I am enjoying rare bliss tonight - a very peaceful and quiet evening with the house to myself. My parents seldom go out but tonight they have and won’t be back until late and my sister is at her boyfriend’s. It is so nice to be able to come in from a tiring weekend at work and just sit quietly on the sofa, curled up with a pillow watching some (not so) quality TV. I took an undisturbed nap on the sofa. I am now sitting at my dining room table while listening to The Best of Jesus and Mary Chain and after I finish writing this I’m going to settle back on the sofa with my pillow to watch a film before going to bed.
This is nice, how evenings are supposed to be. Relaxed and carefree. When my parents are here I always feel like I should be doing something and using my time wisely. Through no hinting or persuasion by them, I just feel smothered very quickly and find it hard to relax when they’re around and I guess if you can’t relax you may as well use your time productively. Tonight all I feel is I should be doing is enjoying this opportunity to be lady of the (small, semi-detached and on a busy, main road) manor while I can.
I am leaning more and more towards looking for somewhere to live by myself when I start uni in September. I assumed a place to myself would be way out of my price range but after looking online at some studios and small flats my ideal doesn’t seem completely out of the question. The place I end up with may be a little small but after twenty one years with rarely a moment to myself this is a compromise I’m definitely willing to consider. More than foods or alcohol or the sudden encompassing urge to listen to a specific band or song, time and space to myself is the vice I most often find myself craving.
I have started my new job in London, a transfer from one posh English supermarket to another and so far so good. The store is always busy, right next to Gloucester Road tube (so never a far walk) and the people are a different type but still friendly and welcoming. I was offered the role of Team Leader last year at my Bishops Stortford store until the current one decided she would stay but at my new Gloucester Road I will have to work my way up again. I’m very much used to knowing what’s going on and being the one in control and though I’m proud of how quickly I’ve adapted to a new routine and way of working, the hardest adjustment I’m having to make is not always being entirely sure of myself. Even though I’m doing the same job in the same company, inevitably each store does things slightly differently and for a while I’ll be second guessing and double checking until I find my place in their team. Which is expected and fine but has been tricky and frustrating for me at times over the three shifts I’ve completed there so far.
It feels good though to be pushed out of my comfort zone, kicked out of my safe Bishops Stortford nest and being conditioned to fly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the small town girl, as a lot of girls in my town seem to be and adults who don’t know me assume I am, but I know Stortford like the back of my hand and have had the same job for five years. Apart from becoming a manager and renting a flat in Stortford, which is definitely not something I want to do, I have taken my life here as far as it can go and at 21 it’s about time I shook things up, starting following something real and left my parents house in the hope of never turning back.
I am finally returning to Scotland tomorrow and I will be staying until Thursday. My trip coincides with the Glasgow leg of the comeback Bloc Party gigs and one of the bands I’m currently most excited about, The Chapman Family, are also playing. Not counting T in the Park last July it has been fourteen months since I was last in Glasgow and the closer it gets the more excited I am to catch up with these old friends of mine in their glorious city and to having time away from my house and Bishops Stortford.
Seeing two quality live bands just comes as a bonus really.
A bout of insomnia has led me to update my gig book and I’ve come to realise Tom Vek, Guillemots and The Naked & Famous this week have bought me up to 200 gigs! 76 of which were this year, a thought that leaves me exhausted. Not a bad way to spend a year!
My Dad’s record is 84 in twelve months when he went on tour with Fields of the Nephilim, a figure I reckon I could beat before the year’s out (so close!). Without checking there’s five i already have tickets for, plus a list of others i’d like to go to. Must mean i’ve spent what…a quarter of 2011 gigging?
Here is a picture of my first fifteen, from Jan to April. Seems such a low amount spread across the months considering I went to eleven alone in October! I vividly remember the first, Glasvegas in Troon as it was one huge palava getting there in time. I missed my planned flight to Glasgow meaning by the time i got on another one I had to take my case to the gig as I didn’t have time to drop it at a friend’s house beforehand! It was the first time i’d heard any of their second album and I somehow made it right to the front in the middle. Enjoyed a nice couple of days with friends in Glasgow to afterwards. Great way to get the ball rolling!
Included in that 76 are nine festivals, though I wouldn’t usually count Bushstock as it’s only one day or the Stortford Music Festival. Brilliant in it’s own right (we got Hayseed Dixie and Pulled Apart by Horses!) but as it’s in my hometown I feel it’s not QUITE the same.
The way I work it out is not to count each band at a festival as an individual gig, but to count each DAY at a festival as one. So to be picky, really i’ve kept a list of all my days spent seeing live music. “Gig book” has such a better ring to it though, don’t you think?
Here’s to the next two hundred!
Our first ever “Your album nearly killed me” incident. Awww.
The Chapman Family - Photograph @ Rough Trade East, 14th April 2011
The Chapman Family - All That’s Left to Break @ Rough Trade East, London - 14th April 2011
In a lot of ways I like to say this band are MY band. The first I heard about them was at Reading 2009. I had a gap inbetween bands that I wanted to see and on the Festival Republic was a name that sounded familiar, “The Chapman Family”. I went along to see them, was in the front row in fact!
Being bought up in a fairly well-off area, maybe I don’t understand entirely where they’re coming from or can relate to all of their lyrical content (they’re from Stockton in the North East of England, a place with high un-employment, industrial workers, not a lot of difference and variety, you know?) But boy, did their live show blow me away.
Nothing against “indie” in general, i’m quite partial to a bit of “indie”, but this band were SO much more exciting than most other bands on the bill that weekend. That gig gave you the impression it was the last day on Earth and this was their last ever performance. There are very few gigs I’ve been to where the band puts in THAT much effort. Gutsy, grungey, fast-paced, the singer screams launching himself around the stage, the bass player stares and stares and stares. In the last song of the set the singer wrapped the microphone lead around his neck - it looked like he was strangling himself. He drank red wine then spat it out and it trickled down his face. Reading this I’m sure you’re thinking how ridiculous it sounds, a stunt done only for affect, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was an extension of the music. It’s what the music made you want to do. It made you want to take action, it made you want to do SOMETHING.
And I went home telling everyone they were the best band I saw all weekend, telling everyone and anyone who would
or wouldn’t listen. I was so excited about them, excited to see them again, excited for the album. I made my Dad listen and got him into them, and we waited and waited for them to announce more gigs.
Didn’t hear much from them at all until they cropped up again in February 2010 I think, as part of the NME Awards Shows, and they played a gig at the Camden Barfly. There were two support acts but also under The Chapman Family on the listings read “very special guest”. Me and my Dad were thinking “Well who could that be? There’s not anyone big enough to be special enough to be a special guest who would play BEFORE The Chapman Family. We got there and the posters read “We Are Scientists 10-11pm”. We Are Scientists are ok but I’d seen them before and I have a lot of irks with their live performance. Basically, the band we came to see were only allowed five songs, to make way for We Are Scientists who joke their way through their live set rather than play songs.
And then literally nothing for about a year. I think it was an email I got from their mailing list saying their album was going to be released in March. Oh right, great! Still alive then.
They played a date with The Young Knives as part of HMV’s Next Big Thing at The Garage in London at the start of Feb, and then I saw them again last night at Rough Trade. They’ve never been as good live as that first time I saw them, but they’re still bloody amazing.
So if you’ve got a gap in your Festival Schedule this Summer and The Chapman Family happen to be playing on another stage, go and see them!! They are what I like to call “An Education in Live Music”, a title reserved only for the likes of A Place to Bury Strangers and Arcade Fire.
There’s something about good, old-fashioned rage that still resonates. The Chapman Family should know, if anyone does. No matter what approach they take on ‘Burn Your Town’, it is clear that they are as mad as hell and that they aren’t going to take it anymore, whatever ‘it’ is. ‘It’ has probably got something to do with politics, as that is one of the things that has informed their long-awaited debut’s lyrical content.
If the band, fronted by Kingsley Chapman, had capitalised on the buzz generated by their superb performance on the 2009 NME Radar Tour, chances are that their first album would have been an entirely different animal to what it eventually became. They waited, however, and the best thing about ‘Burn Your Town’ is not that they threw everything they could think of in there and took the album-making process to the absolute nth degree, but that they couldn’t have timed its release more perfectly if they’d tried.
There is a sense of ominous dread that runs through the album, in tune with the times. Uncertainty is clearly evident, so it perhaps appropriate that a song like ‘A Certain Degree’ opens proceedings. Its eerie atmosphere is one thing I did not expect from a band like this, I have to admit, but it does a fine job of getting things underway, before the thunderous drums and buzz-saw guitars of ‘All Fall’ take things up a notch or five. ‘So much more to know, so much more to suffer,’ Kingsley sings, already sounding defeated two songs in.
This theme, the idea of knowledge being harmful, crops up at certain other places on the record, like on ‘1000 Lies’ (fact fans: despite the similar-sounding title, this song is not a reworked ‘Lies Plus Lies’, which is a completely different song): ‘A million reasons to survive, a million failures to face’. The song also finds Kingsley putting the boot into political misrule with lines such as, ‘It takes a single lie for a million to die’.
Lyrically (as can already be noticed) there is plenty of doom and gloom on offer; musically, though, this isn’t the case. ‘Sound of the Radio’ and ‘Anxiety’ are a pair of perfect pop songs, the former unable to help itself in making the listener think of a more upbeat Editors (it’s the guitar solo), and the latter sounding unexpectedly cheerful for a song containing lines like, ‘They say your best isn’t good enough’. There are two shades evident on the album, two shades of black, one seeming infinitely darker than the other. This is a brooding, uncomfortable listen, but is made even more powerful for it.
An album like this, one that contains such levels of frustration and pent-up anger, needs some time to vent, and if it’s been building up until the declaration that ‘the kids are not alright today’ on an insanely fast re-recording of debut single ‘Kids’, then ‘Million Dollars’ is the point where it is released in an awe-inspiring burst. The seven-minute penultimate track features driving, complex rhythms and a stunning, drawn-out finale that’s the noisiest the band have ever been, and by their standards, that’s saying something. It’s their high-water mark thus far, and even if the instrument-destroying, chaotic climax of their live sets has had to be contained a little, it doesn’t diminish in intensity one bit.
‘Million Dollars’ is the sort of song that it’s very difficult to follow. I wouldn’t have blamed the band for wrapping things up there, but instead they choose to bring things full circle. Just as ‘A Certain Degree’ was a comparatively gentle introduction to the album, a reprise of ‘Virgins’ closes the album in a grand flourish. From its (almost) acapella beginning to the insistent riff that brings the curtain down on the album, it manages to be every bit as powerful, in its own way, as the rest of the record.
‘Burn Your Town’ benefited greatly from the extra time The Chapman Family spent with it. It is a complete album from start to finish, perfectly structured and boasting ten superb songs. All other British debuts due this year, this is what you have to compete with. Best of luck. You’ll need it.88%
High fidelity with a Northern accent.
Brilliant. I was looking for something to do with my Thursday evening.
The screening of a film about Record Store Day and the only shop in the UK still selling just vinyl, with a performance from a really exciting band The Chapman Family. All at Rough Trade East, excellent.
My Dad - “The Chapman Family are playing Underage Festival. Think I’ll get in?”
*chuckle chuckle chuckle
The Chapman Family, however, were SUPERB last night!!
They’re doing a co-headline tour with O Children (who are also pretty great) but they’re playing London when I’m in Amsterdam, I’m pretty gutted.
This song, Anxiety, is quite indie I guess, the most indie they go. This song isn’t the best representation of them though (but the only song I have on this computer). They have songs at the other end of the scale like All That’s Left to Break, a song not included on the album that is currently a free download on their website. It has a really long and building intro, the song they opened with last night. In the second half of the song the lyrics are literally screamed down the microphone I’ll take whatever comes my way/she says this time my heart is all that’s left to break, all that’s left, all that’s left. They are SO exciting to watch, Kingsley Chapman, the singer gets really into it, wrapping the microphone lead around his neck, strangling himself to the final song A Million More. But it’s not crass, it seems like the natural reaction for the guy performing that song.
Pretty sure everyone who was there to see them left before The Young Knives came on. There were some punks at the barrier wearing the really great “The Chapman Family is not a Cult” t-shirts who were really going for it. A few trendy hipsters, and the murmurs from the some over-35s (the kind like my Dad who still go to gigs on a regular basis, not The Young Knives kind) saying “watch out for this band, they’re incredible”.
Noisy, exciting, good guitar music. I’m so bad at describing bands but they’d fit comfortably on a bill with the likes of Gallows, and then again with a band like Arctic Monkeys.
I really think they’re meant for big things though. The album’s out pretty soon, early March. Bar the new Glasvegas one, it’s the album I’ve been most eager for in the past few years.
I’m going to stay in London for a few days with my great friend Rowena.
Seeing The Young Knives and The Chapman Family tonight, and White Lies tomorrow.
Might hit an art gallery or two on the way.
Looking forward to it :)
WHAT A DAY FOR GIGS.
Except damn you Interpol, the 23rd March already clashes with The Chapman Family/O Children AND my trip to Amsterdam. The Cambridge date will have to do.
Best Coast might be an idea.
I don’t care what you say Fran, drop everything you’re doing cos we’re going to BOTH those Arcade Fire dates.
Might well have to buy a ticket for the Editors Cancer Trust gig as well!
But not until the 25th. Literally CANNOT afford any more gig tickets before I get paid
except that Young Knives/Chapman Family gig on Wednesday
I am talking to The Chapman Family on facebook