A thousand apologies for the lax updates. It's not that it's not been busy since, more that we've all had too much to do and there's been no time to sit down and string together a few coherent sentences about what we've been up to.
It seems that the old adage about finding something the minute you stop looking for it came true after the despondency of the last entry; the day after I posted it, we got about seven gig offers from all over the coutry, which in turn led to more gigs.
In the end, a few of them fell through and we only managed to cover seven gigs in all of 2008 - including a three date Christmas tour that got shortened to two dates, then finally just one evening in Manchester (which was still one of my favourite weekends of the year) - but we've come into 2009 with all guns blazing. We've played three gigs so far; two in London, one in Brighton, and have plans for many many more. Now that Sharon has a handle on her teaching timetable, it's easy for us to plan around her, and take on more ambitious schedules. We've also had a few firsts - James made his vocal debut in Manchester, we played our first set of entirely post-album material (with one-exception) in January, and last night at Gramaphone saw the resurrection of Red Nose Day, which we haven't played live for nearly three years. With a necessary instrument reshuffle, it meant that last night was the first time John's played bass onstage with the Flyers, while I played guitar. In the end, it sounded delightful.
The last two gigs we played were with Hari & Aino from Sweden, who came over this week for a short tour; aside from being an incredibly accomplished band, they are all wonderfully friendly people and it was a joy to see them both times. I sincerely recommend that you check them out when you can. Due to circumstances outside of everyone's control, we had to absent ourselves from a gig in Cardiff, and our first interational gig in Gouda, both of which would have also been with Hari & Aino as well, but hopefully both of these can be resheduled. In fact, we're starting to look at gigs outside of the UK for either easter or summer. If you can think of anywhere, let us know!
The big news of 2009 is that we're putting out more music than you can shake a stick at. Although it's not an album like last year, it will hopefully amount to about eight or nine tracks. Given the rather subpar standard of releases so far this year (the new Franz Ferdinand album is truly dreadful, alas), I'm sure this will come as a big relief, especially as this avalanche of quality material will begin in less than two weeks!
On February 25th, we're releasing our third single Berry Buck Mills Stipe as a split single with The Pale Corners (who're contributing a song called Steve Buscemi). We're particularly excited about this since it's being released on the legendary Cloudberry Records, a US label run by a gem of a chap called Roque. Cloudberry's calling card is the format of their singles - limited edition 3" CDs in little sleeves and zip-loc bags. If you've been to any of what the kids seem to call 'popshows', there's always a few on the merch table. Anyway, we're particularly pleased about this one, not only because Roque seems like a genuinely lovely bloke, but because we're in good company - some of our favourite bands like The Deirdres, The Hillfields and The Give It Ups (featuring early Gresham Flyers member Jess) have all had wonderful singles out on Cloudberry. Also on the single is B-side Blackwall Tunnel; both songs have been played at most of our recent gigs and received rapturous applause, so hopefully this should prove a popular release. As I said above, it's an extremely limited release; I think there's going to be 120 copies, of which we're getting less than 20, so if you're not at a gig, yo're best off trying to get it through the Cloudberry website.
We're also planning an EP later in the year, back on our regular Cherryade label. We've unainmously nominated our newest song Taggart as the A-side, so unless something drastic changes between now and summer, that'll be the lead track with three other songs - Martin suggested that we have one song by each writer in the band, which would make for an interesting contrast, and show our development since the album was finished (which is nearly two years ago now!).
On top of these two singles, we've got our annual Christmas contribution to A Very Cherry Christmas to consider. Last year's Perfect Christmas Snow (Perfect Christmas Kiss) earned us some pretty good reviews ("a swooning boy/girl duet capturing the giddy feeling in their bellies that two lovers get as they travel home to spend Christmas eve together, it's the sound of Hefner waltzing gently with Belle and Sebastian on icy station platforms. Gorgeous." according to God Is In The TV, "a tale of stolen seasonal moments, lost loves and heart hurting reminiscences that taps loosely into similar pop sentiments as once approached by the Human Leagues’ ’louise’ - will cut you deep." from Losing Today), and this year we've been given advance notice to get it done by August. James has volunteered to write this year's song, and if we ask nicely, he might even sing it (as he did for part of last year's song).
More pressing, though not yet with a confirmed release date is another cover version on the upcoming Bruce Springsteen tribute album "Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool" on the mighty Where You Are Is Where It's At label. With John and Martin both being fanatical followers of The Boss (and the rest of us are pretty into him too), this was genuinely a dream come true. After our usual bout of fighting and arguing about what we'd contribute (someone had already done our semi-regular live cover Candy's Room, I wanted something from my favourite Springsteen LP The Wild The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle, but alas Darren Hayman had already picked Rosalita), we plumped for a vastly rearranged version of Magic, the title track of Bruce's previous album. We've played it live once or twice and in all, it's probably one of the best recordings we've ever made. Certainly our heaviest. We're dead excited about hearing it in context of the rest of the album.
I'm also in the process of getting our non-album material - the Shiftwork and Factory Records Museum singles, and our Christmas tracks - online for digital release. We've had a few requests for them from folks who don't have record players or don't buy compilations (and to be fair, the third Very Cherry Christmas compilation with our Diamond White Christmas on has nearly sold out), so it'll be nice to get them out. Alas, copyright issues mean that we won't be able to release our cover of Are 'Friends' Electric (which was on the B-side of the factory Records Museum 10") as we don't want to be sued by Gary Numan. Everything else should be just dandy though.
Last piece of news is that we've commissioned a new 'proper' website. Like grown-up offspring still living with parents, we're all a bit sick of MySpace, after initially having our own site, then losing it, and will be glad to have our own site to muck around with, and it'll be ready soon. Rest assured the blog will still be on there.
In the meantime, I hope you're all having a lovely February. All of the band are currently beavering away on individual albums for The RPM Challenge. We've promised to do a Flyers album next year, but for now we're crafting our own records. It'll be interesting to see what we come up with...