Archive for August, 2010

Warm days and smiling friends.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

On the face of it, the lyrics to surf trip couldn’t have been less appropriate than when we sang them at Green Man last week. A song about sun-kissed, carefree days at the beach… well, look a little closer, pilgrim. Surf trip is about surf trips with friends, not about surfing. It’s about being surrounded by people that you love and trust so that even if you fall off a surf board or set out across pointy rocks, you know they’ll catch you if you fall.

So as we trudged through the mud to get our gear to the stage, I was smiling because that is where I want to be, warm days and smiling friends. Laughter and new experiences shared.

Confronted, earlier in the week, with flood warnings for the festival, it would have been easy to be disappointed. The mood at our Thursday night run through was great, though. We’ve come this far and we’re getting used to… I was about to type ‘marching into the unknown’ - I think ‘shambling off, half-arsed, with no plan’ is a little closer to the truth. This was certainly much less daunting than driving towards the channel tunnel in our ubercampenbussen a few years ago.

Having a gig the next day, I was equally prepared to camp or not to camp. That was the question. The huge swathe of tents crammed together in the mud like a slightly festive refugee camp was enough to make up my mind. I was, however, looking forward to seeing Roo put up his tent. Roo was clad in wellies, shorts and a long waxed jacket - making him look like a really posh flasher. I imagined the imminent construction of his tent was going to resemble a Tourettes-afflicted country gent raping a hang-glider. I was denied this joyful spectacle when it took us so long to find Roo that he’d befriended a couple of families nearby and they’d helped him to set up. Roo and Jen had already charmed their new neighbours sufficiently to drag them along to the gig, so with the prospect of friendly faces in the crowd we squelched off in search of food and a stage to play.

This gig had come courtesy of the wonderful people at Geek Pop - do check them out when you‘ve a chance. We were greeted by the ever-smiling face of Hayley and introduced to the crew of Einstein’s Garden. It was a rather fetching little section of the festival and I imagine than in the sun, it would have been a little grotto of paradise. The other great benefit of the sun would have been that it would have taken a little stress off the Solar Stage, where we were about to play. A solar powered stage in the foothills of the Brecons, in August. Yeah, we know. Surely hydro-electricity would have been the way to go? We could have had a lightshow that would have been visible from space…

We’ve played more competently, we’ve played more fluently but it was still a decent performance, I felt. What mistakes there were seemed to go largely unnoticed by our small but perfectly formed audience and even though the quieter parts of the set were accompanied in a somewhat avant-garde fashion from the next stage along, there seemed to be nodding, foot tapping (well, splashing) and general signs from the onlookers that traditional festival gift for the unappreciated artist - the plastic bottle of piss - would not be winging our way any time soon.

There were some memorable moments: Caleb’s first solo, straining our sustainable power source to its limits, actually made me jump. Not as much, however, as the litre of cold water down Roo’s back in mid song made him leap sideways. What sticks out for me personally, though, was that for most of the gig, we seemed to be ‘in the moment’. It’s so easy, sometimes, to walk on stage, tune up and then disappear into a furious world of concentration and self-consciousness and then before you know it, it’s all over and all that’s there to tell you that you played a gig is a damp shirt and ears ringing from standing too close (within a kilometre) of Caleb’s amp. Last week, though, we seemed to be chatting, communicating and laughing together. I don’t know what the audience made of it but I had a whale of a time. I’m also fairly sure that I saw a whale swim past me one time.

The ‘above and beyond’ awards definitely go to Rob, for trekking out to see us; to Harry, for joining the band for ‘Kiss the Girls’ and most of all to Jen for managing to be president of our fan club, the drummer’s hot groupie and watchful mother simultaneously in a noisy swamp without her smile slipping the once. Kudos to you all.

Big shouts also to Hayley for the gig, to Ellen for organising us, to the technical and hosting crew of the Solar Stage and to the other artists that shared it with us. You’re all fab.

Another burst of kit-lugging, then a pleasant little interlude as we were permitted beyond the velvet rope for artiste’s catering, a hugely welcome, cosy meal in a warm marquee filled with laughter and chat.

Then home and my single sombre note of a wonderful day.

On the way home, being tailed by Rob, we were mere seconds behind an accident. The carriageway blocked by a serious collision, as we waited, more and more police, ambulances and fire trucks turned up. I’m happy to report that nobody was killed: I’ve learned since that a man was hospitalised with an abdominal puncture but no fatalities - although that was what we were gradually beginning to suspect as the wait continued. In an oddly complementary musing, as we waited, Rob and I struck up a conversation with a sergeant in the Welsh Guard, back from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was struck by the abrupt and unnecessary tragedies that can snatch us from each others’ lives. Moments like that can leave me feeling transient, ephemeral - I was glad that I was standing with a friend. I felt anchored.

I suppose that pretty much brings me full circle. It was very much a Layers experience. Next year - more festivals, bigger stages and perhaps just a little sun…?

Layers out.

Let’s start as we mean to go on…

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

…note the ‘mean to’. In no way are we making bold promises concerning the frequency of blog posts from now on.

Here, though, for those of you who take an interest in our creative output, are the approximate lyrics for ‘Wasted’. I say approximate because like many of our lyrics, they are in a constant state of flux that can be partially explained by creativity but mostly by my inability to remember them…

Cast around for heaven’s scent, spurn the chances to relent
Gag the voices of dissent with every dollar that you spent -
With what you stole.

You have no recourse or excuse for the power that you’ve abused
Science might beguile and words confuse but now you know you can’t elude
The rising tide

Another wasted day, I see you fading away, it’s just a game you play
As you throw it away

Treat the future as a game, win the prize and shift the blame
And if gold is all you crave, ignore the wisdom of the age
Too late to save

You have no recourse…

Another wasted day…

Filling up the void inside, selling short and buying time
Trying to find a place to hide the evidence of all your crimes
But we are not blind

Mercury climbing, shadows rising, tides growing higher - I see you clinging to your raft of lies you hide your eyes but still deny the plight of Gaia as she cries

Another wasted day..

___

Let me point out, for the record, that I’m not a Gaia theorist (strong, weak or otherwise) but I do think that it makes a nice, poetic way to refer to the intersection of Venn bubbles of planet, flora, fauna and ideology. I don’t see a problem in stretching a goddess metaphor to a planet that does, in fact, nourish us both physically and mentally. It’s the incredible waste of those resources, physical and mental, that I’m trying to get across here: while time, money and expertise are so desperately needed in creating a better, sustainable life for all, the effort all seems to go on making more profit for a tiny subsection of society that doesn’t need it and can’t even use it except as a way of keeping score. What a waste - especially when, if you want my opinion (and if you don’t then why the hell are you reading our blog) there would be no bigger score in no finer game than saving the planet and its people from the rising tides of greed, lack of fulfilment, starvation, privation and, oh, yes… seawater.

Discuss.

Emerging, blinking from the shade…

Friday, August 6th, 2010

…of an indecently long interval between blog posts.

Ten thousand much deserved apologies, gentle readers; here at Layers HQ we do realise how difficult life can be made when your ransom notes are shriven of the sesquipedalian flourishes that so few other band blogs provide. As much as we would like to believe that death itself would not stop us from reaching out to touch our friends (not in an overly familiar way, you understand…) the reality is that mere preoccupation is enough to gum up the works for months.

But we’d like to think that this very preoccupation has been worthwhile because we’ve not been idle. No siree - those observant members of our fan base (at least, the subsection of such still allowed access to a live Internet connection rather than having printed bulletins slipped under the cell door) will have noticed a glorious new website. New content is still arriving on a week-to-week basis, subject to gaps in Caleb’s sandwich schedule, and should continue to do so on a basis commensurate with our blog updating (which now that Neil’s remembered the password, may be more frequent than recent, tumbleweed-strewn months would suggest).

What only diehard fans (ie, stalkers) will know is that some of the creative activity holding up bulletins has been of the biological variety (and no, we’re not talking about the contents of Neil’s fridge). Both Caleb and Rupert are proud, second-time fathers. Being men, none of the band (fathers included) know any of the important details like weight, sex, name or species of the offspring in question but we’ll try to get one of the mothers to get back to you all on that…

And what are we emerging into, as we slink shamefully from beneath the dank shelter of relative obscurity? Well, we’re two-thirds of the way into our summer festival programme; the best, we’re hoping, very much saved until last as we play the Green Man festival in two weeks’ time. Not that the gigs leading up to it haven’t been great: the Tetbury Fiesta was true to form - a laid-back gig in the sun. Thanks especially to everyone that turned up to the acoustic spot and for all of the kind words that were offered. Then last week we turned up at the SOLAM festival, near Chippenham. Usually when someone describes a gig as ‘intimate’ it means that there wasn’t room on stage for the drum kit and there was no bastard there and, we’re forced to admit, it was beginning to look like one of those nights. No sooner had we got ourselves squeezed in, though, than a friendly, appreciative group filtered in and reclined on the cushions, joined in a little bit of banter and made us feel right at home.

There were some cracking bands at SOLAM and if you missed the whole thing, shame on you - check it out next year.

So, what’s in the future? Well, we’ve got some new material coming on line: ‘My Father’ has been gigged and seems to be garnering some praise, ‘Wasted’ had it’s début outing at SOLAM and already looks like it could become an audience favourite. More songs are in the pipeline, including what looks like a viable version of the long-awaited ‘Red Roses’ and we’re hoping to have a whole ‘post-belly’ set together by the end of the year. Stranger things have happened.

More updates from Layers HQ soon (honest) including ‘Wasted’ lyrics (if nothing else, it will help me to remember them…) and hopefully pics on the site soon.

Stay in touch! (I know, that’s rich, coming from me…)

Layers out.