Sunday, November 28, 2010

And then sometimes you have to have a party.

This is not meant to be My Year Back On The Piss. I was pretty clear about that in my head when I started this. But it seems more and more I'm writing about alcohol. Boring ja? Well... whatever. Over the weekend I found it necessary to host a party. A baby shower to be precise, for my delightfully original sister-in-law Heather, and my little bro Ben. They're a little over a month away from popping their first born together, and we're all pretty excited. The party was ace, much bubbly and wine was drunk, much delicious food gobbled and many ridiculous games of Jenga fought out with crossed-eyed concentration. And, due to a 2am bedtime and a long haul day, I pretty much spent most of Sunday lolling about on the sofa feeling flat-lined in the head and whole body department. But strangely enough, I'm actually not feeling bad about it. Firstly, the party was really fun. We all had a good time, no one got out of hand and not a single cross word was spoken. It was lovely. And secondly, I've decided that beating myself up about intermittent tumblings from the wagon causes more trouble than it's worth. Sometimes you have a party. Sometimes you go a bit ape. If no major harm was done, you simply spend a day paying for the excess and then you move on. Not that all day all night parties are something I plan on making a habit of. This little bout did see me abandon my awesome diet for two whole days, miss my usual Sunday run, and not have a music project meeting I was supposed to. And my head feels notably foggy on this rainy Monday morning, and I keep feeling the need to eat random things (all 'on diet' things though, don't you worry). The effects are pretty obvious. Fine as a blip, not fine as a routine. And speaking of the projects (was I?), I have considered doing an alcohol ban until I actually get something across the line. I've realised that for a blog called No more pissing around, it feels like quite a lot of pissing around has been going down. I've been talking to a lot of people about getting stuff done, but it feels like a bit of actually doing stuff is now required. It's hard work though getting other people to help you do things. You have to factor in quite a lot of time for their shit to get in the way of yours. Never mind. No more excuses. Party's over. Time to do some work.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Managing moderation (while being a psycho).

Hip hip hooray! On Saturday night I managed to go out to a gig (my friend Ben's band Cameras) and happily drink in a very moderate and controlled fashion. I had three drinks (and several waters) over the course of about four to five hours, felt a teeny, tiny bit happily zizzy, and felt no inclination to have any more than that. And I managed to jump out of bed at 7am the next day for my Sunday run with my brothers and managed to run our extremely steep hill better than ever before. It was good. So what was the secret? Well, I had a plan for how much I was going to drink before I went out, and then I just stuck to it. Kind of like a very little year off the piss - apply the rule, stick to the time-frame, do not waver from the rule. We like rules (but only my rules mind you). And I took some advice from me mate Ben and I relaxed a little about the whole thing (can you be relaxed about something while strictly upholding a rule? Apparently you can.). The relaxing made the evening considerably fun, but it was also most unexpected coming from me right now, considering I have progressively been turning into a total psycho. It's this little diet I've been on you see. It's really a very good diet, and probably the least restrictive one I've tried in a long time. It seems to be working already too, and I'm eating plenty of food. But because it's so healthy and great, I kind of want everyone else I know to be on it too. Does that make me an intolerable humanoid? You betcha. All it really recommends is getting off processed, pesticide and toxin infested foods, dumping sugar, going organic all the way and re-introducing natural fats like butter, whole milk, full fat yoghurt, coconut and a little bit of animal fat into your diet (if they were ever absent). It's really a lot more awesome than it is unpleasant. Oh God. I'm doing it to you too. Why do I always feel the need to preach the gospel of my latest craze to all and sundry? I mean, check me out. I decide to take some time off alcohol, and suddenly I have a blog in full swing and aspirations to turn it into a book. I read some diet book (a very good one in this case) and suddenly I'm trying to convert the world to my cause. I do yoga and everyone's gotta do yoga. Why can't I just shut up? I guess it's just that when I discover something I think is the best, I want other people to experience the awesomeness too. Or maybe I'm just a repulsive busybody. One of the two. Or both. Anyway, ironically, by drinking (even moderately) the other night I actually broke my diet rules a little, which would suggest that I'm not being as much of a psycho as I could be. But I am being a psycho. So I'll try and stop. I'm so glad we had this little chat. In other news, I am in various conversations about music production with various useful friends, I wrote and recorded a new song over the weekend which I may or may not post here soonish, and my friend Anthony with the recording studio is ignoring me. Studiously. Never mind. Such is life. Onwards and upwards.
P.S. Life tip: ride bikes. They are the best.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Negotiating the new.

Hello. Me again. I haven't disappeared. But you'll notice I haven't been posting with my usual regularity (usual being every day of My Year Off The Piss, give or take the odd holiday). That's because I've been in a bit of a Bermuda Triangle of projects, blogs, drinking and diet decisions. And by being in a Bermuda Triangle I mean lost. Sort of. Not totally. Let me try and explain. Last "year" (November to November. We're talking Claire years here, my personal and newly patented variety.) I unwittingly slotted myself into a beautiful little pattern of security. In one desperately hungover moment of clarity, I set a pattern of behaviour (not drinking) and set up an extremely helpful and deeply satisfying (for a writer) mode of talking about it and keeping myself on track (my blog). The way it happened, it could have been an accident, but it served to focus my life and take me in a really interesting and cool new direction. As I often said to those of you who read me then, I was very happy in my ordered yet exploratory little pocket. And then the year ended, and with it the rule of sobriety and my blog. And then in a flurry, because I didn't want to lose the awesomeness I'd discovered, I started this blog, full of celebration for my newfound freedom, full of gusto for my various projects, and full of fuck-off alcohol confidence. "Bah! Alcohol's not a problem for me anymore! I can drink what I like when I like now, because I am chill like that!". Well, we know what happened in that department. Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I've kind of been all over the place with a few things. The projects are still cool. I am still happily shunting them along, and I still believe entirely in each and every one of them. I know they can happen. The alcohol is a slightly different story. I am still very much in a state of mental negotiation with where I stand on my consumption of the (evil?) substance. At this point I'm thinking alcohol is probably not my drug, and that if I consume it at all it will be in very limited quantities, presuming I can work out a strategy for successfully consuming it in very limited quantities. Anyway, by choosing a new dietary path, I have managed to postpone any decision-making on that front. I have just started the first stage of a new way of eating (yes, I'm a food freak. We know this by now.), a diet called the Perfect 10, that requires me to quit alcohol entirely for the first three weeks. Somehow I think I can manage that. And it gives me a little more time to think. So we're cool. But then there's the blog - this blog. This blog has been giving me some conceptual troubles. And I apologise, because now you're going to see just the kind of whacked out shit that keeps me up at night. I like the idea of using this blog to track my projects, and I like the idea of it not being about alcohol anymore. But in practice, just writing about the day-to-day trials of putting projects into action isn't nearly as fun as talking to you guys about...well, just stuff really. Alcohol included. What's more, is anyone really interested in my miniature quests for stardom and self-fulfillment? Naturally I'm interested, but really, are you? I suppose once the projects start to take shape a little more they will become more interesting. Presumably. But anyway, what am I really trying to say? I think it's this: firstly, I am very thankful for you reading at all. Secondly, while I negotiate the new and decidedly Wild West-ish territory I now find myself in, I may have to rove "off concept" with this blog every now and then, and talk to you about all manner of whatever. I hope you don't mind.  There has been the odd thing going on with the projects by the way too, but nothing concrete yet. I promise I will tell you when something cool happens. But meanwhile stay tuned for more random wanderings through the exciting (and sometimes slightly psycho-obsessive) world of me. (I bet you can't wait.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alcohol is not my friend.

Moderation is not my strong point. Alcohol is not my friend, moderation is not my strong point. Alcohol is not my friend, moderation is not my strong point. Sorry, that was me trying to learn something I already know. Like, learn it so it actually sticks. Oh yeah, and I wasn't meant to be talking about alcohol anymore was I. But here I am talking about it because it's already finding ways to fuck with my life again. WTF? I have allowed myself to drink the stuff for two piddly weeks and it's already making me feel baaaaad. Okay, so as ashamed as I am to admit it, on Friday night I got pissed. It was a warm, summery evening and we'd had a pretty quiet week at work, so I guess me and my work pals were looking for mischief. And we did have a fun time. At least all the stuff I can remember was fun. And then I woke up at 6am, in my dress from the day before, on my Art Director's sofa, dehydrated as all hell and feeling like death. It is painful to write these things because they are such a ridiculous repeat of past offenses. Have I learnt nothing after all my time off? I didn't drink as much as I would have in the old days, but that doesn't matter. The effect is still the same. And this is what I am noticing. Even if I only have say, two wines, and go to bed suitably hydrated and under control, my brain and mood the next day will still be noticeably affected. All of my sunny optimism and confidence zeros out, and bad thoughts start to haunt me. I start to feel lonely, I start to feel incapable of achieving things, I start to see problems as insurmountable and everlasting. It's instant. How freaky is that? I can pretty much say without doubt now, having conducted this little non-drinking experiment of mine, that alcohol is directly responsible for my feeling bad. For the best part of a year off alcohol, the worst emotions I experienced were annoyance and a little disappointment when people did the odd shit thing. Then I drink some wine and suddenly I'm being haunted by despair? Holy crapping shit and fuck. That's pretty big. So a massive part of me now simply wants to give it all up again and get back to feeling happy all the time. But another part of me doesn't want to be that person wearing the teetotal badge, because of the anti-party vibe everyone attaches to it. So can I drink moderately? I'm actually not sure I can. And even moderate levels of alcohol entering my system seem to be making me feel bad in the head department. So then, do I just pick my occasions, make them very few and far between, be ready for the fact I'll be feeling pretty hideously crap and depressed the next day, and use that as the impetus to not drink for a good while longer? Sounds great doesn't it? Why do I need to drink the stupid stuff at all? I suppose it's because I don't like the idea of there being anything I'm not allowed to do ever again full stop. I like to keep my options open. But how long will it be until I decide the door to foulness should be well and truly shut? I dunno. My brain's a little fuzzy today. Let me get back to you when my head clears.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Talking to producers.

Or to their managers actually. Through my record company friend, I've been in touch with the manager of a local producer who also plays in a band I really like. We just started talking budgets, studios etc and I suddenly got an attack of "what the fuck are you doing stupid, you've never done this before and no one's going to take you seriously". And an attack of "where's my sugardaddy/sponsor/patron/money tree?". Never mind. All is well. One step at a frickin time.

Robyn is the bomb.

I'm a bit totally obsessed with Robyn right now. I love her sound and her whole thing. She's a clever girl making totally banging, awesome pop tunes. Here are some I really like.

Robyn - Hang With Me official video from Robyn on Vimeo.


Robyn 'Dancing On My Own' (Official Video) from Robyn on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool vid

Inspiration, inspiration. Obviously, I want to make a freakin cool music video at some point. Here's a crazy cool one that one of my mates sent me.

EL GUINCHO | Bombay from MGdM | Marc Gómez del Moral on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The projects.

No I'm not going ghetto on your arse (although a nice cheap apartment in New York City would be great!). I just thought it would be good to explain the "projects" I'm trying to complete in a little more detail. So, today we talk music. For the longest time (since I was three) I have wanted to be a rock star. And I've been working on it - on and off - pretty much ever since I joined my first band when I was 13 (I wrote my first original song at around the age of 9 and was hatching plans for starting bands then too). Now you might think that after all this time I would have lost interest, given up and gone and tried something else. Believe me, I've thought about it. But giving up actually isn't an option. Over the years of course, I've kind of adjusted my vision of what I want to get out of it. These days, it's more about making a musical product I love and getting it into people's ears, than being paparazzied into oblivion (can you think of anything more annoying?). I also absolutely love the creative aspect of the whole thing, and cannot actually control the flow of music coming out. Writing songs is something I need to do to stay sane. Sometimes it even feels like the universe just wants to use my body as a tube to put music through - like someone else wrote a song in the ether and fed it into the world via me. Not to sound like a wanker or anything (but sounding like one anyway). What's more, working, as I do, in advertising, I have always had a sick fascination with the creation of brand. I love big commercial brands that totally have their shit sorted and never stray from the core values, tone, look and feel that makes them who or what they are (think Virgin, Apple or IKEA), or those people that are so powerful in their essence that they are a brand unto themselves (think Madonna, Prince, Keith Richards, Beyonce, David Bowie, the list goes on). So part of what I want to do with my music project is to create a brand of my own and flow it seamlessly from the music, to the cover art, to the video, to my stage look. If I can do that successfully, even on the tiniest scale (one single, one cover, one video, one stage look) I will be a deliriously happy camper. So that's where I'm going to begin. While I go through the probably quite time-consuming task of finding cool producers to work on my other tracks, I am going to start with the track I have. This demo of Take the Ride isn't a million miles away from where I think it needs to be. First step is to re-record the vocal in a proper studio. Second step is to get the track professionally mixed and mastered. Then I need to get it into people's ears. This will involve sending discs to radio stations, and uploading the track to various locations - like iTunes, Triple J's Unearthed website and the like. And to make people take any notice of that lot, I'll need photos. And then a video for YouTube. So plenty to do then. But I'm not freaking out. First things first: record a vocal. Guess now would be a good time to get in touch with my friend Anthony, who has a recording studio. And so the project begins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where am I at?

You'll have to forgive me. I don't know where my head's been the last few days. Maybe I was half pissed. If you've been snooping around these parts at all, you may have noticed I've been messing around with stuff, changing my blog name, fiddling with my fonts and all manner of other shit. Truth be told, this whole getting back on alcohol thing has been messing with my head a little. Where as before I was in a nice little world of ordered certainty ("What's the one thing I will do today for sure? Not drink!"), now I am in a freestyling wild west where anything goes. Anyway, after splashing cold water in my face and slapping myself a couple of times, I think I have come to my senses. "What happened next" is gone (my old extremely lame blog title). It was never gonna work. "No more pissing around" has arrived; the true next step after My Year Off The Piss. Because you see, I realised that last year (you'll notice I've developed my own new calender year that starts and ends in November. Confused? Read My Year Off The Piss.), when I was meant to be focusing on making music, I was mainly focusing on keeping off alcohol. And I think that was a necessary step to take before further progress could be made. But what I discovered is, alcohol's pretty stupid. It certainly doesn't warrant being focused on anymore. But before we move on, let's establish how I feel about alcohol after My Year Off The Piss. Alcohol is a waste of time. Sometimes it's okay and fun to do a little time-wasting, but if you've got somewhere to get to, and you don't have all the time in the world, it's a good idea to cut the time-wasters from your life. So yeah, I don't expect I'll be spending a lot of happy hours with my buddy booze over the next however long. On holiday, sure. Any time I need to stop and truly take a break, yeah maybe. When it's time to celebrate some freaking cool thing I've done, damn straight I'll pop a cork. But I'm not going to slow myself down with alcohol just because it makes other people feel more comfortable. I've got too much stuff to get done for that. What stuff? A book to get published, a music career to launch, and a little place known as New York City to make my own. For those who think it all sounds impossible, I suggest they pour themselves a glass of wine and go watch TV. For those who like to think otherwise, I hope you will come with me as I walk the path to making this stuff happen. And to the readers of my previous blog who fear they've lost me down alcohol alley, no way gang. I'm just going to try to think and talk about it a little less of the time, and focus more on the cool stuff I can get done in my happy sober zone. So are you ready to rock 'n' roll? I hope so. Cos that sir, is right where I'm at.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I woke up without a hangover.

I should be used to this by now. Having just completed 365 days off alcohol, you'd think waking without a hangover would have gotten a little blah by now (for the record, it never gets blah, it's always awesome). Only this time, for the first time in a year, my Friday night's activities did involve alcohol. And not just a couple of drinks either. On my first night of being officially "back on the piss", I stomached no less than 11 alcoholic beverages, two of which were (amazing) cocktails, one of which was a cocktail shot, four of which were French Champagne and four of which were white wine. Holy crap. It makes me sick just thinking about it. But the weird thing is I wasn't. Sick I mean. In fact, and contrary to general popular prediction, I did not get hammered after my first sip, or hammered at all. I totally kept my shit together the whole night. I can remember basically everything that went on, down to conversation specifics, and I woke this morning reasonably hydrated, with a cleansed face free of last night's makeup, and with only the tiniest hint of a headache. A miracle? Only a little bit. I made sure I kept my water intake up all night, and a lot of the drinking we did was accompanied by really delicious food. Although what was a bit strange was that everyone else seemed to be getting a bit more hammered than me. Maybe they were drinking faster, or not sinking water along the way. I dunno. What I do know, is that today I felt great. In fact I'd go so far as to say I have felt kind of in love with the world all day. I think it's because, in finishing My Year Off The Piss, and reacquainting myself with my old evil friend alcohol, I have discovered an enormous sense of liberation. I am not only free to drink if I want to, having lifted the hard and fast rule of sobriety, but I am free to leave it alone if I want to as well. I know I can do it. And I am no longer nearly so enamoured of alcohol's charms. Drinking last night was fun, definitely. In a bar and party setting, it was fun to be a participating member of the party crew once more. But what's even more fun, is doing cool, successful shit. Alcohol's okay, but music projects, book projects, writing a brand new blog? It's these things I'm addicted to now. So better keep moving yeah? It's time to make some cool shit happen.