Monday, November 15, 2004

assistant assistant

Ah, the first proper Assistant rehearsal in ages yesterday, and it was really good. Doing mini-plays round at someone's house is a satisfying way of working on new material, but nothing beats a proper band rehearsal, and it's been so long that Pete was complaining about the noise. Andy and Ali, who have been rehearsing through the Assistant hiatus with Fuji Heavy and Diomedes, thought we were quieter than usual - so me and Pete, more used to calm these days, were just needing to adjust.

To begin with we ran through the last set we played and - actually - I was really surprised how well we all remembered the songs. In addition, when you rehearse and gig regularly you get tired of songs, or songs become so polished that they lose their edge. After a break they gain a bit of punchiness; I'm Shit, Drinking With You and What It Means were rawer than I remember, and better for it. You Should Know, which I'd gone off a bit, was chaotic because of some truly wayward and forgetful guitar playing by me, and v. enjoyable. Actually, by saying 'wayward' and 'chaotic' I imply some skein of Malkmusian genius on my part - what I mean is that I forgot the chords and played the solo really badly.

We also gave an airing to Get Away, one of our earliest songs, and I was surprised to note that it sounded pretty good, so, resuscitated, we'll play it at the gig. Elsewhere, we brushed up Easy to Leave by chopping out a verse and chorus, making it a bit sharper in the process. So setlist so far will definitely include Theme, I'm Shit, Drinking With You, You Should Know, Get Away, What It Means and Easy to Leave - with a strong possibility that we'll play It's Alright and Engines and Anvils too.

Added to this, our promise of new songs....

There should be two to look forward to, with the thinnest possibility of a third. The first new one we worked on yesterday, August Song, started out as a slightly dreary guitar track which I created on my computer a couple of months or so ago, a simple, slightly melancholy idea about meeting up with an old flame and observing that "the year has been faster than I knew, and suddenly I find that I've exaggerated you". On the original demo the saving grace is a fast, dubby bassline which holds most of the song's promise.

Doing it with the band, we cut the song right back to that part and Ali's tight, rolling drums. The chorus is just a vocal and a synth. So it's a quiet and oddly restrained song, with little elliptical guitar runs like something off 'Think Tank', and sudden, piercing breaks of noise which were maybe a little Mercury Rev-ish. It sounded ace - and while not quite note-perfect, I think we'll have it ready for the Pressure Point gig.

The other track will be familiar to long-term readers of the blog (if there are any). I've been writing about us trying to get Don't Ask Me finished since the summer of 2003. This time we've pretty much cracked it - stripping the song down to a nice and simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus structure and dispensing with our disco section (tellingly added in the midst of summertime Franz-fever). It's still a good song, but I'll surely jinx it if I go into any more detail. We'll play it in December, I (half) promise.

There's an outside chance that we might get time to work on a new version of one of Pete's instrumentals, too, but time restraints will probably mean that'll have to wait 'til the New Year for an airing.

Really pleased with August Song, though - you'll like that one.

C:\Documents and Settings\jshipley\My Documents\My Pictures\trolley1
the groop, once more. in a trolley. they wouldn't let me out, afterwards.

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