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Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Hey peeps! Here is our cover of Cyndi Lauper’s classic tune “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

It’s been great fun making it, and we’ll be back in touch soon with more info about Some Things Run Wild.

Until then, enjoy!

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Girls, Fun & A Real Job

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Well, hi there! It’s good to be back with some exciting news.

We’re delighted to announce a digital release of the single “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, our cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic. It’s going to be ace! We’ve had so much fun recording it, and it’ll be great to finally give you guys some new music. Watch this space for more news about the release…

In the meantime, we’re pleased to be hitting the road again this November for the Real Job Tour — so named because of the following conversation, which occurs with hilarious frequency:

A: What do you do?

B: I’m a musician.

C: Yes, but what’s your REAL JOB?

The tour kicks off in London at the wonderful Daylight Music, at Union Chapel in Highbury. You can join the Facebook event here, and check out the other gigs we’re playing around the country on our gigs listings.

You’ll be hearing more from us very soon!

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Cain (live in rehearsal)

Hi peoples!

It’s been quite a while since we gave you news of Some Things Run Wild, our upcoming album. So we thought it was time to give you a taster.

Here is a recording of Herons! performing “Cain” live in rehearsal, at Studio One, Brunel Goods Shed in Stroud. It was recorded with the help of Kevin Howlett from Long Train Ride.

It’s only a rough recording of a loud song in a small room, but we hope you like it. And it features Ben doing an impression of will.i.am — of course. Enjoy!

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Ten Years Of Shock & Awe

I recently moved house. As you do when moving house, I had a clear out of old boxes. Sifting through the miscellany of my life, I stumbled upon some old notebooks. Leafing through the pages of one from 2002-3, I found a two-column list: one column was bullet points of a political speech; the other began as notes to myself on these points, which, further down the column descended into a panoply of expletives.

In early 2003 I was writing for my college newspaper, The Voice. One of my first assignments was to listen to George W Bush’s State Of The Union address and write an opinion piece in response. It was the first time I ever listened to Bush speak for any length of time. What an eye-opener.

I guess I’d always just unconsciously assumed that politicians were a bunch of lying bastards who did stupid things and made a mess of the countries they were administering to. Bush’s 2003 State Of The Union address made me realise that I knew nothing of politics. The sheer outrageousness of the President’s vague assertions about Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons programme, and the intentions they conveyed, turned my stomach.

Bush’s message was crystal clear. His administration planned to invade an economically crippled, internationally isolated country on the most unlikely pretext imaginable: that Iraq posed a threat to the United States, and that pre-emptive action needed to be taken to protect Americans from harm.

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Cogito Ergo Sum

by Ben Kritikos

Being a musician is a funny thing: it’s one part playing music, one part relentless admin and one part heavy lifting. If you’re anything like me, the first and last of these is not a problem; if you’re anything like me, the middle one is a panic-inducing stress-fest akin to going to the dentist when you know there’s definitely something really wrong in your mouth.

That said, it’s always good to learn new skills. There’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end to confront those things about yourself that you’d rather relegate to the dark corners of your psyche, where you keep memories of all the kebabs you’ve eaten at 4am while staggering down a rainy, vomit-strewn street. Or that time you walked nearly the whole way across town with your fly undone while wearing those boxers with the broken button, wondering why every passerby seemed to be staring at your crotch. The brain cupboard under the brain stairs, basically.

I hate being a salesman (I once had a telesales job at a carpet cleaners). The only thing I hate more than being a salesman is being a self-salesman. But every musician is a self-salesman: YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ME PLEASE LISTEN TO ME is the underlying message. A horrible little parasite of a man inside my heart, who feeds on weird black tendrils of self-loathing, frequently confronts me with the question, “Why would anybody want to listen to you?”

So the big, bear-hugging woman in my heart, who looks a lot like Kathy Bates and feeds on tea and lovely cakes made by my friends, takes the tough love line, and says between mouthfuls of Victoria sponge: “Shut up and get on with it”.

Poet, novelist and dreadful misogynist Charles Bukowski famously quipped, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” While this isn’t altogether untrue, it’s not useful.

So many truths are useless. It’s like our Tom says, translating Descartes’ cogito ergo sum: believe in yourself and your dreams will come true. The moral of the story is: BUY CDs AT OUR GIGS. Just kidding. But seriously, do.

 

Ben is currently on tour around the UK. Check out the tour dates here.

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Remembering 9/11

I am not a patriot. I don’t believe in the inherent value of identifying with one nation over another. A nation, to me, is simply a collective noun to describe a group of people living in a particular place at a particular time, with their own more-or-less consensual geographical identity.

That said, I grew up in the suburbs of New York. And I’m a lot like other people who also grew up there. And when terrible things happen to your neighbours, the news hurts you deeply. The news of horrible things happening to people all over the world hurts too — but this is different. I didn’t feel more deeply for the people caught in the attacks in New York (and elsewhere in the US) on 9/11, but I felt differently for them. It was so close to home; they were my neighbours.

I don’t think 9/11 is necessarily the worst thing that’s happened in recent history — but it’s the worst thing that’s happened to my neighbours. It offends me when ordinarily kind, sympathetic people talk about 9/11 like it’s not worthy of their tears, because the US is such a global bastard. I’m not offended as an American, but as a New Yorker.

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Studio One at the Brunel Goods Shed

If you’re in an independent band who play the kind of music your mother doesn’t like, and your pure genius has not yet been recompensed with millions of adoring fans throwing their money at you — then you’re probably in constant agony about where to get down to the very loud business of rehearsing.

Which is why we’ve joined up with the SVA team in Stroud and taken over a space at the newly re-opened Brunel Goods Shed. We’re using one of the former offices in this amazing old building as our music studio for rehearsing and recording.

Studio One at the Brunel Goods Shed before we moved in. And painted.

For Herons! and a small collective of other Stroud musicians, having a studio has been like manna from heaven. Situated at the Stroud train station, with no residential neighbours to disturb with our banging and hollering, Studio One (as we’ve christened it) is our musical home. We can rehearse at all hours, which makes us better musicians. We can record, which we’ve been doing — last week, in fact.

Anna and Edwin recording at Studio One

It’s been great fun, and a bit of hard work, getting Studio One into shape. It’s been totally worth it!

Me after cleaning out the dust and rubble from Studio One

Follow the goings-on at Studio One at our Facebook page

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Peter Beutel

My friend Peter is dead.

Here was a man with a heart.

Here was a man who typed thousands
of words every day
with one finger.

Here was a man who understood
the fatal black energy
sticky from the earth’s belly
that powers our ignorance.

Here was a man who endured my moods
which may be the most colossal feat
I can list here.

Here was a man who said to me:
“You can write”
then expected me to do it.

Here is a man who travelled the
length and breadth of the English
language, then came back to the
humdrum world of party tricks
and souvenirs

Here is a man who gave me a dictio-
nary and expected me to use it
which I did and now I’m travelling
the English language too and I keep
finding his footprints wherever I go

Here is a man who exploded with
pride in his gardening
who taught me to crack the earth
who kindly guided me in the
supernatural conversation with
soil that makes lettuce grow
lettuce that becomes salad that
you feed your friends to tell them
that you love them

Here is a man who shed tears for
wolves
who fed a raccoon through a
rip in the screen door next
to his desk

Here is a man who loved the animal
in cats
gave them the names of Roman
emperors
let them stalk their empires
freely even if it killed them
which it sometimes did
but that’s life and they were
animals and he loved the
animal in them

Here is a man who was a viking
without being a barbarian
who locked forearms with
his friends instead of a
touchless wilting handshake
who hugged like a bear because
he really loved you
who never gave up on a friend
who stormed through armies
of knowledge to emerge hurt
but wiser, because he knew
as much as the next guy
who dried as many tears as he
shed
who cooked for 12 even if he
was all alone
who kept milk in the fridge
even though he hated milk
because his friends took milk in
their tea and what if they
surprised him with a visit?
who spread out feasts for the
birds, happy to watch them happy
who knew some terrific insults
who taught me not to shout to the
drowning from the riverbank
but to jump in and convince
them to swim

Here was a man who was my friend

for Peter Beutel, 1955-2012
14 March ’12

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Some Things Run Wild* – Phase one

Phase one of our album recording is complete! We have the bulk of 13 songs recorded, and now have the chance to relax and decide which tracks are shoddy enough to be re-recorded.

The process has begun like a bit of a fairytale, and we hope the magic hasn’t yet run out. After our Buskathon fundraiser, we started the hunt for a place to record. We’re not fans of traditional studios, and wanted to find some kind of secluded house or cottage (an upgrade from the stable we recorded our first album in) which we could fill with microphones, duvets, instruments, home cooking, decent tea, and a backgammon set, and record the album in our own time and with our own stuff. We were busy trawling the internet and local contacts for a musician-friendly cottage, when a medieval manor house fell into our laps. And who can say no to a medieval manor house?

In fact, it’s a medieval and Tudor manor house with notable nineteenth-century additions, full of art and surrounded by sculptures, only a 5 minute drive from our home in Gloucestershire. Legend has it, it was the house in which the gunpowder plot was conceived. Not only convenient, but brilliant beyond our wildest dreams. The owner – a new friend of ours – was going to be away with his family during the time we’d booked Aidan (our engineer/clarinetist) to come over to help, so we wouldn’t be bothering anyone, except Ivanka, the lovely housekeeper and Reggie, the dog (and they were both very accommodating).

Over 7 days we recorded the bulk of 13 songs, working an average of 12 hours a day. Aidan was a powerhouse of an engineer, and I doubt he actually slept at all, working late into the night, comping, stomping, bouncing down, bouncing around, and all the mysterious things that engineers get up to with their mixing desks.

We had some brilliant guest musicians to help out during the week. Marianne from Hot Feet (one of the greatest local bands and best buddies of ours) recorded some gorgeous backing vocals on our new song Tell Me Girls, as did our old collaborator and part-time lover Wallis Bird, who also recorded some kick-ass guitar solos. Aidan barely got a look in on the performance side, but will be adding some clarinets and other bits and bobs over the next few months, if he can fit it in to his tight schedule promoting his own long-awaited studio album. You can see some more photographic evidence of our recording adventure here on the aul’ facebook if you fancy it.

Over the next few months, the incomparable Jo Silverston is going to arrange some strings for certain songs, and we’ll be overdubbing a bunch more arrangement ideas, from trumpets to gangs of children shouting. We hope to release a single in April/May, along with a video. The album should be out by the end of the year LATEST, but hopefully quite a bit sooner than that.

Meanwhile, we’re still trying not to lose steam promoting our first album, which is still pretty new to the world. You can read our first review at wewritelists.com and hopefully more press will follow soon…

Thanks again to everyone who has helped out so far, we can’t wait to be able to put the finished product in your hands… and then charge you a a very reasonable price for it 😉

Yours affectionately,

Herons!

* ‘Some Things Run Wild’ is the title of the new album.

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Stroud, The Prince Albert & Sam Shepard

Why, hello there.  Haven’t spoken to you in a while.  Just thought I’d say hi and let you know some of the more interesting things we’ve been up to lately.

After trading the crushing monotony of London for a life resembling real life in Gloucestershire, Anna and I have finally settled in.  The Stroud area, where we’ve made our home, is an old industrial hub of the Cotswolds, making it less posh than other Cotswold towns, and also quite a bit more gritty and interesting.  Its 40,000 (or so) inhabitants are as varied as any city I’ve been to; so as well as Wurzels and Fred Wests, you also find coffee experts, brilliant anarchist letter-press artists and poets, dozens of young bands, old beardy legends, my favourite brewery in the Cotswolds — and the greatest farmers’ market that just about takes over the entire pedestrian-friendly town every Saturday.

When we first arrived, I was skint and in need of a beer.  Hence, I arrived at The Prince Albert pub, on Rodborough Hill.  From experience, I’ve learned that playing music is the best way to make friends, and if you’re skint it’s also a good way to get people to buy you beers.  When I rocked up to the Albert’s open mic night, I killed a few birds with one stone.  Between songs, I admitted to the audience my need of work; when I got off stage, three people offered.

The Prince Albert has become a kind of Mecca for other London expats seeking clean air and cheaper rent in the area.  Herons! have been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing musicians who’ve found themselves situated cosily in the Five Valleys.  Last weekend, we performed at our beloved Albert with cellist and producer/arranger extraordinaire Jo SilverstonEmily Barker also graced us with her dulcet tones, when she, Anna and I brought the set to a finish with a cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” — not without trepidation!  As an encore, special guests Vena Portae (Emily Barker & Dom Coyote), joined us on stage to sing “The Old Triangle”, which sounded great with Dom’s wonderful bass harmony.

In other news, I was lucky enough to work with actor Jack Tarlton and director Simon Usher on a short theatre piece entitled Making The Sound Of Loneliness, which explored the work of American poet, playwright and actor Sam Shepard, set to music that I composed for the piece.  The performance used extracts from a large cross-section of Shepard’s prose, and was performed by Jack Tarlton and David Beames.  The performance took place at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston on the 22nd of September as part of the Side Orders festival, courtesy of Actors Touring Company.

Making The Sound Of Loneliness counts as my first musical foray into theatre, and I hope it won’t be the last.  The experience was doubly rewarding for me, as I’d never really heard of Sam Shepard (besides as Patti Smith’s ex-boyfriend); I spent the whole workshopping week being blown away by this great American writer whose whole body of work I can look forward to reading.  Luckily, there is a possibility of Making The Sound Of Loneliness getting a full run in the New Year, so watch this space for more info.

Until next time, keep your chins up this autumn.  Port and Stilton help.

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