Sunday, 22 November 2009

General Blog on life at Batt Battlements, Nov 2009

Here comes the blog. They used to be called newsletters when I first started doing ’em. It’s quite like making yourself write a diary. I looked back the other day and found the blogs I wrote (in the archive) when I first found Katie. Even before that, when I was forming the Planets. I used to write a proper diary. I’ve got books full of personal diary stuff, but there are huge gaps. One year, I was only writing on email (we had experimental early email computers back in 1982, before fax came in, would you believe) to my then new wife, Julianne. She was in Sydney doing a TV series and I was in London. These people we knew had the very first “web” system, - the earliest internet. We each had a tiny computer and a phone modem that actually fitted over a phone. We used to upload letters to the “mainframe” and download them. You could even be online together and write stuff to keep in touch. One year’s diary is just my printouts of those letters because we wrote to each other every day for six months giving full details of everything including thoughts about events. Then when fax came in, mid eighties, we thought those guys had gone out of business, and suddenly WHAM, back they were! The internet – every home should have one, etc.

Funny old world, innit!

Writing my autobiography. I’ve been writing it for about four years now. Stopped in my tracks a bit by my mate Gary Kemp’s book, - it’s really well written! But just because his is brilliant doesn’t mean mine won’t be OK. They are different I style. His reads like a novel, almost. There’s a conscious effort at good writing. I’m just spilling my brains out, a bit like this now. Trouble is, I’ve written about 80,000 words and I’m only half way through my life to date! Only up to my boat trip around the world. I wish I could take three months off and finish it properly. There are also all sorts of dilemmas about which beans to spill and when to let sleeping dogs lie (just to mix my metaphors for a moment). There certainly are a lot of funny and not-so-funny stories about life trying to make and maintain a living in the music business.

There’s a short extract at my recent POSTMAN BATT blog at:

Katie goes into the studio this week with new big name producer (Not T Bone Burnett as previously announced) – all will be announced in Duke Horse. I’m very excited about her and this producer working together. Also she’s written some great songs either solely or with various co-writers. Can’t wait to hear it finished.

Gurrumul is in town at the moment. Andrew Bowles, our Managing Director, took him record shopping at HMV in Oxford Street on a day off. He’s got really wide tastes (is a huge Cliff Richard fan) – and insisted on paying for all his own records. He is just back from a triumphant TV duet with Sting, on French TV. Germany and now France have taken him to their hearts, just as a large number of UK broadcasters have, and our “gradual” organic marketing of him seems to be working here. He has built up a healthy sales base – not Earth-shattering but respectable, and it keeps growing. His new single “Gurrumul History (I was born blind)” has just been added to the Radio 2 playlist and is out soon.

Florence Rawlings has just finished her thrilling two-month tour of Europe supporting Sir Tom Jones – who was brilliant – (what a voice!) His crew and management were really kind and helpful to Florry, and her band and crew, so if any of you are reading this, thanks! F was also great, (what a voice!) as were the band. Her album, although already available for download, is coming out on CD in the middle of January. The new single is “Love Can Be A Battlefield”, on January 4tth.

We finally finished the art and mastering of my MIKE BATT MUSIC CUBE which is a bit of a collector’s item, being 16 discs (two of which are DVDs) and costing a couple of pence shy of sixty quid. I know it’s a lot but if you divide by sixteen it’s not much per album, and represents a life’s work. My two favourites are ones that haven’t been out before. There’s the orchestral Suite to “Watership Down” and by contrast, an album I’ve compiled and called “The Orinoco Kid” – [Early singles and curiosities] – Starting off with Summertime City, which I’ve never allowed to be re-released since it was in the charts in about 1976 – and going through some rare singles of mine at the time, followed by seven Wombles tracks, - not the obvious ones. That was a fun one to do. There’s more details on this site (I mean my main site, if you’re reading this on MySpace).

Just got back from a 12-day stint at a great spa-detox place in Austria. There’s no caffeine or alcohol there, and they feed you very small amounts of nice but medically supervised food, and you learn all about the importance of chewing food and stuff like that. I came away feeling great. Trying to keep up the regime now I’m back.

The Ergo movie is going from strength to strength. We have our first two virtual (CG) models made and rigged ready for animation – Elsie and Ergo. The first animation tests on Ergo look great. I’ve been tinkering with the script but now I think we are ready to record the character voices and start storyboarding. It’s a really fun project to work on, and we have a small but great team of people working on it.

Well, that was more of a NEWSLETTER than a blog, really. If there’s a difference. If not, it was just as much a newsletter as a blog. Whatever it was, it’s the end of it now, so stay cool, boogie down, mind the fleas don’t bite and get well soon. (If you are ill, which I hope you aren’t).

Peace and Love


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Katie Melua made me think about the Bay Of Pigs

Katie, (Melua) has just written a song with Guy Chambers, -called “Here Comes The Flood”, for her new album. The week after it was finished the UK is now flooded – apparently the most rain we’ve had in a thousand years. I hope she and Guy don’t write about a nuclear war. That reminds me of the Cuba “Bay of Pigs” missile crisis.
– forgive me quoting my own as-yet unpublished (unfinished) autobiography:

“Then we moved to Bradford. By now my Dad was “Chief Assistant” at the engineer’s department. Which meant he was a chief, but also that he was still an assistant. His job was involved with sewage. He had a trench coat and wellies and would often be called out in the night to go walking through sewers, which basically meant walking through shit. We lived on the edge of the posh district of Heaton, near Manningham Lane. I took the 11 plus exam in Bradford, and apparently surprised my parents by passing it. I got to go to Belle View Boys’ School on Manningham Lane, where John had already been for two years. It was an old, Victorian style school, noted for the fact that J B Priestly had gone there. Not that we knew who the fuck he was.

We played a lot of war games, killing Germans in the park with hockey sticks as machine guns, shouting ak-ak-ak-ak-ak. We learned to roller skate at 40 miles an hour down Emm Lane and just save ourselves from falling under the wheels of lorries and busses by doing a rapid 90 degree turn on Manningham Lane.

The Bay Of Pigs crisis happened while we were in Bradford and we all really thought we were about to be wiped out by a nuclear war. I was annoyed that I was probably going to die before ever having sex (preferably with either Janet Williamson or Allison Peebles from school, neither of whom had ever shown more than a coquettishly rejective interest in me, but for whom I had got the cane for chasing in the school playground at age eleven). Kennedy and Kruschev faced each other across the world stage and played the ultimate game of brinksmanship as Russian warships headed towards Cuba under threat of nuclear retaliation from America. My 13 year-old brother John worked out that the nearest target town would probably be Leeds and that the blast would come from there. We took over the cellar of our house without telling our parents and accumulated a hoard of tinned food, stolen, tin by tin, from the larder. We hoarded blankets, torches, maps, clothing, food, drink and a radio. We were ready, so that if it happened, we would be able to offer our parents a solution.
After the crisis was over, it was in Bradford that I “remember where I was” when president Kennedy was assassinated. I was at home at 7, Marriner’s Drive, Heaton, and we grew up overnight watching the reality of it all.”

I suppose quoting bits from a previously written account is a slightly lazy way to do a blog, but the I am feeling slightly lazy today. It is Saturday after all. For those expecting a funny story like or sorry to disappoint. I WILL be writing a new “newsletter” (which is what we called blogs when I started writing them, many years ago - when I started my website),for my main site later today. All my blogs going back years are archived there, for those with time to kill.