Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Strange Few Days

Quite apart from the welcome and unexpected incursion of Sam Taplin into the world of Hackney this evening, and before even considering the delights of a trip to Camden (a silly place) earlier in the day and a successful Bright Idea the night before, with Max doing the cooking, and before even the preparatory lunch yesterday with Jones, with a friendly dog eating most of it by mistake and a walk in the drizzle to get a package of awesome free books – before any of those things, and the new video footage I’ve been putting together and the new song we’ve been trying to write, it’s worth remembering a few nights ago when, at 4am, I found myself driving the peug through the baking, deserted night-time streets of zone 1.

It’s a strange place at night, and it gives one a charge of indefinable energy to breeze through normally-congested landmarks in areas only ever normally seen from public transport. Being in KCL with only my keys in my hand, knowing the beautiful thing was parked only just outside, was a peculiarly liberating experience – to the extent that it was difficult to believe that the two places were really in the same place. I was energised in this thought by having recently finished China Miéville’s superb novel The City and The City, which I mightily recommend.

Apart from this and the subsequent sunrise walk around Greenwich in search of breakfast, it’s mostly been academic work over here. But we’ve more studio time planned and are now definitely going to be present at the Truck festival in a few weeks. So things are a-go. Stay tuned.

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Blooper Reel

I finally got around to editing the blooper reel from the last fOwl into shape. It’s the Shrove episode, which i’m sure you remember – we had an absolutely great time making it, and I really think that comes across in this short series of clips.

The climax of this video is the pancake cumshot gag reel, in which I take forty-one pancakes directly to the face in the name of art.

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In Studio

It’s uncharacteristic of me these days to provide commentary on an event in progress rather than spending ages summing up afterwards, I’m awake before the others, it’s raining outside, and I’ve already run out of other internet. It’s our third day in studio on Vibe, Drill and “It”. The Dapper Swindler and I have been sequestered in the handsome SAE Institute just outside Oxford under the tender care of Dean “Contemptuous Glance” McCarthy. Dean’s been splendid, particularly on the patience front, and I am even now in the house he shares with his charming fiancée Liz “Very Small Printing Press” Gallagher. Their hospitality has been overwhelming, and since this is our first recording session in over two years (and our first studio recording session ever) we’ve been having quite a time. Perhaps other artists out there on the internet might benefit from our experiences? Here are some of the lessons we learnt.

1) Don’t leave a nice piece of Thomas Hoe Stevenson’s Aged Red Leicester in the glove box of the car during your recording session.
Whilst providing a somewhat tasty treat upon exit, it will make your car an undesirable place to be for some time afterwards.

2) When shown into the luxurious megastudio, don’t immediately spill beer everywhere.
We learn this lesson courtesy of the D. Swindler, although in fellowship I deliberately opened a fizzed-up new bottle of Dr. Pepper five minutes later.

3) Sound Engineeers absolutely love listening to you doing take after take after take of the same song, making the same mistakes in the same places.
Through the window which seperates the studio from the mixing room, you can just about make out Dean’s facebook page on the computer screen.

4) If you can’t write or sing vocal backing parts, just record about twelve different terrible freestyles and layer them all up together.
Improv choir of awesome! This totally works.

5) If you break a string whilst restringing your guitar, no-one will notice if you just stick the old string back on.
There’s a button in Dean’s office with “make an old B string sound like the other 5 jangly new strings” written on it. It’s next to “poke” and “add as a friend”.

6) If you then break a second string after throwing away the old ones, you can use another string of a different gauge that your friend Will happens to have with him to make do.
Who even breaks A strings? I’ve never seen anyone break an acoustic A string before.

7) If you threw away a whole, brand new, set of your friend Will’s different-gauge strings yesterday because you had them out to investigate the possibility of putting one of them on to replace the first string you broke (see 5), you can always go through the bins a day later to rescue them.
I’ll stop this one before things become passive-aggressive up in here.

8) Recording is better if every meal you eat is sandwiched between two pieces of bread.
Yesterday’s breakfast: Egg McMuffin (more on this anon). Lunch: Steak burger in a pub near SAE. Dinner: Turkey burgers hand-crafted by Liz.

Right. Everyone’s up now, so I have to go and cut pieces of melted Thomas Hoe Stevenson for the egg bagels.

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Thomas A. Edison’s Bright Idea

I debuted this tune at a recent Birght Idea – it’s written for Railroad owners Lizzie Parle and Matt “Deadly” Doran, who repeat readers of this blog (and viewers of fOwl) will remember as two-thirds of elite musical duo Triple Rosie. The tune is about the difficulties inherent in any creative process – songwriting, opening a café, inventing a means of illumination which revolutionalises human society, whatever – and how those difficulties aren’t actually opposed to creativity but rather an essential part of it. An old theme, but hopefully from a very slightly fresh angle.

Intuition only formed a part of it –
A hint of a direction at the start of it.
The rest was all error and trial
With pained frustration all the while.

He devised his carbonized cotton thread
No perfectly-proportioned bulb above his head.
No click of a revealed secret.
We didn’t have the metaphors yet.

It was engineering expertise he used at each impasse
Not guessing how his grandkids could conceive his bubbled glass.
No hint of all the dints of thought his tinkering would bring;
The different ways of seeing things.

And rather than a conflict, it’s interdependancy –
The fluke needs careful planning, the prose needs poetry.
And gloriously tangled up is how these things belong –
The contradictions make them strong.

Ideas really are like filaments, you know:
It’s only with resistance that they start to glow.

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