Fake News and Propaganda..

The final artwork is still in progress so have a gig flyer instead!

I never ask to get sneaky peaks of recordings Ferocious Dog are working on – when people ask I truthfully say there’s an appeal to waiting for the big reveal when the CD arrives in the post.

Funnily enough the latest person to ask was Ken – Ella and I had popped to see him a few weeks ago for some tattoos – he was surprised, and once he’d navigated the labyrinthine band and crew WhatsApp group admittedly we did hear a few songs through a tinny phone speaker whilst he kept tabs on Mansfield Town surprisingly failing to beat local rivals Notts County.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and a Facebook message pops up from Dan with a link to a Google Drive with ten mp3 files. The only accompanying explanation was ‘nearly mixed’ – no matter how much part of me might want to wait for the big reveal, it’s not like anyone is going to resist that opportunity, now is it? So of course I fired up the laptop and got downloading, eager as a kid on Christmas Eve to get stuck in.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd March 2019 / Band, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

The Red Album is no red herring..

I remember when From Without came out I wrote about that difficult second album – the original Ferocious Dog self-titled album was a canon of years of built up song-writing, and a lifetime to date of experiences to draw upon for subject matter.  Subsequent works are always gonna deal with less life back-history, and with more weight of pressure.  But well, I feared in vain – From Without was an undoubted triumph – so I should’ve learned really and not worried about The Red Album, but still, you just can’t help it can you?

I’d heard bits and pieces of live performances, rough cuts and sneaky peeks, but hadn’t heard the final product in earnest ’til Dean popped it on the minibus on the way to The Netherlands last weekend, and even then the excitement of our impending trip (or desperation of Mark’s bladder situation as we blasted into Hull right up against the deadline for the ferry) meant that it probably wasn’t the environment to really sit and take it in.  Luckily when I arrived back from the trip it was waiting for me on my doormat so I’ve quickly been familiarising myself with it, and by gosh, they’ve only gone and done it again.

Unlike From Without, which was an expensive endeavour in a swanky studio with recognised producers and masterers, the band have looked closer to home and recorded it at Electric Bear Studios under the watchful eye of Phill Wilbraham.  Having seen Phill at work he does more than just record tracks and choose levels, even in the couple of hours I spent in the studio he was making lyrical suggestions and tweaks, and extrapolating the logistics in rendering recordings that would be replicable on a live stage.  He’s a clever guy, and the quality of the recording is a real testament to his skills.

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2017 / Band, Music, Other Bands

It’s a new Ferocious Dog CD kinda day!

It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve had a post to write about my principal subject matter!

There’s still something irrevocably exciting about getting a Ferocious Dog CD through the post – and it’s fair to say this latest 3 piece live acoustic album is a little later than initially planned, so a combination of anticipation and half-forgetting it is on its way heightens this.  (The Leylines acoustic EP is due to land soon too, there must be something about getting acoustic recordings out on the expected timescale – I’m excited about that too!).

When From Without launched whilst it was excited, because I’d been lucky enough to hear the progression of rough-cuts, pre-masters and mastered tracks it meant the undeniable excitement of having the physical CD was diminished a bit since I’d been listening to it for weeks.  Not the case here, so I had the full jealous of folk who’d been in to receive their delivery whilst I was at work, waiting all day before getting hold of it in the evening to listen to on the way to band practice last night.

Delicious frustration – but worth it!  I won’t go track by track but pull out a few thoughts about some of them – so if you’re waiting to listen and don’t want any spoilers then stop reading!  The CD kicks in with the intro track familiar to anyone who’s seen the band live in the last couple of years – I’m sad enough to have badgered Waggy for the track and added it to my From Without album on my phone, but now it’s there for everyone to set the scene!

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Freeborn Al / 9th February 2017 / Band, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Bill Sykes had a wife..

The Norwood

The Norwood

I’m not sure if it’s just me that gets a bit intrigued by stories that inspire songs.  This one’s a bit convoluted, I was watching Sharpe on some random Freeview channel and rifleman Daniel Hagman was singing a traditional folk song about poachers in Rufford Park.  I googled it, I even messaged Ken about it as it brought Crime and Punishment to mind and well, one Google search leads to another and you end up with this!

Plus I’ve not written anything about Ferocious Dog, my principle subject matter, for quite a while, have I?  I touched on the back story of the song back when I first wrote about the album – the star of the song, Bill Sykes, actually being a relative of Ken’s – and probably would’ve faded into obscurity as a historical figure were it not for the discovery of letters his wife wrote to him after he’d been transported out to Australia.

You see – Bill Sykes did have a wife (children he had four, too!) – and well, it’s pretty safe to assume that he didn’t see them no more as well.  You can read Myra Sykes’ letters in full here thanks to Wikisource – initially sent to Portsmouth prison where he spent a couple of years before being transported aboard the Norwood (Barry, are you reading this? I’m sure we were discussing the name of the ship outside Newbury!).  You can even read Bill’s own diary of the voyage here, too.

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Freeborn Al / 11th July 2016 / Band, Music, Politics, Thoughts / 0 Comments

Derby heralds.. a NEW SETLIST!

IMG_3527Unusual gig in Derby tonight, as I popped to see a friend embarking on a leaving do before heading on to the gig and feeling a bit lazy and sore of back I made a conscious decision to spend the gig out of the mosh pit.  And whilst of course the lure is always there, I’m glad I did – it’s literally been years since I stood back and just watched the performance – it was a rewarding experience!

Parked up near The Venue, it wasn’t long before folk started landing – we wandered to The Flowerpot for a quick drink, with Ella and Simon arriving at the car park not long after it was a short wander back, just in time for the doors opening.  The Venue is a nice place, you enter into the bar area, up a couple of steps into an expansive flat performance area with a relatively small stage. The only quibble are the pillars which normally I wouldn’t notice but for my withdrawn position for a change.

IMG_3487The support act, Seas of Mirth, entered the stage – all nine of them (it took a while for me to confirm this, and confusingly their Twitter bio reckons there’s eight of ’em!) – coming on with Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth playing – with ‘place on Earth’ replaced with ‘Seas of Mirth’ – an interesting start!  I know that Seas of Mirth played at Deerstock last year, whilst we were either tucking into – or sleeping off – a massive roast dinner from Nana’s Kitchen, but folk were raving about them so it was exciting to get the chance to see them for the first time.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Bringing the ceiling down in Leeds..

IMG_1490I had intended to get the Leeds blog up on the night, but tiredness won – but rather than write a mega-long blog post I’ll split this into three instalments for each of the gigs.  So first up was Leeds, and it was to be a return to Cerebus for me – so first order of business was to get up to Ken’s where Carl and John were already getting on board, Dom arrived shortly after then it was just Waggy and Scott to pick up before we hit the road to Leeds, mercifully avoiding the M1 tailbacks that struck others on the way.

One of the nice contextual things about travelling with the band is experiencing their build-up to a gig – Cerebus (the Ferocious Dog tour bus) is a well appointed van, with a section at the back for all the gear (which just about fits), a seating area at the back around a table with lighting and its own music player and then the cab at the front seats the driver and up to two more.  It’s great, but not exactly comfy for extended periods – boredom soon struck, an eclectic selection of gangster rap John had compiled was playing, and the cards were out for rounds of ‘bullshit’ and rummy.

But luckily Leeds isn’t too far away and we’d soon arrived and parked up behind the venue between a camper van an act in another part of the venue were using, and a pizza van that would open later to provide much needed sustenance.  The Brudenell is an ace small venue – it’s my first time there but a good sized room over a couple of levels with the bar at the top and a lower level dance floor in front of the stage.  We were soon unloaded leaving the band, Dom and the sound man to get everything set up and plugged in.

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Freeborn Al / 25th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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

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