SHARKS OF THE ATOMIC ATOLL

I think Sharks of the Atomic Atoll was the name of a documentary I watched ages ago. It’s a great collection of words. Quite evocative. It was a completely different, and shit, song I wrote many moons ago but I always liked the title. I pinched it for this as it represented what was going on in the weird little story behind the album. In a nutshell the story is thus:

– boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy goes mad, boy gets locked up, boy has visions of world ending, boy gets taunted by people, world actually starts ending, boy escapes, boy kills taunty people, girl and self, no-one lives happily ever after –

It’s no Notting Hill but it’s slightly less bleak than The Road.

The male/femal dual vocal stuff I talked about before was used to good effect here and I also like the little choral thang at the end. Even if we did nick it from Everything Everything. What’s the saying about ‘genius steals…?’ – we steal a lot of stuff it seems….

Some more recording tomfoolery below (and another demo that didn’t make the cut in ‘Since I Came Down’…)

And the usual live shenanigans…

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Published in: on September 19, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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CHEMIKALS

The actual process of recording album 2 ended up taking far longer than we thought….around 18 months in total. It all gets a bit blurry as to what actually happened when and where but I’ll try and sum it up swiftly in the following format. Read it as quick as you can:

“…TBOTB start recording 2nd album….function band forms with some members to try and make some money….Wit sings ‘Love Shack’ and feels he’s let himself down so quits function band before a gig is even played…other original bands form with various Bang members – Zegema Beach (Ox & Rox), Analogue Manilow (Wit & Dave) and The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (Ox & Elliott)…TBOTB continue recording 2nd album…..the inbred Southsea misery-folk Jelly Maid/TBOTB/Dawn Chorus non-scene gets stretched to breaking point….Ox leaves…..The Dawn Chorus split up…Sexy Keef (from DC) joins….Rox leaves…..Emily joins….Ox rejoins on guitar…..Rox rejoins….Jack still exists in limbo (Sherfield on Loddon)….some of the newly formed bands split….TBOTB continue recording 2nd album…Emily leaves…Wit has existential crisis/breakdown….TBOTB finish recording 2nd album…”

And we all drank lemonade. The End.

Except it wasn’t. As we were finishing the final notes two things occurred.

One was that my good friend from Uni, Mr Jake Gordon offered to mix the album and he had worked with some ace folks that year like Wild Beasts and Everything Everything. He also has golden ears and access to some incredible studios (and equipment) in London at his place of work so we knew it would sound far better than if it had just been left to me. We’d tracked a couple of early bits with Neil of 1st album infamy but he was so busy with the last DC album and The RSP we ended up doing a lot of it ourselves. The only issue was that Jake had to do it in his downtime which meant it was on a ‘as and when’ basis. Fair play to him though as it was a massive favour to us…just took a little longer than expected. All this drama also meant we binned off a lot of the songs that I had earmarked for the 3 act thing and honed it down what we thought were the best tunes. Thank God.

Two was that Jelly Maid Music, our label run from Old Blacksmiths by Rich Tamblyn, imploded as he sold the studio (to another good pal Whyntie – I told you Southsea was incestuos…) – we were now essentially homeless. Our fresh and spangly album finally ready in our hands and no way to release it. Balls. We hawked it around a few places to no avail and I was getting more and more down – so much hard work on something I was really proud of that no-one seemed to want. Sometimes you just need a helping hand and that came from a new and wondrous shop that had recently opened nearby. Pie & Vinyl. Exactly. What a place. They were lovely guys and we quickly became firm friends and occasional lovers. Steve from P&V told me that he wanted to start a label and so a plan was hatched for us to be the first release. It was an honour and exciting to be part of something up and coming, new and inspiring.

In the end, Record Store Day 2013 was chosen as the day of release and we pulled out all the stops to get it cut on actual vinyl, fulfilling one of my life goals. It’s another long story but we were still hand pressing the A & B side labels the night before release after a cock-up at the pressing plant. DIY til we die. Nothing is ever easy in this band. It never has been.

So…anyway…Chemikals….with a k. Why not? Jauntier than anything we’d previously done and benefiting greatly from the inclusion of Pauly B our favourite trumpeter as well as another friend Ken on Sax. The lyrics tell of how the main protagonist of the story (again, more on which later…) is a man controlled by his urges. After all, we’re all just chemical signals at the end of the day. Love, lust, fear etc….all just electrical flashes in the synapses of our silly brains. This being a human stuff is complex.

(Un)fortunately we filmed some of our recording process which I’ll put up in segments so you can see in to the dark corners of the minds of genius’s (genii?). It’s not just a bunch of twats playing Sweet Child o’ Mine constantly.

And below are 3 live cuts of the song from the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea (w/ Pauly B), The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town and The Wheelbarrow in Camden…

GIGS OF THE YEAR 2013

Straight in…..no 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?

PERHAPS THIS?????? TONIGHT!!!!!!!! COME AND FESTIVE IT RIGHT UP WITH US!!!!!!!!!

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

MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE B OF THE BANG

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ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2013

It’s that time of year again innit? Fire crackling (I don’t have a fire), stocking hung (I don’t have a stocking) and sherry in hand (I don’t have any sherry)….it’s time for that odd, and slightly unnatural, annual yuletide tradition of PUTTING THINGS YOU LIKE INTO AN ORDER FOR NO APPARENT REASON. But, like watching Jack Frost (the terrible Michael Keaton-is-a-snowman one…), drinking Advocaat (why would you do that at any other time of year?) and eating sprouts (January to November they are banned from my plate)…it just has to be done as December’s darkness envelopes us all…

So….ready? Heating on? Carols being sung? Astonishing amount of pastry based snacks at hand?

My (me. Wit. Hello.) Albums of the Year 2013. GO!

#10) Lanterns on the Lake – Until the Colours Run

A band that seem to have gone through a whole load of shitty stuff just to get the chance to make their second album (which certainly resonates with us…) and the end result is ruddy fantastic. A record that skillfully blends swelling, subtle, gorgeous tunes with informed and thought-provoking lyrics. A theme that seems to crop up lots in the following artists….

#9) Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter

The Erased Tapes label really is a goldmine and Olafur is probably their…er….shiniest nugget? (Sorry Olafur…that was meant to be a compliment). All of his work is beautifully evocative and this’n is no exception. They (who are ‘they???’) call it ‘neo-classical’ but daft genre titles don’t really interest me. What does interest me are subtle electronic beats, sparsely layered string quartets and even some cheeky, sexy vocals popping up this time round. A wonderful, wintry album.

#8) Midlake – Antiphon

An all time fave band of mine returning with an album that’s much more impressive than it really has any right to be. Eric Pulido taking over on vox from Tim Smith has only invigorated things as far as I can hear and the songs themselves are as classy, inventive, well executed and lyrically inspired as ever. Well played sirs. Well played.

#7) Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad

An artist who I was unaware of until very recently and I’m ever so glad I am now. I think she’ll be a mighty force to be reckoned with in years to come. Fantastic lyrics and fantastic musicianship. The restrained power in her voice really is something to behold too. What’s not to love? I believe Wild Beasts like her n’all so that means I must be right.

#6) Sigur Ros – Kveikur

A tricky one this. On the one hand, if you held a gun to my head (please don’t…I’d probably wet myself…), I would more than likely say – depending on what day of the week it is – that Sigur Ros are my ‘favourite’ band overall. Kveikur certainly has some of their most immediate, ‘catchiest’ (not really the right word for Jonsi & co…) work on it but I will admit, when push comes to shove…(guns, pushing, shoving…what’s going on?)…I prefer the Ros in full on soundscapey mode. In fact, the album of theirs I’m probably fondest of is Valtari. Saying that, it’s a bit like comparing eating Wensleydale with watching snooker. They’re both lush so let’s just enjoy them all and STOP COMPARING EVERYTHING YEAH???

#5) The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It’s rare these days that you get a band who deliver album after album of top notch stuff. Even rarer when each album bests the last. Mid-period REM spring to mind (for a while anyway…) and I think this lot are their natural successors. Again you get those people (often dullards…) that are all ‘Alligator/High Violet/Boxer is the best and nothing will beat that’ but I couldn’t care less – I think this is easily up there with some of their finest stuff. Sounds even better live too.

#4) John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

I’ve been hooked on Johnny-boy since I first heard his dulcet tones a few years back. He just has that certain quality where you need to hear what he has to say and want to know everything that he’s thinking. A wonderful album that’s quite different from his first solo record and, to these ears, even better for it. The Gus Gus involvement in production meant the album was always going to be a bit ‘dancier’ (for want of a better word) but it still manages to be packed full of emotion and meaning. Also, the third Bella Union act on this list. They know what they’re doing them lot.

#3) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

It’s Nick Cave for fucks sake. I don’t need to say anymore.

#2) These New Puritans – Field of Reeds 

Firstly, most of the reviews I’ve read about this album bang on about how it’s ‘like, almost classical man’ or that it’s mind-bogglingly, genre-spanningly, boundary-pushing…er…ly…different from everything ever in music. I’m not quite sure I completely agree with all that BUT what I do hear is an incredibly strong album, packed with excellent songs and interesting arrangements from a band at the top of their game. It goes to show how homogenised and derivative a lot of current music is at the moment that, when a band come along who do have a definite and specific vision, people whip out the over-the-top superlatives like ol’ Jack whips out the Taiko drums and samurai swords. Still superb though.

#1) Mogwai – Les Revenants OST

Now I’m no Mogwai purist/die-hard fan like lots o’ folk. I’ve always liked what I’ve heard by them and owned a few bits and bobs but I’m not what you’d call a completist (about anything to be honest…I don’t think I have the patience or attention span…). Hearing this album though, and intrinsically linking it in my mind to some of the beautiful imagery from the excellent French TV series it soundtracks, just made me go a bit Mogwai-mad. There’s something rather special about it. In general, I like a bit of instrumental post-rock as much as the next man but occasionally I find there can be a wee bit of emotional detachment involved. More nodding and beard-stroking than actually feeling like your heart may explode. This album, however, really does deliver it all. A cardiopulmonary whilst rubbing ones chin approvingly.

Special mention goes to Everything Everything for making one of the more interesting mainstream(ish) pop albums of recent times in ‘Arc’ and the following two albums I still don’t actually own but have been listening to loooaaaaads and intend to purchase ‘em as soon as possible (unless Santa is reading this…I’ve been reet good this year big man…) – those albums in question are Nils Frahm ‘Spaces’ and Anna Calvi ‘One Breath’. Cracking stuff.

Tons more I’ve heard bits of this year too but just haven’t yet had enough time or dosh to make up my mind and buy (as usual) including:

Emiliana Torrini, Boards of Canada, Volcano Choir, No Age, Tuung, I Am Kloot, Eels, Deerhunter and probably loads of others I forget. SO MUCH MUZIK.

So there you have it. Some will agree, most won’t. That’s the joy of art isn’t it? If you find this list rubs you the wrong way so hard that you’re face goes red and you want to send a strongly worded email on how wrong I am then send it here: elliottgregg@thedrummer.com

I think I’ll post up me top gigs of the year somewhen this week too. Just because.

SPEAKING OF GIGS (see what I did there…?) – come to this next Wednesday and you really will feel that Christmas miracles can come true:

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Facebook Event – http://www.facebook.com/events/479932588788715/
Pie & Vinyl Event – http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk/events/2784/
Wedgewood Rooms Event & tickets – http://wedgewood-rooms.co.uk/WhatsOn/LiveMusic/LIVELOCAL.aspx
In the words of Tiny Tim…..MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS
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