Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Monday, July 31, 2006

Dancing In Your Seat

I had a good weekend. I went dancing at Poptimism. I made a huge, stonking hot curry. (And as strange as this probably sounds, I feel like I smell like myself again, due to my increased curry consumption.) And best of all, I spent the weekend recording.

The results are up on My Personal MySpace: the swaggering jam of (Keep My Name) Out Of Your Blog (yes, I am well aware of the irony of that title - it's the endless recursive nature of the Internet Age.) and the blissed-out shoegaze/happy house mashup of The Boy Hairdresser.

Although the latter is based on a much older song, it started out so heavily influenced by Thom Yorke that I nearly called it The Boy Eraser, which might actually be a much better name for a song. But then I put the vocals and guitars on and it sounded like me again.

Out Of Your Blog passed my pop test - which is, basically, if I piss myself laughing while recording, to the point where I can barely sing, I know it's good. Pop music should never take itself too seriously.

The Freaky Trigger crew actually played Sticky and Brown at Poptimism. I've never seen a dance floor clear so fast! Until all my friends realised what it was, and got up to dance. I, of course, could not dance because it's not cool to dance to your own songs, or, erm, something. Well, really, because it was too bloody hot to dance, and anyway I was enjoying my Bond Villain Recliner Chair too much.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy recording. I need to do it more often.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Good Plan, Well Carried Out

It's a bad sign when you wake up, and the first thought that runs through your head is how much you hate your record label.

Yes, I'm in a pissy mood, and the Red Dragon finally decided to come and visit me this morning, but I'm trying to be positive and look for good things. Truck had been the Big Event On The Horizon for so long, and now that's over I'm feeling a bit spare. Yes, I was so stressed over Truck, and so scared that I nearly called the whole thing off - but with careful planning and careful organisation (and yes, with the magnificently calm approach of Emsk) it all went off perfectly, like clockwork, and it was highly enjoyable, peaceful and stress free.

See what a good plan, well carried out, can do?

And the bad things, you just have to take them and learn from them. Write it off to experience or taxes. What have I learned? NEVER, no matter what you are promised, EVER work with someone you do not trust or do not like. Trust your instincts. Something else will always come along.

And speaking of something better, I went out for drinks with E last night, who is going through a bit of a "Rip it up and start again" moment in his life. This can be a very good thing, if it gives you the impetus to go out and do all those things you've always dreamed of. And, coincidentally, one of the things that E has always dreamed of, since he worked at {Deeply Cool Electronica Label}, is starting his own record label.

He's taking the month of August to do some Deep Thought, then perhaps start in September. Perfect timing, as I was going to spend August recording and hope to have some kind of album by September. E's got a quite similar aesthetic to me, hippie hair, Liberty prints and Titanium Powerbooks. I trust him implicitly, both ethically and on a business level - he's one of a handful of people I would entrust with my PIN, that's how philosophically sound I think he is. We don't always agree, but we're friends and we respect one another, and our opinions.

This is a good basis for working with someone. And so, we start to plan.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Oh noes, I've been Dropped!

So after a tiny spat with Lou Liverlust this morning (over a totally self-serving and self-promoting comment of his on a third party's photo) he's BLOCKED me from his Flickr, and, even more socially devastating, he's DROPPED US from his Top Eight on MySpace.

Oh noes!!!!!!!

I was mildly irritated over the spat (coming hard on PMT) but this actually made me laugh out loud with sheer amusement at the pettiness of it all.

It's like a whole new level of snubbing for the internet age!

Modern technology, how far back in time it's taken us, back to the Victorian age of etiquette and hiding behind fans and dropping folks from your social circle when they've committed some awful faux pas or led with the wrong foot in the quadrille.

I feel a song coming on... we need a modern Mrs. Beeton or Emily Post to guide us through the treacherous quicksand of Netiquette!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Back Brain

So, while reading Shadows of the Mind I've discovered the reason that Shimuras gigs have been falling into black holes of no memory lately.

There are two parts of the brain responsible for memory - the Cerebrum, which is the big bit on top, and the Cerebellum, which is the smaller, wrinkly bit at the back. The Cerebrum, apparently is responsible for counscious thought, decision making, that kind of thing, while the Cerebellum is responsible for subconscious body functions and actions which have been repeated so many times and become so familiar that they click over into a kind of "muscle memory" (actually a misnomer).*

Apparently this is why you "never forget how to ride a bicycle" (though honestly, I'm walking... or rather, rolling and crashing proof that this isn't true).

So what's happened is that I've come to learn Shimuras songs so well that the performance has flicked over into the backbrain, and happens sort of automatially, without my really being aware of it. Programmed "instinct" takes over, and god knows where my conscious brain goes during all of this. So no wonder I have no conscious memory of gigs.

*Yes, I know that this is a vast simplification, but honestly, I'm just a mathematician/rocket scientist, not a brain surgeon!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Keep On Trucking, Part 2

Breakfast was a chilled affair with all of us sprawled all over the grass and if we wanted noodles for breakfast, we had noodles. We binged on even more cheese. Mmmmmm, cheese.

But I was nervous and edgy, and decided to go down and check out the venue in advance. We were playing the Lounge Tent, which was made from lovely purple sparkly canvas - hot but beautiful. The lovely Joe B spotted me wandering around looking confused, and sorted me out, showing me where to load in.

I managed to catch a few songs of Keyboard Choir (and their fabulous robot dancers), then saw an amazing shoegazer band called The Early Years - motorik dronerock with chewy psychedelic bits is PERFECT for a hangover.

Made my way back to the van and found stalwart roadie, Gaz and Wine Technician, Martin:

I don't have much of a memory of the show. I remember the rest of the band trying to start without me, before I'd even got my pedals plugged in. I remember sweat dripping off my cowboy hat. I played quite well, no guitar flubs, though it was too early to remember all the words. The crowd seemed to enjoy it, though it was obvious that the first three rows were comprised of our friends - but that said, the entire tent was packed, people spilling out into the field, and I definitely saw people I didn't even know dancing.

This photo is now unavailable because John Rodgers of Brainlove Records is a self-serving cunt who's thrown all his toys out of the pram. Sorry!

Came offstage, drank some wine and felt distinctly dazed. It doesn't feel entirely right to have played a show and got a bit drunk by 2 in the afternoon. But the rest of the band were whisked off to do an interview for the BBC, and I went off to see some bands. Thomas Truax! Piney Gir! Ate chips in the Barn That Cannot Be Named then saw Chicks On Speed and developped the hugest girlcrush on Anat Ben David.

And then Ed turned up, completely hungover from the wedding the night before. He brought reinforcements of booze and the yummiest bread I've had in ages, so we fortified ourselves then went to see The Organ. Ate hummus and tadziki, drank more beer, corrupted a pair of stewards who were supposed to be picking up rubbish (we kept our site very very tidy*), then went to see the Schla La Las. Couldn't even get in the tent, it was so packed, so we lay on the grass and listened to the music and tried, unsucessfully to keep AMP from copping off with 17 year old groupies. ::rolls eyes::

*OK, apart from Winehenge:

And just when it was starting to get too overwhelming, it was all over. That's the thing about Truck. It's great because it's the perfect size and the perfect length and everyone stays polite and lovely before it gets too much of a muchness.

I went to collect our money from the merch tent, expected to have sold only one or two CDs (hurriedly run up on the Mac and hand-drawn and numbered on Thursday night) and discovered we'd sold loads! So we had money for the petrol to get home! Hurrah! And as I was walking back up the hill, some random bloke accosted me and asked "Shimura Curve?" so I said yes and he shouted "You rock my world!" which was absolutely lovely.

Monday was relaxed and chilled as we took down the tents and packed up. We made a couple of stops - in Uffington to see the White Horse (which brings my count of White Horses I've visisted up to... errr... 4? 5?)

Then off to Rushall to drop Ed's cooking gear, then to the nicest pub in the world, where I ate cheesy chips and ploughman's sammiches and lay in the shade drinking Good Old Boy beer and watching the ducks. One last group photo:

Then we separated out into North London Express and Sarf London Express. Listened to two Hawkwind albums in a row, successfully negotiated the Hammersmith Roundabout of hell, then home to shower. After 5 days, I think I deserved it.

Keep On Trucking

Well, my very first Truck Festival. I'd been avoiding it for eight years now, for various personal reasons, but my band were booked to play, so I figured it was time to put the hatchet away for good. I mean, there's a double edged to small, intimate, slightly incestuous scenes. If you're on the inside of them, it's like being part of a family, supportive and lovely and amazing, but if you're on the outside of them, it's the most alienating thing in the world. Felt like the latter for so long, it was time to join the former.

We went down on Friday afternoon which was, very much, the sensible thing to have done. Had time to wander around Sainsburys buying enourmous vats of wine, and even got to go back when I forgot the rum. Around the South Circular, onto the M4 and away we were, into the country, Kissy Chrissy driving the Silver Machine, Hawkwind blasting on the stereo. Hurrah!

Arrived as everything was being set up, got our pick of camping sites, so we ended up about halfway up the hill, under a lovely tree. Bread, cheese, rum and Country Life. Heaven. Made friends with the cows, put up the tents, turned the inside of the Silver Machine into a paisley partition of paradise. (Sorry, I do not do tents. The last time I was in a tent, Radiohead were playing.) Very chilled, very relaxed. Checked out the festival site and found that we'd got a huge picture and a great write-up in the brochure! Yay for AMP's pants!

Stayed up late on Friday night, just lying out, looking at the stars. Oh, and of course, the Rebel Stars who decided to get together and swoop across the night skies. And the Rebel Stars Mobile Disco, who decided to come down to earth and drive up and down the mud track with swirling disco lights. (Or maybe they were just planes and tractors and everyone was too stoned to tell the difference.) Lots of nature, too! Bats! Bunnies! Swooping bird-bat-creatures! Got a good night's sleep, and then we were ready for the mayhem.

Saturday morning, I woke up to find that Anna had turned up during the night, fresh off a plane from NYC, jet lag and all. we were lying out on the grass, enjoying the drop in temperatures, and then suddenly the sky clouded over and then the CLOUDS BURST. There was a smattering of rain, and we all went running for Steven and Louise's giant 3-room luxury tent. Then, just as it looked like things were letting up, the heavens opened and it was like a scene out of a disaster movie as tents were being blown over, springing leaks and we were crouched, hiding as the wind howled all around. Finally, I gave up, locked myself in the van and slept until the rain was over.

The rain cleared and the sun came out just in time for Brakes, who were, I think, the only band I actually saw on Saturday. It was just far too much fun up at Shimuras Village, drinking wine and going on cheese binges. And oh, the Water Palace that was the backstage toilets. Flush toilets. Running water. Full length mirrors. Wood toilet seats and trim. And just to push it over the edge, Monet prints on the wall. We thought we'd died and gone to festival heaven.

I have to confess I've no idea what we did on Saturday night. Various and sundry Shimuras kept turning up - Marianna turned up looking unfeasibly glamourous for a field. AMP, Lisa and Matthew rolled out of the back of Lisa Mundy's van. Gaz (aka Mr. Chrissy) turned up with his extremely drunken mate Martin in tow. Martin was wandering around with what looked like a bottle of water, but turned out to be straight vodka. No wonder I can't remember much of Saturday except turning to the death metal barn to find Marianna and Ken raving to drum and bass.

Found my way back to the van, re-inflated the mattress and passed out.

(To be continued...)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

And of course, my boyfriend for the weekend...

Is It Meez?

It Doesn't Matter What I Write

No one reads this anyway. I'm going through a big attack of the "everyone takes me for granted, no one appreciates me, wah wah, I'm going to eat some worms!" right now.

Back on the meds which means that the worst of the OH NO EVERYTHING IS GOING TO GO HORRIBLY WRONG crushing overwhelming sense of awfulness has abated. I suppose it just shows how addicted I am to these things that they work so quickly - probably as much psychological effect as physical neurochemistry.

Speaking of neurochemistry, I've got the best book for holiday reading. (I've got five days off, of which nearly four will be spent in the country, even though the festival is only two days.) Shadows of the Mind by Roger Penrose* - the sequel to the Emperor's New Mind, a book which totally bent my brain with regards to consciousness. I love the self reflexivity of reading books about the science of consciousness and mind, because it's investigating the very thing that you are using to investigate/read, like a moibus strip of logic.

Anyway, this one promises to get beyond simple neurochemistry into the very subatomic particle physics quantum nature of consciousness! All those ten dimensional reactions going on IN MY HEAD!!! OK, yes, I know my entire body is made of atoms comprised of 10-dimensional superstrings, but somehow when reading books about theoretical physics it always seems to be about atoms which are undergoing extreme conditions in the sun or in supermassive colliders - not the actual particle-waves that are in my head, firing little synapses and causing my fingers to type this very sentance. ALL THIS IS HAPPENING IN TEN DIMENSIONS.

This idea makes me indescribably happy. Or maybe that's the meds. I never can tell.

*Yes, he of the "universe from first principles" tome of joy for engineers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Call The Whole Thing Off

I don't want to do it. It's more hassle than it's worth. Every single plan has been falling through. It's too expensive. I have no idea how we're going to pay for petrol now that everyone has decided not to go up in the van, but to make their own way up on Saturday morning. (Including, perhaps, even the driver.) All I can feel right now is stress, stress, stress and right now it doesn't seem worth it.

I know it's the depression talking. It's been more than a week since I ran out of SSRI's and I'm getting the stress and the pressure and the random panic attacks and outbursts of random rage, and burst into tears first outside the doctor's office because it opened late, and then again at Boots because the freaking pharmacist couldn't stop chatting for ten minutes to serve the ever-increasing queue (I kicked a display over, and stormed out, threatened to kick a businessman who laughed at me, so I still don't have any meds.) and then again in the loo because someone asked me what was wrong.

I've had three bills in a row that are all wrong. Council tax has neglected to take off my single person's discount. The gas bill is completely inflated beyond rhyme or reason. And the electric bill... they've now charged me twice now for the SAME usage of electricity, and now they've come up with such a ridiculously overinflated estimate of my electricity usage that they're trying to charge me £90 for TWO WEEKS' ELECTRICITY. So that's three irate phone calls I have to make before the day has even started.

Which means I'm short of money, short of patience, and I woke up this morning with my back in spasms so the thought of spending two nights sleeping in a van is NOT appealing.

I just don't want to do it. Any of it. I just want to crawl in a cave and kick anyone who even looks at me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Oh, and I forgot to say...

I'm ginger now. I'm slightly disappointed that no one at work has even noticed.

I really rather like it. It's quite a subtle auburny ginger. I only did it as a temporary wash-in colour, but I think I may keep it. Though I may need to get this done properly to avoid my highlights turning orange.

Are You Still Talking?

Blimey, I'm utterly shattered. Two gigs in 48 hours and then it's back to work. A.G.A.I.N. I'm not sure I can keep this up.

Friday night, I left work early, went round Anna's before the gig and lay around in the heat. For the first time, EVAH, AMP was first to the venue - but only because Thom Yorke FORCED ME to play Anna his entire solo album before heading over. He made me do it. Soundcheck was a bit meh, but it's the Garage. Sound is always meh, it goes with the territory. It was strange - I realised that I hadn't been there in years, even though I practically used to live at the place. It's shutting for the summer, for long-overdue refurbishment - maybe they'll FINALLY do something about the sound system. We took everything out of the monitors except the vocals, and still couldn't hear a thing.

The place was deserted until about 9, but then the ILX massive arrived en masse - Ed even carrying tent on his way down to Cornwall on the Joe Strummer Sleeper Train (In Vain).

The one thing that proved a blessing in disguise was the tiny size of the stage. Because it wasn't wide enough for all of us to stand in a row, I ended up setting up behind the others, where the drummer usually sits. For some reason, I was actually far more comfortable back there. With the pressure of the audience taken off me, I felt like I was able to concentrate on just making music, bouncing back and forth between guitar and laptop and just letting the girls take over the interactions. They, apparently, really didn't like this set-up. But I just felt it was so freeing, even though the sound was awful, I actually enjoyed the gig a lot more than the previous few.

We debuted PWND to great effect, with Anna and Yana battling each other on Nintendo controllers. It's much easier to play slowed down - I thought it was 145bpm but no - only Noyfriend is that fast. PWND was only 125, but I slowed it down to 120 and it's suddenly playable.

After the gig, while I was tearing down my pedals, a random woman came up to me and asked me "do you know the Beach Boys? because you really remind me of Brian Wilson..." She was trying to persuade me to come out from behind the others, but I was just so chuffed at the comparison.

Tim Ten Yen was awesome, truly wonderful - he even played the new song which is apparently about Anna. We want to play more gigs with him, he's so much fun.

We then proceeded to get DRUNK LIKE SLAGS!!! There was a tub full of beer that was supposed to be shared by the bands, but considering the other bands were solos/duos, they just couldn't compete with the plague of locusts that is us girls on a night out. Yana and I both bear the bruises of openning beer bottles with our bare hands, though, damn, it looked impressive at the time. Some arsewank took down the "private - bands only" sign on the backstage door - I came back from the loo, and it had been invaded by randoms and hangers on to the point where there were more people in that room than there were in the club, so smokey I couldn't breathe. So I got to throw a proper full-on rock star hissy fit, ripping cigarettes from people's hands and chucking them out. Rock.

All back to Anna's, drank too much alcopops and passed out. Hurrah.

Sunday, by comparison, was pretty sleepy and chilled out. It's the Windmill. Things happen when they happen, no stress, no pressure, and so much nicer for it. The soundman told me that apparently we were his mum's new favourite band from her last visit to England, which was totally sweet. I love that we're a band that mums like, too. So I burned her a CD of all our recordings. (Which made mine own mum jealous, because she didn't have one.)

Emsk turned up, brown from the beach, while I was sitting in the sun, in my cowboy hat and pigtails, reading mind-bending books about physics. Horrible ex-boyfriend turned up, since his band were playing, but my posse were there by then, and we were polite enough to one another. Also, I noted with some small pleasure, he has grown an incredibly unfortunate mustache and looked terrible. I dunno, after all the unpleasantlness in the past, it's quite freeing to realise that I no longer care.

Ate lovely BBQ - and for the first time in history, I managed to get there early enough for an egg - and then proceeded to choke on it. What an un-rock'n'roll death.

A shot of tequila and away we go. It's hard work, not having Anna onstage. I never realised how hard it really is to make random conversation with the audience. When Anna goes into random mode, she propositions the whole club in French. When I go random, I eject "Artichokes! Rhinoceresus! Argh!" and freak out. However, Lisa bought a lovely red pepper plant at the Lambeth County Fair, so we stuck that on her side of the stage and called it Anna.

It was strange playing mostly for strangers. I could see Lisa and AMP and Gooblar from ILX, but that was about it. In a way, it makes you more nervous, because you can't just play off your friends' enthusiasm, but also it was quite freeing - that i didn't care when I flubbed my notes, because who would know? (And I flubbed a-plenty.)

The funniest moment was at the end, after the last plume of feedback was over, and AMP was packing up the laptop, suddenly Noyfriend comes blaring out of nowhere. Cue manic rush to figure out what was going on, if the laptop had gone mental or what, but no, it's coming from somewhere else. Look over to see Tim by the decks, grinning and holding aloft a copy of the HDIF compilation which he's just whacked on the stereo - I had forgotten we were even on it!

A great evening. We drank pink wine and fanned ourselves all night, gossiping - even Le Coq eventually turned up at nearly midnight! That was a pleasant surprise, though I was too drunk to do much except gibber at him. But the loveliness of the other bands (especially Thomas Truax, Manic Cough and Piney Gir) just makes me super-excited about the coming Truck Festival. Woo!

Now I just wish I wasn't so bloody hungover...

Right, off to brave the heat and go to the post office to send our Radio 1 application and more nasty letters to the TV Licensing people.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Want To Eat Your Artichoke Heart

OK, so I'm now procrasturbating when I'm supposed to be typing up my Thom Yorke review. OK, technically I'm supposed to be *working* but who can be bothered with that on a Friday? (hunh hunh)

Went for burritos and a massive bitch session with Catty last night, which was well needed on both sides. There is something cathartic about getting it all out, having a huge rant, both of us going "Argh! Cnuts!" and then taking a deep breath and walking away feeling nice and happy and relaxed.

Got home and there was an excited phone call from YMOF, who had just seen Pirates Of The Carribean 2, and wanted to burble excitedly about how it was the Greatest! Film! Evah! No, really, it is. It's just a rip-roaring rollercoaster of excitement from one end to the other with giant ship-eating Kraken and Cthulhu and sword fights! Lots of sword fights! On top of ruined chapels on top of cliffs (come on, just throw Slash's piano in there for good measure)! On top of rolling waterwheels bouncing off said cliff! Come on! How can you not like that? If you don't like this movie, You Hate Fun, official.

Which takes me back to that conversation I had with Galia at The Lex's party, where she was complaining about modern Hollywood films being nothing but Spectacle. And Spectacle, somehow, is supposedly inherently Alienating. Now I know this argument comes from somewhere else (Guy Debord? I confess, I've never actually got more than a few paragraphs into him without being too annoyed by him) and is more complicated than that. I mean, yes and no. I'm against Culture that is simply there for consumerism, that is owned by corporations, non-participatory and passive.

But I think that human beings are inherently more clever than that, more adaptable. Spectacle on the level of POTC isn't necessarily alienating. It's escapism, but what's wrong with a bit of escapism? Most of the people I know and talk to seem to use things like this as a springboard for their own fantasies, their own creativity. But this isn't going to be another defense of Fan Fiction as modern Folk Culture. Honest.

I'm just trying really hard to come up with another meaning for Thom Yorke's metaphors which makes said title song be about theoretical physics or something, and *not* cunilingus.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Loving In A World Of Desire

Argh, I've been sucked into this again. All 300 pages of it. Of course it's way too long, it was a serialised internet soap opera that I tried to hack into a novel. I sat up until midnight last night, gulping it down by the bucketful, and even though I KNEW what was going to happen (because, well, I wrote the bloody thing) I found myself caught up in it, and even disappointed by the abruptness of the ending.

Oh, and the bit that I was actually looking for, it seems, never made the final edit. (In the web version, it split into two divergent threads, based on the quantum symmetry breaking of a single decision, though it came back together for the last chapter. A few years ago, I decided to sew it back together into one reality, though I'm not sure I now like the path it took.) KG, alone in a big, haunted house near Oxford, trapped with the ghosts of Thom's failed relationships.

It's weird re-reading your own work. How much you forget. And I think it's a good sign when your characters still have the capacity to surprise you. There were so many points where I just wanted to slap KG and shout "You stupid bint!" at her, but I know she had to do the things she did, even when they were stupid and self destructive. Her decisions make sense, when you look back at the things she'd been through in the previous episodes. Why she is afraid of getting too close to Damien because things with Alex went so disasterously wrong. Why she actually marries "the lazy-eyed pscyho" (god, Damien had such a turn of phrase) during a two day pills and booze binge in Las Vegas* because she still feels guilty over Jeremy's suicide.

The plot turns are so ridiculous and over the top, I can remember how much fun it was to write something so absurdly soapy. (Though I had a few twinges at moments that were overlaps with other stories written by people I'm no longer in contact with.) It's still fun to read it. And god, yeah, I find myself falling in love with Damien again and again. Earthy, blunt, pragmatic, slightly Machiavellan, yet unbelievably intelligent and boundlessly creative and energetic. He wouldn't put up with KG's bullshit, he saw through her, and met her on equal terms. A modern rewrite of "The Taming Of The Shrew" though it kind of backfired on him.

Why don't men like Damien exist in real life? Or maybe they do, but I don't see them, because like KG, I'm chasing after the pretty boys with the red hair and arty neuroses. I suppose I spent so long with the Hypocritical Sound Artist because I projected so much of the fictional character of Damien onto him, with dangerous results.

I'm sorry, I know this makes no sense to anyone who hasn't read it. But sometimes it's good to revisit your old work, and pat yourself on the back.

*Yes, this was *before* Britney did the same thing IRL.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

We think the same things, at the same time...

Yes, I'm a Radiohead fan. Fuck off. I know a lot of my posts lately have been all "I'm a Hawkwind/Girls Aloud/etc. fan and I'm not embarrassed!" but frankly I *am* a bit embarrassed about liking Radiohead. They are distinctly not cool. Normals deride them because they're too... weird while the Hipster Kids deride them for being too... normal. An experimental band for people who would never think to listen to experimental music. Or a stadium rock band for people who don't like stadium rock.

Plus, you know, their *fans*. They're a bit... errrr... obsessive, shall we say. They give obsessive fandom a bad name, and yes, that really hurts, coming from me.

I admit, Thom Yorke brings out the worst in me. Hence, why I should probably clarify the whole "Thom Yorke is my spirit guide" thing. It's not just because I've been listening to The Eraser over and over again today. (Bah, stupid flash on that site crashes my 'puter.)

I got into Radiohead about the same time everyone else did - Creep. Pablo Honey was one of the few decent albums we were allowed to listen to when I worked at Tower Records, so I used to put on the last track, Blow Out, and do the hair-shakey dance about the cassette department. And then I kind of wrote them off, thinking that they would go on to do more sub-Nirvana ripoffs until they got dropped, while I disappeared to listen to 60s Garage for a few year, writing off modern music entirely. And then, like everyone else, I rediscovered them with OK Computer, and went back and bought everything else they'd done.

The thing is, they always seem to release exactly the *right* album at the right time in my life. OK Computer was the soundtrack of Leaving New York. I was burned out, the stress and the pressure, hated the city and capitalism and office life and America and everything. Not knowing what else to do, I went back to my mother's house in Upstate NY and stayed there, on my own (my mother was at Yale at the time) for several months while I figured it out. And I went insane. Quite literally. OK Computer is the sound of living alone, in that big, spooky, haunted house, not seeing other people for weeks at a time, slithering all over the walls. I developped an imaginary friend who lived under the table - Thable Thom. Childish, petulant, mischievous, prone to tantrums and throwing his legos out of the crib. Tormenter of cats and winder-upper of internet folk. When people did actually come to visit me, I still insisted that Thable Thom was real and that they address him and interact with him. (Kind of a spooky foreshadowing of The Sims, eh?)

Yes, I KNOW this makes me sound completely mad as a box of snakes, and in fact, just like your average mentalist Radiohead fan. It was a really weird time.

(Thom even made it into one of my "Stories", unfortunately as the Bad Guy. (As much as there are ever Bad Guys in my stories.) In Loving In A World Of Desire, he was Kate Gordon's foil, her destroyer, her downfall. He represented all the worst aspects of her personality, her spoiledness and petulance, her alienation, yet also her creativity. Neither of them loved the other, but they were both obsessed with what the other one *symbolised* to the other. She was his Jungian Anima, he was her Jungian Shadow. She used him as a way of proving (to herself, or her lover) that she didn't actually deserve the good, supportive, loving relationship she had finally found herself in, after all the badness and melodrama of her soap opera life. (She was like that, as a character, she invariably kicked her way out of any Happily Ever After I could write her.))

Amnesiac was another album that came just when I *NEEDED* it. I lived inside it for the horrible months I spent recovering from illness and the forced termination of my only child, trapped in an abusive relationship. I can't listen to that album now, it just brings it all back. But at the time, it was the most real escape I had.

So when he turns up in a dream, and tells me things, I tend to believe them. Because they're really coming from a part of me that I don't like to acknowledge.

Poor man, to be saddled with the expectations and neuroses of the so many broken people who are his fans.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In Search Of Space

So, why do people bother listening to music that isn't Hawkwind? I mean, really?

OK, OK, I've actually spent some time today listening to, err, My Spirit Guide, Thom Yorke's Not-A-Solo-Album, because it's great headphone music, especially the way that he doesn't bother editing out all his breaths, in fact, on some songs, he makes a percussive rhythm track out of them, oooh, swooon...

OK, Hawkwind are not very fanciable, but still.

They're one of those bands that I associate with sitting in boys' bedrooms when I was young. Especially if dope-smoking was involved - J3ff L30n, W@nk Duu1, I'm looking at you - sitting up all night, giggling at the album artwork and puzzling through the lyrics. They seemed one of those things to be slightly embarrassed about, like being a Doctor Who fan over the age of 16. (though, funnily enough, I've come full circle on that, too.)

But then a funny thing happens when get over 30, and you no longer particularly *care* about being cool, or being embarrassed by the bands you like. Maybe it's even a slice of nostalgia, too.

I mean, they single-handedly *invented* Spacerock, halfway between the driving motorik intensity of Krautrock and wibbling out-there hippie psychedelia. They were trippy, they were weird, and what's more, they freaking RAWKED. Amazing guitars (wub-wub-wub and wah-wah-woooooaaaaaahhhhhhHHHHH), burbling synths and oh my lord, that BASS, high in the mix, often carrying the melody. Not to mention one of the top three best uses of FLUTE in modern music. (Who else can get away with flute in rock? Kraftwerk? Early Mercury Rev?)

Sorry for the diffuseness of this post. Hawkwind truly have eaten my brain.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I Only Hear The Mistakes

Got the test pressing of the single last night - white label vinyl, woo!

Nobody has a record player, though, so we ended up having a "listening session" as part of Andrew's housewarming party. It was dead impressive, felt like something really special to have everyone gathered around listening closely to it, realising that our friends are excited, too. Makes me feel like we're ILX's very own Girls Aloud, that they've been a part of it all along, watched us form and grow.

But my problem is, I only ever hear the mistakes. I hear the mixing errors, the slight "pop" of distortion where the vocals peaked out. The wash of step delay because the backing vocals don't quite match up, the shittiness of the microphone. (It's Jo's microphone that I've been using for over 15 years now.) But other people don't hear that, they hear Our! Single! Woo! And the responses were very encouraging.

Stress dreams last night, missing trains, trying to get to a Festival only to find out that I've left my gear at home, that kind of thing. I was a mess, I was waiting for someone, who was lost, so I decided to go ahead without them, went through the wrong door, and suddenly I find myself on the stage! With Thom Yorke! Argh! He's playing solo stuff, with just a laptop and an acoustic guitar. Doesn't seem surprised to see me at all, he finishes the first song and hands me the guitar. I'm kind of picking at it, gobsmacked, and he just looks at me and says "Well, are you going to play?"

"I... I don't know. What key is it in?"

He shrugs and smiles his mischevious crooked grin. "I dunno. Goes a bit like this!" and the song starts, and I'm just trying to keep up. I'm terrified, but he's smiling and nodding as he sings and taps his laptop, and I'm playing kind of dronerock riffs on the acoustic and it actually sounds quite nice. So we carry on like that for the rest of the set, and I'm too busy just trying to concentrate on jamming in the right key to think "Ohmigod, I'm like, totally jamming, with Thom Yorke! Live at a Festival in front of thousands of people!"

But it's good. And we totally pulled it off. We get offstage and we're kind of running along this corridor backstage, laughing because we got away with it. I kind of tackle him, and grab both his arms and hold them behind his back and he just laughs and says something like "Ooh, I like being restrained, I find it very freeing."

Which I suppose was a pun, and not an invitation to kinkiness. He was telling me that technical limitations force you to be more creative. Accept your mistakes, they are happy accidents, make them the focus of improving your work.

I go nt home through forest trails and got on the wrong bus, but got home to find a parcel waiting. It's a CD that Thom has made me, and a letter saying thank you, because he's terrified of going onstage by himself. And he says keep in touch, but then I realise that I've ripped the part of the envelope with his return address so I can't read it, so I can never reply.

It's bizarre when parts of my subconscious mind decide to speak to me through my dreams as pop stars. But it was such a vivid dream, I know it's important in some way.

Friday, July 07, 2006

liz x

Why are aniversaries so hard?

I think about Liz from time to time, little things remind me of her and I just feel a warm glow of remembrance. But today I just feel weepy, and every memory threatens to set off a crying jag. I've been trying to go on, organising things, keeping busy, but I just can't.

ILX has mostly been strangely quiet today, like the memory of her death is the Elephant In The Room that everyone is thinking about, but no one can really discuss. I'm scared of saying the wrong thing, or worse, nothing at all. But talking about her just brings up the grief like a well of tears.

Liz is just woven into the fabric of ILX, of our little community, in so many ways. So many memories. The cakes - everyone remembers her cakes, because they were like works of art. The experimental mint cake that she made for my birthday, which we ate on a lock in the middle of the River Lee or Lea. Dancing at Poptimism. Her holding court on the couches at The Chapel Bar. Egging each other on to get more and more pitchers of some foul liquor concoction at a bar in Brixton. Magnus and I making arrows out of her breadsticks and cupcake wrappers at her and Rob's housewarming. Sag Paneer after the canal walk to Southall. Exchanging squealy fangirl text messages after she helped Bobby G carry his dirty dronerock baby up the stairs at Kings Cross.

All that girlish glee cut short by an explosion just South of Kings Cross, a year ago.

This post isn't about politics. Like many people, I actually think that the bomber that took her life was as much a victim as she was - a victim of institutionalised racism, of power-hungry fanatics masked in religion, of empire-building, whatever. I'm not bitter. Of all the things that Liz was, I never knew her to be bitter.

I'm just sad. And I miss her.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's Not The Pain, It's The Boredom

The ennui, the heat, the heat, the ennui... why does life have to be so unendingly bloody TEDIOUS?

OK, this was not helped by watching Last Days last night. What an unbelievably boring, tedious, endless film where NOTHING HAPPENS. I was too hot to even fall asleep during it.

I don't understand the adulation for this film. Boring drugged up past it rock star stumbles around, takes drugs, cross dresses, mumbles while he dodges his friends, makes tedious experimental NOIZE music, then gets so bored he shoots himself. Dude, why couldn't you have done that about an hour earlier and spared us the rest of the film? It's a bit like Performance, but without the sex, gangsters, intrigue, heady 60s atmosphere, Anita Pallenberg, or, indeed, any charismastic performers at all.

I suppose part of it is the reverence with which people of A Certain Generation (er, mine, I guess) hold Kurt Cobain. I just don't get it. I thought Nirvana were kind of boring. This impression certainly isn't helped by the unbelievably pretentious to the point of silly "original" music that the Kurt Figure plays throughout the film. I'd shoot myself in the head never to have to hear that shit again.

The scenery was nice. The actor that played the Kurt Figure was pretty (though, funnily enough, not actually as pretty as the real thing). But otherwise, the £6 would have been better spent on another bottle of Excelsior wine.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dear God, can I please be on the Radio?

Oh god, oh god, oh god, please, please, please?

BBC 6, BBC 7, BBC 8, BBC Heaven!

How many more stars do I have to wish on?

Nerves Like Nylon, Nerves Like Steel

What a rollercoaster of emotions last night. It can be strange sometimes, the disparity of experiences between the performers onstage and the audience watching.

I'll be honest, I didn't actually enjoy the gig itself much last night, though all in all it was an excellent night for many different reasons.

Nerves were high, for many reasons, the stress of late bandmate and no-show support bands delaying soundcheck - though when we finally got our soundcheck, it was one of the most thorough and good-sounding soundchecks I've had in a long time. Oh yes, and the stress and pressure of A&R dudes turning up to "check us out".

Now maybe, some bands play better if they are aware that they are under scrutiny of this kind. For myself, I was hiding out onstage, doing last minute fiddles with my gear to make sure the distortion pedals were properly levelled, when blokey from {well known and respected indie label} comes bouncing up to the edge of the stage and introduces himself. I managed to be polite and stuttered that he should find our manager, but quite frankly, any chance of my being able to relax and enjoy the show flew straight out the window as the pit dropped out of the bottom of my stomach.

It was too hot. I sweated my stage makeup as soon as I put it on. I was dehydrated. I wasn't drunk enough. I was a mess. And usually something happens, a couple of songs into the set, where the nerves turn into excitement and the adrenaline rush takes over, and you shoot off into euphoria. It never happened.

I did my best. I played well, sang well, tried to emote, and act like I was having a good time. And yeah, I did get a kick out of seeing our friends dancing in the front row. But I was too nervous, had too much to do between remembering all the guitar pedals *and* setting up the laptop between songs and I just forgot to have a good time.

But that's where my friends come in. I can usually tell when people are "ooh, that was nice" and when they are genuinely enthusiastic. And thank god for my friends being so supportive and so up for it and, well, having a good time regardless. Maybe it's an ego thing. But I want other people to enjoy what I do - I want {Fermats Femmes} gigs to be like parties where everyone comes and has a great time dancing around and getting drunk. I feel like a hostess onstage, trying to make sure everyone has a good time. The songs are like gifts, sometimes even when I'm writing them, I think "ooh, I bet so-and-so will get a real kick out of this little bit!" and then I'm so pleased when that person gets it. (Like The Lex catching the subtle reference to "Pop-ular" in "Sticky and Brown".)

And instead of the euphoric rush of an aftershow (and then the inevitable come-down) I had the lovely, warm feeling of hanging out with all my mates, drinking like it was a normal FAP, eating beigels and talking utter gobshite about "overegging the apocalypse pudding". Which was perhaps even nicer.

And after all those nerves, I never really spoke to A&R Dude; he disappeared. And I got buttonholed my his incredibly drunk friend (actually, come to think of it, this is the best thing about playing gigs, when you spot a hott boy, and you kind of keep catching his eye, and instead of running away, he actually comes over to you and enthuses "That was great!") trying to explain why we should release his favourite song as a single, talking the usual record company rubbish about Castles In Spain, Mate, taking completely the wrong tack with me. It was amusing, but I'm sorry, I'm not interested in making loads of money and those usual rock star dreams. I'm not that bothered about quitting my dayjob; I kinda like my dayjob. I'm interested in having fun, and making music that makes me, and my mates happy. And the one thing I've learned is, the more control I have over that music, the happier I (and the people listening to it) seem to be.

Because its hilarious, the way that everyone seems to think that their favourite song is The Hit!!! - the one we should record and release and will pay for my Country Life Mansion. But everyone seems to think it's a different song.

I guess that's a good sign. I think it's also a good sign when industry type people come up and tell you all the ways they would make you better. It's a sign you're attracting attention, which means you're doing something right. But it also means you should smile and nod and be bought drinks, but then carry on doing things Exactly The Way YOU Want To Do Them.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Well, this really has become the blog of whinging of late, so why mess with a theme?

Tardiness has been a recurrant theme in the litany of my annoyances. I am generally a very punctual person, it's one of my useless skills. The easiest way to wind me up is to be late, it just shows such a fundamental lack of respect for the person you are forcing to wait, like your time is so much more important than theirs.

The band, however, seems fairly split along lines of punctual people and compulsively tardy people.

You know, like most people in the modern world, I have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. I work ridiculously long hours, and live by myself. I don't have a housemate or partner to clean up after me, look after the bills, etc. I have to do all this stuff myself, and since I usually don't get home until quite late, the weekend is when it must be done. And, somehow, rest and relaxation, socialising and creative endeavours all have to be fitted in, too.

The band is important to me. It is, perhaps, one of the most meaningful things in my life. I don't mind giving up my free time at the weekend to rehearse, as this is important. However, I DO VERY GREATLY MIND giving up my free time to sit around for hours on end, waiting for other people to turn up.

On Saturday, we were due to start at 2pm. The last person didn't even turn up until after 6, and we didn't actually stop faffing about and start rehearsing until well after 7. As a result, my Saturday was gone. So, I had to spend Sunday (with a hangover) running around trying to do all the things I didn't get done on Saturday - the laundry, the bills, the weekly cook, the artwork for the Luxembourg album. And I spent another Monday morning so tired I feel like I've not had a weekend at all.

I've had enough.

It's not a mystery, how to be on time. The only thing that annoys me more than people who are late is the endless stream of excuses about how it's NOT THEIR FAULT that they are late. No, I'm sorry. You're not late because London transport sucks. It always sucks - that's why you have to figure out exactly how long journeys take, make note of your local transport's schedule (including weekend alterations), keep abreast of potential delays and planned engineering work, and maybe even allow a bit of extra time for those delays which ALWAYS happen. You're not late because "Oh noes, I'm a bad person, wah wah ::dissolves in tears::" - you're late because YOU made a series of poor choices or because YOU failed to plan.

We've tried lying about start times to the terminally tardy, but this only inconveniences the punctual even more, when they mistakenly turn up at the "fake" early start time. We've tried discussion, we've tried threatening. And I've had enough. I've reached the end.

Next rehearsal, if all the band members have not turned up within a reasonable period of time (and I think 45 minutes is more than reasonable) from the scheduled start date, then I am simply packing up my things, turning around and going home. End of story.