blog

Concert Numéro Deux Mille

Well, that was quite a year. 193 shows in 29 different countries, finishing up with show 2000 at Rock City. Colour me totally exhausted, but in the best possible way. I feel like we (me, the Souls and my crew) did some long haul honest graft in 2016, and we’re proud of it.

The 2000th show, incidentally, was a magical evening. My crew let me know that the crowd, as we walked on stage, hit 118dB, which is (apparently) louder than a sold out arena crowd. So well done everyone there! As attendees may have noticed, there were cameras in the building, the show was documented in full. I don’t yet have details I can share about how and when that will be released, but I’m not one for dawdling, so watch that space.

Speaking of films, the cinema release of “Get Better” also went well. It was pretty nerve-wracking for me to sit in the dark of the cinema and watch my character explored in depth on the big screen, but I was filled with pride for my friend Ben Morse and thought he did a stellar job. We are now working on cinema releases for other parts of the world, followed, of course, by a DVD.

Looking ahead to 2017, aside from the various imminent film content, there’s a lot of cool stuff coming up. Lost Evenings at the Roundhouse is shaping up well; in fact, it’s selling out, and we haven’t even announced any of the copious other acts playing! There’s also our biggest tour of the US and Canada yet, including the Boston Agganis Arena show. Get your tickets while you can.

There’s also a solo tour of France just announced. It’s been a decade since I toured France properly, so it’s with great joy that I cab point to shows in March in Dunkerque, Joué-Les-Tours, Rennes, Bordeaux, Albi, Nîmes, Lyon, Nancy and Strasbourg. Check out the dates.

There’s more tour dates coming, of course (gotta head for 3000 now.. ha). But the other main concern for next year will be working on another record, for which I am brimming with ideas. I can’t really say more about it for now but it’ll be the thing occupying my mind for the forseeable future.

But before we get into that properly, there’s Christmas, my birthday, and the new year. For all of which I am planning on being largely off-net. If I do say so myself, I feel like I’ve earned it this time around! Happy Christmas to you and yours, here’s hoping for a generally rosier 2017.

Click here to comment this news item

Show 2000 Supports

The UK tour starts tomorrow at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, with the Peaceful Noise concert, in memory of my late friend Nick Alexander. From there I’m flying to Dublin to meet up with the Sleeping Souls and commence total UK and Irish mayhem. Esme Patterson joins us in Dublin, and then Felix Hagan & The Family get on board from Salisbury onwards. There are still a few shows with tickets left – have a look. See you all there!

The tour proper winds up in Portsmouth on December 14th, but the Souls and I will be immediately heading to Nottingham, to Rock City, for my 2000th show. A thousand shows ago (dear God it feels weird to type that), after much indecision, I decided to celebrate my 1000th show with a party. We had a great night, so now it feels like an infrequent tradition that’s worth celebrating.

So we come to December 15th in Nottingham. We made an extra effort to stop touting for the show, which seems to have worked. We have people coming from all over the world. I wanted to make sure that the whole evening is special, and to that end, we have some tricks up our sleeve for the supports.

Main support for the evening will, of course, be my old friend Jay, a.k.a. Beans On Toast. Jay is the guy who convinced me to start playing solo acoustic shows in the first place, all those years ago, so it seems only fitting to bring him along for the party.

First on is something yet more special (no offence to Jay!). When I was first playing shows around London, hanging out at Nambucca, there was a local country band doing the rounds called The Tailors. In fact, Adam Killip, their singer, introduced me to the canon of country on the roof of the bar one evening, after beating me in an arm-wrestle (long story; read the book!). The Tailors have been inactive for a long time now, but they have remained a staple of my listening diet, and one of my biggest influences.

It’s long been a source of annoyance to me that so few people knew their stuff, but such is life. However, I’m now in a position to do something about this, so I called Adam and asked if he’d be up for putting the band back together for my 2000th show. After some umm-ing and ahh-ing, he said yes, the Tailors are back for one night only. And, given that Chad moved home to Vancouver, they may even have a lanky guest guitar player too (ahem). I couldn’t be more excited.

If you’re hoping to do some homework on the band before the show (or you just want to get a better idea of where my songs started coming from), they have a whole bunch of stuff on myspace still – no really – and two of their albums, “Wakey Wakey” and “Come Dig Me Up”, are on Spotify.

We will also, of course, be documenting the show for the people who couldn’t make it. So I’ll see you there, or elsewhere on the tour. Let’s see 2016 out in style.

Click here to comment this news item

The Shining City On The Hill

I made it home from North America yesterday morning. We did 89 shows north of the Rio Grande this year, which seems like a pretty satisfying total. We also made super-best-friends with Arkells, which is one of my take-home events of 2016. We have one more US / Canadian run to go for this album – tickets are available now – after which we’ll be taking a break from that part of the world until I have another record ready to go. So don’t miss the shows in January and February.

It was a fascinating and mildly terrifying year to be in the USA. I like to think I’m an intelligent and engaged adult, so of course I have my opinions about what’s going on, and today is the big day. I have, in recent years, shied away from public political statement, but my conscience is bugging me today, so, for what it’s worth, here’s my two cents.

I love America. Really, adore the place. It’s intriguing and complex and infuriating and delightful in equal measure. I take pride in having played shows in 44 states (and D.C.), and having some small feeling for the great mass of the country; I’m not someone who went to New York City on holiday once. I’ve spent quite a lot of my time at home, since my first US tour back in 2007, trying to debunk lazy anti-American stereotypes that abound in the UK and Europe – stupid, ill-informed jokes about Americans being provincial, nationalist, fat, stupid or whatever. None of that has been broadly true, in my experience.

And then there’s Donald. To my foreign eyes, he is the absolute embodiment of every joke, every lazy prejudice and slur about Americans ever levelled by the armchair warriors of the old world. He is everything I’ve spent nearly a decade telling my non-US friends that America isn’t. And yet here he is, in the final run-off for the presidency.

I am more than aware of the shortcomings of Clinton, of the arguments for and against third party candidates and so on. And let me be totally clear that I’m very aware I’m not a US citizen, not entitled to vote, and not entitled to tell anyone else how to use their vote. But the outcome matters, to everyone in the world. I’m not suggesting anyone vote *for* anyone in particular, but I’m crossing my fingers and toes that the America I love and I like to think I know will vote *against* the insulting and childish caricature of their nation and its values that stands on one side of the ballot. I’m hopeful, today, I really am.

Not everyone is going to like what I just wrote. And to a large degree, given the circles I move in, this is going to be preaching to the converted, which I always find to be a waste of time. I’m no fan of easy moral grandstanding. But today of all days it needs to be said, if only to salve my insignificant conscience. Peace, see you in 2017.

Click here to comment this news item

Post Holiday Catch-Up

Greetings, one and all, from a parking lot (carpark) in Columbus OH. It seems like only yesterday we were… somewhere near here. In actual fact, we took a couple of weeks off this month. I went to Italy and sunned my pasta-filled self to the point of bronzed incapacity. It was wondrous. But now we’re back at the grindstone, and happy to be so. My email account, upon my return, was something between a snow-drift and a multi-car pile-up, but I’ve just about got to the bottom of it, so I thought I’d do a general round-up of where things are at, as we head into the remainder of this most curious of years, 2016.

Right now we’re at the start of a small US run – we have shows in Cincinnati, Champaign IL, St Louis MO, Maquoketa IA, Milwaukee IL and Kalamazoo MI in the next week or so. Then we have a break in October (I’m working on some secret plans back home; Nigel will be on tour with Sad Song Co). After that, it’s back to the US again for more shows in Athens GA, Charlottesville VA, Morgantown WV, Norfolk VA, Wilmington DE (for Halloween!), Albany and Ithaca NY, and then Toronto.

After that we head to the UK for the Get Better tour – about which I am very excited. The majority of the shows have sold out; there are still a few tickets for Dublin, Carlisle, Doncaster, Oxford, Exeter, Edinburgh, Scunthorpe, Newcastle and Portsmouth. We are still working on an elusive Cornish show – there’s been a lot of changes in venues down there lately which is making it very hard – announcement coming soon. On top of that that, there’s some imminent news for both London and for show 2000.

There was, inevitably, some touting bullshit around the tour. It drives me to distraction, and I’m always looking at ways to combat it. For the time being, I’d say don’t buy from touting sites. Nearer the time there’s almost always people trading tickets fairly, either on twitter or on the forum.

Moving on to charity stuff; I donated a signed guitar to add to my late friend Wayne’s signed record collection, all of which is being raffled off for Music Vs Cancer. Check it out here.

The good people at the Music Venue Trust have launched a new #Fightback initiative, raising money for an emergency venue fund. There’s a show at the Roundhouse on October 18th which is well worth looking into (I won’t be playing this one, alas). In other venue news, there’s a fundraiser here for the great Exeter Cavern, which had a tragic fire while I was away. And if you’re still feeling generous and helpful, the Star & Shadow in Newcastle could use a hand.

Next up, journalism (of a kind). I answered some questions about Nirvana’s Nevermind here, and waxed lyrical about Lucero here.

Finally, for now, lots of my friends have wonderful new music on the way; Xtra Mile sure are busy right now. Skinny Lister have a new record coming, and tour dates in the UK and the US. Will Varley and Beans On Toast have similar. And Koo Koo Kanga Roo put me in a music video, which was fun.

So, in short, the world kept turning while I was roasting by the side of the swimming pool. Which is reassuring. See you all on the road soon.

Click here to comment this news item

Finally – UK Tourmageddon!

It is with GREAT PLEASURE that I can finally announce some more tour dates for the UK.

I know, I know, it’s been a long while since we were on home turf. And last time we toured the UK we only played the major cities. So, as is becoming tradition, this time we are hitting some different places, taking the show around the country to see some different people. Of course I can’t ever please everyone, but this is an attempt to cover as much ground as I can this year.

Support comes from the amazing Felix Hagan & The Family, and the sublime Esme Patterson. Both hand-picked, both awesome, get down early to catch their sets.

The tour will go on a special fan pre-sale this WEDNESDAY AT 9am, and on general sale on Friday. Get ready! Here are the dates:

THE GET BETTER UK TOUR, NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016

Fri 18th November 2016, Salisbury City Hall (14+)
Mon 21st November 2016, Liverpool O2 Academy (8+)
Tue 22nd November 2016, Carlisle Sands Centre (All Ages)
Wed 23rd November 2016, Doncaster Dome (14+)
Fri 25th November 2016, Coventry Empire (14+)
Sat 26th November 2016, Cardiff Great Hall (14+)
Sun 27th November 2016, Oxford New Theatre (All Ages)
Mon 28th November 2016, Exeter Great Hall (All Ages)
Wed 30th November 2016, Reading Hexagon (All Ages)
Thu 1st December 2016, Leeds University Refectory (14+)
Fri 2nd December 2016, Aberdeen Garage (14+)
Sat 3rd December 2016, Edinburgh Usher Hall (14+)
Mon 5th December 2016, Scunthorpe Baths Hall (All Ages)
Tue 6th December 2016, Warrington Parr Hall (14+)
Wed 7th December 2016, Newcastle Northumbria University (All Ages)
Fri 9th December 2016, Nottingham Rock City (14+)
Sat 10th December 2016, Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion (14+)
Sun 11th December 2016, Norwich UEA (14+)
Mon 12th December 2016, Guilford G-Live (All Ages)
Wed 14th December 2016, Portsmouth Guildhall (14+)

As ever with these things, we’ve been planning this tour for a long while and the details are set. It’s also not the last tour I ever do, so if there are places I’m missing this time around, fear not, I’ll be back soon enough. See you there.

Click here to comment this news item

Live At 930

It’s been a little while since I did a post on here, so I thought I should update everyone; this is mostly a kind of housekeeping post, but we’ve been adventuring around the place of late, so there are stories to be told.

We got back to a rainy Europe and successfully failed to play either Hurricane or Southside Festivals, due to some seriously inclement weather. That was something of a blow for everyone involved, one we hope to rectify next year. In the meantime we played some more German shows and festivals, played in Italy a few times, and had a wonderful first show in Carcassonne in France. I managed to fit in some UK shows, T in the Park being particularly awesome, with special mentions for a magical show at 2000 Trees Festival. I found time to launch and then play at Ben Morse’s House Of Vans photo exhibition. And I even managed to catch The Boss in Paris of an evening. Quite the month.

Tomorrow I’m finally returning to Latvia to play in Cesis again, which will be wonderful no doubt. Thence we head to the USA for Lollapalooza and our shows with Flogging Molly and Chuck Ragan (all details on the live page). We’ve also added some more US dates in September and October with The Arkells and Will Varley, which I’m excited about. And for those champing at the bit; fear not, these are not the last US shows I’m doing on this album tour.

Finally; last October I made a happy return to my favourite American venue – Washington DC’s legendary 930 Club. Our set was filmed as part of a new TV series – Live At 930. It came out really well, I was honoured to be interviewed by Bob Boilen, and the show features some other great acts. Our episode can be found here. Enjoy.

Right. I have a total of 15 hours in my own flat now. Time to hit the sofa.

Click here to comment this news item

Europa Europa

We had a wonderful time on the road in the USA lately, which was followed by a pretty gruelling and disappointing weekend. Our flights through from Atlanta to Hamburg were variously delayed or changed, our guitars got “misplaced” (thankfully we got them back again), and we arrived to find that Southside Festival had been cancelled. The following jet-lagged day, we got to within 4 minutes of going on stage at Hurricane Festival before that was also pulled, due to the bad weather. Not much fun.

It’s important to state that both decisions were no one’s fault. The people at FKP Scorpio, who book Hurricane & Southside, are some of my best friends in the industry and they did everything they could, but safety has to prevail in the end. We will be back, for sure. Actually, we have shows in Bonn, Munich, Ulm and Münster this coming week. Check out the dates.

The other big news, obviously, was the referendum result, which took place as we were flying over the Atlantic. The older I get the less interested I am in discussing politics in the public forum (if you think I’m going to discuss it on Twitter you’re out of your mind). The only comment I want to make is this: I am international touring musician, and have no plans to change that. I’ll see all my friends on the continent as much as I ever did.

To lighten the mood a little, here’s a thing I did in Richmond just before coming home. Our touring buddy (and new best friend) Jason Isbell was gracious enough to lend us some of his time for a music video. I’d been wanting to do something for the song “Love Forty Down” for a while, and I immediately cast Jason as the bad guy. I’m pleased to say that in total the video took 5 hours (1 hour shopping, two shooting, two editing), and cost $200 all in. I shot it on my phone and edited it myself. DIY Punk Rock! Enjoy the video, happy Wimbledon!

Click here to comment this news item

The Record Buying Public

In 2000 I left school and moved to London as fast as my skinny legs would carry me. I ended up part of a milieu of people living in Caledonian Road and Holloway, forming an ever changing constellation of bands in a primordial soup mainly formed from ex-members of Kneejerk (my old band) and Abjure (friends of ours, with whom we did our first ever tour).

The two most notable bands who came out of all that were Million Dead and Palehorse. But there were others. Sometimes I can remember more band names than actual bands – Sun Starved Day (featuring a young Andrew O’Neill), The Process Of Weeding Out, Concealed Weapons Of Mass Destruction… It was a heady time.

One of the groups in the midst of all this was The Record Buying Public. It featured Tom Fowler on guitar (originally of Abjure, later in Million Dead); John Atkins (of Palehorse); and little 19-year-old me on the drums. We played instrumental, jazzy post-rock, influenced by stuff like Slint, Karate, Tortoise and so on. We played a few shows (listed here) to our friends and then broke up, like most small underground bands do. I had largely forgotten about it, not least because I’m not the world’s greatest drummer.

A few days ago, Tom emailed me to let me know he’d found some recordings, made in 2001; both the 6-track demo that I recorded on a Tascam multi-track thing I had, and four more songs from a rehearsal. Listening back to them was wonderful, nostalgic and bizarre. I’d forgotten the songs, and it was lovely to hear how adventurous yet melodic we had been. The quality isn’t great (the rehearsal recordings in particular, made at the late great Backstreet Rehearsals in Holloway) but you get an impression of what we were trying to do. John, Tom and I all agreed to share them, so here they are. Enjoy.

In other news we are having a blast in the bottom right corner of the USA with our new partners in crime, Gogol Bordello. Florida and Georgia for now, then north to meet up with Mr Isbell. See you soon.

Click here to comment this news item

Sunny Side Up

Greetings from Memphis in May. We have a day off here today. It’s a burning hot Memorial Day outside, but, after paying tribute to Elvis by stuffing myself with brunch, I’m mostly going to be holed up in my hotel working on demoing some new material.

I haven’t blogged in a little while, so I thought I’d set that right. I also noticed that I’ve tended to pick subjects on the more negative side of the divide for the last few posts. So here I’m going to try and be a bit more upbeat. It’s a whole new day.

This US run has been fun. We started at the Elm Street Tattoo Festival in Dallas TX (where I got my Dale Gribble ink done). Then we picked up our road buddies and headed across the south and the midwest. We have one more show with them left – tomorrow, here in Memphis, at the New Daisy Theater – so I thought I’d take a moment to write about them.

First up we have Derek, a.k.a. the Homeless Gospel Choir. We played a show with Derek in Pittsburgh back in 2010 and we were all blown away by his talent, his songs, his personality. I’ve been meaning to do more with the guy since then, but these things always take time. Happy to have him with us now, he’s been reminding me, night on night, what punk rock is supposed to feel like. Check out Musical Preferences if you’re unfamiliar with his stuff. He rules.

Then we have Two Cow Garage. I’ve vaguely known Micah for a few years now, through my good friend (and amazing artist) Vanessa Jean. I had some of their records and enjoyed them. We finally played a show with them last December in Nashville, and I spent their entire set with my jaw on the floor. They are an exceptional rock’n’roll band, and it’s an honour to go on after them night on night on this tour. Here’s a live session to get you started if you don’t know their stuff.

I always pick the openers for my tours, and I’m particularly proud of this line-up. I hope people at the shows have been enjoying them as much as I have, and for the rest of you, waste no time in checking them out. It’s sad that we only have one more show together… for now.

After the Memphis show we are joining up for two weeks of shows with Gogol Bordello, across OK / TX / AL / FL / GA, which I’m stoked about. It’ll be one hell of a bill. Then we meet up with Mr Isbell, but I’ll write more about that later.

In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce what you’ve hopefully already noticed: we’ve overhauled the website completely. Hopefully it now looks and functions a lot better, and I’m working on adding content and smoothing out any bugs. If anyone spots any typos or anything obviously missing or wrong, do let me know. For the time being, I finally added the lyrics to the Mongol Horde record in the songs section. Enjoy.

Finally, a quick shout out for the wonderful Camden Rocks Festival happening in Camden (duh), London, this Saturday June 4th. I’m gutted that I’m missing it, the line-up is ace and it’s one of my favourite musical events of the year, celebrating one of my favourite parts of the world. If you’re in London you should be there.

Right, time to work on some new songs.

Click here to comment this news item

SAFE GIGS FOR WOMEN

I’ve been enjoying my time off the road, especially the show on Friday night in Brixton at the Electric. It was great to play “England Keep My Bones” in full, to see a lot of friendly faces, and to raise a bunch of cash for CALM and the Music Venue Trust. A good night all round.

After the show, I received more than one email from women who’d been at the show who said they’d had bad experiences with harassment from guys in the crowd. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this happening at my shows, and I wanted to just say a quick something about this issue.

Raising awareness of this kind of behaviour strikes me as important. I want my shows (and, I’d hope, others too) to be welcoming places, where everyone can relax, enjoy themselves, be part of the show, make friends. As a man, I don’t have direct experience of being on the receiving end of sexually inappropriate behaviour at shows. In fact, I find it almost impossible to conceive that it happens – I would never, ever behave like that to a woman in any context, and I like to think none of my friends would either. So I suppose the first person whose awareness needs raising is mine.

It’s actually really fucking dumb that I have to spell this out, but if you’re the kind of guy who has ever behaved like that towards a woman in any context, I’d like you to do two things: firstly, just be a fucking human, consider yourself in the other person’s shoes, ask yourself if you could defend your actions if publicly called out in front of your friends, your family, the whole crowd. And secondly, if that first part didn’t work, I’d like you to *fuck off and never come to any of my shows again*.

Seriously. The idea of this shit happening in my crowd, at my shows, makes me feel enraged. People like that are not welcome at my shows. If it happens to anyone again, please try and alert me, or one of my band or crew, or the bouncers. These fuckers need shaming. There is no possible excuse, including alcohol.

In the meantime, check out and follow people like Girls Against and Safe Gigs For Women. I hope this is a blog I never have to write again. Peace.

Click here to comment this news item