catching up

Argh! Fucking fuckedy fuck! My friend (a promoter out west) co-runs a stage at Glasto. He emailed me earlier this year and offered a good slot on one of the smaller (but still legitimate, advertised) stages.

This precious Springsteen-tinted golddust email went to an old address, which I haven’t bothered to check recently. I missed it.

I literally first saw it this morning, one day after the final lineup got advertised. You cannot imagine how gutted I am right now, I’m wondering what evil shit I must’ve done in a former life to deserve this year’s karma. Fuck.

Right, deep breath. I’m sorry it’s been so long. Honestly, I’ve written and deleted three or four entries since getting back from the States. I’m tempted to blame Twitter because Evan’s right (see previous entry comments), it’s tougher to write long-form blogs once you’re habitually posting every idea the moment it pops up. I love Twitter but there’s also a slight issue with its effect on creativity: One of the classic songwriting ‘rules’ is not to tell anyone your song idea til you’ve finished the song. This is nothing to do with protecting it from theft but simply because once you’ve told it to people, your instinctive need to express it gets drastically reduced and it’s much harder to complete the song. I think that’s from Jimmy Webb’s book on songwriting – really works for me, anyhow. So possibly a similar process happens with Twitter, where you share your early bursts of creative thought, instantly making it much harder to develop them.

17% left on my battery, let’s see how far I get before the laptop dies. I’ve broken the charger cable and keep failing to get around to buying a new one (perhaps because it’s 60 fuckin quid). 

I’ve been having a weird, intense feeling of embarrassment when I get onstage recently – it happened for five gigs in a row and totally threw me. Then luckily it went away the last couple of shows, which was a relief, though I’ll be totally blitzed if it comes back. Maybe it’s beard-related. Started at the tail end of the USA tour and lasted right through to that Trafalgar Square gig for ‘Strangers Into Citizens’ (which was also my biggest audience I think – they said 8k-9k – overtakes the crowd for Frank at Reading and Leeds).

It means I can’t disconnect and get into the song, or just find something in the situation to enjoy. I think it’s a really dangerous place to be in, to be unable to shake off the cringingness – especially when you do material like mine.

My other big fuck-off headache right now is the PRS, the Performer Rights Society, which is the agency I belong to, who are supposed to collect royalties for me whenever and wherever my songs are performed or broadcast. Over the last few months I’ve gone back through my PRS payment statments for more than five years and can’t find a single payment for Frank Turner singing The Huntsman Comes A-Marchin’, not a single one.

If you know Frank you’ll know he played the song fucking loads between 2005 and 2008 and you’ll also know he’s a 100% honest guy and would’ve written the song down assiduously on PRS forms, including at festivals and on big tours with The Automatic etc.

It’s not money Frank pays, it’s money the venue pays for their entertainment licence, which then the PRS should pay to me because my song was performed in the venue. Simple. But can they find it anywhere? Can they fuck!? Did they try!? Well someone looked it up on a computer and sent me a thing saying I’d been paid £43.50 since 2005 for six performances. I checked the performances, they were my own fucking performances! Frank? Nada. When I first flagged it up with them, I provided a massive gig list, a pile of Youtube links and links to print and web reviews where the performance of the song got mentioned. By which I mean I did their job for them (this is what they tell you to do). They are a collections agency. Well go collect! It’s not about the money, honey. But it fucking is.

Anyway, even thinking about that makes me angry, the deeper I dove, the more confused I got – most recently discovering I have two separate IDs as a songwriter with them, even though I only ever registered one. Their website, and in particular the interactive database where you can check claims and make claims, is a total fucking mess. Frustrating.

On happier ground, here’s where I’m at, heading into summer: I’ve almost completed the LSD ep, built from improvised piano and Garageband sessions I did on acid after coming home from tour last autumn. I’ll hand that in this week and we’ll announce things properly next month, when Agent Ashmore has booked me a few shows to go with the EP. Separately I’m working hard on finishing the mizzog new songs for a quiet, personal album, which I’ll record in summer. Meanwhile got seven festivals.

Sounds fun, now I just have to not feel like a cretin throughout. Next blog sooner, unless I tweet everything I want to say.

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13 responses to “catching up

  1. I emailed about the cable. Might be able to help.

  2. sarah crowder

    I think the thing about expressing ideas early is true not just for songwriting. whenever I get an idea for anything the more people I tell the less likely it is I actually end up doing it and the better an idea is the more I want to tell it to everyone.

  3. I know what you mean about the self-conscious thing…I find it comes and goes, and it’s really unpredictable when it’ll hit hardest.

    I’ve always been mainly excited about playing, but over the last year or two there’s been moments of crippling self-consciousness which have rendered some gigs completely devoid of fun and left me thinking that no one could have liked that……..but weirdly enough still made a bunch of friends & sold stuff after.

    Other times I’ve felt awesome, had a total blast, and packed away on my own…with a full merch bag, and an empty mailing list sheet.

    I remember playing at a student union in Bristol about 6 months ago, absolutely bricking it until the moment I got onstage at which point it completely evaporated and a massively fun time was had by all (before I’d even started on the £20 bar tab they gave me…which being an SU was enough to get two of us wasted).

    As for the PRS……are these guys any better? http://www.ppluk.com/ I’m about to sign up for one as have my first “proper” release coming up……any good?

  4. From today’s BBC news:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8068154.stm

    “The PRS collected a record £117 million in the first three months of 2009.”

    Imagine how much they’d get if they did it properly.

  5. Ahh, sucks about Glasto, would have been good to see you there – looking forward to the EP.

  6. PRS are EVIL – massively incompetent (John The Publisher, who does me, seems to spend most of his life on the phone shouting at them), hopelessly out of date (STILL using census data when most radio stations are completely computerised), oppressive (suing garages!) and completely corrupt (the voting system is weighted according to how much money you’ve earnt through them i.e. those whose interests are best served by never changing how payouts are recalculated). And worst of all, if you don’t PAY them to join you NEVER get any money, as they have a legal monopoly!

    *HULKS OUT*

  7. Read Cathing Up and thought I would let you know that you are not alone in your frustration with PRS. I couldn’t attend the AGM so I texted Ellis Rich (Chairman) during the AGM with a question for the CEO. The question was as follows, ‘Please advise how and why the CEO wages increased from £307k to £487k in the space of one year? Especially as we are in a recession and members earn less than £5000!’ Although he acknowledged receipt, I still haven’t received an answer to the question!!!

  8. Slight typo, should have read Catching Up.

  9. Here’s a blog you could do. Tell us about your experience with Little Steven. I’ve been aching to hear your thoughts since you mentioned it.

  10. I was agreeing with the whole ‘sharing song ideas until you finished with ’em is bad’ until i thought of a couple of things.. Lennon – McCartney???

  11. Hey Chris, just read this, yeah that fucking sucks. Not sure if there’s anything I can do from my end..? They consistently failed to admit that Julia was in Million Dead (for four years) so they’re not exactly on the ball. Hope yr well x

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