This blog entry sponsored by Ex-Lax.

July 11th, 2014

One of the best things about The Layers fan club - not as, you might surmise, a combined personal ventilation and cudgelling apparatus* but a largely fictitious group of people based loosely on the real-life people that appreciate the band’s ham-fisted attempts to work their way from the anus to the annals of rock history - is that they’re a forgiving bunch when it comes to blog frequency. Let’s hope so, anyway, as recent entries appear to have been scheduled along the lines of a West country bus timetable.

Anyway, if your last copy of our newsletter has been traded for snout long ago and you’ve managed to avoid being shanked in the showers, here’s a quick update. In line with Mr Cameron’s new surveillance laws, we’d like to remind our deeply religious fans that today’s encryption scheme is #julyjihad and the supplies are in a gravel bin outside Oswestry.

In last month’s**  instalment we alluded to the gradual de-abstraction of Layers HQ and regular readers will be pleased to hear that there’s now a genuine physical structure somewhere in a top-secret location that will soon become the hub of our dread machinations. In line with our ‘no drummer, no drama’ policy, the construction of said retreat has proved no less stressful that the construction of the Bridge over the River Kwai but, following the ritual execution of the odd inadequate contractor, plans are back on track.

Infrastructural difficulties haven’t been enough to keep us from our core mission, however and there’s good news for those of you who’ve been waiting for new material as we debut two new offerings at this year’s boutique festival of choice for the discerning musical connoisseur, the Tetbury Fiesta: ‘Spin the B’ and ‘Dumb, Dumb Revolution’ will be revealed to the world with all the subtlety and poise of a meth-crazed stripper at Charlie Sheen’s ‘out of rehab’ party, along with the entirely re-worked version of ‘Is that Wrong?’. There’s more new material in development too so watch this space. Hopefully, not for another six months (ahem).

Anyway, should you decide to sing along to the new material, here’s one set of lyrics by way of sneak preview. Hope to see you all on Sunday.

Dumb, dumb revolution.

Seeking out some grand conspiracy of the information age

Illuminiati, Masons, lizard people: targets for your rage

Confounded in profundity, mocked by the empty page

Gold of your false economy just a gilded cage

Well I don’t like what they feed me

Want me to believe

Selling off our freedom

Wring us while we bleed

Pretty things on television screens, watch them bump and grind

If it’s not your flesh and blood, no pause to rewind

Labour in banality, fumbling of the blind

Captive of your fallacies, resigning of the times

Don’t like what they feed me…

Papers’ vapid Austentation, all porn and prejudice

The golden age you represent; remiss and reminisce…

Sense declining reputation: failed to learn your history

Now facing stern examination, how did it come to this?

I don’t like what they feed me…

__

*On the other hand, if you’d like such a device, embossed with our Lego likenesses, we’re quite happy to go into the commemorative instruments of mayhem market if there’s a couple of bob to be made…

**On the assumption that most of our fans have been in a medically induced torpor since January

New Year, new gigs, same crap old jokes. You love it.

January 15th, 2014

If you’re a fan of The Layers (and on behalf of the band, I’d just like to extend our sympathy. It can’t be easy) then this is probably that time of the year when, your New Year’s resolutions having been consigned to the waste receptacle of futile ambitions (collected by your local council the third Wednesday after Michaelmas and fortnightly thereafter) you take advantage of the brief festive disruption to your medication regime and resume plans to slip your restraints, concoct a disguise from janitorial supplies and make a break for freedom. If that is your intent, we’ll do our best not to tip off the orderlies and hope to see you at the Queen’s Head in Box on 31st January where we’ll ignore the fact that you’re wearing a mop-head wig and earrings made from urinal cakes. It being Wiltshire, there’s the small comfort that you shouldn’t stand out from the crowd too badly.

Yes, we’ve been invited to play Schtumm, the Queens’ Head’s flagship for original music in Box, previously graced by Ron Sexsmith, the Dub Souls and other luminaries. It’s a welcome invitation, as we’re aware that our profile has been a little low of late. Between hectic work schedules, various house moves and the usual distractions of midwinter, it may seem that the Layers have been just about keeping pace with the pitch drop experiment but fear not, gentle fans; new songs are being wrought from the raw firmament of creativity, hammered into shape, heated, cooled, given a once over with wet and dry and lavishly coated with dark chocolate. No, we don’t understand the process fully either. In addition, Layers HQ is gradually starting to metamorphose from metaphor to more physical as the boys start to tremble in dread anticipation of actually having to pick up a shovel and do something useful. Caleb’s sandwich chef has been in training for what promises to be a particularly demanding time.

So, come sing along on Friday 31st January and if you happen to have a couple of tonnes of ready-mix concrete kicking about, for a change, consider not hiding a body in it and drop us an e-mail. Alternatively, if you don’t have concrete but do need a body disposing of, also drop us an e-mail, our rates are very reasonable.

Happy New Year

Layers out.

He who lives by the rubber sword…

September 5th, 2013

“Oh  no, he’s like so sad…he, like, goes to the woods an’ dresses up like a wizard or something, with a load of other losers at the weekend…”

Thus quoth the Bristolian Sasquatch walking in front of me with her friend who was like a mermaid. And by mermaid, I mean one of the manatees that sailors deprived of female company for three years would mistake for such.

For a second, I will confess, I pictured a minibus full of social rejects in dressing gowns and Hobbit slippers feeling queasy en route to the Forest of Dean and had to suppress a little smirk of assumed superiority. Then a treacherous part of my brain asked me what’s the difference between running around the woods dressed as a wizard and pretending to be a rock star? Especially if it’s Roy Wood and Wizard.

Because let’s face it, je ne suis pas un rock star.

Even touring Europe, we weren’t rock stars, we were just pretending. We may have got a rock star reception here and there but we weren’t rock stars.

Or were we? What’s the difference? Money? We’ve been paid. Popularity? We have fans. Drugs? I just took a couple of ibuprofen. Is it a sliding scale?

I strongly suspect that any reasonably grounded person that walks out onto the stage in front of fifty thousand people for the first time probably feels like they’re pretending to be a rock star. I bet they know someone who should be there instead of them. The illusion is only complete when those fifty thousand people go along with the joke.

Of course, if you’re not reasonably grounded, then you can start to believe it and before you know it you’re booking into the Betty Ford and everyone thinks you’re a dick. You get about the same respect as the bloke in the rubber ears hiding in a bush outside Ross-on-Wye.

So I guess we’re lucky. Thanks to everyone who’s colluded with us for just long enough that we could feel like rock stars and then let us gently back down to Earth before one of us changed our name to a Sanskrit graffito and bought a trilby made from crocodile scrota.

So whether your hobby is pretending to be a wizard, a rock star, a footballer or someone whose opinions are worth more than fuck all on the Internet, enjoy it and don’t give funny looks to people whose hobby is a bit different. As I said to Eric Pickles after his pole dancing class.

They’re back…

July 31st, 2013

‘Tempus fugit’, as the phrase goes - if nothing else, a fine advert for the relevance of Latin, as a simple misunderstanding recently led to The Layers mistaking ‘time flies*’ as an instruction and chasing drosophila around with stopwatches. Well, it’s as good an excuse as any for not keeping the blog up to date although the genuine reason is more prosaically (or non-prosaically, given the dearth of such in recent times) related to lazy-arsehood.

In truth, given the work that’s gone into the completion and launching of our bouncing baby album, ‘Skinful of inc.’, we’ve had little to write about other than ‘Rehearsed. Sweaty. Tired’. Not the most inspiring stuff.

Yesterday, however, we finally swung our metaphorical legs back over the creative saddle and, although last night’s canter was definitely down memory lane it looks as if the perspective of fleeing time has shed a very new light on an old song**. It’s been a while since we’ve had the buzz that creating some music brings and it was a welcome return. Along with a new slant on an old favourite there were some new riffs to work on, renewed interest in a more disciplined approach to our craft and Neil’s been scratching away with his horse-feather quill in pursuit of a fresh batch of incomprehensible, angry lyrics… incomprehensibile, if you will.

Post album launch has been a period of reflection for us all and amidst the nob-gags, casual insults and outright bollocks that passes for conversation most of the time there has been some uncharacteristically deep soul-searching amongst the movers and shakers at Layers High Command. How do four busy professionals (inverted commas implied) balance work, family, friends, substance abuse and increasing decrepitude with the physically and emotionally demanding business of making original music? Especially in a world where it seems that music is less valued than ever before?

The answer was evident last night: it’s about passion for the music that we love, that shaped us and influenced us; it’s about a friendship that has grown over the last seven years and, perhaps most crucially, it’s about the lack of anything worth watching on telly on a Tuesday evening.

So it’s heads down for a new collection of songs, eyes up as we look to build on Roo’s burgeoning new career as a photographer and film maker by having a go at a few videos*** and hands out as we think about finding a manager, perhaps a video director and possibly even a fifth Layer. And if you know anyone who might like a role at Layers HQ, please drop us a line. Our HR team are ready for your call. Well, between making sandwiches for Caleb, naturally.

Layers out.


* For the pedants and hair-splitters amongst you°,  this is of course, a mistranslation, ‘time flees’ (fugit is the root of fugitive) is more correct and would have worked just as well in the contrived gag but for the spelling (see nested pedantry references)

ºActually, what’s the difference between pedantry and hair splittingºº?

ººIs this meta-pedantry or tautology?

** As you can see, the creativity has extended to our knack for ghastly mixed metaphors.

*** All in the best possible taste…

Gig karma

February 17th, 2013

In the words of the great Kinky Friedman, tonight was ‘another show in my hip pocket’. Or our collective hip pocket, in this case, which suggests that we’re sharing one giant, vaguely octopoid pair of trousers - if you count Roo’s cycling shorts, the second most disturbing trousers of the evening. (Out of sheer curiosity, that phrase garners no exact Google matches)

Like any gig, though, dig a little below the surface and there’s more to be had. Tonight was probably our least-rehearsed gig ever. Whilst we’ve been scrutinising the songs that we’ve been writing down to a level of detail that would embarrass the writers of ‘CSI’*, crucially, what we haven’t been doing is practising them for the last six months. It was great to perform again, great to banter with the crowd and great to discover that we can pull a worthwhile performance out of the bag and still be relaxed enough to enjoy the experience; for while the technical execution might not have been there this evening, we were still able to communicate what the songs were about, still able to get a crowd interested in songs they’d not heard before and we were still relaxed enough on stage to enjoy the experience and laugh at the mistakes.

The compliments that we received this evening were doubly flattering because we know that we were rusty - so the kind words were not for the performance but for the songs that we’ve written; laboured over and loved. That’s brilliant to hear. The thing to hang on to, then, is how lucky we are. We’re lucky to have met and clicked at the right time in our musical careers, lucky to have been inspired as we have, lucky to have supportive loved ones and fans who have kept us going, lucky to have a home venue like The Vaults.

When you hear strangers tell you how great you think the songs are, it’s easy to get cocky. It’s easy to start thinking that somehow you deserve success and global recognition, money and legions of fans, world tours and a golden trilby. The thing is, the instant you start thinking you deserve success, whether you have it or not, then you have to face the probability that you don’t. That you’re just fucking lucky. That there’s probably a guy sitting in his living room a hundred yards from where you’re playing that’s considerably better than you. Or would have been a hundred times better but never took it up.

On the other hand, if you’re too humble, you just wouldn’t play. You’d simply make way for the next guy, the better musician, the better looking singer, the younger, more charismatic band who might just make it. A certain amount of faith in your own songs is needed.

So we’re doubly lucky: not only for the reasons listed above but also to be in the sweet spot of getting just enough kind words about the songs to keep us believing that we’re doing something musically worthwhile but being able to remember just how lucky we are. Some kids grow up and never see a guitar. Some bands form and never get the breaks. Some bands get the early break and can’t resist the temptation to feel entitled and become insufferable pricks.

Some bands get the privilege of having time and resources to write songs, to play them in friendly venues to lovely people and to receive praise and encouragement at every step. If we ever get complacent or ungrateful about that, then feel free to put us in our places. Tonight may have been a low-key support slot but it was also a powerful reminder of just how good life can be. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Unlimited love.

Layers out.

*Coming soon: CSI Tetbury: “Someone’s stolen this antique fountain pen.” - “Let’s get fingerprints, hair samples, DNA.” - “No need. It was bound to be Dave. He was in earlier and he’s always a bit light fingered when he’s back on the skag…”

New Year’s unresolved issues…

January 17th, 2013

As two-faced Janus watches Father Time cut the Gordian knot and let slip the dogs of war, I reflect that my New Year’s resolution to use less pretentious metaphors may have gone out of the window already. Even now it feels like 2013 has been with us forever and whatever belly full of Olympic sunshine (see what I did there?) 2012 brought has been norovirus-propelled onto the frozen January pavements to crystallise like the crushed baubles of a discarded Christmas tree.

It’s in such times of austerity, hardship and general bleakitude that people turn to a higher power (or at least to a more expensive energy tariff if EDF have anything to do with it) when religions, myths and superheroes are born from whispers, hope and rumour*. Legend tells of a place of power, a mystic gateway hidden in the dark valleys of Stroud, where a sorcerer toils, night and day. He curses passing Minstrels (regrettably, he’s diabetic) but welcomes troubadours, balladeers and jongleurs and helps them to weave elemental magic into their songs, creating spellbinding sagas that can bind generations together in wonder and bring a tear to any mortal eye. The mighty wizard has finally found the chosen bards of destiny and is, even now, aiding them in creating a collection of songs that will bring balance to the universe, warmth to the winter and hope to the human race.

Sadly, the legend turns out to be a load of utter bollocks but fortunately, Stroud is home to DB studios, where a transformation no less magical has been taking place. Like a skilled makeover artist turning Cerberus into Atomic Kitten, Andy has been working tirelessly (except when the band are there, when ‘long-sufferingly’ would be a better term) to craft the disparate mix of cluelessness, ham-fistedness and balls-out plagiarism that is very much the Layers’ metier into something, mercifully, entirely unlike Atomic Kitten.

Here at Layers HQ, we’re familiar enough with the vicissitudes of capricious fate to know that one should never count one’s chickens whilst trying to conceal them in one’s trousers at Customs, so we’re loathe to announce a date for the announcement of the date for the release of the album. We can report, however, that several tracks are now in an advanced state of mixing and what little recording is left to do is the equivalent of a lick of paint and a few screws tightening rather than the fitting of a new damp course, head gasket and kidney. Which reminds me to question this bill from the garage if nothing else.

So we may not restore hope to mankind or balance to the universe but we are reasonably confident of brightening up an evening or two in the next couple of months as we get out gigging again and launch a new collection of songs. We’re pleased and proud of what we’ve achieved so far; we think there are some pleasant surprises in store for our loyal and long-suffering fans, too.

Watch this space!

Layers out.

*I think they’re Chris Martin’s kids.

Goats in the machine

November 20th, 2012

Star date 36-24-36, if I’m lucky. Chief Science officer’s log. Captain of the USS Layers – her five year mission to boldly explore new ways to cock up perfectly good songs – is absent from the bridge and not, for a change, because he’s nipped out for a piss.

In front of us is a baffling array of knobs. No, we’re not in the viewers gallery in Parliament, we’re back at DB studios and, instead of Checkov pushing buttons at the controls, our old friend and producer Andy is back at the helm.

It’s a chilly Saturday morning in Stroud and we’re a month into the slow process of recording a second studio album. DB is a cosy little studio, the wood paneling in the control room giving the vague impression that Caleb’s currently recording a rhythm part in a sauna. The naked Swedish man thrashing him with a birch twig is entirely incidental.

Allusions to Mr Spock’s scanner are entirely appropriate; I’d forgotten since the scene of our last crimes against music quite how forensic the degree of scrutiny to which the songs are subjected. It’s a painstaking progress, listening intently to parts in isolation, then against the drums, then in other combinations, ironing out errant beats and fluffed phrasings. I can see how recording a subsequent album can be the breaking point for a lot of bands; it takes a certain amount of patient camaraderie to survive the level of criticism vital to this process. Once the novelty of initial sessions has worn off, it must be easy to start falling out during these grueling iterations. Fortunately, it’s always been friendship before musicianship in The Layers and, as usual, it’s all smiles, laughter and joking.

Vocal recording is imminent and this is the part we look forward to and dread in equal measure.  The lyrics and music come alive when our ever-richer vocal harmonies work together but it’s an area that requires more discipline than most.

It’s been five years since our last album, the same amount of time it has taken us to get our music onto iTunes, Spotify and the other plethora of online music stores. Coincidentally it’s also the same amount of time it has taken for [insert funny thing about Rupert here*]…

We urge loyal fans and regular perusers of the blog (hello Dave!) to slip their restraints, cheek their medication and get online to serve us up some rave reviews – and we know that many of you are, if nothing else, raving. Fame, fortune and glory beckon.

The management consultants**have been busy producing Gant charts, Excel spreadsheets, key performance indicators and one pie chart, which Caleb ate. We have no idea what any of it means but we’re aiming to get a beautiful, vintage style CD mixed, mastered and ready for Christmas stockings with a simultaneous release (oo-er, missus) via the aforementioned colossi of e-commerce. Watch this space for news of a star-studded launch event.

For now, we should probably get our noses back to the grindstone.

Layers out


*Let’s have an online poll. Vote for: a) Roo to admit he wrote for Jim to Fix it for him; b) Roo to master the drum parts from ‘Belly full of Sunshine’; c) Random penis enlarger based joke; d) For us to get Roo to sleep through the night.

**We have no idea who they are; presumably, what with the state of the economy, there’s a surplus of useless middle management nob-heads looking for work…

We’re bringing ‘vex-y’ back…

October 3rd, 2012

Sometimes, you wonder where the revolutionary spirit has gone - not Layers fans, of course, who largely understand the term to mean ‘innovative liquor’ and know exactly where they’ve stashed the concoction of mouthwash, fermented tea leaves and stolen urinal cakes distilled in a copper bed pan ripped from the wall of their secure facility. It’s easy, though, to look at the rest of the population, labouring (briefly, between fag breaks and checking their Facebook status) under the yoke of their privileged oppressors and wonder why there’s not more in the way of revolutionary political movements, thrusting political debate, debunking of untenable dogma and… oh, yeah, that’s why.

Well, at the very least, you’d think there would be more rioting.

Here at Layers HQ, a search of recent compositions has revealed a mellowing of the rage that drove some of our early music and, whilst it’s nice to find that still small voice of calm from time to time, there comes a point to let the beast out of its cage.

To that end, one of the numbers we’ll be committing to a meticulously crafted wax cylinder in the high-tech hub of DB studios this autumn is ‘Tear You Down’ - a barbaric yawp to rail against those culpable for the manifold sufferings around us.

Trembling… terrible… hidden beneath years of vapid acquisition; knee-jerk hatred springs unbidden from your idle, heavy tongue… bereft of hope; your useless mission, the soul’s excision from the world that you sell to the young…

Fuck your reputation, I will tear you down. Damn your temples, I will burn them to the ground. Stand against me, I will bring you down, I swear - I will tear you down.

Feel me burn with hostile rage at this twisted, gilded mess you’ve made: the groping dullards - drunken, aimless… spectre of their youth still fading… but the lines of fate carved on your faces will not erase the words inside my head, they will not change.

Fuck your reputation, I will tear you down. Damn your temples, I will burn them to the ground. Stand against me, I will bring you down, I swear - I will tear you down.

Is our tongue still somewhat in cheek? Well, yes. It’s fun to play and, we sincerely hope, will be fun to listen to. We make music because we enjoy it. If there’s a serious side, it’s not the bald sentiment herein, rather our frustration that there are so few fora in which to vent one’s spleen and to truly challenge the status quo (and if we ever play the same venue, we will. They’re getting on. We could take ‘em…) that it wouldn’t matter if we were subtly joking or actively planning war. We’d still be ignored. Perhaps we need fans in high places instead of upholstered bedrooms.

Buy your MP a copy of the new album for Christmas. Win-win.

Layers out.

The perils of getting paid…

September 26th, 2012

It’s been an uncommonly busy period for a band that normally gigs so occasionally that our typical performing schedule could be plotted on a chart of geological time (probably showing fossil remains of Plaedagigghan Noephuccasaurus). In an unprecedented burst of activity, we’ve actually gigged every week for the last month (the strain being so much for Paul that he had to take a holiday…) and, in an even more unusual turn of events, we’ve even been paid. Twice.

Really, I think that there may have been a distant roll of thunder as I typed that.

I’ve been examining my thoughts on the issue of payment for musicians - fans and regular readers of this blog will be no strangers to regular examinations of their heads - prompted by the coincidental appearance of stray groats in the Layers coffers and this meme that’s popped up recently on Facebook (and probably lots of other wordless social media streams used by scoffing touchscreen technorati that think blogging is so last century)

http://imgur.com/gallery/O1ZsK

I feel able to comment on this particular comparison because in both the fields of plumbing and music I’m a barely competent amateur but willing to have a bash for free if it makes my friends happy. I’m going to examine both sides of the argument.

Firstly, I don’t think that it’s a terribly fair comparison. For one thing, calling out plumbers after 6pm is overtime. I know a few plumbers, sparkies and other allied tradespersons and most of them get up at the crack of dawn and work their arses off. Secondly, playing music is fun. That’s why you do it. I’ve done a few minor plumbing jobs and, although I like helping out friends and manual labour makes a nice change of pace from my everyday life, I couldn’t describe it as fun. I had to call out an emergency drain guy a few weeks ago for a backed up sewer and I have to say, that looked a very long way from fun. You see a guy playing guitar in a wedding band and can bet he’s not thinking “I wish I was up to my elbows in other people’s shit.” Thirdly, if you think a plumber’s too expensive, you can’t replace him with an iPod and have half the people at your party not notice the difference. Finally, a plumber doesn’t expect to be applauded, told he’s great and to have the pick of the single women at the, er… drain blockage.

OK, time to stick up for the musicians.

I’ve written before about the issues around being paid for music, as have others who are actually professional musicians. I wouldn’t for a second denigrate the efforts of the people that I know who make wonderful music and take it seriously enough to dedicate their professional lives to it. I went to see my friends The Black Feathers put on a show a couple of nights ago and there’s no way that they should be that good and stony broke from it. Go and see them, they’re heart-stoppingly wonderful.

The thing is, a wedding band is the thing that you have to do as a musician to pay for the music that you love to make. The people who moan about the cost of a wedding band are, like the musicians, victims of a screwed up system of values. We live in a world that’s been tricked, bullied and manipulated into thinking that it’s stuff that matters: shiny gadgets, logos, brand names - that the only stuff worth paying for comes from some shiny Hollywood-high-tech dream factory. Somehow, walking around the corner and putting a few quid in a hat to see wonderful local musicians is a waste of a couple of quid but staying in and paying a premium rate phone line to vote for a warbling, melodyned twat or a dancing dog on the TV is value. Or as my friend Brigid observes, 99c for an iPhone app that makes fart noises is value but 99c for a well-crafted song is a rip off.

We’ll put our hard earned gig money into recording our new album. We’re lucky, though, that we’re able to make music purely for fun. We have jobs that we’re good at and we get reasonable recompense for them. The music’s a hobby - any of us in The Layers would be amongst the first to admit that when you listen to us, you’re listening to amateurs. If we were plumbers, when we finished a job at your house you’d flush the crapper and water would probably come out of the light sockets. We could only expect to get paid for that if you were planning an avant-garde dinner party and in need of a conversation piece and we’d have to gracefully accept whatever payment we might be offered. That’s about how we market the music. If you’re a crap plumber, you don’t expect to become minted for fixing a Khan’s khazi or a billionaire’s bidet. If you’re a crap wedding band then you’re ripping people off by gouging them for a couple of grand on the most expensive day of their lives.

Professionals who do a good job deserve to be paid a fair rate for what they do. We choose a trade, we choose how much work and practice we put into it and we have to accept that demand for our services may vary. There should always be a chance for a good plumber or a good musician to earn a living wage but that won’t happen in a society with such a messed up set of values as ours. We can help, though. Next time that you go to a bar and see a great band for free, offer an extra quid for the CD or offer to pass around a hat for the musicians. Every pound in the hat is a pound less in Simon Cowell’s pocket, for a start. If we all work together, we might bankrupt the smarmy wanker and he’ll have to become a plumber. There’s no one I’d rather see groping around in a U bend.

Tales from the recording studio soon - we hope the new album will be available for Christmas. It’s six thousand quid a copy. What’s wrong with that?

Neil out.

Sects, Doug and rock and roll.

September 6th, 2012

If you go down in the woods today… you’ll probably attract the attention of that nice man from the Forestry Commission. So stop all that sordid, bosky fellatio and go looking for good, wholesome family entertainment instead. Not a term often used in connection with The Layers, it has to be said, unless preceded by a phrase like ‘the very antithesis of…”

However, this summer we were offered the chance to play a mellow, family friendly set at Treefest, Westonbirt Arboretum’s celebration of all things, er… tree related, by the lovely people at the 4014 project.

Friday night’s gig was for the benefit of campers, stall holders and others there for the weekend. We rolled up to a big top, a big stage and a friendly crew. The weather meant that the sides were on the big top and that produced an incredible reverberation effect every time Roo’s famously quiet and understated snare drum was hit. We’d started wishing that we were playing on a sunny, late summer evening but as the crowd started filtering in to the preceding act, a ukulele duo from Bristol, we realised that conditions were playing into our hands and the damp was granting us a captive audience.

And what a great audience they were. We’d picked the gentlest numbers, left Neil’s amp at home and hastily substituted any offensive words in the set with something equally meaningful but less controversial. We had some worries that the gentle set might lack impact but the reception from the crowd started cordial and got warmer by the song. As children wrestled like mating frogs in front of the stage, we worked our way through the most melodic parts of our repertoire. The audience were responsive, up for a chat and by the time the set was coming to its end, we decided that it was time to get out the banner and teach the world to sing Surf Trip… and sing they did. There’s something magical about hearing strangers sing your own song back at you and it made for a terrific climax to the set.

One of the audience members who wasn’t a stranger was Doug, ‘Dusty’ Jopling, who alert fans, medication depending, may remember joined The Layers for a short stint in the big apple a few years back. It was great to have 125% of the band in one place again and Doug enjoyed himself so much that he decided to come back to see us again the following week for the noisier, swearier set at The Vaults.

Apart from decibels and coarse language, the other chief difference at this gig was the size of the audience; thanks so much to the family and friends that turned out to support us but wow, there must have been something amazing on telly that evening.

Despite the dearth of spectators and eyeball-melting Czech moonshine that we’d been drinking, courtesy of our Pardubice-based promoter friend Viktor (you’ll have to backtrack to 2008 to cath up on those tales) we managed to get through brand new songs ‘Sapphire’ and ‘Tear You Down’ with enough panache and conviction to convince us that they’re worth recording on one of those new-fangled compact discs we’ve been reading about so next month, we’re off to the studio - more on that in a subsequent blog.

As an added bonus, Doug made a brief guest appearance on ‘Shadowpictures’ and ‘Belly Full of Sunshine’, giving Roo the opportunity to appreciate the band from the audience perspective. He’s become a big fan.

Next it’s off to the Zeitgeist Media Festival in Hampshire - okay, they’re nothing like a sect, it just made for a good title. If you don’t know anything about Zeitgeist, it’s a sort of apolitical political movement aiming to bring about the kind of world that favours people over money, fairness over greed and peace over war. Ridiculous, when you think about it, but a gig’s a gig and then we can get back to running our sweatshops and slave trading rings and generally trampling on the poor. If you’re not too busy selling crack to schoolchildren on 15th September, why not come down and check it out?

That will be it, gig-wise, for a little while (unless Lady Gaga comes begging for a support act again…) until we hope to be playing an album release party just in time for Christmas. More on that as the recording sessions go ahead.

Until then, thanks to everyone that’s come out to support us over the last couple of months; we love you all.

Layers out.