I Want My Candi’s Dog!

Candi’s Dog like to move with the times. Not necessarily the times we live in, but even glacial movement has to get somewhere eventually. As you may recall, in December we took our first tentative step into the world of radio some 70 years after its inception and with the same sense of urgency we now plunge headlong into the world of video just 33 years after the launch of MTV.

MTV revolutionised the music business in the 80s and 90s and of all the changes in popular music over the recent decades this was the one I have liked the least. For me music is and should be primarily an auditory art form. I appreciate that it has never been purely so, ever since one of our distant ancestors decided to wiggle slightly in time with the bits of wood they were hitting together but, music should create its own images, its own colour, feel and emotive response. I don’t need to see a tear slowly roll down Sinead O’Connor’s face to know that Nothing Compares to You is a sad song.

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If you can’t be bothered to read the rest of the article, our YouTube channel is here. Just click on the doggy.  (He won’t bite)

Back in the heyday of MTV I remember friends raving about a particular music video, and asking if I had seen it to which I would reply angrily “No. Did you even listen to the song! Tell me about the song behind the video! I don’t care about the fast cars, the CGI graphics, man playing guitar on top of a cliff, lightning striking, rain-pouring down drama on-screen! ” I never get asked this anymore, possibly because the music video is less dominant than it used to be, or perhaps because I no longer have any friends. Maybe I should’ve lightened up a bit about the whole music video thing.

And I have heard it said that the rise of the music video has made it harder for ugly people to make it in the music industry. Whether or not this has harmed the career of Candi’s Dog is hard to say, but gym-toned-teeth-straightened-manicured-well-groomed-men we are not. Still, times have moved on from the slick commercial video to the age of the untalented amateur with a mobile phone and a billion views on YouTube. At which point Candi’s Dog thought, ‘maybe we could do that’.

As you will soon see, probably not actually, but for what it’s worth we have now launched our YouTube channel! At the moment all it has is the songs from our recent EP, but soon we’ll fill it up with live tracks, song demos, interviews and who knows what. And so we add video producer to our list of people we need some (cheap or free) help from. Preferably a forgiving one willing to overlook my youthful trashing of their art form.

CLICK HERE to visit the Candi’s Dog YouTube channel!

Candi’s Dog is for life, not just for Christmas

The big day is almost upon us and some lucky people will wake up to find that Father Christmas has left a Candi’s Dog CD under the tree. Others will sit by a roaring fire and warmly reminisce of the happy times they spent listening to Candi’s Dog in 2014. Either way, we’d like to thank you for bringing Candi’s Dog into your home, but please be aware of the lifetime commitment you have made. With this in mind, we can offer a few tips as to how to care for Candi’s Dog in the years ahead.

Candi’s Dog use a range of methods to communicate
These include, live gigs, CDs, YouTube (coming soon!), radio, online streaming, the blog, facebook, twitter and urinating against trees. Be sure to check them all out to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

Encourage Candi’s Dog with regular praise
Every dog loves a pat on the back and a kind word. If you’ve appreciated our music, please tell us. Like us on facebook, comment on the blog or do whatever people do on twitter.

Dogs Die in Hot Cars?
Not Candi’s Dog. In fact, on a hot summer’s day (or even a cold one) please do leave your Candi’s Dog CD out in the full sun for passers-by and potential car thieves to see. If you feel like telling the world of your love for Candi’s Dog in less subtle ways, we would certainly encourage you to do that also.

Candi’s Dog are highly social animals
If you see us live, please come and have a chat. We can’t promise intelligent, meaningful or even coherent conversation, but we’ll certainly be warm and friendly.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped to make 2014 a great year!
Merry Christmas!
Daniel, Matthew and Stephen

 

Radio Blah Blah

“Listen to the radio, and you will hear the songs you know” screams Robbie Williams in the chorus of his 2004 UK number 1 song Radio. If you don’t know the song, I urge you to avoid it at all costs; nevertheless Mr Williams makes a valid point*. When you listen to the radio you do hear the songs you know. Sometimes you’ll hear songs you don’t know as well, so he’s half right there; about 50% right I would say. And then there’s the adverts and the talking, so actually maybe only about 35% right. Nobody’s perfect I suppose.

This is just one of the many songs about radio which attests to the continued influence of the medium into the 21st Century, (or in the case of some songs a way of currying favour with DJs). Of all the ways of listening to music, this piece of cutting edge 1920s technology has survived the challenge of the video age and seen off LPs, reel to reel, compact cassettes and will probably still be around when the CDs we were promised were indestructible are rotting in the ground.

Having carefully examined the history of radio for the last 90 years, Candi’s Dog have now decided that the medium has proved itself sufficiently to justify us dipping our paws in the water and we are proud to announce our RADIO DEBUT! We will be appearing on Radio Prudhoe between 8pm and 10pm on Wednesday 3rd December alongside the fabulous Jen Stevens and the Hiccups. We’ll perform a 30 minute live set followed by a fun packed and bound to be informative interview.

For the 99.9999999999999999% of the world’s population who do not live in the Prudhoe area, don’t panic! You can hear us live over the internet at radioprudhoe.co.uk

And don’t forget if you think radio is only there to ‘hear the songs you know’ you can ‘know’ our songs in advance by listening here

*To be fair he could be making a very profound statement about something or other of great importance, but I couldn’t bring myself to study it in enough detail to say.

Matthew’s Mid-Month Moustache Memorandum

Matthew has been at this Movember thing for half a month now and, I must say, he has surpassed my very low expectations of his development. I had thought that seeing his moustache would require a Rosetta-like craft landing on his upper lip and beaming back close up pictures, but here it is visible to the naked eye. His fundraising is progressing well, but could do with a boost if you fancy donating to his Movember page, where you can also find lots of info on the issues of men’s physical and mental health.

Predictably enough, however, our warnings of facial hair prejudice proved accurate and Matthew has had a few jokes at his expense. If the beard has had something of a revival of late, the moustache is much harder to pull off (not in the literal sense, obviously). Maybe it is the moustache’s association with some of the 20th Century’s worst mass murderers or embarrassing memories those ‘dodgy tache’ pictures lurking in the photo albums of anyone with a father who lived through the 70s or 80s.

Nevertheless, as Matthew’s moustache develops further, thoughts must inevitably turn to styling and being the democratic sort of band that we are, we’d like your input on this. Have a look at the styles below and please vote for your favourite in our poll below. Matthew has agreed to be bound by your decision.

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THE CHEVRON – A fairly straightforward moustache, well displayed here by 80s action man Tom Selleck.
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THE PENCIL – A neat, refined and elegant moustache which may or may not work with shabby jeans and California T-shirts.
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THE TOOTHBRUSH – This moustache went into inexplicable decline after the 1940s and is now only worn by crazed eccentrics.  Choosing this may get Matthew fired from his day job.
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THE IMPERIAL – Only at the height of British power could a man wear such a ludicrous moustache with confidence.
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THE HORSESHOE – or biker’s moustache, famously worn by the ‘leatherman’ from The Village People and Hulk Hogan.

 

Goodbye Jack

After our recent gig with R.J. Thompson we were interviewed by Dawn of Record Overplayed. Buoyed up by what we felt was a very successful gig, we had the exuberance of a four year old after a two litre bottle of Coke and a similar level of articulation. Editing that half hour of nonsense into a printable article must have required patience akin to panning for precious metal, and I’m not sure the ‘nuggets’ we deposited for her were necessarily gold.

In the course of the interview, the inevitable ‘musical influences’ question arose. It’s a fair question, but for some reason I always freeze up when asked. It is possibly because I think the question can be interpreted as ‘who are you trying to be like?’, to which the answer would be ‘ourselves, I think’. Maybe it is because everything I have ever listened to can be considered a musical influence of some sort and I don’t want to miss anybody out.

One of the people I always tend to miss out is Jack Bruce, who passed away on 25th October 2014. I first heard Jack Bruce at the age of fourteen, when having discovered Beatles records in my parents’ record cabinet I went looking for more gems. I found the Best of Cream on compact cassette, with a jug of the white stuff on the cover some imaginative designer had been overpaid for. Asking who they were, I was told they were one of the first rock supergroups. The term supergroup needed to be explained, but once understood it posed another question. If they are a supergroup who are Bruce and Baker?

A fairly naïve question by an uninformed teenager, it now seems, but I suppose there is a nugget of truth within this; commercially Bruce and Baker enjoyed nothing like the success they managed in Cream, while Clapton went on to mega-stardom. Listening to Cream I couldn’t understand why. While both Clapton and Baker were phenomenal, Bruce co-wrote most of their classic tracks and delivered them with a powerful and distinctive vocal I immediately admired. When, the following year, I joined my first band and was coerced into taking up bass guitar I became aware as his legendary status as a bass player.

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Learning to be a  singer, I had a go at sounding like Bruce, but never did. His jazz/blues improvisational style of bass has never suited any of the bands I have been in (even if I could play it) and I’ve never liked the sound he used on his bass, especially in his solo years, and have only reproduced it after a good serving of beans.  Should he still count as an influence then?  I would say so.  Even if you don’t try to copy what someone is doing, maybe the possibilities their music demonstrates has an impact somewhere in our musical lives.

I was lucky enough to see Bruce a couple of years ago when my wife bought me tickets to see him for my birthday. I was fairly sceptical. Too many people go to see their heroes just to be in the same room as them, regardless of how their ability to deliver the music they produced in their 20s and 30s is diminished. I’m so glad, this was not the case with Jack Bruce whose performance was outstanding and worthwhile in its own right, rather than as exercise in nostalgia.

I’ll leave the analysis of Bruce’s impact on music to professional journalists and just give a few moments in my own musical life where Bruce’s influence has been felt.

1. Spending hours in my bedroom trying to play along with Bruce’s bass in the solo of Cream’s Crossroads and deciding that maybe I should adopt a more simple style of playing.

2. Age 17 at my first ever gig and terrified with stage fright and I started Badge with Bruce’s bass introduction. It’s not a complicated piece and one which I could play easily. For some reason, my hands were going to the wrong notes. I stopped and tried again, and then stopped and tried again. The audience laughed at me, and my stage fright went away for good. I completed the riff and I enjoyed the rest of the gig. I doubt the audience could say the same.

3. A couple of years later my first attempt at lead vocals on Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, to give the hoarse singer in my band a bit of a break, gave me the confidence to think I could be a singer. I doubt the audience had the same confidence.

So, back to the interview question, I would definitely describe Jack Bruce as an influence even if this is not particularly obvious listening to the music of Candi’s Dog.  And for the benefit of future interviews, I will make a list so I don’t miss anybody else out.

Attempted Moustache

As we discussed in our very first blog, the Candi’s Dog audience more often than not want to talk about anything but the music, with the ‘freaky twin thing’ and the ‘bizarre hair growing out of a man’s face thing’ neck and (hairy) neck in the attention stakes. This situation was harmonious while it lasted but now Matthew has well and truly parked his tanks on Stephen’s lawn by deciding to grow a moustache. To be fair, despite the escalation in the war for attention, Matthew’s motives are entirely noble. He’s growing this for Movember to promote awareness of men’s physical and mental health issues.  In case you’re unsure how important this is here are a few headline stats:

– Average life expectancy for men is 4 years less than women.
– Men have a 14% higher chance of developing cancer and 37% higher risk of dying from it.
– In 2011 6,045 people died from suicide, of which 75% were men.

If your reaction is to cower in terror and curse your Y chromosome, think again. There are also lots of informative guides on the site to help recognise and deal with these issues.  After all, much of these things are preventable or treatable.  If you are not a male of the species, please do encourage the men you love, and even the ones that really irritate you, to check this site out.

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1st November – Matthew, clean shaven.

While I said Matthew’s motives were entirely laudable, there is a part of me that suspects many men relish the opportunity Movember gives them to grow some facial hair without incurring the wrath/ridicule/hostility of their bosses, friends, partners etc. Quite why the decision to allow your face to grow the hair that naturally grows out of it should cause quite the stir it does is in the supposedly tolerant 21st century is really beyond me. If anybody thinks I am exaggerating please do try and grow some facial hair and see what I mean.

So please do support Matthew as he tackles the very real issue of male mortality and the possibly not quite so serious issue of beard and moustache liberation this month. You can follow his growth on this blog and his movember page, where you can also donate. Please use the comments box on this blog to give encouragement, or share health and facial hair related stories. If you want to see his moustache up close (and I would think you may need to get VERY close) come and see us perform live.

And remember the whole point of Movember is to raise awareness so please, if you are at a Candi’s Dog gig, for this month at least, skip the twin thing, put the music questions on hold and speak to Matthew about men’s health. Ask him anything he’s a liberated 21st century guy!

Doggy Style

When one sets out to write, whether it be for a novel, newspaper article or blog, the age old advice of ‘writing about what you know’ is worth keeping in mind. In this blog however, I am casting such caution to the wind by writing about a topic I know nothing about: Fashion. This is indeed bold since there are only a few topics about which I know less than fashion, including quantum mechanics, knitting and 14th Century Korean poetry.

This little flash of inspiration (or folly) was fuelled by two events. Firstly I was dragged by friends recently to see an eighties rock band, who have been out of the limelight for some time, but still make a living touring smallish venues. Just before I had gone out, I watched The Graham Norton Show and the contrast between the highly polished, perfectly styled, tailored and possibly surgically enhanced guests of a similar age and the rockers on the stage in front of me who certainly looked their age, was quite marked. Let’s be clear, I am not making any judgement on this either way and really I’m not interested in whether the musicians I like are fat, thin, tall short, old, young, firm or saggy. The sound they make is the only thing that’s important to me, but it did get me thinking about the importance of styling in the music industry.

With this thought rattling around the ample spaces of my brain, I took to the rather tedious task of sorting out live pictures of Candi’s Dog for a new page on our website and noticed something interesting. We wear the same clothes all the time. Really all the time, there’s hardly any variety at all. You see, there comes a time in a man’s life when he turns his back on fashion thinks ‘to hell with it’ and just wears the things he feels comfortable in. This point was reached by the members of Candi’s Dog rather earlier than most, possibly around the time their mothers stopped buying clothes for them. The WAGS of the Dog have done their best to make their men presentable, but with limited success it must be said.

So here’s a quick style guide to each band member so you and your friends can re-create that Candi’s Dog look:

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Matthew went to California once and he liked it a lot. He shows just how much in his T shirt style. Look out for his Yosemite, San Francisco and Bear Flag T-shirt. If he can’t be in the Golden State he can at least keep it close to his heart.

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Left alone in a dentist’s waiting room Stephen read in a magazine that vertical stripes are slimming. Given the choice between a giving up biscuits and getting three stripy new shirts he chose the latter. Occasionally to be seen in a green T-shirt when he can’t be bothered to iron a shirt.

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Unlike his brother, Daniel eschews the printed t-shirt and shows the most variety in the colours he wears. In fact, Daniel’s T-shirts show quite a bit of ‘colour variety’ during the course of a gig as he works up quite a sweat behind his kit.

So there we have it! In a previous post we called out for all kinds of people to aid us in our career (on the cheap of course) but we won’t be adding ‘stylist’ any time soon; we’re happy as we are. So please when you see as at a gig, judge us not on our looks but the music we create, as I did with that eighties rock band. They were bloody awful!

Our New EP and the Mangled Spuggie

Right, first things first let’s get this out of the way: We promised you an album in August and have given you and EP in October; what’s that all about? Well, we could say ‘what you going to do, sue us?’, but with several wives, children and tea merchants dependent upon us for financial support we can’t take that risk. So instead we humbly ask for your forgiveness and give the following explanation.

We are perfectionists – I don’t mean Steely Dan ‘record the same four bars with 1,000 of the world’s best session guitarists and pick one’ type perfectionists. More, ‘that’s great, but can you sing it in tune this time’, and ‘on the beat would be more traditional’ type of perfectionists. After all, perfection is a relative term*, and we’d love to be the world’s greatest musicians, but we aren’t. And we’d love to have session players to do the instruments we can’t play, but we can’t afford them, so we have to muddle through and do our best. But rest assured it is our best.

Summertime and the living is busy– For us musicians summer, is the busiest time of the year, and we have been super busy with gigs. To even have taken on this recording at this time of year was stupidly optimistic. Still it is this stupid optimism that makes three chaps think, ‘I’ll not bother working at a proper job and try and make money from music’ in the first place.

We don’t know what we are doing, but we do – We have paid thousands of pounds in recording fees over the years to people who know what they are doing and never been happy with the result. So we decided to do it ourselves. We are happy with the result, but there’s been a lot of trial and error and teaching ourselves as we go.

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Our new EP cover. It’s our logo with a greeny blue background.

So with our excuses out of the way let me tell what we are about with this EP, via a little anecdote. When I was a lad I did woodwork at school. We were set a task to design some kind of wooden animal on a stand, you know the kind of practical task which has been really useful to me as an adult. I designed an eagle and picked out a piece of wood from the pile which I thought had a beautiful golden colour to it, an attractive dark grain running across it and a swirly knot in the middle. I cut it into the required shape and glued it to the base. I was happy at this point, proud of my work and I thought it was finished. Then the teacher said ‘now you need to stain it’. I liked the way it looked, but I did as I was told and the beautiful golden colour was gone along with the contrast between the flesh of the wood and the grain. Still at least you could feel the grain and knot if you ran your fingers across it. Then the teacher said ‘now you need to varnish it; give it four coats’. Again, I did as I was told and my rough piece of wood was now shiny and sticky feeling, but at least it still felt a bit rough to the touch; it still felt like a piece of wood. Lastly the teacher said ‘you are going to buff and polish it’, which I did. It now felt completely smooth and I was not happy. It might as well have been a piece of plastic.

I hope you this gives you some idea of what we are trying to achieve with our music, and if not just have a listen. If my old woodwork teacher is reading this I should stress that I bear him no bad feeling. After all since I can’t draw and I hacked at it with power tools, my eagle was a piece of crap anyway and looked more like a sparrow that had been run over by a lawnmower. My parents dutifully displayed it on the sideboard, before binning it at the first opportunity. I expect it’s in a landfill somewhere, but with all that varnish I doubt it will ever rot.

*Actually come to think of it I’m not sure it is arelative term.  I’ll ask my Dad.

A Place in the Song: Home or Away?

I had the misfortune to be ill recently; nothing serious, but enough to confine me to the house. As the saying goes the devil makes work for idle hands, and I found my hands had switched on daytime TV and selected A Place in the Sun: Home or Away from the assorted trash on offer. For those readers outside of the UK* the concept of this show is that a couple of house buyers must browse through prospective properties in the UK and then travel to somewhere abroad, to look around alternatives in sunnier climes, such as the Mediterranean. There is also a contrived dispute between the couple where the husband has always wanted to live in the South of France but his wife has her heart set on Devon. It’s all bollocks of course, and made even more irritating by the parade of fussy wealthy people rubbishing perfectly good houses because the front window faces two degrees off South or there is a main road three hundred yards from the building.

Even worse though, the foreign houses always look impossibly exotic, are usually cheaper and don’t suffer from the long, dark damp winters we suffer at home. If that was all there was to life this little island would be empty, but what price do you put on shared culture, a sense of belonging and getting a decent cup of tea. Wherever you are from in the world, your home is somewhere special for reasons you can’t always explain in simple words and reference to an average temperature and rainfall chart.

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Candi’s Dog love The Beach Boys. I believe some of their songs made reference to their home state, it’s girls, beaches, girls, waves, girls, cars, girls, surfers, girls etc.

Anyway, the time in the house also gave me some time to work on some new songs, and I got to thinking about a sense of place in song lyrics. It seems to me (and maybe this reflects more on my prejudices than actual reality) that writing about British place names is extremely difficult without sounding quaint, parochial and provincial, especially if referring to an area outside of that great metropolis to the South. There are plenty of bands we love who have done this well, but often end up with labels such as ‘quintessentially English’, which seems to deny them the universality that their music probably deserves. In contrast, it seems American musicians can write about an obscure city in Arkansas (population 250), or gushing songs about the wonders of their state without falling foul of this problem. Bands such as The Thrills had success in the noughties success writing about Big Sur and Santa Cruz. Would these songs have had similar appeal if they wrote about places in their native Ireland?

I’ve no idea if this is down to the A Place In The Sun effect of the exoticism of foreign places or just that popular culture is dominated by the USA to the extent that the norms of songwriting are ‘quintessentially American’. I’ve no idea if Candi’s Dog are acquiescing to this by not writing about the places we know and love. I don’t have an answer to this, or know whether this problem really exists, or if it does exist whether it is a problem at all, or if I just have too much time on my hands and am overthinking things. I probably should have thought about this a bit more before I started writing, but I need to get this blog finished before Bargain Hunt** starts of BBC1.

*This blog now has readers in the USA, Canada, Russia and Israel!
** Readers outside of the UK do not need to know what Bargain Hunt is. It’s not worth the effort.