Do It Yourself…..

Watching an episode of The Good Life last night, I realised how much we’ve lost as people in the way of skills and survival instinct.

We have become useless at survival. Everything is put in front of us at the supermarket. It’s all too easy. The first verse of Circle Of Life was heavily influenced by an old couple I witnessed in the supermarket moaning at the lack of choice for bog roll. There is over half an aisle given over to this product. These people were old enough to have been born during (or possibly just after) the war. Surely, even having one option for wiping their bums would be a luxury?? Obviously not, and it shows just how far we’ve slipped.

Gardening has become the domain of Anarchists and hippies. My Dad (as many people did) used to grow vegetables. It’s nothing new, so why has it become such an ‘alternative’ past time? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, and I’m happy people are rediscovering how to grow produce, but it’s sad at the same time. Face it, most of the veg in supermarkets is utterly tasteless, over-priced, and full of chemicals.

Same goes for alcohol. Expensive, often fizzy and tasteless, full of chemicals and a bulk of the money goes to the government.

I don’t garden (due to lack of space/Scottish weather/living in a rented house/general laziness) but I do make beer & wine. Gallons of the stuff. I worked out yesterday that I have paid for roughly 12 bottles of beer so far this year. I generally don’t drink in pubs as I’m performing, or driving, or both. The rest is home-made, very tasty, natural and best of all, CHEAP!!

I started a blog ages ago and it highlights just how cheap it is to start up making beer or wine.   Start-up costs for beer HERE and wine HERE show just how cheap it is to produce something very drinkable, even with the extra cost of buying everything from scratch.  Obviously, the more you make, the cheaper it becomes.

Come the revolution, backs against the wall, bop bop bop etc I’ll be swapping some of my alcoholic beverages for some of your carrots and cabbages, or bread and cakes.

But before then, we can be smug in the fact that (in a small way) we are taking profit away from the supermarkets and tax away from the government, whilst being kind to the environment.

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Fat Bloke, Thin Book by Arturo Bassick

(Or My Life Of Total Glamour & Untold Riches In The Entertainment Industry)

Fat Bloke, Thin Book by Arturo Bassick

Buy this book now.

It’s short, it’s funny, it’s entertaining, it’s a great insight into the punk scene of the late 70’s, it’s no bullsh*t, and it’s published by Arturo himself in true DIY spirit.

Oh yeah, and I couldn’t agree more with the section about tribute bands…..

For more info and to order –

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A Nice Big Warm Furry Hat…..

So, it would seem that at least ONE person is reading this blog.

It would also seem that they are taking some of the things I say VERY personally.

I’ve had a couple of the posts regurgitated back to me, in a very sarcastic way, with the person in question vehemently defending their corner.

The funny thing is, none of the posts were actually about them. Some of the posts (or interview answers) are about certain bands/situations/people from my past/present/future etc, just not this particular person.

But hey, if the big, floppy, furry-like hat with the fuzzy ear warmers fits………………….

(and yes, that last sentence IS about you!) :-)

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I’m not sure what defines punk anymore.

Not that I’ve really considered it, but just lately I’ve seen so many different bands labelled punk that are clearly not/never have/never will be punk. It’s become a generic term to describe a band. There are probably people that say my music is not punk, but I think it at least carries the punk spirit.

Surely defining it to fit in with an ideal is, ultimately, not punk?

I read a quote the other day that said “punk is what you make it”.  What does that mean?  Some hippy living by the sea and playing folk songs around the campfire is by definition punk as he’s living life his way against ‘normal’ society and authority?  Or a band plays aggressive, fast music and sings about cocks & tits (yes, this band did exist until recently)?  Musically they could be defined as punky, but surely there’s more to it than that? Or what about right wing OI! bands?  Again, musically they fit; they’re angry and political, but surely the idea of punk is one of unity, us against them and not us against us?  Or maybe this could come under the heading “freedom of speech is fine so long as I agree with what is being said?”

I’m fully aware that acoustic punk could also be in the above list.  BUT, I have never considered punk to be about distorted guitars, fashion, sticking two fingers up every time a camera is nearby, or hair cuts.

It’s about attitude, having something to say, and not being afraid to say it.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s so much more than that?

What does it mean to you??

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The Fear….

There is a fear that grips me when someone else posts up a video of me somewhere on the internet. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s a deep-rooted insecurity? Maybe I’m paranoid about sounding shit? Maybe it’s just vanity?

Hard to say, but it happened tonight. I logged on to Facebook and there it was. It took a moment to register, then I occupied myself with what everyone else was doing. Then I headed back to Yahoo to check my emails once more (even though I’d only checked them a few minutes beforehand). Then I had to face my fear and watch said video.

And you know what? It’s actually pretty good ;-)

Here it is, thanks to Duncan for filming and taking the time to upload it.

Tragically Shit from Pivo Pivo, Glasgow 15th January 2012

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The Choice…..

It seems that people have a choice these days, with regard to which band they go and see playing live.  I’m not talking about choosing between your favourite band that you’ve seen a million times, or that other band that you love also but have just got back together for a one-off tour.  No, that would be OK.

NO, I’m talking about having the choice between going to see an original band (one you’ve heard of) or a tribute band.  Now, some people immediately choose the original band.  As I would.  As you should.

Others mull over the choice, as they love the original band, let’s call them band A, but are good mates with the tribute act (band B).  Now, ok, these days people are a bit touchy if you don’t show them loyalty all the time so one has to be ‘careful’, but you should still make the right decision and go see band A.

Then we have the third group of people, the people that will go and see band B without question as they ‘love a bit of this and that’  So they go, and there’s nothing you can say to change their minds.  Leave them to it.

BUT, there is another group that fit somewhere between the last two groups.  These are the people that love band A, really want to go and see them, but still choose to go and see band B.  Not out of loyalty or anything, just ‘cos they love hearing those old songs being played.

Why do we (as a nation) rely so much on nostalgia?  We are a country full of revivalists, dredging up the past and wearing it as a badge.  A badge that seems to give some people a real sense of self importance.  Others give it to them.  They give these tribute acts respect, glory, massage their egos.  It’s baffling.  Promoters and clubs often give these bands preference for gigs & support slots, thus squeezing out one more original act from taking the stage.

If it wasn’t for band A and others like them, in many cases band B would have nothing to play.  Just remember that, eh?

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Maximum Rock & Roll Interview

Here is a copy of the never-to-be-seen MRR interview as, apparently, MRR is a punk magazine so therefore isn’t interested in acoustic music (punk or otherwise).

Thanks to Rags for taking the time to ask the questions.

Firstly, for those who may not have heard your work; how would you describe what you do?

Raw, aggressive, angry, acoustic punk.

Your songs are generally observational and, in some cases, quite damning. Is it important to you to make a point in your songs?

If a point needs making, then it should be made.  I don’t go out of my way to write scathing lyrics, some of my songs are more reflective and personal.

Do you consider yourself a political songwriter?

No, I have some political songs, I’d probably say more socially aware and personal than political.

What are your influences? Have you been likened to anyone else?

My influences come from The Jam (I grew up listening to them), New Model Army, The Specials, The Beat, Motorhead, Joy Division, Killing Joke, the list goes on……I have been likened to Paul Weller, Shane McGowan (?) and Billy Bragg, although I don’t actually listen to Billy Bragg but can maybe understand people comparing me with him due to the one-man-with-guitar and a southern accent!

What do you think of the current upsurge in acoustic/folk punk artists? Do you rate any of them?

I think there are far too many singer/songwriters calling themselves ‘punk’. Most of them are folk artists and have more in common with Bob Dylan & Woody Guthrie than they have with Joe Strummer or Charlie Harper.  Most of the so called political folk artists are anti-folk, which is a genre specifically to amuse people through political lyrics.  That doesn’t float my boat at all, I mean, how can you take someone’s opinions seriously when they are just making a joke out of them?  In general it makes me cringe.    Frank Turner seems to be the name everyone associates with ‘folk-punk’, but I think he’s just folk, I can’t hear any punk in what he’s doing.  I think people get confused as he used to be in a punk band, but that’s in the past, he should be judged on what he is now.  I don’t want to slag him off though, as I do believe he’s worked hard and gigged hard to get where he is now, so I respect that.

How are you finding being on the road? is it the way you expected it to be?

Yes; it’s fun, tedious, exhilarating and boring.

Your releases have all been DIY to date. How important is that to you?

It’s important for me to get my music heard, and I think every musician should be in control of what they’re doing.  I can understand musicians signing big deals (going back to 20 years ago) but how many of them actually regret that?  Losing the copyrights to the songs THEY wrote, having someone telling you what to do/write/say etc  having someone controlling when you play.  Far too many bands (and yes, some I’ve been a member of) have spent too much time sitting and dreaming about getting signed and being a rock star, and worried far too much about the ‘band image’ etc, instead of actually getting out there and making people listen.  A good number of years ago I decided that if I could do it myself, then I would.  I was a drummer in bands then, so it was a lot harder to have any sway within the bands I was in, but I’m in control of this so, as far as is possible, I will stay DIY.  When the money runs out for diesel & guitar strings, that’s when it all goes wrong….

Are there any particular causes you support?

I released a split EP with a crust punk band (Versificator) last year with all the profits going to The Humane Research Trust, a great organisation that is actually funding alternative research into human diseases without testing on animals.  I think more people need to be made aware that there are alternatives to animal testing.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to sell more copies of the EP now I’m gigging, and hope to put on some benefit shows in the future.

Any current bands you like at the moment?

There’s a great hardcore punk band from London called The Proud City Fathers, Versificator from Scotland.  I also like what Brian Curran (Glasgow) is doing acoustically.  Other than that, I’ve not really seen any others that really get my blood pumping.  They must be out there, I just haven’t seen them yet.

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Raise Your Banners, Bradford

What a weekend that was!!  Bloody fantastic!!  The gig was great, all the other artists were really friendly, I met some lovely people and it was well worth the 14 hour round-trip in the howling gales & pouring rain.  I’d do it all again now given the oppurtunity.  No question.

I was very nervous to start with, but was immediately made to feel at ease by all those present.   I arrived early for the soundcheck and am glad I did as it was good to get on the stage and have a warm up so I’d know what to expect when the time came.   Also, I always find it good to watch other musicians (in this case, real pro’s that know their stuff) to see how they do it.

When show time did eventually come, my song (Ballad Of Logie Buchan) went well, I didn’t clunk any chords or mess up the words, but did probably sound a bit tense when singing.  Still, as I was probably the least experienced out of everyone, I’m just happy that I got up there and got through it.  I got some really positive comments afterwards about my song too, which was a bonus.

The rest of the gig was really enjoyable, Robb Johnson was entertaining, Justin Sullivan played an interesting mix of songs, some I hadn’t heard him play live before, and it was nice to watch the other guests perform their songs.  The guest songs were in three categories: Past, Present & Future, and luckily mine was in the present which was the first slot, so I was on early on in the concert and could then relax and enjoy the show.

I certainly won’t forget my 39th birthday in a hurry!

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First Gig…..

So, that’s my first gig out of the way, it was great to play with Proud City Fathers.  It seemed to go well and the crowd were very kind and supportive, but I guess the video will give a more honest account when I see it.

It was fitting to play my debut gig alongside PCF.  They were THE band that came along when I was 22, a young drummer on the track to fame and fortune (that so many of us seem to get derailed from).  I remember receiving a copy of their single, ‘Looking To The Left’, through the door and being blown away by it.  It was so much better and professional than anything else anyone had sent when replying to one of my (many) NME/Melody Maker ads.  Unfortunately, I only played with them for just over a month, as I could see they were tired of it all, the many line-up changes and let downs.  I was gutted to leave, but knew I had to.

Well, that was over 15 years ago, and they’re back with their original vocalist, and out there having fun with it.  Hopefully, they’ll invite me down for another gig at some point, although they REALLY need to get ‘Looking…’ back in their set ;-)

Onwards & upwards, as they say………….

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There have now been 2000 hits to my home page and only 1987 of those were mine ;-)

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