Monday, 26 December 2011

lazy boxing day extravaganza of eating and TV


Look at that, two blog posts in two days, as my actual mailing list lies neglected. I'll sort that out sometime soon, it's just easier to post tiny status updates on Facebook and Twitter than sitting down and engaging my brain and telling you all about things in detail. Especially when there's nothing to tell in detail.

Yep, my plans for 2012 are hazy, but there are couple of nailed-on facts: there'll be a second album (my playlist currently consists of fourteen unmixed songs, and we're just getting started) and there'll be a few smaller releases (EP, singles, free downloads, splits and so on) before the year is out. There'll be a tour when I can, and if I can I'll hopefully be re-pressing some of the older stuff to coincide, given that This Is Not What You Had Planned is sold out, there are only two copies of the Exclamation At Asterisk Hash split left with the distributors as I type this, and until the album is re-pressed (if, indeed, it is) I have limited merch to sell. Plus, you know, people do seem to want it.

Of course, if that's to happen it'll mean a little work; the original label Broken Tail Records has only one release left before it shuts down, so it would involve setting up a new imprint, finding distribution and blahblahblah now I'm thinking out loud.

So there are the plans for 2012, laid out before your very eyes. There'll be a few shows announced before too long which will see the new material start being road-tested. There'll probably (finally) be t-shirts and all that nonsense.

But for now it's me, my parents, and Goodnight Mr Tom. So this is Christmas.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

merry christmas, one and all

Hey all,

So, it's Christmas! The tour is over, we're waving goodbye to 2011, and I have spent a nice relaxing day with the family. In a couple of days my girlfriend flies into Heathrow for new year and I'll be a normal person again for a little while.

Since the tour finished I've been hard at work, either actually at work, or working on new material. I was all prepared to declare that I had finished writing for the new album until I saw Franz Nicolay and Chris T-T at the non-christmas party here in Reading which ended the tour. Since hearing Franz's new material, though, I'm going to feel much better about my own new stuff if I write a couple more new songs just to give me a few more options in terms of good songs that can feature on a new album. So, I'm gearing up already for rehearsals with drummer Jamie Mead in January, leading up to three days at White House and hopefully it'll all be finished and ready to go in time for the summer.

So, merry christmas to you. I hope you've had, and are having, a good one. Keep your eyes peeled for the slow emergence of new sounds as 2012 gets underway, there are certainly some interesting plans afoot. Thanks to everyone who has included me in year end lists and that (especially Moon and Back Music and The Ruckus), and an honourable mention goes to the recent (and, for me, pretty frank) interview with Adverse Camber about life, the universe and, well, everything.

My favourite Christmas video, by the way is this, courtesy of Amateur Transplants.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

post 101

i've been meaning to write about a lot of things for the past, uh, forever.

for instance, i really wanted to write a piece about the state of BBC TV in the wake of them selling out Formula 1 fans nationwide with their new partnership, or how they've ordered a third series of Mrs Brown's Boys before the second is even screened. Or how they opted not to renew Psychoville. Or how they cancelled Shooting Stars, with Angelos having to make the switch to Channel 4 for his own show - surely the equivalent of an escort resorting to streetwalking for lack of any other option.

Mind you, Charlie Brooker's latest three-part horror mini-series has also found a home on Channel 4, with his 2011Wipe being relegated to BBC Four, and ITV1 won terrestrial channel of the year recently so perhaps the world is turning upside-fucking-down after all.

Part of me wanted to write about the recent strikes, the Eurozone crisis, the death of Gary Speed or that really no-one has noticed that today is World AIDS Day. A few days after the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury's passing, and 20 years after Magic Johnson dropped his HIV bombshell.

But then again another part of me wanted to write about how most things I know about Brazil come from this cartoon.

I also wanted to write a piece about the band CAKE. I saw them at the Roundhouse recently - my second time at a CAKE show this year after a decade and a half of waiting - and wanted to commend them on their general show, their shunning of the general music industry practices, their two-sets-a-night outlook, the fact that they give away a tree to people who, er, want to grow a tree for CAKE and mainly just how I've grown up with this bunch of west coast sarc-rockers.

Instead I'm just going to link you to my first end of year list mention (they all count, folks) and a delightful Q&A I did with a cool girl called Jenny recently.

It might sound lazy, but that's my evening down to a tee. This week has been month end at work, which in the finance world is secret code for "everything is going to holy batshit mental" and, now stuff is done going holy batshit mental, I am enjoying one (just one, i promise) evening off. Sure, I could be planning the next podcast, or polishing off the last two songs I haven't finished writing for the new record, or editing the takes from the recording I did last weekend, but instead I rode around like a cowboy on Red Dead Redemption, watched a bit of the ridiculously harsh Charlie Sheen roast from Comedy Central recently until I couldn't take any more unnecessary jokes and I had my hair cut.

Ahead of me this weekend, beginning tomorrow, are four of the final five shows for this year. People are already knocking on the door for 2012 and to them I'll say, I don't know quite when I'll be out yet. Yes I plan to do Scotland. Yes I'll be back in Bristol. Yes Birmingham. I am also due to swing by Exeter as I have been negligent. First things first though, I plan to spend the first few months of the year finding a(nother!) new house to move into, moving into it, spending some time in February in Florida, and then finishing off the new record.

About the new record: I'm currently recording various different versions of 20 songs, and by the end I anticipate having about 29/30 different takes to choose from. There will be a new album by the end of 2012, there will also be a whole heap of smaller releases and they'll all be sexy. There'll be a new set and new shows, but these things take time. Once I finish the album (or at least get close to it) I'll know more about what my plans will be for 2012, aside from not go to the Olympics.

This weekend should be superb though. Three house shows and an almost-sold-out show at York's Basement Bar at the City Screen picturehouse. People seem to be travelling for the show, though Louise Distras, who I have been looking forward to finally meeting, has had to pull out of the show. Still, that leave a four-act bill which is plenty. Tonight, in that very room, Franz Nicolay and Chris T-T are playing and I cannot wait to see them next weekend for the non-christmas party. I had a dream about Franz last night. We were on a train in the wild west and he was doing some kind of cabaret. That's about it.

End of dream sequence.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

toothache 1, antibiotics 0

Hello bloggers,

Normally when I go six weeks without bidding you hello, it's due mostly to the lack of anything happening to speak of, but it so happens that the last six weeks have been a mess of action and toothache. And whilst it was a little tempting to wait until after the final date of this final tour of 2011 was over - 11th Dec, Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading etc - I thought I'd fire some quick updates your way.

I was there in the middle of October as part of my ongoing drive to make sure my long-suffering other half doesn't dump me on grounds of abandonment, and all I can say is holy crap, that place goes nuts for Hallowe'en. I ate lots of steak and sweets and had a lot of subs, and my first american Bud. Hint for beer fans: it tastes just like the English stuff.

The magnificent Mick Johnson fixed the input on my poor abused beast whilst I was away, and I'm happy to announce it's going to at least make the end of the year. The hunt continues apace for a new one after this one spent 2011 largely finding numerous ways to fall apart, but this has held up well for now. In Oxford at the Port Mahon, at what I had failed to recognise as being a speakerless, all-acoustic show, Kurt Hamilton and I teamed up to play 'I Will Breathe You In' together in the same room for the first time ever, whilst I had a storming couple of shows with Kyle Evans of Dawn Chorus/RSP and Mynameisian in London and Portsmouth, with London somehow pulling off the first ever round-robin approach to 'Singalong' - the bar not so much raised, more suspended from the clouds. Other good mentions go to Dave Giles for letting me open the final (and sellout) date of his tour at the Borderline, and thanks also to the Crumblin' Cookie in Leicester (and Dan Wright) for allowing me to attempt to drink my toothache into oblivion.

Yeah, it happened. I have been too busy to visit the dentist this year, which is an excuse which is frankly just that. Mind you, until recently I hadn't been to the doctors in more than two years, and the opticians has been a decade. Still, the dentist clearly missed me, because he has announced that we're going to be getting reacquainted. If anyone would like to undergo my root canal for me on the 7th and 21st December I'd be pretty grateful. If album two is called Fuck This or Sweet Jesus of Colgate you'll know why.

I have had the delight of talking to a few people recently, all of whom would like you to read about it and all of which are verifiable FACT:

Tomorrow I get to go to Swindon. Hopefully see you soon!
b. x

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Third time's a charm


Thanks ever so much to the people who came out to the first leg (proper) of the tour. Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham were all superb shows, each in their own special way.

Manchester being in a bar, on a Saturday, in the capital of the North, led to about as much drinking as the start of that sentence suggested - not so much by me, but to the bunch of friends and fans who cheered us on. It was great to catch up with friends I'd made on the May tour with Frank and Franz as well as some I've known for a while.

The good folk of The Ruckus passed on a big kiss via Ian and Ant of Moon and Back (who promoted the show), which for a while was the hottest guy-on-guy action to be posted to YouTube before I requested it be taken down for fear of affecting our nation's fiercest heterosexuals. We all ended up in a pop-punk club until 3am, complete with faux-crowdsurfing to Toto's 'Hold The Line', before heading back to the lounge of the McNeil family where I unsuccessfully attempted to get some sleep.

We made it to Kidderminster the next day to find it was on fire, but instead of a wicker man, it was instead a furniture store. Turnout was mildly affected but it was an afternoon show so we were not expecting The Swan to have been at capacity anyway. Generous locals helped us make a profit for the weekend to the tune of £1.24, which Barry instantly blew on a timeshare in Basingstoke.

A special mention for Barry/Oxygen Thief - before driving us up to Manchester he played a show just outside London on Thursday night, then a house party on Friday. Both involved drinking/dancing, then Saturday involved driving/drinking/dancing/not much sleep, and Sunday involved driving a lot and trying to recover. I'd be much, much worse off without him, so seek out his debut album Destroy It Yourself post-haste, lest the hounds be released upon you.

Oh, and the ensuing working week? Barry's busiest of the year, he being employed by a University and that week being Fresher's week. Quite how he makes the show on Friday in Bristol i'm not quite sure, but he beats me and Jay Newton (with Sid of Club Velocity as our minder) to the Louisiana and is digging into food by the time we roll up. The Louisiana really treat us well, so it's a shame when my guitar's input gives out midway through 'We Are No Longer 25'. Which is the second song. Again, I have to use Barry's but events add up and I never hit my stride. It's a good show, but I think we can all tell it lacks the electricity of the same show back in January.

I try in vain to fix my guitar once we arrive at Birmingham's Bright House, and it dawns on me that Friday's failure means that my guitar has broken in and around all four of the tours I have undertaken - from a busted battery pack in 2009, to a broken input(!) at the start of 2011, to a perilous unglued bridge during the Turner tour, and now this. Still, well prepared for having to use Sir Thief's guitar this time around, I get things hooked up and we have a great time. Oxygen Thief also slays it, as do Quiet Quiet Band and Neil Morris, who is finally getting his record label Front Room Records into gear.

Then, it's back to Addis's for late night chats. Barry excuses himself due to brainexhaustion (which turns out, in the end, to be real conventional illness) and we sleep top to toe in neighbouring single beds crammed into a spare room like either impoverished little boys or very unhappy spouses.

Still, the sleep is great, and there's even time to squeeze in a trip to Birmingham's PMT to find me a new guitar.. a mission which we fail at. It turns out I'm a pretty picky consumer. By now I've booked my broken beast in with Mick Johnson for Monday, who will turn out to be as jovially frank as ever. He has until October 29th and my show at the Borderline to get it fixed, hopefully once and for all. Two inputs in a year is poor form. I'll pick it up when I return from the break in proceedings which will see me go Stateside tomorrow.

Oh, and a special mention goes to the Pontings, Els and Jon, who give up their afternoon on the Sunday to put us on for a house show where we meet some new friends and have a chat. Thanks for letting us occupy your Sunday, folks!


Saturday, 1 October 2011

**non-christmas party: supports announced!!**

hey YOU,

yeah, you.

you may remember the other day i posted that i'll be hosting a non-christmas party in conjunction with Club Velocity at the Rising Sun Arts Centre on Sunday, 11th December 2011 with a couple of special guests in tow. well, i'm going to announce those supports right now.

but first, some more about the nature of this party. it happens that this year i turned 30 but any celebrations were overshadowed by tour preparations and it fizzled out (though a fun time was had in a back bar of a club with Oxygen Thief and [edit]'s Kev Lawson performing death metal covers of advertising jingles), so it's a good excuse to have a second attempt at celebration. also this year the album finally came out, then got incinerated in a giant fire, and after the second of two headline tours this year and being present and correct in my 9-5 for the rest of it, I can guarantee i'll be both relieved to make it through 2011 clinging to my sanity, but also eager to draw a line under Outside There's A Curse and look to finishing the second record.

Also i'd really like some sleep.

So in summary, join me from 7pm onwards on Sunday, 11th December at Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading for a catch-up, a drink, and some live music the likes of which you may never get for as little as £5 ever again as long as you live.

The ticket link is here and the first batch is selling well. A second batch might be possible and there may then be some on the door, but why risk it?

The full line-up is:

I'm honoured, proud, excited and much more broke to bring one of the world's bestest songwriters to Reading. Hailing from New York and having been on the road in various bands (World/Inferno Friendship Society and The Hold Steady to name but two) since he was but a teenager playing everything from stadiums to squats along the way, Franz has two great solo albums under his belt and is recording a third. He'll be bringing his own unique brand of one-man acoustic-plus-banjo-plus-accordion almost-but-not-quite-gypsy-folk-but-really-what-is-it? directly to you on 11th December, and communicating it to you using the power of his great moustache.

Yes, ME. I'm so egotistical I'm playing my own damn party.

My Xtra Mile labelmate, friend and a man I hold in very high regard, Chris T-T has recorded twenty billion albums and somehow each one manages to be even more brilliant than the last. Previous album Love Is Not Rescue was easily one of the greatest albums of 2010, and his mini-album 9 Red Songs spawned the wonderful fan favourite protest anthem 'The Hunstman Comes A-Marching'. Oh, and he also recorded a borderline-apocalyptic trilogy of albums about London and used to spin a great line in novelty hits like 'Eminem Is Gay', 'Dreaming of Injured Popstars' and 'Drink Beer'.

What do you say, Reading?
b. x

Friday, 30 September 2011

help franz do the struggle

Hey friends,

you like good music, right? some of you might have seen the incredible Franz Nicolay on the Frank Turner tour this May, and he's coming back to these shores in November/December for some shows. See him if you can, it's heartily recommended.

Even back in May his new songs alerted people to how good his new album will doubtless be, but (take it from me) funding a new album is not easy if you're not on a label who will throw money at it. Franz has set himself a goal of raising $10,000 to go towards recording his new album through Kickstarter, and given that he's one of the greatest songwriters to ever do writing to a song, it would be just plain rude of me to not encourage you to throw your hard-earned in his direction.

No coins though.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

this december: a non-christmas party

hi all

so i've confirmed gig #20 of my twenty-gig tour to end the year, so we are officially at full capacity. the final gig, on the 11th of december, is something like a party, and it's also in December, but let's make this very clear, this is not a Christmas party. i mean, come in christmas wear if you like, but it's September so don't even begin thinking about that now. you should still all be thinking about what you're going to trick or treat as this year, right?


so anyway, this party is less like a get-drunk-and-throw-up-on-yourself party, and more like an excellent gig-party, at which i'll be joined by a couple of very special guests to be announced this very weekend. the show is on a Sunday night so doors will be at the earlier time of 7pm, and we'll be done by 10.30, so if you're feeling brave enough to trust me that the line up is superb, you can part company with £5 in exchange for a ticket right here:

the full list of dates is now like this, and hopefully shall remain so:

17 Glastonbury The King Arthur

1 Manchester The Garrett
2 Kidderminster The Swan (matinee show)
7 Bristol Louisiana
8 Birmingham Bright House
9 Nr. Swindon House Show
29 London Borderline

4 London The Wheelbarrow
6 Portsmouth Edge of the Wedge
9 Oxford Port Mahone
11 Bath Green Park Tavern
12 Leicester Crumblin' Cookie
13 Cheltenham Slak
19 Reading Rising Sun Arts Centre
24 Swindon The Vic

2 Nr. Kettering House Show
3 York City Screen Basement
4 Leeds House Show
4 Huddersfield House Show
11 Reading Ben Marwood's Non-Christmas Party @ Rising Sun Arts Centre

Obviously you're too late to come to the Glastonbury show, but hopefully I'll see you at some others.

Take care
b. x

Monday, 26 September 2011

one down, nineteen to go

2011 careers towards winter and, if today is anything to go by, the sky looks set to hang heavy in autumnal grey anytime.. now. Or perhaps it was just because today was Monday, a day when even the brightest tapestry is reduced to the texture of soggy microwaved lasagne.

Actually even that's not as poor as the BBQ Chicken pizza I just attempted to eat. Oh Monday, i'll get you back for this.

As I type this I am one date into the final tour of the year - that one show being a delightful, smalltown show in my new favourite Glastonbury pub, the King Arthur. Friendly hosts, nice locals, and a couple of greatly entertaining supports - and with that out of the way, nineteen dates remain. Originally we were looking at one more, but due to that old enemy Miscommunication, the Oxford house show on 9th October is no longer going ahead. I'll still be at the Port Mahon on November 9th though.

The next leg of the tour takes us to the following places, all of which are with Oxygen Thief, who has been recording a new video this past weekend. More on that when.. he tells us more on that. Dates!

1 Manchester The Garrett (onstage 8.30pm)
2 Kidderminster The Swan (matinee show, doors 3pm)
7 Bristol Louisiana
8 Birmingham Bright House
9 House Show

Take it easy, kids!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

new song goes Mile High / tour dates confirmed

Hey all!

Stalkers take note - I've moved house. Alas, this means I'm mostly without internet until later this week, so hello from my parents' lounge with this important news update. My mum is currently down the pub, my dad is.. shortly on his way to the pub. It's good to have a routine.

After the warehouse fire that destroyed more or less the entire stock of Xtra Mile Recordings back at the start of August, those cheeky chaps are bouncing straight back into action with a compilation called Xtra Mile High Club Vol. 3 which, would you believe, is the third instalment in the Xtra Mile High Club series and is an iTunes exclusive.

Naturally I'm delighted to be included on such an awesome compilation. The track in question is a solo acoustic version of 'We Are No Longer Twenty-Five', which proved a big hit at shows this year. Also included on the compilation are the likes of Frank Turner, Chris T-T, Dive Dive, Franz Nicolay, Crazy Arm, Fighting Fiction and many, many more.

More information is available here - go see!

Yes, at long last, the full list of tour dates have been confirmed for the upcoming tour. Alors!

17 Glastonbury The King Arthur

1 Manchester The Garrett (OT) - free show
2 Kidderminster The Swan (OT) - matinee show, 3pm, free show
7 Bristol The Louisiana (OT)
8 Birmingham Bright House (OT) - free show
9 House Shows
29 London Borderline (DG)

4 London Wheelbarrow (KE)
6 Portsmouth Edge of the Wedge (KE)
9 Oxford Port Mahon
11 Bath Green Park Tavern (OT)
12 Leicester The Crumblin' Cookie (OT)
13 Cheltenham Slak (OT)
19 Reading Rising Sun Arts Centre (OT)
24 Swindon The Vic (OT)

2 House Show
3 York City Screen Basement Bar (OT)
4 House Shows

(OT) denotes with Oxygen Thief
(DG) as a guest of Dave J Giles
(KE) with Kyle D Evans and Mynameisian

See you out there!
b. x

Saturday, 20 August 2011

armchair punditry

happy saturday!

further news on the below tourdates soon. but first: sport, or, if you're american, "SPORTS!".

not only did the riots of a few weeks ago send the album up in flames (note to self: flame-retardant second album required), but they also led to the eventual postponement of my beloved Everton FC's first game at Tottenham, in a match which we surely would've won, right? er..

anyway, the good people at This Is Fake DIY recently asked me for my thoughts on the upcoming season and I donned my realistic hat and told them my predictions right here

you can call me up on the last day of the season and tell me i'm wrong (but i won't care because normally football is dead to me again by May).

it's a game of two halves etc
b. x

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Something For The Weekends

Hi, cherubs.

You might have noticed that I don't get out on tour very much, and some days this saddens me. Not days when it's pissing down with rain outside; not days when it's snowing a blizzard; not days when there is something good on TV that I don't want to miss. But it's not long before I miss the road trips and adventures associated with playing new places and catching up with people in favourite ones.

Sure, if it wasn't that I have rent to pay and thus a job to hold down, I'd probably have a regularly-increasing list of shows to impress onlookers with, but I do have rent, so I don't live on people's floors and on their sofas and I do go to work.

A challenging scenario reared its head earlier this year: I went out on tour with Frank and Franz and, in doing so, exhausted pretty much all my holiday from work for the rest of my life, amen, and the only time I'm freed from my desk to gig between now and the end of the year have got to be the days when I'm not scheduled to be there.

Yes, the weekend.

Hanging up my touring shoes (which, er, I don't have) until 2012 when I'd have more time to spend on the road simply wasn't an option. So instead, me and some friends have devised a series of weekend shows to keep the people of England entertained. The criteria were simple ones:

1. On a Saturday, we can get as far away from base as we can
2. On Sundays, we play house shows or ones on the way home
3. If we can't fit a gig in on the weekend, we can do ones close to home in the week

The Saturdays filled up almost instantly, and so the past month or so has been spent filling in the gaps where we can. Apologies to Scotland, the East, the South West and Wales - we can only really get to you on a Saturday, and they went pretty fast. I'll be back out in 2012 and we'll get something sorted for then instead.

Also, we're looking to do some house shows (the ones below marked HOUSE SHOW TBC). Essentially, if you'd like to host a house show on a Sunday afternoon, drop me a line on and we can get talking. I'm aware that we haven't hit many towns/cities on this fair isle for reasons I've already listed above, so if you're feeling hard done by, put in for a show. Nothing silly though, please. If we have a gig in Manchester and we need to get back to Bristol, we aren't going to play for you in Paris, or Essex, or Dublin. You don't need a PA, just a friendly smile and a cup of tea. Deal?

Anyway, the shows..

tour of england, autumn 2011
final list updated 11th September 2011

17 Glastonbury The King Arthur

1 Manchester The Garrett (OT) - free show
2 Kidderminster The Swan (OT) - matinee show, 3pm, free show
7 Bristol The Louisiana (OT)
8 Birmingham Bright House (OT) - free show
9 House Shows
29 London Borderline (DG)

4 London Wheelbarrow (KE)
6 Portsmouth Edge of the Wedge (KE)
9 Oxford Port Mahon
11 Bath Green Park Tavern (OT)
12 Leicester The Crumblin' Cookie (OT)
13 Cheltenham Slak (OT)
19 Reading Rising Sun Arts Centre (OT)
24 Swindon The Vic (OT)

2 House Show
3 York City Screen Basement Bar (OT)
4 House Shows

(OT) denotes with Oxygen Thief
(DG) as a guest of Dave J Giles
(KE) with Kyle D Evans and Mynameisian

Extra special thanks to Oxygen Thief and Kyle for booking a lot of the above shows. Apologies to those in Scotland and Cornwall where we had to turn down shows due to being unable to fit them in.

See you out there.
B. x

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

things i have done in the past month

1. i ate a lot of cake
serious amounts, in fact.

2. my album became slightly more limited-edition
you might have heard that rioters/future fathers for justice members torched the Sony distribution warehouse in Enfield at the height of the riots. "no worries", you probably thought, "the world can survive without those unsold PS3 units". but, if you haven't heard, it was the distribution unit shared by Sony and PIAS, and home to the stock of around 100 independent labels (if the stories are true). what i can confirm to be true is that the good folk of Xtra Mile, who have put their nice butts on the line for me this past year, lost all stock past and present in the blaze, including my album. there is/was talk of PIAS fundraisers to help out the labels concerned, as far as i'm aware there are ongoing discussions about who is owed what, but the fact that cannot be escaped is that it has happened, it has been accepted, and people are starting to move on. if you get an opportunity to help, please do.

3. i have been in the studio with Bobby Bloomfield
for the first time since I recorded 'More Good Propaganda' for the original Four By Four Broken Tail compilation back in 2007, I recently went into the studio with Rob (Bobby) Bloomfield, these days of Does It Offend You, Yeah?, to record some new material for a second album that is so far (touch wood) proving to be not-so-difficult.

4. i have been booking a tour of England
.. but more on that tomorrow..

5. i have been searching for a new house and a new job
.. and i've found them both!

So you see, I have been doing things.. expect news on the autumn tour of England tomorrow evening (Wednesday), 10pm, and news of new material by the end of the month.

Update complete.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

incoming: 2000 Trees

Hey all,

Long time no see, hope your summer's been good so far. This is summer, right? Something about the constant running theme of blue-sky-grey-sky-sun-rain-sun has left Reading and the surrounding area in what seems like perpetual April.

To combat this I've actually been out to gigs to, you know, see them instead of play them. Once the bizarre feeling that i should have been doing something instead of standing and watching had subsided, I finally got to see Death Cab in Brixton last week, and also Bright Eyes at the Albert Hall, plus i caught Tom Williams and the Boat for the first time in too long at Reading's Outside:Inside festival last weekend on a day when the sun actually came out like it was still 2010.

Also, I know it's summer because Seattle's premier online-and-in-the-airs radio station had their summer pledge drive in June, which is a cause I'm always 10002% keen to support. This year they broadcast live from Sasquatch festival in Washington at the end of May, taking in sets from Guided By Voices, Death Cab For Cutie, The Decemberists, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Flaming Lips and more, and if those names mean anything to you, you can still stream the gigs from their archives here. Go crazy!

and this weekend.. 2000Trees!
Indeed, it must have been summer at some point, because everyone's shedding their Glastonbury mudpacks and this weekend is the fantastic2000Trees festival out near Cheltenham, and I couldn't be more excited. For those of you going, you can find me on the Greenhouse stage midway through Friday (15th) and you can also expect storming sets across the weekend from the incredible Dive Dive, Oxygen Thief, Jim Lockey and more, including Exit Ten and Malefice representing the Reading metal scene. My personal highlight this year will be if it doesn't rain.. I don't think I've been to a dry Trees yet.

.. and then a festival warmdown in Reading
Whilst I'd love to be joining the Trees crew all weekend, I have to jet back to Reading on Saturday for a festival warmdown show. There just wasn't enough time for a festival warm-up, as it turns out. So, you can find me at Rising Sun Arts Centre in Reading alongside Aubrey Dye and Dylan Louise this Saturday 16th.

on tour from September!
These are likely to be my only shows of the summer, but I'll be back out on tour in September for a jaunt around the country. So, if you have a night near you that you'd like to see me at, feel free to drop me a line and point me in that direction. Obviously i can't cover everywhere, but i'm hoping to cover as much ground as possible by December. It's sadly not looking likely that i'll be getting to Scotland, but the rest of the country is fair game, and it should be a great end to what has thus far been a great 2011. I'm trying to drag along plenty of friends of mine, including Oxygen Thief, Quiet Quiet Band and more.

Stay well!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

big mixing it up

just a quick word on The Big Mix festival in London this coming Saturday (18th)..

i've been meaning to write about it for a while but haven't been able to find the time to succinctly write down something substantial enough to give this all-day festival the credit it deserves. it's one of those all-dayer, £20-buys-you-a-wristband-that-you-can-go-to-lots-of-venues-with style festivals that i normally run screaming from the idea of, but it's not just to line someone's pockets, it's in aid of Macmillan, a leading charity in helping to support the victims of cancer. you know, the real C-word. for this reason i'm honoured to be taking part in a day of live music, comedy and more.

and to be honest i'm not sure that 11.50pm on a school night is an ideal time to try and dig deep emotionally and try and do an important cause justice. and then i thought, fuck it.

let's face it, cancer will at some point affect either you or someone you know. it probably already has. depressing? sure. statistically accurate? very. the good people of macmillan, leading cancer care charity and organisers of the Big Mix, dedicate themselves to giving people living with cancer as comfortable a life as they can provide, whether it's through medical support, financial support or otherwise.

you'll find me this Saturday at Spitalfields market, 6.30pm.
b. x

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

xfm listen again, interviews and more..

yikes, where did that week go?!

this time last week i was sat here telling you of the xfm session. well, it went well. a good chat about the recent tour, some cool texts in and live versions of 'Singalong' and 'Tell Avril..' can all be listened to right here on the xfm website until Thursday evening (16th). it's about an hour and a quarter into the show, and i'm pleased to report i survived.

in other news, the various interviews I did on the road seem to be seeing the light of day. you can see me looking particularly rough for Moon and Back Music by clicking here, or maybe listen to an interview with the lovely folk of Spark 107 FM and hook up with Audio Apocalypse. i'm sure there are others i've forgotten, but for now, that's your lot.

this weekend i'm playing the Big Mix over in Shoreditch, onstage around 7pm. it's a great value alldayer, and one i'm going to tell you about properly in just a couple of days..

after that, i'll be spending this Sunday NOT with my dad for father's day, because i didn't find out the date until a couple of days ago (this Sunday 19th in the UK, fact fans!), and instead i'll be recording a track for release later on in the summer, as well as working on a new EP/album/whatever my next record ends up being, and generally being a terrible son.

but how are YOU?

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

xfm live session, radio 2 and how we broke the internet

hey all

a few things to get through this actually-pretty-okay Tuesday evening:

so we broke the internet
last night's album launch show for Frank Turner's fourth (and greatest) album England Keep My Bones was streamed over the internet, in theory, by the good people at Muzu TV. as it turns out though, high demand left streaming a little sketchy. thanks to those of you who made it through the constant rebuffering and helped me enjoy what was frankly one of the best gigs i've ever played ever, and sorry to those of you who just couldn't get it. for what it's worth, Frank's triumphant ninety-minute set is now available to watch again here - just search for Frank Turner Barfly or some equally simple search term and we'll all be fine. watch out for an extra-special 'District' in the closing stages too, featuring yours truly. having spent the majority of the past month with him, it's going to be a shame to not be seeing FT now until the end of the summer, but i'm sure he'll be okay without me.

xfm live session this thursday
this Thursday the good people of Xposure With John Kennedy have kindly agreed to have me in for a live session sometime between 10pm and 2am (though in reality, i hear it'll be between 11pm and 12.30ish). whilst i'd love to pretend it's because Outside There's A Curse has just gone platinum in French Polynesia, it's actually because i'm one of the lucky artists to be playing The Big Mix festival in Shoreditch on 18th June. i'll be joined by a few other acts as John Kennedy grills us as to who we are, who we're not and then we play some songs at him. believe. more on the Big Mix coming up soon.

steve lamacq is my Radio 2 bitch
Lammo recently commented that his is the only show on Radio 2 to ever play me, which rings frighteningly but hilariously true. on Saturday night, his guest persuaded him to give 'Singalong' a spin alongside other songs from the likes of Franz Nicolay, The Weakerthans and Tim Barry, and i'm sure none of you are surprised that his in-studio guest was, and I swear this is the last time his name will be mentioned in this post, Frank Turner. i'm eternally grateful, obviously, and you can still hear the show right here.

and a host of other things
amongst them, someone asks the question When Does Appreciating Ben Marwood's Music Turn Into Stalking?, i'm Artist of the Week over at Rock Reviews 24/7 and Mr Franz Nicolay and I sat down in Kingston and spoke to one of my favourite indie sites Blagsound for an interview which you can now read right here

there's a whole lot of other things to go through, too, but that's for another day. first: sleep. thanks for your support!

stay hungry (or eat)
b. x

Thursday, 2 June 2011

with luck and courage

"you seemed a bit depressed tonight", declares Mr Franz Nicolay immediately after my stage exit at Brixton's Windmill last night, and why not? the twin blades of THE END OF THE TOUR and YOU'RE GOING BACK TO WORK swing ominously, unseen above the stage.

it's a recognised fact that time is linear, and against my wishes the tour with Franz and Frank was going to end, eventually, given the failure of the rapture to materialise and freeze us all in time and space, and so it is over, but i'd like to reflect on a few points.

POINT 1: i exist in an industry famed for inflated egos and twattish behaviour. to hang out for three weeks with two living, breathing professionals capable of conversation and devoid of alpha male attitudes was both a pleasure and a privilege.

POINT 2: tourbuses are great for sleeping on

sure enough, immediately after my return, my sleep habits that have been absent for the entire tour return as soon as i walk in the door. the first night i collect up all my unsorted post from the past few weeks and, in my sleep, file them inside various books that are dotted around my room in a bid to keep the tour bus tidy.

the night after that i awake around 5am to find that i have dressed myself in my sleep and that all of my m&ms are absent and i feel decidedly full of sweets.

life, then, is already returned to normal. after saying goodbye to Frank on Monday night where at least one person in the road outside the Railway Inn heard us howling 'Tiny Dancer' to a mostly empty room before heading back with an entirely sober Ben Morse, on Wednesday night I bid farewell to an actually-pretty-drunk Franz and accept a ride home from Jacqui despite the fact that Reading is still nowhere near her home of Maidstone.

Speaking of Frank, Franz and Ben Morse, you can find a selection of videos taped backstage at the Railway Inn on the final night of the Frank Turner tour, pre-Brixton:

Oh, another point

POINT 3: it was good to finally get out on tour with Frank and his crew. it's been such a long time coming and it was an appropriate-sized tour for a man such as I. he remains a fucking gentleman and someone i hope to a call a friend until one of us succumbs to gout aged 110.

it's sometimes easy to forget, spending five days a week most weeks behind a desk, that there's more to life than being paid on the 27th of the month and making sure your alarm is set each night before you go to bed, and this has been a pleasing reminder of why i brave the various nights per year playing a Wetherspoons in a town i don't live in to twenty to thirty people.

so thanks to anyone who came out to the shows, obtained free hugs from me, bought my record, or a seasonally-inappropriate beanie hat, sang along, didn't sing along, heckled incomprehensibly, took pictures, took the piss, took themselves home.

photos to follow. i'll see you soon.
b. x

Monday, 30 May 2011

although we've come.. to the ennnnd of the roooad..


yes, here i am in winchester and here WE are on the last day of the FT/FN/BM tour of the UK-apart-from-wales-and-northern-ireland. it has been a blast, but more on that some other day, for i have a shock announcement to make.

yesterday, i had a good gig in Portsmouth.

now i know what you're thinking, that i must be lying or dreaming, but last night the Wedgewood Rooms played host to what, for me anyway, has been the gig of the tour so far, exactly the opposite of the last time i visited that place. they were generous, i was happy, these are good times.

tonight, we play Winchester before Frank heads off for rehearsals with the band and then some European shows, and myself and Franz have a day off before reconvening in Brixton on Wednesday night for some hot Windmill action. if you're lucky i will actually do the Windmill. Franz himself pulled it out of the bag last night where, despite fending off illness these past few days and the guitar not working for his set, he played a storming set. Frank, as ever, killed it dead. i joked on Twitter that i should pull the plug on his set to stop him ruling so hard, and i fear the humour was lost on some.

still, we laughed, we cried, one of us coughed, and we'll all live happily ever after.

thanks also go to the New Slang guys who put us on for two shows in one night at Kingston and who continue to do a fucking good job running Banquet Records, clearly the best independent record store the world has ever known. from there, Cambridge were also good hosts, as were the good people of Playfest in Norfolk. so there.

take care you lot

b. x

Thursday, 26 May 2011

ben, bus and beyond

hey warriors

due to lack of internet connection recently i've taken to writing this blog update on the trusty Notepad on my laptop, to be copied and pasted in at a later date whenever the cyberwebs exist again.

i'm currently on the bus to Kingston, where tonight we have two shows at the Hippodrome for New Slang and the good people of Banquet Records. i'm looking forward to tonight, as i'm eager to make amends for last night at Bath's Komedia where i felt i was a little subpar. It was one of those days where loads of tiny errors and disappointments throughout the day built up into one little turdheap, and the best way to get around this is to get back onstage as soon as possible and make some intense noise. it's going to be the musical equivalent of me punching my songs in the face.

not that Bath wasn't lovely. i regret the fact that i didn't get long to take in one of my favourite parts of the country, but these things happen - i had some press i wasn't expecting, it took ages to get a shower, blahblahblah. probably what i feel worse about was that my immediate family were all in attendance and all i could do is grumble and act like a bit of a dick post-show. oops?

but anyway, that aside the tour continues to be wonderful, and it's good to meet a steady flow of people every day. for a start, it's showing me that people aren't that bad after all, so perhaps i should revise my stance as a sociopath. alas, this time next week (thursday 2nd) is the date i will return to my normal working life, and i think i speak from the heart when i say i wish i could delay it indefinitely. but i can't. again, though, anyone near London on the 1st of june can help me commiserate by joining me and Mr Nicolay at Brixton's Windmill on 1st June. go on..

special mentions should also go to Mr Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief, Kev Lawson of [edit] radio and associated friends of all three who came to the Gloucester and Bristol shows. truly good to catch up with people, and i'm looking forward to hearing new Lockey recordings before too long.

and that's me done. see you all soon
b. x

Monday, 23 May 2011

ben and franz at brixton's windmill - 1st june

hi guys!

for those of you wondering what rock and roll antics i'm getting up to you, i'm currently next to some refuse bins in Gloucester with Jessop's black-markered on. i know, i know - try not to be too jealous.

anyway, just a quick update - i've been confirmed as support for Franz Nicolay's show at Brixton Windmill on 1st June. be there or be pi r squared

b. x

Saturday, 21 May 2011

lemon cake vs. liverpool


how's it going, internet friends? i write to you on the final day off on the Frank Turner tour, back in the rolling hills of County Durham before departing for ten gigs over the next nine nights. people here are gearing up for a party tonight, so it'll be a good way to unwind. to some 80s music. waiting for the fucking Rapture.

only the rapture isn't going to happen (although someone sat opposite me has speculated that zombies might later tonight walk out of the sea, so in some ways it's almost a shame that we'll all be fine) and even if the reign of the antichrist does begin in an hour or so, these shows aren't being cancelled, beginning with Wolverhampton tomorrow and continuing in a southerly direction until we hit Winchester on bank holiday Monday (30th).

since i last spoke to you, i have successfully completed my first ever gigs in Manchester, Liverpool and Stoke, of which the first and last were highly pleasurable experiences made all the better by the lemon cake delivered to me by my cousin Ginny and her husband Gareth in Manchester. the Night & Day, like Stoke's Sugarmill, is a venue cemented into the toilet circuit, especially since Night & Day smells a lot like a toilet. both are on the shortlist for NME's best small venue, and both of which are worthy based on the shows we put on there. also, last night in Stoke, Franz joined myself and Francis on stage for 'District..' on what I hope will be a permanent fixture. special bonus points go to the girl who got herself thrown out of the venue for being a prick during Frank's set.

liverpool, meanwhile, was part of a sound city fiasco that i've never before experienced. a six-band bill and lack of showers coupled with no power for the bus made for a torrid time for most of (if not all of) the acts involved, but the crowd were still good to us. that's all i'm willing to say on the matter. future applicants of sound city be warned. still, i met some great members of the student/community radio and press leading up to the event, plus i'll be back at some point for a proper show, i promise, hopefully before the end of the year.

right now, i have to run. stay well.
b. x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

never trust a man without a horror story

hello, internet!

it's good that you're still around. these days you're mostly limited to being on my little blackberry where life is condensed into a limited battery life.

but, now i'm done getting up to date with the numerous facebook and twitter posts about upcoming tour dates and reactions to the ones so far, i thought i'd try and update people about what's been going down in the world of me.

since last time we spoke, the tour has rolled through Nottingham, Lancaster, Chester and, last night, Leeds. Sorry to anyone i've failed to catch up with in these places, but i did my best. Nottingham's Rescue Rooms was my earliest slot of the tour so far at just after 7, but the crowd were enthusiastic and appreciative and post-show there were many takers of the free hugs i had been offering at the merch table, including Mr Benjamin May, who chastised me for failing to mention him the last time I saw him and has successfully emotionally blackmailed his way onto this here post.

the show itself was so well received I had a small party afterwards with some friends involving shots of something foul dispensed from a teapot, which i washed down with something equally foul whose name i can no longer recall.

we wake up the next morning in Lancaster's market square outside the (real) Library which is tonight's venue. the market traders are not happy but i buy some toffee because that's the kind of sweet-toothed bastard I am, before some chavs offer the worst heckles of my life when we're unpacking the van in the form of "hey you, nice suitcases!".

but, after Lancaster's equivalents of Gillian Duffy have fucked off, we are left to a show in the Library, which is the smallest show of the tour so far and also the most beautiful with its high ceilings and church-like acoustics. i end with my cover of 'No Name #1' so we can play with the acoustics in the high notes, and me and Frank try 'District' together for the first time before we high-tail it quite quickly over to Chester to play in the warmest venue ever built, Telford's Warehouse.

Indeed, i'm quite hungover from watching Shooting Stars on the bus the night before with Frank and Franz, and I'd woke up still clutching the bottle of Jamesons in my clammy hands which is never, ever a good sign. sure enough, i refuse to ditch the suit jacket before I take to the stage and by 'Singalong' it is a task not to projectile vomit over the first two rows. i'm saved by the request of a man named Shaun, who'd earlier asked for 'Tell Avril Lavigne..' from the record. Under the protective wing of this slow, quiet finale I make it through Chester without disgracing myself, before smashing some chips into my face.

It was also good to see some of the Nottingham crowd out in force, and Laura who I'd met in Dundee a few nights previously also put in an appearance with added friends, and as we all headed back to her Travelodge for a Budweiser party in an effort for me to drink away my hangover (which worked), I am sad to be leaving Chester behind so soon.

But we had a Leeds to entertain, and I love Leeds for all its worth. I love it for the fact that there's always someone willing to party, that it's the easiest place in the world to find a Starbucks (ie. everywhere) and that tonight's venue is very, very much like the The Phoenix Club. The crowd are slightly subdued but still appreciative and I meet a lot of people post-show. As a footnote, Franz is continuing to get better with every night I see him..

And that brings us to today, and a day off for me. We've walked some dogs, I had a cup of tea and soon it'll be time for dinner. Sure, I miss my bed, 24/7 internet and creature comforts like you wouldn't believe and not having a permanent base every day drives me mental, but I wouldn't swap this experience for the entire world, and that's a fact.

Sorry world..

To manchester!
b. x

Thursday, 12 May 2011

wait, i get days off?

Good news: we didn't break Scotland.

You find me sat looking out at the rolling hills that surround the mansions and state grounds of the massive castle where the bus is enjoying a day off, and i'd say around 50% of that sentence is a lie. like the castle, for instance. and the mansion bit. and probably the grounds.

We are, however, on a day off - well, most of us, as Frank has flown to Brighton to be part of the Great Escape festivities on what is a punishing schedule - and much time is now being spent recharging phones, mp3 players and having a good cup of tea. i don't think i've had a day off as early as day 4 on a tour before, but i'm more than happy to take one today. some of us have headed into town, Franz has had to service his accordion and me and my guitar are having some time apart. We both like our personal space.

Instead i've been catching up on tweets and wallposts following the two Scotland shows - my first Scottish shows Ever - and the fallout from that. Dundee was a rowdy crowd and I didn't play my best, and was rightly given a lesson in how to give a performance by my tour cohorts, but last night in Dunfermline I feel I was back on form. New friends have been made, old ones reacquainted and plenty of deductions have been made:

True Scottish stereotypes are that it rains there. False Scottish stereotype is that they all dislike the English and they're tight with their cash. I can happily dispel those last two right now. Tell all your friends and whoever is responsible for monitoring sterotypes. For some reason i want it to be Guinness for their World Records, but with a tear in my eye I'm sad to announce a Google search for Guinness Book of Modern Day Stereotypes yields little joy.

Highlights of the tour so far include catching up with jet-setting Scottish personality Dave Hughes, who insisted we join him for a drink before weaving his way into the night clearly well ahead of us, and also reacquainting myself with Mr Kenny Leckie of up-and-comers Carnivores who are well worth checking out.

So, thank you Scotland. The general consensus is that I should return one day, and I'll be happy to.

Next stop: Nottingham.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

dun dun dunnnnnn(dee)

Hi everyone, welcome to the tour blog that i'll maintain for a short period of time before forgetting about it and/or running out of things to say.

All is well on the Frank Turner/Franz Nicolay tour. We left London yesterday bound for Stockton and the beacon of hope for all humanity that is the ARC, a beautiful glass-fronted arts centre and the site for last night's all-conquering shows. The people of Stockton and neighbouring places are super-friendly and, in a couple of cases, mental, with general fervour at the merch table and a good reaction to my set, especially when it ended and I gave a rock-star-salute-exit only to find the door offstage was shut and I had to turn back to face the crowd in a manner which clearly said "holy christ, I cannot get off this stage".

Mr Nicolay is a Brooklyn gem, sharing stories of various times spent on the road in previous bands, watching 9/11 on a tiny black and white TV and such. I feel Turner can match him in terms of bizarre gigging stories but, alas, such a head-to-head competition hasn't yet come to fruition.

Post-show we stop off in Stockton's Tesco - which must be responsible for about 40% of all Stockton's missing persons cases such is its ginormitude - and then we're off to Dundee. And here we are in Dundee! The system works.

I blearily share a lunch with Scotland's own Dave Hughes where I try and order stuff from the breakfast menu and he conforms to all Scot stereotypes by drinking Irn Bru and then gives me a tour of Dundee's dual carriageways, whilst later on trying to find a shower me, Franz and tour manager Graham have to traverse the biggest non-mountainous hill in all of Scotland. THE END.

Next: to tonight's show. It's in Dundee.


Saturday, 7 May 2011

the dirty thirty

Ugh, my head.

Now that's out the way, today is my birthday, and you join me sat on my parents' sofa in the company of my brothers with half an eye on Doctor Who. They're giving Doctor Who a massive push over in the US currently for BBC America, with one column I read recently asking whether Doctor Who is the new Lost (a question which can only be answered with the phrases "no" and "don't be silly").

Anyway, thanks for all the birthday wishes. Several people have called it "dirty thirty", the temptation to rhyme clearly being too much for them to resist, whereas the amount of vodka consumed last night means hurty thirty would be far more appropriate.

This weekend will be now spent recovering and doing all the important pre-tour stuff; rehearsing, laundry, packing ready for the departure to Stockton on Monday. I'm a homebody through and through so I'm nervous to be stepping up to this challenge as the tour bus won't be anywhere near Reading for a good three weeks, but my trepidation is matched by my excitement. And my hangover.

This is due largely to an evening spent in the company of long-standing companion Kev of [edit] radio and Barry aka Oxygen Thief, which began with an intellectual debate on the merits of AV vs. FPTP and soon descended into death metal covers of TV commercial jingles.

For the record, I voted 'No' despite all the hip celebrities going the other way, but honestly, I really don't see how AV would have changed anything. The arguments of those opposed to me are that it would help the smaller parties and help break England out of the two-party system of FPTP, but I'm not convinced by the logic. And so we danced (for not long enough) and drank (for too long) and then watched some Hill Street Blues and other such late-night TV treats, if by 'treats' you actually mean 'shit'. Then I ate some chips.

So that's it. The next time I see some of you, it'll be on tour, and hopefully I'll see some of you there.

Take care
b. x

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

ben marwood is practically a sellout

hello, good netpeople,

i hold in my hand the last ten copies of This Is Not What You Had Planned to ever be sent the shops. the well, she runneth dry finally, and no more are to be pressed. evidently it will still be available digitally forevermore, but in terms of buying CDs from the likes of Amazon, HMV et al, if you want to own one, best make your move now.

i see this as both a small victory, and a small shame at the same time. demand finally outstripping supply makes me feel like a popular sellout, but also the idea that people will want it on CD and not be able to get hold of it, especially as i'm about to head out on tour, is a shame.

to all who sailed in her..
b. x

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

centromatic for the people

Hi all

At my jetlagged best, all I can currently offer you in terms of words of wisdom is a hearty "hnrggggggggh", but whilst I cross my fingers in silent prayer that tonight I might improve on last night's four hours of sleep to cap off the previous day's three and a half, along the way convincing my brain that Florida was (and is) warmer than this.. er.. I've lost my train of thought.

AH RIGHT. Centromatic. Everyone's (read: my) favourite blues-folk-country-rock drawlin' Texans have decided to give away twenty-four songs from their ridiculously huge back catalogue spanning a humungitude of albums. One of those words is made up.

Typically, demand for this was so high that the yousendit link is constantly expiring due to it breaking the bandwidth limits, perhaps no surprise at 206MB a pop. Still, this blog right here seems to have a working link, so have at it..

I'll be back when i've collected my thoughts in a manner more befitting someone who can not only read and write, but do them both at the same time..

b. x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Singalong is new to Q

Hi all

Hello from Tampa, and halftime in the Real Madrid vs. Barca champions league match. I've retired from the beating, beating sun to watch some good ol' fashioned soccerball, and am thoroughly enjoying the downtime right now before the UK tour with Frank. So far during my stay i have seen no less than two insects featured on the Top 10 List Of Insects You Wouldn't Want To Be Stung By, which by my reckoning is a good holiday.

My girlfriend is currently sat on the bed not far away faux-dictating a blog entry in which I'm in love with the topless, sweaty and reasonably spare-tyred man we saw running around the park earlier where we were out walking. It's pretty distracting, and barely even the truth.

ANYWAY i digress. To celebrate my absence from the UK, new single 'Singalong' has been added to Q radio's New To Q playlist, and can now be heard at random on the very same station if you're a resident of the UK mainland.

Stay well!
b. x

Sunday, 17 April 2011

May 2nd is national Singalong day


So we're midway through April and time is running down - just a few (three!) weeks now until I leave for the Frank Turner tour and to celebrate, Xtra Mile are giving 'Singalong' a push and releasing it as a single on May 2nd as a digital download. Obviously, it's out already as part of the album so if you're reading this and you have the album, well done you. The idea, though, is to bring me to a new set of ears, such as the lovely blogsite The Ruckus who ran a little piece on it here.

There have been some questions raised regarding my show at Cathedral Crypt in Liverpool, as it's not escaped some people's attention that I'm not officially listed as a support. I've been reliably informed that I am, and if that changes i'll let you know. I'll be there in any event. Maybe I should gig in the car park.

In other fantastic news, I notice I somehow broke the 3,000 listeners barrier on this week. Thanks to all who continue to recommend and promote what I do. Your musical taste is highly questionable, but your soul is sparkly. Believe. Seriously though, it took me five years to get the first 2,000, and the next 1,000 follows in three months. It's the power of the album..

Meanwhile, if you can't get out and catch me on the Turner tour, I fully recommend you instead go and see Oxygen Thief when he plays near you. His debut album Destroy It Yourself is out May 9th on my label, Broken Tail Records, and he will shortly be calling at the following sexy venues:

2nd BIRMINGHAM Adam & Eve
3rd OXFORD Café Tarifa
4th BRISTOL Mother's Ruin
5th BRIGHTON The Cobber's Thumb
6th KINGSTON Banquet Records instore, 6pm
8th CHELTENHAM Trees On Fire all dayer @ Frog & Fiddle
13th KINGSTON The Cricketer's
21st DUBLIN Tower Records instore, 3pm
27th BRISTOL Croft (w/Chris T-T)
28th DEVIZES The Lamb

4th PLYMOUTH Jack Chams

That's it for now, but you'll be hearing some more from me shortly..
b. x

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Spring: Sprung

I know it's incredibly English, but isn't it nice to not be a frozen, shivering iceblock just for once? There were times in November, December and January (and I guess February) when I thought the only way I'd ever experience a temperature above fifteen degrees Celsius again was if I'd gotten on a damn plane.

For the past couple of weeks since my last blog I've mostly been working on the release of the Oxygen Thief debut album called Destroy It Yourself, which is out on the Broken Tail Records imprint on 9th May 2011 under licence, as ever, to Josaka. This is the last BTR release for the forseeable future; Jay and Paul recently departed leaving me at the helm, and with the sudden upturn in my fortunes regarding the album, the FT tour and future plans (as well as the life I have to lead) I simply can't devote the time I used to be able to.

That said, there's an outside chance of future BTR releases from the likes of Quiet Quiet Band but for now, this is it, and it's a fantastic way to sign off, ironically with the biggest release yet. It's the first long-player Broken Tail have ever been willing to put our (er.. now my) name to, and OT is the hardest working, most proactive musician we have ever encountered. I'll have more news on that soon.

In the meantime, I'm still considering tour merch and working on new material. After the Turner tour I have another recording session to book, and then a few weeks after is 2000 Trees and a hometown show in Reading.

You, meanwhile, can enjoy the temperature.
b. x

Friday, 11 March 2011

South Street reminder..

Hi all,

Just a quick reminder, I'm playing South Street Arts Centre in Reading tomorrow (saturday 12th) as part of Josaka birthday, sandwiched between SixNationState and Mr Fogg on one side, and MidiMidis and Lights on the other. It's like old school vs new school with me as the referee. An old school one.

Come on down, doors are 7ish and I'm expected on shortly after 8.45pm with a 25 minute set, so it'll be a mad dash through The Hits. Though I do have new material, it's unlike to feature heavily, other than perhaps 'We Are No Longer Twenty-Five', which isn't in my good books this week. Me and Jamie (well, Jamie) put down the drum track for it last weekend at White House, and I left with six takes to choose from and I want bits of three. I've spent the last few days staring at a screen full of drum sounds and wondering how on earth I'm going to make it work.

But, I'm sure in the end it'll work, even if it does mean my next studio session will be the kind of hair-tearing stressfest normally reserved for exams.

Anyway, enough about that, I'll tell you more about it when it's relevant.

See you soon
b. x

Saturday, 5 March 2011

with apologies to Brighton and Norwich

hey all

i know i'm supposed to do my research before i declare my tour dates, but it turns out i don't always manage it. a combination of an advert in the NME and my own dear Mum advise me that I'm not with Frank Turner at Brighton's Great Escape Festival, nor am I at Playfest in Norwich. I believe I'm still playing Liverpool's Sound City That's what I get for taking my tour dates from Frank's gig page without checking.

Also, the rescheduled all-dayer Christmas party for This Is Not Revolution Rock at The Peel in Kingston on 2nd April has also been scuppered, and so is off again. No word as to when this will be rescheduled, but I'm playing twice at the Hippodrome (first for the under-18s and then the legally-adult) in May with Frank so come on down then instead.

The complete gig list is, then:

12 READING Josaka Birthday @ 21 South Street

MAY (w/Frank & Franz)
10 DUNDEE Doghouse
15 CHESTER Telford's Warehouse SOLD OUT
16 LEEDS Brudenell SOLD OUT
19 LIVERPOOL Sound City - Cathedral Crypt
20 STOKE Sugarmill SOLD OUT
25 BATH Komedia
26 KINGSTON New Slang
27 CAMBRIDGE St Paul's Church SOLD OUT
29 PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms SOLD OUT

15 CHELTENHAM 2000 Trees Festival

Finally, the last of the reviews have trickled in for Outside There's A Curse (but more on that later), including a great review from Rocksound which this month includes a couple of free CDs and a picture of Dave Grohl on just about every page. A snip at £3.99, and a mighty happy Ben

See you soon
b. x

Saturday, 26 February 2011

This May: Frank Tourner

Ahaha. Puns.

Hello from my parents' dining room, where I'm enjoying the rare occasion of a Saturday with little to do. The previous two I spent in Tampa, the one before that I took my Dad to White Hart Lane for a belated Christmas treat, the three before that were spent on tour, the two prior to that involved house guests, the one before that was Christmas Day, and I could go on forever and ever and ever..

Still, at least I'll never say I've not lived life to the full, though at the minute I'm having some down time. The only plans I have coming up involve a trip back to Florida in April, the rescheduled Kingston gig on April 2nd, the Josaka birthday party in Reading on 12th March and the small matter of the first of the recording sessions for the second album next Sunday. I heard from (long-time engineer) Matt Bew the other day, and he seems generally excited. It's always good news when the man behind the desk is enthused.

Oh yes, and then there's the small matter of my 30th birthday in May and, finally, after all these years, me and Frank Turner are hitting the road as part of his An Audience With.. tour spanning 21 days and taking in some intimate venues in the run-up to his just-announced fourth studio album England Keep My Bones. Not only that, but main support is provided by Franz Nicolay, ex of the Hold Steady, and currently of Franz Nicolay. I believe I'm opening all of these shows, and here they are:

10 DUNDEE Doghouse
12 BRIGHTON Great Escape Festival
13 NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
14 LANCASTER Library
15 CHESTER Telford's Warehouse
16 LEEDS Brudenell
18 MANCHESTER Night & Day Cafe
19 LIVERPOOL Sound City - Cathedral Crypt
20 STOKE Sugarmill
23 GLOUCESTER Guildhall
24 BRISTOL St George's
25 BATH Komedia
26 KINGSTON New Slang
27 CAMBRIDGE St Paul's Church
28 NORWICH Playfest
29 PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
30 WINCHESTER Railway Inn

Tickets go onsale on Monday morning, 28th February, 9am. Get them while they're hot!

b. x

Sunday, 6 February 2011

tour diary: the final chapter

It occurs to me, around 6pm on the evening of the 28th of January, that I might have been a bit ambitious regarding the tour scheduling.

I mean, sure, to the outside world it might look like my eleven-plus-one date tour taking place over fifteen days is leisurely, even slack, but the days where there weren't gigs were spent at work at my desk doing stuff. Plus, some of the days where I did have gigs were also spent at work too. In all, from the opening date on the 17th to the last note in Kingston on the 31st is one big blur.

But if I had to have a favourite leg of the tour, this is it, and the reasoning is simple. A sell-out hometown show (though "there's room for at least twenty more at the bar" was apparently uttered by Sid, and if anyone from Health & Safety is listening in, I'm sure it was in jest), a farewell to Addistock in Birmingham the next night, a headline London show that wasn't unattended, and a release-day instore launch at Banquet in Kingston.

And since the weekend was a blur, so will this blog be. Reading was the best possible start, outstripping Bristol (sorry Bristol) for the title of most rambunctious crowd. The Rising Sun was a hive of bodies, so great in number that even as main support Quiet Quiet Band graced the stage, there just wasn't enough room in the venue for those who wanted to watch, a sad fact which eventually led to me restructuring the stage for my own set, and one in which I successfully remembered all the words to 'No Name #1' after my Bristol embarrassment.

Having directed Barry to embroider all the scarves in the world with my name on for this hometown show, the gig passes with me forgetting to ever mention the merch, but aside from that things go swimmingly. Barry fits in so many Nick Clegg jokes into his set that I make a mental note to never make any again lest we all sound like one-track records or painful anti-establishment clichés, which is a shame as I still had about four held in reserve.

Still, good times - nay, great times - are had by most and the afterparty takes us to the After Dark, one of Reading's best kept secrets and my favourite haunt both due to the friendly staff, lack of trouble and proximity to my house, where Barry unleashes some powerful dance moves that earmark him as the next Louie Spence and no mistake.

This joy is not recaptured the next night in Birmingham, as we all bid farewell to the Addistock series of charity shows with a tear in our eye and too much beer in certain people's stomachs. Originally intended to be a one-off gig in aid of Macmillan nurses, it accidentally turned into a regular occurrence which these days is too much of a job to maintain for the one-man show that is Mr James Addis. I'm sure I speak for everyone involved when I say thanks to him for the memories, including the famous Addistock house party on the Lockey/Thief/Marwood tour back in the summer of 09 when I ended up clothed in an empty bath and Barry ended up playing 'Hey Ya' under the stairs. Youtube will not let us forget, no matter how much we want to.

Highlight of the night was.. leaving the city centre. I know it sounds harsh, but there were two FA cup matches in the city that day, plus auditions for Britain's Got Talent the next street over. When we turn up to the pub venue at 6pm the front doors are bolted. Enough said.

To be honest, though, there was more trouble in London than there was in Birmingham, as I accidentally try to run over curfew and attract the attention of the manager and his desire to protect his licence. It's a good day in all, and is attended by enough people to make the place not seem deserted (which, on a Sunday in London, is a pretty decent effort), including Jim Bowes of Josaka and lovely wife Ruth, plus James Ewers of My Luminaries. After the light parties of the previous two nights, my throat has an irritating scratch about it, and with a staggering five acts on the bill we soon run late. I decide to limit damage to my voice by only committing to half an hour from 10 to 10.30, but I run a minute or so late on my own set, so as the soundgirl gives the universal fingersignal for one more song, a bristling figure appears behind the bar to contest and we end up having some discussion/argument over the top of the crowd before some applause ripples out and that is, sadly, the end.

It turns out that it's also the end of my voice, which is a bit of a shame with one date to go, and I head to work on Monday morning - release day, no less - feeling like I've swallowed a claw. Thankfully, the good people at the pharmacy that neighbours my workplace have a secret supply of Vocalzone, and we're back in business for one more night.

And what an end it is. For those nearby Kingston who have never been to a Banquet Records instore: go. Apart from having the most indie-credible staff this side of New York, the actual service this bunch offer to the music scene is something to be marvelled at, with both a record shop, clubnight/venue and a successful webstore at their disposal, they truly know what they're doing and have a faithful following. Kingston itself is like the bright lights of London condensed down into a town that apparently used to house ten record stores including all the chains, with Banquet being one of the few left alive (and locally attributed to killing off the HMV Group).

But joking aside, their finger is on the pulse. Order a record from HMV or Amazon and you eventually get it with a packing slip and a receipt. Order one from Banquet and you get a handwritten note/love letter and sometimes further recommendations of other stuff you'll like. You don't get service like that with Amazon, but hey, everyone loves The Page You Made, right? The instore itself is fun. My throat holds out fine, we roll through just six numbers, and they even let me play 'District' without anyone cutting me off due to a curfew.

And then, it's over. A two year journey finished with the pluck of a note, and we're done. The album's out, many are signed, and then it's time to go home courtesy of a very welcome lift from Mr Richard Sanderson.

Thanks UK.
b. x

Thursday, 3 February 2011

tour diary pts 2 & 3 (er.. part 1!)

Actual fact: my tour finished six whole days ago now, and this is the first time I've been able to bring myself to actually write about it.

Not that it went badly - no, far from it - but the instore at Banquet Records on Monday to mark the final release of 'Outside There's A Curse' brought with it not only massive relief for the end of a two year journey, but also a spate of Catching Up With Stuff, and also a hugely unwelcome bout of post-tour death. Which isn't real death, it's just a bit like a cold whose roots lie in exhaustion and/or just having a cold. There are many names for this; post-tour death, post-tour ills, tour aids..

Anyway, it's Sunday afternoon on the 6th of February, and I've finally recovered enough from my tour-berculosis to complete parts 2 & 3 of the tour diary. But I have shit to do today, so let's just handle Bristol to Swindon - a journey which would normally take about an hour tops, but in our case is going to span five days.

Could I just point out, right now, in front of everyone:

a) I'm not depressed.
b) Or in a bad mood.

I thought I'd put that disclaimer in there, because one of the first things that happens when we arrive at the Bristol venue is Mr I Bum The West Country, Gaz Brookfield, checks I'm alright due to the apparent downhearted nature of part 1 of the tour diary. I reassure him I'm fine, and make a note to put a disclaimer in there.


But really, if your favourite comedians were Stewart Lee, David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker, how about you try writing a happy piece of prose. It's harder than it looks, I tell you, especially when you're not trying at all and you think sarcasm is for winners.


Anyway, The Louisiana (not to be confused with the city of Bristol in Louisiana in America, geographans) is a top upstairs-room-in-a-pub-type venue and exactly the kind of thing that should be encouraged everywhere. Hand on my heart, I've never much liked going to Bristol, based largely on how I've never had a good gig there, nor have I seen anything other than a lot of grey stuff and some over-fifties belly dancing in the street. Tonight though, we take a walk past famous boat-slash-venue the Thekla and everything seems.. nice. Of course, my overall opinion of Bristol is now governed by the fantastic show itself - a packed venue pindrop silent for 'District' and rowdy as can be for 'Singalong', just the way this should be.

My crowning achievement of the night is, responding to encore suggestions, I decide to tackle Elliott Smith's 'No Name #1' despite knowing full well that it was nowhere on the List Of Songs I Still Know that I made pre-tour, which is why I fuck it up and have to stop. Twice. But it's no matter tonight. I meet Big Jeff, hero of the Bristol music scene for his incredible enthusiasm and continuous support for live music, catch up with Hayley & Huw Willmott-Taylor, champion drinker Sarah Dacombe and pals and see Jodie Haynes, who recently decided to stop office life and go to work on a Portuguese farm. True to form, as you read this, that's where she's gone to. Champion.

The night must end though, and we're all but chased from the venue by the landlady who thinks we might have stolen her 'half-ashtray', despite a) none of us having seen it and b) none of us smoking any half-cigarettes, and whilst Kev and Barry head back to Dolan Towers, I hitch a rock and roll lift home with my Dad in order to go to work the next day, where I'm sure I was next to useless.

The next day heralds a new dawn for Barry, as me and Kev take him to his first Nandos, where we warn him off the Extra Hot piri piri shit and he subsequently embarrasses us by practically drinking it. Nice. Today is Oxford, the most beautiful place I have seen in this fair isle for its history and culture. Again though, a genuinely good show in Oxford has always eluded me, and I'm not expecting tonight to be any different, given that we're playing in a café, cafés being famous venues for talking.

It's no ordinary café though, this is a G&D's Ice Cream Café, with no need for alcohol and an abundance of tea. It's soon clear this is my kind of place. A small crowd but a good one, it's nice to catch up with some familiar faces, including one Hannah Dart who I haven't seen in years and clearly don't see enough even though Oxford is about twenty minutes from Reading on a train. Post-show, Barry runs off to the pub whilst me and Kev catch up with Glorious Jess, who again I haven't seen in far too long. It begs the question, what have I done for all these months? Ah yeah. Everything else.

No trip to Oxford is complete without a late night mission to Hi-Los, a Jamaican bar down the Cowley Road famed for its strict door policy (if they don't like the look of you, you don't stay in) and exclusive membership (if you're an idiot, you don't stay in). It's good to actually get out and relax and chat, and Jan at Hi-Los is soon outlining her music-based plans for this year's Carnival. I don't think we have a Carnival in Reading. Perhaps if we tried one, someone would set it on fire.

We stay with Jack at Alcopop! Records, a thoroughly excellent little indie, but due to him having to get to work early the next day we're out on the street by 7.30 and, after a reconciliatory cup of tea and wake up in front of some breakfast TV, we're on the road to York, feeling a bit grim and only slightly better after a Little Chef breakfast (which in hindsight, isn't really a surprise). Barry remains a driving champion with a tour crash rate of 0%, I do a phone interview with Liz at Reading's The Chronicle from a service station - truly classy - and before long we're in York for the peak of the tour's accommodation luxury, the Travelodge.

Sheesh, how good it feels to have a real shower. If only Travelodge remembered to put heating in these rooms instead of just air conditioning. It's already bloody freezing outside.

Still, it's good to have a good night's sleep, and the show isn't bad either at the Basement Bar underneath the Picturehouse. It's the first venue on the tour to have the classic curt soundman and I'm told off for apparently not knowing how to use a mic stand and how I'll "lose all benefit of having it on the tripod". He's probably right because i dont know the benefit of having it on a tripod, I always just assumed it's a way of getting a single metal pole to stand upright on the floor. Anyway, no-one's hurt and it doesn't come anywhere near the time the idiot in a semi-famous (and small) London venue lectured me for not having a feedback buster in my acoustic guitar despite there being a) no feedback to be heard and b) it being a 150-capacity venue, max. Prick.

Er, anyway.. York. We hang out, watch spectacularly drunken headliners Don't Let Paris Fool You and then retire for private drinks in our rooms with all the hookers. Somewhere along the line I've forgotten that we went out to eat in a lovely pub where they forgot to put any steak in Barry's steak and ale pie and I ate the best bangers and mash of the tour, the whole York experience rounded off nicely the next morning with In The Night Garden, truly the most mesmerising kids TV show since maybe ever.

Friday was supposed to be some kind of day off, perhaps a chance to relax and take in another day of York's sheer beauty (seriously, go), but instead Slavedriver Barry has booked us in a house show with local Nottingham songwriting legend Gerry Trimble and family, where in front of a packed room of about five or six we're their dining room audience's entertainment for the evening. Or are they ours? Gerry grabs a guitar and takes over for 'Singalong' so I don't actually have to do anything, and we all hang out until the early hours of the morning. Thanks to Gerry and the family for having us, and it turns out that on this originally mooted day of rest, we end up with about five hours sleep before having to hit the road again.

Actually, this trip is only brief, just across the city of Nottingham (where I've still never been killed) to catch up with the only person I've really kept in touch with from college, Laura Hickman, and associated boyfriend Matt, for what turns out to be one of the strangest days ever. It starts off pretty standard - a pub lunch and catch-up, the relief of a shower - before gradually descending into madness as tour psychosis sets in.

An actual scientific fact that I made up on tour, Tour Psychosis is the combination of long hours travelling, not many hours sleeping and having little to no routine that renders every innocent movement some colossal conspiracy. Despite any evidence to the contrary, in the few days since I've been away from home, everyone's forgotten me. I take to the stage in Farnsfield in some state of delirium.

The Farnsfield show is where I first properly meet the promoter Mike, clearly an avid music fan and responsible for running the box office for Fairport's Cropredy Convention. He saw me at the Frank Turner show in Derby back in August and booked me shortly afterwards, Farnsfield itself being a tiny village just outside of Nottingham, the kind of night where the village comes out to enjoy some traditional folk music and, tonight, some whining emo shit courtesy of me. It's the kind of night that Barry's set definitely isn't designed for, but Mike graciously lets him play. Main support tonight comes from Inlay, a bunch of twenty-somethings at uni up in Norwich who charm with their trad-folk.

I, meanwhile, play a longer-than-normal set under bright lights which means I can't really see the room. It doesn't help my mental state all that much, but neither does the encore where Inlay join me onstage and, under the direction of Barry, we attempt a spontaneous version of 'Singalong' which I can comfortably say is the worst it's ever sounded (which, in hindsight, it was always going to), we end with a jam (much better) and head on our way where we all collapse in front of Withnail & I. Laura and Matt are fairly drunk by now, we enjoy some Cava which is £4 from the Co-op and talk shit, until we find something on MTV that involves people being kicked in the balls and I head to bed.

And then, the drive to Swindon, to meet Barry's mum and stepdad. Oh, and play a gig. It being the last Sunday before payday in the longest month of the year (given that most people are paid before Christmas), we're not expecting a massive turnout, and nor do we get one. After satnav failure, I manage to direct Barry to the magic roundabout on the way into Swindon, a big 'master' roundabout orbited by five little ones. It truly is a fantastically bad design, but I always marvel at its defiance of tradition. Apparently elsewhere in the country, there's a version of this with more outer roundabouts, so I'll track it down like the white whale.

We go for food courtesy of Mrs Barry, an Italian restaurant with an interesting movement-activated lighting system in the toilet. I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but it might be a good idea if they increased the amount of time between movement and the lights turning off. Just sayin'.

And so we end this leg of the tour, something of a damp fizzle amongst the proud sparklers but a good show nonetheless. The crowd are tough to awaken from their sunday slumber but they're up for it in the end, and I journey home towards Reading comfortable in the knowledge that the next show, Reading on the 28th, would most likely to be one to remember.

I wasn't wrong.