Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Dropping bombs

'Torpedo Libido' by The New 1920 has been added to the Xfm evening playlist in London, Manchester and Scotland, on top of the plays Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq have given it on Radio 1 and 6 Music. Good times. Give it a listen and place your order now at www.myspace.com/thenew1920 - It's available on 7" and CD, for the indecisive amongst you.

I'm going to freeze my nuts off playing football now. Hopefully not like this

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Perks

I decided to work from home today. Granted, I would from home everyday, but today I decided to forget the office upstairs and have instead been working from the laptop in the comfort of my own bed. And I guess, if you want to get technical, I haven't really done all that much 'work', as such. I've just spent the past hour reading a huge blog written by the former Vice President of Victory Records, talking about his former employer. I don't know if this is public knowledge and I just missed out, or if the court order from the label which followed the rant meant that it was given very little public notice? Either way, read it here

In other, slightly more relevant news, Toby (vocals and beard) has left Meet Me In St Louis. I've known about this for about 10 days now and it's been difficult keeping quiet, especially as we share many of the same friends. It brings around a somewhat strange end to an amazing year for the band, but don't worry, they will definitely be continuing. The dates on the current Hell Is For Heroes tour will be Toby's last. After this the guys will be continuing instrumentally and are already looking for a new vocalist, which they hope to have in place asap. Toby, meanwhile, will continue to work on his other musical projects and his label, Run For Your Life.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Distraction in times of boredom

Dear Diary
I don't know how to break this to you. I've been wrestling with my thoughts all day and can't bear it any longer. You see, I've not been completely honest with you. I'm nothing but a dirty, rotten user.
Right now I have nothing good to say to help brighten your day or bring a smile to your beautiful face. I don't plan on taking the time to ask how you are and this is probably the first time I've ever shown you any sort of respect. I write purely out of selfish, boredom-alleviating reasons, and to offer myself a means of escape from my monotonous task of mailing out House of Brothers EP promo CDs, which I have been doing for the best part of three hours now. It's not that I don't love you, because I do, in my own special way, it's just that I fear that this is all you will ever be to me. Someone I only turn to you in these such times, and not, as I should, to dedicate any true amount of care or affection towards you. You will never be anything more than a bit on the side. An escape. A whim.
I'm sorry you had to find out this way. It's not you, it's me.
x

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Food for thought

I've just got home from my first ever trip to a UK branch of Lidl, surprised by the lack of British products available, yet pleased and amused by the large bag of Pommes Frites I picked up. That E in GCSE German came in handy at last.

An interesting night last night, but not for any hard partying reasons. Feeling the effects from a busy week which took in four gigs and two bottles of vodka, I stayed in with the laptop in front of the TV, searching Google for the words "UK music industry future". It was mostly out of intrigue to see what's going on out there in the big wide online world, but also in the hope to find some sort of insurance that me and my independent record label can survive these difficult times.

No obvious answers were found, as you may imagine, but some interesting articles nonetheless, some four years old yet discussing ideas and trends which I'm only just beginning to think about right now. It's times like this that make me realise I'm not quite as up to date as I might like, and for all of my short-term, "crazy" ideas, I need to some catching up. And fast!

It feels weird to work in an industry going through so much change and uncertainty. Everyone knows that the digital era is changing everything, but what no one can currently predict is just how it well effect us all. Theories of monthly subscription packages offering unlimited, legal, free downloads seems a popular opinion, as does the thinking that independent labels will out-live major labels and their multitude of overheads, with vinyl overtaking CD and coming back to the forefront of the physical music market.

I wonder if I look back at this in one, five or ten years time how much will have changed to the way I, as a consumer, buy music, and as a record label owner, sell music? I wonder if any of the predictions I read last night will have come true? I wonder if BSM will still be operating?

I'm off to eat some cheap, European food and ponder over some music industry shaping ideas. Have a good weekend.



Friday, 26 October 2007

Ska punk and 17 year old boys

One of the first ever BSM releases was a compilation CD entitled 'You Do Know What This Means, Don't You?'. It featured 24 punk and ska bands, some of whom me and my juvenile ears considered to be the most important bands in the world at the time, along with a picture of the Thundercats inside the booklet. I think it's fair to say I was a pretty bog-standard, typical student. The CD went on to sell the best part of 70 copies, proving just how well I knew my new-found job, with the remaining 430 still sitting boxed up in my parents garage. Looking back at the release there are quite a few things which make me cringe, but there are also two things I will always be proud of. In the week that one of them, the mighty Finch (who's first ever UK release came thanks to the demo version of 'Letters To You' on this very compilation), announce that they are to reform, my other favourite thing about the release is coming to an end. Probably my all-time favourite UK punk band, the fantastic Capdown, as they finish up their farewell tour.

Last night they headlined at the Carling Academy Oxford. Each and every hit was rolled out. Cousin Cleatus, Ska Wars, even Bitches And Nike Shoes had an airing. It was a wonderful night. Well, at least it would've been, had it not been for the audience.

Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe I've turned into a snob, but kids these days, bloody hell! Jumping around, bumping into people, dripping their horrible sweat all over the place like disgusting little snail trails! It was like some kind of zoo in there. A special mention has to go to the particuarly awful bunch standing right in front of us who sent their oldest looking crony to the bar and, upon his return with one pint of cider, flocked around him all sticking their noses in and taking a tiny, illegal, sip like rebel birds drinking from the forbidden fountain.

I wonder how many of them are sitting in their bedrooms plotting their own 'You Do Know What This Means, Don't You?' compilation CD right now?



Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Ache

Today I'm hungover. Really, really hungover.

Thankfully last week's flu passed just in time for me to head up to In The City in Manchester on Sunday to catch The New 1920, Data.Select.Party and a few other, mostly terrible, bands, get stupidly drunk, find my way into a free bar party at a very nice hotel, eat chicken, chips and gravy, then pass out watching baseball. Monday wasn't so fun with a very stressful trip back to Oxford, only to leave for London and the Alcopop! gig half an hour later. Still, all went well there, the band's were great, the people were, as always, great, and I once again got drunk. Great.

I'm now sitting here in an England football shirt and checkered pyjama trousers, staring through bloodshot, bearly open eyes at my computer trying to pick my way through something like 500 emails. Excellent time for a hangover.

In musical news, Meet Me In St Louis are on tour with An Emergency right now and begin their dates with Hell Is For Heroes later on this week. The New 1920 were played on Zane Lowe's Radio One show last night. Sam Isaac supports Edwyn Collins at the Electric Proms on Sunday. This Town Needs Guns just have a couple more shows left on their October tour before they take November off to write their next record. Secondsmile have nearly finished writing theirs. And the House of Brothers EP is bloody brilliant.

My head's cloudy and I keep typing the wrong words. According to my first effort at the above paragraph, TTNG only have a couple more shoes left on their October tour.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Man flu

During the course of yesterday I felt gradually more and more ill. It set in slowly, beginning with a cloudy head and then moving south, by 2am nestling horribly in my throat making it almost impossible to sleep. I woke up complaining this morning as my mouth feels like it's on fire and, despite a solid 8 hours sleep, I'm devestatingly tired. Instead of taking any form of medicine or even contemplating a trip to the doctor's I have planned a day of moaning and looking for sympathy.

Over the past few days I've been asked for interviews by a few, wonderfully named, student newspapers. To begin with we had the Brighton Badger, this was followed by Oxford university and their Cherwell paper, and today I've had an email from the Warwick Boar. If the Gateshead Goose, the Upminster Fairy or the Bradford Ape fancy asking me a few questions, you'll find me on email all day, complaining about my sore throat to anyone who will listen.

PS. Listen to 'My Brother, The Astronaut' by Elle Milano

Monday, 15 October 2007

Jhazz never spelt so good

So my bet didn't come in on Saturday. It's another week of poverty for me. England won the rugby though, which I guess is good news? I would love to go on a rant now about how everyone suddenly becomes a fan at times like this, but as anyone who knows me would testify: I bloody hate rugby! An opinion further enforced after watching the game at a crowded pub with a whole squad of steroid-filled local players.

Have you downloaded the House of Brothers MP3 yet? No? Well shame on you.

Favourite new band of the day: Tera Melos. Technically not a new band having been around for quite some time, and officially they're not even a new band to me, as I first heard them a few months back now, but I'm counting them as new because last week was when I finally 'got' them for the first time. When listening before I just couldn't quite get my head around the time changes, the random bits of guitar noise, basically the awkward determination to steer clear of producing anything at all easily accessible. Well I've changed my mind. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of band's forthcoming split CD with By The End of Tonight, which unlike their material I've heard before, features vocals and an amazing poppy The Fall of Troy meets Settlefish, Hella and Aphex Twin sound to it, obviously whilst still being weirdly eccentric. Listen to 'When Worms Learn To Fly' and see what you think

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Funding

In the past I've been asked in numerous magazine interviews how I fund the label. When I tell them it's partyly down to gambling on football, the usual response is for them to laugh.

Today I have £1 on the following teams to all win: Poland, France, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, England, Sweden, Serbia, Portugal, Argentina, Greece, Turkey, Belarus, Crotia, Uruguay, MK Dons, Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Oxford and Ebbsfleet.

Lets see who has the last laugh.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Nice to meet you

Today we launch the new BSM singles series, Meet & Greet. Myself and my good friend Ivano have been working on this for a bit now and we think it's a great idea, I just hope you lot agree!

Basically we're going to be collaborating with other labels from all around the world (meeting and greeting them, if you like) to co-release loads of singles. Some of the labels will be old friends, some will be labels we love and admire as music fans. Some of the singles we work on will just be one band, some will be splits between two or more. It's a very open scheme which leaves us with lots and lots of possibilities. We didn't want to confine ourselves to a straight-forward singles club where everything comes out on a certain format on a routine date. Everyone knows BSM can't stick to a deadline, so it just wouldn't have worked that way!

The first two singles have been announced and the band's are both very busy. First up we have The New 1920 (released with BSM and Sam Get Cape Wear Cape Fly's Mannequin Republic label) in November. The guys are about to head out for a few dates with Kids In Glass Houses before playing a couple of shows at Manchester's In The City event, including one supporting Scouting For Girls. In November they're out on tour again, this time on a Rock Sound sponsored tour with Boom In The Diamond Industry.

The second release, due out in December, is the new single from Sam Isaac (co-released with BSM's own sister label, Alcopop!). Over the next month Sam will be on MTV2 - this Saturday (13th Oct, 9pm), playing In The City, supporting Edwyn Collins at the BBC Electric Proms as one of only four new artists, before heading out on the Proms tour for 5 dates around the UK. After that he's playing Huw Stephens Sŵn Festival in Cardiff as well as touring his butt off, as usual.

So it's a busy and exciting start for Meet & Greet. Please take a moment to check out our Myspace page and come back soon as we'll be announcing details of more releases shortly

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Please tell me why I'm sleeping with my clothes on

I've known about this for a couple of days now but last night it became public knowledge: Jairus have decided to call it a day. I won't go into details but a statement will be up on the band's Myspace page soon. We're hoping to release the new album via itunes in early 2008 as planned, so if you were looking forward to hearing it, you still can. As I said on the press release regarding the band's demise: "There are currently no plans for a £40 vinyl discbox set". That's me mocking Radiohead that is. Topical.

On a brighter note, how good were Lit?

We had another Alcopop! meeting last night, after playing football for two hours. I drank a bottle of citrus vodka and we made yet more industry shaping plans; some ridiculously good, some just ridiculous. This morning I can't decide which hurts the most, my legs or my head.

Today I plan to listen to everything The Get Up Kids ever recorded, in chronological order, of course.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

John Peel

As tomorrow is John Peel day I thought I would share a little story with you:

The first radio airplay BSM ever received was from Mr Peel back in 2004. He played two of my releases back to back and called it a "BSM segway". One of the records he put on at the wrong speed and the other was a split single, from which he played one band but called them by the others name. I was at my girlfriend's Mum's wedding when I received a text telling me he'd played them the night before, so I faked illness to literally run the 2 miles home and listen back online. I spent the rest of the afternoon punching the air, wearing a huge smile and getting drunk on WKD blue, before being rumbled and shouted at by my girlfriend. She didn't understand my reasoning. We broke up shortly after citing musical differences as the reason.

R.I.P. John Peel

Monday, 8 October 2007

House of Free Music

Do you want to download a free House of Brothers track, taken from the forthcoming debut EP? Don't worry, it's a rhetorical question, here's the link:

House of Brothers - Deadman MP3

Download it, love it, pass it onto your friends and spread the word. The song's already been made Student Radio Association's 'approved track of the week' and with live dates with Youthmovies coming up this week, you can be the coolest kid on the block when you tell your mates that you've been a fan since the start.


Sunday, 7 October 2007

Saturday afternoon in the city

To all of the people who walk really, really slowly down the high street, folk who stop abruptly right in front of me for no reason at all, old women who stand in the middle of aisles blocking the whole shop up and rude boy kids who strut around with their trousers tucked into their socks and their caps barely touching the tops of their shaved heads: What the hell are you playing at?!

There's something about busy Saturdays in packed city centres which really makes my blood boil. Well actually, that's four things.

On a happier note: The first pressing of the Meet Me In St Louis album is nearly gone already and the second one has just been ordered. Two new releases - which haven't even been announced publicly yet - are also being pressed right now, and I'm downloading the House of Brothers EP artwork as I type this. I've also just polished off a nice looking new flyer design and have placed an order for some new t-shirts. It's 11am on a Sunday, I'm hungover from drinking too much cider last night (mostly to help succumb by shopping rage) and all I want to do today is lay on the sofa and watch football, but unlike the big guy upstairs, I don't get to rest today. I must be wicked.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Alcopopping

As well as BSM I also co-run Alcopop! Records with my former housemate and good friend, Jack. After leaving our shared house in June, Jack moved west to Bristol with his girlfriend. This put an end to our nights of cutting and folding CD sleeves infront of the TV and ridiculous midweek drinking binges dreaming up hairbrained schemes for the label... Or that's what we thought! Last night Jack came down and our "meeting" panned out as such:

Arriving at 7pm we downed a couple of large vodka's and came up with possibly the best gimmick the record industry has ever heard of (tbc). We caught the bus to Cowley Road where we met a couple of the guys from a local band (whose name, for now, will remain a secret. Note: they have a digital release coming out soon and you might have heard of them, but that's all I'm saying) for a curry and to discuss a future release or three, arriving late as we stopped off, sorry, went out of our way to get to, the dodgy off licence where everything is 50p and 2 years+ out of date. The curry and drink went down, ideas were discussed, plans were made and we set off on our way back home with a couple of cans of Pimms for the road. 50p each, of course, years out of date, obviously. A cocktail of leftover alcohol was created and we hit the office around midnight, stumbling up the stairs and spilling drink everywhere just in time to tune into Huw Stephens. In the following few hours we, drunkenly, designed a flyer for our next London Alcopop! show (see below), listed the tickets online, wrote a press release, started a Facebook event and updated the website with the info. Turning our attentions to 4 or 5 Magicians and their upcoming single we sorted the artwork and sent the master off to be pressed and updated the website and Myspace with pre-order details. Moving onto the next release, a compilation tape due out in November, we listened through the 15 tracks, decided on an order, plotted a couple of promotional and marketing plans, worked out the artwork and then mastered the tracks to make sure they were all at the same volume and the gaps were correct. With all of this complete we allowed ourselves some time for more stumbling around, to send texts into Huw's show, hoping they would be read out on air and embarrass our friends, we checked out and laughed at some terrible, terrible bands on Myspace, poured another large cocktail and talked proudly about our earlier plan. You know, the best one to ever hit the music industry (tbc).

I rolled into bed at 4.30am, tired yet satisfied after another successful Alcopop! "meeting". Raise your glasses, ladies and gentlemen, this is rock n roll.


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Stop the press! A glorious day

The sun's threatening to come out, Oxford's packed with smiling, happy students and the press is flooding in.

Meet Me In St Louis are featured in this week's Kerrang (see below for photoshoot dramatics) and receive a glowing album review from The Fly, both out today, whilst tonight, This Town Needs Guns and Cats And Cats And Cats Radio One session gets it's first airing. It's like buses. Beautiful, record-selling buses.

I've just cooked myself some celebratory garlic bread, something I only realised last week I actually enjoy, after 24 years of missing out. Maybe it is the future after all, hey Peter?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

What the...?!

I just "pinged" my blog. Answers on a postcard if you can tell me what the heck that means!

Demon facing and the future of our planet

I decided it's time to stop living in fear and made my return to the post office today, to face the wrath of the angry man after I shunned him and his kind offer of letting me sell his records for him a few weeks back. Don't get me wrong, if I had my way I'd live cowering in my nice, warm house for years without so much as laying an eye on the place, but the pile of CDs waiting to be shipped around the world kinda forced my hand on this one.
All was looking good as I set off down the road. The rain had eased off, the air was thinner than the radiator-warmed oxygen of the house and the work traffic wouldn't be seen for at least two hours yet. I even allowed myself a little song as I skillfully kept hold of the huge pile of jiffy bag packages whilst waving a friendly greeting to Next Door Geoff, un-necessarily cutting large pieces of wood in his garage, as per usual. I cruised into the Post Office, bypassed the shelves of sweets and headed straight for the counter where our eyes locked and battle commenced.
Two minutes later I was on my way again, stamps in hand and a skip in my step as my fears of being bashed to death by a giant rubber stamp, or sealed in a bag and posted to the deepest, darkest depths of Africa were unfounded; he'd clearly forgotten all about me. Either that or he'd found another poor, unsuspecting victim to bully into his old vinyl selling ways, Either way, I was unharmed and I was delighted, well, that was until I got outside. Just as I step foot outside of the shop fate dealt me a cruel reminder of how bitter life can be. A double-decker bus, absolutely packed to the rafters with what I like to refer to as "little pricks" came shaking round the corner. I glanced up, quivering with fear, as I see some hanging from the bars on the top deck, others punching their friends in the faces, there were a couple at the back playing with lighters and then there were the girls. Tiny, annoying girls as far as the eye could see, all chattering absolute nonsense at one another. The doors weren't even open but I could hear it. "and I was like 'yeah' and he was like 'so what' and I was like..." rained down on me. My head span and I started to feel dizzy. I turned and walked down the road as quickly as my little, children hating legs would carry me. In the distance I could just make out the tiny sound of a small gang swearing and discussing throwing rocks at something, or someone! I walked quicker.
Forget what they tell you, the internet is a much safer place than the real world.

Monday, 1 October 2007

A very reliable source

I've just updated the BSM Myspace blog with an update of last months comings and goings. Click here to have a read of that along with past monthly entries, and see below for a couple of stories ripped from said blog, which I thought I would share with you here too:

The scary man at the post office guessed that I work in music from the number of CD shaped parcels I've been sending over the past couple of months and decided to offer me the very priveleged job of selling a box of his old vinyl for him. Ever heard of Frankie Kuntz? Of course you haven't. I told him I don't think these records would fetch much and having fled from his death stare I've been too scared to return for the past 4 weeks.

Check out Deal Or No Deal this month as a friend of the label's, Ed (who some of you may recorgnise as the elf from the BSM Christmas parties) attempts to get rich. Good luck lad! FYI: Ed's the one on the left, no, wait...