Friday, 31 October 2014

Someone's hanging on my telephone, call the Bored Policemen!

1 day 6 hours 57 mins to go…

Bit pissed off today, as I lost my phone on my birthday. It got pulled out of my pocket when it snagged on the sleeve of my coat, and hit the ground just as I pulled open the door of a taxi, the sound of it hitting the concrete was covered up by the sound of the taxi door opening. Someone later found it and the phone now resides with them in Sawbridgeworth, findmyphone tells me. Hmmmmph.

Update on my Jenga Society CD consignment… apparently, it’s stuck somewhere in Poland? Typical, they come over here, without my CD’s and go back again.

Talking of which, after I lost my phone and got into the taxi, a few minutes later the driver was cut up by a Mercedes, and he then turned to me and said “It’s probably a bunch of Romanians who have made a fortune but are still on benefits and claim they’re poverty stricken.  
In my head…”Aaaaahhhhhh, get me out of this seething mass of ignorance, it’s my birthday, I don’t want to hear your irrational poison”. I didn’t know what to say, how you argue with that without getting extremely angry, I don’t want to be angry, this is my birthday, I am not getting angry today!

So is this where it ends, after all my hard work? I don’t have a new album to launch on November 1st?

Bored Policemen.

This was also an early attempt at fusing rock with reggae and was inspired by the amount of time I spent walking back and forth across the town at night, mostly at weekends, coming back from parties in the early hours, smashed out of my head. Or occasionally,coming back from a gig. I was young and out late and therefore ‘up to no good’. It happened so many times, they’d asked a load of stupid questions (I once had to name the use for every key I had on my key ring.) and I would answer politely as my mum advised me, and then they’d let me go. In the end it was obvious that they had nothing to do and to relieve their boredom they would pull people aside not because they had any suspicion of wrong doing but we were fair game being out late.

So Bored Policemen it was then, not so much a Police and Thieves but a Police and suburban kids, not a big thing, but to us it was. If you were young and black and lived in a big city you were talking SUS and that was another ball game altogether. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Where does all the Thyme go?

1 Day 13 hour 31 mins 

Well, my sixtieth turned out to be a damp squib of a day, as I expected. It was a Wednesday, it was grey, it was raining, the bowling alley I wanted to go to was shut, there were no shows on in nearby theatres, there were no films on of any merit too see and there was nothing that I had a burning desire to do or see. On top of all that I lost my phone too. That is why I am celebrating my birthday properly on Sat 1st Nov instead, Wednesday was always a non-starter.
What was good though, was all the greetings I got via Facebook and my birthday cards, they were some of a few bright spots in my grey day, thank you.
I was hoping by now to be surprised by the early delivery of my freshly minted kuJenga Society CD, but no, not so far. See, this does show that underneath it all, I am an optimist. 

The Mind Of Valerie.

In this song, I attempted to depict the stresses and strains that striking has on a family and I wanted to highlight the importance of the support from the wives (in this case in the Miners’ Strike) that was essential for the men to stay out.
The essential thing here is solidarity, it is a powerful thing and there will be many times that this concept may be needed to protect what you believe in in life. It is this solidarity which is the target of the right as they recognise that, it is the tool of working people to protect themselves. Solidarity is often found in the public sector and it is no-wonder then that we are seeing the dismantling of the Local Government and the NHS by the Tories, so that those services can be handed over to the ‘individualism’ of the non-unionised private sector. They then help their friends and the boards of companies they eventually join, to make maximum profits without paying a decent wage. GOLD RUSH BABY!

Striking is a grim and desperate thing to do, but the awful industrial relations in this country means that working people need more than ever to protect themselves and I think it is an essential and noble thing to do, to stand by your fellow worker and fight for what is right, even though you may be losing much needed money in the process.
It is this nobility and struggle that I tried to capture in ‘The Mind Of Valerie’

Take a listen, 30 mins and 30 seconds in.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

These are birthday times!

2 days 20 hours 38 mins to go...

I am 60 today, I can’t believe I am here, I am very grateful to be, I have a lot to be grateful for. I am taking time out from planning the kuJenga Society release today, to go and do something, I don’t know what but I have to make a decision very quickly before the day grows old.

I am having a big do on Saturday so today has been left to be somewhat random.

Fighting Times.

Staring Thatcherism in the face is an ugly thing to behold; to confront Thatcherism took a strong stomach and a lot of energy. But if you took enough time to examine her political philosophy, the future became clear and it was terrifying. One of the biggest things was the loosening of the regulations regarding media ownership. 30 years ago, Margaret Thatcher's government allowed Mr Murdoch's company to take over The Times and Sunday Times without referring it to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC), even though he already owned the Sun and the News of the World. 
We then became a nation unable to see it’s self as a collection of communities but with the prism of Murdoch’s world view, we came to see ourselves as a collection of self-interested, self-centred individuals.
If you see yourself shed in that light long enough, you will begin to believe it.
Language is what we use to make the world, but who hold the reins to delivery of language and ideas through the media, how did they get it, who’s purpose does it really satisfy and are they accountable?

'Fighting Times 'was a rallying cry which described what we would lose if we did not stand up and be counted. Not enough people did stand up to be counted and so we came to loose so much that had been fought for over the years.
But it is never too late to fight back!

The quote below from ‘Fighting Times’ was written about the apartheid regime but is still relevant, I think, as a truism for what we are experiencing today. 

“cos, it’s greed that creates the scum that rules a land, and imprisons it’s people as slaves” 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Excuse me sir, this is a courtesy call, If you could replace any of your windows in your home, which ones would you choose. Eh, Windows 8, I can't get on with it!

3 days 21 hours and 0 min

I feel much better today. There is no doubt that I have been over-doing it, but I had a health check yesterday and the results were A1 on everything, which was a great relief as I felt exhausted and flat at the time of it taking place.
I have had a good night’s sleep and feel somewhat revived ,although I do think I have a bit of a chest infection. Never mind, I still have so much to do.
The good news is, I have implemented the download service for both the single and the album but it appears to take a fair while for the songs to show online so I do not know if anything will be available to be bought on Nov 1st. We shall see.
Once they are available, I will need to put the connection into my website so that you can easily click through to make a purchase. Once that is in place, it will be the first time that I will be able to sell my music without someone else taking a cut.


This is a song about the religion industry. It has always been a bizarre concept to me that spiritualism could be packaged up and sold; it’s like fighting for peace.
However the way that religion is often sold, not only undermines the message but is damn ugly.

I will not buy goods or services of any kind from cold callers knocking on my door. The idea of getting you to purchase or agree to something on your doorstep is a pressure tactic and it preys on the old and vulnerable. 

When I answer the door to someone who asks me if I have seen the light, I am incensed. Can you imagine what it would be like if every company or organisation that had something to sell, came knocking on your door? You would never get any peace. I just say, “Did I ask you to engage me on this?” “No, I know where your church is, if I want enlightenment I will come to you!” Door stop selling is so old fashion and so not the way to do things these days but it still happens. 

Much as I love the Beatles and George Harrisons part in their music, his involvement in the Rada Krishna Temple, although culturally interesting, meant for a while we were stopped in the street, given the hard sell by these colourful salesmen of Eastern philosophy.  

Of-course what they used to do was a complete con. They would have some albums with them which were recorded by a bunch of no-bodies and then in the sleeve design, they would put a bunch of rock star names making it look they were playing on the album, George Harrison, Carlos Santana etc. These were people who were in some way interested in eastern religion and were listed to imply they were playing on the record.

Their tactic was to hand a copy of this album over to you, saying that it was free and had these big rock stars on it, but they didn't let go of it. Once you held it in your hand, you had committed to accepting a free album and the next thought that goes though your head was, oh well, it’s free, I’ll accept it, I've got nothing to lose. But they haven’t let go of it! 

Before they do, they then say, could you make a donation. Now you've committed to taking the album but are concerned about what sort of donation would be acceptable for it. They soon help you with that and then you walk away having bought an album of unmitigated rubbish. This happens in the street, a cold calling away from the home. 

Fortunately, I can tell you I never succumbed to this con, but I have often come across this album in the collections of my friends.

I rib them rotten over it!  

Footnote: In cities we have played with big Red light districts like Amsterdam and Hamburg, I have been known to announce this song thus... Ladies and Gentlemen, the Neurotics are now about to perform Sects live on stage. That always broke the ice.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Exausted and Screaming

4 days 18 hours and 27 mins

Not feeling too good today, I’m getting a bit worried that I am overdoing it in the lead up to my big day, Nov 1st. This is when I celebrate my 60th Birthday and it is supposedly the local release date for my kuJenga Society album and Christmas single. But whether I will have either in time, remains to be seen.
I have started on the download service and I have just received the mp3’s from my mastering engineer Nick, who continues to recover from pancreatitis, having given himself and everyone else, a fright when falling ill recently. I shall upload them today as apparently, they take ages to appear in the well-known download vendors like ITunes, Google Play and Spotify etc…

As I say, not feeling too good today and the thought of falling ill just before my 60th is too awful to contemplate. Completely unrelated, I have a check-up at the Doctors set for today, a product of coming to the age I will soon be. My birthday is 29th Oct (which is a crap Wednesday) so I am celebrating on Sat 1st Nov. 

I must be careful with myself.


I feel so fortunate that I grew up while the Beatles were releasing records. I got to hear them when those songs were brand new, and not experiencing them as rock’s grand history as we all do now.
I can still remember listening to these tunes unfolding second by second, sparking things off in my head as my mind tried to anticipate where the melody would go next, and it never did, it went somewhere even better! None of us had the musical maps in our heads that we all have now. This was untrodden ground and I was a blank canvas they were painting on. They changed me forever, this is where my musical journey began and it would have been where it ended too, were it not for the fact that I have made my own music now, and it will be my songs that will play me out of this world at my funeral.

I feel so fortunate, some people grew up with the likes of Alvin Stardust or (substitute any name you like here) I didn't, I grew up with the real deal!

When John Lennon fell in love with Yoko, I didn't have a problem with her, I was intrigued, she dealt with ideas, I like ideas, I was comfortable with leftfield music too so, what was there not to like?

I consider the Plastic Ono Band’s ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s only looking for her hand in the snow) to be one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll records ever and was a pre-cursor for punk.

It was so IN YOUR FACE!

Anyway, the Newtown Neurotics were on stage at the Music Machine, London on the night Lennon was shot. We didn't know, we had no mobile internet and the grapevine only extended so far when you were out for the night. When I got home, I went straight to bed exhausted and inebriated.
In the morning, I got a call from my friend Martin Brown who brought me the news (he recently was the first to bring me the news of the sad death of Shane Rowe ex of the The Sods and for a moment, it felt that he had become the de facto messenger of the grim reaper, until I reminded myself that thirty four years had passed between the two incidences so that was hardly fair).

I was devastated, I felt the loss so keenly and yet I had never met him. This was a new feeling, it was almost like he was a family member but unlike that type of loss, you cannot ask for counselling for losing your favourite popstar. Get over it idiot, and get real.

And that’s what I tried to do, but he came to me in a dream that night, I was in Central Park and I saw John and Yoko so I went up to them and told them how sad I was about the news.Then John said to me, it was ok, he was fine, he had just moved on to the next stage of existence. He told me not to worry and I felt mightily relieved.

When I woke up, that relief melted away as I realised that it was not a vision, he had told me nothing, I was just reassuring myself via my sub-conscience. 

What could I do, how could I mourn?

I handled it in the only way I knew how,

I wrote a song, Screaming.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fragile Do Not Bend, This Fragile Life

5 Days 20 hours and 16 mins

This morning I have plunged into the world of mailers, there are a lot things to contemplate when you start your own music label and mailers are one of them. This is pretty mundane stuff, but it is necessary to be able to get physical product to customers and for those who choose physical and not go for a download, you need the thing to arrive without a single blemish, so it is very important. I am just disappointed with myself for waking up early today and the first thing that came into my head was, mailers! Sad. 

Having finished the background stories to the songs on the ‘Beggars Can Be Choosers’ album, I now feel inclined to tell the stories behind the tracks on our second album Repercussions.

Our first release on Jungle Records and we start off the next part of our career with a name change, well a name shortening. As I have said before, this was done to reflect the growing maturity of the band and to differentiate us from this idea that we may be an Oi band. So we became ‘The Neurotics’, which was what most people called us anyway.
And with that we lost a whole chunk of our potential audience globally, as people didn't realise we were one and the same band, believing that the Newtown Neurotics to have only released one album. There was no Google or Amazon to help make the connection in those days.

This Fragile Life.

We opened the album, with a very important song for us, in-fact the sleeve design for the LP reflected this, showing a group of elderly people in a sort of woodblock print design.
The Eighties was a tale of two worlds in which a small section of the population became increasingly richer, and a larger part falling into poverty. The most venerable, being the old and the sick. I wrote this song to make sure people did not forget the growing disparity between these two worlds, and the people who got discarded to enable the wealthy to get wealthier. 

It is often said that you can tell the level of civilisation by how much we care and look after our most venerable people. Now, in the world of global capitalism, you only have worth as a unit of production (or a trained killer in the armed forces, which have for the most part become an arm of globalisation). Once you do not work, or cannot work or are too old or sick to work, you are deemed next to worthless.

Capitalism will squeeze the profit out of a person’s lifetime and then discard them when they are no longer able to be commercially productive.
If you are not one of the wealthy elite, this is the dustbin you will end up in.

Bottom line, poverty is disgusting and a moral outrage. We do not so much need to protect ourselves from each other, rather, we need to protect ourselves from the effects the wealthy have our morals and society.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Living With Underemployment

6 days 16 hours 49 mins

The sun is shining and I feel fine. Just completed a collage image that is to be the main visual for the homepage of From there you will be able to choose from my solo work, Newtown Neurotics or Indestructible Beat. This is a big thing for me, because for the first time I am pulling the threads together of my creativity over the years. Approaching my sixtieth seems like a very good time to do this and it is bringing things into sharp focus for me. The Indestructible Beat stuff has not seen the light of day so far, but I am going to make this material available in the near future as I am very proud of it. There will be some Neurotics material that is currently lying in the Drewett vaults, that is excellent quality and will be released too.
Next up for me, is to integrate the new image into the website and connect up the parts of it to various areas within Then I need to integrate the shop area where all things Drewett can be purchased.  

Yes folks, for the first time I am opening for business! Proper!

Living With Unemployment.

This is an adaptation of the Members song ’Solitary Confinement’ whose subject matter was about moving from the suburbs to London and the loneliness of working in a mundane job and knowing no-one, having left family and friends behind.
My version, pitched moving from the suburbs to London and then into long term unemployment.
We extended our version into a bit of a tour de force and it has continued to be a great set finisher over the years.
Pretty early on, Jean Marie Carroll of the Members and co-writer of Solitary Confinement, came along to see the Neurotics play at the Fulham Greyhound, and then he told me afterwards that I had made an ‘old man very happy’ with our adaptation and the same very much applied to me too, with that endorsement. I have since supported the Members playing solo and we have continued our friendship. They told me that they sometimes, get people requesting that they play Living With Unemployment and then suggested that we should do it together one day. Now that would be special!
The sad thing about this song, is the subject matter is still very relevant, thirteen or more years’ later, unemployment is still a blight but now we also have underemployment and Zero hour contracts. So this is caring capitalism? 

This feels like tyranny to me.

Friday, 24 October 2014

My life, My Death!

7 days 20 hours and 12 mins to go...

I have been thinking about all the people I have needed to work with, in one way or another, to make my 'kuJenga Society' album happen. Many of them have been brilliant but the toughest part of anything one undertakes, is the people that let you down! They make the hardest work, they make it difficult for everyone else, they squeeze the fun out of excitement until only anxiety is left.

I am coming up for being sixty and yet I am, for the most part comfortable in the online world and I am trying to make the most of this communications medium. I hate the loss of privacy this can bring but I love the reach that the internet can give me.

However, I grew up at a time when our house had no telephone at all, I remember the little green trim-phone that was finally installed in my home, and once the engineer left I sat and stared at it and thought, “I could ring anyone in the world with that” (but I didn't know anyone’s number) and then I thought, “anyone in the world could ring us, why are they not doing that?”

Once the telephone had become a normal part of our existence and ‘last number redial’ was made available, we absorbed a sort of unspoken etiquette, and that was, if someone rang you and you were not in, you would ring them back asap. If you agreed to ring someone on a certain date, you would ring them on that agreed day.

I don’t know if my age is anything to do with it, but if I ring people and they do not pick up, I leave a voicemail. I may have started by texting and then not getting a reply, so I then ring. Then nothing. You think, hmmm they could be on holiday, they could be at work, they could be busy. These are all valid possibilities and I am very forgiving, within reason.
But there are some people who, time and time again, need constant texts, voicemails, Facebooking to get the smallest bit of information from them. I don’t know how many times I heard the excuse that ”I lost all my texts and voicemails on my phone, I didn't know you rang”. That works once but not several occasions from the same person/s. 
I know that when talking face to face with someone and our phone goes off, is it common courtesy to reject the call but you should get back to the caller as soon as you can.
However, for some people, they seem either to respond only to the last few calls that shows on the screen, meaning, that if they don’t get back to you before more missed calls come in, you are never going to get the call back.
Or, you are so low priority to them that they can’t even bother to talk to you.

Going back to my age and the early telephone days, I still carry the expectation that it is common courtesy return calls in a reasonable time. I can’t put a finger on what that timeframe is, but we all have an expectation in our heads. As I said earlier, I am easy going regarding most delays, this is a busy world and sometimes I take a while to get back to people, but I make sure I eventually do. When I end up texting and ringing and leaving voicemails for information or conversations that are vital to me and the same people pull the same tricks, you know then that you are being blanked and that you are low priority to them.

Going back to my age again, this may not be the feelings of younger people who grew up in 'information overload' right from the start. But if you consistently do not get back to me, I feel slighted, I feel you have 'low' prioritised me, I feel you lack common courtesy and are forcing me to have to constantly exert my energy, and waste my busy time, trying to get the smallest bit of response back from you. And the weird thing is, these people complain when others do not respond to their calls, yet they cannot take a look at themselves and realise how much frustration they are causing people.

So these slights, have an accumulative effect, not big enough to have a argument over, but it builds up, so for the worst culprits of this, I can, over a couple of years, go from geniality to outright loathing of them without us ever having a row.

Is this me being neurotic or do others find this failure to respond driving them mad?

Talking of neurosis…

My Death

At a time in the eighties when most punk bands were singing about ‘having a laugh and having a say’ and other similar moronic reactionary claptrap, I delighted in trying to bend a few minutes of punk rock to some sort of introspection of the human condition. In My Death, I invoke the philosophical by including in the lyric’s imagery ,Camus’s “The myth of Sisyphus” 

The Myth of Sisyphus is a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. It comprises about 119 pages and was published originally in 1942 in French as Le Mythe de Sisyphe; the English translation by Justin O'Brien followed in 1955.

In the essay, Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: "No. It requires revolt."
Sisyphus, is a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

How about that? Of-course those words are not from the lyric, but with My Death, I took on an intellectual discourse in 3 mins and 17 seconds, who else has ever taken on a task like that in song?

I must admit here, that I am somewhat undecided about where I sit on two strains of thought. On the one side is the intellectual and ‘head up his own arse Will Self’ that writes in such a complicated manner that I tire of his point of view, after struggling to understand it for ten minutes or so. On the other side is George Orwell who believed that the lexicon of words to express yourself should be greatly reduced so that we all wrote and spoke more plainly, supposedly so that the mind, it’s concepts and ideas could be appreciated easily by the masses.

I once had a promoter ask me why I used certain words in my songs when simpler ones would make my lyrics easier to understand. I was horrified that I was being asked why I don’t dumb down my lyrics to the level of a bonehead Oi band so as to better communicate. 

I challenged him that if I did that, I would effectively be classifying the working class and unemployed to be too thick to understand ideas expressed in song, as though they were in some way retarded. I have always aspired to write lyrics that deliberately made people think, that was the whole Idea. If you are not clear about what I am trying to say, then think about it for a while and draw a conclusion. Dumbing down ideas into easy to understand chunks, is mind control, it is the language of tyrants, it is the language of the Sun, of the Murdoch empire, of unfettered capitalism.

Do you understand this…

“it’s greed that creates the scum that rules a land and imprisons it’s people as slaves, I’ve seen your future, I’ve seen your future, a generation with nothing left to lose”.  Fighting Times – Newtown Neurotics 1985

You should do, because you are living it.

Think about that!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Who put the Ku in Jenga?

8 Days 17 Hours 58 minutes…

I haven’t got any news regarding my ku Jenga Society album, apart from perhaps explaining the story behind the additional ‘ku’ in the title. Kujenga is the Swahili ‘to build’, which is relevant to the concept of the title song of the album but the title song is just called Jenga Society.
The reason for this is to make it plain that I am using the Swahili words for the concept and not using the word Jenga on its own which could be claimed, that I was trying to trick people who love the game, into buying the album thinking it was connected. (I know, who would? But that is the sort of thing that can be claimed in copyright infringement).
So while I wait for the manufacturing to take place, I have been trying to come up with a visual concept for my new website which is going to appear at (don’t do, you’ll get a stamp dealer). With this I hope to connect the different strands of my career, from solo, the Newtown Neurotics and the Indestructible Beat. I want the Steve Drewett area to be ready for the Jenga release date; the Neurotics section is already live as it has always been but later I am going to redesign it. The Indestructible Beat section will come later.
Other big news today? Earlier I text ‘luv u 2’ to my daughter only to receive a text from Neurotics bass man Adam Smith saying I love you too. Whoops, wrong person, but I’m too long in the tooth for embarrassment. 

Life in Their Hands

I wanted to write something with a lot of power but I also wanted it to be a different approach to punk from what was the norm at the time. It is the rhythm of this track that is different to most of the rest of the ‘Beggars Can Be Choosers’ album (there was also of-course the reggae rhythms of ‘Newtown People’) and for this I used the influence of Bo Diddley and the type of approach he gave to his songs.
I am more than happy to be inspired by American artists but I’m not overly impressed by the fawning over of Americana in the way the Clash did. So the subject matter of the song was based in England and sung in our usual way.
It was about unlicensed bouncers (many of which were just plain thugs with violent criminal records), one of which had, around 1983 had beaten up and killed an innocent gig goer Henry Bowles. It was big news in the music press at the time and also inspired Action Pact to write ‘London Bouncers’. 

I hope I had a bit of influence at the time.

Take a listen below…

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Does Anyone Know Where The March Is?

9 days 19 hours and 47 mins to go…

I made a stupid mistake a while back, regarding the correct template needed for the design of my new Christmas single, which caused me problems yesterday with the manufacturers. I spent the day correcting it, which was hard work because I have not designed for print before and a learning curve whilst under pressure is horrible. Anyway, this means that the single will not be available for the 1st of November date I wished but…I might have the album available for that time, I hope.
Update: The proofs came through this morning and they were fine, so I have given the go ahead. I won’t get them in time, but I hope to have the album, fingers crossed.

Does Anyone Know Where the March is?

The Newtown Neurotics were always conscience of taking ourselves too seriously, especially because of the seriousness of much of my lyrics, so I was keen on some humour on our first album and it was this track that supplied it.

We had planned to do a ‘Fairs Fair’ protest gig off the back of a lorry in central London, in support of Ken Livingston’s subsidy for public transport in the city. This had just been declared illegal by the Tory sympathiser judicial system despite all the evidence that cheap transport was good for business and for the people of London in many ways.
Trouble was, once we had loaded our gear on to the back of the lorry and had set up as best as we could, the generator refused to start. As the organisers of our float battled to yank it into life, the other floats moved off to begin the protest.
Once we got the generator working we set off, but ended up in the middle of the log jam of traffic behind the march. So we played to confused shoppers and people stuck in their cars. I thought it was memorably funny and so it had to become a song and our first humorous one to boot!

Whilst on the subject of not taking ourselves too seriously, we once played some dates with the quirky Toy Dolls. We got on well with them, they were a nice bunch of lads, but the funny thing was while we were on stage, we were earnest, angry and very serious, then the Toy Dolls took the sage,  and were just plain silly (Nellie the Elephant indeed). 
Once off stage, they were sober, serious and lightweight. They hardly drank at all, were very well behaved, quiet at the restaurant and went to bed early. Whereas once we got off stage, we were loud, silly, got outrageously drunk and laughed our way towards dawn and finally bed.

Hear how the day of the march unfolded here…

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Newtown People

10 Days 22 hours 15 mins to go…

Despite all my best efforts, and with the date I want the CD’s by clearly stated on the order form (which was accepted), I was told yesterday that I was ‘pushing it’ to be able to get my order by the end of the month, the last possible date for me.

To me, ‘pushing it’ means, ‘you aint gonna get them when you want’, so the release date of November 1st isn’t going to happen.
This is not entirely their fault; I would have got the designs and the data to the manufacturers earlier, but people and things outside of my control have created the ‘perfect storm’ to bring me to this point.

The countdown is still relevant, as it is applies also to celebrating my 60th Birthday on Nov 1st (as opposed to the 29th October which is mid-week).

Newtown People.

It is a song about alienation. During the formation of this Newtown in the late 50’s, in which people from the East End of London were transplanted into Harlow while it was still being built, there was a phenomenon called the ‘Newtown Blues’.

Originally, this described the depression that young mothers would fall into after moving to Harlow, away from the close knit support structure of the family back in the East End. They found themselves living in an enormous building site with no facilities and no-one to see each day. Struggling with bringing up new-borns or just older children continually misbehaving because there were no parks and nothing to do, depression or post-natal depression set in.
By the Eighties things had improved regarding facilities but it was still way behind in providing things for young people to do. I began my young adult life, listless and bored. There was plenty to do in London, but the last train (no-one I knew had a car) left so ridiculously early, that to go out for a night in the city meant putting up with a fair degree of discomfort i.e. I spent many a night sleeping rough on Liverpool Street station waiting for the first train of the new day.

So I wrote Newtown People to express the feeling of alienation and hopelessness my friends and I all felt. Everyone I knew, wanted to move out of their parents place and get a flat in London and in those days it was possible.
I later bemoaned about the soullessness of Harlow in an interview in the NME, which a year later was picked up by the Harlow Gazette which then ran a feature on my views in a double page spread. 

But after all these years I am still here, maybe I am suffering from ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ because I actually love this town. I love playing this song, but it has been a long journey from my view of Harlow as expressed in Newtown People.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Agony and the ecstasy!

11 days 19 hours 4 mins

Once again I find myself waiting for the next stage of releasing the Jenga Society album to kick off. The timeframe for making the Nov 1st release is relying on the artwork being passed, and a proof agreed by me. It is only at that point, the delivery time of 10 to 12 working days clicks in, which at this point would clearly have me miss my target date. I have stated in the order, when I need the discs by, which has not been contested so I assume all is still ok.


I once found myself, as a young man, in a relationship which, although in many ways was brilliant, was soured by the tendency of my partner, from time to time, to bring out the worst aspects of me.
It takes two, it is true, but the influence of alcohol could make her very argumentative after a visit to a pub or party. During these incidents she managed to kick off the augmentative element of my personality and then we would go at it like you wouldn’t believe.

It really riled me up, stirring lots emotions including self-loathing. After we had finished, I often wondered how I had let myself get so angry over so very little, I seemed to be drawn by some emotional vortex, into conflict each time. It wasn’t once, or twice but on many occasions and I felt it had become a ‘feature’ of our relationship.
During these episodes, I could feel a really unpleasant part of me welling up, it was ugly and it worried me. I was fathered by a man who thrived on conflict and had made my mum’s life a misery (with arguments not violence, I need to point out). Realising that, I had to ask myself if I was perpetrating the continuation of this type of verbal cruelty from one generation to the next.

On more than one occasion, I could feel uncomfortably near to expressing my frustration and rage physically, so I decided that I had to get out of that relationship before I did something I would regret for the rest of my life.

I am relieved to say, that after we parted, I have not had a repeat of those aggressive impulses in any of my other relationships down through the years. I do not want to lay the blame entirely on her; we were just not good for one another. We kicked each other off.

I walked away feeling guilt, I walked away without really trying to resolve things, I walked away repulsed by myself and I was confused as to what to do with those feelings.

So I wrote a semi-autobiographical song called Agony, it helped me come to terms with things. Within the song, I put the protagonist further into the bouts of conflict than I had gone, and imprisoned him within his own inability to cope with his emotions.

Please take a listen...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Goodbye Shane Roe. Love Steve

For today, the countdown has stopped.

News reached me last night that Shane Roe, original founder of Harlow’s first punk band ‘The Sods’, has been tragically killed in an accident in Portugal. This is extremely bad news and at times like these, it is very hard to articulate something that isn’t being repeated over and over again by others (for good reason). I did not know Shane that well, but he was always engrossed in music, making music, living music.
The connection between me and Shane is a personal and very important one. He formed the Sod’s, which I found to be a direct challenge to me, with my guitar gathering dust under the bed. He and the rest of the band, all friends of mine, were out doing what I had always dreamed of, playing rock ‘n’ roll that was brilliant and challenging, and there was I, being left behind, I had given up. I gave up due to the insipid music scene at the time and had found consolation in reggae instead, which I had never considered performing.
Then punk happened and Shane and the Sods were first out of the starting gate in Harlow, screaming, spitting, constantly arguing and at the same time, creating an exhilarating and visceral punk rock experience.

I wanted in.

I had to catch up, I had to make up the ground I had lost, I had to dust off that damned guitar.

I formed the Newtown Neurotics in response to that.

The Neurotics was the making of me, not so much in a musical career sort of way, but it helped me become the man I am today. I went from a confused and directionless 24 year old ‘teenager’; to becoming the articulate, creative, and most importantly, happy person I am now.

That one small seed that Shane created in me when he formed the Sods had repercussions he never knew, because I never told him. Yeah he knew I have always loved the Sods but, he never knew how much.

Judge not a man on what he says, rather, judge him on what he does.

He did this to me,

This is my story,

Shane, Thanks Man!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

No Respect

13 days 18 hrs 23 mins to go…

No Respect

No Respect is a no nonsense song which quickly makes its point and then ends. One of my shorter tunes, but is still very popular with our audiences.
I just treat people the same, I see absolute no reason on earth why I should change my attitude to someone due to their gender, sexual orientation, disability or anything.
‘Treat everyone like you would want to be treated yourself’ my mum used to say, and adopting that simple approach will give you empathy with everybody. So many people cannot even achieve this level of self-awareness it sometimes shocks me.
This is all based on mutual respect, obviously you are not likely to act in the same way if someone refuses to empathise or respect you.  

Finally, we do not enrich ourselves by having second class citizens of any type, it only serves the few and ultimately works against all our own best interests.

Take a listen...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Get Up and Fight!

14 days, 20 hours and 34 mins to go…

At last, at times I thought I’d never get here but, audio data, artwork designs and documentation are all over at the CD manufacturers, we’ve not signed off the artwork yet, nor have they taken my money either. Just hoping there is no last minute hitches here. Once those milestones have been passed, then it is the wait for the album and single to be manufactured. At the moment we have a workable timeframe that can result in the release date (counting down above) being met.

All that is left for me to do during that waiting period is to design a website, purchase a download service to deliver mp3’s to Amazon, Google Play, ITunes and Spotify, became a seller via Amazon, write two or more press releases, drawn up a PR list for who to send review copies to and get ready for my impending 60th birthday. 

Shouldn’t have a pipe and slippers and taking life easy?

Get Up And Fight.

As the sweat rolled off of us in the Hoxton Oven, we battled to capture our fury into vinyl, our audio amber, to carry our message down through the years from the now to future generations.
People get the government they deserve, and if they do not engage then they will get little or no representation. The amount of people that actually vote now is dropping year by year. But out of all the age groups it is the older section of the population that vote and they get listened to, the younger generation do not vote for the most part and they get ignored, punished, pushed into benefit (less) hell and treated like the dregs of society.

I don't want sound like some hoary old Sham 69 number here, but young people have the potential to scare the living daylights out of the establishment and they would do if they started to represent themselves more. 

There was a good reason to be radical when you are young, because you need to shape the world that you will live in for the rest of your lives, otherwise you will live in a world shaped by somebody else and they will not be sympathetic to your needs. 
We all need to engage, we need to reinvent and re-invigorate the political process and shape the country the way we need it to be.

First up, resist the move to media plurality; we need a free press, free of multi-billionaire owners so that we can create an environment where ideas can be discussed without distortion and lies to suit the wealthy elite.

Get Up and Fight, is call to shake off apathy and disillusionment and to bathe in the ideas of the possible. Because everything is, inevitably, if you disagree with that, then you are already dead. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

I'm wasted, just look at the mess I am in!

I feel tired, so tired, like I have been swimming upstream for months on end, but happy because I didn't drown.

The artwork for the single and album is done, and handed over to the CD manufacturers. The album designs came burning down the WeTransfer wire from Brazil, in a zip file that was so on fire it refused to open at all, and gave me a few heart stopping moments whilst reading error messages. 
I had to download it afresh and try again. The second time, it opened. I extracted the files and there was my face branded into the wood of three Jenga blocks and I sat there looking at it imagining, I could smell burnt cellulose.
There is a bit of configuration that is to be done today to make the audio files ready for duplication and then they will be sent over to be manufactured.

Could I really be at the end of my journey? It seems hard to believe. How long has it been since I released some new recordings, oh man, I haven’t the strength to recall.

15 Days 21 hours 41 mins to go…

The Mess

I love playing this live, and people love hearing it. The lyrics detail the sinking aspirations of a young person that the educational system does not care about, has not encouraged and has not tried to save. This song is a catalogue of disappointment and frustration, where there is no joy in ether school, work or social life. It is about struggling with being a teenager as life feels like a boot pressing your head and face into the dirt. Here is the hopelessness that drugs appear to help alleviate, but when you are smashed, you never get to see yourself though the eyes of other people. If you did, you wouldn’t recognise this person, because you are lost to yourself.

Spin the downward spiral here…

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

You've got to wake up and live!

16 days 22 hours and 15 mins to go...

Fantastic news, I looked in my mailbox yesterday morning and saw an email from Nick, saying he was feeling better, had dragged himself into work and was back working on my tracks, he said he’d send something over later, which he did, and then I got to speak to him. I found out he has suspected pancreatitis and had a really rough time of it over the last few days. He now has some medication that is doing the job and is now able sleep well at night.
I am so pleased for him and I am so pleased for me, because if feels like the sun has come out from behind the clouds and lit up my life (wait a minute, it actually just has! Oh, it’s gone back in again!)
So, he’s back and I’m back on track, sort of, still waiting for the final artwork to come over from Brazil (yes Brazil, don’t get me going on that one), I am still anxious and that won’t change until I get the artwork through. Also I designed the cover for the Christmas single and I am waiting to hear from the CD manufacturers if the files are ok to print, I’ve never done this before so that could be a problem, (or is that an opportunity?) 
Update: I have just found out that my cover is fine, phew relief!

Wake Up

The first track of our first album, Beggars Can Be Choosers, and it was pretty much the opening number to our live set for the majority of our gigs over the years. The recording of this album was a complete nightmare, we turned up and our engineer failed to show and after some frantic phone calls it turned up he thought it was the following week, incriminations all round but no proof of who was responsible for the misconception. It was so long ago it doesn’t matter now.
It was the height of summer, it was boiling out, and the studio was full of double glazed windows letting the sunshine, turn the studio into a greenhouse, there was no air conditioning and we were not allowed to open the windows because it would upset the neighbours (this was Hoxton Square we were talking about).
The place was an oven and the guitars kept going out of tune due to the heat. We were meant to play blistering punk rock in this sweltering caldron of bad air. I just wanted to lie on the grass outside and feel the cool breeze, (if there was any) on my face.
So exhausting were the recordings that after we had finished, I fell ill and was bed ridden for four days afterwards. The strain was too much, I hated it.
But, we did manage to make a fine album, through blood sweat and tears.
Wake up as a song was a wakeup call (see what I did there?) to everyone to live life fully every day, against a backdrop of a world that is forever telling us we will fail, that trying is not enough, that succeeding is unlikely and that people that achieve great things, achieve them because they are great and not, ordinary people that become great by achieving great things. It is saying always stretch yourself, always strive to be better, get out of your comfort zone and live!!!

It was also very much an expression of finding myself through punk rock, which rescued me from the hopeless morass of nothing that appeared to be my destiny. I realised that the future is there to be made and not an abstract concept that you are forced kicking and screaming into. That was the lesson I learned, a lesson I tried to pass on though this number.

It also had a very large and very good fanzine named after it created by Dave T.

Here’s the song, take a listen…

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Never Thought I would ever need someone, someone like you!

I have been in desperate straits.

I have some news about Nick, my mastering engineer. He apparently has been really sick and has been so ill, he has not been able lie down to sleep, and so has had no respite from it at all. He has been in and out of hospital for tests. He has been prescribed tablets that bring no relief and so far, they have not pinned down what is ailing him. A pancreatic condition is suspected though

This is distressing to me in more ways than one, the first, is to be with an old friend at the moment a serious condition took a grip on him is upsetting. He thought he was coming down with a cold or flu. The second, was that I have had three years of delays to his album and when he said, we’ll finish here for the moment as I'm not feeling too great, I’ll finish it off tomorrow, inside I went noooooooo! With what has happened to me so far, this sounded ominous, even though I had no idea of the seriousness of the malady that was to engulf him. I was a desperate artist who was running out of time for a Nov 1st release.

I try, to put things in perspective, I am not ill, this is only an album, poor Nick who is usually never sick, now is quite so. I should think myself lucky. But the problem is, I am too wrapped up in myself, too obsessed with finally getting my album out. I feel ashamed, but I can’t help it!

I rang the studio, and talked to Duncan, the other engineer in the company and asked him if he could finish off the tracks for me. His reply was ‘No chance’. He said he was going on holiday on Friday and he had a mountain of work to complete before he could go. In my mind I think ‘they are paying customers and I was getting the work done as a favour because Nick is a friend of mine, I am the lowest on the priority list. 

I am fucked

But I do have all but one track, Nick gave them to me on a flash drive to listen to, they are mastered but they are just not in a format which says, this is track one, this is track two etc. and they don’t have the information that tells you the name of a track when the disc is in a player. Apart from one missing track (a ‘b’ side addition) it is just the metadata that is missing.

In desperation I turn to Mark Ashfield who was the studio engineer who did such a magnificent job the album. He picks up the phone after a couple of rings and after listening to my plight tells me, “I can do that here, yeah if you've got all the mastered songs I can prepare them for manufacturing, no problem". He also said we could also lift the live track that is missing and do a new mastering attempt on it, so that finally I would have everything I need.

I tell you, my grip on the English language is insufficiently mature enough to adequately describe the relief I was feeling when he said that. Really!

So we attempt to rescue the release later today. If nothing else happens!!!

Also, after tweeting my problem with the mastering, I was contacted by someone following my tweets, offering to do it for me, and his list of clients was formidable. It feels so good to have help offered through social media, that these connections can mean something more than idle chat.

I am also still not in possession of the final artwork for the album, it is done, but the delivery of it the other night via WeTransfer was a disappointment as the PDFs had not generated properly and a text layer was missing.

Will I make this release date, how much more stress can I take?

Wait a minute, there is something nagging me in the back of my mind, what is it? Oh yeah…

17 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes to go…

Never Thought

The Newtown Neurotics had been going through a lot of changes over the years these singles span, becoming a more mature band, becoming more of a rock band than a punk band maybe. The changes we had gone through made us such a different group to when we started out, that we thought it would be a good idea to express that with a slight name change.
Most fans referred to us as ‘The Neurotics’ anyway so with the release of the ‘Repercussions album’ in 1985 we shortened it to just that.

Bad move.

It didn't really do anything positive for us, but over the years even the most rabid fans, who would want to own everything we ever put out, were convinced we only made one album, the first one, Beggars Can Be Choosers. They failed to pick up on the name change and although connections are easier to make now with Google and the Internet, back in the day, we failed to take all our fans with us when we released subsequent albums under the new moniker.

Never thought is a pop song, a reggae infused pop song, but with everything I do, pop is only at its best when it is saying something, and with this release it was about a relationship I had with a girl, in the very heart of London. She lived next to the theatre that put on ‘Cats’ seemingly for a million years.
There was also, next door, a hostel for the homeless. In the depths of winter, when the hostel became full, the theatre would allow the foyer to be used as a place for sleep, for people with no-where to go.
The hostel was never enough in those so-compassionate Thatcher years (certain words there, are dripping with irony) so that I was forever stepping over these rejects of unfettered capitalism outside Holborn Station as I came and went from my then loved one’s flat.

Never thought was a song about my relationship with my girlfriend and with the homeless outside her home and which tried to bridge the huge gulf between our two worlds, all in a pop song. Don’t ever say I never take on a challenge in my music.

The other important thing was to make a thoughtful lyric that wasn’t depressing and could engage the listener in the story. The music was to be uplifting despite the subject matter. Try it, it aint easy.
The song was very catchy and hit the mark in many ways, perfect for the radio.
But could I get it played? No, no-one was interested, we didn’t have the contacts to get the single to the people ‘who count’.

Even local radio wouldn’t play it because local radio doesn’t play local music; it has a play list it works from that comprises of all the songs the other local and national radio stations are playing, dictated by the charts and the industry.

So when a benefit album came along that was raising money for Shelter, the homeless organisation, I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute a track, especially as Never Thought would be such a great fit.
I sent it to the compiler and he turned me down, saying it was too commercial, and that was it.

I left him to presumably fill his album full of tuneless anarcho syndicalist claptrap and no more was heard of it or him again.

Never Thought is below, play it, see what you think.