Would you like some FACTS?
On the 22 August we will be playing Tooting Tram & Social (Tickets at gigantic.com)
On the 24th August we’ll be appearing alongside The Wedding Present at The Concorde 2 in Brighton for the At The Edge Of The Sea festibule.
Then we’re playing at http://www.solarfestmallorca.com/ in Mallorca (bring sun-screen and lots of it).
On Saturday 11 October we’ll be jumping around at Hackney Wonderland https://billetto.co.uk/hackney-wonderland
Come along and shout positive reinforcement slogans at us. Hooray!
July 21, 2014
June 1, 2014
Back by Populist demand! We at Art Brut spent two fruitful days in the delightful and not-terribly-secret-location of Onecat Studios to record a new single. An a-side and a b-side. Like what they used to do in the olden days. The A side is called “Hooray” and is a massive noisy slab of celebration, the celebration of a break-up. The b-side, or “flip-side” could be described as the, err, flip-side of that break-up and, indeed, that a-side. It’s called “The Nearest Exit Is Behind You” and is slightly more experimental. Well, experimental in that we said, “What should we put in that middle-8 section?” And Toby ran in and threw a glockenspiel solo on it before anyone had the chance to slap the beaters out of his hands. He also claimed to have dreamed about the backing-vocal lines the night before. He may be having a nervous breakdown. Brilliant!
All guitars n’ drumbs were recorded in two or less takes and the vocals were similarly successful and succinct in execution. Eddie particularly enjoyed the fact that, perhaps for the first time in Art Brut history, the lyrics had been written BEFORE entering the studio. Usually he’d be frantically suggesting more guitar parts or something, anything to prolong having to essentially make up the words on the spot. Not so, here, fact fans.
Needless to say, but saying it anyway, we’re all quite excited about what we created and can’t wait for you to hear it. Which you will quite soon. In the words of the late Marvin Berry, “You know that new sound you lookin’ for?.. Well LISTEN TO ART BRUT!!”
Click the link at the top called artbrutstudio! for some pictures. My brain hurts trying to put them in here. HOORAY!!
November 22, 2013
Are we sitting comfortably?
Then let us continue where we left off.
You at the back, stop fidgeting!
It is a rare occasion I find myself in Bristol with it not utterly shitting down with rain and this is very much not one of them.
The windscreen wipers, or “Skwipers” as I called them as a five year old, are no match for the biblical downpour and Art Brut HQ (henceforth to be known as “The Van”) is slowed to near stopping on one of this fine city’s many delightful roundabouts as we career into the sudden darkness and near-certain sod.
We are running a touch late, although it’s only me, Ian, Freddy and Tim (sound-engineer to the stars™) in the van as Eddie is meeting us at the venue having deejayed a Halloween shindig in Torquay and Stuffy is being flown in specially from Spain having played the drumbs for some band called The Damned the previous night.
As we enter the hallowed Fleece & Firkin, I am eventually mildly disappointed that it’s been “done-up-a-bit”. At least, the dressing room(s) and the toilets have. On one of many previous visits here I noticed some of the most thought-provoking graffiti on one of the toilet doors. A neatly carved, “Bloc Party are good, but they need to rehearse”, is surely up there with the best “Wot No…” scrawlings in history. Should have been framed or left well alone, in the very least. The old graffiti in the dressing room was a touch more, shall we say, specialized. I particularly recall what might be described as a “bouquet of phalli” daubed brightly above the selection of curl-cornered sandwiches that made up the old rider (Sorry, “gifts”).
We decide to await our intrepid band mates in the little pub next door. In the olden days, the promoter would feed the band in this pub. It was a cosy little place where you could enjoy a pie surrounded by shaky-handed fans clamoring for autographs from the lead singer. It’s not quite like that any more. It’s still cosy but, today, is hosting what appears to be an “open-mic” type affair so we hide in the far corner trying to time the clacking of our woeful pool playing skills with the strains of Bob Dylan and Ed Sheeran numbers.
Eddie arrives still sporting last night’s Halloween costume. Well, he’s painted his face white. It’s attention to detail like this that won him the Academy Award for Best Make-up in 1983. Feeling slightly the worse for wear, Mr Argos repairs immediately to the dressing room to assess the gifts.
More gifts arrive shortly in the form of a large chunk of the Argos clan. And what a lovely bunch they are!
Cut to a couple of hours later, it’s pretty much as full to the rafters in the dressing room as it is in the audience and before we know it we’re destroying the very fabric of popular music with all the abandon of a pissed-up cackle of Hyenas, hell-bent on glory.
Nice one, Bristol, you didn’t Fleece us in the slightest.
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Jokes about The Tundridge Wells Forum being the very pinnacle of the “toilet circuit” due to it’s being a converted public convenience have been done to death, presumably since the venue opened it’s doors in 1993. My first band, Inertia, supported punk legends 999 there a few short years later. It also played host to an horrific scene of backstage debauch in a documentary about joke-punk nit-wits, Towers Of London. Somewhat mercifully, the backstage “area” has been turned into a studio and now the dressing-room is really just a thoroughfare for load-in. There is a sofa, a toilet and more pita-bread than you can shake a stick at but it ain’t half cold, mum.
Once Keith Top Of The Pops and his mega-band have soundchecked, we repair to a marvelous little pub dedicated to real ale and lunatics. Well, one lunatic approaches our table, kisses me on the hat, tells us all to live life to the fullest and is then gently ejected.
The apologetic yet excellent Get Inuit open up proceedings with their spiky mix of Weezer and Pavement. A mix I am not alone in thoroughly digging.
Keith pulls off yet another magical show and manages to use many of the jokes Eddie is planning on using. He is moved to lol, “Why have I chosen to go on tour with a support band funnier than me? What was I THINKING?”
We will all have to think on our feet or, in the very least, drink on our feet. Ian decides to ask from the stage, “Does anyone fancy buying me a pint of cider?” and after a lengthy and silent pause, “Blimey, don’t all jump at once, will you?” Quite the bon viveur, I’m sure you’ll agree. You don’t ask, you don’t get. Or in this case, you do ask, you don’t get. Perhaps the audience thinks he’s joking. Ian NEVER jokes about cider. I suggest you write that down.
They say you play The Tunbridge Wells Forum twice in your career. Once on your way up, once on your way down.
I’ve played it five times.
I have literally no idea what this means.
Not wishing to sound in any way disingenuous but I rarely enjoy London shows. They’re generally the ones that “industry” types come to. Business associates and A&R. Accountants and agents out on a jolly. You usually need a good bucket of salt with you to constantly ingest whilst smiling and nodding at being told how awesome the show is going to be.
That said, London shows are frequently, err, awesome.
Bigger venue, bigger audience, proper lighting rig, fucking massive guestlist…
Me and Stuffy’s Coxonaught brother-with-arms, Owen Thomas is on the list. Although I have to get him his pass because somebody claiming to be him came in with a girlfriend already. She is apparently wearing a “puffa-jacket”. Anyone who knows Owen will know that his arriving anywhere with a girl in such a garment is monumentally unlikely. Weirrrd.
Also on the list tonight is one Jasper Fulcher. You may know him from such bands as Art Brut. We embrace instantly ‘pon my arrival in the dressing-room and Eddie suggests it is rather like a scene from The Two Doctors. A splendid chap, as is Jasper.
The venue it’s self is ace. Makes me feel like I’m in New York. And I love being in New York. It’s all huge ceilings and red brick and bicycles with no breaks or whatever those ruddy deathtraps are called.
We share the dressing-room with the support bands tonight. The Indelicates are known associates, so to speak, as of course is Keith Top Of The Pops, but joining the merry old throng is a Russian band who don’t appear to speak a word of English. We try to explain that our gifts are on one side of the room whilst theirs is on the other. They nod and smile and proceed to go through the food and booze on our side like a plague of rabid locusts. Hats off to them, they leave no bag of crisps unturned.
After the requisite amount of flesh-pressing it is our turn to hit the stage. And it’s great fun. The crowd goes suitably nuts, as do we. Lead by example, I occasionally say.
It’s a proper big rock show, which I thoroughly enjoy.
By the time we get back into the dressing-room, drenched in sweat and joy, there is not a single drop of alcohol left. Ian goes to the bar and buys a box of lager that we attempt to secretly imbibe whilst thanking the known universe for coming.
We party like rock stars into the wee hours.
In a way.
Actually, I get the night-bus back to Stuffy’s and go to bed.
Tomorrow, after all, is another show.
Art Brut, Top Of The Pops, Sing it!
October 14, 2013
As promised, dear reader, here is the second instalment of the diary.
Hebden Bridge (A love story)
Sunlight streams through the windows of the van, refracting off the slightly purple tinted lenses of my fake Ray Bans and bathing my brain in tiny little rainbows. Outside everything goes from brick and stone to green and sparkle. Hills arch up out of the flatness as if somehow alive and suddenly stretch up lazily, yearning for the sky. Trees like giant broccoli sprout atop them. My lungs ache for the freshness so clearly abundant outside. A little canal appears, whisperingly at first, to my right, house boats and ducks and an Englishness lost to urban sprawl, seemingly relegated to the pages of old books you only find in charity shops for fifty pence a throw. Sandstone buildings, postcard houses, comely cottages, bridges over seemingly never troubled water, conker-clacking, cobbled and tweeded to within an inch of it’s life, we start to question whether or not we are dreaming.
Did we all pass through the pearly gates somewhere on the journey? Has some ghastly accident befallen us?
Have we died and gone to Hebden?
As we emerge, blinking in the sunlight like startled voles, from our little tour van we take a quick look at the really rather lovely venue. It’s an old social club, all wood paneling and halves of bitter and mild. We can’t load in until 4, so the search for lunch begins in earnest having foregone breakfast with the promise of something special.
Earlier I had tweeted, “Where’s good for lunch in Hebden Bridge?” and the world famous Marie Du Santiago off of Kenickie had almost immediately tweeted me back with a succinct “Everywhere…” Can’t say fairer than that. However, after a while of wandering around essentially looking at everything and sighing contentedly, it is decided that what we really want is a pub lunch with a view of the canal. Almost as soon as this is decided we find ourselves in the courtyard of The White Horse Inn. We find a table outside, in the sun, with a view and peruse the menu rather like we’ve not eaten for a month.
Stuffy and I order the pork pie served with piccalilli and mash. When it arrives a single tear leaks lovingly from my left eye. “It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen”. This is no ordinary pork pie. This is a Hebden Bridge pork pie. It is bigger than I had even half imagined and twice as porky. In fact, fuck it, here’s a photo of the beast…
Oh, I forgot the mushy peas. There were mushy peas too. And they were glorious. Jesus CHRIST, I’m hungry…
Anyway, look, lunch was great. The beef roasts were amazing too, although I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than what was going on in my mouth. It is with great sadness that I have to report that I couldn’t quite finish all of the pie. It may well end up being one of my greatest regrets. My only other regret is not having gone down to breakfast in a posh hotel in Köln during the last Coxon tour but that’s another story. Just as my pastry coma is about to take hold we head back to the venue.
Our dressing room… sorry, the place where we are to receive our gifts… is housed in the little theatre next door to the actual venue. It’s very well appointed. There is a selection of books you can buy via a “trust jar” on the shelf. Fifty pence a throw, no less. I chuck in a quid and pick up the sequel to The Ghost Of Flight 401 and the exact, wait, the EXACT same edition of an illustrated children’s version of The Last Of The Mohicans that I had loved as a child and lost in a terrible explosion. That last bit’s not entirely true. I think it went in a box and lived under the conservatory until it was eaten by spiders some years later.
Are you sure we’re not dead?
The gifts are over-generous to say the least. Fresh meats and cheeses, wine, beer, all the crisps you could scrunch in the bag and then offer a playground pal. There are a series of post-it-notes lined up on the counter baring the sentence, one word per post-it, “ATTENTION ART BRUT THERE IS MORE BEER IN THE FRIDGE”
We all stop weeping uncontrollably after about ten minutes and it’s time for sound check. Wait, no it’s not. It’s time for Ian and I to have a wander through the local park, along the edge of the canal to marvel at the little houseboats so peaceful and inviting. We wonder if this isn’t the way of life perhaps we should all eventually adopt. Ian’s no stranger to the workings of a canal-boat, let me tell you and as the sun gently slides down behind the hills he tells me of trips spent as a youth, having to slow one’s body clock to match the flow of the river. It’s an almost startling and endearingly soft side of Ian Catskilkin that Hebden Bridge encourages and we saunter back to the venue like two boys returning from Cub-camp.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much about the actual gig, such was my and, indeed, all of our sudden and overwhelming infatuation with it’s setting. I can only assume it was as spinningly lovely as the rest of the day had been and all that I can remember is two young men barging into “the place we receive our gifts” to get us to sign things, take photos and have a quick chat being met, welcomingly, with open arms. I have, in previous incarnations and in no uncertain terms, suggested that uninvited people kindly “Get the fuck out of my dressing room” and yet tonight there is no need for such unfriendliness. It must be the surroundings.
Are you sure we’re not dead?..
Having opted to spend much of the next day in our new favourite place, we set about perusing a flea market, lunching at a café for dogs, indulging ourselves with sweet potato soup and crusty rolls. We stroll around the charity shops, in one of which I manage to get Stuffy to try on a pair of leather trousers that are sadly a touch shy of the right size. We treat ourselves to an ice cream and as we sit scoffing, watching the selection of “strong looks” go by, Eddie suggests, “I bet Razorlight weren’t allowed ice creams”. Beastly old Johnny Borrell had been playing at the venue the night before us, I should add. Before long, however, the inevitable is upon us and sent crashing back down to earth we are faced with tonight’s gig in…
Hull is a stark contrast to Hebden Bridge and the famous Adelphi is as stark a reminder of that contrast as I have ever come across. Punk rock for the last 25 years, the Adelphi has seen virtually every rock band worth it’s salt pass through it’s doors and into it’s filthy little backstage area. A case of Carling awaits us there and whilst not wishing to seem ungrateful (“These gifts are UNACCEPTABLE! HAVE THEM RETURNED IMMEDIATELY!”), we opt to call the van our dressing room and attempt to order something for dinner in the Weatherspoons across the road. I say “attempt” because they don’t have any food left. Ian has a bowl of chips. I have a hot dog. The beer is unnervingly cheap, however.
We watch the awesome support acts and limber up for our performance. It’s really, really good fun. Sweaty and cathartic and unhinged and all that good stuff. Punk as fuck, mate.
We do a quick photo-shoot in the gents lavatory (yup) and before we know it our little home on wheels is careering out of the car park and “getting the fuck out of Dodge”. We’re Nottingham bound to one of our other favourite venues. Hooray for us!
The Rescue Rooms is a venue frequented by Art Brut and virtually every other band I’ve been in. It’s great. Nice big stage, pleasant back-stage and what is known as a “Flat load-in”. This means that rather than contend with iron fire escapes or stairs, you stick everything not on wheels on stuff that is on wheels and roll it all smoothly into the venue, where inevitably it all comes crashing down because you’re shit at stacking stuff safely.
Normally we’d head next door for some of their world famous fried chicken but I have done quite enough eating for a few days, frankly, so it’s coffee and wine until load-out time for Tobes.
Once again we are joined by the mighty Keith Top Of The Pops tonight and his revolving door policy on band members sees some new faces turn up. New to me, anyway. The rest of the Bruts know them all intimately.
Again, in contrast to the previous night’s punk rock ethic, tonight feels, by comparison, like a BIG RAWK SHOW ™ and it’s one I embrace thoroughly. I lurch about the stage, as it my wont. Freddie’s bass strap busts and as she darts across the stage to get her spare bass, momentarily looking rather like she’s running off stage altogether, Eddie is moved to say, “Oh, thank God, for a minute I thought I’d lost another one”. No, Siree. Tonight is a galvanizing and triumphant show, one befitting a band that has been together for longer than this short run and it bodes very well for the next chunk of gigs in November. Yes, yes, I know they’ve been a band for ten years but not with Sticks N’ Thumbs aka “The Rhythm Guys”. We are, for all intents and purposes, a new band and, by gum, it feels like a good’un.
Much slapping of backs is enjoyed. Stuffy’s old drum teacher even comes and tells him he’s done good. We jubilantly cheer ourselves into oblivion all the way back to London, which we get to at approximately Shit O’Clock in the morning. Total blast. Here’s to the next one.
We’re here, we’re Art Brut, get used to it.
Oh, I dunno, sunnink like that…
October 8, 2013
Below is part one of the account of what happened on our recent tour, as seen through the eyes, ears and fingers of six-stringed-buffoon, Toby…
…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF THE BREAD…
or A Very Brutish Tour Diary…
by poet laureate, Toby Macfarlaine
Sitting outside a pub in Archway, North London, seems about as good a place as any to start this.
You might know the pub. It’s the one around the corner from the hospital. Usually it’s full of people either waiting for someone to be born or waiting for someone to die. A palpable mix of jubilance, anxiety and abject terror wafts over our table, filtered through the blazing sunshine and arguably London’s cheapest cooking-lager. We assume that those waiting for birth/death feel the same.
Once Ian and I have sufficiently topped-up our sunburn, it is decided that we really ought to get this show on the road if we are to make it to Manchester in time for the first sound check of the tour.
We are not going to make the first sound check of the tour.
A bottle of prosecco is procured for the journey and we trundle up North in our new home for 9 days chatting and joking and, rather like that scene in episode one of Spaced, the song “Getting to know you” chimes in the back of my admittedly slightly inebriated noggin.
I’ve been in this dressing room so many times it’s like an old friend. An old friend who has been made slightly smaller with the addition of a toilet and a shower. Nobody has old friends like that. That’s a dumb analogy. It’s like an old friend full of beer and sandwiches. There. Everyone has old friends like that. I may be labouring the point. I have been here before. So have we all. Which means going on-stage “festival style” (Throw the gear up, line-check, play) doesn’t worry any of us. We know that the monitor engineer knows his eggs and we are confident enough to be able to just have a rough idea of a set-list and play pretty fast and loose with the whole thing.
The “We’re gonna need a longer mic-cable” adage comes to mind when Eddie ventures out into the audience, the cable twoyoyoings taught and nearly knocks a geezer in the front-row’s syrup off. The little chunk of Icona Pop we shoehorn into the middle of Good Weekend is met with initial bemusement, then recognition, then cheers. At least, I think it is. “I don’t care, I love it” ™
I note that my tendency to lurch around the stage less like a caged tiger and rather more like a massive bit of over-cooked asparagus doesn’t tend to happen in rehearsals and I have to make sure that I haven’t accidentally knocked Freddy into the monitor booth. She assures me that this is not the case.
We triumphantly topple down the stairs to our old newly-be-toileted friend far sweatier than I think any of us expected. Stuffy’s shirt displays a perspiration pattern resembling the Bat symbol. Perhaps he is the dark knight after all. The black leggings are a dead giveaway.
Our Manchester digs for the night are not un-prison like and after a small decompressing one-for-the-road I clamber up to the top bunk, Stuffy lying on the lower deck and I drift off to sleep with the “Baby things just get too rough…” lines from Captain Coxon’s “Bottom bunk” ear-worming me to schlaff.
Having breakfasted in Frankie & Benny’s fine American Bistro (during which Ian will fall in love with our brassy waitress only to fall significantly out of love with her on receipt of a latte without any coffee in it. “I was going to take you away from all of this and now you’ve just ruined it”) we realize that it’s a touch more than a stone’s throw from Manchester to Glasgow and it’s a snoozy one at that. Feet up and watching bonny Scotland approach through the windows is mostly all I can manage having reached a relatively advanced state of refreshment after the previous evenings frivolities.
Once we’ve loaded into the venue, Ian and I nip over to Boots to stock up on essentials. It’s not really a tour without a trip to Boots, in my book. Even though I slightly regret it, I don’t join Ian in a deep-fried haggis supper. I have a little taste and it is awesome but I’m unsure my heart can take it. Stuffy goes off to eat sushi with some local Glaswegian hardcore legends, Ian and Freddy head off to the hotel for a bit of feet-up while Eddie and I chillax in the chill-zone (dressing room). After a time one of the ladies from the venue comes up to borrow a lamp for the merch-area. I half jokingly ask if we might have some candles by way of replacement. Bloody rock stars.
We watch a bit of the support acts and ready ourselves for tonight’s slab of rock.
Within thirty seconds of being on stage my hair-do has exploded into a hair-don’t, my usually dependable mix of products not being designed for such extreme punk rock heat. Freddy brilliantly lambasts an overzealous photographer with a simple point of the finger and a “NO!” as I bounce about trying not to knock her over.
No trip to Glasgow is complete without a few drinks in Nice N’ Sleazy’s and as it sits precisely next door to tonight’s venue, Eddie, Ian and I decide that this is no time to change that rule. Some fans buy us some rum n’ cokes, Ian insists that we join him in some Jäger.
It’s like a scene from that Tom Cruise/ Jack Nicholson film, A Few Good Drinks.
“Do you want a drink?”
“I want VERMOUTH!”
“YOU CAN’T HANDLE VERMOUTH!”
Until one of us decides it’s probably time to go back to the hotel. Tomorrow is another day, after all.
On the way back, Eddie buys a punnet of chips and kebab meat covered in cheese. It’s a solid brick of goodness which he hand feeds us like little baby sparrows. Little drunk baby sparrows. Who really dig grease and donner meat.
As we go to get into the elevator a very drunk girl asks Eddie if she can have a chip, which she then proceeds to eat in the most aggressively suggestive manner any of us has ever seen. “Sexy chips”. So much so that we all wait for the next lift.
I slip into my room and try not to wake Stuffy up by making as much noise as it is possible for a human being to make.
Goodnight, Glesga. You’ve been pure brilliant, man.
Newcastle is mental.
Everybody knows that.
An average Monday night resembles New Year’s Eve in most other cities. Shirtless men do push-ups in the street to impress the girls who smell like they’ve invented the new perfume they’re all wearing. I think it’s called “Chips”.
The venue is enormous. Bloody hell, it’s gonna be chocka round the edges the night, man.
Of course, we’re actually playing the small room up the top, although nobody seems to have told our audience that as they are all busy tweeting that they’re going to see us somewhere else.
Keith Top Of The Pops and his merry band are joining us on the bill tonight, which is nice as everybody is like a family having toured together previously.
We indulge in a photo-shoot before sound check and by the time we have officially rocked-out in front of the small but mighty audience I am way too pooped to go out partying with the gang.
I opt instead to room with Simon, our tour manager and soundman, for the night and after putting a sizeable kebab in the bin, being asked for a light from a man in a dapper suit who then joyfully pisses all over the rear wheel arch of our tour-van, I drift off to sleep almost instantly.
The following morning we all reconvene at Chiquito’s for a somewhat disappointing Mexican themed breakfast served by a waiting staff so slow as to be presumably waiting for us to walk out before having to actually bring us anything.
Possibly summing up Wakefield is the pub that sits next to the venue for tonight. It is called Fanny & Bacardi.
Stuffy went to university here. Wakefield. Not Fanny & Bacardi.
The venue is a groovy little place owned, or at least run by a jovial, gregarious chap who is particularly proud of the volume his P.A. can fire out.
It is a glorious sunny day and somewhere between exiting the vehicle and entering the venue, Eddie decides that rather than refer to the rider as “The rider” it should now be known as “The gifts”. When asking where the dressing room is, we should now politely enquire as to “Where do we receive our gifts?” The gift shop, if you will.
Tonight’s gift shop is in fact a small annex to the office with peeling yellow wallpaper and a stack of chairs in the corner. The gifts, however, are wonderful and gratefully received. So much so that I put half a can of cider into a plastic pint cup and sit outside in the sun for a while to ponder my fortunes.
Normally, one of the golden rules of touring is to NOT have a massive curry before you do a show.
Fuck that, we’re hungry.
We go over to a place called Bollywood and are served by an old Indian gentleman who doesn’t know the menu and checks for what Stuffy orders by taking the menu from him and turning it sideways. All he can see is numbers. It’s a bit like ordering dinner from Rain Man.
When it does eventually arrive, it is delicious, but as if to prove why the golden rule is there, the succulent spicy feast repeats on us something awful during the show. Mid-way through a guitar solo, Ian wanders over to my side of the stage and says, somewhat proudly, “I’ve just been a bit sick in my mouth!”
Rock and fucking roll.
After the show we’re taken to a little pub around the corner for a pint and to have a photo or ten taken with some fans. We’re then talked into going to a cocktail bar and end up drinking old fashioned(s) and Moo-moos until we’re blue (Curacao’d) in the face.
Tomorrow we head to Hebden Bridge. None of us has ever been there before and we’ve no idea what to expect.
Oh well, just one more for the road…
To be continued…