Joyeux Noel

Christmas Eve, already? Madness. This year has been completely mad for me, and in the way of these things it both feels like it has lasted a lifetime and only just started. Safe to say I’m not complaining. Thanks to all you lot who made it happen. I have a little break now, a few days with family, then a smattering of shows (Zurich, Southampton, Manchester etc). Next year kicks off properly with the Dropkick Murphys European shows, which I am very much looking forward to.

It’s been mentioned elsewhere, but in case you missed it… Tomorrow (Christmas Day), Xtra Mile Recordings and I will be giving everyone a special free present to say thanks for the support in 2012, and looking forward to 2013 and the new album. Details are here. Happy Christmas everyone.

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Mark Mulcahy UK Shows

Greetings from Norwich. We have hit the half-way point in the full-band shows of the UK tour, and everything is going swimmingly. Getting into the crowd each night has resulted in some degree of calamity for me (lost a St Christopher, bruised my foot, cut my cheek) but it’s all good fun. The dance off is going well too. Current leaderboard: 1. Newcastle, 2. Reading, 3. Sheffield.We’re also having fun with this.

Some people reading this may be aware of the work of Mark Mulcahy. He’s a great songwriter from the USA and an old friend of Nigel’s.  I also recorded one of his songs (“The Quiet One”) for a tribute compilation a while back (it’s also on The Second Three Years). He’s coming over to the UK for a rare set of dates in December – Manchester, Oxford and London – and I can’t recommend them highly enough. If you have the chance to go see him, please do. Details of the shows are here. Enjoy.

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Small Venues

This is a blog post about small venues. Despite having played at larger places in recent years, the vast majority of my time as a musician has been spent on the stages of small bars, clubs and pubs. They are the lifeblood of any scene and are vitally important to anyone who gives a damn about music, whether underground or mainstream.

Two venues that I know and love are, heart-breakingly, having a tough time, and I have two shows coming up which reflect this. First of all, the lovely club Abart in Zurich is, after a long battle, finally closing at the end of the year. That sucks, a lot, but the good folk there have asked me to come over and play one of the closing shows. So, December 27th, I’ll be playing there solo. Tickets are onsale now.

Secondly, the Joiners Arms in Southampton. This is a venue that is really special to me. I saw my first ever show there (Snug, 1995, featuring one Ed Harcourt on guitar). Million Dead played there many times, including our last ever show in 2005. I have played there solo four times to date. The venue is having a tough time of late financially – a common occurrence for small venues, as they operate on a thin margin. When I heard about it, I naturally wanted to help. So, December 28th (my birthday no less) I’ll be playing a solo show there as well. Tickets go on sale today at 3pm from the venue website.

So, come down to the shows; in Zurich, let’s see her out with a bang. In Southampton, let’s all gang together and make sure the Joiners survives and continues to provide a platform for the music we all love. See you there.

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November UK Tour Face

I write from a cafe in Camden Town. The album recording session in Burbank wrapped up just about in time for the deadline – I headed off to Gainesville for the Fest (you can see my set here) and the Sleeping Souls hung around for a day to finish off some bits and bobs. We’re all home now, which is nice, even if I am slightly frazzled. I’m very pleased with how recording went. Now for the mixing / mastering / promo part of the schedule. Release is still set for early next year. But a big part of it is now done. Yay.

Looming ahead in my diary is, of course, the UK tour. It’s the longest one I’ve done in many years, and probably the most number of people I’ve played to in my home islands in one tour. So it’s going to be ace. I also cannot wait to see Tim and Jim, not only to hang out but also to introduce all of you guys to their excellence.

Most of the dates are sold out (the list is here). This, of course, means that a lot of people are looking for tickets, and a few people have tickets they want to get rid of. Lots of people ask me to spread information about this on Twitter. Here’s the deal. If someone has tickets to offer, I will retweet; otherwise, I’ll hold off, so as not to clog up everyone’s feeds. If you are either buying or selling, use the hashtag #fthctickets and hopefully things will get sorted. It goes without saying, of course, that I won’t be helping out touts or people selling tickets for inflated prices. Face value only please.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before, I will be taking part in this year’s Movember campaign, raising money for and awareness about men’s health issues. Practically speaking, this means I’m shaving clean for the first time in many years on the 1st, and will be sporting a (hopefully) lush mo for the tour dates. You can donate or join my team here, and there will be donation buckets at the shows as well. I’ll be posting videos, photos and other updates as we go along.

Right, I’m going to try and convince my body that it is, in fact, mid afternoon. See you all soon.

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California Dreaming

Ah, the studio, the place where dreams go to sit around quite a lot while Rich and Nigel discuss drum fills. We are entering week three out here, and it’s going to plan, which is great, but the plan does involve a quite titanically anal degree of attention to detail, which isn’t quite as exciting. Nevertheless, great things are afoot. Huzzah!

There have been some dribs and drabs of news coming through this last week so I thought I’d update everyone in a round-up blog. Which brings us here. Let’s get started.

Firstly, I am really quite astonishingly excited (and indeed astonished) to announce that I will be opening for The Pogues at London’s O2 Arena on 20th December for their Christmas show. It’s a huge honour to be part of this, and a huge venue, so come on down and have a yuletide party. Tickets are on sale now.

Secondly, I’ll be kicking off my 2013 with a tour in Europe opening for my friends the Dropkick Murphys. Tickets go on sale today. We are hitting many countries and playing many shows and I am stoked. The details are here.

Thirdly, I was the proud recipient recently of the 2012 Vanguard Award at the ASCAP Awards. It’s a pretty technical thing, but I’m flattered and chuffed and all the other things you’d imagine me to be. Thanks ASCAP.

Finally, I used some of my time in between drum fill discussions and Tarrant’s endless bass-slapping practice to tab out the songs from my second album, which means I’ve done two records now. You can see them here. Go forth and play them better than me!

Right, it’s actually bed time here in Burbank, so I’m off to sleep. Adios.

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Believe Beer

It’s slightly weird even typing what I am about to type, but here goes nothing; I have my own beer! The good folks at Signature Brew got in touch a while back and asked if I’d be interested in ‘designing’ my own beer. That was a new one for me – I don’t know masses about beer, other than that I like drinking it a whole lot. In the end I learned a lot, had a fun evening getting hammered, and ended up with a beer with my name on the label, which is pretty much the pinnacle of any road-dog’s ambitions.

The beer is called “Believe”. There’s a video of me trying to figure out what my beer should taste like here, and you can preorder your own bottles here. Hopefully it’s tasty as hell. Try it out.

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El Dorado

Coning in at under 4 weeks, the American tour we finished on Sunday night in New York was a short one, a whistlestop bounce between the coasts. Nevertheless, we had a ton of fun, played my biggest US shows to date, and made firm friends with the amazing Jenny Owen Youngs and Larry & His Flask. Thanks to everyone who came out to the shows, and to the crew (Eric, Casey, Greg and Grizz). Next time we hit this country the tour will be longer.

I write this blog from Burbank, California, the same place we were before the start of the tour, when we were working on pre-production for the new album. We’re now back here for the whole of this month to make the record. We are working with the amazing Rich Costey (that’s the reason we aren’t recording in England, incidentally; I’ve wanted to work with Rich for a long time). It’s exciting and daunting in equal measure. I’m pretty confident in the songs I have this time around, and I really feel like this is an opportunity to work on being a recording artist, using the studio as a proper tool. Or something like that. Time will, of course, tell, but I’m putting my bets down now on this being a good one.

So! To the studio. I’ll try and post some photos and videos of the working process as we go along. Wish us luck!

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The Road Most Traveled

A humid morning in New Orleans. The US tour is rolling ever onwards. By the standards of this country, this has been a pretty short run, and it’s weird to think we’re in the final stretch now. I mean, we only played one show in Texas. Eh? Nevertheless, we have some cool stops ahead of us – Atlanta, Birmingham, Baltimore, NYC. And then we hit the studio hard to make the new album. Exciting times.

My good friend Chuck Ragan has gone and published a book. Actually, it’s a compilation of entries by lots of different people, including members of Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music. At The Drive-In, yours truly and many, many more. The book is all about how to survive the road, a life lived on the move. I’m very proud to have been asked to be part of this, and having had a quick flick through the finished thing, I can say that it’s a great book and a treasure trove of advice and information. The book is called “The Road Most Traveled” and you can get your copy from Amazon right here. Enjoy.

Right, time for some Cajan cooking for lunch…

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Beans On Toast Live At The Scala

I’m sure most people reading this are familiar with the work of my good friend Jay, aka Beans On Toast. After all, he opened the Wembley show, I’ve mentioned him in a bunch of songs, he’s long been one of my main musical inspirations and sounding boards, I produced one of his albums, and he put me up this summer. All round lovely guy.

One of the sadnesses of touring life is that you often miss important events – weddings, birthdays and so on. Later this month I’ll be missing a special day for Jay in London and I’m genuinely sad about this. But if you live in or anywhere near London, you can get there and enjoy it for me.

Beans On Toast is headlining the Scala in London’s Kings Cross on September 27th. It’s miles and away his biggest headline show, he has a full band, and he’s recording it for a live album to boot. Tickets are £6.50, it’s 16+, and you can get yours right here.

Seriously, I cannot recommend this show highly enough. Get down and have a blast for me.

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There’s been some pretty confused discussions about my politics in the last day or so. Here it is for the record. My politics are based on principles like democracy, individuality, equality of opportunity, distrust of power and, above all else, freedom, including economic freedom. They’re not the same as when I was 19, or indeed 23 – a few more years kicking around the world has made me adjust my views a little, although the basic principles remain the same. Once I would have called myself an anarchist. These days I suppose the word “libertarian” does pretty well for me, though I suspect it’s a little over-intellectual as a description. I just think the world works better when people are left alone to do what they want as much as possible.

Incidentally, here’s some things I’m not: “Tory”, “conservative”, or “Republican”. If you don’t know the difference between these and libertarians, I suggest reading up a little before slagging me off. I don’t consider myself “right wing” either. I’m just not a leftist.

A lot of people have been treating this as some kind of reveal. Given that the journalist was quoting from an interview from 3 years ago that seems a little odd to me. There’s something about it in the FAQ on here, and Poetry Of The Deed (2009) had a song on it called “Sons Of Liberty” which was about this kind of thing. As it happens, I don’t want my music to be particularly political (as I’ve been saying for ages) so I don’t talk about it that much. But it’s not like I keep it secret either. A lot of the fuss here to me seems to be because some people have had an idea of what they want me to be, and have discovered I’m not that. Sorry, I guess, although I’d say that it’s be much worse for me to pretend otherwise to please them, or sell records, or whatever.

At the end of the day, some people will disagree with my politics. That’s fine. I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do with their lives  Most of my friends disagree with me, not least Billy Bragg and Chris T-T. But, being adults, we understand that intelligent people can disagree about stuff. Despite occasionally running my mouth (a bad habit of mine, which I’m working on) I don’t think people who call themselves socialists are evil, mad, stupid or deserving of being attacked; I just see the world differently. In everything I do, I try to treat everyone with equal respect and consideration. I’d hope that the way I’ve gone about my music career would attest to that to some degree. I’ll drink a beer with anyone.

One small specific point. Obviously I think the BNP are repugnant. They are a socially right-wing / racist party, but their economic policies are pretty authoritarian left wing. I happen to oppose them strongly for both of those reasons.

So there it is. I really don’t want to talk about this much more – today has fucking sucked, actually – but I hope this clears things up for some people. Peace.

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