Monthly Archives: April 2013

Standing Up For Comic Relief

Have you ever had a go at stand-up comedy?? – It’s one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done in my life!

I was really delighted, recently, to be asked to produce some packages for BBC Radio Manchester, to introduce the listeners to a host of Mancunian volunteers who had bravely agreed to partake in a stand up comedy evening to raise money for Comic Relief. I have to admit my thoughts were hazy at first on how to produce these pieces… I decided I’d make a couple of bespoke ‘introductions’ to some of the volunteers – really find out about their lives and get some nice, evocative audio and interviews together to provide a window into their worlds… The other I decided should be a bit of a document for the group’s journey to the comedy night and all the prep that went into the evening.

A few weeks in when the group had begun practising, it was suggested that I get involved with the stand up myself! This would entail me, a Southerner, going on stage in an Irish Club in Fallowfield, Manchester, and telling a load of jokes for a few minutes. It doesn’t sound too daunting… it was.

Wherever you go and it’s a new environment, place names are tricky to get your head around. Hell, you don’t even have to go anyway, for years I was mispronouncing Palmolive hand wash. I decided that with a few place name gags done and dusted, that I would regale the story of my turkish bath in Bulgaria.

On our lads holiday, my mate and I decided to haggle the prices down at the Spa round the corner. It was a rock’n'roll lads holiday, for sure. We managed to get some decent rates and I booked in a Turkish Bath. Oh my word, I’ve had them before, and done properly they are incredible.

I was excited.

I arrived and was met by a Turkish Bath Giver (what do you call them?…) and instructed to take a small plastic bag to a changing cubicle and don its contents. Alas, I removed my clothes and stark naked in a Bulgarian 3* Spa, I removed the outer packaging of a paper G-string…which I had to poke my head out of the cubicle to confirm which way round to wear…

I assumed I’d have the audience in fits of laughter and I’d go home having stole the show… let’s say the tale of the posh Southerner having a spa on a lads holiday was more ridiculously amusing than the thong incident itself. Still, despite my worries, I didn’t forget my lines and I didn’t wee my pants.

Success.

I was delighted with the audio too. One of the volunteers was John Consterdine, so I thought it would be a good idea to join him doing a Parkrun and find out more about him to introduce the audience to him!

Another of the volunteers was Sam Smith, this was a package I produced with her to introduce any listeners to her prior to the comedy night!

This was a package intended to document the journey the 10 Mancunian volunteers had been on to prepare for the Stand Up evening

Dog is Dead Interview Preview!

Really lucky to have gotten the chance to catch up again with Dog Is Dead. I met Rob and Trev last year when they toured in Manchester so was really nice to talk some more. Last time round I found out about their football tournaments in between gig dates, where their drummer nearly broke his ankle and had to postpone gigs!…It was also great to hear them talk about their EP – back then – and the album prospects.

The progression has been brilliant for the band. A bold 16-track album release followed multiple EPs at the latter end of last year and sounded so diverse. There were tracks laiden with a truly anthemic quality, almost commanding stadium audiences to recieve them. Equally there was softer and more intimate venue type songwriting.

In the bar of Sound Control, I had a chatter to the boys about last night’s gig in Hull…hopefully this will whet your appetite for an in-depth talk, which I’ll play out on my Q Now show this Friday from 3pm.

(Yes… I did ask Trev – with his beautiful red-head locks – whether he was the man behind the acquisition of the array of females in the video above. Tune in Friday to hear more!…)

The last few VERY EXCITING days

Had a fabulous end to the week! It’s these kind of weeks that hit home so strongly why I love working in radio!

Thursday we were all set for Hometime show on Key103, until I got notified that Gary Barlow was available for an interview… hello chicago! I got onto the agency setting up interviews and it transpired that at 5:15pm, I was on the phone with not only Gary Barlow, but also Prof Brian Cox, Chris Evans and James May!! They were travelling from Lands End to John O’ Groats in a pink Rolls Royce raising awareness for Breast Cancer Care. It was a surreal experience!… I put them through to OJ and enjoyed 5 awesome minutes of radio, completely improvised and totally unpredictable.
Next we attempted the Marshmallow challenge, which made me howl with laughter. OJ had to squeeze as many marshmallows into his mouth, saying ‘Fuzzy Bunny’ after each to claim a world record. At 16, it was looking insanely good…then it all got a bit much and a grim sight followed!

I also prepped my Q Radio show and finalised some bits and pieces. I was completely aware it was Record Store Day on Saturday and I wanted to make a big song and dance about it. I decided to drop in to Piccadilly Records in Manchester, a heritage record store to see if, on the off chance, I could grab an interview. Low, I managed to speak to Martin, the lovely chap that is, and we talked about the romance of physical music, a resurgence in popularity for vinyl and how important RSD is.
Funnily enough, despite me going to a vintage market last weekend and adding some 20p vinyls to my collection, I don’t even have a record player to play them on. Idiot me. I thought I may as well ask around and see if I could hunt one down… after all, if I was to spend money for RSD, I’ll at least need to justify the further damage to my bank balance with the sound of it.

After hunting for a long time, I finally found one… a gorgeous, old Toshiba number. I got it back to the flat and eagerly set it up with my mates. It shocked me how amped everyone was for a record player purchase in 2013?! – the romance of vinyl music is still very much alive.

With my Record Store Day feature set to play out, I also had a interview pre-recorded with Peace for my Q Now show. I did SO many interviews last year for The Source radio show – I listened back to some of the podcasts today actually…3 band interviews a week and session tracks, was so much fun – but unfortunately as things go so busy with other projects, the band interviews became fewer and farther between. I picked up the reigns with interviews again when I landed my Q Radio show, and instantly rediscovered the joy of talking to musicians about our mutually favourite subject: music. I felt rusty at first, but with this chat to Peace I felt completely in my comfort zone and thoroughly enjoyed chatting about Birmingham – their hometown and feed-bed for so much great new music currently – the album, and the writing process for the album, which sounded very amusing and reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne’s recollections in his autobiography, as he describes the recording of one album in a haunted old house – bloody good book that, can you believe Black Sabbath have new music out too?!.

Peace were a pleasure to chat to and on stage they were a different class! It’s great chatting to bands fresh off-stage, everyone is on such a high from the gig and it’s brilliant to mull over the evening’s proceedings. Especially at high-intensity gigs like that, shenanigans are rife!

With so much exciting stuff happening at work… I did manage to make time to trek to the Peak District to interview James Sharp, a textiles artist. This was for a uni project and again a really interesting thing. I had met him at this aforementioned vintage market, he was selling collages, textiles and bespoke art journals and diaries. His work is really cool, all hand-crafted and very creative. Off the back of the Great British Sewing Bee, I thought he’d be great to chat to to set up a ‘What was the last thing you made?’ feature for our student radio show assignment – putting a 1hr speech show together. It’s a fun project, I’m presenting it, which I’m very excited about. It’s not often I get a chance to do speech based shows, but rest assured I’ll meander my way to talk about something new music related… I’m waiting with bated breath for the Producer to bark down the studio talk back system “FILL, NEED 2MINS”!.. so I can launch into an anecdote about some recent gig or an album I’ve enjoyed recently.
The Peak District was fun, and it evoked loads of fond memories of motorbiking back home in the countryside. Especially with these views, I made my way back to the flat tinged with nostalgic thoughts!

Back at Key103, we were all set for another Hometime show to finish the week. We had Record Store Day interviews and we even played out a vinyl!!

We also welcomed the presidents of both Salford and Manchester rowing teams set to come in ahead of the Two Cities Boat Race at the weekend. Having so much on the show is a rarity, but the last few days have been an absolute ball. That doesn’t even take into consideration the weekend, which I’m sure I will find the time to chatter about at a later date!

Today’s Q Show

Real good show today – thoroughly enjoyed! Couple of bits I thought I’d upload to audioboo. I’ve recently cobbled together ALL my previous gig tickets, everything from The Blackout in B’ham Irish Club in 2007 to Coldplay, Ben Howard, Elbow, small-time acoustic artists in London Borderline, concerts from my time in Manchester… it’s been awesome to collate everything together an reccolect specific memories of the experiences. I brought my bulging envelope of tickets in to the studio for a lucky dip to see which I’d talk about…

Another moment I uploaded from Q-Now earlier was playing out Heaven’s Basement, a pretty brash, bold rock back who have recently released a new album called Filthy Empire. I’m a fan of it!- I purchased it the other day and let my Granny have a listen to one track called ‘I Am Electric’… fair to say she’s stoked, so she gave me a voicemail to let me know her thoughts.

More fun and games on air next Friday 3-6pm on Q Radio. Tidy.

VHS!

Went over to my Grandma’s today for a few biscuits and a properly brewed pot of tea. Nice to catchup after we last saw each other at Christmas!! And good to see my Uncle Ben too – we got chatting about the nearby Hooky Brewery and some seedling plans I have to make a documentary about it…hmmmm that’s all in the pipeline. She did however give me some VHS footage she had of the Brewery and my word!!.. when was the last time you heard this noise?.. VHS seems to be a thing of the distant past, wonder when it will make it’s vinyl-style revival…

Student Radio Conference

Earlier this week was the Student Radio Conference in Leicester – I went last year in Bradford and it was awesome, so had high hopes for this one!
Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint! It’s basically a conglomeration of hundreds of students from various student radio stations up and down the country, all getting together to complain about a lack of food in the lunch bags, drink excessively and learn more about the craft we so love.

As it happens, I learnt an awful lot for the two days that I was there. More than I have done in two days for a long time! I’ve got page after page of notes, and after being prodded to realise that radio shows do not exist as time-slots on air, they should continue to live on social media after the show. As such, I’ve had a bit of a social media breakdown these last few days, and added Vine, Pinterest and Instagram to the already long list of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Spotify, YouTube, Vimeo and more. Too many to keep track of, but I’m hoping I can keep them all music related. That is after all, what I am most interested in!!

So a very interesting, eye-opening conference. Not to mention, very funny. It was nice to bump into people I’d met for the first time in Bradford, and indeed meet new faces. I met one person who had a near-on replica of village life back home. The same formula of: “Village. Village has a pub which is the centre-piece of the community, there is also a school. This village is part of a bigger network of villages, which all have schools and pubs. There is one secondary school in a slightly bigger village, and all the smaller ones have buses to get there each day. Each pub has a summer beer festival, there is a town nearby”.
I said to my Dad that this discovery of similar lifestyles to ours is brilliant – it justs stokes the fire in my mind for a big documentary about the music communities in these places, which are on the periphery of the major locations like London and Manchester, and now Birmingham, my word we’re getting so much great music from Birmingham at the moment.

On the Tuesday night, funnily enough, I did go and stay overnight in Birmingham. It’s only a short jaunt from Leicester, and I needed to do some work on my Q Radio show which is based there. I hot-footed it over on the train, had a bit of food and set to work. It’s a lovely chilled atmosphere in a radio station by night. The stress and distractions of a 300mph workday is a foreign thing, I had a little chatter then set to work. It’s absolutely awesome to be working on a new music show. May as well be called a ‘this show couldn’t be more up Louis’ street if it tried, show’. Whether I’m doing it right or not is unbeknownst to me, all I know is that I am thoroughly enjoying regaling stories of music in my life and trying to bring it alive, to be more than just a new track by a new artist. Music is never that 2D is it? – there is always a back-story, an initial impetus to create that song. I’m enjoying relating my own, personal, genuine reactions to the music and hoping that resonates a bit stronger than a bit of verbal bumpf about what label the band are signed to. You can Google that yourself!

Stayed in the Travellodge over night! – Felt like Alan Partridge. Arrived at 11pm to the shock of the night-shifters, “you want a room, now?!” – yes please.
Immediately ordered a beer and a cheese panini, retreated to my room to have a brew and natter with my better half, then hit the hay. Wasn’t in bed for long, I was rudely awoken (not by the dustman, #parklife) by my Mariamba alarm-tone and hastily obliged to get up and slap another day on the bottom. Turned out to be such an early start that I didn’t properly feel awake until I made it to Leicester McD’s for a coffee. Another day of very intriguing lectures ensued…

It’s nice to come off the back of a conference and not feel overwhelmed, drowned and pessimistic because of all the radical things presented that we should be doing, instead it’s nice to come away and have a wealth of ideas and drive not just because of the presentations themselves but because of the opportunity to meet people and share tales of their lives that ignite a creative spark.

Rare you get that!…..currently though, all I’m thinking about is Birmingham’s music scene and how much I’d like a cheese panini.