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Tales and Brainhole Delusions of a Bemused and Unkempt Drummist

So…. a sentence starting with the word “so” is a pet hate of mine. I thought I’d try y it out, to see if I still want to hurt myself or others when reading it…. Nope, it still feels like an opening

statement voiced in a self-important “broadcast”, by some deranged, almost 23 year old TicTac-er, or whatever the current “in” social platform is called this week. They then go on to kindly inform us all if they “like it on top”, or have a fascination with “dwarf porn” as a relevant alternative!!?! - all set to some I.Q diminishing “tune” whilst doing a little dance. Please make it stop, my already dubious intelligence has been eroded further after enduring your offering! Grumpy…. Grumpy is an understatement for my resting biatch state at the moment.

The above observation is an evolution from the inane photographs of someone’s dinner or “funny” meme via a copy and pasted, readily available within the first 2 Google search lines - subject matter focusing on how Monday is somehow likened to having someone petrol bomb your underwear. Inevitably posted by and originating from, a winsomely beige person’s perception of humour.

I decided to leave Faceache some time ago, as the afore mentioned content examples tended to fuel my ever-growing grumpy reactions. However, during the last 9-10 months of not gigging or traveling, I’ve found myself gazing into the interweb for a momentary escape from an existence we have all been subject to coping with. I have subsequently realised something and have come to conclude that me being a very privileged chap, being part of something which brought myself and others (I hope others!) much enjoyment, is the very catalyst for my record breaking grumpybastardness state of mind.

Playing in a band is and will always be f*****g cool. Regardless of how “big” the band is. Playing in front of a crowd - be it 100 people or 10,000 is f*****g cool. Just being part of something which you’ve spent lots of money gathering the “tools” to enable, spending hours practicing getting to a standard which no longer incites being a missile target, travelling around having a laugh with your mates, is f*****g cool. Making music is in every possible way I can express, is….. f*****g cool! Now I find myself not playing or traveling – because the world is shut. I have now realised that those who never had the chance to experience the things I hold so dear, were just expressing their thoughts and sometimes creative “exhibits” via social media stage as an alternative to my own medium of expression. Mainly, because a lit and sound engineered stage is not available to them, I am very lucky and I know it. Everyone deserves to be recognised and appreciated, even just for a few seconds, it makes your soul smile.

So, (see what I did there!) on reflection, my grumpiness is somewhat misplaced in its focus upon things I find irrelevant or not to my personal taste. Different people find different things helpful to distract them from how unprecedently shite things are at the moment. Who am I to judge? (Just for the record, I won’t be back on Faceache anytime soon, I still find dinner photos and borrowed memes more of a drain than a help. I’ll practice what I preach in the same vein, with focus on those who still find tattoos offensive – Don’t ‘kin look at them then! Easy, I won’t look if it starts to make me grumpy!) Admittedly, some wwww-dot-worldspidersilknet.orgcom/ content is rightfully subject to head-trough-screen reactions. A huge portion of utter cyber-w4nk is unashamedly repeated over and over, even after the few seconds of attention have been awarded by the masses to the source. But there is always an “off” button. This I think, is a massively underused function on most devices. See or watch something online that winds you up, tempted to retort to an obviously misunderstood point thus adding to the already mind melting futileness of the post, or it’s just plain offensive? Turn it off and play a record instead.

The less self-absorbed content stands out as brilliant to me. People making wonderful artistic videos, spectacular housebound musical performances and just plain odd stuff. Stuff which has no other reason to exist other than it can. One such offering that I would like to give more than a few seconds of recognition to, is detailed briefly below. An account of something I very much enjoyed at the time, is linked to the Crowbar and also my opening rantings: Having had our freedoms and possibilities substituted for an existence of work/eat/sleep – repeat (if you are “lucky” enough to still have a job), we have all turned to a “something” which breaks the tedium of scratching one’s knackers and finding inventive ways of taking the bins out. It was not long into lockdown #1 when Greg and Jackie - a legendary Crowbar couple, started filming the “Lock Down Olympics”, a regular series of daft sporting events filmed in and around their home, using household items and the like as props. I know that art is subjective to the consumer, but I for one very much appreciated the efforts taken to entertain fellow Crowbar punters with such enthusiasm, dry Welsh wit and a level of artistry which appealed to me greatly. I myself, being really really…… very really, bollocks at any technological endeavours, was “well impressed” (I picked that one up in the 90s… I wear tweed now). It gave me a huge lift, seeing familiar faces dicking about for other’s entertainment. Cheers to you both! If you ever fancy adding to that body of work, I will definitely be “on the line” to view!

This in turn, got me thinking about how something like sharing a laugh and a drink with likeminded folk, in a safe, friendly and ever evolving environment, was something I did not ever expect to have taken for granted. Turns out I had. There were times during the summer where visits to the Crowbar were possible, but these visits were not close to the same experience before the apocalypse, mainly due to the “rule of 6” and various other sanctions thrust upon the proprietors of every venue or pub in the country. At this point in my ramblings, I must congratulate and tip one’s cap to Max, Vic, Rhi and all the other Crowbar staff for jumping through hoops to stay open, put on excellent bands and accommodate the rules that our illustrious leaders decided were a good idea at the time. I will not express any personal political views on a public forum, as my experience of politics as an entity in general, alludes to segregate rather than unite people… You’ll find me weeping into my pint of Ballsack wine (in joke), when folk take chunks out of their mates for having a different political view to that of themselves.…. Which seamlessly leads me on to another Crowbar experience I enjoy: The Crooked Crowbar is a place I find that for someone like me, with a very “alternative” (“alternative” not meaning hipster, it’s just a deficiency in my own perception which inhibits me from accepting others’ reality in a human capacity) way of looking at the world, a place I can go with mates, or arrive solo and just be me. Sounds a bit like I’m a closet “on top dwarf porn” fanatic. Even if this was the case, I’m sure the “on top dwarf” in attendance, would be as welcome as the next sexually charged, vertically challenged individual, with no prejudgment projected from the staff or punters! The point I am trying to make in a less deranged narrative, is that I’ve always felt welcome and unjudged whilst frequenting this fine establishment. A huge variant of personas, personalities, subcultures, old farts, young folk and the mentally dubious, all have a self-policing, decent place to go. Even in today’s diverse world, this is a very rare entity and should not be taken for granted. Plus, they have just got some killer new lights installed! Looking like the K9’s love blobs chaps!

Like many gigging bands and artists, I/we were due to have played & be playing the Crooked Crowbar in 2020 and 2021. Like all other band bookings for us, this is subject to change at the drop of one’s guts, so the frustration of trying to make plans for all concerned is very much echoed throughout the live music industry. What I’d like to ask in a semi conclusion and with a dwindling optimistic hue, is that when things re-open, regardless of any restrictions in place when they do, is that we support venues and pubs by turning up, paying a few quid to help support the musicians on the stage and be respectful to each other’s views and beliefs whilst attending. Otherwise, we’re all f****d! I can’t imagine or want to re-live an existence without live music and fellow human interaction anymore. We have a responsibility to support places like the Crooked Crowbar, because without them, we have what we currently have: Watching shite on the internet whilst adding vodka to your ready meal, surrounded by amazon packaging and a sense of mild despair.

As I was kindly asked if I’d write a something which encompassed what I thought about the Crooked Crowbar along with stuff about the band I play for, I’d better include the latter in my offering: Stray have been in the studio recording our next album. It’s been a tough feat as socially distancing recording sessions are, a) a logistical nightmare. Although, with the aid of modern technology, flashing lights, twisty buttons, a varied & fruity selection of swearwords and ironically, the dreaded interweb, remote sessions have been possible and also some quite fruity outputs as a result.

And point b), the musical context either sent or received via a smile or expression when with humans, is something I have personally really missed. The band being there as a unit, even when recording isolated tracks of an instrument makes the whole experience lots of fun and organic (maaaaaan). We have had fun, music is fun, which is why we do it, but not same daft fun we would normally enjoy. It’s had to be done this way, but the results are seamless. Which prompts the next bit: We are so, so lucky that Simon Rinaldo (keys) has the facilities and also the know-how to get us this far with the recording. Good work my friend! We made the most of the time we had prior to the latest lock down restrictions and have captured some lovely new songs. Still some work to do, but they are sounding BIG. A thanks is due here to our wonderful Stray “family”: We were on tour right up until the March 2020 lockdown, traveling all over the country and “‘avin’ a larf”.

Its looking like we won’t be doing much of that anytime soon, but when we can get back to it, we are lucky enough to have a few beautiful people to help us when everything is less closed or full of nastiness. A massive thanks must go to “Biggus” Dickus, Paul Chapman, Andy Law & Pete Perks for lugging equipment, assembling/dismantling drum kits (I even get bollocked by these buggers for putting my own gear in my own cases, but in the “wrong order”. Shows how much they give a sh*t so thank you, I think!), driving us miles and miles and sourcing various booze drinks, fried food and “lost luggage” at silly o’clock for us. A huge thanks must also go to Paul Newcomb at Monstrous Child Management. Getting us lot in a van in one go is a mission, getting us onto a stage at the right time, through the right door, in the right town, is also an accomplishment worth accolade! Fine work mate! I’d also like to thank my mates (mates first and foremost!) but also fellow band members, Del Bromham, Pete Dyer, Simon Rinaldo & Colin Kempster. I hope we will argue over who’s sharing with Pete at a hotel soon!! I love you lot!

Have a few photos of the band in happier, less virus restrictive times. Let’s all hope that we can enjoy this kind of stuff again in the next few months or so… If not, I’ll have a few heavily gigged drum kits for sale (I’m keeping the dwarf)! Have a look at the band if you are interested, by going onto Faceache and typing “Straytheband”, or just Google “straytheband” and see what happens.

One last thanks to all at the Crooked Crowbar - Staff, punters & people I’ve yet to meet properly. We have something special here and I am very much looking forward to not ordering beer from a bloody telephone, being able to stand at the bar and chat bollocks with whoever will humour me, not having to wear a poxy mask whilst walking to the wazzers and having a game of un-distanced pool on the arse-backwards wonky table.

I know this is probably 10 minutes of your life you will never get back having read this and possibly of the opinion that I should stick to not being on the interweb. But if you have managed to avoid the “off” button and got to this bit, thank you! I hope to express my ramblings to any of you who will listen at a Crooked Crowbar session soon. I miss it much! Love and kisses Karlos. x

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