It’s a Brum do…

IMG_1356I was dead excited when the tour was set to open in Birmingham – as I work in Solihull it would be a short shlep from the office to get there.  Fate conspired against me and saw me up in Manchester for a meeting instead – but planned with sufficient time to dash down the M6 (well, dash until the West Midlands were breached!) to get to my hotel probably earlier than I would’ve done had I gone from our offices!  Having missed a turn I ended up driving past the venue to double-back and saw the band unloading Cerebus.

The Old Crown is a brilliantly quirky old pub a stones throw from the venue which was why I chose it – the car park was full but I found a pay & display one down the road at a reasonable rate.  Once I’d got checked in (and remembered not to smack my head on the low beams) it turned out Mick was staying here too – so after getting a little too engrossed in building a new coil for my e-cig and watching Tipping Point I headed down to the bar to join Mick for a few cheeky beverages.

No sooner had we done that then another Mick arrived to join us, as did Tina and crew, followed by most of the band along with Wez, Gaz and Dom, Dave and Nadine, Michael and Rebecca, Darren, Colette and their lad, Paul and Kim, Geoff and probably loads of others I’ve forgotten – what an auspicious gathering!  Mick R and I had succumbed to the lure of ordering food which took a while to arrive in the busy pub, but was worth the wait – although left me eating a little closer to gig time than I’d have liked ideally!

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The lesson here it’s not too late to write your song and tune..

DSC_0227One of the unplanned but very welcome spin-offs of starting this blog has been getting my mits on music before it’s released to have a listen to and a ponder about.  This last week or so I’ve been lucky enough to be listening to some demos that none other than The Star Botherers have been working on in the studio lately, and what a treat it’s proven to be!

I first encountered them as an act at Bearded Theory 2013 in Gail’s tea tent – eager to check out the then Ferocious Dog bass player’s side project with the dude who wrote Freethinker.  I’ve seen them perhaps harshly categorised as novelty act – but then again the early gigs I saw of them were dominated by expansive bingo sessions or heavily customised merchandise including tins of beans and condoms – these days the focus is fully and deservedly on the music.

Four songs landed in my email from Bart inviting comment, two of them later reprised as spoken word tracks – and my gosh they’ve had some hammer over the last few days.  For those of you who’ve seen Bart, Dave (and now with added Brad on drums) on the festival circuit this year then this won’t contain too many spoilers as these songs have all featured in set lists over the course of the summer – indeed, many of us so familiar with them there are already singalong opportunities aplenty.

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Freeborn Al / 13th October 2015 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Oh we do like to be beside the sea-side…

IMG_1318I’d been looking forward to the Alternative Weekend at Butlins, Skegness for ages – of course, it was a return to Ferocious Dog action but with plenty of other awesome acts on offer too.  Upon arriving an going through the check-in process that would’ve been slick if only they’d made it a bit clearer which check-in gate to go through we found ourselves in a three bedroom apartment rather than the two bedroom one we’d paid for – always a bonus!

Upon settling in and getting unpacked Snotty, Simon and I headed to the arena – once there we found Scott who’d arrived before the rest of the band for a night of debauchery the night before their gig.  Our first port of call was the stage in Reds where Neville Staple was opening events for us.  It was a solidly professional and engaging performance until an unfortunate mishap involving kicking a football into the crowd, a loose cable and a trip saw him end up tumbling over a monitor.

He laughed it off though and finished off a cracking set in style – it was great to get a dance on early and plenty of singalongs for his more well-known songs of The Specials fame like A Message to you Rudy and Ghost Town.  I’ve always liked 2 Tone and Ska but only really fleetingly picked up on it through the snippets my Dad listened to when I was younger – so it’s been good to do a bit more catching up and this weekend offered a few opportunities to do that!

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Freeborn Al / 12th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

From Without – it’s finally here!

IMG_0447Facebook has been awash with excited people receiving packages through the post after the Herculean efforts of Gibbo and Hannah in getting everyone’s album packaged and mailed over the weekend.  Despite basically having it already, it was still a bit galling to be stuck at the office periodically spotting a series of delighted people  posting photos and their initial thoughts – all of which have been positive so far (not that I ever doubted it).  I’ve skirted around writing about the album tracks a few times, but now it’s ‘in the wild’ I can do so unabashed at spoiling anything too much.

Biased though I undoubtedly am, I love everything about it – the imagery, the packaging, the slight imperfection in that the lyrics for Gallows Justice are missing from the sleeve notes (Waggy has posted the page online should any perfectionists wish to download them), the signatures, the fact my name is in it, and of course the songs themselves.  The songs, they’re unmistakably Ferocious Dog, they are a mixture of biting political observation, historical accounts, a traditional re-imagining and a love ballad gone sour.

They are unmistakably Ferocious Dog, but they chart some evolution too.  What more could you want?  I described it earlier on Facebook as a plateau of an album rather than a roller-coaster – whilst there’s variation of paces and styles there’s no let up in quality, it peaks early and stays there – I do genuinely love it.  Even though I heard it a lot I still played it all the way home from work, playing pretend that I’d been in in time for the Postman to deliver it to me.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2015 / Band, Music / 0 Comments

We shall overcome.. Bagthorpe edition.

weshallovercomeIf I had one regret at the awesome weekend we just spent at Rockstock and Barrel it would be that it clashed with We Shall Overcome – a nationwide campaign of awesomeness, essentially gathering together artistic performers to do their thing under a single banner in protest against the terrible levels of austerity being inflicted by the current government.  Performers, promoters, sound people all gave up their time at over 300 events this weekend for free in order to raise awareness and money to help those effected by homelessness or needing food banks etc.

However, I’m always happy to seek out opportunities to eke out the weekend a little more – and in between family visitations and the logistics in getting Snotty back down south I spotted an irresistible opportunity to head over to Dixies Arms in Bagthorpe where DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show had organised an afternoon of performers.  Working out our timings, we could get there for a little before 5 and spare an hour – and providence was our friend as the performer in that time was none other than Mr Kenny Bonsall.

As well as Ken also on offer were performances from Paul Carbuncle, King of Rome, Quiet Loner and the hosts, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show – two of which I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in the past, so I am a little sad that we couldn’t make the whole afternoon work – but well, if I had to pick one, let’s face it, it worked out pretty well for us!  Upon arriving we found a handy car-sized space next to the Ferocious Dog bus (Cerebus), a deft bit of reverse parking (if I do say so myself!) and we were on our way into the pub.

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Rockstock and barrel-of-laughs..

pylonSo we’ve just spent a splendid weekend at Rockstock & Barrel, nestled in the shadow of the cooling towers at Willington – just a short twenty minute drive up the road for me.  The atmosphere was literally electric with live power lines crackling overhead and people literally charged up with static electricity – but figuratively too with a fantastic and varied line-up of musicians and a ridiculous number of familiar faces in the crowd too.  Okay, so we weren’t brave enough to camp out in freezing October – which denied me the inevitable thick-head from the dangerous looking Scrumptiddly Cider Bar.

Paul took this awesome shot from under a pylon which you could drive under – as I discovered when moving a drunken Andy’s van from Campsite B to Campsite A as a space in the field became available thanks to the 3 Daft Monkeys electing not to stay over after their headline set.

IMG_1244Arrival time was planned after finishing up with work to take in the opening act, the very familiar Brad Dear who took to the outdoor-in-a-tent Electric Stage to kick off the festival with an acoustic set.  As noted from his support slot at The Beards the other week, Brad is a lad who is growing in confidence with his performances – he looks like he’s really enjoying performing and he’s on great form.  The news that studio time is likely to be imminent is great news for me too, looking forward to more tracks I can play on my travels – the newer songs he’s been adding to his sets recently sound great.

Then it gave us chance to catch up with the many many more hardy souls than us who had decided to brave camping – there was a campsite on ‘The Chimneys‘ site just behind the performance area but also another over t’road.  Already in position were countless familiar faces – Tim, bless him, had even provided some non-alcoholic shots so that the tee-totalers didn’t feel left out.  The sun was veritably beating down and I must confess that briefly I was a little bit sad I’d decided not to camp – that would change later when the sun went down and it was freezing!

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Colour of Ugly Kid Beards…

IMG_1145In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, it’s been a fun weekend of distractions which whilst not really related to Ferocious Dog – has certainly involved many of my Hell Hound brethren.  It started on Friday night with a blast from my youth with Ugly Kid Joe visiting the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham.  I used to love them in the early 90’s – before meandering off to the Levellers – my brother retained his love of metal though and accompanied me along with Snotty.

I must admit, my expectations were pretty low – having not really stayed abreast of Ugly Kid Joe developments I was imagining a desperate cash-grab from some washed up 90’s almost novelty-act that I’d never had the chance to see live ‘back in the day’ to a half-empty venue.  As an aside I do remember us listening to them live on the radio supporting Def Leppard at some point, cringing slightly at Whitfield Crane’s lewd references to the joys of blowjobs whilst I think my Mum was listening along with us.. anyway, I digress…

Whitfield Crane has grown up a bit – shorter hair, a suspicious whiff of Just for Men and I’d say a humble demeanour – he seemed genuinely grateful to what was a packed out, not half-empty, Rescue Rooms.  Launching into an intro then straight into Neighbor (the first CD single I ever bought!) it was a cracking performance from the band – with the guitarists throwing solos between one another, Cordell Crockett giving the funky underpinning with his bass and a drummer wearing nothing but pants – with the front man conducting the crowd.

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Freeborn Al / 21st September 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Monkeying around in Tarn..

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Okay, so Ferocious Dog were playing in Fleetwood last night and I cheated on them in Barnsley to watch 3 Daft Monkeys – but t’was most definitely worth it.  It was off to the Polish Club in Tarn I went, a previous scene of Ferocious Dog goodness from earlier in the year, for a splendid evening of fun organised by the awesome Andrea who runs Let the Music Speak for Itself.  As I’ve discovered in the last year, promoting and organising gigs is hard work with little reward trying to lever people from their sofas – so I’m personally very thankful there are such passionate folk about to supplement my social life.

For Friday night in rush-hour the M1 was reasonably kind, we detoured via Thorne to pick up Becky and Pete and arrived pretty much bang on schedule at the venue.  There was time to have a natter with assorted folk like Darren, Collette, Rachel, Lisa, Janet and Dom (with an awesome Levellers shirt on) before getting hand-stamped up and heading into the venue proper ready for the show.  Which commenced with the slightly terrifying spectacle of Dollar is Clinically Insane strutting around the stage banging a gong.

He described his act as spoken word – it was a combination of stand-up and poetry despite his protestations to the contrary.  Self-depreciating and funny – probably funniest for us was watching 14 year old Dom, right at the front, listening to the – um – very adult themed pieces.  An inability to get laid, being stuck in a porn vortex, celebrity stalking and – my personal highlight – regret at not being ‘the shag-monster of Yorkshire.’  It was certainly something a bit different to my normal choice of entertainment – and gave us some laughs with a follow-up underpinning of seriousness.

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Freeborn Al / 5th September 2015 / Gigs, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The waiting is almost over..

IMG_0447.. and boy are you going to think it’s worth it.  From Without has been mastered, and is going into production ready to be sent out to the good folks who made it a possibility by paying up front for it.   Back in April I wrote a review based on some of the rough-cut tracks I’d been privy to, subsequently I’ve been lucky enough to hear a number of the iterations of mixing that occurred and finally the mastered full album this evening.  And wow, what a treat.  I’m not sure if posting this is torturing folk who’ve waited or help with anticipation.

In the recent radio interview Ken talked about From Without and how it was inspired by Karl Marx.  More specifically the inference that revolution can’t be triggered solely by the proletariat but would need help from without their ranks.  Of course all the speculation and misinterpretations were fun – but undoubtedly this is an album that has a strong political underpinning almost throughout – be it contemporary or historical – there’s anger and cutting observation.

Whether it be what sounds like a summary of Iain Duncan-Smith’s assault on the disabled and the farce of the bedroom tax in Living on Thin Air (this is the track, you’ll remember, that was co-written with Nick Burbridge), historical accounts like Ruby Bridges, Crime and Punishment and more recent history in the form of Marikana Massacre or the hauntingly sad-yet-beautiful Slow Motion Suicide charting the demise of a jobless miner in the wake of the pits being closed – there’s clear messages of the disenfranchised ringing through the opening nine tracks of the album.

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Freeborn Al / 1st September 2015 / Band, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Mairi’s Wedding Part III airs…

If you didn’t get chance to hear Ken and Dan on The Beat on Saturday evening (including an exclusive airing of Mairi’s Wedding Part III) then you can listen to it again below (or on iPlayer – but that’ll expire eventually) – enjoy. It’s a magical track (and Slow Motion Suicide ain’t bad either!).

Dean Jackson of BBC’s Beat programme plays Slow Motion Suicide (the radio edit, currently available from your favourite source of digital music!), has a chat with Ken and Dan about how things are going with the band, including the forthcoming tour, the album (and title – inspired by Karl Marx) and some of the inspiration behind some of the songs – followed up by an exclusive airing of Mairi’s Wedding Part III.  Frankly, it’s a relief to actually be able to talk about what the song sounds like!

A first for Ferocious Dog it’s a song that never ‘kicks in’ – is it a ballad? It’s a thing of beauty – that’s for sure, and strangely sad.  Not a happy tale but hauntingly beautiful with the sombre music and rich orchestral backing.  Dan also dropped further teaser type comments around some of the ‘surprising’ special guests expected to be accompanying them at Rock City in November.   So don’t delay and get your tickets if you haven’t already for what’s surely going to be the biggest Hell Hound party going!

Freeborn Al / 30th August 2015 / Band, Music / 0 Comments