wobbly bits

i’ve often wished that there was a language plugin for humans. imagine being instantly fluent in spanish, mandarin or navajo. i’d also like a delete button for stupid things that come out of my mouth. and a restart button for those days when i wake up feeling crap. and the ability to chuck out the old useless files in my sluggish brain and make space for new ones.

and while we’re at it, let’s add real life photoshop to the wishlist. having a bad hair day? no problem. photoshop! had an overindulgent night before? whoopee. photoshop! bad lighting showing up your wrinkles? abracadabra. photoshop! put on a few pounds over christmas? forget diets. photoshop!

we’d all have the ability to look flawless. all the time. sadly, at the moment, the boffins have been unable to invent these applications for us so we will have to amuse ourselves some other way. oh, i know! let’s look at “before” and “after” pictures of celebrities and laugh at their wobbly bits.

keira knightley grows boobs and cameron diaz gets symmetrical ones. kelly clarkson loses weight, serena williams loses a mole and tyra banks loses her moustache. kim kardashian’s cellulite disappears, eva longoria gets see-through clothing and britney spears head moves. justin timberlake de-shines and de-creases, naomi watts changes skin and heidi klum misplaces an ankle bone.

go on. click the link. it’ll make you feel better…

5 things you need to know about fame

as you know, i hang around with famous people all the time (being famous and all), so today i’d like to offer my 5 things you need to know about fame.

before i start the list, i would like to point out that there is an enormous difference between famous people and celebrities. celebrities are those obnoxious people who turn up everywhere and you have no idea what they actually do or how they became famous. these include everyone from big brother, kim kardashian, paris hilton, kevin federline and peaches geldof. it seems that these days it is enough to just to be a famous person’s daughter, boyfriend or drinking partner. just appear on as many red carpets as you can, party all night every night, take your top (or better still your knickers) off on every occasion, get done for drunk driving and go out with someone famous. or get adopted by someone famous. or pretend to be friends with someone famous. famous people do not necessary have talent or if they do, you might not like or appreciate it, but they are famous for actually having done something other than the things mentioned above.

  • famous people like fame. you might be under the impression, if you read most tabloid/rag magazines, that people like princess diana and britney spears don’t really like the attention they get/got. this is total crap. do you think that any person in their right mind would pursue an entertainment career from the age of three if they didn’t want the spotlight? and if lady di didn’t want fame, what the hell was she thinking when she got married to the old plant whisperer back in 1981?
  • famous people are like you, only richer, thinner and with better teeth. they still have to sleep, eat and go to the loo but they have an entourage to help them do it. they do not wake up in the morning looking like they do in the magazines. many have endured years of painful surgeries and treatments, daily workouts and starvation diets, armies of stylists and hairdressers to look like that. it’s enough to send mere mortals screaming back to bed. the difference is that when famous people scream and run back to bed, we call it rehab. when you lot do it, it’s called being bone-idle.
  • famous people like awards. these days, it seems to be the protocol to be humble and self-deprecating at award ceremonies, thanking those that “made this possible”, saying “this award really belongs to so and so” or actually (god forbid) turning one down! no, no, no, no, no. the truth is, famous people really want to stand up there and give this speech: “i am very happy that you finally recognised my enormous talent and gave me the award i deserve. it is perfectly obvious that my performance in ____ was better than _____’s in _____ and thank goodness you weren’t too stupid to see it. i worked my sexy butt off with this award in mind, so well done to me. now that i know you love me more than anyone else, i will get off the stage and go and get drunk. see you next week/month/year when you reward me again for my outstanding gorgeousness and immeasurable talent.”
  • famous people like to be asked for their autographs. why else would they be eating, drinking or sunbathing in the “it” places? if you didn’t want to be noticed by hordes of fans, why don’t you pop down to the local fish and chip shop with no make-up on to get your dinner. or call the local chinese take-away and enjoy a chicken chow mein in the comfort of your own private cinema?

would you honestly look twice if this girl stood next to you in tesco?

or if this girl was crossing the road in front of you?

no. but if you recognised them in their extraordinary ordinariness and asked them for a signature, they would be flattered don’t you think? i certainly would be.

  • famous people do, in fact, die. yes, it may come as a complete shock to you but they do. michael jackson has indeed “ceased to be”, princess di has “kicked the bucket” and elvis presley (even the king himeself) has “shuffled off ‘is mortal coil”. what remains is hype, exaggeration, wishful thinking, disbelief maybe, fanaticism and magazine/newspaper/film/record and book sales. the truth is that famous people are flesh and blood. infinitely more special and deserving than everyone else but flesh and blood nonetheless. sorry about that!

sucker punch


if you are lucky enough to be in london between the 11th and 24th of june, go and see “sucker punch” at the royal court (book now!). it’s written by an old mate of mine, roy williams, who is now a “sir” if you don’t mind ! he was in the first theatre company i worked with and has gone on to become a hugely successful playwright.

best of luck lad.

i’m very proud of you.

wish i could be there to see it.

more on roy and the play “sucker punch” in the guardian,

chefs and musicians

not many of you will know this about me but i’m utterly addicted to celebrity cooking shows. i could watch hours of top chef, top chef masters, hells kitchen, the f word, no reservations, jamie’s kitchen, conviction kitchen, iron chef, kitchen nightmares… etc etc etc. i’ve even been known to watch rachael ray and emeril. i also follow quite a few celeb chefs on twitter.

now before you say “what a sad bugger”, let me attempt an explanation of my ever-growing fascination with chefs. what strikes me (and has been commented on many times) are the similarities between cooking and making music. Many top chefs admit to an obsession with music and quite a few dabble on the other side in their spare time. for example, hubert keller is a dj, rocco dispirito is an avid guitar player, jamie oliver is a half-decent drummer, johnny ciao worked in the music industry for 20 years before becoming a chef, ainsley harriot was a musician of sorts, marco pierre white looks and acts like a rock star and of course, jerome “chef” mcelroy (south park) is isaac hayes.

i am fascinated by the art of cooking. the creative process. the way each individual chef can take the same ingredients and come up with an entirely different result. i am fascinated by the fact that everyday, sometimes mundane, observations can influence a dish. food critics often take the joy and fun out of eating by talking about “flavour profiles” and “palettes”, in much the same way as music critics take the joy out of music by talking in pretentious terms.

so here’s my top 10 similarities between chefs and musicians

  1. we have to practice and often experiment on friends
  2. we put a bunch of known stuff (ingredients/notes) together in different ways to make something new
  3. we often get it wrong
  4. technique counts for a lot but passion makes the difference
  5. we tend to be egotistical, obsessed and are given to swearing a lot
  6. we love what we do even when no-one is watching
  7. fame can ruin us
  8. we care about presentation
  9. we both tend to over-indulge in the alcohol department
  10. we tend to be fairly vocal about fellow musicians/chefs that we dislike

if you can think of more, i’d love to hear them in the comments.

i don’t have much in the way of “knife skills” at the moment and most ingredients that i see being used on these shows are either hideously expensive or impossible to find in greece but who knows… perhaps i’ll become the diva cook if being in a band doesn’t work out.

right… off to watch iron chef

venue mistakes

i read yesterday that paul weller (he of the jam who i absolutely loved back in the day) played the royal albert hall. now i know it was mr weller’s show and not the jam and i actually like him on his own, but the royal albert hall? i know, i know, tons of famous bods (including hendrix, sting jay z and the kaiser chiefs have played there but i find it odd. for me the royal albert is for ballet and classical music and eric clapton. not for the bad boys and girls of rock and roll. call me old fashioned but i like my bands up close and dirty. i understand stadium rock even though i never go. i can’t see the point of paying hundreds of quid to go and see bands and only being able to see them on a big screen. yeah, yeah, it’s the atmosphere bla bla and there are so many fans that they wouldn’t fit in a normal rock venue. i get it.

but the royal albert hall? it’s sedate and polite and nice. all the things that music shouldn’t be. especially not for someone who used to be in the jam. i like my rock idols to stay on the edge, to remain rebellious. but sadly, they either go the way of bono and paul weller (and countless others) or they self-destruct by the age of 27.

i do take my hat off to bowie and the rolling stones who have managed to survive this gentrification of music and have stayed (in my opinion) as exciting as they always were.

ps: i have a particular hatred of the royal albert hall because of the last night of the proms. this is when the hooray henrys and henriettas, let the peasants into their inner sanctum to get pissed and sing land of hope and glory. gives me shivers just thinking about it.

pps: in mr weller’s defence, he did live stream the gig and bruce foxton joined him on stage for the first time in 28 years

u2 postpone tour

from the bbc

U2 have pulled out of the Glastonbury Festival and postponed their US tour after Bono had emergency surgery to save him from possible paralysis.

The singer, 50, had a back operation on Friday after suffering an injury while training in preparation for the tour.

Neurosurgeon Joerg Tonn said: “The surgery was the only course of treatment for full recovery and to avoid further paralysis.”

Bono, who must recuperate for the next two months, said he was “heartbroken”.

i was going to say “i know how you feel, mate” but that would seem a bit big-headed but in some small (but very diva-like) way, i do. when i was a wandering thespian, our company toured up and down merry england. one of the classic, another day, another city, kind of tours. on the day of a big premiere in london, i sprained my ankle. sounds pathetic but i was ordered not to perform for two weeks. did you know it takes longer to recover from a bad sprain than a fracture in some cases? the show i was in was a highly physical one that we trained for by running 5 miles in the morning, followed by a two hour physical training. anyway, our director had to stand in for me and i travelled with the company but was unable to perform. it was the most intensely frustrating and yes, heartbreaking time.

the desire to get up on stage is a strange and indescribable fish. it’s not as simple as people make out. that performers want to be loved (although that’s very nice too). it’s more like a need. like there’s nothing else you could possibly want to be doing other than that. nothing. the stage is where you are at your happiest. where you feel the most fear and overcome it. where you feel the most vulnerable. where you feel the greatest power you possess. it’s the greatest high that i have ever experienced. no amount of alcohol (drugs might be different… i don’t know) can make you feel like that.

so, although i haven’t been a fan of bono or u2 since their “war” album, they have my sympathy.

i know how you feel…

being in a band

my top ten tips for being in an unsigned, unappreciated, unpaid, unrepentant™ band

  1. take your music seriously but not yourselves
  2. don’t expect to make make money or become famous
  3. try out everyone’s ideas, however stupid they might seem to you at the time
  4. respect every members talent and contribution
  5. argue as much as you like but always kiss and make up
  6. love every single fan that you gain along the way
  7. accept advice from people but stick to your own convictions
  8. keep full control over your own music
  9. be professional when you play live (turn up on time, well-rehearsed and sober)
  10. if you don’t love what you’re doing, give it up

people dream of fame and fortune but the reality is very, very different. if you want to read more of my thoughts on this, go to the joy of playing. if you are one of the incredibly miniscule number of bands that gets a recording contract, all i can say is well done, good luck and don’t let it destroy your love of your music.

indie musicians win an oscar for best song

from stereogum

The Frames’ Glen Hansard and girlfriend, Once co-star, and singing partner Marketa Irglóva took home the gold, and their acceptance speech(es) provided a night highlight. Glen delivered some touching words, and a sour note in Oscar history was avoided when Jon Stewart brought Marketa back out, after commercial break, to make right the orchestra’s ill-timed acceptance speech exit music. She says some nice things about independent musicians.

musical unions


from kathimerini

Yiannis Angelakas (r) and Nikos Veliotis, a strong draw on the local alternative music circuit, have just released a new brighter-sounding album, ‘Pote Tha Ftasoume Edo,’ as the follow-up to their very well received debut together, “Oi Anases Ton Lykon.” The duo is now touring.

By Yiouli Eptakili

We were drinking tea at a quiet cafe in downtown Athens. Yiannis Angelakas, the former frontman of the popular Greek rock act Trypes, and his gifted music partner of late, the talented cellist and composer Nikos Veliotis, an active figure on the international experimental circuit, were preparing to depart for Thessaloniki for final rehearsals ahead of a mini tour, now on. The pair has just released a second album, “Pote Tha Ftasoume Edo,” following their very well received first outing together, “Oi Anases Ton Lykon.” Both albums are unique. Veliotis’s multilayered sounds, chords, and drones, all on the cello, blend with Angelakas’s thoughtful lyrics. The duo traveled along different paths, at different times, before joining forces. From Thessaloniki, Angelakas picked grapes as a youngster before rejecting that line of work. He turned to music and fronted his rock band Trypes along a blazing trail for 15 years. Back then, an entire generation here identified with the angst-ridden words and thoughts of Angelakas, now 48. Born and raised in Athens, Veliotis, a cool-headed 38-year-old, thrives on city life. The classically trained cellist prefers anti-academic ways in music, surfs the Internet, and gets his kicks out of watching trash TV and frequenting small venues with experimental leanings.

Yiannis Angelakas, are you still mad at [the late archbishop] Christodoulos?

Y. A:

I was not mad at Christodoulos, nor was the song “Airetiko” (Heretical) just about him, but about what he represented. Christodoulos was a passionate priest in a mad world, a rock star who controlled listeners, and a TV star, but his show was cheap. In the end, of course, he became a hero. Everybody emerged in the media and spoke lofty things about how significant a personality he was. Big deal, we knew what he was.

N. V:

Greek hypocrisy is a well-known fact. We need mass, national psychotherapy in order to be able to move on.

Should I assume that you were not at all alarmed by all that has gone on at the Culture Ministry (Zachopoulos affair)?

Y. A:

It’s a joke in itself that a Culture Ministry exists. Power, amid all its interests, cares little about how it will further develop people. Like the Public Order Ministry and its enforcement of order as it sees it, the Culture Ministry imposes its own views about culture. And we’ve seen what the results are – dirt, money, scandals…

Would you accept financial backing from the Culture Ministry?

Y. A:

We would most probably say “no,” as we’ve done in the past. If we lived in a more serious country with serious leaders and I saw that people like Socrates Malamas and Thanassis Papaconstantinou received occasional ministry backing, then I may have asked for funds to maintain the band.

N. V:

I would prefer it if young, unknown artists received ministry funds. But, as Yiannis just said, we don’t live in a serious country. We’ve suddenly just realized that the Chrysi Avgi (right-wing extremist) group enjoys good ties with the Greek police force, and that immigrants get beaten up at police stations. Reality is just what is captured on video and put on the screen.

Do you watch television?

N. V:

I do. I’ll find something even in the junk. There’s something worthy there, too, if you watch with a conscience. I’m just as conscientious about not watching the news.

Y. A:

It’s not news, its a show. Fortunately, not everybody is feeding television’s atrocious state. TV junkies in Greece number no more than 2-2.5 million. They’re the minority. There are also people who think, worry, and get out onto the street to fire up the thoughts of fellow citizens.

Are you optimistic?

N. V:

Yes, because we get around here, meet people, young people who think. There’s something alive out there that’s boiling.

Is this why your new album is more optimistic than the previous one?

Y. A:

When we were making “Oi Anases Ton Lykon” it was a difficult period for both of us. Things around us then changed, as did our energy, and this new album is truly more luminous.

How did you two get together and find you matched?

N. V:

Yiannis was doing the soundtrack for Nikos Nikolaidis’s film “Loser Takes All” and wanted to do something with the cello.

Y. A:

And we became friends. It’s the only way I can work. I don’t function in a totally professional way. I create human bonds and, then, music through them.

N. V:

What we do is like a serious game.

Is there any chance of us seeing Trypes on stage again?

Y. A:

No, no chance whatsoever. We have nothing to do with this trend for band reunions, all for the sake of making money.

N. V:

It’s still early. You’re all too young!

Nikos Veliotis, did you follow Trypes ?

N. V:

No, I’d started getting involved with experimental music at the time.

Y. A:

I like to collaborate with people who didn’t listen to Trypes. Much of the Episkeptes [Angelakas’s current backing ensemble] lineup had no idea about the old band.

How did you manage to gather all these exceptional musicians? And how can such a large band of about 15 people on stage survive financially?

Y. A:

It’s total madness trying to maintain such a band in Greece. It does generate some wages. Our nerves often reach the breaking point, but we carry on because the guys understand that what we do is worth the effort. Which is why they often sacrifice better pay to be with us.

Do you believe in the freedom that the Internet provides musicians?

Y. A:

I believe with hesitation. I need to wait a few more years. There’s momentum and potential, so something may be achieved here.

N. V:

We feel concern about the distribution of our work. Total freedom may come through the Internet.

Your album sells for about 17.80 euros. That’s expensive isn’t it?

N. V:

It’s expensive because of the middlemen.

Y. A:

We dream of cheaper albums, but at this point in time, don’t have the power to achieve this. Of the 17.80 euros, our label, Alltogethernow, which does all the production work, gets 5 euros. The money we get is in there. We give the distributors completed work and they share the remaining 13 euros with the record shops. Let’s not talk about this anymore because it drives me crazy.

N. V:

And just think, albums are even more expensive in the country’s provinces.

Does it annoy you if some listeners freely download your music?

N. V:

Now, that’s just the way things are.

Y. A:

We try to be on good terms with our fans. And because they’re quality-minded, they understand that All together now needs the money to survive. Until now, despite these difficult times, people have been buying our music, consciously. I’m certain that if we were to ask our following for support, it would offer it. At some point, when it became known that Alltogethernow had problems, a girl called me to say that she had 1,500 euros which she could gladly give me. There was a boy, too, offering about that much more. I didn’t accept it, of course, but it’s touching when somebody says: “Well, I’m here and want to help you continue with what you’re doing.” People know.