I love you Ricky!

This week the topic of our blog is love, and there is no greater love than that between a man and his guitar. Ricky was not Stephen’s first bass guitar, he’d learned the ropes on a cheap try-out guitar, but by age fifteen, felt it was time to move on. Week after week he’d trawl the guitar shops of Newcastle, looking for the one. He didn’t even really know what he was looking for, but older, wiser heads said, ‘when you find the one, you’ll just know’.

And so it was that he tried out his first Rickenbacker 4001 bass in a vintage guitar shop. He’d heard about Rickenbackers, but they weren’t very common and this was the first time he had seen one in the flesh. While most bass guitars follow a generic Fender styling, the Rick is something else; the build quality is amazing. And when he held it in his arms, he knew this was it; the one. He ran his hands over the sleek curves, along the neck, whose profile could had been built around his hands and the extra hole for the jack plug seemed to offer exciting possibilities. The guitar looked black, but when you tilted it to the light it glowed purple; not what he would have chosen, but it seemed right.

Stephen dashed home and begged his parents to lend him the £600 to buy the Rickenbacker. This was a lot of money in those days (roughly $4.7m in today’s money) and they naturally refused. He implored, pleaded even, but they didn’t understand. There would be other guitars, they said. So now week after week, month after month Stephen now travelled to just one guitar shop to check if his guitar was still there and week after week he worked and saved, until one day he found an empty space where the guitar used to be.

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Rickenbacker 4001

Heartbroken, Stephen returned to his search, his money accumulating all the while so that this would never happen again. Just before his sixteenth birthday he found another Ricky, languishing unloved in a grotty guitar shop off the beaten track. This one had not been treated well. It was scratched, the string mutes were broken, the metal parts rusted and somebody had put strings of wildly different types and gauges on it. And it looked so dirty too, but beneath it all you could see a gorgeous wine red colour trying to get out. Stephen picked it up, and the old feelings came straight back and there and then he promised to take Ricky away from that hell-hole and treat it right. This one cost just £445, but after some fancy haggling he got it down to £440 and even got them to throw in a free plectrum.

When he got home on his sixteenth birthday with his new guitar a friend had come to visit, but seeing Stephen and Ricky he quickly excused himself to leave them alone. Stephen furiously stripped off the filthy strings, rubbed it from head to toe, polished knobs and squirted oil into parts which had rusted through lack of use. Then plugging in, he lay back on his bed and just played around, his guitar making sweet sounds as he did. And he reflected that his parents had been right; something else had come along and something so special too. He felt older and wiser that night, but with severe blistering from excessive neck slides.

Stephen and Ricky are still together and can be heard making beautiful music on the new Candi’s Dog album, out October 2014!

Tea: the Candi’s Dog guide

Candi’s Dog do like a nice cup of tea*. When Stephen first met Matthew and Daniel, however, he was not a tea drinker, living a clean life free of mind altering substances. The others however, urged him to try it out, promising that it would expand his mind and open up new musical possibilities. The fact that tea was ever present at rehearsals and that all the cool kids seemed to be drinking it probably made it inevitable that Stephen would give in to peer pressure and try it, and so he did. For Matthew and Daniel, a mug of tea was all they needed, maybe biscuits too if they were partying hard. Stephen’s habit quickly got out of control and before long he had moved on to Earl Grey, Darjeeling and Masala Chai, tea in the morning tea for elevenses tea with lunch afternoon tea with scones tea for supper tea to get up tea to come down tea to go on stage. Things got so bad he even tried coffee once, but here reality kicked in and he has been a moderate user of tea ever since.

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Matthew’s tea has been made correctly. See how happy he looks.

For Candi’s Dog then the words they both love and hate to hear are “Would you like a cup of tea?” They answer to this is usually a cautious yes; cautious because the memories of the atrocities in a cup the chaps have been presented with over the years are still raw. So in the interests of avoiding this in the future we present the Candi’s Dog guide to making tea. Firstly we should point out to any readers outside the UK** that a cup of warm water that was boiled a couple of minutes ago with a paper wrapped teabag in a saucer on the side is totally unacceptable. Other brands, besides Liptons, are also available. Also if you are making coffee at the same time, use a different spoon to stir the tea and coffee. The reason, after all, we do not drink coffee is that we do not like the taste of coffee.

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An interesting attempt at tea-making by our American friends in 1773. Boston Harbour is salty and nowhere near boiling point and the tea will not brew properly in those tea chests. Stil at least they didn’t put the milk in first.

 

  1. Get some fresh water – From the tap is fine. If there is water left in the kettle throw it out.
  2. If you are using a pot, warm it a little with some warm water
  3. Pour the just boiled water over the teabag/tealeaves. Never, ever, add milk at this stage.
  4. Leave to brew – a couple of minutes should be fine; stir it a couple of times
  5. Discard teabag/strain tea leaves
  6. Add milk/sugar to personal taste

There we go; it really is that simple. Afterwards wash the cups and dry with a Candi’s Dog branded tea towel (coming soon!).

*There is not a single euphemism in this article.
** We are sure there are other wonderful countries with a great tea culture, just we are too poor to travel to them.  New Candi’s Dog album out this month!

Roland Gift: A kind of review

Last week Daniel and Stephen had the pleasure of seeing Roland Gift at the Sage in Gateshead so I thought I’d do a quick review. As with our last post, the usual health warnings apply; this is not a proper, professional review. A professional reviewer would, for example, either already know the music of Roland and Fine Young Cannibals or at least do some research. I have done neither of these things and those of you with suspicious minds, may have already deduced that this be less a review and more a shameless attempt to promote Candi’s Dog.

Daniel is our chief gig getter and he has three crucial attributes; persistence, organisation and being really, really annoying. I would love to think people book Candi’s Dog because of our music, but I suspect it is just to make Daniel go away. In the case of securing a support with Roland Gift his dubious charms were ultimately unsuccessful, but he did get a couple of free tickets out of it and, never one’s to look a gift horse in the mouth, Daniel and Stephen duly turned up. There’s a time when I would have jumped at the chance of a night out, but I’m not the man I used to be, and besides we gig so much that often the last thing we want to do is listen to more live music. On our off nights Candi’s Dog can normally be found laid back on the sofa watching TV*, but for Roland we were really pleased we made the effort.

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The Sage, Gateshead

The gig was in the Sage 2, and this was my first visit to the venue. For those not familiar with it, it is kind of a tube with the band at the bottom, rather like one of those pits used for bear baiting in the olden days. Roland was backed by a six piece band, who all looked really casual, not in the least bit ‘showy’. It took me until half-way through the set to realise that despite this look they were all co-ordinated, right down to matching trainers; denim on the left side of the stage, black on the right (except the drummer, they’re always a bit different). This approach followed through into the music, and the band were superbly polished without being over the top, letting the songs shine through.

The songs alternated between something old, something new, something borrowed (Suspicious Minds, Ever Fallen in Love) and I was disappointed that they did not perform something by British boy band sensation Blue to complete the set. Still the new songs, by and large, held up very well and mixed seamlessly into the classics. Roland’s voice was as fine and distinctive as ever, if a little lower in the mix than I would have liked, and he exuded a cool, charisma. Predictably the older songs had people off their seats dancing, but the newer tracks were really well received as well.

Roland was doing just four gigs in this tour, I am guessing to test the water before a bigger launch, and based on what we saw we can clearly say he’s onto a good thing here, and we hope to see him again in the future.

* Daniel – Chick flicks, Once Upon a Time, Matthew – US dramas and films in foreign, Stephen – Documentaries, programmes he hates so he can shout at the telly

Happiness is a Warm Turntable

During a recent refurbishment of a room in my house I came across my record player, which had been resting unloved with junk in a cupboard. Left alone in the house, with only tidying or decorating to do, I naturally ignored both of these tasks, promptly set up the turntable and spent the afternoon listening to my old Beatles albums.

Despite being the first band I really got into (or the first band respectable enough to tell you about), I don’t really listen to them very much anymore, since I never saw the point in replacing my vinyl with CDs and The Beatles aren’t on Spotify. So I was listening to them with slightly fresher ears and, lounging on the sofa, my mind floated back to when I first heard the albums.

Though not my favourite Beatles album, most fresh in my mind was Revolver*. I first got into the Beatles around as a child through the red and blue compilation albums my parents had lying around. My brother and I had listened to them when my parents were out with the intention of having a laugh at this old fashioned music, only to find out that they were actually rather good. Not quite old enough to be out buying albums, I managed to borrow Rubber Soul and Revolver from a friend of my brother who was one of the few people I could find with actual Beatles albums. This rather shows my age, given that today any tech savvy child could have downloaded their entire back catalogue in five minutes.

Revolver

Perhaps Revolver sticks in my mind because everything about it seemed exotic at the time, from the crazy Klaus Voorman collage cover, (which only really looks its best on 12 inch vinyl cover) to the seemingly outlandish production and the weird Eastern music. If Revolver is remembered by music critics as a ground breaking album whose innovations have been heard in rock music ever since, then for me probably what stood out most to my musically naïve ears were the things less heard outside of the sixties. I’m thinking backwards guitars, tape loops, Indian music on a rock record, un-subtle use of stereo etc.

And obviously what leapt to the front was the fact that from start to finish the songs are just so good, perfectly arranged performed and produced. Mind, it took a while to like Love You To (that weird Indian one I mentioned), which I used to dislike to the extent that I would risk scratching my record by lifting the needle off the record and dropping it onto the next track potentially ruining the gorgeous intro of Here, There and Everywhere. Still I like it now, showing that one of the other joys of vinyl is that since it is a pain in the backside to skip tracks you end up listening to everything giving the ‘growers’ on an album the chance to get into your head.

So, though not necessarily the best tracks on the album, most prominent to me was I’m Only Sleeping which captured perfectly that dreamy, hazy half-awake feeling I spend much of my time in. And after the irksome Yellow Submarine, She Said, She Said with its blistering intro riff, clattering drums, frantic fingerpicking, time changes and cryptic lyrics was a breath of fresh air. Got To Get You Into My Life stood out on side 2 with its driving rhythm and horns, reminiscent of the Motown sound I was yet to discover, and of course Tomorrow Never Knows was like nothing I had ever heard.

There are several billion people who could give a better review of the album Revolver than me, no doubt including some who have never heard it. So please treat this instead as nothing more than unreliable memories of a man, feet up on the sofa who should really be doing something more productive with his time.

*Today’s order of preference; tomorrow I may have changed my mindLet us know your own favourite in the poll below; leave a comment and let us know why, if you like!
1.The Beatles (White Album), 2. Rubber Soul, 3. Revolver, 4. Sgt. Pepper, 5. Abbey Road, 6. A Hard Day’s Night, 7. With The Beatles, 8. Please, Please Me, 9. Help!, 10. Let It Be, 11. Beatles For Sale

Took a short diversion

We’ve added a new ‘lyrics’ section to the blog so, if you are interested you can see what Candi’s Dog are going on about. The lyrics will be there ‘warts and all’ and contain crap lyrics which were rushed off in five minutes and those where real thought was involved; where the nuances of each individual word was agonised over; where the character and meaning evolved over a period of months into something which may or may not also be crap. You can decide for yourself. So we thought we could occasionally have a look at some of the lyrics in case you were wondering. Besides, after just four posts, we need something else to talk about before we end up just posting about really good cups of tea we’ve had recently, or something.

Took a Short Diversion is a fairly recent addition to the Candi’s Dog set and features on our new album (out soon!). The song tells of someone returning to their hometown, in this case Perryville. I should say that this is not the hometown of any member of Candi’s Dog and would in fact represent an extremely long diversion of several thousand miles, were we to undertake the journey. Our own hometowns do not rhyme with much of use (thanks Mam/Mum and Dad!), and while the use of American place names in songs by British bands who have never visited the place in question is extremely naff, the fact that the lyrics could be misconstrued as saying the place is grim and miserable mean we did not want piss anybody off who was local enough to give us a good kicking. If by some miracle we make it big in the USA we will obviously change it to a small village in Burkina Faso to avoid being set upon by angry Kentuckians.

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Newcastle, hassle, tassle, vassal …

So this is a personal experience song, reflecting the fact that we occasionally visit the places where we grew up and wander about. Once you have got past the novelty that everything looks really small and what was once your whole world can be crossed by car in a matter of minutes, it all gets quite miserable. Taking a short diversion is essentially a masochistic experience where you inflict upon yourself the pain of loss for the warm glow of your childhood and a simpler, threat free, decision free time when you had not messed up yet and where dear friends were on your doorstep and not scattered to the four corners of the earth.

Obviously this is all nonsense; the golden age certainly did not feel like it at the time and the place ceased to be the moment he left it, but nostalgia is a powerful force that makes you buy concert tickets for people who you never listen to any more, watch awful films and trashy I love (insert year) programmes and, for some at least, occasionally take a short diversion.

The Name of the Dog

One of the questions we almost never get asked is how we came by our name. Undeterred by such indifference we decided to set the record straight. The name comes from the John Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men. Candy’s Dog is a smelly, hairy, old creature who has seen better days (no jokes please, it is too easy,) who the protagonists decide should be put out of its misery. Despite the reluctance of Candy the dog is led away and shot. If you want a better understanding of the significance of this to the novel, you can find countless sites where this is discussed.

Which brings us to a key controversy in the formation of Candi’s Dog; the spelling. As has been mentioned in previous posts, Candi’s Dog like a good argument. Of all of the things we have argued about, however, (such as musical direction, whether sugar should be added to tea*, whether Jennifer Aniston is the greatest screen actress of the 21st Century**) this was by far the biggest, most ferociously contested dispute in our history.

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“Recant your heresy! Spell it with an I and you will be spared!”

At the risk of re-opening barely healed old wounds the argument broke down like this: Matthew felt we should be called Candy’s Dog to be more authentic to the book, Stephen and Daniel wanted Candi’s Dog so that people using search engines would be more likely to find information about the band rather than help with their English Literature homework. The argument was bitter, lasted many months with numerous atrocities committed on both sides. In the end, Matthew conceded and an uneasy peace has been in place ever since. So, if you’re bothered, and all the evidence suggests you are not, this is how we came by our name.

* Sugar in Tea? Daniel “No”, Matthew “Yes”, Stephen “No”
**Jennifer Aniston? Daniel “Yes”, Matthew “Are you serious?”, Stephen “What is wrong with you?”

On the road again

Candi’s Dog recently had the pleasure of supporting the fabulous Josh Doyle on his recent UK tour in Newcastle and Manchester. Like all people who spend far too much time in each other’s company, all meaningful conversation in Candi’s Dog ceased long ago to be replaced with talking bollocks and bickering. The prospect of spending three hours trapped in a car together travelling from Newcastle to Manchester filled everyone with dread.

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Candi’s Dog (failing to join in with the humourous poses) with Josh Doyle and Sarah Holmes. Thanks to Peter Tipple for the image

At this point Spotify came to the rescue. Spotify has had some bad press amongst musicians and songwriters for their low royalty payments, and when our new album is finished (due out Aug 2014!!!) we would certainly prefer you to buy it from the band. Still, much as some of us may have fond memories of searching through endless racks of CDs/vinyl, for most those days are long gone. Besides, Candi’s Dog are consumers of music as well as producers and the vast library available at Spotify has opened us up to some wonderful music we might otherwise have never heard.

So we decided that each member would chose ten tracks to be shuffled and played for the journey (see below). It worked brilliantly; great music, the beautiful northern countryside, followed by a great gig with Josh at Manchester’s Lawn Club. Even the re-emergence of the 50mph average speed check on the A1 could not dampen our spirits. Only two songs caused tensions on the journey. Stephen’s choice of Rock Lobster by the B-52s was met with bemused looks by Matthew and Daniel while Stephen would rather be dipped in a vat of molten cheese than endure the 14 minutes 24 seconds of Dire Straights’ Telegraph Road again.

So if you have a long journey planned and want to share the Candi’s Dog playlist, it is set out below. If you can find a few chaps to talk bollocks to you for a few hours, the experience will be all the more authentic.

Wichita Lineman – Glen Campbell
Sunday Best – Bobbie Gentry
Minor Swing – Django Reinhardt
Moonlight Drive – The Doors
The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
If It Wasn’t For the Nights – Abba
Rock Lobster – The B-52s
I Am Weary (Let Me Rest) – The Cox Family
Why Go? – Thad Cockerell
Litoral – Toco
Pra Machuchar Meu Coracao – Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto
Telegraph Road – Dire Straights
Redbud Tree – Mark Knopfler
Thank You For Being a Friend – Andrew Gold
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
The Visitors – Abba
Don’t Stop Now – Crowded House
Poor Misguided Fool – Starsailor
There Goes the Fear – Doves
On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams
La La Love You – Don McLean
Romeo’s Tune – Steve Forbert
Primrose Hill – Loudon Wainwright III
Jimmy – Moriarty
On the Road Again – Willie Nelson
Down Low – Teddy Thompson
Australia – The Shins
Jonathan David – Belle & Sebastian
The Things We Do For Love – 10cc
Well Alright – Buddy Holly
Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy  – Queen

 

 

 

The Twins and the Beard

After a half hour of performing songs, carefully crafted over many months, Candi’s Dog like nothing more than subjecting the audience to our spontaneous, ill-informed conversation. You are probably most likely to speak to Daniel ‘networking’ (skiving) while the others pack up our gear, but the other two usually appear once the work has been done. After a polite ‘Good gig lads’ the conversation quickly moves to the burning question that has been in the minds of our audience during the whole set; “Are you two twins?” In case you missed it, Matthew and Daniel are twins. Despite being a well understood natural phenomena our listeners are endlessly fascinated by them, with questions such as “Who is the oldest?” “Do you have the same dreams?” “Can you communicate by telepathy?” etc. If music is discussed at all, it is usually secondary, with the two people who look eerily similar taking centre stage.

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Two people who look eerily similar.

Understandably Stephen was feeling a bit left out, and no doubt rather unhappy that our beloved band had become a Victorian freak show. A little while ago, however, he decided to give up on the strange male pastime of scraping sharpened metal across his face, and unexpectedly grew a beard. As well as looking more distinguished/trampy/garden gnome-like (delete as applicable) he now finds himself inundated with a set of questions any dog walker would be familiar with “How old is it?” Can I stroke it?” “Can it do any tricks?” Indeed, at our recent gig at the Customs House the compere, having introduced us individually by name, gave a special introduction to the beard. Stephen has since used this to press for full band membership and pay for the beard (perhaps forgetting that 25% of bugger all is still bugger all). Matthew and Daniel remain unconvinced.

Still all is now well in Candi’s Dog, the twins and the beard have their own fans and the music remains in the background. All that could spoil the peace and harmony would be if the twins grew their own beards, but since they have the facial hair growth of fourteen year old boys this is distinctly unlikely. Shouldn’t mock really, they can’t help it, it’s in their (identical) genes.