…everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday. Yup, I’m now 24 years old, which means I have less than a year to write an album as good as “Harvest” if I’m to be keeping up with Neil Young. Tits. Anyways, I celebrated in style, laid waste to half of Winchester town centre and feel today not unlike I’ve been shot in the face. Nice. To the new year!

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Twas the week before Christmas

My birthday is pretty near Christmas (28th December, less of the Jesus jokes, mine’s a Jack & Coke!). This means that that the end of the year every year generally coincides with me adding a digit, which sends me into paroxysms of reflection and self-analysis, which I’ll try not to bore you with. Nevertheless, given that it’s that time of year again, and that I’ve played my last gig of the year and gone back to Winchester for the festive season, I’ve been thinking about 2005 of late.

Last year, at a New Years Eve party (though I think by this time it was actually well into the 1st of January), my best friend said to me that age 23 was “revolution year” – the year when everything changes, the year when you really reevaluate your life and head down different paths. Well, as per usual the smug cunt seems to have had a point. 12 months ago I was in Million Dead, we’d just about finished our second album, we had release dates, singles and tours lined up and ready to go, we had a fanbase waiting for the record (something very new to me) and everything seemed pretty rosy on that front. I didn’t have much reason to doubt that MD would continue to be the centre of my universe for some time (years) to come.

And now… well, MD came to an end, something which still fills me with a lot of sadness. Harmony No Harmony was released, and we did tour, but things didn’t quite reach the pitch we’d hoped for at the start of the year due to us, er, breaking up. And now I’ve set out on my own. Without wanting to moan, it’s not been the easiest year of my life, shall we say. Reorientating myself towards this new set of goals has been pretty tough, and continues to be, and it’s also fucking scary actually, to be doing this on my own. But I’m starting to build up my confidence, my repertoire, and fingers crossed, to paraphrase James Yorkston, “This year will be my year, it took a long time to come”. Who knows, I’d better ask the smug one for his predictions for age 24.

So in short, bollocks to 2005, roll on 2006! Happy christmas everyone.

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The nights are drawing in

Well, we’re reaching the end of the year for sure. I only have one more show this year, and then it’s into xmas territory (ugh…). It’s been an interesting one… I’m sure I’ll do a more comprehensive year round-up later tho, so I’ll save that one. News – Rocksound came out, which was cool, I played an ace show in Cheltenham (where I met a bouncer who was friends with B B King!)… and other stuff.

The last show I have is going to be at Nambucca, a pub run by friends of mine at the top end of Holloway Road in North London. It’s this Saturday and I’m looking forward to it because it’s going to have a real nice family atmosphere, haha.. No seriously, it should be a good one to finish the year on.

Last but not least, my good friend Greg has a website for his photography habit, and he’s rather good at it. Check it.

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“Sheila goes out with her mate Stella…”

I’ve had a comparatively long time back in Winchester of late, though it’s not like I’ve been idle. I’ve been having interesting meetings about my future, planning next year some more (Latvia ahoy! Also: Scotland), booking a Welsh show to placate the guy who KEPT posting about it on here, and even opening my chocolate advent calendar. Check me. There was also a cool show in Norwich, which gave me a chance to catch up with old friends.

I’ve been writing, as ever, and I’ve started veering more into ‘political’ territory; that is, ‘political’ in the same sense that any MD lyrics were ‘political’ (see 100,000 interviews for my thoughts on that). Basically, while I still have no intention of telling anyone else how to live their lives, I’ve still got some shit to say, observations to make etc. In the aftermath of MD it was nice to get away from that approach for a little while and tackle some other topics (more personal stuff), but fuck it, I’ll write about what I want! Ha! So what this all really boils down to is that I finished a new tune entitled “Thatcher Fucked The Kids” the other day. It’s a face-rocker. And I must admit it’s fun to be back on that ground every now and again.

(Incidentally, I broke my own personal speed-songwriting record with that one – scratch to finished item in 24 hours or so, and I even recorded the thing in a grand total of 2 1/2 takes! Safety)

Finally, just a quick mention of some stuff that’s been cheering me up of late – check out, a great little webzine that my mate Ed runs. I have a t-shirt and everything. Also, check out Jamie T for the future of music, yes yes.

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Bad news and Good news

I’ve had a few last minute cancellations of late, and I haven’t been able to get online sooner to post something about it. Sad to say I found out the Portsmouth show had been pulled the evening before the gig, when I was in Stoke. I ended up playing a Leonard Cohen tribute night in London instead, which was fun, but it was still gutting to have to pull the Pompey show without being able to let people know. Also, the William Morris show got pulled (it’s all to do with these new licensing laws apparently) so you can keep avoiding South London like you would on any normal day…

A few more details about one upcoming show that I’m very excited about. I’m playing at the Elbow Room in Islington on December 11th. It’s Free show, and it also features some of my favourite London folk and country acts. The Tailors are one of my favourite bands and are pretty much the reason I started playing this kind of music when MD stopped. Kid Harpoon is an ace singer / songwriter chap, and then there’s Beans On Toast, a.k.a. my mate Jay, who fucking rules as well. So you’ve basically got no excuse for not coming along.

Otherwise I’m just planning out the beginning of next year and writing more songs. The last couple of months have been a blast, I’ve ended up in some pretty weird and wonderful places, made a lot of new friends and played a lot of shows (and a few too many cheesy covers too). The new material I have coming along I’m very confident about, so I can’t wait to get into a studio and lay them down. I’m looking at touring some more here and in Europe as well in the new year. Should be fun.

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Rock the Carpark

Well, a few days off at my end, so I’m taking a little break, which is nice and (I feel) much deserved. I’ve had a hectic few weeks, and it’s been quite a while since I woke up in a bed and without a hangover. Hello to everyone I’ve met in the last few days, the shows have been great, the recording was super, and things are generally looking pretty good at FTHQ at the moment. Currently looking into some merch (badges and Tshirts for now, the thongs will have to wait), catching up with demo orders and so on. I might even have some lunch in a bit.

Some details about the split with Reuben. It’s going to be the last in a series of 4 split 7″ coloured vinyl records released by Xtra Mile Recordings in January. My side will feature “The Real Damage“, while my good friends in Reuben will be contributing “Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum’n’Bass A Rockstar Dies“. It should be a corker, and it’s due for release on January 30th. More info on the Xtra Mile website.

As mentioned below, the carpark show in Leeds was an absolute blast, and I thought I’d fulfill my promise of putting some pictures up here for y’all…

This is me in the carpark, keeping warm with my kickarse new jacket (which my cousin gave me for free the other day – apparently it cost him ‘a3300. He is loaded tho… Thanks cuz!)

Here’s some of the crowd. Spot yourself, scenesters.

Me and Sam Getcape. I was in fact beatboxing to one of his tunes at this point in time, believe it or not. Then again he was hobbling like a twat because he sprained his ankle the night before in Nottingham throwing himself at shops…

Me and Sam staring lovingly into each others’ eyes.

Our beatutiful public.

And there you have it.

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A quick update from a sleeping bag on a sofa in Leeds. The last few shows have been great, with last night at the Fenton being a particular highlight, mainly because of the awesome midnight carpark show. More on that (with photos) another time. News though on Sheffield – the Casbah has been changing hands recently and they’ve fucked off all the gigs going on, so the show has been cancelled. Many apologies to anyone planning on coming down, and I’ll do my best to find a replacement show in Sheffield asap.

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Roaming roaming roaming

I’m in London at the moment, just dropped off some new recordings with XtraMile for the 7″ with Reuben (due in January innit), and now attempting to catch up with the world via the internet. Tonight I hit Guildford, which should be fun, not least as I’m playing with the wonderful Tanaou again.

Just a thought I had whilst perusing the forums… about folk music. One of the things that attracts me to it as a genre is the same thing that attracts me to punk rock – the honesty. It’s all about communication, between members of the same peer group. I like the fact that this implies less of a boundary between performer and audience (as in punk / HC). It’s more about dialogue, about shared experiences and community. Of course there’s a lot of shit, pretentious, aloof folk music out there, but the same can be said of punk in spades and that doesn’t change its central ethos. The music I’m making now is an attempt at an honest portrayal of where I am right now and the things that bother me, in the hope that other people can empathize and maybe get something out of my songs. Wow, that was a pretty high-falutin’ (pretentious) sentence. Anyways, that’s all I wanted to add on the subject. Lesson over.

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Home, away, demos, freedom

My parents’ house in Winchester currently serves as my HQ – it’s where most of my stuff is, where I do my washing, the place where I occasionally sleep in the same place for more than one night in a row. That’s where I am right now, but today is the last day I’m going to be here for quite some time. I’m off for a recording session in London this weekend (more on the results of that later) followed by a few weeks gigging around the UK. What this means from a practical point of view is that any orders that come through for demos will get dealt with, but it might take a little longer than usual, so please bear with me. Also, on the subject of demos, if you ordered one and it hasn’t arrived for (say) 10 days, or was faulty, please let me know so I can sort it out rather than just calling me a cunt straight away. That’d be nice.

As well as watching with dismay as myspace makes inroads into my time, I’ve been watching the news with interest recently. It was with great relief yesterday that I saw the Terrorism Bill defeated in the Commons. All the arguments put forward by the police for 90 days (90 fucking days! 3 months!!) imprisonment without charge were total non-sequiturs, and essentially revolved around the argument that it’d be nicer to start an investigation after you’ve locked someone up rather than before. The essential problem here is the role of the police. They are (in theory) meant to be servants to, rather than masters of, our liberty, something they seem to have totally forgotten. And anyways, whose brilliant idea was it to ask the police if the police would like more powers? Is it any surprise they said yes? It’s like asking the army if we should up defence spending; it’s hardly likely that they’re going to take the wider social view now, is it? So thankfully the bill was defeated, and the UK edged away a little from a state where government suspicion of your activities entitles the state to imprison you without charge for long periods of time. I’ll take comfort in that.

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Ugh. I have finally done it, finally dipped my toe into the rancid waters of myspace. It seems that you can’t avoid the blasted thing any more. It gives me the fear, makes me think of Dawson’s Creek, the OC, poorly written teenage suicide notes, internet goths and so on. I’m not over the moon about my newfound myspace presence, in short. Nevertheless, it’s there:

Don’t hate me for it. I intent to run the thing in a minimal effort kind of way. That means that I have no intention of inviting anyone to be my internet “friend”. I will, however, be accepting all requests for e-friendship from other people (as that only requires one mouse click). So come on, join up and stop me having a sneaking suspicion that despite the obvious idiocy of it all, I need more online mates

Fun shows recently, hi to everyone who made it down and shook their booty (in a suitably restrained kind of way). Special “hi and thanks” to Simon from Sevenoaks for saving my bacon. I’m recording this coming weekend, and then lots more gigs later in the month. See y’all there.

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