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.

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.

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!

New Year’s Eve

New year’s eve this year was a gig in Gainsborough. The last gig arranged by our current agent before we go freelance and head to pastures new.

Sadly, because of the timing of everything it’s left us with a rather large 4 month hole in our schedule now, but that works great for me as it lets me give my Strangefish material a lot more time. I suspect stuff will come in though, it’s just the air has to clear first.

We’re now freelance but we have two agents booking gigs for us already and May onwards is looking pretty cool now. I think we’re going to sort our own new year’s eve though.

The gig, however, was superb. I really liked the club. It was a private member’s club which always means you’re going to get an element of filtering. They had booked “an evening with” type of thing and got us and a DJ.

£20 a ticket with a buffet! Can’t be sniffed at.

So we arrived. Loaded in (a nice flat load) and set up. The onstage sound wasn’t good though, mostly due to the corner stage, but it’s something you learn to deal with.

The place filled up. Really filled up.

So the first set arrived at 9pm. I suited up in my blue suit, which I thought would be tight and actually wasn’t – that 3kg on the scales is all lies! And we played our hearts out.

The new song (Lady Gaga’s “Shallow”) was rather epic! The audience really went mad at that one. I suspect being brave and doing such an out there and new song earns respect.

The second set at 10:50 took us up to about 15 minutes off midnight. Great for the DJ to take us through the bells.

This set I was a little more conservative in my looks than I’ve been at previous gigs. Absolutely no shiny trousers this time, just skinny blue jeans and a blue shirt. It’s a very slimming look and I have to say I look rather good in it!

Once midnight was out of the way we packed down and headed home. It was just before 2am hometime. Not bad for new years eve.

Another gig weekend.

A very strange weekend.

Friday night was a late one for me. Hannah was in Bridlington and I was called out. A great but busy finish to a hectic week.

Saturday

Saturday was somewhat of an unusual day. A weather bomb was set to hit us from about 2pm, and sure enough it did. Rarely for this country we were forecast freezing rain and snow. We went to see mum. Her dogs are bonkers!

I had to go shopping for groceries before the weather bomb hit, and as I was on the way home it stated to drizzle. The roads became very slippery really quickly.

Thank God I got these…

Luckily we didn’t have to go anywhere else – although I had contemplated Asylum (our local fetish venue and a bit of a haunt for me), but the weather put me off. In the end I watched Krampus (great Christmas horror) and had an early night.

Sunday

Sunday, Unusually, was gig day. It’s very rare we gig on a Sunday with the covers band. This week’s club was local to me (Firth Park).

Not a great load – upstairs – although there was a small lift. It helped a lot, but it could only take one speaker cabinet at a time so the load in and out took a long time but wasn’t too tiring.

We set up in plenty of time to rehearse the new song (Pink). We did it so quickly we actually managed to put it in as an encore!

The bad thing about Sunday gigs though is that all the members of the band appeared to be loaded up with sprouts. It was very windy backstage!

To wrap up a long evening, I arrived home at 1am to find a dickhead had parked overlapping our driveway by a good 18″. I consider myself to be quite good at reversing and I struggled with this one.

An 80th Birthday

It might seem unusual to have a rock/pop band for an 80th Birthday, but the birthday boy has followed us for a number of years now so it seemed apt.

The hotel it was held at was a great place. Top end of Heckmondwike; a place called Healds Hall.

It was an early start as we had to be set up by 6. The load in was quite easy although I think the staff were very surprised when we kept loading more and more boxes into the place though.

Setup went well. It was the first full length gig for a while so we ran through a few of the songs we’d not played to just brush them up. Strangely, the last few gigs had all been around an hour performance time. We had to be silent at 6:45 as the special guest was arriving for a “meal in the restaurant” but he was then told the restaurant was very busy so they were in the back room…

Surprise!

The first set was a blue suit set. It felt a little tight on me and even though the scales show my weight hasn’t changed I need to keep an eye on that. It could be that my newest jeans all have stretch in them and I’m not used to a rigid waistband? After all the waistcoat and shirt felt fine.

In-between we had food. That, for me, wasn’t great. No detriment to the food, but as a vegetarian any mention of buffet or hot buffet fills me with dread. If it isn’t the mixed sandwiches cross contamination hell, or the “has it got meat in it” roulette with quiche, it’s the hot buffet “that’s your entire vegetarian choice” which contained aubergine. I don’t like aubergine.

The chips were nice though.

For the second set, after much threatening and teasing I wore the PVC suit. Dennis had been searching for one for himself and like many others who weren’t quick enough when I told them about it, he’d missed the boat. He then ribbed me about it onstage… Twat.

I combined with with the new shirt I got from River Island.

I looked good. Kinky good.

Sadly that’s where the good ends, as I’ll never wear that suit onstage with Face the Music again. 45 minutes in a plastic sauna suit under hot lights… Nope nope nope nope nope.

I suppose the one amusing thing was the stereotyping thing… Apparently shiny suits like that are usually worn by gay men.

Yeah whatever…

I’ve got thick skin. I don’t actually give a toss.

So, back to normality for a few weeks. And next time it’ll be back to normal jeans for the second set.

One Mole for the Road

Yesterday was a day of celebration of the life of Adrian Price (Mole); drummer with Kingfisher Blue ; who sadly left us suddenly in January.

Ethryll had been invited to play as we are a fellow band in the same scene as Kingfisher Blue and have performed many gigs with the guys.

The gig was held in a small marquee at The Brothers Arms in Heeley, Sheffield. A pub with a beer garden featuring magnificent views over the valley. Such a poignant location as it was also Mole’s local.

It was a stunning gig and was also the first full 5 piece Ethryll gig with all the band together including new guitarist Jake.

It was also a perfect day to play our song Burning Blue which is about a perfect Summer day. As the festival continued we were treated to a magnificent sunset.

Quite a few pictures were taken – the gallery is below.

I suspect more photos will come in over the next few days so keep checking back!