Sep 30, 2019

I lost my Aphex Twinginity

I think I've just popped a cherry. Not an actual cherry. A techno cherry. I've popped a techno cherry.

I went to see Aphex Twin. Despite me lapping up his oozing bleeps since his early days, it just struck me that I don't think I'd ever seen him live before. Call myself a fan? Pfffrt.

Maybe he never did that many live dates. Maybe I was too scared to go - the teddy bears! the teddy bears! Or more likely, maybe I was lazy. I also missed out on Underworld back in ye olden days.

I'm probably going to write about the Aphex Twin gig properly at some point. In short: he did 90 minutes and he was ace and the support acts were ace and everything was ace. For now here are some tweets I did on Twitter.

Sep 9, 2019

Happy 909 day

Happy 909 day, everyone. Here's a pair of hands singing cutely over some Roland TR-909 rhythms.

And if that's not enough, here's a video of someone jamming on the 909, posted earlier today.

What do you mean you want more? Oh alright then. Here's Daft Punk's 1998 single Revolution 909, which missed out on the top 40 in the week Brimful Of Asha made its debut at the top of the charts. Good track, but it's no Revolution 909.

Sep 3, 2019

Five things: from Spice Girls to Underworld with a bit of Toy Story inbetween

Here are five things I got up to this week.

1. Got proud

I went to Didsbury Pride, which is a celebration of LGBTQ+ people by Emmanuel church in Manchester, the church I went to for many years back in the olden days. It's a wonderful thing, and when I got there everyone was drinking spirits and dancing to the Spice Girls. I didn't recognise anyone, so I hung around awkwardly for ten minutes and then went home. Ah well. It's still a wonderful thing.

2. Got silly

I co-hosted Bad Language, the monthly spoken word night I run with Joe Daly. I'd missed the July one as I was in Edinburgh, so it was great to be back. And for some reason it was packed. Mid-week after a bank holiday weekend and everyone came out to party. Nutters, the lot of you. I'd been to a funeral earlier in the day, so it was just the tonic to be silly in front of an audience all night.

3. Got confused

This happened in a coffee shop:

Me: What drinks do you have that don't have tea or coffee in?
Barista: You don't drink coffee?
Me: No.
Barista: How about a tea?
Me: I don't drink tea. I'd like an iced drink.
2nd barista walking in: You don't drink coffee or ICE?!

4. Got annoyed

I saw Toy Story 4 and blubbed. I always blub at films. Oh and I started series two of Mindhunter, a grisly serial killer drama where you don't really see the grisly bits. It's such a good programme, although it fell for a well-worn trope. In one scene, like so many other programmes, they dubbed feedback over people talking talk into microphones. This doesn't happen unless sound is being mismanaged or it's an actual soundcheck. Stop doing it, programme makers! *squeeeals*

5. Got listenin'

I've been listening to things. Every other day on my Twitter account, I post a "you should be listening to" recommendation, old or new or somewhere inbetween. I've recently plugged Antwood, D-Shake, Underworld, Daphni and Jamie xx. To hear my nuggets of audio wisdom. follow me on the tweets.

Sep 1, 2019

An acid-tweaking return for 808 State

One of this summer’s bestest things is the return of 808 State.

You might know 808 State from that saxophone thing they did back in the olden days. They also helped define modern techno through the rise of Detroit house and the Hacienda. Wikipedia also says 808's Graham Massey was a member of the Barbie Girl Danish pop band Aqua, but I’m pretty sure they’re linking to the wrong Aqua there.

The band’s comeback album is Transmission Suite - their first for seventeen years. In the past, they’ve blurted out quite dense techno, but this new material feels looser. It’s acid-tweakin’ paranoid rave gubbins by grizzled Mancunians who get drug flashbacks when taking their Rennie’s. Sometimes old ravers slow down, but there’s plenty of improvisational energy in this new material.

They recorded it at the old Granada studios in Manchester, formerly home to TV broadcasts like Coronation Street, World In Action and, er, The Chase. The nicest thing is you can feel Manchester’s club history running through Transmission Suite like day-glo varicose veins: it’s giving me flashbacks of gigs at the Boardwalk and Sankeys Soap.

There's also a strong feeling of paranoia in their new work - very appropriate for our current times, I think. Have a nosey at their moody video for Tokyo Tokyo and you'll see what I mean.

Further Fats: RIP Tony Wilson aka "Mr Manchester" 33AD to 2007AD inclusive (2007)

Further Fats: How do you solve a problem like Madchester (and Fac251)? (2010)

Aug 28, 2019

I went into a black hole and all you got was this blog post about the Edinburgh Fringe

It's more than a week since I returned from the Edinburgh Fringe. A week since I stopped pouring money into the huge financial black hole that is Edinburgh economies. I've not checked my bank balance yet. I daren't.

And actually, I don't have to. I can ignore it. If you have a fridge full of spiders, you don't have to open the fridge to know they're still there. In this metaphor, the fridge is my online banking account and the spiders are my meagre funds and the person not opening / logging into the white goods / website is me.

Still with me? Good. On the positive side, my energy levels are alright. I'm not as fashed and bashed post-Fringe as in previous years. I came into this year's festival in better creative shape: a show what was written proper, and a pretty good idea of how to keep an audience laughing for an hour.

I'm currently enjoying the chance to slow down. A bit of self care. Chilling to Spotify's recommendations - the app is currently playing me Speedy J and John Beltram and Req and some insipid jungle-lite nonsense I just thank-u-nexted harder than an Ariana possessed.

I have a bunch of live appearances coming up, including a gig in a caravan. Come and buy a ticket for something if you fancy - click here. Put some money back into the system so people like me can chuck it at a Fringe show

Aug 25, 2019

#SevenInch diary days eleven, twelve and thirteen: no bubbles were harmed in the making of this show

It has been a while since my last update on my ramblings at the Edinburgh Fringe. There are three reasons for this.

1. I increased my flyering activity, so I spent time prowling Lothian boulevards instead of blogging.

2. After my final show, I went to a tonne of other shows like a right old louche. I had so much fun, I missed my pre-booked train home by a full 24 hours.

3. This isn't Watch Mojo with its constant promise of content, content and more content, jeez gimme a break.

My final Seven Inch shows were storming. No, really. I know Fringe artists present a positive side to keep the PR bubble unpopped, but this was a total blast. Great audiences, with people literally crying laughing. I've had so much fun.

The last show of my run was on my birthday, so the audience sang - you guessed it - happy birthday. I didn't get any cake though which, for those of you that have seen the Fringe show, you'll agree is very much in the spirit of Seven Inch.

Seven Inch gathered real momentum in the last third of its run, with people turning up through word-of-mouth. Actual real people - they weren't made of paper, honest. Audience donations reached in triple-figures per performance, which I've not had before. Slower chunks of the original show have been replaced with stuff that's quicker, sharper, in-your-face.

However, unlike my first show in 2015, I didn't get any reviews, possibly because most short-run free shows don't get much press interest. What I have ended up with, however, is a production with more heart and more comedy than the Lowry version. I also have something that I can tour - watch this space.

I am now skint. This was my most advertised and most flyered show yet, and all that cost money. *rolls up trousers, puts on flat cap, asks for more gruel* You can help me be less skint by coming to see me live - I've updated my gig page here. Oh and you can read more about Seven Inch in this blog posts here.

Photo: Loud Poets

Aug 11, 2019

#SevenInch diary days eight, nine and ten: sozzled, soaked, superb

Last night, I dreamed that every Edinburgh pedestrian was dressed as an egg. Big oval costumes with leg holes, but no arm holes or eye holes. Chaos.

The last few days performing Fat Roland: Seven Inch at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe have been great fun. My latest three audiences have been, in order:

1. Staggeringly sozzled. A hen-do style birthday pub crawl came to my show and, woah, they were boisterous. The sober section of the audience looked on with delight as I fought to keep the show on track. Very funny.

2. Stupendously soaking. The audience enjoyed the show, but they'd just been gushed on by torrential rain, so I felt a bit sorry for them. A little quieter than usual.

3. Sooooo celebratory. A packed crowd who gave me my strongest audience reaction ever at the Fringe. A full five-star fun fest. What a treat. Shout out to the Canadian who high-fived me for mentioning Bran Van 3000!

I did an open spot at Comedy Shorts, a compilation of various funny shows. It went down really well, I think. Part of my strategy putting on Seven Inch is to enable me to move more into the alternative comedy scene, and Comedy Shorts felt like a good indicator.

I've been catching up with friends where I can, and with only three more shows to do, the end is in sight. I got some emergency flyers printed yesterday. I've given away so many, I nearly ran out.

There I am, above, handing out flyers. It's a nice flyer. I drew it all by myself.

Fat Roland: Seven Inch starts at 1.15pm sharp on August 11th,12th and 13th at the Newsroom (near Waverley Station). Free entry (donation at the end.) 

Aug 7, 2019

#SevenInch diary days six and seven

Here's a big sausagey catch-up on two days of Edinburgh Fringe faffing.

Yesterday morning, I returned to the Tales of Whatever stage to tell a true story. I added a bit about plasticine models of Lorraine Kelly. It went down proper ace.

My sixth show got decent numbers, and today's seventh show was the bestest fun yet. Every beat of the show hit, and it was a thrill to carry people through an hour of the most wonderful nonsense.

Last night, I was a guest at Loud Poets. I did pieces about eggs and dogs and Brian May's hair and 2 Unlimited. I wore a "shush" hat (pictured) but the Loud Poets were as deliciously Loud as ever.

This afternoon's flyering was nixxed by a thunder storm. I should try again tonight, but I need to reset my props (see previous post) so that's my day pretty much done.

I added two more cartoon props into my show today (a pair of gloopy bins), to tighten a slightly floppy section. They went down well, so I'll try them again tomorrow. The other day, I removed a prop (exchangeable Frank Sinatra eyes) because the joke wasn't quite hitting. So we're one prop up.

Read my Edinburgh Fringe blog here. And come and see my show, you flipping idiot - there are only six more chances.