Saturday, 30 May 2009

tinitus maximus

So yesterday I took to the stage in Oxford with half my hearing and a wrist screaming complaints.

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

new songs up on myspace..

friends, romans, country bumpkins.

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.

keep well,

Monday, 11 May 2009

Exclamation: A Tour

Date me?

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

so, that new record..

Jim Lockey, Ben Marwood & the Oxygen Thief - Exclamation at Asterisk Hash EP

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

[edit] radio podcast

Whilst the sun was out one sunny Saturday, me and good buddy Kevin Lawson locked ourselves in a darkened room and recorded a podcast for Lawson's [edit] radio series, where he learnt quite quickly the danger of saying things like "you can play whatever you like".

With that in mind, you can head over to 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

holy moses, my spinning head..

I was honestly going to write about the new record today, list all the tour dates and give the spiel about how awesome it's going to be.

I was.

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..