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...'