Sunday, December 31, 2006
and all through the house,
lots of things got unpacked in a hurry,
including an infra-red mouse.
The audio equipment was stashed with due care,
in hopes that on arrival it would all still be there.
The laptop was nested all snug in its case,
With visions of new Janeiro tracks (with cracking bass).
Tomorrow we set off. Around 10am we'll pull out of folkestone on the chunnel train in the car, and tomtom will guide us (with the excellent european map pack - I'd recommend it to anyone) all the was to Andorra. We're planning to stop off in Toulouse, which should be interesting.
I've rationed myself to a 4, 5 and 6 string bass, which should be more than enough. My rationale is that while I'm out there it's music and boarding, boarding and music, so I might as well go for it!
Only thing bothering me at the moment is a lack of small MIDI controller keyboard. I think I'll have to get one while I'm out there. Still, I'll have the ultimate small studio system then! Must update my webpage with the new gear... have to do that when i get back :)
Got lots of spare drive capacity - 2x120Gb drives plus a small 20Gb one as well. Even brought a little DVB stick along! Wonder if they've got digital TV in Andorra...
Wish me luck - this is definitely feeling the fear and doing it anyway, so to speak.
Finally - and this goes out to anyone who is willing to read my diary, such as it is, with its' occasional philosophical meanderings - have a great new new year. Here's to your 2007 - I hope it's as interesting as mine is going to be!
And if you still work for Panasonic... then good luck to you too :) Big shout out to Darren K, Chris B (the man in the far east), Sean C, Abid K, Shinee R, Mike L, James T... have fun this year guys, and be careful with that system.... :)
Oh god yeah - and here's to James Brown. I've spent more happy hours playing his stuff than most other - with the Apostles in St Andrews, we used to do a version of Sex machine that lasted literally 15 minutes and caused people to almost drop dancing.... wild.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'll have to practise that one until I'm sick of it! Actually, I've only sung a whole sung as the "front", as it were, a couple of times - really, it's a question of practise, I think. I'd guess I'll just have to tone down the complexity of the basslines to try to give myself more head space to remember lyrics, etc. I think I can just about handle some green day though. We'll have to work on some new green day tracks. Basket case does get 'em going though. Just ask David Hasselhoff. The hoff knows, he does.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I had all those "Well, this is the last time I'll" moments getting into the building, then I spent the day sorting out things to bring home (including the pinky and the brain characters Nic bought me years ago) and making sure my exit didn't leave anyone in the lurch...
And at 11:30 a small crowd of brave souls who were still in the building on the last friday before christmas gathered to see me off. When I left Racal years ago it was totally different, I just left really. Getting the card was nice, and the sequin covered fluffy red cowboy hat (which Chris B assures me is essential in Brighton clubs, along with white gloves) was a nice touch. Apparently Darren quizzing me about using iTunes to buy music was to make sure I did ( they were going to get me an iTunes card) but I then went off on one of my little rants about how I hate iTunes music shop because they don't sample at a high enough rate. Truth is, I'm a staunch CD buyer because that's the best digital quality you can buy - you can dictate the sample quality when YOU rip it, and if you buy your CDs on play, you'll pay about the same rate as iTunes charge per track. DON'T LET THEM RIP YOU OFF THIS WAY! 128k is not quick enough.
I think I may have just illustrated my rant. And possibly restated it again. Sorry about that, I tend to go off on one... :)
Anyway, I was genuinely touched by the sendoff. Actually, lots of people have been really nice about what I'm doing - very few people have called me mad (at least not to my face!) and one or two have actually implied I'm something of a hero! I'm flattered, but it's definitely time I had some form of career break from the desk jobs to tax myself in another sphere before I come back. If you read this, Mike Livingstone, I will make sure I get in touch once I get back to earth. Thanks for the comment mate, means a lot. :)
And now I can really look forward to the season - although at the moment Andorra is lacking in snow like a lot of european resorts. It's looking bad in the alps unless you're over 2000m... I think Andorra may be in a good position in the pyrenees though, the warm moist air from the atlantic should dump on the pistes!
Been trying to squeeze practise into all the madness recently - I'll be blistering by the time I get on stage. In a good way.
Got to unpack some of the studio to get at some software before I leave and no mistake....
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
So much to catch up on.... OK, I'll try to get it into some kind of order.
1. Moved house
Nic and I moved again! Found a place (at the last moment, it's got to be said) a couple of miles up the road, really beautiful, and space for the Virago in a nice dry shed. We have a pond, ducks and a moorhen (which you can hear at 1am). We also have a dairy herd which wanders along the hill opposite in the mornings while you're trying to make breakfast!
Currently the house is a total shambles, but it's getting there. Kitchen is arranged (better than the one we had before!) but my studio is still well and truly in boxes. Good news - the mixing desk is working again, I can recommend sending your dead Soundcraft 328XD power supply off for repair with some guys I found near stevenage. Total cost was around £113 for the repair, as opposed to £450 for a new supply from soundcraft... no contest! If anyone wants the address give me a shout on the blog. I need to unpack some of the studio so I can get at software before I leave!
The cats are going stir crazy, surprise, but they seem to like the new place. It's a lot warmer. Despite feeling more rural that the last place, it's actually got gas central heating(!) - never mind the cost, the place is WARM!
So all in all a good move. We did it with one luton transit again, and that definitely is the last time. After the 6 vanloads, (2 of which were solo on my own! We did get lots of help from my Bro and Nic's mum for which I am eternally grateful) and the cleaning of the old place, I took a week to recover. Hard hard work. Volga boatmen city.
2. Ready for Andorra
Well, nearly. I've got a laptop (finally) to keep the blog up to date (I notice I've got a comment or two - thanks for those, whoever you are...!) and hopefully do some recording out there with Cubase. I'll be using internet cafes though I think, thankfully I'm sure there is one in Soldeu and the access cards aren't too expensive.
Our gear (Nic's skis and my boards) has already gone down in the van - Jamie is already down there! Actually, the Van is a worry - currently the brakes aren't working, but thankfully they got there OK before they gave out. I've got the workshop manuals for LDV vans which look like they're pretty good, but how do I diagnose from this distance?????? eek.
3. Job situation....
I've had a lot of good positive noises from ex-panasonic employees - many thanks to all of them - and I'll be working on my CV (probably towards the tail end of while I'm out in Andorra, now I've got a laptop) in order to come steaming back to the UK and find a software sector to terrorise. Typically, I've got something really juicy to dig into at work as well. Wish I'd had that 3 months ago, but what can you do? It takes a long time to persuade the Japanese of things.
4. That's it.
Oh yeah... I fixed my car up. Window winder, windscreen, tail light... little things.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
If not - drop me another comment, anonymous - anyone who mentions VB and the Witney Wisp (are we referring to 'arry 'arris 'ere?) should shurely be Elwyn???
Oh - and I'm stoked that the snow out there is good. 100 inches at Baker? Woah, I would sooooo like to be there :) The boarding I did at Banff was some of the best - American and canadian ski resorts rule, I suspect - Europe needs more himalayas (or at least our own pocket san andreas for more hilly bits).
So yes... another Breeze gig this thursday! And I've got to get some serious stuff packed - we're taking the studio out there!!! So not only do I get to spend that time playing music and boarding (when I have chance - remember, this is hard work we're talking about here) - we're going to get some writing done as well! Jamie is driving down fairly soonish so I'll be taking him a load of stuff this thursday night as well as the trace 2x10 cab to extend the V-Amp V4 combo (which, BTW, sounds totally awesome - I'd kill for one of those!).
Things at work have been cool - I've actually done more work recently that ever before, lots of little apps to do cool stuff remote controlling other apps using AutoIT v3 (yeah, I'm a dweeb on the side). Hopefully when I get back I can get myself another post fairly quickly, but with any luck in a new place close to home.
Oh yes... and we're moving house this weekend!!!! Not doing things by halves, eh... Nice new place though, very warm. And not oil powered. BTW, if you have the misfortune to be in an oil-powered house, try boilerjuice.com - they are very very cool and very very useful.
Wish me luck, I have a PC, 2 monitors and several bits of 19" rackmount gear to pack for the back of a van :)
Oh yes, and my 5 string. And my board. And Nic's skis.
Andy The Man With Something To Live For
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
for 10 weeks, starting January!
Bless 'em, Panasonic simply couldn't cope without me, they said, so I had to give my notice today. I still don't really understand why they can't give a sabb until I get back, and still have all these talents I apparently possess, but there you are.
Gentle reader, how could I, a 36 year old male bassist, turn down the chance to stretch my capabilities in a totally different and very demanding sphere, because my employer hasn't granted a sabb before and doesn't know what to do?
I think this marks a great phase for me: I will find a software company who rate software quality as I do and blow them away with the force of my testing. It will be a meeting of minds and hearts.
I have broken free!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The andorra sabbatical draws near, and so does preparation. We're moving house again, so it's time to start packing things up. I always get wistful when packing up the studio (although at the moment I need to keep some things available for 1) gigging and 2) trying to recording backing tracks with). Did the drumkit last night (yamaha electronic job, very portable). Hopefully that'll give me some room to stash boxes in the corner in!
Basically, we need to move to bring rent down anyway, but while I'm away Nic will have to cover things at this end (I will help out as much as possible!) so it's time to downsize a bit if possible. It also has the added bonus that we can try to move much closer to where Nic works. This will also mean that I escape from Thatcham, I suspect: we will see.
How to feel undervalued?
Did a presentation yesterday for the test system I've contributed one hell of a lot to. However, I felt compelled to jump in and start explaining things in more depth when the magic word "we" started being used too much and I felt a little undervalued: we've had a few people come through the team I work in, and believe me a lot of them just weren't up to the task. I've fixed problems in every piece of software in the system, and implemented most of the scripts. So what's this "we" business about? While I acknowledge I haven't done all the work (far from it), 2 of the systems wouldn't exist and nearly every cool aspect of the original one was implemented by me.
I have an insatiable appetite for being told I am responsible for success, but it never, ever happens enough. Bit self-evident that one. I think I'm basically socially maladjusted that way, which is probably why I'm crap in offices (I never want to lead teams, always want to beaver away at impressive solutions to problems people don't know how to tackle, etc) but great on stage with a Bass (love me, please, tell me I'm not utterly inadequate and basically shite at everything)
I think the bottom may be falling out of my belief system.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
This one's nice, like having exploding sweets (pop rocks? can't remember) on your throat.
Central heating on - colds caught.
Sheesh modern living eh?
About to start packing up house again, every 12 months or less recently. Not fun.
Been trying to find the brass sound in "addicted to love", the cheesy palmer classic. Can't find it! Need to hook up the old midi module and see what it's got.
Satch on the ipod, "war" from crystal planet. A favourite of mine. Nice bass start too.
Stu rules! I met him once doing a jazz gig in a department store in SF. Him, not me!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
This year has a different twist though, which brings it more into the spirit of this haphazard blog.
I think I'll be in Andorra for 10 weeks playing in "Breeze", the covers band! Play at night, board in the day... and I've got a new Burton Custom X to try out!
Can't wait. This is the chance of a lifetime.
In between, just have to find somewhere new to live... the rent on our place is sooooo high it's mental, so it's time to save some cash, esp as the pay out in andorra is a lot less than I'm on at the moment! It is pretty good though, and board and lodging is more or less thrown in.
I'll go through a few strings playing 6 nights a week though and no mistake... eek
Nostalgia? Thing of the past.
Sorry about that. I did get misty eyed earlier on though, found a really nice aerial view of where I "grew up". I say that in quotes as it was the place we lived the longest, although even then it wasn't that long. Local.live.com (which is actually a great site despite being microsoft's) has it [..:: HERE ::..] . It's the walled garden with the large house attached in the middle of the map, on the way out of town towards St Andrews.
I loved it there.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What a wierd and cool weekend it was.
Friday night was an O'neills in oxford, first one with rich back from hols. Blinder, enjoyed it lots.
Saturday was in the crown and thistle in abingdon, and that was a wierd night.
The warwick ccl packed up - yet again, showing shite build quality, why do warwick insist on using pcb ribbon cables with no snaplock on the connectors? the pro ix head i bought kept shaking off the power amp connectors, then the combo's done the same, but it's royally shafted the poweramp, which is now permanently muted. Great.
Anyway, I used the trace V4 valve combo the lads have and plugged in the 2x10 trace cab. Sounded really good. That combo is spectacular, needs overhauling tho.
Wierd motorhead fan got me doubled up with mirth asking for ace of spades and making bad smell faces at me during the gig when we played other stuff hee hee!
And between sets Jamie and Steve nipped back to the van and got... a haggis! With 4 candles. Bless! they got me a jester hat as well, which is cool.
Then, after one of the most fun gigs I've had (big solo) Jamie got the whole pub to sing happy birthday to ME! Quite touched. I can see andorra is going to be a blast! Breeze even have positive review as part of a review of Soldeu on a ski site.
Phew, the P910 is smokin now!
Great gig at the Embassy in london last night Dan mate. Electric City rule! Celebs were in attendance... 2 pints, anyone? heh
Friday, September 29, 2006
Drink being what it is, Jamie got some lip later on suggesting he had headbutted the girl (which he definitely didn't!) - Jamie took that kinda personally, which I don't blame him for at all. But students will be students, after a few beers - these were americans too, really up for having a good time. I suspect they must have thought Breeze were more like the Pistols by the end, how wrong can you be? The Breeze work ethic is terrifying to behold... :)
I'm itching to get into my studio and tinker... need a myspace site with some homegrown audio on it!!!
Friday, September 22, 2006
and it's a 3-piece... with me singing a bit (gulp!)
Richie is on hols (hopefully having fun!) so it's just me, Jamie and Steve. As it shall hopefully be in Andorra come january... I think it's going to work out pretty well. I'm not used to singing and playing, takes a bit for me to back off and play simply so I can concentrate on singing a bit: a very different style of performing for me. I'm not singing all of particular songs yet, but there's definitely one or two I can do. Just have to guage what my voice is capable of and remember my diaphragm. Stop tittering at the back.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Which made me wonder if my nonsensical scattergun crap was worth writing (let alone reading!) - just another whiney middle class white boy (if 35 qualifies) railing against stuff he can't do anything about...
Maybe I should just stick to stuff about music.
Hmmm. I've been watching my hands with interest during the last few weeks since I got back from holiday. 2 weeks out, and I thought I'd have a tough time of it when I got back: this is partly true. The breeze gigs have been hard work, but what's odder is the stiffness in my right hand (I'm paranoid about that one - that's the wrist I broke in Canada) which seems to start up if I don't practise really really hard in the evenings for at least 45 minutes. If I do that, I'm strong as an ox: all that billy sheehan/stu hamm/pastorius/flea stuff comes flying out as easily as ever.
I really should be making my own music by now. Some silence in the evenings would help I suspect! No excuses now either, I've dumped every sample and loop CD I have onto the studio PC so I can scan and drag as quickly as I like to try to mash something interesting together. Even found sounds for Halion I haven't installed! Tut tut.
BT and virgin net
Dweeb stuff. Haven't had any ADSL now for getting on for 7 weeks: virgin's policy is to listen politely to you complain to their 25p a minute tech support line, ask BT to do a basic line check even though you've TOLD them repeatedly that ADSL has been disabled on your line (can't hear anything on there with the ADSL filter out - should hear a lot of high pitched noise) and only after the third BT response that "nothing is wrong" do they raise an engineer call. Or rather they don't.
Then the BT line went out completely (no voice either) so now I'm totally stuffed. Called BT on the mobile, got calls diverted, helpful fella name of Andy made all the right noises and told me he'd get an engineer out on monday (this was last saturday). Great, thinks I, what a helpful chap. Text message alerts tell me it's actually going to be a week on monday (OK, I'll let that one go, thinks I), then I get another text on sunday morning saying an engineer will call that day, and nothing happens: no engineer. Called them back last night, and apparently there isn't even a voice fault registered on my line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This bore out what their online fault tracker service said (http://www.bt.com/faults) which pissed me off even further.
Virgin net AND BT, you're both a bunch of useless organisations. (note: keeping it printable)
Now I've found out some underground cables have been identified as substandard, so they're being replaced.
Hopefully this'll mean we'll get 2MB ADSL for the first time....?
I'm not holding my breath.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I've been working hard on the Warwick 4-string with heavy strings, in particular playing "parallel universe" by the Chilipeppers using the 3-finger right hand technique I use for fast passages. It must have worked, I picked up the 6-string yesterday and found it so easy to play it was a great laugh! This will now be added to my practise schedule. I'm also considering the benefits of quitting Coffee: I'm sure I read somewhere it's bad for your joints in the long term.
On that note, I've noticed a slight stiffness in my ring finger last joint - at the tip - which vanishes when I practise: perhaps this is my body's version of cold turkey. Practise or seize up! I suppose I should keep an eye out for wear and tear, after all I've been playing for about 18 years now (half my life!) and I haven't slowed down a bit (apart from not playing Iron Maiden all the time with 2-finger triplets - I was very proud of that, try playing "somewhere in time" all the way through playing all those triplets with 2 fingers! I discovered later that Steve Harris - for it is he - uses 3!) - so I should keep an eye on my joints. I'm on chondritin and glucosamine as joint-protectors so hopefully I can look forward to another 30 years of this insanity!
the kid question
The incorrigible Joseph Reeves - who is most likely the only person to read my ramblings here - posted an interesting comment to my little metaphysical notes about having children which has set me thinking once more about the whole topic. I considered this morning that the fact I haven't made a big positive decision about it (i.e. "yes, I'll do it") might indicate that I still have the same attitude as I always have, that it's just not compatible with modern south-east england existence, cost of living, loss of capitalistic comforts etc, but I then second-guessed that and remembered that I'm actually a rather risk-averse person. I tend to believe that I can't do something, so I don't start it (or it seems that way from previous experience of stuff I've done).
Joe also expressed things in a rather eloquent fashion from one musician to another - "The difference between someone else's kid and a kid you're really close to is like the difference between the loud shite music of the inconsiderate bastard next to you on the bus and performing in a band."
I hadn't thought about it that way. But it does rest on the premise that you want to bond with the kid in the first place - surely you only put up with stuff because you want to?
This is a most interesting internal debate, which is doing a great job of filling the 38 minutes to and from work (when the M4 isn't shite, that is)
Monday, August 14, 2006
It's not that I don't normally, but usually I'm content to keep quiet at the back and get endlessly self-critical about the way I'm playing things. Something about last thirsday was totally different though - Steve (drummer) and I were on something in the air, I think, totally wired - reading each other really well (jay noticed). And I took - gasp - a solo which - double gasp - I enjoyed!
Seriously, you've never heard such a mangled midsection in Long Train Running - I went totally batshit. Really enjoyed it, dug in hard on the Warwick. I actually took a bow at the end of the track and meant it!
Got big kudos off the crowd who wanted to yak about it as well - big shout to the bass player guy who also has a warwick, see you this thursday mate, same place, same time - 10pm at O'Neills in Oxford!
It's grand being a musician, it really is....
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Speaking of Breeze, was hoping to get together before thursday but the evenings this week after monday all got used up before we had a chance to get a room (so to speak)... still, I've done a lot of work on "tell me baby" (some of it in the car - harmonies on those choruses, very nice), Chili's latest, and I'm now pretty confident I can cover that track well enough! So thursday's gig may contain it... ? We'll see. One of the guys from Panasonic says he might drop by and check us out. The guys have that new PA as well, I'll be asking how much gear I need to bring: maybe stack jr will do... speaking of which, looks like I'll be changing the setup again soonish. If we move to a smaller place, I've got too much amp gear. Way too much! I need some lightweight cabs with lots of projection and power handling, which are smaller than the full size 4x10 and 1x15 Warwicks I have now. Could cost a bit, I'm wondering about Eden or bag end or whatever boutique crap contains those rare-earth magnets that give you big power handling. Watch this space.
Oh, and Jay from Breeze (bless 'im) threw me some dep work which I might take on - it depends on time, really, how much I think I have - all this work is in the oxford area and I live near windsor, for 'eavens sake! But a Madness tribute act with lots of work? Could be fun ;)
Either way, the late summer of '06 looks like it's not going to be boring, and you can't say fairer than that.
And Andorra, while not thrashed out in detail yet, is still on... oh yeah
Thursday, August 03, 2006
An interesting week, this one! Breeze is getting well underway in Oxford, O'neills gigs a gogo until the end of the year - and the guys have got themselves a new 3K (yipe!) PA! Total stars they are. I've also got another interesting proposal on my desk (so to speak) which might come to something interesting... won't say more now, don't want to jinx it.
I've been digging into Chilipeppers stuff HARD on the Warwick 4 string - fingers tingling at the tips every night, I'm determined to be up and ready for the first Breeze gig in 1 weeks time. Jay is cool with getting together to work on a couple of new ones including "tell me baby" - the current Chilis single - which will go down a storm! The bass is classic slap flea, really simple and grooving. I think I should be able to hold down a vocal harmony on the chorus if I'm lucky. Hopefully the PA will improve my gravelly snore-ravaged tones... :)
I hadn't realised how out-of-shape my hands were until I really started to dig in. Not fatigued per se, they just wouldn't do what I asked when told to work hard! Quick enough.... just no power. So it's bass weight training time!
And it's fun too. Just realised I should take all the CDs for the books I've got and get them onto the iPod. Why didn't I do that sooner? Could then do that slap course with so much less hassle! The portable Sony CD player I've been using has a MASSIVELY loud "beep" when you press keys - why?
Wierd. Japanese, eh? Who can fathom it.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
priceless - it gets better the longer you watch.
I've been out of the UK to Crete taking a well-deserved break (god knows how my bank balance looks) - but the Breeze gigs will be soon - the guys have a new PA! Big big big and shiny shiny shiny. Nice!
Right - did that embed work?
Monday, June 26, 2006
If you know me, you'll know committing that question to any form of readable stuff is quite a step forwards. I've been debating the issue again with myself on and off for the last few weeks, running around like the proverbial rat in a maze down the usual blind alleys labelled "self-loathing", "mortality", "loss of self", "economics" etc etc.
And I still have the feeling I don't have enough information to make the decision. I'm a terrible decision maker anyway, and barring infanticide (which is a little messy once the authorities know you've got one) there's no real way to reverse your decision once it's been made.
I've always been dead set against having kids, mainly due to the usual middle-class vices of having free time to think and hobbies. If you think about stuff enough you never do it: fear is the mind-killer.
But, predictably as the sun rising and setting, I've come to wonder what the hell I'm doing anything for: if all it's for is getting a couple of strands of molecules to make it into another protoplasmic carrier for 4 score and 10, it all seems pretty bloody pointless.
I wish there was someone I thought could tell me something about this which would help... there isn't, is there?
So I'll do the trad british thing and muddle through, I guess. I bet most kids are accidental...
If anyone's listening out there in information blizzardsville, let me know if you made the decision and did it, and why.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I just got the new Chilis album. 28 tracks of gold dust, I love the simplicity of the tracks, the way the arrangements leave me to fill in spaces, the lack of huge instrumentation: it's so good to see a band with the confidence to trust their songs and not fall into overkill. The lushest RHCP album has to be "One Hot Minute", mainly down to the influence of Dave Navarro, who filled in the guitar for that album. It's a great album, but shows that the 4 piece we have now has a solidarity about them which produces some of the best music I've heard in a long time. There's contrast here - it's not all introspection - there's trademark funk, and you can hear more of John F's influence coming in. In particular, the harmony vocals are startlingly good on this album, doing a great job of filling out spaces where lesser bands would have dug into a synth pad or something.
Everything is mixed so wonderfully dry, it reminds me of beaches somehow.
Now, more metaphysically - I recalled recently a line from "The Princess Bride" (indulge me) - "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." - is our pace, our consumerism, all of it, destined only to crush us....?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
How resilient are you? Do you have a depth you need to sink to before you rise up again? I saw a woman this morning on (gasp splutter) GMTV who was "an alcoholic". Well, she was actually bright, well spoken and had exactly the right opinion of why she drank, and it wasn't like she was in the gutter:
bluntly, she was alone, and scared. Said she's always been scared, and booze dulled fear of stuff so she could cope.
Doctor Hilary (sic) then piped up with medical addicition mumbo-jumbo, totally missing the point. How many alcoholics out there are drinking to dull fear, pain, anxiety, job worries, marraige worries, lack of self esteem?
Modern life+booze equals the UK boozer phenomenon.
But try hearing that on TV. Nobody ever puts the who puzzle together, least of all our MPs.
How many bars are there in the westminster asylum for the terminally egotistical anyway?
Saturday, June 10, 2006
That's the newspaper AND the actual item.
Good gig last thursday, but I'm well under par at the moment. Far too many unforced errors and stumbled pickings-I'm exhausted, not getting any sleep, but with any luck things will change after the 16th when I see the sleep docs at Churchills Hosp in Oxford. I'll get a neat machine to strap to my face and fall asleep having air pumped into my nose. Hopefully then I can get some sleep.
I never thought I'd have what is essentially a genetic defect: this OSA is partly due to the shape of my throat and mouth. Feels a bit odd to wander through life for 30 odd years with no real problems and then face up to being built wrong. Sort of like facing mortality, in a way.
Should I be grasping for wanting kids at this point?
I do know there are people who start families because they've run out of things to do. That sounds like the worst reason to have kids to me! Are most families the result of burnout, early onset middle age crises, burst condoms and tequila binges? That's a sad society if so...
I need to write some lyrics. It's all in there waiting to get out. Catharsis is good for you.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Good crowd last night, they always sing along really loudly to the crowd pleasers that Jay stokes 'em up with ;)
I'm thinking of getting some flightcases with half decent wheels on for the stack, to protect the bits in (smelly) transit (so to speak). Jamie says he'd really like to case up the Marshall head... I suspect Rich would like his amp cased too, I've got it at home to look at like I did Jay's the other week, the knobs are all well shagged and the preamp doesn't work too well - he generally plugs a guitar POD into the poweramp input on the back (which sounds good!)...
Trouble is, if I flightcase the Warwick cabs, they won't fit in the car any more. D'oh!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Ok, I've been gigging with Breeze a lot, which is fun. I'd like to be gigging more with tempa tempa, but it's not happening. That ship seems to have sailed.
Add to this a flaccid day job and you have one thoughtful Andy once again asking "what the hell am I doing all this for?".
I know, it's too easy to give in to despondency, but seriously, I don't have any faith in anything being worthwhile right now: I'm totally down on people, who seem to me fundamentally selfish creatures (nearly getting wiped out on the M4 the other week didn't help), and our whole system of society, from huge bonus payouts to fat idle gits who fail to run businesses properly right down to Jane "einstein" Goody, the thinking man's thought-arsenic. Sold lies about consumerism, pensions, products, owning your own home, starting a family, being in a band with a crack at it, etc etc etc is all starting to finally tell on me. I've had it.
But there's no other way, it seems. I watch it all happening around me with a sort of dreamy, drugged-up anger which doesn't feel hot any more, just despondent.
Perhaps it's time to start thinking about something different. Oh yes, back to my day job, which got shipped to china. I used to test phones, you know: now, I write macros for a living. Very intellectual, very deep, very quality oriented.
Ho very much hum.
Normal service will be resumed shortly... I hope.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Wow, just remembered I should put something in about last weeks breeze gig at O'Neills in Oxford: best yet. I felt much more in control (although I think in future I'll take a 4 string!) and we had the pub totally rammed with wildly dancing singing punters. Jamie's showman qualities are outstanding: he really knows how to wind up an audience, and dispenses with hecklers without alienating anyone.. apart from the heckler heh heh
More playing-on-the-bar antics, and this time I got the bassline for the killers track much truer, actually listened to it the other week and realised they have a very inventive bassist: I'll be checking out the other tracks on the album with a more critical ear!
Practise is all about theory and slap at the moment. It's coming on quite well. Also tentatively volunteered to help something musical at the local youth club if I have time!
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Wish me luck, today I'll try to get something that isn't too awful onto some tracks of Jake's at the WitneySoundCentre.
Got some cider, had a chicken wrap, sitting in the stunning early May sun. This is the life. Worth the 1 hr drive!
Mill streams a gurglin' and I'd let myself into the studio if:
1) I had keys
2) I wanted to get out of this lovely sun.
A quiet moment in an otherwise tortured existence.
Question of the day: do you find the widespread use of the made up infantile word "radicalised" (and the many crap forms therefrom) as annoying as I do?
I swear modern journalists are getting so lazy it's a real turn off.
I'm 35 you know.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Jake's going to get me to lay down some bass tomorrow, and sent me a couple of new tracks to listen to yesterday: on one of them, Jamie T was singing(!)-he's got a great voice, sounds like Kincaid from Brand new heavies!
Great track too, total BNH funk style. I'm working on lines for that.
The other one (bounce, current working title) sounds trickier to lock down: possibly Jake may want to keep that one all electronic? We'll see wht I can conjour, eh?
Man, Reading has a lot of ugly naked bellied people in it.
Friday, May 05, 2006
This blog started when I decided to get involved in something which was going somewhere musically and which pushed my bass playing, really energising me to new heights and confirming to myself that I've got something creative to give to a project. Janeiro really made me feel that way. It even made me feel a sense of belonging to a band which you want to feel, less of a spare part or a session player and part of something vibrant, alive, building, growing... luminous. That feeling saw me through a lot of the worthless vibe in my heart which was planted and nurtured by Panasonic's feeble appreciation of my efforts.
As ever, this is only a personal view. It's how I feel. Since we lost Javier and Dan, we've gained 2 very capable, affable, talented musicians, but they're both in london. this wouldn't be a problem if they 9-5'd it like yours truly (that feeling I was talkng about got me driving a LONG way in the evenings!) byt they're both pro musicians, so they're pretty much always busy. As a result, there hasn't been a rehearsal in a couple of months, and the gigs in Izi's, while fun, have seen more covers drifting into our set.
This isn't how I saw my resolution panning out. Few gigs, no rehearsals, and once again my dweeb knowledge sees me being web liason, which might as well be a full time job! It really needs a lot of work which I don't have time to do the way I'd like...
I find myself cursing work more and more these days, it's really getting in the way.
Tempa tempa needs to get loads more gigs and more togetherness pronto! I'm also worried that Jake and George now have their own Myspace artist profiles, george has a great song on there!
Hmmm. Stuff to contemplate. I should really get some of my material on Myspace.
Andy the increasingly worried.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Unless these diverging time pressures are resolved there's no way this can continue... Jake wants me to come in to record ASAP but I'm feeling shaky about Tempa material as we haven't rehearsed it, and the gigs we're doing in Witney nearly all consist of covers (some rehearsed on the spot during the soundcheck!)...
It's a little wierd... the Breeze gigs feel more organised at the moment. More profitable too. But not that funky, in the style that I like!
Oh - and I could have some real fun this Xmas if I took up something I've been offered musically.... ooooo yes. Once in a lifetime stuff! Not going to make me famous though.
Cheerio reader (yes I know that's singular)
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Just banging this one out between sets at IZIs tonight. So far, so good but we really need some rehearsals. Bit scrappy but the feeling is nice and funky.
Soundman Andi Fatsounds is experimenting with middly bass tonight for more funk: I think he's got something. Pokey as hell! Bit nervewracking though, outside comfort zone alpha but fun.
In the next set, I'm singing Word Up no less arf arf! I use a sort of baritone Axl Rose voice and suddenly it sounds just like the cameo original!
Just got the 6 string with me tonight, forgot earplugs so I'm on toilet tissue specials which are pretty much working.
Witney's a wierd place: lots of bright young things and people watching them... like me!
Slap solo on the 6 felt pretty good. As ever though, wish I had something locked down!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I haven't laid down those bass tracks for Tempa Tempa yet - and a load of potential gigs fell through because it's hard to get us all in one place at the same time. In my defence, I should say there was only one date out of about 6 I couldn't do! The bass tracks should get done next week I hope. Jake's been busy this week... studio stuff, he has a client or somesuch! I've scanned the materials he gave me for his studio website... pity I don't have any graphics though. I was hoping he would give me all the bits I needed electronically, so I could just put something together... I'll have to come up with something fairly basic I guess. I think that's all he wants though.
Meanwhile... tomorrow night it's fun fun fun with the full-on "jump around" O'Neills venue.
Seriously, if you're reading this, and you live anywhere near Oxford, get down to O'Neills tomorrow night. You won't have seen anything quite like this before. When Jamie does his solo on the bar thing, it's the funniest thing I've ever seen!
I get to be so chilled out as well: there's no pressure, the songs are all dead simple (although to my credit, I have learned "californication" properly now ;) - so I can have a beer or two and kick back.
It feels like this will be how my retirement feels: I always saw myself down the local pub playing blues once or twice a week, barely moving and yet still cranking out stevie ray vaghan style bass licks, with only an unfeasibly large glass of whisky next to me. Nice.
Ah, why isn't life more full of fun for everybody?
Cheerio punters, see you in O'Neills
Andy the Bassist
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Happy happy happy.
This sunday it's stripped-back Tempa at Hoxton... ironically without Jamie and Richie (funny....).. .and then on friday it's another Breeze gig at the O'summats again in Oxford opposite the Odeon cinema.
Ever seen a guitar player playing while dancing on a bar? about 40 feet away from the stage, having made his way through the crowd while playing a solo? Jamie does that... seriously, there's people taking flash photos of him.
Good fun though!
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
There are two ideas flying around my head to get more (local) gigs at the moment (Tempa Tempa doesn't gig enough for me, I need to be on at least one a week, and I could do with the extra cash!) - one is "highbrow" and one is "profitable"? ;)
This one's the "highbrow" one. I've harboured one of those muso conceits to do little intimate jazz gigs in classy restaurants for ages now. Not necessarily insane Jaco solo stuff, but something with some jazz standards where I've got a great backing track (I could get Terry to help me out here) and I play the 5 string fretless over the top - solos, basslines, depending on where in the track we are. Nothing deadly taxing, I could work up to be-bop :)
Advantages: solo gig: no rehearsals to try to arrange: can be very well prepared in advance: will increase my theoretical chops as well as my physical ones: spend more time with the 5 string fretless (which sounds amazing): classy gigs that don't go on until 2am: local to Windsor there could be demand for this kind of gig
Disadvantages: hard work (possibly): takes time to get set together: the audience will not be screaming for more (this does matter!): more gear needed (small PA of some kind)
That's not a huge list of disadvantages! Hmmmm. So, on to....
I don't need to go into intense detail for this one. I'll do solo nightclub gigs with a dance/funk crossover thing. Still using backing tracks, but with live bass (and maybe vocals, could use samples). Maybe George could do some vocals for me (she's got one hell of a voice).
Advantages: Insane audiences: great feedback: I already know the chops (funk funk funk funk): opportunity to be really creative using tools and samples I already have: don't necessarily need outside input for the backing tracks: a little further afield (london/reading) there could be a real demand for this stuff
Disadvantages: Late gigs: may need more gear (although this isn't a given): money may not be as good: might need more people (george at gigs?): local area (windsor) may not have a great demand for this kind of gig.
Hmmm. I do love audiences to go mental. Best part of the job!
As you can see, it's a couple of great options. I'll mull it over, shall I?
Ooo - and my eBay hobby has started up proper, I'm selling stuff like there's no tomorrow! I've just about got my packaging activities streamlined, and last night I started using "Turbo Lister" from eBay, which is a cracking tool. Much easier and quicker than using the website! Like they say on unnovations - "once you've got one, you'll wonder how you ever got by without it"
Monday, March 27, 2006
I apologise for not creating an all-singing, all-dancing website (or even doing up the Janeiro one with a new logo!) but to be honest, the day-to-day bits of the website which i was editing were pictures (which I can still do - I'll put the pics on the Janeiro webspace and use a scroller from [ Slide.com ] to display them on the MySpace site) and news (I'll use the [ myspace blog ]) - so I'll just use the MySpace site and think of something else to do with the JaneiroMusic.com domain and the webspace.
I might tinker with Flash to make a front end animation for the tempa tempa site before it redirects to the Myspace area... that'd be cool.
Music News - how to warm up quick and keep finger-fit
I found my hand exerciser thingy - no sniggering - and man, I'd forgotten how much it helps. If, like me, you struggle sometimes to squeeze in practise and want to cut down on warm-up time (I do have a full warm up exercise program which lasts anything up to 25 minutes!) one of these little dudes is a must. I also have a medium tension rubber band wrapped around it which I use to warm up the extensor muscles (?sp?I think that's right) by opening my fingers in a fan with the rubber band attached.
If you use the exerciser for about 15 minutes while you're doing other stuff (say, checking email or eBay or whatever) then when you finally get to picking up the bass, you're already mostly warmed up and can move on to nailing that Bach cello suite or Jaco solo (arf arf) piece you've been working on.
If only I could invent one for slap warm ups...
Never happy, eh? Roll on the 30th and another IZIs gig. Hopefully this time I can back away from the audience a bit: one thing's for sure, I'll be taking less gear with me!
Big shout to Jo Theones at Fox FM!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I wonder if eBay is killing the lovely British Car Boot habit? Although it costs to list things on eBay, and it costs to use PayPal (something I'll put up with in return for the ability to have non-paypal customers be able to pay me with credit cards), it's a small price to pay not to have to fill a car with stuff and ol paste tables, etc. There's something about browsing through other people's junk which is very English though. Read "nosy". I guess there's no way of knowing what's happened to car boot sales...
Podcasts - inevitable
I've got into iTunes podcasts, finally. There's wicked electronica podcast from Gowan, a mate here at work (who has just been made redundant, the lucky sod) which I've subscribed to. I listened to most of the Ricky Gervais ones as well (who didn't, I hear), and I was into the pub landlord ones but they seem to have stopped for some reason...
iTunes: quality music?
I don't buy songs from iTunes though. I have this thing (probably from being a musician) about fidelity (or at least trying to get the best I can). When you buy compressed audio from these websites, you're not getting CD quality. As ever, perception is a fickle thing, so you just get used to not hearing some of the subtleties the producer and artists put into the music: while I've little doubt there's plenty of fiddling going on during mixdown with a view to how it will sound on an iPod, I just need to have that CD so I can make the decisions about sound quality: I don't want to download something for the same price as that track would cost on a CD and not get CD quality!
Plus, this method of buying tracks will have the inevitable effect of cheapening the best music. Not literally, but artists will be under constant pressure to come up with singles all the time - no room for any artistic "indulgence" (as a label would see it) - and you won't see CDs "crafted" in terms of their being a musical journey on their own: 7 to 10 tracks of music, chosen by the artist and arranged in an order that's pleasing to them.
Without being a luddite, this legacy hangover from LPs about putting many songs on a media so they are distributed all at once is surely a good thing: I don't like crap filler tracks, but there are plenty of songs which never made it to singles which I love (I'm a big fan of Queens of the Stone Age and some of their more "out there" stuff is brilliant, but not populist - and all the better for it).
I fear that iTunes, with the ability to audition tracks before you buy them, will not only kill CDs but it'll make life really difficult for people who want to make music from their hearts. Another bean-counting nail in the coffin of music that touches the heart, eh....?
Janeiro / Tempa Tempa
Monday, March 20, 2006
Yes, yesterday I got to spend a couple of hours tinkering with Cubase and a little bbit of composition with some hip-hop and laid-back rhodes. Coming along nicely. Finally got the Cheetah hooked back up to the system as well - glad to have finally got that done - and discovered it needed some values rewritten (including sensitivity, which was well out - no way to play quietly on a rhodes? Shum mishtake!). Easy done though, it's doing a great job again. Must replace the springs on those dead keys though.
I'm rewriting my solo to the Tempa Tempa (must get used to that name) track "funks me off" as the trading stuff that Dan and I used to do doesn't apply anymore. I'll need something that's a couple of 12-bat rotations long which builds properly. No small order for me, that one... I hate soloing!
The gig last thursday taught me how much I like being at the front all night... nervous? Me? Yep, it happened... thankfully there was a second solo spot in the second set where I opened up a little more but to be honest I just didn't feel comfortable in the first set, too close to the audience.
Oh yes... "too close to the audience"... jeez, in their faces - several of them were treading on my cables! Next time it's no stack for me (sob! why did I buy the damn thing?) I'll be taking the Warwick CCL combo, that way I can sit on it and stay away from the crowd a little.
We're starting to get some contacts through the nights we've played in the Pop bar in Soho as well, which is cool: a night called "ZenFM" at a rather spiffin' looking venue (also in central london, further north east, thank god!) - more news when there's something to tell!
Ho hum. Time to kill a bit more time at my desk. Currently I'm reading "Feel the Fear... and do it anyway" which, to be honest, isn't telling me anything I hadn't already confided to myself. Self-awareness of why you don't do things is one thing (and believe me, I spend plenty of time second-guessing myself there): the book doesn't really scratch the surface of overcoming those fears (not really, anyway) apart from using glib over-simplifications like "everybody else is scared too you know". I haven't ready anything revelatory yet - no "eureka" moments.
Then again, it's an American self-help cod-psych book... what did I expect?
Maybe I'll write my own book called "Ultimately, who gives a crap?" about how the end point of our self-obsessed society is total anarchy, led by enormously rich people. I'll subscribe to that, as long as I get big guns!
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Yes, tonight it's back to IZIs in Witney: the club with more glass, metal and dancing ceiling poles (I kid you not) than any other. I think the PA tonight is being done by our good friends from Nottingham as well (the nutters!) - how they manage to get all the way down here I really don't know!
I really should get myself a PA together, but where to store it?.... I'm still not sure I need all the amplifiers I have (I still have the Warwick CCL and an extension cab, a 2x10 trace elliot cab)... It's GAS all over again (for the uninitiated, that's Gear Acquisition Syndrome)... I've even been wondering (prepare yourselves) if I should be taking more than one bass to gigs! And do I really need effects! (GASP!)
Well, the pod could stay.
That wedding I was at was a blast - but getting back was even more fun, as Fleetwood and the whole west area there got blanketed with snow and blizzards: now, I know GB.com is pretty cack at dealing with winter weather (or leaves, or heavy rain, or pretty much anything that allows us to have an excuse) but apparently the M6 was down to 1 lane. So Nic and I shot over to the M1 (under TomTom's guidance) passing through places with power cuts and snow laying on the outside lane (still got nutters doing 80 there though).
-1.5 degrees C up there as well: bloody nippy. Then we get to the M1 and lo! as soon as we head south by the time we get to Watford Gap it's 5 degrees outside! It's like the southeast has some wierd Eden Project thing going on - we never get snow, it's not fair. I'd love to snowboard down a hill in England, it'd be well wierd!
I never did find out if Aviemore is ski-able at the moment...
Ooo! Nic and I are going to go down the Caledonian Canal this summer - not sure if it'll be 1 week or 2 - in a cruiser! We'll take the bikes and have a great time.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
This'll be a giggle, especially cherry headbomb, which ain't ever been played like that! I'll have to find some time this evening to play through one or two (or at least get them on the pod so I can play along!)
Whatever happens, I'm sure Pete's wedding will be a blast. The man knows how to party. Not that I've fed any stories to the best man, mind... giggle
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Ah, this is the experience of a large funk band that I remember! Having trouble getting together for rehearsals!
Although, in our defence, we've done pretty well up until this point.
Last night's get together ended up canned due to lack of guitarists: Jamie is ill, bless, not to mention he's stuck in Peterborough(! don't ask) and Richies BMW (which did a fine job of getting us back from london) needs that knocking noise seeing to. Suspension bush collapse ahoy, not good to leave that or it damages the arm, resulting in more expense and no mistake!
So I went unrehearsed last night. Wah! I hope to have some fun this evening, spend an hour working on just Tempa Tempa tracks. Still feels a little wierd referring to the band under that name, s'not right...
Those EMP strings from warwick work a treat, btw: long life on my 6 string, they still sound good enough to gig. Plenty of punch.
Must drop some EMGs into the old hohner 5string, I hear you can turbocharge them to 18v with an EMG approved mod from their website(!)
Fun fun fun drool slobber
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Rehearsal tomorrow, at Terminal Studios - Neil recommends them, so they've got to be good... :) Late start at 7pm, until 11pm, so at least I'll get home around midnight (given that the studio is near london bridge!)
Spent today noodling about on the Warwick 4 string, making sure that the improvements I made on "Chromatic Fantasy" on the 6 string on saturday could be carried through to my 4 string funk machine: funny how much difference that string spacing makes, but I got it nailed. Nice! Plugged the warwick in on its own into the Pro Tube IX upstairs and was struck by the tone I got... there's something to that "direct is best" attitude. Maybe I should experiment with the effects loop a bit, rather than feeding the effected signal into the front of the thing...
This evening I've dug out the ol' hohner B-Bass, which is sounding very fat, passive (NEED TO CHANGE THE BATT) through the Pandora... nice sounds to jam to some Incognito with. Just got the new Incognito album (well, last years, anyway!) - "eleven" - it's a cracker, full of mellow funkiness. I'm enjoying it.
Unlike McDonalds, who I read are closing (yes, closing) 25 stores as Britain finally wakes up and smells the sickly-sweet buns and realises it wants to live, dammit :) It couldn't happen to a nicer multi-billion whatever franchise operation. I hope ronald rots with a bellyful of abused beef...
But enough of that! Next week holds an IZI gig (more pole dancing for Andy no doubt) and the promise of some interesting times... I hope. Even work is almost palatable...
Peace out y'all
Friday, February 24, 2006
Well, the last 3 days have been cracking. Good pistes, good weather (apart from today, mind, bit too much snow and cloud!).
Had my lesson yesterday, the very helpful Jean says my balance is excellent: comments were about twisting too much! He had me carving turns and doing a natural halfpipe! Loon! Great fun, I spent plenty of time on my bum. Must mean he was right! After we went down Piste L (the bowl) I ended up taking the lift over the hill, and unwittingly ended up in the third valley across: eventually met up with Nic for lunch. D'oh!
Today big weather: cloud and snow at high alt, hard to see, very flat light, so hard to see the piste condition, etc. You'll be pleased to know I have survived intact! Tom, on the other hand, staved his thumb badly enough to dislocate it a few days back but he popped it back in (eeeuw!) and now it's a variety of cool colours.
My board has been fantastic since I had it serviced at keilly sport on tues night: the wax is good, it's been faster than even Tom's burton custom X! not bad for a salomon, eh? The guy in keilly sport was dead sarcastic about it tho- "are yoo 'appy weeth this board?" - "really??" - I don't care, it works for me, nice and flexible!
So we're up and out at 5am tomorrow - sheesh! - but it's a raclette at La Casserole for Nic and I tonight, just us, I've been so happy to actually get the hang of boarding we've not seen enough of each other, so it's lil meal for two time. Nice.
Cheerio peeps, back to music next week: panic studios rehearsals and gigs!
A the knackered!
Today thw we
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
But today... finally .anaged to galvanise into an early start, and explored vast tracts of Tigne's pistes after taking both funicular railways to get to possibly the highest point hereabouts. We then rode continuously (with a few lifts in between, of course) between 930ish and about 2pm(!)-I've enjoyed a little off piste action, and came down a black run with possibly the best rendition of the north sea swell in snow form ever: moguls? these were all bloody rupert maxwells!
Now totally wiped!
The pic is of 2 jet trails tom saw, the camera added the third for my inital to come alove in the sky. Signs and portents!
Cheerio, you'll be hearing from me later...
Monday, February 20, 2006
The bindings are fixed!
After a couple of false starts, including one hell of a bum steer from precision ski in val, Keilly Sport (praise their name) drilled out the cover screw, removed the stump, found a bolt and fixed it all up. Sweet!
So Nic and I have had a brilliant day, up Glacier, down as many blue runs as we could handle: we're keeping up with each other really well, exchanging positions and resting up for water at lookout points.
Magical weather today, as well: clear skies, great snow, and the lift queues weren't too bad :)
My flow bindings are shedding bits again: lost one of the left binding's highback retaining bolts. It would have been nice to have seen this BEFORE we got to the top of tommeuses lift.
Anyway, I patched it up with rope(!) taken from a helpful piste marshal.
Unfortunately my temporary repair is now proving to be impossible to undo: I think maybe it's time I stopped using Flow bindings. They're really comfortable, really convenient and on my feet, really unreliable.
Perhaps this afternoon someone can help me fix them. If not, it's time to buy yet another set of bindings.Arse! I had a great time this morning as well, really riding quite hard despite the rope fix thing. tch.
P.S. pic is view from the Brussels Hotel across the nursery slopes.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The pic in the last post is just before we charged up the solaise for Nic's private lesson with Arnaud (typically splendid looking hippy frenchman!). I had a wicked time between 12 and 2 going up and down blue and red runs at the top of solaise, down from the glacier, back to Val then back up solaise again...
Great fun, really hooking up with the board today: james bond style.
Today's embarrasing admission: I've split me trousers! Going to go get some outrageously expensive boarder pants later. Maybe corduroy. Maybe I'll pose yet!
P.S. if you use Flickr to post to your blog, do remember to add the picture. D'oh!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Jeez, is lyon some small backwater where you don't usually see a soul or something?
I swear, it was funny when the guy driving the steps to get off the plane parked 2 foot short and we sat there waiting to get off for another 10 minutes... it was even slightly interesting to be stood around for 30 mins waiting for a bored french policeman to glance laconically at my passport... but waiting 2 hours to get your bags? The handlers all looked like they thought libertes were made to be taken.
Lyon airport sucks. Royally. And we had to trek about half a mile to get to the bus, which doesn't have enough space for all the boards and skis people have brought!
Hopefully we won't be too uncomfortable on the way over to Val. There is a bloody kid learning to speak behind me who has been saying IK for the last 10 minutes, then changed to HELLO, now she's talking normally.
I predict tears before the end of the trip. Kids are not meant to take 3 hour coach trips, it's cruel to everyone concerned, especially the kid.
OK, I'll admit it, I'm in Gatwick again. About to fly to lyon, then on to val d'isere for... more snowboarding!
This time it's the regulars: tom, ingy and jim. After the recent round of redundancies at Panasonic, to which I was not invited, Ed is finding a new job, bless, so couldn't come along. 3 interviews this week, including Microsoft. Talk about frying pan/fire...
Just found out Tom the ever-competitive once had a "see who can drink the most without peeing" poker competition: loser of the hand drinks a pint of water!
So here we are at gate 32 in Gatwick, an inevitable 1 hour late boarding (the irony!) and they've successfully conned us into getting to the gate just after 7am. I got up at 4! The gits!
Must get the board serviced in val before I go out, Verbier was not kind-snow coverage on Savoleyes was crap! Luckily the snow report for Val is currently fantastic, a foot over the weekend. Nice!
Janeiro is now called Tempa Tempa, not sure what to do with the website: I may get another domain, then use Janeiromusic.com as my own, redirecting people to Tempa Tempa's site.
Rehearsals when I get back, in Panic Studios again, in time for Izi gig next month. Did I mention Pop Bar is having us back? Yay!
Right, must get another drink.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Too wierd. It's like gazing at Hal, or Stangus.
Makes you feel more human at a gig of 20somethings though. I was awake after everyone else went to sleep on the way home! I'm not so tired...
Good gig BTW.
Happy valentines, if you read this. My loved one, Nic, is a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. TM.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Well. So this is the new year gig mountain i was hoping for... wow!
2 things to report, then:
- Lots of gigs coming up. Thanks to a great gig at IZIs in Witney-which, btw, is a great little venue, even if the stage is a little small and designed for pole dancers, I spent the gig leaning against the pole!- we now have what looks like a pseudo-residency on thursday nights, starting first week in march. There's another club in Witney Jake got talking to after the gig who are showing an interest in us as well. Witney is revealing a side I didn't think it had!
-We had a great time thursday night in IZIs. Jake was on fine for onstage, lorraine and George sounded really together, good harmonies, and Jamie the NewBoy :) had a fun time too. Lots of smiles, and he's got one hell of a handshake.
Now, we've just found out we've got a gig in soho! Monday night, at what sounds like a sorta open mike night. It'll be top 2 gig in london again: ain't done that since I was gigging with haematic ages ago.
Been shopping for guitar straps too, in reading. Seems modern music shut down, hickies is still a dead loss for guitar stuff (although I did get a good slap tech book in there) so happy to report they have a new place called guitar world near the post office. Nice Warwick collection.
Stop that. Expensive.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Speaking of "in london" - first rehearsal at Panic Studios was great: good gear they've got there, after the trouble I've had with the Warwick Pro-tube IX unsoldering itself under heavy load I'm wondering if I should take a cue from Panic's choice of Ashdown gear - thing is, do they make a head big enough? ;)
I like the warwick cabs, but maybe I should swap out the head for an ashdown. I figure, if it survives in a rehearsal room (and believe me, many of the knobs were missing but it was still doing a great job) then it'll survive gigging with me, surely?
The trial with Warwick EMP strings continues: they're not really blowing me away the way I thought they would though, I can't help getting the feeling the Blue Label Elites I used for years actually stay brighter out of the pack for longer. Time will tell, I guess. I must remember to take spare strings with me tonight and restring the 4 string, I've been slapping the hell out of it for the last couple of days as Jamie the new drummer is making me well paranoid. He's very good... it's raising my game the way I hoped it would.
You've got to have someone to keep up with. I'm not the most competitive person in the world (to be honest, I've done so much intellectual introspection about myself I'm essentially useless to society as I can't find any reasons to subscribe to any of the behaviour patterns that mean you "get ahead" these days), but it helps if you get really embarassed every so often about keeping up with someone.
Besides, this is supposed to be the aspect of my life I'm good at: gotta make it work, or frankly, what is my life actually for? :)
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Seriously, I'd recommend it to anyone - great cast, some real belly laughs.
Afterwards we had chinese down chinatown, really good crispy duck and a top chicken and salty fishbits fried rice. I'm stuffed!
I will now return to practising my arse off. Tomorrow I'll be posting a few megs of rehearsal bootlegs to the website for our new drummer to download, so he can get a good reminder of structures! Plus, it'll be some stuff for people to download.
They may well be bass-heavy though - I tend to record these for my own reference, so most of them have bass only in the left or right channel and a mic pointed into the rehearsal room for the other stuff. Does the job!
Speaking of which, this rehersal place we're going to be using looks pretty good: prices top out at £10 odd an hour on sundays, but during the weekdays the day rate is £6.75 an hour(!) - when I used to rehearse at Stage2000 in dundee the rate there was anywhere between 8 and 12 pounds an hour!
And having just checked their site it's still exactly the same!
I dunno, I just expected rehearsal rooms to be more expensive in london: after all, you're ripping off people with dreams here, they'll pay... and the gear at Panic Music is nice too: ashdown rigs in most of the rooms, and trace gear in the others!
So I won't have to take my rehearsal rig with me, which is a real bonus. We won't have to set up PA systems either, which is cool too. Hopefully Jake will have more time on his hands (depending on what job he ends up with in london I guess) as he won't be trying so hard to pay rent on a studio space at industrial unit rates. I'll miss the space at Witney, but I can see good reasons for moving to london (most of which must be obvious to anyone who knows the biz)...
Wish us luck. I think it's going to be an interesting few months... actually, I saw something on a poncey record review slot on GMTV the other day that made me think. They'd just finished singing the praises of Arctic Monkeys (whose rise I followed a bit in the music press) and then they mentioned the Go Team - who I read about a couple of years ago. Their gigs were supposed to be insanely energetic affairs, real fun stuff - they obviously kept plugging this whole time and now they're making waves. If they can hack it for two years, I can!
Now to get the 6 string hooked up to the pandora.
C ya l8r
Friday, January 27, 2006
I suspect because we haven't met up in a few weeks we were in the mood to do work (despite the best efforts of Richie's car going flat 'cos he left his lights on at work - oops!) - and plenty of it. Some arrangements have changed subtly, and here's a lesson to anyone reading this who rehearses regularly - always take some form of recording device with you, those little discman things from Sony are great, get a little stereo condenser mike if you can and record the whole rehearsal on one disc using ultra-long-play-mode (I can get 6 hours on one disc). Then review later to make sure any changes are there in your head for the next one.
I was in a distinctly negative mood when I left the house this morning, so I didn't grab the discman - wish I had!
The new drummer's name is Jamie, and he's pretty good: you'd expect that seeing as it's how he makes his living in London. His swing is good. his kit is small (he does a lot of jazz gigs), his snare is deep and his timing is excellent. Great sense of humour as well!
We all got on pretty well - those vocal coaching sessions Jake has been putting the vocalists through (which thankfully I don't have to do any more) seem to be working - a couple of times my eyebrows shot up with the accuracy of the backing vox.
George has a job in Covent Garden to go to when she, Jake and Jake's other 'arf move to London - they're pretty far north but thankfully Jake is not expecting us to hare around the north circular (a bit of an oxymoron I'll grant you) - there's a rehearsal space called Panic Studios which isn't far off the A40 so hopefully this means I'll be able to get there OK - although perversely getting there from Newbury will be a pain in the arse, getting back in the evening will be a LOT shorter.
So things are maybe looking up for Janeiro after moments when I had a couple of real worries. Mind you, I'm a worrier. I just don't tell people I'm worried.
See you in A&R after my first coronary!
Sunday, January 22, 2006
So... Jake's moving to London! "conway rd, southgate,london n14" to be precise.. this should make life more interesting :) Especially as he's actually north of the north circular... argh, that road's a total nightmare - evening rehearsals ain't going to be easy (or possibly even possible)...
I guess the advantages are we'll start gigging in london, which will mean it feels like we're moving forwards with Janeiro again - the tail end of last year felt a little static - but on the minus side the rehearsals might (another irony!) be harder to get to - plus, there'll be fees to pay. We'll have to see how it pans out, esp after I find out what this new drummer's like: if he's half as good as he should be, I think I'll need to raise my game a bit to keep up with him :)
We'll see next wednesday I guess.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Overall impressions of verbier!
Had to make sure I got these in. Nice resort village, very pretty and with PLENTY to keep you occupied for a week or two - good clubs, cool bars, PRICEY drinks(!).
However, the piste arrangements aren't what I'd call totally inspiring: felt like you spend a lot of time on buses (to get to Savoleyres) and too much time on lifts (to get to just about anywhere interesting) - and the piste down into town is hellish for intermediate snowboarders (although all credit to it for getting me to become a speed demon on narrow twisting traverse tracks, something I was crap at in Canada!), with long twisting blue runs coming down into town which deviate WAY out of town.
Here's a piste map of Verier's 4 valley area.
In addition, a lot of the runs in the area covered by your pass are inaccessible unless you can get down from Greppon Blanc - trust me, those buttons will kill a snowboarder! - there's a great deal of nice runs in Thyon but they're hard to get to , even on the organised 4 valley challenge.
I spent a lot of time on the blue run which runs down to the end of the Chaux Express - a great little run with a fast last section up to the lifts, great slopes further up and lots of off-piste availability. Nice n crusty while I was there :)
Savoleyres has great slopes on the dark side(!), but got really icy towards the end of the day down at the bottom side of La Tzoumaz - then again, we were on 10 day old snow, and they've just had a dump (typical!) - but the upper slopes were great fun, again with great off-piste fun.
Speaking of pistes, the piste marking and signposts are AWFUL in Verbier: piste markers regularly end up in the wrong places holding up various bits of netting, totally confusing you as you zip by onto an unpisted track while trying to stay on a blue run(!) and we found red markers on a blue piste for no apparent reason as well!
Signposts are rudimentary, and sparse. Canada was spectacular in comparison, with numbered pistes and piste markers at VERY regular intervals - then again, they regularly have total white-out so you need to see where you are motorway-style. And they're catering for americans, who have to be spoon fed!
All in all, a great week - but I can't wait to get to Val D'isere with some skills under my belt and have a whale of a time on their resort slopes where things seem a bit more "joined up". Less time on lifts, more on the pistes.
OK, that's the last of it!
I came into the office yesterday morning (the M4 was less than kind, another 1-hour commute with stop-start for 5 frickin' miles) and on walking in, realised the enormity of the decision Panasonic have made to keep me. I wanted to leave. Now.
So I went into a sort of psycho-loop, exploded at my department head like some form of mental patient and went home to calm down. I really needed to be made redundant, it would be a useful meeting of circumstances that might get Nic and I into our own house - but no, the cosmic joke that is my unfulfilled existence at Panasonic continues, probably (oh, the irony) because I've been on so many dead-ended projects in the last few years, making me look flexible. Arse.
Although, if I'm honest, I'm still VERY ANGRY.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
OK, it's bus time. It's been great, and as I predicted I didn't break anything-in fact, I hardly fell over and made a lot of great recoveries, especially yesterday on Savoleyes mountain. Nic and I came down the big sweeping blie run as a final treat having gone up to Mont Fort for the view (no way we were coming down the sheer face of muguls!) - looks great at 3330m.
So we took a cable down to the floor of the valley below and made our way down the prettiest piste I've seen here, down to siviez: sweeping turns, scenery to die for.
My only problem yesterday was when Nic and I decided to come off Savoleyes though: we were below the 200 lift off the mountain and had to pick out way down a red run to - gulp! - a button/t-bar back up to the top. I wanted to conquer my fear of buttons after the greppon blanc incident so I opted for one of them, only to be foiled by a narrowing track full of ski ruts. Nic got to the top 1st time and I made my way rapidly down to the bottom to take a t-bar which I now prefer. All the way no problem! Nic, bless, rang my phone on the way up and, as it is wont to do when Nic rings me with this phone in my pocket, it auto-answered, so I was at least able to tell her I was OK and on the way up. Muffled she was, but I was glas to hear her from my pocket!
Pity I left my gloves on the gondola-d'oh! J-P is chasing those up for me.
Mike the chalet man got a nice present from all of us which should replace the watch he lost this week. His card was a giggle thanks to June's handwriting which turned 'keep up the good work' to something entirely different!
Well, it's back to music for this blog.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Basically, the challenge is to get from verbier to Thyon and have some fun on the lifts and slopes out there; fun is definitely part of what happened!
Everything was going really well, I was tinkering with my bindings when we got to the top of lifts and the results were starting to impress me a lot: more control, more stability, more fun.
We had a brunch of chips at a really nice mountain cafe, then set off for a pair of terrifyingly long button lifts called greppon blanc: I've done button lifts before so I was fairly confident. Got the button, moved off, cool. I was even ok with a humpback bridge in the middle (who put that there?!?) but the problen started with the final ascent; the button started to slip quietly from between my legs. argh. I tried to hold on but eventually I was being hauled, still upright, up a sheer face, by my arms, and I had to let go, ending up in between the buttons. After a climb of maybe 50 metres at 2700 altitude (i'm a desk worker, for gawds sake) which took about 30 minutes with pauses for frantic breaths, I made it to the top.
Only to discover my right binding had shed a couple of clips which held a peg in place, and the clip which holds the back of my binding was flapping about. Eek! After some serious bodging using bits of red bull can, I came down the mountain carefully trying not to stress the binding, and managed to move one of the clips off the left one in veysonnaz by borrowing a pair of pliers.
The rest of the day was fun, but I still didnlt want to stress the binding as it was on half-clip strength.
At the end of the day we all congregated at this cool bar at the bottom of Mayens-de-lours which is basically a wood and perspex igloo! Very cosy.
I got a good tip on a specialist snowboard shop which might be able to help, and to their credit No Bounds had exactly what I needed: clips installed, board good as new, 1f please. I gave him 2 and told him to keep the change (with good humour!) which raised a smile.
So, a full day of fun and frolics. Biggest wipeout of the day was being wrong-footed on a traverse track by deep rutted ski tracks and ending up on my arse sideways at speed. Ouch! No permanent damage to anything.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Great slopes, some top carved up soft stuff: I came back to meet up with Nic and go out for food. after some comical misunderstandings trying to meet up the rest of the guys, Nic and I ended up paying about 30 quid for what was essentially a single course(!)-very swanky joint, 5 star hotel and haute cuisine ahoy.
Poor Nic. Yesterday she had some kind of local cheese, ham, potato and onion thing: made her VERY ill. I was up with her until 1 am while she basically flushed out this vile stuff from her system by alternating water and toilet. She was very determined though, real 'bridge over the river quai' stuff, and after she finally fell asleep she was much better today. We've go a suspicion se might be lactose intolerant of smelly gruyere. All the right signs, especially the bent-over-the-loo one.
Now it's showers and snoozing before dinner!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
... and an evening's stunning red sunset over the mountains (click the title link!). This place is just stunning: last night turned into an apres-ski tour de force, which is ironic given we hadn't been on the pistes yet! I've got some video of all of us in the pub having a riotous time, after all-the-wine you can drink over dinner. Outstanding!
As I type I've been flumping around the chalet this afternoon following 2.5 hours of solid boarding this morning. After a little initial wobbling I was off-piste an hour later, and it was an intended off-pisting!
Seriously tired now, but not mentally; just a physical leaden quality in the bones. Good training for tomorrow: I plan to try to get a full day in.
The pic is taken from the balcony of the chaperon rouge, our chalet here in Verbier.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Apart from Geneva's attempts to conceal our ski and board gear (took a while for it to appear) and watching Jason whassisname fro Lock, Stock etc and the bloke who was Jekyll in League of Extraordinary Gentlemints (who were sat in front of us) it's been uneventful and easy so far.
The piste map of verbier's 4 valleys looks outstanding: so much skiable area! like Val d'isere where I broke a rib, they run free shuttle buses about so you can get back down to your original starting point.
I'll email the first pic soon: unlike canada I'm not keen on taking pics of boring stuff!