Food For Thought…

keep-calm-and-eat-subway-14My son is 16 and he likes to eat at Subway, Mickey Dee’s and Kentucky Fried Rat. I’m not gonna change that am I? I was a vegetarian for 27 years and brought my children up as veggies without ever stopping them from eating meat, I tried to be a good parent but in the end I can’t beat the marketing and avertising.

We went to dine at Subway the other day, it’s ever so cheap you know! I’m on this diet at the moment, to get me down half a stone, back to my ideal body weight, all I’m doing is watching calories with a rather great App called myfitnesspal. So, I’m in Subway and I see they do these low calorie sandwiches but, trouble is, I can’t tell the difference between the Lo calorie one and the normal one so I ask the nice girl behind the counter…

Me: What’s the difference between the Low Calorie sandwich and the normal one please?

Girl: One’s low calorie and the other isn’t.

Me: Yes, I understand that but what is the actual difference between them please?

Girl: (looking slightly confused) One’s low calorie and the other isn’t?

Me: So what is the difference between the Low Calorie Meatballs sandwich and the normal Meatballs sandwich?

Girl: One is low calorie and the other isn’t? We do a low calorie Meatballs and a normal one.

Me: So is there any difference in the amount of meat or the type of meat or the way the sauce is cooked or the bread?

Girl: Yes, the low calorie one is the one from the low calorie menu.

Me: I know! I get all that but what is the actual difference in the way you cook them?!!

Girl: We don’t cook anything, everything comes pre-cooked! Look mate, the difference is one is from the low calorie menu and the other one isn’t!

Me: So the one from the low calorie menu with meatballs has been made with something different to the one from the full fat menu at the Subway factory?

Girl: No?

Me: So what’s the difference between the two?

Girl: (completely irrate) I dunno, nothing I guess?

I gave up and I ordered my low Calorie sandwich off the low calorie menu.

As usual in Subway, they give you your sandwich wrapped in a yard of paper and put it in a plastic carrier bag with enough napkins for a family of four. Between walking from the counter to your seat and finishing your meal you’ve already helped half-fill a landfill site all on your own. (I once asked for no bag, no wrapping paper or serviettes and was told it wasn’t possible as it was against company regulations and health and safety. They simply couldn’t do it,  it wouldn’t have been safe for me to walk over to my crumb filled chair without my sandwich properly wrapped in company logos in a bag full of vouchers trying to tempt me back).

THIS IS THE INTERESTING BIT:

I sat down and got my sendvich out and found loads of hefty-paper-voucher-fliers in my big-enough-to-put-my boots-in-plastic-bag. On one of the scraps of paper I read the small print and a ‘Low Fat’ meal is referred to as ‘sandwiches prepared according to a standard recipe with meat, cheese, red onions…’. It warns you that if you ask for more cheese on it, it won’t be Low-Fat anymore and it’s not their fault. It tells you it’s ‘The Real Deal’ because it’s cheaper and better for you but that you can only have water or tea or coffee with it. Then it says: MAKE IT A FOOTLONG FOR JUST £2 EXTRA.

When I punched both the sandwich of low fat and full fat into my app to see what the calories where I was SHOCKED that they are both the same! The girl behind the counter was right, even if she didn’t know it.

So the low Calorie subway is just a sandwich with less shit on it but with the same calorific content but it’s cheaper and healthier because you sling it down with water and not a coke!

WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY?!!

download TWELVE @ Water Rats LONDON 19/07/14

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A 24 Bit WAV download of the TWELVE set played by myself and Pete Stevenson at The Water Rats last Saturday is now available for free or please give us a donation from HERE. Special thanks to Goodsoul Promotions for putting us on.

The Lamb Lies Down On Talbot Street

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I was watching Australian neo psychedelic prog rockers Tame Impala last night at Rock City and several thoughts were running through my head. First one woz: this band are great, I love ‘em.

Anyway, I was thinking about the 60’s and the 70’s which led me on to thinking about the eightees and the ninetees. This band sort of makes you do that. We compartmentalize time, fashion and music into 10 year slices, and it works, the 70’s conjures up images of flares and the 80’s reminds me of big hair and padded shoulders and yuppies and Dire Straits.

It’s not true though is it?

My Mum and her mates wore funny sixties glasses, pencil skirts and had their hair up 60’s style well into the early seventies. It’s easy to talk about the roaring twenties and the crazy sixties and the yuppie 80’s because it rolls off the tongue nicely. We don’t call that period of 1900-1910 ‘the tens’ though do we, it’s referred to as Edwardian, and the period before that is Victorian, and before that it’s Georgian or Regency and then it gets broader; periods are medieval, dark and neolithic. That’s how we will end up folks!

If you look at the charts in 1977 you might be surprised to hear music that is punk, disco, Rene and Renato, Bowie’s German period, Tamla Motown and Leif Garrett. It’s not black and white. The 70’s weren’t really the seventies; the world is moving all the time for it to be just that simple.

What is interesting about music at the moment is how it is all so fragmented and compartmentalized into genres and sub genres because it’s almost the only way it can go to be different. Before Georgio Moroder, was there such a thing as Disco? It’s beginnings were in soul music and R&B and then it got mixed up with sixties psychedelia and modern production techniques. The O’Jays were high jacked by The Bee Gees and in turn abused by an Italian German night clubber. It’s no different now, new music only ever comes about by retreading the past. The Beatles were the masters of that and they are widely regarded as the most influential and original pop group there ever was and ever will be.

So where is the Disco and the Punk and the New Romantic sound movement now? Before Joy Division, was there anything that sounded like Joy Division? Was there a Kraftwerk before Kraftwerk? Is it now just Kraftwerky Alternative Rock? I’m not complaining by the way.

Andy McCluskey of OMD said that the synth-pop of 1977-83 was “the last great populist movement of modernism”. What he means is after synth-pop, (with some exeptions like Jungle) all major movements in music would become ‘sounds-like’ music.

So 2000 onwards was the ‘noughties’ for a while but it didn’t really work did it? The nineties were more naughty than the noughties. Is this decade just too new to be celebrated yet? We can talk about the 2020’s as the ‘twenties’ when we get into the 2030’s and feel safe in the knowledge that we are now in the new emerging ‘thirtees’.

Is music right now simply just an extension or a revival of what has gone before? When was the last time you heard something and said: “I’ve never heard anything like that before!” Is it even possible? I like to think it is.

Music has always been informed by what has happened before, but right now there is so much music that it’s all either, a bit synthy, a bit motowny, a bit Beatlesey or a bit post-punk or psychedelic or folky. Go and read a music magazine in WH Smiths today and after the review it will probably say; ‘if you like this, try this!’ Music has become so referrential that journalists just cut straight to the heart of it by putting this label at the end of their reviews and it used to drive me mad when I used to read reviews about my own band. After every six by seven review it always recommended listening to similar acts The Jesus and Mary Chain and always always My Bloody Valentine. Our drummer became so convinced by this trend in Journalism that he broke away to form a band that tried desperatly to sound exactly like My Bloody Valentine, believing this would bring him success.

Crap. I couldn’t hear The Jesus And Mary Chain in our music at all?  I like the Mary Chain but to me thay always sounded like Phil Spector with timid vocals and screeching guitar feedback all the way through it. We didn’t sound like that did we? We never tried to sound like that! Or Radiohead? To my ears we didn’t sound like My Bloody Valentine either and I never owned a My Bloody Valentine record in my life because I saw them live once in the early ninetees and I just didn’t get it to be honest.

With the new six by seven album I’ve tried to make something that will end these comparisons and force journalists to recognize that nothing about this record is black and white (except the album artwork). Incidently, I can tell you now that the album is a double album and it is called ‘KlubMix33′ how confusing is that? I don’t know if I’ve managed to create a new form of music, of course not, but I may have created something that you can’t quite put your finger on and it possibly so different  from what has gone before that it will cause a bit of thought and confusion. I hope so.

The main thing is that the music is good; which it is! If anything it was mean’t to sound like a Blitz Club playlist, which in itself would have been a massive variety of sound.

What is interesting about Tame Impala is that they take this referencing of music and stealing from the past to such an extreme that they are creating something unique and if you are young enough not to know what they are stealing from, it will sound brand new! So back in the 70’s the Sex Pistols sat next to Marvin Gaye and Neu! and Tame Impala are not afraid to give you all three bands in one song. I believe their music is firmly entrenched in prog though, specifically the post Peter Gabriel Genesis of Trick Of The tail, Wind and Wuthering and to a certain extent Duke and Abacab. I used to listen to those albums and last night reminded me of them so much it was almost, well, great!

IF YOU LIKE TAME IMPALA, YOU MIGHT LIKE TO NOT GO AND LISTEN TO THAT ERA OF GENESIS.

Watching Tame Impala reminded me of seeing the Happy Mondays in 1990 supporting James. It sounded like music I had heard before but it did make me think: “I’ve not heard anything like this before”.

So there you go, Tame Impala sound like a neo-proggy-Genesis-glam-Sabbath-Norman Greenbaum-Hawkwindy-Monkees-Floydy-Barratt-Binson Echo-esque type of Mott The Hoople band and therefore they sound like the future and they don’t sound like anything that has gone before. It’s all so confusing, just pass me the Amil Nitrate and a spliff and let me dance.

That’s it, apart from to say, cool, we got a drum solo last night too, which made my heart soar with delight! Sadly no guitar solo though. The only thing I didn’t like was that they played midi keyboards that triggered hammond, string machine and mellotron sounds from samples. I wonder what it would have sounded like if they had done it the Portishead way and used the real thing. Monster!

IS THERE ANYONE READING THIS WHO DISAGREES AND, OTHER THAN ELBOW, HAS HEARD MUSIC RECENTLY THAT SOUNDS LIKE NOTHING EVER BEFORE? I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW, PLEASE COMMENT.

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m Dead…

61_The_RamonesAnd that’s it; they’re all gone. With the death of Tommy yesterday all the original Ramones are now dead. At 62 Tommy was the longest living of them. Hey Ho lets go. I’m not gonna waffle on about the Ramones and what they meant. You can buy their T-shirts in Next and Top Shop.

Those Were The Days…

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This morning I woke up with the same old familiar ringing in my ears but today it was different because today I knew it would never ever go away and it would only be getting worse. Yesterday I spent the morning in a specialist clinic having my ears tested and then having an interview with a Professor, of Nose and Throat and Ears, to discuss the results of the tests. I have to say I wasn’t surprised by the results but I was surprised about what he told me and it was quite harsh and shocking having it told to you in such a straight forward matter-of-fact way. Told you so…

When those rather great pictures above were taken by Phil Nicholls I was at Moles Studio in Bath recording our first album back in 1997 and I was already having problems with my hearing back then. Those headphones I am wearing are probably loud enough to make most of you jump. By the time we got into the studio we had already gigged and rehearsed for 5 years and six by seven was by no means the first band I had been in. Six By Seven was certainly the most intense band though. We rehearsed everyday for about 4 to 5 hours for nearly two years in a tiny room, full blast, you could hear us 2 streets away. I didn’t wear any ear protection because it caused horrible vibrations in my skull when I was singing. I think back then only one of us used to have cotton wool sticking out of their ears. I didn’t really care though, I was living for the moment, and like the grim reaper, I would deal with my deafness when it came to me.

Well, that was yesterday. Yesterday I was told by a nice man sitting opposite me in a room full of pictures of ears, that although I didn’t know it, I was already a fantastic lip reader. I was stunned to be told that I have been apparently relying on lip reading to understand over 50% of conversation.

“I can’t lip read!” I said.

“Oh yes you can!” came the reply, “and looking at these charts I’d say you are already very good at it as you have probably been developing it over years. If you don’t believe me, put your hand up to cover someone’s mouth from view when you are in an environment where there is noise in the background and you probably won’t be able to understand what they are saying.” Of course he is right, he’s a professor, of ears and nose and throat! SHIT! (btw. I tried it. WEIRD WEIRD WEIRD!!! It feels like my brain is disengaging form reality.)

Afterwards, as I sat on the bus taking me home, I listened to the rubarb and couldn’t understand a word and I noticed how I asked the bus driver the same thing twice and keenly looked at his face while he answered. When I got home I told my daughter about my results and I noticed that as I was talking to her I went into the kitchen and as soon as I turned my back I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. For ages now I have been turning the radio off in the kitchen when people come round or I am having a conversation with a family member or especially when we sit down to have our family meal at 6PM.

“6 Music is shit now” I would say. Maybe so, but now I realize that with the radio on in the kitchen I had no chance of hearing what people were saying around the table as I was busy looking down at my plate and not able to lip read.

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve told people to speak up, told my son not to mumble and been told to keep my voice down. I’m always asking people to move the phone closer to their mouth when I talk to them on the phone. Apparently you can hear me bellowing down the phone as you walk up the drive. It makes sense now, I can’t lip read when I’m on the phone so I enter the classic mode of shouting down the phone loudly as all I am desperatly trying to do is hear what people are saying on the other end!

According to the tests I’m nearly completely deaf in the 4Khz section; that is the tish tish section of our hearing. It is the area where the cymbals and guitars and vocals sit in the mix. This time last year I was dreading rehearsals and gigs and couldn’t understand why. Now I realize that after every gig or rehearsal I would have been straining and concentrating on my lip reading so hard that it was causing me stress without knowing it. Those of you who have been buying my MuZiK KluB releases will have realised how much my music has changed. I thought I was trying hard to change the sound because I wanted to create something new and different. This was in effect true but now I realize that I was also leaving frequencies out because I couldn’t hear them or mix them properly and if I did, they would cause me pain.

Anyway, fear not pilgrims, I only have myself to blame and now I know what is wrong with me I can start a new part of my life. I’ve always thought of myself as an artist and now I am a bona-fide one, complete with lead poisoning from the paint and blindness brought about by hours of painting by candlelight. Turner did his best stuff when he could hardly see a thing and maybe now I can come up with a ‘ba-ba-ba-baaah’ like our beloved Ludwig Van.

I feel like I’m entering my minus-4kHz-blue-period. Now I realize that the fact the new six by seven album doesn’t have any hi hats or cymbals on it and my voice is one octave lower is no coincidence at all. It’s a shame I had to work it out for myself though, it would have been nice to know that I didn’t want them in the mix because I simply couldn’t hear them very well and, when I did, they were causing me more ringing. Oh, and I thought I was being so clever an all.

Now I have been diagnosed, I can enter a new artisic creative period, complete with excuse, and not having to go mad either. The only downside is that I can’t sue six by seven for damages, I simply don’t have the cash.

 

Good News And Bad News!

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The good news is, well the unbelievable news is, a record shop is OPENING in Nottingham. That’s right, a brand new record shop is opening, not closing. Rough Trade already has 2 shops in London and one in New York and will be opening a new shop here in Nottingham this Autumn. Yes, Vinyl is back. The bad news is, because vinyl is back and everybody is pressing vinyl we now have a four month turnaround as oposed to last years one month turnaround. The new Six By Seven album sits in a queue and probably won’t be coming out until late September now.

Dandy’s Rule OK!!!

It was great seeing The Dandy Warhols back in Nottingham playing to a packed out Rescue Rooms last night. Even better to get up on stage and sing Boys Better with them at the end and do my best Bez/Ian Curtis dancing. Dandy’s rule.

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