Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Horned Gods

Mood: Violated
Music: Dead Meadow - The Shivering King and Others

Christmas could have been much worse. Family, friends, sleep, nice.

Now I'm home and i'm researching English Pagan folklore for a long term comic book project.
Hopefully it won't be abandoned to die slowly in a creative cul-de-sac, like other past follies.

Ennis' Fury is fantastic. A more complex character than Frank Castle (Punisher). He strangles someone to death with their own entrails. Need I say more.

I'm going to see The Incredibles tonight.

Happy New Year. Unless you're an asshole, in which case I hope the New Year teaches you some stern and valuable lessons, young man/lady.

Friday, December 17, 2004

who knows where the time goes?

15 days in artificial light underground in the Toybox Studios bunker with Ali the Engineer and Dave the Drummer. Recordings have been going wonderfully, but we ran out of mixing time and have booked more time after the Chrismassacre break.

Ali's band The Termites can be found here:

I just played a one-off solo show in Oslo. It was dark when i got there at 2pm, and dark when I left at 8 am.

Recent reading: (reviews posted on Amazon.co.uk)

Captain Britain - Alan Moore and Alan Davis

- Captain Britain, a lazily conceived Marvel UK character of tokenistically English origins is transformed into a flawed, sympathetic human being and plunged into extremely unusual situations by the nascent talents of Moore and Davis. The influential storyline contains the seeds of Moore's mature work, but nonetheles towers above the output of most contemporary comic writers. Thrilling, moving and funny. Twenty years ago Moore was twenty years ahead. In a perfect world all comics would be written by Alan Moore.

Alan Moore's Writing for Comics - Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows (Illustrator)
Solid reading for anyone thinking about writing a comic script, but the real gem here is Moore's recently penned afterword, which is typically self-deprecating, subversive and inspiring.

Batman vs Spawn - Frank Miller and Todd McFarlane

Lame scripting, tired plotline. Sworn enemies forced into reluctant buddy-buddy collaboration to defeat common foe.I have a hard time accepting that Batman would call Spawn a 'twit'. Maybe he confused the letter 'i' with the letter 'a' but that's academic. A slim enough volume to read on the toilet then tear out the pages for another purpose. Miller's lack of consistency is confusing.

Dark Knight Strikes Again, the - Volume 1 (Dark Knight Strikes Again) Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Yawn. Should be as good as Batman : Year One but it's... not.

Punisher - Mother Russia - Garth Ennis and and Dougie Braithwaite

This is a continuing comic on it's third part now. I feel like a proper comic book geek as I have a standing order at a smelly comic shop. Like everything Ennis writes, it's pretty violent and pretty funny. For the 'mature readers' Marvel MAX imprint he's upped the violence and swearing. Not as funny as the Marvel Knights series he did, but i guess you can only run over Wolverine in a steamroller once. However, it's not as good as

Garth Ennis' War Stories: v. 1 Garth Ennis, Dave Gibbons, Chris Weston, David Lloyd

These one-shots on celebrated WWII tales subvert those old, jingoistic Victor and Eagle war comics with sympathetic characters, shrewd political observation, moral ambiguity and a deep respect for those who fought and died, regardless of nationality. Great to see the legendary David Lloyd finally team up with Ennis; Lloyd's characteristically bleak and haunting artwork (made famous in Moore's classic V For Vendetta) is the perfect vehicle for the grim naval tale that finishes the book. Highly recommended, this is Ennis at his most reflective.

I just started The Adventures of Luther Arkwright - Bryan Talbot
but tt's so mind-bendingly complex I had to put it down. I'll pick it up again when I have more of my brain capacity to spare. With glittering recommedations from Ennis, Moore and Michael Moorcock, it must be pretty damn good.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

last night i dreamt that somebody set fire to my face

I went to see Kiska last night. Kiska are a Bristol band that have been around since 1998/99, have always been brilliant and have never recorded anything and have averaged two gigs a year. Setbacks aside (having all their equipment stolen, careers interfering), it's unclear why. They make soaring instrumental Kraut/space rock. They are distinguished from their peers by a remarkable ear for melody and melancholy, a dimension often lacking in instrumental music. Now our Dave Collingwood of Gravenhurst drums for them. Next time they play i'm going to record it off the desk whether they like it or not. It's possible they may make an album soon. It's possible.

I have been writing a silly and obscene comic. Once it's finished i'll distribute it.

Recently I have read:

Garth Ennis - Punisher 1,2,3,4, Born
Volume three is particularly noteworthy as Frank Castle runs over Wolverine in a steamroller. Good. Volume four sinks to new depths of depravity, featuring a sick freak who lives under a mile-high corpse-mountain of homeless people. Well done Mr. Ennis. 'Born' is serious and harder edged. Published in the adult Max imprint, it features the word 'cunt'. Ennis said in an interview that the harsh language in his Hitman series was not an attempt to shock; rather it was necessary for realism, being set in London. In the US, 'cunt' is a powerful word, whereas in England it's practically punctuation, he said.

Garth Ennis - John Constantine: Hell Blazer

John Wagner - Judge Dredd: The Complete America
This is very good. If you thought a Mega City One love story was incongruous, think again.

Alan Moore - Promethea
Headache-inducing high concept mythology. Funny too. Our heroine Sophie researches a mythological figure called Promothea for her term paper and then becomes her. Features a reinterpretation of the Tarot consistent with the Big Bang and evolution. Predicts that in 2017 humankind's understanding will hit saturation point and the world as we know it will end. The Apocalypse is interpreted as an epistemological and metaphysical step forward for human understanding. There's also a twelve-page tantric sex scene. Mr. Moore, you've done it again.

Alan Moore - Tom Strong

Alan Moore - The Courtyard and the Courtyard Companion
Violent, Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos tale. Dope.

Alan Moore - Batman: A Killing Joke
Classic reinvention of the Joker's beginnings.

Matt Wagner - Batman: Faces

Frank Miller - Batman: Year One
Cool Gotham noir. I prefer David Mazucchelli's artwork to Miller's own in The Dark Knight Returns.

Warren Ellis - Transmetropolitan
Fantastic. Spider Jerusalem is a gonzo journalist in a demented future-shock metropolis.

I've just picked up a copy of Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game which i've been meaning to read for a long time.

Blogging often veers towards the overfamiliar. In a subconscious attempt to make the internet a smaller place, people refer to friends as though everyone knows them personally. Shall I tell you what I had on my toast this morning?

As of monday we'll be in Toybox Studios recording the next album.

Friday, November 19, 2004

sirloin stockade

Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin spoke out against Labour's Antisocial Behaviour Order, claiming "Beating the fucking crap out of each other is one of the few pleasures the working classes can afford. How can we be so elitist as to deny them that?".

Finished the further adventures of Mr Shellac comic strip; i'll photocopy and distribute soon.

Finished the tour. I am tired. The band shows in London ad Bristol were by far the best we have ever played. Bristol was recorded so there is scope for a live release there.

Throughout December and January we will be recording the 3rd/4th album, working title: "Either people from the lower socio-economic categories have very few pleasures in life or Julie Burchill is a truculent whore".

It's going to be fucking HUGE.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Even though the Americans may run the world, it is the British who write about it

"Uptight but witty": What the rest of the world thinks of us:


John Reid wriggles out of a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places:

Shame on him. I occasionally smoke, but I fully support a ban. If some of us walked around in radiation emitting suits that slowly gave other people cancer, we would be told to take them off. The fact that we were addicted to them wouldn't be seen as an excuse.

On a more personal level, I sang much better in New York, San Francisco and LA, where there is a smoking ban. I regularly have problems with my voice in UK and European clubs.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Dead Man's Shoes is out now as a comic book.


I had to pull the Hull date as I got ill at the Glasgow show. I nearly lost my balance onstage a few times, feeling dizzy, nauseous and sweating. The next day I had to get off the train at Edinburgh after I half-fainted with searing gut pains. I felt like John Hurt in Alien. It was without doubt the most unpleasant experience of my life. I took a ten hour journey home to Bristol. Absolute misery. I feel better now though.

My apologies to all the people who were let down in Hull. I'll come back soon.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

my man in america says...

A minor correction on the state of Senate. The balance is 55-45, so the Democrats still hold five seats from giving Bush an absolute veto majority in Congress, which is vitally significant because it still gives the Dems the opportunity to fillabuster an extreme Supreme Court nominee. That said, the new senator from Oklahoma said that he believes doctors who perform abortions should be given the death penalty, and the new senator from South Carolina believes that unwed mothers are unfit for teaching.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Parsons and Burchill Vs. Peel

Burchill: http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,321755,00.html
-Note use of default Burchill terms of argumentation: "middle class", "working class",
"public schoolboy", "well-connected", "hippy". It is also a matter of routine for the political propagandist to dig up some kind of flimsy rumour about sexual misconduct when lacking an argument. Burchill is a gutter-press hack who is only fit to distribute the Socialist Worker outside of youth clubs.


Shame they never stayed together, then we might have killed off two birds with one stone. Parsons and Burchill, a pair of tiresome, anachronistic, class-obsessed cultural parasites. Some people went to public schools. Some people aren't working class. They are no more and no less responsible for it than the colour of their skin. Get over it you unreconstructed-Marxist fools.

kill your sons


Meanwhile, back in the UK, not even the Tories are celebrating...

The Tory party will adopt only some of Mr Bush's techniques. One aide to Michael Howard, the Tory leader, said the social conservatism of the Republicans "is not for us".
One shadow cabinet member said: "I do not think there is a read across on Iraq or on Bush's moral conservatism. Middle America believes that the war in Iraq is about the "war on terror". Nobody really believes that here. George Bush's morality and neo-conservatism also does not exist over here, thank goodness."


Never has the cultural rift between Europe and the USA been so great.


I hope all the Christian Fundamentalists who voted for Bush get to see this:

there are millions more just like me

The following is from: http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2004_10_31_dish_archive.html#109954150218074414

"Heading out to dinner last night, in a mainly gay neighborhood, I was struck by how many people looked shell-shocked, frightened, grim. Here's an email I got minutes before I left that helps provide some context:

'I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message -- true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I'm sure someone like yourself would consider me just an "extremist" that you don't need to worry about. Well you are wrong -- I'm not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.'

Then I got this:

'I'll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I'm faced with everyday in school - the American people have just shown my classmates that it's perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a 'friend' at school today: 'It's so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out...' Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads ... I'm the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney. Herein lies a problem, I can't bring myself to do that. Bush totally lost all my support (I know I can't vote - but I make a hell of a campaigner) when he supported the amendment to ban gay marriages, and I felt bad that in straying from Bush, I was abandoning Cheney, who I have an amazing amount of respect for. Many would say go Democrat... but I can't do that (that signals the absence of a spine up here), and in the next year, I'm considering dropping my membership to the party. Especially this year, despite how undercut and violated I feel as a gay person, I couldn't be happier that I am. I've got a stronger will because of it, and will lead my life just as strongly.'

How do you stay calm and upbeat after two emails like that?"



I found this link from Bob Mould's weblog at http://modulate.blogspot.com/


And yet somehow:
Bush wins quarter of gay vote
"Meanwhile, the nationwide exit poll conducted for a consortium of news media outlets showed that four percent of the electorate identified itself as gay male, lesbian, or bisexual.
Of that total, Kerry won 77 percent of the gay vote compared to 23 percent for Bush, the exit poll showed. Independent presidential contender Ralph Nader received less than one percent, the poll showed."


Jonathon Freedland on Faith, Flag and Family aka God, Guns and Gays:

Friday, November 05, 2004


The theory that Bush's next four years will help the Democrats in the long run is an interesting line of thought and perhaps makes me feel a bit better. My worry is what exactly happens in the next four years. They have the house and the senate. They proudly trumpeted that now is both the time to (1) unite the country and (2) push on with a radical conservative agenda, two manifestly inconsistent lines of development, meaning that (1) is clearly a lie. The US is now two countries. Do you like guns, go to church, hate gays and hate abortion? - If yes, you are a Republican. If no, you probably live on the coast and are a Democrat.

The despicable thing is the way the right has conned the working classes into thinking the Republicans are the party for the poor whilst transparently providing tax cuts for the rich. They do this by manipulating their feeble minds on the basis of kneejerk morality and religious prejudice. They don't understand the economy, but they know they hate queers.

Three things could feasibly happen now:
1) Gay marriage will become illegal
2) Abortion will become illegal
3) the USA will invade another middle-eastern country, possibly Iran or Syria

Ho-hum. Another day nearer armageddon. And four years on..? Typically voter behaviours become more extreme when economies decline, so it's not clear whether the fuckwits who voted for Bush won't just blame the welfare state for all their woes and abolish it completely... what there is of it. Historically economic slumps have polarised parties to the left and right extremes - Fascism and Communism. But the USA has no history -possibly no clear concept of- socialism, so quite where the fuck it will go isn't clear. What I do know is that if I have to see Cheney's fucking fat, smug, shaved lab-rat face one more time i'm going to puke.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

goodbye liberal democracy

A freind from Florida emailed me this eloquent and passionate response to the election result.

"John Kerry has lost, and my worst fears are realized. As an American, it is quite simply beyond my comprehension that 53 million fellow citizans saw fit to re-elect George Bush. It was difficult enough to understand how he was elected the first time, but I can conceive of the convenience of voting along party lines, however arbitrary the selection of your chosen party may be, or perhaps genuine hope or sheer ignorance of an untested candidate. But after four years of the most blatant disregard of domestic freedoms and liberties, the most glaring atrocities committed abroad and a conscious and utterly sincere contempt for anyone who holds a belief different from your own, I simply can not fathom that so many tens of millions of people agree with those decisions. How can so many millions not be outraged? Are they even paying attention?
But with Bush's re-election, it is not simply a victory of an ideology. The Republican party has gained seats in both the House and the Senate, and are only 3 senators away from having an uncontestable majority, where they would possess a 3/5 majority and can pass ANY legislation they desire, rendering oppossition hopelessly impotent. One of our Supreme Court justices is on his deathbed, and two others are in their mid-eighties. At present the Court is divided 5-4 on most issues, but with the almost certain turnover of 3 justices, all 3 branches of power will have become evangelically conservative.
What may be even more chilling was the passage of a referendum to actually rewrite the constitution in 11 states explicity declaring that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and the outright prohibition of civil unions and any benefits that go along with it. That means that a homosexual couple cannot share life insurance, possess no visitation rights to see a partner in a hospital, cannot even have joint custody of an adopted child. And the votes weren't even close. In Georgia, like in most states, the referendem passed with almost an 80% majority. In Oklahoma, it was 90 %. Nine out of ten people in clear conscience steadfastly deny such a basic and humane right. I truly did not believe that my country was this deeply bigoted and cruel.
And that, to me, is what lies at the core- plain meanness and cruely. They speak of family values. I don't even know what the fuck that means. Tell me , just what the fuck are you talking about. You say you value family? Whose fucking family? The homosexual family whose rights you have just taken away. The families in Iraq and Palastine and all across the globe whom you have just bombed the fuck out of, or the families of the working poor who have no access to welfare or to healthcare.
And perhaps what is most ominous is that this time, after all that has passed, Bush and the Republican party has actually strengthened. More people, not less, believe that this is the way things should be. This is when the realization starts to set in. I say that I can't comprehend that so many millions, the majority, in fact, decided that Bush should be re-elected. But ultiamtely,the undenieable truth is that they agree with him. It is not that they were mislead about the war in Iraq, they heartily support the bombing and the massacres of people whose language they don't understand, whose color is different from their own, no different from the gooks before them. They take comfort in knowing that fundamental human rights have now been taken from homosexuals. It makes them feel good.
And I look around, with the knowledge that so many millions and millions believe these things, and I am consumed with blind rage. And it is no exageration to say that the worst has not yet come."

I am now going to the library to borrow lots of comics and regress further into the comforting realms of fantasy.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Goodby, Hip Priest

John Peel R.I.P.

A few months ago at ATP I walked along the road by the beach to get something to eat in a cafe. I saw John Peel surrounded by about 5 or 6 young people, all beaming at him whilst he chatted with them in his usual avuncular manner. Part of me really wanted to join them, but I thought he might like to be be left alone, I wasn't sure what to do. I thought I was being very grown up by pretending not to notice him. Now I wish i'd spoken to him. Everyone felt like they kind of owned him, the way fans feel they own part of the bands they love. I dedicated a song to him at the London show I just did, but it felt like an inadequate gesture, and I felt compelled to say as much. But I knew everyone in the audience was thinking about him.

Well that's Radio 1 fucked then.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Somewhat depressing review of our Notts band show here:
"Many of the people I speak to afterwards who weren’t as keen said it was because they just didn’t like him."

We just couldn't hear anything and the people down the front were very sympathetic when I joked that they should all turn round and tell the people behind them to shut the fuck up. It doesn't matter when the monitoring is good but the PA was terrible (as the engineer fully admitted) and we couldn't hear ourselves sing; pretty hard to pitch the notes in that situation. Sonic Boom didn't mind though. He was well into it. Afterwards some bloke came up to me and said it was totally, totally amazing, and we chatted about bands for an hour. Turns out he saw Slint play at the show which does the bootleg rounds and can be found on peer-to-peer searches.
Then some other guy came up to me and the conversation went like this:

"Did you tell people to shut up earlier when you were playing?"
"Yes I did."
"That's really pretentious. If people like you they will be quiet, otherwise they won't."
"Maybe other people in the audience do like them though, and people should respect that they are paying money to be there. Oh, look, just go fuck yourself."

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself. He had that annoying way of talking where every sentence sounds like it is a question. When four of you drive across two-thirds of the country in a car laden with equipment, eat yet another £5 motorway service station sandwhich for dinner, sleep on someone's floor and get paid £50 to play to a room full of people who talk through not just the support but the main act as well, losing you a total of £2000 for a week of promotional shows, you kind of lose patience.

dead man's shoes

Went with Tone to see Dead Man's Shoes, the first feature-length picture from Warp Films. A slasher-revenge flick with social realism, humour and poignancy. No-one at Warp told me it was tailored completely to my tastes. And there is a Gravenhurst track on the soundtrack CD. It’s amazing to be even vaguely associated with a film that explosive and memorable. Transplanting the exploitation-revenge genre to the Midlands is subtly transgressive. It’s like a British High Plains Drifter.

Mark Kermode writes about it here:

Idea for a comic-strip, devised on tour whilst trying to think up the ten most smug, self-congratulatory bands ever...

"Leatherface Versus..."

(Pilot Issue )

J Kay is waxing his new porsche and generally chillin', hanging out in his Surrey mansion with buddy Jamie Oliver.
"Oi mate, stick on that new Skint Records compilation"
"Yeah, pucker"
"What the fuck is that sound?"
Leatherface runs out of the bushes and mows them down effortlessly with his chainsaw.

Next week: Leatherface versus Counting Crows

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Returned from a week of touring the band in the UK with Juana Molina. Last night in Nottingham, Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3, Spectrum and E.A.R. fame could be seen nodding his head appreciatively in the audience. The rest of the crowd wouldn't shut up but we were only playing for Sonic, so fuck the lot of them.

On thursday I play the notorious Klub Fist at the Scat Dungeon in Amsterdam, where murder is tolerated. The Dutch authorities claim that their liberal policies have resulted in a reduction in violent crime.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Hmm. I've revised my top five, and also given myself the liberty of a top ten, in no particular order:

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
An American Werewolf in London
The Blair Witch Project
The Exorcist
The Thing
The Shining
Don't Look Now
Dawn of the Dead

I can't make my mind up about the tenth one. Alien is a definite contender.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Cats in bomber jackets

Someone asked me what my favourite horror films were. I couldn't work out a top ten, but I think my top five favourite, in no particular order, are

The Shining - Stanley Kubrick
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer - John McNaughton
Halloween - John Carpenter
Psycho - Alfred Hitchcock
Dawn of the Dead - George A. Romero

Perhaps interestingly, only one of the above films -The Shining- features explicitly supernatural forces.

Thugs in barbour jackets

I never thought I would find myself on the side of riot police. But when the
Countryside Alliance descended upon Westminster to protest against the erosion of
their 'country way of life', and a small but significant minority thought it legitimate to
actually storm the House of Commons, I was, for the first time in my life, cheering on
the baton and shield wielders. It's particularly interesting that the Daily Mail-reading
classes are prepared to set such a disturbing precedent for direct action, and one
that will no doubt be imitated by the kind of groups they loathe and criticize for their
disregard for the democratic process: the anarchists, the animal liberationists, and
the religious fundamentalists. But the fox-hunters don't care about double -standards.
They're just trying to protect their God-given right to kill small animals.

The Countryside Alliance's claim to represent and protect the interests of countryside
-dwellers is patronising bullshit. The Countryside Alliance merely represents the
interests of people who like hunting foxes with dogs. They equivocate the interests of
the country-dweller with an interest in hunting, but there are plenty of country
dwellers with no interest in hunting; and there are plenty who actively oppose it.

Nonetheless the fox hunting issue is both a political and moral fudge. The
Government is keen to push through a bill that will distract attention away from Iraq, a
country that has been plunged into Civil War.The Labour Government has no qualms
about alienating the hunting lobby, a class which never votes Labour anyway. Morally,
we should be banning the intensive rearing of animals in factory farms before we ban
hunting. Chasing and tearing a fox to bits for fun, for all its savagery, is less degraded
than routinely chaining pigs in cages barely larger than their own body size and
devoid of any natural light for the tiny span of their decidedly unnatural lives, force fed
and pumped full of hormones. Killing animals for meer sport may be cruel, but so is
killing them for food if we don't raise them humanely. The fact of consumption doesn't
legitimize any old behaviour, especially considering that, like hunting them for sport,
eating animals isn't necessary for our survival.

But the Countryside Alliance can fuck right off.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

He left no traces Posted by Hello

Man with angle-grinder outside my room again.

Oh boy did I watch some bad movies at the weekend. We piled over to my brother Sean's house, ate custard doughnuts and got down to it.

We started off with a good film -John Carpenter's Christine- but the night went downhill after that. It's asking a lot of an audience to find a car scary, but with taut pacing, convincing performances and a classic Carpenter score, the B-Movie auteur pulls it off. There's
some real badass punk types who call lead-nerd Cunningham 'cuntface' and smash his glasses. Then they get expelled so they smash his car. Bad move; the car is Christine, and Christine is an evil car, and they all get run over. Christine's radio only plays '50's music, she drives herself, fixes herself and gets jealous when her owner touches girls. Ultimately, this makes Cunningham evil too, and he loses it and his friends have to kill him. But Christine won't die, because she isn't alive. Because she's a car, right? The film ends with the line 'I hate rock'n'roll'. Superb.

This is when it all kind of fell apart. We put on Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground aka Nights of Terror aka Zombi 3. All Bianachi's other films were porno, and it shows. The scariest thing in it is is the child who is clearly played by a freakish adult midget. Italians wander around moaning with bits of clay on their faces. Some guts get eaten at one point.

After that we watched the incredible Story of Ricky, a kung fu film with insane amounts of gore. Ricky is in prison for killing a smack dealer. The prison is a privatised hell hole. Ricky rises to the top and takes control, beating the corrupt, capitalist wardens and destroying their opium harvest. Ricky has super-human strength, and when he punches people in the head, they explode. You're not allowed to watch it here because it will make you kill people, despite being probably the silliest film ever made.

Next up was a Hammer House of Horror episode called the House that Bled to Death, which Duncan Fleming brought round. For the most part it's dismal early 80's British fare, just before Hammer Studios finally realised they hadn't made a good film in years and called it a day. Everything has that depressing, suburban, Likely Lads vibe, where everyone is a total loser and has bloody awful wallpaper. This episode has a classic scene where lots of kids get sprayed with blood at a birthday party. The scene builds beautifully, with a sense of impending doom, and there really is something upsetting about kids having fun eating jelly and ice-cream,
and then getting drenched in blood from a burst water main. The film ends with one of those expected Tales of the Unexpected conceits which nullifies the first half of the film.

Then, despite my pleas, we watched Street Trash, a meandering bunch of crap with an awful comedy-rape scene where a very fat man attacks a woman while silly trombone music plays, indicating his fatness. Due to the presence of goofy circus music, it isn't rape, apparently. The only good part in the film is when someone melts after drinking out of date hooch. This doesn't happen frequently enough, and can't make up for the casual mysogyny of the previous scene. This is where the BBFC really mystifies me. They aren't prepared to pass I Spit On Your Grave, which whilst being a problematic and flawed film, does nothing if not depict rape as a truly horrifying ordeal, yet they are happy to allow us to watch something which completely trivialises it. Given their sensibly passing Irreversible uncut, i'm once again unable to comprehend their logic.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

this is how I relax in the evenings

I did an interview for Dazed and Confused and they asked me for my top ten Desert Island Discs. I know for a fact that they won't print the whole thing, so here it is.

1) my bloody valentine - come in alone
if the desert island i was stranded on was peopled by a primitive tribe I would use this song to demonstrate the art of guitar playing in the 20th century.

2) the smiths - there is a light that never goes out
this song could be used to school a primitive civilsation in the use of darkly humourous melancholy and flamboyant guitar overlays.

3) depeche mode - enjoy the silence
demonstrating to the tribe the art of dark, sensual, meticulously arranged synth pop.

4) can - i want more
who knows, maybe me and the tribe will hit it off. maybe we'll get loaded. maybe we'll have a party.

5) can - bel air
with only ten songs to listen to forever, i will soon get very bored of them. this song is twenty minutes long, so that might help a bit.

6) bert jansch - jack orion
the tribe have become bored of my music. they decide to eat me. they allow me one last song, and I choose a blues influenced fingerstyle interpretation of a traditional english folk song played by the jimmy hendrix of acoustic guitar. clocking in at nine minutes and fifty seconds, this song might give me enough time to plan my escape.

7) husker du - green eyes
perhaps if the tribe just understood that without this band we wouldn't have had the pixies or nirvana, they wouldn't eat me, and instead just grill me for interesting bits of indie rock trivia.

8) augustus pablo - king tubbys meets rockers uptown
maybe there is a shit load of pot growing on this island.

9) joy division - shadowplay
this song changed my life. maybe it will change it again, and somehow get me off this fucking island.

10) gravenhurst - black holes in the sand
everything is absolutely fine. it turns out that the tribe are massive Gravenhurst fans. who needs western civilisation when I have a legion of adoring acolytes catering to my every whim? it does, however, inspire them all to play the acoustic guitar, and it's beginning to grate on my nerves.

Yesterday I walked into the bedroom and smashed my hand on the door frame, bending my middle finger back until I heard a snapping sound. I've conducted all the standard exercises to check it isn't broken, and it isn't broken. It only hurts a bit now, but i'm going to refrain from guitar playing for a week, and i'm typing with my index fingers. In two weeks time we are recording a song at Toybox studios, then we tour the UK with Juana Molina, then I do a solo tour of Europe with Sufjan Stevens, so the use of my hands is fundamental.

I have been listening to three records on constant rotation: Sugar's 'Beaster', Onanist Homework Robot + The Guano Ignoramus' 'Large Ghost!' CD, and Life Without Building's 'Any Other City'. The latter was recommended to me by Tom of Maximo Park. LWB split after this one album, which is a great shame as they were very good. It does however mean that I can maintain my tradition of only getting into bands after they've split. According to reviews LWB sound like Television and The Slits, but I couldn't hear it myself, so that shows how little I know about music. It's a good job we have journalists, otherwise us musicians would be truly lost, wandering around in the dark and bumping into one another.

Onanist Homework Robot + The Guano Ignoramus is a project by two musicians from Bristol. Sam Wisternoff can usually be found performing under the name SJ Esau, and the other chap is usually known as Team Brick. I've known him for a couple of years but I still don't know his real name. 'Large Ghost!' is very poppy and quite strange. Though appropriate I hate to use the word 'quirky'; like 'wacky' it has become relegated to the vocabulary of the office joker, describing his humourous weekend antics to his 'straight' office chums. The track titles are 'Spannerfucker' and 'Philip Glass's Glasses'.

Car boot sale on sunday: I totally scored:
The Smuggler - Lucio Fulci VHS Graveyard Disturbance - Lamberto Bava VHS Ghost House II starring David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair VHS Steven Seagal: On Deadly Ground and Out to Kill VHS Nightmare on Elm Street - Wes Craven VHS Hellraiser I and III VHS Stallone : Cobra VHS
I also found a copy of She Freak on VHS but the woman wanted £2 for it. I offered her £1. "No, that's £2". Look lady, do you honestly think there is anyone else here who would be remotely interested in buying this rubbish?

I watched Ichi the Killer last night, disappointing. But never mind, karma wil be restored: my DVD of Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground aka Nights of Terror aka Night of Terror aka Notil de Terrore aka Zombi 3 has arrived.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

test your consistency


This tests the consitency of your beliefs. I had a tension quotient of only 7%; apparently most people have a quotient of around 29%.

The area where I run into some tension is detailed below. I answer the tension by suggesting that my job totally requires me to use a car as we have to lug a drum kit around. Whilst one could theoretically do this by train, it would be pretty fucking hard, and on balance it seems that
using an efficient small car is the least wasteful method of transport for a band.

"But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life."

It has been scientifically proven that Gravenhurst is the only thing I can do without becoming chronically depressed.

"The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself."

It's not like I drive to the chip shop round the corner like some people do. In fact, I don't drive anywhere, because I can't drive. Practically the only time I get in a car is when we take our equipment to shows. Chip shop round the corner, fat kids driven to school and back one mile away: manifestly uneccesary and wasteful use of resources. Transport of drumkit in car: arguably necessary, and a statement to this effect is at least not prima facie implausible.


Questions 24 and 3: How much must I protect the environment?
23281 of the 44875 people who have completed this activity have this tension in their beliefs.
You agreed that:The environment should not be damaged unnecessarily in the pursuit of human ends
But disagreed that:People should not journey by car if they can walk, cycle or take a train instead
As walking, cycling and taking the train are all less environmentally damaging than driving a car for the same journey, if you choose to drive when you could have used another mode of transport, you are guilty of unnecessarily damaging the environment.
The problem here is the word 'unnecessary'. Very few things are necessary, if by necessary it is meant essential to survival. But you might want to argue that much of your use of cars or aeroplanes is necessary, not for survival, but for a certain quality of life. The difficulty is that the consequence of this response is that it then becomes hard to be critical of others, for it seems that 'necessary' simply means what one judges to be important for oneself. A single plane journey may add more pollutants to the atmosphere than a year's use of a high-emission vehicle. Who is guilty of causing unnecessary environmental harm here?

Be good


A rather wonderful Ethical Philosophy Selector, that determines which philosopher your views are closest to.

Kant came up top for me. But Mill came fairly close behind which doesn't make much sense considering they are commonly interpreted as having radically opposing views, and are the textbook examples of Duty versus Consequentialist ethics. I also found a few alternative answers consistent with my views, so I went back and chose those instead, and got a Spinoza result. This probably means i'm a rather confused and inconsistent man. I'm not very familiar with Spinoza's philosophy, so i'll have to get his Ethics.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

your foot in my face is what keeps me alive

At the weekend we ran the gauntlet. Friday night: train to London, tube to hotel in King's Cross.
Saturday morning get up at 5am, taxi to Waterloo, catch Eurostar to Brussels at 6.30
Arrive Brussels at 10am, 1 hour taxi ride to Pukklepop Festival site. Play cribbage for three hours, laugh at silly major label rock bands with silly hair and silly leather trousers. Spill cup of tea into my lap. Onstage at 2.30, no soundcheck. Play to 2000 people for 40 minutes. handful of kids down front sing along to songs from Flashlight Seasons then look slightly bewildered when we launch into our loudest and best rendition so far of Song From Under the Arches. Then we play Entertainment too fast, and bring the noise for ten minutes with Black Holes in the Sand.
Offstage at 3.10, do two interviews in aggressive mood, state that all garage rock bands are cattle, there needs to be a cull and they should all be rounded up, shot and melted down to make glue, get in taxi, terrifying one hour ride back to Brussels Midi station, constantly staring at the clock, worried we will have to spend a night sleeping on floors. Check in with 2 minutes to spare. 3 hour Eurostar to Waterloo. Tube to Paddington. 8.30 pm train to Bristol, 2 hours, arrive at Bristol Temple Meads at 10.12 pm. Taxi home.
Next morning, the stunningly reliable Keith from Big Joan arrives in his van, drives us for two hours to Baskerville Hall in Wales, hang around at Green Man Festival for two hours, play set at 5.30, no soundcheck. Same set as before, loud. Good. Very good, but in my sleep-deprived torpor I play one song in completely the wrong key, but Paul follows with impressive improvisational skills.

Get home at around 10 pm.

My chief problem with travel is the cost of disgusting food and drink on public transport. Cup of tea that tastes like it was scraped from the barrel of a gun, £2. Dead sandwhich, £3.50. Dampness: £2. Sopping wet yet strangely tough cake, cold as a grave, £4. Toilet facilities you wouldn't wish upon a child molester £0.20 a shit. Clinical depression, growing misanthropy, constant low-level sense of dread, £gratis.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

aaaaah fuck

I was recording on the PC when a massive bolt of lightning appeared in front of the window. I unplugged all the computer equipment and hid in the bedroom. God and myself don't get along at the best of times, but recently i've been particularly sinful, dabbling in the black arts (reading Colin Wilson's The Occult), visiting pagan sites (Avebury, Wiltshire) and worshipping false idols (Steven Seagal). It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he decided to wipe my hard drive via the forces of nature.

What happened to Christina Ricci's tits? One minute they were there, the next minute they've gone. Your heroes let you down.
Need to make a truly crucial decision?


Let the Gods decide for you.

Need to blame everything on a religious conspiracy?


Let the Knights Templar do the work for you.

Want to upset Christian and Empiricist fundamentalists alike?


Go worship false idols.

Need a software multi-tracker that doesn't make you want to hang yourself?


Here is Traktion in your hour of need.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Spoke to the hippy today. The cheque arrived, after six weeks, but it wasn't enough. We gave her £180 for a months rent plus £60 as a third of a deposit to be paid over three months.

Hippy: Hello?
Me: It's Nick. I got the cheque. It's not enough. You still owe me £60.
Hippy: Oh hi mate! Good, you got the cheque. Oh right, so that was £60 as part of the £180 deposit, yeah?
Me: Correct.
Hippy: Well, you used it for a week and-
Me: You cannot possibly charge us for using the room. Send me another cheque immediately.
Hippy: You were happy to use the room-
Me: We used the room for a total of 10 minutes. The kebab shop owner came in and told us we couldn't continue. You failed to conduct even the most basic enquiries into its suitability as a studio. You didn't make it clear to the kebab-shop owner that there would be bands playing in a room adjacent to his shop, whilst ensuring us that he was 'cool with it'. You wasted our time and money in a completely irresponsible fashion. I could even charge you for taxi fares to and from the studio, but i'm not going to. It has been six weeks now. I have given you remarkable leeway.
Hippy: (passively) don't shout, look don't get angry-
Me: I think I have every right to be angry, you are taking the fucking piss out of me. Send me the money immediately.
Hippy: I don't have the money right now-
Me: Find the fucking money and send it to me immediately. I have your fucking keys. I won't return them until the cheque clears. Send me the fucking money or i'll make duplicates and give them to everyone I know.
Hippy: Look, okay, okay
Me: I look forward to receiving the cheque. Goodbye.


Monday, August 02, 2004

Tried to relive the first buzz. Watched Hard to Kill again.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Idea for a film:

L.A. Pool Party Massacre

Fretwork, new signings to Atlantic Records, have just completed their debut album at Sheer Rock Face Studios in Hollywood. Produced by Lou Giordano and Butch Vig, it's gonna be fucking massive man. I mean, these guys are HOT. The MD of Atlantic phoned and he loves it. Platinum all the way. There's this massive party going on at the studio. It's, like, only 9 o'clock and already these two college chicks are making out in the swimming pool! This one guy is standing on a table, pouring champagne into the drummer's mouth. They're playing the album really fucking loud through this humongous sound system and everyone is fucking digging it. Then the coke turns up, and woah this shit is really something. There must be like, 40 or 50 people at this party, and everyone is getting wasted. Then a guy in a hockey mask turns up and murders everyone with a power sander.

Monday, July 26, 2004

city after city
granite grey as morning

Back home now. LA was the last stop. I was ambivalent about returning home. LA is a fantasy world, especially when you are staying with wonderful hosts in a ranch house on Hollywood Hill, complete with swimming pool and excellent company. I had an 'after-show party', and met 5 other Warp artists all of whom were called Brian. Everyone stayed up till 3am, apart from me. I went to sleep at 10.30 and slept for 13 hours.

I watched 7 Steven Seagal films this week. My favourite thusfar is Hard To Kill, in which Seagal plays a man who is very hard to kill, primarily because he is very hard. Lots of people want to kill him though, but he's way too hard for them, and completely turns the tables on them by killing them instead.

The Black Holes in the Sand EP (or mini-album as it features six tracks and clocks in at over half an hour)has been mastered and sounds great. We plan to release it early October.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Chicago is flat. I didn't get to see much of it, but what I did see was flat. I played at the Empty Bottle to a good reception. Got up horribly early to fly to San Francisco which is where I am writing this. I slept some more on the plane with the aid of 20 mg of Diazepam....yeah... but i'm still very tired and disorientated. I've been shown lots of the key Bay Area sights when all I really want to see is the inside of my eyelids. I've crossed three time zones now and as far as my body is concerned it's already tomorrow. In fact it was tomorrow yesterday.

I'm writing this in the office at the back of a gallery space in downtown SF. I play in an hour or so. Someone is going to get me some weed. I just ate an amazing Thai meal, the delicate sophistication of which was totally wasted on me. I would have been happy with a bowl of porridge and a nice steaming mug of morphine. SF is hilly and temperate. I can relax with hills; I grew up around hills, Bristol is built on seven of them. Plenty of cover. Plenty of places to hide.

Tomorrow we fly to LA. Then on sunday I fly home. The only thing i've dreaded on this entire trip is the bit where I arrive at Heathrow and have to run the National Express coach travel degradation-gauntlet back to Bristol. Note to all travellers: if you must brave the vile onboard 'toilet', check there is water running from the taps. Last time I spent a three hour coach journey with soap eating into my hands. National Express have no respect for human dignity and if they were an individual I would tie bricks to their feet and throw them in a sewer.

That morale-corroding thought aside, i'm actually having a really nice time. Went to the legendary Amoeba Music store on Haight; bought a Michael Nyman CD, a copy of Sugar's 'Beaster' for $2 and a copy of Depeche Mode's 'Violator' for $7.
I'm also digging into Can's 'Future days' which is reliably excellent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Last night I played at the Mercury Lounge, NYC. It was good. Two guys drove four hours from Boston to see the show, which is both touching and bewildering. I drank my regulation straight double tequila before playing, but unwisely took someone up on another after the show, forgetting the liberal measures served in US bars. We sold about ten CDs. I talked very loudly and with unwarranted conviction about nothing in particular for a few hours then got in a taxi, ate a Danish pastry and ended up in bed somehow.

This morning I woke with a very bad headache and a mood as black as John Ashcroft's soul. After braving the car crash tourism horrorshow that is Canal Street (it's like Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Portabello and Camden High Street all rolled into one, but about 10 miles long and more intense). One comforting thing about NYC is that people are as nonchalant and unfriendly as they are in London, so there is no real danger of culture shock. My hotel room is tiny with an enormous television filling the room like Magritte's apple. I broke the window trying to open it far enough to get my head out so I could smoke a joint without setting off the smoke alarm, and broke the 'safety-catch'- (presumably to prevent people throwing themselves to their deaths, which the hotel would no doubt be sued for), so I couldn't shut it again. Thus the first night was spent with ear plugs in.

I renewed myself on a brunch of corn beef hash and two eggs at a superb diner on 6th Avenue. I bewildered the staff with repeated requests for mugs of hot water, to which I added my middle-class tea bags from England.

On the plane I chose the 'Yes, I am feeling horny' option from the in-flight entertainments, that filthy old goat Bertolucci's latest mid-brow skin-flick 'The Dreamers'. Two very beautiful Parisian intellectual boho kids initiate a cautious, bi-curious wide-eyed american boy into their incestuous menage-a-trois. They all get naked and fuck each other. Presented against a vacuous backdrop of student protests, the film is utterly meaningless but boy is she fucking hot.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I noticed that the Stone Roses' eponymous debut album was voted best British album of all time in some poll in some magazine somewhere or something. This made me feel the way the death of Princess Diana made me feel: that I have nothing in common with 99.9% of people in this country. Apparently we are allowed to like Morrissey and The Cure again though, so that makes everything okay. So here is my poll of records that I own which will never be featured in 'best of' polls, nor benefit from some sort of retrospect revival.

The Chameleons - Script of the Bridge (very good album, handicapped by cover artwork strongly reminiscent of Marillion)

Slowdive - Just For A Day (listen to 'Primal', look me in the eye and tell me your unsatisfied...)

Fairport Convention - What We Did on Our Holidays (how a band can be this good and this bad in the space of 45 minutes is quite miraculous)

Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega (this is of no merit whatsoever; i just keep it around to annoy people)

Ride - Smile (the first two eps. fuck you! Ride were awesome)

Pet Shop Boys - Actually (shut up. you know nothing. PSB rule)

Iron Maiden - Killers (the finest heavy metal record ever)

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Finally finished the EP. It nearly killed me.

Couldn't sleep last night because the neighbours were playing Jane's Addiction really fucking loud. I fucking hate Jane's Addiction. The last thing I want to hear when I am drifting off is Perry Farrell whining like a slaughtered pig.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I did an interview for Cologne radio the other day, and consistently used the word 'depersonalization' when I actually meant 'disassociation'. But it didn't matter because the interviewer didn't know what I was talking about, and neither did I.

I am Newcastle doing some instore shows. Newcastle is much cleaner than Bristol, people are much friendlier and the public transport system actually works. Tomorrow i'm going to Glasgow.

Yesterday I went totally fucking crazy. I recorded drums, vocals, guitars, second guitars, third guitars, organ and backing vocals for Black Holes in the Sand, mixed and edited Diane and then scrapped the drums, third guitars and backing vocals on Black Holes because they weren't very good. I re-recorded the drums again, then scrapped them again. Then I found that everything I recorded on Cubase was covered in digital clicks, not present on any other recording software I have on the same machine. I changed the latency on the soundcard on advice from Cubase users, and the machine restarted itself. I tried again, and the machine shut down. I gave up and carried on recording, removing the clicks afterwards using the declicker on Cool Edit Pro. What a fucking shambles. I have to get the EP finished by tuesday.
When I get home on saturday I will continue pushing the rock up the mountain. I hate Cubase and I want to kill whoever created it. If you try to stop me I will kill you as well. I had more success with N-Track, the Italian freeware multitracker. It crashed all the time, but at least it didn't pretend to be any good. Cubase is a perverse labrynth of staggeringly obvious design flaws.

When the EP is done, I am going to try switching to Sonar to record the rest of the album. Duncan Fleming seems to think it is good.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Played the Spitz last night. It was great. We rocked. The only real downside was the rider, which consisted of some potato wedges covered in something white and runny. Must remember to tell them I only eat spit-roasted game.

Came home to proceed with recordings for the EP. To add to my Sysiphian struggles, everything I recorded on Cubase is now covered in digital clicks. Someone up there is intent on stamping my balls into soup.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Returned from a press trip to Europe, which was exhausting but not at all stressful, due to the determinate nature of each day's itinerary. By contrast, most days spent at home involve tackling a random list of.... hey, fuck that, check out these pictures of Joan Ferguson from Prisoner: Cell Block H



And here's Bea Smith with her face smashed in:

Those were the days.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Our new rehearsal space fell through with crashing inevitably. A room behind a kebab shop, below an artists's studio, the artist subletting to us, and probably covering her rent in the process. Two minutes into the first song and the shop owner hammers on our door. He knows nothing about any bands rehearsing behind his shop, and cannot tolerate it. Which is fair enough; if I worked a fourteen hour day in a boiling hot kitchen I wouldn't want to hear us rehearsing either. And if he thought we were loud, he wouldn't have enjoyed the racket made by the Azalea City Penis Club, who were due in the next evening. It seems the artist never really discussed it with him. "She's damp in the 'ead, innit", he explained repeatedly. I fear she might be. I spoke to her on the phone. To my utter incredulity, she insisted you can't hear the noise inside the shop. In which case the shop owner must have detected our rehearsal through some kind of telepathic means. He also told us how little he was paying to rent the shop with three bedrooms above it, from the same landlord. Oh the humiliation.

I now have to get everyone's money back. A complete and utter waste of fucking time and energy.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I've put tracks together for an EP planned for the autumn. I've scrapped everything thusfar recorded for the album, and moved into a bigger room at the front of the house, and moved our bedroom into the back. Looks like we are making some progress on securing a more permanent practice room. I did manage to record Diane, and i'm pretty pleased with it. This aside, my current recording constraints coupled with other frustrations have resulted in my contracting RAGE, the infection from the film 28 Days Later, and I want to kill and destroy everything in my path.

Today has been a good day. Didn't even have to use my AK.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Busy times not doing enough recording. Band rehearsals are sounding very exciting; we are only just beginning to tap into the potential. The sound of a solo bedroom recording outfit confidently evolving into a three-piece sonic folk ensemble.

Still haven't been able to pin down a proper rehearsal space to leave all our equipment. You'd think a major city like Bristol would have the facilities, but no. Acres and acres of empty office space and magnolia shoe box Ikea-framed Mark Rothko yuppie flats owned by property parasites and buy-to-rent chancers available now. Exciting Harbourside Development! Very few left!

Spent weeks trying to make my electric guitar sound good. Bought a second guitar, an Epiphone archtop semi, about as far from my Telecaster as you can get. Buying and selling amps and losing money in the process with alarming regularity, still haven't pinned down 'the sound'. Have to mix with turtle-necked weekend blues warriors who know tube amps, unlike us clueless indie kids. Bad music, high end knowledge of vintage amplification technology. Mild mannered accountant by day, Blind Lemon Badass by night. I got da blues Mama... I got a plastic framed Mark Rothko print with the words 'Mark Rothko' along the bottom so I know who the fuck he is. Workin' on the railroad. Workin' in a small accounting firm in Midsomer Norton.

Friday, April 30, 2004

I have neglected to write anything for about a month. Here's a rundown of what has happened:

Black Forest/ Black Sea stayed over as part of their tour of Europe. We put on a superb show for them at Bar Unlimited in Bristol. While they were here we recorded two hours of improvised noise, and Jeffrey and Miriam added cello and acid-guitar to a track i've been recording. I also recorded two tracks with Dave on drums.

My new approach to engineering has been this: put a microphone in front of the instrument you want to record, and press the button marked 'record'. Then play something on your instrument. This has thusfar proven to have pretty much the same results as all the crap I was wasting time on last month. Essentially, the room sounds bad, so I don't want to hear it. My Alesis Microverb III medium hall setting sounds far superior. Thus I am close micing everything like a Steely dan record, but then adding outrageous, Walker Brothers levels of budget reverb.

How to make your record sound like a Gravenhurst record:
1) Record everything closely in a bad sounding room.
2) Overlay lots of parts so you can't hear the cars, people and central heating in the background.
3) Use an Alesis Microverb III reverb unit on everytyhing except for the bass guitar. Maybe use some on the bass guitar anyway.
4) You didn't use enough. Go back and use some more.
5) Have a conversation about how you want the next album to sound like it was recorded live by Steve Albini.

I wrote a new song and quickly jotted it down using a stereo mic and minidisk. Hey presto, that guitar sound I was looking for, accidentally discovered, never to be replicated. A perfect recording marred only by the sound of the next door neighbour's dog emptying her bowels in the garden.

I am now about half way through the recording of the basic tracks. I hope to finish the album by the end of June, when Flashlight will be released. I also have to record some tracks for an interim EP.

We are trying to secure a rehearsal space, so we can be loud. This is proving rather difficult. None of us have transport and I can't drive.

Friday, March 19, 2004

This week I have mainly been using the Nederlandsche Omroep Stichting stereo microphone configuration.

I watched Dario Argentos' Tenebrae today and felt the kind of disappointment one might feel when the DVD of 2001: A Space Odyssey you received for Christmas turns out to be an ex-rental video of the Best of Hale and Pace.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I am having dreams about being wrapped in a stinking green velvet curtain, and buried alive inside a vocal booth, with Steve Albini and Bob Weston as the two gravediggers. The whole thing is being recorded directly onto an Otari MX50/50 1/ 2 inch 8 track reel-to-reel through a pair of Coles 4038s either side of my head, in order to capture the 'ambience'. For some reason, John Craven is engineering the event.

Decided to try a non-coincident pair of 4041s, one halfway up the neck, and the other on the tail/soundboard. Pretty happy with the sound
Couldn't get a decent take down, taking a break.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Good couple of days. Started recording with the old Akai 12 track due to the PC debacle (still waiting toget it returned via InSecuricor). Set up the two 4041s as a crossed XY pair inside the vocal booth, and set up the 4050 for vocals. When I say 'vocal booth' I mean the 5'x5' walk-in wardrobe which I deadened with some ancient green curtains, ripe with the accumulated stench of forty years in a Bedminster working men's club. Obviously it's quite a tight squeeze in there, with three mic stands, a headphone amp, a stool and a guitar. In fact it's downright oppressive; a bit like recording in solitary confinement, which may or may not enhance the ambience of the recordings.

There isn't too much crossover as the 4041s sound best right at the tail-end of the guitar over the soundboard, fairly far from the vocal mic. The vocal mic unavoidably picks up the guitar, but there is no phase problems. I got a guitar and vocal down simultaneously for a song, then added some organ, and got a guitar take down for another.

Kind of nullified the point of having a polyphonic organ; the top notes were much louder than the lower ones, so I ended up multitracking chords as separate notes to get the right balance.

The 4050 works pretty well on my voice. It's perhaps a little too sensitive, brittle even, on the top end, accentuating the 'airy' sound of the vocal, but on the whole it's pretty damn good.

There's a limit to what I an do now though; need the PC as the Delta A/D converters should whip the Akai's ass.

Watched lots of League of Gentelmen as not-so-light relief. It seems i'm about five years behind on popular culture.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


The new PC turned up, via Securicor, upside down, and the processor fan had fallen off inside, presumably when the couriers played catch with it on their tea-break. The guy who made it for me explained how to get it back on over the phone, and thankfully it all seems to be working, so no need for an insurance claim there. I've never received anything expsenive through the post that hasn't turned up buggered in some way. The Philicorda was sent mint and arrived mute and dented, and the guy who sent it to me explained over the phone how to take it apart and resolder the speakers back in. It wasn't the speakers after all, it was the amp, and I sellotaped a torch to my head and climbed inside a terrifyingly meaningless bank of transistors, sellotaped a key down and stuck wires to each other until I got a sound out of it.

Just waiting on the new LCD monitor to fire up the PC.

A frustrating but illuminating few days. I think i've used every configuration possible with the mics I have. The XY coincident pair and A/B spaced pair of small diaphragms sound pretty good but still aren't giving me the 'woody' sound on Jansch's 'Rosemary Lane' album. Placing a mic halfway up the fingerboard pointing towards the picking fingers should give the 'cat-gut string' sound (like Jansch and Dake ; I thought this was due to never changing their strings or actually using gut strings, but it seems it's a trademark John Wood engineering technique...). Detailed here:


However, this approach didn't quite do it. Good resource that, though.. I seemed to get a 'woodiser' 'guttier' sound by pairing this with a mic somewhere near the other end of the guitar pointing towards the sound board (the body behind the bridge).

One thing I have been doing to ensure there are no phasing problems is to use the two mics and get a good tone in mono first; once I have a good tone I pan it gently to a good stereo sound (often the mono sounds better). I haven't read of anyone else using this 'two mics in mono' approach first, so either it's a massive engineering mistake or i'm a fucking fucking fucking genius. I strongly suspect the former. I suddenly panicked about phasing problems, and went back and listened to Internal Travels and Flashlight Seasons in mono to check that whole parts don't suddenly disappear. Considering we aren't remastering Flashlight on the Warp re-release this is rather important. Thankfully, both Cds translate very respectably to mono. That was a fluke, but it's very probably because I only used one mic for most of FS, so there is no great depth of stereo field. It would more likely be a problem with IT, as we used two mics on the guitar. Which leads me to a very strange quandary: I seemed to get my best acoustic guitar sound thusfar on IT using two SM57's, which are universally acknowledged to be the wrong kind of mic to use on an acoustic as they have little top end response to catch the transients from acoustics. We used two at either end of the guitar (my mate Phil's guitar, an Aria SW-20 which used to be mine, but I sold to him when i was poor then borrowed indefinitely till I bought this Simon and Patrick. A rather contrived arrangement). After various experiments it sounded great, even though we used no dedicated preamps, unbalanced leads straight into a Roland VS880 complete with retarded onboard digital compression. The patient and talented Simon Grant of The Signal and Azalea City Penis Club engineered that, and I really don't understand how he got it sounding that good. Surely with my high quality gear I can improve on that sound.

Another day, another budget engineering anomaly.

Been listening to Radio Caroline (on short term illegal broadcast); fantastic. Smog and the theme tune to the Wicker Man at midday on a thursday.


Experimented with the wide diaphragm AT4050 mic on the acoustic in various positions; think I actually prefer the rather unforgiving but precise sound of the small diaphragm 4041. Tried loads of positions in systematic order. Discovered that the original take I thought was a wrap is actually distorting slightly on the second microphone; had it up too high. Bugger. I've kind of killed my enthusiasm for that track for now so will start over on a different song, recording straight to the PC via the Delta 44 soundcard which should have better A/D converters than the Akai 12 track. Maybe try a take with vocals and guitar simultaneously to one mic, as it's a 'loose' kind of song. I tried to write a song like 'There Was a Man' by Pearls Before Swine, and it either sounds too much like it or simply isn't as good as it. Note to self: don't try to write songs that have already been written.

Going to see School of Rock tonight.


Got 'Messages', the War Against Sleep debut album through the post from Fire Records; superb. A totally coherent work.

Got a guitar part down. New XLR lead from Mind (Sound) Control was faulty, second time in a row, so couldn't get drums down. Another morning will be wasted in town tomorrow exchanging it.

Using two AT4041s overhead and the notorious 57 on the snare. The Neve preamp I bought makes a dramatic difference.; extremely detailed sound. The mics take on a new life; the Midiman Audio Buddys I was using before sound distorted and crassly mid-range in comparison. The two 4041s on the acoustic sound very 'real'. Perhaps a little too accurate, might have to try the 4050 as it's not a great guitar.

It's not until you have some proper equipment that you realise how bad the stuff you were making do with was.


Tried to do some recording today but didn't get any further than the bathroom, which I cleaned whilst listening to Zen Arcade. The bathroom is quite far from the lounge so I turned it up very loud, so the whole street got to enjoy it too. Then I spent a few hours trying to make Andrew a Husker Du compilation, which I've just lost somewhere in the office. Now I have finally got the PC stabilised I don't know what to do with myself. Wasted some more time on the Choke forum. Going with Erin to review a Mexican restaurant tonight. I've got about two hours free to do some recording now. Instead i'm writing a weblog. Going to see Andrea Hernandez, Emily Breeze, Rita Lynch and Rasha Shaheen play at the Folk House tomorrow.

Idea for a film: Stoned Alone. Teenager's parents go away for a week, leaving him with free run of the house. He plans a big party, getting his promoter mate to get Public Enemy down for a live PA, and maybe set up a brothel in the front room like in that Tom Cruise film 'Risky Business'. But instead he does a bong and looks at some internet porn.


Spent another 50-odd quid on leads at Mind Control. I've got the Neve mic preamp now as well as the mics; just waiting on the new PC. No excuses.

Played a solo gig at the Cube Cinema; Float Records launch for Mole Harness album and Knowledge of Bugs EP. Very good night. Mole Harness was particularly good; ecstatic rave-anthems slowed down, with New Order guitars. When I came off the stage someone asked me if I was into Joan Armatrading. I said I thought it was the kind of music I might eat a packed lunch to. Duncan Fleming played strange records in the bar and I got drunk. Textbook night out.


Decided to start a weblog. Why, I don't know. I certainly don't need another internet-based folly to distract me from recording, so that's precisely what i've arranged. I suppose the idea is to document the recording of the next album, which is precisely what such an activity will impede upon.

Went to the One Stop Thali in Montpelier for a friend's birthday. I think the food is rubbish, but everyone else raves about it, particularly vegetarians. The chickpea dish tastes like Vesta Boil-in-the-Bag Curry. Too much cumin. The relishes are quite nice though. Great atmosphere. We ended up at the Star and Garter which could have got messy. We left earlier than everyone else, smoked a spliff on the way back through St Werburghs, which felt like an appropriate gesture with which to end the evening.