Wednesday, November 30, 2016

'Normal service has resumed...' - or has it?

So - how much do you think that you use a computer?

How much do you think that you need a computer?

Until the events of the past few weeks I probably would have answered along the lines of 'well, not that much really' and 'not at all, after all we did ok before they were invented didn't we?'

Oh dearie dearie me...

It turns out that - rather like most of us I suspect - I use a computer a lot more than I thought that I did. A hell of a lot more than I though that I did. Not all day every day (honest!) but there's always something to do isn't there? Do you order things from places like Amazon? I do. You do as well? That's tricky without a computer, or at the very least one of those new-fangled smartphones. But you kinda need a computer if you've got one of those don't you, for syncing (now there's a word that none of us used until comparatively recently) and all that other stuff... and do you pay your household bills online? Your car insurance? All those other bills and things that we pay for almost without realising it because you're not actually handing over money and therefore it doesn't feel as though you're actually spending anything? Yep, me too. So does that mean that I, or indeed you, 'need' a computer? Can we (gulp!) really not live without one?

Well let's put it this way - I'm typing this somewhat hesitantly on an iPad that I've rather wildly just bought myself as my ageing MacBook has had to go back to the menders after not quite doing what it's supposed to do... after years of being permanently bunged up with several days worth of noisy rock 'n' roll music the hard drive finally gave up the ghost at the start of November - I took it to my friendly neighbourhood computer repair people who have fitted a new hard drive and restored it to it's former glory. And that, as they say, was that. Except of course, it wasn't. Things are never quite that simple are they? Attempts by your humble narrator to 'restore the last backup' (the things that you hear yourself say these days eh?) have sadly proved fruitless so I've had to get a grown-up - or indeed, a young person - to help me. I feel like Fred Flintstone sometimes. 'Twas ever thus. 

In the meantime I've realised that I do indeed 'need' a computer (or at least something very like one) these days, hence the appearance of the iPad. It's been an interesting 3-or-so weeks - I've gigged with Ruts D.C., T.V. Smith, Department S, Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks and more, shared stages with the likes of The Damned, The Vapors and Eddie And The Hot Rods, worked a fair bit in Balcony Shirts, seen the David Bowie musical 'Lazarus', held a python and a tarantula in a haunted pub in Devon (oh yes!) and probably lots more besides (there's been updates etc on my Facebook page which you can see here if you're interested in such things) but somehow it's all taken place to a backdrop of me thinking things like 'I wonder if they've fixed my computer yet?'. Strange but true. And I still haven't got the bloody thing back...

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

'Normal service will resume shortly...'

My computer is broken. Bugger!

I shall return... soon... I hope...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

'Is she really going out with him?'

And no record looked like it either!
'New Rose' - the first single by The Damned - was released on Stiff Records on October 22nd 1976. I first heard it blaring... no, blasting... no, SCREAMING out of a transistor radio a few days after it's release. It sounding utterly unlike anything that I'd ever heard before. I'm not sure that I've heard anything like it since. It remains one of the greatest records ever made, a sub-three minute blitzkrieg of melody and noise that completely wiped the floor with all that had gone before it. I had no idea if I liked it or not, but I was desperate to hear it again. And when I did, it didn't disappoint. It's one of those very rare recordings that it soars above and beyond the sum of it's parts - although at this point it must be said that the performances of Brian James, Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies are all absolutely remarkable in pretty much every way, and Nick Lowe's still-astonishing production created a soundscape that captured every nuance of the band's blistering attack - to make something that almost stands outside of time. If it were released today it would still sound unique, and that's after 40 years of familiarity. I guess that's art isn't it? Well if it is 'New Rose' is important a piece of art as anything that's ever been created. I think that it is anyway. 

40 years to the day after BUY 6 hit the shops Ruts DC played at Norwich Arts Centre as part of the 'Punk In the East' celebrations. I'd not played or indeed ever been to the venue before but have seen it in gig guides for as long as I can remember - the list of bands and artists that have played there is endless, and it's also well-known as the place where Richey Edwards of The Manic Street Preachers cut '4 Real' into his arm in front of then-NME scribe Steve Lamacq. It's a great - no, make that great - venue, which seems to be well-supported locally as the show was sold out well in advance. This always bodes well for a good gig, and I'm pleased to say that it more than lived up to expectations. Ex - Jim Jones Revue guitar-slinger Rupert Orton joined us for part of the encore, and the whole evening was a pleasure to be part of from start to finish. But don't take my word for it - this review of the evening sums it all up and includes photos and footage from the show. Excellent!

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time to play 'Damned Damned Damned'...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

'Time keeps on slippin', slippin, slippin'... into the future...'

Well the busy times are back, hence the lack of blogging. Like an idiot I didn't take any notes over the past couple of weeks, so stories of Ruts D.C. at the North East Calling festival in Newcastle (we thought we were playing at 9 o'clock but were actually on 3 hours earlier - we arrived at the venue less than an hour before showtime) and gigging at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (I loved the backward 'S' on the end of 'Rooms', Noddy and co. should be proud!) and The Brooklyn Bowl in The O2 Arena (a Vive Le Rock - sponsored event that also saw great sets The Newtown Neurotics, Giuda and The Cockney Rejects) have somewhat faded from my memory... I also saw Sharks at The Borderline (where I met Paul Cook for the first time and somehow promised Professionals singer / guitarist Tom that I'd play on their upcoming album - I wonder if that'll ever happen?!) and Paranoid Visions with Steve Ignorant at The 100 Club on the same night (ooh I was tired the next day!) and played gigs with The Upper Cut (at The Dolphin in Uxbridge - not our best ever performance, we really must have a rehearsal sometime) and Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks (where two young Polish girls's dancing at the Black Horse in Greenford enlivened proceedings no end) as well as working many-a day in the shop, to such an extent that this feels like my first day off for weeks. Surely that can't be the case? Mind you I've spent most of it asleep so maybe it is.

 More of the same this week, and next week, and the week after that...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

25 with a bullet

So there we were - Dave, Segs and myself - in Dave's car on our way to Southend Airport on Friday afternoon when his phone rang. Nothing too unusual there as it rings all the time - as he was driving he had it plumbed into one of those new-fangled hands-free speakerphone thingys that let you answer the phone while you're at the wheel. It was Steve Beatty, head honcho at Plastic Head Distribution and Westworld Records. 'D'you want the good news or the bad news?' asked he. 'The bad news' answered Ruts DC as one man. 'You've missed out being in the indie charts by one sale' Various derisive noises were emitted by all concerned before he asked if we'd like the good news. Of course we would. 'You're number 25 in the Rock And Metal Album Chart' said he cheerily - if he said anything else it was drowned out by our whooping and hollering and the inevitable 'time for a drink then' from your humble narrator. And as this photo shows, it was all true - there we are between Pink Floyd and Guns N' Roses. And we're a couple of places above Lordi - you remember, that mad mob that won The Eurovision Song Contest a few years ago dressed as giant lizards, or something. Hilarious! 

We were en route to France for an appearance at Fiesta La Mass in Rennes the next evening - for reasons unknown (possibly flight availability?) we were travelling out the night before which meant that we got to the festival site in time to see The Angelic Upstarts roar through their set before retiring to The Hotel Voltaire for some much needed sleep. Being there a day early meant that we had time to look around town the next morning with the help of Vincent the promoter's daughter Alice - I'd not been to Rennes before so it was good to get a bit of a feel for the place and indeed to have a splendid lunch before going back to the hotel for a couple of hours. After an interview with the Punks Not Dead radio station (shouldn't that have an apostrophe?!?) we headed
back to the festival site where things were in full swing with local heroes Banane Metalik going down a storm. We met the Italian band Klasse Kriminale backstage, they're all big Ruts fans and very nice chaps to boot. We were due on at midnight although an issue with Dave's monitor meant that we actually started our set a few minutes late. I thought we played well although the onstage sound was a bit, for want of a better word, nasal which meant that it hard to hear each other sometimes - and as we started late we got the almost inevitable 'ONE SONG' instruction sign when we had two left to play. Halfway through 'In A Rut' Segs stopped the band with the words 'we didn't come all this way not to play ''Babylon's Burning'' did we?' He was correct - we didn't so we played it! A good show but maybe not a great one, especially compared to the previous week's gig, but that happens from time to time. We're up in Newcastle for North East Calling this Saturday so let's see how that one goes. And I wonder where (or indeed if) we will be in the charts this week?    

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'We shall fight them on the peaches...'

The new Ruts DC album 'Music Must Destroy' was released last Friday on Sosumi / Westworld Records. To celebrate this (ahem!) momentous occasion we played a sold out show at The Underworld in Camden Town. Support came from our friends Department S who rather cheekily inserted the riff to 'Babylon's Burning' into their last song 'I Want' (in my day you stayed in after school for doing things like that!) and finished their show to an audience reaction that many-a headline band would have been proud of.

Our show was different for a number of reasons. We decided to play all of the songs from the album, three of which had not been played on stage before (since you've asked, 'Soft City Lights', 'Peacebomb' and 'Tears On Fire') while 'Golden Boy' had only featured in acoustic shows. After much deliberation we decided to use a click track on some songs which would allow us to use elements from the recorded versions on a backing track to augment the live instruments. We also invited David D'Andrade to join us for several songs - he plays guitar in The Razors with Dave, and in addition to being a great musician he's also annoyingly young and good looking with a full head of hair (I'm not bitter, honest!) so I made sure he was on the opposite side of the stage to me… add to this the for want of a better word 'pressure' of the occasion and we were set for a memorable evening. Of course as with so many things in life not everything went according to plan - Dave left his iPad at home ('thank gawd I backed it all up on my phone') so soundcheck took a little longer than it might although everything sounded good in the end, with the strings to 'Golden Boy' sounding particularly extraordinary through the PA. All well and good - except come showtime the phone decided not to work, meaning that all the work Dave had put in preparing the tracks and all the time that we'd spent rehearsing with them came to nothing. Bah! Oh well - at least we've got them for next time, whenever that may be… other than that the show went as well as any of us could have hoped for. An extraordinary, unforgettable event - but you don't have to take my word for it, as the always - excellent Elvis In The Clouds blog has published this review of proceedings which captures the story rather well - thanks Elvis!

Reaction to the album has generally been very positive, and I'm told that the initial pressing of CDs has sold out which is fantastic news. I saw the vinyl version for the first time on Saturday afternoon at All Ages Records in Camden where we participated in a signing session (which incidentally was really good fun!) and I must say that it looks tremendous. It's a couple disc set with the ten tracks spread over two 12" records so it should sound tremendous too. I'm off to sign 250 or so of them this afternoon to be sent out later this week to people who have bought them through PledgeMusic - exciting times! And talking of exciting times in addition to playing Fiesta La Mass in Rennes this weekend we've just been confirmed as the support band on The Stranglers 'Classic Collection' tour next year, which is splendid news. It also goes some way toward explaining the title of this blog posting, which I have shamelessly stolen from a review in '77 Sulphate Strip', Barry Cain's brilliant collection of writings from his time at 'Record Mirror' in 1977 and which I've been reading over the past few weeks. I first saw The Stranglers in that year - who'd have though that 40 years later I'd be in a band supporting them eh? 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Ruts D.C. 'Music Must Destroy' single is released today!

As the title of this posting suggests, the new Ruts D.C. single 'Music Must Destroy' is released today on SosumiWestworld Records. It features guest performances from Henry Rollins on vocals and Boz Boorer on guitar and is accompanied by a promo video directed by Graham Trott that features Segs, Dave Ruffy and myself in a cement dust-filled warehouse in The Bussey Building in deepest darkest Peckham and the mighty Mr. Rollins (aided and abetted by Segs) up in Edinburgh a couple of days earlier. You can watch the video by clicking here - if you look closely during the crowd scenes you might spot Mr. Spee from Dreadzone, Paul from King Kurt, Tara from The Duel and Bristol 'Death Or Glory' promoters Ziggy and Jon among others (assuming you know what they all look like of course…)

The album of the same name (which has already received this astonishing review - thank you Mr. Ringmaster whoever you may be!) is out next Friday 16th September, when we'll be playing a launch gig supported by Department S at The Underworld in Camden Town in conjunction with the always-worth-reading Vive Le Rock magazine. It should be a night to remember - so let's hope that it is!