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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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Schmolitics

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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Future-Proofing

Burbank, California. I’d call it a suburb of Los Angeles, but seeing as I’ve never been able to find the mythical centre of this city, everywhere feels like a suburb. Searching for gold in LA, what a cliche, haha. The band and I arrived on a long haul flight from London yesterday and are now wearily engaged in combat with time zones. It’s great to see the boys again, to be out into the great wide open, to be back on the American landmass. The summer was lovely – I spent proper time in London for the first time since about 2004 and was amply cared for by my good friends at the Wheelbarrow – but now it’s back to business.

I thought it’d be a good idea to blog here with a general update on my plans for the rest of this year and into next. Obviously, we have the US tour starting in Boston (tickets going fast – Americans, please don’t start shouting at me if shows sell out in advance) which is awesomeness all in itself. After that, there’s the UK tour in November, and then a run of shows in December which I’ve been casually referring to as the Celtic Fringe – shows in Wales, Ireland and Scotland (a few more to come as well). Making time on the road, as per usual.

The other use of my time before Christmas is, perhaps, more exciting. The reason I’m in Burbank right now is for a week of pre-production for the next album. Pre-production is where you get in the room with your producer of choice and start working through the songs, tearing their guts out and putting them back together, picking which tunes (I have about 25) are going to make the best album and so on. Once we’re done with that, we have the tour to bed the new stuff in with the crowds; and then, for the month of October, we will be back here to make the album proper.

Two small thoughts. I was initially a little wary about recording in southern California – it’s kind of a cliche, if nothing else – but in the end, it’s more important to me to work with the producer I want. Rich Costey is someone I have dreamed of working with for many years, and it’s very exciting to be in the studio with him. Also, there was once a plan for me to add more solo shows in the USA in October, and I certainly told a few people that. These are not now happening in that time-frame, alas, as making the new album takes priority. But! Never fear. I will be making them up as soon as possible next year.

If everything goes to plan, the new album will be out in March 2013, with some singles preceding it. In one final cliche for this blog post, I’m very excited about the songs, the prospect of the finished whole. Obviously I would say that, or else I’d still be writing. But yeah. I’m in a good place, creatively.

Right, breakfast, then to the studio. Adios for now.

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Make Way For Mongol Horde

I’m back in London after a busy festival weekend – Strummer Of Love, Beautiful Days and V Festival. Hyper-busy, but a lovely way to finish off the summer’s gigging.

Well, I say “finish”, but… It’s been a reasonably open secret for a while now that I have a side-project band in the offing. It’s kind of heavy, noise rock, maybe a little bit “hardcore”, and a lot of fun. It features me, Ben Dawson (of Pale Horse and Million Dead) and Matt Nasir (of the Sleeping Souls). We are called Mongol Horde.

We released two songs over the last few weeks – “Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen” and “How The Communists Ruined Christmas“. To celebrate our coming out, here’s a new song: “Tapeworm Uprising”.

We are playing on the Lock Up Stage at this year’s Leeds (Friday) and Reading (Sunday) festivals. We may also have some warmup shows coming. Check us out on twitter and facebook for more info. Enjoy.

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New Releases

I’m back from my brief holiday. I walked the entire length of the South Downs Way – just over 100 miles through the hills of Hampshire and Sussex, from Winchester to Eastbourne. It was amazing, I heartily recommend giving it a go sometime. To top off my break, I also saw Refused last night in London, who were completely awesome, as expected. Anyways. Back in action now, and there’s some various bits of news for y’all to have a look at.

First of all, the Wembley DVD. This is being released in the UK on September 3rd. It will feature two discs – one with the full show, and one with Greg Nolan’s tour film and a bunch of other cool stuff. Details and preordering can be found here.

For people outside the UK, fear not! Firstly, you can always order the above package from Xtra Mile (although it will be a UK region disc). Beyond that though, the good folk at Epitaph are releasing a compilation CD called “Last Minutes & Lost Evenings“. This is a two disc set. The first disc is a compilation of what I consider to be my favourite songs from the releases before “England Keep My Bones”. It’s kind of a primer for new people coming on board in Europe, North America and so on. The second disc is the complete live show from Wembley, with region settings appropriate to wherever you are in the world. Details can be found here. This is being released on October 7th, though you can preorder it now. We are also working on getting the DVD extras from the UK release out to everyone further afield as well. And if you’re in the UK and fancy getting this release yourself, you can order it here.

Finally (for today), I’d like to remind people about my next London show on August 20th at The Roundhouse in Camden. It’s a benefit show for ABLE2UK, a great cause, and I’ll be playing a solo set; there are tons of other cool people playing too. Tickets are still available here.

Right, have fun everyone, see you soon.

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Fields Of June

Emily Barker is an old friend and collaborator of mine. Many of you may have seen the two of us sing her lovely murder ballad duet, “Fields Of June”, at shows lately. Well, the good folks at Xtra Mile are releasing that song as a 7″ single, complete with music video and everything. Hurrah!

Youcan have a listen to the track now right here (the video is coming soon, I’ll post when it does) and you can buy the white vinyl 7″ right here. You can also buy the song on iTunes UK here. Happy shopping!

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Twit-Storming

So the last 12 hours have been interesting. I posted some thoughts on some shennanigans I witnessed backstage at T in the Park, and then got inundated with poorly-written bilge for a while on Twitter. You can have a read on my feed here.

I have no interest in rehashing the specifics of what happened, it’s not, in itself, a massive deal to me. I still don’t really know who Nicki (sic) Minaj is, and I don’t really care. I have no opinion on her music, for all I know she’s a genius. Good for her.

The central point I wanted to make, and the thing that got me pissed off in the first place, is about respect. A lot of bands (and me) spend a lot of time talking about respect for the people who listen to your music, the people in front of the stage, the “fans” (I still hate that word) or whatever, and rightly so; personally, I feel that showing up late and not apologizing is a little weak. But the thing that got to me yesterday was more about respect for a different group of people: the crew.

There are an awful lot of people who work on making shows and festivals happen who don’t get to stand in the middle of the stage and bask in anyone’s adulation. In fact, it’s the vast majority of people. This includes my crew (sound guy, guitar tech etc.), the stage hands, the promoter who books the show, and the hundreds of people who run the backstage organization, and more. These people all work their arses off, they’re there from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, and they don’t get paid as much as the musicians on the stage. Without them, nothing would get done, there would be no shows for anyone to enjoy. I couldn’t do what I do without my crew.

Running a festival is a logistical nightmare; it takes a lot of people an awful lot of time to make sure everything runs even vaguely smoothly. If there’s one person in the midst of this who has a pretty easy, highly paid job (show up, mime, go home) who refuses to do this, and thereby fucks up the day of all the hard-working, sleep-deprived, exhausted, under-appreciated festival crew, well, that pisses me off. It means everyone has to do a ton more work just to make sure that the people at the festival and all the other bands don’t have their day ruined.

For some reason, doing this when you’re holding a microphone makes you “artistic”, “difficult” or maybe a “Diva”. In any other walk of life it’s called being rude, selfish and inconsiderate. Of course, Henry Rollins already said this better than I ever will.

 

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Lazing On A Sunny Afternoon

It’s been a little while since I updated anything on here. From an organizational point of view, summer is in full swing, though the weather would seem to suggest otherwise. Ah festival season – three months of trekking around Europe praying for sunshine, and playing to undismayed optimists wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals in the pouring rain. All good fun though, as yesterday’s Eden Session will attest – thanks everyone who came out for that one.

Speaking of such things, the Truro show on November 30th at the Hall For Cornwall is now officially on sale – you can get tickets here. After a few years of neglecting Cornwall (sorry about that everyone), it’s great to be heading back down that way so soon after such a great show. As with all other shows on the tour, the line-up of Tim Barry and Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun as supports is going to be awesome.

Next up, I’ve added a London show on August 20th at The Roundhouse in Camden. This is a benefit show for ABLE2UK, a disabled charity, and I’ll be playing solo. It’s a great cause and there’s a great line-up, so get your tickets now.

Finally, just in case anyone missed it, the tour photography book Photosynthesis that Matt and I made is now available through the webstore for everyone in Europe and North America (at last). Enjoy. Right, that’s me for today, off to keep working on new songs and planning the next stage of world domination…

 

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November UK Tour Supports

It gives me enormous pleasure to announce the supports for the UK tour in November. Coming on the road with me and the Sleeping Souls will be Tim Barry and Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun.

Tim used to play for legendary punk band Avail, but now has a long history of releasing solo country punk records under his belt. We met on the Revival tour in the USA in 2008, and have been firm friends ever since. For those unfamiliar with his work, I’d start with the album “Manchester”, or maybe his latest, “40 Miler”. Both classics.

Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun, well, what can I say that I haven’t said already? My favourite new band. Get down early to check them out. The dates and ticket links are all to be found here.

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Strummer Of Love

One festival that I’ve announced myself as playing but which I feel I haven’t given enough love to yet is Strummer Of Love. It’s 17th-19th August, down in Somerset. It’s organized by the Strummerville people, who are friends and co-conspirators of mine, in memory of the late great Joe Strummer. It’s the same weekend as Beautiful Days and V, but I was so keen to play that I’ve worked out a way to do a set on the Friday. The rest of the lineup is also amazing, and well worth checking out. You can buy tickets here, or indeed enter a competition to win some right here. See you there.

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