There’s not a lot I can do today except wait for my ears to stop ringing. It will probably take a few days this time because last nights gig was probably the loudest and most ferocious gig I have ever played.
This morning I read this comment on facebook about the show last night:
“Wow, not sure what band or music that was, but goodbye forever this time.”
I love that. It tells you everything you need to know about what it’s like to be in a band and to be an artist. When I look at stuff on YouTube I sometimes scroll down to read the comments below and more often than not you find people moaning and arguing. The video clip in question can be something as simple as someone demonstrating a guitar or synth and before you know it the conversation below degenerates into some form of anti-islamic hatred.
Mostly, people who take time out of their lives to make comments are using the video clip, gig, article or music, to convey a message, which on closer inspection tells you more about them than it does the thing they are commenting on. Once you put all the comments together you can get a general sort of mob feeling of how society can react to something. It more often than not is ugly. Look at Susan Boyle. She sings like an angel but had a nervous breakdown because of how negatively people wrote in public about her appearance.
So what is Spud saying? Well, he seems shocked, and he ain’t sure about what he witnessed, but he sure ain’t going back for seconds. I’m just guessing but as he’s not giving details about what he witnessed he either didn’t understand it fully or he really didn’t like it and is being polite and doesn’t want to go into how bad it was for him. It’s probably the latter. Maybe he is fearful that others might disagree but on the whole he just wants to make a public note of his disapproval and let followers on Facebook / me / band know he’s not going to go back for anymore. It’s probably all to do with how he perceives the band to be and what music means to him and the old stuff and the new stuff and how life with six by seven just ain’t the same anymore. I’ve heard it all a million times from the second album onwards. It’s completely unavoidable.
So I just lost a fan. The ‘band’ has changed and no one is expecting him to follow something he no longer likes. What is interesting is why he wants to let us all know that, publicly. It used to be something you might talk to your mates about in the pub. Now it’s something you feel compelled to post on a wall so the whole world can see it. I would even go so far as to say that if you knew the site you were posting on didn’t have a large following or only had 3 followers, you wouldn’t write anything at all.
I recently met someone who got into the band when he saw them on Jools Holland and a lot was being written about the first album in the press. He followed the band, bought the next album, went to see them and bought a third album, but only just. This was because the press coverage was dwindling fast by the third album and the world was changing and the press itself was dwindling fast. (NME and Melody Maker are gone now.) When we did the fourth album, we released it ourselves, both he and the band dropped off the ‘radar’. He was shocked to come across the band years later only to find that we had released a whole host of music and where even found to be doing the odd gig here and there.
He wrote to me to tell me how he couldn’t believe how good the album Love And Peace And Sympathy was. In fact he went so far as to tell me it was better than the first three albums. he didn’t even know for 10 years that the album sixbyseven:04 existed and thought it was a glorious record.
A lot of bands want to sign to a [big] record label so that they get pushed and marketed into the system and become big by appealing to a large demographic. They are eager to suck Satan’s cock and jump in for the big win because they are determined to believe the record company who convinces them that inside every self respecting music fan is a fan of their band, just trying to get out. Welcome to the jungle, the merry go round takes off. Jump on in and take that devils pecker right down into your eager gob. Trouble is, when it doesn’t work like everyone wanted it to, and it turns out that the demographic you were marketed at doesn’t want you, the record label let you go. Along the way they probably told you that you were a long term prospect and you could have artistic freedom and then they dropped you after trying to push single after single to commercial radio. This is not entirely what happened to six by seven but it’s happened to countless bands in the past and if it doesn’t happen entirely that way then it will at least happen something like that. Try and fight it. Don’t you want success? Even Steve Albini wants to play to someone.
Now you’re band is dropped and off the radar, what you gonna do? Most bands jack it in. For me music has always been a healing process. Writing words and music stopped me from going mad. The great minimal artist La Monte Young said of himself: “I didn’t fit into the world around me so I had to create my own world with which I could fit in.” I don’t fit into this world either, at least I never felt like I did. At best I find life quite boring unless I’m doing music, eating nice food or having a shag. Whenever I did a job, I got to a point where I could see there would be no change from a certain point onwards. I then immediately left that job to try something else. Music never gets boring, unless you keep doing the same thing. There are only 8 notes to play with but seemingly endless ways to shuffle them and every time you start the jigsaw it takes you on a different journey. Sometimes you think you have grasped the meaning of it all and that you can control it and then it just disappears right in front of you. I love that. I don’t need to travel to India to find myself or broaden my horizons. I don’t need to take a year off for travelling, everything I need is right here in these 8 notes.
Although there are some amazingly kind people in this world, I actually find the human race quite detestable. Theresa May is a lizard who is currently chucking bombs about that cost a million quid each, without parliamentary approval and telling us there is no money tree to pay nurses and teachers and policemen and fireman whilst at the same time chucking more than a billion quid over to a bunch of Irish politicians who think abortion is evil. Boris Johnson, Putin, Trump? Major cunts as far as I can tell.
“Ever get the feeling you’ve been duped?”
Of course you have and you no longer have the power to do anything about it. You’ve been duped beyond duped. You’ve been conned and fucked. But it’s ok cause you have a car and an iPhone, so things can’t be all that bad.
So now Band X sucked the cock of Satan and it didn’t work and that little house of cards that was propped up in the commercial arena, a world of heartless greed heads, climbers and narcissistic cut throat CEO’s has collapsed. They fall off the radar. People can tweet and Facebook and YouTube comment and they can hide behind an avatar and a made up name. As they do so, the poor fools are having their identity and that of their friends stolen by lizards and greed heads to be passed onto other lizards and greed heads so they can make more money and get more power. It’s been going on for years and now they have to be seen to be getting their knickers in a twist about it. Who poisoned who… it’s a Facebook Novichok Stroganov pie.
I once got an email off someone asking me how I could dare criticise the very (music) industry which had made me. That’s how fucked up things are. Think about that. The lizards are well an truly entrenched and there is nothing you can do. All your thoughts and ideas will be invalidated by corporations that only give a fuck about your money. Soon you will need a minimum of 20 ‘friends’ and 250 ‘likes’ to open a bank account or get a job interview. Right now, you are just an email address, a gender, a postcode and a date of birth. Companies will pay £2000 for those 4 bits of info on a person. How much are they making out of that info if that’s how much they are prepared to cough up?
What we did last night was an extension of what I have always wanted to do within live music. Volume, extreme dynamics, melody and feral intensity. I don’t have a record label man sitting on the sofa in the studio anymore or faxing through lyrical ideas and chord changes (yes folks, this actually happened.) No one is telling me to chop a piece of music down to four minutes so radio (might) play it. So what am I left with?
What you got last night was volume, extreme dynamics, melody and feral intensity. It was also delivered in a very uncompromising way. I played sitting down and wore a mask for the first song. Am I trying to wear you down? Probably. But not entirely. I love the way people shout out their favourite songs. ‘Play Brilliantly Cute! ‘ ‘Ten Places… please!’ And as ever, the most popular one…’So Close.’
Funny thing is. So Close was a song that came about from a piano loop I had been kicking around for years with major 7th chords. I wrote the song in my cellar and used cubase to sequence my sampler with piano sounds because I’m not very good at playing the piano. The computer blew up and all I was left with was the beginning of the song which I had recorded onto tape. I then sampled that piano loop and we played the song over the top of it. I really believed in it. I played it to our manager and record label manager who both said: “It’s a bit shit” and “I don’t get that song.” I persevered and insisted it should go onto the album. Once they got used to it they said it should be the first single. I heard Lammo play it once. It bombed as a single because it was marketed in an old fashioned way to a system that was changing. We went on tour for months and played it live in all it’s intensity to people shouting: ‘Play European Me!” “Candlelight…PLEASE.”
It’s always the same. It takes people years to catch on to something new. It’s just how it works. I was the same when I saw The Pixies. I didn’t get Planet Of Sound at the last Pixies gig I went to in 1990, I wanted to hear Debaser. I prefer Planet Of Sound as a song now. When Brian Eno did his first solo albums they all had vocals on. When he did the press for his first ambient albums, they asked him if he had gone mad, where were the vocals? 30 years later he is regarded as the inventor of ambient music (which is bollocks) and decided to release an album with vocals on it. He did the press and in every interview was asked the same question: ‘Why are you singing on this, are you mad?”
Inadvertently, it’s precisely this knowledge and a complete lack of commercial success that gives me the confidence to now do exactly what I want to do. You can’t win anyway. Like I said last night from the stage; it’s not like we are Coldplay and have to play ‘Yellow’ every time we go onstage. I never sucked Satan’s cock, I merely had him fuck my arse for a while. I suppose I quite enjoyed the odd one, Jools Holland wasn’t bad.
I spoke to people after the show yesterday who had come from Greece, Mallorca, Germany, Belgium and Scotland. six by seven gigs are becoming small European or global gatherings. A girl from Bath was doing some gardening before she jumped on the train last minute to just get down to London and be part of it. These are just the fans I spoke to. There were probably more from even further afield, I guess there were also a load who thought the same as Spud: No European Me; no So Close…no more. Or perhaps just even: ‘This is shit.’
It doesn’t matter, you have to have that and it’s always gonna be and always was part of doing something like this. It’s ok. As an artist, I’d want to only appeal to those that will understand the extreme’s anyway.
I find that the things people say to me at gigs have all been similar over the years, in that, what they say, especially directly after shows, follows a pattern. The pattern always used to be: “Why aren’t you bigger than this?” “Why are you supporting them?” “Why isn’t blah blah a big hit?” Back in the day, if I had of had a pound for every time someone said that to me…. Yet look at those questions. They are all linked to a music fans distinct lack of understanding of only one thing: Art versus commerce.
Mostly fans tell you how many times they’ve seen you and where they saw you. I guess they want to convey a mark of respect, and let you know they enjoyed the past and that they were there, it’s so sweet when it happens, I never tire of it.
[ I went to see the Wedding Present with my mate at The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham a few years ago. We sat at the bar before the gig and three different people people came up to me and independently all said the same thing: “Hey you’re Chris from six by seven aren’t you? You know, I saw you in 1998 at the…and then in 2000 at…” My mate remarked how weird he thought it was that people should keep coming up to me and tell me, literally foist upon me, how many times they had seen the band before and where and when they saw them. Later on we were both standing in front of David Gedge saying: “I saw you in 1992 on the Seamonsters Tour in Wakefield Rooftop Gardens and then again at….” ]
What people say to me at shows now is generally around the gist of: “I love this, I love what you do. Please don’t tell the world what you are doing, you are our best kept secret.” Last night someone said to me, “You’ve changed.” The person next to him said: “No, they haven’t changed, they’ve just moved forward and are a more extreme version of what they always were.”
Yeah! Now you get the build up of Oh! Dear without the song around it.
It seems like a good place to be, even if there are barely enough of those that are saying these nice things, to keep the band going as a commercial concern. However, there are just about enough and the dedication of those people makes it all the more real. The only difference now is that we just can’t play as much, can’t really tour (because we would have to play ‘Blah Album‘ in it’s entirety). We can’t take the show to you anymore, you have to come to us.
I’m just doing what I’ve always done but I don’t have any shackles anymore and I’m old enough and strong enough not to give a fuck. I have renounced the Cock of Satan. If I want to wear a mask on stage whilst singing a song about politicians ruining the world and screaming a chorus line of: “I Gotta Find A Way Out Of Here…!!!” I can. Yay, what glorious fun. It’s probably all I wanted to do when I wrote the song but band members, managers, record label people etc. didn’t see that as a way to sell the band. But who cares? We’re all fucked anyway.
To be honest, when we reformed the band and played the whole of The Closer You Get in Nottingham, it only caused a few more extra people to come along anyway. I only did that to help the record label who were putting out the album again. There were some nice people at Beggars doing good stuff for the music and I wanted to return the favour.
I don’t want to be a band that has to play the whole of album ‘X’ in it’s entirety to lure people to the show so we can trick some new stuff onto them. People who come for the old stuff are coming for just that. It doesn’t make sense to try and hoodwink them into liking new stuff. Just fucking cut out the middle man, play the new stuff and throw in a couple of oldies, not the other way around. Recently Paul Draper from Mansun walked off stage in Nottingham because he was pissed, because he wants people to just like his new stuff rather than have to play ‘shit from 20 years ago.’ Don’t fucking play ‘shit from 20 years ago’ then you twat! You played it 20 years ago, if they weren’t there back then, fuck ’em! (lets face it, most of them wouldn’t have been)
A mate, who knows him, recently told me that Hugh Cornwall hates The Stranglers or being associated with that band from that period in his life. Then don’t go on the road playing Rattus Norvegicus in it’s entirety!! Fuck sake!!
So why do it? I had a douche-bag agent a few years back that spent all his time trying to convince me to only go out on the road to play albums in their entirety. “The promoters will love it because people will come. Then you can play them your new shit beforehand.” Fuck that!! The artists that do that are all scared that no one will come and see ’em if they unleash their true art upon them (like they precisely used to 30 years before hand.) Oh no! What if they have a new sound or new songs and ideas and the fans don’t like it? Fuck you if you are an artist that thinks like that. Go and do something else or play Heavy Metal. Learn to suffer for your art. Accept that no one might come or that someone will write negative shit about you but don’t change who you are. Of course people will shy away, so what. We played 4 old songs yesterday including Cafeteria Rats and Flypaper For Freaks. I feel that’s enough. I might change that, I dunno yet, depends on how I feel and if the band want to do it. Those songs fitted in with what we did last night…. which was…..you guessed it…….play the new album (Abstraktion 12) in it’s entirety!! (You can’t do that yet Chris, give it 5 years!)
We finished with a big unplanned ending yesterday and Charlie was drumming so hard that he failed to realise we had all left the stage. When he looked up and saw that we had gone he said to me later that he thought: “Oh shit, what am I going to do now!” So he just improvised a drum solo and I could hear it like thunder in the dressing room. I went back out and stood in the audience and watched him. He was terrific and he was letting rip like Buddy Rich (his hero) and when he finished he got a big round of applause. He’s 20 years old, he too loves that song ‘So Close’ but he also understands the true meaning of Rock and Roll.
I don’t care if yesterday was a failure or a success. All I care about is that we did it and we pulled it off exactly how we wanted to with what was at our disposal. For this band in this day and age that’s good going in itself. For what it’s worth, yesterday, at The Borderline six by seven performed Abstraktion 12 in it’s entirety with four oldies thrown in. In years to come you will lie and say you were there. Just kidding! In my dreams.
Special thanks to Anton at Rock City for putting us on.