Sunday, January 28, 2007

2007: The Year Ska Saved the World

So its January 2007 and thank god another Christmas is over, bah humbug. I've actually been compared to Scrooge, but I'm pretty sure he was rich.  Anyway we can at last get back to the things that matter, like working, recording and gigging, and remaining sober on weeknights. Well maybe not the last bit, but that’s what new years resolutions are for; to completely ignore until February, and then ignore them till January.  You are probably wondering what Santa brought for the band at Christmas and you may be surprised to hear that it was a police riot van. We are now the proud but suspicious owners of a nine seater minibus, complete with fully functioning riot cell in the back which will be very handy, although nine seats is one seat short for a ten piece band. So we have decided to sack someone. We’re having a competition where you, the fans, can decide who to sack from the band. Or alternatively we could install another seat. I noticed that Big Hand’s van has its own myspace profile and already I can sense a certain rivalry emerging, but our van could kick the shit out of their van, easy.

Our first gig the year was as special mystery guests of the Tyrant Lizard Kings and Taking Chase at Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh, last Sunday. I would never have thought it possible to get us all in there, let alone keep it a ‘mystery’. The cat was out the bag pretty quick anyway, and we did fit in there. Amazing bill, good gig and a great crowd. The main event so to speak was at The Exchange on Grove Street, on Friday where we played a benefit gig for the Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group, an organisation set up to raise awareness of the plight of the people in the Chiapas region of Mexico. If you don’t know anything about this subject, I suggest you go and read something. Our Rage Against the Machine tribute band played for these guys last year at the Left Bank, one of the best gigs we’ve ever had. Last Friday was a terrific turn out. First thing on the bill was a screening of the film Nobelity, which was great, two guest speakers (it was meant to be three, but Tommy Sheridan had to cancel, much to Murray‘s delight), then a chap called William Douglas doing an acoustic set.  He was really good, so watch out for him.  Then us. We played for about an hour and a half, I think, to more than three hundred people. It was a great night, and they raised about a grand and a half which was terrific. That kind of money out there could build a hospital probably. Big thanks to Edinchiapas, to AK Press, and of course to Susan for setting it up.

Our next gig is for an even better cause. Us! Namely, the lets fund Bombskare for another couple of months benefit gig, which will be at the Underworld in Bannermans. You know its going to be sweaty chaos, and will also feature west coast Ska meisters, Esperanza. Its going to be busy so get down early. Last time we played there the engineer cut our set in the middle of a song which really pissed me off, but that won’t be happening this time, oh no! I’ll be engineering a little accident to his face if that happens again.

Got back into the studio with Gav yesterday. He’s just back from France. I haven’t listened to the album in over a month so it was good listening to it with fresh ears, so to speak. Sometimes if you have listened to the same thing over and over for months you begin to lose all objectivity on what your working on. I’ve found it the same when I’m doing anything, recording, playing or writing; getting away and coming back is always good. If only I could take a holiday from myself, that would be cool.  Just to find out how awesome I really am.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Goodbye 2006.

And so the end is near… Or the beginning, whichever part of the big cycle you happen to be at. 

Back to Glasgow on the 10th of December as guests of the splendid Joe Viterbo and also My Own Religion who were wicked and reminded me of our associates Taking Chase,  tricky as fuck punky Ska, the best kind of Ska. Ska with balls. They played a tune called Shoot a Fucking Cop, which impressed Andy and Colin so much that we played an impromptu cover of Fuck The Police by NWA, for some reason. Don't ask me why. It was one of those mob psychology moments.
Good gig and also Sam’s birthday so he was drunk as fuck. Good to see Jane and Lindsay from The Amphetameanies and Claire and Jake from Esperanza. This was supposed to be the last gig of the year but we managed to slip in one final gig of the year up in Inverness on the 28th at Mad Hatters and it was a great gig to end the year on. The place was mobbed and the crowd was fantastic. We played a bunch of our new tracks including ‘Don’t Give It All Away’ and ‘The Day The Earth Stood Stupid’. It was a perfect end to a great year. Will definitely be back in Inverness soon.

We’ve played some great gigs this year, made a lot of new friends and have managed to make a decent headway into the recording of our new album after all the trouble we had at the beginning of the year with the loss of Coloursound. Thanks to all the bands we’ve played with, thanks to all the promoters and sound engineers for making the gigs good fun, thanks to all our friends and families for putting up with all the silly hours and drunken outbursts, but most importantly thanks to all those sweaty people jumping about on the other side of the monitors who paid hard earned cash to listen to us do what we love doing. Peas for 2007.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Millions And Millions Of Cat's Eyes

I’ve been to the doctor and he says that it is pretty bad when you start anthropomorphising motorways and roads. For instance I regard the M90 as a cuddly wee thing that I’m always glad to see, like a fat, curly haired grandchild. Whereas I regard the M77 more like a red headed step child. Now this is bad. But I have been doing a lot of driving in the name of the Ska and you start forming relationships with certain parts of the landscape, including roads. For instance, I always love the sight of the Forth Bridges, because it means I’m nearly back from wherever the hell I’ve been. I’m a bit suspicious of the A68. And fond of the A1.

Recently we’ve been out and about with the Big Hand chaps first stop being Glasgow. Big Hand are probably the hardest working band this side of Istanbul. Some of the guys had been crashing at my place for the week. They arrived first thing in the morning on the Tuesday after driving up overnight from a gig in Ipswich and were heading off that night to a gig in Inverness. That’s a lot of driving for two gigs on a weeknight. I discovered that Ingi used to work for/with Alan Moore, which impressed the hell out of me because I’m a big fan and I’m a bit shallow. I sometimes sport a small pin badge with the likeness of Alan Moore, but always counter-balanced with a picture of the bleached skull of Jeffrey Archer. My lapel space is a bit like my Top 8 friends you see.

Welcome return to the Weedge for us and a good turnout for a wet Thursday night in Sleazies again. Edinburgh was a lot busier and a bit more mental even though it probably would have been busier if the Teviot Union had been a bit clearer about the I.D situation, as I understand it that plenty people were turned away because of no I.D. No matter a couple of hundred people was a good shout. Aberdeen was the usual mental shenanigans; ninety odd minutes of pure, sweaty nonsense. Check out Reggae Dod’s photo gallery, at, especially the pics of the party afterwards (which I missed because I had to come back that night; this is becoming a bad habit). We videoed all three gigs which should see the light of day at some point, but you know how these things are. We’ve have only recently been looking at the raw footage of the 2004 Shetland Rocks footage and have only now started to edit it into something. That was the gig that we didn’t actually get to play at because the island was fogged in and so the planes couldn’t land. Which meant our drummer at that point, Mark Bray, couldn’t make it up, as well as Murray and Mike, so we couldn’t play. Well, we could have played without Murray and Mike (as we have done several times) but not with a stand in drummer. Very disappointing. As a consolation, we invaded the stage when the Amphetameanies were on, after an impromptu rehearsal, and basked in some of their reflected glory. Its all in the video which should be finished and posted by our Andy P soon. So having said that, we should be seeing the finished footage of our little tour sometime in 2009.

Just purchased a Line 6 Pod Pro XT. This little device is what we will be using to record the guitars for the album. I just love this thing.  I can jump between classic amplifiers and cabinets, and also mic positions and classic effects without all the hassle of dragging amps into the studio: all at the touch of a dial. This little gizmo is going to save us weeks in studio time. We are going to try and get some more recording done before Christmas but its not looking likely. Everyone’s working, including Gav so finding the time is nigh on impossible. Therefore we are behind on our timetable of having all the tracking completed by Christmas. I estimate another four weeks once we actually start back, before mixing can be attempted. Next gig is Glasgow followed by Inverness. Ooh, I wonder what will happen?