Nothing I say is written in stone.....
|Tuesday November 19th 2002|
|Late One Sunday Night In Deepest October 2002|
|Wednesday July 10th 2002|
|Thursday June 20th & Tuesday June 25th 2002|
|Saturday June 1st-Wednesday June 5th 2002|
|Saturday May 25th 2002|
|Wednesday April 24th-Monday April 29th 2002|
|Saturday April 6th 2002|
|Saturday March 16th-Wednesday March 20th 2002|
|Wednesday March 6th-Friday March 8th 2002|
|Monday February 11th-Friday February 15th 2002|
|Saturday February 9th 2002|
|Sunday February 3rd 2002|
|New Year 2002|
New Year 2002
NEW YEAR MESSAGE ...
Happy 2002 to everyone. Except geezers. And all those cruel to animals (or indifferent to or 'philosophical' about, their exploitation for any human purpose whatsoever). Come to think of it, there's a whole long list of exceptions, but I think that, deep down, all God's fuck-ups, of whatever stripe or colour, dimly know they are, and so I don't need to laboriously list them, right? (It would take until next New Year anyway!) But hey, hearty greetings to the rest of you!
We'll be recording a new LP any second now. Songs under consideration will be: 1) She Hangs In The Dark Like A Saint In A Cathedral 2) So The Lord sent Chantal 3) The Girl On the Escalator At HMV 4) Cold Coffee And Ava Gardner 5) Driving Home For Christmas, London SE5 6) Gigolo Moon 7) Your New Best Friend 8) First Days Of Armageddon 9) Party Frock 10) Hitcher 11) With Her Pop Art Lips And Cappuccino Skin 12) I Remember Sweater Girls Lip-Synching Supremes' Songs 13) The Hat-Check Girl (this one's a duet). We're looking for a string-bass player - and a cellist would be nice. (If we can't find them as permanent members we'll hire them for the recordings anyway). If you know a discerning string-bassist, tell him/her to get in touch.
What did you do over the never-ending holiday, then? Drink strong liquor? Watch crappy telly? I went for a walk, watched some crappy telly, found a stray dog (she's Corrinne and Lenny's now and her name's Betsy, she's beautiful), saw "Audition" (Japanese film. Outrageous! I won't say a word, just check it out for yourself!),"The Piano Teacher" (My!) and "Mulholland Drive"(My my!). ( Er, no I haven't seen "Lord Harry Potter's Ring" or whatever it's called yet, but I'm off to see "The Man Who Wasn't There" any day). Bought some clothes and books and records, etc. (Oxford Street's Virgin Megastore sold out of copies of our LP on December 22nd. When the fuck will they get copies back on the shelves!!). Got a Betty Page mouse-mat. Had some rows, read some books, bought a chain I thought might go with my nipple-rings .. Got 'recognised'! (Alas, it was while queuing for a urinal in a public toilet! This guy was complimenting me on my lyrics and the gig he saw, but all I could think was Why did it have to be here!).
The record-industry lies beached and belching after the festivities, as sated and complacent as a decadent Roman emperor rolling off his catamite's freshly-fucked rump. We're slapping its jowls, pouring strong coffee down it, etc., but it'll be some time yet before it's up and rearing to go. So I send you these greetings just in case you thought we'd decided to pack it in while we're at the top or something ..?
Happy New Year
Sunday February 3rd 2002
I'm waving all Kaili's eight arms in greeting to Sig (our ex-keyboard player), holed up in Goa. What a goer .
RIP Charlie Barlow.
We start recording the next LP on Feb. 11th.
Saw Brian Wilson at the Royal Festival Hall a few nights ago. A stupendous experience. Joint best gig I ever saw (along with the Who at the Hippodrome in Bristol). I saw the Beach Boys twice but they didn't move and thrill like Brian and his band did tonight. (Eric Clapton was up on his feet, jigging to Barbara Ann. Saw Peter Blake in the foyer. The night before, Corrinne said, was just B-list --- James Dean Bradfield, Bobbie Gillespie, etc.) Brian sat hunched before a keyboard he didn't play at all (the lyrics to the songs and his between-song patter scrolled up a monitor perched atop it). He fronted a 10-piece band (incorporating the Wondermints) and they were just staggering, note-perfect in every respect: you closed your eyes and "Surf's Up" and "Heroes And Villains" and "Sail On Sailor" just washed over you, sounding as complex and perfect as the records. Part 2 was "Pet Sounds" in its entirety and the encores were all the Sixties hits --- I mean all of them! What a genius
Off to see Gene Pitney tonight at the Theatre Royal. He's playing with a 55-piece orchestra. Along with Roy Orbison and Jacques Brel, the great torch-singer of the Sixties (male category). When he does "Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart" I'll cry. When he does "I'm Gonna Be Strong" I'll faint.
You're watching the 3-part Channel 4 thing on Andy Warhol, right?
They seemed to find it weird that he ate soup every day of his life. I eat soup every day of my life (strictly vegetable). What's so fucking weird about that! I also eat a plain jacket-potato every day! Now sport-- the liking thereof -- that's what I call fucking weird! .
Saturday February 9th 2002
Did the Andy Warhol retrospective at the Tate Modern. Andy was a darling. Andy was so cool. I wish I'd known him, I wish he'd lived down my street, I wish I could've hung out at the Factory, been in one of his movies, I'm narcissistic enough, but I grew up in a rainy Welsh valley where you just never came across decadence! I just wish I could've been in Andy's gang, that's all, he was so sage, so hip. I'd have ripped Valerie Solanas's fucking arse off! .. After the exhibition I went straight home and played "Songs For Drella": the 'Dream' that John Cale narrates just seems so perfectly Andy ..(I'd never have ignored him like Lou says he did. One day I'll write a song about him, like David Bowie). I used to read Andy's magazine, it beat the pants off frumpy old NME . The retrospective's very moving, everyone should go. Walter Benjamin wondered what would become of the artwork's aura of 'uniqueness' in the age of mechanical reproduction, but faced with Andy's multiple, endlessly reproduced soup-cans and Maos and Jackies and Marilyns you still just thought, just like you would before a Renaissance master: "Wow, Andy touched this .probably! Or at least stood around and watched while someone else did!" (Even the collaborations with Basquiat are good, and I always felt Basquiat was just trendy). Andy, you were just so great!
Corrinne's adding a new page to the website soon ---"This Week We Have Mostly Been Listening To ": here's a preview of mine: 1) Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch 2) If I Could Only Remember My Name by David Crosby 3) Songs For Drella by Lou Reed & John Cale 4) Brian Wilson Live At The Roxy 5) Insignificance by Jim O'Rourke. (I think Pod's will include Love & Theft and Exile On Main Street.)
Start recording tomorrow.
Monday February 11th-Friday February 15th 2002
Sessions for the next record, back at Escapade with Gary Brady. Fifteen songs to be recorded with 11 or 12 (or 13?) to be chosen for the LP. Day one I did acoustic guitar tracks and vocals for them all, second day we started overdubs, and by close of play on Tuesday we were well ahead --- "So The Lord Sent Chantal" sounds particularly strong. (Billy Jenkins, local guitar wizard, dropped by to see Gary. We and Billy hadn't seen each other since prehistoric times: he looks exactly the same as when we last saw him, just a bit greyer round the temples, but a cool hombre and a boho to the bone) . Day 3 proved a bastard! Endless problems, boring, frustrating as fuck. "Days Of Armageddon" was the (only) delight of the day. "Party Frock" and "Sweater Girls " have to be re-started from scratch. Gary's been playing harpsichord, melodica, various keyboards and electric bass. Day 4 and Ben Nicholls came in to play some upright bass on a few songs. (He met Paul Simon at his house in Long Island recently. "Paul Simon!" we cried, "He's a genius!". "He's tiny. And rather reserved," said Ben. So there you have it --- Paul Simon is a tiny and rather reserved genius). The re-make of "Party Frock" proved to be absolutely worth the effort. Late in the day we decided to completely re-do "Hat-Check Girl", with the lights down low and Stella Artois playing Yoko. Instantly it felt right. (Someone from Norway e-mailed us today to say "I Love My Angel's Plastic Wings" was the most beautiful song they'd ever heard, that it 'touched my soul' and made them desperate to get hold of the album. And a French guy recently contacted us to because he'd bought the LP and it was like 'I'd never really heard music before'! This is the kind of feedback that makes it worthwhile, that keeps you going when you feel out-gunned by the dunces). On the final day Suzanne Rattigan came in to duet with me on "Hat-Check Girl" and put some additional vocals on "Cold Coffee And Ava Gardner" and "Your New Best Friend". She's got a beautiful voice and nailed all her parts in single takes. (She told us about a Roger Waters session she did once. He sounds a little bit of a dick). Dave's played a kit on three tracks, just one microphone suspended in the middle of the room and it sounds fantastic! And to think 'getting a drum sound', used to take half a fucking day! .We're back here from March 18th to do a few more overdubs and start mixing. Maybe we should put out an EP with the stuff that doesn't make the album, plus the songs that were recorded for, but didn't get included on "The Way Of The World" ("Chainsaw Lullaby" and "Love's Epitaph In A Minicab"). We haven't taken any rough mixes away with us, so the stuff should sound good and fresh after a three-week lay-off
Saturday night we went to the Borderline to see Menlo Park, a band Ben Nicholls was playing bass, banjo and pedal-steel for. But alas, to my ears they sounded like an alt-country Barron Knights .
Wednesday March 6th-Friday March 8th 2002
CAFÉ LISBOA, PALMA , MALLORCA
Tomeu Gomila asked us over to Palma to do two nights here as part of his ongoing series of gigs, "Nits angleses al Lisboa", and we had a fantastic time. Tomeu whisked us off on a round of press, radio interviews and photo sessions, with him acting as interpreter. He's a BIG Tom Waits fan and a great guy and really did a brilliant job promoting us at these gigs. (A mention too for his friend Tony, who's studying philosophy at Barcelona and came over to Palma just to help Tomeu ferry us and our gear about.). The audiences were great, they really listened (to all those lyrics! In a foreign language!) and gave us a brilliant response. I'd played in Palma in another band but I didn't recognise anything, it was like I'd never been here, and it rained and rained and rained ! (The rain in Spain falls mostly on Songdog). Tomeu wanted me to stay on and do a gig at Stereo, Palma's equivalent of the Rough Trade shop, but the return-flight situation would've got messy, so maybe we can do it next time instead. We played quite a few of the songs from the next record and they sounded fine. Tomeu translated all the song-titles into Spanish for me to use onstage; funny how much better they sounded, more romantic, a bit profound! Maybe I'll write something about Palma waitresses, like Neus, (another philosophy student), let ' the snows of Catalan' symbolise her, forever recall that particular day. We met a lot of good people (gracias, Francisco for providing Pod's amp) and, like always, really didn't want to come back to philistine old Blighty. So, nice one, Tomeu! Here's a polaroid of us at Stereo with Tomeu and a picture of John & Yoko taken when they visited Palma in their search for Kyoko! .
Saturday March 16th-Wednesday March 20th 2002
Saturday afternoon we taped an interview at the BBC's Bush House with Alexander Kan of the World Service Russian section. He's putting together a programme on us to be broadcast before we go over to St Petersburg at the end of April. (He'll be over there when we arrive; Russia, to me, means firstly Dostoyevsky, and Alexander says St Petersburg's Dostoyevsky Museum is an essential visit). He attended Marianne Faithfull's London gig and press conference, said a programme on her is about as 'mainstream' as he's prepared to let his show get! Hats off to Alexander.
The next day we drove out to Dungeness to take some new band pictures. Saw the house where Derek Jarman lived. Ever since we got back Corrinne's been checking herself for radiation sickness
Monday through Wednesday we were back at Escapade, mixing the next record. 13 songs, and we're very happy with them. Gary did a grand job, as usual. Dennis will do the mastering down in Camberley on April 2nd. (A pal that came by the studio for a quick listen was describing an emetophiliac site he'd come across on the Internet. And I thought I was kinky! And Gary was describing a drug that makes you puke up before it propels you off on some miraculous, scary high. I forget the name. Anyone know it?).
Saturday April 6th 2002
Mastering the album at Country Masters. Dennis played us a bit from Robert Plant's new record (they mastered it here last week. Dennis has a photo of the Great Lemon-Squeezer sat on the sofa downstairs. Wonder if he raided the Kit-Kat jar?). Dennis sprinkled talent-dust all over us and now the record sounds great. Couldn't find a convincing place for "Cold Coffee & Ava Gardner" so we've left it off, and the track-listing will now be as follows: 1) She Hangs In The Dark Like A Saint In A Cathedral 2) Haiku 3) The Girl On The Escalator At HMV 4) Hat-Check Girl 5) Gigolo Moon 6) Your New Best Friend 7) So The Lord Sent Chantal 8) Hitcher 9) With Her Pop-Art Lips & Cappuccino Skin 10) Days Of Armageddon 11) Party Frock 12) She Played 'Summertime' (On The Brothel Piano). Album's working-title is 'Haiku'.
Despite the photograph I provided, they've granted us visas for Russia, so we're off on April 24th.
Saw a great film the other day --- L'Emploi du Temps (Time Out). Allez-le-voir.
Two horses put down after the Grand National. There were, alas, no deaths reported among the humans present.
Did my Top 10 Dylan songs for Uncut: the issue's out the first week of May.
Wednesday April 24th-Monday April 29th 2002
SKIF 6 (SERGEI KURYOKHIN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL) ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA
I knew this trip was going to be special, but I didn't guess how special. We had just such a fantastic time, did three great gigs, met so many good people. If they don't invite us back I'm gonna kill myself .
We spent a night in Helsinki en route to Russia, and then reached St Petersburg the following morning and were given a quick tour of the city on the way to the hotel (at the Palace of Youth complex, where the festival was taking place): saw Songdog posters in the streets! St Petersburg is a very beautiful city. Alexander Kan met us at the hotel and looked after us throughout our stay. We were treated incredibly well --- big thank-yous to Alexander, Alexej Pljusnin (artistic director of SKIF), Claire (Red Club's promoter), Paul, Natalya, Katya, Sasha Gurin and to Theodore (he helped us out as guide, friend, interpreter, emergency sound advisor, roadie and merchandiser. Theodore's cool. And he's a James Joyce fan and loves cats).
There were artists from all over the world, there, and the music and festivities would run from 8pm right through until about 7 the next morning, Thursday to Sunday. We were introduced to Andrew Logan, artist and organiser of the Alternative Miss World events, over at the festival for the second time to do two shows. I'd done a phone-interview with Sergey Chernov of the St Petersburg Times the Friday before we left and the article appeared on our second day in the city. The whole scene was so arty, so un-fucking- English, you know? They take music seriously! And they talk about the films of Andrei Tarkovski! --- (whereas I came back to England to fucking Cup Final fever!) I just felt at home! .Our first gig was on the main stage in the 1200-seater hall. Dave & I both felt we could've been better, but everyone seemed to love it anyway. We did an interview with Music TV Belarus and they video-taped the gig. Dave gave his All-Time Top Ten albums to a journalist (so that'd be Jimmy Stewart, Moira Anderson, etc., then). Our second gig was at the Red Club, down in the city centre, and this time we got it right, I was dead proud of us. Marc Ribot played here recently, and Johnny Dowd's doing it in a few weeks (incidentally, we're touring England with Johnny, starting first week of June). Sasha Cheparukhin, a promoter from Moscow turned up to see us (he's brought the likes of John Cale and Tindersticks to the city and now hopes to take us there). The Red Club's driver endeavoured to whisk Dave & N. & I back over the river before all the bridges were raised -- it's a nightly ritual, to let ships pass up and down the Neva. (Meanwhile, Pod, Corrinne and Sasha didn't get across in time, so had to go back to the club and drink till dawn!) Our last gig was on Sunday, back at the festival, downstairs in the old cinema, and yo, it was another great one! Things were almost magnificently chaotic by now --- everything running hours late, acts fighting over running-order! But there seemed quite a buzz over this, our final gig, the place was packed even though we didn't get onstage till gone 2am, and it was a hell of a performance to finish on. On Sunday afternoon Alexander took us to the Dostoevsky museum, then showed us where Raskolnikov 'lived' and where he murdered the pawnbroker, and we ended up in a classy vegetarian restaurant called The Idiot before South Park's Mrs Crabtree drove us back to the hotel .. And oh, St Petersburg's women! --- Awesome! Look, just ask Dave, OK? So it's a hip and arty place, with beautiful women and a wonderful festival --- what more could anyone want! At the end of our first gig a guy came up (I'd taken him for a heckler during the gig, but it seems it was praise he was shouting!) and told me our set had been like a mansion of dreams, with each song a different room containing a different - and beautiful- dream! (Wouldn't --- couldn't --- happen in England, mate!). When Monday morning came and the bus arrived to take us back to the airport, none of us wanted to go! And the trip's haunted us all ever since. Alexander says he hopes it'll be the beginning of a love affair between Russia and Songdog. I hope so too. It was one of the best times I've ever had. St Petersburg rocks, man! ..
Some things to remember 1) Two new Tom Waits LPs out on May 6th. 2) The Dylan Uncut issue - with lots of quotes from me in it! 3) See Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too). 4) "Baise-Moi"'s out. 5) We'll be touring with Johnny Dowd, starting beginning of June.
Saturday May 25th 2002
WE'LL FOLLOW OUR STAR AND LET RIP THE MOTHERFUCKER SIDE OF OUR SOULS!
"Baise-moi": Libération's reviewer said it failed to give him a hard-on (bromide in his popcorn), Le Nouvel Observateur called it fascist and the Le Pen's Front National (and the Daily Mail!) wanted it banned. Me, I found it a hoot. Fast and feisty French femmes (a sort of hardcore Thelma & Louise) and a killer soundtrack (remember the old days when everybody used to say French music was crap? It wasn't true even then).
Saw Howard Barker (world's greatest living playwright) close-up at John Calder's, looking lean and charismatic and a dead ringer for Withnail. Spoke scathingly about the dumbed-down BBC and its drama department's wall-to-wall social realism. But Christ, if it's dumb we're talking, he should get a load of the record industry!
Saw Bob Dylan on his second night at London Arena. Laughed like fools trying to identify the songs by the lyrics! (He sang pretty much the same tune for half the set!) . The stuff from "Love & Theft" he crooned faithfully, but as for the back catalogue --- forget it! The band were brilliant, and Bob looked and sounded great, but I guess he regards his old stuff pretty much like blues standards or ancient folk songs --- here are the words and chords, choose any old melody that fits. Not that I minded --- I knew in advance it's how he's been doing things for years anyway, and I was there primarily just to see him. Peter O'Toole was sat a few seats in front of me, and I kept wondering what he was making of it? ..
Went to the 12-Bar to see Doug Hoekstra, but I left early; I'd just somehow expected more.
Opening for Johnny Dowd from June 1st. Corrinne's joining us onstage to sing "Hat-Check Girl", the duet that Suzanne Rhatigan sings with me on the new record.
Saturday June 1st-Wednesday June 5th 2002
SUPPORTING JOHNNY DOWD
Had us a great time. Johnny Dowd and the band were pretty bloody blinding every gig. (And three cheers for Justin Asher's Inkspots solo turn!). What a band.
Sat. (The Charlotte, Leicester): Same venue we played here last time with the Handsome Family. Corrinne's first 'proper' gig singing "Hat-Check Girl" with me (we'd done an open-mic night back in London just to give her a taste of the stage) and she carried it off beautifully. We played the set we stuck with for the whole tour: " ..Plastic Wings", "She Hangs In The Dark ..", "Lazarus .", " .Isabel", "Hat-Check Girl", "The Girl On The Escalator ..", " .Chantal" & "Your New Best Friend".
Sun. (The Barfly, Sheffield): One of the great things about being out on tour over this particular weekend was that I missed the whole Jubilee thing; didn't even turn on the hotel TV or buy a newspaper, so for me it was like it didn't happen. (Not so lucky with the fucking football though --- Sheffield town centre teemed with pissed cretins spewing up their no-brain anthems. Dumb. And ugly. As the man said "I just don't know what they do with their lives" ). When I announced our last song, a girl in the audience shouted "Good!"! .. Jon led us to a great cheap record-shop.
Mon. (King Tuts, Glasgow): King Tut's is a lovely venue. (Arthur Lee was due here the night after us.) The guy that managed my first band through its best phase had told Pod he might be here tonight, but didn't show. (Corrinne getting lots of compliments on her singing --- will I be relegated to backing-singer soon?)
Tues. (Hanbury Ballroom, Brighton): I'm told this gig was once a mausoleum, but nothing dead about it tonight, it was the best reception we've had on the tour so far. Jon had to clamber up and down a ladder to get to and from the sound-booth. Jon and the resident engineer both wore the same sort of baggy-arsed jeans and communicated in strange masonic-style hand-signals. (It must be a soundman thing ). Four bands on, so we lost a song and Johnny Dowd lost half his set! But a cool, cool night. We made the trip down from Glasgow in seven hours, with Dave at the wheel and Dusty and Dylan and P.P. Arnold on the CD.
Wed. (The Borderline, London): Fantastic gig to end on. Is it fucking over already? A great audience. Alexander Kan and his wife came along. And Tomeu. And Caryne (who just about single-handedly keeps our website notice-board alive!) was there too, but we didn't get to meet. Kim from Johnny Dowd's band told me I had a really lovely voice --- man, I blushed! (She has a really lovely voice too). They're now off to Europe, and on Saturday they're at St Petersburg's Red club ---We played there! -- I am so fucking jealous! ..
So, respect to Johnny and Kim and Justin and Brian and Fritz. "The Pawnbroker's Wife" is available now on Munich Records, and if your taste isn't in your arse you'll buy it.
Thursday June 20th & Tuesday June 25th 2002
WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES ART-ROCK JUST SO MUCH SEXIER THAN THE 'ANTHEMIC', BLOKEY OTHER KIND?
June 20th. TELEVISION at the Queen Elizabeth Hall: Part of David Bowie's Meltdown (David Bowie. After The Beatles, Elvis and The Zim surely the MainestMan there ever was? You meet the occasional knuckle-scraper who still maintains he never 'meant it from the heart'. Just because he couched his work in a futurist/sci-fi idiom they thought he didn't mean it! But it was just as heartfelt as "Lay Lady Lay" or "Imagine", the deaf bastards! Still, I half-understand the quibbling. He'such a stylish and influential fucker that it's easy to feel grubby and frumpy and resentful in comparison.) Anyway, Television. Tom took the stage looking like an American Literature don, clad in shapeless black jeans, every inch the anti-Bon Jovi. Listening to this lot is --- is--- whatever Patti Smith was saying it was back in 76/77. These were the very Beat-boffins that conceived "Marquee Moon", I kept telling myself! (Along with Lou's "Berlin", "Blood On The Tracks" and a handful of others, one of the very few outstanding LPs of the Seventies that wasn't by David Bowie). Tom tossed off the vocals like he was just ordering an aftershow 7-Up, so the 'poet' bit of his legend was sorely downplayed, but boy could he play guitar! (Ditto Richard Lloyd, who looked disconcertingly like an old bass-player of mine). And I'm not talking technique! (Anyone who knows me knows I care about technique like Jesus cared about rubies). I'm talking about the beauty he wrung from the fretboard, a different kind of poetry. (I also hate busy drummers, they make me wanna scream "Jazz!", but with Billy Ficca it's different; he was to and fro across the kit like he was preparing some dish on Ready Steady Cook , but it worked, godammit!). "Little Johnny Jewel" was muscular, lusty: sounded like he'd spent the last 25 years working out. Alan said they were better last night, and Pod and Alexander were both a bit disappointed, but I just fell wanking to the floor. (And a very special mention for Stew, the opening act. He's great, and I bought his album the next day and so should you.) And "Adventure" only sounded disappointing in the immediate afterglow of its orgasmic predecessor; these days it's clearly a pretty fine record.
June 25th. SONIC YOUTH at Shepherd's Bush Empire: Lashings of arty shenanigans, pop-pickers! The world outside right now might be one big spinning soccer-ball but not in here tonight, no siree, one big eggheads' hootenanny this was. (Opening act Liars were great from what I caught of them and Notwist were even better than you already thought, based on their appearance on the Uncut CD a while back). And talking of Tom Verlaine's professorial strides, three cheers for Jim O'Rourke's candy-striped marvels! (Kim opted for a touch of typing-pool chic and Thurston was --- well, sartorially Thurston didn't register, he was just your gawky (but hip) older brother doing incendiary things with his sonic chemistry-set). The stuff from the brand-new record sounded cool and exciting, but then most of what they did sounded cool and exciting really. Outside the venue they were already selling last night's gig on bootleg CD. Television and Sonic Youth make New York seem like it must be the fucking coolest place on the planet
So there we have it --- two great art-rock gigs, proving that the Straight World can't ever call all the shots, that life doesn't have to be about doner kebabs and Michelin Man-torsos and buzzcuts and beer and 'footie' and bloody Embrace or .er Starsailor or Stereophonics or any 'anthemic' cak of that ilk. Like almost anything in life, if it matters either a smidgin or a shitload, it'll be well fucking
Wednesday July 10th 2002
PART 3 OF AN ART-ROCK TRILOGY! (BUT I SAVED THE BEST TILL LAST!!!!!)
Flaming Lips at the Astoria: Best gig of 2002 so far by miles, and surpassing even Will Oldham at Shepherd's Bush last year. Art-rock vaudeville! We're talking bubbles and balloons and glove-puppets (as Wayne Coyne held his monkey-puppet aloft it was met by a sea of glove-puppets from the crowd, like the toys had come to worship a superstar of their own kind) and film and the band in bunny costumes (but for Wayne, looking for all the world like Errol Flynn as George Custer but with a strobe hanging round his neck) and those big, bombastic Soft Bulletin tunes --- and plenty of stuff from the upcoming record that already sounds like a masterpiece. It was uplifting and inspirational, and these are not 'me' words at all, but they fit. The band was visibly moved by the response and Wayne kept thanking us over and over again, but really, the gratitude was all ours. (The whole thing reminded me of a circus that pitched camp near my house in Wales when I was like nine or something, and getting in on the guest-list was the equivalent of pulling back a tent-flap and ducking in for nothing, just like we did that night) . Steve Drozd looked so fucking cool . At the moment I guess Flaming Lips are the world's best band, on a major roll Before they came on we had Goldrush (very polite) and Bob Mould (hit on the interesting idea of playing one long 45-minute number. At least I think it was .).
I was in Wales for a few weeks, broke my fucking toe but still climbed a mountain (Pod likes to climb it every year and bring back a stone from the summit). I bought books by Hart Crane and Charles Bukowski and Walt Whitman and biographies of Alain-Fournier and Lorca and records by The Flaming Lips, Dolly Parton, Mary Gauthier, Joni Mitchell, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths and Lone Pigeon. Bought some clothes, saw some films (I recommend "Ghost World"). My cat, Talullah, fell ill --- and this was very important to me, way more than life-and-death and way, way more than some chunk of space-rock coming to wipe out all human life or something (I ain't kidding!) She had to go to hospital and have an operation for a slipped disc, but she's doing fine now so you can all relax. (Three massive cheers for the neurologist, Ms Diane Lu). We're in negotiation with a label to release our next album (the artwork looks great) and we're rehearsing songs for a third record (songs include "The Republic of Howlin' Wolf", "Jerusalem Road" and "The Sky Was So Blue It was Scary") .. Isn't (wasn't) William Burroughs a great writer! I'm reading his "The Place Of Dead Roads". (He calls a suit "banker-drag". And refers to a guy "looking like the groom on a wedding-cake" ..)
I gotta go feed my cats .
Late One Sunday Night In Deepest October 2002
At fucking last we have some news on the new record - it'll be released on Evangeline Recorded Works on January 27th, distributed (in the UK) by Universal. (I think there'll be a website page with a nice picture of the sleeve due up any day now, browsers). We'll be doing one or two shows in London before Xmas too. Meanwhile, we're eight or nine songs in as regards rehearsals for the third album, and we're very chuffed with the stuff so far. We were down at the rehearsal-studios this morning and Richie Havens walked into the café, a very charismatic guy. (He records for Evangeline too. He was there working on a tune with Groove Armada for their upcoming appearance on Jools Holland's programme). Saw Jeff Beck there recently, rehearsing for his Festival Hall gigs, and he looked great too (and so did his car). À bientôt.
Tuesday November 19th 2002
12-BAR CLUB, LONDON
2002 almost over and this only our second London gig of the year! Still, it was a very good one, we played eight songs from the next LP, with world-première live-renditions of "Haiku" and "She Played Summertime (On The Brothel Piano)". Great audience. Corrinne got a cheer after her first verse in "Hat-Check Girl". (The soundcheck was fraught -no, way past fraught, because the venue's soundman - Alessandro? --- turned up an hour late, so all three acts had to cram their run-throughs into less than an hour. Meanwhile Alessandro's swanning about blithe and blameless as a vicar, then Raven start rehearsing onstage I'm usually so Sound Of Music, but by now I'm more yer Scarface, and so what is the Italian word for ' you cunt', anyway?). But the gig went great in the end, despite a rogue lead crackling away on and off throughout the set. Jon (our soundguy) did a great job despite the lack of soundcheck. We did "Jezebel" for an encore. (Pity we couldn't deliver the version of "Jezebel" we do at rehearsals, ie with full drum-kit, you should hear it!) I've had a real shitty cold since --- I could feel it nibbling at the edges of my voice even as I was singing the last song in the set
(I missed the televised autopsy. Bummer!).
(I've been shopping. I bought Hayden's "Skyscraper National Park", a T-shirt with the Elektra Records logo on, a Robert Cary-Williams combat jacket, a copy of Mojo's "Days of Beatlemania" special edition and a book on the French subjunctive. But I'm rambling ).
MID-DECEMBER 2002 : A XMAS ALPHABET
A is for animals. Don't eat them. Don't even piss them off. It'll only make you look unevolved. Eating turkey is for turkeys. And any money you have left after you've forked out for vegetarian Xmas fare and Songdog records give to animal welfare charities. (And A is for the anti-globalisation movement).
B is for bah humbug. And "Bookends" by Simon & Garfunkel. I played it recently, first time in years; the segue from "Old Friends" into the Bookends theme is one of the finest moments in all music. I remember my friend Sheppy and I trying to play "Punky's Dilemma" into a tape-recorder back at my parents' house in Wales . Great sleeve too. It's a pity Paul Simon lost interest in being a genius and went off to concentrate on just being a musician . And "America" is one of the masterpieces of an era of masterpieces. And B is for "Berlin", Lou Reed's finest hour. Ah, that took me back too! When Lou sang about the Welshman from India I was so impressed that Lou'd heard of Wales. But then I remembered it must've been because of John Cale . And B is for Bug Music, my publisher. And Beck and his "Sea Change". And 'Best live like you're being watched constantly by the hippest, wisest eye there could ever be. If you don't, what exactly are you for?' (This sponsor's message has nothing to do with any kind of god. Judging by the world he made, God must closely approximate Pete fucking Waterman).
C is for Cubase, a computerised recording system that Pod's just had installed in his room. Jon set it all up for him and now his social life is in tatters as he's on constant stand-by to race to Pod's assistance every time he presses the 'Under No Circumstances Press' button, which, Pod being Pod, is frequently.
D is for day-jobs. Ain't they such a drag? Don't they so suck? I'd tell you all about mine except you'd think I was making it up or cribbing from an unfilmed Fellini script. D is also for danse macabre, which is exactly what a day at my job is And it's for "Les Drogues: Une passion maudite", the book I'm reading at the moment, lots of lovely illustrations of Proust-lookalikes in opium dens, done in the same colours you'd see in those Ladybird Bible stories books they gave you as a kid .. And D was for Dil.
E is for Ebay. (Some auction site on the Web, I'm told). Some care-in-the community case put a copy of "The Way Of The World" up there for sale (and Teenage Fanclub!). The only way I'll forgive him is if it turns out he recently died tragically young and it was just his girlfriend or his parents auctioning off his cherished record-collection. And even then, how sad are they not to want the record for themselves? . And E is for Evangeline Recorded Works, the label you'll find our next LP on. And thank you for all your nice E-Mails. But why not post that kind of stuff up on the website notice-board instead?
F is for is for Fucking hell, is it December already!!!!!!! And Flaming Lips.
G is for George Harrison. A year already since he died! I did think about going to the memorial concert but I was too afraid it would suck, all his Henley muckers, etc. ruining the tunes. But here's to you forever, George.
H is for "Haiku", our new LP, out on January 27th. The title-song fits the Xmas theme too, because it was the evening of Christmas Day last year that I wrote it, up in my bedroom at my father's house in Blackwood. Also regarding the new record --- at the last gig a friend of ours was asking about an old song, "Bang Bang Stars Collide": well, it's on the new album, called "Hitcher", with a lovely new lyric, a "Rubber Soul"-type ending, a great bowed string-bass part and none of the bombast that came with the territory back in the era the tune was originally written!
I is for The Industry, the Record Industry. When I first fell in love with music I knew nothing of the confederacy of dunces that grease the wheels that keep the juggernaut going. (The star-maker machinery behind the popular song, as Joni has it. Or the cess-pit, as she put it more recently). It's a kind of Masonic brotherhood, and it's not pretty. Not much better than the suits that flog you insurance or share-portfolios, just better-dressed.
J is for January. Which is when our new record is out. On the 27th, to be precise. Or did I already mention that?
K is for Krapp's Last Tape. A magnificent work of art about looking back. (See 'N').
L is for the London skyline as you travel north over Waterloo Bridge. And it's for Life. 'C'est si bizarre!' comme a dit l'actrice à l'évêque. Sometimes it feels like a whole squadron of us took off, a posse of ace flyers, but only a handful came back.
M is for Memories. Preserve them, they're all that's left you. (And here's to you, Mrs Robinson) .And it's for Must you keep calling me and leaving all those sexually-explicit messages on my answer-phone, Halle Berry?
N is for Nostalgia. Look, it's December, right? Dark nights, bitter winds, a soulful time of year. (Autumn and winter are the connoisseur's seasons). So I look back, OK? Playing old records like "Bookends" and "Berlin" and "Who's Next". (I tried out "Walls & Bridges" again and had to take it off two songs in. It's the lyrics, I think. Or is the LA sessionmen-type arrangements?) .. One of the best of the new songs we're rehearsing for the record-after-next --- "Jerusalem Road" --- was written in this kind of reminiscing mood, a song to all the MIAs. (We're nine songs into the material that'll comprise the third record and it's sounding fucking great). ("Nostalgia"'s also the name of a very beautiful Andrei Tarkovsky film, movie buffs) And N must also be for nipple-rings.
O is for "O", the album by Damien Rice. Highly recommended. Did you see him on "Later "? (Lenny and Corrinne know the boy. The last time they saw him he enquired after their dog, Betsy, who, curiously enough, is pictured on the back of our next record, Haiku, which is available from January 27th on Evangeline Recorded Works.)
P is for Petersburg, where we had such a brilliant time back at the end of April. Seems like a long time ago already. Theodore E-mailed us recently, he's teaching English to 13-year old girls and asks if we'll be going back next year. I sat in a French café in Berwick Street last Saturday afternoon with my mind half on St Petersburg and half on the foxy shop assistant that'd just served me in the Carnaby Street branch of "Miss Sixty" .
Q is for "Questions" by the Moody Blues. (Just kidding).
R is for "The Republic of Howlin' Wolf", another of my favourites of the new songs we're working on. Dave plays a theremin on it ..And it's for 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light.'
S is for Songdog. It's what I live for, it's why I was born. Check out our new LP, in the shops on January 27th . (S is for sex too, but I try never to let it creep into our songs).
T is for Ted and Talullah, my cats, the antidote to humans. Baudelaire understood.
U is for 'Unless you quit making those filthy suggestions, Halle, I'm calling the police!'
V is for the Vic your mother'd rub on your chest when you were little.
W is for "The Way Of The World", our first album. Still in the shops, pop-pickers! One day your grandchildren will ask you if you remember what you were doing the day it was released. Contains "I Love My Angel's Plastic Wings", "Blind Picasso", "Shipwrecks" and many, many more! Makes "Astral Weeks" sound overrated. (Oh! I just remembered! It is!).
X is for "X Files". Clods say it's not what it was, that it should've finished years ago, but that's because they're clods. (They talked the same kind of shit about "Twin Peaks", remember?). They're just not paying attention, that's all; the series is as wonderful as it ever was. If Mulder thinks he's too grand for the show he should fuck off back to the spaceship and let the aliens rip him a new arsehole.
Y is for Yuletide: may it soon be over. Also for Yin and Yang, Pod's cats.
Z is for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (I'm hibernating till the big piss-up becomes the big throw-up and then eventually the big wake-up. (What're the odds on the big wise-up?) And now I'll shut-the fuck-up .. Merry Christmas!