Monday, 24 December 2007


I am not going to write on here until The New Year because I want to get loads of music done and stop kidding myself that The Internet is a valid place to spend time whilst waiting for creativity to strike. Happy Winterval!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

I Am What I Play

Club Creationism, Roz and I's shambolic venture into Playing Records For People, continued on Thursday with our first night at The Cooler. Dean from Off Beat Promotions has said we can do this after all his gigs there, which means every 1st and 3rd Thursday, and this one was special because it was his special Christmas Party special. Roz couldn't do it though because she wasn't feeling good, and so I had to do it by myself because both my other friends were busy.

Dean had warned that people have a habit of not sticking around after the bands (as evidenced by the last time the Lauras played there, when literally no-one stayed for the DJing), so I was getting a bit worried when as Brandon Steep announced their last song, half the crowd began looking for their bags and coats. I did have a couple of friends there though, as well as Big Jeff, so in persuading him to stay, I figured at least people would know what they were supposed to be doing - DANCING!

The clubnight that used to be on after Dean's gigs was called 'Beat Surrender', and was run by someone called John The Mod. So I took a risk and kicked off with The Jam. No-one danced, which perhaps explains why John The Mod now finds himself minus a clubnight, I thought to myself. So I played basically what I wanted to play, new and old, and it actually went quite well. From an empty dancefloor it slowly filled up until the majority of people were involved in some sort of pile-on to "Sound And Vision". The best bit was when someone recognised "I Was Born (A Unicorn)" from the drum intro. The second best bit was when I told someone No, I don't have any JOE LEAN, fucking hell. Bizarrely they were both the same person (I think it was Brandon Steep's keyboardist). Someone took my number and said that he does a lot of parties and he wanted me to DJ or something.

It started to wane about quarter to one and everyone went home. I got paid some money that will go towards Christmas presents. I felt a bit lonely being the last person to leave (except the bar-people, a race of their own), and more lonely again as I walked home with a very heavy CD case. But it was a pretty good night, I didn't fuck up really at all, and Roz and I have the chance to work on making this a Real and Established Clubnight, rather than an afterthought for people who aren't drunk enough to go home yet.

Monday, 17 December 2007


It's a Monday, which means yesterday was Sunday, which means today is the day after the day THE BUMBLEBEES made their live debut. Roz and Bert and Me (and our loyal fans Zoe And Jon And Bert's Dad) crammed in Bert's Dad's Van and headed up to Oxford, or more specifically the Port Mahon pub, where we were going to be the 2nd of 6 bands in an all-day gig put on by our friend Hog.

After being thoroughly confused by Oxford's one-way system, we arrived for soundcheck and managed to squeeze out a couple of songs to a less than enraptured crowd of bored-looking musicians (the eventual crowd of about twenty would not respond much better). The sound system in use at the Port Mahon was temperamental to say the least, and although it sounded alright from Up On The Stage, it was impossible to guess what was coming through the PA. Going by the sound of the other bands we saw (all of whom were ENJOYABLE or better), the mix was probably quite BAD.

I thought the gig, in terms of performance, went pretty well. I felt like I sang with feeling and mainly in-tune, I didn't forget many words, and I remembered pretty much all the chords. We didn't lose track of the drum machine (although there was a horrible bit at the start when it made weird noises and I couldn't figure out why - it turned out to be the power lead), we started and finished all the songs at the same time, and we didn't say anything that offensive to the crowd (apart from "shut up", which I retracted quite soon afterwards).

We ran through all our sure-fire hits, from the athiest-funk of "Cool Science, to the animal-rights-funk of "Fluffy Clouds Of Joy", but we didn't seem to go down that well. I don't know whether we were a bit too plain for that crowd, or whether our music is just unlikable, but most songs were greeted with blank stares, or the bowed heads of people texting their friends, presumably to tell them not to hurry to the gig just yet. But..... it was a fun gig all the same. I need to have a bit more confidence, and not just give up because some people don't like us. Obviously I would rather we'd been carried home to ecstatic cheering from newly converted Bumblebees devotees, but it was still a good way to get rid of our performance nerves, and to figure out what worked and what didn't before we get ourselves a local gig. I just hope Bristolians have BETTER TASTE.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Working Sentences

I've just finished a twelve-hour shift sorting post at Royal Mail. My legs quite literally hurt. It is a temporary Christmas job and it pays quite bad money and has really bad hours. I am doing it because I owe a few people various amounts of money (including the bank) and I realised that I couldn't just wait until my talent was recognised to pay them back.

I did four hours overtime today mainly so I could see Roz, who is working opposite shifts to me, so unless I worked afternoons as well, we wouldn't see each other at all during the week. It was definitely worth it, and the time flew by (not literally).

What I have learnt so far is that Royal Mail is a very inefficient company. Lots of time and energy is wasted by doing things at the wrong time in the wrong way. On the way back from work me and Toby saw about a dozen fire engines (plus police and ambulans) heading to the Filton Royal Mail building, so hopefully there won't be any post left for us tomorrow...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Timbaland vs. A Finnish Person

"Do It" is Nelly Furtado's latest single. It was produced by Timbaland, a largely excellent producer. There have been claims that he based the song around a stolen sample from an obscure Finnish demoscene composer. I'm pretty convinced these claims are true.

There has been a video on YouTube for flippin' ages that exposes Timbaland as a thief, but it only came back into my mind once I started hearing "Do It" twice a day on the radio. I absolutely can't believe that with the internet being quite a big deal nowadays, this hasn't been discussed on a larger platform, that no court case has ensued, and that mainstream radio either has no idea of the scale of fraud being committed here, or knows and does not care.

With this song being a single (albeit a fairly lesser one from Nelly Furtado's album), it's likely that worldwide it'll sell about a million copies, making a couple of million dollars split between Evil Stores, Evil Distributors, Evil Record Companies, Evil Managers, and last of all Timbaland (and Nelly Furtado). At it stands, none of that money will go to Janne Suni, arguably the main composer of the song.

On Timbaland's Wikipedia page, it says this on the subject: Timbaland, while admitting the sampling, has called the issue "ridiculous" but also says he is "in legal discussions" and is therefore unable to comment. It might be libellous to say this, but I think the only "ridiculous" thing is that Timbaland has been caught red-handed, but won't admit to defrauding the public for the sake of his reputation. (Timbaland's full rather... inarticulate reply is just here. Part of his defence is that he just didn't know whether it was public domain. Again, I reiterate, he is a famous producer with a huge company behind him. If it isn't clearly public domain material, don't use it!!)

My opinion is this: Firstly, I am dead against copyright laws, and think that sampling is great fun and should be free. Early rap used samples in fresh and exciting ways, and this potential still exists. BUT..... basically it is down to Record Labels Always Wanting More Money that sampling is now mainly illegal without permission (read payment), with the exception of copyleft material. So when a huge and very famous rich producer steals from a near unknown composer and doesn't even MENTION him, I don't think it can be considered Fair Use in any way, and I think in court he would be found guilty, and I think he (and more importantly Universal, basically the biggest music company around with a twenty-five per cent market share) should suffer the consequences. The song isn't even that good!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Sometimes snippets of a conversation are more than enough. Overheard today, two boys trying to outdo each other in regards to how broken their respective familes were. The winner:

"My parents have been split up eight years, I mainly live at my aunt's... so I get three advent calendars!"

Lucky kid!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Brainless Blogging

I know it's pretty laaaaaazy to post videos instead of practising my writing but it's been a laaaaaaazy day and somehow it's made me tired. So this is just a YouTube video of one of my favourite songs ever. There is nothing really special about the construction of the song, or the melody, or the production, or the words, but somehow I find specialness in it.

It's a Beatles song, written and recorded in 1977 by John Lennon, completed by the Rest Of Them in 1995 as part of a big re-issue/Anthology thing. It got to number two I think, which is pretty decent considering it's the sort of mid-tempo soft-rock that is quite easy to forget, even as you're listening to it. It's pretty crap, considering it's THE BEATLES. Anyway I really love it and rather than spending the next four minutes reading whatever I might have had to say, I'd rather you watched this video:

(Just one sentence about today: In the morning I got a BRAND NEW MACBOOK and in the evening I played 5-a-side and the game was abandoned because there was a punch-up involving everyone except for me - I guess I'm just not passionate enough.)

Saturday, 8 December 2007

We Are (The) Cooler Than You

Last night was gig night! The Lauras headlined The Cooler, which is a VERY LOUD venue in the middle of Park Street. We hadn't played there before, but everyone was very nice, the soundman was bouncing around like a bunny, and the promoter was much chattier than most. Even the bouncers managed more than a grunt!

Sound-check was at half-five and we weren't on til eleven, so we had plenty of time to get a bit drunk and lark about in the way that a certain type of indie bands do in really crap videos. Jon's friend Steven kept picking me up, I don't know why. I accidentally kissed Jon but we've both forgotten about that now.

We got back to The Cooler about twenty minutes before going on - we didn't watch the first two support bands because we are too big for that shit now. Main support Ulysses were listenable in a dinosaurish sort of way, but I can't really remember anything specific about them. Apparently they are quite famous around Bristol, which sounds plausible, but obviously not that famous else they would have refused to go on before such a ramshackle act as The Lauras.

Doing our songs was much more fun than it usually is - it was probably the smallest crowd we've played to, but I would easily put it in my Top Three Gigs Of All Time (That I Played In), because:
  • There was a nice big stage for dancing
  • I was exactly the right amount drunk
  • The Jelas were there and they danced
And to Top It All Off, the promoter said me and Roz could take over DJing on his nights, after the bands finish. Which basically means we get a great venue for free, every fortnight, from 11 til 2, with an audience already there and waiting for our great tunes!

See you there!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Interview Technique

I had an interview today for a job I really wanted. It was working for a well-known vegan and vegetarian charity that I won't name just in case it's against the Data Protection Act or something. This is roughly how it went:

Interviewer: Hiya Ellis, thanks very much for coming.
Now tell me, what do you think was the main reason for you turning vegan?
Interesting. And what do would you say to someone in order to convince them to turn vegan?
Cool! Do you have any experience with in research and organisation?
Great. And what do you think you could bring to the position?

Excellent! Thanks very much for your time, Ellis. Bye-bye!

I got an email with a half hour of leaving, telling me I hadn't got the job. More Tact Needed.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

And If The Live Show Is Strong

So, on 16th December the Bumblebees make their live debut. The Bumblees are Roz, Bert and Me, and we're playing at the Port Mahon in Oxford as part of an all-dayer organised by our friend Hog. We are sort of hard to describe, but I would say it's sort of post-punk + tweepop. We've practised together a total of two times so far, and we probably won't get many more opportunities, what with me and Roz working completely opposite shifts until Christmas, and Bertie Bass(-ett) busting his ass in a 9-to-5 hellhole for ha'penny per day. I'm sure we will still be brilliant, but I do feel like there's a lot to worry about.

I'm mainly concerned about it being my singing debut (aside from one acoustic gig with Bert), but also concerned about how we'll play as a band, whether the drum machine will work, how many people will be there, what the mix will be like, and whether the other bands will be miles better than us. With so much to worry about, I'll probably render it all irrelevant by forgetting my guitar or something....

In actuality it will probably not be that bad, and hopefully after we've played in front of strangers, we'll be able to come home and impress our friends with a Rocking Bristol Debut.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Q: Is Morrissey Racist Or Is The NME Shit?


Firstly the obvious stuff: the NME is a terrible magazine that exists only to make money, that promotes regressive music made pretty much entirely by bulletheaded stupid men. They create and dismantle "scenes" like Lego with no regard for talent or ability, they write as voice-of-a-generation yet seem to write to a generation of eight year olds, and under IPC give the impression that they would say literally anything to sell more of their shit. They are consuma cultcha embodied and forced into skinny jeans.

In contrast, Morrissey is a well-regarded indie superstar with a long career built on writing brilliant songs (well, once upon a time), who generally seems to talk sense, and more importantly talks with great wit and eloquence. Aside from one previous brush with the NME (and a few questionable lyrics), his record is pretty much clean, unlike the filthy magazine.

So when the uniformly Bad NME puts the consistently Good Morrissey at the centre of a row over racism, I think the intelligent music fan could be forgiven for not immediately setting their Smiths collection alight. However, on actually reading the interview and giving it a while to sink in, it's Morrissey who comes across as out-of-touch, regressive and simplistic. His suggestion that Britain has been destroyed by immigration is not only ridiculous, but offensive to any immigrant of any nationality. If I were an immigrant Morrissey fan, I don't see how I could fail to be disgusted by his fierce nationalist streak, and even as a fairly obsessive Smiths fan myself I can't help but liken him to the grand-dad at the dinner party who doesn't even seem to realise why he is so completely wrong. What's more, his claim is completely absurd: immigration generally has a diverse, positive effect on culture. From what I can tell, Morrissey's vision of Modern Britain would be a stagnating pool of baudy, northern comics and dashing, aesthetic-obsessed playwrights. How boring.

Just quickly skimming the internet on the subject, it's easy to see that Morrissey has not alienated all of his fans with his .....edgy views, quite the opposite in fact. One of the many Facebook groups set up in the aftermath of the controversy has a topic entitled "If Morrissey actually WAS a racist.......................would you care?", with not a pinch of sarcasm evident. The type of brainless Morrissey fans who attack NME scenesters for blindly following the magazine ought to see that brainlessly following an aging singer is just as bad, because when he says something that you really should disagree with, you're more likely to make excuses, or try and understand, or at worst just blindly believe him.

I don't think I'm being overly PC or touchy when I say that almost the majority of Morrissey fans that posted on the groups on Facebook contained something equally offensive to me as Morrissey's comments, whether it was latent racism, homophobia (the irony!) or just the "if you don't agree with me then you're a soft cunt" argument. This is not debate about immigration, in the same way that Moz's Mafia claim the NME did not debate it. This is rats following the Pied Piper in the same way that the Topshop-hoardes follow the NME. Incidentally, the NME and The Smiths share the same musical lineage, namely the endless stream of skinny, male, guitar bands that obsess over the minutae of a British suburbia that no longer exists, obsessed with emulating rather than geniunely creating.
(Just a note on the fickle nature of the whole thing, my favourite group concerning this on Facebook has this fantastic quote: "Make it known to the NME that you won't stand for the slack music journalism approach by not buying the next couple of issues.")

In my opinion (which I suppose is what matters here), the British identity is a manufactured concept, and in Morrissey's case an entirely imagined one. People have been complaining about immigration for literally centuries. But people have been unemployed, victims of crime, and slaves to wage-labour for centuries more. Immigration is not the problem in the lives of the working class. But that is another story for another day. In the meantime, the court will decide whether either side is legally in the right (no, not that sort of 'right') or wrong. But if, as interviewer Tim Jonze has claimed, all the Morrissey quotes printed are 100% accurate, then what exactly is he sueing them for? He has had his say, and both sides have come out looking ignorant, pompous and stubborn.

We Benefit Kino

Thursday night was great fun, cause me and Roz did what I like to call "inter-band-DJing" at a Cafe Kino benefit (as previously mentioned) held at Cube Cinema. In truth it was more like inter-band-iPoding and only involved sitting around whilst occasionally adding to our On-The-Go playlist. It wasn't the sort of night that involved lots of dancing, but no-one said anything bad about our choices and some people complimented certain tracks, which was nice.

It felt nice just to be at the Cube doing something rather than viewing or listening. Not that we were an integral part of the night or anything, but it meant that if someone asked who I was I could say "I'm Ellis, we're DJing tonight", rather than "I'm Roz's boyfriend", which is how I usually sort of feel. Anyway all the bands that played between our songs (we paused the playlist) were fun to watch, especially I Know I Have No Collar, who made managed to make a whole show fun based on one gimmick (the pre-recorded "satelite link" to an absent band member).

At the end of the night when the bands had finished and the tidying up had begun, there was a cute moment where four of us danced quite vigourously to Le Tigre, then sort of absent mindedly wandered off to other duties. It was like a really aimless, poorly-attended flash mob (in the best possible way), and if I were the central role in an over-aspiring indie film, I might have thought to myself that our lives are but a series of moments; created by circumstance and destroyed by time. But I'm not and they aren't so I didn't, and we stopped off in the 24-hour supermarket for Bourbons on the way home.