Album release announced via satellite, telegraph, semaphore etc…
March 24th, 2017
Good moaning. I take great pleasure today in announcing the pre-release (whatever the fuck that is) of This Is My Kingdom Now, my latest collection of stuff.
Hear the brand-new-smash-hit-number-one single, Sydney Harbour Bridge here: http://spoti.fi/2ndHjtQ
The album is out on May 12th (May the twelpth be with you) but you can pre-order it here: http://amzn.to/2n0Noch
OR if you want the thing bundled with an ART print (feel the quality, see the shine) stylishly signed by my hairy mitt then get in here:
You can hear the title track here:http://spoti.fi/2nOJ97I
More exciting smash hit news to follow. Smashing, isn’t it?
This Is My Kingdom Now
February 10th, 2017
Link to high-budget video. Directed by Steven Seagull.
Short UK jaunt announced
February 9th, 2017
Just added some dates in May/June to support the forthcoming release of This Is My Kingdom Now on Endless Shipwreck records.
See Parades for dates and ticket links.
Rod’s Concert for Myeloma
June 16th, 2015
When I was little and when I was a little bigger, before I joined the fraternity of a band, I had no brothers. Two fine and beautiful older sisters and a brilliant maw but no brother to kick a football around with or to pick a fight with, to blame or to laugh with. Suited me – I didn’t need the competition.
What I did have, however, was cousin Rod, four years older but never dismissive of me (little squirt that I was) nor bullying or belligerent. Rod paid me the same respect and attention that he did his own friends. He was generous and giving and funny to a fault.
And Rod had records. Beatles’ records, Eric Clapton records, Jimi Hendrix records. He even had an 8-Track cartridge deck. While my big sister Rachel introduced me to cool things like Dr Feelgood and Thin Lizzy, Rod had the classic rock collection and no reservations about lending me anything he had for me to study and tape. It wasn’t until punk rock and the last two years of school that I found anyone else so happy to lend out their precious (and at the time seriously expensive) albums.
So Rod was part of my musical upbringing, devoid of snobbery and catholic of taste, he introduced me to a wide range of influences that I carry with me to this day.
So that’s why I jumped when he asked me (well, got his wife Susan to ask me, the coward) to perform at a concert in aid of Myeloma UK this Saturday, the charity he’s been closely involved with (and raised incredible sums of cash for) since being diagnosed and treated for this particularly savage and unpredictable cancer a few years back.
As some folk will know I tend to avoid fundraising gigs – I suspect the motivations of those involved and despise sanctimoniousness. When I do charity shows I do them for one reason: because I love the people who have asked me to help.
Not that I’ll be much help on Saturday. Expect the usual litany of carping, sneering and cynicism that forms the bedrock of my solo performances. For I am no use to man nor beast. But you can be of great help.
Buy a ticket here:
General Election May 2015
May 16th, 2015
It does not matter whether the United Queendom prevails. All that matters is subjugating the Irish, the Welsh and the Scots.
“Those little tykes, they love a fight and they will fight for us, our United Queendom.
They will bow down and believe: they will serve. Serve their country, serve their priest, serve their landlord and serve their Queen, serve the service, serve the laird, the Lord, the God, the god knows what in between.
It does not matter if they wish to leave, for they are tied forever to our sleeve.
They cannot puke, nor piss, nor think without us. They cannot spend, they cannot send. They cannot bend.
For we…are rulers, and what do rulers do? We rule – they taught us that at school.
We have the tanks, we have the troops (though some were slaughtered – oops!)
We have the power and the might
But hush! What comes within? Are those dirty bastards dim? Are they not grateful, not polite, that through the ballot box they might…
We have no truck with such complainers
In the Queendom we ignore such folk
And if annoyed? We make them samers.”
All the same it seems to me,
I have no desire for a country,
Just a maw to make my bed,
And a nurse to hold my head.
I’ve no desire for a country,
But, Jesus I want to be free.
A united people, a united cause,
All things being equal
Let’s boot their baws.
BEST MUSIC OF 2014
December 31st, 2014
It was the year when the sound of eighties synths and vocals swamped in reverb continued unabated, a colour that seems to have been in vogue on both sides of the Atlantic for at least five years. The year when Kate came back and folk swooned while nobody really noticed gems like Withered Hand’s New Gods and Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes To Love. The year when lavish praise was poured over the Parquet Courts album in spite of it being stuffed with direct lifts from the history of post-punk; The Feelies and The Fall especially. When Paulo Nutini attempted to make an enormous soul/pop album and somehow managed to remain utterly charming and brilliant in spite of missing his target by a country mile. When Leonard Cohen, yet again released an album of faultless songs irreparably marred by horrifically cheap production and female backing vocalists who wouldn’t be out of place on a ghastly Two Ronnies pop parody. When James Yorkston quietly put out the best produced and most genre-defying album a Scottish act has come up with in a decade. When Jack White again proved that nobody in mainstream rock can catch him for slipperiness and sheer melodic invention and when Arial Pink made a prog-rock/math-pop album of such stunning weirdness it may be mentioned in the same breath as Skip Spence’s Oar come the great day of rock judgement. When Columbia finally released most everything from the Basement Tapes vaults proving that even out-of-tune, unfinished and appallingly recorded and performed songs can somehow be magically listenable for the sheer lunatic commitment of the musicians involved. And finally, a year when lyrics came back with a vengeance as evinced by Sun Kil Moon’s harrowing, heartbreaking and hilarious Benji.
In no particular order…
TV On The Radio: Trouble (from Seeds)
Ariel Pink: Black Ballerina, White Freckles, Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade (from Pom Pom)
A Sunny Day In Glasgow: In Love With Useless (from Sea When Absent)
Sharon Van Etten: Afraid Of Nothing (from Are We There)
Ought: Habit (from More Than Every Other Day)
The War On Drugs: Under The Pressure, Red Eyes, Eyes To The Wind (from Lost In The Dream)
Withered Hand: California, New Gods, Horseshoe (from New Gods)
Sun Kil Moon: I Watched The Film The Sun Remained The Same, Pray For Newtown, I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love (from Benji)
Naomi Bedford: Wild And Charming Energy, The Watches Of The Night (from A History Of Insolence)
Peter Matthew Bauer: Irish Wake In Varanasi (from Liberation!)
Perfect Pussy: I (Live), Interference Fits (from Say Yes To Love)
Angel Olsen: White Fire, Hi-Five (from Burn Your Fire For No Witness)
James Yorkston: Broken Wave, Guy Fawkes’ Signature (from The Cellardyke Recording and Wassailing Society)
Hamilton Leithaser: I Don’t Need Anyone (from Black Hours)
As a postscript I’d like to mention Father John Misty’s astonishing cover of Leonard Cohen’s One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong which came out a few years ago but only cropped up on my digital card-deck shuffle in October. It tears tour skin off. Also Danny Brown’s Lonely from Old which came out late last year.
And lastly, I should mention the Aphex Twin album, Spyro, which I have on vinyl. Because I couldn’t figure out the fucking free download thing I have only managed to listen to it completely mangled – that seems to be the time my vinyl gets aired these days. As a result of being in such an altered state I became convinced that it contained one of the most radical tracks I’d ever heard until I realised I’d been listening to the needle scraping round and round the label for forty minutes. Just goes to show you how much one’s mental state is responsible for how we perceive quality. And also what a fucking wanker I am.
Happy Hogmanay and Happy New Year when it arrives.
December 17th, 2014
20/11/14 – 11/12/64
I sit in my seat like a teacher at a staff meeting, room service beer in full flow, and watch my last guest die. Ella Guru has gone to the other side. Being young, she has seen the sense in heading for the hills of immediate sleep. My banter, demanding as it must be of recipients, falls on deaf ears.
I bear witness and keep vigil. Ella Guru slumbers as soundlessly as the pharaohs, her beer propped up in her lap like a leaning Eiffel. The squeaks and strains of morning erupt around my room – o shit, the world is awake.
Nighttime is everything to me, I could not live without its cloaking. Mornings are murder, murderous and murderers. They are deathly, depressing and disastrous. They bring clinging women, creepy uncles: mornings are cunts that catch one at play.
A little diseased breath in me finds my phone and I begin to tap, like I’m Whac-A-Mole-ing fleas. The hotel has furnished me with a houseplant, its sickly vines betraying puerile roots. I swallow a glug of beer, godlike and gargantuan. It’s been knackering, this year: from Bremen, with its cathedral and German cool, through Del Amitri’s grafting month and on to the revelation of Obama’s USA. O America , O’s America.
I take an extravagant repast at eight AM in the foyer, letting little Guru snooze on a sofa. The staff administer black coffee and eggs and at the appointed minute I fold my failing form into the van and we go north. On the way upstairs we hit a few fridges and toast our drunkenness all the way home. The laughter never runs out. Or if it does, its attendants pay court.
Three weeks later the same four of us are dragging our sorry asses south to Billy Butlin’s. I apologise to the troops at the outset but it does no good. This next gig’s a cunter and there ain’t no getting around it.
Butlin’s turns out to be ten times worse than I had ever considered. Peeling wooden handrails guard peeling wooden stairs. A pall of profound despair hangs low in every part of Butlin’s air. You breathe Butlin’s in like mustard gas. Butlin’s infects you like the tuberculosis bacillus. Butlin’s suffocates you with its endless tales of stale nicotine, stupefied sex and starched sheets. They give you a chalet for the evening and you take it on the chin. It’s their way or the highway.
We hit the highway as soon as morning allows, swallow the north with hunger. Glasgow comes back upon us like a damp cloud. We pull in and de-plunder, put the things back where they came from. This sopping town, moisture hanging over everything, the garden of Babylon, home, home — I’m home forever.
I shake off the shackles of the last gig. My travel-ready rucksack is disassembled – the sewing kit, the back-up batteries and the emergency capo – I extract all the stuff that life at home never calls for. The fat moon, ripe and ready to fall into the fenced-off sea at Skegness on Saturday is now eaten away night after night as the date of my execution approaches. I watch the days tick over and the last midnight loom before – BANG – it is upon me and my forties are over, sunk in a sunset of crimson and lager, lost to the ravenous mouth of my past. My housemate mocks up a funny little ceremony – some streamers and a solitary silver balloon anchored by a plastic disc at the end of its string. It hovers at head height like an ineffectual alien, assaulting my self-esteem with its slogan: I AM 50.
Some champagne is poured and I take time for reflection. I figure I’m a happy lad, and grateful for the good fortune that has come my way. The toppling of the decade makes me self-conscious for a time, I wonder if my bones can take much more, if I’m creaking a little louder, until the weekend comes and I dance into a party in another seventies suit and slide into operation – shit talked here all night without fail. The furious scathing of old age seems to creep in slow-motion. Out on the horizon it sits waiting like a bank of terrible fog. I’m still in the moonlight on the beach, singing into the stars.
Leeds to London, November 16th-19th 2014
November 19th, 2014
After four nights in the same hotel in Leeds it’s refreshing to be back on the road proper. It’s heavily overcast and muggy, the southbound traffic sluggish. With three shows left there’s an air of weary resignation in the van. My body, on waking, felt like a block of hardened rubber, as if some entity had poured moulding material down my throat in the night. I’ve set stiff and sit like a bag of cement in the front seat. I need a drainage contractor. A dim orb of pale grey hovers in the gloom above like a ghoul. Tiny spots of rain collect on the windscreen like alighting insects until, forming too dense a firmament, they are swiped away. A sunbeam strikes through ahead with an abracadabra and, peering upwards, I see a flat white disc; our furnace star reduced to a glinting tiddlywink.
The Yorkshire town names appear on signs – Rotherham, Barnsley, Sheffield. They have their own accents built in. As a shire it is still distinct, rugged and untamed. It has a stubborn unwillingness to be southernised and poncified.
We hit a hold-up and are stuck behind a Carlsberg truck whose back doors depict an unappetisingly vast glass of cheap frothing lager. I feel queasy as a seasick buoy. The grim mattress overhead breaks into clumps and a light blue afternoon appears. Colossal pylons stride around the motorway like skinny Space Invaders spooling thick ropes of metal from fleshless skeleton hands. The black road flashes bright silver with a blinding suddenness until winter prevails, the clouds close their arms about the world and everything is grey again.
We dock in an out-of-town Hilton which we recall from a few years ago; its white piano warning off players (with a stupid sign) and frozen corridors, frigid rooms. It’s a suburban conference centre. Anyone married here will divorce within the month. We clear out for load-in grumpily. At the venue we are stymied by a student play rehearsal still in progress on the stage. Tea is made and everyone slouches around the dressing room like poor cunts at a youth club waiting for life to begin.
It’s not a venue I could ever love. It has the soul-crushing air of a lecture theatre and during the show I feel like a living autopsy. The audience are stacked around me in tiers like multiplying jurors. The spotlights shine from such an acute angle that I can only see my own fringe hanging weakly in front of my vision the whole gig. It’s impossible to engage, though the audience try and I’m grateful they bother. Me? On a Monday night in this venue? Shit, it could be the Beatles and I’d go straight to the bar.
A motley collection of various guests comes backstage and I enjoy a speed-date chinwag. I meet a solicitor whose entire caseload is fighting for clients suffering from mesothelioma, the ghastly lung cancer caused by asbestos. He tells me that one industrial plant alone has been responsible for ten thousand deaths. He speaks with a Brummie accent and looks like Noddy Holder’s little brother. He is instantly my hero.
Tuesday morning brings blue skies and the angled autumn sun. I hang outside the van for a moment basking in the splendour. My skin prickles with delight. London calling, La Grosse Fumée. The journey skips by and in an instant I am roaming around a surprisingly spacious suite in a Shepherd’s Bush hotel. It’s all leather sofas and glass partitions, with the bath by a big high window facilitating rampant exhibitionism. I’m the hippest whore in London. Sadly – saddest of all – my Scottish pimp will be absent. They have done their back and the flight down is impossible. O solo mio. I try to fight the loneliness by filling the suite with noise. Like wallpapering the fissures in an Alp, it’s a redundant measure.
I smart awake at eleven, the air-con furnacing like a non-stop afterburner. I do a little housework, clearing yesterday’s modest mess. Daylight steals from the curtains’ corners, leaking grim reality into my apartment. I run the little lawnmower of my toothbrush vainly over the greenery of my teeth. Like an oligarch with an itch, I know something’s wrong. Then I remember: I am undeserving. Gratitude and humility serve no real purpose. I am in this life’s debt.
There is no birdsong beyond the glass. Shepherd’s Bush with its concrete sterility camps around me like a boundary guard in a foul mood. Along the Uxbridge Road, Eritrean, Polish and Lebanese outlets crowd into available space. London is liverish and stale but the margins sidle centre-stage and take up the gaps like fresh green grass seeding between slabs. I don’t know where the rich run to, I don’t know what they think, but I know they find death a hideous shock, I know they have a terrible surprise waiting – I didn’t order this and I cannot cancel. It is the deep resentment of their class – the impossibility of controlling mortality – that will be their undoing.
I hear furniture squeak above me, the chambermaid’s daily dance. My suite is hushed and darkened in a facsimile of luxury but what it truly is, is a poisonous waste of space. In time these windows will all be out and nature’ll bloom like a spreading cancer in corners, then surfaces, then hang from the walls. I can see my non-existence clearly: it is nothingness. And I can also hear a concrete hollow swarming with the singing of every bird.
Selby and Uppermill, November 12th-14th 2014
November 16th, 2014
At last we escape the clutches of the country club with its therapy pool and veneer of hushed sympathy. I feel like we’re on the lam from rehab. The A-Road north is as straight as a Roman nose, we are the only deviants. Ploughed fields fill the flatness dotted with hamlets, farmhouses and groups of trees loitering like sulking teenagers. It is very still, the sky a white soup with puffs of smoky clouds trailing along the horizon like steam from an antique train. The rectangular torpedoes of lorries barrel towards us but it’s slow going this side of the road. We cross the odd canal and the sun, swimming out to our left in a sea of grey muslin, manages to throw blurred shadows across the tarmac.
It’s already crepuscular as we turn into Selby, a little town not without an earthy old-fashioned charm. We’re early, so we set up and wait wearily for the PA. The town hall is an old Methodist chapel, cute as a chocolate box. Mr. Rennie, our backline master, fills the longeurs with sketches and stories. The hall rings with laughter. There are tales told by Private Eye veterans of lunches where Peter Cook held court for a few hours, turning a little item of pretension in the menu into a far-reaching parody of the human condition, where people could not breathe for laughing, where his precise wit rendered them limp, blind and helpless. None of those victims could remember a single thing that he said on those occasions. All they could recall was their submission. They were simply destroyed by Cook’s relentless improvisation. Mr. Rennie possesses such capabilities. His generosity is exemplary. He will hollow himself out to keep the camp happy, the show on the road. He will fill the lonely hours with nothing but a riff on the unfortunate phraseology from some sandwich packaging. And in between he will be your confidant and your brother. He is as indispensable as the guitars he cares for.
We arrive at our trendy hotel in Leeds late on and camp out in the bar for extensive refreshments. I lose track of time and awake disheveled and disorientated and am glad to see that my fellow occupants of the van (especially Mr. Kay, our indecently good sound technician) are suffering too. We lurch out to Uppermill, a dense little village wedged into a Saddleworth dip; posh, unspoilt and unique. The venue appears to be another ex-church of some type. It sits halfway up a hill and glares upon the high street with some disdain. After the dismal ennui of soundcheck we venture abroad in search of fish and chips. The troops need calories and we are well serviced by the local outlet, whose proprietor comes out for a chinwag as we finish eating. He’s a sixty-something who knows Glasgow from his time driving artics in the eighties. We have a strange, manly type of conversation, long on information, short on emotion. The devil is in the detail but the details are heavily camouflaged. We hear him out. He advertises his heterosexuality as nakedly as a lion and I feel a distant tugging at my sleeve. But these kinds of men are too straight to be cheeky to – and they might have useful information about the river. Later on, we leave Uppermill but the fish man stays. He is essentially that simple thing – a good man.
The gig is saved by a lovely crowd, real fans, really into it. I strongly suspect they deserve better, but all the evidence suggests they’re more than happy with the service I supply. We hang around with a few friends afterwards. There is an upright piano in the dressing room whose plastic cover is emblazoned with “PROPERTY OF THE SUMV”, some local amateur music society who do not wish their piano keys to be pawed by oiks like us. The lid has been fitted with locks at either end, secure as a safe, and you can see the scratches and chips where people have tried to prise it open. So there is no rendition of Great Balls of Fire tonight. Bollocks to them.
As we drive back to Leeds we hit thick fog. The late-night world looks magical and empty; street lights glow like bursting suns, illuminating little spots like theatre sets devoid of actors. It’s a ghost train ride and we navigate by the little fire of the satellite screen. We swim up to the sudden miracle of our hotel, looming over us like the mothership, its doors opening onto warmth and clarity and the muffled clinking of drinkers.
Norwich, November 11th 2014
November 13th, 2014
Heave-ho, we head out of Bury, swinging round the sugar factory which belches white smoke into the crisp blue sky. It’s a short hop to Norwich across the flatlands of Norfolk but the sat-nav takes us on a wild goose chase around half the county before we arrive at our abode, a country club type joint, all golf courses and spa treatments. I HATE golf. It’s the refuge of the respectable Nazi. I immediately order a taxi to ferry me away from this hell. The driver is a cheeky chappie from Larkhall in Scotland. He wears a black waistcoat with a silver pinstripe and tells me about his daughter’s graduation. She’s the first of his family to go to university. I congratulate him but he’s more concerned with what the do is going to cost. Then he tells me he just won £1400 on the football. Every week he bets on three victories with both teams scoring. He mentions Acrington Stanley and I drift off into a daydream.
I get myself orientated around the venue and go looking for scran. I see some rough looking folk lurking in the lanes – hard eastern faces bitten by the sea, Viking types with ten inch stares. Tinsel is creeping into the crevices now and a vile conical structure blinks in a square in a vain attempt to ironise the traditional Christmas tree. It’s not ironic, it’s just shit.
The gig is the old Anglia TV studio of Sale of the Century fame. I was here in the nineties miming on some Euro pop show but any other details are lost to me now. My memory has become unreliable. I can’t tell the difference anymore between what happened and what I’ve invented. In this way we all construct our own past. I have decided that I was a welder before I became a cosmonaut.
The show is enjoyable, the punters warm. In the AM we all dash back into town for a day off. I take in two films, neither what the critics cracked them up to be. Mr. Turner is particularly galling, featuring as it does acting by Timothy Spall that curls wallpaper from thirty yards. But the real hack is director, Mike Leigh. And Nightcrawler is not what it thinks it is – satire – it’s cheap creep-horror in King of Comedy mode. It apes so many superior thrillers (Internal Affairs, Collateral, The Sweet Smell of Success) that it’s positively simian. Riz Ahmed, the hero of Four Lions, is the best thing in it by far. So I wonder out of the fleapit of Norwich’s Hollywood cinema in a daze of disappointment and as I’m making my way to the taxi rank spot the rump of the tour entourage in a pub called The Lawyer. It’s a friendly joint and I join the fray, downing several pints of pretend Guinness in an effort to ingratiate myself.
In the morning I stroll vacantly around an empty golf course by the hotel and watch some ducks doing their thing in a little pond. They seem unfazed by the prospect of imminent golf ball bombing raids. I am less so and take my leave, getting my feet wet in the dew and tangling with some brambles in a ditch: the call of the not-wild-at-all, the call of the slightly overgrown.