Friday, 31 December 2010

Live Like Untamed Lightning


I blame my brother-in-law, he gave me a book on the work of Mayakovsky for Christmas and I've been devouring it at a hefty pace. It is a most stimulating read, empowering, inspirational; a tool to drive you on, into the nothingness with no sense of dread but of wonder.

He provides a good guide on how to live your life and what to aspire to and what to discard.

To be precocious, honest, self-confident and to obliterate the past.

A welcome read as we approach the end of my most successful year, a stimulant to re-focus the mind, an addition to my personal manifesto as I re-embark on the challenges of a new year.

The actors life is an existential one. You faced by nothing, no work, or at the best hints of work or fragments of work. You look out into the abyss and can be crushed by the blackness, the endless nothingness.

Not me.

Nothingness is life. We are always staring into the pitch black. The difference is, I charge into the dark to see what it contains, or rather what I forge in the vacuum from force of will.

Exhilarating.

Have a happy new year folks, with much success and joy.

I know I will.


Words are


the commanders


of mankind's forces.


March!


and behind us


time


explodes like a landmine. 


To the past


we offer


only the streaming tresses


of our hair


tangled


by the wind.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

DHG: A Year in Review or Blowing Me Own Trumpet

2010 has been the best year with regards to acting, which is wonderful but leaves you hoping 2011 can top it rather than disappoint, great success only keeps pushing the bar further up. As it should, I wouldn't want it any other way and obviously 2011 brings the joys and pressures of Our Style is Legendary as well.

Thing started very well, working with good friend Martin Collins in Spain on an Italian commercial...



And then, one of my proudest moments, my feature film debut was released in the UK and the US and is still doing the rounds on DVD, airplane seat backs and pay-per-view tele. It was really something to see my big hair and face up on the movie screen...



Have I told you all how much I love Norway? 2010 I got to go back again in order to sell glasses...



I managed to fit in a few more gigs of Poles Apart before working with Nottingham born director Dominic Murphy on a marvellous VW commercial that has unfortunately led to people shouting: "Pull yourself together" at me in the street. Just found out this is now making it's way to Ireland and France next year...



For me, the clear highlight of 2010 was the arrival of my own comedy creation, Kirky, who I have high hopes for as a star of UK television in the making. Kirky has took me to some lovely places, the BBC for a start and we made some more last month as well, so I can only hope that he'll be on everyone's TV even more often come 2011.



And then when I thought it couldn't get any better I secured one of those huge American TV jobs for Yahoo! directed by the finest commercial director of the last 15 years Bryan Buckley, where I got to mime to a Motley Cru song, which is perhaps the epitome of utter cool...



Surely the run of form would end here? No. Instead I got to work with Mark Denton again on some lovely looking Steam punk style Bulmer's adverts...





Towards the end of this year I crammed in some voiceover work, another Norwegian commercial, a film with Keith Chegwin, more Kirky, a short film and a national tour of the magical Hypothermia, one of the most challenging theatre roles I've ever had and, to be honest, a much needed return to treading the boards.

I'll leave you though with the full collection of vids I made for Gillette, which may be whoring of the highest order but they are funny as fuck and all made-up on the spot. Especially the one of me rapping. Here's to 2011 being even more awesome.











Monday, 20 December 2010

On Benefits?

Don't get me wrong, I love where I live but when I saw this sign, in one of those pawn brokers/gentrified loan sharks with colourful branding that must comfort vulnerable people as they are exploited, my heart sank.


I mean, how on earth can you repay any loan when you are on meagre state benefits? How is that possible without, I don't know, selling your kids or a crucial organ? Who in their right mind would loan money to people unable to pay it? Surely the interest rates are exorbitant? Money is being made, yet again, off the back of poverty.

*shudder*

And with perfect timing, London Mayor Boris "Ball Bag" Johnson announces that this New Year's Eve, the free transport service is being sponsored by Wonga! That's right, Wonga! an exploitative short term money lender with shiny branding that does it's best to disguise it's utterly horrendous APR as it rips poor people off left, right and centre.

So on one hand with have the anti-debt, deep cuts narrative and on the other we have tacit encouragement to plunge levels of personal debt to new depths.

Cool.

I then saw what on first glance appeared to be a dead child in a skip on my road:


Merry Christmas.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Blurred Clarity is a Top Theatre Blog


W00t for me.

I shit you not.

I am the 13th best theatre blog according to these chaps. Read it and weep the rest of you.

Funny thing is my entry comes with a warning: "Beware adult language".

When I told Eva-Jane she was like, "Have they even read your blog? When do you blog about theatre anyway?"

I went on the defensive and said I last blogged about the theatre in August of this year and she snorted...which is unfair, I think she was just sarcastic and did not snort at all and then I had a sulk.

I win very few accolades, so I am clinging to this one like a manic crab.

If anyone has any other awards for me, please do drop me a line and boost my flagging self-esteem...

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Our Style is Legendary: 3 Months to Go


One of the largest reasons for me being too busy to write stuff on the Internets is the wonderful, dream come true, that is producing my play "Our Style is Legendary" next year in that there London.

It's been a long time coming but as we inch past the 3 month marker for the premiere, I swing from mild panic to tearful joy as the full reality that my play will see the light of day in the West End of London, at a great theatre with a mind blowing cast of incredibly talented actors, under the watchful eye of a supremely gifted director; hits me deliciously hard.

Obviously, I am snowed under with work for the play, as my role (aside from being the writer) is to produce, which is short-hand for sorting everything out apart from the acting side of things. But pressures and stresses like this I can handle because, step by step, piece by piece, "Our Style is Legendary" is coming together in glorious form and as I sit there, on the 14th March 2011 and watch my words come alive, it will make the transition from being my play, into the actor's play, into the audience's play. It will be ours and the characters will live and breath through all of us and nothing could make me happier.

And this is where you come in, dear reader because I need you to come and see it, to promote it, to support it, to spread the word.

The show website is right here, you can buy tickets here and you'll also find us on Facebook and Twitter. We have gone social media crazy folks!

So if this blog goes quiet for a bit and nowt seems to be happening, you'll know why and perhaps, you'll pop along and see what all the fuss, blood, sweat and tears is all about...

Friday, 10 December 2010

A Response: My Brother-in-Law's Top 10 Albums of 2010

Preface

It isn't a small pool anymore. There is so much to consider. And so, music is more subjective than it has ever been. Ten years ago, end of year LP lists from similar souls in similar environments would have heralded similar ingredients, with just the line up causing discussion and the occasional uproar. Now, I suspect, in our case, you'd be hard pressed to find one common choice between us.

Why? Is it the sheer volume? Yes. But I think it’s also the relative ease by which we are now able to consume music. Recorded music, quite literally, is worth less than ever. And I think that takes its toll. Respect for, if not the medium itself, at least the way in which the medium is procured, has been diminished, and hence music and opinions thereof, are becoming more and more fragmented. But, maybe that's a good thing. Individuals are making up their own minds, instead of being told that The Beatles are the greatest band of all time, or that Jay-Z is the greatest rapper, and all nodding and purchasing along in unison, the people are discovering new and exciting sounds the world over, for themselves, in any which format they choose to do so. Freedom.

Lists are more particular, more autonomous. They say more about the compiler then ever before. The pool may be bigger now, certainly, but that doesn't mean, as some antiquated fools would have you believe, that the quality has suffered. On the contrary, it’s just gotten personal, and everyone is involved, no one is being excluded. Geography matters not. So, with that said.

Worthy Notables;

WARPAINT-"THE FOOL", THE SOFT PACK-"THE SOFT PACK", HOW TO DRESS WELL-"LOVE REMAINS", EMERALDS-"DOES IT LOOK LIKE I’M HERE?", DEERHUNTER-"HALYCON DIGEST".

10. THE KNIFE–"TOMORROW, IN A YEAR"

09. JOANNA NEWSOME–"HAVE ONE ON ME"


08. FOALS–"TOTAL LIFE FOREVER"

07. LAURA MARLING-"I SPEAK BECAUSE I CAN"

06. GONJASUFI–"A SUFI AND A KILLER"

05. ALI FARKA TOURE & TOUMANI DIABETE-"ALI & TOUMANI"

04. GIL SCOTT HERON–"I’M NEW HERE" 

03. KANYE WEST–"MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY"

A veracious example of modern man in extremis. A frightening sound. Few artists are able to inhabit the many varying facets of what it is to be a 21st Century ego-centric behemoth (aka; modern man), so that the work in question wholly transcends whatever pre-supposed genre it might have begun in, becoming a piece of art unfettered by lazy categorisation in its own, unique right. Fascinating, exhilarating stuff.

02. GLENN RICHARDS–"GLIMJACK"

Esoteric, populist songwriters; it’s a tough gig, and few would opt for what is essentially a fools’ errand. However, Mr. Richards appears to revel in it. I suspect though, it’s simply all he knows. In another world, one somewhat skewed and off- kilter in contrast to our own, but perfectly ordinary so far as it is concerned, the people build statues in his honour, name streets after his songs, and in his image hone the countenance of all first borns.

01. THE WALKMEN–"LISBON"

The sound of snow falling upon the darkened city. The sound of the eloquent drunk, screaming to the high heavens from his lowly sidewalk. The sound of a band, 6 records in, finding the ideal balance between their disillusioned, urban austerity, and the soulful, heartfelt warmth to which their music has always alluded too beneath that studied, stoic cool.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Best Albums of 2010

This list always comes round so quick and a swift gaze at last year's 'best of' shows a few albums that I really don't listen to much anymore. I wonder at the arse end of 2011 how many of 2010's picks will be gathering dust in my vast music library?

Oh well, no regrets, as plenty on that list still get some hammer and one thing is clear, 2010 has been a surprisingly better year that 2009 for great albums; so I've had to incur the 5 notable mentions rule (agreed that this rule is a complete self-binding invention of my brother-in-law and me), on top of my actual Top 10 albums of the year.

So to warm us up, I shall begin with my 5 notable mentions that just couldn't squeeze their way into the official DHG top 10. In no particular order of notableness then...

As much as Eminem uses "Recovery" to diss "Relapse" (which made my Top 10 of 2009) I'm not quite sure if it's better than it's predecessor but it certainly is a cracking record that may pale in comparison with previous work but if a new hip-hop artist bought this album out, the critics would be on their hind legs lapping it up. The bonus is that a lack of tedious skits means that the album is a testimony to consistency and a consistent Eminem is a precious thing, as seen in the singles that have been lifted off of it and stormed the charts. "Recovery" is the first of a triumvirate of hip-hop notable mentions, which also includes the always excellent Big Boi and "Sir Lucious Left Foot...The Son of Chico Dusty" which, ridiculous title aside, is an album that puts to bed any debate on who is the most gifted half of Outkast. A smash-up of bone marrow mashing bass lines and kick drums, which some fine rhyming over the jazzy, kaleidoscopic, Deep South grooves. Hopefully there are many more where this came from and the same goes for Strong Arm Steady's LP "In Search of Stoney Jackson" which is so soaked in Pepsi, Chitlins, ganja and LA sun-smog, that is transports me every time I listen to it; serious, one of the funkiest hip-hop records of recent memory. Heavy flow, head-bobbing, trance inducing rap.


My last two notable mentions couldn't be more different. In one corner we have the high-pitched, Radiohead inspired, indie-dance-funk-new wave-guitar, art-fopps Everything Everything and "Man Alive" which has one of the strongest starts of any LP this year, it sweeps you up in it's arms and takes you for a serious disco dance and by rights it's wonderful modern sound should be in my Top 10 but the album loses it's way around the half-way mark and never fully regains momentum; which is testimony to how good the rest of it is that it still bubbles around as a classic of 2010. 


And in the other corner we have the epic High on Fire and "Snakes for the Divine" which is one of the heaviest records I own. Quite simply, if the Norse Gods had sex with the Devil and gave the offspring to a brood of bloodthirsty Orcs to rise, they would sound like this. An utterly brutal howl of virtuoso, humongous riffs, pounding double bass drums and guttural singing about things like Frost Hammers and at one point, in the seminal 'Holy Flames of the Firespitter' (I fucking kid you not), you could swear the ground was going to split open and the undead will walk the Earth again. Just awesome heavy metal.


And now onto the Top 10 albums of 2010 in reverse order...


10. "THE DEFAMATION OF STRICKLAND BANKS" PLAN B


What a volte-face! From one of the hardest, grimiest spitters in UK hip-hop to a blue-eyed soul boy, I for one thought Plan B wouldn't be able to pull it off but he most certainly has and how. A huge commercial success, the boy can sing and makes some fine soul music without sounding like it's karaoke. This hook laden release re-announces Plan B as a unique and talented UK artist. 


9. "STARS OF LOVE" CRYSTAL FIGHTERS


I nearly didn't buy this album by these London based Spanish mavericks but thank God I did because it's wonky, inventive collage of Balearic house, Iberian folk and high-tempo electro is utterly bewitching, both danceable and adorable and something that holds hands with both guitar-centric music and electronica and skips off into the distance to have a lovely party.


8. "THE SOFT PACK" THE SOFT PACK

Just up my street. This record took some serious hammer. No messing, straight-ahead, high energy garage rock and roll played at a pace with maximum gusto and total commitment. A wonderful, infectious racket with limitations but all the better for them. 


7. "LOVE KING" THE-DREAM


He may sound a bit like Prince (esp. on the outstanding 'Yamaha') but The-Dream is the modern face of shiny, perfect, shimmering American R&B; mesmerisingly hook-laden, melodious to the extreme, exquisitely produced and a showcase for a great musical talent. The whole album just makes you want to get your groove on with some honeys and get a sexy sweat on. Lush.


6. "I SPEAK BECAUSE I CAN" LAURA MARLING


From one end of the musical spectrum to the other...the key artist in the revived British folk movement's second album is a leap forward from her excellent debut "Alas, I Cannot Swim". Textured, transportive, lyrically of the highest order with a rare ability to create mood and atmosphere at will and imagery that lingers long after the song has gone. A genuine dialogue between artist and listener has the most personal of touches.


5. "MY BEAUTIFUL DARK TWISTED FANTASY" KANYE WEST


Good grief, Kanye West has upped the bar for hip-hop. His production ability, song writing nous and his genius (yes, genius, no doubt about that) for creating soundscapes utterly unlike anything we've heard in any genre of popular music leaves him at the very peak of modern hip-hop. The reach and sprawl of this album is sometimes too much, too many ideas crammed in for us mere mortals to handle and of course, Kanye is not the best rapper there is, as shown here by the guest spots but as a marker for greatness' Kanye's legacy rests on this postmodern masterpiece.


4. "$O$" DIE ANTWOORD


FOK! There is something utterly electric and captivating about this contemporary musical phenomena but rather than get hung up on their South African-ness, their aesthetic, or whether they are 'for real' I'd rather focus on how seriously good their music is. On one hand, it's so very simple; pounding, catchy, rave style sonic backdrops that act as the playground for Yo-Landi Vi$$er and MC Ninja to stomp all over. They sound like they're having a ball and it's infectious but there is more there and at times the wealth of ideas, offered honestly, become hallucinatory, progressive and otherworldly and something else.


3. "GOOD THINGS" ALOE BLACC


Where has Aloe Blacc been all of my life? Take all the best bits of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Al Green and you have "Good Things" na instant and genuine soul classic. A honey dripped voice with a stunning range, arcing through some very traditional but urgent soul set-ups that move you both physically and spiritually.  This could've been released in 1970 and would've stood shoulder to shoulder with any of the great soul LPs of that time. The sheer quality of this record is amazing, every track is a genuine winner, an album of rare beauty.


2. "THE DRUMS" THE DRUMS


Duran Duran+Joy Division÷The Smiths=The Drums. That's how good they are. Arch, skeletal, reverb drenched indie-pop with lyrics to die for and yes, they may dress like twats and the leader singer dances like a mime artist but their music is free, wondrous and quite possibly the future.



1. "STREETS OF OUR TIME" DANNY AND THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD

I'm not normally one for Americana but this Australian (via London) band makes such heart wrenching, beguiling, exquisite music that cleaves me asunder and transports me to dusty back roads, a golden sun melting through blue skies and a feeling that everything, no matter what will be alright. As hopeful and gorgeous as this record is, it's through line is that of mortality and those crucial relationships in your life that make you who you are and that you could never be without; its a paean to humanity and a life lived with an open heart and no regrets and I wouldn't be without this record for anything in the world.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Sorry, it's Been A While...


I was mopping the kitchen after the engineer who came to service the boiler had left mucky footprints all over and I thought to myself I should really get back to blogging, so here I am, after a lengthy but genuine hiatus.

It really has been a while but I've had good reason.

As I said right here, I was busy touring with the excellent Full Body & The Voice, playing the character of Dr. Erich in the incredible "Hypothermia"; blessed with a fine cast of wonderful actors and that didn't finish until the 7th November.

I was lucky enough to come straight back to more filming for the BBC and reprising my comedy creation Kirky, the HD Hunter before embarking on a short film set in the wilds of South London, preparing a showcase at the Soho Theatre and, of course, juggling the organisation for the two biggest events in my life to date: my wedding to Eva-Jane and the debut of my play "Our Style is Legendary"

Phew.

But here I am, back in full blog effect...well, until I get utterly snowed under again.

Here we go, hold on tight!