Thursday, 16 February 2012

Working hard or does it hardly work? Probably not.

A few weeks on from recording in the coldest place in Worcestershire and what have we done? From my perspective, I sat down for a day and digested the mental food I’d had from the week before. Thinking back on it, it was one hell of an adventure! However, romantic Columbus inspired visuals aside we’ve been quite busy.

Recording vocals, planning a makeshift promotion campaign and next steps. The first outcome from this is below:

This teaser video is made up of clips from the week recording the album in St Nicolas’ church, a recording we did of ‘Our Heavy Hands’ in Cardiff, a jam session in Chris’ bedroom and writing/rehearsal sessions with a track that was once our live intro. There is reams of footage from recording the other week which Jordan is trawling through in order to create a ‘making of’ film but hopefully better than the questionable toss you’d get on a Magnum PI dvd.

We are playing at our favourite haunt, The Flapper this coming Saturday with the fantastic new project from local favourites Shady Bard. I speak of course of FORESTS, have a listen to this track from them, I’m sure you will be impressed. Also playing is Eat Y’self Pretty and our good friends Mitch & Murray.

                                                 FORESTS - The Planets

Anyway apart from all this fun I have my own questions about our recorded material, the main one being “Who will actually listen to our work when it is released?”

A short film by Serous Feather about Iceland’s music scene called “Beyond Sigur Rós” influenced this.

Haukur Magnússon (editor of Reykjavik based magazine, The Grapevine) raises a strong point within the first few minutes. As with every country the only music that is exported is well selling and usually of broad appeal, which you have to agree with. The difference with Iceland is that their biggest musical export is Sigur Rós and Björk, which aren’t exactly of broad appeal but nevertheless well known worldwide and always associated with Iceland.

I digress.

The fact raised by Magnússon is that Iceland has a rich music scene that most people outside of the country don’t really hear about and this is something that, I believe, anyone in a band, in any city, in any country will agree with.

The globalization of music and international export can be boiled down to national and even local levels. There will be a certain band that breaks out of a city in the UK and have some commercial success around their own country (e.g. The Twang) and nowhere else. Within that they become associated to that city, however within that city we find a pocket of bands that only a few people within that city will know of (their mates and a few genuine fans). The sad truth here is that the bands that only a few people know about are the best or most interesting and believe me Birmingham has a fair few.

Unfortunately it seems that to break out on a local and eventual national level you have to be arrogant and pander to a certain musical magazines every opinion. You cant seem to gain success on your own terms unless you have something extremely unique that the masses just cant ignore. Bands like Sigur Rós, Radiohead and Arcade Fire are the only major acts that seem to be the only ones that have achieved massive commercial success this way. Perhaps I’m being somewhat pessimistic but correct me if I’m wrong but the Brit school (or ‘Drain on daddys bank account/perpetuator of pissweeds vomiting dirge on us school’) isn’t really giving us anything aurally outstanding…

I think the conclusion I am getting to is that being a small time British band in Britain is fucking terrible. No one gives a shiny shite about what you do and you are generally un-appreciated. Although this is bleak, which as you can tell from my lyrics is what I do best, there is a glimmer of hope…

…When myself, Jordan, Chris and Jake were on our summer travels around Europe we had a stop off in Berlin. We had noticed that a local(ish) band to us, Rue Royale, were playing while we were there. We had seen them play in Birmingham a month previous and were blown away by them, but the atmosphere at these 2 gigs couldn’t have been any more polar opposite.

Rue Royale play minimalist, emotion provoking, folk, which is beautifully written. You can already imagine the environment they require. In Birmingham they did not get the treatment they deserve. The place they were playing in was full of suited pricks drinking to numb the pain of their horribly account driven existence and the inebriated tramps that frequent the area the venue is in. It appeared that our manager and us were the only people there for the gig.

They came on and played flawless set, baring their soul to an audience who talked loudly and disregarded the bands existence. When you’re playing to a crowd like that, you question why you even bother in the first place (especially when the other bands fuck off and only appear for their set then fuck off again).

However when we saw them in Berlin we were overcome by the difference. For €3 we entered the venue to find that the seated area at the back and the standing section was filled with people speaking in hushed voices patiently awaiting the band. When they took to the stage the audience cheered and clapped before dimming down to silence. We couldn’t believe it. Small time gigs in the UK are rarely that cordial. From then on was purely spell binding. Some sang along, some danced and one woman broke into floods of tears when they played ‘U.F.O’. The audience was made up of people who were there to see some live music and appreciated it. I brought a t-shirt at this gig and I will always attach the memory of seeing Rue Royale play in Berlin. 

This is encouraging as many smaller bands from the UK that tour in Europe always comment on how different their experience is than that of gigging in the UK. We have had some fantastic gigs here but we've also had some that really make you want to give up. The likelihood is that we have only seen the nice side of gigging in Europe and its probably exactly the same anywhere in the world.

In conclusion, stop being a jerk at small gigs as you've payed money just to talk loudly at one another, unless your watching a friend of a friends band who cover nirvana songs, in which case, be as scornful as your conscience will let you, they don’t have feelings.

Also, as a footnote. Buy ‘Guide To An Escape’ by Rue Royale. You will not regret it. 
                                       iTunes: Rue Royale - Guide To An Escape

See you on the flip flop.

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