I'm off to London later today with a daunting 48 hours of two gigs and about 10 meetings laying ahead. Tonight sees Pulled Apart By Horses play a Levi's Ones To Watch show at the Old Blue Last in trendy East London, with possibly the biggest guestlist I've seen in a while. Every industry bugger and his dog wants a piece of this band right now. Tomorrow will, quite unbelievably, be my first ever visit to Shepherd's Bush Empire as Alcopop's own Stars And Sons (another current industry fave, it would seem) support Okkervil River. It promises to be a fun - if a little stressful - couple of days in the big smoke and typically my inbox is responding accordingly by filling up with important mail after important mail, making the thought of leaving my warm computer seat a difficult one right now. I love the fact that I can justify pissing off to London to get drunk for a couple of nights as "work"
Over the past few days I've spent a lot of time working on next years release schedule. With 2008 all but done now it's all about planning ahead and ensuring we stay as busy as possible, unfortunately things now seem to have swung the other way and it's all pointing towards our busiest year yet. Not that there's anything unfortunate about that, as such, just the fear of sleepless nights and finding more grey hairs which scares me a little.
I keep thinking back to the start of this year and trying to remember exactly where we were at the time. Meet Me In St Louis had lost Toby but were about to embark on a tour as an instrumental act, going out with a band I'd vaguely heard of called Blakfish. Everyone seemed positive, lots of people were offering to take over the vocal duties and the band were excited about writing new material. Jairus's long awaited new album was due out in March and from the demos we'd head, sounded like a great record. Secondsmile were putting the finishing touches to their new songs and were booked to record their currently untitled forthcoming album in New York, sometime in February. The buzz around This Town Needs Guns was starting to grow and we were celebrating the fact that they were receiving an average of 400 Myspace plays a day, a band and label best. '26 Is Dancier Than 4' was starting to appear on more and more blogs and the guys were halfway through writing their album, which at the time they hoped to record in Chicago, although the worry was that they'd run out of time and it would end up being an EP. Anathallo's new single - which was actually a 2 year old song with a 3 year old b-side - was due out in early January and the band were to come here in support of Manchester Orchestra for what would be their first ever UK tour. I had an un-mastered copy of their forthcoming album and it rarely left my stereo. Tubelord were a band who'd played the previous years BSM 5-a-side football tournament (covered in leaves, may I add) and had some incredible demos under their belts. They were difficult to track down and as excited as we were about the possibility of working with them, we feared nobody else would give a damn and we'd lose a lot of money trying to put a single out. All in all, an exciting year was looming.
Over the following 11 or so months: MMISL split up, not even making it one month into this year, we fell in love with Blakfish and released their EP, with an album set to follow. Jairus called it a day and decided they couldn't be bothered to finish their album, Secondsmile's album was recorded, titled 'Years' and released in July, This Town Needs Guns finished writing and opted to record in Northampton instead of Chicago, a decision which would make no sense whatsoever in answer to any other question except 'where would you least like to visit?' It was named 'Animals' and released in October. They now average around 1500 Myspace plays a day, close to four times as many as a year ago. Anathallo loved their tour with Manchester Orchestra, and we all loved them. The single went down a storm and they ended up signing to the Anticon label. Their new album is due out any day now and they're back over here next week. Tubelord mastered the art of emails and went on to record two brilliant singles for us. They played a bunch of festivals, had a full page feature in NME and are expected to be big news in 2010. Along the way Pulled Apart By Horses formed, signed and delivered their brilliant debut single, Toby (ex-MMISL) started up his Shoes And Socks Off solo project and recorded - in the space of one afternoon - his first album, we hit our milestone 50th release (50 Not Out), put out a 10" compilation called The 6 Machine and signed our first Danish band, the lovely Mimas.
I'm sure it's the same for everyone but looking back there were a lot of unexpected bumps and bruises and highs and lows in 2008. This makes me wonder what's in store for the next 12 months. Who'll split up? Which bands which haven't even formed yet will steal our hearts? Who will be our biggest band come the start of 2010? What I wouldn't do for a time machine right now. Curiosity is gonna kill this cat.