What are they doing?
Here it is, the unreliable micro-blog featuring all the things which you really didn't want to know about goings on in the JLBJH camp ...
26th February, 2013
MORE POWER TO YOUR ELBOW, JL!
A cold dark February night and a storm is brewing in the Saddleworth area. Craig and Kevin sit haunched by an inglenook fire in the Friarmere Studios. The room is dark save the flickering light of the fire and some half burned down candles.
Staring into the flames, Kev asks, "How old were you when we started this album?"
"Think I was in my late teens, how about you?"
"Dunno," replies Kev, "I can't remember."
A flash of lightning followed by a loud clap of thunder interrupts the moment. The two friends remain silent, the only sound the drumming of rain upon the windows. Imperceptibly at first, the door to the room begins to open, hinges creak ... a flash of lightning lights up the gloom ... then another ... this time illuminating a ghostly hand wrapped around the half-opened door. Darkness returns as a shadowy figure slips into room.
"Howdo, Jez", calls out Kev.
"Aye up, cocker." follows Craig, "Throw another chair on the fire and pull up a log."
"What's that you're carrying. mate?", asks Kev.
"A jar of coffee." replies Jez.
"COFFEE!!!" is the unison response.
"Good God, man, this is the NORTH!!! Whatever next?", tuts Craig
"Yeah, sniffing Heroin or drinking glue!" adds Kev.
"Come on, guys, we're supposed to be a rock band ... you know, doin' rock 'n' roll stuff."
"Yeah, but coffee ... that's heavy stuff, man."
"I heard that's how Keith Richards started ... on espresso." chips in Craig.
"So, what's happening in this Titter, then?" asks Jez.
"Well, John's been fixing up some kind of mast on the roof."
"And there's some massive industrial Van der Graaf generator type things appeared in the studio as well." added Kev.
More lightning briefly lights up the room as the storm's intensity grows. Thunder breaks directly overhead, then ... BANG!! The door is throw violently open.
In the doorway stands John. Dressed in nineteenth century tweed trousers, matching waistcoat and collarless shirt with sleeves rolled up. His hair, once Brylcreemed back, now hangs manically over his face.
"A perfect storm is almost upon us, gentlemen. Tonight I intend to harness the power of nature and breath life into my creation."
Throwing his head back with arms outstretched, he begins laughing in uncontrollable fits of diabolical laughter as the storm reaches a crescendo. Just then there's a blink and the all the room lights come on.
"Aaah, brilliant!", exclaims Craig, "Looks like Powergen have got the juice back on. You can get changed back into your sport casuals now, John, the power cut is over. Right, let's get these backing vocals sorted out!"
Can Dr J Smith Von Frank&stan save the track? Will the album have legs? Will it ever walk again? Tune in next time for more improbable scenarios on ... 'Commander Dag Pike's Short Tall stories!'
Loyal BJH fans outside Friamere yesterday still awaiting news on JL's new album.
21st December, 2012
FESTIVE ... FACTS, FIFE AND DRUM
While perusing the BJH forum recently for any tips on the Newmarket Derby or whether it would be a good time to sell my shares in the Sinclair C5, I noticed one or two of our overseas comrades asking for some facts about this here new album.
So in a break with tittering lunacy and by way of a Christmas treat, I've decided to expose myself to you, as it were, and furnish all you Titterists with some festive fictitious Friamere facts! Enjoy!
Kev has five drum kits but is using the British racing green Tama Star classic for recording.
Jez's keyboard empire has swollen with the addition of a Korg Kronos.
22,000 tea bags have been used to produce over nine and half thousand litres of tea!
John has been using all of his Parker Fly guitars.
At full capacity, Friamere studio's kitchen can produce 14 Tesco's Finest microwave meals and 9 pot noodles an hour!
I have been using my trusty 77 Musicman Stingray and 78 Precision basses.
If you laid all the strings John has used end to end, they would stretch right up Delph High Street to The Swan, just in time for opening.
At full power Friamere Studio consumes enough electricity to run 5 Stanner stairlifts for ten minutes.
Kev likes to record to click track.
The highest point on Earth is only three foot six!
An area the size of Manchester goes missing in Manchester every year.
John once came in the studio and told me he'd invented a time machine. On asking when he'd done this, he replied "A week next Thursday"
So, I hope that's cleared a few questions up for you. From the boys in the band, keep on keeping on and have a delightful Xmas and New Year!
See you all in 2013 ... x
Punishment meted by out by John to me, Kev and Jez for accidentally
wiping one of his guitar tracks.
John showing us the suit he wore for the Berlin Concert for the People.
28th November, 2012
FULL STEAM AHEAD, CAPTAIN!
And so with the last echoes of applause ringing in their ears and the sweet smell of success, beer and pizzas a fading memory, our four troubadours return to their musical equivalent of a man's garden shed.
"Right," says John, donning a gingham tabard and duster, "I'll start cleaning up while you, Kev, go to the boiler room and start raising some steam."
"Why me?" replies Kev.
"'Cause drummers always look good in a sweaty vest. Right, Craig, go to the wireless room and tap out a Morse message to Keith and Monika ... tell them we're up and running with the album again."
"Can't I just send them a text?"
"No, I'm trying to create a period Titter here, like Down-town Abbey."
"But I only know the beginning of Nova in Morse."
"That'll do, they'll get the picture."
"Picture? ... shouldn't T.V. be uninvented yet?"
"Shut up! You can't uninvent things ... stupid boy."
At that moment Jez enters dressed in a Deerstalker, plaid cape and Meerschaum pipe. The pipe is unlit due to the smoking ban.
"Good evening, gentlemen. May I introduce myself?"
"Well, not really." says Craig, "We already know who you are."
"My name is Shylock Drones of the Yard."
"Where did you get the hat and cape?"
" Thank you, Mr Fletcher, but I'll ask the questions from now on."
"Is this 'cause you read that murder mystery book while on tour?"
"No, I thought it would help us to figure out what we where up to before the tour ... you know ... re-destruct the crime type of thing."
"Good call," adds John, "Get on the case right away, Dr Flotsam."
"It's Drones, Sir."
"Nonsense Flotsam - it's been much colder than this. Right, lads, let's get in that studio and get this train 'a' moving!"
Trooping into the studio control room, the four amigos take their seats. John, now mysteriously dressed as Casey Jones the engine driver, takes the helm in front of the mixer.
"Is everything switched on?"
"I'm not!" quips Craig.
"Kev, is there enough steam?"
Kev leans over to a VU meter and raps it with a knuckle.
"Looks like it."
"Splendid! Then let's get this groovy train outta here!! You take the regulator, Jez, I'll work the throttle."
"Where shall I take to it, John?"
"Take it to the Top!" replies John in James Brown voice, while simultaneously throwing a lever on the desk. Silence for a second, then the sound of hissing steam and metal wheels beginning to bite on a track.
The studio jolts slightly, then begins to move. John, still in James Brown mode, laughs and throws his head back.
"We got ourselves a Soul Train brothers!!!"
"Where are we going, John?" asks Jez.
"We're on our way to New-Albumsville, Twenny Thirteen. Next stop Christmas!"
"Christmas! Brilliant!" cries Kev.
"Can we stop for some Glühwein, John?" asks Craig.
"Yeah, 'n' I'm gonna get a sausage," says Kev, "and when I grow up I'm gonna be a drummer ha ha.."
"Don't be stupid - you can't do both!!" they all reply as one as Friarmere Studios steams into the night.
Next time: Craig realises he's left his guitar in lost luggage, and Kev sets the drums up on platform 7.
2nd October, 2012
This story is based on actual events. Only the names, dates and actual events have been changed.
Flying eastward with the Earth's rotation is a strange thing. Darkness falls with such rapidity that within 20 minutes of leaving Heathrow at 13.30, the aircraft cabin was plunged into darkness. It was only when the in-flight meals arrived that I realised John had placed a cover over my head, like one does with a budgie or parrot's cage to keep them quiet. I began to suspect a difference in our travel arrangements, too, when I noticed my ticket was clearly marked STEERAGE, and on asking for the toilet I was show by the cabin crew to an outside Porta-Loo while the others had the use of the high altitude Japanese Super-loo with DVD, teas-maid and drinks cabinet. Still my 12" x 12" (30cm x 30cm in new money) space back in the goods wagon was comfy enough when one got used to the cold of the flag floor, and more arm room was provided when the chef got rid of the baskets of live chickens for the curry menu.
After ten hours in the air and six on the wine we arrived in Japan. Whisked from the airport to our hotel we were meet by an army of autograph hunting fans, all of whom seemed to have had a Bass Player By-Pass operation and headed straight for John, Kev and Jez. Never mind, I thought, I'd show them when I'd unleash my two words of Japanese on them at the first gig. I'd watched The Last Samurai before we came out ... not the one with Tom Cruise but the one with Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, so I was feeling confident with the lingo.
The next day we were treated to a day out by our friend Masakazu and taken to an ancient shrine. I was mildly alarmed when I overheard John asking Masa if he could leave me as an offering, but Masa assured him I would only anger the Gods. We were given Japanese fortune cards, of which mine proclaimed I'd have unadulterated good luck if I remained quiet, calm and serene for the rest of the day. We all agreed that that caveat rendered it worthless!
My two words for hello and thank you were a resounding success on the gigs and soon the fans stopped asking if I'd get their coats from the cloakroom or park their cars for them, and I'm sure one or two were almost convinced I was something to do with the band! The Japanese people were gracious, kind and very sweet with us and the entire trip was an absolute joy ... will we be back? ... I should coco!! I've already ordered The Last Samurai II featuring Cannon and Ball from Blockbusters!
JEZ (after listening to VDDG soundcheck ): Hugh, those bass pedals sound incredible. What are they? Where did you get them?
HUGH BANTON:- Well actually I build church organs for a living so they are something I fashioned myself.
JOHN:- Can you build us a set?!
5th September, 2012
Ever wondered about the mysteries of mastering and maintaining a Mellotron? At last, for the less technically gifted, here's a quick 'How To' straight from the manual:
Haynes Owner's Workshop Manual M400 Mellotron
Short & long wheelbase.
The start up procedure.
1. First light a fire using an oily rag and acoustic kindling wood under the sump of the Mellotron.
n.b. If procedure is being carried out by road crew please take into consideration roadies' inflammable breath, which may act as an extra accelerant.
2. When sufficient temperature has been reached check pressure gauge. When 300psi or ten Pounds & fifteen Shillings is showing the flywheel may be engaged.
3. To engage the flywheel first activate the hazard warning lights and klaxon. Insert shotgun cartridge into the breech and remove safety catch from the pistol grip*. Take steering box end float adjuster locknut and loosen. Remove the horn bracket, battery box and relay unit. Then replace them because they do not need to come off. Remove the side cover to allow access to crank handle inlet. Insert starting handle then put on back stiffener bracket, toe box and orthopaedic shoes. Summon road crew member to your assistance.
4. Using a soft-faced mallet and brass drift if necessary, encourage the roadie to begin turning the crank handle vigorously. Lighting a cigarette or with a cup of tea, stand five paces back and begin inane conversation ensuring not to help in any shape or form roadie's strenuous efforts.
5. When sufficient revolutions have been achieved the Blue Peter target indicator will light up gold and a bell will sound. Turn switch A to the RUN position, fire the starting pistol and simply turn the mains switch to the ON position.
6. Remove the heaped cadaver of roadie and oily rag and dispose of safely. Finally press any key of keyboard to see if the sound of an asthmatic flute player emanates. If not go to pub and repeat procedure when Mellotron manifold pressure has dropped.
* A Firearms Certificate is only needed for playing the Mk5 and above.
18th August, 2012
ON THE MOVE
"Brown control room to Major John ...
Brown control to Major John ...
Take your St John's Wort and put your headphones on.
Brown control to Major John ... commencing track count down, metronome on,
Check your tuning and may God's luck be with you ..."
( the sound of feedback and a guitar string snapping)
"Can you hear me, Major John ...
Can you hear me, Major John ....
Can you heeeaaar ..."
John enters the control room.
"Of course I can hear, I'm stood at the side of you!
Right, that's enough recording boys, we're off on an adventure again, it's time to pack for Japan.
Jez, you get the cases down from the top of studio wardrobe,
Kev, you pack the flask and sandwiches,
Craig, make sure you've got enough socks and undies ..."
"... and make sure you've a clean hanky,"
"Toowph ... OK ..."
"... and make sure you've sown your name in the back of your jumper and your mittens are on a string."
" dooogh Ok alight... your not even my real dad....
Hey, Kev, can I borrow a pair of those big chop sticks you're always carrying around with you?"
"No, Craig - they're my drumsticks, buffoon!"
"Is that what they eat with in Japan - knife, fork and buffoon?"
"OK, boys, hurry up, the charabanc is here. Bit of a trek this one, I think we may have to change horses at Crewe ..."
4th July, 2012
The other day while on my way down to the studio kitchen to replenish the bottomless teapot, I noticed John unhitching a seed drill from a tractor at the far end of the hallway.
"What's he been up to, then?", I asked Kev and Jez on returning to the control room.
"Dunno," replied Jez", "It started when we had the summer back in May, he's been ploughing the field up in the top corner of the live recording room."
"The one up by poet's corner?", I queried.
"No, the one right up past the Mellotron Cowboy Memorial Garden."
"Wow, no one's used that field since Mel was living in a camper van there while recording 'Caught In The Light'. Has anyone spoken to John recently?"
"Yeah, me," replied Kev, "He's taken on some kind of west country accent, all farmer like ..."
"Mmmmmh, I wonder. Does anyone fancy a walk?"
"Why not ... anything's better than this tea!"
We set out from the control room towards the keyboards, and after a while reached the towering canyons of Jez's domain. "I don't like it here on my own," said Kev as we passed between them like a New York skyline, "Reminds me of Transformers ... you know, robots in disguise and that."
"Don't worry," chuckled Jez, "I've turned them all off, and besides it's the Roland Fantom which is the evil one ..."
Leaving the brooding keyboard stacks behind we swung left round the back of the drums and headed off towards the far flung corner of the studio. Cresting a hill we reached the top field and looked down upon John's handiwork.
"Looks like he's been busy", said Kev.
"Hello ... what have we here?", I mused as I bent down to touch something sprouting from the ground. "These gentlemen, if I'm not mistaken, are the green shoots of an album!!!"
"Quick!", said Jez," lets hurry back and buy an assortment of hats for everyone to have a slap up feast ... with lashings of ginger beer!"
"HURRAH!!", we all shouted, and on the way home I asked Jez if I could swap my ginger beer for a glass of red.
Will the barren fields of Friarmere finally bear fruit? All will be hinted, lied and looked at in our next episode.
15th April, 2012
Somewhere in the north of England.
Day 32, still no sign of help. We've not see another human being since the milkman at 9.30 this morning.
Things are calm at the moment but it's the silence that really gets to you, though. John will be OK as long as the tea bags hold out. We sent Kev out on his own to get fresh supplies but haven't heard from him since lunchtime. We're beginning to fear he may have been captured by an old friend while passing the 'Bulls Head' and forced to drink Guinness in the tap room. God have mercy, it must be hell for him.
We're becoming concerned about Jez. He's fixed a ship's wheel to the side of the Mellotron and started wearing the uniform of Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, claiming we're at the siege of Sevastopol! He's got a sample of a 16 inch Howitzer being fired on one of his keyboards and sets it off every half hour; I must admit it all seems very convincing!
John says if we can get the bed tracks recorded soon we'll all be home for Christmas, but we've heard rumours before. I think it was Fleetwood Mac or someone like that.
It's the temperature in here that gets at me though, hell it's hot! I'd open a window but the neighbours all shout out and tell us to keep that racket down ... the heat! The Heat! ... DAMN THOSE DRUMS!!!!!!!
1st April, 2012
NEWS FROM THE COALFACE
A large bunch of rusty keys. "I can't remember which one it is: try the long one, Fletcher."
"Yes, Sir." The key fits and the door opens.
"You in first, Corporal Smith."
"Yes, Major Fancy."
"Can you see anything, Smith?"
"Just a minute, Major, there's a light switch here." A light flickers on to reveal a large hallway with five doorways leading off, one with the word STUDIO stencilled on it.
"You in next, Sergeant Fletcher... where's Whitehead?"
"Round the back banging the dustbins, Sir. He thinks they're big drums, Sir."
"Well, go get him and tell him to set up camp in the kitchen; we're going to be here for some time."
"Sir! Sir! Look at this!" They enter to find Smith through the door marked Studio. "Look at this, Sir." Smith holds out a dusty A4 note book, "It says 'River Of Drums' on the front, Sir."
"I think you'll find that should read "Dreams", Corporal, it's my old lyric book. Weren't you on the River Of Dreams campaign with me, Fletcher?"
"No, Sir, I was on the Nexus job with Lance Corporal Whitehead, do you remember, Sir? I was wounded by Captain Wolstenholme's razor wit and had to be treated down at the 'Old Bell' to a double brandy."
"Aaah yes, Captain Wolstenholme, a true trooper." They all enter a smaller room containing a mixing desk and recording equipment. "Check the fuel gauge on the mixing desk, Fletcher, what does it read?"
"It says half full, Sir"
"That's right, we filled it up on the Nexus album and only used half a tank. See if it'll start, Sergeant."
"Yes, Sir." A noise like a Morris Minor starting is heard, lights wink on and off and the desk bursts into life.
"Excellent! Excellent! Right boys, lets make some music!"
To be continued ...