Wednesday, 30 July 2008
Many of you won't need me to tell you this, but here at Swipe Towers, times are hard. I won't say we're quite in meltdown...*yet*. But let's just say that a couple or three mortgage payments down the line, we may well need to let the home help go; which means yours truly will have to go back to hoovering up those sequins myself (...with my knees....!) I don't want to lard it on here, but here's an indication of the depth of the pickle my auditors are currently attempting to extradite me from:
c.£28.75 (p.c.m.) - tights, plant rings, elasticated hairbands, sundries &c...
£60.00 (p.a.) - Songcast subscription.
£18.00 (per album, p.a) - Songcast hosting fee.
£875.67 (p.c.m.) - mortgage.
£150.00 (p.c.m.) - various pornographic materials (research...)
£250 (p.w.) - beer.
So, as you can see, we may not yet be Mark Knopfler, but we're certainly pretty close to being in dire straits...
But it's no use bemoaning the credit crunch - oh no, we're made of sterner stuff here at S.T.! Less of the 'hello folks and what about the workers' and more of the 'roll yer sleeves up', 'get on your bike, Norman' and 'gizza job!' for us. So, here's the plan. Obviously, the current business strategy (cobbling together ill-conceived albums of poorly performed and recorded pap and noodling around on Myspace all day, pretending to be 'marketing' them whilst actually doing little more than ogling a wide assortment of scantily-clad goth girls who may or may not be splattered in fake blood/wearing judiciously ripped and laddered hosiery...) isn't working. So this is what I propose to do...
Looking at the figures, I can see that my audience is not just incredibly reluctant to loose its grip on those hard earned buckeroonies. As well as being a miserly bunch of tight wads, they're also incredibly canny. The songs that seem to be selling tend, on the whole, to be the ones I'd have expected to (....you know, in tune, vague attempts made at having a melody...that sort of thing...) From this, it's probably safe to conclude that the path to financial security is better served by my coming up with short, snappy, accessible pop songs based around excruciating puns derived from long dead Hollywood screen icons than 8 minute epics eulogising the joys of Duracell-powered robotic sex (although the Japanese market is, as so often, an honourable exception in this regard - thanks lads!)
So far so good. Obviously, I could always follow the received industry wisdom and follow the tried and tested approach taken when previously bankable artists such as U2 or Coldplay fall on hard times and can't shift their pitifully out of touch product to an indifferent audience. But I think my followers are astute enough to see through my hijacking a globally televised event purporting to raise awareness of climate change/famine in Africa/shoeless guttersnipes in Burton-on-Trent etc. in order to publicise my new single (...that said, I'm obviously not ruling out such a drastic measure completely if things get *really* desperate...although I refuse to share a stage with Al Gore or Bob 'Sir Bloody' Geldof under *any* circumstances.)
No, I thought it would be more interesting to try a different tack. After all, why bother trying to second guess my audience as to what they'd be prepared to buy, when I can ask them directly and then tailor what I do to their needs? So, you could tell me what sort of songs you'd be prepared to hear me sing - themes, subjects, titles, styles - whatever. Or you could say, 'I like such and such a song by so & so - could you do one like that Bob?' and so on. Or we could mix and match - someone might, for instance, want a song with a lyric about child slavery in Indonesia, whilst someone else might want a song that sounds like a dance version of 'Where the Streets Have No Name'... the possibilities are pretty much endless. And it could be a lot of fun. This, it seems to me, is the logic of the digital download era; audiences are already shaping the form by their choices and clicking patterns. So why not take that process even further?
Ladies and gentlemen - I give you....the era of the bespoke song!
Sure, it's an experiment, and as with all experiments it's liable to fall flat on its arse - but heck, whether you get the result you expected or not, at least with experiments you usually learn something. So, let me know what you think and what you (and what you think other people) might be prepared to shell out your sponduliks for, and I'll get the 24 track powered up...
L.U.V. on y'all,
p.s. ...oh, yes, and how about a title for it too folks??
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Yep, it's true folks. I can't tell you when it all started because I haven't scrolled back that far, but with 35 or so messages a day, every day, after 5 or 6 screens of inbox, all filled with messages from the same address, I think it's safe to say that this is what's happening - unless this is a *particularly* obtuse 'please-put-all-your-life-savings-into-my-Nigerian bank account'-type scenario, of course. I mean, what is it with some people? Just because a chap chooses to strip down to his 70 deniers, pose lying prone and provocatively cradling his private parts like some game bit of sexually ambivalent strumpet, then posting such images of himself on every web page between here and Timbuktu in the hope of guaranteeing himself global fame and instant recognition in every corner of the planet, I suppose that somehow makes him public property, does it?
The messages range from the the obscure:
"Remember the candelabra? Thought not. The one I bought you with fake Italian green shield stamps from that one armed vendor with the pale blue espadrilles in the Garden of Gethsamene...Well, I smashed it on the altar of my eternally ripening plumage - *that*'ll teach you!! *RHINOCEROS*!!!??"
...to the downright sinister:
"I've bought you a new pair of lilac pyjamas - I hope they suit bunnikins..."
I'd like to say I'm upset or excited or even slightly fazed by all this unwarranted attention, but actually it just leaves me feeling slightly perplexed really. I mean, I know daytime telly's not for everyone, but really - surely Angela Rippon buying antiques in a Rimini flea market is slightly more appealing than sending unsolicited and unrequited love messages/TV reviews/recipes/unsuccessful lines of Lotto numbers/links to Transcendental Meditation websites etc? In fact, so detatched am I, that it even crossed my mind to attempt to turn them into a novel or some such - a sort of darker, even more mentally unstable Bridget Jones' Diary - with Sandra Bernhard as Bridge - although, having attempted some of the positions our imagined sex romp assumed (catalogued in Thursday 24th July's 9;47 a.m. missive), perhaps a Bridget Fonda exercise video would be more appropriate (don't try it wearing high heels folks - I laddered a perfectly good throw...)
Still, it's an ill wind that blows no good. This assualt on my inbox does at least seem to have silenced my Venezuelan ex- who some time ago had hacked into the same email account to send me the occasional riotously amusing hate email, posing as me - a bit confusing after you've had a few, I can tell you (Well, I normally send them to other people, not myself...) It seems even she has been outdone by this latest crazed 'admirer' and has - quite sensibly, I must say - decided that even if pissing me off was worth running the risk of being had up on charges of fraud and identity theft, it really doesn't justify the sheer horror of having to wade through page upon page of unsolicited and unrequited love messages/TV reviews/recipes/unsuccessful lines of Lotto numbers/links to Transcendental Meditation websites/Suduko cribs etc just to find a decent advert for a penis enlargement aid.
Then again, maybe I'm wrong and they've each found a kindred spirit? Who knows - perhaps they're already planning a get together, somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic to compare notes?
I'll keep you posted...
L.U.V. on y'all,
Thursday, 24 July 2008
....yes, that's right - *more* free stuff from Bob...
Bob talks candidly about his new album and tries to pass off half a dozen classic Beatles tracks as his own...
L.U.V. on y'all,
Thursday, 17 July 2008
Saturday, 12 July 2008
Thursday, 10 July 2008
It's obviously a great honour to be invited to contribute a track to this wonderful project. Deep, disturbing lyrics, a voice that could chill your spine to permafrost and a highly indiosyncratic dance style akin to someone suffering an unexpected bout of severe cerebral palsy - but despite having seen my stage act, they're still quite keen on me doing a number. I'm ashamed to say that until they approached me to contribute a track to the tribute album I wasn't aware that Ian had actually died, so it was a sort of double whammy, shockwise. And what a tragic loss it is - the Vicar of Dibley will certainly never be the same again, will it? Still - onwards and upwards; and on the bright side, at least we'll be spared all that hand wringing and pompous tin rattling every year on Comic Relief day...
Still, mustn't speak ill of the dead - although you can say what you like about Thatcher while she's still alive, the rancorous, Alzheimered old cunt. All the human feeling of a Hellman's mayonaise jar filled with Bob Holness' dandruff that one. Well, I say alive; she's apparently so brain addled that she's telling anyone who'll listen that she's a Parker-Knoll reclining chair called Bernard. I've never forgiven her for stealing our school milk - fuck knows how much the relatives of the crew of the Belgrano must hate the decrepit old shitbag.
But I digress. Yes, it promises to be a star-studded line up. Personally, I can't wait to hear Jimmy Carr's version of 'She's Lost Control Again' - he's doing it without the steel drum solo, apparently; *very* bold Jim! Isla St Clair's done a terribly moving rendition of 'Love Will Tear us Apart' - Larry Grayson's tap dance solo is a real show stopper by all accounts; oooh! get her! I'll be doing the one he did for the World Cup obviously with Stray Photon contributing a beezer update on the John Barnes rap. Rufus Sewell will be playing the part of Keith Allen in the video - who better to stand around being stubbly and famous whilst wearing the three lions and miming along to the national anthem as if he knows the words?
I'll let you know when it's out...
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Well, that's it - end of experiment. Phew, glad/sad *that*'s over....
It's always a bitter sweet thing, the creative impulse - bit like the whole male sex experience really, I suppose. Great in the build up, fan-bloody-tastic most of the way through then "whey-ey-ey-ey-fhnoarrrrrgorfluggin'norathawas-bloody-corkin-smashing-love" at the end and then.....slow, contemplative puff on a post-coital gasper as the vague feelings of inadequacy/nausea begin to make themselves known in the groin/gut/adenoids etc. Yep, that's about the size of the making of Bedroom Burlesque too, you could say. Nice while it lasted love, but - eh, do us a favour darling, don't slam the door on your way out, there's a good lass. Before it's even on the shelves, you're already eyeing up - if not actually groping - the firm but ample posterior of the next one....
But 'Glam' will just have to wait...
So, what of the experiment? Well, I set out to write from the position I felt I was in - namely, an artist trying to sell his wares for the first time; in layman's terms, then, a *prostitute* of some sort. I mean, what else can you call doing what you love doing...for money? Anyway, that's the voice I think I was subconsciously reaching for in all of the songs; that of the slightly shady character who sings 'What I do' - proud and shameful at the same time, bold enough to give you the bold facts of the transaction in a matter-of-fact, pulling on a Gauloise in a shady doorway of the Rue St. Denis kind of way, but deep down, still secretly hoping that the people s/he cares about never find out what exactly it is that s/he actually does. I eventually arrived there in that song, I suppose and - back to the old 'joy detumescing into ennui' mode we talked about earlier - once you arrive, you know it's time to move on...
But then, isn't there some canny quote (I can't put my finger on it right now) that says something along the lines of, well, it's not the destination that matters, it's the journey? If that's so, then I suppose we could call the experiment a qualified success. There were the unfathomable good uns - the ones that just worked, you knew that, but not *why* - for me those would include 'Cathy Moriarty' and 'Tramp Smash', they came unbidden and you just have to hold your nerve, thank your lucky stars and get the bloody things down before you forget them...a bit like the gentle art of seduction itself, I guess, when you put it like that and if I can dare to stretch that old art/whoring metaphor any further than I have already...
Then there are the ones you hope you're right in thinking have some substance to them, once the bubbles have subsided and they get listened to a bit further down the line, when the medals are being handed out - 'Veil & Jimmy Choos', 'Jailbirds', 'Boytron' and - and this is at a real push, you understand - 'The Circus is Leaving Town' would be the ones I'd enter into that little lottery myself. You *hope* they'll leave more than a monosodium glutinate bloatation to the stomach. But as with so many things in life, that's all you can do really, in the end - hope...
Otherwise, it's been a pretty tough one to gestate - I suppose in many ways because of the way I've chosen to go about it. I have an intractable inability to do things in the abstract - method man, me. I have to make my mistakes in actual fact, not in the abstract, learn my lessons by poking a dozy finger into the light socket rather than sating myself on the received wisdom that to do so will actually *hurt*. Unless I feel it, I'm not convinced. So, hence the dressing up and the rather strange response that that's encouraged - I mean, have you never seen an ugly, big-boned man dressing up like a cheap, common tart before? OK, so it's not everybody's cup of Darjeeling, but - heck - I *have* got a stonking pair of legs, haven't I? *Right*! So why hide them under a bushel? Huh??? But then there's the uncounted on sub-narrative for you: the serious artiste who just wants to know what happens when you poke A with B gets mistooken for a weirdo, child molesting 'prevert' [sic] and the words and the tunes get swallowed up by the fellow in the fishnets wearing a bin liner with a raffia work crown of thorns upon his/her head....There's always a cost, isn't there?
And that, I guess, is my theme here - on the album that is, not in this post - value(s). It's there from the first track, I suppose - a shadow of horrible, ill-defined intention, lurking like a grimy tank-topped paedo- in the shadows of the park where the kids should be playing without fear. That's where the songs lose their innocence - when you try to write *about* something, I suppose...But then, how many novelists avoid that reductive, lollipop sucking question - "wassitabart??" It's not about anything, but there are, unavoidably, themes. And the obvious one here is the unregarding harm that money wreaks upon us - and we get younger and younger in its clutches. It's there from note one, bar one, I guess. 'Joining the Cyber Circus' is a child in a bedroom cavorting lasciviously in front of a webcam, his or her little lap dance being instantaneously lapped up globally....poor parents, poor child, poor audience, poor walls. It's maybe a tad bland musically - but doesn't it have to be, in a way? Doesn't the blandness reinforce somehow the pathos of what is an every 'She's Leaving Home' type scenario; I mean, you don't even need to leave home anymore to leave home a long, long way behind you...so it needs to be rendered as being as out of the ordinary as 'Neighbours', doesn't it?
Then there's the calculating boss, greedy fingers abacusing the worth of his secretary/lover in 'She's Falling in Love With Me'. The bland - again, blandness....this is getting to be a disturbing trope... - emptiness of that 'Glam trash, tramp smash doll' - so seductive, but - really what *is* s/he saying? Not much - but hopefully enough... The Jailbirds who are happier with the 'fun' they can have on the inside than the freedom on offer 'outside'. The Boytron, who only charges a 'love token' before pumping away until the batteries run out. There's joy, for sure, but emptiness too. Awkward exchanges, unfair deals like the 'let's start all over again' trip to New York that ends with a tearful pop of the cork in 'Champagne Shag'. The fuzzy end, a better writer might say, of the lolly stick...
I think the last track is the strongest, in some ways...but I'm not sure that it works without the rest of the album - and no, I'm not just saying that so you download all the tracks.... It's a personal emotional lowpoint, bizarrely captured (very quickly) on a Sunday morning - the ink not yet dry on the tears occasioned by the night before. It's the sound of a sad, cross-dressing clown realising that he's been corrupted, stomping off across the stereo soundstage. But you know (and I hope this comes through just a tad in that final, album ending flounce) that even as s/he flips up her skirts and turns tail, just like the circus, s/he'll be back in town before too long. "joining the cyber circus" once more..."performing my tricks for the world...."
I'll be posting up as many of the songs as I can in the next two or three weeks, so I hope all this will make a bit more sense once the songs have had a chance to have their say...
L.U.V. on y'all,
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
...is a bit less sore now, thanks for asking. I still can't touch my toes yet - at least not with my tongue (although I can get as far as my willy, which is something I suppose...) but there's definitely been a distinct improvement over the last few days. The physiotherapy exercises are finally starting to make a difference, but unfortunately it seems that the operation was a total disaster. I'm actually thinking of sueing BUPA. You'd think they'd be able to do Hair Replacement Surgery in their sleep nowadays, wouldn't you? Especially after all the years they've spent experimenting on Elton. I said to the surgeon, would *you* be happy to mince around singing 'Nikita' dressed in a Donald Duck outfit and nappy with a bonce like this? What will David think? I asked, before remembering who and where I was and beating a hasty retreat from Dolland & Aitchison. I'm going private next time, that's for sure...
Anyroad, you'll be pleased to know that normal (ho ho) service will be resumed quite shortly, once I can get used to strumming through the pain, obviously, and have found a way to make my surgical support look glamorous and sexy....
And *no*, before you ask, I *won't* be wearing it to cover up the botched hair graft.....
L.U.V. on y'all,