Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
the presents have been opened, turkey devoured save for the leftovers to go in sandwiches for the next.. ooh.. fifty-two weeks and bad tv digested (Doctor Who the main culprit, a soul-crushing example of snatching heavy defeat from the jaws of televisual victory - how these scriptwriters can write some of the best and, a few minutes later, the worst tv you'll see in a year beggars belief).
and now i sit, late at night, offering you a present of sorts. technically it's the free mp3 for the month of January, but the time is right. find below the link to the free download of my cover of Death Cab For Cutie's A Lack of Color. I couldn't decide whether this was a correct title to be had in England, so it's now officially A Lack of Colo(u)r.
special thanks to Barry/Oxygen Thief who bought me the Cyanide and Happiness book for Christmas, highlights below:
happy (dark humour) yule!
Sunday, 20 December 2009
a decade that gave us not the Oasis vs Blur intensity of the 90s, but the evolution of Radiohead, the embarrassment of nu-metal and the digital music revolution, which probably did more for intelligent debate, legislation and piracy than two Mancunians and some art school indie kids ever did. shame about Linkin Park though.
and so it is, at the end of this decade, i find my final gig of the year to be Islington's Union Chapel, an 800+ capacity venue and fully-functioning place of worship, albeit one with a fully functioning bar on the first floor. how i got here, i'm still not entirely sure. i know who i have to thank (one Frank Turner, to start with), but the connections and chance encounters that took the me of December 19th, 1999 to the point of stepping onto the stage of one of London's most aesthetically-pleasing and acoustically-brilliant venues ten years later is mind-boggling.
but here i am, and this is how it's happened.
of course, it nearly didn't happen at all. rolling up to the venue at 5pm as instructed to run through the group finale that was 'Last Christmas', it is soon apparent that our headliner tonight is stuck with the Eurostar in Paris. Calais is 'broken' too, and so we leave him booking himself onto a last-minute, probably-really-expensive flight to Heathrow and possibly, probably, perhaps making the venue on time for tonight's show. maybe.
not that this dampened spirits much - a warm crowd, a venue that prefers tea to alcohol and good company on the bill (Mr Adam Killip of The Tailors, Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo and, of course, Chris T-T) meant this show was destined only to succeed, and despite any nervousness in the days leading up to this event (and trust me, dear reader, there was a lot - ask just about anyone i spoke to in the preceding week), the chaos that greeted me upon arrival and ensued right up until my stage time made me feel strangely at home.
i sign records, catch up with friends and wait for Turner, who eventually bundles himself through the back door at 9.20pm and takes to the stage five minutes later, and apologies to the guy who tried to initiate conversation with me at the merch table over my release plans for 2010 only for me to be distracted about a sentence into my reply and, by the time i had finished tending to matters, he was nowhere to be seen. apologies, Well Meaning Fellow.
and so, post-show, we hit the bar to the clicking of cameras - mostly Jay Newton's, my guest of honour for this evening and owner of one disposable camera, Jay himself having inherited his spot from someone who shall remain nameless herein, but who passed up the opportunity to attend this most excellent show for gratis in order to go to some christmas fancy dress party. with a Star Wars theme.
fuck you, Star Wars.
to 2010. x
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
so let's talk about prison
eh, decade schmecade. let's talk about a new project i've been working on. a little while back a man named Jon Potter from Company Paradiso contacted me with news of a project they're calling Ballads of Reading Jail, an arts-council funded project whereby Jon and friends work with prisoners in Reading Jail, where Oscar Wilde wrote his 'Ballad of Reading Jail' and what is these days a young offenders institution, encouraging them to write poetry around their various experiences and, to finish the project, commissioning musicians to write songs using the results.
as someone with a little more experience of the prison system than your average joe and josephine, it was a project i was happy to help out with and an interesting time, despite the utter nightmare we had for the one day we had in the studio, a day only rescued by the sheer heroics of producer extraordinaire Matt Bew. duly, 'The Day I Got Stuck', a shameless if cumbersome pop ditty was born, featuring James Loar (Full Force Gales, Heartwear Process) on drum duties. due to the nature of the project, co-ordinated by Duncan at BBC Berkshire (who looks after, amongst other things, BBC Introducing's The Session), this won't be readily available, but i do have copies if you're a) interested, and b) capable of getting your shit together and dropping me a message over email or MySpace or Facebook or wherever. i'm going to smack it up on the myspace for a little while shortly, too.
to close, I'll be on The Session this Sunday talking about the whole thing, answering questions on the importance of projects like these, my own experiences and why I flat refused to write this song as an actual ballad, but i'm a little apprehensive of how it'll sound as when we recorded the interview I waffled on for what seemed like forever and probably came off sounding like a hippy who believes everyone should be forgiven of their crimes. i don't, okay, every crime has a victim and that shouldn't be forgotten, but i tried my darndest to communicate how prison shouldn't just be about punishment, especially amongst the young, it can also be about rehabilitation, and how (i believe, in my opinion, etc) getting prisoners involved in initiatives like these can benefit them in the long run.
so whilst you listen to me squirm on radio and then hear how I reduced a young man named Peter's pain into three minutes and twenty seconds of uptempo indie-pop, remember that i'm not really trying to get you to buy flowers for the guy who punched your sister.
in the meantime..
provided i've not been branded too left wing for the well-to-do village of Goring, I'll be playing at Goring Unplugged's Christmas Cracker in the quaint setting of Goring Village Hall this Friday (11th) as part of the warm-up for the Union Chapel show in Islington on the 19th alongside all-round star Frank Turner and others. That's to say, they'll be in London, it's just me who'll be in Goring for the BYOB/BYOP (picnic!), entirely-acoustic open-mic style event. Amy's Ghost will be there too, though, so it's all good.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
so instead i thought i'd write in this blog for some things you might have missed. after all, it has been a while.
ben vs  radio: the return
yes, they let me back on the podcast back in november, and another 75-ish minutes of music is available for download right here:
actually i can't even remember if i was invited to go back to  radio and host another shambles, or whether i just demanded that it happen in the manner of Mariah Carey, but i have indeed succeeded in worming my way onto another podcast. this time, i press play on my mp3 player in honour of such greats as Pavement, Harvey Danger, Biffy and Skee-Lo. yes, Skee-Lo. it's not like 5'10 is the ideal height, kids.
more free mp3s from the summer's split EP!
as part of an ongoing drive which will see a new free mp3 every month from now until the album's release next year, after i recently made 'Friendly Fire' available from the Exclamation At Asterisk Hash EP for free, messrs Lockey and Thief are following suit with a track each from the very same record. okay okay, so perhaps it's because we just sent them out to various music blogs, but it wouldn't make sense to not offer them to you here. alors:
Ben Marwood - Friendly Fire
Jim Lockey - The Boat Song (EP Version)
Oxygen Thief - Too Many Trees
Exclamation At Asterisk Hash is still available and an ideal price to be on all your christmas lists, though i forget what price it actually is. which is weird, because i priced it. Amazon says £4.98!
it's also available digitally, if you're hip and with the times. and why wouldn't you be? it's better than the Mail.
finally, on the topic of Oxygen Thief and Jim Lockey
i found myself wandering the wastelands of the internet the other night, as part of an ongoing drive to utterly fail at sleeping, and stumbled across the tour videos from the summer. if you get a moment late one night and you're similarly bored, my favourite two by miles are here:
Day 8 (Leeds to Newcastle):
Day 9 (Newcastle to Huddersfield):
i love them both (and kev) more than words at the end of a blog can express.
Monday, 2 November 2009
yes that sentence took some thinking, but it's okay because i'm on the mend, though frustratingly far away from the places i need to be. i'm at my parents', to be exact, and being monitored with the intensity of an alien crash site (most of this post, you understand, will be a quite massive exaggeration). it is odd how, despite how i know that all this is for my own good, i still feel the same angsty teenage repression that the nineteen year old who left this house did some nine years ago, but i'm grateful for the quality of care, and the fact that i was collected from my deathbed (for i am male, and there is no such thing as a sickbed for us) on Saturday, not really knowing quite where i was, having regretfully cancelled my Cheltenham show for that evening and fiercely radiating heat like some human furnace.
but, just as i identify myself as dying when i'm clearly not, so too will i identify myself as better, prematurely. and, given that in my haste to leave the flat i forgot to pack a single change of clothes - and what i left the house in barely constitutes a set of clothes anyway - let alone any kind of bank card, i'm now at the mercy of my beloved parents as to when i'm allowed back into the real world. i'm adamant that it's now; they're adamant that it's really not.
and so, a stand-off ensues, and i'm placated with provisions of a razor and some shaving gel to get rid of four days of facial hair growth. i retire to this computer - my mum's, no less - with the backdrop of time tick, tick, ticking away.
i'm twenty-eight, dear reader, and i'm grounded
Sunday, 11 October 2009
i had hoped, by the time of writing, to have some more news regarding upcoming releases etc, but due to lovely engineer/producer Matt Bew falling victim to some evil (but thankfully brief) virus, things have fallen slightly behind schedule. fear not, children, dates are being rescheduled as we speak, and things are just about on course for the Spring.
but this week has been rescued by the good people of London, specifically those attending Lexapalooza Lite at the Flowerpot yesterday (Saturday 10th), where i was granted an audience with one of the best crowds in the history of crowds, alongside such legendary old hands as Frank Turner, Beans on Toast and Chris T-T and the new ones like Mark McCabe and Elliott Morris.
and then there's Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. there have been several times where he and i have shared the same breathing space, though yesterday was the first time we actually made it to the same bill and the first time we'd properly conversed. i'm delighted to say, i'm not facing court action, and he even picked up a copy of This Is Not What You Had Planned, before disappearing off to a clubnight that only plays songs from now-defunct DIY punk music channel P-Rock. if that's not a sign of a good day, i'm not sure what is, though i guess the defining point of said day was the crowd participation for my set. i didn't even have to sing the last part of 'The District Sleeps Alone Tonight', it was all done for me, and the noise for 'Oh My Days' deafened me.
thanks, then, to everyone who made the trip, and specifically to Evan and Paul, and the rest of the Lexapalooza crew, without whom London would be a far less beautiful place to play.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
you join me for the second month in succession amidst a mess of wires, though this month it's not due to computer failure but instead to the just-as-stressful-but-totally-
i'm excited and nervous in equal measure, as over the past few weeks i've thrown myself headlong into an endless loop of record/edit/delete/despair/
this saturday: the best london all-dayer in the history of the world
not a word of a lie. this weekend (saturday 10th) sees The Flowerpot in London's Kentish Town play host to Lexapalooza Lite, an all-dayer to end all other all-dayers. as with the other Lex shows, all proceeds go to the selected breast cancer charity of choice, Breast Cancer Campaign, and i'm proud to be involved. also on the bill on the day, the likes of Chris T-T, the superb Emily Barker, Beans On Toast and the you-should-know-him-by-now-
elsewhere in october
the good folk at BBC Introducing have signed me up to play alongside the folktronica stylings of Mr Jeremy Warmsley at the Oakford in Reading on October 22nd as part of his acoustic solo tour. and, in case you're stuck for things to do on Hallowe'en, you could do a lot worse than head to Cheltenham for Walk The Line festival. running on the same kind of idea as the Camden Crawl et al, Walk The Line runs Friday 30th/Saturday 31st October in various venues around Cheltenham, and features the likes of Chris T-T, Broadcast 2000, Tubelord and a whole bunch of others. i have no idea who is playing on my particular bill, but i hear a whisper that Oxygen Thief will make an appearance (seriously, we should just get married or something) and that the venue is a function room in a chinese restaurant. all you can eat first, anyone?
[actually i tried that approach in Wednesbury playing at Addistock last weekend, where i casually swanned into Wetherspoons, clocked their £2.99-priced meals, assumed they were tiny and ordered two. they weren't. the look on the guy's face when he realised that the two plates were just for me was the look normally more suited to shocked guests at some whodunnit finale]
friendly fire for free. ffffffff.
for those of you still undecided on whether to pick up a copy of the Ben Marwood/Jim Lockey/Oxygen Thief split EP Exclamation At Asterisk Hash, i invite you to have your arm twisted by picking up a free mp3 of my lead track from the record, entitled 'Friendly Fire': http://www.benmarwood.com/
anyone still interested in picking up a copy, do look here:
right, that's enough from me. join me next month where i'll have word of a new EP, and hopefully one of the year's best christmas gigs to boot.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
but amongst the chaos, word reaches me that DJ hero Jon Hillcock is once again parting ways with xfm. his second tenure ends this sunday, october 4th for his final new noise show, and all at Camp Marwood would like to wish him the very best. so i did. by email. and he wrote back within the hour.
beat that, terry wogan.
ps. hah, Camp Marwood.
Monday, 14 September 2009
sometimes it bites you in the butt. or bum, if we're being english about it. alors, behold my Week Of Rubbish, which is a phenomenon that occurs every so often and happens to have happened recently, since you asked.
we begin with the show at the Rising Sun Arts Centre on Friday, September 4th, my first hometown show since coming off tour and the cause of much excitement in my heart and pants, as i play host to Tom Williams & the Boat, originally from Tunbridge Wells and now from all over the shop. we meet up, we chat a bit, i plug my guitar in, little happens.
so, my guitar which i fixed twice on tour bit the dust that night, albeit not quite that dramatically, and to reward Tom and the gang for lending me his (new) guitar for my set later that night, I take him and his bandmates out for some top quality alleged food poisoning* at Mr Cod, my fast food outlet of choice. once they'd all finished being horrendously ill, the show was a great one, if slightly quiet, leaving me down on cash by the time I'd waved farewell to Mr Williams and then with the morbid(ly obese) task of checking my guitar in for repair and resuscitation the next day, the very same next day that should have seen me be on a train to Newcastle on a trip that was cancelled at the last minute due to sickness that wasn't even related to Mr Cod, nor I. down on a not particularly cheap train ticket too, I decide the week is out to get me.
and then my guitar comes back with more problems than it left with.
if you're listening, this week, you better be good.
(*i was fine, perhaps they just all had weak, out-of-town stomachs)
Monday, 7 September 2009
i blame the tour. the sight of so many different places in such quick succession and then, just as quickly, a return to a one-place-one-job routine is at least irritating, and at most depressing. still, the vast open wasteland that passes for my current gig list has at least given me time to work on the album. the date for the first of three mixing sessions is in the diary for 9th october, and things are moving along nicely.
naturally, when i loaded the works in progress onto a CD and blasted it from the stereo it sounded, predictably, like there's a lot of work to be done, but that's exactly why we book these sessions for a whole month away, and not tomorrow. quite why i'm on here and not working away, i have no clue; fear perhaps? or maybe self-sabotage. regardless, before the 9th there is much work to be done - a few extra guitar takes here and there, some vocals to re-do (some of them, would you believe, suffer from not being harsh enough), and numerous percussionisms to contemplate along the way.
enough of my album though, it barely even exists; let's talk about Frank Turner's third album Poetry of the Deed, which is out this week on Xtra Mile in the UK and Epitaph everywhere else. i have it and i love it - it's less a solo record and more a band affair, but for my money Turner could give any pop songwriter on record a run for their money, and live is almost off the radar. his set recently at Reading left me pleasantly shocked, such is the support he received from the gathered thousands. if you can, pick up a copy. if you can't (because, say, you're too poor), at least go halves with an equally-broke friend. do it. DO IT.
of course, none of this insistance that you need this record is returning the favour for FT playing 'I Will Breathe You In' on Huw Stephens' In New Music We Trust show on Radio 1 recently, but that was bloody lovely.
that same week he was album of the week on Zane Lowe's show, and it also heralded the last ever Radio 1 show for Steve Lamacq, given the boot after sixteen-or-so years' service, and to this day a thoroughly humble man who is the exact opposite of the glamourous, swaggering chunderholes that pass for DJs on stations up and down the land. This man just loves music.
of course, none of this praise is returning the favour for Lamacq playing tracks from The Wookies' new EP, Sparks, on his 6Music show, the record being out this very week on Broken Tail Records. plug plug plug:
on his last show, Lamacq did manage to do something I at one point never thought possible - he managed to tip me over the edge into a fully-fledged fan of Fight Like Apes. i was not shy in sharing my feelings as to their inadequacy upon seeing them support Future of the Left in London this past May, nor was i shy of slagging them off to Kev as he played me 'Tie Me Up With Jackets' in his front room, but that hook kept niggling at me, wormed its way into my soul and onto my mp3 player and, eventually, with my guard down on his last Radio 1 show, Lamacq rammed the point home with 'I'm Beginning To Think You Prefer Beverley Hills 90210 To Me'. stunning. i think i'll track her down and steal her.
but.. er.. anyway, steve lamacq. on the Evening Session in the 90s/early 00s he was an essential listen - he did so much for the alternative scene and helped so many bands over the years, i have nothing but respect for the man. without him i'd probably have never heard of Chris T-T, never picked up 'Paul' by the Landspeed Loungers and all the other anthems from my university years. such is the impact, i even still remember the first song of the first Evening Session i ever heard - Grandaddy's 'A.M.180'. that i remember that surely just goes to prove how important he is, was, and shall remain
and at least he's escaped the wheels of the Radio 1 juggernaut before he's in his 70s, a diabetic and presenting shows thrice weekly from his house til 1am.
if you know what i mean.
Monday, 24 August 2009
for too long, to me, you've been some place up north typified by bare-chested manly-men, fiercly-optimistic football fans and, y'know, Ant and Dec.
not so, it seems, not so, for it's here in the city of Newcastle that the tour reaches it's peak, from a poorly attended gig where we make some new friends regardless, to an underground club in the city centre where the rock music mixes with the cheese like we're mixing the champagne with whiskey. they play PJ and Duncan. they play Bowie's Magic Dance. they give us another opportunity to dance to some horrific nu-emo-metal that's right up there with the playlist at the Cockpit a few days previous, only this time with added My Chemical Romance. but more importantly they're nice, friendly, the bar is cheap and the vibe is excellent.
a few hours later - 6.30am, to be precise - i've been spat back out onto empty city streets to wander, and think about what i've done. unable to rouse my sleeping touring buddies, i sit outside the civic centre and watch seemingly oversized rabbits bounding around, wait til Costa opens and find a quiet corner with the Independent for company, and generally fill myself full of caffeine until i start hallucinating, which happens about 10. still, it's great to see the city come to life. i hope to return very soon.
as well as marking the high point though, newcastle also marks the beginning of the end - by now all three of us, and our tour pet Kev, are the worse for wear. not enough sleep, too much alcohol and depleting brain activity has turned us into zombies, which is probably why Huddersfield was so much fun. the Parish is a zombie-themed venue (zombie free since 2006, they advertise), a pub with a venue slung on the side. again, the people are sparse but the goodwill is there, and despite our best intentions to sleep, before long we're dragged out again to Sectioned, some underground rock club which beats our ears in with all manner of punk and ska and rock and.. anything.
we go to bed too late. we get up too early. the drive ahead, from Huddersfield to our overnight stop in Reading, is a big one, and Lockey is by now too rough to drive it. barry manfully takes on the mission - single-handedly defining the tour mantra offered up by myself a few days prior, that "sometimes the only way to get back on the horse is to tie youself to the fucking saddle" - whilst i do my best to keep awake. and fail. still, we reach Reading in one piece for a night of rest, ready for the last date in portsmouth on sunday.
and that, dear reader, is that. we get there, we wander to the arcades, lose some money and i reign supreme at bowling, we play (apart from Jim, who manages a song and a half before his voice gives in for good), and we retire home to junk food and a sleep which isn't anywhere near as long as it should be before we have to get up and part company, home to the same people, past-times and problems we left behind eleven days prior, albeit with the memory of an incredible bonding journey fresh in our minds.
one thing to bear in mind, before the post-tour blues kick in and i forget what this has taught me, and this should not be forgotten as you, like me, sit solemnly in your jobs from monday to friday:
it was Franklin D Roosevelt who said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself, but he was lying. what we actually have to fear is reaching some age where youth has deserted us only to realise we've wasted our lives.
never give up.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Sunday, 16 August 2009
today, you find me holed up in Barry's computer room, the lure of the internet too much for a 21st century boy like i. tired and happy, and in need of a damn good shave, this is day four of the tour, and tonight we go to Cheltenham. but not until i've read some more of the brilliant charlie brooker book that barry hides in his toilet, and i need to change the guitar battery that gave up on me mid-set in bristol last night.
aaah, bristol. that was a weird one. an all-dayer curated by barry himself, we arrive at the venue before 1pm to find the Bristol Bike festival - sorry, this keyboard seems a little picky about what it wants to capitalise - and a lot of bikers milling around. the venue itself - upstairs at the mother's ruin - is less a venue and more a space cleared in a room where some microphones are set up. oh, and it's hotter than a star. naturally, we open a window. naturally, someone knocks a glass out of the window and narrowly misses the bikers. naturally, we nearly get into trouble.
but the people are, for the most part, nice and polite, and the food and drink is incredibly cheap. ten hours later, the day is over, but not before some people i randomly know from reading turn up - these days living in bristol, evidently - and my incredibly drunk friend Charlie. we have some nasty shooters and check up on jim Lockey (curse you, shift key!), who departed the gig early as he had another show in somerset, where he wasnt on until 10pm. we dread to think what state he might be in for his home show of Cheltenham tonight.
oh, Devizes, that was alright in the end - more like a gathering of friends rather than the sweaty all-out super-show of Reading the night before. we drink, we shake hands, Jim hugs people who bought our stuff. it's all good.
after cheltenham, it's off to james addis's for an outdoor love-in, and from there it's out into the great unknown - Leeds, where i have been once, then to york, newcastle and huddersfield before we grab a day off. that's truly northern territory, and a long way from home. i do miss it, slightly, the comfortable familiarity of my flat, friends at easy touching distance, lovers at.. only kidding. but this time away is a good opportunity to let my oft-befuddled head settle and have a go at some self-assessment (although, thankfully, not in a tax return way).
Friday, 14 August 2009
i sit on day two of this Exclamation tour, in the function room of a pub in Wiltshire. tonight's show will be two sets of three songs mixed into an open mic style, and if Devizes hits its normal form, there'll be stories today. It is here, after all, in this very venue where I mounted an unsupported monitor and fell butt-first to the concrete floor, inadvertently naming a record label in the process.
Oxygen Thief is here, sat aloft my shoulder, still reveling in the glory of last night's opening show (and what a show) in Reading, where three increasingly buzzing folk musicians gave a lesson in unity. Jim Lockey's Morning Wake Up is a highlight, easily, though his morning today was less comfortable. we're not sure quite where or how it happened, but Lockey opened tour proceedings this morning with a monumental hangover, which was only made worse by the sight of food and some Murder She Wrote. surely he has set the bar for the tour. A kebab didn't help when we got here, some chips set him on the road to recovery shortly after and he has just declared his desire to drink some more.
Tomorrow he has two shows. Jim - good luck.
Back to Reading though, and i'm warmed to my very core for the support i received there. A packed house, a couple of encores and some ridiculous merch sales later, we return to chez Marwood (or Marwoody, if you believe the posters on display at the Oakford) tired and proud. Truly, it was the best show i've had in Reading for a long time, perhaps ever.
Onwards and upwards.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
13 READING Oakford Social Club
14 DEVIZES Bell By The Green
15 BRISTOL Mother's Ruin
16 CHELTENHAM Slak
17 WEDNESBURY Castle Addis BBQ & House Show
18 LEEDS Elbow Room
19 YORK City Screen Basement Bar
20 NEWCASTLE Trillians
21 HUDDERSFIELD The Parish
23 PORTSMOUTH Drift Bar
Saturday, 1 August 2009
The business of the tiny touring acts - for, along with Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief that is what we are - is often prone to general drama. This August's Exclamation UK tour is no exception. Over the past week or so, the Devizes Corn Exchange has announced it won't have re-opened in time for the 14th. That gig has been shifted down the road to previous stomping-ground The Bell By The Green. It's by a green, you know.
At almost exactly the same time, the promoter at Homestead in Southampton broke the news that Sonic Boom Six had booked a show nearby that night, so our show was to be pulled so as not to compete for a crowd, and shortly after Birmingham's Island Bar show fell too, a victim of the venue's cutting back of live music, before Stourbridge's Starving Rascal went the same way, although i'd spoken to Pete Stanley of Porpoise the week before who resides in Stourbridge, and he confirmed that he'd never even heard of any live music happening there anyway.
These are the risks we take.
Barry Thief was understandably irked by this cancellation nonsense, such is his desire to gig every day of his life, but I still didn't think eight gigs in ten days is a bad result, and then the king of the Midlands, James Richard Addis of Addistock, opened up his house for a house show/BBQ on the 17th. I'd tell you where it is, but I have no idea the specifics of where his house is. Ask me if you want to know, and I'll make a direct line of enquiry. It's somewhere in the Midlands though.
Those final dates in full:
13 READING Oakford Social Club
14 DEVIZES Bell By The Green
15 BRISTOL Mother's Ruin
16 CHELTENHAM Slak
17 THE MIDLANDS Addis' BBQ Adventure
19 YORK City Screen Basement Bar
20 NEWCASTLE Trillians
21 HUDDERSFIELD The Parish
23 PORTSMOUTH Drift Bar
Friday, 24 July 2009
since i was a nipper i enjoyed daydreaming about DJing, and whilst i've guested on various shows, from pirates to the BBC, today marks the first day i've been allowed to do things unsupervised.
the end result is 77 minutes of the best in alt/indie/folk, from new records from Brendan Benson and The Thermals to classics from Grandaddy, Weezer and Dead Prez; from Fight Like Apes to Future of the Left; from Johnny Flynn to Jim Lockey and other things which don't fit into this alliterative theme.
You can download it now, here:
One more childhood goal: completed.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
If you've ordered the record online and you're still waiting for it to arrive, forward your order confirmation to me (there's a contact option on benmarwood.com), and i'll get mp3s out to you asap.
See, told you it would be quick.
Monday, 6 July 2009
they're good friends of Pete and the Pirates, which makes them alright by me.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
yeah, yeah, another EP reminder.
Exclamation at Asterisk Hash is out on 13th July, and whilst I pointed everyone last month to Amazon and HMV, I neglected to mention my independent friends at Townsend Records, so here's a revised set of buy links..
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Exclamation-Asterisk-Hash-Jim-Lockey/dp/B002CPD4YK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1246486922&sr=8-2
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Exclamation-Asterisk-Hash-Marwood-Lockey/dp/B002CPD4YK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1245281528&sr=1-1
HMV UK: http://hmv.com/hmvweb/displayProductDetails.do?ctx=280;-1;-1;-1;-1&sku=991054
oh yeah, and if you order it you get a free mp3
yep, i've been hard at work finishing demos for The Future, so i'm offering up a free demo of beard-growing, foot-stomping live favourite 'Singalong' to anyone good enough to pick up a copy of the EP between now and the end of August. this is an exclusive deal - it won't make it to last.fm, nor to myspace so you can steal it with your cheeky browser plugins.
great, how do i get it?
easy. once youve ordered, take a screengrab of your order confirmation or account screen or whatever (uninitiated - you probably have a prt scrn button somewhere on your keyboard, the results of which you can bung into Word or Paint or something), and then ping it over to email@example.com with the subject line BEARDS. alternatively, wait til it arrives and take a cheesy picture of yourself with it. see, easy. any questions?
Sunday, 28 June 2009
But, you have missed a lot. I've been a whirling dervish of activity, trying to promote the new record to all and sundry, making tireless arrangements for the next record (the curse of the musician forced to work within the strictest and smallest of budgets) and going to Real Life Work. In between I did some gigs, and came to the realisation that this summer's Exclamation! tour may well be the best fun ever. In Swindon, Jim Lockey, Oxygen Thief and I meet together in the same room for the first time - a fact which makes our split record even more remarkable, in my eyes - and all goes well. The crowd are warm and fuzzy, and out for both a good time and a post-set celebration. We sign photos, t-shirts and converse with people; I get offered a job teaching guitar to children and wonder if London can top it.
It can. A couple of days later, Lexapalooza 09 is a sweaty gathering in a dimly-lit goth venue, where hardcore bands mix with acoustic wonderment, all in the name of charity. Barry dares the crowd to be better than Swindon in terms of crowd participation for his cover of 'Gold' and they duly oblige, Jim excels with his collection of persistently catchy numbers ('Morning Wake-Up Call' and 'The Boat Song' a real highlight) and I myself am surrounded by friends and stangers. I meet James Richard Addis, general hero and Frank Turner fan, as well as the mighty Phil Makepeace and 'The Chipper' Chris Chip, and Kev and Jay are in attendance too, and later preside over mine and Barry's illegal wedding in the little Lexapalooza chapel of love, with Jim as best man. I also meet Paul Hawkins of Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences, who I reviewed back when I wrote for DiS. He looks nothing like I imagined. We get lost on the way to the gig after being overexuberant with our celebration of 80s Phil Collins anthem 'Easy Lover' so I manage to miss a lot of Chris T-T's set, but soon all this is forgotten, and I hope Evan's tireless efforts in putting the show together are worth it. Shattered but happy, we arrive back in Reading after midnight.
And so, given the unexpected highs of both Swindon and London, there was always a risk that perhaps the remaining two dates might struggle to match the heady highs of the first shows in this short stint of appearances designed to drag me into the future and August's Exclamation! tour, a solid string of dates which will either be the sole defining point of my musical life foreverandever or reduce me to a husk of a man. Or both.
And they did. Reading was a mess. No, excuse me, Reading was a fucking mess, a shitstorm of anger to make up for the one that didn't arrive (well, here), the culprit a combination of underage drinkers shrieking loudly to each other at stage left endlessly, some sound issues and a four-act night mixed with the humidity meaning the crowd just werent ready to come in and watch acts with such regularity when they could be outside with a cigarette and a beer. I bite my tongue for six or seven songs, and even though they really are just having fun, I have to dispatch the kids with a sharp ultimatum, though I choose to do it at a point where two people who I have no problem with are leaving the room, and they later find me, enquiring as to what they could have done to incurr such wrath from I. Someone at the back mutters "that was harsh" post-dispatch, and earns another slice of rant pie.
But by now, I'm angry at them and at myself for having reacted, and probably at everyone else for not reacting, and whilst I struggle on things lack the magic that I know Club Velocity can provide. I head out on the town afterwards after Oxygen Thief heads home to Bristol, unaware that I'm expected to do a 50-minute set in Bracknell the next day. The all-day family-friendly festival is very, very warm and relentlessly humid, gagging for a storm which still doesn't (and won't) arrive. It soon becomes clear that angsty-folk is not suited to a happy, sunny family festival, but the crowd are generous with polite applause, and what they lack in enthusiasm they make up for in not being a bunch of drunken idiot children. Acknowledging their friendly-faced patience, I cut the set short on thirty five and spend a couple of hours wandering amongst the children with painted faces and the parents pushing buggies, and at least a few people here have the sense to pick up a copy of the mini-album.
But there's a lesson to be learned in here, despite the troughs. It's always good to catch up with Aubrey Dye and I'm never, ever sad to see Oxygen Thief, plus it was good to finally meet opening act Jemma Willard after a few months of on/off Myspace banter. Similarly, Bracknell led me into the path of some young guy in a Funeral for a Friend shirt, and a foreign pair who were genuinely appreciative. As time goes on and the inevitable thoughts creep in - of how long I can keep spending all my time and money on music whilst my friends get married, buy houses and have kids and whether it is, after all, me and not them who is wasting their lives - these people, and the support of the people who constantly give up their time and money to indulge me in this pursuit, are more important than ever.
And now, in front of the Glastonbury highlights, as Lauren Laverne gets on my nerves again for no reason other than she seems to be the next Jo Whiley, and Jo Whiley herself looks more and more like a hippy-witch-cat-lady with every passing year, I bid you farewell. Roll on July; RIP Michael Jackson.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
AMAZON UK - £4.89 plus delivery (free for over £5 orders)
HMV UK - £4.99 inc delivery
PLAY - £5.99 inc delivery
Amazon still carry stock of This Is Not What You Had Planned, if you're looking for a reason to take your order over £5. Also, Broken Tail release the Sixty Watt Bayonets debut mini-album Pounding Hearts, Fighting Words on the same day (July 13th), which is well worth a look too.
Saturday, 30 May 2009
I better explain.
This week I attended the future of the left show at the ULU, unwittingly sans earplugs, which were only missed by the time it was too late to recover them. No real problem there, I've been to gigs unguarded before, but in this instance my ears were blown clean away, standing as I was in front of the guitar amp of the guitarist in a band known for having very loud guitars. (Falco himself these days sporting the kind of short back and sides that a PE teacher would be proud of, and only 4 strings adorning his custom-destroyed 6-string).
After a heroic performance in goal last Sunday I also took a direct hit to the wrist, the very same wrist which, last May, I hurt during a 5-a-side tournament where I was voted man of the tournament and promptly passed out from the pain in a bus lane in Reading town centre later that evening. No such passing out this time around, merely tons more pain as i crushed it and crunched it in various positions at tuesday's gig. Also at the show was Steve Lamacq, though anytime i was anywhere near him he was deep in conversation, whereas Jay (Newton - Full Force Gales, Heartwear Process, Broken Tail) later sauntered up to him and grabbed a few words, thankfully two of which were "thank you". In shame at my failure to talk to him myself, I have since written him a letter which he'll get in triplicate later this week.
Yes, in triplicate.
The gig was of course fantastic, and support Pulled Apart By Horses were great, though Paul (Smith) would later mark them down for looking like they intended to smash their instruments and then not doing it, leading him into the realms of disappointment. Anyway, less fantastic was the complete failure of my hearing to return, leading me to believe I am suffering permanent damage. The damage to my wrist isn't so bad, unless it's carpel tunnel. This entire backstory led me onto the TEAM GAMES stage at Oxford's Thirst Lodge, a bar on a Friday night, to be drowned out by conversationists by the time i'd even struck the first note. Sometimes you can't win, but i can do without the pain and confusion of my own body rebelling against me.
The day, naturally, was rescued by the kindness and generosity of the people who travelled to say hello; Mike and Friend From Work Whose Name I Forgot, Phil Makepeace and Hugh, who gave us a place to sit around post-gig to discuss random things (to, i believe, the dismay of his hall-mates), Jacqui for making the trip down and swinging by Reading on the way home and a couple of members of my family for the same, and to Sky and TEAM GAMES for making me a cake. No promoter has made me a cake before, though Mike did have some made for the crowd once.
As I wander through oxford i realise i am piecing together the geography now, and i can go from A to B to C to D, as long as i do them in that order. It's curious how much i'd like to live there, for the vibrancy of a city that, whilst obviously smaller than London, i think would be able to provide more of a home.
Something to think about perhaps.
If only i could think through this tinitus.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
in honour of the new record, i thought it might be a good idea to let people actually hear some of it, thus there are the three songs from the EP now up on the myspace, for your perusal.
Monday, 11 May 2009
20th LONDON Lexapalooza 09 alldayer @ the Gaff *^
26th READING Rising Sun Arts Centre *
27th BRACKNELL Big Day Out Festival @ South Hill Park
4th READING Rising Sun Arts Centre
CANCELLED 10th LINCOLN The Millers Arms
11th NOTTINGHAM Jam Cafe *
12th SHEFFIELD Mentholmans *
13th READING Oakford Social Club *^
14th DEVIZES Corn Exchange *^
16th CHELTENHAM Slak *^
17th STOURBRIDGE Starving Rascal *^
18th BIRMINGHAM Island Bar *^
19th YORK City Screen Basement Bar *^
20th NEWCASTLE Trillians *^
21st HUDDERSFIELD The Parish *^
22nd SOUTHAMPTON Homestead *^
23rd PORTSMOUTH Drift Bar *^
* denotes the presence of Oxygen Thief
^ denotes the presence of Mr Jim Lockey
Sunday, 10 May 2009
1. Jim Lockey - Waitress (EP Version) // 2. Ben Marwood - Friendly Fire // 3. Oxygen Thief - There Can Be Only One // 4. Ben Marwood - I Will Breathe You In // 5. Jim Lockey - The Boat Song (EP Version) // 6. Oxygen Thief - Too Many Trees // 7. Ben Marwood - You Can Hold On Once // 8. Oxygen Thief - Sunclouds // 9. Jim Lockey - Atlases (EP Version)
Released 13th July 2009 on CD/download through Josaka / Broken Tail Records.
A product of sheer coincidence, Exclamation at Asterisk Hash clocks in at 33 minutes and 1 second. That's not the coincidence though.
It came about like this: I met Barry Dolan, herein known for some reason as Oxygen Thief, when we shared a bill in front of about 11 people in a pub in Cambridge last summer. He tipped me off as to a good gig to be had in Cheltenham at the hands of a guy called Jim Lockey, who happened to be the very same Jim Lockey I ran into two days later at the video shoot for Frank Turner's 'Long Live The Queen'. I made it up to Cheltenham that November, and kept in touch with Mr Thief, and it was finally decided around then that a split record would be a good idea.
Thus, we set about separately writing and recording three singles, if you will, to be squished onto one record.
Continuing the prevailing theme of coincidence, the tracks went together pretty easily, thus the finished product weaves in and out like Ricky Hatton recently didn't. In terms of songs, anyone whose caught the live show in the last six months will already have heard 'Friendly Fire', anyone who caught the set in the six months before that had a good chance of hearing 'I Will Breathe You In' and only ten people have heard 'You Can Hold On Once', which is actually quite a nice feeling, but things cannot stay this way forever.
Of course, there's that title. Despite the fact that i don't swear on record, it caused enough cussing for us all. For Jim Lockey, he was trying to do all this stuff whilst studying for his finals and recording his second album (Atlases is out in August), Mr Thief had some kind of computer-based meltdown, and i managed to lose a pedal steel player, find another one and then lose a whole bunch of violin takes and fail to find another violinist. Oops? Still, thanks muchly to Paul Smith and his singing bowl talents, Kurt Hamilton on pedal steel and Chris Sartin for the loan of his trusty glockenspiel.
I am going to point out at this point that the title of the record is Exclamation at Asterisk Hash, and anyone who dares to insist that the title is !@*# is going to feel some wrath of some kind.
Tour dates and pre-order links to follow soon enough, dear people.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
With that in mind, you can head over to http://www.editradio.co.uk and hear the resulting podcast, which is essentially two friends sat down having a laugh, albeit without any frustratingly-obtuse, irritating in-jokes. A word of warning though: it was done in one take with a desk microphone, and it is to professionalism what Russell Brand is to modesty, but I guarantee the songs are great; you can even hear one of the Jim Lockey's songs from the new record.
Oh, about that new record..
Monday, 4 May 2009
Instead, i can't. My brain is mushy and tender from this bank holiday weekend, so instead of hearing about the new record, you're going to hear about why Oxford is my new favourite place on earth. Sure, it may be picturesque and a city and full of the variety that a town like Reading - where I personally spend my days - lacks, but actually what really swung me was the reckless abandonment at which they threw themselves in Mayday celebrations; fancy dress, bridge jumping, heavy drinking, pubs re-opening at balls o'clock the next morning to allow continued drinking amid fry-ups and complimentary bloody marys..
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, oxford's great. I headed out as a guest of Richard Sanderson to a couple of the Frank Turner oxford residency shows debuting new album material (verdict: pretty fucking sweet), and along the way bumped into all manner of excellent ne'er-do-wells who convinced me that oxford would be a good place to live, and i can't help but agree. Pat from the Young Playthings was out, though I think he might have been slightly alarmed at my Turner fanboy status. TYP have a new record out soon, and this excites me, and Turner in turn talked up the new Future of the Left record vigorously which both made up my mind that this year could be good for records, and that it would be a good idea to get my butt to London for May 26th to see FOTL in action. Meanwhile, I go back to Oxford on the 29th for a gig at the Thirst Lodge, which someone describes as "a bar". At the end of the final night, Ben from Dive Dive tells me he's never heard my stuff but it's okay because he always misses out on the good stuff for ages (slick), and whilst he looks like he'd quite like to make a conversation out of it and I'd like to oblige, I am by now fighting fierce Sambuca-addled dizziness (dizzy) and Richard subsequently joins a surprisingly short list of people who've seen me absolutely, positively wasted once we're out in the open air (fresh), and it dawns on me slowly that food is not something that has been in my vicinity for quite a while (starving).
In preparation for the FOTL shows, and to see whether I feel more at home in Oxford or London (curiously: neither are my home), I head to the capitol city of our fair isle on Sunday to see a whole bunch of people who cancel, and my friend Chloe ("adorable" - Stephen Fry). There's something about warm(ish - we didn't stay outside long) days in the city that trigger a series of romanticisms within my cynical self, and after parting company with Chloe ("adorable" - Stephen Fry), I wander across the city from Kingsway to Covent Garden singing songs to myself that I'm making up as I go along. None of them are any good. None of them will make the next record.
Oh, about that new record..
Saturday, 18 April 2009
These things are always a good excuse to get out and, essentially, get drunk to a good cause, although my eventual agreement to get up and play a few songs did make the night feel a bit like work and less like play for a while, and was only greeted with polite applause in front of a handul of people early in the night anyway. Somehow a terrible picture of me playing ends up in the local paper.
Amongst the vodka, sambuca and, for some reason, tequila, I bumped into fellow songwriter Steve Morano, who proceeded to apologise profusely for the behaviour of a friend at a gig from the previous week. It turned out it was he and his big-mouthed but good-hearted female companion who bore the brunt of my swearfest from the stage. The previous day I'd had a message from Linda saying she wasn't aware of me kicking any balloons at her.
All is forgiven and loose ends tied up. Me and my drinking companion Chloe head to the bar, where someone calls us "adorable".
I think about getting a top hat.
Sunday, 29 March 2009
But recently, having sat been at the front for up-and-comer Jay Newton's quiet set, only to hear cackling at private jokes from the very back of a venue no bigger than most people's living rooms, I'll admit to being a little hot-blooded when the same pattern emerged after just one song of my set. The live room is tiny and quiet; the bar is next door. I inform them of these things and invite them to fuck off.
The crowd cheer.
To my surprise there's no rebuke, merely some shadowy figures making for the exit during the second song, but I feel uneasy. Post-burst, and still able to hear them from the bar next door, I try and blame my confrontational tactic on watching too much of Stewart Lee's superbly, dryly-deadpan Comedy Vehicle, though the real reason is likely to be a) i have a new haircut and i never like it for the first two weeks, b) i have my first crown and it feels like someone has jammed a tooth-shaped, expensive and shit cue ball into my mouth, c) i cannot relax because i have to go and DJ at an indie disco immediately post-set, d) i have a new phone and the buttons are so small i feel like i might have taken the first step to being unable to communicate with the youth of today, though it's most likely e) i've been reading too many of Falco's venemously-excellent Future of the Left blogs.
I remember far too late post-profanity that some friends have bought their small child along and, to round off a good evening, I punt a balloon from the stage into the audience as I launch into the set closer and look up expecting to see final-song revelry, only to see said balloon on its way back off a nice lady called Linda who has come to see me, who would probably have dodged it with deft skill and/or fired it straight back at me were she not registered blind and unable to see it coming.
I only hope the broad smile on my face, frozen there from pre-kick, belies collossal embarrassment and not amusement.
I have to get out of Reading.