Twitter Comment…

Yesterday I had a slightly churlish remark on Twitter about the crowd funding gig. Someone posted a comment saying: “I know I don’t play much anymore but since when did it cost 10k to play in London?”

My answer to that was “Who said it did?”

What we are doing is charging £20 a ticket for a one off special unique show and trying to get 500 people to come along to it so it feels like a really special event. The fact that we make £10.000 out of that is irrelevant.

I couldn’t work out if this guy was leaving his comments (he posted another which was a screenshot of the campaign to prove we were actually asking for £10.000) because he thought we were getting too much money or because he wanted a lower ticket price.

I explained this to him…

If you sell 500 tickets at £20 each you get £10.000. That is how much bands make, or is it? No of course it isn’t! There’s all the fees. The venues cost a fortune to hire, then there are all the other normal things which six by seven were always charged. The manager takes 20% the agent takes 25%, the people who do the tickets take a percentage and so does the promoter. We used to laugh at how the promoters never made any money out of our gigs. You would literally play to 500 people in Manchester then go up to the promoters office to get paid and he would give you between £300- £450, basically what was agreed on the contract before the door split. This was normal. “Where’s the rest?” you would enquire. The answer was always the same: “There were a lot of expenses, we flyered the whole town and put posters everywhere and you asked for towels and 24 cans of stella. Oh and there were sundries.”

This happened everywhere and all the time. We used to get in the van after the gig and think: “Hang on a minute 500 people just paid £11.00 each; that’s a net income of £5500? So they spent over £5000 on venue, posters, fliers and ‘sundries’?” We were never given a receipt by the way for any of these expenses.

It happened to Julian Cope when I was touring with him. We played a very well known venue which I won’t mention the name of and it had a capacity of 500 people. On that tour we were doing about 800-1200 people every night so this was a small gig. I’ve been to that venue many times and I’d never seen it so rammed. I was doing the merch and I sold £980 worth of Cd’s and T-shirts that night. It was over £20 a ticket and we had a guest list of about three people. When we were in Bristol the following day Julian said to me: “Guess how much I got paid for last night? ”

“Dunno £3000?” I said. Nope £450!! I asked him why he put up with that and he said that when he went up to the room to get paid the promoter didn’t turn up and a big surly guy from the venue just gave him the cash and said “There were a few expenses mate. Bye.”

When we were touring with bigger bands, supporting them in front of crowds like 2 to 4 thousand I noticed that the guys who looked after them looked like bouncers and they carried laptops, calculators and baseball bats. Those bands used to get paid.

Anyway, in the end, after asking him what point he was trying to make the guy on twitter agreed with me and said: “not making a point, the Kickstarter just says you’re after 10 grand to play London but I get it’s advance tickets now….Seen you several times. You’re entitled to ask for whatever you like. Just wanted to clarify intent. Good luck”

Not sure what he means by wanting to ‘clarify intent’? Oh well, who cares. It’s good to know that most of this money coming in from this campaign will go directly to the band, where it should go. After we’ve paid for all the things we have to pay for and we can control everything ourselves we might get paid as much as a wedding band / tribute act does! Believe me, that will be a novel feeling.

Closer You Get Picture

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Great picture by Phil Nichols from Closer You Get sessions in Square Centre Studios Nottingham in 1999. In the foreground is Sam Hempton’s pedal board. Note the packet of Marlboro and 9v battery in the bottom right corner. This is a small amplifier built into a cigarette box. We bought two of them when we were in LA. They were about $20 each.

Unfortunately, later on, I forgot that mine was in my pocket when we went through the metal detector at LA airport and it obviously set the machine off (this was still the time before you had to empty your pockets before you walked through the machine!) and when I took it out it caused panic amongst the security staff as they saw me standing there with a fag box with a battery and wires in it. I was allowed to put it on the flight after I had convinced them it was just a little guitar amp but they said it had to go into the hold. They put it in a box and the only box they could find was one big enough to fit one of Jamiroquais hats in. So, my little amp was put into that and came out at the other end in Heathrow on the conveyor belt all alone in this huge box. How we laughed.

Incidentally, I wanted to get a broken radio sound on my voice for England And A Broken Radio and we achieved that by playing back my recorded vocal through this fag packet amp and miking it up and re-recording it.

MuZiK KluB done


Should be able to get the MuZiK KluBs in the post later today…quickest I’ve ever done them as I spent last night burning up loads of CDs. Lots of music this month with two CDs with 25 songs and looks great too. While making them up I’ve been listening to The Cure: Disintegration, Pornography and Head On The Door deluxe versions with all of Robert Smiths home demos on them.

six by seven The Closer You Get line up to reform for London show…

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Myself, Chris Davis, Sam Hempton, Paul Douglas and James Flower have agreed to get back together for a one off gig to perform the whole of The Closer You Get album and a second set full of great songs.

At the moment we have a date pencilled in for Saturday 4th March at the Islington Assembly Rooms in London.

This will be a unique event; it’s never happened before and will probably never happen again.

The important thing about this show is that it will only go ahead if you want it to as we are going to make it happen through crowdfunding.

It will be the best six by seven gig ever but entirely in your hands if it’s going to happen.

You will have a chance to buy a ticket between September 12th and September 30th.

 

 

 

Alan Vega / Suicide Special…

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This months MuZK KLuB is an Alan Vega tribute. I’ve made a special 13 track compilation CD to go with it. These songs vary in style but I’ve tried to search through my record collection and find tracks that I think are there because Suicide existed. When you do this, it’s actually amazing how many tunes there are that have this thread..or maybe it’s just my record collection!

I didn’t come across Suicide until the mid 90’s and I never saw them live. I believe they only toured the UK once back in the late 70’s and were mostly bottled off the stage. Nobody really knew what to make of Suicide back then and when they played here again, years later, after being established as an influential band, it seems not many people knew what to make of them either. I have some friends who saw them live and said that Martin Rev was the only one man band who could actually go out of tune and out of time with himself. I’ve never met anyone who talks about a Suicide gig as being spellbinding like, say, a White Stripes gig. On the contrary, most people who witnessed a Suicide gig walk away wondering if ‘that was any good or not?’ (Please leave some comments if you saw them and what it was like). A lot of people refer to them as being quite scary. People are scared of what they don’t understand. People were scared of Kraftwerk!

But that’s just it. Music is also about showing intent, it’s not just about melody, harmony and rhythm. I’ve always been drawn to that sort of music and I don’t know why. Most of my favourite albums are bootlegs or live recordings that sound like shit. I love the 70’s live albums (although most of them aren’t actually even live). In the 80’s I used to get stoned and listen to Neil Young (did I really just say that!). My mates, who were into Van Halen laughed at me and laughed at Neil’s guitar playing.. I got bored of hearing them say: “what a load of shite..he can’t fucking play (or sing)!” It just made me want to turn it up louder. It wasn’t about that for me. I’d like to think I was right!

I love those songs that Neil Young does, the ones that repeat and continue until you finally submit to it because he is willing you on, his sheer persistence makes you take notice. Does it matter that he can’t play guitar like Steve Vai or sing like Adele? I love the fact that if Neil Young turned up on the xfactor they would all hit the ‘no’ buzzer before he got to the second verse. Unless of course he was THE Neil Young and had paved the way for his sound to be part of our listening experience in which Simon Cowell would say: “Mmmm, has a certain Neil Young quality about it but it’s too far out there.”

It’s easy to forget that when you do something totally new, no one has done it before. It takes a lot of intent to get you to that place and you can only release it when you think it’s ok to let your baby go. Suicide, Neil Young and Kraftwerk. People laughed at Kraftwerk in the beginning, now they are (after the Beatles) the second most influential band in the world. Apparently Suicide spent years sitting on their first album before deciding to release it. Either they weren’t sure or they waited for the times to catch up with what they were doing. Punks.

As I’m writing this I’m listening to the six by seven Kickstarter album I’ve done. It’s totally unique to my ears and I’m scared. It sounds like six by seven and it rocks but it’s so different that I have to take 5 days off and then listen again because after 5 days off I’m convinced it’s too ‘out there’. However, when I listen to it, I think that it sounds great, and so does my wife; there is something about it that I really like. Is that good enough? I think so. I’m an artist, there is always that fear. Maybe 50% of you who have bought and will get it through the post will hate it but then 50% of you will love it. To be honest, that’s what I want, I’d be totally ok with that, part of me actually demands it.

Maybe a percentage of you believe that six by seven should be one thing and one thing only. I don’t. What was it in the first place. I was petrified when I released KluBmiX!33. I was expecting hate mail but I got many emails telling me it was the best thing I’d done that it gave me the confidence to carry on with the six by seven name. That was a radical album. I had to do something back then because the band had walked away again. The girl who did my press at the time refused to work it saying: “It’s not six by seven”then adding “I really like it though.” I decided not to ask her to do it and to limit it to 300 double vinyl albums with black and white artwork and not do the usual press job and not put it onto CD.

Deciding not to put that record onto CD back then was surprisingly what brought on lots of emails asking me what the hell I thought I was doing. Now loads of people seem to have bought a record player. I had to put that record out to pay for the financial disaster that was Love And Peace And Sympathy. (Manufacturing large amounts of product for a gigging band that just evaporated overnight).

Releasing something on record, vinyl that is, is much more special. It looks and feels special and it is constrained by time, just 18 minutes on each side if you want it to sound good. That’s liberating for a musician, a CD can go on and on and isn’t split into two chapters. On vinyl the bass gets lost on the tracks at the end of each side too so you have to make lots of decisions about track placement. It feels like you are creating something energised by the medium itself when you make a record for vinyl only. That’s the important thing, it has to be vinyl only, you can’t make all those decisions about 18 minutes per side, compression, track placement and splitting it into two coherent chapters and then just bang the results onto CD.

These are interesting times when you can make a solid piece of vinyl again and make it like Neil Young made Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere or After The Goldrush or Comes A Time. I love the diversity in Neil Young I love On The Beach and Tonights The Night as much as I love Harvest (I draw the line at the utter guff that is Landing On Water though!). Neil Young is a punk, Suicide is punk and I’m beginning to realise that I’m a punk…at heart. It’s all about the attitude and the persistence. A true punk just keeps on going. My MuZiK KluB has helped me to keep going and now hopefully releasing vinyl albums too will help a bit more. It might take me from month to month survival to month to month existence. To be able to exist by making music that has attitude and sounds good to me is the best I can hope for… I’m not interested in hits, videos or TV anymore. (I don’t think I ever was).

Keeping on going has been the biggest challenge. I suppose it is for any band. I went to see the Dandy Warhols again the other day in Coventry. They are still doing it, still with the same line up and Coutney is still complaining about the venue being too hot and the floor being sticky. I have so much respect for that band. I’ve noticed throughout my travels through a musical life how music attracts all sorts of people, mostly those who want things like fame and fortune out of it…no really, there are a lot out there who just want that. They latch onto singer songwriters and people who they percieve to be charismatic enough to make it work…for them. If it doesn’t, or when it doesn’t, they send an email saying..”thought long and hard about this and decided…” Chances are they didn’t think long and hard about the music, they thought long and hard about whether it was worth it, will it get them the things they wanted. I don’t blame anyone who’s done this with me, I didn’t really know what they wanted until they weren’t getting it, stupidly I thought it was the music. For me, I didn’t want anything, I just had to do it because in the end I’m fucked up and I can’t do anything else. Now I’ve done this for so long that I really can’t do anything else, all chances are gone. I like that in a way.

KlubMix!33 was the most punk and radical thing I ever did and, this might surprise you, if someone asked me what music most defined me out of everything I’ve done I’d say it was that record. That would be followed by the blood stained Record Store Day album and this new one which is coming out because it was funded through Kickstarter by those that just want it to be there and want to hear it. It doesn’t get much cooler or punk than that.

All those 3 albums are also vinyl only. I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence. Is it just me or does making vinyl seem to give a project more creedence and longevity? It’s expensive and takes time to make. It gets looked after and cherished (not all of mine did I have to say, remember waking up in the living room after a good party and seeing all your vinyl without covers all over the place, propping up the furnitur and each other).

Most people would say that The Closer You Get is the album that most defines me / six by seven. The lyrics are vitriolic and the sound of that record is full of anger, even in it’s acoustic and quiter moments. On reflection it was probably a special set of songs that were collected together back then, even if I now hardly recognise the man who is singing that record. However, let’s not forget that in the grand scheme of things it was also a quiet failure. It cost X amount to make and market and brought in less than all of those parts put together. This is not the case with the last three vinyl albums and that makes a difference. Back then, Beggars made it happen, they are that sort of label, probably more punk than Stiff and they are still doing it. They didn’t know if it wasn’t going to be a big seller, they tried everything to make it one but it never happened and they even gave us another chance with The Way I Feel Today. You can’t keep doing that forever though. That’s another story.

Anyway, changing the subject; I decided to change the artwork with this months MuZiK KLuB again. I thought the last few started to look a bit corporate. Don’t get me wrong, they looked cool but I felt after a few releases that they started to lose the personal handmade touch and I was constrained by the format, not in a good way. I’ve pulled them back in and am now only getting the covers printed and making the rest myself again. It’s a labour of love and I’m lucky to be given the chance to keep er… labouring…working… just doing…making. Speaking of which, must get on…

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