The New Year list

I’m deliberately not calling this post ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ because I don’t think I need to change who I am – and nor should you – but because I’m a fan of a to-do list and this is a good excuse to create an ‘action plan’ for 2014…

2013 has been, for the most part, fine. It’s gone ridiculously fast too. There were big changes at the start and end of the year (I got dumped by email in January – ouch) and changed jobs (moving to EastEnders in late December), but for the most part I feel like I’ve coasted along.

However, everyone should take a moment to think about the good bits as well as the disappointing receiving of electronic communications and so here are a few of the highlights…

#Team NCA

The BBC Radio New Comedy Award returned in 2013 (we got a BBC Production Award nomination for the 2012 multiplatform element that I produced which was pretty cool) and I found myself without a budget so recruited a big batch of amazing volunteers to help film and edited each film myself. The core group of Producer Tilusha, Production Co-Ordinator Tam and Production Management Assistant Isma were bloomin’ hilarious and wonderful. And of course the most fabulous Executive Producer Alison Vernon-Smith and the stylish (and talented) Production Manager Hayley Nathan. My favourite production of the 18 months I spent at BBC Radio Comedy.

Grainne & J-Bugg shake up the Beeb

I found two excellent, talented friends in the new Radio Comedy bursary writers…

A Summer of gigs!

Thanks to Elena Dana, I finally started gigging in London, even making my jazz debut. And I got a new telecaster… now to get an amp (see 2014 to-do list…) I also wrote at least three songs I can count among my favourites.

Making my own damn icing, thank you very much

When I baked in the Get Flat in 2012, someone else was around to do the icing while I made the batter. My early solo icing efforts were watery and rubbish. Then one day, thanks to a Primrose Hill Bakery coffee buttercream recipe, I cracked it. (Although I did have a massive icing fuck-up the other day and had to buy the pre-mixed stuff for a Xmas party at Grainne’s but never mind…)

Comedy! Comedy! Comedy!

I saw some amazing shows and met some hilarious, lovely people this year. People who made me laugh included: Bridget Christie, Phil Wang, Steve Bugeja, Rob Carter, Katherine Bennett, Kate Lucas, Adam Hess, Tom Craine, Joe Lycett, Dean Sekhon, Peter Brush, Grainne Maguire, Mae Martin, Nick Helm Sarah Campbell, Nish Kumar, James Bran, Joe Davies, Ivo Graham James Acaster, Dane Baptiste, Jonny Pelham (and many, many more – go and check them out…)

Producing a book… sort of

In the New Year the BBC will be releasing an iBook about writing for Radio Comedy that I produced… I’ll post more about this in 2014!

Anyway, 2013 review aside, there’s loads for me to be getting on with next year, so here’s some stuff I’d like to do in 2014…

  • Buy amp to go with new telecaster (rather than playing through mixing desk connected to computer speakers)
  • Finish painting bedroom – there’s no longer a reasonable excuse for the large unpainted patch behind the wardrobe!
  • Cook a wider variety of foods (other than jacket potato, pasta and homemade sauce and stir fry)
  • Invite friends over more regularly to share wider variety of foods
  • Apologise less for the way I look
  • Be less passive when someone judges the way I look unnecessarily
  • Buy more cushions for my large sofa
  • Keep up the exercise and resist chocolate/ice cream temptations!
  • Practice guitar more
  • Find rhythm section to play with me and Reece (who I’m working on songs with)
  • Get keyboard out again
  • Record more music – and record it better
  • Read more on my Kindle
  • Find permanent contract
  • Renew ISA
  • Fill up ISA
  • Invest in more loose leaf teas
  • Save up for Canon 5D
  • Be better at getting people together – but not feel so guilty if I don’t
  • Enjoy self as much as possible
  • Blog more!

There’s definitely more – most of that reads like a shopping list! I must have January sales on the brain….

We gave you. All of our. Time.

Hello darlings, Frankie Ward here having a relaxing night in!

Although do bare in mind that relaxing for me tends to mean writing for you! (Aren’t you the lucky ones?)

Ahem! Forgive my seemingly arrogant words – I’m just in a jolly mood. My laugh has got a lot louder recently (I think it must be my new beanbag!)

So you’re reading this because of the gig I went to yesterday? Or because you’d like a sneaky peek at me attempting to take pictures of myself?

If you’re looking for the former, then you’re in luck! Last night I popped down to the Cluny 2 to see American happy rockers Fang Island play alongside local acts Holy Mammoth and Cult Image.

I’d seen Cult Image play a mere matter of days before this gig so I knew to expect Joy Division-esque post punk songs of insightful words and intricate guitar melodies. Once again, I was not disappointed. The band were reliably on form, with the venue providing better acoustics for singer Sean’s voice over Newcastle’s Discovery Museum (the site of their last live appearance.) I especially like Sean’s voice. It’s deep and edgy, but doesn’t lack warmth (despite the dark stylings of his songs.)

At Generator‘s NEw Wave Transmission event one panelist remarked that the band needed to write their own ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Now I could imagine that the band would work with some keys (adding some brighter tones to the guitar/bass/drums/lone vocals mix) but surely that would be too derivative of the band’s clear influences. It might be controversial to say, but maybe the restrained occasional backing vocals and even a melodica part might make things really stand out… (I say melodica because Gorillaz used it to such effect on Clint Eastwood, and I wonder if it’s potential for creepy tones could work for the band’s music.)

At the same time, I don’t really want you to change Cult Image, because I really like you!

Before the gig kicked off I chatted to some of the guys from second act Holy Mammoth. They briefly mentioned concern about how their soundcheck went, but any issues were clearly resolved by the time the band took to the stage. Holy Mammoth are one of those bands who grow with every performance. There’s a sense of unity between band members that can be rare on the live circuit and it makes for compelling viewing.

And that’s before you get to the songs!

One of the things I really appreciated about last night’s gig was that for once, singer Andy’s vocals were clearly distinguishable above the well mixed instruments. Perhaps it’s because I know and appreciate the songs, but I can now seemingly nod every kick drum inflection, wiggle my fingers along to the guitar hooks and nod my head to the driving bass lines of set favourites such as Suggester and Weathered.

The band had to cut things off a disappointingly two songs early (I estimate) due to technical issues with a guitar, but it was a sterling performance all the same. If it weren’t for the burgeoning desire to see Brooklyn’s Fang Island, I could happily have watched the Mammoth boys for a lot longer.

Fang Island hit the stage complete with flamboyant outfits (colourful, oversized hoodies), cleverly coordinated, contrapuntal guitar melodies and an absolute lust for life on the stage. Infectious, joyful and spontaneous, the five piece were an absolute,(exhausting), delight to watch. They don’t call them ‘explosive happiness’ without reason!

I’m having an early night now! But I’ll be returning to the Cluny 2 tomorrow to see The Winter Hill Transmission supporting Elliot Brood.