Every now and then you’ll find the thoughts of Candi’s Dog on stuff to do with music, stuff to do with life, stuff to do with food, and other stuff. We’d be very happy if you’d leave a comment, follow us or even better come and see us live, when we are next in your area.
After a prolonged pandemic absence from performing, Candi’s Dog returned to the stage at Harewood House last week. With our last gig so far in the past we were a bit uneasy, wondering if we could still play (or if we ever could), but rather than dip our toes back in the water we waded in nipple deep with three gigs in a row.
We couldn’t have picked a better weekend for it with blue skies, warm sunshine and the beautiful grounds of Harewood House. There were people too; lots of them enjoying the sunshine, live music and the tasty offerings of the Great British Food Festival. Also enjoying the tasty offerings were the red kites which we discovered live on rodents, scavenged food and dead things.
We took to the stage on the first day almost euphoric to be back doing what we love and this propelled the first couple of songs along nicely. After that, however, we were showing signs of our absence limping terribly through one or two songs, trying not to fall apart with the red kites hovering expectantly over the stage. To be expected, I guess, after so long away and we quickly recovered to give a performance we were really happy with.
The shock to the system of suddenly performing again was nothing, however, compared to the trauma of finding ourselves together, day and night for three days. It is fair to say we each have certain peculiarities, which on their own may be a mild irritation but mixed three ways and baked in a tent at thirty degrees become somewhat volatile and explosive, needing only a spark to ignite.
That spark turned out to be scrabble. First chess had been played with great civility. Minor skirmishes broke out during Uno Flip, particularly over whether it was a kids’ game but full scale war broke out on the scrabble board. The word ‘war’ represents very well the state of play, both due to the bitter conflict and the three letter spelling of most of the words on the board. Words were challenged, but disagreements could not be resolved because of disagreements over which dictionary to use. A scrabble dictionary, or a dictionary of the English language. More explosive yet; is the letter n spelt en? Or just, well, ’n’. Normally warring parties can turn to the UN to mediate, but with those initials how could we?
Arguments or not, by day three we felt we were well and truly back. Candi’s Dog were running like a finely tuned machine, our Yorkshire fan club was in attendance, the sun was shining, people were dancing and the kites were swooping down on leftover pizza. Goodwill returned and we came home happy; until I had to relive it all to write this blog.
The green shoots of spring are well and truly peeking through the soil and we very much hope the same applies to the covid situation in the UK. There’s little we can say about the awful last year or so that has not already been said more eloquently by others, but we very much hope the friends of Candi’s Dog are well, and that the people who think we are crap are equally well. Spring for us means a return to live performing and we have our first gigs in ages at the end of this month.
For people who make their money from the arts lockdown restrictions have been especially difficult. There are those, however, who have risen to this challenge and channeled their ingenuity into new areas, skilfully utilising the tools of the internet age to reach out to their audiences. It will come as no surprise to those who know us that we do not fit into this category, and we have been a bit quiet over this period.
As has been discussed in previous blogs, Candi’s Dog as a collective are surprisingly devoid of technical (or even basic life) skills and are not well suited to online only music. We did try, of course, but never really got the hang of it, not so much proving that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that a stupid one can’t learn any.
For us, there is no substitute to proper live music. We have missed you all dearly. The people who have come back to see us again and again; the people who came to see the main act but enjoyed our show anyway; the drunk people who bought a cd and will look at it with puzzlement when they pull it from their coat the next day and even the people who pay no attention to our music whatsoever, so distracted are they by the pressing, burning, existential question “Are those two twins?”
So finally, we’ll be out an about at food festivals, racing festivals and non-specific festivals around the UK. Check out our live dates, we may be near you soon (but not too near, obviously), and we hope to see you there. And for those sceptics who think that all of the above waffle is just an excuse for our idleness we may have a CD shaped surprise for you very soon….
Autumn and early winter have seen Candi’s Dog touring around the UK promoting our new EP, A Light Has Gone Out (listen here). It looks great in the diary, all these new places to visit, but when asked by a friend who was familiar with the town what I thought of Frome, Somerset, all I could honestly say was “It had a nice venue and a nice chip shop.” Such is the nature of the business; you turn up, play and leave. Still it’s the people that make any town and we always hang around to chat (and sell stuff) afterwards until the venue throws us out.
It’s always great to hear which songs people like, confirm their suspicions on the shared parentage of the drummer and guitarist and tell them that we are Geordies, not Irishmen. What many people do appreciate is our happy demeanour, onstage humour, up-beat attitude and the obvious joy we have in what we do. There is always the odd punter though, who listens a bit deeper; filters out the lyrics from the folky-poppy melodies; hangs them up to dry in their mind; studies them for a bit before informing us. ‘Your lyrics are a bit miserable’.
Not all are, to be fair, but A Light Has Gone Out probably contains more than its fair share. The jangly folk-rock title track, an apathetic, fatalistic reflection of a man who feels his life is basically over, sets the scene for the EP rather well. Acoustic ballad Don’t Think I Don’t Care, (which were it not for the number of notes it needed to cover could have been more concisely called ‘I care’), deals with the despair at being unable to show our feelings. Even the jolly, bouncy Sailing For Hobart traverses the stormy sea of agony that is ‘loving someone who will never love you back’.
If you are looking for a positive message, perhaps this can be best found in Let’s Get Lost Again a warm reflection on the joy that is sometimes found in times of adversity, though even this is tempered by the knowledge that it is now over, done and in the past. Rounding off the EP is To The Top Of The Tower, inspired by a surreal show we played at the top of the BT Tower in London, a sardonic commentary on the highs and lows of being in a band.
If you are one of those people who wants to know what our songs are about, you may now regret asking, but give A Light Has Gone Out a listen, you’ll see our melodies and arrangements are anything but negative. And if we’re chatting happily to you after a gig, it’s not just because we’ve had thirty minutes of getting all of the above off our chests, it’s that we genuinely love and enjoy what we do and are delighted when you do too. We look forward to carrying on into 2017 and beyond, with new dates soon, we hope to see you there.
It’s that time of year again; the time when we reflect on the ups and downs of the previous year. You’ll notice Candi’s Dog have left it almost to the last minute, not the 12th December when Spotify gave me my music listening stats of 2016 or the tragically premature TV programme I watched before Christmas detailing the music industry deaths of the year. We like to be precise. What does actually happen to my music stats for the rest of December, do they get added to 2017 or do they disappear into a kind of statistical purgatory? I dread to think. So assuming nothing momentous happens in the world of Candi’s Dog in the next 12 hours, this is our review of 2016.
For a start Candi’s Dog released not one, not three but two EPs in 2016, Trees and A Light Has Gone Out, both of which are available here in our January sale for just £4. Both have allowed us to develop our songs way beyond what the three of us can do live, with extra instruments, vocal harmonies and percussion and we’re really proud of the results. Special thanks to Rob Waters of Sessions Newcastle for mixing and mastering A Light Has Gone Out, and who brought much needed technical expertise and a fresh pair of ears. By using him we also avoided countless petty arguments about whether the guitar/bass/drums was too loud, leaving us free to thrash out weightier matters such as whether it is acceptable for a grown man to watch Once Upon A Time.
We’ve played some fantastic venues for the first time, Leeds Varieties Theatre, Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, Cheese and Grain in Frome to name just a few. We also checked in on some old friends at Tropic at Ruislip, The Musician, Leicester and Greystones, Sheffield; great to see people coming back to see us time and again. We will be announcing some new tour dates for 2017 very soon.
Some of our best shows of 2016 were supporting The Sons of Pitches, who as well as being some of the friendliest people we’ve met on our travels have the most amazing vocal arrangements that need to be heard to be believed. We’ve been lucky to also support Blackbeard’s Tea Party, a contemporary folk-rock band who are well worth checking out and whose lively shows we’ve been delighted to be a part of.
Candi’s Dog are a bit obsessed with food, and if you listened in to our conversations you’d be forgiven for thinking our live shows were just an inconvenience before we got to the main event; the takeaway. Needless to say we eat a lot of rubbish whilst we’re away, but luckily some venues put food on for us. Thanks to Norwich Arts Centre for an amazing vegetable chilli and Cheltenham Town Hall for the vegetable lasagne. As with many bands on the road we rely on stimulants to get us through the long hours of travelling and gigging and our first port of call after the venue is always the nearest tea rooms. Huffkins in Cheltenham has to be the best of the bunch for fantastic cuppas, good food and most of all for putting up with Stephen’s extreme indecision and Daniel’s highly specific scone temperature requirements. We sneakily recorded part of our music video for A Light Has Gone Out here as well, which we’ll be putting on our YouTube channel very soon.
A member of Candi’s Dog began the year with a beard, but has controversially ended it without one.
Candi’s Dog briefly became a four piece band with new member Nick Harper playing the soap packet. See here
Candi’s Dog met Sandy’s Dog in Ruislip, their first canine follower.
Thanks to all of our friends for making 2016 such a good year. Rest assured we will be do our best to avoid doing anything noteworthy in the next 12 hours or so. Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Ever wanted to know more about Candi’s Dog? If so chcek out our recent Q&A with The Big Issue. Click here for the full article.
It’s been a few months since anyone reviewed a Candi’s Dog gig, so I thought I’d better do the job myself. Obviously what you’re about to read will not be entirely balanced, but I’ll try to stay away from the ‘OMG THEY WERE SOOOOOOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ end of things where I possibly can.
A couple of weeks back we played the Old Cinema Launderette in Durham, supporting Nick Harper, and I must say I was extremely nervous about the prospect of playing it. It’s a working launderette by day music venue by night; fairly unusual it must be said, but hardly frightening except for the fact that there was no PA, no amplification, nothing in fact but the vibrations of our strings and the air passing over my vocal chords to fill the room.
So Candi’s Dog are an acoustic band, what’s the problem? Well sort of. I remember a few years back as an electric bass playing musician pouring scorn on the concept of unplugged music generally. My thought was; it is still amplified, just in a different way. After all the only reason electric guitars, and with it rock music, developed in the first place was that technology didn’t allow for the practical amplification of clean acoustic sounds back in the day. So we may call Candi’s Dog acoustic, but unless you are stood on the stage two feet from us you’re not hearing an acoustic sound.
Gone are the days my grandma told me about of, people singing round a piano at a get together in the house, at a pub or wherever. Whenever we play, at a gig, practice room, wherever; we plug in. Even in the unlikely event that the three members of Candi’s Dog wished to see each socially at a house party and then (even less likely) decided to start a sing song; even then, I would be inclined to plug in. I’m just a quiet lad you see, not really sure my voice is big enough, not sure the balance of instruments would be right. Lose the electrics and you lose control, who knows what we’d sound like.
Still I needn’t have worried really. The Old Cinema Launderette is a great place; washing machines with retro styling; vintage film and detergent ads adorning the walls and each machine labelled with the stars of golden age of Hollywood. And the place is tiny. Even with my back pressed against Cary Grant, I could still reach out and touch the front, and side rows. In our nervousness I had forgotten to bring my meoldica, and Daniel his shaker, but Nick Harper helped out with percussion shaking a box of laundry powder. A helpful punter even dashed off home to get some percussion instruments for the audience who joined in. The gap, both literally and figuratively, between audience and performer was virtually nil and with the vintage styling and a bit of imagination we could have been back at a party in my grandma’s day, at the home of a good friend with a laundry obsession.
As for our worries of not singing and playing loudly enough, they were completely unfounded, in fact we were soooooooo awesome!!!!!!! And I am now a genuine convert to real acoustic music, so much so, that should you invite Candi’s Dog to a house party and should we not be too broke, lazy or glued to the telly to attend, we might just sing you a song or two.
Summer has seen Candi’s Dog back in the studio recording our new single and EP. I say studio, I really mean Matthew’s shed and, believe me, there are few things less conducive to creativity than being trapped in a sweltering hot shed with two other sweaty people you already spend far too much time with. We couldn’t even use our innovative door shaped air conditioning unit (patent pending) due to the risk of unwanted noise on the tracks. It’s not that we mind a certain level of ambient noise from a lawnmower or passing seabird on our EP, just with the current high level of legal action over song-writing credits we couldn’t afford to take the risk. The last thing we need is to be pursued by a litigious seagull chasing his royalty payments.
Many times we’ve been asked at gigs “can I buy the CD with A Light Has Gone Out on it”, and we’ve had to disappoint. Such has been the response to this particular song it was the obvious choice for our next single (out on 3rd October!) and title track of the new EP along with ode to the New World Sailing For Hobart from our current set. Also on the EP are three as yet unperformed tracks; folky ballad and double-negative laden Don’t Think I Don’t Care, vertigo inducing To The Top Of The Tower and the difficult to describe ‘cause we haven’t worked out what we are doing with it yet Let’s Get Lost Again
All this recording has meant Candi’s Dog have been absent from the stage, but if you are missing us there’s always our previous two recordings to listen to and you now have the option to purchase a physical CD with cover art rather than one of those invisible download things. Check out candisdog.bandcamp.com for more details. The new EP will be ready at the beginning of October and we’ve added some new dates around the UK for the Autumn. Hope to see you there!
NEXT LIVE PERFORMANCE – 30th September, Old Cinema Launderette, Durham City, UK
I’m not proud of it, but on the occasions when I am bored and alone in the house I find myself reaching for the TV remote and searching for those channels I would never usually watch. The ones with a slightly hazy picture, low production values and whose content is largely home makeover shows. Quite why I waste my time on such trash, I can’t say, but one minute I’m idly flicking through channels, the next I’ve seen someone wallpapering and I just need to stick it out to the end, to see how it all turns out.
These programmes all have their take on the makeover, such as helping a family recover from tragedy, sell up to move on to a new life or maybe they just throw in some artificial jeopardy like; we must finish this house in 60 minutes! (Why, what’s the hurry? Would 74 minutes not be better? Or maybe a few days so the whole thing doesn’t fall apart the moment the film crew leaves?) Nevertheless, the aim is always the same. Take something you have, give it a lick of paint, move it around a bit and it might make you feel a bit better, change your life or maybe just look on what you have with fresh eyes and appreciate it more.
So Candi’s Dog have gone for a makeover too. Not of themselves, of course, (such work is surely unnecessary) but of this very site. If you were a fan of the old website we can promise you that there are no extra features whatsoever on this one. For the casual browser we have our live dates, music and videos. For the more serious fans we have reviews, the blog, lyrics and a rundown of who played what, where on our recordings so you can spend hours exploring the hidden depths of Candi’s Dog (assuming they are indeed hidden, rather than just absent).
Simple changes, maybe; but they do say a change is as good as a break. And if you’ve been taking a break from Candi’s Dog, or just fancy a change; check it out and see what we’re up to.
I’ve often wished after watching a great film or reading a great book that I could wipe my memory and enjoy it with fresh eyes and ears, be surprised once again by the plot twists and shock endings and be left with that warm satisfied feeling all over again. Little did I realise that actually all I had to do was wait for the moth of time to chew great holes in my memory and I would be able to do just that. This occurred to me recently having watched a couple of films which I hadn’t seen for some time.
I’ll deal first with the obvious downside to this memory loss which was brought home to me when re-watching historical epic, Legends of the Fall, a film I vaguely remember not liking and thought might deserve a second chance. It did not. I have now wasted 266 minutes of my short time on earth watching Brad Pitt with long, flowing, golden hair prance around the beautiful American West (and, naturally, the mud-caked, lice ridden Western Front) like he is in some kind of shampoo advert. On my deathbed, I know I will resent the hours I spent watching Julia Ormond’s character fail to realise that, even in sparsely populated early 20th century Montana, there are more than three men and she doesn’t need to just move from one brother to the next, and back again, as one dies or abandons her.
Such misery was soon forgotten the following week, however, when watching High Fidelity. I had really enjoyed both the film and book, but somehow they had not made it to the ‘important stuff to remember’ part of my brain. There is so much to relate for any man of a certain age in High Fidelity, and there was plenty of comedy in the absurdity of a man’s ‘what’s it all about?’ moments.
For musicians and music lovers generally of course, it’s characters seem doubly relevant. We will all have met, (or may in fact BE), people who take their music a bit too seriously. People who can’t just pick of bunch of songs they like to listen to, but make selections which say something about themselves and which show anyone who may be paying attention their refined tastes. People for whom music is a form of religious zealotry and who view the choices of others with snobbish disdain, contempt or cries of heresy. It’s fair to say in this regard the three of us in Candi’s Dog have been both victim and perpetrator, abuser and abused over the years, but we hope that these days we may have developed a sense of perspective.
Equally the banal conversation of the three bored record shop employees would be more than familiar to any band who spends hours stuck in a car together traversing the length of the country travelling to gigs. However much the observations of High Fidelity may have hit the nail on the head, I did chuckle at the film ending where Rob dishes a few homemade fliers and posters around town for an album launch of an unknown act and produces a packed venue of adoring fans. If only it were THAT easy.
So if you are looking for a silver lining to getting older, besides that on your hairline; dig out an old album, book or film and enjoy it all over again. And if it’s been a while since you last heard Candi’s Dog….
LISTEN TO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s strange when you finally decide it’s over; that enough is enough; you can do no more, a line has been drawn and you need to move on. Not the end of Candi’s Dog, of course, but of our recent recording sessions. The final mixes have been agreed on, artwork signed off and the whole lot sent off to the manufacturer. Months of meticulous planning and performance, arguments about how loud the melodica should be, debates about whether that tuba solo suits the song and what the correct pronunciation of envelope is, gets distilled into a shiny 4 ½ inch package.
Recording is a strange affair. Live performance is all about the present moment; creating the right mood and feeling. If we get that right, then our audience leaves happy and nobody worries if the drums came in bar 8 instead of bar 4 or notices that the singer pronounced envelope ‘onvolope’. Recording is different. Unlimited overdubs allows us to add all of the things that we can hear in our heads, but which three chaps on a cramped stage can’t always deliver. It allows us to experiment and try out new instruments and effects. So on our new single I Couldn’t Ask For More and EP Trees, we have tried to do all this while still retaining the essence of our live act.
Have we achieved this?
We’re very much looking forward to our new tour. We’ll be dropping in on Sheffield and hopefully seeing some old friends from our previous gigs in the area. We’ll be heading to some new places too such as Winchester and Bedford in the Southern counties. And believe it or not, for a band based so close to the border, we’ll be performing our very first Scottish gig in Edinburgh, a city we know and love, but have never brought our guitars to. We hope to see you there!
If Candi’s Dog aren’t performing near to you, keep checking our live dates, as we’re sure to be adding new dates to the tour. And if you want to let us know what you think of the EP, just send us an e-mail or stick your thoughts in an onvolope and send it to us.