Archive | November 2010

soundCHECK 74 – November 25th 2010

I’m not the head of Petroc. Nor do I wish to be.

But if I was, I’d be very proud that my kingdom was doing its bit for the local music scene.  I would also make it compulsory for a ‘k’ to be added at the end of the college name for any correspondence regarding musical affairs, but that’s beside the point.

And that point in question is that the Petroc-funded Cheeky Monkey Records are once again on the prowl for a local band to take under their simian wing for a year. One lucky local outfit will get their album professionally recorded and engineered at Petroc’s brand new studio. The artwork for the record will also be professionally designed and printed. Sounds good, right?

Well wrap your peepers round this, because it gets better. Cheeky Monkey Records will also assist with all promotion of the album and host a launch party to celebrate its release. And because everything is funded by Petroc, the band will not have to part with a single penny. Better still, any profits generated from either the launch night or album sales will be split 50/50 between the band and the label.

Fancy it?

If you are interested you need to submit a demo to Cheeky Monkey Records. Your band can be any age, old or young. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you’re keen and have an album’s worth of material. The closing date for submissions is December 3rd. That’s next Friday, so there’s no time to monkey around.

Decent opportunities for bands west of Bristol do not exactly present themselves with prevalence. Whether that’s down to a matter of geography, a saturated market or a naivety of the awesomeness that’s being fashioned among our towns and hamlets is up for debate. Maybe it’s a crippling combo of all three. Or maybe the music industry at large just thinks that the only music created down here sounds like The Wurzles or Fishermans Friends. (Seriously, they have done about as much good for our musical reputation as Katie Price has done for pioneering feminism.)

So when opportunities like this come along, it’s important to ready those limber arms, do your bestest reach and grab them with both hands. If you would like more information on Cheeky Monkey Records, call 07709 957 786. If not then you have a demo to submit! And the place to do that is

Good luck!

soundCHECK 73 – November 18th 2010

There’s a game show currently doing the rounds on terrestrial television called Are You Smarter Than A Ten Year Old?

If you’ve not seen it then the crux of the programme is to humiliate grown-ups in-front of the nation as they try to answer questions designed for primary school children in pursuit of money. The programme’s weapon of choice for ramming home the contestants’ ineptitude is a fleet of smarmily self-satisfied ten year olds; the ‘lifelines’ whom the money-seekers have to ritually call upon for help with questions on such apparently straightforward subjects as Age 7 Geography.

In a nutshell, the game seems hell-bent on tapping into the elitist notion that as adults we have become a bunch of mindless jibber-jabbering oafs whose idea of a faculty-stretching exercise is to question whether or not Simon Cowell really was fair in his last confidence-bashing critique.

Except it’s not that at all. And I feel sorry for the adults, damn it. I mean, it’s hardly a level playing field is it? The adults are forced to answer questions on subjects they have not been schooled in. Can any of you remember what you were taught in primary school? Me neither. Because it’s pointless trivia that is a means to an end. And that end is secondary school.

Indeed, the first thing you’re taught in school about conducting any experiment, sociological or otherwise, is that ‘it must be a fair test’; a dictum conveniently overlooked by the gaggle of omniscient infants. So let’s even things up, shall we? I’d like to see some wildcard questions chucked in to test the children, based on the vocation of the competing adult. So just after Bill the accountant breaks into a sweat trying to answer a question on Age 9 History, I’d like to see top-of-the-class Charles squirm when fired a question on the laws governing PAYE tax.

The point is that those looking to win are given a challenge that seems easy, but in reality the odds are stacked largely in favour of those they are in effect ‘competing’ against. And without sounding crass, the same is true in music.

The most influential and eye-opening piece of music advice I have ever received was given to me at a friend’s party in London by an A&R man from Virgin Records. He basically said that being in an underground band is fine. But to be successful you need to realise that it’s not the other bands in your area that you’re battling against. Nor is it the bands that are in the same unsigned competition as you. The real competition is whoever’s got the number one single or whichever band is at the top of the album charts. It’s whoever is on the front cover of NME and who’s filling up Wembley Stadium with eager fans. They’re the artists you’re really competing against.

It’s something that made immediate sense and I will never forget it. So in short, if you’re in a band, don’t worry about what your mate’s band are doing and just get on with being the best you can be. Because to reach any level of success you’re going to have to beat the odds that are inherently stacked against you. You have to be smarter than the ten year olds.

This week’s gigs: Jonny : Black’s new line-up take their humungous riffery to Inn On The Square in Barnstaple on Saturday (20th) with support from We Start Parties.

Go there.