A new year dawns like a slap in the face – ‘Oh shit, it’s January, I should update the blog!’
And indeed, as the haze of late night jubilation finally lifts I am compelled to write (if only to stop such entries becoming a similarly, if somewhat less stressful, annual event).
But where to start? Many things have happened since that last splurge found its way onto your screens…
Perhaps it would be best to begin by mentioning the inaugural ‘Ragpicker Presents’ night, held almost exactly a month ago at the Hobby Horse in Dalston. Which, despite its numerous setbacks (the tales of double bookings, multiple house DJs and snapping drum kits could really use a blog entry of their own) was a lot of fun with cracking sets by both Bombers and You me and the moon. We will be doing more in the future as and when we feel like it, but thanks to everyone who came down and got involved.
Other nights worthy of a mention include a headline slot at Buffalo Bar, which was great, another show at Powers Bar (K-Town 4 eva) and of course our little excursion to Luton, which can be best summarised by the following image:
TOM WANTS MORE FROSTY JACK’S PLEEZ!!!!
Anyway, the most newsworthy thing that we have done recently was to spend a day in the Studio recording upcoming single ‘The Dane’. I won’t give too much away other than to say that it will be released in February, and we will be going on tour to support it. We have released details of the tour here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=182871388393136
So if you reside in any of the places mentioned, do come along and support us – we may well need it. And to those of you in London, make sure you make it to the last show of the tour at the Camden Barfly; it’s the single launch night and should be a biggun. No excuses.
Now, being all independent and shit means that we have our work cut out with all this, as I’m sure you can imagine. Yet, as we cautiously dip our toes in the murky underworld of promo and PR I find myself taking more and more notice of how other new bands are promoted and received. The ‘hyping’ of new bands is a particular fascination. For example as I sat in the recording studio waiting to do a vocal take, I was flicking through a month or so old NME and came across a live review of an up and coming band. You may well have heard of The Vaccines, a young four piece playing punky surf pop tunes who have risen out of nothing to become practically THE hot tip for 2011 (or so I’m lead to believe – obviously I pay no attention to such trivialities…).
Now, I quite like them, I’ve only heard a song or two but they sound pretty good. The review however, written about a recent London show, appeared to be concerned with nothing other than how LITERALLY FUCKING MASSIVE these guys are going to be, and how they are LIKE THE BEST BAND EVAH. Not only did the writer spend the first part of the review informing us how packed the place was with famous people and A&R men, but they then proceeded to describe the gig as some sort of epoch defining event – this gig, apparently, was as important as the Sex Pistols at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 76. Now, I won’t say that this is completely impossible; but it is not the sort of thing you can state with any degree of confidence at the time. For any event to be truly significant, it needs time to resonate; to gather importance. The Free Trade Hall in 76 was important because many members of the relatively small audience were inspired to go on and create brilliant music. The Vaccines at the Flower pot in London 2010 was a gig that seems to have been entirely populated by various indie celebs and corporate money men. It may well go on to spawn countless important bands, but until it does, all it really is is a celebration of a band who have managed to capture the attention of the record industry; which in fairness, in its current state, is something to be impressed by.
And yet, where does this actually get us? Are such ridiculous levels of uber-hype even beneficial? Well on the surface, yes: hype leads to exposure. But in the long run? I’m not so convinced. I read that review before I had consciously listened to any of their songs, and as such was understandably expecting some sort of life affirming, earth shattering eargasm that no song could ever deliver. And because of this, rather than the joy of chancing across a song that is good fun and catchy (if somewhat derivative), I was left just a little underwhelmed. Which is a shame.
This sort of treatment also only helps to increase my frankly already high levels of cynicism. So the guitarist’s brother is in the Horrors? Ok. And the singer, in a previous life, was one of the nu-folk set (think mumford, marling, noah etc etc). Ok. No big deal, but add this to the monstrous levels of dribbling sycophancy from various sections of the media and it’s hard to resist seeing the Vaccines as not so much an organic entity, but more as an example of shrewd marketing, nepotism and networking. And as such, that gig reviewed in the NME becomes little more than a backslapping exercise; a big media circle jerk with journos hailing them saviours of rock and roll not because they believe it or feel it, but because they need it. Papers like the NME need a new, cool, sellable indie band so they can sell more copies; the hyping here is not so much a reaction to something, but a transparent attempt to create something.
Not to take anything away from The Vaccines of course, who as I have said, I like. But it will be interesting to see whether all the hype benefits them, or buries them.
Oh and interestingly, the same article also referenced another hotly tipped new band, Brother, who were apparently locked in a race with The Vaccines to see who would get the biggest record deal (exciting!). From what I can tell, all you need to know is that Brother are britpop revivalists (yawn), they wear sunglasses and stand in front of union jacks, and their video features a couple of naked women. Now, if there is anything that implies a lack of confidence in the music, this is surely it.
And they also came onstage recently and said something like “If anyone doesn’t want to hear the future of music, leave now”. Hee hee hee
So as you can see, I have certain reservations about the press and the way it treats bands. But nevertheless, the headline is, we will be debuting our single to no media fanfare whatsoever in February. I for one am excited!
Oh and if anyone wants to hear us trying out some new songs for the tour, come down to the Bull and Gate on January 13th and see us creaking back into action after a lengthy christmas break.
See you in a year, when I will no doubt be publishing my next expose: “NME writes crap article shocker!”