30 December 2009

day 172- the missing 7 years and the long journey to the cave
Every time I meet someone I'm burdened with the same questions: 'what happened to drugstore? where was I in the past 7 years? why did I stop the band?' As much as I love telling a story, refreshments provided, it's such a long and traumatic tale, that I find it a bleeding pain having to go through every single detail over and over again.
It's a good story and one that needs to be told.
So, for the record, and hopefully for the very last time, I will tell you what really went down, and why it took me 7 long years to pop my head out of the cave. Bring on the violins, the bottles of wine, let's get some clouds going, read on!
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25 December 2009

day 168- xmas at the cave
Dear Drugsters,
To celebrate my first xmas at the Cave and to say thanks to all you good people out there, who have kindly been following this mini-adventure, I invite you to step inside the cave for some drugstore festive fun:
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9 December 2009

day 152- when cowboys die, a drugstore tragedy in 3 acts
The last couple of weeks I've been meeting up with potential new musicians for the Drugstore ranch, as I see it as the only viable way to move forward and remain 'alive' as an artist. It's fitting that I'm doing it right at this most melancholic time of the year, when caught at the end of a deep glass of merriment wine, we find ourselves deep in reflection, and not without some sadness. As with every Drugstore situation, the complexities and psychological subtleties of our paths are beyond explanation, but today I will attempt to draw a line, so I can start to look forward to whatever is in store in the future. There has been a lot of speculation and some confusion, so I'm gonna give it to you just as it is.
A simple Drugstore tragedy in 3 acts:
act 1 - matt aulich
Matt is one seriously talented, sensitive musician. I've never had to explain how a song should go, where the next chord was, I'd only tell him very briefly what it was about and what it meant to me, and he would totally get it, and come up with the most beautiful parts. Matt would love to carry on working with Drugstore, but he lives in Tasmania.
Tasmania. Christ, that's a hell of a long way away.
He suggested we work online, use a server and all that - but, that's just not a great way to create music. I need musicians who will be nearby and push me out of the cave.
Matt has a young family to treasure and look after, and I hope much good music ahead of him, that we had to say goodbye, is a tragedy.
act 2 - mike chylinski
Mike is, as every Drugstore fan knows, an exceptional drummer, who has two rather rare qualities for a beat slicer: subtlety and good taste. It's hard to imagine anyone better suited to play our music, or a more special individual.
So, now you're ahead of me, thinking: "we get it - Mike's tragedy is that he lives in LA, right?" But, that's only half of it. Soon after the Dingwalls gig, Mike said he was willing to pay for his travel expenses. Still, one has to wonder how often was he going to be able to fly over here. Sadly, the real tragedy, is not that he lives in California, but that, even though we had a long 7 year gap, we still argue like cats and dogs. I hoped, genuinely hoped, that after such a long hiatus, we would get on better - but the truth is, we didn't. No point wasting time wondering whose fault it is, as I came to see that it's just our chemistry, and that cannot be helped. Mike's also setting up roots in LA with an adorable young wife and a new house, just hope he finds the right outlet for his amazing creativity. He deserves it.
My life is far from a sea of tranquility, but I really try to keep it an argument-free zone. So above all, and mostly for this reason, it is a tragedy that we had to say goodbye.
act 3 - daron robinson
Just before the Dingwalls gig, and realising that we were keen on continuing the band, Daron explained that he would only like to play the occasional, once in a blue moon reunion, and that he wanted to concentrate his efforts on writing commercial songs, where the hard cash is, as he is also trying to build up a nest for his young family. Before we slay the Dragon with our snobbish indie credibility, I think it's important that we accept that people should try to do in life whatever they think might make'em happy. It's as simple as that. If trying to write for Mastercard or Take That will enable Daron and his future family happiness, I can only wish him success, for it was a real joy and treat to have him in the band. The tragedy for me is not that we're losing a guitarist, as Radiohead wisely pointed out: 'Anyone can play guitar'. Nor that we're losing adorable company, for I'm sure the New Cowboys will bring their own brand of charm and humour to Drugstore. Daron's tragedy is one I believe, himself not to be aware of. You see, occasionally, when he sang, something rather unique happened. Something that doesn't happen very often with the vast majority of artists and bands out there, that we all think are so fucking cool, real, and oh so talented. When Daron sang, it rang true. You people have no idea how rare a thing this is. When someone sings and reveals something that they themselves are not aware of, we're confronted by real slices of humanity: touching, powerful, beautiful, and very, very special. In Drugstore, Daron had that perfect little spot, where occasionally, those beautiful little gems would glint in the darkness. I now wonder If I ever made him aware of how highly I rated that, no higher quality in my books, no higher pursuit or acclaim. You see, that little something that Robinson would sometimes deliver, was priceless. That we would not see that again, is a tragedy.
epilogue - monteiro and the new cowboys
So, as you can see, it was hardly a case of Monteiro Madness, going 'round chopping heads away as if there was no tomorrow. Indeed, the decision to find new collaborators is precisely because I completely believe there is a tomorrow for Drugstore; And the more I think about it the more it becomes clear that, although heartbreaking for some, it was not such a difficult choice after all, for as often in life, the real tough decisions are defined by circumstances themselves, and we're only acting upon them.
As for the delightful Mr. Ian Burdge and his army of string players, I'm sure they'll be gracing the Drugstore stage, whenever they're not too busy with the A-listers.
So, for now I will leave the ol' cowboys to rest, with a simple lullaby, and the though that I may have not loved them that well, but have as the years went by, grown to love them very profoundly, as people, and that is everlasting.
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DEAD COWBOYS
a lullaby to the cowboys gone by.
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27 November 2009

day 140- cowboy, spaceman, monkey, geek
******************************************************
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Help Drugstore find new cool-makers. Please spread the word, copy/blog/publish/twitt it, shout about it, if you can.
Here's the link to the FULL ADVERT:
http://drugstorevacancies.blogspot.com/ ----------------------------------------------------------------------
day 140- all change, please
Today, having spent the last few weeks pouring over the portastudio, trying to find that elusive tremolo guitar sound, I'm ready to unleash the gathered fruits of my labour.
The process wasn't without its usual setbacks, mostly resulting from my own impulsive cock-ups. I started off working on an uptempo groovy track. Spent a good week getting it together, when realised the key was too low, so erased the whole lot and started from scratch. Another week, another key, was just about getting it ready when, once again, keen little fingers pressed the 'optimise history' button one time too many, and the whole mix went back to 'zero', I mean, back to pre-ice age Planet. A bloody disaster. Went into foetal position, under the duvet, which I have now discovered to be a great way to cope when things are just a little beyond my limit - a cave within a cave, where I can wallow in my own stupidity, without having to give satisfaction to the rest of the Universe; a handy tool.
Having recovered, and now in considerably better mood, decided against re-starting the same track, and thought it would be best to work with a different song; approaching the 'optimise history' button in the portastudio with utmost care, as if performing minute hole in the heart surgery. Will not make the same mistake again, but if my unreliable memory serves me well, same thing happened on the previous session, didn't it? oh well, this time I really mean it - honestly!
Anyway, from that point onwards things went pretty smoothly, the only difficulty was trying to balance real life demands and the need to spend completely undisturbed time in the Cave.
I had taken quite a bit of time off in September, so October was pay back time, a real drag. But all that commuting time was put to some serious contemplation, and having reflected upon the needs of the band and the music, decided this is the right time to bite the bullet, leave the safe-house, and look for new musicians to collaborate with. It's really no good working with people who live on the other side of the planet, or who'd only wish to get together once a year. That would not do the new material any justice or meet my own desire to go out there and say 'yes' to whatever may come our way. Everyone I have worked with in the past, Mike, Daron, Ian, Matt, Ollie and others, each and every one has left a trail of beauty, each has made a real contribution, made a real difference. I can only wish that their own next chapters will be as exciting as my own. And who knows, one of the 'ol cowboys' may even make a guest appearance at some point in the future.
Although, it would be silly to deny that I'm the eye of Drugstore's hurricane, I truly believe that it is only with the addition of other musicians that we can brew-up the perfect storm. I think my little demos are charming and give some idea where I'm heading, but it's a 2-dimensional picture, only the input of other cool musicians can add depth, colour and dimension, bring the unexpected into the mix.
Someone suggested in that post about the 'State of the Music Industry', that I should grab my guitar and just go gigging/recording on my own. I could do it, and no doubt would probably make more money that way rather than with a full band, but that's hardly the reason why I've opened up the cave windows. I'm here because I believe the music is worth it, and the music can only be fully realised with some great people involved.
Hope you guys will enjoy the new demos, I'm already plotting the next lot, but for now we should concentrate on finding new musicians. I want to gig in early spring, will do it on my own with just an acoustic guitar, if need be, but hoping that by then, we will have a full-house in the deck.
How you can help: I'll be posting an advert (of sorts) about the New Cowboys, just spread the word, copy/paste wherever you can, let your neighbours know about it. Let's go find those cowboys!
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14 October 2009

day 96- The state of the Music Industry
Last week, in between demoing a few new songs and earning a pauper's living, I met up with a few Music Biz soldiers. The meetings could not have been more enlightening or interesting, as I try to catch-up with all the deep changes that have shaken'n'stirred the music industry to a mushy granita pulp.
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the rest of the ramblin' essay is here:
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26 September 2009

day 78- name the new song & share Nobel prize with me
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* competition now closed *
145 entries! Thanks everyone for taking part, it was a lot of supersonic fun.
Winner:
  • Black Holes & Broken Hearts (Paul Fletcher)
Runners-up:
  • Einstein's Little Helper (Glen Robins)
  • All that Matters (John A Fotheringham)
  • Masterplan b (Angela)
  • Pretty Accident (Ant Standring)
  • Heaven Knows I'm A Drugster Now (Katie Ken)
  • Cavegirl Theory (Gary S)
A full list w/ all the suggested crazynames is on the drugstore facebook page. I have now deleted all comms. as blog was getting a little heavy. ----------------------------------------------------------------------
..."Dear Drugstore Citizens,
As an antidote to the post-gig blues, the colder weather upon us, and to dispel the long unfounded myth of only writing blood-stained, heartbreakin' songs of misery and loss, I've decided to unleash a little tune to lighten-up the mood. It hardly classifies as a b-side, but nevertheless, it cunningly answers some rather tricky questions about the Nature of our Universe.
It is YOUR job to NAME the TRACK.
So, think you can do it? go ahead, drugster, make my day..."
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Black Holes & Broken Hearts - Nobel Prize competition tune

19 September 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 71- scary monster arrives at the cave
Today, a monster turned up at the cave. It's big, hard-edged, with sharp bits sticking out, and made of cold metal. I'm just sitting here, sipping nescafe, staring at the beast and planning my strategy, my next move.
As a young reckless teenager I was pretty fearless; I look back at some of the stuff I've done with a mixture of trepidation and pride. Crazy stuff. Like hitchhiking the whole coast of Brazil, or taking the doomed 'train of death' into the depths of the desolate Paraguayan countryside. I was only 14 then, and like most people that age, had absolutely no concept of danger, and therefore, no fear. I would ride a noisy Honda 125cc on the motorway between São Paulo and the coast without a helmet, and then swim out into the sea, until I could no longer see the shoreline.
I turned 18 and a string of terrible accidents happened. Like a pack of cards that came tumbling down, one by one. First, I had a serious road crash, as a passenger. Car ended-up upside down and all I remember was that the stereo was still on really loud and I couldn't work out how to switch it off, as the buttons all seemed to be in the wrong place. Soon after that, my young husband died in a similar accident, and that I definitely don't wanna talk about.
A few months later, a best friend died on a motorcycle, on the same road we used to ride together, heading towards the beautiful coast between the north of São Paulo and Rio estates.
That was it, I guess. Pretty much overnight I became someone who's totally scared of things that can move by itself, things with wheels and made of steel.
A year or so later I was given a car. Despite the lessons and instructors that came and went, I never managed to get it out of the garage. Used to sit in the car and burn up the battery just listening to the stereo for hours on end.
Following year, decided that cars were too big for me, bought another bike, but again, couldn't ride it. Had this overwhelming sense that the machine was so much more powerful than myself, I would not be able to control it.
Even cycling, or skateboarding, horse-riding or just a pair of retro 4-wheel-rollies became objects of distrust and fear.
I then came to Europe, grand-tour, backpacking, and it was a relief to discover that you can be motion-scared in a city like London, that has such a comprehensive public transport system. I soon discovered the joys of mini-cabs and only occasionally would miss the ability to just get up and drive somewhere else.
I have no idea why people spend years and money going to university to study psychology, in an attempt to decode and understand the obvious. The answers are always right there, in front of us, hardly need a diploma to work those things out.
So, following my own micro-process of true emancipation, I have now bought a bike. A retro-shopper, for all those emergency rides, when I really need to lose myself in wilderness, with basket attached, for whatever I may find and collect on my adventures.
Sounds ridiculous, but it did cross my mind to get some extra stabilizers, you know the ones, mini-wheels kiddies have on their first bikes. But it then occurred to me that I would be cheating, trying to lean on something and not really confronting the beast.
I have a few pressing challenges ahead of me, and it would be easier to just lean on the things I'm familiar with, but deep inside I know that changes which at first can look terrifying, are more often than not, just what the doctor ordered.
So, from this day forward, no more leaning.
Now, all I have to do, is grab the little beast by its horns, and take it for a ride.
Go girl!
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18 September 2009

day 70- these boots were made for laughing
Following an unusually hearty breakfast in the most agreeable company of Le Agent Gig Provocateur, Mr.Farmer, spent a few hours resetting-up the mini-studio and getting rid of the remainder of the gig's paraphernalia.
I was just about to throw those infamous pair of boots away, when decided to take a quick shot, before sending it to its final destination= the bin. It's often a sign that we are indeed ready to move forward, once the source of pain and disaster, has turned into an item deserving of ridicule and laughter.
So, dear drugsters, it is with a heart filled with light joy and a voice inside now whispering: "beware of the impulse buy, crazy child", that I offer you a close-up of that most unsuitable gig-wear: 2 sizes bigger than my own, bought on Ebay for less than a fiver, and lasted oh...I'd say....half a block before I even got into soundcheck, sent promoter on emergency errand looking for super-glue and depleted the venue and both bands of all available gaffa-tape.
The Dingwalls chapter is now closed.
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10 September 2009

day 62- drugstore re-opens for business
Today, a beautiful sunny afternoon, I have opened-up all the windows and been going 'round the cave collecting little bits and pieces, the left-overs from the Drugstore Gran re-opening. There are unopened cards (a love-letter perhaps, one hopes), half-empty glasses of wine scattered about, setlists, and a variety of post-gig, post-party objects to be inspected, analyzed, digested and then filed or deleted, as appropriate. This morning, spent a decent share of the gig's earnings (probably a very small amount for most, but a minor fortune for miss monteiro), at the local Gardening Center. Not very rock'n'roll, I agree, but as you will see in due time, it makes perfect sense.
My mind is still wheeling 'round the Drugstore Carousel, snapshots of the past month, interweaved with the emotions that culminated at that Dingwalls' dingy stage, on a nondescript monday night.
The evening had been planned to the utmost detail, the band's backstage rider sent with specific instructions for cloudy, non-sparkling lemonade. As we know, no amount of hardcore planning can avoid the inevitable fact that, shit will happen.
Events take a life of their own, there are so many things, so many people involved, that at some point, you just have to let loose of the reigns and hope that everyone's riding roughly in the same direction.
Throughout the process, a variety of unexpected things happened, some were great, others, not quite so. People may find it charming that my brand new pair of boots had to be gaffa-taped down at the venue, or that the band, following a storming argument, managed to lock themselves out of the rehearsal studio. Some of those things, I could have done without, but have learnt that, given enough time, the tragic and the pathetic, will eventually become funny additions to our future memories.
But out of all the crazy, unexpected things that went down, none more so captured the spirit of this band, than the first few anarchic minutes of the gig itself. I forgot to turn the volume of the guitar up and from that moment on, our drugstore was truly re-opened. Shambolic, lovable, crazy and dangerously real. I could talk about the songs, the band, the guests, the fact that Aquamarine was lovely, but the key too low for me (will re-demo it, as I think it's worth the effort), but I don't think I need to. It was a wonderful evening at the drugstore, and both staff and customers alike seem overjoyed with the goods on offer, and I hope will be coming back for more. The amount of post-gig messages received seems to point in that direction.
This Drugstore will remain open, whether we will be able to have the same transcontinental line-up every time it is doubtful, but I am confident that having a little flexibility on that front, will guarantee that we don't have to wait another 7 years for yet another evening of beautiful drugstoreness, or that monteiro's gonna be locked-up, back in the shadows of the cave. I will go back to my demoing-songwriting mode, and will be shortly organising the next drugstore outing. I feel that the Dingwalls gig was just the beginning. By stepping out of the cave I have now planted the seed, you guys supporting us is the water we need to keep going (yes, yes...I know, yet another El Dodgyo metaphor 'springs-up' out of nowhere...- but 'cmon guys, give me a break, having spent past 6 years in the grey slums, and now living in beautiful cave in the heart of leafy kew gardens, got to let me have a bit of green fun!).
So, yep, it's all about seeds and water and little cute flowers that you don't bloody know the name of cropping up and making the whole stinking world a little bit better for it.
Drugstore have something small to offer, probably not terribly valuable to most, but something that is unarguably unique, ourselves.
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pic by John Marshall
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pic by Gary Simpson
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the cave, post-gig gardening center bonanza.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Drugstore Re-opens for business: video
vid by Michela Volpe
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6 September 2009

day 58- cowboy hats and broken hearts
On the eve of Drugstore's Gran re-opening, I wanted to say a couple of words to everyone who have just been following or taking part, in what's turning-out to be an exciting mini-adventure. Less than a couple of months ago, the cave was still hovering bellow heavy clouds, barely visible. Today it's shimmering, electric. It's been a lot of fun, a lot of craziness, a few stumbles along the way, and some wonderful surprises. (that's when internet went down.... and spent next couple of fun hours talking to BT engineer from Bombay... will post full post-gig-report once bodyparts are fully serviced and put back together)
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the cave, on the eve of the gig...
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23 August 2009

day 44 - black diamonds
With only two weeks to go before El Gran Drugstore Roadshow is switched back on, having spent nearly 7 years gathering dust in the corner, I've been wondering what is going be like to, once again, set up camp alongside Mike and Daron, and all the other lovely characters that have travelled along the way with us. Will the old magic still be there? Will it shine?
We'd spent so much time touring, probably a little more than we should have had, but I can confess, that although soundchecks and interviews can become a bit of drag after the 500th time, I have never, not once, felt bored or not excited about any of the gigs. From big Festivals to tiny rooms, every single show had the same sense of occasion and importance to me. I have not counted, but I probably must have sung 'Superglider' hundreds of times, and every time, without fail, I'd tremble at the prospect of that highway, where someone was gone for good.
Some of the emotions contained in some of the songs are absolute - they can never change. It is like looking at a picture. I don't look at it everyday, but every time I do, it stirs the same reaction within.
I will now tell you a Drugstore Road story, one that I think, says something about us.
-
Most British bands tour the US in the summer. I have no idea why, probably because the venues are available or some other reason that I don't know of.
The summer's fine in the big cities, like LA, Austin, NYC, as there's always people, and we'd always managed to sell out. But somewhere between the east and west coast, you travel through a lot of 'University Towns', that in July and August turn to dustballs, as all the students head back home, and you're lucky if you spot a moving tumbleweed.
We had just finished a tour supporting Leonard Cohen's son, which had been a great laugh, we'd blown the poor guy offstage each and every night, even his crew just wanted to hang out with us.
Supporting bands get a great kick out of a situation like that. So we were tired, but on a high. Finished the tour and went-off to do a few dates of our own. The schedule was preposterous, sometimes we had 2 or 3 gigs on the same day - plus the usual malarkey of radio sessions and interviews. It was exhausting.
We turn-up to do this gig in a little University Town in the middle of nowhere, in the mid-west, which was almost completely deserted.
Did soundcheck and went off to get some mexican food.
Just before the venue was due to open, the owner talks to our tour manager, the memorable Steve Boynton. He says - "Look guys, there's a wedding party happening tonight, the mayor's son, no one, I mean, no one's gonna come and see this little english band. Why don't we cut our losses, I'll send the staff home early, pay you guys 80% of your fee, and you guys can have a night off?".
When Steve told me, I was not pleased: "What?! No gig? Are you crazy? Been waiting all day to play, furthermore we signed a contract. We have to play, what if someone turns up?". Boynton tried to dissuade me, saying that both band and crew could do with the extra night off, but, as you guys can guess by now, the gig went ahead.
The Bar owner was right - no one, not a single soul turned-up. The wedding party was right behind the place, and from the stage, we could actually hear the loud PA blasting country songs.
We carried on playing. Half-way through the set, the bar staff, 3 in total, had left their posts and were sitting by the stage, listening on.
By 'Solitary Party Groover' one of the staff had joined us on stage on tambourine.
Finished the set, to the cheers of our audience of 3, who were shouting for more. Went back onstage and played for an extra 1/2 hour, as if nothing else could have been more relevant or important.
Got paid. Went back to the sleeper-bus, had a couple of Jack'n'Cokes with band and crew. Went to sleep as happy as a girl can be. We had just played a great gig.
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no expenses spared for the upcoming Dingwalls gig:
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20 August 2009

day 41 - of weeds and grasses
This is a personal story, but one I hope, drugstore fans may be able to identify with.
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The scene: a conversation of the school Headmistress and a pupil, a troublesome 10 year old girl. The Headmistress is trying to explain that life is like one beautiful football pitch, where every season, since time began, the Head Gardeners take great care and put much effort into keeping the lawn in perfect condition. But every now and again, and particularly during the rainy season, a few little weeds spring up here and there uninvited. The weeds are quickly removed, as soon as they're spotted, for the grass must remain as homogeneous and as weed-free as possible, so the games designed by man can run smoothly, and everything can remain as pleasant as everything ever was and will always be.
The Headmistress then explained that most people are like grasses, they are ever so slightly different, but roughly the same shape. They grow through life as units, but together they form the whole base of society. A few others though, are like weeds, although from the same basic material, their shape is different and they stick out in the fields. Some welcome their arrival, arguing that they add colour and variety to the picture; but most feel uncomfortable, for they bring an unsettling edge, as if deserving of more sunlight. She then said that, together, grasses and weeds formed the full picture. And that each had their own particular form of beauty. The grass on the football pitch could only be appreciated from a distance, whereas the weed's delicate beauty, from a closer inspection. And If you were a grass, you should take comfort in the fact that you will never be on your own. And that if you were a weed, you should make the most of the extra sunlight, but must be ready for the gardener's fork, for it will inevitably come.
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I have previously stated my obsession with shapes, and have now made the connection that, in Drugstore, I've found a place where I don't need to fear the gardener's fork.
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8 August 2009

day 29 - rough demos released from the cave!
from the Oxford dictionary: roughadjective: 4- lacking sophistication or refinement. 5- not finished tidily; plain and basic. 6- harsh in sound or taste. 7- not worked or correct in every detail.
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*** w a r n i n g ***
This is just a random selection of a few new demos.
1. if you can, listen on Headphones. 2. this stuff is For Your Ears Only, I trust you guys! - 3. Enjoy!
---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 - LIGHTS OUT
This was written last week, on the new guitar. Seems to capture my own predicament, standing at the edge of the cave.
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2 - AQUAMARINE, a duet
This is meant to be a duel of two desperados. Beware, as I'm doing both His and Her's Vocal parts, and had to impersonate the voice of a broken Hombre!
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3 - ANATOMY
This is a point of reflection. I keep adding more and more dubs. One of these days the portastudio is gonna turn to me and say - "I just can't take it anymore...". This is an edited version, as the track goes on forever.
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4 - CLOUDS
This was written this week, in the wee hours, at the end of a long night at the cave.
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2 August 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 28 - looking out of the cave window
On the eve of the release of a few of my demos, which may well be in future referred to by drugstorelogists, as the 'primitive cave sessions', I've been thinking about how over-precious most artists are about their output. Every micro-dot, every single note and action is scrutinized ad-infinitum by a team of well-meant professionals, who all share a vested interest in that artists' work, and of course, by the artist himself and collaborators.
I have spoken to a couple of people who could not understand why I would want to put some sloppy little demos up for public scrutiny, as they argued that, given that fans have been waiting for so long, they could well wait for a little longer. They meant well, but failed to understand that the reason why I decided to do this is rather more complex than at first glance; It's not merely about putting a few home-demos up on a blog, which is a small thing for any musician to do, but it's about stepping out of the cave, which is for me, some step.
Although I don't want to go into details, as that would be spoiling the book ('My life at the Drugstore' maybe?...!), to have any understanding of the present, we need to have some grasp of what preceded it.
The past 7 seven years went by like a hurricane. At first, it was a gentle summer breeze. Then, as the party was truly over - and there was some serious tidying-up to be done, drugstore's little helpers were back at the Pole. I had a major legal battle to deal with, which consumed the best part of the following two years; The next two were spent climbing out of the rubbles.
I have won the legal case, without any legal help, and am pleased to be out of the skip. But music did suffer, as there was simply no available space in my head.
I think a small amount of hardship is not altogether a bad thing, as it's a pretty good way to refresh your perspective and to find out the stuff you're really made of.
I did start writing again, without thinking too much about it, and met Daron last year, when we talked about doing a London show.
And so it seems, that for once, I did get my timing right!
I have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen next, just as a little over a month ago, I had no idea I would be sitting here writing a blog or recording some demos. Maybe some little label or publisher will show interest, or maybe no one will care.
You're free to love it or hate it, treasure it or delete it. I'm really not that precious.
Even if it never goes beyond 'Anatomy, the Blog', all I know is that it is meaningful to me, and that it now belongs to the soundtrack of my cave.
---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 22
Last few days have been intense, overdosing on adrenaline, ideas and lack of sleep. Did a rough mix of a new song 'Lights Out', which was written the day the new guitar turned-up.
Was pretty pleased with the result, but the following morning decided to do a re-mix, add a couple of extra dubs, but ended-up wasting the whole day trying to re-create what I'd done the night before, to no avail; So, decided to go back to the original mix, which had been done at 4 o'clock in the morning, the previous day (day - night - morning - I'm struggling to keep track). It sounds pretty rough, but I think it captures something, something I can't quite describe, something good.
Whenever I work on stuff is always this intense and a little crazy; It's like jumping into the deep blue sea, you can just about see the shore beyond in the distance, and you just keep swimming away.

29 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 18 how pigs make music

28 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 17
La Gran Guitarra arrives at the drugstorecave and the air is filled with excitement! I'm now turning-off from the known universe and switching into the sloppy recesses of my little demos. Had to take a pic with the new black-beauty, but camera no longer has a working timer, so had to pose in front of the cave-lounge mirror...
As a desaparecida, I will leave you in the company of two intrepid, but open-hearted young boys, about to embark on a great journey into the darkest corners of the human heart. My own copy of this book has been held, grasped, curled and cried upon so many times, that now, no longer with its dustcover, it more resembles an old beaten-up bible, of some mad barefooted preacher. It is painfully dark and utterly desperate, but then..., You know in the last few pages, when Billy wakes-up, after having kicked El poor dog out the night before? - (...oh man, that 3-legged beast kills me, the wretched little thing, totally fucked-up by life, but still waggin' its tail...), but for some mysterious reason he then goes on looking for el perro? Isn't that a sign that, despite the unbelievably treacherous evil descent, there still remains in the heart of everyman some need to connect, a primeval string of compassion and love that links us all? Your task this week: read this masterpiece while I'm away, let's talk about it later.
"We think we are the victims of time. In reality, the way of the world isn't fixed anywhere. How could that be possible? We are our own journey. And therefore we are time as well. We are the same. Fugitive. Inscrutable. Ruthless."
http://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Cormac-McCarthy/dp/0679760849

26 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 16 - of human kindness
Today I briefly want to talk about the beauty of unexpected acts of kindness. I never keep track or a life-tally of either good, bad or the occasional ugly thing that comes knocking on my cave. I see life as a wonderful amalgamation of all of those things. But sometimes something happens, hits your life straight out of the blue yonder, an action of unprecedented kindness, that it stands out like a lit match in a sea of darkness, that you cannot help but be moved and intrigued by it. I have thought long and hard about the nature of goodness; It is an old debate that still leaves philosophers, scientists and believers divided, and I must confess, I'm nowhere closer to understanding its nature, but feel grateful that I have, on occasion, being able to witness such acts at close quarters. A week ago I posted an email to drugstore fans with a link to this blog, adding as a postscript: "now accepting donations in kind or kindness", as a joke, really, as "kind or kindness" was a term much used by cab drivers to prostitutes in the 18th century, returning back to East London from a busy evening in the West-End, "So...how would you like to pay, luv, kind or kindness...?". Anyone who has been following this blog/facebook/twitter is aware that I've been recording my demos with a nasty, untunable Kay guitar. Last night a complete stranger sent me an email with a link to Chappells Music Store, it read: "just pick the guitar you want and it will be delivered to you." Let's take a minute to contemplate. I felt overwhelmed, and still do.
After a short-lived struggle, decided to accept the gift, as I don't really see any point whatsoever in being proud, as it is the shameless, the one's that have a never-ending appetite for life that deserve to inherit the earth, the moon and everything else beyond.
So there you have it. Acts of kindness do occur, still don't know how or why, but mighty pleased they do! ps- need to add that drugstore fans who cannot send me expensive guitars or a Tiffany's bracelet, should not feel bad, for even the smallest act, (ie- an email, a comment on this blog, updating the drugstore website, plugging the Dingwalls gig etc) also have their own beauty, as they're all made from the right stuff.

25 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 15
The drugstorecave has been buzzing with activity. Managed to finish a couple of demos and feel an unashamed sense of achievement, not only because it's always exciting to turn the abstract into something tangible, but I also feel pretty good about having overcome some of the ridiculous shortcomings of the ministudio set-up itself: dodgy stereo leads held together by old masking tape, noisy cables, missing bits of software and so forth. Have now resigned to the fact that sound quality will remain fairly poor, but taking comfort in the fact that, in this instance, core content hopefully more valuable than sound quality. I've been doing all my singing very quietly, as trying to keep a low-profile and not upset the neighbours. Although I'm happy to be 'the only smoker in the village', not terribly keen on being the 'noisiest'. But singing quietly really suits most of the stuff I write anyway, as it gives it the intimacy I'm after, that is often lost in the controlled environment of a professional recording studio. Had a call from a musician mate of mine, who for years has been trying to get his band off the ground. As usual, I dreaded asking what's been happening with his band, for inevitably it leads to the same old answer: "nothing much, really...". I often think about how our lives are shaped and how some people seem to move in the right direction, while others are left behind. Around the time we released our 2nd album, I was often asked if I believed in fate and whether some things were meant to be; I'm not surprised, given that the album was called 'White Magic for Lovers'; A good title, I think, but one that has led to a great deal of misunderstanding, that has for long troubled me. 'White Magic for Lovers', the song, was not advocating faith in the occult and obscure, but acknowledging our inability to overcome loss, and how we completely lose sight of reason when overwhelmed by emotion, that was all. There is indeed no masterplan, and our lives are just a result of our actions, what we actually do, and its interaction with everything else that happens around us. So we can and should take a good share of responsibility for what happens to us. We cannot, obviously, control what happens out there, but that is part of the excitement. So please, next time you see me, avoid giving me any 'lucky crystals', as they'll be mercilessly thrown away, alongside anything else that is remotely vague. As for my mate, who is still trying to get his band off-the ground, and hoping that 'something, someday, will turn-up', I hope he takes note: Dear Alex, if you really believe in your work, I think you ought to do something about it. Maybe start a website or a blog about your band, upload some of your demos, open the door, and then, who knows, maybe then something good might happen.

22 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 12
Finding it difficult to remain away from the real world and spending the time I want to spend in the ministudio. Real life never stops demanding. In the past I used to do my demos at that remote Led Zep cottage (Bron-y-aur), no phone, no TV, just the occasional ledzep fan peering through the window. Had another place I used to go to in Cornwall, which didn't have the added entertainment of dazed'n'confused ledzep fans lost in the woods, but had the extra bonus of a heated pool. Here, at home, there's always stuff going on and I have to make a real extra effort to switch off. The Drugstore gig is coming up and bringing with it its delightful carousel of rock'n'roll paraphernalia, and me being its proud custodian, have a fair share of stuff to deal with. Today, I have restricted a friend's visit to 1 hour only (will have a timer at hand). Tomorrow, doing a photoshoot. Will try to squeeze in every possible second into recording the demos. I'm excited, and just want to get to the day when I'm uploading some of my music here. I never really thought of myself as a songwriter, but instead, as a storyteller of sorts, but for stories to come to life, they need to be told and need to be shared with someone else, otherwise they remain vague expressions of an unfulfilled possibility.

16 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 6
Very productive day at the cave. Having spent the last two days reading the terminally unreadable "user manual" of the new portastudio, managed to put down a few drum tracks and sang on a couple of songs. The set-up, as usual, is slightly improvised, with an old tripod standing for a mike-stand and bits of sellotape hanging things together. I've often felt that my life has always been held together by the flimsiest of sellotapes, a mere hint of a breeze and the whole lot gets displaced. But that in itself, the feeling that you're always just hanging in there, can have a positive effect, as you become used to improvising and adapting yourself to any corner, whatever shape and size. Been thinking about shapes a lot - just shapes; how sometimes things just fit, without any effort. That has become a near obsession, having things fit just right, without a struggle. Funny how we seem to spend so much time trying to make things work. I have now come to see that, often, if something needs to be worked-out until the morning light, then it will probably never be a smooth fit. You see, the things that have remained with me, are those that fell beautifully into place, and before I could even acknowledge its existence, had already claimed a place in my life. And so to songs, I could never imagine trying to make "it" work. Sometimes, something just fall into place in such an unprovoked way, that it is hard to ignore it, and those are the ones I keep. Tomorrow I'm meeting Daron, go through a few ideas, try to decide on a setlist of sorts and a few other things for the London gig. I can hardly contain my excitement. Had a dream about the gig last night, my mum was in a room close to the stage, but couldn't see the show, as she didn't have a ticket. There - that should keep all the "would-be" Freudian Pathos Hunters busy for a week or so.