Sunday, 11 May 2008

Have you read my bog?

"Everyone else had gone to Midem, there was nothing to do in the office so I had to resort to reading your blog."

I suspect I'll have to write the above sentence on a Post It note and have it stuck to my monitor as a lesson not to get too cocky. I overheard myself when I was out with a few record company people the other night and I noticed the word 'blog' pass my lips perhaps over-frequently. Bugger, I really wanted not to become one of the self-obsessed; the type I always thought bloggers were. In truth, I don't think I have, but sometimes when people with whom I have only passing acquaintance or don't know at all, come up to me and say they're 'loving the blog', it's hard not to snatch a moment of glory-basking.

Someone did this to me at the Notting Hill Arts Club the week before last and it caught me unawares. And thanked him and shortly after privately crowning myself King of All Things, I went over to chat to an old A&R colleague and former boss Mike. I told him about the blog, foolishly expecting him to say how much he was enjoying it too and what a massive inspiration to his life it was - "Your bog?" he asked, mock incredulous, "Have I read your bog?" In many ways of course he has a point. I am asking people, you, to go through my private business. Still, I have nothing to be ashamed of so, I'm not, as it were too cool for stool so I'll continue letting everyone go through my bins until such time as it appears there is nothing left of interest in there.

Interestingly though, there is actually a brilliant Web site (I know, I know - how dull is it to hear that sentence, but really this one is great) The site's called Derelictlondon and it's dedicated to the bits of London that are falling apart, i.e. most of it. On it there's a whole section which covers the capital's public loos. There you will find jpegs of the interior of just about every bog in town regardless of its hygiene level. Perhaps I should cut out the middle man and just put a webcam in my lav.

Mike, who made the incisive bog/blog comment, was at the Notting Hill Arts club along with a large collective noun of London's A&R fraternity to see Manchester act Kid British & The Action Manky. Whilst not as ludicrously stuffed to the gills with industry as the White Lies show earlier this year it was clearly a band with a large industry buzz. A friend of mine at Sony/BMG said the entire A&R department would have been there had they not all been out entertaining Rick Rubin - now there's a measure of someone's importance. The band themselves were a very commercial variation on the mixed race ska band theme - some singing, some toasting and rapping and lots of chorus. I thought they were great, I must admit, maybe a little cheesy at times - there's even a track which samples Our House (the Madness version not the Crosby Still Nash song), but if they can convince the po-faced tastemakers of the Dazed And Confused Drowned in Sound club and so in turn fill the blank page of Jo Wiley's taste then I think the kids will lap them up. Does that sound cynical? It wasn't meant to but I've read it back and it sounds like a very bitter person having a go at the media. I'm not really, but I suppose after being witness to the way things in the media work for the thousand odd years I have been, some things do seem to crop up again and again. I'm currently experiencing the sharp end of getting press and radio attention for the Scottish Band and this massive dosage of deja vu that comes each time I am involved with a record release always takes me by surprise. Below are my current Top Ten - feel free to post yours, I'm sure there are loads I've missed.

1) No matter how much you know it's all about luck and circumstance, you always believe press, radio and other promotions people: 'Look into my eyes... in a moment I will list some well-known music magazines/djs/clubs. I will post your promo in a Jiffy bag to these people. When you wake up you will remember nothing of this conversation other than having a general feeling of confidence and well-being and a desire to pay me a large monthly retainer. 3-2-1 you're back in the room."*

2) Despite everyone making sure that artwork, music, etc is delivered on time, the record release date will always go back two weeks.

3) Just before the tour starts, the van you hire/buy to get the band to shows will develop an inexplicable problem involving a technical term you don't understand that requires a minimum of £300 to solve.

4) You will get a surprise result at radio which makes everyone feel great but requires all the plans to be changed to work around the amazing result (usually Radio 1).

5) The result at radio turns out to be a flash in the pan and you are back to square one. Only with all the new plans to implement.

6) The band will be offered a choice support slot with a hip band of the moment (e.g the Teenagers, the Ting Tings etc ) but won't be able to play it because they are already booked to play 3rd on the bill in a tramp's toilet.

7) The producer of the record remembers that there is a sample on it that he forgot to mention, but which he hopes is ok to use. It's usually Baby Love by The Supremes or Dazed And Confused by Led Zeppelin (NB this mainly applies to dance or hip hop acts).

8) The record has a swear word on it you never knew about until the band give you the lyrics for MTV. You promptly spring to action and attempt a 'radio edit' using the instrumental of the track that the producer prepared in advance for such an eventuality.

9) The producer can't find the instrumental.

10) You do finally get the hallowed NME Radar feature. You carry the PR guy aloft, as he or she is showered with flower petals from adoring masses. When you finally see the feature, it turns out to be a savage put-down which effectively ends your relationship with the paper**

*Obviously, I exclude the press and promotions people we are currently using - they are all adorable.
**OK, so this one is mainly about Sleeper...


  1. A marvellous read. I was in a band in the early 90s signed to Demon records (all right then, we were Blab Happy), and it all sounds horribly familiar. We got NME to run a competition with the prize of roadie-ing for us (one night was the first prize ... two nights was the runner-up prize). Steven Wells wrote it up and in the whole page-long article there was one word on our music ... "shit".

    Still, we did leave the competition winner chained to the radiator in our dressing room.

  2. Sorry, I meant to say, the record company got NME to run the competition ...

  3. I was that competition winner! No, not really. Although I'm sure I have one of your records - anything Swells hated was worth investigating ...