Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Now then, now then. Been a while ain't it. Things have started getting busy with preparing for the release of the first single from the album what with artwork, remixes, new websites and all the getting-recognised-by-the-general-public-role-playing (just so we're used to it, ready). Still, it's been on Radio 1 and XFM and Kerrang, and my mum's Hi-Fi she got off my dad for Christmas in 1994 so it's going alright. Krish's mum's already given it 5 stars, but she likes The Hoosiers and the sound of foxes mating, so...
Anyway, I posted the making-of thing a while back, so here's the actual video. I prefer the making-of personally. The real thing's got a rubbish sense of humour. Enjoy:
Sunday, 30 May 2010
Last week we were in Holland. It went a bit like this:
Wednesday 19th May
The ferry over’s called the Pride of Hull (insert Hull-is-shit joke). We’re pissed before we leave the port and we go to dinner just as we start moving and it feels like we’re on a shake-the-fat-off-with-a-vibrating-rubber-band machine, only powered by AAAs. We drag along the muddy riverbed and I reckon the vibrating must help compact food in your stomach. Lucky, cause it’s a buffet, which Slurpy sees as a challenge to make money by eating so much food the raw ingredients would cost more than the price of the meal. He eats 4 plates piled high, much in the manner of Obelix at the feast at the end of Asterix books, but without the blue and white look-at-me-I’m-a-Frenchman leggings.
We’re like snakes stuffed with hippos after dinner and stagnate in the bar watching Eric Bristow and some other ex darts world champion chuck a couple of arrows with strangers. I imagine their fee is a bundle of dirty fivers each and a free bar, but they have to pack down their own board, stand and lighting pretty quick to make way for resident guitar-vocalist, Robbie! 35 year old Robbie is a bag of dreams beaten with the claw end of a reality hammer and thrown in a bin the striking binmen will never empty, even after the strike is over. He opens with Mustang Sally, follows with Summer of ’69, and we leave the 8 other people in the bar to their lethargic clapping and go to bed.
Thursday 20th May Luxor Live, Arnhem
In Rotterdam we find a coffee shop and 10 minutes later we’re smiling inanely at the table. On our way to Arnhem we stop by the side of a road and set up to have a jam. People stop to watch, including a couple of council workers, who say there’s no problem, they just want to listen. A small boy and his mum cycle past and she says he’s just been talking about wanting to learn drums. Lee offers the boy a go and walks towards him gesturing but the boy doesn’t speak English, becomes terrified his mum is selling him and jumps back on his bike.
At Luxor Live the crew cook a beautiful meal and we all eat together, unlike in England where you might get thrown a dodgy pork pie to fight over. The Dutch are so relaxed they leave long silences in conversation as though they can’t be bothered to say anything. If they were English these silences would be awkward, but really they’re just allowing time to pass and things to exist. When you ask, “Do you want us to sound check before eating or after?” they reply, “Errr you know you sound check before you sound check after it’s ok.”
On the way to the hotel back in Den Haag, Krish is desperate to urinate. There’s nowhere to pull over on the motorway and Krish is almost ready to open the van door and risk his life for some relief from the stretched waterbomb of his bladder. When we finally pull over Krish sprints from the van and bores a hole in the a tree he unleashes on, like a timelapse film of acid rain damage.
Friday 21st May Bazart, Den Haag
In Den Haag we spend the day at the beach. Lee drinks so much coffee that cardiac exercise becomes superfluous and when we leave, the barman gives the kind of ironman handshake that lets you know, if he had a fight with Jaws, he’d choke him to death. At the gym he neglects his quadriceps, biceps and triceps, in favour of a brutal chokerceps regime.
After we play, the woman sat with the club manager tells us she’s not drinking tonight as she got really drunk last week and was badly behaved. It’s penitence. She says it’s worth it just for how much she’ll enjoy it next time, like when she doesn’t have sex for a couple of weeks and then the next time is amazing. There’s a moment’s awkward silence as she just looks at us and Lee replies, “What’s sex?” Another silence as she tries to figure out the best way to explain sex to an English man who’s managed to avoid it for so long.
In a bar called Supermarkt Krish walks straight to the stage at the back, climbs the steps and calmly surveys his surroundings. He smiles and drops into his crab dance on beat. He chucks a few hip thrusts out and pretty soon some guy’s battling him before admitting defeat and trying to imitate. Back in the room Slurps notices the only decoration in the room, a small sculpture of a woman, has the head of Lovejoy and the body of Pat Butcher.
Most toilets in Holland have the hole right at the front of the bowl and a display shelf covering about 70% at the back half, so that after defecating you can admire your work. Not a great idea when you’re living on booze and caffeine and squeezing out thin, dark, wet, cat shits, but maybe the display shelf’s there so Dutch people can see what sort of health they’re in. Dutch people are probably too used to this faecal display mechanism to find these musings even remotely interesting but that’s cultural relativism for you init.
Saturday 22nd May Vera, Groningen
In the morning Lee goes out to get some breakfast and gets mugged by a St Bernard at the door. He turns round just as Beethover leans over him, stood at full height on his back legs, and pins him against the wall, before tearing away at the bread and cheese and paté Lee has bought. A man in the street tries to help and it all ends up in laughter and someone probably falls in love and then cries their flippin’ eyes out.
We drive up to Groningen, stopping to sunbathe by a lake. Vera is the coolest venue we’ve played at. Everyone in the world has played there from Nirvana to U2 to the The Flaming Lips and on and on and on. We smash the gig and the debauchery can begin. We drink with Sico, who works at the venue, and his girlfriend. At one place Me and Krish get in the middle of a developing mosh pit and slow dance them all to calmness. The Dutch are so polite and accommodating that it only takes a minute before we’ve stopped the moshing.
Back at Vera, Krish is forehead to forehead with a Viking stranger, each man’s hands holding the back of the other’s head and pulling towards their own in an effort to collapse the other’s skull. The first man to give up loses and after about a minute both men are gritting their teeth and grunting and it’s no longer a fun game. It’s David vs. Goliath, good vs. evil, England v. Holland. They draw, both agreeing to stop, and Krish is left with a graze and a bruised forehead. Meanwhile, Lee plays Sico at handslapping. They take turns slapping each others’ hand, whoever gives up first loses. Sico wins, and his girlfriend asks to play me. I don’t want to, and she accuses me of being sexist. In the interest of feminism I do my best to break her hand and she gives in, and I avenge Lee’s loss in the most manly of fashions. Slurpy falls down some stairs, we eat some pizza, we sleep.
Sunday 23rd May Waerdse Tempel, Heerhugowaard
The hotel rooms in Heerhugowaard are themed and massively erotic. Krish and Lee take ‘Marakesh’ whilst Slurps and me enjoy ‘Royalty’ and its silk sheets. Normally my keys and money never leave my pockets, but somehow I’ve managed to leave both, and my ipod, and my passport, in Groningen. I’m glad the stage is massive at tonight’s gig so I don’t have to stand in the others’ punching zones. After the gig, we can’t handle more drink and so just smoke. After a while Krish is saying, “I don’t even know how to stand any more. I’m trying things out but it seems like it’s all been done before, it’s all just clichés,” and we go bed.
Monday 24th May
The breakfast room in the hotel is decked out like a strip club. By this morning, our tour diet of coffee, weed, tequila, overeating, orange juice, sunburn and tinnitus is taking its toll. All four of us draw gum blood when we brush our teeth. After a 4-hour detour to collect my valuables we get to Rotterdam. Since being in Holland we've seen an icecream van with 'slag room' written on it, a road sign for somewhere called 'ringsneek' and other similar signs that make immature young men giggle. In Rotterdam we add a pub called 'Bender's' and a window painted with the words 'Van Nelle Shag'.
We leave a coffee shop when Lee realises there’s some guy smoking smack, and 20 yards from the coffee shop another guy punches through a bank window then walks off with blood pouring from his hand and leaving a squiggly trail behind. We have a couple of coffees, admire a statue of Santa with what’s either a massive and strangely shaped lolly, or a huge butt plug. We head home.
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Monday 15th March 2010
After the hoop-jumping, back-bending, how-high palaver of securing US Visas, we leave Leeds towards London, ready for our flight the next morning, and a red van starts changing lanes without looking. It swerves just before smashing into us as Lee holds the horn down. Our hearts are now banging out about 180bpm and we have to go straight back to Krish’s cause I’ve left my passport and money at his house.
Tuesday 16th March 2010
At 4:30am We leave Lee’s sister’s for Heathrow, drive past long term parking 3 times and then hit the car we’re parking behind. Slurpy’s bass drum case is stuffed to the brim with his cymbals, click track, snare, and all of our clothes and it weighs about two hernias. He carries it like an empty handbag.
The plane is packed with bands and music industry going to South By South West. Huw Stephens is asleep just behind me to the left and I consider seeing how much stuff I can pile on him and take photos before he wakes up, like Buckaroo for grown ups, but I decide there are too many people awake and aware who would think I run a weird fetish website based on innocent but inconvenient real life recreations of childhood boardgames.
We land, obviously, to Susan Boyle singing Wild Horses, and get our connecting flight from Dallas to Austin. The captain seems to have a rare form of turrets based partly on his own hunger and partly on his desire to be a Roy Lichtenstein painting. At the end of the first announcement he pauses briefly, then says ‘toast!’ and stops. At the end of the next announcement, regarding takeoff, he pauses at the end, then goes ‘Zooooom!’ When we hit the runway in Austin we don’t get the ‘Bosh!’ I’m hoping for. I leave my passport in the pocket of the chair in front and cause a bit of a security panic when I try to go back onto the plane.
We go to the wrong Doubletree Hotel, have to call another cabbie, who has a big bag of weed in the front and doesn’t seem to want to charge us, and we get to the right place. We head downtown for something to eat and find a Chinese restaurant with massive horse sculptures in it and a friendly waiter. He asks what we’re all having and then whether we want white or brown rice. We all want white. He points at Lee and says ‘white’, then at Slurps, ‘white’, then at me and says ‘white’, and finally at Krish and says ‘brown’. It’s hard not to shout ‘racist’ at him, but he might miss the irony, and it’s our first night.
Krish smokes the night away after making us swear we wouldn’t let him, but me and Lee can’t be bothered getting into a fight with him and having to smash his beautiful little face in, so we just remind him he’s a disappointment to everyone he knows.
Wednesday 17th March 2010
We wake up and get breakfast in bed. We’re not used to American portions so, after the equivalent of an English breakfast, each bite of the super-absorbent, half-inch thick pancakes is like trying to choke down a dirty, damp flannel. Lee does a phone interview for the Yorkshire Evening Post and we head downtown to check out the venue and eat burgers. The traffic’s so bad we have to head back to the hotel to get our gear straight away. We watch The Temper Trap film an acoustic session by the hotel pool till the next shuttle bus comes.
We drop our gear at the venue and hand out some flyers. Some American girls immediately become our street team in order to hang around with us and look at our beautiful faces and listen to our magical accents until the gig starts. Nearly all American girls here are called Lisa, Laura, Laurie, Lauren or Lindsey.
Thursday 18th March 2010
We arrive at The British Music Embassy at 10am as requested and discover we won’t be needed for an hour and a half. It’s just like in England, but not nearly as bad as having to get to the venue last night at 6pm and not being needed for five and a half hours. We get smoothies from a smoothie bar and you can choose one ‘power shot’ to go in it. There’s one for energy, one for immunity and so on. Lee orders invisibility and soon feels himself disappearing from the crotch down. I want the ability to pause time but they don’t have that.
After sound check we flyer 6th Street and I get distracted by some girls hoola-hooping in bikinis in order to get customers into the bar they work at, which is called Bikinis. I spend a while telling them they’re shit at hoola-hoop and asking why they haven’t been trained properly and I know they really appreciate my constructive criticism, especially when I tell them the drunk bearded guy asking for a go is sexier than all of them. The sound at The British Music Embassy is amazing and immediately after the gig we’re ploughing through the free drinks.
Local news reporter Jade Mingus interviews me just before I’m no longer capable and by the time Slow Club are finished we’re Oliver Stone. By the time The Crookes have played we’re Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas and by the time The Grammatics come on stage we’re so flammable there’s a danger I’ll spontaneously combust every time my throat rasps as I shout at Owen that he’s fucking well cool. Our gear has been removed from the venue and piled up outside. I head off to see Mike Snow and the others head back to the hotel.
It’s happy hour at the hotel bar and Krish, Lee and Slurps ask the bar maid to deliver burgers and more margaritas to the Jacuzzi. Three security guards come to watch/supervise as Lee starts singing at the top of his voice into the tubes in the Jacuzzi. These tubes come out in the pool and amplify his voice around the hotel. He shouts ‘Jesus’ and ‘Vivaldi’ alternately until it’s time to break into the conference room and steal cookies and coke to go with the burgers and margaritas. Slurpy meets some English guys in the bar who’ve never played at South By South West and tells them they’ll be fine for their gig, that the crowd are nice and not to worry or be nervous. He asks what their band is called. It’s called Hole.
After failing to get some porn on the TV, Lee passes out and Krish and Slurpy go back downtown. Slurpy tries to give some money to a tramp and gets rejected by the offended homeless man. Krish rings Lee to come back out saying “I would love you to be here man. We’re on 18th street. Oh god, we’ve got to get some food, we’re in hell on earth.” Krish puts his phone back in his pocket without hanging up and Lee can hear him telling Slurpy, “I’m serious man, I’m gonna be sick over this bridge.” Slurpy asks where Lee is, Krish remembers, recovers his phone and changes plan, “Things are not good man, stay there, we’re coming home.”
Friday 19th March 2010
We wake up feeling like we’ve been in a Sahara-Desert-eating contest and we’re all losers. At breakfast the waiter says he saw us on the news last night. It’s a glorious sunny day of interviews at the Convention Centre, along with free massage and drinks in the artists’ lounge. Everyone thinks we’re younger than we are due to our exuberant outlook, our buoyant laughter and our underdeveloped physical appearance.
We bounce between Buffalo Billiard Lounge and Soho on 6th Street and drink our hands surgeon-steady again before gradually working our way back to old-lady-trying-to-slowly-shake-hands-in-an-earthquake. Going back to Buffalo Billiard Lounge the bouncer asks Lee if he’s having a good time. Lee says yeah, he’s had a couple of drinks; he’s a little bit drunk. A guy from inside the venue runs out and pushes Lee over, puts his knee in his chest and says he’s putting the whole bar at risk. Apparently, in America, you have to be careful what you say about drink to people making their living selling you drink. You can buy their drink, just don’t let it take any chemical effect; tipsiness is as dangerous as atheism here.
What happens next is a blur but it involves putting some Radio 1 employees through their paces, doing forward rolls in the middle of the road, teaching a group of girls the crab dance and explaining how massive it is in England, Krish and Slurps taking a spill in the pizza queue and people treading over them, Krish dancing samba in the street like he’s an instructor in Pineapple Dance Studio, going to Iron Cactus and ordering death drinks and Krish thinking he can’t go on and having to drink some water.
Getting into the shuttle bus home Lee clips his nipple on the door and the driver asks if he needs a medic and launches into a story about nipples, “I know a guy who got his nipple bitten off by a beaver, man.” He says him and his mate were in a car and hit a beaver. His mate picked the lifeless beaver up and said, “Look man there’s not even any blood.” On cue the beaver came round and took his mate’s whole nipple off through his clothes. The driver goes on to speak about racoons, always referring to them as ‘coons’. Maybe he’s mates with the Chinese restaurant waiter. He says that when you harvest rice you do it in a spiral from the outside in, so all the animals hide in the middle. They used to trap the racoons and use them for their fur, and this guy from out of town, this city guy he knew, was having a go at catching a racoon. It jumped up and bit the city guy’s hand and fucked it up. He was trying to shake it off and when it let go it starting chewing his balls, it just latched on. The driver and his other friend laughed so hard they couldn’t help the city guy. Almost incapacitated by laughter, but scared city guy was going to bleed to death, the driver, “had to kick the coon off the guy’s dick.” He just, “kicked the coon right off his crotch!”
Saturday 20th March 2010
Slurpy is going to try to eat a 4lb burger at Bikinis later in order to try to win a T shirt, and to prove that he can, but it doesn’t stop him having the now quotidian meateggsflannel breakfast. Our manager is going to join him in the challenge. We meet at 4pm at Bikinis and the burgers are the size of a dinner plate and about 3 inches thick including the bun. Slurps is half way through before he starts struggling and Tony decides to dip his bread in his Dr Pepper, screw it up into a ball and eat it like an apple. Slurps struggles not to vomit. After an hour, Tony has had to stop, and Slurpy is working away at the crisps and salad with a pallid, sweaty face and an occasional suppressed gip. He clearly wants to stop, but to paraphrase Macbeth, he has now stepped so deep in meat that to turn back were as tedious as go o’er.
He comes out victorious and wins a T-shirt with the slogan ‘Not tonight ladies. I’m just here for the burgers.’
Sunday 21st March 2010
We wake up late and decide to sunbathe by the pool. I go down and Lee and Krish aren’t with their stuff so I set myself down amongst the West Virginia cheerleading team, who are here with the basketball team, who are at training. They are soulless materialists who spend their time talking about how they hate this or that celebrity for getting fucking fat. Or how this or that celebrity is a saint because he said he wouldn’t abandon his child once some other celebrity gave birth to it and that he wouldn’t even cheat on her. They are shallow to the point of concavity and I choose to listen to Blur’s Stereotypes on my ipod and enjoy the sun.
Monday 22nd March 2010
We go to Denny’s after checking out of the hotel, eat a lot, and head to the airport for the long flight back to our other reality.
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
You've seen the behind the scenes video in my last blog, you've bought the novelty fondu set, you've reorganised your perceptions of time according to when the chorus and then the first verse and then the middle 8 and then etc etc kick in, and now you can play the song, because Me and Krish have tabbed out It's Not Over Yet and it really properly took right well long. Enjoy:
Thursday, 28 January 2010
I've been away in India for 3 weeks dancing on the beach for New Year, swimming in waterfalls and chillin with cows. But now I'm back and it's gonna be a good year for Middleman. I know cause I heard a rumour that it said it in someone's horoscope once.
We're playing at South by South West in Texas in March, and our first single from our debut album's going to be out soon after, in late March or early April. Here's some behind the scenes stuff from the video shoot:
Friday, 18 December 2009
I hadn’t been to Amsterdam for 6 years, which is about how old I was when I used to play on my mum’s BBC computer. Bat and ball was wicked, and so were Monsters and Chucky Egg, but it’s Frogger I want to give special mention to in this blog. If you’ve never played it, but you’ve been to Amsterdam, just imagine you’re trying to cross the street there and that you’re a frog, and you’ve pretty much got it. The traffic’s nuts: cars, trams, bikes, buses, lorries, pedestrians using running as a legitimate form of business-man-transport. Legitimate not cause they’re late, just cause they’re Dutch.
My mate Gaz right, when he gets properly on one, there’s no stopping him. He can get knocked down, and he just gets back up again and takes it on the chin and other clichés. He’s like that Chumba Wumba song about Weebles, but less egg-shaped. He spends a while doing what he said was an important dance, a dance that mattered, at strangers in a bar who don’t agree with its significance. Then when the bar closes and he’s not got the audience his dance deserves, he starts telling people he’s Rupert Grint off Harry Potter. He had people taking photos with him all night, and got 3 free tickets into a club, and an apology from the guys on the door for not being able to give him more. By the end of the night he's pushing 13 pence sterling in my hand and saying, "Get me a meat." But than doesn't stop him trying to engage Amsterdam residents in a game of burger tennis using their hedge as a net on the walk home.
During the weekend I wondered something I’ve wondered a few times before. When you’re intoxicated, and things seem amazing or you have a brilliant idea, is it because you’re mind is in a higher, more open state, or is it because your mind is slowed down and so regular things seem incredible. It’s the old, absolute/relative argument. You know the kind of realisation I mean. Like, when music feels 3D with all the layers criss-crossing and you lay back in it like a massive sonic hammock, or when the person on the telly says the same word as you at the same time with the same intonation whilst looking straight at you. Or when you realise for the first time that even though the chicken and the egg are so closely linked, you never eat chicken and egg as a meal. Bacon and Eggs, sausage and eggs, ham and eggs, but never chicken and eggs, or you REALLY appreciate, and are proud of, portmanteau words like Nanslator and Amsterdamage, or your yawns taste like ironic pins and needles, or you decide you’ll make your fortune by selling Disease Monopoly to Hasbro and that the brown ones would be STDS, and the greens and navies would all be terminal illnesses.
Or you hear a song lyric differently to how you’ve heard it before like:
‘The people you’ve been before
that you don’t want around anymore
they push and shove, and won’t bend to you will
I’ll keep them still” (Elliott Smith Between The Bars)
and you realise that the first bit could mean that you don’t want to be like you used to be, or that you suffered mental illness and want to stay sane, and that the second bit could mean I will prevent these ‘people’ from coming back by keeping them still (inanimate/dormant), or that I will keep them, still. I will still keep them. You realise then that within the 4 different combinations of these various halves there are dozens of different nuances that could apply in each case. Is it, ‘I will still keep them, despite you hating them, because they are part of you, or is it, I will still keep them, so that you don’t have to. I’ll keep them for you, as in the Spanish ‘por’ not ‘para’. I’ll keep them instead of you so that you’re free from the burden. In the first part, if you don’t want to be like before, does that mean you don’t want to act like you used to, or act or think like you used to, or not even have memories of what you were like before?
Here’s a government Ven diagram showing the crossover:
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Take David Attenborough. People know he travels all over the world to look at animals that he could just as easily see on telly without having to wait around for ages. What people don't realise is that he travels exclusively by sprinting non-stop for weeks and weeks over mountains and through deserts. Course he walks or stands still when the camera's on him, otherwise he'd just be a blur of muscle. Sometimes he crouches. Now, gorillas are about 10-15 times stronger than your average man, but just look at this one cower as the man-mountain Attenborough threatens to punch it right in its simian face if it doesn't shut up about his coat looking like a flasher jacket:
Also, I've done a survey and 9 out of 10 girls said they'd get theoretically naked for David back in the imaginary day. That's just how it is for Leggy men. In another survey, 9.5 out of 10 girls said they'd get naked if Gok Wan asked them and he don't even like girls. In case you're wondering, the 0.5 isn't cause I've averaged it out, I asked 20 girls and 2 said they'd get half naked. One said left half, the other said back half.
Having said all that, Daniel Lambert, the fattest man in Britain in the early 1800s (50 stone) was from Leicester, and so was Joseph Carey Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man. Now Danny ain't winning no Tour de France, and Joey's not signing no Hugo Boss contract. And I'm not employing no double negatives.