Day: Monday 25th March 2013.
I sent the guy who had recorded my album a text as I hadn’t heard from him for months. The last time I had had any contact the songs weren’t mixed and it was to say that his desk had blown up, but that it should be fixed soon, money depending.
He text back to inform me that the recording desk would cost more to fix than it was worth and that my recording would be the last. He also let me know that there would be no way to mix it unless someone had the exact 1984 tape reel player things as he, and that he doubted anyone would.
This was in no way his fault and I’m not assigning blame- He gave up so much of his time, night after night every week to record me, we both did. He taught me that I don’t always need to shout and that sometimes a whisper was a million times more powerful. We were on our way to creating something pretty
special, or so I thought, in that smoky flat in Colchester Town, surrounded by backstage passes, paraphernalia and rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.
About eight months previous to this I was playing in Ipswich as part of a six day mini-tour I was doing. It was a weeknight so I wasn’t expecting much. It was a free entry show, which can always go one of two ways. Either you end up playing to a load of music lovers who have capitalised on the fact that there is some free music going on, or you end up playing to locals in the corner of a pub where everyone would rather just listen to the jukebox. Can you play Wonderwall, mate? Fuck the fuck off. I slaved away over these songs, you shall suffer for my art!
Anyway, the show was the former and was pretty good, actually. Afterwards this guy came up to me. He had a bit of a Ronnie Wood ‘lived the life’ vibe about him.
‘Do you have enough tracks for an album?’
‘Yeh, I suppose’.
‘I want to record it!’.
I get people like this all the time with promises of management, great gigs and recordings for free as does every musician, so I gave him one of my cards and forgot about it. It’s usually just some guy in a pub, nice enough, but with drunken aspirations and promises that he can either not remember or can’t keep once the morning comes and all distant memories of the night before are hazy and unfocussed.
However, this bloke was true to his word. He text me. I went round. Then I went round the same time next week. This went on for weeks. Weeks of late night drives to the smoky flat to play a 1970s guitar through a 1950s mic onto a 1984 desk to create something really ‘authentic’. I think we got carried away in some places as the song started having loads of harmonies, and softly-crying guitar solos over it, which I will come to later.
So the record was recorded. Finished, but not mxed. Then his desk broke. Then I heard nothing.
Last night I was gutted. But last night also showed me what amazing friends I have, all of which I have met through the arts scene. People from the Norwich oldschool punk scene were suddenly reposting statuses, punks from Colchester who I haven’t even met were offering me advice, my mate Johnny offered, genuinely, to sell one of his guitars so that he could pay for me to re-record my album and my mate Sam said that he would re-record the whole thing.
Then some guy called Rik Spanner sent me a message with the best
advice of all.
‘Fuck perfect. Has it got the balls and guts that you want?’.
And so I listened to it again.
I put it up online so that 25 people could download it and let me know what they thought.
Then I listened again.
No it’s not perfect.
But does it have the balls and guts that I want?
And no amount of mixing will solve that.
I think that I spent so much time in a hazy flat that I have created an album that doesn’t represent my live sound and everything I stand for. The album’s very… Nice. Come see me live. It aint nice. Well, it is nice, I am nice, obviously. But it’s got bollocks.
And so will my next EP.
It’s inspired by all the people that make my music hobby so much fun. I have travelled all over the place and just see glimpses of many scenes but there are certain pockets of this country that I love, where people listen and where they just get it.
The EP will be recorded with Sam Keyes. He is such a good producer, fellow punk fan and knows my music inside out. Wipe the slate, fresh start. I am still keeping the same cover art as Jessamy Selwyn has created something fucking beautiful. The tracks will be as follows:
THIS IS YOUR
TRAGEDY AND DRAMA.
Cheers everyone for their support and advice, especially last night. See you at the next show, hopefully! Plus we may need some gang vox. Get it touch x
Violence is wrong. Full stop. I can’t stand it, hence every time something breaks out I have to try and stop it. This weekend was a strange one. For reasons that I do not wish to delve into in such a public arena, one of my good friends and someone else I have met were seriously hurt after a show that I played (news story here
). The latter being in a coma and having part of his skull missing. It’s looking positive for him now, but it wasn’t initially. Absolutely fucking horrible and I wish him the speediest of recoveries- you guys know who you are, and literally ANYTHING I can do, please give me a shout.
Before the incident the show was great. Black Swan Rooms, North Walsham. I always get excited and nervous playing these sort of gigs, because the majority of the bands on the bill are always angry shouty punk acts, and I am just little me with a guitar, but this is my third time back now, and it was brilliant. I was really, really great to see so many people that I have met, initially through gigging, that have become such good friends. Playing to people that will sing your songs back to you, and then stay up ‘til silly hours drinking and watching other AWESOME bands, you can’t ask for more really. There’s a few of those sorts dotted around the country now, such as Mark Sesin, midlands promoter, Woodstock PunkRock from Cambridge, Si and Janey from Norwich and my best mate Johnny who I met at a gig we played together about two years ago. Genuinely, without my music I would have hardly any friends!
I stayed over at Janey’s on Friday night and although all a little shaken up due to the night’s events we still managed some beautiful homemade lasagne before hitting the sack. The morning brought a hot shower and a full English courtesy of the wonderful Janey (it really does beat sleeping in my car and washing in service stations haha!). There are very few truly wonderful people in this world, but Janey, she is one of them.
Me and Johnny# 1 (he’s that by default, apparently, as he’solder!) headed round to the flat where all the violence had kicked off the previous night. It wasn’t pleasant, and people were still obviously incredibly upset, especially because no one knew if the bloke in hospital was going to even pull through. It still makes me feel sick to think about it.
We then hit the road as we needed to get out of town. The next show was about 100 miles away somewhere the other side of Cambridge. We stopped off in Thetford for a couple of hours. It was beautiful. I especially recommend the Priory, it is such a stunning place.
As we got closer to the venue for my next show (to set the scene, I was expecting a slighty scuzzy rock and roll house party) the roads were getting smaller and the houses were getting bigger. We then passed one of those red triangular warning signs with a picture of an aeroplane in it. What the fuck?! Were we driving down a runway? Who, ever, EVER needs to watch out for aircraft when driving? Deers, of course. Badgers, maybe. But aeroplanes? Surely they’re meant to be in the air!
I was feeling a little confused and nervous as I pulled in to what SatNav Jane told me was our destination. I was then greeted by thepromoter, Darius (proper legend), who was happy and relieved to see us as we were about two hours later than expected! On inspection of the place, it was a working airfield. It was huge and had old aeroplanes dotted all over the place. It’s times like this where I wish I had bought into the smartphone revolution so I could take some photos, as it really was so breathtaking.
It was a very young crowd and my show got a bit rowdy!! I was playing outside in pitch black and couldn’t see my guitar neck, so relied on some amazing selfless person to shine their phone light on my guitar for the duration of my 50 minute set! It was really, really fun though, very punk rock, as again people were singing out the lyrics to the songs that I’d written, which still amazes and confuses me. Afterwards it was great to meet people who had their music on my phone and knew the words, I never really think of where the tracks are going or if anyone ever listens to them, so yeah, thank you, genuinely.
After the show I went and sat round the campfire. I was talking to a couple of people, when one young lady accused me (more in a jokey way that anything) of being arrogant over the internet as I did not accept her request on Facebook, and that she was a fellow musician of which I had failed to recognise, presuming that she was a punter at a show. I can remember the show in question. It was the last of six shows in six towns in six days. I had been on the road for so long and was exhausted, ill, shy, nervous and lonely as I knew no one! I can see how this arrogant front was perceived, but it is untrue. So just in case anyone else has ever has this impression of me (which I sincerely hope they don't), let me tell you what I told her. This is my hobby and I love it. I have met my best friends through my hobby. I love meeting new people, talking late into the night and hearing new music. I am amazed that people want to listen to my stuff and am ever so grateful. I believe wholeheartedly in mutual respect and equal opportunities as we are all human beings and deserve as much. Yeah, musicians are cool and it’s a fun hobby, but there’s so many more people with more worthwhile talents and skills than a musician. On Friday a man was seriously injured, lost parts of his skull and could have easily died. Doctors worked to save his life. Musicians didn’t. There’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music. Some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks!
The rest of the nights made me feel like a responsible adult (i.e. old!). The place
was full of teenagers- Very drunk teenagers! I can completely empathise with these wonderful people as I was most definitely the same at their age, and it also makes me so, so grateful for the people around me when I was passing out in gutters, being thrown out of venue etc., predominantly Mark and Lynn, who helped me so much through one of the toughest times of my life. It also reminded me of how hard it is to be a teenager. All those hormones, women troubles, pointless scraps and social laddering. Let me tell you, you’ll get to 21 and will stop caring as much about those things. I don’t miss being 17 again at all. I could completely empathise with these kids (I was living behind a façade of big red and black hair and tight clothes back then!). Saying that, they were also amazingly exciting individuals, with big ideas and immense enthusiasm. A couple of them spoke with such conviction that I truly believed they could change the world. We played into the night round the campfire, I made a load of new mates and genuinely had a great time. The image of a drunk boy eating a banana that he did not like will stick with me forever. Classic.
So yeah, violence is not cool, ever. Arrogance is not cool, ever. Being a teenager is hard, but a wonderful transitional phase of self exploration.
I do have an album coming out and will talk about that more one day, but there were more pressing matters at hand this morning. Cheers m’duck x
Alright? So I thought I'd just put up a copy of a gig contract I just received, and my subsequent reply. Stop me if I'm wrong, stop me if I'm wrong.
"The artist, Jonathan Marriott will play at the venue, xxxxxx(name removed)xxxxxx on Friday the xth of xxxxxxxxx 2012. With two other acts.
The artist will be paid by the venue a percentage of tickets sold upon presentation of a flyer agreed by the two parties featuring Jonathan Marriott.
0% on everything between 0 tickets and 19 tickets
10% on everything over 19 tickets up to 29 tickets
20% on everything over 29 tickets up to 39 tickets
30% on everything over 39 tickets up to 49 tickets
50% on everything over 49 tickets up to 59 tickets
100% on everything over 59 tickets
The artist will arrive at the venue no later than 5.30pm on the above date."
Here is my reply:
"Petrol from my house to xxxxxxxx (67miles) costs £14.87 according to Google maps. So that’s just shy of £30 round trip (please note that I am not
counting the money I spend on drinks here).
For me to earn £30 from this deal I would have to sell:
Ticket 20-29= £4.50 total £4.50
Ticket 30-39= £9.00 total £13.50
Ticket 40-49= £13.5 total £27
Ticket 49-51= £5 total £32
So for me to BREAK EVEN in a town where I know NO ONE and am relying on people who have seen me before coming down, I have to sell 51 tickets.
Then you would have made 51x £5= £255 - £80 for the soundman= £275- £32 for me= £243
If I was sure that I could get 51 people down (and to behonest, I’m not sure at all, I’d bring more like 20), then what would be stopping me hiring out the venue for free, paying the sound man and making £275 instead of my petrol money, minus what I would be spending on food and drink?
Every time I have played xxxx I have been paid,there has been people through the door to see me and I have had a fantastic time. I am playing a house party for one of the old promoters (xxx) who will give me cash and drinks and always does, apart from the first time I played, as I usually play the first show for very cheap as I don’t want to be booked for a lot of money and then the promoter think I am shit and a waste of money!
I’d rather do what I did last time with xxx. £5 on thedoor. Pay the sound guy, split the rest evenly. If it doesn’t sell we all loseout. If it does we all win.
I play almost every weekend, all over the UK. I don’t minddoing ticket deals, but I simply cannot agree to this contract.
Sorry to waste your time and good luck finding acts, but I really feel that you’re approaching this the wrong way. Sure, reward acts for their own promotion, as so few do it properly now, but think of the maths before you do it.
This is my hobby and not a job, but I am no way near rich enough to self-fund gigs all over the country without getting some contribution towards my petrol. I am a DIY musician and have a very punk ethic whereby we all muck in together and help each other out. This deal of yours is inherently capitalist and I am not buying into it.
Cheers and thanks for considering me, and I hope I haven't offended, but no thanks.
This is not a personal attack on the venue (I LOVE the venue, the staff, sound guy, everyone) or the promoters involved. I hope that they have been naive as opposed to purposely trying to rip artists off. If you ever get offered a ticket deal like this, please do the math.
PS. Punk isn't really dead. I may have overreacted a little. I work with some absolutely amazing promoters (Will Jarmain, Buxton, Darius Kiani, Cambridge, Amy Wragg, Get on the Soap Box, Eagle Spits, Boston, Steve Hardiman, Salhouse Bell etc) who genuinely love music more than profit. They are lovely.
So, why perform? At all, really. If you look at it objectively an amateur performer’s art is a significant drain on one’s time and money. Yet the
performer can become obsessed, counting down the days until the next show, the next feeling of nerves knotted deep in the abdomen, waiting to be released through words and music.
The psychoanalytic perspective used to state that the desire to perform was the result of narcissism, exhibitionism and a weak self-image, and often drew parallels between the performer and a madman (or woman). Now, I believe different. True performers, although appearing confident on stage (or not, as there is a growing trend for introverted shoe-gazing acoustic 'tortured souls’) are often quite subdued and self-conscious off stage. As a performer I feel that on stage I present as the best person I can be: The person that you feel you always ought to be but either societal expectation dictate otherwise, or you cannot keep up the facade, depending on whether you believe that you release your innermost primeval self on stage- the id- or you present behind a mask of someone who you wish to be perceived as. And this is why it becomes addictive. Not for the applause, or for the ego boost, but for the release. The freedom to be who the fuck you want to be, and do what the fuck you want for half an hour. There is no other place that I could jump around in public, sing and shout without appearing as a madman. I guess this is where the aforementioned comparison originated, as although not directly influential ormutually independent, similarities can be drawn.
This summer has been pretty huge for me, and I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I’ve played some big old festival shows (Gig in the Park, FolkEast), some tiny gigs unmic’d in front of about ten people, and a beautiful DIY festival in the outskirts of Colchester, with firepits and great company.
FolkEast was such an experience. There was no egos, at all. Anywhere! Whether it was the headliners, the stage manager or the other acts, everyone I spoke to was so down to earth and friendly. I was playing on the Sunday at five fifteen, but made full use of the day and arrived at midday to embrace the full atmosphere and musical offerings. I saw my mate Robby Hodgey tear up the Club Uniquity tent with his poppy rock, joined by a lead guitarist and a beatboxer, the latter of which surprised a tent of folk fans with a thunderous, echoey question of “WHO LIKES DUBSTEP?!”, before dropping into a four-minute long dubstep beatbox phenomenon. It was amazing, refreshing, and woke up all the sleepy, hungover festival goers watching. It also might have scared them a tad, but he still got the biggest cheer of the set! It takes real bollocks to do that, much respect my friend. The rest of my day consisted of
seeing more of my favourite (and now new favourite) bands; The Pancakes, The Actor and the Peach, Murphy’s Lore, Girl in Thunderbolt, and then it was my turn to play. The calibre of the acts before me had heightened my nerves to almost unmanageable levels. As I went on there wasn’t too many people there, I’ll be honest. But as luck had it, the act on the main stage finished as I went on, so I was the only outdoor act playing, which drew the attention of quite a few people, who came and sat out in the sun to listen to my racket. It went down well, especially with a little three year old, who ran to him mum after the show and shouted ‘Mummy, we HAVE to see him again!’
The rest of the night did not disappoint. The highlight was an hour long set from three of my favourite poets (Andy Bennet, Rowan James and Piers Harrison-Reid) as well as the PUNK ROCK GRANNY who talked about her dry vagina and would not have looked out of place hanging with Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone in Ab Fab. And I don’t think there was any other way to describe her than that: Absolutely Fabulous.
As the night fell I was hanging with my two mates Robby and Bindley. I went backstage to get another drink, and lost them. After a lonely half-hour wandering the grounds looking up trees (as climbing a tree was our number one plan) I gave up and headed back to the bar. I then spent hours with poets, comedians, promoters and artist liaisons talking all things art and life. Too many ciders resulted in me moving onto cocktails in the early hours, a tactical move that my head did not appreciate in the morning!
I slept in my car. Standard. The next day saw me play two ridiculously hungover shows, the first of which I can’t really remember… I had no set list, guitar tuner or idea what I was doing. It was fun though, from what I recall. The night time gig was great in the Salhouse Bell. It was in front of very few, but Steve and the rest of the bar staff always make you feel so welcome, supplying me with free drinks and letting us use their barbeque. Such a lovely time.
So, why perform? It is such a drain on my time and resources. My body is knackered and my mind a blur. But it is a genuine healthy addiction (if such an entity exists), and so much fun. I seriously recommend it, it can’t be beaten. Here’s to many more!
P.S. I have a full album coming out! Will do a full update on that when I know the release date etc.
P.P.S. The below picture pretty much just sums up the whole mentality of FolkEast festival (me and James Peach, legend), everyone was like this, all smiles.
P.P.P.S. Yes, I am wearing a flat cap. I thought it could be a way to subconciously influence people into thinking I was a real folk act.
P.P.P.P.S. When I realised how open-minded the people at FolkEast were, I decided not to wear the cap on stage. My stuff still went down well.
So, Lorna (my girlfriend) is in Italy for a few days whilst I'm stuck in England in the rain. Although I am obviously very happy for her and hope she has a lovely and relaxing time, there is still a slight twinge of jealousy in my stomach, reminding me of our two very contrasting current situations. Ah well, maybe she'll bring me back something nice. Last time she bought me an owl made out of a shell and a t-shirt bearing the image of Spongebob Squarepants holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so she's set the bar. I don't really know how she can top that.
I am still working in a school for boys with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and feel that despite the constant battle not to become as institutionalised as the children myself, I am really enjoying.
Musicwise, I have finally discovered the Lowestoft acoustic scene. After about a year of gigging in pubs and fields in countless cities and towns, I made the step to open my front door and poke my head out to see what's around.
I was introduced to a local promoter by the drummer of a band I am filling in on bass for (a hard rock band who I joined about half an hour after getting hit by a car and being flung over the roof, only to land in the snow pretty much unharmed). This guy, Chris Thurston is a relatively new promoter at the Seabreeze in Lowestoft. I decided to venture into the social club with some apprehension due to its reputation as somewhat of a dive, and found inside a lively (if not a little young) room of people, and a small stage exhibiting some wonderful talent. And this was a Sunday night. Somehow Lowestoft has begun to build a scene whereby people go to gigs because they enjoy it, not because they are guilt-tripped by their mates or feel obliged.
I have seen some great musician at this venue since, namely:
Coral Cross: A folky singer songwriter with a beautiful sound and an equally beautiful blue Takamine guitar.
Tyler Darrington: A 15 year old (I do slightly hate him for his youth!) songwriter, reminiscent of Joe Strummer, and drawing obvious influence from Frank Turner.
Robby Hodgey: More poppy than the other two and a previous Britain's Got Talent auditionee (I will get onto talent shows in a minute), Hodgey is without a doubt one of the most popular acts on the scene and has a very likeable shambolic party performance style.
Sarah Spilling: A young lady with a wonderful subtle voice with a gorgeous tone, and a great choice of covers.
Curly Sopp: Another young lad with a great voice and fantastic stage presence.
Dozerbox: Dubstep beatboxing extraordinairre.
It is really humbling to see such talent, and so many young people off the streets and doing something truly creative with there time (fuck that last sentence makes me sound old!).
I will be making my own Seabreeze debut this Sunday (29th April) as Chris Thurston is now attempting to expand the scene and get other artists in from further afield.
To add to this every-expanding scene is the arrival of Louder! Magazine- A Sniffing-Glue style fanzine, and the brainchild of the lovely Georgia Rachael Ainley. The whole Lowestoft vibe at the moment is very reminiscent of the early punk era (without the spitting), as people are getting enthused and wrapped up in a real DIY can-do attitude, saying fuck you to the mainstream media, and doing it for themselves. I love this!! I am proud to say that I am headlining the launch night for Louder! Magazine in mid-May, and can't wait to do so.
This DIY spirit, however, is under attack. The X Factor is coming to Norwich. Now, I'm not a fan of Battle of the Bands as it is, do to the underlying scam factors whereby labels make a ridiculous amount of money from putting on, say, 12 gigs without paying any of the bands just because there is a promise of some free studio time or a little tour at the end of it. Now, I'm not saying they are all run like this, but I would rather play a gig and then really support the other bands instead of viewing them as a rival. Anyway, the X Factor is a puppet show. Talented folk of the East- Do not sign your soul away to cheap entertainment. Yes, a couple of people have had a couple of singles and done a couple of tours, but most of the contestants are never heard of again, and lose all credibility because they are forever know as an X-Factor regect. And those without talent, please don't enter, we are not living in the age of the Victorian freak show, and our TV programmes should not be treated as such. Norwich has a really strong music scene and artists are getting noticed, just be patient and don't try to look for a quick fix.
Gig-wise, I have a few coming up in Colchester, Cambridge and Lowestoft. Including a couple of independent festival dates which have always been my secret favourite. Please keep checking my gig dates and I will hopefully see you at a venue soon xx
Yes. It has been ages since I’ve written a blog.
WELL a lot has happened.
I’ll start from the beginning...
Joe Altham is a bit of a legend. He’s a cajon player, who I decided to audition a few weeks back. Me and Lorna met him at Lowestoft train station, and he was very, well, young! To be honest I initially had my doubts due to his age, but we had a rehearsal space booked and I thought, well, what’s to lose? He jumped into the back of our car and we drove to where we were rehearsing. The roads got smaller, the hedges thicker and the sky darker. As we pulled up to where we were rehearsing I felt a little uneasy. The house we had arrived at was surrounded by gothic statues with red eyes. As we passed a tree with severed hands nailed to it I contemplated turning back. I said goodbye to Lorna, told her that if I never saw her again I love her, and then me and Joe advanced through the gate...
We were greeted by another Joe, a friendly drummer with not one hint of goth about him. ‘Sorry about the garden and stuff... That’s my mum’s doing!’. We headed to the bottom of the garden (I was still a little wary at this point) and into the studio. It was great in there, no more severed limbs, just a load of amps and microphones, a big computer and a couple of beanbags. We got plugged in, set up and ready to play. I started to get nervous as I always do playing my stuff to new people. I would much rather play to a room full of 200 people than a room of just two- the latter is so much scarier.
We played through a couple of songs, and the musical chemistry was obvious. Joe hit that box so hard and with immaculate timing. It was absolutely great, and made the songs sound huge. I had a gig the following day. Joe joined me, and we pulled it off, after only one practice.
A few days later, Joe, being as young and enthusiastic as he is, decided that we were going to record within the next week. we chose the songs, and he booked two dates with Joe #2, who owned the studio. I panicked slightly, as I thought we may have been underprepared, and also I wanted a few extra musicians on the record.
The first day of recording me and Joe laid down the cajon, bass, acoustic guitar and my vocals. It all ran pretty smoothly, bar a few moments where we couldn’t work out bass lines or genuinely forgot how to play our instruments (a behaviour that Joe #2 termed ‘red light syndrome’). We celebrated the end of a day’s recording with a packet of Party Rings. Punk Rock.
We then had 48 hours ‘til we were back in the studio. And I wanted a lead guitarist and backing vocalist. I decided to draft in two of my good friends, Micha Butler and David Donley. I emailed Micha the songs and she started working on harmonies. As for Dave, I felt we needed at least one practice together, so the night before recording I grabbed a load of Aspall’s Cider (my present from Suffolk) and headed to Norwich, where we both sat up most of the night, playing guitar, reminiscing of our gigs in previous bands together and watching old tour videos of him playing for Glen Matlock and Adam Ant, among others!
The big day arrived, and me and Dave got up about half eight, after hardly and sleep, and drove to Micha’s house to grab her. She was in a wheelchair after breaking her leg, which posed somewhat of an issue as to how we were going to transport her, but we managed! At the studio Dave laid down his guitar track, and got it spot on, again making the songs sound even bigger. Micha and I worked out backing vocals whilst in the studio, and with hand-scrawled lyrics in front of her, and sitting in her wheelchair, she produced the most beautiful backing vocals ever. Once recorded, Dave and Micha headed home, whilst the rest of us stayed on for a glass of Strongbow to celebrate (no Party Rings this time).
Over the next few days Joe #2 spent ages mixing the tracks, sending them to me, then mixing them some more, as I was very anal!! But they got done, and I am now so happy with them! Furthermore, my cousin in law Tommy Braxton designed some beautiful artwork based on his photographs of the London Underground, which fits the EP perfectly.
Since then me and Joe #1 have continued to gig as much as possible, and are having loads of fun. My EP will be available as a hard copy soon, and for now you can DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE BY CLICKING ON THE MUSIC TAB!!
Thank you so much to everyone involved with the recording and production of the EP.
If anyone could help us with getting shows or know of any open mics, please get in touch. I’m really enjoying playing live at the moment. Cheers, Johnny.Covers band of the moment- Cattle Barons (Joe did an impromptu Cajon session for them at our gig in Cambridge)Originals band of the moment- The Imaginary Minstrels- Experimental and without boundaries. A little Nick Cave.
Literally one of the weirdest days of my life. I hopped on the train down to Colchester (which took forever because I live in the middle of nowhere), and was picked up by Andrew (Lorna, my girlfriend's dad). We drove down to the 'venue', and it was huge. It was at some kind of old disused railway station- the same place that Blur played a couple of years before. On arrival I was let in for free seeing as I was playing, and somehow all three of us ended up with specially marked pint glasses, which meant that whatever was poured into them we didn't have to pay for! Andrew couldn't believe it, he was actually laughing as he walked to the bar.
I went to the stage, and on my way passed some blacked-up morris dancers and a guy in the tightest latex all-in-one bondage suit. I rang the promoter and then waited. And waited. He ended up turning up forty minutes later, pissed as anything. The reason he gave me for taking so long was that he fell over. No joke. It then transpired that he had no PA at all. After racking his brains for a while a big grin came across his face- he had found a solution. I could borrow the 'PA' (please note the inverted commas) from the ferret racing people! Now I've had some weird support acts in my time. Poets, beat boxers, pole dancers, but never ferret racing. We went down to watch the ferret racing, and the 'PA' in question was a box about the size of a shoe box, if not smaller, and the ferret racing commentator was wearing a Britney Spears style microphone. It was ridiculously quiet. Fuzzy. And there was nowhere to plug in my guitar.
At this point I was fuming, and Andrew was in hysterics. I went back to where I was performing to see if there was anything else I could play through, and there wasn't. I went back to find the promoter, but he had disappeared behind a tent and didn't come back. By this time I was meant to have been on and finished already. I resided to the fact (and this is the first time in my life that I have done this), that the show was a write off. I did get my guitar out in the middle of one of the fields, but everyone there had been drinking since the early hours, and were too pissed to care. So we made the most of our magic beer glasses, and drank, drank, drank! We were there for a long time, and the only money that left our pockets was two pounds. From Andrew's pocket. He bet on a ferret. The ciders were amazing- there was 60 different ones, and I sampled many. I even got them to fill up a two pint milk bottle so I could take some with me!
Slightly sqiffy and very merry we headed off for an Indian. Andrew had had more than me, as I was trying to stay sober for my set, and was feeling a little ill. I was high as anything, and wouldn't shut up, as I tried to work out how much money we had saved. Our Indian was lovely, hot as anything. We then headed to a Colchester pub for my second show.
This was just a perfect end to the day. It was for one of the locals, Rob's, 60th birthday, and he had specifically requested that I play, after seeing me at an open mic night somewhere else a few weeks ago. I played some of my own and a couple of covers, then Rob got out his mandolin, and another bloke another guitar, and we sat in the beer garden playing and singing into the night. Mandolin solos, guitar solos and old rock and folk tunes. A little more cider flowed once we had sobered up a bit, and a lot more music. A proper 'feel the love' moment.
It was an amazing end to a bizarre day- Rob even played mandolin on a couple of my own tunes, and it sounded great. I'm contemplating going back and asking him to play on my EP.
After the last drink was drunk and the last song sung we headed back to Lorna's house (minus her- she was in Italy), and with a milk bottle full of cider in hand I sat up with her brother, Billy, into the early hours, trying to recall and explain everything that happened that day.
Last Friday I drove the best part of 200 miles to get to the Ashleyhay Festival- a hippy festival in the heart of the Peak District. We arrived at around about 9 o’clock on the Friday, and went straight to the second stage where my brother’s band, Cocktail Mondays, were gearing up to go on stage. Now I know my brother is a fantastic guitarist and songwriter, and that he has very talented friends, but nothing prepared me for their set. It was very cover-laden, which usually I would disapprove of, but they just did them so well! Every original was fantastic and every cover sounded like their own. And they didn’t go for the obvious covers either, with a set that included obscure Queen songs and a country version of Blondie’s ‘Call Me’. The real treat of the set, though, was the drum solo, with both the guitarist and drummer simultaneously giving it their all, with great timing and stage presence. Their gig really made it worth the travel up, and I was so proud of them!
This, however, increased my nerves for my performance the next day tenfold. I was on early afternoon, meaning that I would be playing to a lot of hung over people! However, once on stage the tent soon filled up and people really seemed to enjoy it. I have to admit, though, that I did get upstaged. When I was sound checking, and eight year old boy came up and asked for a go on the guitar. He jammed out a riff and I was so impressed that I asked him to come up and play mid-set! The reception he got was fantastic! I actually had to wrestle the guitar back off him, or he would have stayed on for another half hour, but after squeaky pleas of ‘I’ve got more!’, he finally gave me back my instrument. And then he and his family swiftly left the tent! Charming! The set was great fun all round though, and I can’t wait to play again next year (If you check my ‘music’ section and click the Facebook link, I have put up my opening song from the set).
Word of warning: If your cider is fluorescent orange, drink with caution. Both me and my brother learnt that lesson the hard way.
Now for the future. I can’t reveal too much at the moment, but I have been in discussions with a relatively well known, and world-touring band about the possibility of me coming on a tour with them as a support act, to which I got the reply, ‘Hi Johnny. When we're in a position to do this why not.... Let’s talk when we see you in Ipswich. Take care.’ This is a very exciting prospect. I really want to take my music abroad again, and tour all over the UK. I haven’t done a proper tour since the days of Blow Up Doll, and haven’t been abroad since my Sex Pistols Experience days.
Oh yes! And I’m getting a new guitar this weekend, which means recording will commence immediately!
This is only my second ever blog, so I don’t really know how to finish it.
I have had the most wonderful weekend. On the Friday I camped in Walberswick and sat on the beach all evening sipping Budweiser and playing guitar into the darkness. At one point there was even fireworks going off around me, it was amazing. Saturday saw me grab my guitar and head on down to a Moringa Tree
charity festival. I took the 'ferry', which consisted of a young lad in a rowing boat. The sun was beating down, and I bought some fresh crayfish from a seaside fishery, then treated myself to a morning pint of Aspall's in a fantastic little pub, where I sat and played my guitar in the beer garden. The Moringa Tree is such a wonderful cause, and something that I am now going to be increasingly involved in. Although the weather was temperamental, the stage was huge and the people there really seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone was so friendly and really welcoming. As the event was also a beer festival I did drink quite a lot of organic cider, which was beautiful.
After the last band had played I decided to walk back to my tent, and in my drunken state completely forgot the way! I ended up stumbling down little country lanes into the darkness, with an every-dwindling phone battery and only my guitar for company, slung over my back in a Johnny Cash-esque style! It took me the best part of four hours to get home. Ridiculous. Today I ache all over, but have had a wonderful time.
Next week I am up in the Peak District, playing the Ashleyhay Festival
- it will be my third outdoor gig in three weeks. Again, another great cause and hopefully loads of fun. I love the summer.