Tuesday 8 December 2009

New radio show, keyboard rescue, Framus Star bass...

I'm so busy that I think the only way I could possibly get everything done is by cloning myself only I haven't got time. But I have managed to put another radio show up - here's a link: http://bit.ly/wrecklessradio
I've also built our touring keyboard, a delapidated Roland JX8P that Amy plays, into a smart new casing - not, you must understand, to make it look smart, merely to stop it dropping to pieces.
And in between that and convalescing after the Yo La Tengo tour we've been desperately learning twenty or so Kevin Coyne songs for the tribute shows which start in Brussels this Friday. We're setting off for a secret location in Gent where we're going to rehearse with Jon Langford, Robert Coyne, Brendan Croker and the drummer from Kevin's last band. Amy's playing keyboards and and guitar, I'm playing bass.
I'm going to use my Framus Star bass which should cause a stir because it only just resembles a musical instrument of any description. It dates from a time before the role of the bass guitar was clearly defined - no one was quite sure what it was supposed to do, and that's what the Framus Star bass looks like. It has a very long, thin neck, massive tuning pegs and a damper contraption that flips up under the strings pushing a wad of industrial rubber against them so that when plucked they give out a short sound that might most accurately be explained as bluck. The neck is so long that to tune the top string I literally have to walk from one end of the neck to the other. My back is killing me thanks to practicing for a week on this beast of an instrument but I'm hoping to cut quite a dash with it strung around my neck under the stage lights this weekend.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Yes, that's right - the Polish police are particularly underworked, crime being a relatively new phonomenom in the former eastern block. So they think nothing of returning belongings to strangers who were ambushed and robbed two countries and two weeks previously. Oh, those Polish police, they're a veritable Mary fucking Poppins...
Keep the messages of support rolling in!
See you in Paris x

Tuesday 24 November 2009

The most incredible thing happened tonight in Poland. We'd just traversed fifty or so kilometers of the worst road in Europe, a collection of potholes and ridges held together with a sporadic scattering of concrete and rubble. Just as we hit - and hit is absolutely the word because there was a ramp and the van almost took off - the highway, the smooth, newly built part that is, we were flagged down by a policeman. He asked to see my papers so I gave him my passport to keep him going while I found the carte grise for the van, but then he wasn't sure and asked to see my driving licence and I wasn't sure because my French one was stolen in Amsterdam last week and I didn't want to show my UK one because the address doesn't match up with the van, so I gave him the insurance document to be going on with. He seemed to quite like that but then he wanted my passport so I gave him my UK driving licence (the paper bit because I couldn't find the plastic card), but he obviously couldn't understand that because I saw him trying to read it upsidedown (the licence that is - you wouldn't get a policeman, not even a Polish one, standing on his head on the side of a motorway), so he got quite stroppy and almost shouted at me, demanding my passport, which is what I think he should have done in the first place.
He scuttled off back to his car with my paperwork and was gone long enough for me to convince myself that I was going to be hiked off to prison for some innocently perpertrated misdemeanour. I was just about to launch into an embarrassing we've had a good marriage... speech when I caught sight of him in the wing mirror. He was marching towards the car with a winter coat over his arm and carrying my bag, the small red purse which Amy speaks so fondly of.
And then he called some colleagues and they gave us a high speed police escort for the next four hundred and fifty six kilometers all the way to Katowice. And when we arrived at the hotel the mayor of Katowice, who was waiting for us in the reception, presented us with the keys to the city.
Watch this space for more exciting on tour escapades.

Monday 28 September 2009

The Ginger Man Group

We have our very own Blue Man Group - more likely The Ginger Man Group. They come from Stirling and yesterday they travelled down to Newcastle to see us do an afternoon show in the upstairs room of a city centre pub. They're lead by a man called George who I suspect is extremely intelligent though he's always drunk when I meet him. The other Ginger Men are his brother (terrifyingly drunk) and a dark haired one who's not ginger at all and wears a contrasting black Wreckless Eric t shirt to go with his Scottish/Italian look.
George is a leader of men, he has charisma. His hapless followers will go wherever he leads them. George is fairly obsessed with me and that's why he leads them to our shows where they terrify bewildered audiences with strange tribal chanting and spastic stop/go dance floor manouvres.
They may be a bit of a pain in the arse for the rest of the audience, but in these increasingly po-faced times I sometimes look back with affection at the days when beer was served in real glasses and audiences spat at us and chucked bottles. That period didn't last for very long which is just as well because if it had someone would have died. I enjoyed the adrenalin rush though, and for a brief moment yesterday afternoon The Ginger Man Group bought it all back to me.
Here's a link to Lindsay Hutton's review of the show\- http://nextbigthing.blogspot.com/

Tuesday 22 September 2009


And no mention of my excruciating toothache - I've been off my head on painkillers for four days now but I don't think anyone's noticed.
Now I'm off my head on antibiotics, they always seem to put me into a weird headspace.

Did I really say weird headspace? I'm sorry about that, it's the result of a morning spent shuttling around Southsea High Street. We managed to avoid The Magick Cafe (full of witches who say reeeely nice and a-maaazing...) and stumbled instead into a Christian sect cafe - do you live locally...?
We had to get out of there pretty sharpish or we might have been sucked in. I saw a bible on the table - a bespectacled young misfit swiped it up, apologised and carried it off up the stairs to a Christian rock rehearsal space which I later discovered on my way to the toilet.

Monday 14 September 2009

andreas blogg

I was slightly concerned by a comment on the last entry - someone said that they clicked on the next blog thing and it took them to a blog about tying fishing flies. So now I'm wondering if there's a Central Blog Control that look at me, decides I'm hopelessly middle-aged, and chooses some appropriate follow-on blogs that it thinks might appeal to my similarly fuddy duddy blogster following.
I was cheered up when someone else posted a comment about the blog that they got when they clicked on next blog: Andreas lives in Sweden, he's thirty one years old, he lists his occupation as IT Technical Support and hobbies are BMW, billiards, music, Xbox. (I don't know what Xbox is but looking at Andreas I'm guessing that you can use it to access some good porn sites).
Andreas' blog cheered me up because it confirmed what I've thought for a long time - that some people reach middle age in the full flush of youth. And this makes me think I'm not doing so badly - I'm probably more crotchety than ever, my hair's turned grey, I've got the beginnings of a bald spot, there seems to be half as much of me again as there used to be, and the twenty seven inch waist of my younger days has gone forever. But at least I haven't got a blog that makes a big deal of the garage, the carwash and a hoover.
If you want to feel better about yourself here's the address to go to: http://bmw-andreas.blogspot.com/
I'm a heartless cynical bastard but life's made me that way.

Anyone who follows Amy's diary will probably already know that she had a stall at a local vide grenier yesterday. (A vide grenier is much like a car boot sale by the way). She didn't do too badly though it wasn't the greatest success. She had to be there at seven in the morning. By the time I arrived in the mid-afternoon she'd packed up and left. It took me some time to find the stalls because some idiot had put the little A boards advertising the thing on the wrong side of the road so that the this way to the vide grenier arrows were all pointing away from the event.
Typically French you might say, but what was more typically French, contemporary French, is that they'd booked this horrible local duo to play - not us - this lot are called Vis-a-Vis and they single-handedly prove that the eighties marked the beginnings of the cultural trough that we now find ourselves wallowing in.
Vis-a-Vis were playing when I got there. Apparently they'd been playing all day with no let up. The site was a dusty car park. There was a bar and sandwich concession serving a few rapidly reddening English people who sat carousing on municipal plastic chairs under the hot sun. Scattered round about were a few stalls selling this and that junk - I was too depressed to look, and left as Vis-a-Vis launched into Me And Julio Down By The School Yard complete with chorus effect on the acoustic bass guitar.
It occured to me as I scurried away that if someone had handed me a gun at that moment I would have turned, shot them both in the head and laughed as blood and brains spattered the equipment and the jollity blundered to a halt. Later on Amy told me that they'd done a Who medley and I changed my mind about the shooting - I would have had them taken away and tortured. Which reminds me, we're doing a local Amnesty International benefit on November 7th.
The reason I feel so badly about Vis-a-Vis is they doubtless hold the status in France of Artist/Musician, Intermittant de Spectacle as it's called. We can't have that status here with all the benefits that go with it - health care and dole for the days we don't work, because in order to qualify you have to do forty three concert in a ten month period. Unfortunately the forty three concert have to be in France or they don't count. So none of our American, German or British tour dates count, none of our recordings, the international reputation that we've both spent years building, none of that counts for anything here. The fact that we earn money from touring and selling records in other countries, bring it back to France and pump it into the French economy, that counts for nothing. Amy's going for the official status of market trader and I'm looking at either music consultant or odd job man.
We're not artists or musicians, but Vis-a-Vis with there tawdry slaughterings of Knocking On Heaven's Door and No Woman No Cry, they are. And that's why I feel so badly about them.

I'm going to have another look at what Andreas has been up to: http://bmw-andreas.blogspot.com/

Monday 7 September 2009

A Site That Currently Contains A Lot Of Spam

Myspace has a problem with the google blog thing, which I imagine is much like the brief war between Betamax and VHS back in the glory days of video cassettes. They refuse to be compatable, probably because young Tom Freckles at Myspace is feeling insecure.

The march of progress would seem to have taught the world precious little.

If they were car manufacturers rather than web hosts they probably wouldn't be able to decide which side of the car to put the steering wheel or which side of the road to drive on. On Myspace the link to the radio show leads to a box informing the intrepid but foolhardy clicker that they've been prevented from venturing further because they may have been about to enter A Site That Currently Contains A Lot Of Spam, and at the very least they could be prey to a phishing scam.

For phishing scam read head-on collision.

Click on this seemingly innocuous link (if you dare):

The Wreckless Eric Radio Show

I'm not a phishing scam or a piece of malicious software but Myspace won't let me put a link to the ungodly google or directly to the radio show. So I've been forced to provide an unlinked link if you see what I mean. I've suggested that those with copying and pasting skills the, ahem... tech savvy (pass the bucket) can copy and paste the unlinked link and leave the tightly controlled, tight-arsed world of myspace behind for a short while.

And I've promised that I won't crawl up the wire into anyone's computer and fuck about with their personal details.

Here's a preview of the latest radio show:

Hang on to your testicles (or someone else's) and prepare to freak out. Music from Silver Apples, Alan Vega, Bert Kempfeart & His Orchestra, Plummet Airlines, Jacques Dutronc, McGinty & White, Nick Lowe, The Honeycombs, Jimmy Reed and not forgetting Little Boy Blue & His Blue Boys.

And here's the link (it's all "in-house" here so we should be OK):

The Wreckless Eric Radio Show

And just for the sake of going link crazy here's a link to our tour dates:

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby UK September dates

And a link to a list of hospital trust sites in the UK which I'm sure you'll find deeply disinteresting:


Thursday 3 September 2009

Eric Is Not Up To Much

I accidentally clicked on something in Hotmail and found myself in the midst of my Windows Live Messenger account, a lot of nonsense that could enable me to keep in touch with my entire universe 24/7, and, at the flicker of an eyelid, tell the waiting world what I'm up to. Well, in lieu of me telling the eagerly bated World At Large what I'm up to (is that baited as in a fish hook or is there a condition known as bated that applies to breathing?), Windows Messenger seems to have taken it upon itself to carry the news in big letters that Eric Is Not Up To Anything.
I felt that I was being chastised for not joining in - my first reaction was to change it, but that would involve joining in and my choice is not to. I choose not to because I'm not having peer pressure applied by some virtual big brother bully boy.

Eric is far from Idle (ha ha ha) - I'm busy with Alan Clayson's album. It's been taking a long time. I've created most of the backing tracks myself with guidance from demo cassettes recorded at The Clayson Laboratory of Lo-fi Intergalactica. A bit difficult because he uses two or three different cassette recorders, transferring stuff between them, and none of them run at the correct (or should we say accepted) speed. So it's fairly tricky trying to determine the key signature. And as for the timing, there's a time signature somewhere between 2/4 and 3/4 which is peculier only to Alan. It's quite a job but the results are fabulous. I've played most of the instruments myself with piano contributions from Amy and our friend Graham Beck, and a couple of appearances from Ian Button on the drums , and of course Alan on piano and harmonium ('I shall have legs like whipcord').
We're nearing completion now, I'm looking forward to another visit from Alan to finish the remaining vocal overdubs and then I'll be mixing it.
When we started, a couple of years ago, Alan said he'd like to make an album like Bungalow Hi. 'That might take some time' I said. And I was right - it has. I hope the finished album shows at least a few people what a great talent Alan Clayson really is.
That's what I've been up to for the past couple of days. And apart from that, if anyone can be bothered, just tell that nosey parker Messenger thing that the Trident desk is improving daily and looking forward to a complete new set of faders. Here's another photo:

Saturday 29 August 2009

hello... hello... can anyone hear me?

The radio show business is a bit of a tragedy - the listnership appears to be falling off in direct proportion to the effort I put in to making the programmes. Amy reckons it's nothing to worry about, just the last week of August, the last of the summer holidays filling up people's time. I tend to take a quietly pessimistic view - it's my musical career in a microcosm - a gradual falling off of interest until one day there'll be none. Playing to an empty room, but still doing the show, fullfilling the engagement because standards must not be allowed to slip.
I can imagine us like a couple of old dodderers who still dress and sit down to dinner in a large, gloomy, unheated dining room, with plaster falling from the ceiling because Jerry's dropping bombs. There's a war on but we're not going to let it affect our routine. Except that there won't be any falling plaster, hopefully no falling bombs, just an empty dance floor and a club owner twiddling his thumbs, waiting for us to get finished.
I'm still going to carry on with the radio shows. I'll carry on even if there are no listeners whatsoever. The shows will be there, wherever there is, suspended in virtual reality, as pristine as the day they were created, waiting for someone to discover them. Along with just about everything else.
It's disturbing to me to think that nothing's difficult to find anymore - you just google it. I also find it disturbing that a stupid word like google has been allowed to creep in and become a verb - I google, you google, he, she or it googles... For fuck's sake.
Most people don't have the wherewithall to search out and collect Ming vases, Dresden china, Stradavarious violins and all that sort of stuff. I wouldn't want to even if I could so perhaps it doesn't make for a very good example, but I could always search out records, 33s and 45s. Affordable and every bit as collectable, treasurable as a Ming vase. And more fun too - you can't dance to a Ming vase. Or a Stradavarious, unless you're got Yehudi Menuin in a good mood strapped to the other end of it.
The pleasure I got from say finding a copy of Five Live Yardbirds in the back of a junk shop a couple of years after Columbia deleted it, snapping up Honey I Need by The Pretty Things in perfect condition for ten pence having looked for a copy for years... that's all gone. I took these records home, week after week, one at a time, and listened to them until I knew every nuance, every ping, creak and scratch. I listened to the fade outs with my ear pressed to the speaker to catch every last second of pleasure that these things had to offer. Now I could just google whatever it is, download it and probably never really listen to it because there's always too much at one go and less time to listen.
I sound like a grumbling old codger don't I? It's a funny thing - if you rail on about the way the world is when you're young you're a rebel, an angry young man, and that's cool. Do the the same when you're over fifty and you're a curmudgeon, an old git. Well fuck 'em.
The radio shows will be there alongside all the daft crap, dumb You-Tube shit and the like until the cockroaches take over the hard drives.
And so will this blog post thing.

Click this link and tune in - The Wreckless Eric Radio Show - make an old man very happy!!

Thursday 27 August 2009

I can hardly believe the abject stupidity that I'm forced to endure every day. The mairie of our village are about to spend a collosal amount of money, create a great deal of upheaval and subject us to God knows what inconvenience in the way of noise, dust, temporary one way systems and parking restrictions, because they're going to make the streets look nicer.

They've already done one street, and apart from digging a big trench along the length of the road all they seem to have done is replace the street lights with twice as many street lights on poles of a different colour to the original ones. The new street lights are glossy maroon affairs that don't match the street lights in the adjacent street which are a sort of dull municipal green. It's anyone's guess what colour ours are going to be.

It seems to me that every maire in every town and village in France has a deal with a street furniture company. Since the early nineties French streets have been increasingly cluttered up with benches, bollards, barriers, troughs and decorative cast iron globes. The pavement of the main shopping street of one town near here is so full of this crap that there isn't room for more than one pedestrian at a time, so most people squeeze between the barriers (designed to save lives) and risk death or injury by walking in the road.

When I first moved here back in the eighties the street lights went off at ten or ten thirty and the entire countryside was plunged into darkness. I never knew there were so many stars in the night sky. Moonlight was silver and thunder storms were dramatic - my neighbours had a weeping willow and when we had a good thunderstorm the branches thrashed and flailed around,occasionally jumping out of the blackness, brilliantly and instantaneously lit by flashes of lightning. Later on the mairie had new streetlights installed which put out a pervasive orange glare. They were kept on all night. But by that time the neighbours had got rid of the willow tree and I'd got curtains.

I don't understand this aversion to darkness. It's not as if people are walking the streets round here at night - there's no point because there's nothing going on anyway. There's nothing to be scared of in the dark in the countryside round here. I'm much more scared of whatever design horror of streetlights we're going to get. And worst of all, according to the plan, they're intending to fix one to the wall of our house. Not that they've asked us or anything. We went up to the mairie yesterday afternoon to look at the plan. It didn't tell us much except that they're going to get rid of all the street lamps and replace them with twice as many new ones. It's going to be like Las Vegas round here. I may be forced into buying an air rifle to ensure a bit of healthy blackness.

I can imagine that the mairies are getting backhanders from the electricity company. There's a village round here, just a village you drive through on the N21, that's lit up like Heathrow Airport. It hasn't just got street lights hanging over the road, there are auxillary lamps sprouting from the backs of the posts, providing a golden archway of light along the full length of the pavement, about two miles in all. It rivals Blackpool in it's splendour. You can see it from outer space but I've yet to see a nocturnal pedestrian.

I'm repairing and painting our window frames at the moment. By French law I'm supposed to get permission from the mairie if I want to paint them a different colour. You can't buy dirty white paint so I'm going to have to, but I'm not going to ask permission. Not until they tell me what colour street lamps they've got in store for us. And not until they ask me very nicely if they can fix one of them to our house. The answer is going to be no but I'm sure that won't stop them, they've got might on their side - they've got a big framed photo of Europe's top fascist, Nicolas Sarkozy hanging up at the mairie. When they left us alone in the room with it and the plan I had to restrain myself from ripping it from the wall and vandalizing it

Nicolas Sarkozy - he's a human fucking dildo. You can flick his little pecker and activate the batteries that make his sticky-out mouse ears waggle and cause extra stimulation... if only - he'd be some use to the world like that.

I'd better stop before I get worked up and get myself in trouble.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

This is a radical new departure for me, not Ericland - I had that going back when this internet thing was in its infancy - it's blogging that's a departure. I still have trouble using such an intrinsically unattractive word for an activity that I always thought was wonderful, inspirirng, life-affirming... communication that is, poetry and prose, stream of conciousness, real life stories and ridiculous adventures out in the world and skittering across a computer keyboard.

Amy has been doing very well with hers and people are always asking when I'm going to start writing this kind of stuff again and on a regular basis, but the truth is I did it for a good few years towards the end of the nineties and into whatever this decade calls itself (and I refuse to call it the naughties), and it must have worn me out.

The radio show have been something of a success - I've been forced into coping with the business of blogspotism, and it's been surprising easy and non-labour intensive. Updating the diary/news page on my site is terribly laborious. I use an out of date version of Dreamweaver. I've never really got the hang of it, just learned enough to do what I have to. It involves opening and updating files and dragging and dropping links and uploading - apart frrom the lack of physical exercise it's not unlike working in a factory. It's time consuming, tedious, and I can only do it on my own computer.

Sometimes I think life's too short, and it seems to be getting shorter. Twenty years ago I was a mad young thing of thirty five with a mental age of twenty five. Now I'm just a few years off being presented with a bus pass and the unthinkable, unspeakable idea of not dying before I get old is looking more and more inevitable. In another twenty years I'll be older than my dad was when he expired from old age.

I don't think I'll be ready to die, though God knows, a lot of the time this world gets on my nerves. I've got too much to do. And it doesn't matter how much I get done, it doesn't look like I'll ever be finished.

I've gone and shunted us into a morbid cul-de-sac here so that's a great start. We've got to brave the tedious city of Limoges today. We've got to get posters done for our UK tour next month and I've got to get some switch cleaner and various components for the beautiful late seventies Trident desk that's now installed, and almost fully functioning in the studio.

I want to spend a lot more time in the studio in future and less time touring. So if anyone wants to come over and record an album here I'm open for business. And you'll even get bass playing and harmonies thrown in.

This has all been a bit of a success so far - I even uploaded a photo, not the most inspiring photo I've ever taken but all I did was press the shutter. It, my new friend blogger, did all the uploading while I made a cup of tea.