News, Plans & General Prattle, 2017
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A quiet start to the year, albeit with an early highlight. Thanks to the beautiful people of the Flutlicht Fussballfilm Festival in Basel I ended up in the splendid Gare du Nord to discuss a BBC documentary about the troubled footballer Paul Gascoigne with the German publisher Christoph Beutenmüller and festival co-organiser Philipp Grünenfelder.
The year began to crank into action, at last, with a trio of invigorating interviews. Apart from Spoon's Britt Daniel, Deep Purple's evergreen drummer Ian Paice (a deadringer for my computer wizard guy David Scott, by the way) and the sharp and friendly Yasmin Hamdan, I also met Hot Chip's Joe Goddard to talk about his new solo album. We met in his studio, surrounded by vintage hardware.
Another highlight was a trip to Norwich to meet the Swiss footballer Timm Klose, a defender for Norwich City. Timm was friendly, relaxed, witty and wonderfully generous with his time and his stories. The results will be published in the next issue of the very excellent Zwölf magazine.
I also went to a few football games, all of which were cold and wet: Arsenal v Hull, Watford v Middlesbrough, and Watford v West Ham. Arsenal looked shaky, Hull better than their position in the table, Watford were hard grafters, and West Ham vastly improved from earlier in the season.
February ended with some brilliant news from Zurich. Miller's Studio has secured the sponsorship deal that enables us to start a monthly British comedy night. The first date will be 10 October. Now it's down to me to put together the programme. My plan is to book three comedians for each night, one somewhat better known headliner, and two support acts. And we'll have a fabulous live band, too. I happened to pass through Arundel last weekend and discovered an excellent old-school record shop. It's called A Ray of Delight Records and seems to pecialise in rockabilly, psych and garage 45s. There's plenty of other vinyl and CDs, too, though. I bought three albums. Here they are:
I must confess I was daunted about my meeting with Blondie's Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. A German colleague had posted a scathing report on Facebook about his own encounter with DH. It didn't sound pleasant. I was even more daunted when Chris Stein suggested that I sit between him and Debbie - who wasn't in the room just then - on a cosy sofa so I wouldn't have to travel far with my arm to shift the microphone from one to the other. Debbie, too, looked rather dubious when Chris, upon her return, repeated his suggestion to her.
As it turned out, both of them were perfectly civil, even good-humoured. It turned out that both had a collection of works by the late, great H.R. Giger, their good friend from Zurich. It was then that Chris explained to Debbie that her picture of the inner album sleeve he had created for them was the original. "I thought it was a copy!" exlaimed Harry. "Where have you BEEN?!" sighed Stein. I didn't dare to ask to take a picture, alas.
And here's three chaps sharing one wig.
M4music was the customarily great occasion it is every year. This time I had the pleasure of interviewing Rough Trade shop-co-owner Nigel House about record shops in the 21st century in general, and his shop in particular. I, for one, totally enjoyed the chat - it gave me the chance to ask him all the questions we'd never had the time before in the actually shop. Because of all the talking I didn't get to see much music. Of the acts I did see, I thought Mario Batkovic was mesmerising. Loyle Carner, on the other hand, was friendly enough but still rather boring with just a decks-man for company on stage. I thought Hyperculte - Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp's upright bassist plus Massicot's guitarist playing drums - were great with their powerfully minimalist kraut-punk. Soybomb's post-Sparks art pop was damned good too. I quite liked Fai Baba but I would have liked him a lot more if only he'd trim his guitar stuff a bit and stop moping about on stage as if he was preparing breakfast with a hangover.