Hello! Well, it seems that my good intentions at the beginning of the year haven’t really come to fruition, and my web presence has been lacking as usual. Nevertheless, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the last year or so, starting with 2013, which proved to be a very exciting year. Here’s some highlights:
I’ve been playing quite a few gigs and TV/radio performances with Dido. It’s been fantastic and taken us on jaunts to the US and around Europe – nearly all of the performances have just been Dido on guitar and vocals, with me on cajon & percussion, and Pete Rinaldi on acoustic guitar. It’s testament to her economic style of songwriting that ensures the songs easily translate acoustically (since that’s usually how she begins writing them). It’s always a pleasure playing like this, as everything’s so exposed and you end up listening to each other really closely. Plus you don’t have to carry around a drum kit.
On one trip earlier on in the year, we went to New York to play on the Jimmy Fallon Show, which was particularly amusing as The Roots drummer, Questlove – who I’m a fan of, and who’s beautiful playing already graces some of Dido’s work – was clearly in my line of sight throughout the performance. No pressure then! Roll on a few weeks, and whilst playing Later Live With Jools Holland, rock god – overused phrase, but entirely appropriate here – John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin was clearly in view as we played. He and Seasick Steve made our night by coming up and saying hello after the show. I’m not often star-struck. I was definitely star-struck.
Here’s us playing on BBC Children In Need recently:
One Eskimo had a little outing to Venice to play our first gig for a while at the after-show party of a visual artist called Tavares, who was displaying at the Venice art festival. It was my first time there. Whilst we were perhaps naïve regarding how difficult it would be to get around Venice with a drum kit and a heavily pregnant bass player, we had a great night and took the obligatory gondola trip at midnight, which was quite surreal. It seems that everyone in the town plays hide-and-seek after 11pm. Or more likely they just went out to the bars we couldn’t even afford a tap water in, which was all of them.
I have also begun playing with elegantly dishevelled indie gents, Babyshambles. We spent a couple of weeks recording the new album, ‘Sequel To The Prequel’ in Paris, produced by the legendary Stephen Street at an amazing studio called Question Du Son. Nothing indicates that behind a non-descript door off a main street lies a fully-equipped Neve-based studio. We drove past it several times before realizing we were there, like a musical Narnia. We enjoyed a brilliant and productive couple of weeks, with nights spent sampling the very best and worst cuisine Paris had to offer.
In support of the album (or is it the other way around these days?), we recently completed an extensive UK tour and have been playing loads of dates all around Europe (and Russia). We’ve had some great shows, full of all the requisite crowd-surfing, stage-diving, white-knuckle rock’n’roll you would expect.
I also smashed my record for longest commute to one gig (previously held by my flying to Detroit for a One Eskimo gig and coming straight back). Babyshambles flew to Australia – for 48 hours! Undeterred by the scant amount of time allocated, we were keen to pack in as much of an Aussie experience as one morning would allow, which included swimming in the shark-infested ocean on the Gold Coast, cycling along the coast and seeing two wallabies and two whales, playing a game of tennis (badly), eating most of the local seafood, and playing Splendour In The Grass festival. It was as fun as it was fleeting.
As is often the way, I’ve really been thriving on playing with such disparate musicians. Keeps you on your toes!
In other news, Drum Drops – a drum sampling software project I’m involved with – has been getting great reviews in the music press:
In keeping with the recent festive spirit, I was very happy to have co-produce and recorded several instruments at my studio on this Christmas song by the Rizzle Kicks:
2014 has been great so far – after a brilliant holiday in Costa Rica where we witnessed a little monkey stealing bananas from a cafe, I’ve been roving around Europe with Babyshambles again, with various appearances throughout the summer planned. I also recorded a beautiful Joni Mitchell cover with the lovely Gabrielle Aplin, which should be out soon. As always, I have a few really exciting projects on the go that should hopefully come to fruition later this year too…
Finally, only the keenest-eyed amongst you would’ve spotted me lurking in the background last week with Hollywood legend, Kermit the Frog!
Key words for this year so far? Tolerance, compassion, hard work, moderation.
Bye for now!