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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bobcast #61...

Bob's taken a break from recording to record yet another podcast...

(As you'll hear, he's clearly heavily medicated, but otherwise OK...)


Monday, 8 February 2010

A letter...

A letter arrives for Bob. He shows it to me:

Dear Bob,

(I can call you Bob, can't I?) Listen, our shelves groan under the weight of Ezra, Larkin, Hughes and Heaney ( it's just as well I got a Kindle for Crimbo, I suppose). Anyroad, and that's just the surface; deep as it may seem. We feel that you belong in this company. (Although, obviously, considering your neuralgia, you might prefer a comfy chair or a pouffe etc to a rather cramped set of bookshelves - the choice, naturellement, is yours...if you're happy standing up, that's fine with us too. It was good enough for Tommy Stearns - when he wasn't sprawled out on the cocktail cabinet like a patient etherised on a table while Viv applied his mascara for him...)

Anyway, where was I? [Straight-faced:] It would be the fulfillment of my most pressing (and, believe me, I've been well and truly presssed, no word of a lie) and persistent publishing dream to see that 'ff' sewn into the spine of your life (although, given your advanced age, you may prefer an epidural wife swears by them, but then, I've never been pregnant with sextuplets by another man, so I wouldn't be able to weigh up the relative merits, unfortunately - again, I defer to your judgement in this, as ever...) Just any other publisher won't do. (Besides, Mills & Boon won't touch drag - take my word for it....Christ knows, I've tried myself, but they can't seem to see beyond the five o'clock shadow. They could have had Paul O'Grady too if they'd played their cards right. Serves 'em right the Philestines!) You deserve Faber and the love we can give you. History demands it; destiny commands it. (Besides, my agent has a ten pound each-way wager on you for the Orange prize. You can't say fairer than that, can you?)

Robert Swipe, the doors of our Georgian Bloomsbury-based publishing house are open to you wherever you may be: Penge, Cricklewood, Rothergavenny. (Although, realistically, it would help if you were somewhere within the London Orbital if you're planning to squeeze a crafty snifter in in the Coach & Horses before closing time...)

"We'll let you know..."

Yours besottedly & C,

Lee Brackstone,
Faber & Faber

So, there you go! Bob's thinking about it - although obviously they'll have to match the offer he's just had from Escort for a serialised memoir. (Well, they've offered to throw in a subscription...)

I'll keep you posted...


Release me...

Bob's asked me to post up a press release for the new album before he sends it off to the fourth estate. Hopefully, it will come in handy when you're weighing up the pros and cons of the various album concepts I'm hoping to put up here for your scrutiny later this week, all being well. OK, over to Bob...

This may well turn out to be the sort of urban myth future generations will cackle over as they warm their hands over the campfire and wait for the nuclear winter to thaw out, but I read somewhere that the first child who will go on to live to 1,000 has already been born...

Assuming we can make it beyond the apocalypse threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran, were such a fundamental schism in the genetic durability of the species to be realised in the form of the 1,000 year old man, it would represent a triumph of sorts for the prevailing rationalist/capitalist hegemony. After all, such enduring genes won't come cheap, one supposes. And who but the godless could possibly feel so emboldened as to place such a miracle down in the midst of the rest of us?; the teeming mass of three-score years and tenners. And what would such a world be like for those on the other side of the golden dawn? That's the kind of territory I've tried to inhabit in this new set of songs. I suppose I've set myself the brief of creating the soundtrack to a reinterpretation of 'Brave New World' as realised by Dennis Potter; either that or some bizarre kind of tea dance/trip hop fusion. Potter saw the popular songform of the thirties he grew up listening to as secular psalms. I suppose that's what I've been striving for here - little prayers offered up to the sky, barely audible above the din of the urban sprawl.

"You've made me such a beautiful monster" sings a child of the future to the stem cells from which he was created. "We chose your eyes from a million pairs of eyes - now I wish that you could see me". The question I suppose we want to know is this: "is that *really* all we are?" Is it just me, or does it not feel counter-intuitive to think of oneself as little more than a bundle of genetic codes and instructions. There is, surely, more to us than that, isn't there? So our guts tell us, in any case. But it's precisely those intuitions - gut feelings, hunches, intimations of the transcendent - that are so beloved of the artist and so despised by rationalists such as Richard Dawkins. We're asked not to believe something that seems so self-evident as we experience those occasional moments of elevation in life. What makes us feel most human, it seems, we are expected to disdain, deride or ultimately, as the logic of our mutability should dictate, will one day in any case be forcibly removed. I'm not a conventionally religious person, but I can see how people who are should feel so irked by the lack of humility evident in Dawkins' position. There is a need for greater humility all round, it seems to me; especially when our experiments with the stuff we're made of appear on the cusp either of redefining the nature of existence for future generations, and our fundamentalist doctrines of destroying that future altogether.

So, it's an age-old question for such a brave new world: do we have what might be called a soul? "I start to care about their souls; where they go when the flesh implodes?" sings the 1,000 year-old man himself in the song of the same name. Bored by centuries of whoring, he starts to lose the will to live himself as, one by one, his ephemeral human lovers slip off their mortal coils. It's a tender love song to those mayfly mammals - lounge lizard Martin Amis. "How long would be enough, for all our monkey stuff?" he asks.

Beautiful monsters, mutable Millennial monkeys preening themselves in a glamorous hell - is that all we are? It's an album of irreconcilable contradictions, just like the times, really; the ridiculous jauntiness of the vaudevillian self-harmer in 'The loving blade' - Vivian Stanshall sings Nine Inch Nails, perhaps? Or the cosmic traveller who's journeyed light years across space and time just to end up on this crummy planet Earth, "all eleven of [his] senses deranged" and only staying long enough to "live and die and try to get along". And what about the children at the other end of the spectrum from our long-lived descendants? The little lives that barely bloom before they're gone? The last song, 'Star Baby', is a lullaby for them - and the rest of us too, I suppose.

I don't for one second pretend to have the answers - just a lot of song-shaped questions. Hope you like 'em...

L.U.V. on y'all,


Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho...'s back to work Bob goes!

Yes, the wonderful news from the Swipe household is that Bob is feeling three million per cent his old self and is gearing up for yet another assault on the pop charts! That's right; a mere week and a half since he collapsed in his attic studio under the combined influences of airtex, the new Kesha video and a genetic predisposition to chronic heart disease, Bob's been back to work doing pre-production on his next album! Unbelievable!

I don't know where he gets his energy from - well, I's most likely the diet pills washed down with strong German wheat beer he's been living on since 1974. But for a 59 and three quarter year old fella, he puts a lot of the so-called younger generation to shame. Why, they're probably still in bed dreaming of their next ASBO when Bob's up with the larks and paying a visit to the local gymnasium (I don't know what the attraction is myself, but it seems to keep him happy being surrounded by huge, athletic black men in tight-fitting lycra. And they obviously relish his visits because Bob says they're only too pleased to park his wheelchair ring-side so he can get a really good view of the sparring....)

As is standard industry practice, Bob's already started work on the most important aspect of the record production process - the sleeve. (Well, how else are the execs going to come up with all those snappy taglines and storyboards for videos featuring scantily-clad gothic numpties jigging around in a haze of dry ice and bacofoil? Exactly). Bob's working on a range of visual ideas as usual but this time he has a significant problem - he's got no less than *three* really strong working titles for the as yet uncompleted (well, he hasn't even written the ruddy songs yet, so cut the guy some slack...) project.

It's a painful sight, watching him glued to the PC, agonising over images and frantically tugging at his crotch in confusion as he wrestles with the finer points of his aesthetic persona. (He should worry - how that lass in the picture is going to get herself off that donkey seems to be a *much* trickier proposition than whether Bob's bum looks too big in a pair of sequinned hot pants if you ask me...) It's almost as sad as watching him disappear into the kitchen for 20 minutes only to re-emerge without so much as a clue as to why he went in there in the first place and leaving it for muggins here to take the bananas off the top of his head and shake the parmesan out of his waistcoat.

So, in a rare moment of collaboration,. I suggested to Bob that if he couldn't decide on the title and cover for his LP, why didn't he post the candidates up here and let his reader(s) decide for him - after all, not only is it *excellent* pre-publicity for the LP but also, where else was he going to be able to get 5 saddoes from Norfolk in one place at the same time to discuss the minutaie of his under garments? (Carrow Road excepted, obviously!) And, to my great surprise, Bob not only agreed, but also let me borrow his diamante bustier to do the hoovering in by way of a thank you - he's all heart, really!

I'll be posting up the artwork over the next few weeks, once Bob's finished photoshopping out his warts/third nipples/belly button fluff etc., so I hope you'll all keep an eye out and share your views on the different concepts and looks Bob's been working on. Besides, it's the nearest thing you'll get to a working democracy this side of Halloween, so use it or lose it I say! After all without you, his audience, what is Bob but the most deservedly obscure, gender-confused Emo/funk-fusion rock legend in the whole of Christendom.

See - there's nothing like a bit of realism to spoil the fun, is there?