WTF017 - 0203.
00 - Pretentious intro.
22 FEBRUARY 2003: MS1, CARDIFF
MS1 is a beautiful venue. It's a difficult thing to find the first time you go there, but it's a beautiful venue.
We were back from the studio, we were primed and we weren't very good. I think that this whole gig was a bit of a nightmare for everyone concerned really. I'm not going into details other than our own on this one though.
01 - Children.
Dangerfields were the first band up. From Ireland and very energetic, and with amusing hair. They played full on and won us over.
Stuntface we've met before of course, last year in TJ's. They were good then, but they've got much better now, and were fun to watch. They've still got scary hair, but it's different now.
No Choice have been treading the South Wales boards for quite some time now, and seem to be doing not too bad as a result. I'm sure that they used to rehearse next door to us in Warwick Hall as well, but that, also, was quite some time ago. They have short hair.
I have to admit I didn't catch very much of the Groovie Ghoulies set, but I did hear it. They did a cover of “Chupacabra” by the Super Furries which was a shock, but a pleasant one. They've got multi-coloured hair.
02 - Keeping you.
And I suppose that brings us to us. We didn't get a soundcheck, but we did get a line-check. The sound was awful out front and on stage, and we made lots of mistakes. All I could hear on stage were myself and Dems' snare. As you've possibly noticed by now Dems does the fiddly stuff with the snare, and the easiest place to find the beat is the bass drum. Of course if you can't hear it... In fact I didn't realise how much I rely on The French's guitar until I couldn't hear it. Shame I was on stage when that happened.
Stick with it though, the next one's better.
03 - Utilising blasphemy as a seduction technique.
23 FEBRUARY 2003: MS1, CARDIFF
We licked our wounds and we nursed our heads and we came back. This had already been a really long week, and quite a few of us were feeling under the weather in some form or other. I'd been slapped around by a cold that wanted to be ‘flu but didn't have the balls to go the final distance. I've still got it, and every time I cough I can feel my lungs rattle, which is even more disconcerting than it sounds.
Mclusky had turned up at 1500 to soundcheck and been told to go away until 1700 by someone. This meant that once again we were hanging around for ages, but at least we did get to soundcheck tonight. We'd asked the lovely Sian to do the sound for us, but over the lunacy of the intervening weeks we'd lost contact with her. As it turned out we had an amazing sound tonight, I think the soundchap had a much better idea of what we were supposed to sound like after the previous night, and of course the soundcheck really helped. We banged out ‘Another cautionary tale' and ‘Keeping you'.
05 - The Salt Flats.
There were a lot more people here tonight than the Saturday, possibly because of its higher profile as the final date of the Cunning-Stunt/Poisoned Whisky Anti-War tour, and the inclusion of the magnificent Mclusky .
06 - At the arse-end of the rainbow.
Name-dropping again, we did a lot of shows with Mclusky when they were still called Best , some time back, and when I managed to bump into Jon later on I finally got a chance to tell him how proud of them we were. Princess Helen had managed to catch one of Matt's sticks when they supported Idlewild and was going to ask him if he wanted it back, but by the evening it didn't seem as funny as it had before. Story of my life that.
07 - Needleteeth.
I'd already heard a lot about Wishing Hour , mostly from Glyn, and I was very impressed with them indeed. CiCi the vocalist has got one of the most incredible voices I've heard in years. And as she's only really young it's going to get better. That frightens me a bit.
Flailing Wail confused me as I couldn't quite get my head round what they were. I suppose that's good though because then I'm not going to attempt to pigeonhole them. I'm not sure if it was the mix, but the only words I caught in their set were “Infinity double one”, which sounds pretty cryptic.
08 - Commercial Love Song.
Panel are genius. Have I mentioned that?
09 - History Today.
Mclusky were amazing as ever. I like the way that even though everything seems to be chaos they're totally in control at all times. And they rock like bastards.
10 - Welcome to the machine.
Originally by famous goths The Pink Floyd .
After last night's debacle it came as a bit of a shock to notice that we were actually playing the best gig we've ever done. I think we'd all decided that we had to be good, and certainly better than we'd been, but also we really got into it and it was a hell of a lot of fun. The Reverend wore his work clothes, The French trod on my chest, Rated went for and came back with it, The Being fell over and Dems managed to create beats that made my eyes hurt.
11 - (The epilogue has been torn out)
I love this band.
PET004CD – Contains Mild Peril
01 – Needleteeth.
Original 2003 Rant:
THE EVE OF THE WAR:
Dems and the French went up early with the equipment.
Giant Wafer is a fairly new 24-track studio hidden in the middle of mid-Wales, and seeing as This Bizarre Myth had already done some recording there it seemed to make more sense to send someone who knew what they were doing to get everything prepared.
The rest of us came up the next day, wrapped warm and laden with booze and sleeping bags. Naturally we missed the turning.
02 – Think!
It's a beautiful studio; custom built and set in the grounds of Ed Lewis ' house. Replete with kitchen, giant mixing room and a live room it's decked out in wood and more keyboards than Rick Wakeman . There's lots of soft surfaces to sleep on and signs warning you not to drink the water. The one drawback is that the only place you can get a reception on a mobile is a tiny square of windowsill next to the sink. Six mobiles stacked on top of each other is an intriguing sight. Three people trying to take calls in such a situation is even more so.
Big J drove The Reverend, The Being, Rated and myself up early on the Monday morning. We stopped off at the Builth Wells Little Chef, which has become something of a tradition, confused them and then carried on, munching endless sandwiches.
By the time we got there fairly much everything was set up, but Ed was elsewhere. We looked around, cooed, and wondered who we'd eat first.
THE FIGHTING BEGINS:
Ed Lewis is a lovely bloke, very quiet but enthusiastic. I don't think we make the sort of noises he'd listen to by choice, but over the time he worked as hard as he could to make sure we ended up with the sound we wanted. Often giving up his dinner to do so.
We laid down the backing tracks to begin with, drums, bass, guide guitars and vocals. As always it took a while to get going. I've said it before, but we're still learning to use the studio. We play off each other so much that it's easier in a live situation, you can take more chances. The most pertinent analogy I can think of is that trust building training exercise so beloved of shit companies, where you fall backwards and some equally desperate stranger catches you. Or doesn't. We usually do. It's not as easy to do that when you can't see each other and there's only four of the group playing. We'd had some intense rehearsals just running through the tracks we were going to record in order to combat this, and after the first couple of warm-up takes things got a lot easier. It's still hard though.
The second day was spent laying down guitars, keyboards, main and backing vocals and aural candy.
The rest of the time was spent mixing. Something I find that occurs during mixing is that you start to hate your performance because you can hear it in isolation, all the flaws become glaring. I suppose this is why giant bands spend years, and Gross National Products, in the studio, striving for that perfect performance. Of course that way you lose the “happy accident” effect.
03 – Mamihlapinatapai.
HOW I FELL IN WITH THE CURATE:
For some reason The Reverend and myself were left to destroy ourselves with darkness and very, very loud music. I think everyone else was being made penniless by Ed's pool hustling technique. Announcing he wanted culture, The Reverend produced a best classical music from adverts and TV compilation.
After four cuts we'd come to the conclusion that it's all about sex, mostly drunken and unfulfilling. Having said that, it would appear that when he wasn't holding his head on and worrying, a la Chicken Licken and the Gauls, that the sky was going to fall on him, Tchaikovski was either Classical music's answer to Casanova or a pernicious braggart.
“Strap yourself in then.”
“Are we keeping the phone?”
04 – Greatest hits.
We wanted to get separate tracks bounced down to CD for remix purposes, but as we ended up working until the final minute, and perhaps a little bit beyond, we weren't able to. We've got the masters though, so we'll see. I'd like to hear a glossy SAW interpretation of ‘History Today' myself. I reckon that'd hit the nice end of the Top 40 in Bali and Belgium .
We're still too close to it and it's too big to see properly. It's a dark session, and the songs are darker still. Parts of it really gleam though. You get the chance to decide for yourselves soon enough.