Archive for the ‘HomeRec’ Tag

High Fidelity: Pete Um's "Evil" and The Beta Band.   4 comments

Here’s a classic bit of Grist, or at least it is if you’re me. So, what, two years ago or thereabouts I do that song Evil which has just a smidgen of a sample of some guitar and some claps from some Beta Band tune – I don’t even know which one to be honest. I don’t do much sampling any more (in fact I keep meaning to force myself back into it because I’m obviously not a proper musician and I could do with the assistance basically) but when I do I tend to sort of shut my eyes when I’m doing it like I won’t be blamed for nicking the cookies. I don’t fetishize samples anyway, cos it’s 2010 innit? Maybe I would if I knew how to slice a loop onto my MPC but I’m essentially a dickhead and I march to a different drum. So yeah, because I actually like the Beta Band (one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to and I don’t really know why, cos apart from the films they just stood there and played and normally I like a bit of something going on) I kind of got infected with the vibe and to my mind that tune owes more than a few strums and claps to the old BB. There’s the kind of underdog’s ontological wrestling bout feel or tale of spiritual redemption or whatever it is that sounds like such a sincere rallying cry kinda vibe coming out of Steve Mason’s mouth and has the power to uplift in some weirdly northern English soully type of way. Hmm, put like that maybe the song owes nothing to The Beta Band ha ha! Anyway as soon as my pal Pilar in Hamburg heard the tune she professed herself a fan and before long was on at me about making a 7″ on which it would feature. Given she hadn’t engaged in the joys of negotiating one’s way through the treacherous terrain that one must cross to produce a piece of vinyl I was not holding my breath, but the project has crept along over the months for something approaching a couple of years. Then, recently, I heard the Greenmind bloke Mr Baker had booked Steve Mason to play at The Haymakers in Cambridge and I asked to support, only in part because I thought it would be funny to bust out the track in front of him and see if his face did something funny. Plus, if I’m honest, I thought he might like it. For one thing of all the music he’s made over the years I am a particular fan of his Sings Nelly Foggit’s Blues in Me and the Pharaohs record as King Biscuit Time, and in particular the track Little White. In fact just doing a bit of research for this post I came across the following description of the song by an Amazon customer:

“The EP’s real gem is ‘Little White’, a short, sombre effort that really doesn’t sound like anyone else – Mason really is some sort of unfocused genius with melody, and the sheer colour of his music. “

Excellently put, I would say. I’ve tried to rip off that short sombre vibe matey refers to several times, I can assure you.

Anyway, despite the fact that I forget the power supply to my mixer and it throws me a bit the gig goes quite well. Partly this is due to the fact that Simon decides to pay me in Guinness and partly because the soundman Rob misunderstands my request for a high table and has me sort of sat at a desk, which seems to work and lends itself to a whole range of intuitive upper body performance tics. After a couple of tunes I am pleased to see obvious signs that Mr Mason is not only present but also possibly enjoying himself. Alas, however, at the very point at which Evil begins he rises from his chair and goes to exit through the back door, at which point Simon (who is hip to my little Evil plan) twigs what is going on and hurries over to him to awkwardly explain that he is about to miss something he may well not give a fuck about. Indeed this must be the case for after he cocks an ear for a few seconds in the direction of the stage he continues out the door and I am ever so mildly crushed.

Then the Steve Mason section of the evening begins and although the band have a slight air of the “what the hell are we doing at The Haymakers” about them everything sounds pretty tight and polished and Steve’s voice carries everything along in that manner which is oddly difficult to define, and by the time they do I Walk The Earth there is a sense of BRITISH SOUL UNDENIABILITY feedbacking around the North Cambridge pub. After the show Steve’s reputation for not really being a fan of bullshit leaves me unwilling to exploit any shmoozing opportunities, and besides I’m enjoying some agreeably random chats with some agreeably random punters. However, just as I’m set to leave my Guinness levels must have been sufficiently high for me to speculate that it is not entirely unreasonable for the support band to say goodbye to the main act and when I do this I am pleasantly surprised to quickly find my “old man in a pub” routine, as Steve styles it, praised for its virtues. He also speaks to me quite matter of factly about a couple of other support slots I might step into on the rest of the tour, and asks me if I have a pen to write down my number. As I don’t he darts back inside the pub and when he doesn’t reappear for a few minutes I follow him inside because I am concerned that I am the one getting the favour and he’s the one doing the legwork, and, sure enough, there’s Steve Mason from The Beta Band at the bar queuing up to get a fucking pen so he can write down Pete Um’s number. I should relish this funny little moment of course, but instead I just feel massively Englishly awkward as usual.

Anyway, blah blah blah, eventually I get asked to play London and Brighton but unfortunately I can’t do Brighton because I have to go to Huntingdon to learn about mentees the following day but I do get to play Cargo last week. My set isn’t that great, partly because the whole Neil thing makes standing up on-stage and asking for attention a bit pointless but also because it is a bit pointless when the sell-out crowd are watching the World Cup in the adjacent bar, or all of them apart from about 15 people anyway. Luckily for me however, one of those people is Steve Duffield, formerly of The Beta Band. Thus it is that when I wake up the next day and switch on my computer I have a Facebook friend request from Mr Duffield, who is gratifyingly keen to find out where one can buy Pete Um vinyl online. As usual when anyone asks me this question, and in marked contrast to the amount of effort I generally put into making sure this information is anywhere near under anyone’s nose, I send Steve an exhaustive list of where you can get your hands on that sweet Um shit. As an afterthought, and because I’m half thinking about Evil and The Beta Band connection, I mention that there’s meant to be a single coming out of Germany but I don’t know where you can buy it. About a month previously Pilar had told me I should be receiving my personal copies of the record in the post within 7 working days but since I’d seen neither hide nor hair of them I’d come to believe they were missing for good. So, with a degree of spooky inevitability, as soon as I’ve sent the Facebook message and go in search of cups of tea and whatnot, I discover the bloody things are on our downstairs table. And this, dear reader, is how the first person to buy Pete Um’s Evil is a member of the group that sorta inspired the song. Pretty cool huh?

So, if anyone wants to buy into the conceptual wormhole that has Steve Duffield doing for the Um brand what John Cusack did for his old outfit, or even just buy a copy of the 7″, I have a few available at, say… £3.99?

I wish I had a link to direct people to a place where you can buy it online, as you can somewhere, but I am waiting on that. Suffice to say that the single is a split between me and Miss Hawaii, is the first release on HomeRec and has no catalogue number as far as I can tell. My tracks are of course Evil, as well as That’s Too Close. Miss Hawaii brings us Oyasumi. 300 for the world on randomly-coloured vinyl, i.e. they are all different!

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Pete Um/Miss Hawaii 7"s arrive from Germany.