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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THE FOREST (THE DEVIL IS IN THE DIRT)

‘The Forest (The Devil is in the Dirt)’ is definitely one of the songs that is most fun to play live. What with me ripping off Survivors ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bootylicious’ it certainly was an off kilter direction for TBOTB to head in. Like I said before though, if something made us chuckle in practice, it went in. Really piling on the Carlos Santana guitar too. Ridiculous.

It got some play on the ace Amazing Radio which was cool and an email from Rob Da Bank said it reminded him of Nick Cave which I was over the moon with. Funny that we got asked to play Bestival this year on the same day we announced splitting up. Life is strange.

The song itself doesn’t really mean anything at all – I think I was just trying to outdo ‘Alaska’ on least-words-in-song. But it fitted in with the story running through the album which I try badly to explain below. Me and Elliott were both working in the studio at that point. We clearly didn’t have much else on. It does include us playing a song that didn’t make the final cut called ‘All Our Days Are Wasted’ though. Chirpy.

And here’s a bit more of that recording lark which contains some live ‘Forest’ action…

Plus 3 other live renditions…

Also, hats off to Jake the Snake once again as he made this song sound tons better than it did originally…as this little titbit showed…

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…

AIM HIGH

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh the difficult second album. Where to begin? Well…with ‘Aim High’ that’s where.

The ORIGINAL plan was to get in and record this new set of songs as quickly as possible, pretty much track everything live and get it done swiftly. How wrong we were. The band at this point I think had expanded to Myself, Dave on guitar, Ox on bass, Elliott on drums and Roxanne on keys. Jack had moved to the imaginary, made-up place of Sherfield-on-Loddon for work and, although he was still a member of the band, logistics prevented him on getting down much to Southsea to record anything.

Rox was a great addition – lending her ace vocals and silky piano skills to many a track. I’d always wanted dual male/female vocals (which is why 3 songs on our first album have ladies as guest singers) and I started writing accordingly. The mighty Ox had also stepped in to a full time role after we’d toured together as Dawn Chorus stand-ins. No-one slappa da bass like him.

So….what happened? Well, rather selfishly I went off traveling around Asia for 3 months (in order to…you know….like….totally find myself dahling…) and I got engaged. Upon returning, I’d had all these new ideas for songs and music. The main crux of which was a ridiculously overblown concept piece, more of which I’ll chat about later. I’d made recordings of foley and sound effects etc…while I was away and wanted to take the thread of ‘Beginning. Middle. End’ even further with a 3 act concept album. As you do. If you’re going to do something, you may as well go for it eh? Well thank God it didn’t actually happen like that as I think the slimmed-down, final group of tracks that became album 2 are much, much better for it.

‘Aim High’ was an early contender. I wanted to streamline my songwriting and condense my ideas a little. If there’s a major criticism (that I also sort of see as a positive to be honest…) with the first album it’s that it sounds like loads of different bands. Album 2 was a conceited effort to come up with a TBOTB definable ‘sound’. Still an eclectic one but more focused and direct.

Originally a gentle little acoustic number, I’d been inspired by some of the chanting monks (I’m not even lying…what a tool…) from Laos and Vietnam etc…so, wherever we could force a big, gang vocal harmony in, we did. Fittingly, we thought it should open the album and it ended up being our second single. I made the video using an iPhone app for nothing. It took forever. But it does sum up the whole period of recording quite nicely…

A live version from The Bull & Gate, Camden for Club Fandango…

…and from our album launch at The Wedgewood Rooms (nice intune vocals at the start there…few nerves I expect…)

…finally the song in it’s original guise shortly after writing…

One week today….

The countdown begins…..

We're on at 6.15pm

We’re on at 6.15pm on the P&V stage @ The Wine Vaults

Southsea Fest (http://southseafest.com) is always an excellent day for us Portsmouthians and it’s a really strong line-up this year.

My (Wit. Hello.) recommendations would include:

The Boy I Used to Be, New Desert Blues, BellyEyeSmile, Veronica Falls, Joe Black, Is Bliss, Curxes, Splashh, The Day of the Rabblement, Cosmo Sheldrake and probably a few more I’m forgetting.

Our Elliott and Ox will be playing with The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (http://retrospectivesoundtrackplayers.blogspot.co.uk) at the Kings Theatre too and I’ll also be doing a solo set on the Xtra Mile Stage at The Atrium. Fun times all round.

Speaking of band members doing other stuff, I know this is the TBOTB blog but just wanted to point you towards a couple of those extra-curricular activities briefly (the rest of the band all do other stuff too, just this is mainly what’s going on at the moment…):

Elliott Gregg’s DISC JOCKEYING:

http://soundcloud.com/elliottgregg

My (Wit. Hello.) SOLO STUFF:

http://soundcloud.com/christophergeorgewhitear

Anyhoo…..back to le bang. Here’s a vid of me (Wit. Hello.) and Jack talking absolute balls post-gig from Victorious Festival t’other week:

…and another vid of our bestest buddies and occasional lovers, the Pie & Vinyl boys plying their wares. With some idiot cropping up shamelessly. Me (Wit. Hello.)

I feel I’ve mentioned myself too much in this blog. Me. Wit. Hello.

To end, here’s a nice blog what someone done about us:

http://musicalnourishment.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/song-of-the-day-desire-lines-by-the-b-of-the-bang/

SEE YOU AT SAAFSEA FEST GEEZAS.

xxxx

Where are we now?

 

…as a certain David Jones might say…

 

Soooooo….let’s briefly recap dear reader….

 

Had a couple of messages recently that go along the lines of ‘ahhhh I remember seeing some stuff about you lot a few years back and then you disappeared…bit of a shame’

 

Well – I cannot comment on whether our perceived disappearance would be a ‘shame’ or not but thought I’d just give you a bit of a lowdown on what goes on/has gone on behind the scenes. You may or may not be interested…but if you’re not…WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING LOOKING AT THIS BLOG??? GETOUTTAHERE!!!

 

Anyhoo. As far as it goes for us, we’ve never been away. In fact, everywhere I turn, I’m there. It’s ruddy irritating to be honest. Our first album came out in 2009 and we toured it around the country to various dingy back rooms. Some amazing, some not so much. Many of those early gigs were a bit more acoustic in nature as there wasn’t so many of us in the band and they were often easier for us to play. In fact, amusingly, we were nominated for a Folk Award even though we’re not particularly any more folky than…oooh, I don’t know, Slayer or someone…that may be a slight stretch but…you catch my drift. Just because we wield the occasional banjo or accordion, the arran sweaters are firmly stashed away (for now). I even wrote my Uni dissertation on notions of genre and how we perceive them don’cha know??? So check me out.

 

So, folk or not, in 2010 we recorded and released 2 EP’s….’Art Deco’ and ‘Art Nouveau’. One was electric-y, full bandy, sample-y stuff and one was more solo-y, traditional-y, acoustic-y stuff. As is often the case with EP’s however, these sort of slipped beneath the radar and no-one really noticed. We liked them though. 

 

Since then a variety of things have occurred…first off, I swanned around travelling a bit…growing various beards and wrote most of what was to become our new soon-to-be-released-honest-guv album. The people who made up TBOTB swapped around a fair bit too so myriad rehearsals and low-key gigs testing out new material and members was pretty much the de rigeur order of the day in 2011.

 

It was also the year of a few side-projects that developed into other things which naturally took up plenty of tim. Myself and Mr Rhodes dallied with our inner noise-rockers in Analogue Manilow, Elliott stepped in to alt-country-pop-rock mode with the Retrospective Soundtrack Players. Again, a few members went off on their own journeys and more new members came into our warm bosom (titter titter). Southsea’s musical fraternity is like that. I for one relish it and it means I’ve had the honour of playing with some amazing musicians of whom all are now firm friends. And that’s the important part really isn’t it? Yes. Yes it is.

 

So – anyway – fast forward to 2012 – album 2 was finished and ready to go. Self recorded and produced we were as happy as pie with it…but the opportunity arose for another good pal of ours, the esteemed Mr Jake Gordon, to give it a bit of an extra mix and polish. My word we’re glad he did. Here’s a bit of info about him and his recent work (including stuff he’s done with a couple of our fave bands…) 

 

http://miloco.co.uk/engineers/jakegordon.php

 

Jake made everything sound a hundred times greater than we could have ever achieved on our own so it was well worth that extra wait. So, prepped, ready-to-go, gorged with fresh blood and mixed perfectly…..our dear little indie label Jelly Maid Music fell off the cliff into the abyss! T’was a sad day for all and meant, like The Littlest Hobo, we were now homeless…

 

After touting it around to a few of the labels that we love and trust and being greeted with stares that I’m sure Joseph and Mary received in Jerusalem before they bedded down in someones shed or something, we realised that we were probably looking at a self-release. Now these aren’t necessarily a bad thing as it means you have total control (always good) and can create your own world around you…..BUT….you also have no money (or we certainly don’t) nor any inbuilt ‘network’ of friendly faces and industry peeps to help you out or fight your corner.

 

If you can now, at this point dear reader, imagine a hero – swarthy and muscular – swooping in and grasping us in their bulging arms while we look up doey eyed and, well theres no other word than aroused, then please feel free to do so as that is basically the truth of it. I’m not going to reveal all yet (where’s the fun in that?) but, rest assured, April is certainly going to be a splendid milestone in The B of the Bang’s strange, exciting, terrifying adventure…

 

Keep your ears to the ground BangFans

xxx

 

ps just in case you wondered David Jones is David Bowie’s real name. Told you I went to university.

WE ARE BACK

Good day all

We are venturing outside into the real world from our self-imposed exile. The thick blank concrete walls of the studio have left us with mole-like eyes, blinking in the winter sun….chomping at the bit to spew forth some new audio ejaculations for your aural canals.

In other words – we’re playing a hometown gig. Our album is finished.

The Bang’s favourite place in the whole world – Pie & Vinyl – are putting on a Christmas shindig at The Registry on Saturday 15th December….and who are we to say no to an invitation from them?

Joining us will be our good buddies Kinky Boot Beasts to provide you with a sonic battering (in the best possible way…) and there will be prizes and surprises of all shapes and sizes……I’ve even heard whispers of the return of the meat solo…….

Here’s the deets – you wouldn’t want to miss this one now would you?

http://www.facebook.com/events/381501581932593/?notif_t=plan_user_joined

See you there

TBOTB

xxxxxx

Published in: on November 29, 2012 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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