life, other people's shit, the sicknote diaries

Sicknote Driver, Dickie Balboa’s House Fire


dickie 6

Dickie Balboa. Do you remember him? The legend that drove Sicknote around from approximately 2006-2011. He put so much into the band, and although he had a wicked time with us, he got very little back. A true giver in the truest sense or the word. Eventually succeeded by Stevie G, another legend and true giver. I feel these guys gave the most to the project financially, always keeping vans on the road for our benefit, and silently absorbing the costs to ensure the sickness arrived. Anyway he left in 2011, and had to get a job, sell the sick mobile and sort his situation out. I think he was feeling under-appreciated and his personal circumstances were in dire need of some attention. Dickie then became a charity bag collector. Delivering the bags one week and collecting them the following week, for British Heart Foundation. It helped that he was a hoarder, his house was notorious for being full of junk. From floor to ceiling in most rooms. He used some of this junk to ensure the charity was getting it’s quota, but still worked flat out, usually starting his rounds at 4am each day. He worked his balls off. He paid off his debts, and managed to save a little bit. Dickie, being Dickie, stashed his little savings at home. He wasn’t one to leave it all in a bank. Fuck the system. So he had it stashed in a box buried deep within his junk upstairs. It would take a thief days to find it.

At the end of last year, Dickie opened his back door, and some kind of back draft thing happened. The open fire, that was blazing away his winter chill, spat out a ball of flames right up the wall and across the ceiling. He stood upon a bench and began to pat the wall and ceiling out, but managed to pretty badly burn his forearm. It was no use, in a matter of seconds the entire kitchen ceiling was alight. He headed for the stairs to retrieve his little stash, but the fire was spreading fast. He stepped outside to survey the situation, and then decided on one last mad dash. A neighbour was passing and grabbed him, thankfully, and stopped him going in. He dragged him to the opposite side of the road and they watched as the entire house went up in flames. The fire brigade came and put it out. The roof was gone. Every window melted. The doors gone. All of his belongings. Money. Everything reduced to a smouldering pile of soot. The only thing he had was the clothes he stood in, and his Sherpa van parked outside.


The neighbourhood, Abertridwr, an odd dead-end village in the valleys near Caerphilly pulled together in ways that help build faith in humanity. These are people without a pot to piss in. And they are giving everything they haven’t got. The local pub landlord gave a room for people to drop off donations. The community were dropping in fridges, sofas, money. Scaffolding companies put up free scaff on the remainder of the bricks. And they began to raise money with local and online collections. Everybody, even people who didn’t personally know him put money in the pot, and although not a lot of money, it afforded Dickie some emergency help with his basic needs. Friends cleared out their spare rooms and he is staying locally with the friendliest and most colourful insane characters. He had always said he needed a clear out.

here is the news article with the link to the local donations (now expired – £835, spilt between Dickie and his neighbours)

I got the bus up there before christmas and done a couple days work. It was fucking hardcore. I thought it was game over, but no, he was determined to build his house back. If you had seen it you would have no doubt agreed with me, that this was impossible. There was fuck all left. Piles of black shit. Collapsed black ceilings, Stairs black and hanging off wall. And not much else. The roof was gone, save a few burnt beams, and the rain pissed through, making it all a smelly, soggy, pile of black ash. When I first arrived he was stood covered in black soot, arm bandaged, soaking wet carrying buckets of black shit, what was his belongings, and dumping them in a donated skip outside. Somehow still cracking jokes. Determined and full of life as usual. My second visit, a roofing company was on board, and a delivery of donated roof tiles turned up. It was me and Keithy Cammando’s job to get the tiles up the scaff to the roof. Killer job. The roofers were unbelievably fast, and the new roof was fitted in an afternoon. Drenched, sweaty and fucked, I got some chips and got the bus back home.

That was over a month ago. I went back last night. The upstairs had windows fitted, a new staircase was in. Scaffolding gone. Aside from that and the inside looking a little cleaner, it was still an absolute bomb site, with all downstairs windows and doors yet to bet fitted and nothing inside but burned walls. The rain poured down hard, it seems to never stop in Abertridwr. I located Dickie at his friends house up the road, and he invited me in. A fat dog with a squashed face and short legs yelped and squeaked and jumped all over me. Dickie’s arm had recovered well, but his hands were ground down in places to fleshy bloody cracked sores, and the rest of his skin was covered in the soot. He looked knackered. He was rebuilding his home from scratch with hardly any tools and relying on help from anyone who would offer it.

We had a cup of tea, and in true Dickie style, he had us laughing our arses off in no time. And yes, Dickie being Dickie, there was no insurance. He had bought the house in the 80s. Never insured it. Never contents or buildings insurance. Nothing. Basically everything he ever had was literally up in smoke. He had to give up his job to dedicate himself to the task at hand, and is relying on handouts from his local community. Completely mental. Never seen anything like it.

So, the Tribe, if it wasn’t for Dickie we wouldn’t have cut our teeth across the country in the early days of the band and gathered up the following and the scene which ensued. I’m not sure who knows Dickie, but I do know those who have met him, love him. He is a true gent and was a total father figure for Sicknote, always in the background making sure it all went off. A true giver, who deserves help. So I’m asking you to chip in. Even a single penny will help. There is nothing too small. The state he is in at the moment even a tin of Aldi beans is a true help. Help him out, a couple of pennies will do, and whatever we get together I will take up to him at the end of the month and make sure he’s got some money from the Tribe to help him move on from this complete nightmare.

If you donate, I will write your name, every single name, in a big card and put the money in the card. I’ll update every night or two (with screen shots of paypal) with how much we’ve got and a list of donators for that day (unless you’d rather stay anonymous). I plan to take the cash in a card up to him at the end of February, and hopefully by then we’ll have a lump. I think this is the way forward, I know he’d be embarrassed if he knew we were doing this. But it’s about time he received. His local community helped, and now it’s our turn! I thought I’d set this up and see what happens, if it fails, as I’m aware he wasn’t that well known and was never in people’s faces, then so be it. But even if it’s £50 I take up to him, I know it will help. He slipped into the conversation last night that the windows downstairs were about £200 each and he needed outer doors too. So my target is £500 to bring to him. If it’s less or mOre! then so be it.

Flakey has just set up a Facebook group to share ideas to help him out, here.

If anyone has any other ideas drop me a message, or just turn up at his house, and help him out! Abertridwr Street in Abertridwr (you can’t miss it). It’s been a few months and it’s a long way off from being liveable. Chuck a penny in and Help the legend that is Dickie Balboa here or press button below. THANK YOU!


target £500 by March 1st 2016:………


£ 1104.53

[updated daily]


People who have chipped in:

Nick Bray, Paul Bevan, Nick Walker, Joe Marvelly, Eleanor Burns, Stevie G, Jason Doghouse, Karl Parkinson, Johanna Hartwig, Matthew Downes, Rev & Flakey, Dom Atreides, Andy Thimbleberry, Victoria Leadbeater, Toby Evans, Joe Goddard, Julia Round, David Sheppard, Becci Barker, Theodore Ellinas, Gina Wathen, Lesely Haywood, AM Bligh, Mouse and Badger, Jason Phillips, Stuart Forsyth, Paul Hardy, David Newton-del-Campo, Luise Tomlins, Craig Lee, Mark Deer, Crocker, Stephen Cuky Cooke, Swag Minal, Hobaps and Major Triadz, Karl Baker, Sare Bear, Anna Doolan, John Garton, Ange n Mark, Annabel Tinks Neilson, Keith Harman, Rebecca Gould, Philip Crisp, Les Wilkins, Caroline Richards, Sian Richards, Jessika Burridge, La Laure, Lorraine Boyle, Fozzys, Heather Casey, Emma Money-Kyrle, Julie Kirk, Simon Betts, Joanne Taylor, Emma Barnes, Stephen Reed, Rowena Brook, Caroline Tomlinson, Joel Morris, Yin Hau, Janine Palmer, Michelle Nicholson, Maja Palser, Tina Price, Audrey Jackson, Megan Dugmore, Robin Weallans, Gavin Bolton, Timothy Barker, Julie Acorn, Paul Riddell, Geraint Short, ………..

thanks to every one of you.  we will put all your names in a card with the cash. x

here is Dickie’s living room:


interviews, other people's shit

Vivian Velveteen

He learned to love his cancer.  He trusted his dark side. It became him. A ruthless bastard. He would do anything for success. He done the deal. He would discard his good nature for fame and women. This was the birth of Vivian Velveteen.

He disowned his past and here he was, loved by his masses. Hiding from his thoughts with the power of self-belief. The flawed hedonist. Could he run forever?

We met in a tiny cafe, under a railway bridge. The windows were dirty and barred up. ,A dark stocky figure in a trench coat stretched back over a chair. He cupped a mug of steaming black coffee with his left hand. the clock moved a tick to 3:23. I order myself a green tea and scraped a chair out to join Vivian. He hardly moves. It’s all been arranged with his management. I find the empty, dirty cafe disconcerting. I click record.

Hi, can i just begin?

Hello, begin.

Can you pin point the moment when you first thought, This Is It, it’s working, I’ve made it?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment, but i suppose i knew i was on the right path around 2013. I had given up trying and thought i had failed. I was feeling very lonely having just left The Sputums, totally lost. I decided in that moment that it was time. I had to commit. All had fallen apart, our son had died, and my life was in tatters. I left my wife shortly after as the pain seemed to drive us apart, rather than together. I sat in a darkened room and spoke with some being. I can’t really say what the being was, it may have been me. But all i know is that we agreed that no more would we look out for others. From now on it was a single minded push for glory. I stepped into the studio with Fillimore and a Xylophone. I let out my anger at the unfairness of the world. I denounced god. i took on nature head to head. It felt so right.

Can you see that you have caused controversy amongst the general public with the content of your lyrics?

I’m not out to be controversial. This whole year has been nothing but an exorcism of sorts for me. It’s very personal. It’s my journey to the darkside. Fuck God. I took on the Bad Shit that was being dealt to me, and said Fuck You. This expression is my own cathartic way of denouncing my previous life. If people are offended by my exorcism then fuck them. It’s not for them, it’s for me. If they happen to relate and can get inspired by my journey then come along. If not, then fuck off. You don’t know me.

Can you see how this can turn people off?

My job is to turn people off. Turn people off life. It’s bullshit, you don;t have to stand for it. Just say no.

It seems like you are playing God, have drugs played a significant part in this journey?

Drugs were a part of my life. When everything went wrong with The Sputums and my personal life, I decided to kick the habit. I am tee-total now. I have to be. To fight nature you need a straight head, one slip up and she will fuck you. I need to be on the ball.

You say fight nature, exactly how are you doing this?

I refuse to accept the hand that has been dealt to me. I am in control. 100%. In showing people how i do this, i inspire, people see it and they wanna piece. This turns into album sales and more importantly builds hope into people who denounce God. Nature is unfair, nothing makes sense, in taking control of your destiny you become the equalizer, You take what you want.

What was it like growing up as Vivian Langford?

That person died when my son died. I don’t remember much about him. Maybe that he was a pushover, always being nice, and being offended. Nothing worked in his life and he just bent over and took whatever came his way. His family were cold, hard working, frightened. The family suffered from a drunken father and a bitter Mother. They were not happy times.

Where did you get the name from?

I needed to change my name to signify the change in me. My personality was dead. I was anew. I left behind everything I knew. Including myself.

You are seen as a bit of a joke by some of the heavy metal scene, how do you respond to this?

Heavy Metal Scene? What scene? I don’t deal in genres. I deal in real emotions. I denounce all earthly associations and categories to hide behind. Present Tense is raw and real, and about change. If you don’t want to change then don’t comment, just carry on with your life with the rest of the dead fish. Everything is stagnant, including Metal or whatever. As soon as you categorise something, give it a name, label it, it’s dead. Metal died shortly after Black Sabbath accidentally invented it. Some smart alec named it and in doing so killed it. Why are they still writing about it in 2016? Like it’s something. We are against that. Present Tense, is just that. No wonder Metal Hammer don;t like it.

Is it true that you refuse to speak to anyone from your past?

I will give people the time of day if they fit into my vision of how things should be. I refuse to be vulnerable. Most people from my past used me. They used him up and wore him out. Out of bitter disappointment was born the new me. I raised from the ashes of the shit of my past. In order to become me I had to leave it all behind. Change is good. Not change for changes sake, but escaping the  hand you have been dealt. It’s not easy, but when you;’ve been kicked down onto your ass enough times you say fuck this.

What’s next for Present Tense?

Just repeat that question to yourself.

What is next for the band?

Learning to be more present. Knowing what we want. And refusing anything that does not fit in with our vision. A total disregard for trends and opinions. Total self belief and total control. We don’t want admiration, we want your soul.

Why do you want people’s soul, what can this do for you or your followers?

Well it’s simple really, fans can buy a ticket and go to watch Noel Gallagher and then go back to their job and wife they hate. If you are not happy we want you to kill your wife, your boss, your parents. Kill your life. Kill the past. Let it all go. Total destruction of life as we know it. Fuck fans. We want disciples. This shit is for real.

creation, other people's shit


“Take risks. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t ask permission. But be prepared to suffer the consequences of your actions. Don’t blame others. Don’t expect success – not even after you’re dead. Remember, to get one good artist you need to have at least a thousand others struggling in their garrets. If you or I are one of those struggling ones, we’re still doing our jobs.”

-Bill Drummond, KLF



from Bill Drummond’s 10 commandments of art.

creation, my shit, other people's shit



Screenshot 2015-02-04 23.13.09

had THE most productive January of all time! Finished up 9 tunes, including new tunes for heavy new ANGRY TECHNO METAL project (soon to be revealed), new Ninjah single, recorded an insane band from West Wales who i think is the weirdest shit i have ever recorded, a couple of new Flapsandwich Remixes, chill-out tune for new project Lost Radikals and more!!! ooof. what a month. buzzing. will reveal shit soon. also teamed up with the excellent Adam Shipp for this little tune and vid. I am the Walrus. Coo Coo Ca Choo


other people's shit

Forget Florence – meet the real stars of the festival scene

An article from Owen Adams for The Guardian newspaper:

Getting off at the wrong bus stop led me to an otherworld of free festivals and brilliant bands. Just don’t expect to read about Tragic Roundabout or the Tofu Love Frogs in the music press

And the award for hardest-working artist on the festival circuit goes to … Florence and the Machine? Hot Chip? Dizzee Rascal? Not likely. It’s the DIY stars who really deserve the props – relished by veterans of the free festival scene, but never appearing in critics’ reviews.

For hardcore festivalgoers, Glastonbury isn’t the next fixture, it’s this weekend’s Solstice. The People’s Free festival at Stonehenge no longer exists, so where to go? Watch Tragic Roundabout fire up their chaotic klezmer cauldron in a field somewhere in Worcestershire, join the Hawklords on a retro-space trip on a Welsh farm, or swoon as Eat Static hit the acid-alien-techno button at the Willowman festival on the North Yorkshire moors.

Yet no matter how big, brilliant and groundbreaking the Solstice gathering, you can be fairly certain no national media outlet will bother covering the event – a photo of druids at Stonehenge will suffice – and the only publicity it will get in the local press is if there’s been any trouble.

This cultural otherworld has flourished for more than 40 years (and the bands regularly whip large crowds into a frenzy), but aside from the tireless chronicles of Festival Eye, the nomadic troubadours of the summer festival circuit are resolutely ignored by the mainstream. Why? Do some people just dismiss everything not on Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage as “crusty”?

Logic doesn’t always play a part. Gogol Bordello are feted by Madonna and the mainstream while a dozen British-based bands on the gypsy punk tip are met with complete indifference. Wicked Squad are respected in the dance underground for gypsy techno, and Stenchman for gypsy dubstep, but the free-festival culture that produced much of this remains a music-press taboo. Critics rightly celebrate Tinariwen and nomadic Tuareg sounds, but don’t give British traveller music a second thought.

Crass, who sprang from free-festival culture in the mid 1970s, are one of the few revered acts, applauded for their year-zero edge. But there are many more bands deserving similar respect, such as the proto-punk Pink Fairies (long gone but poorly remembered), the nihilist dub poetry of RDF, the furious ceilidh-punk of the Tofu Love Frogs, not to mention recently reformed anarcho funk-punks Zounds and techno-punks, Sicknote.

Much of what’s happening on the fringes of the UK festival scene is important. I’ve been familiar with it ever since, as a teenager in the mid 1980s, I got off at the wrong bus stop and wandered into a free festival in Milton Keynes. Positioned on a flatbed lorry was a one-chord thrash guitarist and a trio of Bacchae-like women taking turns to scream down the mic. Screech Rock and the Mutoid Waste Company’s spontaneous collaboration, witnessed by hundreds, documented by no one (until now) was just the start. When NME was fixated on the Blur v Oasis grudge match, I was likely to be found Messed Up with Culture Shock, stuck in a Daydream with Back to the Planet, spun out on Ozrics or tuned into Radio Mongolia.

And the free party continues somewhere each weekend (if not thwarted by draconian laws and riot police) with a host of new ingredients, new generations, but with the same Do It approach exemplified by the Pink Fairies at the People’s Free festivals in the 1970s. If you’re not a part of it, then you’re missing out.