creation, my shit

solfest 2016

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There was shit all over the bedroom. Leads and clothes and blankets and plates and im a fucking useless messy fuck. I cant stand things being put away. It confuses me. So this is why I spread everything all over my house like some mad spoilt child. A tidy room will last no longer than a minute after I enter it. I don’t see the mess. Unless someone points it out. But I was now buried up to my waist in crap and nothing was ready. I was burning the backing tracks on to CD for tonights show, and trying to pack for a weekend of gigs in the Lake District with my fave party crew in the land, Lost & Found.

I dragged my sacks of shit down the stairs, including a bag of drum breakables, kindly borrowed to me by Torrie of The Crypt Jam room in splott. We had just spent two weeks jamming in his studio. I had planned to buy a kit. But I had run out of money that I had stashed from France. We piled into the packed car. Me, Shag, Pestis and Gogo. And off we fucked to the north of england….

The TeddyBears blasted all the way up. The boys were stoned out of their boxes, or did they always go into this amount of detail? They also seemed to know every single line of every film we talked about. I cant remember fuck all. I watch game of thrones and the next day people are describing what happened and im thinking did it? I don’t rememebr shit. I seem to not posses a memory. Mates rant about fucked up adventures of times past and I literally have no recollection. Did I fry my brain with all the naughtiness I fed it in my youth? Or maybe i use different parts of the mind. Or maybe I was born without a memory.  I read books manically. And ok, sometimes I hit an epiphanical breakthrough which changes the shape of my psyche, but as far as recalling anything ive read…. zero.. So I politely ignored the conversations and drifted off into my weird place. Neither here in the car nor anywhere else in particular… just kind of in a day dream of nothingness.

We pulled up on the road about 10 minutes from the festival. Pestis had been toeing it up the motorway and his driving was spot on. But now we had hit the lanes and his 3 passengers were all crying and varying shades of grey. I was ready to Ralph. We parked up and I, walking round in circles, I spotted Shags skinny legs in cheerleader socks as he hung over a gate, blowing chunks into a cows field.

Damien welcomed us to the festy and I set up my tent, borrowed from my flat mate, nextt to Shag and his long mate, Nick The photographers. My tent was covered in a pretty pattern of butterflies and heath, bright purple and pink. Within 4 mintues all the shit I had scraped off my bedroom floor was now spread around the tent. It stunk and I couldn’t find fuck all. Home!

Darkness descended and the glittery lights and muffled throb of soundsystems brought out the ravers in force.
I was struggling with the hi-hat clutch. the soundman looked on baffled as me and shag both tried to put the kit together.
“But, arent you the drummer?” he asked.
“Um, yeah, but ive never set up a kit before. I been playing 10 days”
He then set it all up as I headed backstage. Dj slipped disc had turned up in red despite us all agreeing that no colours were to be worn on stage . he was also saying he didn’t want to play the backing tracks on the CDj as requested. I didnt want them imported as mp3s, or played from the dodgy laptop drive, or connected to the system through a £1 lead. Nerves were high, Shag and The Wraith were on the verge of sickness while jabz seemed chilled in his poncho, and Flakira was, despite her debut dance at afestivalonly being a short while ago, one of the most relaxed amongst us.

I had no idea what was going to happen but was already regretting not putting in a few live shows locally before our first ever festival performance. We had tried to play Cardiffs Gwdihw a few nights previous but the idea had fallen apart moments before our stage time, due to lack of interest from, well, anyone, and logistics, lack of drum kit….. etc.

It was time to let fate do with us as she pleased. We were in the hands of the gods now

We kicked off with the The Grey Woman, an unreleased tune featuring The Wraith who paced nervously in a black hood until she sang inaudibly due to shit monitoring / festival soundchecks. Pestis took to the stage in his nighty looking like he had just escaped from the secure unit… Flakira winded her hips and Jabz and Shag rocked it hard. It seemed to be working… I was drumming on time (ISH),  I planned to come out of the headphone socket of Slipped Dic’s CDJ but the booth was the other side of the tent. :/ This was confusing as no one could see how the music was coming out of the speakers. Defo needed him on stage…

During my practice sessions, the previous fortnight, I had caught myself drifting off and having to correct my timing. A space cadet,  hmmm Crumpets. or going into stories, or negative spirals…its become a habit over my lifetime. And what I love about drumming is how you cannot leave NOW, and you learn to stay present. This is Buddhism 101….. this is the loudest meditation in the fucking world. This is THE NOW -the very place where happiness resides! Let’s get enlightened..

After having to correct myself on stage i was convinced it was the track and not  me. I ran through the crowd over to the dj booth to discover Slipped Disc had sneakily set up his laptop through a cheap lead and was playing the backing tracks from his laptop CD Drive!!!!!
YOURE PLAYING THROUGHT THE UFKCIN LAPTOP CD DRIVE?A?A??A
YES!!!!
THANKS. ITS JUMPING LIKE FUCK OUT HERE ON EVERY TRACK!!
NO IT AINT!
YES IT FUICKING IS, IM TRYING TO DRUM TO IT!!!!!
NO IT ISNT….
IT FUCKKING IS!!!!

I sat back on the kit and screamed YOURE FUCKING SACKED!!!  we plodded through the set. Which was in totally the wrong order due to the cd not displaying track names. So no one knew when their song was on, and I was drumming to a jumping backing track..  It was like a bad school play with people coming on and off looking confused and not knowing what they were doing.

At the end of Paramatma the boys done the outro so out of tune and dragged it out so long that people seemed to be falling asleep in the front row. Then the extra long intro from Music Like Dirt droned on, with it being an instrumental,no one had anything to do on stage, so they all left, along with about 80% of our audience……I  drummed along solo on stage. At the end there were two audience members left. We had cleared the entire fuckin tent. Result!

We had to remember we were doing this for ourselves. Not to try and impress others. This was always the rule. So, in having two people left we had in some way failed.

One was a man who, on studying the video footage after, appears not to move a muscle for the entire performance, just peering on looking completely baffled. Next to him is another chap in a cap, who is completely losing his shit to us. He gets it! And he’s the only fucker in the north of england that does. He danced like a maniac, whooping and flailing his limbs for the entire set.

Backstage we congratulated ourselves for getting through it and enjoyed the strange absence of any feedback from anyone in the vicinity. A telling sign that no one knew what the fuck it was. We had confused everyone. And had a great time doing it. I can only thank Damien of Lost n Found for taking a chance on us… here is a short clip of Dark Angel at our first ever gig as Clusterfuck……………………… 360 view (drag the screen around to look around the tent!)

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I joined Flakey in the Funk tent, a goth in a funk tent! Amazing… I went off and danced to wonky house and then headed up the Cottage where I danced to drumn bass til the wee hours. Everyone was off their tits and seemed about 12, I was like a Dad age. When did this happen. Did they all think look at this dad trying to rave with us kids? The records seemed to be pitched up to the max as the tiny venue went ballistic to jungle and DnB I had a jig but then some young ones with those weird kid n play style hairdos and big selfie machines started swarming so I fucked off to my tent. As I laid down all the music on the festival site was turned off. 4am. Ahhhhhhhhhhh perfect timing I thought and then laid there til midday listening to a generator which was parked the other side of the hedge. Drove me fuckin insane.  It may have been the nerves too, because in my stress in learning how to drum over the last fortnight, since my return from france, I had completely neglected the fact I was playing Sunday night at solfest as Flapsandwich…

I ran round the site putting my usb into peoples devices collecting any flapsandwich songs people had with them and then exported a few things from Ableton I had been working on, most notably a new collaboration with Cosmo…. I made a fat playlist in my tent and bing! I was ready to go. My nerves never settled once during the entire day and I headed off for a nervous poo. This weird phenomena I remember happening the first time I played in The Lion in Chepstow when I was 17. I was stuck in the bog with a churning gut and the runs. And now at the age of 39 it hadnt got better. And I still had 12hours til I was on…

9 poos later….
A taxi was parked up near the entrance and two sharp men with cases looked completely out of place, the smaller one had an ACID logo on his top. Hardfloor, had to be. They looked like scientists. In a way they are. I went over and told them how much I loved them and made a complete tit of myself. Never phased by famous people usually, I fell apart and was like a teenage Beleiber. I bowed to them and said I love you and said mahogony roots was the best song in the world and then bowed again and walked off awkwardly.

An hour later they were eating soup back stage, and there was a empty seat between them. ~So I sat in it. It was really awkward. They slurped their soup, really seriously and I just sat there trying to think of something to say.
Good Soup? I offered.
Good soup. came the robotic germanic reply from the smaller guy as the big one ignored me.

At Loungevity  I bumped into Lindsey who used to run the trailer trash tent at beatherder. She had seen Clusterfuck the night before. She said it was Goth as fuck and said it would suit their new tent at beatherder! (yes please, my fave fest of the year for many years). I went back to her van, met some of her crew and chatted about music. She said how lost people were when sicknote ended.

On the chalkboard outside Lost N Found Tent: HARDFLOOR. and then me, after hardfloor. I got to the front of the tent and danced with the pregnant girl, who was having contractions while stomping around like a warrior in the dust. What do i dfo of the baby comes? Dont worry she said theres a tent out back ill nip in there.

Hardfloor took the crowd to ecstasy, everyone sweaty and rejoicing. . They dropped Mahogony Roots! The trailer trash crew turned up and and we had a stomp together, one of the guys said he loved the clusterfuck gig last night, and could see the potential in it, ‘but you need to find something to do on stage, you are not a drummer. Get a real drummer.’; fucker. He’s right. But im loving it so much!! Fuck it I will drum! And I will get better! I aint playing the fuckin mouse again… no chance…

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1.30 I took to the booth and played a little set to wrap up an amazin weekend in the lake district once more… thanks to every one who made it happen.

Heres my set…. free download..

https://soundcloud.com/flapsandwich/solfest-2016

‘The true artist has no public; he works for the sheer joy of it, with an element of playfulness, of casualness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make’ – Bruce Lee

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beat the music industry, creation, life, my shit

becoming a drummer. day 1.

I packed my rucksack, had a big arsed brekky, exported the rest of the instrumentals and headed off out into the sun.

I walked through town with a bounce in my step. I was feeling good. I had a focus now. Getting back from france last week I hit a rocky bottom immediately. The food and the sun and the good living had come to an end. The morning after landing I found myself in tesco, surrounded by nutrition free lumps of corpse wrapped in plastic. And pesticide laced identical looking vegetables; Gone were the wonky misshapen, beautiful fruits that nature seemed to squeeze out with pleasure. I could no longer pluck them from the vine, still warm from the sun as they squelched their organic goodness directly into my blood stream.

Now, I could unwrap an avocado from Kenya, which had  been force fed chemicals and forced to grow in a factory then shrink wrapped,. stuck on a truck, then a plane. Then a truck, then a warehouse, then another truck and now I was stood in front of it feeling sorry for the poor bastard. There was no goodness left init. They may as well print one out on a 3d printer. And it had probably been injected with something to make it last. When I was picking veg from the potage in france if I didn’t eat it immediatley then with in two days or so it had gone soggy and disgusting. But tesco’s finest veg was probably plucked weeks ago and it still looked unripe. suspicious.

I walked around the strip lighted cube of shrink-wrapped death.
I left. I hid under my duvet for 2 days. The grey poured through my window. The view a derelict building covered in pigeon shit. The smell Subway Meatballs pumping out of a silver chimney. to the left outside of my window a glass panel was still boarded up and the smell of death hung in the air. my neighbour had fallen through it to her death a year ago. I read some Marcus Aurelius. No amount of Stoicism could fend off this paradise hangover.

I ignored all texts and calls.

Is this my reality? Is this the reality I have chosen for myself. A shithole housing association flat. Is this where I want to be as I approach 40? Alone, unloved and unloving, in my pit.

I looked around., half the room was piled full of crap. I didn’t want any of it, but yet couldn’t throw any of it.  The other half of my room contained my studio which I had just set up. 2 large yamaha speakers a consellation prize for 9 years of hard work in my previous band, before we lost a bandmate and it all crumbled to nothing. And the brain of the studio was a mac mini, a computer that used to belong to a friend who died of alcohol related problems. All my leads were crammed into a box which i inherited from my mate’s dead dad’s workshop. A vinyl record of my old defunct band hung on the wall shot to pieces with a gun. sicknote: the johnny no-cash remix. Behind where my exflat mate’s head board used to be there was a wide mass of fading grey / black drips all down to the skirting board. One wall featured a big orangey brown stain about face height that also spread out and dripped downward to about knee height. The place stunk. Lots of holes and cracking plasterboard and big stains and shit on the smelly carpet.

Why am I such a messy cunt.

Surrounded by death and grey.

Luckily I had no time for much musings. I had a deadline. A live gig in 10 days for a project I had never taken live. We had created a collection of songs last winter in the bigger room, when I was set up in there. We released it as an album and a few people got off on it. Not that many. Then we got a booking last month. I flew back from France. And if it wasn’t for the gig I don’t think I would have.

So I snapped out of the gloom over the course of 6 icecreams and a huge dose of Montaigne.

I cleaned the room bit by bit over a day or 3. I met a few friends in cafes and drank tea and talked shit.

Then today I headed down to the crypt: a local rehearsal space for the community. I was presented with a present from my band mate and good mate, Pestis. My first set of drum sticks. Buzzing my tits off. I set up the Crypt’s drum kit. in completely the wrong way. discarding the kick and bringing a tom, snare, crash and the bottom of a hi hat all to about waist height. I stood there surrounded by my new friends. Fuck playing the mouse. Lets GO…..

But,.Could I play?

Dj Slipped Disc Jocky clicked the tunes into motion. Pestis grabbed his 50s style ribbon mic and started to strut his stuff. Flakey adorned her silver waist jewels and began to rotate her hips.

And I smashed the holy fuck out of the drum kit, completely out of time, all over the fucking place, with not a single fucking care in the world.

I will never play a mouse on stage again as long as I live. And i may never fill a pot with compost again….
Who knows whats next…

But for now………………………….

Let the clusterfuck commence.

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