Thursday, April 12, 2018

Vintage vantage

So - no blog post for over a month. Lazy?

Well, no. I don't think so anyway. Much has happened since last we spoke...

The Stiff Little Fingers / Ruts D.C. 'Down To the Bone' U.K. tour went well. Very well. Inevitably some nights were better than others but pretty much everything went according to plan, with the Glasgow show at The Barrowland Ballroom being every bit as memorable as I for one was hoping it would be, and the last night of the tour at The Forum in Kentish Town turning out to one of the most enjoyable gigs that I've played in a very long time - it also exorcised the ghost of our last show there at Captain Sensible's 60th Birthday Party (you can read about it here if you like - suffice to say that all three of us were happy to have something better to remember about a show at the venue) which can't be a bad thing. We were hoping that there would be a few people in when we went on but were amazing to find the building all but full when we walked out onto the stage. Excellent! But as I say, everything about the tour was great - our crew Olie and Max were fabulous, and we travelled over 2,000 miles through England, Scotland and Wales. Not bad eh?

Since then we've played headlining shows at The Hat Factory in Luton and The Victory Hall in Balcombe, both of which both went well. It was great to play a longer set (we were playing a strict 45 minute show on the SLF tour) and to get to a couple of places that we'd not been to before. The Luton show was the last at the venue before it closes for refurbishment, and despite Dave feeling under the weather - he'd been unwell for the last three shows on the tour although he played as well as ever - we gave a energetic performance before a boisterous crowd. It was Segs's turn to feel unwell at the Balcombe show - he was asleep in the bus until around a half an hour before we were due to go on stage - but once again we pulled everything together on stage. And what an amazing venue - if you see a gig happening there that you fancy seeing then make the effort. You won't be disappointed!

In addition to appearing on stage we've also found ourselves on television - we recorded a session for Vintage TV in February (we weren't allowed to mention it anywhere - you might have thought that they'd have liked a bit of publicity?) which was first broadcast while we were away on tour (again they didn't tell us, we found out from friends and fans) and has been shown a couple of times since. It also featured The Skids among others, and it's on their website (episode 402 - here's a trailer for it) if you'd like to see it. The day was a bit of a strange one - we weren't too happy with our performance, but watching it now it actually looks pretty good. Dave and Segs are appearing on the channel again this coming Sunday 15th April at 5 pm on the 'Our Vintage' show, choosing some videos and talking about some of their favourite music - here's a preview. It looks good doesn't it? And your humble narrator made an appearance on The Fiery Bird show on Radio Woking, playing some favourite music and talking about, well, anything that Elaine the presenter wanted to talk about. A highly enjoyable two hours - thanks to Elaine and Joe for inviting me onto the show.

Things go a little quieter for the band now (this may not be a bad thing, it's been a hectic couple of months!) until the end of this month when we return to Glasgow to play the Scotland Calling festival. But there's work to do - the words 'new album' have been bandied about at Ruts DC HQ rather a lot lately... 

In the meantime it's been back to basics with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks. I don't mind admitting that finding yourself playing in front of a few dozen semi-interested people at The Misty Moon in Northwood more-or-less exactly 24 hours after we'd played The Forum was a bit of an odd thing to find yourself doing; it wasn't an unenjoyable show, but as I say it was a little odd... the next afternoon saw an excellent gig at The Horns in Watford, and we've been out and about here and there ever since. We're out and about this weekend too... as I say, back to basics - and why not?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Stiff Little Fingers / Ruts D.C. 'Down To The Bone' Tour March 2018

OK - here we go again... 

We're supporting the great Stiff Little Fingers on their 'Down To The Bone' U.K. tour this month, starting in Cardiff this coming Friday and finishing at The Forum in Kentish Town on Friday 23rd March. There's a few new venues for your humble narrator - not least Barrowlands in Glasgow on (gulp!) St. Patrick's Day - among some familiar haunts. I'm intending to update my Facebook page as often as possible, and the Ruts D.C. page should include live streams and more. And as always if you're coming along to a show then please say hello!

Incidentally some of the venues have a club night or event after the gig - nights such as these are known (rather disparagingly) among road crew members as a 'Disco Loadout' - and we might be on stage as early as 7.15pm on those nights so please check with the venue so that you don't miss us!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

'Fly into the rising sun...'

So there you have it - around 30,000 miles (and what feels like around 30 hours sleep) later and we're back in Blighty. And it's cold. Bloomin' cold. I don't usually mind winter weather - in fact if I'm honest I often think that I prefer it to the summer in a way - but having recently spent the best part of two weeks in temperatures approaching and in some cases exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit I don't mind admitting that I'm considering reconsidering my stance on such things. But what a time we've had - the first ever Ruts D.C. shows in Japan and Hong Kong followed by two shows in New Zealand and five shows in Australia supporting The Stranglers - well it's hardly the worst start to the year ever isn't it? 

Incidentally I spent the two weeks before we left to go on tour looking after my Dad who caught 'flu which turned to pneumonia - hopefully he's on the mend now but there were more than a few harrowing moments. Get yourselves a 'flu jab kids! 

I managed to update my Facebook page at regular intervals throughout our jaunt, and the Ruts D.C. page includes a few live streams (I haven't worked out how to do that yet!) alongside Segs and Dave's observations on proceedings - if you'd like to see footage of me in an English pub in the middle of Tokyo eating chips with chopsticks there here's your chance... somewhat inevitably I've got the usual interminable pages of scribbly notes (Godzilla, lost passports and more) along with any number of photographs, some or all of which may one day find their way into these hallowed pages - but suffice to say that the whole experience really was unforgettable, and I for one hope that we return to all four locations before too long.

In the meantime since returning home I've seen The Damned at Koko (great stuff as usual) The Urban Voodoo Machine in Southampton (where I joined them for their encore - video evidence here, I'll learn the song better next time... if they let me have a next time!) and witnessed Terry from The Upper Cut playing bass with Zoot Money in Barnes (first set good, second set marred by not-at-all special 'special guests' and amateurish directionless hippie jamming - absolutely appalling and an insult to people who had paid to see it) as well as playing with Big Al and the boys and working in Balcony Shirts - business as usual, as usual... until next time...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

To The Southern Hemisphere and beyond!

A young man offered me his seat on a bus the other day. I guess this means that I'm now officially old

Normally this kind of occurrence would be the signal for me to drift off into the usual whining, self-pitying 'what have I done with my Godforsaken life?' nonsense that I tend to get lost in whilst writing these hallowed pages - but not this time my friends, as it's time for your humble narrator to go on tour! And what a tour - we start in Japan; from there we travel to Hong Kong before meeting up with The Stranglers (did I really just type that?!?) for shows supporting them in New Zealand and Australia. As always I will be attempting to update my Facebook page as we go along, and the Ruts D.C. page will also carry details of our adventures as we wend our way around The World. Time to check if I've packed enough pants and socks... again... if you're coming to a show then please say hello - I'll be the old guy with the guitar...

Friday, January 05, 2018

Turning Japanese / Hong Kong Garden

Well let's start 2018 as we mean to go on - with some ridiculously good news! Well it's certainly ridiculously good news from my point of view - the first three Ruts D.C. gigs of the year have been announced, and they're all in previously uncharted territory for your humble narrator. We're playing two shows in Tokyo - yes, that's right, Tokyo - on the 27th and 28th of January followed by a show in Hong Kong on the last day of the month. 

You know that bit in these postings where I put something like 'I can hardly believe what I type here sometimes'? Well here it is again - I can hardly believe what I type here sometimes. Seriously though, one of the first live albums I remember hearing was 'Made In Japan' by Deep Purple - it would have been a couple of years after it was originally released, and for whatever reason it made a big impression on me. I think that it was due to a number of factors - Ritchie Blackmore's still-incredible guitar playing, the power that the band played with, the songs, the sound... strange, because I didn't really like very much music like that at the time. Come to think of it, I still don't... anyway it loomed large in my mid-1970s listening, and as a result Japan attained a somewhat mythical status in my teenage mind. I've not been there or to Hong Kong before, and I genuinely cannot wait to do these shows. I'm very lucky to do what I do. I say that a fair bit too don't I? 

We then travel to New Zealand and Australia for the previously - mentioned shows with The StranglersI can hardly believe what I type here sometimes. But you know that already.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Saturday Club

Ruts D.C. played their last gig of this year on Saturday 23rd December at The 100 Club. It was everything that we could have hoped it would be - sold out in advance, we gave one of our best shows of the year alongside great sets from our friends Department S and The London Sewage Company. And there were plenty of friends in the audience too - I hadn't seen ex - U.K. Subs guitar hero Jet for ages, Rupert Orton bought along Newtown Neurotics drummer Simon Lomond while Nigel Bennett introduced me to his friend Steve who, he said, 'wanted to meet me' - and I don't mind admitting that I wanted to meet Steve Lillywhite too... all well and good (and if I'm honest, very exciting!) but none of it would have mattered if there hadn't been an audience. And what an audience they were. People had travelled from far and wide to see the show - you never think that people are going to do that for something you're involved with (well, I don't anyway!) so when it happens it's quite something. Plenty of locals too, and even though I say so myself they saw a good one. You know when you've played well, and we played well - some nights it all falls into place, and this was one of those nights. One to remember forever - but it's been a year to remember for the band. So much has happened - The Stranglers tour seems an age ago now, as do the 'big gigs' with Die Toten Hosen and Stiff Little Fingers, the outdoor show at The Rebellion Festival and so many terrific nights up and down the country, not forgetting The BBC6 Punk Party with The Damned... as I say it's been quite a year for Ruts D.C., and next year we tour Australia and New Zealand with The Stranglers, Great Britain with Stiff Little Fingers and more. 

See you in 2018 - there's work to do.

And in the meantime here's 'Kill The Pain' and 'Psychic Attack' from the 100 Club show - enjoy! 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Big Boss Man

Now this is exciting - Ruts D.C. have secured an endorsement deal with Roland who make a lot of excellent musical equipment, among which are Boss guitar effect pedals. When I was a lad (and believe it or not I was once a lad) Boss were the pedals to have, not least because there were nowhere near as many manufacturers as there are now. I had the CE-2 chorus and the DM-2 analog delay pedals, both of which went missing in action in the early days of my time with Ruts D.C. (click here for the full sad story) but I'm pleased to say that I have now been able to replace them with their modern-day equivalents. Hurrah! I'm looking forward to plumbing them into my pedal board and seeing how they sound with the band, but initial experiments at home are very encouraging indeed.

Incidentally the first time I remember speaking to Paul Fox was when I stumbled up to him (I was even shyer than I am now in those days) at a gig and blurted out something like 'excuse me Paul, what guitar pedals do you use?' He told me he used a Boss chorus pedal so of course I had to have one... for those of you interested in such things he actually had the now highly sought after CE-1 which had been discontinued by the time I was in a position to buy anything - this 'new' Waza version of the CE-2 claims to replicate it's near-legendary sound. We shall see...

Your humble narrator in what
those in the know call MV3.
That's Ruts D.C.'s gear behind me.
And talking of exciting things, last Friday saw the much-anticipated (by me at any rate) BBC Radio 6 Music 'Christmas Punk Party' hosted by Steve Lamacq at the famous Maida Vale Studios. Back in the day I remember recording sessions by the likes of The Ruts and indeed Ruts D.C. from the radio, many if not all of which were recorded at said studios - and now little old me found himself participating in the digital equivalent. Amazing. It certainly was a day to remember - The Damned played a great set, with Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian were as iconic as ever and Paul Grey back on bass and looking as though he was loving every minute of it. Stuart Pearce introduced the band, Brix Smith Start DJ'd before their set and Ruts D.C. played a 20-something minute set to a wildly appreciative audience - but that only tells a fraction of the story. As someone who has been known to get over-emotional about music and the power it can have in people's lives I will go so far as to say that it was one of the most enjoyable musical adventures that I've ever been lucky enough to be part of. From meeting up early afternoon in The Prince Alfred (during which Mr. Lamacq appeared through one of the pub's many doors and nearly went flying over my guitar case) to returning there after the show for advanced drinking and jollity it was everything I and indeed we could have hoped that it would be. If you missed it you can hear the whole show here on the BBC 6 website for the next few weeks, and Adrian at Aural Sculptors has been quick off the mark by getting the Ruts D.C. and Damned sets up for download here. Great stuff.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've go some guitar pedals to try...