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Stompin' on Spiders / Blog

Review of 2015 - Noor Ali

Just looking at the website, it’s been February since any news has been posted! There’s not been any deliberate effort to avoid you at all; it’s just been one of those years…. Actually, 2015 started off really well with the gigging groove and momentum that we found following the Blacklisted launch gigs very evident at all of our gigs in the first part of this year. I would go as far as saying that the set at The Cellar Bar on the 21st April is in my top 10 gigs that I’ve performed at in any band – it was just the right blend of aggressive firepower, restrained subtlety, appreciated crowd, great FoH and excellent monitoring. A Top Trumps gig! Around this time we had the wonderful news that our intrepid percussionist, Becky Davis, was pregnant with her second child. Being the true trooper that she is, Becky continued to gig with us through the summer, despite increasing levels of discomfort, and was instrumental (no pun intended) in securing the services of the wonderful James Elliot-Williams as a deputy until she returns in 2016. James has a remarkable pedigree, currently playing professionally in ABBA and Elvis tribute bands, being involved in the Johnny Cash Roadshow at its inception and also a host of other original and cover bands. Bizarrely, he was also Gary’s neighbour when he was young, so Gary had the pleasure of hearing a young Elliot-Williams learning his craft! James did his first gig with us on the 25th September at the excellent Old Nags Head in Monmouth. I had not even met him at this point so that gig was an exercise in working closely together and the gig was an unqualified success. We’ve continued gigging with James in the latter part of the year and I’m pleased to say that he’s doing a fine job of depping for Becky and his attitude and approach fit the band very nice thank you. Becky did give birth to her daughter, Ada Louise, on the 29th November. Becky, her geetar-totin’ hubby Nick (Johnny Cash Roadshow) and son James are all enjoying life as a new extended family and we wish them a Happy Christmas and New Year period. We also started the Band of Rogues triumvirate that was vaunted in last December’s news. The goal here was to bring together three complimentary, but very different bands in a touring roadshow with the aim of hitting larger venues. Gary put a huge amount of work into this project, first getting The Players and The Grimaldi Band on board with the concept and then organising the premiere gig at the Marrs Bar on the 1st November. This was a resounding success, and you should expect to see more Band of Rogues sessions in 2016 – exceptional value for money considering the breadth and quality of music presented. Probably the weakest area of 2015 has been in the creative area of writing new material. Gary has some good “classic Gary” material up his sleeve but I have been surprisingly barren, probably due to the lack of permanence in the band at the moment. In the past I have gone years without writing anything if I’ve been out of a band or in a band that is not fully functioning, and yet I’ve virtually written a full album in a matter of a few weeks when a band has been cooking. I’m not overly concerned as I know we’ll hit the writing trail once Becky is back on board but one of the key elements of SoS for me is the counterpoint between Gary and my material, so I do need to pull my finger out if we’re going to get something new to the market in early 2017.

Personally, I’d class 2015 as a win for SoS. I’ve been very pleased with our live performances, whether with Becky, James or even the few that we’ve done as a duo, re-capturing the essence of the early SoS line up. I’m looking forward to producing some new material as this is what drives the band forward, so there is a lot to be optimistic about for 2016. Thank you all for listening to our music and attending our gigs, it’s been a pleasure as always. Have a safe and happy festive season and we look forward to seeing you all in 2016.

Noor

"In Paradise" - Video Release

An e-mail enquiry that arrived "out of the blue" has resulted in a unique collaborative venture between the professional artists of Port Douglas and Stompin' on Spiders, a blues/acoustic rock trio from Malvern, England.

Port Douglas Artists is a group of professional artists from Port Douglas, formed in 2011. The group had working studios and galleries in the Reef Marina, Port Douglas and each year they involve themselves in a community art related activity.

With the 21st Port Douglas Carnivale starting in mid-May, the e-mail enquiry from Stompin' on Spiders was timely. The UK based outfit were looking for a source of artwork for a video release of their newly recorded song, called "In Paradise", and the Port Douglas Artists collective, seemed to be a good place to start.

"In Paradise" recalls the experiences of a visitor to Port Douglas who becomes immersed in delights of tropical living. The song tells of an early morning walk on Four Mile Beach followed by window shopping in the morning sunshine; a lazy lunch on the beach and an afternoon at the marina with the day climaxing with a tropical sunset and meeting-up with friends for dinner at a local fish restaurant.

Jill Booth, who is the co-ordinator of the Port Douglas artists collective, rallied her colleagues to find images that would fit the vivid lyrics of 'In Paradise' in a meaningful way. Oil and water-colour paintings, complemented by a selection of photographs were collated together and then integrated with the Stompin' on Spiders music track using the technical wizardry of Dale Priem from Radio Port Douglas.

The five minute video includes paintings of fish, flowers and beach by Terry Johnson, local landscape oil paintings by Tania Heben, boat paintings by Mary Ann Runciman and autobiographical acrylic paintings by Yoshiko Kirby. Printmaker Anna Curtis, provided delightful images of food and flowers of the tropics, Linda Jackson and Jill Booth provided insights into aspects of the rainforest and reef, and Louise Collier's underwater view of the reef with Low Isles in the distance speaks volumes about living and working on Low Isles, just an hour's sail from Port Douglas.

The 'In Paradise' video has been timed to coincide with and enhance Port Douglas Village Carnivale 2015. Gazza Tee, who, with Noor Ali and Becky Davis, wrote the song, will be visiting Port Douglas for Carnivale 2015 and will be performing the song at a Thursday Musos Night at The Central Hotel.

To view the video of "In Paradise" follow this link:

http://youtu.be/nhMbPO0wFvo

More information about professional artists in Port Douglas and the Cairns region can be found here:

http://www.art-in-tropical-australia.com/

Reflections on "Nothing To Declare".

Hi everyone, It's Noor here again. At the end of 2013 I decided to share my thoughts on our first album, Follow My Thread, which was a bit odd as our second album Nothing To Declare had been heavily promoted and our third was in gestation! However, that’s one of my oddities – I often don’t listen to the material I have recorded until it has been surpassed by something newer. Now the third album (Blacklisted) has been well and truly completed and launched I have taken to listening to Nothing To Declare with fresh ears and it’s been an interesting experience. On the “To be improved side”, sonically a home recording like NTD cannot compare to a studio recording like Blacklisted, although it’s not too shabby overall, especially if you routinely listen to MP3’s (don’t start me on that!). The recording method was unusual – I had extrapolated a layering technique I developed when recording hard-rockers Absolute Ataxia and this resulted in quite a complex series of sub-tracks with very wide stereo placement. A side effect of this was that it meant a lot of overdubbing and studio time was used. In some places this technique worked very well, giving a wide soundscape with lots of sonic interest, but in others I felt it left the tracks feeling a bit loose due to the amount of overdubbing. Also, overdubbing the percussion last (Becky wasn’t in the band at the time so I did most of it) is not a best practice way of working! On the “Hey, we did something decent here” the canon of songs were very strong and many remain firm live favourites. Night On The Tiles, Brasshouse Lane, Kuranda Break, Hellbound Train, For The Little One and Long Bomb City Blues – these are all from NTD. And whilst the live performances of these tracks has developed a lot, especially with Becky now adding real professionalism on percussion, I still find the recorded versions really appealing, with well considered arrangements and good performances. My greatest regret with NTD is that for some reason a number of songs don’t get aired live much, if at all. Sawmill Blues, LHR Blues and Faith rarely appeared in the sets after the album launch and don’t tend to appear now, although in my opinion they are worthy tracks. That will have to be something we revisit in 2015. Overall, I think Nothing To Declare is probably the zenith of the SoS duo set up. At the end of the recording we both knew that to move things on we’d need to augment the band and develop in new directions and listening now to the album I can understand where that feeling came from. NTD is not a flawless album, but it’s the ultimate expression of that generation of SoS. I’m proud of it and can actually enjoy listening to it now. Noor

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Spider Stompers! It’s Noor here. My apologies for not writing much in the Blog of late, but life in general has been rather busy and hasn’t really allowed time for me to collect my rambling thoughts. It’s appropriate for me to write a News/Blog section as we begin the first full working week of 2015 and I can reflect on what happened for Stompin’ on Spiders in 2014. It certainly has been an unusual year and one that may be seen as quite pivotal in the development of SoS from a happy-go-lucky duo formed under unusual circumstances to the current trio with quite diligent “New Tradition Roots and Blues” intent. The start of 2014 was dominated by the preparation for our third studio album, “Blacklisted”, which was our first with percussionist and all-round good egg Becky Davis on board. I mentioned the term diligent before and we certainly took a diligent approach to the pre-recording preparation for the main tracking sessions which started in February 2014. As you may tell from previous blogs, I personally struggle to critically assess my current work but I think Blacklisted is a fair representation of SoS at that point. Do I think we could improve on it? Yes of course, especially as the remainder of 2014 saw us develop a lot as a band. Do I think it’s a valid piece of work worthy of your attention? Yes I do, but I’m my harshest critic, so I have made my personal observations on the recording and will aim to improve for the next one. All of this meant that we didn’t start gigging again until mid-April 2014 and frankly we were a bit off match fitness. So much so that I wondered what had happened to us since we came off the gig trail in October 2013. However, things really ignited for us during the summer, firstly as we got in the festival groove but secondly as we started the launch gigs for Blacklisted. These performances really showed that we’d got the telepathic band interaction nailed down and the Blacklisted songs – most of which were not played live prior to the recording – showed their innate quality via the positive audience reception. It was a good feeling, finding out that the songs you’d written were intrinsically good and also seeing them develop beyond the recorded versions though considerable live performance. It’s wasn’t all plain sailing of course, the live sound issues of 2013 came back again, showing that SoS are not an easy band for a sound engineer to deal with in the heat of a rapid-fire festival line up, but this was balanced by the outstanding performances given in the Blacklisted showcase gigs. Based on the above, we’re going to play things a little different in 2015 and only play selected festivals but work more on developing theatre gigs where we can stretch ourselves musically. We have a concept called “The Band of Rogues” which we’ll talk about more once we’ve fleshed out the detail, but it will be an interesting progression for SoS and the other partners in crime. As 2015 begins to kick-in and the parties, get-togethers, over-eating and hang-overs become a distant memory, I’d like to thank all of you who buy our music, attend our gigs and read these ramblings. At the end of it all our goal is to give you something memorable, whether in the recorded or live format, and I hope that we did that in 2014 and we’ll aim to achieve even more in 2015. Happy New Year to you all. Noor

"BLACKLISTED" - Release Dates Confirmed.

Hi Spider Stompers,

The second set of mixes for "BLACKLISTED" have been listened to and a visit to FFG Studios is scheduled in a few weeks time to complete the final mix ahead of mastering and coding. Much of the back-room work has been completed and we are all pretty confident that the first pre-release copies of "BLACKLISTED" will be on the way to radio and media outlets towards the end of July 2014. We have decided to relax the date of the general release of "BLACKLISTED" until early September 2014. The reason for this is two-fold:

Firstly, releasing "BLACKLISTED" in late July and August will clash with the UK and European peak holiday season. Whereas radio and other media outlets have no concern when a music album or video is released, rushing to get "BLACKLISTED" out right on top of the peak holiday season would be pointless, as most folk will be otherwise focussed on the family jaunt to the seaside in the UK or overseas.

Secondly, the main festival season peaks in late July and August in the UK and it is very unlikely that there will be a big uptake of any "BLACKLISTED" launch gigs when there are festivals only days away. In our home counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, major festivals such as the Upton Blues Festival, Blues At The Fold, the Malvern Rocks Festival and Down On The Farm Festival are scheduled for the end of July and in August, Nozstock, the Pershore Festival and The Worcester Music Festival will be very big draws for local music lovers.

So with that in mind, we have decided to earmark two dates for the release of "BLACKLISTED". These will be:

Friday 25th July 2014 - Media & Press Release.

Friday 5th September 2014 - General release to the public.

We will keep you posted of any changes in the schedule, although these two release dates seem pretty much set in stone at the time of writing.

Stompin' on Spiders will be performing many of the new songs from "BLACKLISTED" throughout at the summer gigs and festivals that we have booked to appear (follow this link for gigs), to whet your appetite for your own personal copy of the "BLACKLISTED" album in early September 2014.

World Record Store Day - 2014

After sixteen weeks hiding away from the public eye in rehearsal rooms and the recording studio at FFG, busy prepping-up our third studio album, an invitation from Chris and Rachel Heard of Carnival Records for SoS to appear at an “in-store” gig for World Record Store Day on Saturday 19th April, was just too good to miss….. Even if it was a 10:00 a.m. start; yep, you got it, a 10 o’clock start!

Now as most of you will probably be aware, Gazza’s voice is decidedly lazy and rarely awakes until Midday and then only after several cups of black tea have been downed. Nevertheless, Gazza’s languid vocal chords were tricked into action on this occasion and despite the unseasonable coolness in the air playing havoc with the guitar tunings and Noor’s left-hand index finger leaking blood over his Martin GT70 fret-board (and injury that Noor sustained only minutes before the start of the first number), we gave the assembled throng inside and outside Carnival Records and Malvern town in general, a bit of a rude Saturday morning awakening.

The set was selected by Becky on this occasion and appropriately contained a mix of old and new material from the SoS song catalogue – no covers – all originals of course! Time prevented us from covering the full-set, but we gave a good account of ourselves, with no howling errors or train-crashes. In fact, it was a trouble-free performance; probably a little hurried may be, but well received. The set included: My Time, Night On The Tiles, Twenty-First Century Depression Blues, Schizophrenic City, Cloud Seeding, Brasshouse Lane and Ten Thousand Miles. Sadly, Kuranda Brake and Restless Man were missed out because of the time constraints but it was great to hear the newbies, Schizophrenic City, Cloud Seeding and Ten Thousand Miles getting as much recognition and applause as the “old” standards.

The next Stompin’ on Spiders public outing will be in about six weeks time, when we will be starting a busy summer and autumn weekend gig programme. Before then, we have some more work in the offing at FFG Studios. More news on that as it happens.

Update on stuff.

Hi Spider Stompers, Just a quick update on things. Work is now under-way for the third Stompin' on Spiders album. The ten new self-penned songs have been chosen and over the next few months, we'll be working hard to knock these into shape to be ready for studio sessions that have been booked for late February 2014. We don't want to give too much away at this stage, but we think you will be quite liking the results. The concept for the CD sleeve has been drafted and will be passed on to the illustrator to do his magic over the UK winter period. As with "Nothing To Declare" the concept for the CD sleeve design is heavily theme based, with a few hidden puzzles cast here and there. Plans are also under way for a series of live performances to help launch the album to a wider audience than the previous works, including internet radio outlets that scopes a much wider audience across the planet these days. We're not ruling out sourcing YouTube and other audio/visual outlets either to promote the album to the masses. You see these days, if you want to make an impression, then you have got to use all of the media tools that are readily at your disposal. As for gigs, well there are only two formally booked for the last few weeks of 2013; those being The Nags Head in Monmouth and Choice Radio, in Worcester. This may be the last chance that you be able to hear some of the songs we have performed throughout 2013, as they will be taking a well-earned "holiday" for the foreseeable future. But fear not, there are still a few CD copies of "Nothing To Declare" and "Follow My Thread" available and these albums will still be available from our merchandise table at all future gigs in 2014 and from Carnival Records (in Malvern) and Rise Records (in Worcester). For you folks "down-under", there are a few copies currently available in Port Douglas, Queensland. Please contact Jason at 2Fish in Port Douglas for details. Well that's all for now, but please don't forget to visit our official website http://www.stompinonspiders.co.uk/ for more interesting stuff about Stompin' on Spiders.

Becky Davis Joins Stompin' On Spiders

Stompin’ on Spiders is very proud to announce that Becky Davis, the renowned percussionist and drummer from Ledbury, Herefordshire has joined Stompin’ on Spiders and will be gigging with Noor and Gazza from early June 2013.

Becky is recognised by many musicians across the Shires as one of the best at her craft. And she has joined SoS as a full time member after some clandestine jamming sessions at The Pleck, Noor’s hide-away home on the western slopes of the Malvern Hills

It is no secret that Stompin’ on Spiders have been searching for a percussionist for quite some time but finding the right person has been difficult. Those who are "drummers first" have tended to dominate the beat and inhibit the “weaving” of melodies and guitar work that have become the trademark of Stompin’ on Spiders. However, Becky has been able to fit in straight away and as a self-confessed "percussionist first" she has shown immediately that she can add her own weaving magic without taking away the interaction between Noor and Gazza. In fact the “weaving” is now magnified by a factor of 3/2....

Rehearsals of the material from the two studio albums “Nothing To Declare” and “Follow My Thread” material is well underway and it is planned that Becky will make her live debut with SoS at The Lazy Sunday on June 9th.

The inclusion of Becky Davis in Stompin’ on Spiders is the culmination of a lot of searching and a deep-rooted feeling that SoS will bloom to new levels with the inclusion of an accomplished percussionist and certainly the recent rehearsals have been very exciting indeed.

Latest News From The Spiders Web!

Since February we seem to really be hitting our stride, with some storming recent gigs including a great appearance at Tori Rushton's Folk Club sessions in lovely Stratford-on-Avon (it was blues special that night, hence our requested presence!) and our first outdoor gig of 2013 at Carnival Records (Malvern) to mark Record Store Day.

Outdoor gigs are the theme of this update; when I was in my first real band I always fancied breaking out of the clubs and pubs into oudoor festivals. Once I got the management on side (they were awkward and ineffective...until I fired them) we started doing festivals and I fell in love with the whole "wind in the hair, sun on the face, seeing beyond the first row" feeling and even got to enjoy the "cold wet hands on strings, dodgy monitoring due to no soundcheck, springy stage making the mic stand hit you in the face when you jump up and down" side effects of outdoor gigging.

Stompin' On Spiders have inadvertantly become festival specialists; perhaps it was written in the stars as we started off by doing festivals and we always have a much busier summer season than winter. Thinking back, some of our very best gigs have been al fresco - the Droitwich Water Festival and their Salt Day have always been personal faves (it helps that the wonderful Dale and Sam are on PA duties) but I also have fond memories of the last outdoor Pyramid Party in 2011, of the Lazy Sunday sessions at Worcester Arts Workshop and our final outdoor event of 2012 at The Fold in Bransford, where the sun shone brightly but the October ambient temperatures told you that autumn was really here at it's time to back indoors to the clubs and pubs for the next six months.

Looking at the gig list we've got a few more indoors and then we should break out again in May and June for Pershore Carnival, a Lazy Sunday session and Droitwich Water Festival. Plus I'm sure some more will pop up pretty soon; festivals are generally over-subscribed for performers so you tend to know pretty close to the date if you're appearing or not.

Catch up with you soon,

Noor

New NEWS!

Seems likes there's been no news since June last year? Well, 2012 was a challenging year for the Spiders, whilst a great 2nd album was recorded, personal and work circumstances meant that we didn't really hit our gigging groove until the summer festival season. Nevertheless, despite the worst weather in many a year, SoS had a vintage summer, with great appearances at Droitwich Festival, Slamfest, Mappfest, The Fold Blues Festival, Saltfest, Worcester Music Festival and The End, amongst others. And 2013 has kicked off in great style, with some good gigs in Jan and Feb allowing us to sharpen up the Nothing to Declare set for more promotion throughout the year and showcase some new songs too. Gary's written another travel odyssey with the very CSN-ish "In Paradise" and I've contributed a gritty hard-blues number called "Katie Shoots the Gun". In addition, there's a good few numbers in the pipeline as well, I'm very much looking forward to rolling a new one of mine called Schizophrenic City, about my regular trips to Amsterdam and my love of this wonderful, if schizophrenic, city. Gazza's got a couple of great rootsy numbers brewing and I've got something that's well off the wall, like Led Zep crossed with Moloko! Our plan is to work these up at live performances throughout the year before working on the "difficult" third album....See you soon folks, Noor