Monday, 21 June 2010

The Shape of World Cups to Come

Anelka - Mardy French
Bloke and R-Man Hair Hero

C-Bomb has Transmogrified into Piddleman and is now locked Renton style in a warm dark space with only tins of soup, paper pornography and suppositories to sustain his new musical express train –We wait expectant.

Pretty accurate - though Regan forgot to mention the 6 foot stack of amps and pile of drum machines. - CBomb.

R-Man however is enjoying the sunshine, beer gardens and the world cup. England’s performances have been um, well, pretty nasty. So nasty the Bishop of Croydon has been (divinely?) compelled to write a new prayer for the team. It consists of 2 only words…"OH GOD".

Sympathy does not abound for the serial adulterer/rapist/millionaires and nor should it. Love the game – just wish the players were the genuine heroes the soft drink adverts claim.

The early games seemed to re-inforce national stereotypes – Germany were the model of efficiency, Italy were noisy and demonstrative but got little done and France were well a bit mardy. BUT WAIT! Missed Teutonic penalty? Sombre functional Brazilians? Looks like the pundits will have to find some new verbal dexterity rather than falling on hackneyed phrases.

Thankfully the Aussies have kept to form and proven to somehow be even worse losers than they are winners. Any Australian sporting team is perhaps the only one (s?) that I hope draw every game. Miserable & Taciturn in defeat can be quickly followed by Crowing, Boastful Swagger in victory. Not cool – but they probably used the whole country’s cool quota on Nick Cave (with a bit left over for Confide in Me era Kylie).

Musically this has been a varied and enjoyable world cup – All the countries theme tunes are a bit camp and jolly apart from the genuinely pretty Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika perhaps the best fusion of the disparate cultures in South Africa – well apart from Bunny Chow that is. I’m most interested in the Vevuloza which are roundly hated but sound to me like the sort of noise that Kevin Shields has in his head and been spending the last 25 years trying to get out. Just think how different the world would be if his divine grace Ornette Coleman had bought one instead of a plastic saxophone…

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Download 2010

Yes, just like thousands of other blogs this week I'm going to give you my lowdown of this year's Download festival at Donington Park.

Armed with R-Man's army boots, my GNR denim (style reference: Bill Murray in Caddyshack meets Don Dokken) and a crate of beers, I rocked up on Friday afternoon with my rock brothers Robin and Edd. I was pretty smug because Jen had already arrived and set up a tent for me: a lovely number with pink flowers on it. It wasn't long before we met an Australian girl who could write our names in Elvish (obviously it was only one particular form of Elvish but unfortunately I'm not educated in these ways).

Then some Norwegians turned up and told us they were worried that AC/DC weren't playing because they weren't on the list for the main stage. Upon arriving at the arena it became clear that this was because the main stage was too tiny for them and they'd brought their own. Needless to say what ensued was 2 hours of full blown awesomeness. For Christmas I would like an elevating platform on which I intend to play all future solos please. Thanks.

After a cold night (my first festival camping experience would you believe!) we had a solid day of boozing before getting to the arena for Megadeth. As soon as I saw the Rust In Peace themed backdrop and drum skins, I knew we were in for another Mustaine treat. Sure enough amongst others they played all my essential tracks: Holy Wars, Hangar 18, Tornado of Souls, Symphony of Destruction, Sweating Bullets and Peace Sells. The only way I could possibly follow that was with half a roast chicken and chips. Unfortunately the chicken stall had a 20 minute wait on chicken! IT'S ALL THEY SELL!! To be fair it's not like many people go to festivals, I can see why they were surprised by the rush. Incidentally, Rush would have been a surprise, but true to the schedule next up was Deftones followed by Rage Against The Machine.

I've not listened to Rage since I was a youth in baggy jeans. Now I'm a 26 year-old in baggy jeans, but within seconds of them starting I felt 12 years younger. I lost my homeys instantly but fortunately Edd had upped the style ante earlier in the day and purchased a sweet hat which enabled me to pick him out of a crowd at 20 paces. Who owned the show more, Rage or Edd's hat? Too close to call.
After an evening of gourmet festival food and a sexy party in our tent, with special guest appearance from Jack 2D4, Sunday rolled round with probably my most highly anticipated lineup. First off though, it was time for half a roast chicken and chips. Unfortunately the chicken stall had a 30 minute wait on chicken! IT'S ALL THEY SELL!! Their loss, I had my second giant Yorkshire pudding of the weekend and it did not disappoint. Some people will tell you it's like eating the plate. It's not. But it is delicious.

Since I was about 7 years old Slash has been a hero of mine,; there's no doubt that his Les Pauls fascinated me enough to get into playing guitar. And finally here he was! The years may have had some impact on his body (nobody needed to see Slash's sideboob) but he was still every bit the hero. Myles Kennedy wailed the hell out of several of his solo tracks as well as 4 whole cuts from Appetite, and a hoped-for cameo from Lemmy was everything I dreamed of. I couldn't speak for about an hour afterwards.

Which incidentally is when the heavens opened. (Sweet segue there hey?) Billy Idol was the first act to have to compete with the weather, but fortunately he pulled it out of the bag with every classic song and arguably (yes Robin you can argue anything) the best working of the crowd all weekend. White Wedding, Flesh For Fantasy, Eyes Without A Face, Rebel Yell - all present and correct.

After being pleasantly surprised by both Porcupine Tree and Steel Panther on the second stage, we dragged our sorry wet cold asses back to the main stage for Stone Temple Pilots, who were really cool, and then of course Aerosmith. Nothing really needs to be said about Aerosmith. Apart from: you may recall reading a few weeks ago about my feedback den. I'm not saying Joe Perry is copping my style but you can decide for yourselves:

And then like elderly cripples we walked blistered and enthused back to the car.

SEMI-OBLIGATORY GREAT MEN PLUG: Mental Benn is still plotting our metamorphosis into the next Kylie Minogue, but until then go ahead and have a listen to our demo of Staymaker.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Widdleman VS The World Cup

Here's 2 things you may or may not know about me:

1) I'm not interested in football.
2) I am a superhero. (You guys will keep my identity secret right?)

Every once in a while, the world of sports conspires against me and takes all my friends away for a month. Instead of wandering the streets lonely and confused, in the 2006 World Cup I decided to use the time taken up by each game (or "match" as they say) to write and record a new song. I've reuploaded my efforts from that World Cup, as well as one from the rugby one in 2008 onto my Myspace page (yep, I'm only decades behind the rest of the world). Have a listen. Great Men fans will recognise Paraguay Zero in my original recording.

This summer I intend to do the same thing, so I've just been sorting out my "World Cup Studio". It's tricky to say what will happen until it happens but look out for some gnarly riffs, slap bass, and maybe even some stadium trumpet. (Yeah I play trumpet through a distortion pedal and a 6 foot high guitar stack, deal with it). I'll be sure and keep y'all updated with my progress.

PS - If anyone out there shares my sentiment and would like to offer themselves up as a special guest star, give me a holler!


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Three Shades Of Gimp

Shade 1: Guitars

From time to time as expenses, eBay, and wild ideas permit, I will share with you some of the guitar gimpery that Great Men get up to. Recently we've undertaken 2 projects:

The Bennecaster
As a gift to our good friend Benn for recording our album, we got him a guitar. As it happens this one needed no real electronic work doing on it so I just went to town with some black spray paint and some permanent markers.

On Saturday R-Man and I travelled down to London in the Prickmobile to watch Ulterior's triumphant London return. We spent the afternoon in the Hunterian museum at the Royal College of Surgeons, which was engrossing and horrifying. We recommend it. Then in the evening we watched the boys pull a great show out of the bag; the highlight for me was when Benn strapped on the Bennecaster for the first time. Like what I imagine a proud parent to feel like, a tear welled up in my eye.

White Hondo Les Paul
I also recently acquired another late 70s Les Paul Custom copy from the Japanese Hondo company. It needed some TLC so I busted out a cloth and got R-Man's steady hands involved in fitting some chrome Hot Slag pickups, and wiring a coil tap to each. Have a look at our Facebook page for a fuller photo commentary.

Shade 2: Politics

I've been a fan of Nick Palmer MP since he invited constituents to a public Q&A on the expenses scandal. Ever since I've been an avid reader of his email newsletter and found him to be a rarity: an honest, intelligent and open politician. We were all saddened when he was narrowly defeated in the recent general election, so when word came through that he was holding a drinks party in a Beeston pub, naturally Strike Team mobilised. I personally hope we've not seen the last of his kind, and as ever remind you kidz to get interested in politics: it's about how you live.

Shade 3: Middle Earth

This weekend I'm looking forward to a back-to-back marathon of all the Lord of the Rings films - extended editions of course. I expect to receive respect and disdane in equal portions: letters of opinion to the usual address please. R-Man is playing it cool and insisting that he doesn't like LOTR (as we call it in the biz). I might make a crude costume. I definitely won't.