woe BTSIf you’re subscribed to any band mailing lists you’re probably familiar with that peculiar tone they all seem to use: a certain faux joviality… the grating jauntiness that comes with wanting to sound personal whilst addressing oneself to a multitude. There’s also often a hint of desperation to the message – like the fixed grin of an exasperated flight attendant.

I must admit I dread writing the quarterly updates I send out to the Bedlam Six audience. I have a real problem with how to phrase it all without being annoying. I get so much spam from bands (both known and unknown) that I tend to think twice about burdening people with my own. Also my imagination starts conjuring up images of the recipients as they check their inbox. The disappointment. I know how unwelcome newsletters are when you’re expecting an email from a real person with real news that might actually have some real significance to your real life (no matter how many free downloads or special offers one tries to sweeten the pill with). I always imagine the people reading are waiting for some medical results or have just witnessed their cat being run over or something. And then along comes me and my gig-list.

A lot of band newsletters start with a sentence like “2013 is a big year for [BAND NAME]” (every year is a big year it seems) or “Good news!!!” (which half the time only sounds like good news because it’s got three undeserved exclamation marks after it). Boring, boring, boring.

The reason I’m writing this is that 2013 is a big year for The Bedlam Six and we have lots of good news(!!!). And yes, all this good news is being chopped up and sprinkled into seasonal newsletters ready to be unsubscribed from at the touch of a button.

But before it gets sent out as chirpy little emails I really want to tell people face to face. And I’d like to discuss it all properly like I do with my friends and colleagues. The thing is… new albums and singles and things like that aren’t really news. They are what bands are supposed to do. They’re the default. If we invented an amplifier powered by innuendo that would be news. Announcing a tour is not proper news. That’s business as usual.

By now I think I’ve met most of our core audience in one way or another. Unless there is some limiting factor the band always circulates after concerts and talks to anyone who wants to talk; there are now a lot of repeat attendees that I’m on first name terms with. That goes the same for repeat commenters on social media, indeed there are a few of those that have become extended email correspondences – pen-pals almost.

But we rarely just get together with people and talk about what we’re all doing and why. And I really want to give it a go.

This is an idea very much in its embryonic stage. As a concept it’s simple enough but I’m not quite sure how best to realise it. What I’d like is a big meal somewhere or a pub visit on a grand scale. How to have an informal get-together that crosses oceans and timezones though? Meeting after a gig isn’t enough. My brain is completely scrambled after two hours on stage, sometimes I can barely stand up let alone use words. And meeting before one would only be rushed (and besides, I’m usually in a bad mood before a show). What I envisage is a sort of shareholders’ meeting… but with added fun. Not very rock and roll though is it?

Here’s what will probably happen:
We’ll have a drink in some pub backroom or unused venue (depending on number of RSVPs), get in a load of booze and talk to each other. This will no doubt be in Manchester, UK (as that’s where we live). We could also play the new album if we can work out a non-pretentious way of doing the whole listening party thing.
For people who live too far away to attend, we could have some kind of live stream option or a tweet wall or a skype projection or something. Not ideal by any means but we’ll do our best. I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

Bedlam Pool

I’m probably fussing unnecessarily. But this year is a year where we’ve been doing a lot of things. It’s also been a year where we’ve been doing things a lot more slowly than usual. On the one hand it’s nice to be taking time over stuff rather than rushing about like we generally do, on the other it’s frustrating to be sitting on works-in-progress as our perceived activity levels drop. So we’d like to talk about all this stuff. We’d like to have some proper conversations, not just snatches of breathless chit-chat when we’re all sweaty and exhausted. We’ve always been open to suggestions about what projects we set in motion but we rarely get a chance for real dialogue and, in my experience, that’s when all the good ideas happen – when a bunch of people are a few thoughts down the line from an idea (a few drinks down too).

So some time over the next month we’ll be suggesting possible dates and venues for a drink and a chat. On the day in question the band will make a few announcements, play the new album then maybe do a Q&A. That shouldn’t take more than an hour. Then we can let our hair down (those of us with hair) and talk more informally. Perhaps Biff could DJ. He’s a good DJ. Or maybe we could ask one of our labelmates to play a set, to give the night some focus. Or have a pool tournament (or something). Do email me with any suggestions you may have, I’d really like to hear from you.

Whatever we end up doing, I hope to see you there (or on the most appropriate online equivalent).

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