• <a href="http://comraderobot.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-the-end-of-the-world">Bleached Bone Fields by Comrade Robot</a>
    Comrade Robot
    The only post-apocalyptic, quasi-acoustic indie folk duo you'll ever need.

    All our songs can be downloaded free through our mailing list.

Shocks Draft two by Tom Slatter

I couldn’t help but add a couple of layers to Pete’s Electrick Shocks idea.

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In the last four months I’ve played three gigs. All of them have been solo gigs, all of them a hell of a lot of fun, and all of them have happened because of lovely people I met on the internet.

Comrade Robot have been gigging on and off for about six years. We’ve played mostly on the London acoustic circuit and in that time we got used to being one of the few good things on the bill, not because we were amazing (all right, I think we are amazing. But I’m biased) but because a lot of promoters on the London acoustic circuit are just plain lazy.

There are plenty of promoters in London who hire a cheap room, but on whatever five acts they can get their hands on, charge a fiver and only pay the acts once they’re past a certain of audience members who have come to see that particular act. Band X gets 20 people in? Five quid. Band Y gets ten people in? Nothing.

That’s a crap deal. Crap for the performer yes, but more importantly it’s bad for both the audience and the promoter. I got to the point where I was embarrassed to ask friends and family to come and see us, because I couldn’t guarantee the rest of the night would be worth watching. They might have to sit through three or four awful acts before it came to us. Why would I want them to do that?

And why would the promoter? These guys never build up regular audiences for their night because they don’t see it as their mission to always put on amazing acts. This is London. With a reasonable amount of effort you can find four or five world-class musicians who will be happy to play an interesting gig for a reasonable share of the door money. It shouldn’t be difficult. Instead there are countless promoters who put on any old crap because the ten mates each band pulls along is enough to make a bit of a profit. But it’s a different set of punters every night, cos no-one ever wants to come back.

In short, I wasn’t enjoying these gigs, and stopped doing them.

Then in March I took part in the London FAWM Over Party – a lovely little gig in which London based songwriters who took part in February Album Writing Month met up and took turns to play songs to each other.

(It included this impromptu band – a wonderful, pick up your instrument, grab a chord sheet, launch into a song you’ve never heard with no discussion sort situation. Raucus, silly and wonderful.)

Was it a business venture? No. Did it make money? Yes, it did. Performers were happy to donate for the hire of the room and any surplus was donated to the FAWM.org website.

In the last month I’ve also done my first Ustream gig, and played at a great new comedy and music venture called ‘Date horse’. The Ustream gig was easily the most fun I’ve had at a gig in ages. I played about 50 minutes of solo stuff, and was greatly entertained by the lovely people in the chat room while doing so. Date Horse was even more fun, as it contained a mixture of comedy and music all on the theme of horror (the theme changes every week).

There are decent gigs out there, even for musicians who can’t yet draw large audiences. I’ve had some truly lovely people say some truly lovely things about my last three gigs, and i get the impression that people had genuinely enjoyed themselves, and I would much rather that than try to get people to a dingy pub on a wet weekday in the middle of London to see one good act and maybe three okay-to-mediocre acts.

All of these recent gigs, needless to say, have happened because of lovely people I’ve met through the internet. Yay for new technology.

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Pete has begun a song:
ElecktrickShocksdemo by Comrade Robot

Tear and crackle of the Velcro Man
Bristling palms of his sticky grab hands
Unfastening the buckles, unzipping his chest
Ain’t no heart beats in the gash in his chest

The inhuman rhythm of our velcro villain
In keys and swipes and pins and locks
Each time his mind begins to unwind
We administer electric shocks

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Yesterday, Pete and I met to play some music and make some plans.

We commandeered the studio of a friend named Ben, and fired up Pete’s laptop. The plan you see for future Comrade Robot performances is to move away from the acoustic-centred ensemble we have been and involve more of the electronic percussion, pads and beeps that we already use in our recordings. So we had a bash through Bleached Bone Fields, Stand and Clap and an old song called Ghosts, and you know what? It sounded pretty good.

We also made some plans to get Comrade Robot back on track, so in the coming months expect to see:-

Many more exciting shenanigans, including hopefully a new video.

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Sing for a Sail (demo)

At the end of time we feel nothing
But Mrs Underwood how I love you so
Could you teach of morals and ethics?
Could you show me love from a billion years ago?
We’ll travel in time to Bromley
We’ll travel in time though time will soon be gone!

Sing out for a sail or a whale to come near
Sing out this night for your lives
Sing out for the stars from afar, how we fear
Strangely as the moon to an Earthsman
Strangely we rush this unusual night

We’ll picnic in cities decaying
Mrs Underwood, I’m learning from all that you say
Of London, of love and betraying
Of brigand-musicians, and palaeozoic days
We’ll travel in time to Bromley
We’ll travel in time though time will soon be gone!

Sing out for a sail or a whale to come near
Sing out this night for your lives
Sing out for the stars from afar, how we fear
Strangely as the moon to an Earthsman
Strangely we rush this unusual night

This conceit that I would love you
Has somehow become more than a pleasing diversion
Though our cities are slowly dying
The doomsayers they rage, in hopeless impotence
We’ll travel in time to Bromley
We’ll travel in time though time will soon be gone!

Sing out for a sail or a whale to come near
Sing out this night for your lives
Sing out for the stars from afar, how we fear
Strangely as the moon to an Earthsman
Strangely we rush this unusual night

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Recently, Pete came up with an idea for the chorus of a new song. I’m giving it the working title of ‘Sing out for a Sail’:

Sing out for a sail or a whale to come near
Sing out this night for your lives
Sing out for the stars from afar, how we fear
Strangely as the moon to an Earthsman
Strangely we rush this unusual night

I’ve had a mess around with it, and extended it slightly. I’m not sure what the rest of the vocals might be, but here are my ideas for the song:

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Pete emailed over a draft for a logo, before deciding that actually it’s a ‘bit 90’s PC Gamer, if you know what I mean’.

So we won’t be using this, but something kind of like it. Maybe. I like the cog motif.

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I’ve been enjoying BLDGBLOG recently. This is Pete’s fault, as it’s his mentioning of it at some point that led to me subscribing. Recent posts have contained some truly beautiful ideas, including tactile maps, and a ship that was deliberately frozen into the Arctic ice.

This led directly to a sketch for a possible song entitled ‘Last Sunlight’ that I might, possibly finish at some point. Possibly.

Last Sunlight

The lyrics can be seen over at my brand new little site www.tomslatter.co.uk.

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I wrote an email to Pete this morning suggesting we look for an artist. Songs for the End of the World needs a cover, and we also need a logo and a banner for the website. I’m thinking something drawn rather than photo-based.

The nearest I can manage to a brief for the cover so far is:

It should contain a drawing of the robot from the Measure of a Man video

It should contain the words ‘Comrade Robot’ and ‘Songs for the End of the World’, possibly with the same font as used in the current banner

It should maybe be comic-book inspired. Possibly a similar style of drawing to the picture above.

But I’m not sure yet and Pete hasn’t had his say (and I’m not very good with visual stuff) so this is mostly thinking out loud at the moment. More details to follow when I’ve pinned down what we want.

Still, let me know if a) you’re an artist who has any ideas or b) you know someone who might be interested.

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This week Pete and I met up to make schemes and plans. It was the first time this year we’ve actually got together in person rather than communicating over the interwebs, and the meeting hopefully set the scene for new and exciting things in Comrade Robot world.

The basic bullet points are:

  • We need to sort out artwork for Songs for the End of the World
  • We’re going to start a podcast
  • This podcast shall include music and interviews with all the indie artists we know and love (and other geeky Comrade Robot themed things)
  • More exciting gigs! (watch this space).

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