Good week so far


I park above the band’s rehearsal space, feeling unusually fantastic. Generally by the time I pull up outside the dank, cramped room beneath Euston Road I am ready to pass out after a(nother) restless night, a full day teaching, and the emancipatory drive from the burbs to the centre of London. Last time the band met to practise, I fell asleep in the car for 45 minutes the second I’d turned off the engine. Tonight, though, I am buoyed by the week’s work – I have been preparing for tonight’s session and the upcoming album launch gig that we have in two weeks’ time, with renewed enthusiasm. I brought extra bags, even after consolidating. I cheerfully make two heavily-laden trips down the stairs to the stinky, humid chamber, a spring in my step. It’s been a marvellous week so far, and I’m encouraged by the fact it’s Thursday so there’s precious little time left for the positive trend to alter significantly before the weekend. As I left the house almost an hour earlier, it seemed that the baby might be about to demonstrate her commitment to a new vomiting bug – her second in as many week – so I am glad to be underground for a few hours with no mobile phone reception; not that I don’t want to be able to help, and to mop up a good deal more vom today, but to rehearse with no distractions like this is a luxury I loathe to contrive, so separation being forced on me is welcome. I put my phone on Airplane (Apple means “aeroplane”) Mode, so that I cannot receive a distressed SMS about our ailing child and then have to face the mutual frustration and anguish of not being able to reply to a message that my wife has seen I’ve received.

I take half an hour to set up – there’s a lot to plug in, especially for a luddite tub thumper who has so doggedly and deliberately pursued a career playing a gloriously cumbersome but feedback-free and bug-averse acoustic instrument. But I am chatty and excited, although confused by the passive DI box not also directly outputting (kind of the only reason I brought it with me) the sounds of my trigger pads. I am also enlivened by my new noise-cancelling headphones. My previous set of cans, that I have used for three-and-half years, always made me hot, sticky, and generally feel pretty oppressed. They squeezed my head, pushing my glasses painfully against my ears and skull, and giving me headaches. I really have no idea why I sought no alternatives in the whole time I had them before they broke. The new set – Metrophones Studio Kans – feel like someone is cuddling my head and playing sweet music (albeit an abrasive cowbell click track) into my caressed, contented ears. They more generously accommodate my shell-likes, and have gel padding that works beautifully to preclude the need for the vice-like pressure of the old phones. I am completely ready to play darkly assertive electro swing pop noir.

The rehearsal is probably our best to date. I drum well, and the effect is clear on the others, who are all grins. At the last rehearsal I managed to fuck up a song we’d played thirty times in succession for a video recording two days before, and the bassist rightly got pretty annoyed. Tonight, though, I am on a roll – musical, dynamic, effortlessly in time with the click, and loving the process. In the zone! Hugh thinks this is all on account of the new headphones, which I’d let him try on because I was evangelising about them. A few cool things have happened this week, though.

On Tuesday I wrote the proposal for a research project that’s been brewing for a year, and then turned the proposal into a blog article that I submitted to a colleague’s semi-cool website about music and academia. I finished another blog post, about ups and downs of life in London. I finished the review of the Mr Big gig from the previous Friday at Koko, and sent that to the editor of the drum magazine who commissioned it. I conducted a handful of interviews for a book chapter I’m writing. On Wednesday I sorted out the complications around maybe popping to Malaysia in the middle of the panto run at Christmas and meeting simultaneous contractual obligations in two other cities. I obtained consent from the band members and producer on the panto to conduct some ethnographic research during the production. I finished a bunch of admin for the Moodle at my college, and planned a day’s teaching. I went running. I worked out. I put new laces in my shoes. I did the washing up, two piles of laundry, and took the week’s mugs and wine glasses out of my office. I caught up with correspondence for a book I’m co-editing with a colleague. I received (and promptly tweeted about) the news that another book I’ve been planning for ten months was accepted by the publisher. I finally got around to testing, trouble-shooting and re-booting the live setup I use with Sweet Tooth. I bought new cables, DI boxes, and a mixer. I tested, recorded, emailed and discussed different drum and sample sounds vaguely imitating Native American Indian instruments. I bought a djembe stand. I purchased ear defenders for my daughter, an analogue synth, and a ticket to the London Drum Show.

Today was positive too – I taught research seminars half the day, and was on top of my admin by mid-afternoon. I got a “very good” (one down from “outstanding”) overall in my annual performance appraisal, which is decent enough since I am probably misconstrued in my place of work and trying desperately to leave there anyway. All this, plus the bottle of 2012 Pillastro I opened last night to help calm me down was especially robust and fruity. Can it only be downhill from here?



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