Straight in… messin’…..

#10) Retro Stefson – The Hope, Brighton

I think this was my fourth or fifth time seeing the Icelandic dance-pop-rock-funk-world-metal-r&b’ers. Normally that array of words together in a sentence would send me fleeing for the hills but, since I first saw these a few years back, I’ve been absolutely hooked and have spread the good word Stefson high and low. Flamenco dance-offs and directional jumping at a gig are not something I generally participate in. I’m happy to say, however, that three members of the Bang were in attendance and all of us were flinging ourselves around like knobs.

#9) The Fall – Clapham Grand

A big tick off the list to finally see the genius of M.E.S live. Couldn’t make out a single word he said all night and spent a great deal of time chuckling as he stalked round the stage turning amps up and down, hanging his coat over drum microphones and generally arsing about. A birthday pressie from Bangman Rhodesy and a great evening out all round. I even ‘strawpedoed’ a Smirnoff Ice. Something I haven’t done for a good 10 years. Good pub opposite The Grand too.

#8) Everything Everything/Dutch Uncles – Portsmouth Pyramids

Birthday related fun once again (this time from the wondrous Mrs W…). Dutch Uncles were on ace form (I particularly enjoyed the midi glockenspiel and ‘interesting’ dance moves from singer Duncan…). Everything Everything have certainly come a long way since seeing them at The Fat Fox pub a few years ago. Thought they were great earlier in the year (or was it last year?) at The Wedgewood Rooms and they just seem to get better every time I see them. Stadia beckon soon I reckon. A total treat to see my favourite ditty ‘Nasa is on Your Side’ performed live as well.

#7) Lanterns on the Lake – Southampon Joiners/Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl

Couldn’t really separate these two performances though they were a few months apart. I was on sound duty for the P&V one and it was probably my favourite instore performance they’ve had in there so far (…even though my shitty old mixing desk broke meaning the band were without reverb….not ideal for LotL…sorry…).Hazel, though, has a stunning voice which carried things along nicely and the close proximity in P&V really suited the intimate, dreamy atmosphere. The gig at The Joiners meant that the slightly heavier, more up-tempo songs on the new album could sound as big as intended and they were very friendly folks too which is always a bonus.

#6) The National – Alexandra Palace, London

I’ve technically ‘seen’ The National once before at the incredible  ATP festival they curated last year. However…it was at the end of my stag do. Three very…er…’powerful’ days forever etched in the mind (for good and bad reasons…I’m not sure I’ll ever recover…). Physically and mentally fatigued as I was, I perhaps didn’t fully enjoy the wonder of them live that first time round. For this one though, I made sure I was in full and rude health. They didn’t disappoint at all and the songs from the new album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ really come in to their own live. Everyone seems to moan about Ally Pally as a venue as well but I really enjoyed and thought the sound was great inside.

#5) Olafur Arnalds/Douglas Dare – Brighton All Saints Church

A funny old gig for a couple of reasons. Firstly – it came at the end of a day xmas shopping in Brighton whereby we had all our newly purchased presses nicked whilst helping a cyclist after she’d had a horrible crash. PEOPLE. The gig itself though was in a spectacular setting and the calming music of piano, cello and violin, often in almost complete darkness, was incredible…UNTIL…utter dickheads with iPhones aloft, flashes on, and annoying camera sounds clicking away almost ruined every moment you felt like you could completely drift away. Could have been number one gig of the year otherwise. PEOPLE. WHAT A BUNCH OF BASTARDS.

#4) John Grant/Asgeir Trausti – Cambridge Junction

After discovering Icelander (I know….just for a change…) Asgeir Trausti last year, I was overjoyed to see that he was the support for the splendid John Grant on his UK tour. Turns out, John assisted in translating Asgeir’s debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn (which is absolutely ace) into English for worldwide release next year. Both artists were amazing, chatty between songs and on top form (and I always enjoy a visit to Cambridge…mainly for Fopp and Nana Mexico’s). I am also everso partial to Mr Grant’s little shimmy betwixt synth and mic on the dancier songs.

#3) David Byrne & St Vincent – End of the Road

Lots of great performances at this cracking festival. David Byrne’s announcement over the PA prior to taking to the stage asking people not to take loads of photos or videos and to enjoy the music ‘in the moment’ (see Olafur above…) was a brilliant touch that i’m hoping will catch on. Annie Clark of St Vincent is one of my fave guitarists (and people in general) so to see her solo stuff combined with classic Talking Heads numbers, all played by a choreographed brass band is something to behold indeed. Electric.

#2) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Brighton Dome/Optimus Primavera

It’s Nick Cave for fucks sake.

#1) Danny Elfman/The BBC Symphonic Orchestra – Royal Albert Hall

I never thought I’d see the day. One of the greatest living composers (to my mind anyway) responsible for some of the most iconic film and TV music of recent times performing live. With a full orchestra. Themes from Edward Scissorhands, BeetleJuice, Batman, Corpse Bride and a host of others all played out in the beautiful surroundings of the Albert Hall. Simple images of concept drawings and early sketches displayed behind added to the uniqueness of the performance (though I heard one idiot complain afterwards that ‘the visuals could have been better’…WATCH THE ORCHESTRA YOU CLUNGE!). Even Helena Bonham Carter popped up to belt out a rendition of Sally’s Song from Nightmare Before Xmas to rapturous applause and Tim Burton said a few moving words about Danny at the end. Incredible.

Special mentions go to the following gigs:

* At our local legendary venue The Wedge – British Sea Power, Villagers, Johnny Marr and Willy Mason

* Efterklang, Sigur Ros (both of whom are only not in the top ten cos I’ve seen them before play better gigs), MONEY, Bo Ningen & PINS all at the amazing End of the Road (maybe my favourite UK festival)

* Deerhunter (‘we are a PROFESSIONAL ROCK OUTFIT’), Explosions in the Sky and Blur at Optimus Primavera (a shining example of why foreign festivals are often much better than our own)

* Snorri Helgason – KEX Hostel, Iceland

So there you have it. Albums of the year done. Gigs of the year done. What would your choices be?



A CREEPY CHRISTMAS w/ Ralfe Band, Mary Epworth, The B of the Bang & Joe Black




Gigs of the Year 2012 (and a new song for y’all…)

Another list coming at’cha…..drum roll please…….


1) Wild Beasts – ATP Camber Sands


An incredible performance. The album ‘Smother’ in full, plus a few other choice cuts. I was on my stag do. Very tipsy. Questionably dressed. Best man/TBOTB geetarist David claimed it was ‘the best gig he’d ever seen’. I’m tempted to agree.


2) Eric Pulido & Friends – The Slaughtered Lamb, Clerkenwell


A secret gig in a tiny London pub that featured Jason Lytle of Grandaddy (covering Neil Young, no less…), John Grant, half of Midlake and Ed Harcourt. Probably only about 50 people there and felt like watching some mates play in a living room. Some mates though…


3) Olafur Arnalds/Nils Frahm/Winged Victory For The Sullen – Hackney Empire


A beautiful evening in a beautiful venue. WVFTS were incredible. I’ve seen Olafur a few times now and he’s always an utter joy to watch and Nils (down to 9 working fingers…) had the entire place spellbound. Also they were all very amusing between songs. Which was nice.


4) Sigur Ros – Laugardalshöll Arena, Iceland Airwaves


Every show at Airwaves this year could probably go on the list but this really was special. An absolutely amazing performance with visuals to match. Even after the hour-long drone that preceded them which seemed to annoy a few peeps (I quite enjoyed it….)


5) Asgeir Trausti – KEX Hostel, Iceland Airwaves


I knew nothing about this lad before we went to see him so he’s discovery of the year for me. The excellent taste of my ladyfriend guided us his way as he’d been called the ‘Icelandic Bon Iver’. There were certainly similarities but also touches of Jeff Buckley and some lovely instrumentation. I predict big things for this lad and he’s only 20. Bastard.


6) The National – ATP Camber Sands


At the very end of an emotionally draining stag that probably should have seen me hospitalised at the very least….one of my favourite ever bands playing everything you’d ever want to hear them do for 2 hours. Including an unplugged ‘…Crybaby Geeks’ which by that point I actually was…


7) Bon Iver – Latitude Festival


The last time I saw Mr Vernon at Glasto he just had a coupla folks backing him and an acoustic guitar. This time he had a ten piece band, an expansive stage set-up and a sawnky, fancy light show. Both times he was no less than brilliant. The man certainly has skills.


8) Efterklang/John Grant – Brighton Dome


Efterklang playing this years ace ‘Piramida’ album in full with an orchestra. Peter Broderick played with them. They were supported by one of my favourite ever artists who debuted some fantastic new songs. In one of my favourite ever venues. What’s not to like?


9) Dirty Projectors – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves


Bjork was wandering around whilst these were playing (we’d seen her watching Purity Ring earlier on. Wearing a puffa jacket and a veil. As you do…) and she has splendid taste. Very very very good indeed….even if aforementioned TBOTB six-stringer Dave missed it due to too much vodka consumed from a mouthwash bottle….


10) Field Music – Electric Ballroom


Infuriatingly talented, those Brewis brothers. They played for nigh on 2 hours, swapping instruments, changing song structures and even threw in a few Week That Was numbers too which sounded fantastiche. Hadn’t been to the venue before either and rather liked it n’all….


11) Josh T Pearson – Latitude


Magnificent beard. Magnificent hat. Magnificent guitarist. Magnificent man. Had the audience in the palm of his hand. Also had a mean line in blue jokes. Brilliant.


12) Lianne La Havas – Great Escape


Quite a surprise for me to be honest. I’d heard a couple of her songs and they sort of passed me by a little as standard pop stuff. What a fool I am. She was incredible….especially when performing solo. Definitely want this album as soon as poss. She seemed genuinely happy to be there as well which is a welcome change from some of the usual dour indie nonsense I generally see. Like when we play.


13) Kerbdog – The Garage, London

Hundred Reasons/Hell is for Heroes/Cable – Kentish Town Forum, London

Therapy? – The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea


I’m not generally one who likes to wallow around in nostalgia…it’s pretty rare I listen to stuff from my teens really (except Idlewild obviously….that borders on dangerous obsession) but these 3 gigs were all absolutely amazing. I can definitely see why some people’s music tastes get stuck around 16 years of age as these gigs evoked some lovely memories that I’d almost forgotten. I was accompanied at all these gigs by good friends too and everyone was there to have a right old time. That first little hi-hat count of ‘I’ll Find You’ by HR just does something to me….


14) Sharon Van Etten – Latitude Festival


I missed her at ATP due to playing the drinking game ‘Leanmaster’ but it was OK as her performance earlier in the year was enough to keep me going for some time it was so good. She really is something else this lass.


15) Clock Opera – The Registry, Portsmouth


I’ve seen Guy and co a few times now and they’re always entertaining. This gig was late, there were technical problems and the sound wasn’t as clear as some of the times i’d seen them before but it was my favourite performance of theirs. Possibly as I think it was the last night of their tour and they seemed really up for it. Top stuff.



Honourable mentions also go to Richard Hawley & Lisa Hannigan at The Pyramids, Southsea. A freshly reformed 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster at Concorde 2, Brighton and Elbow creating some of the biggest sing-a-longs going at Latitude….


So….what are your gigs of the year? Maybe the one this coming Saturday?


To get you in the mood here’s a brand new song of ours.


Merry Xmas everyone!




No messing….straight to the point….

1) Sigur Ros – Valtari

2) Asgeir Trausti – Dýrð í dauðaþögn

3) Field Music – Plumb

4) Efterklang – Piramida

5) Grizzly Bear – Shields

6) Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

7) Borko – Born to be Free

8) Tame Impala – Lonerism

9) Clock Opera – Ways to Forget

10) The Invisible – Rispah

I seem to vaguely remember last year’s list being a bit of a lady-fest so odd to see this year is much more testosterone based…(well….that’s not quite accurate as none of these are particularly LAD! LAD! LAD! bands but you know what I mean…). As ever, the Scandinavians have done well. The cheeky scamps. Not that gender or geography matter an iota. It’s either good music or it’s not.

Also, in a year where I’ve probably listened to more varied styles and genres of music than ever before I’m quite surprised that my final choices are all still fairly guitar oriented alt-pop stuff. I guess some habits die hard….probably because a lot of those jazz and classical types are too busy being dead to make a new album. How achingly cool of them…

As per usual there’s loads of albums I’ve either only heard on Spotify (other streaming services are available) or not had enough time with to fall for properly yet. I’m still catching up with last years albums to be honest….and the year before….and the year before etc….

One of my ‘rules’ is that I have to at least properly own said album, so Beach House, First Aid Kit, Sharon Van Etten, Lianne La Havas, (so there’s all the lasses!) The Shins, Godspeed!, David Byrne/St Vincent, Peter Broderick, Swans and The Walkmen would all probably be very high if I’d actually gotten around to purchasing the LP’s yet. Damn being a skint musician and vinyl being more than 50p a go. Fingers crossed that Santa reads this blog…

Also, lingering just outside the top ten would probably be Scott Walker, Spiritualized, Retro Stefson and Richard Hawley. They were just nudged out as it’s been a particularly cracking year for music I think. I expect a few other names will come to me the minute I post this up.

Aaaaaaaaand finally…this is Wit posting so don’t hold any of the others responsible for my musical tastes…..NONE OF THEM ARE AS HIP AS ME*

Top gigs of the year to come later this week….



*they are all hipper than me

What it means to be an ‘unsuccessful’ band in the 21st Century


Morning all


I’ve been meaning to write a blog like this for some time but a few things have stopped me in the past.


Firstly, I don’t want this to come across as ‘moany-musician-moans-about-no-one-liking-his-moany-band-with-moany-songs’ It’s a horrible tone and something that I wouldn’t want to read myself. I’m extremely proud of everything we’ve achieved in The B of the Bang – the gigs we’ve played, the material we’ve released, the days/nights/laughs/tears we’ve all shared have been, and will continue to be, some of the greatest times of my life. The band has already achieved more than we ever intended….


Secondly, these views are entirely my own. Often they are only half formed too. Everything I say/think/do is open to debate and I’m constantly surprising myself to find that I disagree with my own opinions quite often. How does that work? I’m not sure. The highs of playing a great gig on a decent stage to a responsive audience are counteracted with playing the Cock and Balls in Durham after a 5 hour drive to precisely no-one and I’m quite certain that this ying-yang lifestyle affects the brain. Who said bi-polar? Quiet you….




Why am I writing this? Well – recently I’ve been thinking about our wee band and the context in which it nestles an awful lot. What it means? What’s it for? Does it matter anymore…(just a little rhyme there for you…you can have that for free…)


Anyway, I’ve come to the following conclusions….


1)    Honesty is all that matters.


Many people moan about ‘music not being as good as it used to be’. Those people have no ears. I can safely say that most of my favourite bands have only formed in the last 5 years or so.


Of course there will be artists from your formative musical experiences and teenage years of youthful reckless abandonment that will always hold a very special place in your heart – I’m looking at you Idlewild – BUT there is such an extraordinary wealth of innovative, inspiring and groundbreaking artists around at the mo that unless you only listen to the seemingly-aimed-at 6-year-olds Radio 1 of late then you’d be mental to ignore. I’m thinking of Nils Frahm & Olafur Arnalds, of Efterklang, of Wild Beasts, of No Age, of I Break Horses, Bat for Lashes, Bon Iver, Beirut and Borko…and with all of them I get the impression that they are making the music they want to make. Whether they are making it poppier for a wider appeal or more avant-garde for beard-rubbing tosspots like me it still sounds entirely honest. Entirely like the artist themselves.


Some bands, however, my silly addled mind doesn’t seem to let get away with it quite so easily and I’m not sure why….at this juncture I’m thinking of now globe-straddling bands such as Kings of Leon, Muse, The Killers et al. Great early albums (and I’m sure they don’t give a toss about my opinion…) but all have become sort of irrelevant to me. Not disliked, just not interested. That’s not to say I don’t still enjoy humming along on the radio, I just wouldn’t go buy their latest records. Whereas someone like Biffy Clyro, for some reason I think, fair play lads…go for it, make your chorus’ bigger. WHY BRAIN? WHY? I’m as unaware as you but…just being honest.


2) I love music. I do not love all the bullshit that goes with it.


When you read those generally terrible (though there are a few good’uns) ‘HOW TO MAKE IT IN MUSIC’ type books – we’ve all had a look – I disagree with so much of what is said. Most of it is the stuff that says to be SUCCESSFUL you have to treat your music like a BUSINESS and think about who it is MARKETED at, think about how you are MARKETED, think about…..and I can barely bring myself to say this word….NETWORKING…..urghhhh…


I guess it comes down to your interpretation of the word ‘success.’ I’ll generalise and say ‘success’ to most bands would be playing gigs to 1000s of loving fans who part with their hard earned cash to lap up all your merch then…yes…in a ideal world we’d love to be there. We would snap it up in a heartbeat. But, having spoken to a few musicians who are in those kind of slightly dodgy indie-pop bands that we sneer at, they are generally decent, nice folks who have good music taste but they know what works and what ‘the mass public’ want to hear. It’s a fine and easily fuck-uppable line to walk. No-one has ever said to us ‘you should make that catchier’ or ‘put in a few more chorus and take out the weird time signatures’ which I know a few bands who have had that and, as a result, I feel we’ve earned our own level of success. When we play live, hopefully a few folk will come along and a few folk will maybe feel they’d like to hear us again so grab an album or come to our next gig. Can’t really grumble with that.


I guess the schmoozing/emailing/PRing are all valid and necessary avenues if you want to climb the ladder but they do sometimes feel dangerously close to being the equivalent of the office goody goody impressing the boss by staying late for unpaid overtime. Bands at our level will often put things in their press release saying ‘unaminous critical acclaim’ and ‘eagerly awaited’. We do it. But it’s not like the critical acclaim came from Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and NME. It was the drummers nan and the old man at the bar with 2 hearing aids. I’m lucky in that I work in a music studio and get paid already to do something I love and I tell you right now. I’d rather be tinkering around with the modular synthesisers we have than analyzing our Soundcloud statistics. Maybe that’s where we’re going wrong….which leads me to my next point…


3)    Music is entertainment, not ‘entertainment’


This is possibly the hardest point to make myself clear on. Probably because I’m not really sure of my own feelings on the subject anymore. It was easy growing up – you knew Radiohead wouldn’t sell their songs to adverts cos that was ‘wrong maaaaan’. But they were happy to take EMI’s dosh for a long long time and play the O2 this year for 70 sheets a ticket (I’m not bitter cos I couldn’t afford to go….much). I can’t think of anything that rises the bile so much as that terrible car advert at the mo with that annoying looking bunch absolutely massacring ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ by The Buzzcocks (one of our greatest ever pop songs). Or that awful hair-care one with that lass singing in her bedroom whilst explaining how to get rid of unwanted frizz. I can’t write about it anymore. It’s making my eye twitch.


So what do I mean then? Well, yes, music is entertainment. I go to gigs to be entertained, I hope when we play that we entertain people. But the important thing to remember here is that it is really a by-product of the witnessing of the music creation itself. To quote that horrible old music-hack classic: A band makes music for itself and if anyone else likes it…I can’t even bring myself to finish the sentence but you know what I’m saying. Lots of folks say it. Only some mean it.


I don’t think (in the words of Thom Yorke…I might be wrong…) that Nick Drake would have been sending out Facebook updates asking for ‘likes’ or that John Coltrane would have stayed up late formulating his next move in the blogosphere. He’d’ve been too off his tits. Saying that, Bob Dylan’s even doing status updates now so what do I know? I’m not particularly a fan of social media (I don’t care what you’re having for lunch unless I’m actually out with you…) but I realise that they are powerful tools and we’d be foolish to ignore them as a band. Just don’t expect ridiculously banal tweets. I’m having a ham sandwich with garlic Philadelphia for lunch by the way….


Recently, at Iceland Airwaves festival, I noticed just how many people had their camera phones on them all the time. Not just once or twice, but for a whole gig. Photographers snapping away without a care for anyone else, right in the middle of quietest passage during a beautiful bit of hushed piano. It made me want to place their cameras in a place that might need a good flash to get a picture. Don’t get me wrong – I might take one or two pics during a bands set, usually betwixt songs because….and get this…..I WANT TO ACTUALLY WATCH THE GIG. Be there in the moment. Enjoy the band. Listen to the music. Remember when that used to happen? I don’t care that you’re putting it up on Youtube in 5 minutes. Wait for the DVD to come out, film that, then put that up. Fools.


4)    Integrity is key


I guess this ties in with the honesty thing. The B of the Bang has been chuntering on (is that a word?) in various guises for about 5 years now. The first year was just myself messing about with a couple of crappy guitars and dodgy samplers. Then it changed into the ever-evolving collective with many different super talented members every gig for a couple of years. That was great fun but very hard to maintain. Finally, during the last 2 years it has become what you might call, a ‘proper’ band. One that, I might add, has been an unresrved joy to be a part of (mostly). To look back at what we have achieved and, more importantly, looking forward to what we can still achieve is a source of great pride to me. All of these manifestations have felt completely natural; none of it has been forced. Our second album (if it ever comes out – it’s been finished for ruddy ages…) is a collection of songs that I’m extremely proud of and I can confidently say are the best thing we’ve ever committed to tape/hard-drive. I listen back to our first album now and there’s some good stuff and not so good stuff on there – but that’s how it should be. A snapshot of that period of time in our lives. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.


Folks (generally acquaintances or older family members) will sometimes casually say such horrors as ‘why don’t you go on X Factor?’ or ‘you should do some covers that everyone knows?’ I think most people in bands get asked this from time to time. Personally, I don’t have anything against those kind of shows. At least they’re pretty honest in their exploitation. It’s not about music in the slightest. Pure entertainment. Although when it involves often extremely naïve or unstable young people, that’s not on. So I guess I do have something against them. That and they’re shit.


And the covers thing? I did it once for about 2 weeks. I really admire people who can switch off their cringe-factor (idea for a new talent show…Cringe Factor…) as mine seems to be tuned extremely high. Someone mentioned we do ‘Mercy’ by Duffy and I almost threw myself into the Solent. Obviously I have a very low gag reflex. But as I am reliably informed, even Robert Johnson covered popular ditties of the time in front of the local market. However, he irresponsibly sold his soul to the Devil so what does he know eh?


There you go. My thoughts on a few things. Some may not be right. Some may be hazily explained. But that’s tough titties. I love playing live. I love creating sounds in the recording studio. I love discovering new music. I love listening to old music. I don’t like having to deal with unprofessional, un-courteous, impolite people or close-minded fools. I think right now our band is hitting a rich vein of form and I’m writing the best music of my life. I guess I have to be happy with that as most of it will never see the light of day. Is that enough for me?


In the slightly bastardized words from Goodnight Mr Tom when the excellent John Thaw is asked ‘is love enough?’ (and for ‘love’ here, replace with ‘music’. They’re the same thing to my mind.) He staunchly replies:


‘I guess it’ll have to be, in this day and age’.






Ps I’ve never even been to Durham. Let alone played ‘The Cock and Balls’ public house. I apologise. You get the drift….