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Monkey Steve

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Everything posted by Monkey Steve

  1. One that left everybody confused.... Almost 30 years ago Hawkwind did an all nighter at the Brixton Academy. It was scheduled from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am, and this was before everybody had internet and the ubiquity of mobile phones, certainly no smart phones, and with few details on the poster it was guesswork as to when any of the bands would play. But Hawkwind will be on late, right? If they take the right drugs they might play through the night, right? I arrived at about 7.30/8.00, and am standing in the lobby trying to spot a mate, not sure when he is arriving. At some point it occurs to me that they are playing Hawkwind on the PA in the lobby - weird. I then go into the auditorium to see if my mate got there earlier, and am a little surprised to see a band on stage playing Hawkwind songs. Why would they put a Hawkwind covers band on...oh, hang on, that's Hawkwind isn't it? So I missed about half of the set, and in total they played for about an hour - not what the crowd was expecting when they paid for an all nighter. A big chunk of the crowd left at that point, including the mate I was supposed to be meeting, disgruntled that they'd only got an hour of the headliners, and with no great interest in the rest of the bands who would be playing for the next nine hours A girl that I didn't know at the time but who later became my girlfriend briefly attended, having gone to another gig with some friends first, and knowing that they could go to that and also see Hawkwind. She told me that they arrived at 11.30 to be told that Hawkwind had already played, so they went home. There was therefore only a very slim crowd left at about 2.00 am when Hawkwind returned to the stage and treated us to another 45 minutes of their set. There were only a couple of bands left to play at that point, and I always wondered if they might have played for longer if more of the crowd had stuck around to see the second set. I saw it through to about 5.00, and only living down the road at Clapham Junction I walked home. Brixton at 5.30 on a sunny Summer morning is a lovely place
  2. @TheGreek if the theme is drumkits at festivals... A few years back I went to see Messenger play on the third stage at Sonisphere. Then, as now, almost completely unheard of, but their drummer was Gomez, a reasonably well known producer in metal circles (he produced the first Ghost album, Angel Witch, Paradise Lost, Orange Goblin and loads of extreme metal). I know Gomez a little so went along to see them, and there was a reasonable sized crowd for a good slot. They played the intro to the first song, Gomez hit the first drum beat...and all the electrics on stage switched off Five minutes of furiously resetting everything that felt like forever. The band starts the intro again, Gomez hits the first beat...all the electrics cut out again. They did it a third time and then just packed up and walked off
  3. oh yeah - plenty of this - the ones I remember most were the 8 string Rickenbackers that I didn't buy when a shop in Denmark Street had two of them on the wall (didn't like the colour, figured there'd be more options in due course...20 years later and never seen another one in the flesh)
  4. Not really There are some instruments and amps that I'd like to still have, but from a "I'd love to still own it" perspective, not from a "I really miss playing it" angle - my old Marshall Super Bass II head and 8 x 10 cab, and my Marshall Super Lead II combo spring to mind, as well as my old Wals, and a Gibson Les Paul Smartwood that had a great neck on it (but always felt a little under powered and I chopped it in for a full fat version) And a couple of things that I sold on for good reason at the time, but have since massively increased in value (for instance, my first Wal - bought new for £1,500, sold at a loss for less than grand a couple of years later - I never loved it and much prefer my new Wal...but I'd like to be able to sell it for a decent price now) and one of the original Jimmy Page signature Les Pauls from 1997 or 1998 - great neck, sounded dreadful, bought second hand for £1,200, again sold at a loss a couple of years later...currently worth about £4.5k Then the other day I found this picture of me playing Wal #2 - bought second hand from Dean Garcia (lovely bloke, great bass player), and sold at a profit to fund my current Wal (#3) - again, never loved it like I love my new one...but just look at it!!! Look at it!!
  5. I've been very fortunate - I work for a company which provides services involving key workers (we sweep the streets, collect the bins, process the waste water, etc) so while I'm not a key worker myself, my role has continued unaffected. As a business we've had to put between 500 and 1000 people on furlough at various periods, out of a workforce of about 14,000, and have paid them more than we could reclaim through the government scheme. I won't personally see any effect on my income until next year's annual bonus, which will be significantly reduced because our commercial revenues have been hit. I have no cause for complaint Working from home has been a major bonus - I save three hours a day in commuting, and about £400 a month in fares so I am in fact much better off thanks to lockdown. The IT has held up brilliantly and proved to the company that there's really no need to make me work in the middle of London going forward, so some of the change will be permanent. The only significant impact that lockdown has had on work is that I should have been spending time on a project in Ireland over the Summer, which has had to be put back until they are out of lockdown Like others, music is a loss leading hobby - I have done gigs that generate more than £1k a time for the band, some as recently as the end of 2018, but I rarely take enough out of those to cover longer term costs. These offset the ones I play for free, or for a tenner and a couple of pints, which never come close to paying for strings and rehearsal rooms. What lockdown has done is pull the plug, hopefully temporarily, on a couple of new projects that were being discussed, but that has prevented me spending anything on them, rather than denting my income, so I'm probably slightly ahead on the deal
  6. Having previously got a trimmed down version of Q from my bank, it didn't really occur to me that I was no longer getting this freebie. But yesterday a replacement arrived - Mojo More than happy with the bank's choice - I've never really read it before, maybe the odd copy here and there over the years, but it's pretty good. Feels like Q in it's heyday but without the pretence that they are keeping up with today's music, just good writing for grownups on music from the past. And best of all it came with the free CD, something that was never included with the stripped down Q
  7. I probably owe my parents a lot for simply not being discouraging - they never told me I was wasting my time, and best of all were happy to acknowledge that the stuff I was playing was not going to be of any interest to them, so they were happy i was out playing in bands without ever wanting to come and see me play. Didn't even a raised eyebrow when I brought home a Marshall 8 x 10 and lugged it upstairs to my bedroom, just a helpful suggestion that it might be better in the spare room My Dad was always a music lover, and having been into British jazz as a teenager when it was new and exciting in the 1950's he understood my teenage obsession with music. His one experience of playing live music was on washboard in a jazz club in the cellar of a pub in Hammersmith, which made him realise that he would never be a musician, but his brother played guitar (and oddly there is some skipping a generation thing, as his brother's son tried learning the bass and was dreadful). And one of my Dad's best drinking pals from the 1970's was a professional guitarist who played with some pretty well known people My mates were far more of an encouragement for me - they all played guitar (to various levels of accomplishment) so I worked out that if I got a bass I could be in a band quite quickly. Got my first bass at 18 from £1,000 that my parents had always planned to give me when I reached that age, was working at 19 and my spare cash went on equipment, so I never had to get my parents to fund anything.
  8. I've basically settled on Dunlop Tortex 1.14's for the sound and the feel - a hangover from when I only used to play with a pick, and selected after trying a lot of different shaped and gauges when I was starting out I did try some other shapes and sizes when I went back to picks (I don't use them a lot, but sometimes they are what the song demands) and again came back to the Standard Tortex 1.14s Maybe it's worth trying a few different shapes to see if you can get the same attack at a thinner size - for instance maybe Tortex Sharps would do it? One idea that may or may not work, is that I use Tortex Sharkfins (again 1.14s) when playing the guitar, and in an old band the bass player used to use my old picks - I threw them away when the knobbly side was a bit worn down, but he liked then at that stage because it added some attack to his sound
  9. I've had two custom basses built, and am still the proud owner of both...although that's not so say there haven't been bumps along the way The first one I ordered is a Warwick Stage 1 five string. I'd had Warwicks before, and what I really wanted a $$ Streamer with a thru neck (which they have not made as a standard model) so the Custom Shop was the only way I was going to get it. And if you're going to order from the Custom Shop, you may as well get exactly what you want - in my case an inlay and a slight change to the standard woods Warwick's approach was very much "you tell us what to do and we'll do it" and when I asked for advice on the pickups they stuck to "we can do whatever you want, just tell us" when actually I wanted a bit more guidance on what would work best. I'm pretty sure that the person answering the e-mails was from the sales dept, not an actual luthier Nice video from Warwick of my actual bass here: The first (very minor) disappointment was that the 3 band eq wasn't the layout I had assumed it would be. Instead of separate bass/mid/treble controls with a stacked volume/pan, like I had on my old Warwick Jazzman, it instead had a stacked Bass/Treble control, which it turns out is their standard 3 band eq for $$s. I finally got that sorted earlier this year, which was actually quite easy as they have modular eq systems (and put together a free wiring diagram as the eq I wanted isn't a standard option for $$ p/u). I also missed the announcement from a few months before I placed my order that all Custom Shop basses would have a rechargeable battery in the main control cavity, and thus a second battery compartment for a non-rechargeable battery, so it was a surprise when it arrived to find that there were two cavities. Actually that may pay off because I'm about to try the 18v hack on the eq because there is room for two batteries in the extra cavity, in the hope that that may help solve the next gripe It feels a bit under powered compared to the Corvette $$ that I previously had, so I'm seriously considering a change of pickups - and given that pickup choice was the point I'd wanted a bit more guidance on (and not got) this nags at me a little. The final disappointment was all down to me - that having selected a transparent black finish over flamed maple, I really should have chosen an ebony fretboard rather than wenge, for an all black finish. Which I should have known because I already had a black seven string Explorer with a black pickguard and a rosewood fretboard and it nags at me that they should have used ebony for a better all black guitar. So, my own fault, and one I can live with (but would make a different choice if I had to do it again...and I am pondering another Custom Warwick...) Still, live and learn, and it's not enough to stop me enjoying and playing the bass. The neck is fantastic, it's a very high quality instrument all round, and it's been used to record an album (a mate's band, not mine) and I've played it live quite a lot What it taught me was to be very specific and to ask lots of questions, and to persevere - keep "the customer is always right" in mind, certainly in terms of getting the info you want My second was my latest Wal. Lovely lovely lovely. Birdseye maple and unmarked ebony fretboard The Wal was a lot easier for a couple of reasons. First, there aren't actually a lot of options to consider beyond the model and the choice of woods. The electrics are the same so that's one less thing to worry about, and after all you're buying a Wal because you want something that sounds like a Wal. So I got a Wal to my exact spec for wood and finish, and it feels much more "mine" than the previous ones I've owned - just being able to get a fretboard without dots was a massive win for me (seriously, I hate dots on a fretboard). It arrived during lockdown so I haven't had the chance to gig with it, but it's definitely a keeper Next, the guys at Wal were very easy to deal with, and happy to discuss options and say what they would and wouldn't do. in particular, I'd asked about an inlay similar to the Warwick, and they were up front about them not being able to do it. We discussed how thin a neck they would make me, and while open to suggestions, they made the case that actually the standard neck is a lot slimmer than on the previous Wals I've had so I probably didn't need them to shave any more off of it, and they were right The waiting period was daunting - two years when I placed the order (and Wal kept to that) and I understand that their estimate is now three years. In fact it was a good thing for me, because it meant that I didn't need the cost of a Wal when I placed the order, I just needed the first couple of instalments and could save up the rest over the build time. If the money had been burning a hole in my pocket than perhaps it would have bugged me more In summary, it has worked for me for both instruments because I (more or less) knew what I would be getting - variations on a known model that I knew I would like. The issues I've had with the Warwick build were pretty minor and largely down to me assuming something rather than checking what they would actually be doing, although I think they could have been more specific on those points, and could have offered more opinions, particularly when I was asking for them. It hasn't put me off doing it again, but it has taught me to get more into the details and not to assume that the maker is thinking the same thing as me
  10. Definite yes from me - always open to hearing something new, whether that's something old that's new to me, or a new band who are doing something interesting. But I recognise that split - I have mates, and bandmates, who have finished music, and have no interest in listening to any band that they didn't like by the time they were 25 (in fact, one of my school mates told me at 14 that he had four AC/DC records, a couple of Whitesnake LPs and Status Quo's 12 Gold Bars so he didn't see the need to buy any more albums so he was done) What has changed over the years is that I don't go relentlessly looking for new stuff like I did in my teens/20's. These days it's more likely to be seeing a band at a festival, and I make the effort to google the bands I haven't heard of to see if they sound interesting when planning my days. And I've got into a lot of great bands from going to the bar in the second stage tent at Bloodstock And I like bands who are trying new ways of doing stuff. Even if it's recognisable as a new way of doing old stuff
  11. my two penneth... Songwriting is more art than craft and expecting or demanding that band members join in is a waste of everybody's time and efforts if they just aren't any good at it. No amount of insisting will get them to become good song writers, or song writers who work to your preferred methods. I've been in bands where everybody wrote their own stuff and brought fully developed songs to the studio to be jammed and arranged; bands where everybody brought riffs and melodies to the band to see what fitted together into a song; and bands where one songwriter demanded that everybody play exactly the parts that he wrote for them. It's not about what works for you, it's about what works best for everybody. If the singer isn't interested in writing lyrics or melodies, then get somebody else to do it - Rush and Akercocke (niche reference for the extreme metal fans there) haven't done too bad for letting the non-singing drummer write all the lyrics, and I've certainly been in bands where some members haven't wanted to participate in the writing or arranging, they just want to be told what to play/sing. In cases where a singer has been slow to sort out the lyrics and melodies, I've written my own, but with the message that they are free to change whatever they want if they thunk they can do better (to help soothe their massive egos...they are singers, after all) In the OP's position I'd do a bit more work at my end - start putting things together and rather than sending out 24 separate bits, how about one or two more developed songs. That might help focus the others on what they think works, and prompt them into developing things if it sparks an idea, or if they think it can be done better
  12. So I did a thing to one of my Les Pauls before: after: Sexy!
  13. This is worth emphasising - CITES is still applied to guitars, it's just that the wood it's applied to has been limited to Brazilian rosewood. So they still need to check it as it comes in. I got a call from UPS's UK office this morning, wanting to check which wood was contained in the guitar I had ordered from the States that they picked up last night. In fact I had ordered a guitar part, an aluminium Bigsby and Vibramate, so assume that there was a labelling issue The cost of the Bigsby, plus Vibramate, plus postage is less than a Bigsby alone would cost me in the UK/EU, and the total of tax and handling fees will be roughly half the cost of the Vibramate in the UK, so I should be ahead on the deal by enough to make it worth doing, albeit with a bit of extra patience required
  14. I got my new Wal delivered in April in answer to the OP, the price was agreed based on the going rate two years ago when I placed the order and delivery time was more or less what was estimated at that point The payment was £1k when I placed the order, £1k when work started on the neck a few months later, and the balance due when it was finished - I could have paid it off over the waiting time if I’d wanted to do so, and for me it worked because it meant I didn’t need to save up the whole cost of a new Wal at the outset, I needed £2k and then had two years to find the balance For me it was about having exactly my spec - Birdseye maple facings, fretted ebony board, no dots. I’ve owned two Wals before, one from Ian Waller’s time that I got second hand, and one from Pete right at the point that he switched to custom orders only and it was one that somebody else had ordered that he could let me have straight away (rather than waiting a whole six weeks!). They never felt quite like they were “mine” They all sound(ed) like Wals, but the new one has a significantly thinner, faster neck, and in fact I sold off the Waller era one to finance the new one (at a profit) because much as I loved the look and sound, it was pretty chunky to play if you fancy a new one I’d suggest contacting Paul to discuss the spec, and getting the order confirmed and the deposit paid as soon as possible, just to bagsy your place in the queue
  15. By a weird coincidence my free copy of the final issue from the bank has just dropped though the letter box more of the same as the last issue - old interviews (Radiohead, Adele from 2011, Liam Gallagher from 2017, Bowie from 1996, Prince from 1994), sorry, I mean Classic Interviews. FFS I guess they’ll sell a load because it’s the final one, but there’s nothing new in there, nothing of interest about the current music scene, and it’s not even a great celebration to say farewell to the magazine. All feels half @rsed, as it has done for a while
  16. Me too. The slightly anemic, trimmed down version the the bank supplies gets a quick flick through before being put to one side, and binned a few weeks later. I’m just not interested in the bland music they focus on. I’m not sure if it’s a very different beast from the magazine I used to buy regularly in the 90’s, or if it’s actually the same and has failed to move on with the rest of the world. The last copy they sent was literally a load of articles about great articles and interviews they ran in the past if I can’t be bothered to read it when it’s free, I can’t see why anybody would pay for a copy I’m a bit sad to see it go, but sadder that they couldn’t be @rsed to try making it a magazine that people actually want to read
  17. Week two of my A-Z round the world trip from the music on my phone while out walking...feels a lot more cheatier than the first week G = Kanonen Auf Spatzen by Beatsteaks - Germany H = Schizo by Heideroosjes (or De Heideroosjes according to iTunes, but nobody else) - Holland (*) I = Live From Concrete by Kerbdog - Ireland J = OSC-DIS by The Mad Capsule Markets - Japan K = The Greatest Show On Earth by Nightwish - Kenya (**) L = Same As It Ever Was by House Of Pain - Latvia (***) M = Nonsuch by XTC - Malta (*x*) N = Churn by Shihad - New Zealand O = Live at Brixton Academy September 1996 (Bootleg) by Soundgarden - Okinawa (*xx*) (*) OK, first cheat, I know that Holland isn't really a country, but it is what we poorly educated Brits usually call the Netherlands, so I'm sticking to it. Had I been stuck for a "D" I would have been totally happy using them as "Dutch" too (**) This one takes a bit of explaining so get comfortable and I'll begin. This track includes a reading from his book of the same name by Richard Dawkins, who was born in Nairobi, which is plenty Kenyan for the purposes of this exercise. However, this is still a cheat because I don't actually own it - I do not enjoy the musical stylings of Nightwish, and to make it worse the track is over 20 minutes long. So it was YouTubed as i was walking, and I only stuck with it until Dawkins does his reading (possibly he does this more than once, but him finishing was my cue to skip to the next selection) (***) Don't look at me like that, it's totally valid, DJ Lethal was born and raised in Latvia, so there. Totally Latvian. The only objection I will concede is that it was actually part of the USSR when he was born...moving on.... (*x*) Malta, birthplace of Andy Partridge. Totally works. Also stopped me having to play an album by a not very good Malaysian punk band which was the only other contender for "M" (*xx*) I'll give you this one, it's a total cheat, what with Okinawa not being a country. Trouble is, the only country that begins with "O" is Oman and I don't own anything by any musicians even remotely connected to Oman. So my hastily made up sub clause is that in these circumstances I can use an island rather than a country, hence Okinawa, which is where Ben Shepherd, bass player of Soundgarden, was born. Bonus points for using a bass player to justify the cheat
  18. I'm in They will almost certainly remain unused in my gigbag, but it's a good, fun way to support the site, only a couple of quid, and in years to come my pristine unopened pack will be worth a fortune, right?
  19. trouble is, it's so very unrewarding (YMMV). bands have been putting out bonus discs of demos and alternate takes for decades now, and for every diamond of a genuinely interesting and different version of a track, there's a ton of coal of badly recorded demos with identical arrangements to the finished version, maybe with a worse solo I've far more patience for expanded live recordings and bonus live discs, even where they aren't much better than bootleg quality (Metallica's deluxe box sets suffer from them seeming to put on any live recordings they can find, especially for the first two albums, regardless of quality)
  20. In general I'm with @BigRedX - there's usually a good reason why the takes didn't get used The completist in me will want all the extra versions and I'm a sucker for a deluxe box set, but I very rarely listen to the demos and outtakes more than once, and often not even once. So I have all of the Led Zep deluxe box sets, but the only bonus discs listened to more than once are the live show from Led Zep 1 and the extra disc of more outtakes and unfinished song ideas from Coda (which still needs a bit of sifting - does anybody really need a second version of Bonzo's Montreaux?)
  21. Maybe I've just been lucky with drummers - usually it's them trying to fit enough gear for six drum kits onto the stage Guitarists though...forever without leads and picks, acting like it's somebody else's fault and if we expect them to play then we're going to have to provide their missing stuff for them...one one occasion when, sick of providing picks for two people, the rhythm guitarist deliberately only brought one pick, so I stumped up a spare and the lead guitarist spend the entire practice complaining about how the pick was too thick and that was the cause of all the mistakes he was making, clearly he wasn't at all to blame
  22. Before they split up due to musical differences... (actually it was closer to four months, and the truth isn’t much like the myth - people didn’t kill themselves because of lost fortunes, and very few people were affected...but the myth is more fun, as always)
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