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The National Pep

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[22 May 2006|09:29pm]

http://myspace.com/thenationalpep now has three Pep demos for download (and a fourth still 'processing').
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[19 May 2006|11:43pm]

The National Pep are now on Myspace - http://myspace.com/thenationalpep . A couple of MP3s of demos will be up tomorrow...
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..then suddenly, nothing happened!!! [03 Mar 2006|12:06pm]

We definitely started this whole journal too early. Things are proceeding fine, but it occurs to me that the leisurely pace we're taking about things doesn't make for exciting entries. "When are they gonna play a gig?" you cry. "When we're ready," we say.

News so far:

We're all taking a month off. Holly's parents are visiting, so Andrew and Holly are protecting them from the various pirates and desperadoes that stalk the streets of Manchester. Andrew's become very handy with a cutlass and a flintlock, so that should be OK.

Miriam was given 24 hours to leave Manchester after breaking several public naughtiness bylaws. She's fled to the sleepy village of London and is getting settled before she decides if she can commit to sneaking back to Manchester for one rehearsal month (singers don't need as much practice as drummists, guitarerers and keyboardationists).

A liar like me belongs in the world of celluloid dreams, so I'm going to live in the majestic National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in the movie capitol of the world; BRADFORD! It's Bradford Film Festival time and I've got a press pass.

The band might be splitting into two (or maybe even three) different forms. Roughly the same line-up for each, but dedicated to a different aspect of the business we call show.

Wagons West has received it's first public airing, courtesy of ted_souleater performing it at one of his gigs. He's still alive to tell the tale, so people can't have hated it that much.
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I wish I'd thought of that [09 Feb 2006|02:14pm]

Song writing credit on the new Sparks album:
"Track 4 written by Ron Mael and Russell Mael with additional lyrics by Francis Scott Key".

Right then, time to ramp up the references to the President's address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA so that The National Pep can have a song "with additional lyrics by Abraham Lincoln".

Mancunian monument to a lanky emancipator behind the cutCollapse )
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Back in the Jug Agane [08 Feb 2006|01:10am]

Boy, it's good to rehearse again. Last year's rehearsals were pleasant but unfocused affairs where we very gradually worked out what kind of band it was that we were in. Now we've got material demoed and more written, there's a greater sense of purpose to things.

The main news for today was the return of our keyboard player/all-purpose multi-instrumentalist, Holly. Andrew assures me that she's a fast learner but sadly, thanks to the lack of cables to put the keyboard through the PA, it was wasted on me. Behind my booming doomtubs (drums to the layman) I couldn't hear anything, but I do know that we started and finished at the same time and that's gotta be worth something. Once we get the keyboard fully amplified, I'll be able to describe her playing style. If I'm not deaf by then. I think I overdid it on the bass drum.

The overdone bass drum is from the rhythm to After The Love Song. I've gone super-bombastic on the drum pattern. It's like something from the theme of a news and current affairs programme that takes itself to seriously. BOOM BOOM BOOM BA-BOOM BOOM! I love it.

Other song news:
London After Midnight has been shifted away from it's jazz/blues feel and more towards ska.

The Loud Song is now What Madame Fate Has In Store and the lyrics are among my better stuff, because they're actually close to making some kind of literal sense. Only close, mind you.

And there might be a horrible crisis in the offing. We'll worry you with the details if it comes. But if it does, don't let it be said that I tried to hide its existence from you.


Matters have been discussed, plans put in place and the crisis has been downgraded to "inconvenience with certain advantages to be exploited at some future time". So our timetable is pushed back a month, but no-one's panicking.

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The calm before the storm [12 Jan 2006|05:52pm]

Things are going to be a bit quiet until stealthmunchkin and minnesattva get back from their honeymoon. This gives me time to worry about whether I should keep updating the band journal so that people know we're still a going concern.

Stuff's happening behind the scenes. stealthmunchkin has left me with instructions to arrange a recording session with harry_t_skull, which is a touching display of faith in my organizational abilities.

The finished demos have help solidify things a bit. I've played them to some friends and the material has been declared for for human consumption. Though I was a bit taken aback when the relationship between the music and the lyrics of Think Carefully For Victory was described by one listener as "like biting into a candy and finding it has a sour centre". I was assure that that was a compliment, but I never thought my words were that cynical.

Speaking of words, unskinny_bop hit me with my own lyric sheet for putting a line in London After Midnight that doesn't make any sense.

And if you're wondering why I never quote any of the lines in question, it's because I play my cards very close to my chest.

Anyway, if you don't hear anything 'round here for a few weeks, don't worry. No matter how leisurely, we're moving forward.
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They're not limitations, they're themes. Yeah, that's it. Themes [01 Jan 2006|03:52pm]

I finished the lyrics for The Jazz Song. I know a_bonsai_tree is going to hate me for this, but I admitted defeat on the Louise Brooks tribute and cannibalized the first and only completed verse of Lulu In Hollywood into the last verse of this new one. Before Brooksie's acolytes get too mad (in this, her centenary year), I should mention that there is a gratuitous reference to her most famous role* in the first verse.

So anyway, I looked upon what I'd done, saw that it was adequate and named it London After Midnight because it seemed to fit, even though the song isn't about London. I then realized that that's the third Lon Chaney reference to turn up in my lyrics for The National Pep. There are at least two Disneyland references in other songs and I'm pretty sure if I went back and looked at my other contributions I'd find more overlapping references. I'm starting to wonder if these things will dominate future work and if they do, if people will spot them and think:

a) "Oh no, not again."
b) "Ah, the themes are intertwining. How interesting. I wonder if anyone else spotted that. I wear my spectacles on a chain, I drink weak tea and I'm cleverer than anyone else."

Or, maybe more likely, no-one will spot them at all.

*Her most famous role is Beth Hoyt in Overland Stage Riders, right?
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I do like the title of Eric Sykes' autobiography [31 Dec 2005|03:25pm]

So what has been happening since I last reported?

Well, there have been rehearsals, obviously. But they're so polite and productive that they're not dramatic enough to make a juicy blog posting. A typical rehearsal goes like this.

(The scene is a rehearsal room in 19th century Norway)

Andrew: Let's do this song.

Miriam and Tilt: OK.

(play song)

All: That went quite well. Let's do it again.

(play song again)

Andrew: Gosh, Tilt. You are a very good drummer.

Tilt: And isn't Miriam good?

Andrew: Yes she is. We're awfully glad you joined the band, Miriam.

Miriam: I need a cigarette.

(Miriam leaves)

Tilt: Now let's talk trash about The Beach Boys until she gets back.

(Exit, persued by a beard)

And so on and so forth.

Right, then. New songs in the works:

Non-Religious Holiday Special
Bitter lyrics with a vague indication of a story behind them. Andrew wrote a serious tune to that I wasn't happy with as I thought the lyrics were quite funny. The tune was moved from the minor tonality into the major and suddenly it was appropriately upbeat and perverse.

The Loud Song
Bluesy, funky Andrew tune that I'm trying to stick summery, slightly Roger Christian-ish lyrics to. It'll probably end up as the opening song at our gigs. It will get a new title, eventually.

After The Love Song
Something that I stole from the Stealth Munchkin back catalogue. I wanted a proper song to immediately follow the bang-crash-drone of The Love Song. Andrew was running through some of his old songs and I decided I'd help myself to the tune of one. I think it's Andrew's own lyrics I'm overwriting. That actually is going to be its title if I have anything to do with it.

The Jazz Song
Ah, those descriptive National Pep working titles. You can guess what the tune side of this is like. Lyrically I'm writing and rewriting.

I feel it appropriate to mention that The National Pep Quiz Team managed to come second at the Cornerhouse quiz night. Music be damned. We won a DVD, a cinema ticket and some beer!

One day I mentioned to Andrew that I spend a lot of my time hanging around recording studios and sometimes they're empty. This lead to the inevitable First Ever National Pep Recording Session. The main point was to dash off some guitar and voice demos to give to Miriam, but Andrew also wanted to record a full demo of Wagons West. Recording is hell, especially in a studio with no heating, but by the last few overdubs it began to sound pretty groovy. Andrew had intended a big Beach Boys-ish feel to the track, but so far it's sounding rather like Belle And Sebastian. Of course, it still needs my bastard son of Hal Blaine and Meg White thudding adding to it and my guide vocals will be replaced by Miriam's sweeter tones. But I think by the time it's finished it will fulfil its purpose, which is to be something we can play to people when they want to know what we sound like.

A meeting will be held a week on Monday. After that, Andrew leaves the country for a couple of weeks. When he gets back, rehearsals start again and we will begin to make arrangements for The First Ever National Pep Concert Appearance!
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[18 Dec 2005|07:46pm]


Billy Ruffian (ex-Dead Men Win Fights) and Midland Railway were holding a joint EP launch party on the 27th Feb in Star and Garter. At the moment they haven't got anny support acts lined up. Should I ask if we could be added to the bill ?
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A zydeco moment [18 Dec 2005|05:41pm]

Just uploaded Nathen & THe Zydeco Cha Chas- Your Mama Don't know to gmail.

What do people think of it ?
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added some MP3s [16 Dec 2005|05:51pm]

Hopefully emailed 2 sets of songs from my album to gmail. They're not too sunshiny I'm afraid.

  • Tennents Super Woman

  • If your not crying now

  • Goodbye Jennifer Eccles

  • I want to be gone

  • Dark Princess of Mancunia

    • Given a bit of warning, I should be able to make a trip to manchester in the first couple of weeks of the new year for recording porpoises. (you can fit more in a studio than dolphins)
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[03 Dec 2005|01:47pm]

Just emailed a few more songs to the National Pep Gmail account:
The first two MP3s are what I want as the band's intro music - the start of Lumpy Gravy by Frank Zappa.
The other two in that email are tracks from the Negro Problem album Joys & Concerns. Ken is a funny, poignant song about how terrible it is to be a gay Ken doll, while Bleed is a lovely, string-backed ballad, with lyrics that, to me at least, sort of hover at the edge of comprehensibility. Bleed is a song that people seem to obsess over - roadnotes has mentioned it as a particular favourite - in a way that they don't over his more obvious songs.

The second email contains a couple of songs by Jake Thackray, who is the missing link between Martin Carthy, Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker, but funnier and filthier. La-Di-Dah is one of the best songs about the sacrifices we make for love (" I'll be nice to your mother, I'll come all over lah-di-dah/ Although she always gets up me nose,I love you very much/And so I'll smile and I'll acquiesce when she invites me to caress her scabby cat/ I'll sit still while she knits and witters, cross my heart/And I shan't lay a finger on the crabby old batface"), while Sister Josephine is a marvellously silly song about a criminal who's been in hiding disguised as a nun for years, sung from the perspective of a naive nun in the same convent ("Admittedly her hands are big and hairy/And embellished with a curious tattoo./Admittedly her voice is on the deep side/And she seems to shave more often than the other sisters do.").
And finally, By The Light Of The Cash Machine by Glenn Tilbrook is the best B-side since I Am The Walrus, a wonderful 2 minute pop masterpiece.
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[26 Nov 2005|05:04pm]

"Ladies and gentlemen, you thought you'd never see them in the same room again. But here they are, after four long weeks apart. THE NATIONAL PEP!!!!!"

Take That reunion be damned (sorry Miriam), getting the three currently active members of The National Pep felt like an achievement. Naturally, we were rusty. But it's been so nice to not have circumstances separate us for yet another week, especially after I nearly dropped out due to dire weather predictions that didn't come true.

This week's news: Wagons West has gained a backing vocal in the chorus that consists of the name of a Disneyland exhibit being repeated over and over. To find out you'll have to come to one of our gigs next year or buy our forthcoming EP; Citizen Gomez.

We're seriously considering playing a gig in that area west of the Atlantic and east of the Pacific, probably next summer.

Miriam seems tolerant of my scansion fascism.

It's someone else's turn to write the next rehearsal report.

And it would be keen if some time before Andrew flies off to matrimony, all available members could have a "group bonding" session. Which means sitting around a table with food and drink and saying "Isn't it nice being in a band?". Talking about non-musical band matters can feel a bit wasteful in a rehearsal room we've paid for. I think it would be nice to get together one afternoon for some general hanging around being-in-a-band and planning.

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The Love Song [05 Nov 2005|08:45pm]

I've just written the best song I'll ever write. It's a hymn. I need Andrew to help me work out the chord. Not the chords. The chord. If I had my own way, I'd have it performed at a volume that's just short of the pain threshold of the average human. But that's probably not such a good idea. It's also the second lyric I've written that alludes to an exhibit at Disneyland.

I recorded a demo of it last night. It's absolutely awful. Sounds like some sixth-form goth band b-side. Oh well.

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[01 Nov 2005|04:20pm]

Miriam can't make tomorrow, so rehearsal is off...
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Is this a good thing? [28 Oct 2005|03:49pm]

I carefully crafted a song called Sugar Bomb which in my mind was a delicious confection, the kind of thing Andy Partridge might have written for The Archies if he'd been around at the right time. I humbly submitted the demo to the Pep Captain. "Very Syd Barrett." he said.

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Top Ten reasons The National Pep will split up [20 Oct 2005|03:02pm]

10. Too much cowbell.
9. Our music is no good for getting the band members laid.
8. The lyrics contain one pun too many for sanity.
7. Beard envy.
6. unskinny_bop Resents the fact that no-one's really looking at the mittens on her avatar.
5. Our music is only good for getting half of the band members laid.
4. The average conversation about what version of Vega-Tables we're going to play takes longer than most bands' careers.
3. The rehearsal room is too hot.
2. Just like The Cowsills, we get our own comic, but Ed McGuiness is assigned to do the art and the others don't get why stealthmunchkin and I start cursing.
1. Did I mention that the rehearsal room was too hot?

We didn't take any big leaps last night as the heat made us wilt. Every song got slower and slower as we went on. But we did slip something new into the set (a song which doesn't have a title, but used to be called Victory) and there were no arguments and free sweets.

I have swallowed my pride and have sung demos of two of my own songs to pass on to stealthmunchkin so he can tell me what I've subconciously plagiarized.

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[18 Oct 2005|02:41pm]
Would anyone fancy doing Hot Burrito #1, by the way? No obligation to say yes, like, but MAN I love that song.

Which reminds me, stealthmunchkin, did you download the Belly version of that? After all, it's that one I go from rather than the original. I would copy it for you but with a knackered computer that seems to be a rather redundant plan.

editOh yes, and shall I bring my guitar next rehearsal? It has the benefit of being in tune ;)
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[13 Oct 2005|08:24am]

Just a quick note to let people know that despite rehearsal being delayed for a couple of hours due to the combination of rain and footballists making Manchester totally blocked, we managed quite a successful rehearsal last night. We got versions of Vegetables (with the cornucopia lyrics and Mama Says), Lost In Special and Wagons West (the song that used to be Silicone Valley) down pretty quickly. I lock in better with tiltcorazon than I have with any other drummer, and Miriam was doing great once she became comfortable with the material.
I think we're doing rather well...
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[12 Oct 2005|12:58pm]

Rehearsal at 6PM, Sankey's.
Miriam, if you can bring your guitar and/or amp that would be appreciated, if not it's not a major problem.
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