I had my first gig of the year a couple of weeks ago - a birthday party in a Masonic Lodge in Kent. Not my usual venue of choice for playing rock music, it has to be said, and my globophobia (fear of balloons, yes, I know, weird) reared its ugly head when I discovered the room we were playing in was filled with about 50 of the little bastards. Faced with the choice of a) freaking out in front of the client, having him think I was a complete psycho and messing up the gig and his birthday party or b) just ignoring them and getting on with it I chose the latter. Breakthrough - I can now be in the same room as a balloon without feeling shivery, but am still wary of them coming anywhere near me let alone touching me. Any children I end up having will now have a much improved life, being allowed balloons at their birthday parties. Probably.
Gig number two was a little different - not only were there no arguments with shouty Masons in the car park this time (quote: Masonic Man - "I pay £600 a year for this car parking space"; Me - "Why?") but I did get to see Jake Shears and Neil Tennant rehearsing vocal harmonies at the end of the Scissor Sisters' soundcheck for the Body & Soul charity night at Koko. Ben Elton walked by and said hello, then after we played later he came over and started chatting to me about how his wife's a bass player too. He had a very nice sparkly pinstripe suit on and was a wonderful chap in general.
The best part of the evening had to be at soundcheck. I had just loaded my gear on to the stage and was sorting out my leads ready to tune my bass, which was on its stand right next to me. A man walked along the front of the stage, stopped and asked "Excuse me dear, are you in the band?" I looked down at the leads I was holding in my hands, over to my bass and back to the man's steady gaze. "Um, yeah", I said, more confused than annoyed. Obviously my witty comeback should have been "No, I'm just here for the pre-gig blowjobs" but these pearls of comedy only ever come to mind later.
After quite a long period of listening to the same few albums over and over again on my iPod I've been branching out. A friend recommended Scott Matthews' album "Passing Stranger" and as always with these things I've missed both his recent London dates by a matter of weeks. A Wolverhampton boy, it would be easy to hail him as the new Jeff Buckley (and what a compliment), with a hint of Chris Cornell in his vocal style too, but he definitely has a sound of his own with some really interesting guitar parts, Indian influences and vocal layering, plus some great melodies. There are audio and video samples on his website. Come back to London soon, Scott!
I’ve been trying my best to like Enter Shikari recently. If you haven't heard, they’re Hertfordshire’s answer to the Arctic Monkeys in terms of being the hot new self-made musical success story, but I just can’t get in to the music. I'm a big fan of their DIY ethic and you have to respect the fact that they played loads of gigs and actually managed to build up a following that way – it’s very very hard. There’s evidently something about them that a lot of people really love and it’s great to see bands taking – and keeping - control over how they operate. Another success story for My Space too - Enter Shikari currently have 83,254 ‘friends’ [this went up to 83,742 in the two hours between writing this post and putting it online].
Enter Shikari play Hammersmith Palais on March 7th then embark on a big European tour!
I became the envy of emo kids everywhere on Wednesday when I collected my second Blue Peter badge for performing on the show. Someone jokingly said to me that I should put one on eBay so, not intending to but curious, I had a little look. It seems that Blue Peter badges are up there with the kitschness of Brownie Guide t-shirts (as sported by Damon Albarn on TOTP a few years back, as I recall) and the words "emo, vintage" are regularly added to the for sale headings. Who would have thought it?
This Week's Five
1. Sweet Scented Figure - Scott Matthews
2. Under The Gun - Kristin Hersh
3. The Dress - Blonde Redhead
4. Diarama - Djevara
5. Mono - Courtney Love