Gladiators, Ready?


‘More chops than a butcher’s shop’Phil Hilborne, UK guitar legend

‘This kicks ass’ – Jamie Hunt, One Machine, BIMM, Guitar Techniques

That’s right, it’s my new/old single, all proceeds to Spotlight YOPD. Here’s the story: Continue reading

Go direct to, er …

The trials and tribulations of the purchasing of a house.

So. We currently have no fridge, no washing machine (it was taken away this morning), and we are a-dongled for the internet.

So we’re in the pub. It seemed like the only rational solution.

Currently we’re discussing whether it’s time to break out the fois gras …

But all is not rosy as can be. Why not? Well, due to applied muppetry of the solicitation profession, it still isn’t bloody well signed, sealed or, god forbid, delivered. It’s the fact that no-one seems to bother talking, or listening which galls.

This means I cannot order a fridge. Which sucks. I cannot order a van, which also sucks.

Normally, I would hire the van myself, but I am in the strange position of not having a valid driving license, but being legally ok to drive. That’s be interesting to explain to the rozzas were I to be pulled over. It would be Smiley Culture time.

It works like this. Because of the various symptoms which PD can deliver, like a malicious santa, I am now on a three-year limited licence – which recently expired. In effect, it’s my three year anniversary … I wonder how they go for such things? The golden would be a bottle, because it’s plainly only magical powers that will keep you going that long.

There are always milestones in such conditions. This is one of them

If Jacques had had PD, his speech might have been very different. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bastardize Shakespeare’s words. I have not the wit. But there are stages. And there are things which make the symptons worse.

Cold is one.

Stress is another.

Tiredness is another.

I’m not functioning at my best. Yesterday, I looked at this piece I was writing for Guitar and Bass magazine and for the life of me had no idea why I was writing it.

For some reason, PD seems to affect the organisation centres of the brain.

Which sucks.

So it seems as if PD fast-forwards you to the ‘Last scene of all’, or ‘second childishness and mere oblivion’, and while it may not affect one’s teeth, it certainly does odd things to the eyes, messes up your standard of taste, and simply fucks up everything. Sans PD? Yes, please.

That bloody de Vere.




One of my jobs, if you can call them that, is to interview guitar players for Guitar and Bass magazine, where there’s finally some sort of web presence, though my archive here is somewhat more comprehensive. There are upwards of seventy pieces written by my fair hand, interviews, features, tuition. My days as an active musician are behind me, not least because the PD affects my left hand most of all, so these days I mostly write interviews. These are generally on the phone, though every so often I travel to meet the players in question, Gary Lucas and Denny Whalley, Peter Hammill, Dweezil Zappa and, most recently, Glenn Matlock, Chris Spedding, and Stephen Parsons, who are shortly playing a couple of shows to promote their new album. I prefer this latter format, as there’s more to work with than simply words – you can ask question based on body language, the way that the various member interact. Also you can establish a rapport with the interviewee that allows for far more probing questions, and for far more interesting answers. The phoner is prey to more formulaic workings.

Prior to these interviews, I naturally need to hear what it is these guys are selling. That is, their new album. Most slick US bands stream the album to avoid pirating. This is a pain in the arse, frankly. The sound is dodgy, and you can’t stick it on your ipod to listen to on the train … the UK bands tend to send hard copy. In the case of unreleased albums, they come in the form of hand-ripped cds. Plainly people get a bit arsey if you sell them … which is what I was recently, well, accused of is perhaps a little strong. But a set of one artist’s soon-to-be-released material was seen on Ebay, with the seller being noted as from ‘Brighton’. Considering only five copies had been given out, it was unsurprising that I was singled out as ‘reviewer most likely to’. Naturally, they were in a pile on top of the New Oxford Dictionary of English and my copy of Lewis and Short. I sent documentary evidence that I was not the guilty party, and all were happy. But I digress.

Perhaps the most irritating aspect of these interviews is that often the transcription runs to five or six times the size of the actual interview. Writing for a guitar magazine, one is often conscious of a need to cover certain bases, notably, well, guitars ad amps. ‘Guitar porn’, as one interviewee put it. I was talking about Steve Vai’s philosophy, amongst other things, when he said something along the lines of ‘do you think we should talk so much about philosophy, this is Guitar and Bass Magazine after all’, ‘nah’, said I, ‘this is far more interesting. Don’t you worry – I’ll take care of the guitars …’. Naturally, I ended up forgetting entirely about the small matter of his rig, and had to phone a friend who’d recently worked with him to get this particular detail. Oops.

The problem when you get a 7,000 word interview, and try to fit it into a 1,500 word article, is that a lot of stuff gets left out. I want to write about Steve Vai’s bees, Bill Nelson’s 80s occult leanings, Joe Satriani’s obsessive-compulsive triple-wholetone scales, all that sort of stuff.

Cabbage, so far as I’m aware, is an old tailor’s term for the material left over after a commission. You get given four bolts of cloth with which to make 50 suits. A skilled pattern cutter could leave you with enough material for, say, five more suits. These were the tailor’s property, and could be sold on as they wished. Cabbage was a perk enjoyed by the best tailors.

The stuff I have left over is cabbage. So, from now on, I think I just might just make up a new suit. Parallel interviews. The War and Peace cut, something like that. Cabbage.

I hope you find them interesting.