be able to follow that up with a further UNLEASHIFICATION, this time of the cover for its first single, Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
I hope its immense power has not rocked your world TOO much.
Keen observers may have noticed a THEME developing i.e. MY FACE. I can report that your observation is CORRECT and there will be much more of that sort of thing to come!
The single is out on Monday 3 October and will feature I Like You as the b-side. Between you and I, oh cherished reader of the blog, you don't really need to BUY it or anything as the single version is exactly the same as the album version and the b-side will be included on the Bandcamp album AND on the USB stick. The basic idea is that sticking out a single gives me an EXCUSE to PLUG everything one more time. However, please keep this between ourselves - I am pretty sure that NON-blog readers will be queueing up at Woolworths on the Monday morning to send it soaring up the pop charts!
posted 14/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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There had been a lot of stomping about involved in me even GETTING to the "Super VI" conference in Moers, but as the first day didn't start until 1pm I decided to do a bit more, by stomping into town .
I had looked up some VEGAN places because, having been to Germany before, I was aware that it's all a bit MEAT-BASED. I found a very nice but PERPLEXING shop that seemed to require you to bring a bunch of empty jam jars in order to buy anything, then went to somewhere called VEGANLAND which turned out to be a (delicious) Falafel shop. In the end I wandered into a supermarket and found a SPECIAL section which was full of clearly marked snacks and bought a LOAD of dried fruits and chocolate.
On the way back I saw a squirrel running across a car park. "Oh it's a squirrel" I thought, correctly, but then my BRANE swung into action. "That's a very fluffy squirrel," it said, "with very fluffy ears. Also, it's RED." It was an ACTUAL RED SQUIRREL! I've never seen one of those before!
After all that excitement I wondered if the actual conference would be able to compete, but compete it did. Usually when I go to conferences I go through the schedule and FILLET it, looking for GAPS where there's nothing particularly relevant to my interests, so that I can spent that time either going for a walk and/or loafing around in the hotel room, but as this conference was about SUPERHEROES it was all HIGHLY relevant and HIGHLY interesting. It was also WEIRD because in the breaks I got involved in conversations about superheroes and other Related Topics and kept thinking "Oh no I have started banging on about which Star Trek series is the best, surely they must all be bored out of their minds" before realising a) it wasn't me who had brought it up b) everyuone else was ALSO banging on about it and c) some of them were WRONG, but WRONG from a fully argued and in-depth (but still wrong) viewpoint. It was AMAZING!
I did my talk just after lunch on the second day, which was ACE as I was neither on right at the start (and so got to see how it all worked) NOR right at the end like I usually seem to be (and so got to SWAN AROUND a bit afterwards). It was also GRATE because I didn't have to do the bit I always have to do elsewhere where I explain who Doctor Doom is BECAUSE THEY KNEW!
It was a lovely, if rather EXHAUSTING time - being around very friendly people who actually WANT to talk about this sort of thing turns out to be knackering, especially when it keeps happening until the early hours with BEER. The only downside is that it's going to make normal conferences in future feel a bit boring!
posted 13/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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The Road To Moers
I headed off to German Germany on Thursday afternoon, to attend a conference about SUPERHEROES!
The getting there was mostly dead easy, not least because I was going from City Airport which is about 3 seconds from my house. I arrived in Dusseldorf Airport and then got the VERY EXCITING SkyTrain, which is one of those upside down suspended monorails that they have over there. Apart from me everyone else was not grinning like a LOOON, as if to them this was nothing special. Perhaps they live on THE MOON or something where this is normal?
At the main railway station I bought my ticket to Moers, where the conference was, and was most impressed by the fact that they printed me out an actual itinerary. I then very determinedly sought out a VALIDATING machine - the time the band went to Germany and did NOT do this still weighs heavy on my mind - and caught a train to Druisberg (which is pronounced more like "Doosberg" and not like on League Of Gentlemen, it turns outs). This was all fine and dandy and, as I boarded my last train to Moers, I was full of delight at how easy it had all been.
Then the train stopped. And continued to stop. Eventually a man came down the carriage saying something in German which I had no idea what it was. Luckily for me someone else noted my confusion and told me that we were being kicked off the train, and so we disembarked at a place called TROMPET. The other passengers lurked about a bit then headed for the underpass. I thought we were off to another platform but they all kept walking out of the tiny little station (which was barely a station at all, more of a bus stop for trains) and away. I found my friendly person again who told me there were no trains into Moers now and we all had to either call a taxi or walk. I was very surprised by this - surely this was Germany, land of Things Actually Working? Surely we weren't just being left to fend for ourselves?
It turns out we were, and so I got out my phone and saw that it was a one hour twenty minute walk to my hotel, and set off. I stomped through the small town, along a VERY long road through various fields and then onto another VERY long road which was basically The Moers Ringroad. It was a BIG walk but wasn't too bad as it was gently drizzling the whole way, which kept me fairly cool, although it was a very strange place to be when I looked at my phone and found out that the Queen had died.
This had clearly been coming all day, but it was still a massive shock. It reminded me of the MANY dreams I used to have growing up about NUCLEAR WAR. Again and again I'd dream of seeing a mushroom cloud on the horizon and think "It's finally actually happened" and that was how I felt in that moment. It didn't last long, and did not lead to EITHER waking up in a cold sweat OR further narrative about trying to find a shelter but it WAS a bit weird.
Twenty minutes later I was finally in my hotel, which did not have a NAME on the front but was otherwise LOVELY. I had a much needed shower and then put BBC World on, where the weirdness continued, as they started talking about "King Charles". This time it felt like being in one of those NEAR FUTURE MILD SCI-FI TV shows, particularly British ones where it's not really very science fiction at all but they all have slightly different mobile phones and there is a KING now. It's going to take a while to get used to that!
I soothed my weary brow with an EVEN MORE NEEDED beer and then headed to bed. It had been a BIG day, and the conference had not even begun yet!
posted 12/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A South London Odyssey
On Saturday I ventured to distant SOUTH LONDON to do a THING. The thing in question was part of a vague idea I have for a video for the song Someone Else's Turn, which is about moving over to let another generation have a go. I thought it might be fun to go to some of my old HAUNTS and see what they looked like now, and then... er... make it a video somehow. I did say it was vague!
Early on in the executive decision making process for this project I decided to stick to LONDON venues because a) it is much easier b) there is no b). I did a query on The Database Of ROCK to see which of these venues I'd played in most, then drew up a list of the ones that I had fondest memories of, and found that the vast majority were in walking - or at least STERN HIKING and the occasional tube - distance of each other in central London. Only The Green Dragon in Croydon and The Fox And Firkin in Lewisham were outside of this area, HENCE I decided to do them FIRST as a seperate excursion.
THUS I zoomed off to Croydon and walked the familiar way down to The Green Dragon that I had walked MANY times over the years. Every time I played there was to do one of Mr T Eveleigh's "Freedom Of Expression" gigs, which moved to other venues in later years, and the walk was just as I remembered it, with the addition of TV's Box Park where Croydonians gather to throw beer all over themselves during The Football. When I got to The Green Dragon it had BOUNCERS on the door, which I don't think it did before, but otherwise it looked EXACTLY the same as ever.
A walk, a train, another train and a DLR and I was in LEWISHAM, which seems to have changed A LOT, with GINORMOUS buildings going up. The walk to the Fox and Firkin was, as it always used to be, a lot further than I'd thought, but once there the pub itself was also EXACTLY the same as it had been - YIKES - over a decade ago when I last played there. On the way back I passed some very wholesome graffiti ("Otters are endangered but do live in London! Have you seen one?") and then had a WEIRD experience when I went under a railway bridge to get to the crossing back to the DLR station. I walked through and found myself in an ENTIRELY different area, all wide pavements and new blocks of flats, like an architect's drawing. I looked behind me to Lewisham, somewhat down at heel and As It Always Was, then back to the glistening new area, and could not marry the two together. I'm used to very different bits of Lonon being right next to each other, but not quite THAT starkly.
With that I headed home, my phone full of VIDEO CLIPS and my BRANE mildly surprised that, apart from METROPOLIS landing in Lewisham, things in South London seemed to be much the same as last time I was there. I wonder if the same will be THORT in a couple of weeks when I do the NEXT bit?
posted 5/9/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Today is an EPOCHAL day in the history of ROCK, for today is the day that I reveal the majestic majesty of the cover for my forthcoming solo album, The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett, THUS:
APTLY TITLED, I am sure you will agree. As you'll also hopefully have noticed, I've done a big redesign of the website to match the BRANDING, and if I've done it correctly then you should also notice that some areas that were distinctly UNFRIENDLY to mobile phones and tablets have become slightly MORE FRIENDLY now. Hopefully, anyway.
I'm updating all the SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS too in order to engage maximum brand synchronicity, and then next week I commence the long formulated MEDIA PLAN to try and get people to actually LISTEN to it. I'm dead proud of this here album - it may be almost beyond the reach of understanding, but it really does sound as good as it looks!
posted 31/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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I went up to the Edinburgh Fringe last week, spending just under 48 hours there. From this experience I can tell you two things with certainty: firstly, the Fringe is still a LOT of fun, and secondly, being there for more than 48 houtd would have probably done me in. I am still knackered!
I headed up on the train on Wednesday morning, checked into my (only ludicrously priced, rather than horrendously ludicrously priced) student hall of residence, then hotfooted it back into town to meet Mr S Hewitt and The Mylands in the Holyrood Bar. They'd already been there for several days (NB in Edinburgh, not that particular bar) and how they were looking so fit and well I do not know!
There then followed nearly two days of zooming around watching shows with various combinations of the aforesaid pals, visiting multiple ace pubs, and eating a LOT of chips. My favourite shows were Nic Sampson: Marathon 1904, War Of The Worlds On A Budget, Josie Long: Re-enchantment and John Hastings: Do You Have Any Ointment My John Hastings, all of which had PROPER stories with beginnings and ends and A Point, unlike the weirdly disappointing John Culshaw As Les Dawson which was about Les Dawson getting on a plan and thinking about some bits of his life ... um... and that was it. It was odd!
We also saw Basil Brush: Unleashed, which was not particularly great as a show in and of itself BUT did have ACTUAL BASIL BRUSH in it, and I went to see Steve Richards: Rock'n'Roll Politics which was exactly what it said it was going to be i.e. Steve Richards Talking About Things. It was at this show that I first noticed a recurring TREND this year, that everybody was QUITE OLD. In some ways this was quite nice, as it made me feel YOUNG and VITAL when my hangover was trying to persuade me very much otherwise, but it seemed strange that it kept happening. I mean, I was going to shows that YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE ME were interested in, what were all these grey-haired Radio 4 listeners doing there? IT MAKES NO SENSE.
We also got some decent PUBBING in, with trips to The Halfway House, The Albanach, Dagda and Brass Monkey along with various Corporate Comedy Company Bars, and there was WHISKY and CHAT and general good times. I flipping loved it, but I was VERY happy to get home!
posted 29/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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An Epochal Day
Friday was an EXCITING day for me, as it contained THREE (3) thrilling occurrences.
Firstly, I took delivery of the PHYSICAL MERCHANDISE for "The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett". It's not boring old CDs or tedious vinyl or even delightful cassettes, but something ELSE which is going to contain all the usual album STUFF plus loads more. Full details will be in the next newsletter, it is going to be GRATE!
Secondly, I fought back against a deadly PLOY by Netflix. As mentioned previously I have been RACING against time to finish "The Sandman" and thus COMPLETE NETFLIX before my subscription ran out, and I was very pleased to have done so successfully at the start of last week. I then moved on to COMPLETING PARAMOUNT PLUS (i.e. watching the most recent series of Star Treks Strange New Worlds and Discovery) and was happily fulfilling this task when Netflix dropped a bombshell: TWO new episodes of Sandman!! The SWINES!
Luckily for me it turns out that it was actually two stories contained in one normal-sized episode, which I was able to get watched with a couple of HOURS to spare. It was a close-run thing but worth it as the episode(s) was/were inevtibaly FAB. Nice try though, Netflix!
THIRDLY, and perhaps even more EPOCHALLY than even both of the above, I signed a publishing contract! This was for a revised version of my PhD Thesis, which will be coming out next year (or possibly early 2024) from A Reputable Academic Publisher. I'm probably allowed to say who it is and everything but I'm not entirely sure so don't want to mess it up at this early stage, but suffice to say it is VERY exciting! The working title is "Heroes Of Multiple Worlds: an empirical model of transmedia character coherence" which, I'm sure you'll agree, is pretty much a shoe-in for a FILM ADAPTATION!
The next step is to actually WRITE it, as it's going to have a slightly different FOCUS to the PhD project, but I've got until May next year to do that, so it'll be a while before it actually comes out, but when it DOES I will be sure to let you know!
posted 22/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Just Not Cricket
In general, Cricket is a sport that I am Totally Fine With. There was only one time in my life when I actively watched it, during the recording of WE VALIDATE!, when we'd take it in turns to watch a bit of The Ashes whenever we weren't needed either in the studio or building sandcastles.This was very enjoyable, but I've never really felt an urge to engage further and am more than happy for it to exist without me.
I played cricket at school and, like rugby, came to dislike it intensely. However, unlike Rugby, I later came to understand what other people see in it - I thought the point of cricket was the actual playing of it, with the running backwards and forwards and hitting balls etc etc, but I eventually realised that that's just an excuse for EITHER sitting around for a whole afternoon getting drunk and talking to your friends OR listening to silly old twits talk about it on the radio amusingly and remembering FACTS.
These are clearly all activities which I am TOTALLY behind and fully support anybody's right to pursue. However, I have already made lifestyle choices which satisfy my needs for all of the above, and so I am happy to leave cricket to others. I understand enough to get references to it if I have to, and I own a Duckworth Lewis Method album, and so until now I have been confident that I would never have the need to log an opinion re. cricket in the public domain.
Flipping heck, this The Hundred business has RIGHT wound me up. For those who don't know it's basically a way of making cricket fit into less than the eighteen months it takes to play Test Cricket so they can show it on telly wit adverts. The way it works is that you get 100 goes at bowling each, and then there are various fiddly bits to keep THE MATHS fairly simple (which seems to be against the whole point of cricket to me). It seems daft when Twenty20 already exists to do the same thing, but if that's what television stations want to spend their money on then that's fine with me, as long as they don't spend so much that they can't make MY telly shows anymore. Live And Let Watch Game of Thrones Prequels is very much my motto.
HOWEVER, the thing that has wound me up about it is the bloody "TEAMS" what they have invented. I was watching the telly news the other night and the News Person was going on about "The Oval Invincibles" which he then shortened to "The Invincibles" as if that was SOMEHOW A THING. It's a totally made up non-existent BRANDING exercise to bring together a bunch of entirely unrelated highly paid sportspeople so they can play against another BRAND of other similar sportspeople. And YES YES I AM AWARE that one could describe ALL modern professional sports teams like this, but the point is that THOSE brands are rooted in history and have been around for AGES. When I go to see Peterborough United (when I CAN get to see them that is - I was prevented from going on Tuesday due to BROKEN TRAINS and it made me SAD) it is because of an entire LIFE of going to see them, the associated family traditions of doing the same, the many memories, and of course the various delightful TYPES I see in the PUB beforehand who have also gone for similar lengths of time. It's lovely!
This is clearly very much not the case with "Trent Rockets", which did not EXIST until a couple of years ago. Maybe in 20 years time, if the 100 thing carries on, there will be people in Nottingham who bear a local grudge against their deadly rivals "Birmingham Phoenix" and sing songs of their disdain at every match, possibly getting into a mild RUCKUS when "South Eastern Conglomerate" come to play. But for now it seems utterly ridiculous when I see clips on telly of people wearing MERCHANDISE KITS and getting terribly excited about a team that DOES NOT REALLY EXIST! AT ALL!
Why are they doing it? This is The United Kingdom Of Lots Of Sports Teams, you can't MOVE without tripping over a hockey squad or a lacrosse team or any one of the 17,000,000 clubs in the Infinite Pyramid Of Football, so why on earth would you want or even NEED to go to The Hundred as an excuse to drink beer and shout when there are so many other options? And if it really MUST happen, could they not have come up with better names? They're all called "Superchargers" or "Spirit" or "Fire" as if they were all thought up by competitors on THE APPRENTICE. The Hundred! If you really MUST do this thing, at least be brave and call the teams PROPER business names like "Essex Mandatory Training" or "Wiltshire Mid-Year Appraisal".
I wouldn't mind so much if Telly Sports People weren't so ruddy JOVIAL about it. "Oh, that's just SO Middlesbrough Fire Drill!" they say, or "If it was going to happen to anybody, it had to be Yorkshire Broken Photocopier!" It's time we all stood up and refused to engage with this at all, and forced the telly to focus on PROPER sports. Like DARTS! or WRESTLING!
posted 18/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Whatever It Is, That's What It Is
As part of the preparations for my Exciting New Album I've been busily sorting out some MUSIC VIDEOS, like what Sting used to complain about on his MTV. The first one was done a little while ago using POWERPOINT, for a song which will, I am sure, finally end the use of AGILE as a project management methodology (I'd like to see Woody Guthrie achieve something like THAT) but this past week has seen me using MYSELF as the main focus for two (2) more videos.
The first was for the single "Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?" My original THORT was to do this as a re-enactment of the album cover, which (SPOILERS) is a picture of ME. I set myself up in what I thought was the correct position and filmed myself singing the song, accompanied by a few props, thinking it was going to be a bit like Sinead O'Connor in "Nothing Compares 2U".
Clearly, it was not really like that, but after a few goes I'd got the words pretty much almost right all the way through, so sat down to edit it. At this point I realised that I had NOT set myself up in the correct position and was in fact facing in entirely the wrong direction, and it was here that I codified the methodology I would employ for the rest of this process: Whatever It Is, That's What It Is. In other words, whatever I manage to actually DO, that's what I'm going to work with. This may seem BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS, but I found it IMMENSELY helpful as a way of not worrying too much before starting filming and instead trusting that SOMETHING fun would come out of it as long as I allowed it to do so.
For instance, once I'd set it up so that the album title appeared on screen alongside my HEAD I realised that the rest of the video then had a MASSIVE GAP where the words had been, and so I decided to make it into a LYRICS VIDEO as well. Did Sinead O'Connor do that? No, she did not, most likely because there was a team of 17,000 directors, assistant directors, camera persons and multiple posh teenagers getting coffee, and so she was unable to suggest exciting new ideas that could be enacted within the time booked for the SHOOT. Also, lyrics videos had not been invented yet, although that's probably purely because of the above mentioned process issues.
Once that decision was made the whole thing was finished off dead eaasily, leaving me all excited for my NEXT video shoot, which was booked to happen on Saturday. I say "Booked" because I had actually BOOKED somewhere to do it, as it involved me DANCING ABOUT in an open space which was neither available nor conducive to good neighbourly relations at home. I thus arranged myself a couple of hours in Theatre Deli, the organisation that takes over unused office space and turns it into rehearsal studios.
When I was making videos with Mr John Dredge we used Theatre Deli several times, as it was a really convenient way to get a nice clear SPACE to make stuff in, and which often included the PROPS we needed, like desks and chairs etc. It seemed to move to a different location nearly every time we did something, and it was in a different place AGANE this time, on Leadenhall Street in The City. This was very handy for me as it meant I could get the Elizabeth Line to Liverpool Street and then walk there, passing a GREGGS on the way where I bought a FANTASTIC Vegan Cheese And Ham Baguette. MAN ALIVE, I know there is a lot wrong with the world today, but it is also a world where such things as Vegan Cheese And Ham Baguettes are not only available, but available in GREGGS. It is a truly wonderful thing, I will be back for MORE!
It was REALLY REALLY HOT on Saturday, so I was a bit worried about how I'd SURVIVE a couple of hours of dancing around, but was relieved when I arrived to find that the air conditioning was very much ON. I went to my alloted room, got the camera set up, and then spent about forty minutes DANCING. This will all become clear when I UNLEASH the video, but the basic idea was to ACT OUT the story of "Kenny's Brother Alan's Stag Do" through the medium of INTERPRETIVE DANCE, performed by ME in various different t-shirts playing up to four characters at once. Yes, you are correct, it is a SHOE-IN for Awards Season.
I'd spent much of the past fortnight THINKING about how this would work, with the main thing being all four versions of me DANCING in SYNCHORNICITY during the choruses. When me and Mr S Hewitt did our Fringe shows I was always struck by the realisation that what people like most of all during live shows - more than ANYTHING else - is the simple joy of seeing two or more people moving in the same way at the same time. There's something about it that brings DELIGHT to the soul, and when I watched the finished thing later on I felt that same DELIGHT myself, even though i knew it was NOT different people, and even though I did not quite get it right all the way through.
For LO! the dictum that Whatever It Is, That's What It Is applied VERY MUCH here, as not only did I not get the dancing right (I went the wrong way a few times, and also forgot where I was in one bit) but also had not given a great deal of THORT to what I'd do in the verses. I'd originally planned to sing the WORDS, sharing them between characters, but the problem with this was that "Kenny's Brother Alan's Stag Do" is nearly five minutes long (by FAR the longest track on the album) and I had not really LEARNT it. Thus I was forced to IMPROVISE some vague dancing and ACTING which, again, I am sure will be rewarded both at this year's MTV Awards and the Smash Hits Pollwinners' Party.
I did five different versions of the story in five different t-shirts, all with the same camera position, and then decided that that was probably enough. The original plan was to do close-ups and all sorts, but something told me that I didn't need to, so I packed up nearly an hour early and went home to start EDITING. Often this is a COLOSSAL PAIN, but this time around it was farily peasy - there were four clips all playing at the same time (again, this will make sense when you see it!) and so some TRICKERY was needed to do to make it all work, but as I'd done each shot all the way through I didn't need to do much actual editing, and by the end of Sunday it was DONE.
This gives me a total of THREE (3) videos completed, with maybe a couple more to go. As you can probably tell, I've really enjoyed the process so far, I just hope that other people enjoy the results when they are finally UNLEASHED!
posted 15/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Updating The Socials
One of the driving IDEAS behind the new album ("The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett", available on all streaming services on Friday 14 October, guaranteed delightful) has been doing it ALL myself wherever possible, without consultation or assistance. This has had some GRATE results (e.g. the title) and has been very FREEING, in that I can just DO stuff whenever I fancy, but it has meant that I've ended up with quite a bit of extra work that I have been largely AVOIDING for the past many years.
The area where this has applied most vividly is in THE SOCIALS. Back when I first started in The Krazy World Of Rock And Roll the biggest deal in promotion was finidng an Amusing Picture to put on your posters and, in my case, cutting out the right letters in Leicester Mercury headlines to stick on for the date and location. Yes kids, that's right - this was BEFORE we even had COMPUTERS that could do that sort of thing nicely. IT WAS LONG AGO.
Since then The Interweb has come along and to begin with this made life MUCH easier. You could tell people about gigs and albums and all sorts without having to go anywhere NEAR a photocopier, and you weren't just restricted to the three record shops in your home town that took posters and/or the library. Then we got SOCIAL MEDIA and, again, this was GRATE to start with but now feels like a flipping full time job. All the "How to promote yourself" articles are forever talking about Providing Content and Claiming Artists Profiles and Updating Social Streams and Engaging With Fans and it is FLIPPING EXHAUSTING. There is SO MUCH to do that, to be honest, I have mostly given up on it over the past few years. The MJ Hibbett Instagram is testament to this - it is basically the 21st Century equivalent of a Geocities (ask your grandparents) site with "More News Coming Soon!" at the top and a GIF at the bottom of a stickman digging a hole.
None of this has particularly mattered as there hasn't been an awful lot of ROCK to promote, but that is about to change. When we did Jane And John we got the lovely High Violet PR to do our radio plugging, which was GRATE because a) they did a really good job and b) I didn't need to worry about doing any of it. NOW, however, I am duty bound by THE RULES to do it myself, so I have been revisiting my ancient contacts database to generate a MAILING LIST.
It turns out that a) a surprsingly large number of people who were fiercely enagaged in ROCK when I set the database up are, nearly two decades later, not anymore but also b) quite a few LIFERS are still there. It also turns out that there are LOADS of new people, particularly in the realms of local/internet radio, which seems to be THRIVING. I do like RADIO people - they actually PLAY your music so others can hear it - so this pleases me immensely!
There's also all this NEW (to me) stuff about PLAYLISTS and EXCLUSIVES and BLOGS (which are not like what I think of BLOGS i.e. this) and CHANNELS and goodness knows what, all of which seems to require a PROFILE of some sort, usually slightly different to how it works in other places and ALWAYS with an entirely different specification for banners, profile pictures and all that. It's wearying, but I console myself with the THORT that if I go through and do it all properly THIS time then it won't be ten years out of date when we do the NEXT things... so long as it happens sooner than in ten years!
In summary then: the enormous hassle of doing SOCIALS is probably what keeps bands together these days. "We can't split the Stones Keef, I'll have to update our Myspace and I've lost the passwords."
posted 12/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Sandman And The Race To Complete Netflix
A few weeks ago I came to a Decisive Decision re. Entertainment Options and The Cost Of Living Crisis. I looked at our PORTFOLIO of streaming services and realised that, now that I'd watched the (AMAZING) latest series of "Stranger Things" I had pretty much COMPLETED NETFLIX and didn't really need it anymore. Also, I really really really wanted to get Paramount+ so I could watch the (ALSO AMAZING) "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" and THUS decided to cancel Netflix and reallocate my resources. The date was set for a couple of weeks hence, and all seemed well.
However, Netflix had other ideas. "Cancelling us, are you?" they said. "Oh, so I suppose you don't want to watch THE SANDMAN then eh? EH?" "Curse you Netflix!" I railed, but then remembered that when it "dropped" (MEDIA LINGO) on August 5th that meant the whole SERIES would be available, giving me just over a week to watch THE LOT. "Challenge", said I, quoting another series available on streaming services, "Accepted!"
It's now a couple of days later and I am about halfway through and I must say I REALLY like it. Of all the Neil-Gamain-y things I have ever read or watched (and I have read or watched LOADS of the above) this is pretty much the MOST Neil-Gaiman-y thing EVER. As well it might be, OBVS. For instance, last night I finished The One In The Diner, which a) was creepy and scary but b) suddenly made a beautiful point that made everything look very different indeed i.e. c) was very Neil-Gaiman-y. Also it is packed full of Interesting Goths wafting around saying Important Sounding Things but then being Charmingly Quirky just before Something New Happens. I LIKE IT.
I bought the first few issues of the comic when it originally came out (and, INEVITABLY, sold them ages ago for quite a bit less than they would have got now!) but then drifted away. I eventually read the whole thing about four years ago in the library at UAL, so am only VAGUELY away of how the original story worked. This is GOOD in that I am getting the joyful twinges of recognition every few minutes, but does make me wonder what anybody who HADN'T read it before would make of it. Does the story really make any sense this way? I mean, I'm not sure that it did originally, being more a series of VIGNETTES, but is that all right on the telly?
I'm also aware of the changes, especially to the casting which I am ALL THERE FOR. The Sandman comic came out DECADES ago, and it's great that Actual Neil Gaiman has thought about things in Modern Times and shifted the casting choices around, although this does lead me to question some of the things that HAVE been left as they are. Specifically, why does everyone have to have pointy ears all the time? Just for practical purposes, it must take AGES to get everyone fitted out with them, so is it completely necessary so to do? Or did Actual Neil Gaiman say "Pointy ears are CRUCIAL to the success of my OUVRE - if they go, I GO ALSO!"
Having said that, I have really enjoyed some of the tiny daft aspects of COMICS that have made their way into this multi-million dollar extravaganza, ESPECIALLY Cain and Abel. NB if you haven't seen it yet this isn't really a SPOILER or anything, they are basically A SMALL JOKE what Alan Moore put into "Swamp Thing" about a THOUSAND years ago which then made their way into the "Sandman" comic as well, and then eventually into this incredibly expensive telly show, complete with original haircuts and even the joke about "The House Of Mystery" and "The House Of Secrets" which was monumentally NICHE in the comics, let alone now. Also: POINTY EARS!
There's still a way to go but, as I say, I am thoroughly enjoying it, and then I will have FINISHED Netflix... unless they suddenly announce "Giant Days" or "Dinosaur Comics" as a series, in which case I AM BACK!
posted 10/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Called League One For A Reason
Saturday found me travelling to Peterborough once more for Posh's first home game of the season and also - perhaps even MORE importantly - my first game as a Season Ticket holder!
I set off full of excitement, and was surprised to find my train to St Pancras full of OTHER people, ALSO full of excitement, for OTHER games. Everyone was in groups talking over each other - it was VERY loud but nobody was being Rude or Aggressive, if anything it was like being on a massive school trip!
When I got to St Pancras it was RAMMED - half the escalators are being repaired on the Javelin platform, so that was a bottleneck, and when I eventually got downstairs I had to QUEUE TO GET OUT, due to the Eurostar queue being so massive and backed up. St Pancras is a lovely station but it is designed for breezing in and out of, and lacks the vast halls of your Kings Cross or Euston, which are there to hold huge numbers of the disgruntled. Kings Cross was similarly busy when I got there, but it was at least possible to move around!
After that it was all smooth sailing, or rather railing, and I was soon in Peterborough marching across town to Charters AKA The Boat Place to meet the usual bunch of DELIGHTFUL people and LO! much intellectual conversation was had. Again, people all around were jolly, including a large contingent of Morecambe fans, who turned out to be pretty much ALL of the Morecambe fans. Inside at the bar I got chatted to by a young lad who was DELIGHTED with how it was all going. "This is the best pub I've ever been in!" he said. This pleased the bar staff immensely!
After a while it was time to stroll over the road. The sun was shining and all seemed well with the world, which is usually the cue for it all to go horribly wrong but, astonishingly, NO! The actual game itself was an actual PLEASURE to watch, which was certainly NOT the case in the ugly, mean, DIFFICULT world of The Championship. Ugh! That was a nasty league, full of teams CHEATING by PRACTICING beforehand and agreeing between them what they were going to do. This was very much NOT the case with Morecambe who played the game as it is meant to be played i.e. not very well. We, on the other hand, had kept some of the GAMESMANSHIP of the Championship and did crazy things like occassionally passing the ball TO each other rather than just HOOFING it (not all the time, but still) and managing to do Dribbling and, in the case of our new Enormous Goalkeeper, stopping it going in the goal. We won 3-0 in the end, it was GRATE!
INDEED my only complaint was that, despite that FACT that The Family Stand is now sponsored by Compare The Market and EXPLICITLY re-named The Meerkat Family Stand, we did NOT have a Meerkat Mascot. How can this be? When we were sponsored by a mattress company we had a MATTRESS mascot, when we were sponsored by Abax (whatever that is) we had a GIANT LETTER A mascot, but now there is a sponsor with the possibility of a mascot that would NOT actively terrify small children the opportunity is not taken. Since "Miss Posh" (a woman in a top hat) was retired we are now in the perilous state of only having FOUR (4) mascots - Mr Posh (a man in a top hat), Mick The Skip (a builder), PB (another builder) and The Rabbit Thing (a rabbit thing) - which to my mind is far too few. Come on, Barry Fry, SORT IT OUT!
Apart from that though it was a wonderful return to London Road, especially as winning BOTH games so far means that we are TOP OF THE LEAGUE. A league when winning twice puts you at the top is EXACTLY the sort of league I like - it's good to be back!
posted 8/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Superhero Fatigue Fatigue
I went to the pictures on Monday night to see the new "Thor" film with my pal Mr S Carter. Steve had got us SUPER posh seats with reclining backs and FOOT LIFTS which was VERY fancy, and the film itself was GRATE. At times it seemed like about 7 different films chopped up and then stuck together, but that's fine, and I was surprised to find Christian Bale doing a DENNIS PENNIS impersonation throughout, but it was a LOT of fun, with plenty of JOKES, lots of CAMEOS, and I had a bit of an old cry in several places too. What's not to like?
Well apparently quite a bit according to THE REVIEWERS who all seem to have been banging on about "Superhero Fatigue" again. This is the idea that people have had enough of superhero movies so won't be going anymore, and it is something that they have been saying pretty much since "Iron Man 2" came out, despite the fact that the films seem to be making about A BILLION POUNDS* every time (*ACTUALLY a billion pounds!).
I think there are two reasons for this. Firstly, THE REVIEWERS hate the fact that people go and see films they actually WANT to see, rather than the ones THE REVIEWERS recommend. I mean, there have been about 17 billion Jane Austen adaptations, but you never ever ever hear anybody talking about "Austen Fatigue" do you? I mean, nor should they, Jane Austen is ACE, but even when a rubbish version comes out (like the recent one on Netflix) it doesn't do well because a bad film, and not because of AUSTEN SATURATION.
Secondly, and perhaps more charitably, the last 15 years or so of Superhero Movies have been a NEW THING. There have been successful superhero films before e.g. "Superman" (OBVS) and the first Tim Burton "Batman", but these were all very traditional films with a traditional film structure and though they DID have sequels they tended to be design so you could see them quite happily without having watched any of the others. The new Superhero movies - and ESPECIALLY the Marvel ones - very definitely DO NOT do that. Quite a large amount of the FUN of the new "Thor" movie, for instance, was seeing references to past events, cameos from other characters, or STUFF that toys around with established aspects OR sets up exciting new things. Again, there have been film series before, but these tended to revolve around specific characters rather than be MODULAR like what the MCU is. An exception to this (that I have just looked up to check!) is the GODZILLA franchise which had a whole heap of different movies and solo adventures. As per with TRANSMEDIA stuff, the Japanese got there first, and they do not appear to be suffering from GODZILLA FATIGUE.
The other interesting thing (NB perhaps just for me) is the way that Marvel keep on doing ACTUAL Superhero Movies. It must be very very tempting to go "Hang on, here's an amazing idea - why don't we DECONSTRUCT the superhero movie genre? Eh? No one has ever thought of that before!" and YES ALL RIGHT there is a bit of that going on within the films themselves, but overall the MCU is a series of Actual Superhero Movies that define what Actual Superhero Movies ARE. This is GRATE because when you have a proper established genre like this it means that other film and TV makers CAN then go and muck around with it a bit. For instance, "The Boys" would not have worked AT ALL if it had come out fifteen years ago (i.e. not long after the comic itself came out) when non-comics people weren't familiar with how superhero stories function. Nowadays we have all seen 98 Million Billion Marvel films so GET it completely, but to get there 98 Million Billion Marvel films had to be made in the first place.
Similarly, a really good film like "Mystery Men" did not work AT ALL when it came out because it was based on a comic RIFFING on superhero stories that existed in comics but not really in movies. Even more so, the original "Watchmen" film was lots of fun for people like me going "OOH LOOK that is ISSUE 10 PAGE 4 PANEL 4 how very clever!" but possibly not for everybody else who had no frame of reference for the core idea i.e. "Hey, What If Superheroes Were Real?" If they hadn't remade it AGANE on the telly a new "Watchmen" film would probably be a really good idea!
My enormous hope is that we're only at the START of Supehero Movies - Actual or otherwise - as a genre. Now that everyone understands how they work there's TONNES of space for different sorts of movies, or TV shows, or OTHER media that can start creating whole new stories or even adapting some more of the old ones that similarly comment on superhero stories (COME ON, Hollywood, do Zenith!). All it needs is for organisations like Marvel to keep pumping out Actual Superhero Movies (hopefully featuring Doctor Doom), and for people like me and Steve HEROICALLY keep going to see them. I'm ready to do my part!
posted 3/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A World Exclusive
I am DELIGHTED to announce that you can now have a first listen to one of the new tracks from "The Unearthly Beauty Of MJ Hibbett" (i.e. my new solo album what is out in October). International Radio Disc Jockey Mr J Kell played the song "Stick To The Agenda" as a **WORLD EXCLUSIVE** on his radio show "John Kell VS Satan" which you can Listen Again to BELOW:
It is always a good show with PLENTY of good stuff on it and I am VERY happy to be in such excellent company. The song itself is a fairly good indicator of what the album itself is like in that it features my MIDI MASTERY (it's got a piano! it speeds up a little bit as it goes along!) and also is about Workplace Issues - something which I have been covering for nigh on a QUARTER OF A CENTURY now! I very much hope you enjoy it, as there is plenty more where that came from!
posted 1/8/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Earlier in the week I sent details of the new album to John The Publisher, who very sensibly asked what the release date would be for the album AND SINGLES. I had planned to do some VIDEOS but wasn't thinking of Actual Singles (and by "Actual" I only mean "Actual Digital Things On Spotify" rather than anything physical). I asked John if there was any point, and he suggested it was a way of driving interest and getting people to pre-order UNITS, so I pencilled that into the Launch STRATEGY too.
This was all fine and dandy, and I know exactly which track is going to BE the aforesaid single, but a small yet persistent part of my BRANE kept saying "Well, if you're paying a tenner to put a SINGLE on Spotify, you might as well do a B-SIDE hadn't you? Eh? Don't you think?" The only trouble with this THORT was that I didn't actually HAVE any tracks i could use as a b-side. Initially I had vague ideas about keeping four songs OFF the album for later use, but it all worked really nicely as 14 tracks (and even then it's only 33 minutes long) so I ended up using THE LOT.
"Not a problem", I thought, "I shall just record another song. How hard can it be?" And the answer is: not really very hard at all! It's taken me a few months, all together, to record the album, but an awful lot of that time was spent learning how to do things - stuff like how MIDI works, or how to get decent COMPRESSION, or record tracks directly onto my computer, all took AGES to work out but now that I know how to do it is PEASY.
Also, I had a couple of songs that I liked that only ever appeared on Hibbetts Hoover (which was a bunch of demoes and suchlike given away to newsletter subscribers a few years ago) so I listened to those, picked the one I liked most (which also, ENTIRELY COINCIDENTALLY, was the one I had the chords already written down for), and started recording it.
Here, now, 48 hours later I have it pretty much half DONE. There's still VOCALS to do and some tinkering and MIXING, but then it'll be ready to upload to emubands and we're DONE. It's all rather lovely really, and it sounds QUITE NICE too! Making ROCK: it's PEASY!
posted 28/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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ROCK Admin Continues
I have been having a THRILLING time of it over the past few days, as ROCK ADMIN for the forthcoming new album has reached previously unattainable heights of excitement.
For LO! I have now uploaded THE LOT to Emubands, where it has been PROCESSED and prepared for distribution via All Streaming Services. Excitingly that means that, somewhere in the Emubands Corporate Structure, there is somebody other than ME who will be able to hear it... if they want to. WHICH THE SURELY WILL.
Doing that means I had to finalise a RELEASE DATE, which will be revealed along with the title in the newsletter on Friday. I've also booked AN ACTUAL GIG to mark the official LAUNCH, and will be on the lookout for more soon too.
In addition I have been doing further ESSENTIAL ADMIN in the shape of mixing RADIO EDITS for some of the songs (to ensure that I definitely get on KEN BRUCE) and INSTRUMENTALS. This latter is something I do at the behest of my lovely publishers, Wipeout Music, who I am also supplying with LYRICS and CODES and all sorts - that gets me onto various DATABASES of songs used by media types, and though LABORIOUS to fill in has resulted in one of our songs being used as background music on a Radio 4 show and ANOTHER being used as the theme tune for a cooking show on Radio Sheffield! I have also uploaded details of all the tracks to the PPL Database which, as anyone involved in the world of ROCK will tell you, is an UNFATHOMABLE JOY. This logs the MECHANICALS of all the tracks, which is something SO EXCITING that it would be unwise for me to discuss it now for fear of causing an outbreak of FAINTING.
On top of all THAT I have now completed the first VIDEO (which will probably be the SECOND video to actually be released) and am working on plans for at least THREE (3) more. I keep thinking "Maybe I should do a video for every song like DURAN DURAN and RIO" but then WISER parts of my brain reply "Don't do that, that would be a right pain in the wotsits".
As you can probably tell I am having a LOVELY time getting into all this again. I do enjoy the ADMIN part of the process, almost as much as the proper SHOWING OFF bit at the end. I have decided to go ALL IN on the "solo" aspect of the solo album and try to do as much as I can MYSELF, which means I'm going to have to wheel out my MEDIA SKILLZ soon and start hassling radio stations to play it, which is always fun. To be honest, I don't understand why your Professional Full-Time International Rock Stars don't do more of this - I mean, they haven't got proper jobs to do, so what else are they doing all day?
posted 26/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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A Graduand No More
Last Friday was a momentous day, for LO! it was my graduation ceremony, the point at which my PhD was fully totally completely DONE! Or, as it turned out, NEARLY done.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, even at the ungodly hour of 6am (IN THE MORNING!) which is when I had to get up in order to get to the pre-ceremony preparations. I did NOT go to ART COLLEGE in order to get up early, but I was prepared to make an exception here at the very end.
I thus left the flat bright and early to get the high speed to St Pancras and then the Thameslink to Blackfriars, which meant I got off the train at Blackfriars Bridge with its AMAZING view of That London. This was followed by a lovely walk along the river to The Royal Festival Hall, arriving with 15 minutes to spare before the building actually opened. All the advice said "You MUST arrive super-early" and even though I knew that this was unlikely to be the case I wanted to be sure I got there in time, and by the looks of the small crowd MILLING ABOUT I was not alone.
Once they let us in it all went very smoothly - I got my ticket, proceeded to the GOWNING area, and got GOWNED UP. I knew that people being awarded a PhD get a SPECIAL HAT, but I was not quite prepared for the SPECIAL GOWNS too, nor indeed the colours i.e. BRIGHT PINK AND PURPLE. I looked around and saw that I was currently the ONLY person wearing such vivid colours, as everyone else was in BORING black gowns with PEDESTRIAN mortar boards. I don't mind telling you that I felt PRETTY FLIPPING SPECIAL at this point, and you can see why BELOW:
Even the HAT fitted properly, which is something that no hat in my LIFE has ever done before! I then proceeded towards the PHOTO STUDIO section to get my Official Photograph done - I know there is mixed opinion about the worth of doing these Official Photographs, but after six years of study I thought "SOD IT, I am going ALL IN" and so DID. It was all super efficient and I was all done and dusted within about ten minutes. I was Quite Impressed.
With that done I went to have a cup of coffee, and was soon joined by The Tassle On My Hat, who had not had much difficulty finding me, due to the aforesaid OUTFIT. Shortly after this we made our way to the auditorium, where I was surprised to find myself sitting right on the first row, right at the end nearest the door. "Hang on," I thought, "does this mean I'm going on first?" At this point a Nice Young Man who looked very much like TV's Gian Sammarco (i.e. who played Adrian Mole in the telly series and thus looked also very much like a young ME) came over and said "Are you ready to start the whole thing off?" It turned out that there were only TWO PhD students getting awards for this session, and as the other was my pal Dr T Yu-Kiener that meant that I was alphabetically in the lead. YIKES!
The ceremony began with everyone processioning in, including our esteemed Chancellor The Artist Grayson Perry in his ROBES (which I fear made mine look slightly LESS flashy) and various Professors, including mine and Tobias's supervisor Professor Roger Sabin, who gave us a big THUMBS UP as he went by. Next was the HONORARY FELLOWSHIP award which, to my GRATE delight, went to ACTUAL GLEN MATLOCK, who did a LOVELY speech, then we were rustled up and taken through a Secret Door to the backstage area. Something else was going on onstage while this happened (I later worked out it was conferring some Professorships) but I wasn't paying attention. I was too busy worrying about what to do as I marched across the stage - should I do something HILARIOUS? Or be very SERIOUS? In theory I was setting the tone for EVERYBODY who followed so the responsibility weighed heavy, but in the end I just stomped on and WAVED THE HECK out of the area. It seemed to go OK, but you can judge for yourself below!
After all that I skipped merrily along a corridor to collect my certificate and thus finally bring all proceedings to a halt. I was full of excitement and delight, so was just a little bit miffed to find out that they had FORGOTTEN my certificate! They'd forgotten Tobias's too - apparently PhD Certificates get printed somewhere else, and either hadn't been done or had been left behind. This was SOMEWHAT annoying, but not entirely out of the blue - in the nicest possible way, of all the many educational establishments I have worked and/or studied at, I would rank UAL at around #7 for Efficiency.
After a bit of a grumble we went back to our seats for the rest of the ceremony. The nice thing about going first was that it meant our bit was DONE, but it also meant that we had the whole rest of it to get through. We were both VETERANS of this sort of thing though, so we very much paced our Gentle Clapping and got through it without injury.
When it was all over we went to sort out the certificate issue with an EXTREMELY apologetic lady (she's going to get them posted to us) and then went in search of our other halfs. We found Mrs Tobias and then got an Instant Message from my own Steps On My Stairs saying she'd discovered FREE BUBBLY on the fifth floor, so we all made our way there where we had a LOVELY time. We grabbed Roger and there was much LARFS and FIZZ and it all felt rather wonderful. As the most colourful people there, a number of people came over and asked a) to have a photograph with us and b) what the robes were all about, and we were VERY happy to oblige!
Roger went off to have his Official Luncheon with Glen Matlock, the Yu-Kieners headed home, and we soaked in the atmosphere a bit more. The View Of My Vista had been particularly moved by it all, loving all the speeches (I must say they had been good - especially the Student Representatives) and the general feeling of everybody all being VERY proud of each other. "It's been one of the best days of my life," she said. I personally loved the fact that these were all Central St Martins students who had spent the past three years being SUPER DISRUPTORS but were now just the same as any bunch of students, hugging all the pals they'd spent the past three years with and then being taken out for a Slap Up Feed by parents.
I went to hand my gowns in and something WEIRD happened - I spotted Ian From Poly Poor. "Ian?" I said, and LO! it was him - the person who had been PRESIDENT of the Leicester Polytechnic Poor Theatre Company (aka the Drama Society) in my first year. He used to be a BBC News reporter a few years ago, and I would regularly point at him on telly and say "He was President Of Poly Poor two years before I was" and now here he was in real life. He was there for the graduation of one of his children, and though I suspect he did not have a clue who I was we shook hands and it was all very jolly, but also WEIRD. He'd been there right at the very start of my UNIVERSITY EDUCATION, and now here he was at the other end!
Gowns were handed in and then we wandered off, first in search of coffee, then LUNCH. We went to Mildred's Covent Garden, which was very nice indeed, and then I went and spent money in a) Milfoy's (WHISKY) and b) Gosh (COMICS) before we headed home, tired but very happy. It had been a lovely day!
posted 21/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Mixing Complete (Probably)
This week I reached an important milestone in the recording of my forthcoming solo album: I finished the mixing! I think!
I say "I think" because I'm now in the process of listening to it a few more times to make absolutely sure, but so far it is sounding PRETTY GOOD. This is a relief as, at various points, I have veered wildly between thinking it is ALL amazing or ALL bloody awful, and there has been a LOT of mixing, re-mixing, re-recording, and especially Learning About Different Plug-Ins along the way before reaching this point.
The biggest surprise at this juncture was working out the ORDER. Usually this takes FOREVER, with about 17,000,000 different permutations tried, but this time it was PEASY. Once I'd worked out what should go first and what should go last everything else filled itself in. I recorded 14 tracks and had originally considered leaving a couple off, but when I did the aforesaid order it all seemed to work SO easily with THE LOT that that's how I left it.
There's still a LONG way to go before it's ready for release (which I'm currently thinking will be in October), including getting it onto the streaming services, sorting out the publicity, doing some videos, and WHO KNOWS maybe even doing some ACTUAL GIGS. I'm going to be unveiling the Exciting Title in the newsletter , which will be out at the end of next week, and then after that there will hopefully be a swelling tide of NEWS FACTS. All I need to do now is try and remember how this all works. Do I still send a tape to the Melody Maker, for instance, or have they gone all modern and switched to DAT?
All this and more to be sorted out over the next few weeks, but for now: watch out, THE MAN, there is ROCK on the way!
posted 20/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Records And Books
On Saturday I headed into London town for some CULTURE. It began with a trip to Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross for the Independent Label market. Over the past few years I've read about this happening and wanted to go but never actually got round to it, so was Quite Excited about finally making it this time. I arrived to find everything in full swing, with lots of people (mostly people who looked a LOT like ME, to be honest) mooching around various stalls, some of which featured BEER. I got myself a DELICIOUS pint of QED Session Pale from London Beer Lab (it was ACE) and then set off for a stroll round.
I had come prepared to splash CA$H on lots of fun records, but soon discovered a tiny flaw in this plan: I had no idea who any of the bands WERE, except for a tiny number whose records I already had. It is a FINE old state of affairs - what are these bands THINKING of, when they are unknown to a hep young rocker like what I am? I mean, I listen to Greatest Hits Radio every week and I'm sure I've been to almost several gigs in the past three years, so surely they should be getting through to a core market like me?
I did spot a copy of the new Prolapse single out in the wild though, and also found Mr J Jervis on a stall for a quick chat, so all was not lost. And, as I said, the beer was BRILLIANT.
It was a GORGEOUS sunny day so I set off on foot for my next port of call, in ISLINGTON. I stomped off along the canal and arrived quite quickly at the ANGEL end of Islington, but then was reminded that it is a HUGE place and a massive stomp to the HIGHBURY end where I was going. Also, it is WEIRD because Islington makes almost no sense whatsoever, and somehow obliterates my sense of direction so that I always arrive from completely the opposite direction to the one I thought I was coming from.
Still, I got to The Hen & Chickens in good time and got myself a PINT... which was entirely the opposite of my ealier pint i.e. DISGUSTING. It was so awful that I had to be Very Brave Indeed and take it back, and got a much nicer pint of lager instead. PHEW!
With that drama complete it was soon time for the ACTUAL drama, which was Book Talk Book Talk Book feat. Ben Moor and Joanna Neary. It was the last show I needed to complete my Ben Moor Collection, and it was worth waiting for as it was BRILLO. It was very much in the same MODE as Ben's solo shows i.e. with nested stories referring to each other, lots of GOOD WORDS, and multiple sub-plots and recurring themes. Also it was v.funny and both ACTORS were GRATE, to the extent that everybody stuck around for a bit too long at the end, unsure if it had really finished or not. I think it had, but I might need to go again to check.
With that I set off home, only to find that my train back to Stratford had been cancelled "due to weather", according to the sign in the station. It was a small hitch in what had otherwise been a DELIGHTFUL day of CULTURE!
posted 19/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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In The Meerkat Family Stand
Last week a Major Life Event occurred for me. After years of dreaming, hoping, and thinking it would wonderful if it could ever happen, one magical day, finally it has: for LO! my Peterborough United Season Ticket has arrived in the post!
It is a lifelong ambition that has, to be honest, come slightly sooner than expected. For many years I have promised myself that, come the day that I lay down my TOURING TROUSERS, I would replace Going To Different Towns And Shouting In A Pub For Thirty Minutes with Going To Different Pubs In The Same Town And Shouting In A Football Stadium, but I always thought this would be somewhere in the distant future when I had RETIRED. However, over the past couple of years what was once a MIGHTY TORRENT of GIGS has reduced itself to a BABBLING BROOK, and I felt that the time was right to finally take the plunge.
This decision has been helped along hugely by the agreement of Mr P Myland that he would move HIS season ticket so we could sit together - for the past few years, whenever I've gone to The Football, he has GALLANTLY made the trip into Peterborough City Centre midweek to sort out our tickets so we could sit together, so this will at least save him the trouble of that. I am hugely appreciative of it as a THING though, it is not something what one does lightly, and we did spend quite a while last season LOOKING at where to sit in The Family Stand for best a) view b) access to the loo c) distance from possible loonies.
My excitement was only DOUBLED however when I received my ticket and saw that the aforesaid Family Stand has been RENAMED, and is henceforth to be known as "The Meerkat Family Stand". I assume this is some DEAL that has been done with Compare The Market and am fervently PRAYING that it's going to involve a new MASCOT. We hardly have ANY mascots at the moment - just Mr Posh, his daughter Miss Posh, Peter Burrows (a rabbit), Mick George (a builder) and PB (another builder). A few years ago we also had The Giant Letter 'A' (a giant letter 'A') and Mattressman (a mattress) so it's all felt a bit deserted lately. Last time I went there was A PARADE OF DINOSAURS (NB actual ones, not the Directors) so I have high hopes that we are entering a new era when the stadium will be FULL of Delightful Characters. And also Barry Fry.
It all kicks off for me in a few weeks with our first home game, against MORECAMBE. If I tell you that the prospect of seeing us play MORECAMBE is filling me with excitement, you can perhaps understand how excited I am about it in general - this is going to be GRATE!
posted 11/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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RIP Andy Wright
People in ROCK of my a) inclination b) vintage have been stunned this week to hear the awful news that Andy Wright has passed away. Andy used to run The Princess Charlotte in Leicester during the 90s and 2000s, and as well as running the actual pub bit he was also responsible for booking the bands... and CRIKEY what bands they were.
People often go on about all the really famous bands that used to play at the Charlotte, and it is extremely true that he booked pretty much ALL of the bands who would go on to become big in Britpop and beyond. The Charlotte became a staple of the so-called Indie Toilet Circuit (and, let's be honest, along with The Hull Adelphi it was one of the main reasons it was given that name!) and EVERYBODY came and played there, which was AMAZING if you happened to live in Leicester at the time. We used to spend many many happy evenings sitting in the front bar pretending not to notice when people who either WERE incredibly famous or would very soon go ON to be so wandered through looking for the way to the stage.
More than that though, he gave a stage to the huge number of local bands who grew up around it, and there was a MASSIVE local scene that would shuttle between the Charlotte and the Mag most nights, before going on to The Mud Club just between or, if feeling adventurous, the Fan Club/Sector 5 a few streets away. Gigs happened every night, and whoever he was booking Andy would always put local bands on as support. He also used to do Bank Holidy all-dayers when he'd get LOADS of local bands to come and play, and we'd all spend the day getting utterly plastered, fed on his trademark Veggie Chilli, dispensed from a big bowl on the bar.
It remains one of the places I personally have played the most, and was the site of MANY incidents which have since become Favoured Anecdotes, including Zodiac Mindwarp And The Fire Escape, The Voon Reunion Gig, Tim Stopping A Fight At Razzle Club, Nigel Blackwell Doing An Encore Despite Phil The Soundman Switching The PA Off, The Band Posh Not Enjoying Remarks About Barry Fry, Voonlapse, and The Reason We Didn't Get Paid For A Half Man Half Biscuit Gig.
I would like to close by performing this last anecdote for you, as an example of the ACTUALLY LEGENDARY way that Andy dealt with local bands i.e. helpful, encouraging, but not in a way that besmirched the purity of the relationship by actually paying you if he could help it. Way back at the turn of the century, when The Validators were just starting out, I BEGGED him for AGES to let us support HMHB and he eventually agreed, promising us an actual FEE if enough people came in. The gig was RAMMED so, at the end of the evening, I approached him expecting a hearty congratulation and a wodge of CA$H.
"I can't give you anything," he said. "There weren't enough people in."
"But the room was packed!" I, not unreasonably, replied.
"Yes, but they were all very fat."
All I could do was salute his cheek and retire defeated. He was an excellent human who did a huge amount for the bands of Leicester, and he will be very very much missed - RIP Andy!
posted 7/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Pop At The Lock
After getting home late on Friday night I had to do a super swift turnaround and get the train from Euston to Crewe, in preparation for me and The Validators playing at Pop At The Lock in Middlewich. I was met at the station by The Pattisons, and we ZOOMED off to the Premier Inn where we checked in, met up with Tom, and headed off to ROCK. We were only at 80% capacity as Frankie is Not Very Well at the moment, and he was MUCH missed throughout the day.
We got to the pub and instantly bumped into several THOUSAND (approx) old chums of the INDIETRACKS persuasion, for LO! it was very much like a mini-version of that. There were PALS, there were BANDS, and instead of trains there was a CANAL. It was a lovely atmosphere that continued all day!
We played at 6pm, and did THIS:
The first half was a bit shakey, but we settled in and I think the second half was PRETTY GOOD. My very most favourite bit was doing It Only Works Because You're here, which sounded FAB - well, it did to me anyway, you can judge for yourself BELOW:
20 Things To Do Before You're 30
Can We Be Friends?
Have A Drink With Us (Drink Doch Eine Met)
My Grandad Is Nuts
Hey Hey 16K
Billy Jones Is Dead
It Only Works Because You're here
We Did It Anyway
Afterwards we agreed that it would have been MUCH easier with Frankie around to GLUE us together, but otherwise we didn't do too badly. There was some CHAT, and it turned out that quite a few people there had a) never seen us before b) liked what they saw! I am always surprised when people see us live for the first time and LIKE us, possibly because my BRANE is still stuck in Gigs Of The Early 2000s when sound systems were AWFUL and we'd just sound like a right old racket. The sound on Saturday was BRILLIANT, which I feel allowed the delicate NUANCES of our outporings get across properly hem hem.
We stuck around for the whole day, having some chips, drinking QUITE A LOT of beer, and watching bands - I must admit I WELLED UP a bit when The Just Joans did "What Do We Do Now?" - and it was a remarkably JOLLY 60% of The Validators who staggered to the car with a Significantly More Sober Tiger to go home. We had had a LOVELY time, and like pretty much everyone else who went we really really hope the organisers do it again!
posted 6/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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Dun Laoghaire And How To Pronounce It
Last week I had my first trip out of the country for approx 100 years, as I went to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland for this year's International Graphic Novels And Comics Conference. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: it was dead good!
I flew to Dublin Airport from London City, which was DELIGHTFUL, then got the BUS into Dublin Actual, with a bus driver who was firstly ARSEY and then REALLY ARSEY when I asked to get off at an earlier stop. He did not like it AT ALL and refused to help me get my bag, then got ARSEY-IST at my lack of professional experience unloading suitcases. I would have felt bad about the whole bag business if he hadn't been such an ARSEY TWIT to begin with!
I then went to get a DART to Dun Laoghaire and it is a Good Thing that they have ticket machines as I would have spent ages trying to get a ticket to "Dun Low-g-Hair" when it is actually pronounced "Dun Leary". I've been saying "Dun Low-g-Hair" for MONTHS without a clue where it was - I did wonder why people in other countries do INSIST on such spellings ... then remembered i spent about 14 years living in Leicester.
The DART was the least DART-like transport ever, but was quite nice as it reminded me of one of the rattly old trains at Indietracks. Some 12 year old YOUTHS glared at me from the platform at one point, but from then on everyone I met was LOVELY. I got to Dun Laoghaire, checked into my hotel, and started as I meant to carry on by going straight to the PUB.
It was WEIRD to see everyone, as it's been three years since we last had an in-person comics conference, but it soon got into the usual GROOVE. For the two main evenings of the conference proper everyone went to a very nice pub called The Lighthouse which had a wide range of beer and also Vegan burgers, which meant that's where I had my tea! There were new people and old people, but it all smushed into the usual EXTREMELY good-natured camaraderie that these events have. Comics Studies really IS an extremely friendly field!
The conference itself was really good too. There was much discussion of the high quality of the TALKS as a reflection of how Comics Studies is growing and becoming A THING e.g. there were NO talks where people from other fields turn up and say "Have you ever read Watchmen? Let me tell you what happens" or similar, as there have occasionally been in the past. ALSO all the talks were highly relevant to the theme of ETHICS, and there were lots of SUPER INTERESTING THORTS to be had.
I did my presentation on the last day, which went pretty well, and I was then a bit sad to have to ZOOM OFF to get home. I chose NOT to go back the same way as I'd come, instead getting a coach direct to the airport, which worked out really well. Everyone had been worried about flights home because the news was full of plans to get the ARMY in to sort out "CHAOS" at the airport, but actually it was all DELIGHTFUL. I learnt a LOT, not least how to pronounce "Dun Laoghaire"!
posted 5/7/2022 by MJ Hibbett
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An Artists Against Success Presentation