Greetings to you all out there in cyber space land. I’ve have just returned from a very much needed rest of eleven nights on a Greek island, the time spent close to the ocean and in the warm sun was splendid.
Just before I left I was in the studio with Archive creating some new mad other worldly banging tunes. Prior to this we’d played our first festival of the summer in Germany alongside Mogwai, it’s always a strange feeling when you share a bill with other artists who have inspired you along the way. I wonder if this still happens to lots of other people in my situation? I hope so. The journey home ended up with me sweating it out and staring at a square on the inside of my bunk until my eyes slowly closed over the course of what felt like forty-five minutes.
The BirdPen latest album has been generating some good reviews and its great to see the LTD Edition versions of the gatefold White Vinyl albums available. Check it out:
Bird and myself have been back into the studio, which we set up in the surroundings of the New Forest down here in Hampshire to start writing what will be our fourth album. It’s early stages but 9 new songs have been created in the first writing/recording session. We are due back in next month for session number two. No need to speak about what the concepts of the writing are about yet as ‘In The Company Of Imaginary Friends’ is still very fresh in the mind and I’m looking forward to getting out and playing the songs live again this Autumn/Winter.
I’ve been delving back into the twisted tales of the dark sinister minister Mr Jim Jones again lately. I read Deborah Laytons book ‘Seductive Poison’, which is a brilliant haunting insight into the world’s most famous cult leader and his followers of the Peoples Temple. The faiths he was preaching about in the early days were that of a pure world with no fear or hatred and to then end up a paranoid junkie manipulative mad ranting demon bringing the deaths of over 900 men, woman and children just reeks of mad sinister evil. I found a link to the final forty-five minute recordings in Jonestown but couldn’t really bring myself to listen through it all. It all really creeped me out for a Wednesday morning so I went and mowed the lawn instead.
We’re back on the road again this week heading back to Germany for the Southside and Hurricane festivals. Always some top acts at these two festivals so will in doubt have a mooch and lend my ears to a few.
Might shove some random poems up on here at some point soon too. I’ve been jotting down rhyming ramblings a lot lately and I should get them off my Phone and up on here.
I don’t blog enough these days either.
I am Dave Pen
We are a few more shows in now after I decapitated a snowman in a car park and slept for 18 hours. It’s all going great and we are playing for almost 2 hours a night so the memory is on top form. I’m hungry and sandwiches are on their way for the after gig snack, the pizzas have disappeared, and I guess that’s a good thing, right? I do like a slice now and then though.
My tired head is awaiting the bus to collect us from the hotel in Hamburg. I need to sleep some more after bringing the rider back to the hotel last night. We avoided the darkness and flashing seedy lights of the reeperbahn and celebrated the shows successes so far and having the next day off back at our hotel. Earlier on in the day Smiley and I walked into a pub full of the walking dead, it was no safe place to watch a football match and the flesh on the people in that place was grey and crawling so we turned and left after five seconds. I wouldn’t have wished this bar on anyone, it was proper grim.
Onwards we go enjoying every show with the Germans treating us well with Frankfurt being my favourite crowd for some reason, maybe it was the free box of Maltesers that reminded me of home and the 10 mile run of discovery I did plus Motorstorm for the PS3 for ten Euros from the bargain bin from the Media Mart down the road.
Bunk time television shows have kept me company in the late hours as we’ve been hurtling down the autobahn. I’ve been trying to drown out the insane snoring from the depths of the bunk below me and Fortitude has been a cosy companion for such a freezing snowy show.
Into Slovakia and its capital Bratislava where an electronic beats festival awaited us. Our first time here and a nice plush hotel was arranged for some r&r time during the day before our 1am headline slot. The hotel was nice but I got right into it with a duff locker in the spa changing rooms and had to get the maintenance men out to wrench it open with a couple of screwdrivers only to realise it wasn’t my locker at all. My key said 62 and Locker 63 wasn’t mine, it was actually 65, I grabbed my T-shirt and bailed for a hotel room bath and a curry feeling a little bit like Kermit.
The gig was cool and full of screens so we got a butchers at what goes on out the front, it was like 2001 a space odyssey and that is a good thing right?
Leaving now at 4.09am.
I am Dave Pen
Here is the video to the song Capsize, which is the first single taken from the self titled We Are Bodies album from Robin Foster and myself.
Some of the songs were written a while ago, some were written drinking grog, some were written in an abandoned church, some were written in the car and some were written looking at bats from the top window of Robins Studio.
1-Pressure Compressor 2-We are Bodies 3-Calling Out 4-Capsize 5-Shadows 6-A Light On
7-Under The Sea 8-Guide Me Home 9-War 10-Knife 11-Fake Shelter 12-Replicants
The Album is out on March 23rd 2015. More news on this project to follow……..
I am Dave Pen
On the train heading to the studio up near Cambridge to do some writing and recording. The sun is flickering and flashing through the trees and windows on the train, that’s a certain way to trigger a migraine. I’ve had to put my sunglasses on, I look a bit like a jackal with my black hat, black puffa coat and now black sunglasses, I have no intentions of starting a fire and I’m not carrying anything illegal. I’ve been on a blog lull of late and haven’t entered anything since the big slab of photographic evidence from The Quest for Mont Blanc. That seems far away now but I know she is still there waiting and taking anybody who chooses to attempt to summit and touch the top of her head. So from the open space way up on top of western Europe’s highest point to the crammed stuffy germ filled carriages of trains zooming to the capital of England. Nobody wants to sit next to someone else, including me if I’m honest and I’ve been carrying the lurgy for a few weeks now. Starting from my nose to my head, then my limbs and now my chest, which is just where I didn’t want it to set up phloem camp. Its hit me hard enough to have to cancel my final endurance test of the year which was my first ultra marathon of forty five miles down on the Dorset coast this Saturday. I’m truly gutted, I wanted to sign the year off with a big test and now I cant and it’s made me itchy and irritable. Fuck you germy virus fucks. Get out and don’t come back no more.
I’m not sure why I’ve not blogged of late, maybe I’ve been doing too much and finding the actual time to sit and write out what’s happened seems like a memory slog . A few random past thoughts are – Touring with BirdPen across Europe was like the miles we covered, some were long and slow and some went quickly and I enjoyed most of the ride, a record new zero funds made on the merchandise in Stockholm, a blown tire on the Autobahn, shady Czech traffic cops, horrible Swiss border Nazi’s, tambourine thief’s in Berlin, chocolate cake in Bern, happy faces at the front of the crowd, serious arm crossers at the front of the crowd, nobody at the front of the crowd. Dancing till dawn, coffee and doughnuts, good luck charms, welcoming promoters, backstage invaders, going deaf and vomiting, needing sleep and needing more sleep. The birds will always find the antennas and we will continue to transmit.
I’m on route to the studio to record vocals and guitars for new Archive material, Darius and I spent a day together last week demoing some ideas which I’m exited about, we then spent six hours watching a world war two three part drama and ate lots of food. Perhaps we were fuelling up for the oncoming fuzz marathon of playing live in 2015. Next year will be full on from what I can see and the new album, which is called Restriction, is out January 2015. It will be great to get it out there on the road. So 2015 will bring a whole wedge packed whack of new sounds. I will have three albums out by the end of spring. Archive – Restrictions in January BirdPen – In The Company Of Imaginary Friends in March and We are Bodies in April of which The Kendal mad man Robin Foster and I just mastered this wonderful album in Abbey road. Always a special place to work and topped off nicely by getting to see Underworld perform live straight to Vinyl in Studio one, what a nice way to celebrate finishing the album. Sometimes my job is truly the best job in the world! I don’t know how I’m going to remember all the words I have written though.
Final words and am gonna close this one, I’m DJ’ing with the Manglebird and a bunch of dear friends this Saturday, then off Warsaw and Berlin for Restrictions playback party’s next week. I have to admit I’m gutted my legs wont hurt, guess I’ll open the sets with Road to Nowhere by Talking heads. I am Dave Pen
I’m not going to go through this blog mile by mile so to speak, that would take far too long and be too painful, plus I can’t remember every mile as most of them after mile 13 just turned into a long slow blur of pain, wind, water stations and jelly baby induced desperation.
To start with I was all over the place trying to get ready, I left it a bit late to sort my gear out, it was 8.45 and I was still munching on a bacon sandwich down in the hotel restaurant. I was leaving at 9.15 and that 30 minutes went like the wind, unlike I would. Running 26.2 miles of one of Britain’s toughest and unforgiving marathons that is the Snowdonia Marathon.
After I got dropped off at Llanberis where the start of the race was, I popped in the porta loo for a quick wee, being slightly nervous at running my first marathon my alone time of quick relief wasn’t helped by the fact that probably one of the last surviving wasps of the Snowdonia region had decided to give it one more shout of space invading annoyance by hovering around my head whilst I tried to aim straight. Not being a fan of wasps in any way shape or armoured form I quickly got out of there sting free and went out in the fresh air against a massive stone wall alongside other blokes in spandex and vests.
I hung around near the start line taking in the vibes and pre race nerves with my Dads mate Dave. My dad was supposed to run the marathon with his mate Dave but had picked up a knee injury and decided (very wisely) I might add to drop out just a few hours before the start. These two cats go way back and have run a stack of marathons between them, with my dads best time on Snowdon being a strong 3 hours 12 minutes.
I got interviewed by the local Film crew alongside Dave about why I was running the race so gave the Trekstock charity a good plug and mentioned that this marathon was part of a few endurance events in the build up for the Archive Quest for Mont Blanc taking part next summer. Not sure the plug made the final edited TV cut though. My Welsh is zero.
Now it was race time. The long 6-mile hill from the start of Llanberis was a nice challenge and I dealt with it well. From the top of Pen-y-gwryd the downhill was a joy and I cruised naively down like a young fawn bounding across the moors. At the bottom of this, the course went into an off road section which was quick with a high tempo and I was focused at watching every step along the rocky and stony path. I was having a great time at this point and continued to do so. All was going well when I saw the 12 mile marker, I thought to myself this would be a really good run if it was a half marathon, oh to dream, and thinking like that was a warning sign of what was to come. I came through the halfway point to smiles and cheers from my family, I managed to catch a glimpse of my little 5 month old daughter wrapped up with her little face looking a little like I was to feel a few miles later, a bit lost, confused and in need of some TLC.
So after the happy faces of support I started to notice things getting a lot harder, I just didn’t realise the next 10 miles would all be up hill. It just went on and on and on, every corner I could see in the distance I started to pray it would level out after that and it just didn’t, and it took no prisoners. I started to notice a runner who kept over taking me then stopping about 100 metres in front and walking until I caught up with him and over took him, for him to then run past me for another 100 metres to then stop and walk again. He did this about 5 times, which slowly just made me want to stop as well, and it finally did. I finally had to stop and walk at about 16 miles. From then on it was a test of how far I could run before I had to stop and walk for a bit. I carried on running at a slower pace after this and water stations became mental havens for me where I knew I could stop for a bit and drink what was truly the sacred water of the mountains. I have never tasted water so nice than on that Marathon, to the point of carrying a little sealed cup of the stuff with me for the rest of the race as a good luck token or something like that. I was getting a bit desperate.
I carried on upwards and upwards then came to part of the route called Walnfowr. I had been told this was a proper “Tough Bit” of the race. Everyone around me including a bloke on a bike just stopped to a walk/shuffle. I tried to walk for a minute, and then shuffle for a minute, and then walk for a minute and so on to slowly make my way up. As I was doing this I heard a chap behind me chatting about how once the race was over they would hit the local pub for a couple of jager bombs and some whiskeys, I looked behind me to see who this rock n roll speaking hard core geezer might look like and low and behold it was an old friend from my skateboarding youth days, Mr Dean Jones. I said “dean Jones” to him to which he didn’t recognise me to which I then told him it was I, Dave Penney, he laughed and said what the hell are you doing here? I said the same thing to him and we struggled on together for about a minute or so before his legs stretched just a bit further than mine and he moved slowly forward. What a random place to see an old mate huh? Brilliant.
I got to the top of Walnfowr and the wind was howling across the wide-open space of this bleak looking puddle filled summit. It was proper grim and incredibly hard to stay motivated. Even the jelly babies were quite un-inspired. I stopped for another wee and just let the wind blow me into a high grassy bank, the term “pissing in the wind” ringing like a massive siren of truth in my head, I had stopped caring by then and wanted this ridiculous challenge to end. I pushed forward and made it to the descent, which was tuff in the totally opposite way of the previous 2 miles. Not being able to quite stop yourself moving very quickly downhill after 24 or so miles is a strange, painful and testing feeling on the hips, legs, feet, and brain. Down it went across the fells, rocks and mud. I had to keep my concentration in tact so as not to slip or fall or slip which would at that point, really hurt. It was with joyous sound to then be told by a supporting stranger “come on, the end is just around the corner”. This was music to my ears so I stepped it up as much as I could and around a beautiful grey-concreted corner was the end. I gave it my all as the crowd cheered me and the other runners coming to the end with legs burning, tears in my eyes and a proper wad of snot hanging from my nose I made it across the finish line in 4hours 09 minutes and 21 seconds.
I took my medal (a piece of welsh Slate), another bottle of water and wrapped in a space blanket walked alone to a corner and had a little sob whilst scoffing more jelly babies. I was thrilled to have finished and have never truly done anything as hard as that before in my life. What a brilliant and ridiculous sport marathon running is and the support and camaraderie was superb. A proper bunch of nutters do this and I kind of felt at home with it all. My family all supported me on this, which were lovely and my Dads mate Dave finished at around 5 and a half hours which was great.
I ended the day in a nice pub drinking ale watching the SFC beat Fulham, followed by a couple of rums and a curry. I went to bed a bit tipsy thinking about the next marathon I have in December.
Why am I doing this?
I am Dave Pen
After running like a mad man up escalators with my suitcase above my head I finally made the 1.05 train. Sweating like a fully clothed Arctic explorer in a Turkish steam room and with no English money and a hunger growl in my guts I searched through my bag for a snack, I found a Cadburys crunchy, so scoffed it as quickly as possible, I also had water which was heaven sent. The party on the tour bus home had lefe me some what parched in the hydration department. The weather was pleasant for ten minutes or so then I saw streaks of water running down the train windows, bloody rain I thought, just a bit of sunshine would be nice. but I guess we need it. I made the the game walking along the sodden pavements and witnessing two guys throwing their guts up just in front of me reminded me it was football on a Saturday of course. Bad pint? Bad pie? Bad pills? Good Pills? The game against West Ham ended up a 1 – 1 draw and was rain sodden and drab. We Tried to go to the theatre but the little Hitlers ruined it as they took our food order in the restaurant then said we hadn’t pre-booked a reservation to eat even though we’d booked tickets for the show and the restaurant only had 6 people in it!! , It completely threw the night into a whirl as we were so hungry so we got a refund on principle and didn’t see the play. I was tired, I wanted sleep. I ended falling asleep in the cinema watching A Late Quartet starring Christopher Walken.
A nice few days to recover from the recent jaunts to Germany and France was almost had but could have done with a few days more and my OCD played a part in these days off. My garden was it’s victim and is now looking fresh, bright and ready for the British Spring and Summer, so more rain then. I swear that a cat is trying to destroy the grass. I celebrated another year on Planet Earth and was rewarded with some practical gifts, Some new treads and a new hoover, see below. Trendy cleaner, good rates, will perform thorough job.
After cleaning the house I left to catch an evening train up to London to leave for some shows in Great Britain and Ireland. How exiting I must say, and about time too. Glasgow was brilliantly rain drenched and the crowd were great, I couldn’t resist a few pints of Mc’ewans eighty afterwards with a good old friend.
A double espresso with hot milk and a little water is going down nicely. I’m sat on the tour bus which is parked up on Camden high street. We are playing a venue called Koko tonight. The bus is empty as most of the band have buggered of home seeing as we are in London. We played Manchester last night which was one of those sweat feast filled gigs, both the Manglebird’s and my hair flopped out like an old flock of seagulls, looked like a right couple of teds we did, ridiculous!!. The gig was great and apparently a member of the Happy Mondays was carried out of the show legless. True? I dunno maybe it’s one of those things people say so it keeps the Mecca of Manchester’s music scene filled with stories. I hope it was true though. A nice ale was supped after with the boss of good old Eve studios and chat was warm and positive. A big cheers to all who have ventured from near and far to see us on this leg of the tour so far, I’m loving playing in Great Britain, It feels like home.
London was a really great show and a real milestone for us to have played Koko to a sold out crowd. Friends and families were with us to celebrate afterwards which is always a bonus. Onto Dublin for the first time and it was brilliant, a tight stage, possibly the smallest stage we have ever played on gave the gig and extra edge and the atmosphere was great.The night was full on and after finding the tour bus in a taxi that didn’t know his way around Dublin I slipped into my bunk as the sky became light and slept all the way home.
I am Dave pen
Am on route to Turkey for two shows in Ankara and Istanbul, I had the middle seat which is never a great thing as the fear of waking up in a dreary state with gob slobber leaking out over the shoulder of the person to either your right or your left, plus you head tilts back and your mouth opens and you just never know what fall into the cavern of an unconscious open mouth man.The in-flight movie was rubbish, it lasted the whole flight and was a poor silent movie of an animated plane flying across a huge map. I snoozed ate a ready meal and read my book.
We arrived to a chaotic airport , paid a tenner to get into Turkey and then joined a huge line to get a stern stamp of the passport. For the first time we have a sleeper tour bus for the long drive to Ankara and then back to Istanbul. Te bus was a bit like a massive Chalet on wheels with bunks straight out of a Nineteen Seventies looking Ikea, which probably makes them “modern”. No quilts just blankets which seemed a bit St Johns ambulance which made me feel safe but slightly Chilly and vulnerable. I managed to sleep and was awoken by the song of prayer blaring out as the sunshine shot through the window in my bunk. I realised after getting up that we were parked directly next to Ankara’s biggest mosque which was a magnificent structure. See pic below:
For some reason the ball of my right foot is hurting, A lot!! I have no idea why. This section of this blog was written in the hotel lobby and Dan is sat opposite me. Info again in a bit, Might explore a little.
I explored Ankara and managed to pick up a Turkish copy of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I am collecting this brilliant science fiction novel and am now up to 4 copies, 2 English, I english with some German annotations, and an analysis in German at the end of the book. (which i’m still waiting to be delivered) and now a Turkish copy, all have different covers of course. A Turkish Version:
The show at the Jolly Joker in Ankara was loud and on the edgy rocky side. it was good to get one under the belt before the German tour and the festival season begins and the fans there were excitable and cheerful . A few gremlins in the system here and there which is always common with first shows when getting out on the road.
I managed to get some fairly decent sleep and wrapped myself up in scarf and hoodie with the hood up for extra warmth obviously the St Johns ambulance blanket was used to full effect so I wrapped myself up like a cocoon and drifting off in a covonia induced sleep. I woke up in the morning with the sun blazing in through the window and sweat pouring from my legs and head, still wrapped in the now ultra snug slightly hotter than the sun cocoon. I got up had a coffee went to the hotel and heard that North Korea had declared war on South Korea. “goes around and around and around, but….Only the names change.” There was also an African grey parrot in the lobby whistling away and he seemed happy so I focused my attention on him instead. I’m writing this back stage whilst a game of back gammon is being played, the dice are very small and are making a quite some what irritable chinking sound every time they are rolled. Will carry this on later.
The show was great and the fans in Istanbul were excellent so a massive thank you to you all. Drinks were had after back at the hotel on the roof garden looking out over the Bosphorus. Europe one side and Asia the other, quite awesome that just a bridge divides the two.
A little bit of sleep on the smooth flight back to the UK which is still really cold so am still having to wear a scarf and winter coat, all of the time when venturing outside. Hopefully the animals that have been sleeping all winter are building a plan as to not be too freaked out when they wake up and realise that it still feels like winter out there.
Am finishing this blog off at home just before setting out the door to catch the train to London to leave for the German part of this spring tour. A few changes within the set-up are now settling in as we continue on our journey into the unknown through amplified music. See you in a bit then yeah.
I am Dave Pen