"We are not a political or press organisation, we are not an entry fee and we can't consolidate your existing debts into an easily managable monthly package. We are a band and we play good songs to good folk." Welcome aboard.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Local drinks and cheeky winks.

People came out especially to watch us. Not out of friendship related obligation, not because they probably would have been there anyway and we just happened to be on, they wanted to watch One English Pound play a gig.

Later, strangers were caught bobbing along to the songs.

Can't ask for more than that really, home town gigs in front of your mates are always gonna be charting in the fun stakes, and when they come with bonus features like that it definitely makes for a good night. Mistakes were made and there's some tidying to be done before future outings but it all seemed to go alright in general. It's starting to feel a bit more relaxed now, the tunes a bit more second nature, feeling more used to playing together and happy getting up in front of the room. It's always easier at the Ferret, it's a good set up and a welcoming vibe, but obviously in a room full of peers there's always that little extra motivation to want to get things right, so when you can come off stage smiling it's good times. The fact you don't have to faff about with loading and driving and can just get on with the serious business of post-gig celebrations is a luxury that should never be overlooked either.

Thanks to everyone that came down, and everyone that said nice things afterwards, and everyone who intends to come again. Hopefully a couple of new recordings online in a very short while, some new songs in the practice room, and a big night out in Leeds in a couple of weeks (feel free to join us on that, a Friday night out in Leeds is a top do indeed).

Oh, and a nice man called Mark video recorded one of our songs if you want a looksie, featuring accidental pedal activation at the end too, see that?

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My spellchecker says 'alright' isn't a word. You try telling Supergrass that.


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Lucky breaks and empty ballrooms

It's a grounding reality for every fledgling band such as ourselves that the endless hours of weaving melodies around poetical ramblings must be supplemented with a day job. Hard to believe, but true.

Yesterday, a work colleague voiced his concerns about his own band, saying that people just don't pay into gigs anymore and that it is becoming evermore difficult to get that one big 'lucky break'.

I know that being in a band is high followed by low and sellouts balanced by doubts. But I have never believed in a 'lucky breaks'.

If you are going to make it 'big' then things have to fall for you, to an extent, but only because you have put yourself in a position to be noticed, and the more often you do that, the more chance you have of it working.

You can't expect people to pay £5 to see an act they've never heard of on a piss-wet Monday evening, and much less expect a stray record company big cat to wander into a big empty ballroom spattered with 12 of your mates only to shower you with money and whisk you off on a world tour.

I explained to this chap that the low points were half the challenge of being in a band and asked if they'd done their promo properly. Had they enquired about support slots with bigger bands? Surely, if you seize your chance and really play well and hit it off socially with a bigger band when you support them, then they may just offer you a tour.

Had they badgered national radio presenters and their favourite artists, celebrities or sporting heroes via Facebook and Myspace etc? Surely, once you have someone in the public eye on your side and they can mention you in the press or play your song to millions of people then you've opened a huge door for yourself.

"You seem to at least have a business brain on you, we could do with someone like that," came his response.

A business brain? Hardly. I don't sit at home with action plans and spreadsheets working out the best time to catch Steve Lamacq on his lunch hour for an impromptu verse of Killing Me Softly.

I work purely with what every single singer-songwriter should have: an overwhelming sense of naivity.

Sure it may be unlikely that Kasabian will read my message and say 'shit, these guys are good, lets get them on tour'. But then again, why the hell not?

It's also unlikely that Russell Brand will recieve the CD, let alone listen to it, like it and then mention us somewhere in the great celebrity ether - but if you don't believe that it can happen then what's the point? But if it did happen, it wouldn't be a lucky break - because we would have put ourselves in that position in the first place.

Personally, I'm none too worried yet for knockbacks or the odd empty gig. I love playing music, meeting different people and dragging our mates out for a knees-up, safe in the knowledge that if that cult classic album eludes us and if we fail to leave a long-term legacy then we can always aim for a Christmas Number One!


Thursday, 18 February 2010

Ian rush says if I didn't drink lots of milk...

Having your sat-nav take you directly to the front door of the venue with no wrong turnings or wasted time is as rare as it is satisfying, so we were on to a good start when we arrived in Accrington, the fact that snow was falling was just a bonus.

Even better, a crowd of fans had gathered by the parking bays to greet us, at least I think they were fans, they asked for autographs. Sadly they were too young to get in the venue, but they did know all the names of our instruments, so we made it up to them by letting them watch our tour cars for the duration of the gig, I think Jonny smiled and shook his hair about and I'm sure I heard one young lady swoon.

It did get a bit overwhelming when we walked into the venue, three old fellas who'd been waiting for the band for what must have been most of the day wandered over to say hello, ask us if we were playing and utter, I tell you no word of a lie, the following statement. "You're fucked *dramatic pause* we're you're audience!".

Now I have to be honest, as Andy has mentioned, we did for a few moments consider taking their words to heart and scarpering, but a quick look in the three pairs of eyes we faced showed no signs of real danger, just some toothy grins and a strong sense of humour. So we settled down, shared beers and got on with the gig, and it was a whole lot of fun, we had a good time on stage, the small audience had a good time, admittedly, a lot of that good time was had just outside having a smoke, but sometimes that's the best way to appreciate a bit of upbeat rock 'n' folk indie pop, there was even a bit of a two man jig and a good deal of hand clapping. One guy also offered us a bit of advice; "Music quieter, vocals louder, I wanna hear the words!", which I took as a personal insult, nobody ever asks us to turn that cockney's mic down so they can hear the bass. Words, my arse.

In sincerity, when you're starting out you do end up playing to some audiences you didn't expect, and often those audiences are in single figures, and it's easy to look on the downside of that, but to be honest, I'd much rather have a good time playing to last night's fuzzy chinned handful than look out at a roomful of judgemental eyes who are too busy trying to work out who our influences are and how we've progressed on them, or why I'm sometimes only plucking with one finger, to remember that live music is something you're supposed to enjoy, hell, even dance to.

Thanks to the Ice Band, if they ever read this, for letting us come and play with them, they didn't have to, and bands helping bands out is always appreciated.

Oh yeah, then as Andy said we rushed home and had a do at the Ferret Open Mic, a quick four song set after playing the worst game of pool in human history. Cheers to the mysterious Frenchman who let me borrow his bass, even though he'd already packed it away in the van. I was at a gig on Monday where a man on stage, playing with a borrowed bass, excused himself to the audience with the line "Playing someone else's bass is like running a marathon in someone else's feet.", I'll curse myself till the day I forget for not having the gall to shout out loud what i merely muttered to my mates ("No it isn't"), but no, no it isn't. If we're going to use his silly analogy it's actually like walking to the shops with your shoelaces untied. If you stop paying attention there's a decent chance you'll fall on your face, but chances are you'll probably be fine.

I think I was probably fine, but I did have to keep a close eye on my shoelaces.

Now... to listen to those recordings so loud that my neighbours move out.


Wednesday, 17 February 2010

If there was ever a gig that needed an entourage……

A few weeks back when all that white stuff was on the ground we had a gig scheduled in the town of Accrington. This had to be rescheduled and off went to Accrington on the 17th February. The most observant ones amongst you would have realised we had recently been in the recording studio. Just before setting off to Accrington we received the first batch of mixes to the songs we had toiled with just a few days earlier.

This prompted the drivers of the band to load the two songs onto their respective I-pods ready for a good listen on the way to Accrington. We arrived in Accrington in very good spirits. There was still work to be done with the songs but we were very happy with the initial results. It was at this point our spirit stock very nearly crashed.

The Hope and Anchor Pub is a local pub for local people (about 8 people to be precise) with a great jukebox and a somewhat intimidating atmosphere. Useful tip. always check out the pub before you load your gear in. We were now trapped hoping the other band wouldn't arrive. Minutes later, they arrive. We offered to help the other band bring their gear in as they were providing the PA. This was answered with a firm NO! This was funny.

Nothing left to do but play. This was actually enjoyable if you excuse the stage invasion, (I should mention if a lady wanted to go the toilet, they had to get there via the stage) some drunken dancing and the applause from one person after each song.

Gig done and now to load everything back into the cars. Normally a simple task but when the cars are surrounded by a yob of teenagers enjoying half-term, it isn't as simple. We ducked and dived the taunts with efficiency in mind. We reconvened into the safety of the pub (correct, safety of the pub) to discuss our exit strategy without being rude to the other band. This was actually pretty easy, we asked, said sorry, and boom, back to Preston.

Night over? Oh no! Not for One English Pound. It's only 10pm, shall we go to the open mic night at the Mad Ferret? Sure why not! We enter the doors of the Mad Ferret, "Hey guys, do you want to play?" Sure why not! What a good idea this turned out to be and Role Model received it's first "crowd clapping along" moment.

Night over? Erm Yeah. Good night!


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Time Spent Well

Being in a band, a lot of the time, involves hours sat around not doing much. Recording is one of those, especially when you're the bassist, you show up, get your job done, then you wait.

It's one of my favourite parts of the whole thing. I like getting up early with a job to do, I like driving to the studio all bleary eyed and hoping to find the focus by the time the tape is rolling, I like the concentration, the frustration, the learning curve and the achievement. I really like the waiting around. Sitting with a book and a cup of tea while everyone does their bit and the track slowly takes shape. Bobbing in and out of the action as the day goes by and the sun moves on, hearing as everything falls together, talking about whether this is too much, this needs to be more, this could be added and this taken out. I like trying to find amusement to keep spirits up and minds in gear, and, as Dan also mentioned, I really like the feeling of being in a band, doing what bands do, making a record. Whatever scale you're on or circle you're in, that's essentially it.

It's not a bad way to spend a Sunday all told, though in this case, it was a cold way, but endless sausage rolls and other savoury treats helped take the edge off that.

The discovery of the practice room monster also helped.


Monday, 15 February 2010

Whiskas, blisters and click, click, click, click....

Going into the studio with a band is a strange feeling. You look forward to it, understanding it to be an opportunity to get yourselves across - not just your song or melody but your ideas, your attitudes and your intentions. So it is important that it comes out right.

Come the end of the day, though, you have to wait an extra few days for the studio to mix and produce your work, so for the time being you walk away with nothing.

Nothing to listen to on the way home. Nothing to rave on about and nothing to show for all the effort; except blisters, a heavy caffeine comedown and a click, click, clicking in your head.

Recording itself is a blast; lots of hard work but a chance to behave like a real band and forget you have a day job.

We arrived at House of Mook in Leeds at 10am and worked solid until 10pm under the close control of producer Whiskas. He is not a cat. Disappointing. He does have a beard though.

Posters covered every wall, cymbals decked the rafters and equipment littered every corner. Russ found a stray internet connection, Jonny found a sofa and Andy had even made sandwiches. As if that wasn't enough, we even had our own room to relax in.

Topics of conversation included Spotify, Ricky Gervais, keeping time, cover bands, rugby (league) and football, target audiences, keeping warm and guitar sounds.

So, now we wait til Wednesday for the first mixes to surface. I'm finding it quite an uncomfortable wait.

To totally give up two songs you've carried proudly with you for a year is a scary prospect. And leaving them open to the interpretation of a relative stranger means that they may never sound the same to you again - an exercise in trust to say the least.

Professional musicians probably get used to this process, or they have too much to be getting on with to let it play on their mind. So, in the meantime we'll find something to fill our time and concentrate our minds elsewhere.

Oh, like a day job.


Saturday, 13 February 2010

Early mornings and demo recordings

Greetings and welcome to One English Pound's One English Blog, I won't ramble on with formalities, we're recording this weekend with a chap called Whiskas and there's a lot to get done. I need to get new guitar strings, get spare guitar strings, write a verse and remember the other verses.

Other than that we were all but ready; bassist check, drummer check, keyboardist.. keyboardist? Ladies and gents.. I give you Jonny Swift.

Our enigmatic pianist has chosen the most opportune moment to go missing and, with our first demo recording just days away, we have literally no idea of his whereabouts.

Last week, Role Model had its debut on the airwaves, appearing on BBC Radio Leeds' Raw Talent show and, as far as gigs go, after recording we're playing at Accrington's Hope and Anchor on Wednesday February 17 then we have a week or so break to get our new song ready for a gig at Preston's Mad Ferret on Friday February 26.

Other than that, all announcements are on hold until we get the demo done and out into the big bad world. So, we could really do with finding our keyboardist.

Then, a phone call from the most unlikely of sources as "Swift work" flashes up on the Batphone.

I didn't mention earlier that, not only is Jonny enigmatic, he never ceases to spring a surprise against the odds. It turns out that while we fear he's spent the week buried under a pile of beer bottles and cigarette packets, he's actually been working every hour available to pay some way towards room rent and recording.

So, it's now midnight and we begin our ten-hour recording session at 10am tomorrow. Although, dragging Mr Swift to Leeds at eight in the morning is another potential stumbling block - we'll let you know how it goes.


One English Pound