The Gospel According to The Black Eyed Preacher II: Who’s Driving Who?

•March 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“Painting is stronger than me, it makes me do its bidding.” – Picasso

Some call it drive. Others call it will. A steaming fuckload would call it stubbornness.

I’m talking about the innate desire to create, Willis.

Explaining the why? *cough*

There is an inherent loneliness within an artist that is often misconstrued as petulant sulkiness. Intelligence and common sense do not necessarily walk hand-in-hand.
On my dog days I’m a fucking pain in arse, undoubtedly. But when I’m good, I’m very fucking good.

Why. So. Sad?

The process.
Is it a short escape from the dull, dull, dull realities of Real Life©? Let’s have it right, everyday existence is utterly, utterly wank. You can insulate yourself from reality and solider on, maybe even pretend that it’s great.
Pretence is a concept that the artist struggles to with.
Art as escapism is arguably a form of pretence, and it may not always produce something tangible for the effort.
Is it not better to put yourself through the process anyway, in the slight hope that you may find some answers? If anything you inevitably only create more questions. And so it revolves ad infinitum – perhaps now you begin to understand what causes the dog days?

Would it be better to call on the comforting blanket of ignorance? Poppycock. Artists know all too well that you cannot just flick that switch off when it’s an innate call.

And then Art meets Commerce. The wheels go a tad rickety. Advertisers suggest maybe it’s ‘too controversial’. A painting may go unappreciated because that ‘form is out, Jack’, a masterpiece album may languish as it gets sat on by the record execs as they ponder whether the demand curve is in a ‘mutually satisfiable arc’, or some shit.

Validation? External validation of a ‘finished’ (if there is ever such a thing as finished article) piece of art is massive expanse of grey. The truest of artists perhaps wouldn’t even consider external factors such as appreciation, critique, or monetisation as forms of validation.
If you can look past all this you still have the art, you have still undergone the process. Isn’t that of paramount importance?

Numbers though. Oh the numbers. It is difficult in an age driven by commerce and consumerism to ignore them. If  it’s released into the bearpit of the marketplace the process and its ideals are lost temporarily (maybe even terminally) beneath profit and loss graphs, units sold, attrition (just call it LOSS eh you cunts?), societal tastes – once it gets rinsed and spat out by the machine there’s a temporal haze where the bottom line is king.
Bottom Line = Total Units Sold – (Your Art / Product Creation + Costs) or something. Lord knows I’m no economist.

There for all to see is the perceived value of the art, seen through the eyes of consumerism.

More often than not it is laughable. Small wonder then, that when some artist gets lucky and generates a windfall, their minds get bent and fried.
Consider the mental strength needed to create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create and create etc and be spiritually rich but domestically poor.

Consider that some of the work they created beforehand may well be in the pantheon of genius, but was ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and ignored and so on.

Then one day the stars align and the mass define it as culturally acceptable and the artist is suddenly revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered revered (I won’t do this again)

Is the artist better now? Are they validated in more acceptable terms? If all the reverence and cash was stripped away from them, if the graphs plummeted, would that then invalidate them and lower the worth of their art?

Or is the value of the art the same as it ever was, just everything else shifted around it?

Everybody born is a living miracle. Perhaps artists are more acutely aware of this. Coupled with a heightened sense of their own mortality, it’s a potent brew.

It’s an oddity with humans that we have such a capacity to consider these lofty ambitions and ideals.

We’re all gonna be worm food one day, there’s no escaping that.
I am enamoured with the ideal that the essence of a person, their ideas, philosophy, and artifacts can exist for fucking eternity. Someone can live on beyond their mortal meatbag shell.

And who doesn’t want a piece of that action?

The Gospel According to The Black Eyed Preacher I: The Cult of Ignorance

•February 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That’s just the kind of faux-intelligent title that usually precedes pieces like this, and for the bulk of the dead-eyed meat puppets scrabbling for some kind of foothold – apologies, I’m assuming incorrectly that said meat puppets would even attempt to muster the effort required – all it would need is to be bound with a glossy, spangly picture collage and be written by Charlie Brooker et al to be given its ‘props’

Let’s start by getting the statisticians hard. I reckon this first instalment of the Gospel will be read by 5% of you. It will be ignored by the remainder and understood by less.
Numbers are, as Thomas pointed out to me, one very good way of making order out of chaos. Doesn’t make it an infallible method, as the very act of trying to impose order onto chaos is far from an exact science.

I am a creative person. I am driven to create. What is the measure of success? It’s different for different people. Completing this piece would be seen as success for some. Writing, recording and releasing an album could be seen as a success. Tying your shoelaces, maybe.
People don’t care for the process though; that’s something that is reserved for the artist and them alone. It’s funny because the process is as of a much importance (maybe more so) than the finished article.

Ze fact of the matter is this: you will get more kudos and respect from the dead eyed masses for being seen to be driving a £50,000 Range Rover – that’s how an under-developed mind works y’see? The brain is not engaged to think beyond the end product; some may attempt to argue, once their oversized tongues allow them the gift of elocution, but the measure of success for most has to be dumbed, dumbed, dumbed down into shiny big metal fings.

‘WHY IS SHE ON THE COVER OF THIS GLOSSY MAGAZINE? I HATE HER’ I hear them cry, as they hand over the money to the smirking vendor for the 745th week in a row. Do they not see that if they stopped buying the magazine anytime it featured said oxygen thief, duh magurzeen maykurs wud stopp putin hur pix onn itt? Can they not process this? I suppose just standing up and walking four steps is an achievement for some.

You are free; free from the rigours of thinking. Why bother? The idyll of idiocy and ignorance must be a wonderful thing. It’s not an option for me sadly. There are times I wish I could just let the waves of the world wash over me, grinning away in senseless bliss, but it’s not how I am wired.

‘What are you talking about you twat?’ is the question some may ask…’you’re just in a band, you ain’t special. What gives you the right to question?’ most probably won’t bother to ask.
Lord knows being in a band is as commonplace as a puddle on Oxford Road and in a lot of cases there is about as much depth.
I never claimed to be special, I have the same rights as everyone else – I just choose to exercise those rights.

No longer am I guilty of writing for others affirmation – It’s great when you touch a part of someone (settle down at the back you grubby-minded twat) but in the band sense, I write first and foremost for the song only. The rest is a bonus.

Man of the people I am not. It would be a complete corruption of art and myself to pretend otherwise. I’ve had my fill of fat cunts with acoustic guitars singing songs about pubs, kebabs, slags and bouncers.
‘Poet laureates for the gritty working class’ the smug , ill informed types will write.
Aw it’s nice that you can still fill a stereotype isn’t it? After this I’m off out wit whippet and t’flat cap.
Bless you. Bless you all.

Of course, the dead eyed meat puppets will proclaim them kings and queens, as they ‘get’ them and ‘speak’ to them, serving only to underline their futility. ‘He’s my mate he is’ NO HE FUCKING IS NOT.
He has moved 200 miles away from you, because you live in shit.
He has found an escape from you and your life-draining ways. But you do not see.
The idyll of idiocy convinces you that because he has ‘made’ it, you too have ‘made’ it by proxy.
You are a fucking leech.

Ignorance is easy. Life is hard enough, why complicate it with confrontation? If you lack the fortitude and common courtesy to deal directly and plainly with others, because it may be, diddums, hard for you to do, then fuck you. Sleep well under your blanket of ignorance; I’m out of the bed.

To those who have questioned my passion and integrity. Let’s me and you get in a room for a little chat eh? I’ll give you a forum for you to explain your reasoning. You may even convince me.

Ah Ignorance. The ability to stare into the middle distance like Richard Gere instead of directly addressing the issue.  We owe each other nothing. We are owed nothing.
Ignorance is the staple of 21st century living – it’s never been easier to ignore your fellow species kids!

Where is the courage and purpose? Desensitised to the nth degree there’s barely a flicker of eyelids. Protests! Protests seem to be in vogue again. Yet, they change nothing, and protesters are largely there to ensure they get their mugs on the nightly news or fleeting YouTube infamy – a fucking protest is supposed to be about the wider message. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR FUCKING FACE.

What do you live for? What do you think? What do you feel? What is your message? What will be your legacy? Do you give a fuck?

I don’t know. Is a possible definition of insanity being the only sane person in the madhouse who knows they are not crazy, whilst the remainder acquiesce and babble remorselessly about the benefits of soap in a digital age?

Would it be ‘better’ perhaps to just let go and chime in that ‘Imperial Leather by Cussons is the connoisseurs’ choice when navigating the interwebz’ before smearing shit on the walls?

To the tribe who care – you have my unreserved love, thanks and respect.

For the rest:
There is no solution. No end.
It’s catharsis for me to write it down. Selfishness in words.
Its purpose is to be written, not necessarily to be read.

Don’t feel bad about ignoring it. You probably feel nothing anyway.

The Death of Mancunia? – sumthing wot I wroted..

•January 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

Indeed. I wrote this to be included in Pulp Mag’s final hurrah but it never materialised. Massive thanks to Jon Coupe, Stephanie Webb and Simon Stanley Wright for contributing! (it’s a few months old so there may be time-specific oddities in there)

Without further to-do here goes:

 

The Death of Mancunia?

Ah, Manchester.

I really, really don’t need to list the bands and characters that form the clichéd view of this city’s musical heritage; you know who they are.

I’ve seen lines drawn in debates, but the dichotomy of knuckle dragging retarded monkey vs beardy Chorlton bedsit bedwetter doesn’t hold weight.  It’s the time-honoured default argument that if you don’t like one, you are automatically the other.

We’ll I’m neither.

I wasn’t born into affluence, silver spoon skilfully wedged up my arse. I’ve never been able to embark on an extended period of parentally funded bohemianism; playing at art before growing weary of this plaything and demanding ma-mah buy me more money.

But then I am not a paid-up subscriber to the ‘I’m influenced by the rain and the dole’ fraternity, spewing out pathetic genero-chimp indie under a flimsy charade of working class grit. A noticeable lack of intelligence also seems to be the order of the day, but since when did ‘working class’ equate to ‘idiot’?

There’s a truism that goes: ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn’. Are we in pitch black territory?

I’m reminded of one tale related to me concerning a highly paid city slicker moving into the Hacienda apartment complex and seeking to change his flat number to 808, in honour of 808 State. With the ‘glory days’ of the Hacienda long behind him, he’s scrabbling at the walls for a foothold.

It’s the notion of distilling the legacy of a great act into a fucking door adornment that sickens me, never mind the folly of building a luxury apartment block on a historic site.
Sure, it may keep Mr 808 and the apartment proprietors in a false state of contentment. It may even prevent them from angrily jerking off into an old gym sock to distract from the soulless route their lives have taken; but as a both an artist and a native of this city I cannot stand idly by and watch the parasites and the leeches ruin all that was created here, stifling the new breed.

I have no great desire to put money or effort into something as wantonly inane as FAC251 (beautifully parodied by FUC51)
Northside were shit first time round, and the rose tinted specs have been jettisoned.
Peter Hook may sleep soundly whilst he desecrates the memory of Ian Curtis to fund his pension, but I won’t be contributing to that fucking gravy train palooka.

Of course it could be dismissed as any other novelty revival could be. There’s a Stone Roses bar in York full to bursting with shamble-shuffling simian types – but then York does not possess Manchester’s musical heritage, you can dismiss it with a wry smile.
When you’re in the trenches you can see the truth of what is happening all around you.

It’s when mass media hijack the bandwagon that the problem is brought sharply into focus.
Unable or unwilling to really see Manchester as it is today – a fucking behemoth of diversity – they revert to cliché and take the easy inches.
Case in point: an ex-member from surely the dullest group in existence opens just another dogshit venue. He’s not concerned though, the press are killing themselves to plug and cover it.
Pretty soon, the mask slips. The veneer peels away to reveal a fuckwit and his ridiculous acolyte coining it in from naïve acts he doesn’t give two shits about. Pension 1 Legacy 0.

The advent of Web 2.0 has morphed into farce. Twenty years ago, artists would have chewed their sacs off for the freedom the web offers. And what happens? We fuck it all up.
Warhol turns out a prophet and utter mediocrity becomes the new black. The people cannot handle all this information coming at them. So they switch off; see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.
Mute automatons all, superlatives reduced to weasel words, and a fucking great big Orwellian nightmare in prospect.

In a move straight from the focus group, a massive number of venues start putting bands on for fear of falling behind the Joneses; but they haven’t the first clue  how to run a successful, interesting night. Quality control massively haemorrhages and everyone’s in the fucking mire together. Jon Coupe (Salfordmusic.com, Salford City Radio) says Manchester ‘is only surviving through its reputation. It should be innovating, thrilling and experimenting- but as far as I can see- it is slowly choking itself to death.’

Simon S. Wright (Alchemy/Geevor/writer) says:

More music venues = more live music = a bigger music community, right?  Not really…  It would appear that over a number of years, central Manchester music venues have unwittingly colluded in reducing the chance of any scene to flourish or reach its potential.  Closer to the truth is, more music venues = more competition = more need to make money = more venues choosing money over music.

The depressing truth of the matter is that people vote with their feet. There’s clearly a market for the nostalgia-tinted halcyon days to be revived and raped, and a lot of punters attend. It’s almost as if people don’t want to create a heritage of their own; they don’t want to be able to look back and have their own ‘I was there’ moments. They’d be content with a colour photocopy of the Mona Lisa that’s been passed through the device a million times, convinced it’s as worthy as the real thing.

Jon Coupe summarises that Manchester is:

‘lazy, fat, self-serving, ineffectual, all-consuming- and in all but a few cases- BAD for bands. It is an obvious magnet for musicians because of its size, reputation and number of venues- and it perpetuates the belief that you can ONLY make it if you suckle on its legacy-clinging teat. Bollocks I reckon. I am of the view that it feeds upon the neediness of local bands (and their long-suffering and loyal supports) and gives them bugger all back.’

Attendance of live events has never been based purely on the love of acts and their output. There are undeniable aspects of being seen in the ‘right’ places, and hanging out at trendiest nights. It’s been amped to maximum though.

The dawn of the ‘Everyone’s a Celebrity’ generation has led to people becoming hyper-obsessed with how they are perceived.
They flock to hyped acts on the strength of one song, ignoring the act when they play something they don’t know.
Well…there is the spamming around of new pictures of themselves via their social networks to consider…
They instantly dismiss the acts if they are not flavour of the week anymore, driven by a desire to be seen at the pinnacle of the social tree, perpetuating their own self-importance.

Weirdly, if it isn’t rammed down their throats at every available opportunity then the event is meaningless to them.
For fuck sake! Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall was attended by about 35-40 people…35-40 then unknowns who went on to do great things off the back of the energy they drew from this show.

Where is the drive? Where are the cojones?

All is not lost.

If you’re willing to hit the brakes and stop gorging yourselves on what you are force-fed you will find a vibrant mesh of scenes, whatever your poison. Sure, there will always be individuals who chuck in Keane’s latest with their spuds and macrobiotic shakes, but music is not a loss leader for everyone.

Yes there are uber-conglomerates peddling bullshit there are also reputable information sources.
We are lucky to have a good number of these, including (but by no means limited to) manchestermusic.co.uk, High Voltage, guestlistmusic, The ‘zeen and Hey Manchester!
Indeed the gargantuan efforts of one Cath Aubergine are well known to every (and I mean every) band in Manchester.

Radio-wise there is BBC Manchester Introducing, North Manchester FM, Radio Republic, Salford City Radio and many more. You want a truer picture of what is really going on? Start with the aforementioned.

Stephanie Webb (writer, promoter, music enthusiast) says Manchester ‘Hit a wall’: It’s a good job we hit that wall, because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have ever started to see the stars, so long may it continue!

The Black Knights, Janice Graham Band, Spokes, Butcher and Bolt, With That Knife, The Vipers (RIP, didn’t see them stars quick enough), The Virgin Marys, Gideon Conn, Kid British…I’m not just trying to say that all bands of Manchester Olde are tired and rubbish, I was brought up on the stuff, didn’t’ do me no harm, but if you eat beans on toast every night for your tea, eventually you are going to crave something different. Not just for the taste, but for the benefit of your health.’

Manchester Olde have laid the foundations for us to build on, except some salty fuckers from the old school are busy rigging up the C4 charges. They can’t let go; they need to let go. Why sully the memory of what they achieved by hanging around? And if they insist on getting involved, stop with the self-fellatio and ego-stroking by booking acts who sound exactly like they did.

It’s far easier for national journo’s to pigeonhole a city into one easily described bracket, but they can go fornicate themselves.
Go and earn you stripes by doing a proper investigative job…not all the music produced in this city is to everyone’s taste. I’m not a super-eclectic music devourer, but there is plenty to satiate as much as annoy me. That’s the beauty of diversity.

There’s a massive crop of places to go in this city offering far, far more than is credited. MAPS Festival continues to go from strength to strength, and Sounds from The Other City is a proverbial juggernaut. In The City descends every year ensuring a massive hive of activity. Friends of Manchester just had its second year, with a massive selection of acts.
Simon Wright speaks of:

Promoters such as Now Wave, whether you love or hate their taste in music, seem to be passionate about promoting music in which they believe. Similarly, Wotgotforgot (aka. Ciaran Cullen) creates thoughtful events that are slowly gaining a positive reputation.  Likewise, the Ruby Lounge has become a favourite with touring bands, as this venue unlike so many others, considers their line ups, choosing quality of music above reliance on local bands bringing fans down.  They know that quality line ups are much more dependable than fickle friendships.  It’s no coincidence then, that The Ruby Lounge along with the Deaf Institute (where Now Wave put on many of their nights) are voted as two of Manchester’s best venues.  It’s also no coincidence that these venues are most popular with Manchester bands who are leading the charge in a bid to escape the yesteryear sounds wafting over from FAC251.’

Drawing on the innovation shown by their predecessors you have Love and Disaster; formed out of the ashes of Channel M and already taking great strides. They released a very well received compilation, featuring new Manchester acts they feel deserve to be heard. Is it for everyone? No, but it’s representative of an active niche.

There is also Recreation Records (www.recreationrecords.com). A ‘truly independent record label’
It’s the brainchild of Andy Chester, a seasoned vet of the Manchester scene, and is run as a collective headed up by Graham Thomas of Blowout infamy. In contrast to classic setups (and in keeping with the slightly unhinged ethos) 100% of royalties go direct to the artist. The roster consists of My Computer, The Hong Kong Blood Opera, The Black Knights, The Witches, Black Jackson, Captain Caveman, Bugs in Ember and Pete King. Each band different from the other, but equally excellent.

Perfect idyll would have the past and present working in harmony to ensure the future.
But the old guard don’t give a fuck.
And neither do we.
The battle lines are drawn; kill or be killed.
Their luster is fading by the day and we grow stronger.

Spare a thought for our founding fathers…
Patricide never sounded so good.

The world is ours. The nation of Mancunia is famous across the globe.
Strike down the gluttonous despots and send the parasites packing.

‘Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks,
Ten thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea:
Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As ‘t were in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by..’

Yours,

The Dark Reverend Gary L Hope

TBK in 2010…

•December 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The bell is tolling on 2010. It’s time to look back briefly!

The most important thing we did this year was recording and releasing our debut album Sickle Sell Saturday Night

We entered Giddy Whittles’ cave with the aim to make a fucking great album in the week we were there. We’re happy to say that the resulting 11-tracker realised those aims. We’re damn fucking proud of that album and the acclaim has been pretty much universal! Just the one lukewarm response, from a *cough* ‘leading’ Manc rag.

Our 4 day stay in Santander – great shows, great people, pretty fucking special. Massive thanks to Nathan & Isa for putting us up and entertaining us, to Ral for all the driving and drumming, The Pulsebeats for putting on a top show and EVERYBODY we met and hung out with whilst we were in that great place! Oh and respect for the Calimoxo!!!!

Playing some great, great shows – pick of the bunch were the shows with Band of Skulls, The Jim Jones Revue and our album launch show (opened by Kindest of Thieves) kindly put on by BBC Manchester Introducing – we will have the tracks from this soon as they get dug out from the Beeb archives!

We recognise the true fans, the crucial supporters, and always work hard to ensure that there’s a fuckload of rare, bonus extras that goes to these people.

We are eternally grateful to the people who look beyond the X-Factor method, the ‘i’ll chuck this in with my veg at the supermarket’ types and have opened their eyes to the direct-to-fan method.
Support your bands directly – cut out the middlemen pricks. If it’s good enough for Trent Reznor

It’s a better deal all round.

Right. 2011?
Well we have just had a top  recording session at Toast. So we will have new material coming in the early part of 2011 – we will work out the specifics, but they will be available to our true fans before anyone else! To make sure your at the head of the queue for all manner of rare, new and bonus stuff sign up to our monthly mailing list here!

We aim to keep the top shows coming – you may not see as much of us live next year – we had a few nasty experiences with some shows this year, and in light of the amount of success we’ve had with the higher level of other shows we have played, its only the best for us and our fans from now on!
The live circuit is full of ten-a-penny toss merchants but they don’t get the pleasure of a TBK show from now on.

We’ve already been taking a long hard look at ourselves and our situation, and some new plans are already underway! Watch this space.

Finally massive thanks to anybody who has written about us, filmed us, took our picture, talked about us/played us on the radio, interviewed us, shared us around the internet, bought our releases, came to our shows, shared a stage with us, booked us the decent shows we have played, backed us all the way, and fuck it – generally embraced the voodoo trash blues revolution!

We appreciate it to the very depths of our souls.

Yours,

The Dark Reverend Gary L Hope & Thomas Richard Pickford III


Session at Toast Recordings!

•December 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We’re still in the process of pushing our debut album ‘Sickle Sell Saturday Night’ and had no other plans on the table…until Chris from Toast Recordings got in touch offering to work with us!

So we went down.

Toast is a GREAT setup and Chris is very good at what he does – we were in on the 13th and 14th and got two new tracks down ‘Midnight in the Mausoleum’ and another track with a working title of ‘Freakshowblues’ – I say working title because Tom is doing his customary ‘that title is shit’ schtick – we’ll knock our heads together then to finalise that….

It was a decent brain-melting, cabin fever session – between us we came up with an entirely new mid section for ‘Midnight…’ and the other track was about a week old, with stuff being changed on the spot…factor in the non-cooperation of our vocal fx pedal and some oddness from the desk and we were ready to swing for each other! Hahahaha

Good experience though because we usually have 98% of stuff meticulously worked out before heading in to the studio – spending days in there at vast expense is not an option for us!

The tracks will be mixed over the next couple of weeks so watch this space.

Also we should have a little something else coming soon!
Finally, I’ll leave you with our spanking new visually appealing biog– text is great and all but this is the shit.

El Caballeros Negro aplastar Santander! – Part 2

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Into Saturday then – the best/worst start to a day has to be chocolate filled pastries for breakfast – 80cents each and fucking awesome!

Nathan was up and out for 7am, despite the 5.30am bedtime – to assist Isa with the newspapers – bear in mind they are heavy as sin, and also remember Isa ruined her already injured back with the speed she swept around when she saw Kiko.

Left to our own devices for a while we er…slept.
Once up, we generally loitered and passed the time – thing is, me and Tom cannot spend a length of time in each other’s company without pissing each other off.

His insistence on bizarrely referring to me as ‘The White Pudding’ (my wrestler name apparently) was starting to grate, as was my ability to massively wind him up on tap, without even trying.

We decided to go out for a wander again – the traffic lights come complete with an animated green man AND a countdown to when you can cross – sort it out UK.
I was still amusing myself with the fact that I could light up a cigarillo inside bars & whatnot – doesn’t take much.

I got hold of some of the print press we had received – when I get it scanned in, I’ll post it.

Later on we went in search of a beer and took the inclined elevator on Rio de la Pila (The River Battery translated – fucked if I know…) that takes you up a fair distance over the town below – I didn’t have a camera on me, but the view is ridiculously good when you get up to the top. There was also a curious mural at the bottom of the lift depicting rats, squirrels and a big fuck-off pig….

So we’re sat having a beer and Nathan gets a call. And our first taste of Howard (proprietor of Planeta, the venue we will be playing later) is delivered.

‘Howard needs to see you’
‘Howard wants the band setup now’
‘Howard needs to get setup and shower’
‘Howard will see you later’

It’s then made crystal clear (as if it wasn’t already) that Howard ALWAYS talks about himself in the third person.

10 minutes later, Ral has rolled up again and we load in at Planeta.

Howard is a legend.
Howard has more than a passing resemblance to seminal actor/bodybuilder Carl Weathers. Yes, Apollo Creed is effectively running the night.
Howard is in great shape, as is Tom – and there is nothing better than the unspoken bond that bodyscuplters share coming to fruition in front of your eyes. Who gives a fuck about the language barrier; I half-expected (how do you half expect??? – I digress) a Tom & Howard posedown. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.

We get setup and soundcheck – Howard has already got the gratis calimotos out and served. The bar is decorated with scenes from famous London venues, and once again it’s the perfect size for some sleazy trash blues.

We’re done. Howard goes to shower, we go to eat. Lose track of the time, rush back to get suited and booted.

There’s people milling around Planeta – I’ve left my cigs at Nathan’s place. Nightmare.
I try the cig machine; it’s off. I speak to Howard and he tosses me some Lucky Strikes and another calimoto. I go to pay.
He looks at me incredulous and dismisses my cash with a wave of the hand.

WHERE IN THE UK DOES THE PROPRIETOR KEEP THE ENTERTAINMENT HAPPY WITH FREE CIGARILLOS?!?!?!

Howard rises to semi-deity in my eyes and within twenty minutes or so we launch into our set – and we’re better than the night before, which was fucking ace. The crowd seem to be getting bang into it – we do five songs and break halfway. I’ve never played a show where we split the set – feels odd.

The crowd has grown as we play the second half of our set – feels fucking amazing as we plough through the next five tracks – us doing a 10 song set?? Never.

We finish and the crowd are rapturous. Encore?

Sure.

We nail the fuck out of ‘Shame You Don’t Know’ and then were off again, calimotos, cigarillos, selling our albums, signing the albums.

Little break.
Howard is loving it.
Howard wants more.

For the first time in our history we go on AGAIN!
Double Encore.

We knock out three hyped up versions of ‘Midnight at The Mausoleum’, ‘I Drove A Stake Right Through Your Heart’ and ‘Cult’ it it’s game over – we sell and sign more albums and we’re buzzing our tits off.

Here’s some great pics courtesy of Silvia:


(apparently the above pose is what English girls do when faced with a camera….I apologise.)

Howard approaches Tom.
Hand to Tom’s face, massive grin, shakes his hand.

Beautiful.

We load-out still pumping and hit the bars again – it’s Halloween and suddenly I don’t look quite so out of place as usual. We hit Vitore’s bar and its fucking battered. We squeeze in a quick shot of honey rum (superb) with him before he’s lost to a torrent of peeps.

We’re out in the streets again, and it’s mobbed – not even the abandoned construction machinery is spoiling this party. I see the guy that I was trading swear words with a couple of nights ago and we do it all again, with gusto – nothing funnier than hearing a Cantabrian who speaks very little English repeating ‘Fucking shite, mate’

We end up back in the bar where Tom was ‘cheated’ out of a win at darts – local heroes Soul Gestapo are about – once again we’re having a fucking ball.

Outside we meet a local who too is suited and booted, except he’s been to a wedding. He speaks little English as is understandably wary of a 6ft 1 bald man in a purple suit and sweat-smeared eyeliner down his face.

Somebody puts a sparkly silver top hat on me. A flash of recognition and a dawning appears on the guys features. He’s trying to enunciate what he sees. His faltering English is holding him back.

There’s a pause.

Longer pause.

Then he speaks.
‘El….errr…el..er….Magic Man?’

Hilarity ensues. I’m no longer ‘The White Pudding’ I’m the fuck-ing ‘Magic Man’

We wrap it up a few hours later and off to bed, again around 5.30am.

It’s been a fucking epic night by all accounts and we have to fly back the later that day- we watch Sin City and as Isa & Nathan kindly drive us to the airport, the fucking heavens open, reminding us of what we are heading back to.

Truly stunning few days in an amazing town, in the company of great, great people – it’s the reason you start a fucking band.

We’ll be back.

Howard wants more.

El Caballeros Negro aplastar Santander! – Part 1

•November 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

I can’t tell you how much better the Spanish translation of ‘The Black Knights’ is.

EL CABALLEROS NEGRO!!!

Anyway.

Our trip to Santander couldn’t have gone any better – notwithstanding the cattlemarket farce that Ryanair was on the way there anyhow…

First we met up with our host for the trip, Senor Nathan Whittle, of The Vipers (who will be playing a one-off reunion show at Islington Mill, Salford on November 13th) and now of The Pulsebeats – many, many thanks to Nathan and Isa for putting us up for the duration.

Legends.

We then hit the bars and calimoto was the drink of choice – I’ve long been expressing the virtues of this superb drink (consisting of half a glass of red wine, topped up with cola) – gets you nicely pissed with no hangover.

The thing you’ll find with Santander is that it’s a fucking great rock and roll town – the majority of bars have a great jukebox – Vitore’s bar should come in for a special mention here!

Nathan and company had been hard at work for us – every corner we turned round was emblazoned with posters for our shows, and there was a fair bit of print press for us too!

So the first night was spent checking out the bars, Thomas almost creating an international incident when he was beaten at darts by Silvia – to be fair to him, I don’t think you are allowed to step within six inches of the board and ‘place’ the dart where it needs to be hahahha…

Actually, Silvia provided much mirth – primarily because of her stunning turn on the mic following The Pulsebeats winning a recent battle of the bands contest (and a cool three grand)…. If I can locate the video I’ll post it….. 🙂

Meanwhile I’m busy trading information on how to curse in our languages – time well spent…
I also happened upon a group who were enamoured with some Manchester bands – espousing the viryues of the Mondays, Durutti Column, Joy Division et al…crazy who you can run into.

It’s a great culture – finding yourself still up and out at 5.30am, drink in hand, with the temperature being 22 degrees at the end of October is no bad thing – the highlight of the ‘last drink’ (which actually happened three times) was a man whipping out a silver trumpet (not a euphemism) and blowing out some melodies to the main club’s music – superb.

The next day was spent largely lounging about, watching Fight Club, eating and checking out the harbour – Isa actually aggravated a back injury as she caught sight of Kiko (Ex Athletico Madrid footballer) being snapped by the ‘Rascals’ – statues of kids, to commemorate the cheeky basts who used to jump into the harbour to steal money thrown in there for luck!

Later, we were picked up by Ral (drummer in The Pulsebeats) as we headed over the rehearsal rooms to pick up the gear – Ral was a legend for the amount of driving he did – massive respect. Their rehearsal rooms are actually above a marketplace…

Loaded up, San Miguel in hand we head to the town of Torrelavega – the venue was Sala Arena and it was to be us and The Pulsebeats. We both put in great shows, despite Thomas having to start drumming IMMEDIATELY after consuming a massive pizza from Telepizza – true mirth to found watching the mutual intelligibility of the server and Tom.

This pic from the show is courtesy of Atlantico Norte:

Massive thanks to Luis for letting me use his Strat too!

One uber-important thing to note was that the atmosphere in the venue was amazing.

The UK Smoking ban has decimated the live scene – you don’t know how fucking good it is to see people stay in the venue the whole fucking night, getting right into the bands and generally having a ball – yeah the health risks are much publicised, but it doesn’t half make the live experience so much fucking better when they don’t have to traipse outside away from the entertainment all the time.

Even the chica who bawled ‘I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU’ throughout the set, only added to the show, Tom replying in kind screaming ‘NO COMPRENDE!’

Once the gear was packed away we were out again, taking in yet another superb rock bar. It was Alex’s (Pulsebeats’ bassist) birthday and he was subjected to a glitter attack:


There is a winning formula in Cantabria – the venues and bars are slightly smaller, lending a better atmosphere all round – smashing in yet more calimoto helps too.
The people are great, and despite language barrier issues we’re all having a fucking ball, looking forward to our next show at Planeta..

Howard needs to speak with us….