Why didn’t I do this years ago?

I’ve used all sorts of recording methods over the years, each of them having various complicated cabling paths.

Now it turns out there’s a really good one shot gizmo to do it all.

Its a Focusrite Scarlett solo. Perfect for me! I don’t need any fancy stereo for my setup.

I’ll be doing some work on Ostalgia this weekend!

Fishy Happenings

My third gig with Strangefish last night. It was a long day…

I started at 7:30am – I had planned to be at the venue at around 10:30 and with a 2 hour journey ahead I needed to be ready.

Freshly showered and breakfasted I set off – only to make much better time than originally planned. Aren’t the motorways dead on a Sunday morning (apart from the mandatory middle lane owner’s club).

My route took me down the M6 Toll… And since I was on the “posh road” I thought I’d call into the country’s most exclusive service area. Only because you have to pay a toll to stop there.

Norton Canes Services. Britain’s most exclusive motorway services.

After a brief stop I carried on to The Robin, arriving there at about 10:15. The organisers and sound guys were already there so I loaded my gear in (my bass amp was being used for all bands).

The rest of the morning was pretty much spent waiting for the rest of the guys to arrive, and since we were partaking of a full soundcheck (our gear was being used by a few bands) we were rather lucky!

The rest of the day was pretty much spent fooling around and socialising, although I did have a walk into Bilston in an attempt to find a sandwich of some variety. I failed. It was closed. All of it.

Mexborough or Bilston? It’s hard to tell. One has trams…

Come 6 o’clock we started getting ready for our performance. That, of course, involved blowing up inflatables (we have a thing about inflatables in this band)

Bob found the golfing supplies…

The gig itself was superb. I’m sure more photos will be coming soon, but for the moment all I have is a few camera phone ones. There were some seriously good cameras in there though.

We take our bows.

From a heatwave to flash flooding.

The song four seasons in one day was very apt yesterday. From waking up to a little drizzle; then spending a couple of hours walking in warm sun, to the day ending with torrential rain and flash floods.

I played around with my new DJ software yesterday. It’s called “djay 2” and although it’s not as comprehensive or pretty as the 3D one I’ve been trying, it does allow you to load stuff from Spotify and use it in your sets.

A bit of It Bites on one deck with some Genesis on the other (not their best album, but Domino is for me one of the last breaths of a dying prog band before they became full pop).
I connected my bigger PA up and ran it through the 12 channel Behringer. It’s much nicer sounding than the tiny practice PA I have, but much less portable.
This will come in useful for Spirit of Prog gigs!
Speaking of Spirit of Prog – we now have posters!

Two of these gigs are doing very well. The third is concerning me. We can’t afford any failures whilst we still have no money in the bank.

Rehearsing with the Fishes… Again!

Yesterday was our final rehearsal before the forthcoming Sheffield gig. We went through the usual stuff, and had a couple of runs through Delicate.

The decision stands that it is officially in the set!

Also compared body sizes… Paul has huge hands!

But short arms!

I wonder if that means he’s a particular creature?

I also got a photo of us with the chimney

But the short video was more fun!

Wardstock!

Oh yes our annual return to Wardstock. A great little private festival with 6 bands playing.

We just did a short half hour set due to the nature of the event, but we went down well as usual.

I was very brave! I wore white jeans, and then spent the evening avoiding grass stains!

A bloody hefty weekend!

Again a hefty weekend. It all started on Thursday when I did my talk for the Astronomy Club. It was called “Take it to the bridge” and was all about movie and game fictional space craft and if their technology could work.

Friday was a long day of fixed wire electrical testing. A seven board job with poor paperwork so I had to do a major investigation.

The journey home was a two hour slog due to major traffic problems across the county after a fatal accident at junction 34 to 35 on the M1.

The planned Rock the 80’s rehearsal for that night didn’t happen as you can probably guess.

Saturday was Hannah’s auntie’s 70th down in Oxford.

I wore white jeans. Then I remembered why I don’t often wear white jeans! Mucky arse!

After arriving home at after 9pm and going to bed later than planned I had to get up the following morning for the Strangefish rehearsal. 7:30am on a Sunday is quite painful…

Arriving in Bury for 10 we spent most of the day running through the new songs, plus we introduced three additional faces to the band – a couple who will be joining us onstage in July, plus Jake our sound engineer who will be sorting us out!

It was a hot sweaty day. We ate cake. We rehearsed. We went home.

Great gig!

It has to be said that Saturday’s gig was probably one of the best we’ve ever played! The crowd were brilliant and really up for it. The venue was a nice place and we played so well. Tight and sounding great. We’ve since had a few posts go online and a review which always makes it feel worthwhile. We’re still on 100% verified 5* ratings.

It was the hottest gig in ages. The suit in the first set was dripping by the end. I’m glad I remembered to take a second suit though – I always remember at weddings (strictly it was a vow renewal) that there will be at least 3 cobalt blue suits in the audience. You don’t want to look like the guests do you?

It was a 10:30 finish for us, although Jake couldn’t finish DJing until half past 11 so we broke down the stage whilst he finished off and got all the cases ready to go, and then whilst the guys loaded the van I packed down the PA and wrapped all the speaker cables.

Of Giggage the First

I presume you’re wanting to know how the first Strangefish gig went? After all the build up has been huge from my point of view. About 6 months since I joined the band and we’re doing our first big gig.

Ok so the arrival time was rather early, 2pm, as is always the case with these things. Bob was later than the rest of us but soundcheck went incredibly smoothly. We ran through my most nerve wracking song “Progress in Reverse” and then disappeared off the stage for John Hackett and then Encircled to do their sound checks.

At 9:30 we took to the stage for my first gig with the new band. I can honestly say I’ve not been as nervous to take a stage in years.

Continue reading “Of Giggage the First”

Strangefish Rehearsal the ER… Fifth?

So we are now dangerously close to our first gig in the lineup and I’m looking at it thinking “wow that’s close!”. It’s next Sunday!

Yesterday was our final rehearsal before the gig and we had last runs though the material, tweaked a few bits, and generally played very well.

Unlike the last rehearsal where Steve was poorly we were up to full band again. All six of us.

To see the photos you’d think all we did was wore silly hats though!

We also discussed stage wear, which for the guys is an interesting concept. They’ve never really done the “specific” clothes before. Of course I have the Strange Fish trousers, and the Shark/Kitten shirt. But it’s now becoming a confusing matter of what to do…

The problem with the strangefish trousers is that I can’t actually find anything that goes with them! The shark shirt, on the other hand, makes anything you pair with it look ridiculous.

I have an idea though…

Strangefish Progress Update

I thought it was time I did a decent progress update on the Strangefish stuff, after all, it’s now about a month since our first rehearsal.

First of all, full disclosure, this is honestly the most complicated material I’ve ever played. I’ve been in a prog band before (Manning) and his stuff was a doddle at the side of this.
I’m not Carl, nor am I Julian – I have quite a different style from both of the previous bassists and as such it’s going to have my personal twist whilst still being an honourable hat-tip to the previous guys, both of whom I admire greatly.
So, here’s the current state of play.
Full Scale

The songs I’ve learnt from the first album are
Shifting Sands & Turning Tides
Listening to Ghosts
Oceans Deep
Take a Holiday
The only real struggle I had here is because this is the band’s first full album and was obviously home produced the bass is sometimes unclear in the mix and occasionally I have problems picking out exactly what is going on.
As is key with all Strangefish songs, the cycle of fourths and fifths is a work of fiction. We have progressions based all over the scale, and in particular there is a common usage of a Root – Flat 5th which seems to be a favourite of the band, particular on this album.
My personal favourite on this album is Oceans Deep. Not only do I enjoy listening to it, but I find it really fun to play – and challenging.
Fortune Telling

I’m automatically at an advantage here because the mix is so much clearer. I’ve learnt:
It Could Be Me
Keep the Exits Clear
Have you seen the Light
Ignorance of Bliss
Reflection This is me (I)
This material has a lot of repeated themes, then again it is a concept album so I’d expect that. Rhythmically it is more interesting than the stuff on Full Scale as there are a lot of “morse code” rhythms running through the album which makes it fun to play.
Personally, I love Reflection This is me. It’s just a great track and again, as per usual for Strangefish, the material totally ignores the cycle of fourths and fifths again and the key changes to wherever the hell it wants. I love that. It keeps me on my toes!
The Spotlight Effect

The newest album has proved the biggest challenge for me. We’re learning:
Progress in Reverse
Iconacon
The Spotlight Effect
Summer Slips Away
Up to You
A very different style of bass playing comes to the fore here. Carl’s style is very much more fluid and dynamic than Julian’s. Carl’s playing is very flambouyant, but it matches his personality. He’s very busy on the bass! 
Any bassist who keeps a good solid rhythm and low end going is a good bassist, and both those guys are solid and keep the grounding. I wouldn’t put one above the other as it’s like comparing apples and pears. They are different and each has it’s own unique properties.
The main struggle I’ve had with the new album is just not knowing the material as thoroughly. It’s not been out as long. It’s been on the solid playlist in my van for a while now though and I’m really starting to get the feel for it.
As for which song I love the most? Well at this point it’s actually quite difficult to say. I love the writing and lyrics in Summer Slips Away, but there’s hardly any bass. On the other hand, The Spotlight Effect has some magnificent sections.
Final Conclusion
So with over 2 hours of music in the bag, we can really have a nice selection to pick from – although we do have to cherry pick down for The Robin 2 gig on 5th May as we don’t have a 2 hour set!