Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Lords of Rocktober: Return of the Rock

Another early morning back at The Swamp for me, programming the drum machine in my pyjamas. How it got in my pyjamas I'll never know. An hour and a half and a glass of OJ later, our complete repertoire was in there and chromed to the hilt.

I think it's fair to say that Another Evening With Great Men was a success. The venue was once again full to capacity, and we enjoyed a documentary / night-vision chav horror mash-up from the Turrells, and a smoke-vision leather chrome-up from Ulterior.

I enjoyed our set a lot. I bled all over my Telecaster and sweated all over everything else. My beer poured itself all over the new drum machine and a monitor (fortunately nowhere near any of my wayward fluids) set on fire.

Thanks in no particular order to: Ulterior; Nick 'the long-suffering tour manager' Gough; John and Tom Turrell; H-Town and T-Fran for collecting money, selling t-shirts, and keeping the peace with wayward Portugese visitors; Nick and Simon at the Chameleon; DJ Howie Mac for rescuing the spillage; and Shawshank Poxon, future documentarian extraodinaire!

My apologies to the surprised attendees who had been told that Great Men were a folk duo...

The Lords of Rocktober: The Two Rockers

After getting up to play Parking Meter Chess with the brave soldiers of the Camden Traffic Warden Militia, R-Man and my good friend Steve popped off to Delichio's (my current favourite cafe in That London) to collect some bacon sandwiches whilst I holed up in The Fabulous H-Town's kitchen with my headphones on, overhauling the beats from the night before and adding Spectators to the repertoire.

We then piled into the car and got stuck into the central London traffic jam that stood between us and the Shazam Live Lounge. Steve livened up the journey by dropping the [largely fictional] bombshell that I was a massive Whoopi Goldberg fan, then commando rolling out of the car door clutching his compass, muttering something about "running errands for the Lockpicker", never to be seen again. Speaking of Whoopi, if we were to have a "Great Women" t-shirt, who would replace Springsteen and Stallone on the artwork?

Arriving at Shazam an hour and a half late, the Live Lounge was ready for our session and we laid down Lady Cakes, Messerschmitt and Spectators At An Execution in quick succession, the latter two making their Great Men recording debuts. The sound on playback was immense, so get ready for the final mix! Thanks so much to Hazel and Dan at Shazam for making it happen, running a slick operation, and forgiving our tardiness. Check out their Youtube page for ours and all their other sessions as they are edited.

Having had an awesome time recording our session, we followed it up in the sort of rock and roll fashion that only Great Men can: we went to the Science Museum! Regan got giddy over steam engines whilst I put my hands inside some astronaut's gloves. Spaceships and machines on display for free: you really can't complain.

After a quarter roast chicken and chips in a Hammersmith cafe, and a pint in The Hop Poles (getting homesick for Beeston and its fine pubs) with my rock brethren Robin and Edd, we put A.R.E. Weapons on the stereo and headed north for Nottingham...

The Lords of Rocktober: The Fellowship of the Rock

After the drum dramas of the night before, R-Man phoned every music shop, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse from Nottingham to London and none of them, regardless of what their websites claimed, had an Alesis SR-16 in stock. So we ended up buying an SR-18 on our way down to Camden. With an hour to spare between arriving at the venue and soundchecking, I set about learning how to use it and programming our set for that night:

The gig went fairly smoothly considering, Messerschmitt received its world debut, and we got some good feedback after, including this gem:

"so rocking they hurt my spine and made me miss a call from my mum"

Sorry about that Mrs Tolliday.

I later made a guest appearance playing bass with Ginkinta (very nearly playing all the right notes), which was good fun and something of a holiday without all the machines to operate as well! Then it was like a trip down memory lane watching Robin rock the drums for Monsters in the Attic. The highlight of the night though was catching up with lots of old (and new) compadres who'd come down to see us. Thanks everybody!

Tune in next time to find out what happened on Friday...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

RIP: Great Man #3

It is with great sadness that I must announce the death of a band member. At the start of practice tonight, on the eve of our 3 day rock extravaganza, our drummer could not perform a single beat, instead spouting gibberish and Chinese. Finally, as R-Man and I tried futilely to revive him, he spouted a cryptic pi symbol and faded away.

A faithful beat keeper and comrade for the past 2 years, we'd like to remember him the way he was in his glory days, as I'm sure would you. Here's a photo from the pinnacle of his performing career, An Evening With Great Men in March 2010 (pictured on the right):

Of course our immediate priority is not to disappoint the good folks who've put us on in London and all you good people who'll be coming to see us, so straight away we've been tracking down a replacement. For tonight's rehearsal we graciously accepted the help of my old friend Boss DR-550, necessitating a complete re-write of the London set-list. However we're hoping en route to the gig to pick up another Alesis SR-16 instead. Being Great Men we have a comprehensive range of options:

Plan A: Get a new Alesis, and I'll have to program it from scratch in the venue before we play, then do the gig hoping I've got it right!

Plan B: Use the Boss and deliver a ramshackle but serviceable set.

Plan C: Enlist one of the fine drummers on hand (they don't know it yet) to lay down a groove.

If anyone else was at that Metallica gig at Download festival a few years ago where Lars couldn't play and they got guest drummers, it'll probably be exactly like that. Which was awesome by the way.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Rock Week!

This is the week we've all been waiting for! Here's the lowdown:

Monday 18th October

We kicked off the week with a loud rehearsal deep under the streets of Nottingham. Big In Japan came along for the ride and captured this moment as proof of the rock in the room:

Tuesday 19th October

Craig David taking us for a drink.

Wednesday 20th October

More practising!

Thursday 21st October - Tommy Flynn's, Camden

We're on early - 7:30 - so get down early for our first ever London gig. Although strictly speaking to most of the London crowd all our songs are new, we will be giving Messerschmitt its live premiere, the first time anywhere in the universe! Later in the night I will be guesting on bass in all-girl punk band Ginkinta. Bring one of these flyers for cheap entry, and tell them Great Men sent you!

Friday 22nd October

We're off to the Shazam Live Lounge to do a session, probably some new material that's not on the album! Check out the awesome Foxy Shazam video, in whose footsteps we will be following. Later on we'll be Oystering round London like a couple of tourists.

Saturday 23rd October - Chameleon, Nottingham

We're hosting our second Evening With Great Men, again featuring the films of The Turrell Brothers to open the show, and this time we're the support band, with our pals Ulterior headlining. Chameleon is just off Market Square, near The Bell - it's above Clinton Cards (physically and socially). Get down for 8pm and let the good times roll!

Sunday 24th October

We're dividing to conquer: R-Man will be checking out our hombres The Cupid Stunt at Nottingham's Hockley Hustle, and I recommend you do too. I would if not for the fact that I'm off to see one of my all-time favourite guitarists, Adrian Belew. Thela hun ginjeet!

Hopefully see y'all at one or more of the gigs!

Monday, 11 October 2010

We are the goon squad and we're coming to town...

Firstly, bonjour to our French readership! Apparently those guys love Springsteen and Stallone. I once made a French-language evil techno mini-album under my secret super-villain identity The Green Trouser, have a listen if you like.

Well, Rocktober is upon us but rather than get all the excitement into one blog post I'll try and stagger it! So this time let me introduce you to our new t-shirts:

As you can see, available in all sizes from "small, as worn by pretty girl", through "medium as worn by grown up man", to "large, as worn by cuddly idiot". "But at what cost?!" I hear you cry. Only 8 of your English pounds. I'm too naive to know how to set up a way of slickly ordering online, so please drop us a message on Facebook or Myspace or something. I'll be your best friend.

Expect to hear from me soon about our London gig on October 21st and Nottingham gig on October 23rd...