Tuesday, 28 January 2014


We're on our way to a band practice and we're lost. Instead of slipping west into the forest of dean, we're doing a horseshoe and approaching from the north. The man in the village petrol station confirmed this, "Not far now boys, but watch out for the wild boars, they're a bloody nuisance around here, digging up our gardens!" 

The forest is beautiful though, even in the midst of winter with the weak sun on the spindly trees. The drummer has just moved out here to a log cabin, which is good and bad; good that we've got a decent rehearsal room in a creative setting, but ironic that when we finally get the piano player up to bristol, the drummer's upped sticks to the forest!

We set up and begin playing through the set in earnest, introducing three new songs and making good progress, spurred on by the idyllic countryside around us. We stop for a bite to eat mid-way, the drummer dishes out bowls of pasta and pesto but when we start up again we've gone all stodgy like the conchiglie, like we've all been spiked, the room is full of tired eyes and the songs have slowed to lento and adagio, especially the new waltz, it's fallen flat on the floor!

We take a break and sip tea, talking about the drummer's new pad, 40 minutes out of town (or an hour and forty if you horseshoe it like us!) We ask him how it'll effect his work, but he works mostly from home. The conversation rolls on; we discus the perils of work and music; how hard it is to juggle them. How all you really want to do is play music but Man's got to eat and being a ramshackle musician doesn't put conchiglie on the table!

I wonder; you readers probably don't know what we do in real life, when not free wheelin' around the country in a renault 4 and stomping around the stages! We're all rather normal i suppose. 

--- ---

I'm self-employed, and to my knowledge the only one of us who is? An actor by trade and training, but an odd-jobbing everything from painting to posing! Labouring, gardening and topless waiting, anything as long I'm in control of the hours! 

The good old days.
Brave new world.
The Drummer, i really want to say he puts up old wooden windmills and makes flour! But i think the picture on the right may tell a truer tale!


The guitar player, during our 14 year musical relationship, has worked a succession of jobs; for many years he sold office furniture in London and now he's selling insurance for Direct Line, but he's spent years landscape gardening for Clifton's elite or pulling pints for Cornish farmers, or cooking food for the gentry of Nottingham! 

The bass player works for a production company in London, he works in post production. I saw his name on the credits of some TV programme the other day which made me smile! He's a sound engineer, or audio editor which is something we really should utilise! The guitar player did utilise this however and recorded his solo EP there; out of hours, in a plush studio. Very fancy. And very vibrant too. Right in the centre of London, the very heart of soho. Just got to be careful of the alley cats at night! 

And that leaves the piano player, who for years was permanently unemployed, a young hermit living in his subtropical wilderness at the end of the world. He rallied shortly before his move to Bristol and got a job in a deli where he started front of house but was quickly moved onto dish-pig duties after too many misunderstandings. Once in Bristol he landed a job as a paintball seller; a charity mugger on high commission trying to sell as many paintball sessions as possible to meet the targets. "If i get 10 this week I get full commission!"
he'd enthuse. And he did meet the targets, and made a decent wage, and he learnt all the tricks and perks of the job; like being able to swap paintball sessions for 60 packets of bacon or a Chicken Jalfrazzi from the Indian restaurant at the bottom of his road! "The other day I was in Taunton and I was starving so I swapped a paintball session for a cup of soup and hunk of bread!" His ability to sell has taken us all by surprise, and in the most bizarre circumstances too, after having his bike wheel stolen, a passer by helped him to the nearest bike shop, and by the time they reached it he'd signed up for a double paintball session! Or the barman who sold him an ale and then signed up to a session before he'd given over the change! 

We're obviously all musicians. And perhaps it's still considered a hobby, though it's a job too! It's a time consuming, multi-faceted job that involves driving 100's of miles, reading maps, lugging heavy equipment all over the place, being polite and proper to bookers while retaining a certain mischievous outlaw attitude to the punters. It involves writing music and remembering to buy spare guitar strings and playing your heart out to a half empty pub or a field full of hippies. It involves maths, parking tickets, costume changes, poncy posing, signing CD's and getting tangled up in leads and wires! It can eat up your weekend and leave you giddy, and it rarely pays! But we all love it. For the music we make and those moments on stage and seeing the people enjoying us; our hobby, our job!

--- ---

We start up with the rehearsal again and finally the haze lifts and we make progress. We pick the waltz up from the floor, dust it down and buzz through it again, smiling at this new rhythm, 3/3 aren't we clever! We pack up and thank the drummer, bundling into the car and feeling confident we'll take the 40 minute route home. "Cross the bridge and turn left, it's straight down to the seven bridge!" he shouts as we pull away. We cross the bridge and turn right, which is of course the wrong way but we've forgotten by then. We follow the river for miles despite it going against us. "We're going upstream!" says the guitar player. "We're not, it's the clouds man! It plays tricks on you. It says Monmouth ahead, that's by the sea, surely!" We continue with the river shrinking and the road rising into the hills and finally admit defeat in the town of Monmouth, which is in the hills and nowhere near the sea! We arrive home; an hour and 40 again!

We swing by The Golden Lion and drop in some posters for the coming gig on February 1st. We bundle back in the car and notice that the piano player is missing!? Moments later he returns. "I just sold a paintball session to the barmaid!" he chuckles. 

poster by Mae Voogd


Friday, 17 January 2014

The Missing Link!

We need a manager. Or a PA. Or personal organiser. Someone who's in charge of the diary and bookings and planning and organising. All those fiddly bits. Someone who knows all five of our personal diaries inside out and thus can plan the band's activities accordingly. At the moment that someone is me. And after only 3 weeks, this year is already a logistical nightmare. All the festival negotiations have started and I just can't keep up; it's mayhem! Port Eliot Literary Festival is confirmed. That I do know. I must put that in the diary. But where's the diary? Ah, this scrap of paper will do! Scribble Scribble scribble...

Brrrrrring Brrrrrring! 

'Yes, hello Warwick Folk Festival! How lovely to hear from you! Yes of course we're free, I'm looking in the diary now and it's empty in July! Yes, we'd love to play!' So that's Warwick confirmed now too. Brilliant. I'll just write that down; Friday the 25th at 8pm, The Moon Stage. 

"Hi guys, just to let you know we've got Warwick on July 25th now!"
"Can't do it." says the drummer.
"What, why?"
"Cause we're playing at Port Eliot that day you numpty!"
"Ah, balls! I forgot!"

But the diary was empty!? - Well of course the diary was empty, you wrote it on a scrap of paper!

And then I'm cancelling Warwick and accepting Clovelly, but that's the same weekend as Latitude, but they haven't confirmed yet, and the drummer's away in America that week, and the guitar player starts his job with direct line that day. And then there's Beautiful Days Festival and they want another promo pack asap cause they lost the last one. And then so and so wants us to play at their wedding in the arse end of nowhere and then that Arts Centre chap keeps asking me about dates in April, and the Silk and Skin Festival (god knows what that is!) they want us that weekend? Or was it that weekend? Where's the diary! My head's spinning. I'm searching the bin for scraps of paper with important information on while trying to design a promo pack and book a rehearsal room and eat my lunch! Then I realise I haven't got any money and I need to work too! 

But it is exciting; already this year is shaping up nicely, we're realising our film, How NOT to be in a band; a documentary about our three wknd tour last september, made by our friend the filmmaker Paul Mackeson, who followed us up to Derbyshire and back. We've hired a lovely independent cinema in Bristol and after only a week of double booking ourselves, finally settled on a date; Friday March 14th. We're shooting another music video soon. We've even started writing new material for the first time in a long time! And we've got some cash in the kitty for the first time in forever! CD sales are up. The mandolin's got a new pickup and we fixed the bass amp. The piano player's given up with his side project and we're all getting on! And, after the summer's festivities have died down, we are planning our first foray into Europe; a tour of France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. World domination beckons... again!

We're in a good place. We're all focused and happy. Opportunities are arising. I've a feeling this will be a very good year. We just need a Personal Organiser. Someone who knows the drummer's unavailability and when the bass player is walking in the Lake District. Someone who knows the guitar player's knee appointment and that the piano player has lost his bank card for the 5th time in a year and is now being charged by the bank for a new one! 

The missing link. The knowledge. The diary. With a pencil and an ink. Who knows the yes's, the no's and the maybe's. Who understands budget and travel and route. Who says please and thank you and kind regards. And doesn't write important information on cereal boxes. 

Someone like... Mother!

Brrrrrring Brrrrrring!

"Hi darling, what's up?"
"Can you be our manager?"