Sunday, 24 February 2013

We are not dead, we are just dead slow.

It was fabric based children’s playthings designed to promote creativity in small people that distracted us working in the early days, a fact reflected in the very early VSV single ‘Homework’ – “Fuzzy Felt’s a great temptation, I haven’t done my homework” we sang.  We are still pretty much striving to perfect the art of procrastination, these days one of us still drinks gin in a hammock and the other does bad things to the inners of electrical items, but our distractions are slightly more abstract.   Here are some recent examples.

Do giants play chess?
What is the answer to this: 1 2 (cos(ax−bx)−trolley(ax+box))−k 2 (egg(ax+bx)+cos(ax−bra))−1 {Elvis(ax)cos(bx)}/sin(ax) + 1/gin(ax) ] = 

Can you capture a castle with just a stick with nails in?
What is the difference between a Moomin?
Can we have a song with sha-la la’s in the chorus?
Hoe does Hans Moretti do the cardboard box illusion?
Does PJ Harvey prefer cider vinegar, or just normal vinegar, like Sarson's? You can’t assume that just because someone is from Dorset they like a lot of cider?

Ralf goes for salt and sauce
I also wonder what Ralf Hütter has on his chips.  I spent five nights waiting outside the Tait Modern during the recent Kraftwerk residency, but couldn’t get near the man.  Although the concept of playing in a turbine hall has prompted us to start a list of inspired places we can play live.  We don’t want to break the habit of actually encouraging or helping people to get to see us playing live, there must have been some kind of terrible mistake at our last gig at Henry’s in Edinburgh when all those people turned up.  Actually the last time we set foot in there we were roaring drunk and found ourselves jiving to some fairly brutal drum and bass, but that’s a story for another day.  A short gig at the back of the abandoned swimming pool in Stirling would ensure total disinterest, especially ‘unplugged’.  We have added The Three Holes in the village of Tweedbank to the list, it might be easier of you can just imagine this is a pub or something cause the truth is just too ridiculous and it would take too long to really tell you about the three holes, however it really is just three holes, in Tweedbank.  We are still pretty keen on the tribute act scam.  This is where we sell ourselves as a top class tribute act for a hat load of hard cash, possibly some band also featuring brothers, do a terrible job but do a runner before all hell breaks loose.  So for example, the local British Legion is putting on a tribute night.   We come along as Sparxs for £950 plus all the gin we can drink, but instead of actually playing a note, we play Kimono My House through their shitty PA they normally use for the bingo, dance about for a bit,  then do a runner before the end of Equator.  
Stirling Pool, the perfect venue

Of course one of the saddest things about the passing of Kevin Ayres is we never got to ask him if he preferred to take his picnic lunch in the park, in the countryside, on top of an open top double decker touring round Peterborough, or simply at his desk.  Voices and I’m ashamed to say, fists, have been raised when debating that one.  We will never know.

This is all a lot for us to think about, but if you can be patient for just a little bit longer, we’ll have another record out before too long.  Perhaps.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Although currently focusing on the production of their 2nd long playing record, Vacuum Spasm Babies, as part of the Sharkbatter Records ‘family’, were asked to present a selection of recordings to a live audience in advance of a performance from label mate Kono Michi. The disks selected were played over three nights taking in a similar number of live music venues.
  • Edinburgh – The Caves
  • Melrose – The Corn Exchange
  • Glasgow – Nice N Sleazy
As with previous outings, each participant in the project, mainly Malcolm Spasm and Charles S. Bravo, were able to identify in advance recordings that they considered to be a appropriate b) of a suitable genre c) no longer than 13 minutes in duration and d) able to offend in played without first delivering a health and safety talk. With the understanding that one record would be played after another, without pause, time for evaluation, a study on impact, or review against aims and objectives, it was agreed by the Technical Committee that two machines able to read data and interpret into an audio format would be utilised in tandem. The music workers responsible for ensuring continuous flow of audio throughout the auditorium would each control a ‘deck’ enabling them to start and stop a disk, and a ‘fader’ to control volume. Neither music worker is qualified to operate ‘pitch’ variation devices and were advised in strong terms not to undertake any experiments in this department, as this would go beyond agreed parameters. Various approaches were studied in advance, with a number of models presented to the Council of Continuous Audio Manipulation and in the end a new approach detailed in a recently published paper entitled ‘To Me, To You – A Study in Musical Fluidity’ was agreed as a way forward. This approach proved to be a success and a number of disks were successfully delivered, on target and within budget. A memo sent from Micko Michaelsson Jnr, CEO of Sharkbatter Records, to VSB HQ in advance of the signing of any contract, had stated that no actual cash budget would be available for the facilitation of this service, however in return for the supply of two music workers and the successful filling of the time leading up to the main performance with music, neither worker would be required to purchase a ticket to allow them actual entry to the event. The following list maps out in detail the tracks played over the three nights. Due to issues relating to loss of data, implements to enable the noting down of information, and mind episodes of idiotism, this list may not be complete, and is not presented in any chronological order, nor order of preference, or any order at all.
1. Come Taste My Mind – Earl Brutus
2. Oh! No! Here He Comes – Herbie Hancock
3. Diana – Comus
4. The Precious Mountain – Quickspace
5. Something Against You – Pixies
6. Crystal Clear – The Fiery Furnaces
7. Love Without Sound – White Noise
8. Jumpin Jack Flash - Ananda Shankar
9. Napoleon Does Dallas – The Stark Palace
10. Upside Down – The Jesus and Mary Chain
11. The Family – Mr Brooks
12. Susannah's Still Alive - The Kinks
13. Little Cleaver – The Stone Ghost Collective
14. Mhz – Vacuum Spasm Babies
15. Contact – Bridget Bardot
16. Legal Man – Belle and Sebastian
17. Shine On – The House of Love
18. Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman
19. How Does It Feel – The Creation
20. The Old Man’s Back Again – Scott Walker
21. Hey Hey – Gershon Kingsley
22. Spencer Davis Group - Waltz For Lumumba
23. Do The Strand – Roxy Music
24. Lady bird - Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
25. Animal Man – Kim Fowly
26. I Wanna Be Your Dog - The Stooges
27. Digging Bear – Dawn of the Replicants
28. The Mercy Seat – Nick Cave
29. The Pink Room – David Lynch
Variables taken into consideration in the planning stages of this project included takinginto consideration the number of additional artists engaged to add additional entertainment and value to any given programme, the general lateness of key personnel essential to the project at an operation level, and time for contingency plans put into action to actually secure and set up the apparatus needed to deliver and with that the time and input required to prompt locallysourced facilitators into action. To arrive at informed decisions regarding the actual number of disks needed was difficult, given the noted variables, therefore additional disks were set asideas a contingency, and accessible if areas of quite or unregulated noise were at risk of remaining unfilled. This contingency list follows, and it is worth noting for the record in this reportthat our initial estimates (the formula used here will be published at a later date) were very accurate and none of the additional disks were utilized.
1) I Can Take You To The Sun - The Misunderstood
2) German Studies- The Breeders
3) Flight From Ashiya – Kaleidoscope
4) Loose Threads – Pram
5) Here We Go Again – Ikara Colt
For your own research the authors can strongly recommend Sharkbatter Records andalso the Kono Michi site where you can find a free download of the ‘My Monster’EP.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hats off to Hans Moretti

The summer is over and Vacuum Spasm Babies are back to work on what will at some time be a new record. Although dust sheets were thrown over the 'equipment', the plants watered, mail re-directed and VSB HQ decommissioned and locked up for the chaps annual summer sabbatical, it's not been just another long lazy summer of potentially fatal experimental cocktails. Charles S. Bravo curated a little music festival of sorts that saw Sharkbatter label mates The Stone Ghost Collective, Sarahjane Swan and The Stark Palace playing to packed venues, and Malcolm Spasm spend some time scratching his head and looking at stuff to do with computers, which eventually resulted in someone sending him another bit of paper to say how clever he is.

There has been some VSB activity over the summer months. Andrew Morrison featured three exclusive tracks on his superb show on Dandelion Radio, the internet station inspired by John Peel. Live version of MHz and Whipping Clowns recorded at Henrys in Edinburgh were played out on his show along with a brand new track 'Song for Jack'. Also, unknown to the band, the live version of MHz also appeared on YouTube with the contributor (who we think lives in Spain) tagging the video as a "Live version of the soon-to-be-classic instrumental, with photos I took out of my kitchen window. On Monday morning."

Other new songs that are in various stages of completion include a tribute to the German conjurer Hans Moretti, a sad tale about a boy called Joe who likes to rob banks dressed as a cowboy, and a re-recording of a very old song that the chaps used to play in their old band 'Hoopster' in the 1990s.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Science EP and the formation of the Science Division

The next record has been recorded, you could argue that for a four track E.P it's taken far too long, and you'd probably be right. People keep making us do stuff to do with work, there's the dishes to be done, and then there are the other hobbies we collectively engage in, mainly hurting computers, fondue cooking, international travel, phrenology, collecting tiny models of Scottish band The Stark Palace, chasing Norwegians through the park, listening to Radio Luxembourg, phoning Sultan Kosen for pointless arguments watching La Cabina on DVD and learning the magic of Hans Moretti. But the record is made, the press release has been written, the artwork is back from the printers, the CD faces are in the process of being stamped, address labels are being written and our buddies at Sharkbatter Records have uploaded the songs on the free download section of their website. You'll be needing headphones, 15 minutes free time, and a friendly face to help pull yourself together at the end of it. Before having a listen, a few words about the Science Division.

Travelling home from Henry's Cellar Bar in the back of a mucky old van, winter 2009.....

Charles S. Bravo: "The Music that we have committed to tape and played tonight comes as a result of a rare musical gene present in both of us that means we really can't help ourselves."

Malcolm Spasm: "Yes brother, and now is the time to develop that wrongness, it's time for Phase 2 and the formation of the Science Division."

Science Division - "Rubber tubing wrong methodology, pull the curtain, big mistake. Simple children, dogs are burning, simmer beaker, clamps are turning." Science Division is the club that everybody wants to be a member of.

Khz - "Cleanse the pallet against misinterpretation and ambiguous translation. Subtle adjustments of dials and switches, inner workings primed for reception of transmission." We are not quite sure.

Chemical Burns - "Put on your new lab coat, you've got to watch for chemical burns, acid stolen from the lab, takes the skin clean from your hands." If you plan to dispose of body parts in your bath, be sure to wear appropriate protective clothing.

Mhz - This live studio version features original Dawn of the Replicants drummer Grant Pringle, with additional guitaring and bass from labelmates The Stark Palace's Cameron Jack and Roger Simian.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Henry's Cellar Bar in Edinburgh and why we like playing there, plus other news.

Over the past few weeks we've been doing exactly what we planned to be doing in August and September, mainly playing more gigs, pushing the album and recording for the next e.p. We have been lucky with gigs in Edinburgh, in that we're slowly convincing people to come and see us, and managing to hold it all together when we play. One of the highlights was a gig at Henry's in Edinburgh, a cool little venue near the centre of town, and one of the places we have always wanted to play. The gigs are run by a non-profit collective called The Raft, which includes Nora who does the sound at Henry's (and who had previously made us sound brilliant at a recent gig at The Ark) and Claire who books the bands and runs the door. It's a great place to play because it's tiny and the sound is really tight, it doesn't take a lot of people to make it look busy, you get beer tokens when you play, and it's run by quite cool people who are really into what they are doing. We had a riot, saw some mates that we hadn't seen for a while, and got talking to a few people including DJ Johnny Creamsoda who asked us to play at the launch of his new club Noriega’s Disco where on top of a few live acts he'll be playing 40 years of underground music - post-punk, DIY, C86, garage, punk, outsider and no-wave....

We've finished recording live favourite Science Division for the new e.p. which will sit with Khz, Chemical Burns and a new live band version of Mhz for the next release. Vic Galloway give the album version of Mhz a spin on his BBC Radio One introducing show from Scotland to promote some of the recent gigs, adding to an ever growing list of radio play we've received for Whipping Clowns.

Meanwhile our Sharkbatter Records buddies The Stark Palace are getting ready for their debut gig, bizarrely enough at a local town hall better suited to WRVS coffee mornings, wedding receptions, meetings of the traders association and performances from the operatic society. An odd choice, but perhaps perfectly suited for the bands delightful tunes about werewolves, eastern European scales and encounters with Santa. Three members of the Stark Palace also help out Vacuum Spasm Babies playing live, so hopefully some joint gigs are not too far off, as long as there is the opportunity for a nice sit down between sets.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Newsletter #1

Hello everyone, and welcome along to the first newsletter all about Vacuum Spasm Babies. We hope that this first newsletter is fun, informative, easy to read, but most of all brings you right up to date with what's being going on with your favourite band, Vacuum Spasm Babies.!!!!

Later in the issue, Charles S. Bravo will be telling us about the night he took laxatives and sleeping tablets with hilarious results, and Malcolm Spasm finally let the cat out of the bag. Poor Cat. No, honestly, we'll finally find out why the band can never ever play in Dundee, Slough, Penrith or Gateshead ever ever again, really, ever. We'll also ask the 'boys' about their favourite things in life, did you know for example that Malcolm's hobbies include treason, potholing, and pinning Pepperoni onto the lapels of topographers, and that Charles used to play truth or dare for Scotland.!!!!

Before all that lets get right up to speed with developments with the band.

Charles has written and recorded two new demonstration tracks this week, we're very excited, but he's remaining characteristically coy about how the new songs sound. One is for the live set, is easy to play he says, and lots and lots of fun. It looks at a typical day when Mr Bravo, on his way to work, and feeling pretty down on his luck and not one hundred percent happy with his lot in life, decides to just ask kind looking members of the public to please run over his legs, and send him for six weeks of hospital food, just to relieve the monotony of the daily grind and avoid going into the office.

How many times have we found ourselves faced with the problem of how to get rid of the body of another dead woman dumped in the bath tub, without the right protective clothing. The other new song, 'Chemical Burns' looks at this jolly theme, and sees the band tilt a nod of appreciation to some 80's synth pop. It will send the fans wild when the song appears on a forthcoming Extended Player along with Mhz, Khz, and Science Division from Sharkbatter Records.

Girls, if you are very clever, you'll be able to find out with no more than a quick hello, when the band will be popping into their local studio to record a new version of Science Division. Watch this space, and later there will be a prize if you can tell us in what month and year Charles S. Bravo founded the Science Division.

Finally for today, our old chums at The Ark have been back on the blower, to see when they can have the pleasure of getting Vacuum Spasm Babies back onto the stage, having said that they can't remember the last time they saw such a reaction to a new band. Keep an eye out for the date, and remember folks, the 'gig' will probably be during the Edinburgh Festival, and this will be one 'hot' ticket. I imagine the boys will want to get in a couple of practices before playing live and getting back into the studio for more fun and musical games.

Read on for our quick and fun quiz to see what Vacuum Spasm Baby you'd most like to take home to mother, and some more fabulous photographs from the band's recent appearance on Lookaround. If you look closely at the top photo, you'll be able to see quite clearly exactly why it's unlikely that the band will be back on ITV Border any time soon.

Best Wishes,

Veronica Spencer-Brown

President, VSB FanClub.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Being a Spasm Baby and getting played on the BBC.

It's been a tough couple of months trying to keep up momentum and push the album to anyone who might listen or purchase.  One way has been radio.  We've been quite lucky with radio play, generally, and for 'Whipping Clowns' with plays on the BBC, and a list of internet stations.  Vic Galloway who does a show on BBC Radio One, and another on BBC Radio Scotland has always been really good to us, and recently we've been getting played on BBC Radio Bristol Introducing, presented by Richard Pitt and Gary Smith.  They played 'Song for Katie' and read out a bit of the press release, which was a great introduction to the band.  The bad press reviews makes us laugh, especially reviews written by people who don't seem to like anything.  One Edinburgh magazine reviewed the album without saying much either way, but after asking a few folk about that particular publication, I was told that in actual fact it's put together by idiots.  Our favourite review was from Maarten Schiethart writing in Pennyblack Music who said "Forget about your Maximo Ferdinand Monkeys, Vacuum Spasm Babies are the band for the future".  That made us smile, a lot.  

Playing a few live gigs also made us smile.  We've had a riot playing the tracks live a various places in Edinburgh, and getting to hear other new bands.  We especially liked Rodent Emporium, who i think like us like to make a lot of noise, and have a bit of humour in what they do. We have some very odd people coming to see us live, and based on the way the album turned out, we wouldn't have expected anything else.

Myspace for future gigs, and amazon and itunes to buy the album.