Jim

Christmas 1.5 - The Inbetween Of Christmas

CHRISTMASSSSSS!

PART TWOOOOOOOOOOO!

YESSSSS!

Ho ho ho dons and donettes. I just got back from the midlands, where me and the wife were ensconced in the bossom of my Mum's side of the family, engaging in a mighty FEASTING, and a GIFTING, playing games and drinking beer and wine and whiskey and chasing it down with slugs of Gaviscon.

As you know, I wasn't well before Christmas, but I rode the wave and had a gay ole time, like The Flintstones, or Lil B. I also made myself a NEMESIS, in the shape of my cousin Gail's Labradoodle, Darcy, who barked like one of the Hounds of Hell every time I entered the room as if I were a burglar, or a murderer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykoKWkl0VCQ

We eventually worked out that, like a school girl, Darcy was just in love with me, and wanted to play, but why females think that being horrible to you will make you  like them and want to play with them I will never know. It is one of life's great mysteries.

As far as the gifting was concerned, I pretty much WON the £25 secret santa, bagging myself not one, not two, but THREE excellent comic themed gifts - an X-Men hoodie, a home made Marvel jewelery box (I needed a jewelery box too), and a pair of Batman converse. "SWAG," I said, gratefully, and not for the first, or last time.

I also got the ULTIMATE gift from my WIFE... 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking. The biggest (you could kill a man with it), and most wonderful (it is a beautiful, luxurious, expansive and deeply comprehensive history of DC Comics goddamnit) book I have EVER SEEN. Here I am, reading it. Behold the awe:

And while all this was going on, out in the universe Akira The Don was Donning on regardless. Adam Walton played Babydoll as part of his Best of 2011 show on BBC Radio Wales, and Rob Da Bank played Nothing Lasts Forever on his BBC Radio 1 show on Christmas Eve (and promises to continue:)

...shortly after which boy genius Issue released his beautiful PIG mixtape, which features Murs, Droop-E, Georgio Mo Murda and ME, amongst others. And on Christmas Day, while we were getting fat and happy, Dr Aaron Shrimpton was editing part 2 of the Life Equation Trilogy, the Video Highway video. Behold ye STILL:

Yes, he's doing good work is that Doc Shrimpton.

Meanwhile back in the Midlands, Zef had put together a home made rum vaporiser...

...and me, Marek, Paivi and my Uncle Maurice had discovered the greatest board game since Monopoly:

Ticket To Ride - in which up to five players compete to build train lines across North America - is board game CRACK. We managed to squeeze five games in over the two days, staying up till 3am playing it on Christmas Day, and continuing on Boxing Day after the traditional walk/stick fighting contest... and we'd have still been playing it the morning after were our women not so insistent on us getting showered and packed and out of the house.

But out of the house they got us, and that was Christmas Part 1 over. It was a beautiful thing to spend a few festive days with so much of my beloved family and it will live forever in my heart.

But now we must concern ourselves with the sequel. CHRISTMAS 1.5... that bit between Christmas and New Year's Eve. To some, a terrifying no-man's land of bad TV and leftover dead animals, but to me a glorious turbo-holiday of lower-than-usual work expectations and LAYING AROUND IN BED ALL DAY with my WIFE playing COMPUTER GAMES and DRINKING COCKTAILS.

We stayed in bed till about 3 today playing Sonic Generations, which is excellent, then we went on a little bike ride to hand-deliver a copy of Saturnalia Superman to someone Royal Mail failed.

Then we decided to buy Skyrim.

That was around 7pm. It is now 03:02 am, and I have just emerged from the bedroom, eyes as big as dinner plates, twitching and muttering about dragons. I spent about 4 hours of that time working my way through a vast tomb full of skelingtons straight out of Jason And The Argonauts with a great big fuck off sword to find some goddamn dragonstone, only to be attacked and repeatedly murdered for an hour straight by angry villagers upon my glorious return. All I did was steal a cheese. Eventually I worked out that if I sheathed my great big fuck off sword the bastards would stop killing me, waiting for me to respawn, then killing me again. I was ready to weep. I'd merked about a hundred skelingtons with battleaxes and here I was on an infinty death loop at the hand of a rabble of goddamn pesants. If there's a hell, that's what Tony Blair's getting.

Oh, and you know what the first thing that happened to me in Skyrim, once I'd gotten out of the opening act - was? I got attacked by a bloody dog.

Ale jaca est.

The Wonder And Glory Of The Manga Party

Burning CDs on my raptop on the tube felt like being on tour again. I’d just slept for close to a day, the culmination of my post tour super funk that had gone mainly unseen or heard, buried beneath a ton of work, catching up, last-minute-mixtape, team-changing lunacy, and pre-wedding excitement.

Team wise, I was back where I started – no radio, no press, no manager, just me and my awesome records, friends, family. You. It felt good, for no good reason I could grasp.

I was on my way to play Manga Entertainment’s 20th anniversary party. It was twenty years since Island Records Chris Blackwell set up that company and imported Akira to these shores, changing many lives in the process, including, quite obviously, mine. And now, 20 years since I cut out the first advert for Akira from the back of Vox and stuck it to my bedroom wall, I was on my way to play its birthday party.

So it goes.

I noticed my fly was undone looking at twitter on the escalator. I was nervous about the show. Playing a gig that’s yours is one thing – even if seven people show up, they’re there to see YOU, and will know some of your material, and want to have a good time during your performance. Playing the Manga 20th Anniversary party all I knew was that there’d be 300 people there, and that a good percentage of them were likely to be pissed, what with the free bar and all. Whether they would cared for my particularly unique line in rap pop remained to be seen.

The venue was pretty amazing. Empty of the expected 300 people it was vast, white, cavernous, like the beginnings of film set, or the inside of a space ship. Anime projected onto every spare area of wall. Men ran around constructing elaborate dangling shelves in which to house “the sushi wall”. Beermatts adorned with the iconic Manga logo papered very available surface. I met the folks I’d been liaising with, who seemed distinctly jolly, if a little manic, as might be expected, and sat down with my laptop, to finalise the set, or at least the relative confines of the set, which I then burnt to disc whilst listening to the Paranoia Agent remix of Big Iron, as the early echoes of the butterfly storm approaching fluttered around in my bely. I told you I was nervous.

The soundman was a tall, gentlemanly North American called John, and a very nice man. He was the king of our castle in the corner of the room – a small stage, with some decks on it, framed by a pair of speakers. There were no monitors, which filled me with a small ball of dread – monitors are those big wedge shaped speaker’s you see on stages pointing at the band, that allow the band to hear what the fudge is going on, unless they have those in ear things, which are very expensive, and I aspire to. A further oddity was that the mixing desk, such as it was, was on the stage next to the DJ equipment, behind the speakers, where the soundman would not be able to hear what the rest of the venue was hearing and thus would not be able to mix accordingly.

Well, I thought, he is a professional. It will be fine.

Presently Jacked showed up. Jack came off tour and was throw into a world of pain, and he looked tired and harassed. It was good to see him. We soundchecked, a long, queer process that involved us performing four songs in a row and the soundman running on and offstage repeatedly trying to fathom how it was all gelling together, the little stage with the twin speakers in the corner of the vast echoey aircraft hangar. I made sure my mike lead was good and long, so I could wander out in the venue space, and hear the actual sound. It was variable. Some of the cloakroom attendants gathered to watch the proceedings. Their evident enjoyment gave me hope.

After that, all we had to do was drink amusingly-named Manga-themed cocktails, soak up the atmosphere, steal beermatts and wait for stage time. A bunch people I know, and like, turned up, and we hung, and ate fine sushi bundles and drained the amusingly-named Manga-themed cocktails, and watched street-art hero Aerosol Jim paint an Akira-themed mural outside the venue. A clutch of Cosplayers, or rather, one might say a manga of cosplayers showed up, and posed in front of Aerosol Jim’s mighty artwork for a while, resplendent and joyful in their home-made cartoon garb.

Downstairs the DJ DJed. The effect was something like Tetsuo’s energy blasts in Akira. People seemed to occupy every space in the building that wasn’t within the immediate sonic reaches of those twin speakers. The sound was simultaneously very loud, very top-heavy, and very indistinct. One couldn’t really make out what was being played, yet one could hardly carry out a conversation either. I realized that I was the only person in the room with such concerns. Everyone seemed to be having a lovely time.

At 8:55 I changed into my Run DMC lounge parts and the T-Shirts (plural) the kind bawse of Manga UK had gifted me with, and at 9pm we took to the stage. It was entertainment as war, as Chilly would have it. We had interrupted the chatter of gang of people, many of them industry folk, and attacked them with high end fuzzy sonics from the far corner of the aircraft hangar. Some of them appeared visibly annoyed. Some of them seemed very pleased. I played for both. I worked hard. I utilized the full length of my mike cord, exploring the furthest reaches its fullness allowed me. I high fived. I climbed. I encouraged audience participation.

A performer really does feed off the energy of the crowd. A show can only be as good as the audience allows. Quantum theory applies here, as with everywhere else. The act of observation changes the observ-ed. When the crowd’s energies are mainly focused on their conversations, it is hard to syphon those energies into one’s performance, and to give it back, amplified, as is the righteous path, and the way of the ages. But there were enough active participants, enough open hearts that I was able to do what I came to do. I was thankful to those people. I looked into each and every one of their eye-pairs. My soul thanked them. I was acutely aware of the unspoken conversation. I was certain they felt it.

I decided we wouldn’t play Oh! What A Glorious Thing. It seemed inappropriate. That would be one of perhaps four shows I have done where I have not played that song. Each of them important, legendary occasions, for entirely different reasons.

Marvin appeared, right at the end. It was just the adrenaline dart to the chestplate I needed. He bounded onstage, blur of red, and my powers quadrupled. We romped through BOOM as if we were at Madison Square garden, and it didn’t matter that Marvin’s mike made him sound like he was broadcasting via wireless in 1913. We closed to a springtime precipitation of applause. I thanked my witnesses and my spiritual benefactors from the bottom of my heart. I was grateful, and exhausted.

At the (still free)  bar I met lots of wonderful people who were having wonderful times. I left with their enthusiasm ringing in my ears.

Jack and Marvin were waiting outside. We shared a spliff as we wandered transport-ward in the English summer drizzle, dripping with goodie bags of Manga Swag. London looked a hell of a lot like Neo Tokyo. I wondered what it would have looked like had there never been a Manga Entertainment. Had I never seen Akira.

Trunk Music

We've been shooting stuff for ATD25.

Last night we were up till 4 am, and Set Dressing Tim had a set to dress at 6am!

[Not to mention my long suffering better, sweeter and kinder half, up at 6 also, love you baby!]

Anyway!

That's a tiny part of one of the pictures.

Amazor!

The finished thing is going to be beautiful.

(And will go some way to revealing Joey2tits sinister ambition for this *£!$@# record)

We're working with this guy, fellow ex-Brum Andrew Bainbridge. Go look at his stuff and be filled with excitement as to what you can expect.

The first music will appear sometime next week.

And in the immediate present:

A show at a festival, for which Jeres, Joey, Birthday Jim (happy birthday Birthday Jim!) and I have been rehearsing. We have a watertight greatest hits set ready, now I just have to conjure an opening 15 minute mosaic. I have some rehearsal footage, but I don't know if I have time to edit it. I still need to cut you something for Sky...

...but before that, it is Wednesday, and that means it is DONCAST DAY. Let me know in the comments if there's anything you'd like playing, or discussing.

PAX!

Oh No, No! The Ants INVASION!

Photo by Charlotte Whewell

First off then, thanks to everybody that helped make Friday's show such a great time. The first Don Show with NO BEATS, and we pulled it off like a sticker on a CD. Jeres and Mary and Jim and me, reunited for the first time in years. Joey2tits on the balcony, armed with one of his many weapons. A tiny, tall stage up at which the people peered in wonder, able to hear my great excellent voice as clear as crystal for pretty much the first time EVAH.

Damn homie!

No beats.

Well, until right at the end when I plugged in my phone and we did Steven Wells (He Was The Greatest).

Here, have a setlist:

Yeah, was crazytime! Damn, that gig seems a long time ago! Still, it will live forever, and not just in the hearts and souls of those that witnessed it, but on THE INTERENETS 'cos Joey filmed it. With his schmexy video camera device. Really! This is exciting, non?

Oui!

Anyway. I had an exciting weekend after that. I spent Saturday daytime recording white hot post-pop outfit The Killer Knits, which was a pretty ill experience. Their singer is ten, and sounds like a young Mark E Smith. More on them soon enough.

That night my buddy Luke "Hullo" Turner took me to Church - and whilst his father IS a preacher, it was not for a sermon. Not a typical sermon anyway. It was to see an olde movie film from 1986 (the first year I actively remember) called Comrades about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a bunch of farm labourers from Dorset who formed a union in the early 1800s in a valiant attempt to get paid more than the price of a dozen turnips a week for their back breaking work. Naturally, living under a Tory government as they were, the men found themselves arrested and sent to Australia to break rocks.

The film was 3 hours in duration, which is a very long time to be sat on a pew, but I did find a rather fetching cross-stitched cushion to rest my simian bubble butt on, and both the ale they were serving and the whiskey Luke had in his hip-flask did a fine job of raising my spirits exponentially throughout - in tandem with the film itself, as it went. By the end of it, having witnessed some truly awe inspiring Triumph Over Adversity, I was whooping and hollering like a cotdamn ectomorphic Revivalist.

On Sunday me and my gyaldem washed the car and drove down to the Surrey Quays ulytaplex to gorge our chops on popcorn and coke and ice cream and Munchies watch The Nolan Dynasty's latest ruminative legosmasher, Inception (I'm not the only one for whom the title took a long time to stick, am I?). Now, I love a good ultraplex, and me and my gyaldem have romantic history with regards to this particular Church Of Western Art, but this joint was rammed beyond comfortability, to the point where we were being told we couldn't sit together! Young lovers, kept apart by, like, other motherfuckers! Tragedy! So we found a lone seat right at the front, and my gyaldem sat on the floor between my legs, which is obviously super romantic and just the sort of thing people do in the comfort of their homes whilst watching ultra expensive mental legosmashers on Ninjavideo torrents. Problem was, we were not in the comfort of our own homes. We were in a cotdang ULTRAPLEX with about A THOUSAND OTHER MOTHERFUCKERS, all of them chomping sugary treats. Of course we were gonna get swarmed by ants.

Yeah, that's right brothers and sisters. My poor pretty gyaldem had only been sat on her pert buttocks for the duration of the what remained of the trailers when what felt to her like CREATURES started CRAWLING all OVER her. At first she thought she was imagining it. Then, after slapping at her legs and arms, she killed one, arching with dread as she hold it up in the light between thumb and forefinger. Quick as a flash, she disappeared a few rows back to sit on her own - well, on her own next to a noisy couple who talked all through the movie and breathed on her hotly, and loudly - leaving me with a full bucket of popcorn. I felt bad for her. But I had my own problems.

In my mind the ants were tiny and few. But there wasn't that much distance between the floor and my cushioned perch, and soon I knew the truth. An itch on my forearm and a subsequent slap form my left hand revealed that ugly truth: yeah, there were ants. But they weren't small and few. They were BIG and FAT and BLACK AS ORIGINAL SIN and they were fucking MANY, and lo they did proceed to swarm over my person for the next two hours. Two hours I spent kicking and jumping and wringing under the bombardment of this terrible army of FAT BLACK POPCORN MUNCHING ANTS, crawling up my legs and my arms and my fucking THROAT... which naturally played havoc with my concentration and enjoyment of the Nolan Dynasty's super literal - and lateral - dream within a dream within a dream within a DREAM caper. Just typing this is making me itch. And if that wasn't bad enough, the capacity audience, when they weren't giggling inappropriately, chewing as loudly as their open mouths could muster and rustling en masse like a fucking rickshaw made from of half a ton of decade old jizz tissue, well, they were were only lambasting the tragic couple on screen during their most tender moment.

Dream Within A Dream Within A Dream Actress: "B... b.. but you promised we'd always be together!"

Eediot a few rows behind me: "Shat ap you prick!"

Eediot girls throughout the theatre: "Hee hee hee hee hee hee! Rustle rustle rustle!"

Aware of how much I'd paid, the time we'd invested getting to the bloody cinema (that was a fucking arduous nightmare in itself, but one far too boring to go into here), and entirely unwilling to be driven from My Church by cotdamned micro animals, I suffered through regardless, found things to enjoy, and afterwards I went and complained to the manager ("I did not pay 30 quid to have ants crawl all over me for 2 hours!") and got us some "free" guest passes to the Odeon of our choice. So we're gonna see Toy Story in 3D at the biggest Odeon in all of London next Friday afternoon. And if there is a moral to that story I have yet to pick up on it frankly, and anyway, I am going to have to go and have another shower now, because all this talk of ants has made me itch like a baby in a barrel full of crabs on a hot Summers evening. Like, those crabs that have hair on them and live on the lips of sewer pipes. Ah, evolution, you cruel slattern.

Lush

So I fell alseep on the sofa after 5, and was awakened gently by Super Phil at 6:20, and it transpired Bird left my bag with my passport in it at the venue last night. But Bird's got me another ID card, so we're outside waiting for Jeff to pick us up at 6:30. And at midday we're in LA, and soon after that we're in Interscope's offices,and I'm filling a bag with Nirvana, Guns N Roses, Gilbert And Sullivan, Dre, Peter Gabriel, Police and other such back catalogue. Jimmy Iovine has a signed letter from Tupac and a video console that won't switch on. And loads of ideas. A balcony. A lush view. LA is lush to look at, from these places of advantage. Like, later we visit Jeff and Trent's, and there's this fucking alien cat that loves me, and an incredible, incredible view, of this desolate wilderness spattered with money.

It was a lovely day.

But in the nighttime it is hard not to see that LA is awash with cunts. It is a sad and massive amount of cunts, and I am not sure whether it is sad because this is what the world did to them, or because this is what they do to the world, or because they are cunts, and you can see their faces rotting right in front of your eyes.