Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Firstly, many thanks for your kind contribution towards the topical discussion.
If I may submit my own surrejoinder, nowhere, have I ever - so far as I can recall - claimed any expertise for myself, in the craft of article construction, academic style or substance. So you could be right.
By my own asseveration, I left school illiterate. Comprehensively so, save for one discipline, namely, ‘banging things’. To-day, with the benefit of a little self help, I guess I can say I get by but thank you anyway, for bringing that to the fore, I probably ought to have recounted my inadequacies from the outset.
Moving on, the piece wasn’t really supposed to be about my beliefs, but my, "well known aversion for Christmas", so again, I guess I failed miserably here too if it all sounded like an essay on my beliefs, of which I hope I have none.
Then you get down to the real ‘nitty-gritty’. Science. Science, is not a "view". In fact the whole point of science, is that it is a systematically organised body of knowledge, not a view, or faith, or belief. Scientists will have a theory, or hunch about a subject and will then test it until proved, until then it remains just that, a theory. If proved, it then forms part of the body of knowledge.
The essential point of all this, is that you don’t need to put your "faith" in science, because tested theory, is fact. Or in other words, true.
On the other hand, you do need faith for religion, because it deals with a large amount of untested, or untestable theory. Or in other words, it’s unproven, some would say fiction.
Perhaps the most appalling aspect of recent revelations about priestly infractions of the church’s own moral code, not to mention civil and criminal law, is the newly exposed knowledge and acquiescence of it’s hierarchy at all levels. Systemic moral depravity and cover-up are now known to have been pandemic across decades and probably centuries.
In those circumstances, it is entirely appropriate to discuss these abuses notwithstanding similar malfeasance elsewhere, which is entirely beside the point. If it can be argued that it says nothing about philosophy or belief, it can’t be denied that it says a great deal about the people who would have you believe, or have faith, in their creed.
To reiterate an earlier point, you can’t contract out of a crime. So, whatever worldwide anti-poverty projects the church may have to it’s credit, and it undoubtedly has many, (but ironically also the reverse), that doesn’t abrogate the crimes of it’s priests, or bishops.
As for the implied inadequacies of the music industry, it very probably holds the world record for fundraising and charitable donation, but even if it doesn’t, it is unquestionably very near the top, for an industry. If you put your mind to it, you should have no trouble researching the point.
The sting in the tail of your seasonal thrust is redolent of an unseemly rancour for the industry in which my colleagues and I find ourselves.
My understanding is that music, as a pastime/entertainment, is officially rated as just about the best value for money available, but I wouldn’t want to be placed into the position of being held accountable for the entire industry.
We the band, are writers, recorders and performers of music. We are not a record company and do not sell recorded and published music, at least not on an industrial scale. That is the preserve of specialist record and publishing companies. Their commercial and trading policies are not and have never been subject to us in particular, and recording artists in general.
By way of my own footnote on the topic, many of the aforementioned companies - household names in most cases - who perhaps more appropriately might have been expected to defend themselves against the views you have expressed, are in fact, virtually, if not actually bankrupt at the present time.
This resulting, from the free and illegal distribution of their copyrighted investments in the music industry by way of modern electronic communications technology, the internet, both simultaneously, the marvel and scourge of the age.
All this without doubt, the causal basis for the demise of investment in new music talent which in turn forms the fundamental cause of much of to-day’s anodyne new music.
I wouldn’t wish to become spokesman for the trade and policy decisions of companies for which I have no authority to speak. On the other hand, I could hazard a guess as to the likely response from such companies, to your opinions about their commercial decisions. It would not make for very comfortable reading.
I’m glad to hear you had a good weekend and you’re looking after the kids. Yes, I was OK on the 25th but no coal though. We’re all electric here, boring, but there you go.
You are of course very welcome to any show, and keep them coming. We like to hear and share all opinions, that after all, is what these pages are for.
Jet Black/28th December 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The reason for this first non-band member ratter is two fold. Firstly, to thank all the people who helped us during the set up period and first year of the new site. Secondly, to ask you, the ‘consumers’ of the site, what you think of it so far…
Firstly then, we would like to thank a whole load of people who have generally aided and abetted since the changeover from Adrian Liggins’ Rat’s Lair last winter.
Unsurprisingly, the band members are top of the list. They have been wholeheartedly supportive, providing help, advice, knowledge and encouragement. In addition, they have all contributed greatly to both the site and the ratter blog.
Secondly, Sil Willcox and Al Hale, the band’s management for providing valuable and current information when time is of the essence. They have also gracefully tolerated numerous chasing phone calls and pestering emails.
Next is the band’s ever present and helpful tour manager Gary Knighton, who has given detailed information to fill in any gaps. Special mention should also go to roving reporter Ava who has provided some brilliant unseen photos, many from behind the scenes.
We’d also like to pass on our thanks to the many fans out there who have contributed to the site or given support and encouragement. Last, and by no means least, to our respective families who have put up with the additional workload in our already busy daily lives…
Thanks to all of you for making this first year so memorable.
Finally, we’re really interested to know what you, the readers, think of the site. Web stats give encouraging signs of rebirth for the site but it’s better to hear from real people. Constructive criticism, suggestions and general feedback are more than welcome. Please can you reply to this ratter, as you would to a band member’s one, or alternatively email direct to the site. Thanks.
Looking forward to 2011
Stranglers’ Official Site (S.O.S)
Formerly the Rat’s Lair
O&D/9th December 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
It all started out so well. We would fly into Heathrow from Poland and then be flown by helicopter to somewhere near Hereford on the Welsh borders where we would play in a field on a scorching July evening. However, due to some skullduggery involving local farmers and town councils and licences being revoked, it was put off and rescheduled for late August.
As a band we hadn't played for a few weeks so we decided to rehearse in the west country on the day before we were due to play, a striking distance from the field in Herefordshire. It rained and it rained. And it rained some more. But ever the optimist I thought that tomorrow would be another day. It was. Another day of yet more rain. For a few hours, long enough for Dave, Baz and myself to walk around Hereford town centre on a Saturday afternoon playing "spot the SAS man" without getting wet, our hopes were raised sufficiently to believe that Mr Raincloud might hold off for a little while longer thereby confirming what many people already know that when the Stranglers are involved there are "powers" at work.
Apparently a limousine was going to take the band to the site. When it duly arrived we took one look at each other and insisted that Gary ,our tour manager, should take us himself in his motor. There are limousines and there are limousines. The Stranglers were not going on a hen night, nor were we attending our school "proms" as they are so-called these days. These vehicles are very silly. I thought they were silly in LA but around the English/Welsh countryside even sillier. This one was the longest I'd ever seen and even had the dot com address on the side.It was also white. There was lots of it.
Our crew had had to be towed by tractor earlier in the day when their truck got stuck in the mud. There was a lot of mud. Usually festivals have contingency plans for when there is rain 'cos in the UK it does occasionally rain in the summer. Metallic tracks help ease traffic over muddy fields where the majority of festivals seem to be held. Here there were none.
In fact there wasn't much of anything but there were a few very hardy people out in the field. I wouldn't say many but they were noisy. Normally the change over between bands takes about 30 minutes . Here due to the, erm, inexperienced local crew our Stranglers crew had to take command. We were due to go on at 10.30pm with a midnight curfew. We didn't get on till 10.55pm. Third number in Dave's Moog packed up. Since the show had been rescheduled our usual keyboards tech wasn't available and this sure was a baptism of fire for the new guy. Dave explained that we had to drop eight numbers. Well that wasn't going to be so much of a problem since time was running out anyway!
New keys tech somehow managed to supply Dave with a new keyboard after about five songs and just as we launched into "Grip" some guy jumped up over the barrier, slipped in the mud ,avoided the non-existent security and started jumping about on stage only to lose what appeared to be a front bridge containing a tooth or two, right beside me. Without breaking my rhythm I nudged the bridge with my DM towards the guy and saw him disappear off the side of the stage whilst inserting said apparatus back into his mouth.
I don't know why I found this funny but I did. Actually we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves because the whole thing was absurd. We also played well that night but not as long as we had hoped. I have never had so much mud on my clothes. Not even when I've mud wrestled with my clothes on. But that's another story.
To those who were there, and braved what were awful conditions and yet despite that knew how to have a good time, I salute you.
The Grip denture incident can be viewed here
JJB 26th August 2010
Pics by Ava Rave
Saturday, July 24, 2010
After we’d had some food & drink it was back to the farm to pick up the cars & then straight to Gatwick for a few drinks & a couple of hours kip.
The next morning I’m still trying to forget. We had to check in at about 4.00 am for our flight to Krakow, Poland. After the flight it was about 1½ hrs drive to Borek then some rest before a late show at the Easy Rider festival. We were on stage quite late & didn’t get back to the hotel ‘till the early hours on Sun.
Another early start in the morning to get back to Krakow then home. We got back at around 2.00pm & Baz & I drove up & played a charity gig in my village (both feeling pretty knackered).
As I said at the beginning, 4 totally different gigs, but what a weekend. I hope those of you who were at any of the shows enjoyed yourselves as much as we did.
Watch Peaches from Glastonbury here
Steadman gallery pics Ava Rave
Glasto crowd pic Sil W
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Wednesday out of the way we then headed in to Frome for a soundcheck at the Cheese and Grain on Thursday afternoon, and to lend our support to a project involving legendary English satirical cartoonist Ralph Steadman. The idea behind it all is that he produces a piece of art and then selected people who see it compose a musical framework for it according to how it makes them feel…and we’re among the judges. He also ‘defaced’ a photo of us in his own inimitable style which was interesting, and after a bottle of the local cider we headed across to the venue which was literally next door.
It’s always bittersweet for me personally going back to Frome as I lived there for 4 years and have many memories of the place. As we approached the gig there were a few flying around my brain but they were soon wiped away as we started to soundcheck and get the feel of the place…The stage was rickety, the P.A.was too small and everything was so loud it was hard to distinguish practically anything. Generally when the crowd gets in the sound smoothes out with the effect of all the bodies in there, but this gig (sold out for months)proved to be very hard work and none of us were pleased with it to say the least…personally it’s probably the roughest show I’ve done since becoming a 4 piece again in 2006,but all the travelling fans were once again in great form and as always gave us great heart...and I guess it served it’s purpose in ironing out then wrinkles for what was to come…
The next day was one of those days that you don’t want to end. As we approached the site at Glastonbury I was told it would be some spectacle and I wasn’t disappointed. As a ‘Glasters virgin’ it was something to behold, resembling a medium sized town with the biggest fence you’ve ever seen around it…and with flags flying, masts and thousands of tents it could have been a medieval siege. After the rigmarole of checking in (which involves a girl personally reaching into the car and placing a wristband on everybody present)and being directed to the correct area, we settled down to wait, literally not knowing what to expect. The weather was a perfect English summers day and we were told there were a few folk out front who’d turned out to see us…we weren’t expecting the roar of the 70,000 who were waiting when we walked out to the Waltz. After that everything was just a blur and before we knew it, our hour was up and we were leaving the stage, sweaty and very happy…I can’t recall too much about it apart from the fact that we all played really well, Jet particularly being on great form and seemingly the whole field joining in on the chorus of Always the Sun. We’d have loved to have hung around to soak up some of the post gig shenanigans and catch up with a couple of other bands but alas we had to leave to drive to Gatwick for a 6 o’clock flight the next morning to a gig in Krakow, Poland…up at 3.30…oh man that was a leveller.
Back from an ok show in Poland I have 1 day at home to get ready for the next jaunt.
This journey starts for me on Tuesday the 6th July as I fly down to Stansted in the evening for a Wednesday afternoon flight to Bratislava in Slovakia for a festival date on Thurs the 8th.
The Pohoda Festival is a relatively new gig and is attracting a lot of interest and bands year by year as it grows. The promoter for this gig has re-arranged everything a day early especially for us to play…he’s a big fan…
We arrive at the gig around 10.30 being the headliners on this particular day, and are pleasantly surprised to find 10,000 kids in a field going absolutely nuts for a band many of them won’t have heard of, but they treat us very well and a great time is had by all…The stage is lovely and the sound and lighting systems are great…We hear that western music and many other cultural movements have only been allowed to this part of the old Czechoslovak Republic in the relatively recent past…around 10/15 years ago…no the wonder everyone’s enjoying themselves…
A funny aside to all this occurs when the band who are on before us, a local band who themselves have been around for 30 years, decide to play ‘Hanging Around’ in their set which features one Dave Greenfield on keyboards…Dave had gone down to the gig ahead of the rest of us and had been asked onstage to play…apparently the crew heard the song, recognised the keys, went down to the stage and there Dave was with a brandy and a shit eating grin…and they said it was weird to see him onstage with another band…I’ll bet it was…(You can watch the video here )
We get back to the hotel and retire early ready for the flight to Dublin the next morning which, of course, is an early flight…I’m amazed to see the amount of people who want to fly to Dublin from Bratislava at 9 o’clock on a Friday morning…the plane is packed but it’s a relatively short flight and we’re in the sanctuary of our hotel by noon UK time…After a siesta we have a few beers in the bar with the crew in the evening and head to bed.
It truly is an awful day and as we wait behind the stage at 2 o’clock to start we literally do wonder if anyone will be there. We’re pleasantly surprised to find a good few hundred wet punters on the barrier, and as we start we can see hundreds more streaming across the fields like little columns of ants to see us…We end a pretty good set 45 minutes later in front of around 10,000 which makes us happy, and after a bite in the catering area (the food here is fantastic…it was the last time too) JJ and I do a radio interview with a guy who’s patiently waited for us to finish eating, and it turns out to be one of the highlights of the day…the guy is seriously funny and asks intelligent, humorous questions with little regard for radio etiquette, effing and blinding all over the place and taking the piss out of the powers that be who are all milling around watching and listening…he begs us to try to get back and play Ireland more often and we say we’ll try…top man…Then we drive to Dublin airport and get an early evening flight to Edinburgh ready for tomorrows’ appearance at T in the Park.
BAZ / 21st July 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
The lights change and we move on. I think I know that face and by the next set of traffic lights think I know who it is. We stop and I turn to him and say "Is your name Paul?"
Saturday, May 29, 2010
About thirty miles west of Fowey, on the Helford river, is Frenchman’s Creek, the location and title of another novel and movie.
This then, with all of it’s geographical detail, is clearly DDM territory. Drawing on early inspiration, DDM went on to create a host of characters and placed them in and around the surrounding countryside -she knew and loved - as she famously penned her way into international literary stardom.
No small wonder then, that this highly regarded festival of art and literature is so named. Mis-described by some, as both "highbrow" and "stuffy", it has surely now been wrested from it’s sometime reputation by the appearance of my colleagues and I. Not that this appearance should have been anything other than enlightening to a DDM Fest audience, but anyone reading this is probably only too well aware of our own vicissitudes.
This was the one, NOT, to be missed. Not only the preserve of British art and culture at some of it’s very best, but at it’s location on that particular day, Friday 21st May 2010, it was at it’s Mediterranean-like finest. With an unusually warm if not, scorching hot day, the charm of one of England’s most delightful regions - at any time of the year - and the sub-tropical fauna which is able to survive in the area due to it’s un-British-like weather, it was for us, more akin to leisure than work.
Probably not the place however, for those who prefer the dark sudor of the pub or night club, or the more typical and often bland and even vulgar at times, British seaside resort. This was a well organized, attended, and interesting festival, distinguished from most by it’s uniqueness. The gig itself was as kick-ass as any you might expect from your MIB and it had the added feature of excellent acoustics within the "tent" erected for the occasion. Situated atop the western side of the Fowey gorge, views from the venue, with it’s vistas of the town, are truly awesome as are those - from a suitable vantage point - of the nearby ports of Polperro and Mevagissey to the near east and west, all steeped in the culture of the rich Cornish fishing tradition.
Yes, this was a great day out, the best in the west since the demise of the Cornish Colosseum, and a rare opportunity for the locals to get some Strangling in, but at least they can sleep at night secure in the knowledge that if they haven’t got us or you, most of the time, they do at least have Cornwall, or as Baz put it, Paradise!
Jet Black - May 2010
All photos copyright Ava Rave 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the fun that was had in Paris and Leuven...the Wonky bus never fails eh? I was very surprised to have almost the entire audience at the Bataclan sing happy birthday to me (at the instigation of the Brits of course), and at the reception you all gave me when i came out later for the pics...never been hoisted on the shoulders of a crowd before...felt like Bobby Moore! Thanks to you all for making it a laugh and there's nowhere else i'd have rather been for my birthday but Paree...save for an absent friend or two it was perfect...
The next day in Leuven was probably most memorable for the stage invasion at the end of the gig...some people never grow up...and more power to 'em...We've almost always turned a blind eye to the antics of the possessed, but when it interferes with what we do directly that's a different matter and the whole thing was marred, for me anyway, by the guy that grabbed my mikestand and smacked me in the teeth...i think the you tube footage shows it clearly, and he got a couple of good kicks for his trouble which i regret, but get too close and that's what you get...you know who you are, and i do apologise, but believe me i'd do it again in a heartbeat...these teeth weren't cheap...Hope to see you all in Cornwall...keep smiling...
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
It's not just the senescence of the author - which is sadly beyond doubt - that forms the qualifying factor here, but the subject matter, which can be traced back to an incident in 449 AD.
In June of that year, Hengist and his brother Hersa with fellow mercenaries, departed from Jutland and crossed the North Sea in their longships to set foot on the shores of Kent at Ebbsfleet (near Ramsgate) and established the first Anglo-Saxon kingdom and what most historians consider the beginning of English history.
So what, I hear you say, has all this got to do with The Stranglers?
Many of you will already know part of this tale because it was touched upon within the pages of Dr David Buckley's book 'No Mercy'. I am of course referring to the Viking ship 'Hugin' which appears on the cover/sleeve of the 'Raven' album.
In 1949, a re-staging of the 'invasion', with a newly constructed exact replica of Hengist's ship, was organised to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of that historic landing.
The occasion was considered by the authorities at the time, to be of sufficient educational and historical importance to warrant the mass attendance of every school within a certain distance of the site chosen for the re-enactment, Broadstairs, in Kent.
Now, it so happens that some 18 months of my formative years were spent at a school in Broadstairs. I had been sent there for health reasons. At the time, I was a chronic Asthmatic, and medical opinion in the 40's held that a 'fresh air' environment was the most suitable locale for children with the condition, and so I was sent to the Holy Cross school which stood on top of the cliffs overlooking Broadstairs, and within view of the French coast on a clear day.
This also meant that on the allotted day, I was bussed into the town and onto the beach along with thousands of other school kids. I was within a few feet of the 'Hugin' as it swept onto the shore line and the fearsome looking (at the time) Vikings came ashore.
Of course, this may be of little interest to some of you, maybe none to others, but what makes it slightly more interesting nonetheless, is news - discovered by our percussionist pal, Neil Sparkes (a near resident) - that someone has found the actual footage of the event and posted it on You Tube!
There are two links here. One takes you to footage of the arrival on shore of the 'Hugin' on 29th June 1949, and the other covers the dedication ceremony, attended by HH Prince Georg of Denmark, at a later date (at which I was not present) when the great ship was erected on concrete pillars at Pegwell Bay near Ramsgate, where it still stands today. It can be viewed free of charge at the roadside off Pegwell Bay.
Readers following this story, who may have wondered how the 'Hugin' came to be on the 'Raven' album, will now know. As for why, that relates to the original concept behind the album and the title track. Inspired by the Norse sagas, 'The Raven' recounts the Viking quest with their inseparable longships. They are said to have taken ravens on board their longships to go ahead and seek out land. Quite how they might have conveyed that information to their masters, I can't imagine.
As I said in my interview with Dr David Buckley, I had no idea in June 1949, that one day I would stand inside this ship and that it would feature on the cover of a Rock 'n' Roll album.
How could I, Rock 'n' Roll hadn't been invented!
Arrival on shore of the 'Hugin' on 29th June 1949
The dedication ceremony, attended by HH Prince Georg of Denmark
Friday, February 5, 2010
These blogs will be a regular feature of the new look site and I’ve been asked by the team to write the 1st one…an honour indeed!
So first off a big thanks to Owen and the squad for their efforts in making the site so pleasing on the eye and brain…cheers…and also thanks to Ade and Christina Liggins for all their efforts and friendship over the years…good luck guys…
Well, here we are again at the start of what hopefully will be another good year for us all…the March tour is shaping up nicely and we’re looking forward to getting out and seeing you lot again, my favourite part of the machine…
Thanks for all your feedback on the new song Retro Rockets too…written during a 2 month stint in Bath and 1 of about 8 songs written during that time…hopefully we can get some more out in the not too distant future to titillate you all with…
The Greek dates were great and it was nice to see some Brits taking the trouble to travel…always amazes me to see the effort put in to see us abroad and it’s always appreciated…there was an earthquake while we were there too…5.2 on the Richter…enough to make the earth move…would like to say we caused it but apparently the plates moved somewhere out under the Aegean Sea…
I was in a basement bar and didn’t feel it but the crew tell me it was pretty impressive…maybe next time…
We’re in rehearsals for the tour at the moment too, so as always expect the unexpected…the black jukebox is being dusted down as we speak…
I’m off to see my beloved Sunderland play tonight so I thought I’d write this today before I get too suicidal to do it in the week…!
Look forward to seeing you all soon…keep smiling if you can…
Baz / 1st Feb 2010