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17.12.10

Smoke Ferrys in Ireland

After a particularly long and frustrating wait at (definitely not in London) Luton airport courtesy of Ryan Air we finally arrived in Kerry well into the night to be greeted by this incredibly Irish looking chap brandishing a sign that said 'Smoke Ferrys'. It was most amusing.


The drive from Kerry airport to Dingle took about an hour across small winding roads and we only passed a couple of vehicles the whole journey. Our driver is a tour guide for eight months of the year and he treated us to a few bits of trivia about the surrounding area:

"to the left of you is a beautiful peninsula... glorious mountains all around us... of course you can't see this because it's pitch black outside"

...which was a shame but the stars shone bright so at least we saw something lovely.

Luckily we weren't too late for a few beverages at the local pub, Guinness naturally. After a conversation with one of the regulars about the Other Voices festival and how many acclaimed acts have played there like Elbow, Seasick Steve, Richard Hawley, Jarvis Cocker, The National, *cough* Snow Patrol *splutter* James Blunt, we decide that drinking copious amounts into the wee small hours is probably not the best preparation for an important show that's being filmed in HD in a church. Surprisingly sensible.

We arrived at this little church for soundcheck the following morning at 10am to be met with yet another technical problem, Kaf's guitar not working mainly because it's old, or in other words; vintage and well cool and stuff, ok? so what if it constantly goes out of tune, just listen to that tone maaaaaaaaaaaan. The techies dismantled the guitar and fixed it in a flash.

I found myself lingering around afterwards to catch some of Everything Everything's soundcheck. I do find their frenetic indie pop pretty nifty. I felt like a bit of a saddo fan boy though. 

After that we wandered around the lovely little place that is Dingle, had some tasty vegetarian Goulash then sat for a few hours in nervous anticipation... what to wear?... let's have a whisky... oh, it's the most expensive whisky on the earth? ... right then.

The big moment came and after a spot of makeup we headed to the church and in through a side window at which point I smashed my head hard on the window pane and briefly thought I'd pass out before cursing myself for being such a lumbering idiot. The show itself was going fine until half way through Summer Fades when Kaf forgot the lyrics which caused momentary panic before realising it's TV and we can start again! which we did, twice. We played six songs in total, three of which will appear on the TV show at some point in the new year. I'll post it here after it's broadcast. It should look fantastic as they had these wonderfully vibrant blue and violet lights shining brightly on stage, like this:



The following day we set of at ludicrous o'clock in the morning to head to snowy Dublin for a show that had initially been moved to a different venue, as support act to Laura Marling, but then Laura became too sick to play so the show was cancelled leaving us in a bit of a pickle. Many flustered phone calls later and the show is back on at the original venue The Working Man's Club and free entry to boot. There was no support band booked so Kris and Rob valiantly stepped in to do a stripped down version of their band Story Books but they were infected by the Smoke Fairies' something-will-stop-working-on-stage-any-time-now virus and sadly had to cut their set short. More on those tune mongers soon. The Smoke Fairies' set naturally had a technical blip or two but it was a good show and well attended; a few crazies were in tow but you're bound to get that with a free show. And with that you have the last show of 2010 for Smoke Fairies. Bring on 2011.

4.12.10

Smoke Fairies - European Tour Diary

I dragged my exhausted body into the lobby of the hotel in Madrid at silly o'clock in the morning and the driver said, “We’re stopping en route to the airport to pick up some people from Edwyn Collins"  and for a brief moment I forgot my extreme tiredness and am reminded of what the hell I've been doing for the last week and a half.


Day 1 - Paris


As with most days on tour much of the day is taken up being on a variety of motorways and on this particular day being under the sea in a tunnel for a bit too. I'd never been to Paris before so was looking forward to catching a glimpse of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. We were travelling along this french motorway when we noticed the Sat Nav claiming we were a mere 5 minutes away which I hoped was all lies but it turned out to be pretty accurate; we arrived at the venue Fleche d' Or and it's like we're in the Willesden of Paris, not an Arc or Tower in site. Despite that, the venue itself was lovely, the decor nicely reflecting its name; Fleche d' Or meaning The Golden Arrow, a defunct train line that ran through the area in the 1920s.We were fed well and the show was well received. 

In the van on the way to the hotel after the show someone shouted out "there's the Eiffel Tower!" and the rest of us turned around in different directions and missed it. That pretty much sums up this touring lark.

Day 2 -  The long drive to The Hague


What makes a long drive tolerable? Michael Bolton on the stereo that's what. Someone, I think it was Jess, thought it would be a great/silly idea if everyone bought an embarrassing CD with them, hence Michael Bolton. Smooooooth. 


We arrived at this nice hostel Den Haag, dumped our stuff then headed over to the Crossing Border Festival. We caught Ed Harcourt playing the Deuite Kerk (German Church) which was the same place we played the following day. His voice sounded ultra luscious in the cavernous church surroundings and Black Dress sounded particularly lovely. He did one song sans amplification and took on the wandering minstrel role, strolled up the aisle of the church and perched on a pew next to Kaf. He dedicated the next song to Smoke Fairies which was sweet.


Day 3 - Still in The Hague


We had a rare opportunity to wander around the city so wander we did and we passed many a cafe that brandished a sign with the words 'Slag Room' on it. We were pretty bemused until we stopped off at a pancake house and discovered the words were Dutch for whipped cream, and what better to go with whipped cream than hot chocolate and lashings of vodka. The dutch certainly know how to treat a hot drink.

  
Our show in the church that night was a little problematic to say the least. The guitar amps were behaving like they had a particularly bad cold, which incidentally most of the band did have at this point. I turned round on stage one moment and saw one of the coughing and spluttering amps being stretchered off to be replaced by a nice healthy specimen. The next moment Jessica's tuning pedal had been infected and her guitar cut out resulting in a sharp piercing noise when the offending article was replaced. Instead of looking embarrassed Jess wittily remarked "well, that rather destroyed the atmosphere we were creating" and carried on like nothing had happened. It was a valiant show. 



After the show Kaf and Jess tootled off to do some kind of promotional radio thing and the rest of us were left with the task of loading the van before Local Natives' show in this impressive theatre round the corner.  We also had time for a nice alcoholic beverage but not enough time to fully make use of the ample  supplies in the fridge. Drummer Rob happened upon an idea to take a few cans with us for later so he asked this guy in a smashing cowboy hat if he thought the people would mind, unbeknown to Rob that guy was Kurt Wagner of Lambchop fame. In that American-country drawl Kurt simply said "take the whole crate and walk out looking like you know what you're doing" . 

Local Natives were incredible, all youthful energy and fervent enthusiasm. They walked on stage and after the first note every single person stood up out of their seats and started dancing. It was one of those moments where it feels like you're witnessing musical history where nothing will be the same again...but then the next day nothing has changed. I think I have a bit of a man crush on the bassist too. He finger picks - on the bass - has one of those 'cool' indie partly shaved haircuts and mid length trousers and still I think this.


Deeper into the night the few that remained somehow found ourselves on a karaoke bus. It was a classic flourish.

Day 4 - Antwerp

Part two of the Crossing Border Festival after handily crossing a border. We arrived at this maze of a venue which had a main auditorium, a couple of other smaller stages and a cafe type place on the ground floor where we were due to be playing. Sound check was going fine until the moment Jess strummed her guitar; the strap fell off and her lovely old Hofner crashed to the ground causing the neck to snap. Tragic. The spare guitar was dug out and we carried on.


The room was packed for the show, Ed Harcourt was in the audience and a song was dedicated to him at which point I thought to myself  'don't mess this up, don't mess this up'
 
We had to leave straight after the show and drive to this little guest house in Germany. We had to wake up the lady of the house at 2am to let us in and were up early morning to have breakfast, thus continuing our late finish, early start pattern of tiredness.

Day 5 - Copenhagen



After a particularly long drive, some of which was taken up by Kaf and Jess doing a bizarre set of phone interviews with guitar magazines, and a short ferry trip we rolled up to this area where every surface has graffiti and it looks like a Mad Max film with people gathered around burning oil drums and an open hash market. That place is the free town Christiania. It's pretty much an anarchist state and apparently if you run in the main square they set the dogs on you because they think it's a police raid. Setting dogs on the police is totally fine. It's a pretty incredible place. 




During sound check I went to tighten my viola bow as per usual but to my dismay realised that the hairs weren't stretching out and despite several frantic attempts to make it tighten I had to concede defeat. Luckily, Kris had a budget 'cello bow with him that he occasionally uses on his bass guitar to mimic the sound of Humpback whales mating. So I used that. It was like playing the viola with a tree trunk.


5 days in: 1 x broken amps, 1 x broken Hofner guitar and 1 x broken viola bow.


Day 6 - Hamburg

The few hours we had spare in Hamburg were mostly taken up with searching for replacement amp valves and a new viola bow. Both things were acquired with surprising ease, mainly due to the incredibly friendly and helpful Germans. Also, as if by magic, a brand new Hofner guitar in the box was waiting for us at the venue. I guess there's a reason why the band is called Smoke Fairies. 



The venue, The Molotow, reminded me of the Buffalo Bar with its red lighting and punkish demeanour. My brother and sister in law turned up too which must have amplified the similarities with London. 



We opened up the door to our hotel room later on to find what should have been a room for 4 people only had one bunk bed. After a little searching we found another bed in a draw under the bunk and one up in the gods above the top bunk and over the door. Contained.


Day 7 - Berlin

We arrived in Berlin early as Kaf and Jess had numerous promo based things including having their every move filmed by these seemingly anarchic film crew who later on shone bright lights and stuck cameras in our faces as we tried to play the gig. This gave the rest of us enough time to walk around and get lost in the snow and chose ill advised places to eat. 


To add to our growing list of broken stuff the other amp died during soundcheck but the support act Miracle Fortress kindly lent us his.


It was a full, attentive crowd at the gig and they were surprisingly vocal too with one guy marvellously exclaiming “you’re not ZZ Top, you’re AA Top!”


The hotel we stayed at (Michelberger Hotel) was ace, I think it's specially designed for arts/ music type people which I think just means it's cheap. There were plasma screens dotted around every corridor all showing The Big Lebowski which prompted a few white russians in the bar later on. 

Day 8 - Travel to Barcelona

We left the van in Berlin to be driven back to London and undertook the jet set leg of the tour arriving at the airport for Spain. It was a pleasure to touch down in Barcelona following the bitter cold of Germany. Snow was replaced with sun and palm trees. 


We came across this food market which was like Borough Market but much larger and cheaper and not full of middle class people with lots of money. 


Day 9 - Barcelona, Primavera Festival

Pleasingly, we had most of the day to soak up Barcelona. We travelled up this steep hill in a cable car to the Castell de Montjuic and the views of the harbour and city were breathtaking, almost as breathtaking as the journey in the cable car which I found embarrassingly terrifying. 



We then headed to Gaudi's Sangrada Familia which is an astonishing piece of architecture clearly designed by a lunatic. It's an incredibly imposing gothic structure. Kris took it on himself to test out the acoustics of the place, the results of which you can see here: 

video





The show in the evening was part of Primevera and we were on just before Teenage Fanclub which meant playing in a pretty large venue with a crowd who for the most part were pretty attentive. The Spanish love a good smoke in the venue, something i was looking forward to but when you were faced with the claustrophobic reality I ended up smoking outside most of the time.


It was particularly long but fun evening and I awoke fully clothed with most of the contents of the mini bar scrawled across the floor.


Day 10 - Madrid 

After nowhere near enough sleep we took our fragile selves to the train station for the high speed train to Madrid. They showed a film dubbed in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Helpful.


The show was a similar affair to Barcelona still being Primevera. The venue was this ornate council room where you'd imagine important people making important speeches. We just played a few songs, which was good. This final show was initially a bit of a challenge for me; the combination of lack of sleep, general lingering flu-type thing, hangover, searing heat on stage not helped by this three piece suit I was wearing and the claustrophobic smokey atmosphere meant that at one point I thought I might pass out on stage but luckily that feeling only lasted one song and it went on to be one of the best shows we played.




Day 11 - leave Madrid


...which is back where I started at the top of the page.


I can't finish this piece without mentioning the unflappable manager Matt who not only made sure we got where we were supposed to be but also did a fair chunk of the driving and put up with our constant stream of questions and affably dealt with such problems as us breaking pretty much everything. He is great. 

I should also mention Finian the sound man who travelled with us. He had a routine of playing The Rapture's Don Gon Do It at the beginning of every sound check. He'd put it on really loud while we were setting up and walk around the venue to test out the sound system. Always the pro. It also marked our arrival at each show which turned out to be rather reassuring.

18.11.10

Trans Europe Express

The Smoke mobile is en route to the Chanel tunnel for the first leg of the European tour, we're already shattered, it's chucking it down, my shoes are already leaking and I'm considering a nice breakfast whiskey. It's a classic flourish.

27.10.10

Hornets Tour Gruff Riley

I feel it's about time I document various happenings of note before my goldfish like memory does one more lap of the fish bowl before exlaiming "ooh, I haven't been here before".


The photo above was taken after Smoke Fairies' 6 Music session on Marc Riley's splendid radio show a week or so ago. You can't 'listen again' because I was far too slow putting this blog up but, well, it was good and worth the journey up to Manchester on a Thursday night. I've been an avid listener of his show for years now so it was marvellous to finally do a session. In person he's exactly like his radio persona and his unrelenting enthusiasm for new music is wonderfully refreshing: he sits in his radio booth bopping away to all the records he plays and generally looks like he's enjoying every second. 

Smoke Fairies play Cecil Sharp House this Sunday then we're hopping over to Europe in November for a tour which is damn exciting!

Before all that though there's a Monroe Transfer show at The Half Moon in Herne Hill. It's a show organised by the  webzine Penny Black Music who recently conducted a rather lengthy interview with us

This here blog was recently mentioned in a particularly unspectacular way on another blog and the only reason it was mentioned was becasue I commented on his blog. It's like blog incest, we're probably going to mate and produce a deformed twitter account. It's worth a mention though only becuase the blog in question (The Hornet) is a blog from this treasure trove of a shop of the same name, but with an 's' on the end and without the 'The'. It's a gents' vintage clothing shop and although it can be a little pricey -well, anything is pricey with me I guess- all their stock is magnificent and of top quality. I bought a 1970s three piece sky blue suit from there a month or so ago and it's just perfect in every way. Pop along if you're in the area.

“A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.”  Sir Hardy Amies


Back to BBC6 Music now; I heard Gruff Rhys' new single on there the other day and it's a fabulous song. Despite having released nine (consistently good) studio albums with Super Furry Animals, two solo albums and numerous other projects like Neon Neon he's still bursting with ideas and this one is a particular gem. It reminds me of the music of oddball 1960s producer Jean Pierre Massiera who's responsible for one of my favourite compilations, Midnight Massiera on Finders Keepers. That particular record label is mentioned on his site so it's not entirely surprising; also mentioned on Gruff's website is where to get the song, for FREE! so go here for the good stuff.

Most listened to albums in the last 12 months via this handy Last Fm gadget

My Top Albums

29.9.10

Pair of Kraft slices

Or Kraft singles if you're that way inclined but seeing as it's British Cheese Week I'd advise against it. I was planning to put these reviews up on SoundsXP months ago but then my computer conked out like an old wheezing pensioner.


Flipron
The Coolest Names In Showbiz
Tiny Dog

Article written by Neil W - Sep 29, 2010
 
Those lovable rouges Flipron return galloping on their steeds with candy floss manes and they come baring gifts in the shape of a new single entitled The Coolest Names In Showbiz and look, they’ve brought insanely catchy tunes with them and they’re telling tales of far off lands where the locals stick up colossal letters of the alphabet on the hillside. It’s jolly good to have them back.

 Links:
http://www.tinydog.co.uk/
http://www.myspace.com/flipron


   *******************************************************************************

Milk White White Teeth
Ingrid Won't Smile
Too Pure

Article written by Neil W - Sep 29, 2010
 
This review finds itself running into class horrendously late but brandishing a rather fine single by Milk White White Teeth. These northern folk have a whopping ten members amongst their ranks playing a luscious collection of instruments which immediately brings to mind the joyous indie-pop of Architecture In Helsinki. They also employ that ubiquitous bouncing bass sound that so many acts have pinched off Paul Simon of late. Such comparisons to those Vampire Weekenders do them a disservice though because Ingrid Won’t Smile is a smashing single and I’ll be licking my lips, and not so white teeth, in anticipation for an album.  

Links:
http://milkwhitewhiteteeth.tumblr.com/
http://www.myspace.com/milkwhitewhiteteeth

10.9.10

Tour blog and cheap list for Lexington gig

The Monroe Transfer guitarist Pete Williams has written a diary of our brief tour with Her Name Is Calla and here it is (If you'd like to be on the £4 entry list for our show at The Lexington on Tuesday email me at: neil@organgrinderrecords.co.uk)

Tour diary:

“Now before I quit Calais,” a travel writer would say, “it would not be amiss to give some account of it.” Now I think it very much amiss that a man cannot go quietly through a town and let it alone when it does not meddle with him, but that he must be turning about and drawing his pen at every kennel he crosses over.

Manchester 30/08

“Let’s get physical, physical”, suggests Olivia Newton John, piping through some small speakers at a tasteful volume while I stand at the urinal.

I can’t imagine how anyone thought it would enhance the experience of being in service station toilets.

We had stopped for the umpteenth time. Each one offers a posh supermarket outlet, a Smiths, a child-baiting fast food place and an uppity overpriced cafeteria designated something like FOOD or BITE in a shouty modern font.

When I was little I used to find these places terribly exciting, mainly because my parents often used to insist on ‘beating the traffic’ by covering ungodly distances at ungodly hours.

I especially liked those that had bridges from one side of the motorway to the other. You could be above the traffic and not in it for a while and, if they only had Burger King on the one side you could still get a Burger King.

They had arcade games with toy machine guns, and smelt of chip salt and soap rather than car upholstery and boiled sweets. There was one near Hungerford that had a mural of a battle from the English civil war painted on the ceiling. If we stopped in a mere lay-by with a burger van, or pulled over so that my sister could be sick, I always felt cheated. Nowadays I would prefer it.

“Let me hear your body talk, body talk,” Olivia cooed, while I tinkled gaily into the porcelain.

I appreciate that it wasn’t entirely her choice, and that I am often accused of having a problem with intimacy, but I still think it was all a little over familiar.

The van had a careworn, shabby retro charm and a laissez-faire approach to motion. Neil seemed very at home in it.

Looking through tinted glass is like turning the brightness down and the contrast up.

Once we got past Birmingham the light got a little kinder, and the view a little prettier. The afternoon sun played kindly on Neil and Jack, and on Nick and Rhiannon playing mum and dad in the front. I thought they all might pass for being in an aspirational cider advert where boho metropolitan types go smug in the country.

In Manchester we spent an interminable period circling the venue, like a really shit vulture. The van and the narrow streets took a severe toll on all the wrong turns we took. About 3 people simultaneously used GPS on their phones to determine that we were a bit lost.

I can’t stand conflict, even if it is only with an inadequate set of directions printed off from the internet, so went to Neil’s bottle of brandy for solace.

The promoter was smiley and nice despite the sparse attendance, and Manchester itself seemed remarkably quiet in any case. We played well I think, Jack especially, and sold a lot of CDs relative to the numbers attending.

The beer was more expensive than the Macbeth in Hoxton. We were billed as The Monroe Trigger.

Afterwards at the Travelodge I kept everyone amused with my ceaselessly diverting and varied Carlsberg and brandy-based repartee, before everyone retired to sleep lest I entertain them too much.

Neil and I decided it would be best to get a drink. We sat in the Travelodge bar while “Robert Webb’s Shit Bloopers” played on the tv.

We ordered the devil’s own pizza from a long-suffering night attendant, and it then took us 20 minutes to find our way back to the room. Jack was still awake, and we spent a while debating the merits of Neil burning the room down. The ‘nos’ to the left had it in the end, but it seemed to take an awfully long time to get there. I woke up on the sofa, modelling one of the more appealing confections in my underwear stable.

Cardiff 31/08

Things were promising when we arrived. It’s a nice little venue, and beside a couple of local philosophers nursing super strength lager there was an ultra friendly chap working as location manager for a BBC shoot taking place that evening. He sorted us out with somewhere to park. We gave him a CD. He thought it was a little slow, but still seemed pleased.

I had a very brief walk around before soundcheck. The pigeons had delivered a scatological critique on the legacy of Aneurin Bevan, although I thought that, for a socialist and founder of the NHS, having one’s statue plonked in such a crapulous vista of chainstores and happy hour bars might be more galling.

I think I was a little tired from the night before, as I developed a vague foreboding that some barrel-chested patriot might leap on me if I did anything too ostentatiously English or Londonish.

Things took a further spiral when the promoter arrived at Clwb Ifor Bach in a little collapsible car with square wheels.

We asked if we could play a little later than 7.15, seeing as the door time advertised on the poster was 7.30, and that our name was spelt wrong. Again. (“The Monroe Transfer Bill”)

‘I can’t believe I’ve booked four bands when there’s a curfew,’ he reiterated over and over, shuffling from oversized shoe to oversized shoe, looking to the middle distance for consolation.

His demeanour implied that it would probably have been better if we hadn’t driven 200 miles in the heat and through shitloads of traffic to be there.

The soundman suggested we start at 8 and cut the support slots down to 20 minutes

‘We’ll have to start at 8 and cut the support slots down to 20 minutes,’ the promoter concluded gravely, squirting water out of the plastic flower in his lapel.

That meant we had to squeeze in a 25 minute piece so, naturally, we played most of it slower than usual. I was feeling nauseous and shaky, and struggling with a coquettish little impulse to stop playing altogether and return to the al-fresco section of the Wetherspoons over the road. I think the brandy was playing its final hand upon my body.

I was feeling better by the time we got to the ending, which we seemed to use to vent our collective frustration. When I looked over great chunks of dust were streaming out of Nick’s bow and swirling around him in the spotlight. It was like he was playing in a high-res photograph.

Behind him, Neil and Nicole were pulling their impossible trick of playing with total commitment and too-cool-for-school detachment at the same time – a skill that I imagine must be the chief benefit of a classical training. We got a lovely hand.

HNIC were also bowel-compromisingly loud, to the bafflement on some early runners for the indie disco that followed.

Some of us stayed for this. Apparently I was one of them. No doubt I was tremendous company. I do remember getting stuck in the bathroom at the hotel, unable to either locate the light switch or the doorhandle.

Leicester 01/09

I woke up beside a half drunk, half spilt bottle of coke, a chicken salad that I had sourced from a local vending machine and Neil. Luckily, I was still drunk so the headaches and self-loathing would have to wait for an hour or two.

In fact, after noting and sampling the affront to taste and decency that constituted many of my colleagues’ service station breakfasts, I felt that my salad and the decision-making skills that lay behind it had came out rather well.

Neil had acquired a glossy, almost pellucid slab of versatile looking matter that was doing a comic turn as a Cumberland sausage. It was somewhat without taste and completely without texture.

We got to Leicester early enough to have a look round. Neil bought a smashing shirt and Nicole and Rhiannon some lovely dresses. There was a pleasant quarter of independent shops. It included an enormous and rather old-fashioned party store that said it wouldn’t admit ‘people in hoods and groups’, so I couldn’t in all conscience go in.

There was also a market that sells actual produce rather than various specimens of overpriced artisan cutseyness.

The venue (Firebug) was great. They gave us food for free that wasn’t in any way pellucid.

Despite what seemed an underwhelming reaction when we finished, there was a flurry of sales and some very giddy compliments. There were even rumours of a woman crying, but in a good way. This is a sentence that I don’t get to use nearly enough.

We had to leave straightaway. I got home at 2.45am, covered in sweat and knackered from lugging my stuff up Telegraph Hill. My biorhythms felt thoroughly compromised, even a little violated.

London 02/09

This doesn’t count as “tour” I don’t think, as some of us came from work and, for my part, I spent the day tidying up my poor little flat and buying lots of healthy, non-vending machine sourced food. It was our own show, under the GFK banner, at the Luminaire, which is like lots of other places in London except infinitely better.

Nicolette Corcoran did some witty, elegant, clever things with loops and lullabies and Yeats that brightened me up no end. Amid a healthy turnout, there was a substantial gaggle of parents in tow. I think we played ok.

Towards the end, my mother gave me some green beans and tomatoes from the garden in a little bag,

This somewhat punctured the air of stubbly, bacchanalian recklessness that I had been cultivating for the past few days. But, really, it was ok. I had a bit of a sore throat and wanted to go home.

26.8.10

Feedme Money

In the search of finding a decent gig I came across this leech of a promoter, I should have known better really:



On Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 10:39 AM, Feedme Music wrote:

Hi Neil,

Thanks for contacting me. I’ve had a listen to the tracks up on Soundcloud and would be interested in featuring you on the appropriate events. Dates in mind are Wednesday 25th August @ Punk, Friday 27th August @ 100 Club, Sat 4th September @ Purple Turtle Camden, Friday 10th September @ 100 Club.

If you would like to be considered for bookings, Please register your band at http://www.feedmemusic.co.uk/Artist_SignUp_General.aspx where you can upload an image, mp3, press release, quotes, and links to your social networks (myspace, facebook, twitter, etc.). When writing your press release please consider writing in a journalistic style including style, influences, accolades. Please avoid dull rendition of the band’s history and usual clichés (London’s best kept secret, truly unique…etc). There is a field to include/add press quotes. Please ensure you white list Feedme_team@feedmemusic.co.uk as you will receive a registration activation email. If you do not receive it in about 10 minutes, please check your JUNK folder. The band page becomes active once you have confirmed an event with us.

Feedme Music’s artist roster consists of quality bands who are ready for or already attracting industry and press attention. We choose bands who are moving forward professionally and who are ready to step up to playing quality venues. Stylistically we work with a broad range of bands, from acoustic to punk, metal to indie... music that is of a high standard. Each event is tailored to one particular style, and promoted through relevant outlets. Our aim is to broaden your fan base by teaming you up with bands of the same level and higher, who have fans that would most likely enjoy your sound, giving you maximum opportunity to pick up new fans. We also guide newer bands who we feel have potential, and steer them in the right direction.

Feedme Music’s longevity as a leading promoter has allowed us to be become selective with the bands we choose to work with. Our PR network extends from radio and press, to online networking and festival and tour opportunities, as well as offering management consultation and marketing advice. We also provide a range of other beneficial services, making us a ‘one-stop’ organisation for emerging bands. For good bands that are dedicated, professional and motivated, Feedme Music build working relationships, we do not just book you once and forget you exist. Focusing on these details of service is why Feedme Music won the award for Best Promoter at the 2008 Indy Music Awards.

Our booking terms vary based on the level of each band and include either paying bands through a set fee, or a ticket split, or committing to an advance ticket quota. Terms for your specific booking need to be discussed with the Event Manager dealing with your booking. Every band is given focused attention. Feedme Music are selective with bands we choose to work with, and as a result all of our events run at a very high standard. We are not interested in doing a lot of hard work for bands who simply do not help themselves, and our booking terms are indicative of this ethos. Gigs with low attendance are of no benefit to anyone involved in the process. We do our part wholeheartedly, and artists who wish to progress with us must have the same attitude. Feedme Music’s employees have a strong reputation based on word-of-mouth from band to band, so upholding high standards is of upmost importance to us.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards

Sent: 10 August 2010 10:41
To: Feedme
Subject: Re: Contact Form Details


Hi, thanks for getting back to me. Glad you like the music!

I'll check with the band to see if they're available for any of those dates.

Just to clarify, do we have to register the band on your site to play a gig? and once we've registered and confirmed a gig with you guys, what are your terms for playing said gig?

Thanks
Neil

On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 11:58 AM, Feedme
wrote:

Hi Neil,

Registration creates a profile page for the band used as a press landing page. Have you checked our site our yet? I you have a look you will see exactly how we use band information - www.feedmemusic.co.uk. The other private information i.e. name and contact numbers requested during registration are kept private and used to communicate with you via phone/email.

We are working at high profile London concert venues ranging from 200-1,500 capacity (i.e. Punk, 100 Club, IndigO2 at The O2 & more), with an emphasis on paying bands well on a ticket split basis. You would need to be able to generate a good sized crowd to make the right atmosphere for you to gain new fans. It is increasingly difficult for a promoter to be able to pack a venue in London for an unknown band. It has to be a team effort with the artist playing a fully responsible and strategic role in their own promotion to ensure a busy night – one which will gain them new fans. I would welcome a chat about moving forward if are confident that through your network of fans, friends, contacts, etc., that you will easily be able to attract 40+ fans. I’ve attached a PDF about us and our venues and some useful tips in building your fan base, but please don’t hesitate to call if you would like a chat.

Kind regards

To: Feedmemusic
Subject: Re: Contact Form Details


Could you give me some more details about your advance ticket system?

Thanks

On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 1:28 PM, Feedme wrote:


Hi Neil,

Here’s a sample gig offer covering ticket price and general terms for each venue. This is not a performance contract. Once an offer is agreed a performance contract is issued by our booking system. This sample covers our general offer terms at each venue.

SAMPLE OFFER
Please note that the Minimum Ticket Sale Requirement is NOT the target amount, but a realistically low figure which is still achieved should things go wrong (i.e. the usual amount of last minute drop outs, and ‘sorry I can’t make it’ texts. We will of course do everything we practically can to promote you and the event and our best to maximise the effect and experience of your performance with us.

Please ensure all band members are aware of all of these terms before moving forward.

OFFER FOR: BAND NAME
Date: xxxxx
Venue: xxxxx
Stage Time: x:xx-x:xxpm (45mins for headliner and 30mins all others)
Sound check: xpm
Line Up: xxxxx
Ticket Price: £6 advance/£8 door. For PUNK, 229 venue 2, Proud Camden
£7 advance/£8 door. For Purple Turtle
£8 advance /£10 door. For 100 Club, 229 venue 1
£10 advance /£15 door. For IndigO2 at The O2
Other:
IndigO2 14+. All other venues are strictly 18+ ONLY. Live music until 11pm. DJ’s ‘til late (EXCEPT 100 CLUB).
Minimum Ticket Sale Requirement: 30 PUNK, 229 v2 (Thursdays only), Proud Camden
40 229 v2 Fridays, 100 Club, Purple Turtle
60 229 v1
70 IndigO2 at The O2

You are required to commit to sell/cause the sale of a minimum number of tickets (‘Minimum Ticket Sale Requirement’)
There is NO money upfront for your tickets, once you agree a performance contract we will send you tickets to sell. Tickets are also made available online through ticketweb.co.uk. You hold onto the money for tickets you have sold until after your performance on the night, then return it so you are paid your split for advance tickets, online ticket sales and door sales.

Your Payment: Once you have reached The Minimum Ticket Sale Requirement you will be paid: 1-30 ticket sales = £1 return to you, 31-50 = £2, 51+ = £3. For example, if you make 40 tickets sales/door sales you receive £50, 50 = £70, 70 = £130, 100 = £220, 200 = £520.

Payment for IndigO2 and 229 Venue 1 are £1 for each of the first 50 tickets sold, £2 for each of the next 25 tickets sold, £3 for each of the next 25 tickets sold, and £4 for all other tickets sold.

You are required to pay the shortfall should you fall short of the allocated minimum ticket sales. THIS IS SOMETHING WE DO NOT WANT. This term is set in place to avoid working with free loading bands that promise 100 ticket sales and turn up with five mates. We cannot run such high standards of shows without this policy. This policy means that if you fall short YOU make it pay-to-play. Do not book with us unless you are 100% certain that getting this amount of people to a gig is easy for your band. If you are unsure, do not book with us, wait 6 months and get back to us when you are ready. We want to pay you, we want to increase your fan base and work with you again. This is the only way to ensure high standards are kept and deter unmotivated bands who treat gigs as free rehearsals. It also means your band will be on a bill with serious artists who have a fan base, it stops freeloaders spoiling the integrity of YOUR night.

You are expected to put 100% effort into ensuring maximum attendance at this event. If you would like some help and suggestions on ways to increase your fan base, please ask us. It is advised you do not book any other London dates too close to this event.

 


From: neil.a.walsh@gmail.com
Sent: 10 August 2010 15:35


Hi, I'm still a little confused by this. Are you expecting bands to be ticket vendors?

Also, I'm a little concerned by the following statement:

"This policy means that if you fall short YOU make it pay-to-play"

...which pretty much translates as: 'This policy means I won't lose money but you probably will'

So, if I've read this correctly; you're expecting bands to be a ticket vendor, a promoter and presumably be able to perform ably live without crumbling under the immense pressure and financial risk of playing your event?

It seems very unfair that the bands are shouldering all the burden whilst FeedMeMusic take no risk at all.

Are you deliberately trying to put people off playing your night?

On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 4:33 PM, Feedme wrote:

 
Neil,

I am answering this email out a sense of courtesy. However on in my time as a promoter I have met so many bands that take this attitude that it frankly gets tiring. Of course bands MUST play an integral role in their own marketing at this stage. If they do not then they will not be very successful.

You have NO IDEA how much money we spend putting bands on. Have you any idea how much it takes to put bands on professionally at venues like 100 Club, IndigO2 at The O2 etc.

Advance tickets are provided (without any upfront fee) as an additional marketing tool to capitalize on opportunities at other events etc. Online tickets are provided through ticket agencies. Bands receive a generous ticket split based upon advanced and on the door sales. All artists are contracted months in advance, and promoted heavily by Feedme Music staff.

Our artists are given outstanding and well-promoted platforms to perform (indigO2 at The O2, The 100 Club, Proud Camden, 229, Relentless Garage, Scala, Purple Turtle, and Punk) aimed at building on their fan bases and gaining industry attention. We have created festival opportunities (three of our artists played at Download 2010) for artists to play alongside well-known public eye acts. In addition, we are working with key contacts in major publications and have achieved full page features for artists working with us in KERRANG! and plenty of airplay on internet, regional and national radio. We are agents for one band and have achieved live sessions on Ian Camfield’s show on XFM and a great deal of profile press.

Feedme Music provide a service above and beyond that of any other promoter working at this level, and therefore we do not wish to waste our efforts or networks on bands who do not contribute to their own success. We take a great deal of pride in our work, and are proud of the results we have achieved with artists. We are an award winning promotional team – a massive vote from the bands and artists we work with. Our terms are well considered and have been put in place to deter bands who either are not ready for the level of show we put together, or those (OF WHICH THERE ARE PLENTY) who feel it is their divine right to just turn up an play to an audience provided by coordinated hard work by other artists and the promoter.

It is essential for all bands and artists wishing to elevate themselves in the music industry to understand that they are an integral part of the promotional team at this level. In addition, it is worth noting that to provide these services, we need to bring trade to venues and earn sufficient funds to survive as a company and invest in the future of emerging talent.

This is a company formed by musicians and run by musicians. Virtually all those who work for Feedme Music we have met through playing at our shows. Those same musicians book artists, host events, and fulfill a supportive and creative role for unsigned bands and artists.

Give me a call if you want to clarify anything.

Kind regards


On Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 3:49 PM, Neil Walsh wrote:

 
Hi

I completely agree that bands should advertise their gigs via the social networks and their mailing lists but they shouldn't be held accountable if the turnout is bad. The promoter books the bands so ultimately it's the promoters responsibility and risk, not the bands. Constantly badgering friends and family to buy tickets off you, like you suggest, isn't going to help the band progress professionally at all. All it's going to do is line the pockets of the promoter and make you less popular than a fox at the chicken Olympics
with the people you're harrassing to buy tickets. In sharp contrast to your ethos; friends and family, not too many of course, should be on the guest list out of courtesy not hounded down to buy overpriced tickets.

Your assumption that I have "NO IDEA" how much it costs "putting bands on" is wrong my friend. I am a promoter myself and have put on shows at The Purple Turtle and various other venues in the past so I am well aware of the costs involved. However, I have never demanded a band bring a certain number of people or be liable for damages, because I, as the promoter, am the one who has booked these bands so ultimately the pressure of pushing the night is on my shoulders. Of course I actively encourage bands to help advertise the gig but it's not the integral part of my promotional strategy like it seems to be with you. 




I didn't hear anything after that reponse and assumed that was the last I'd be hearing from them, until I received this:




On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM, feedmemusic wrote:


Hi Neil,

I’m just following up on my previous email as I have had no response.  Are you still interested in pursuing an event with us?

Kind regards

On 26 Aug 2010, at 13:10, Neil Walsh <neil@organgrinderrecords.co.uk> wrote:

Hi, can we agree on a £100 guarantee for the band?

Regards
Neil 

On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:21 PM, Feedme wrote:

Sorry Neil. I had marked you for follow up from a prior email. Considering our previous dialogues I don't think we will benefit each other.

Best wishes
On Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 3:53 PM, Neil Walsh wrote:

I'd probably be better off just writing you a cheque for £100 than actually playing your gig.

Regards
Neil 





23.8.10

Smoke Fairies' new album sampler

A select few tracks from the new album 'Through Low Light and Trees' can be streamed on Soundcloud, here:
 


There's a rather splendid review of the album on Holy Moly here that proclaims it to be "what Robert Plant would make if he were young and beautiful again". They also go on to say it's one of the year's best albums too, which is nice.

19.8.10

Goodbye, Faithful Kingdom! present Her Name Is Calla

Goodbye, Faithful Kingdom! proudly present Her Name Is Calla.

ADVANCE TICKETS HERE

The orchestral rock pioneers return to London following a sell out show at The Lexington to launch new album 'The Quiet Lamb' . This show at The Luminaire forms part of an extensive and no doubt dynamic tour of the UK.

Support comes from The Monroe Transfer and Nicolette Corcoran.
...
Her Name Is Calla
http://www.myspace.com/hernameiscalla

Formed some years ago out of a desire to create music that had a more emotional core, Her Name is Calla have since expanded to a six piece - seven if you include the occasional addition of cello. The music they make is the music they want to make. Encapsulating brass, strings, pianos, oddities and anything else at their disposal, they craft songs and music that have a heart. That heart may not always be the one people are used to - not the bright red shining symbol of love and hope - but a heart that seems somehow more personal than clichéd.

"...there can be no denying that Her Name Is Calla are one of the most daring, unconventional bands the UK has to offer right now. For that alone we should all be exceedingly thankful" Drowned in Sound

"terrific - in terms of both scope and achievement." - The Four

THE MONROE TRANSFER
http://www.themonroetransfer.co.uk/

London based 7 piece instrumental band recently released new album Trials on Organ Grinder records to wide acclaim.

“At their most beautiful, The Monroe Transfer are able to lightly brush the places that so few other instrumental acts can.” – Drowned In Sound

“ an album of stunning beauty, easily the band's best work to date” – The Silent Ballet

“.. with Trials, The Monroe Transfer have shown great imagination in every aspect of their musical venture, whilst also playing up the truly great aspects of the effect that this kind of music can have on your soul” - Line of Best Fit

Opening proceedings is the vocal looping wonders of Nicollete Corcoran: http://www.myspace.com/nicolettecorcoran

31.7.10

Tamesis Dock

I sauntered along the Thames Path on Wednesday and headed to the Tamesis Dock as Fireworks Night were playing there. I'd never been before so wasn't quite sure where it was or what it looked like but as I approached it I began to wonder if it had ever functioned as a proper boat because it didn't look like the most seaworthy of vessels, ie it looked like it was about to sink, but it all added to its charms. When I set foot on the boat the floor was almost at a 45 degree angle, it felt like I was already three pints down, which is a smashing state to be in!

It was a decent crowd and Left With Pictures were on splendid form and a joy to watch which all added up to a super fun gig. The lovely promoter Mr Chalmers also co-runs a delightfully ramshackle Podcast simply entitled independent Music Podcast, which needs no explanation as to what type of podcast it is. Check it out here

On Fireworks Night album news: I'll be sticking up a new track from the album every week 'til the end so head here for that.



12.7.10

Through Low Light and Trees

Smoke Fairies' debut album, which was recorded in this lovely place, is to be released on 6th September; which isn't far away at all!

...and the NME says:


The Monroe Transfer tour with Her Name Is Calla

The Monroe Transfer will be joining Her Name Is Calla for a nice chunk of their tour of the UK in late August / early September. I'm pleasantly surprised we've managed to organise this albeit short support tour considering it's pretty impossible getting seven busy musicians in the same place just for rehearsal let alone a tour. I'm looking forward to it.

The dates we're playing with them are as follows:

The keen eyed will notice that the London show is being promoted by me, which will be the first Goodbye, Faithful Kingom! presents in a long while - quite exciting it is too! 


16.6.10

Royal Festival Hall

So, I played the Royal Festival Hall yesterday with Smoke Fairies – it’s a rather large venue isn’t it, supposedly seating 2,500 or 3,000 depending which source you believe.


It reminded me of that magnificent chrome wave of a building that is The Sage in Gateshead, interior aesthetics that is, not exterior. Our dressing room was similar to when we were at the Sage too, in that it contained some tasty snacks and a bottle of whiskey, next to the antelope disposal unit. That whiskey served its social lubricant side effect rather well last night by dispelling all that awful self awareness. I mean, I can’t have any more of these situations where you walk on stage, pick up your viola and forget how to play the damn thing, with incessant thoughts popping into your head like:

‘how do I really know I can play this instrument?’
‘I mean, I’m holding a stick of wood with horse hairs on it’
‘and I’m expected to draw that across bits of wire made of cat gut’
‘and assume it’s going to make a nice sound’
‘seems pretty tricky, maybe it can't be done’
'I'm pretty exposed here on stage, are my flies undone?' 
‘what if my fingers don’t move’
‘what if they just seize up’
‘oh god, what if I’ve got gout in my fingers’
‘can you even get gout in one’s fingers’
‘what if I drop it?’

....and before long you’re a trembling wreck of a man playing like a ten year old on their first lesson, then you get:

‘come on, don’t be stupid, you can play this’
‘there’s no need to play any different to usual’
‘move your arms properly’
‘you’ve played this umpteen times before’
‘come on, it’s easy’
'did I leave the gas on?'
‘move your arms’
‘shit, it isn’t working’
‘my arm feels like it’s made of rock’
‘it’s just not moving’
‘why isn’t it working properly ?’
‘what the hell is going on’

...then the show ends and you feel like a rotten plum. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often thanks to that wonderful invention alcohol.


Talking of ailments, I was sitting patiently waiting for my turn to soundcheck, my legs were crossed in an awkward way, like I’d tied and knotted them together. I sat there through relentless snare hits and "two", "two", "two", "one", "one", "two", waiting patiently, then, when it was time to stand up and play I discovered my foot had fallen asleep and I spent a good few minutes stumbling around like an old drunk. The thing is, my foot still hasn’t restored itself to the usual operational standards I expect from my foot, there’s still numbness there and I’m worried that I’ve caused some serious damaged. I’m afraid to Google the problem because I know what’ll happen, Google will say: “they’re definitely going to have to amputate” .

And here is a photo of a horse:
 

10.6.10

Fireworks Night news






Fireworks Night's new album 'One Winter, One Spring' is being mastered as I type and we'll shortly be unveiling a few tracks on the usual streaming sites.

For the time being you can listen and download a live recording from a recent show we did at a lovely little pub called The Gladstone. Click here for that.

12.5.10

spouting a load of rubbish in The Big Issue

... and coming off rather naive. Still, nice to have a feature.




ResonanceFM and Dexter Bentley are organising our album launch @ The Miller this Friday, come along if you're free; tix here

Her Name is Calla

Last night I recorded some viola parts at fellow Monroe Transfer member Nick’s house.  Her Name Is Calla asked us to add a few parts to a couple of already massive sounding songs on their new album. We suitably added a whole new level of massiveness and I’m looking forward to hearing the end result!

5.5.10

Camden Trawl

So, I spent much of the typically rainy bank holiday weekend in Camden for the Camden Crawl because Smoke Fairies' were billed to play both days. The first show was an apparently "well received" set at KOKO; it certainly seemed so judging by the hollering and clapping at inopportune moments by a lagered up bunch at the front. It's always far more entertaining playing to an enthusiastic crowd  though even if they are completely  hammered. The rest of the evening was spent vaguely attempting to consume copious amounts of sickly Gaymers cider, which clearly contains mostly sugar, with a hint of apple.

                                                                           
Day two was mostly spent at the Chalk Farm end of Camden for our show at The Enterprise. A bottle of Gaymers cider made its treacly presence known by falling off an amp during sound check and emptying its sugary contents all over Kaf's jacket. As if that wasn't bad enough, two bottleneck slides fell off the amp along with the cider and despite fervently searching like pigs sniffing out truffles we couldn't find either one of the slides. Not one to be deterred, Kaf found a shot glass to use instead.



Oh, and apparently I'm one of Camden's Seven. Seven of what I'm not sure, perhaps one of the seven people most likely to get mugged in Camden. The chap sporting the blue man group look is the clear winner though.

RIP Kay Mosley

3.5.10

Trials of the day


Trials; the new album by The Monroe Transfer is out today. As per usual it comes with preposterous hand made packaging and you have to break it open to listen to it. If you like lies; Orangina nicked their 'shake it to wake it' marketing campaign off us.

You can listen and download the album from our band camp site.

Our next gig is at the Miller of Mansfield on 14th May