Sunday, August 28, 2005

view from the event!

wow, what a day. I've shaken hands with a bloke who was in blue, the excellent drummer from McFly, KT tunstall who was really nice (she's from St Andrews like me), Tyler James who gave us some great advice as he sat behind his car, parked next to ours, in the VIP parking lot, and Lucie Silvas who jake thinks is stunning and was really friendly! She has nice boots, kurt g from selfridges.

Don't be disparaging about McFly's talents, they're amazing on stage, live and really tight!

There's more detailed recollections of what I remember on the Janeiro website at the Janeiro website. We had a great time, arriving on the amazing JaneiroBus - pics to follow! - but we were really pushed for time so we didn't get the chance to motor about Oxford in the stunning Janeiro logo emblazened routemaster london bus! Great fun coming into town in it though. A million thanks to Nic's dad, my dad-in-law, whose passion it is to keep such an iconic piece of engineering running.

The song went really well, Jo from the FoxFM morning crew was utterly splendid all day, she schmoozed on our behalf more than I could have hoped in my wildest dreams! We chatted for hours, and boogied together backstage during McFly's set, although I got the cues wrong. oops!

George now has at least one mobile number of a handsome superstar... and not just the rest of the Janeiro! heh heh!

A fantastic weather day too.

Right, off to see the rest of the band in a restaurant in oxford. just dropped off all the gear at the studio, thanks to the herculean efforts of my gorgeous wife Nic, who has, in the last week:
1. made up Tshirts, 18 of
2. created and organised all the artwork that went on the bus, including putting the vinyl prints on mount board late last night
3. drove all the way up to Greetham in Leics where her folks stay, arriving at 10pm last night and staying up until 2am(!) getting the ads on the bus
4. drove me back to the studio here in Crawley 2 drop off the gear.

she has a massive headache now, no shock with the massive workload in the last few days!


right, I'm off into oxford! see you around, come to jongleurs next wednesday!



Saturday, August 27, 2005

It's the night before P-day... and all through the house

The only creatures stirring are me, three cats and three rats!

Well, tomorrow all the prep comes together. Nic has shot up to Greetham with art materials to adorn our "special advertising vehicle" which we'll be turning up in - this'll get Oxford talking - I hope! Nic has been truly spectacular this whole week, especially given the trouble I've had sleeping all week - which, I might add, has nothing to do with nerves! I've been to the doc again about my throat, it seems to have stretched really badly and I'm waking up with huge headaches and a thumping heart... so I want to get fast-tracked to laser scarring for the back of my crap throat to pull it back into some kind of shape that lets me sleep again - if only on my side!

We got another shout from the lovely Jo Thoenes this afternoon after I revealed we'd be coming along in an "interesting vehicle"! She'll get to see what it is no doubt! Thanks to Dan ze Drums for being alert of ear and hearing that one this afternoon.

I've been madly working on the Janeiro website - which now contains a link to our mini-site on Arkade where the demo of Cream of the Crop has gone on sale at the staggering sum of 99p! iTunes here we come! ho ho!

Jake's been getting his car covered in the Janeiro logo, Nic has been making T-shirts so that people with flyers look like they're associated with the band (there's a few close friends and family going to be there!) - if the flyers attract even 1% of the crowd we'd fill Jongleurs on the 31st 3 times over!!!!!!!

Hopefully we can create a tsunami of interest which will sweep us to big things!

Meantime though, I've got to keep playing in a new set of strings I've just stuck on the 6 string, which I'll be using for our little one-song slot tomorrow. I've been practising hard, and it feels pretty good: I'd say I'm at one of the highest levels of one-ness with the bass that I've ever had. It feels so natural at the moment: it's something I get sometimes when programming, but it's not as visceral a feeling as really nailing a tune with 6 other people and watching faces in the audience get carried away by the sheer fun coming off the stage.

I've always loved this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Funky Funky Funky!

Last night Janeiro did a lot of talking during rehearsals of the 1 track(!) we get to play on Sunday: we've got some interesting things planned!

We've nailed down our track, it should sound great with plenty of crowd pleasing moments squeezed into the small slot. The vocals are sounding really good!

Now I have to start ringing people and organising stuff... I wonder what the Oxford Mail's number is? We've had almost a full page spread in their newspaper (the 22nd Aug edition) - and they archive online! See it here...

Gotta scoot. The day job required my attention! Could it be I could move to music full-time?.... I keep hearing adverts telling me it's never been easier to register as self-employed!

Woohoo! Tunnel long... light is bright.... getting closer?

30,000 people to impress and only the rest of the week to organise and practise for it!



Monday, August 22, 2005

Another gig - in the sun - I got to DANCE!

Yes, I finally had an area big enough to jump in! "Do Your Thing" always makes me want to jump around... and in the studio I have to watch my head, and all the gigs we've done so far I've had to stay static!

Great fun, we played on the back of an artic flatbed with the plastic stuff on. Good PA, a bit of feedback, but not too bad, apart from the gain on my amp being at full for some reason after a bass change(!) luckily I noticed the volume change!

Dan's kit went on in one piece - the scaffold was put together offstage in a little area ( they'd fenced it off for holding our gear before getting it onto the flatbed - a fair lift for a 38 kilo bass cabinet! ) then lifted whole onto it, not too shabby and very useful potentially for the sunday Party In The Park gig - I'm guessing we'll have to set up even faster than usual. Phew.

Jake and George were both a bit crook for the gig and rested up before coming down for the soundcheck. Once we got going Jake became his usual crowd pleasing self... it's like watching Dr David Banner turn into the Hulk sometimes, he's a monster onstage :) He even crossed to Javier for his solo (the flatbed wasn't that deep so we kind of spaced out all the way along it!). Dan's drum solo was outstanding! I even managed to get mine about right!

After the show I got called over by some really cute kids who were going to the PITP thing on Sunday - they said very nice things about the band and wanted CDs! We've got to get a pro recording done! It's all moving so fast...

In fact, yesterday moved so fast I didn't have time to say Hi to Dean, who I spotted after the gig.

And... for the first time... I GOT PAID!! It covers diesel and a bit more, but very welcome it was too.

And many thanks to Sam for posting pictures of the gig (good 'uns too!) on the Janeiro Yahoo Newsgroup! Join to see 'em via the link at

Friday, August 19, 2005


originally uploaded by Spammy Spamton.

My sincere apologies for the title/subject. It's just that...
Yes, we're goin to be taking the stage at the Party in the Park in Oxford South Park on the 28th of August, alongside such pop luminaries as Rachel Stevens, Liberty X and McFly!
Now, this is something heh heh! I'm typing this as Nic drives her wired husband home!
The Story of the Night, by Andy
OK, it's me. but I only know what happened to me!
Nic and I got to Banbury at 3pm! Really early, but I knew the other guys were in town already trying to get flyers to all the hairdressers in town! There you go Jamie, your efforts are immortalised!
After a quick walk around town, during which I bought a couple of music bits (couldn't resist it! boss SYB5 synth we got into the venue via the backdoor and loaded all our gear. Rich and I gorged on Bernard matthews best from Farmfoods to get change to park the van!
The soundcheck was very late, which was actually lucky, I was REALLY paranoid that since we were on at 7 we'd have no audience!
No time to get paranoid and nervous, we were on 10 minutes after we soundchecked! A huge shout to the talented guys doing the sound on the night, you ran out of channels but not ears, we had a great sound! Iuckily the Janeiro gig machine carries too much gear so Javier mixed himself to mono (eek!) and we just squeezed in!

I had great fun dancing 2 everybody else!
At the end of the night, the voting happened! SO MANY GORGEOUS PEOPLE!
The fox dj's voted 4 us, then the people voted 4 us!
All hell broke loose!
I wanted to thank every single person there, l just jumped down and started hugging everybody single person at the Janeiro end of the bar!
Anyone I missed out I THANK YOU!
Nic's banner with our logo designed by my bro Mark was top stuff, right next 2 the O2 banner at the back.
RIGHT! We've hit the A404 so this entry ends here!
We are all utterly panning ourselves.

Adult Pampers, anyone?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Q-Tron's fixed!

I ran a soldering iron over the internals of the Q-Tron in an effort to stop it cutting out. After some rather heavy handed abuse (click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-kick-thunk-kick-click-click-) turning it on and off, it still hasn't gone silent yet.

We'll call that a win.

Unlike England's cricketers... yesterday evening's rare spot of Hollyoaks mental flatlining turned out to be cricket flatlining instead, which was actually pretty cool.

I don't know why everybody was getting do wound up though, the crowd were behaving like it was a football match, which is just surreal when you see 13 white figures standing in the middle of a field doing pretty much sod all for long periods of time...

Well, I'm winding myself up nicely for Thursday's final in Banbury. Nic's been making a banner for the stage, which looks excellent: we took the Janeiro logo (as seen on the group site, and soon, the website) and used the projector to blow it up as big as we could - nearly 2 metres wide. Nic has been applying fabric paint to fill in and it's looking pretty good! A large black border and some blackout material backing and it'll be something we can hang behind the band which at least says who we are... rather than gigging at Jongleurs under their sign and being paranoid :)

We've made the final selection of songs, now all I have to do is try to practise my parts. No sniggering at the back.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Another good result?

Another good result?
Another good result?,
originally uploaded by Spammy Spamton.
To my shame, I wasn't listening last night. I was enjoying a pint at a pub in Bourne End called 'the bounty bar' which you can't get to by road. It's by the thames, serves totally mental real ales like 'grumpy cow'!
so who won last night's heat? I don't know, but Jamie said it was another shock result, so l assume the Ambient Oxford Iads got through!
If that's so, then it's time 2 rehearse like never before and make sure 'Disco' holds 2gether! This is like some dream, it's all moving so fast!

a t bp

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Jongleurs, Light Ropes, Q-Trons, Monitors, Dressing rooms, Door Staff...

It's all in an evening's work for Janeiro!

I've decided what we commited last night were random acts of funk. Random google ahoy!

I got there about 5.30pm, to find Dan, Richand Jamie were well and truly set up! The running theme of the beginning and end of the evening, which was the three of them expending vast amounts of energy carrying nearly everything from place to place, was established early on. I'm not supposed to have roadies yet!! They're great lads, my car was empty within 5 minutes of parking round the back of Jongleurs. Those back stairs are scary though.

Disconcertingly, the staff of Jongleurs appeared to be having a training course on customer awareness. A frighteningly attractive bunch, they were being assailed in David-Brent style presentation, with the secrets of conflict resolution and how many different words there were for the names of various illegal chemical substances they could expect to find up people's noses etc. A bit wierd to listen to while you're plugging stuff into other stuff. When she mentioned ecstacy I wanted to stick my hand up and say "doves!", which nobody else got. Then when she mentioned crack I just about creased up. It's all in the delivery. Not the crack, the lecture.

After some jiggery and a little pokery we located a solid wooden table we could perch my monolith Warwick stack on. See, the stage in Jongleurs is sort of built for comedians. Who'da guessed? (shrugs) :) So my stack ended up obscuring part of the jongleurs logo, which was cool as from the right angle, I thought we'd get confused for a band called jongleurs, which wouldn't sit well with the venue chain. Basses were perched behind Jamie's stack on the right of the stage. In all, a tight little set-up, with a little room for George and Jake (looking browner than the sauce after their holiday!) for boogie at the front. Javier's set up teetered precariously on the left, and Dan's drums looked spectacular dead centre.

We sorted out Rich's marshall amp problem, the crackles and drop-outs are in the pre-amp. Seeing as he uses a POD all the time, he plugged straight into the poweramp direct in, and bingo! perfect.

And I brought the light rope! I curled it a couple of times around the amp and ran in up the mike stand. Not bad, I called it my funk cable, giving vibes to my vocals from the basslines. It's only a conceptual thing... heh

The dressing room (my god, yes, we had a dressing room) was the built-for-one job the comedians use, so a 7-piece had to work in shifts ("George, are you done yet?.... I really need to go!" {crosses legs} - then "George, did you have to? Pheeeewwwww!" Lots of giggles there etc heh heh) but it did fine, I even managed to shower my head after getting overheated setting up, etc. Nic brought me a care package, bless, as well as herself (it's improtant I can see her at gigs, good grounding in reality, plus her eyes are riveting even at 30 feet away, you can still make out the wolf rings!) - a bottle of Tesco diet Kick drink (buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) and deodorant, halleluijah!

First set went really well: Jake's idea of starting out with a quiet-ish track meant we'd warmed up nicely before ploughing on. Jav's soloing on the night was really nasty! Tasty chords and really off-the-wall sequences, the lad's a genius. The ends of "hooked on you" got extended but sounded really tasty, flowing grooves.

When we came off stage I was beaming! Lots of good noises. People popped downstairs to Bar Risa but they all came back up again when we restarted, which took far too long as a couple of sad muppets posing as Virgin Records A&R men (one of whom was apparently rather interested in Georgie) wasted Jake's time ("vanished again? I'll find him!" quoted his mum. Luckily, as ever, Dan seemed to know where he was) - but they were ejected from the building by our very very good friends, who protested that even if they were lawyers or the some of some tosspot sheik they were still vulnerable to a good kicking and would they please kindly apologise. Which they did. Yay!

Also during the intermission, I was on my way to the Gents downstairs and met up with a couple of young oxford "laydeez" who were off to get some cash. The doorstaff suddenly seemed to prickle as they tried to get outside, but lo! It was actually good natured ribbing (as demonstrated by the fact they got back in!). We were paying the lads to look after security, and they were great. Really dry senses of humour, big lads with scary haircuts but obviously pussycats under the surface (of course, as anyone who has dragged a cat out of a tree will tell you, they've got some serious weapons).

Second set was a little more wobbly but with stacks of energy (although I really do need more rest before gigs like that - I'm not sleeping well at the moment, for other reasons than stress, etc! Even Tesco Kick in large amounts wasn't working at that point) - but the bloody Q-tron cut out the clean signal I was using at the beginning of "Disco" so I got paranoid about batteries running out and started fiddling with levels before I finally cottoned on and kicked the nerfing thing back into life! It did suck a little out of my sails though, I was rather embarrased.... :) I'll be dismantling that and fixing it this evening. Sigh! So much for buying good quality FX in San Francisco. Haight Ashbury that was too!

Jake's dad (Mr Big himself!) did a stupidly good job of blowing some very hot harmonica on "long train running", where the Q-tron redeemed itself a little with nice squidgy noises. I tried to keep myself reigned in at least a little, you can go a bit mental on that one.

With I'd had the opposite feeling during the solo in "Funks me Off!" I'll leave it there. I know I've mentioned I should lock that solo down, but this is crunch point: by the 18th (presuming we do that track - we definitely don't have to, and I can see reasons why it's not really a festival track!) I WILL have that solo LOCKED DOWN AND PRACTISED. Dan's solo was stunning, a real tour de force. His confidence in what he's playing has been starting in the last 2 weeks, I would almost swear he's not scared of that solo anymore! His dedication makes me hang my head in shame. A bit.

Lots of good feedback (vocal, not PA) at the end, not least about the sound, our best yet. After a brief period swanning around and finally getting a beer in (my apologies to Dean, I'll get that drink off you on the 18th mate ;) I finally got away at just after 1am, rolling into home at 2am and not being able to sleep until 3!

But by god, it's worth it. I was talking to Dean about this blog: it really has been a resurrection. The funny thing is, it's now becoming so resurrected I need to start considering my options in other areas of my life: a flower is growing, a little dream of an idea I had thought I lost a while back turned up in an unexplored corner of my heart on the way to the rehearsal wednesday afternoon. I could really do this and keep doing this.

I couldn't stop grinning and laughing as I drove up the A34. It's real, it's alive, something is actually happening! The hair on my neck stood up, I realised it's in my blood!

Oh, and someone told me Party in the Park can get 30,000 people. Permission to cack my pants sir.

A t' B P

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

from the dressing room!

from the dressing room!
from the dressing room!,
originally uploaded by Spammy Spamton.
wow, so this is where Jim Tavare got ready for his act... we actually have a room to get ready in, but i reckon if we get ready in shifts we'll make it heh heh! i might post again with a pic from the stage!

Woohoo! Wierd voting a gogo...


First Janeiro ( folks - currently redirecting to our YahooGroups mailing list until I put a proper site in place!) win the monday heat, then last night we hear a stupidly good track exit the FoxFM BOTB competition as well!

Funny thing. We were all together last night, first rehearsal back together with Jake and George back from holiday (both bronzed and fit-lookin', perfect for tonight's gig in Jongleurs), so we tuned in for the entrants into the tuesday heat. First band was a singer/songwriter from Banbury (so if he'd been in the final he'd have been on home turf) with a really polished track (actually I reckon it might even be more polished than our 1-week-to-record-and-mix rushed demo), second was three guys with a rather melancholy but melodic demo which sounded pretty rough.

To our shock surprise, band 2 obviously galvanised support from a lot of corners and win with 75% of the vote, so the robbie-williams quality track is out... bizarre, that act sounds like it would be killer onstage! I wonder what the 3-piece will sound like...

You can only shrug and accept good fortune.

Well, I'm off to Jongleurs to set up. See any of you who will be there, there!


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh dear god.

We won! We won the semi-final heat last night.

My heart was in my mouth, eurovision-style, as they played the whole track at 7:30, our one was on first. It sounded pretty good through a 38Kbit windows audio stream, the bass came out well and the width of Jake's well-mixed layered vox came out well too. The extra compression added by Fox didn't swamp the track and the kick was still crisp enough to do the job.

Then the Wailing Jacks track played, a real blinder in the style of the Strokes (as Debbie the Fox DJ pointed out). Then all hell broke loose texting people to tell them what to text and where to text it to!

And we waited until after 8pm for the results... 2 extra songs after 8pm later and Debbie announces the winner has a big margin, with 93% of the votes cast and nearly two throusand of them! Of course, I'm still in "don't get excited" mode so I assume Wailing Jacks have mobilised their fan base out of Brighton... then Debbie plays our chorus again, and I'm stunned. This must be what it feels like to win the lottery!

So Nic and I break out some bubbly and field a fair few texts and calls: then Jamie the Guitarist's voice appears out of the speakers, he's managed to call in and plugs our gig tomorrow night in Jongleurs in Oxford! Great!

All in all, a triumphant night. I couldn't sleep, I think I've only have about 3 hours and I'm still feeling elated. Hopefully I'll manage to stay awake at this evening's important practise, the first in a week with all of us there as Jake's been on holiday to Malaga - I can just see him and George in Magaluf!

Phew. Must calm down. Coffe and flapjack!

hee hee!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Little fluffy clouds and Foxes

A great weekend. The folks finally managed to get both of themselves (an odd transition from singular there) up to our place at Dorney, along with Benson the non-driveable retriever. When I say non-driveable, I'm not referring to any engine troubles or perhaps the lack of steering wheel. He just gets incredibly nervous in cars... so they're feeding him gentle doggy tranqs before travelling :)

Taking advantage of the BBQ still being up after last weekend's stupendously rained-on BBQ (the half-oil drum job in under the gazebo still!) but not feeling the worst effects of the weather, we fired up one-third of it and comfortably fed 6 people (my bro and wife came over too). Then we all sat about drinking far too much until close to midnight with the garden electrics comfortably lighting up the whole patio, along with Nic's glass lanterns. Top.

Janeiro Update
Dan got a call from Fox FM telling us we're into the next round, so we're into the last 8! Apparently it was a unanimous vote from all the judges, so Jake's polishing and slight lyric change - "So get the fox on your box", yet! - seems to have done the trick. He and George put really good layered vox on there - we'll need to coach our vocal talents to get it sounding as good onstage!

Javier got himself a paying gig last night so he wasn't about last night. Jamie, Rich, Dan and myself had a great time blasting through some tracks without vox and keys, which is actually a good challenge. We even played a track at half speed just to see if we could do it. Not bad, it only started to reggae at the end :)

Then we retired to the control room upstairs to audition other tracks of Jake's to see what we thought about other ones - there's so many of them we had to use iTunes star rating to mark out the ones we think'll translate quickly and effectively to the band as a whole!

Everything's set up for the gig at Jongleurs in Oxford on wednesday 10th. A better venue than Bridge, I gather - with any luck, it'll have a good effect on our sound, which has been a little.... overwhelming, shall we say? heh!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The FoxFM recording is complete!

Complete, and mastered, and handed in to Fox FM (who apparently have very foxy secretaries, according to Dan). It's sounding very polished! Lots has happened, so I think I'll use a list...

Since the 27th: (takes deep breath)
- Confirmed gig in Jongleurs in Oxford on the 10th August
- Recording of "Cream of the Crop" finished, Jake managed to lay down vocals and mix it before he left for a week's holiday in the sun with George
- Stunning rehearsals with Dan, Jamie, Rich and Javier - the pause while we were recording left us hungry to really funk out live. Last night's was outstanding, Dan's solo left my chin with carpet burns
- I've seen a piece of paper from Ark Records! Didn't read it though, I was (as ever) in a hurry to get home before the witching hour...
- We now have a proper name - "Janeiro" - as in Rio De. Everybody seems really happy with it!
- I went geek-mental and registered the name with, registered the domain - is being squatted on by a feeble search engine - and started a group on yahoogroups for use once we get a devoted following ;)

Someone finally pointed out last night I should have a boosted patch for taking the solo in "Funks me off". They're so right, I'm so lazy.