Friday, 28 October 2011

Dodgy, River Cottage and How To Make A Crisp Sandwich

Been a very busy week and before we begin, congratulations to Noel Gallagher for his No.1 album with High Flying Birds; nothing against Matt Cardle but it's reassuring that Noel wasn't pipped to the post by an X-Factor winner, another strong argument for bigging up Why Music Matters.

So Dodgy are at the halfway point, on our tour previewing the new album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place', the legs are starting to ache but encouraging cheers from the crowd are spurring us on to the end. To continue this marathon / fun run analogy, we also seem to be surrounded by men dressed as chickens and we're taking in far too much fluid for this stage of the race.
Indeed our show at Whitstable on Sunday marked the half way point for our Autumn Tour and all is calm in Camp Dodgy. Top DJ Gary Crowley played 'What Became Of You' from the new album on Saturday on his BBC London new music show (you can listen to the show HERE ) and we heard the news at River Cottage which made us all very happy bunnies and also provided a delicious slice of serendipity as Gary reminded everyone that he was the first DJ EVER to play Dodgy, back in 1990 on his 'Demo Clash' part of his Sunday afternoon show on BBC GLR.
The weekend started in mighty Frome on Friday. Oi, if there are any bands reading this - go to Frome! There's an amazing venue there called the Cheese And Grain (Cheesy Groin to friends) and it's seriously under used and join in with the anti-Tesco campaign whilst you're there

On Saturday it was the Dodgy @ River Cottage event (above) and we were determined to keep the price for Dine With Dodgy At River Cottage as low as we possibly could and certainly below the £100 mark and because of this we knew we wouldn't be making a penny from the evening (though we did get a free meal) so it's understandable why quite a money minded folk asked us why we were doing it. Well you just have to look at the pics and messages on dodgyuk Facebook wall this week to see why.
Here are just a few of the many messages we've had -

"Definitely one of the best nights ever"

"Awesome evening. Truly one of those once in a blue moon events that the wife and I will remember and treasure.
I truly hope that the new album is a runaway success for you all"

Well there you go. Just a couple of reasons why we did it.  A special mention must go to the French contingent who were so keen that they arrived an hour early as we were setting up and then proceeded to make friends with EVERYONE in England.
Here's a little video blog that hopefully gives you a flavour of the day for us.

Also, I'm sorry but how on Earth do you expect us to have the free run of the place and not do this

And we must thank the wonderful folk down at River Cottage who were beyond helpful, in fact they reached a plane of zen helpfulness where they knew what we wanted before we knew. Just amazing.

If our starter was the cheese (and Grain) in Frome on Friday, River Cottage the main course on Saturday, then Sunday in beautiful Whitstable was a top class dessert of a gig to finish off the weekend, where Nigel tried to take the piss out of my beard onstage by saying I looked like a fisherman. In a fishing town. OOPS. But he somehow managed to pull himself out of that mess by writing a brand new impromptu song, Everyone Loves A Fisherman, such an instant classic that it was played twice in a row and was in danger of over shadowing our 'proper' new songs. If anyone at the Whitstable gig managed to film or record that then please send it through or put it up on facebook.
We made another wee video bloggy whilst we were there. Just waiting for the call from the Whitstable tourist office now

This weekend we'll be playing 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place' in Winchester @ The Railway on Friday (28th), scene of a tremendous gig earlier in the year and then a triumphant return to Kingston on Saturday (29th) @ The Peel, the place where it all started for Dodgy back in 1990 when we used to host the Infamous Dodgy Club in Bacchus Wine Bar on Union St. If any old Dodgy Club members are reading this then please get in touch. Will let you know how it goes...
This crisp sandwich is delicious....

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dodgy, The Stone Roses and the reunion rollercoaster

by the way.... this is Math, drummer with Dodgy and a few people have enquired as to why I've started to sport facial hair and my answer is simple - I'm playing to my strengths. I'm not tall, I'm not slim but I have the power to grow a beard to Brian Blessed proportions.... which brings me nicely on to The Stone Roses...
already a lot has been written and said about this but The Roses are one of THE most important bands both to us as fans and being in a band... the rumours began on Friday and all weekend I was texting some good friends who I know are massive Roses fans, like Jo who I play with in the Yellow Moon Band, who founded and runs the Green Man Festival and who by her own admission is like a giddy teenager again over The Roses news, our ex-manager who claims that The Stone Roses at Blackpool Empress Ballroom was the best gig of his life, and Mark Morriss, who actually hadn't heard until I told him and indeed the irony of The Bluetones going their separate ways as the Roses reunite, was not lost on him.
It's fair to say that The Stone Roses had an influence over most of the major UK bands in the 90's - certainly Oasis, The Charlatans and The Verve wouldn't exist without them but also Blur (listen to 'She's So High') Radiohead, Muse, Prodigy, Pulp, Supergrass and er.. Dodgy would all acknowledge them as a major influence.

Obviously the announcement resonates with our situation. Personally, I'm not sure about the word 'reforming', it always sounds like such a big statement; the fact is, as a band, if you gain any kind of success, you find yourselves on a roller coaster which doesn't stop after one circuit but continues round and round and round until after a while you just want to get off. Doesn't mean that you won't want to get back on at a later point, just that at that moment you want to step off for a breather.
We went through quite a lot of line-ups and band names (ask and we'll tell) before we finally found the chemistry that was the three of us as Dodgy, and having spent a bit of time apart you appreciate more that there's something special about that chemistry. At the Stone Rose press conference, when (man of few words) John Squire said it was not just a band getting back together but best friends burying the hatchet, we thought "blimey, that's us". Talking about him and Ian Brown he said "I think in some ways it's a friendship that defines us both" and the same applies to all three of us in our case. The Roses got back together after Mani's mum's funeral, for us it was the sad loss of lighting fella and good friend Andy Moore, for all of us it's a case of life's too short, so here we are.....

Some people are saying that they are worried it will be shite and they don't want to be disappointed but that's fine, no one's forcing you to buy a ticket or think about it more than you want to... in fact the Roses have already disappointed many with the debacle of Reading 96 (we were there) and some of the shockers off Second Coming (Straight To The Man - so I know they've made howling (literally) mistakes but we STILL LOVE THEM and have memories of a gig in Pilton (September 1st 1995) where Dodgy were the named 'headliners' and they were the special guests ... .and that is why, Friday morning 9.30am we'll be on the phone trying to buy a ticket.... and while we're waiting, if enough of you request it, then I'll trot out my story again, of how little old Mathew from Dodgy christened Ian Brown, 'King Monkey'.....

So till next time, feel free to keep spreading the word about Dodgy, with your help we can start making things better.
As Ian Brown said at the press conference - "for positive thinkers everywhere"

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Dodgy in Guildford, St. Helens - A Tale Of Two Towns

Last weekend we had two gigs on the Dodgy tour, where we are focusing on playing the new album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place' in it's entirety. The purpose of the tour is to give you people out there a preview of the new album, see if you like the songs as much as we do and hopefully encourage some pre-orders on the night, so that the album gets a good lift off when it is released next year.
We are honestly loving all of these gigs to bits and hopefully giving the new songs a boost everytime we play them but it's certainly a learning experience. A couple of people have tweeted and texted about the Guildford gig for instance, at the Boileroom, saying that they were annoyed that some people talked through the songs. Honestly, don't worry, it's a gig; we expect people to come along, meet up with their mates and enjoy it however they might seem fit, and we know it's a big ask, playing a whole bunch of new songs in one go, however much faith we have in those songs. Luckily there's also been loads of positive feedback and we learnt some lessons in Guildford that we were able to put into action the next night.

The weekend certainly was a tale of two cities, well more like towns actually; A Tale Of Two Towns is alliteratively (hope any past English teachers aren't reading this) a lot better, so you were missing a trick there Mr. Dickens old son - and a tale of two very contrasting towns at that .
There's Guildford, with its art galleries, top of the range cars, its busy Karen Millen and Kath Kidson shops and its recession proof glittering jacket - though I was put right by a recently made redundant Dodgy fan that hard times (you see, got another Dickens book in there) are indeed hitting Surrey as well.
Then on Saturday it was up north to St. Helens and before anyone says anything OK, I've googled it and of course St. Helens does have galleries but gives the impression of being like a different country, a different decade even. It was 8pm on Saturday night and the streets were deserted, no-one around - pubs and restaurants boarded up and the few pubs that were open had posters in the cracked window advertising "£3 entry / 50p a pint" and scared looking bouncers outside giving me a look that said "please don't come in here, you look relatively normal, flee while you still have the chance".
Dodgy have got quite friendly over the years with Johnny Vegas, actor and comedian, he comes from St. Helens and told us how it was a 'new town', developed with fine intentions after WW11 to get people out of what were becoming slums in the bigger towns but unlike Crawley, St. Helens hadn't quite worked, especially when there's only one major employer left in the town, Pilkington's glass. But as you find with a lot of these towns and cities - the bleakest looking place conversely contains the warmest and most generous inhabitants.
We were impressed by the fine looking audiences in both towns but a big shout out to some of you in Guildford; we are very much digging the 'vietnam vet' chic that several of you rocked up sporting on Friday - the tye dye, beard, sunglasses and cap look is seriously rocking our world  -  and that's just the ladies.

In St. Helens, the ritual of the pre-gig drink took us to one of the only bars we could find open in the town centre on Saturday (apart from the fighting arena mentioned earlier) and it was empty apart from a group of about 8 people of both sexes and varying ages acting out what can only be described as the old English definition of BEDLAM - madness, chaos and confusion. We'd get shouting, football songs, arguments, crying, kissing and laughing but all simultaneously and as LOUD as they possibly could. It was quite amazing to watch. They were obviously quite excited about the new Harvey Nichols opening up in town...
the gig turned out to be one of the best yet on the tour. We felt we were better and more inviting and as a result the audience were incredible - singing along to the the new ones, dancing, smiling and just thoroughly enjoying themselves, us and each others company. We loved it and made it all worthwhile. So thank you, any doubts we had have been well and truly swept away...

This coming weekend takes on a distinctly culinary feel. We commence with the fromage at the Cheese And Grain in Frome on Friday (21st Oct), enjoy fine cuisine at the special Dodgy night at the River Cottage on Saturday night (22nd) and then pop down to Whitstable for oysters at East Quay on Sunday (Oct 23rd)....yum yum

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A photo session with Dodgy, a Dodgy tattoo and the latest gigs

As a band, Dodgy have never been very good standing around doing long photo shoots, there's not many bands that are. We had our fingers burned early on in our career with the photos for our first album; we didn't have any firm ideas and were persuaded by the record company that the input of someone with the job title 'stylist' and the photographer would be appropriate - the results, I can quite confidently say, would shame the most enthusiastic children's TV presenter - what were we thinking with those jumpers? Well, I can hear you now and you're right - we weren't thinking.
Since then we've formulated some kind of approach and try to use a photographer we know and trust, hence using our old friend Pat 'the professional' Pope ( for our afternoon photoshoot in and around Hertford last Friday. We were also very ably assisted by Annie, the head of tourism for Hertfordshire (not just Hertford or indeed Hereford as both myself and Nige got wrong trying to give her a mention on stage later) who showed us the more picturesque spots around the town, of which there are many. So not a bad afternoon at all really, especially watching Pat getting wound up by Annie's suggestions for photos -
"why don't you have them peeping from behind that tree?"
Anyway, here's one of us not peeping - awaiting approval apparently...

On the current tour Dodgy are giving people a full sneak live preview of the new album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place'. As these gigs are a bit special, we didn't want to fall into the trap that a lot of bands do and focus on the big towns and cities and play any old night of the week, as we knew this one would be for the true Dodgy fans. It's fine if your audience is made up mostly by students and city dwellers but when a lot of you have jobs or kids or both and perhaps live out of town then to go and see your favourite artist can be a real baby-sitty, long drivey ball-ache and an expensive one at that. So we felt it was only right for "us to come to you rather than you come to us". Hence, we've downsized a bit and are going out to play some smaller theatres and venues in some of the smaller towns - hence Hertford and Shrewsbury last weekend, and indeed Guildford and St Helens and Frome and in fact most of the gigs on this tour.

And we certainly pushed the down-sizing to it's limit in Shrewsbury as well pointed out by Mr Tea in his comment to an earlier Blog post here. In fact the size down from pub function room we played is actually on the street busking, so we were definitely 'keeping it real' but as is always with gigs like that, we had a blast and the crowd were bananas. We'd met one of the organisers, Elliot earlier in the year when we played an acoustic show in Oswestry - see my earlier point about out of town places, well it don't come more out of town than Oswestry. We like Elliot because Elliot has a Dodgy tattoo, see below.

It's on his chest, we'd obviously prefer it on his forehead or neck, but chest will do. Elliot and his lovely wife very kindly offered me their spare bed for the night but I did have to think twice about taking up the offer as this brilliant Alan Patridge sketch was going through my head quite a bit. It was OK though, the door had a lock.

New songs Waiting For The Sun and Shadows seem to be going down very well at the moment, let's see what Guildford thinks on Friday (14th) at the Boileroom and then up to St. Helens on Saturday (15th) @ The Citadel - we're hoping a few will try and get over from Liverpool for that one and who knows, our old pal Johnny Vegas might be visting home.. looking forward to it..

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Dodgy music on the radio plus an encounter with Noel (Gallagher)

With the new Dodgy album 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place' recorded and in the can, now for the difficult bit -  all the planning and cunning promotion so people out there know it exists. Of course you'll be kept up to speed on how our marketing and attention seeking schemes evolve.
With that in mind it was up to London town yesterday to meet a potential 'radio plugger'. For anyone who doesn't know, a radio plugger is someone whose job it is to help get radio producers to listen to our music and nudge them into putting it on the radio. As we essentially make our music to be listened to their job is one of,  if not, the most important in our book. The plugger's job is not as exciting as it used to be in the payola days of American radio in the 70's and 80's, where the plugger would slip drugs/money/very small prostitutes into the sleeve of the record they were plugging. I'm sure it still goes on somewhere but there's a fantastic book to read all about those days called The Hitmen by Fredric Dannen. Of course there's no way I would even suggest that the fine boys and girls from the UK music industry ever get involved in using narcotics....... pause for dramatic effect and perhaps make one more book recommendation for today - Kill Your Friends by our old friend John Niven. If you get offended easily then don't read it.
Anyway, for some reason I arrived early so I was partaking of a cup of Earl Grey sat outside a Swedish cafe on Gt Titchfield St (that sentence sounds too poncey for words) when who should jump out of a taxi but Noel Gallagher, obviously on his way to an interview but still with time to bound over the road and say 'hello' to me.  It was at this precise moment that I was hoping a gaggle of ladies were watching but unfortunately there was just a small, bald oriental chap. He was lovely, as always (Noel, not the little chap) and asked how Nige was, bless. We talked about our new albums, his and ours and the band Electric Soft Parade who are supporting him and us over the next month. We swapped email addresses and he asked me to send him some of the new Dodgy tracks, which I'll be doing over the next couple of days and let you know what the good man Noel thinks. Actually Dodgy and Noel go way back as Oasis supported Dodgy at the Academy in 1994 and two years later offered to return the favour by offering us a slot at their big Knebworth shows but apparently our reply was something along the lines of "No thanks, Noel, we'd rather get shot at in Bosnia" a previous commitment we couldn't and didn't want to change.
As it happens we travelled to Bosnia a total of three times between '95 and '97, you can actually see what we got up to one time here

As far as I can see, at least one of our new friends in this video ended up onstage with us at that previously mentioned Glastonbury performance in 1997. Which brings me nicely to the fact that on one of the trips to Bosnia we took the esteemed photographer Pat Pope with us and as it happens he's going to be doing a new photoshoot with Dodgy this during the day before our next gig on Friday (7th October) in Hertford at the Corn Exchange where again, Dodgy will play the new album in it's entirety and the following night on Saturday (8th October) we'll be in Bicton near Shrewsbury at the Four Crosses Hotel.

So until then,



Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dodgy keep it in the family and what does 'Free' mean to you

The responsibility of music vibes in the bus on the tour so far has been left to 'Handsome Chris', Nigel's nephew who's helping out with selling the merch, so we've had a mixture of Jurassic 5, the Sex Pistols and Jimi Hendrix - it's like 1993 all over again. Chris was 8 then, bless him. In fact there's quite a nepotistic thing going on as our tour manager is Jack, who is the son of our original tour manager, Danny. Also my nan is the drum roadie. Not really. We had to sack her for having it too large. Not really.

  • we're still interested in the idea of 'free' but noticed that when you offer a gig ticket for free, there's always a 40% drop out rate. Does this mean that by offering the tickets for free for some people this devalues what is being offered? Let's mull that one over...
  • Dodgy are liked by boys and girls in equal measure
  • The new songs are "better than the old ones" and "much better than I ever expected"
  • It's not a joke, the folk from Blackburn and Burnley REALLY don't like each other. We're thinking of doing a Bob Marley style peace concert.
  • Manchester really is one of the most vibrant cities in the UK
  • Girl's, especially drunken ones, have a much more colourful palette of swear words then their male counterparts. Quite wonderful.
GLASGOW was a vibey, sweaty little acoustic gig in the bar of King Tuts at an alarmingly early 7.15pm, we managed to play 5 new ones. Burnley the next night was the first gig where we played all the new tunes and the first one with Stu The Fugitive on bass, and the boy played a blinder. Luckily we beat the music transfer deadline and got him on a one season loan from a great band called Smoke Feathers (our 50 quid bid to bring in Richard Hawley on a permanent, as second guitarist was ignored).
After a year of playing gigs as just a 3 piece, like we used to do back in 1992, we decided to get another musician on board for this tour because Nigel plays so much integral acoustic guitar on this new album that there is no way we could have done it justice live with just the three of us. We'll keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't get a silly as it did at Glastonbury 1997 where we counted a total of THIRTEEN musicians on stage, and that's NOT counting Ray Davies who came on stage with us to sing a version of his Kinks song 'Tired of Waiting For You'.
And on to MANCHESTER last night and the royal gala performance of the upcoming all new Dodgy album Stand Upright In A Cool Place in it's entirety and we couldn't have been more happier with how it went. The crowd were perfect. Supportive; in to it; LOUD and happy. Probably one of my favourite gigs OF ALL TIME.
Against much drunken abuse and opposition from my good friends who had made the effort to come to see us, I managed to slip back to the hotel relatively clear headed. I know it sounds dangerously responsible of me, but I wanted to keep it together for the fair folk of York tonight. The same can't be said for Handsome and The Fugitive - Manchester was theirs for the taking and I believe they took it.
Till next time x