The World Turned Upside Down

Two developments to share with y’all, both of which are awesome and mental in equal measure. First of all, I can finally announce that I shall indeed be playing at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festivals. I’m on the Radio One / NME Stage, Saturday in Leeds and Sunday in Reading. I’m super happy about this fact, it’s my favourite festival and the shows there the last two years have been nothing short of amazing, so I have high hopes for this year too.

Secondly, the Manchester Academy show in October (16th) is now totally sold out. That slightly blows my mind – we haven’t even finished the new album yet, let alone started promoting it properly. This is the most tickets I’ve ever sold in Manchester, haha… I remember getting 60 people in for the Night & Day show a few years back and feeling like we’d done well. How times change. A bunch of the other shows on the tour are also, insanely, not far off.

The new album is sounding killer, incidentally. About half mixed now.

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Something Old, Something New

I write from the back of the control room in Alex’s studio in Brooklyn. We just finished recording the album. The last song was “Dan’s Song”, a guitar and vocals number, which we hammered out pretty fast (first takes all the way!), and which features my first ever harmonica solo. I’m feeling relieved as hell to have everything down at last. Next week is mixing, we still have a way to go before the record is done, but essentially, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, the album would still come out.

In other news, the good folks at Xtra Mile Recordings are, as some people already know, re-releasing the first Million Dead album, “A Song To Ruin”, as a deluxe edition with some bonus tracks and a DVD. The reason we all decided to do this is that you can’t currently get hold of it for love or money, and despite all the water under the bridge, we’re all still damn proud of what we achieved with that band and that album in particular. There’s more details on the Xtra Mile website – safe to say, that for now you can pre-order a copy, which will come with a super-limited edition MD tour poster from 2004 as well. Get shopping.

Now, for my first beer in fucking weeks. To the bar!

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Brooklyn Bound

So, I made it to New York. I’ve been here a bunch of times before, but never really had that much time to investigate the place. I won’t this week either – it’s going to be pretty full on recording mode for the next 5 days or so – but next week is mixing week, which will basically involve Alex being a wizz-kid behind the desk and me nodding approvingly at the imperceptible shit he’s doing with the hi-hat (or something). So I’m looking forward to exploring. Speaking of such things, anyone reading this who lives in NYC or the surrounding environs, please email me ( with the subject line “NYC”. We have much to discuss.

Casting an eye back to the old UK, this morning I’ve discovered something slightly flabbergasting. The sales for the October UK tour are doing, um, very well. The Manchester show (October 16th @ The Academy) has less than 150 tickets left. Some of the others are close too. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re planning on coming down, I’d recommend buying a ticket sooner rather than later.

That was a fun paragraph to write, for sure. Ha! In other news, I’m listening pretty much exclusively to Crazy Arm right now. Check them out.

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End Of Phase One

I’ll keep this one brief, because it’s 3 am. We’ve finished phase one of the recording process. The days here started long and got longer as we realized the scale of what we were trying to achieve in such a short space of time. The last few days have been burn-out territory, but we just nailed the last guitar part and now we’re off to get some kip. Tomorrow I fly to NYC with Alex. For those asking, the reason we’re doing this in two studios is that, surprisingly, this is the cheapest way to do it; now that the band stuff is all down on tape, Alex and I are retiring to his studio in Brooklyn to finish off my vocals and guitar parts. I’m hoping we’re going to get some sleep on the plane. I feel good though, everything is as it should be. My aim has always been to make the best record I can at any given time, and on top of that to try and beat my previous efforts. I’m pretty damn sure I’m succeeding on both counts right now. Good night.

PS I beat Tarrant at table football, just once. Ha!

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Studio Update #2

I sit at the table in the studio, absolutely stuffed to bursting. This is the first time I’ve been to residential studio, and I have to say that we’re being looked after pretty damn well. Home cooked food every day is a luxury that is rare for me. And cheesecake? Man oh man. Time to work on a slow one.

Day 1 was spent with the tedious but necessary business of setting everything up and getting sounds. Because we’re trying to record as much live as we can, that meant setting everything up at once. Alex and his assistant Dean beavered away with microphones, while I discovered, rather to my displeasure, that I fucking suck at table football. I’m well acquainted with the fact that I’m terrible at sport generally, but discovering that I’m also rubbish at a pub game was… gutting. It was even worse to discover that, for some unfathomable reason, Tarrant is really good at it. What?

Day 2, we started tracking. We have 5 days here, so we’re pretty up against it time-wise, if we want to get all 12 of the songs I want on the album nailed. Thankfully a month of rehearsals, plus the fact that we’re all totally boss musicians (haha), has paid off, and we motored through 5 songs in one day. This morning we got back into the fray and thusfar we’ve polished off another 3. Good going. We’re recording to tape, which is new for me. It’s quite scary when, every once in a while, Alex starts editing, which basically involves cutting the tape up with a de-magnetized razor blade. I get slightly edgy when I see him slashing through our recordings. Needless to say he know what he’s doing.

It’s all sounding great so far. I’m really pleased with the general vibe – this won’t be the most precise of records, playing wise, but it has soul, which is something I feel a lot of records lack these days. It feels like we’re making a worthwhile album. And I have been ever so slightly improving at table football. Victory will be mine.

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The White Heat of Technology

Today is, on reflection, pretty momentous. Today I, with my vital team of musicians (Matt, Nigel, Ben , Tarrant) and Alex Newport, embark on the recording of album #3. We’re in Norfolk right now, at a residential studio, where we’ll be laying down the instrumentation for the record this week. At the weekend Alex and I will fly to New York to continue working on the vocals and the mix. The record will be done by the month’s end. The schedule is tight, but then we’ve been rehearsing like crazy for the last month, and Alex has been through everything with a toothcomb already, and I’d say we’re as prepared as we’re ever going to be. Fingers crossed, this is going to live up to my ambitions: to be the best record that I’ve made in my life. Fingers crossed.

To recap: we’ve been holed up in a little rehearsal room that Tarrant (bass, vans) built just outside of Oxford. Due to the fact that the extreme soundproofing meant no one can hear you scream from the outside world, it was nicknamed the Austrian Dungeon. Songs written in hotels, trains, buses and bedrooms came blinking into the light week by week, as the superlative motherfuckers that I play with (hey, there’s a band name…) helped me arrange the songs into proper monstrous beasts. After three weeks of toil, we played our little residency of shows in Oxford town, night by night tightening up and getting a better feel for the songs. Then last week, Alex dropped by for some more rehearsals; we thought we were pretty much there, but he really drove us to up our game and iron out any problems. I’ve never worked with an outside producer before (i.e. not Ben Lloyd), and I must admit I was a little wary, but thusfar it’s been a great experience.

So here we are. Right now people are fiddling with tape machines (analogue album this one, for the geeks out there) and setting up microphones. The studio is beautiful, in some barns on a farm in the arse-end of nowhere. It feels like it’s time.

To stop talking about myself for a minute here, two quick things, while I have your attention. On the journey up to the studio I was reminded all over again how much I love the Dawn Chorus, and thought I should remind you lot in turn. Secondly, Future Of The Left continue to the best band in the fucking universe. Their new album is available for pre-order right now, and it is the absolute shit. They’re also on tour this month.

Those two should tide you guys over until this album is done. Incidentally, for people asking, it’ll be out in September. Enjoy.

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From The Ashes

As many of you know, Nambucca, my favourite pub / spiritual home (delete according to how tired and emotional I’m feeling) burned down just before Christmas last year. It was all pretty heartbreaking, not least for the people who lost all their possessions in the fire. But, unsurprisingly, the team of good people who made that place what it was have not rested in the meantime. There’s a new pub opening in Kentish Town – The Flowerpot – that is basically carrying on the spirit of the old place. They’re having a week of stuff happening for their opening (check their site for details) and as part of it I’m going to play a solo set there on Wednesday May 6th. It’s free entry, but it’s also first come first served and it’s not the biggest place in the world, so get down early. I’m playing for 9ish. See you there.

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Good News

Life takes some strange twists and turns. I feel like the sun is shining on me right now. As some people have already heard, last night I was able to put the finishing signature on a new record deal. Epitaph Records will be releasing both Love Ire & Song and any future releases in the world outside the UK.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of punk rock will have some inkling of how fucking awesome this is. For many years (and this is pre-myspace) the Epitaph logo was a badge of quality that meant I would buy the record, regardless of what it was. In so doing I got into almost all my favourite punk bands. They’re still one of the best labels in the world, and they’re independent to boot. It’s also really important to me that they’ve accommodated me staying with Xtra Mile in the UK – those guys are my family, and there’s no way I was going to jump ship.

So yeah, this is a new beginning for me, internationally speaking. I’m in a good mood. Thanks are due to Charlie, Tony, Carolina and everyone at Epitaph, and all the people who’ve been supporting me and what I do for the past few years. Big love. I feel like Gwyneth Paltrow at the Oscars all of a sudden. I’ll shut up.

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I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

I had a weird day yesterday. A family funeral was followed by the extremely bizarre (yet awesome) Jonny Awsum show, and finished up with an altercation outside a nightclub. I know, I know, my own fault for trying to get into Bacchus in Kingston (nothing else was open), but yeah, they’re cunts, avoid at all costs.

The good people at Radio 1 have put up a cool couple of video interviews I did with my good friend Mike Davies when I was in Los Angeles last month. They can be found on their website here. Was I drunk after the Viper Room show? Yes I was.

I’m trying to get in touch with a guy called Callum. He keeps mailing me but I can’t mail him back because o his privacy settings. I’d usually avoid posting this kind of thing publicly, but given that he seems to think I’m an arsehole for not replying, it’s starting to get on my nerves. If anyone knows this guy and has a way of contacting him, can you ask him to email me? Thanks.

As some people have already found out, there’s a plan afoot at the moment to re-release the first Million Dead album, “A Song To Ruin”, sometime before the end of this year, with the fabled live DVD that never was. The guys at Xtra Mile have decided it’s time, and some legal disputes have been cleared up to everyone’s satisfaction, so it looks like this is actually going to happen. I don’t have a date yet. I’m pretty happy about this – that record is totally out of print, and personally I prefer it (marginally) to “Harmony No Harmony”. I mention this now because I’m interested in anyone who has any photos of MD tattoos. In particular I’m trying to get hold of Simon from Sevenoaks, who had a great MD tattoo on his back. Drop me a line if you can help.

Finally, I’m confirmed to play at the difficult-to-spell Pitka Kuuma Kesa Festival in Helsinki on June 27th. At last, I’m going to Finland.

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Steady Hands Forget To Remember

Propagandhi was boss. So good to be reminded why I fell in love with punk rock, and how great it can be when it’s done well, or, in this case, to perfection. I was down in the moshpit with Ben (Million Dead) dancing like it was 1998. I feel stiff and sore like an old man today, but hey, that’s suffering for your art (what?).

Tickets for the Cheltenham Town Hall show on 23rd July will go live onsale from this link tomorrow morning. They’ve been onsale through the 2000 Trees website for a week and a quarter of them have gone, so get shopping! I’m also going to be doing my smallest UK show this year the next day at the Queen’s Hotel in Weymouth. Tickets for that are available from here.

In other news, I’m exhausted. The new songs are squatting in my mind like a particularly tenacious bunch of hippies, keeping me awake at all hours with suggestions, quibbles, alterations, and whether or not THAT stop should be there or not. Gah! All feeling good though, we’ve essentially finished learning the songs now and are moving into military drill territory, where we just play them over and over until we can’t play em no more. My band fucking love me.

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