Sunday, 28 August 2011

LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX: Now featuring me ;)

The fast-rising film and film culture site LOST IN THE MULTPLEX now has a new addition to their growing team of geeks who hit keys- me! I'm thrilled to be back in the realm of pop culture journalism, especially for such an awesome site. My first three pieces for the site have gone live this week. You can find them at the links below.

The Perfect Seat In The Perfect Row

Marvel Confirms Doctor Strange Movie Going Ahead

Ghostbusters 3 - Developments At Last?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Doctor Who - “Let's Kill Hitler” Makes Me Want To Quit

This evening I, along with millions of others, watched the return of Doctor Who to our screens after the show's mid-series break. I loved the episode, maybe not as much as Neil Gaiman's immaculate episode 'The Doctor's Wife', but I still loved it massively. The problem was that as it ended, I was left with a sense of horror and realisation. It was then that I realised there are levels of writing, standards of quality, that I will never achieve, no matter how hard I try.

In effect, it kinda made me want to quit this writing lark altogether.

I get this feeling now and again, when I enjoy something so much that it feels like I'm wasting my time trying to do anything as good, but still I plough on. I'll probably continue to plough on until something comes along that floors me enough to actually have me wipe my drives of every bit of nonsense I've ever tried to string together, but until then I'll keep on trying.

I guess I'm my own worst critic, as my readers seem to enjoy the things I do, be it journalism or fiction, but my internal critic won't shut the hell up. This may be a good thing as it means I always have an eye on quality, but it's also holding me back from just enjoying what I do.

The work of Stephen Moffat with this series of Doctor Who is astounding. The twists, the character interplay, the massive ideas told via relatively small-scale means, the glorious use of language and tension, the huge SF scope, it's gorgeous, and hugely humbling to someone trying to figure out how to make sentences sound good.

I know I'll never be a brilliant writer. I just want to be a good one. Or, at least, good enough.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

40 issues with POWERPLAY!

I'm currently writing material for my 40th issue as a part of the team behind POWERPLAY ROCK AND METAL MAGAZINE, and am still having just as much fun (if not even more) than I always have while working for such a great magazine. Making this landmark issue even more special for me, I have been lucky enough to conduct my biggest interview yet, with one of the most famous rock vocalists in the world...


AMY LEE of EVANESCENCE. I talked to her about the new, self-titled Evanescence album, and you will be able to read that interview in my 40th issue with the magazine, namely issue 136. This will be on sale at the end of September. She was a delight to talk to, and every Evanescence fan is going to love the new album, as will new listeners.

I'd like to thank the readers old and new as well as my colleagues for 40 issues of musical mayhem. Here's to another 40!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

How Social Media Gave Me More Privacy

I'm pretty frank when it comes to my online presence. I'm on several major social networking sites and participate in a great deal of social media's addictive methods of wasting my days on this planet, but while traditional media (and indeed a considerable proportion of the populace) are convinced that we have lost our privacy, I feel like I personally have gained more.

A few years ago (It might as well be centuries in internet time), back when Myspace was just about to become massive, myself and pretty much everyone I knew at the time were highly active on LiveJournal. We would pour out our innermost feelings to the world at large, close friends and custom groups. For paragraph upon paragraph we would let it all out to anyone and everyone.

It was the same on other blogging platforms at the time, but as social networking sites grew and surpassed the blogging platforms in terms of users, the art of the lengthy blog post seems to have been fading away. I'm certainly telling people less. Sure, I write here, for a massively popular horror site, a national magazine, my movie/geek site and lots more alongside my Tweets, FB statuses and so on, but I honestly believe that I am now a far more private person.

Where once I would let out a tirade against the injustices I faced at work, at home and in life in general, now I will put up a Tweet or a status about building a bookcase or eating some Ben & Jerry's (as I have today). While I do still pour my heart out on occasion, I have found that the innermost workings of my mind now remain private.

This is probably a good thing for the sanity of my friends and family, in all honesty. Seriously though, I think that in some ways we now have a great deal more privacy than a lot of people give us credit for. If you want more privacy online, then don't say so much. Say what you need to. talk about the things that you have a passion for, discuss the world at large, current affairs, celebrity hairstyles, whatever, but spare a thought for your future and hold back on telling the world absolutely everything. You may well grow to regret it.

Mind you, having said that, I kinda miss those days sometimes. Now, the stuff on my mind tends to stay there. Ah well, I'll go and post a link to a Failblog page and try to forget about it...

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Review: ANGELSPIT (+Dirty K/Cease2xist) @ Corporation, Sheffield 5/8/11

It's been a while since I visited the Corporation nightclub back in my home town of Sheffield, and it was pleasant to revisit the sticky floor and the lack of oxygen for a night of mayhem. After catching up with old friends from my days hanging around the Sheffield dark alternative scene, the lights went down and the stomping began.

DIRTY K
Right, I don't generally like this brand of Industrial music that much, but Dirty K's own brand of hugely danceable noise was great fun. Mixing elements of pure Industrial, hard dance music and powernoise, this UK duo laid down a breathless set of rhythms, samples and infectious, bouncy electronics that rapidly warmed up the jaded Corp crowd. Not an act I'd choose to listen to anywhere but in a live situation, but definitely an act who are building a reputation on their talent rather than any gimmicks.

CEASE2XIST
Shrewsbury's Cease2xist are up next, and the three-piece band are a fantastic proposition live, demonstrating a massive amount of energy and conviction. Their take on harsh Industrial (with an almost inaudible guitar thanks to a typically muffled Corporation small-room mix) is punchy and stompy in all the right places, but it's very, well, 2002. As their set progresses, I have to wonder how many 3ulogy gigs they went to back in the day, as they sound almost exactly like that act (now split, which gave rise to the bands NEKRO DRAKO and PR0T0TYPE) did during their time together. A chaotic cover of 'I wanna be your dog' is fun, but it's their own material that has more punch.

ANGELSPIT

It's been four years since I last saw Australian cyberpunks Angelspit play live, and was hoping that the wait would be worth it. Thankfully it was, and despite a lengthy quiet period a couple of tracks in due to a tech issue, the band (now at four members instead of the duo of yore) laid waste to the small room's tiny stage in fine style (despite the ludicrous heat).

Vocalists/Electronics manipulators DESTROYX (aka cult fashion designer Amelia Arsenic) and ZOOG VON ROCK (aka “Caaarl!” as he introduced himself to me in a broad Aussie accent afterwards) are massively energetic throughout the hour-long set, never missing a beat of their rapid-fire lyrics (or indeed the fx-laden vocal sections that require them to switch very quickly to other mics), while guitarist Valerie Gentile (The Brooklynite also known for her work with The Cruxshadows) and drummer Matt have brought a new vigour to the Angelspit live experience.

The transformation is amazing, with older material like 'Maggot' and 'Vena Cava' morphed into vicious and nasty punk assaults, finally bringing Angelspit's punk feel to the forefront. This is never more in evidence than during 'Wreak Havoc', which has gone from being a strong Industrial track to being a monstrously violent Cyberpunk anthem.

The band are clearly having a blast, and as the set progresses, they gather a fair few new fans if the response was anything to go by. I was down at the front for the whole show, and ended up dowsed in the bands' sweat from their furiously entertaining performance, during which other delights included 'Glitchbomb', 'Toxic Girl', 'Wolf', the powerful 'Fuck The Revolution' and more. The venue was left sweating and spent, as were the band, but all four members went straight from the last notes of the final track into signing autographs, chatting with fans and posing for pictures. I met each member in turn and was most pleased by how very friendly and accommodating they all are. Not an ego in sight. A perfect end to a great evening's entertainment.

Meeting ANGELSPIT:

Review: BAD POLLYANNA @ The Salutation, Nottingham 30/7/11

The guys behind Nottingham's infamous DirtyFilthySexy club night laid on a great night's entertainment as part of this year's Pride celebrations, and onstage entertainment came in the form of Huddersfield four-piece Bad Pollyanna. With little room on the Salutation's miniscule stage for the band to move around, they put in a valiant effort to entertain the portion of the attendees that was looking at the stage and not their drinks, to a warm reception.

Bad Pollyanna's brand of theatrical rock has elements of pop, goth, Industrial and so on, all wrapped up in some very powerfully delivered songs. Vocalist Olivia was the centre of attention, partly due to her elaborate outfit and partly due to her being the only member who was able to really move around much in the space available. Her impressive vocals were the high point of each song (not surprising as she's a vocal coach), and she's blessed with a powerful range, but it's the songs that let the side down a little.

They're perfectly serviceable tunes, but once the opening track (and popular YouTube video song) 'Liquid Lover' is out of the way, you've pretty much heard everything about their sound. Like an indie-ish Evanescence or a punky Tapping The Vein, Bad Pollyanna's material needs a bit more fire to it. A bit more drive.

Each member rocks out on stage like pros, but the band needs more of a definite musical identity before they can cross over into the big leagues. The audience numbers grew during their set, demonstrating the draw they have once they're at full pelt, and I'd love to see them build on the foundations of their sound and make it fuller, more personal, and a little harder. Those points aside, Bad Pollyanna put on a strong performance and will no doubt be very welcome back there again in the future. Their set came to a close with an excellent, sultry rock cover of 'You Got The Love' by The Source, which ended things on a high note. I look forward to seeing them again, once they're able to kick some more arse.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Hitting a snag can be useful

My new book, For The Fallen, has hit a snag in recent weeks, resulting in its release being pushed back a while. The thing is, this has given me ample opportunity to think the ending over. I wasn't happy with it before, and have thus cut most of the third act entirely.

I'm now writing a whole new one, which is a massive improvement over the original ending. I felt that the original was too much of a repeat of the ending to 'Dead Thing', the first novella in the series, and after some thought and some stress I have managed to come up with something that blows that old ending right out of the water.

What I'm saying is that hitting a snag can be useful. Take a look at what you're creating and if it's not working out the way that it should, take a break, think it over, and be merciless. The end result will be so much more powerful.