Ideas 

Ideas for first band blog of the year:

  • Which is more embarrassing: busking or a gofundme campaign?
  • Why won’t Dennis Rodman reply to my letters? (a rant in three sections).
  • Best touring cities for bands who like crackers before a gig.
  • Why it’s not a good idea to write all of your songs about Liam Neeson.
  • All of the venues I have probably left gear at.
  • Top five headphone brands worn by babies at parents’ gigs.
  • Should we play at the small claims court?
  • What is the longest rock song you can create without becoming wankrock?
  • Will the crows steal my soul if I sleep in Yoyogi Park?
  • Should you play louder or quieter at a retirement home?
  • Ideas for first band blog of the year.

Okay, sorted. Incidentally, the answers are:

  • Busking.
  • He’s getting to them, but there are so many and he has international relations to deal with right now.
  • It depends what kind, but Oslo, Krakow, and Kyoto (if we’re including senbe).
  • Writing one song about him is a little odd, but more than three and I think he can have a restraining order put on us.
  • All of the venues I have played at.
  • I was just being silly, but apparently there is a list of the best ones you can buy: Baby Banz Baby-Boys Newborn Hearing Protection Earmuff; 3M Peltor Junior Earmuff Baby Headphones; Snug Safe n Sound Kids & Baby Earmuffs; Pro Ears ReVo Passive Baby Ear Protectors; and BEBE Muff Hearing Baby Ear Protection. Somebody has blogged about this already, so that strikes that off the list.
  • Yes. That would be great.
  • 7 minutes. But it’s okay to be wankrock.
  • Yes.
  • Louder.
  • See above.

The nice thing about this is that, looking at the tags for this blog, I am going to get some confused people turning up here.

 

 

Ouch 

Injuries. I am clumsy, so have had my share. Here are some musically related injuries, listed in an irrelevant numerical order:

    1. I was playing a festival in New Zealand. I became caught up in the moment and didn’t realise until afterwards that the drums were covered in blood. Then I felt the stinging on my right hand. I guess I had cut it on cymbal. Sorry whoever owned those drums.
    2. More than once: I’m in the middle of a heavier-than-normal-for-my-genre song and I miss the snare, smacking myself directly in the testicles with a drumstick. I always finish the song, albeit in pain. What a hero.
    3. This one wasn’t caused by playing but is certainly worth a mention: when I first joined the band, we were told we couldn’t gig for a while because a certain guitarist had injured himself. He had been making salsa, and had chopped the end of his finger off. He did write DADGAD because of it though.
    4. I had bought a cheap hi-hat clamp, and it would not fit on most stands. I tried to force it on. It would not go down. I tried to force it off. I hit my face with the hi-hat. Bloody chin.
    5. When I was young/an idiot, I used to finish gigs by kicking my kit over. I wanted to look rock-n-roll, but really I was just tired and didn’t want to play an encore. I sometimes landed on them and bruised myself.

So it seems I have not injured myself too badly yet and the list may be a slight let down if you were looking for proper schadenfreude. I knew a drummer back in NZ who was told by the doctor that he wasn’t allowed to play anymore because he had arthritis. It’s not very dramatic, but significantly worse than all of the above.

Oh, by the way, I’m off to Japan/New Zealand next week, so we won’t be playing again until next year. We have a new bass player though! Welcome to the band, Takako!


Don’t be a Square, be a Driver. 

Venues in large cities usually have a house kit. Transporting gear hasn’t been a problem for the last 12 years, but back when I was living in New Zealand I was often scoffed at for not having a car.

“You’re not a proper drummer if you can’t transport your kit,” would be the usual response. I am not a proper drummer.

Nobody in the band drives. Now that’s all fine and dandy in London, but we have talked about venturing outside of the M25 with our music. It’s not easy to train it with amps.

I took the plunge: I decided to take my driving test. Those of you who read Road Rules Monthly will know that the driving test is changing in December. The road gods are adding Sat Nav driving and parking on the right (illegal in New Zealand!). Everybody is rushing to take the test before the change, and it meant the only driving test available in all of south-east England before the end of the year was in Weston-super-Mare. I had never heard of Weston-super-Mare. Weston-super-Mare is a strange name. Weston-super-Mare. I said it again.

I failed. Something something manoeuvre took too long. No touring for now. It’s okay though, I was in Weston-super-Mare, so I could console myself by taking in the sites. Hahaha, yeah nah, I spent the rest of the day in Bristol. Here are some pictures of a bridge:IMG_6886IMG_6890IMG_6888


Old Men 

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against old men.
Actually, baby boomers do have a lot to answer for as a species, and there’s the whole men-are-mostly-creepy-and-shouldn’t-be-let-out thing. And if you think about most people you reeeeeally despise, I’m going to guess they’re mostly Old Men. And Sandra. But Old Men do make up 80% of our listener base, so I’d better not burn too many bridges in the first paragraph.

As I mentioned blogs ago, we’re after a new member. As I hadn’t mentioned yet, the new member needs to play bass. Pete wrote an advertisement on the back of a past lover’s used tissue (the kind that wipes tears, not noses), kissed it, and let it fly away with the wind in search of bassists. A few of their kind used the modern day version of the postal service to say they would like to wow us with their bom bom bom. They were all Old Men. I think the term ‘Americana’ is catnip to males over 57.

Pete re- mixed and mastered the ad, this time with an ageist twist (probably with words like, “woke”), and released it to the masses. Ageism worked! We met with two potential bass players last night to have a youthful chat over a youthful pint or two, and talked about young people’s music. And neither of them were old men.


Dad 

It’s been one year since my father died of Leukemia. He taught me the drums. His love of music sparked mine.

He was my audience. Everything I have written or recorded, I have done with him in mind. He was the one who truly cared about my artistic endeavours, and would share my tales with his friends (embellishing a little, of course). When he left, I realised I had lost the person that was always excited to hear my work.

My daughter never met you, dad. But I will tell her stories, embellishing a little, of course, and make a legend out of you.


Band Tinder 

We are currently in the process of finding another musician for the band. The first, and I think best, way of finding a new player for a group is the same way I prefer to find an employee or a new actor for a show: ask around your network. I would much rather meet and jam with someone recommended by a friend or colleague of the band than a stranger from Gumtree. But sometimes you have no option than to go with the sticky plant.

So what mistakes are we seeing in the ads we receive? Let me list them like a good blogger would do:

  1. You don’t read what we’ve written or even listen to our music! How do you know it’s not going to be a waste of time for you or us?
  2. You live in Richmond. I have nothing against people from Richmond (okay, I do), but we rehearse in Dalston. Am I being a hypocrite considering I live in W14? Maybe. Richmond is even further though.
  3. You are 17. We don’t want to be your first band.
  4. You are a terrible musician. You put up videos of yourself playing on the internet, and those are your best takes?
  5. You are a terrible person. Yes, you have perfect pitch and have connections with several labels, but I don’t want to have a pint with you. So no thanks.
  6. You are a session musician. You won’t care about our music and we can’t afford to pay you. I think you just write to everybody. Why not join an agency?

It’s not easy to find a band to play with, or to find a musician to match your band, but at least think about whether it will work for both parties before getting in touch. We’re meeting up with someone next week, so maybe it will be love at first pint.


The Moon 

I looked up and saw the moon. It was larger than normal. Another moon appeared to the left. It was green with writing on it. The larger moon spun a little, and the patterns shifted about.

Is a dream I had last night. Fun fact: The second part of my last name means “Young Moon”. I just realised that I haven’t had a dream with my daughter in it yet.

By the way, we have a gig on Thursday at Paper Dress. I want you to come.


Grizzly Bear/Liima 

I went to see the Grizzly Bear show at the O2 Academy last night (9th of October, 2017). It’s unusual for me to get the early twenties “I’m going to see a b-b-band” feeling, but I was looking forward to this one. Grizzly Bear put on a solid rock show, and Liima are great. It’s not often that the opening act is just as exciting as the main act.

Liima is a side project of three of the guys from Efterklang and a Finnish drummer, so you know it’s going to be fun. Everytime I see anything that those guys come up with  (last time was Efterklang’s opera, Leaves, at the Barbican), it is nothing like I have seen them play before; it looks like a brand new, exciting band. Tatu Ronkko switched out his quirky percussion he played during the last tour for rock drums with trigger pads, which was a good call in a venue full of Grizzly Bear fans. Casper Clausen flipped between three microphones during songs, adding a beautiful cacophony to his already strong frontmannery. I do love Efterklang ….I mean Liima. Both.

Grizzly Bear was, well, weird. If you’ve seen them play before, you’ll know that the four (main) members line up along the front, showing that there is no “front man” – every member is equal. Last night they did line up, but it was way up the back of the stage. Why do that? I initially thought there would be a travelator on stage that slowly pulled them forward towards the audience. But no. They stayed up the back for the entire set. It was alienating. They were slick and professional, and played perfectly well, but that was on my mind throughout the show.

Also, the last time I saw Grizzly Bear (at the Liquidroom in 2013), the sound was crystal clear and every virtuoso note and hit was heard. Not so with the O2. I’m not a fan of the acoustics in there at the best of times, but the sound for Grizzly Bear last night was muddy and the mix was odd. It was alright for songs from Yellow House (which is my preferred album anyway) because those tracks are floaty and can use the room’s reverb, but the later albums need clarity.

I found myself celebrating anytime they played tracks from Yellow House or Veckatimest, and switching off when they played tracks from Painted Ruins. How cliche of me to think, “I like their old stuff better.” But it’s true, I really do.


Day Jobs 

A friend of mine, Kate Sikora, is singer-songwriter from Tokyo/New Jersey. She’s, what I would consider, a professional musician. She has several albums out under a few labels, plays shows to adoring fans, and has that rock star swagger.

The problem: those things don’t bring home the vegan bacon. Rehearsing, recording, and putting on shows costs, and more often than not, more than whatever one would make on ticket sales and merchandise. As a musician in Tokyo, you’re often not even given free drinks at shows (*GASP*). Somebody buy Kate a drink. She sings on ads, writes jingles, and teaches some people to make ends meet. Which doesn’t sound so bad, actually.

Another friend of mine, Ayumu Haitani, has pretty much given up music altogether. This was a guy that took an eight piece band, 4 Bonjour’s Parties, on a hugely successful tour of East Coast Australia. His music is loved by many, but he decided to pursue his other passions to have a somewhat decent standard of living; running his cafe, MuuMuu Coffee, and playing kendama… Think about that: kendama makes more money than music in Tokyo.

Living in a gosh-darn-it-Tokyo or well-how-about-that-London isn’t cheap, even for your regular cup-of-Joe, so one has to make money in other ways to keep making music. But of course when you decide to compliment the art with the income, they can somewhat get in the way of each other. What happens if you’re asked to do a three week tour playing at libraries in Germany? I certainly have a day job, as do the other members of Blind Atlas, but I wonder what it would take for all of us to quit them. At what point were the artists I revere able to give up their day jobs? Are some successful musicians still doing them? Are some countries better than others for paid music work?

 


Single Launch Party 

I’m going to do a bit of shameless plugging here, but it’s my blog, so I can do whatever I want. I can’t do whatever I want in the real world, …well I could, but I would get in trouble with the police and my mum.

We have a single launch party coming up to release a couple of new singles, Space Americans and Titch. If you’re a reader from Not-London, a very far away place indeed, you can either jump on space-bus, or imagine the gig in your head. Just look at this appropriate poster that Pete made: Space Americans poster - A4-V6 - songkick.jpg

If you are in London, why don’t book a ticket? It would make us feel nice and you would be sure in the knowledge that you were able to look at a stage with us on it, playing some new and old tunes. And did you notice the +National Service and +Alfred Abel? They’re our plus 1s. My blog, my maths.

The show is at Paper Dress Vintage. Sounds Hackney? Is Hackney!

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