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!

Monday, September 05, 2016

Once Upon A Time

On 5th September 1966 filming began on 'The Prisoner' in the village of Portmeirion in North Wales. Fifty years on it still divides opinion - McGoohan's surreal masterpiece or overwrought nonsense? A brilliantly observed allegory or a clumsy mess? For what my opinion is worth you either get it or you don't - if you get it you'll argue it's excellence in the face of some of the most fervent criticism that something as seemingly trivial as a mere television show will ever receive, if you don't then you literally won't give it houseroom. Me? I think that if there's a better TV series then I've yet to see it - which reminds me, I must watch it again sometime soon. Many happy returns Number 6 - be seeing you... 

Anyway your humble narrator was a bit, erm, fragile yesterday… actually I was asleep for most of the afternoon. And before you ask - yes, I've still got a bit of a headache… but 'twas a splendid Saturday night at The 100 Club, a very special evening to cerebrate all round good bloke and man-with-lots-of-punk-tattoos Simon 'Coppo' Copson's 50th birthday. I joined Department S for their last three songs and had a bloomin' great time. And why not?

The previous evening Big Al and The Blistering Buicks played at The Sir John Gibson in Stanwell. It was a new gig for the band, and with my fellow six-stringer Pete away elsewhere I was obliged to cover some of his parts as well as my own. We played three short sets instead of our customary two hour-long spots - matters got decidedly weird in the first interval when a cheery chappie came over and interrupted myself and Dave the bass player's chat with the words 'alright lads? Sorry to interrupt…' (he quite clearly wasn't sorry) and then asked for 'some Madness, not the obvious stuff like 'Our House' and all that, I want a b-side or an album track - yeah?' The politest response I could think of was 'prepare yourself for a disappointment…' - to which he replied with 'oh yeah, and it's my mate's birthday' (people like him always have a mate with a birthday - strange but true) 'so if you could play him a Madness b-side or two' (how did I know that he was going to say that?!?) 'he'd be well happy'. Yes, I bet that he would. We played 'One Step Beyond' in our second set - I very much doubt that he even noticed.

There are three more BA and The BBs gigs this week (in Sunningdale, Burnham and High Wycombe since you've asked) as well as more days in Balcony Shirts so there's plenty to do. And on Friday the new Ruts D.C. single 'Music Must Destroy' is released on Westworld / Sosumi Records. The promo video is finished and looks great - Henry Rollins is as fearsome as ever, and even though I say so myself, we look pretty good too. That day in the cement-filled warehouse in Peckham was worthwhile after all - but more about that next time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Electronic sound

So - the mystery of the thing-on-top-of-the-speaker-cabinet is solved thanks to Ruts DC fan / friend and electronics engineer Nigel who tells me that he's 'pretty sure it's an old-style electronic counter' and sent me this link to prove it. Thanks Nigel!

I've just watched a rough cut of the 'Music Must Destroy' video and I'm pleased to say that it's looking excellent - the single is out next Friday 9th September with the album released the following week so it should be finished and available for general viewing then. Exciting times!  

In the meantime it's been back to the bar gigs for your humble narrator, starting with a short notice Upper Cut show at The Dolphin in Uxbridge last Friday. Roger was elsewhere so Geoff Nicholls did his customarily excellent job depping on drums, and with a party of people down from Oop North for the Rugby League Cup Final the next day a suitably lively evening ensued. 
The next night Big Al and The Blistering Buicks journeyed to Broxbourne for an interesting show at The Rushymeade Club, a venue so obscure that most of the band got lost trying to find it because none of the locals that they asked for directions had ever heard of it. It was actually a clubhouse on a caravan park, and turned out to be a great little venue with very friendly people. It took a while to get going, but by our second set the dance floor was full and with a bit of luck we'll be back in Broxbourne again before too long. 
Sunday saw an early evening (7 pm start) gig at The Queens Arms in Colnbrook. Our friends Pimp My Jazz were playing an afternoon show down the road (literally!) at Ye Olde George so we got there early to catch a few songs before heading off to the venue to set up. Bank Holiday weekend shows are often a bit odd - you get people who go out early and leave early, people who go out early and stay out late and all points in between. This often results in an audience that can range in size from a few people to a packed room and back again within a couple of songs. This indeed was the case here, where we started playing to virtually no one and ended with a full and noisy room and a punky - looking chap with a mohican haircut dancing wildly to 'Suspicious Minds'. A good gig.

And yesterday myself, my brother and my Dad went to the Muhammad Ali exhibition at The O2 Arena in Greenwich. I've always been a big fan of the man as both a sportsman and a World figure and this event did nothing to change my mind - the term 'greatest' will never be more apt

This week among other things I'll be playing a few songs at The 100 Club with Department S on Saturday night. Now that's something to really look forward to!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Concrete and Clay

Let's face it - it could be anything...
Well we haven't had a quiz here for a while so here's your long-overdue starter for 10 - what is the function of the device sitting on top of the Semprini speaker cabinet with my old Gibson Les Paul Deluxe in the photo on the right? Any ideas? No? That's a shame, because I haven't got a clue. In fact the gentleman who lent it to us doesn't know either, which is a bit odd if you think about it. It looks great though doesn't it? And since we were using it in the promotional video for the new Ruts DC single 'Music Must Destroy' the look is considerably more important than it's function.
We - Ruts DC, director Graham Trott and assorted assistants - were filming in a warehouse in The Bussey Building in Peckham for much of last Friday; footage of guest vocalist Henry Rollins and guest guitarist Boz Boorer was (as I believe the film people say) already in the can. It was a long and at times difficult day - Graham was using a drone to film us but as the floor of the warehouse was covered in cement dust (or something - I tried not to think too deeply about what it might or might not have been!) every time it took off it stirred up clouds of the bloody stuff. Oh and the drone itself crashed into a light on one of it's first flights - there was a spare but the incident somehow seemed to sum up proceedings up until that point. Fortunately matters improved considerably as the day went on, and by the time various friends (including Mr. Spee from Dreadzone, Paul from King Kurt and Bristol promoters Ziggy and Jon) arrived to participate in the crowd scenes the atmosphere was better. Or maybe we'd just got used to the dust by then? Our day had begun with a photo shoot - suitably suited and booted we posed furiously for Graham's camera, and if the examples I saw were anything to go by both the pictures and video should be well worth the work. We'll all know soon enough - more news as and when I have it.
The somewhat less-than-pleasant fallout from our day in the dust was that I had an hour-long nosebleed when I got home, and another one in the morning when I felt how I'd imagine I'd feel if I'd been hit in the face by Muhammad Ali in his prime. See how I suffer for my art? This meant for a not-particularly enjoyable day in Balcony Shirts, although that was nothing compared to the potentially life-threatening Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks performance the next afternoon at The White Horse in Longford near Staines. We were playing under an gazebo in the pub garden, which was all well and good for the first sunny set but proved to be woefully inadequate when the rain arrived during our second set. It's never a good feeling to know that the only thing stopping the by-now deceptively heavy rain from landing on the plugboard that your amplifier is plugged into is a piece of soggy cardboard. Dave the drummer attempted to play with an umbrella wedged behind him as we all huddled increasing closely in search of shelter but when Dave's bass amp slid of the up-until-that-point stage table with a resounding crash enough was more than enough. This was a shame as we were playing well and people were enjoying it but it was simply too dangerous to carry on.
This week it's more days in the shop, more Big Al gigs, a short notice Upper Cut show and a Bank Holiday Monday at the start of next week. That's a day off isn't it? That'll be nice… now, has anybody got any idea what that thing on top of the speaker cabinet is?!?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stand and deliver

Well it's been a long week. I've been working in Balcony Shirts every day since Tuesday and somewhere along the line have hurt my back and picked up a bit of a cold. Or is it the dreaded ManFlu? And although it wasn't a particularly late night at The Three Wishes in Edgware where Big Al and The Blistering Buicks played a sweaty show to the general appreciation of all concerned last night I've been asleep for much of today. I'm back in the shop tomorrow. I could really do with a day off. 

Of course none of this illness, tiredness and no doubt some other words ending with 'ness' has anything with The Rebellion Festival in Blackpool last weekend, where I played electric and acoustic shows with Ruts D.C., joined T.V. Smith for much of his set, played several songs with The Crows (during which I somehow managed to make the up-until-that-point excellent-sounding PA system dissolve into a wall of feedback - oops!) and finished the festival by playing three songs with Department S. Oh and I worked every day on the Cadiz Music merchandise stall too, and wasn't exactly early to bed every night. So it goes.

The shows were great. Really great. The T.V. and electric R.D.C. gigs took place in The Opera House, which is without doubt one of the best venues I've ever been lucky enough to perform in, while the Ruts D.C. acoustic show ended with an actual standing ovation, which is something that you don't see every day. 
Well, I certainly don't anyway… but if you'd like to see it click here! 
Department S were as excellent as ever and The Crows survived their encounter with your humble narrator with aplomb. I didn't get to see many bands play which was a shame in some ways but only to be expected considering my (over) commitments elsewhere. Still it was a terrific few days, and I'm sure that I'm not the only person looking forward to next year's festival already.

In other news Ruts D.C. release our new single 'Music Must Destroy' on September 9th, with the album of the same name coming out one week later. The song was played live for the first time in The Opera House last Saturday - we should be recording a promo video for it in the next week or so (the track features the mighty Henry Rollins, and hopefully he's going to feature in the video too) but in the meantime you can click here for the live version. See what you think...

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

'You disturb my natural emotions...'

Have you ever fallen in love with somebody the moment you first saw them? I was walking through a shopping centre once when I bumped into - literally bumped into - a young lady. She was an acquaintance of mine, I didn't know her well and I hadn't seen here for ages - but at that moment, as we stood awkwardly apologising to each other, I suddenly and abruptly thought she was the most beautiful woman, maybe the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. It was like being hit by the proverbial ton of bricks. I'm not sure that I've ever recovered. She doesn't know anything about it of course - unless she felt it too, although if she did then she hid it well… I sound shallow don't I? Maybe I am.
I was reminded of this moment last Friday evening when I was getting my guitar and amp set up for a gig with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks at The Crock Of Gold in Ruislip. I'd been looking forward to the gig all day, as my old mate Johnny Squirrel was depping on bass and I hadn't seen him for ages. We hadn't played there before so we were working out how to position the various band members in the space allowed - I looked across to the bar where a woman was walking towards a table carrying two drinks. One was a pint of Guinness, the other a smaller glass of clear fizzy-looking liquid. She sat down at the table where her friend was waiting, they smiled cheerily and chatted - while doing so she picked up the pint of Guinness and drank a fair-sized gulp from it. 
'Al, Al!' I said excitedly to the big man, 'Al, that girl over there, she's got a pint of Guinness'. 
'Right' said Al half-interestedly. 
'I think I'm in love' I said, hardly believing that I'd just said it. 
Al laughed. I released how ridiculous it must have sounded. 
I carried on setting my gear up.

The next night The Upper Cut played at Dave's 70th birthday party at The Queen's Arms in Colnbrook. I managed to get through the evening with most if not all of my emotions intact, although I couldn't get the Guinness Girl out of my mind. Strange but true. Shallow but true.

It seems to me that it's time I had a holiday - which is just as well as it's The Rebellion Festival in Blackpool this week. Ruts D.C. are playing an electric set on Saturday night and are closing the acoustic stage the next evening; I'll also be playing a few songs on Thursday with the great T.V. Smith and joining Department S for a tune or two as well as working behind the Cadiz Music merchandise stall and attempting to catch as many bands as I can in the meantime. I'm all too aware that several days of punk rock doesn't sound like most people's idea of a holiday, but it'll do me just fine. If you're going I'll see you there, maybe even for a pint of Guinness. All together now - 'Ever Fallen In Love With Someone...'