Evening has fallen on a beautiful week spent in Skipton, and as my train rolls down the hill towards London, I reflect on my experiences in the Dales, and concoct a list of incentives to visit this beautiful place:
1) Leeds is home to one of the coolest record shops I've been to for a while; Jumbo Records... the guys are just really too cool, and recommended Matthew Bourne (interesting jazz pianist) as a gift for someone
2) the accent is a delight, and the blatant disregard for direct and indirect articles makes every conversation a charming experience
3) They have this thing called Fat Rascals, basically giant scones, really quite delicious
4) Apparently playing with plasticine is socially acceptable - this, I do like 5) The rural isolation of where I stayed made it easier to avoid following football for a few days
So, if you haven't already, visit Yorkshire - it's awesome!
PS, Vedantha is absolved from responsibility for this blog post
Outside, the rain poured. We were sheltered inside a remarkable tent, bedecked with all sorts of things from the Indian sub-continent – rugs, lamps, cushions and other exotic goodies. Sitting in a circle were a group of people apparently in a trance - we were entranced just watching them. They had been chanting for about 20 minutes, each with an accompanying instrument including everything from a guitar to tabla to a harmonium. Occasionally a few would drop out, occasionally one would let out a yelp or a wail as though possessed by a sudden burst of energy. After the chant had died down one of them said that the chant encourages the gods to bring rain. Why you would want to bring rain in this sun-starved country is anyone's guess, but a statement like that certainly fitted the atmosphere.
The scene painted above is typical of Wild Heart, a festival that we performed at last night. Located in a small valley in the heart of the Sussex countryside, it had a very New-Age feel to it. Incense filled the air. The tattered Argos tents you find at normally find at festivals were replaced with beautiful yurts and other impressive alternatives (in fact one true 'wild heart' camped out in a hammock). All food was organic, litter was non-existent, and recycling was the order of the day. The shops were more likely to stock trinkets from a remote village in Asia or Africa than anything from the UK. The people, without exception, were incredibly friendly and almost all of them knew the Sanskrit origins of my name. And true to the festival's name they were all 'Wild Hearts' – people with a yearning to reduce the gap between humans and nature, people who see something of themselves in Chris McCandles (the young wanderer made famous in Jon Krakauer's 'Into the Wild' – READ THAT BOOK!)
We played at about 8pm in a cosy tent filled with Moroccan bean-bags, Persian rugs and the sweet smell of well-made chai. The set was just so, so much fun. The crowd were really attentive and warm (apart from a bunch of little kids who ran around in a circle in the room and wrestled with each other, it was pretty amusing to watch!) As well as our originals we played an improvised rendition of 'Round Here' by Counting Crows at the request of Matilda, an awesome blogger, musician and film-maker that we met (and whose jumper I wore throughout the set!), and 'One Day Like This' by Elbow, dedicated to a lovely woman who offered to drop us at the train station. They all made us feel so welcome, and requested us to keep playing, which we did with pleasure :) The evening was nicely topped off when the festival organiser, Huw, greeted us as we were packing away and asked us to play at a larger festival, 'Into the Wild', being organised for August 2013. It was a truly beautiful day, and made me realise how much I miss the countryside!
For those starting term at university, have and amazing first week back,
Several people have recently asked us how we write our songs, and who writes what etc, so I (Ned) thought I’d write a short (bread) blog post about it.
We always write our songs separately, although sometimes we’ll jam a riff out a bit first before one of us goes off with it. Then, when the song has its lyrics, melodies and main guitar part, we jam (usually apricot) it out with the other party and come up with vocal harmonies, other guitar parts, and any changes to structure. Vedantha’s structures usually stay the same, whereas mine change a lot, basically because Vedantha is really picky…
I can’t speak for how Vedantha comes up with his lyrics, although they’re often about really niche feelings he has (like about camomile tea), things I cannot even dream of. Personally, I usually write a song after being in a place or setting I find really cool and trying to paint a picture of it. For example, Jazz and Candlelight was inspired by Marqueyssac, a castle in the Dordogne where they have a maze (maize) and candlelit jazz evenings in the summer. I then try to combine the feeling I had when in the place in question with the images I’m describing – so J & C is kind of about wanting to hide away from real life in the jazz and gorgeous grounds of the castle.
However, I throw too many space-related metaphors into the lyrics at the moment, and sometimes there are lyrics which don’t really fit into the song – I’m now trying to draw my metaphors from a wider variety of bases (like pizza bases), and generally think more about what I want each song to mean or convey.
Once we’ve finished a song, we keep jamming it out until we’re completely happy with it, and sometimes we leave songs for a while and come back to them months later (like home-brewed beer) with fresh minds, if we’re not totally happy.
Also, I have a cool falafel recipe if anyone wants it… even my dad liked it and he’s a tough cookie (chocolate chip).
One of the oldest pubs in London, The Old Queen's Head in Angel is also one of the coolest looking. The current building was erected in 1829, with wooden carvings of Diana and Actaeon above the fireplace, and awesome stuff EVERYWHERE. Upstairs, where the music happens, a combination of old French posters inlaid into the walls and a stage bedecked with a mirror and mantelpiece and lights made out of gramaphone speakers gave it a feel of Louis XIV's living room with a twist. The stage was beautifully placed, and nice and spacious, and we were blessed by the presence of a sizeable crowd, making it one of more memorable concerts.
During the set we 'sailed' round a small model boat, HMS August and After, constructed from a pizza box, some string, a twig, and several types of adhesive, and the crowd filled it with song suggestions for a playlist, as well as some imaginative drawings (you'll never guess of what). Several fans had made a sign saying 'Vedantha's Groupies' (it was very cool), and the crowd were both receptive and respectful, which made us happy.
Thanks also to Jack Nunn who played cello with us, here is the set list we played in case anyone is curious,
1) Elegy 2) [untitled Vedantha song] 3) Sailing Round the Rings of Saturn 4) Chop Suey (System of a Down) 5) Gleam Behind the Ghosts 6) The Prince and the Whisper 7) Getaway 8) Set Sail 9) Tamacun/Plug-in Baby (Rodrigo y Gabriela/Muse)
Vedantha and I, what with our surprisingly non-overlapping music tastes (in terms of bands – there’s a big genre overlap), finally decided to do an album swap, recommending five albums each.
Vedantha’s choices were:
This Desert Life – Counting Crows Back to the Top – Van Morrison Away We Go (Soundtrack) – Alexi Murdoch Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind I Am a Bird Now – Anthony and the Johnsons
Ned’s choices were:
Becoming a Jackal – Villagers Without You I’m Nothing – Placebo Isla – Portico Quartet Lateralus – Tool Asleep at the Back – Elbow
I’ve already really enjoyed the Anthony and the Johnsons, and am now listening to the Alexi Murdoch, which is nice. If you think our choices are stupid, or you like them, or wonder why we do, OR you would to suggest albums for us BOTH to listen to, PLEASE DO SO, on our FACEBOOK WALL or otherwise. We’re trying to broaden our musical horizons, but wanted to start with some of each other’s favourite music, so that we can try to understand each other’s style of song-writing. NEXT time, Vedantha can expect some industrial garage renaissance folk… and acid jazz even.
(Incidentally, the Villagers album is brilliant… just saying…)
It’s been a busy few days, but at last we are proud to announce that we have changed our name to (massive drum roll):
AUGUST AND AFTER
We have chosen the name as a homage to the Counting Crows album ‘August and Everything After’ and because, as everyone knows, August is officially the best month of the year (in case you’re wondering, Ned was born in January and Vedantha in April).
Thank you to our large team of advisors (i.e. YOU guys) and thank you all for liking our new pages (particularly the Facebook page, where you’ll find details of the massively over-hyped picture competition). PLEASE show/tell your friends, and get them to like it and listen/post/suggest ideas.
Finally, we have a NEW RECORDING as a gift to you lovely people for standing by us patiently whilst we changed name. It can be found on our REVERBNATION page, and the music player on our facebook – we hope you like :)
Way back when, before blogging became a 'thing' but after the Dinosaurs had become extinct, Radiohead didn't exist. The same guys, with similar haircuts, and a similar style of music were instead called 'On a Friday' - they rehearsed every Friday. Then they got signed, changed their name and released some of the greatest albums ever INHO (In Ned's Honest Opinion)
Ned had an ingenious idea. If we continued playing a similar style of music, maintained similar haircuts, and changed our name, we too would release some of the greatest albums ever (INHO). So that is what we're about to do. Over the next week we'll be announcing our new band name, and setting up a new page for you all to 'Like'. We'll also be giving everyone who does so a free download of a new recording (of a cover).
Truth be told, the reason for the switchover isn't quite as I've stated....Part of why we want to change is that the name 'Esperada' has proven hard to remember. When event organisers who have booked you 5 or 10 times refer to you as 'Esperando' or 'Desperados' (my personal favourite...) you know there is a problem! More important perhaps is that 'Esperada' doesn't sit as well with the direction that we want to go in. We came up with the name when we were keen on infusing spanish guitar into lots of our music. Just like 'Metallica' suggests a metal band, and 'Sex Pistols' suggests a band that copulates using firearms, 'Esperada' suggests a band that consistently plays spanish or latin-based music. As time has progressed, however, we have realised that the music we write only counts spanish-guitar music as one influence among many. Sometimes the spanish-guitar element is completely absent from our songs. With a new name we won't feel pressure to force spanish-guitar rhythms into our songs and honour the name. Instead a new name will give us a bit more freedom,
"Surviving..." There is someone we both know who always gives that response to the question "Hows it going?" But its always seemed like a pretty depressing answer - is that all there is to be said?!
After a really great first week or so after having graduated, the weekend saw Ned and I feeling a little overwhelmed by it all - the inevitable highs and lows of trying it alone. Over the last couple weeks we'd received praise by a representative from a REALLY great label, had bumped into First Aid Kit, had a lot of people ask for CD's...Suddenly our expectations for things happening shot up. Rather than mere 'surviving' being a threshold for satisfaction, we expected more and were disappointed when nothing utterly spectacular happened.
But looking back, there have been 'bare' (street for 'lots', for those of you not down with the kIdZ...) positives. The main one being the amount of people that appeared unexpectedly at our gig on Saturday! It was amazing to see so many people come, especially given that it is was in a pretty non-central location. In addition to that we've got some new material in the pipeline that we're excited about, and our 'band manager' Emily has helped out lots on the video-front. We also got to see our friend Sophie Jamieson perform, always a treat :)
Jack Black says in School of Rock, "Today's assignment...kick some ass!" Instead, your assignment, dear reader, is to listen to 'Souls to the Coast' by Joyshop...and then thank me :)
Having just finished University, we're now focussing on our music for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, Vedantha and I took a trip last weekend to Suffolk to the lovely Latitude festival for an injection of artistic inspiration.
We were treated to a diverse range of music, comedy and theatre, including the heartfelt Bon Iver, the magnanimous Elbow, the world-class Lang Lang, the unbelievably talented Zun Zun Egui, and the sweetness of First Aid Kit (who we later met in the arena on their way to the kids’ dance area, wearing their beautiful long dresses), as well as a charming performance of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Les Enfants Terribles. Particular highlights included a shimmering set in the woods by The Staves, and the honour of seeing Buena Vista Social Club in the flesh – as a band that have actually shaped the history of a country, to actually experience the passion and joy that they pour into their music was intensely poignant. Also, I cried in Scattered Black and Whites by Elbow, I’ll happily admit it.
Last night saw a thrilling encounter between the recently graduated Ned and Vedantha of August and After, and the London Music Scene. The battleground was The Abbey, Kentish Town, a delightful place to have a drink, and indeed to play. The presence of huge, almost wall-to-wall, windows made the existence of the outside world glaringly clear, and the wall above the bar was bedecked with We Art Cam artwork up for auction, including a particularly cool skull/rainbow combo picture.
Couched within a series of awesome musicians, we were touched by the respect and kindness of the audience, and relished the big stage on which they played. They opened with a Spanish guitar showcase, their cover of Rodrigo y Gabriela segwaying into Plug-in Baby with gratuitous solos and vocal harmonies.
They then played Set Sail, a fan-favourite and the first track on their EP, and Getaway, Ned's tale of his broken heart and subsequent resolve not to be hurt again in the same way (he was actually fine about the whole break-up).
Thanks to everyone who watched - you were lovely - and it was great to meet all of you afterwards; hope to see you all again! And special thanks to Joel for running such a beautiful night...