Category Archives: Uncategorized

Apologies Lands Today

Very excited to finally be getting my cold, greedy little hands on the album today! Shouldn’t really be bloggin’ about it from work, but I need a break from sloshing pixels around.

Things are gearing up very nicely for the release party on Saturday, and although we’re sad that The Rustles have had to pull out due to injury, we’re still looking forward to a great night. The last week has been a rush of last-minute organisation and tweaking, as well as rehearsals. And in the middle of it all I’ve somehow injured my back. A little more seriously than normal: One or more slipped discs. I’ll be fine for Saturday though, I’m doing my recovery exercises and I have emergency medication.

Plus there’s always whisky.

An Open Letter to NZ Post

Dear NZ Post,

Let it be noted that I use the term “dear” with a distinct lack of sincerity. You have never really been dear to me: Not back in the 80s when I deposited my 50 cent piece in your low-interest kiddy account; not when you ceased to be that entity and became the Frankenstein’s monster that you are now; not when I lived in an apartment building with a small mailbox and you never delivered anything, and when I went to pick things up, you could never find them; not when you sold my new address to various spam generators just because I foolishly was trusting enough to use your change-of-address “service”; and certainly not now.

Why not now? Well, let me put it this way: When a lovely person decides that they will try and make your birthday special by sending a series of items in the mail, the effect is ruined when half of them go missing.

In fact, this just makes me extremely nervous.

How many presents did you steal from me, or lose? I shudder to think.

You’re going on my list. This week, it’s you and the Dunedin City Council.

Sincerely angry,

Sunley

Success

It’s been a busy couple of days. Most importantly, Lucinda has finished off the artwork and Tom has finished the mastering, and all elements of the album are with the manufacturer. This should mean they’re back in time for the release – I’ll cross my fingers.

I also knocked up a sneaky polish for the dunedinmusic.com store. It’s just a visual thing really, but it’s quite nice. I threw some ideas around for a while and settled on an implementation of MooFlow, a MooTools-based CoverFlow clone. MooFlow is very nice, but I did have a couple of issues – it’s only at version 0.2 after all.

Out of the “box” MooFlow is not set up to take single-clicks – it assumes single clicks are used for navigating through the stack. My other problem was that with the number of items in our “flow”, the knob turned into half a knob.
If anyone is interested, to solve the first issue, I inserted a click handler before the default MooFlow one. All this new handler does is check if the clicked item is already in the centre of the “flow” and if so, launches the associated URL (it was simple enough to tell MooFlow to attach an href to its image objects, which it draws from an href attribute on the img tag that it turns into the MooFlow object). If the object isn’t in the centre, then it simply calls the normal click handler, which flicks it to the centre.
The second issue was a simple bug with the calculation MooFlow uses to set the knob width. Just like a normal window, the knob width is related to the window content – so the more content, the smaller the knob, down to a certain minimum usable width. Unfortunately, MooFlow did not have a check in it that told it not to try and make the knob more narrow than it would make sense to be. A simple bug, and a simple fix.
I’m not sure if it’s kosher to post my fixed code here, it is after all not my project. However, if anybody needs it, please contact me and I’d be happy to pass on the code. I will also be donating to the MooFlow developer on behalf of dunedinmusic.com – it’s a nice little add-on, and very easy to use.

Canterbury

Sex with Bowie made the number one spot on Christchurch bNet radio station RDU’s top ten this week. This is cool for a couple of reasons. One, they’re friends – the masterminds behind SWB also played on my album, and one is both the namer of that track and a current member of the Sunley Band – and two, as Chris writes, it’s “pretty awesome that a song which we wrote and recorded within 2 hours for $0 (and where I clearly mess up the drum beat during the intro) is getting some airplay.” Anyway, go check them out on Last.fm
I can remember a time, not so long ago, when Christchurch wasn’t interested in anyone waving a guitar around. I guess that sort of thing goes in cycles… although a few of the city’s high-profile “urban” (forgive the term) acts have moved away from the area now. I don’t know what that says. I hope this means there will be a whole bunch of open-minded Christrchurchians making the journey through the tunnel to Lyttleton when we visit in September.

As I write this, I’m listening through some test-masters of the Sunley album. Sounding pretty exciting! In other news, I forgot to book an appointment for a haircut today, again, despite an explicit reminder. I did, however, remember to book the flights for September’s Sunley Band tour.

Names

Many thanks to those who suggested names for the untitled track. There were some that were totally unexpected, some way off the mark, and some a lot closer. Before I threw it open, I was heading in a direction that including such concepts as horses, journeys and wire.

There were surprisingly few suggestions along those lines – “Wayfaring” was good, suggested by Lou, and in the same sort of vein we had “Sicilian Cowboy Convention” from Chris. Ashley was on the raucous cowboy tip, I think, with “Punch Drunk Promenade,” while others went for the gypsy thing: Andy suggested “Hard Cheese and Mouldy Bread,” an “Estonian delicacy that I made up.” Some went for the obvious – “Squeeze-box Waltz,” said Toni – or called it how they felt it – “Melancholic Soothe,” from Priscille – while others were totally left-field, like Steph’s “Tomorrowpockets”, the Tintin “inspired” “ten thousand thundering typhoons” from Blake, or “Pickledmonkeytuckerfucker” from Dave, who is a little obsessed with monkeys I think. I don’t know if Jon’s “the third or the fourth?” was a suggestion or a question. Sneaking in just before the buzzer was Logan with “I Will Still Love Your Body, Even If Your Heart?s Not In It,” which is really a fantastic name for a song, but I think I’d want words in that song. Funny, funny words.

It’s always interesting to see how other people take your music, and it’s nice to know that you’re evoking images. This was a fun exercise in that sense – one I’ll probably do again. In the end, I chose the title that I thought connected best for me. The vague klezmer tones I think were overridden by the obvious western bits, and I feel “Sicilian Cowboy Convention” sums that up quite nicely – accordions, western guitar leads, schlock… the only thing missing is somebody whistling. It makes me very happy to know that in some sense, Chris was linking me to Ennio Morricone with that title.

Now, because Chris played on the album, he was already getting a copy. I’m yet to decide what to do now – do I give one to the next closest title? Do I run another funtastic giveaway? All these decisions and more, next time!

Musicians

The album release party for the Apologies album is on July the 25th and I thought I?d write a little about the fantastic musicians I?ve somehow convinced to play with me. I?m a lucky, lucky guy.

The Rustles are a duo comprising Jay Clarkson and Tony de Raad. I met Jay in the mid-90s, she?s the mother of my good friend Sam. She has rich history of great songwriting, but I guess I didn?t really see her play much until 1998 when I was fortunate enough to be around as she recorded her the album Kindle. Last year, Jay released her latest, Over the Mountain, which is very very nice. To me, Jay evokes Leonard Cohen with her rich lyrical content. However, her guitar playing sets her apart. I don?t really know of anybody that plays like Jay. Tony also plays with David Kilgour, and I believe he played on one of my favourite albums, Lanky?s Wait. I?m really looking forward to seeing these two play.

I first saw Julian Temple play maybe four or five years ago. I set up sound for his band, which was called the Juju Crew at the time. It was an extremely easy mix as they are great musicians who play at a reasonable volume. In the last couple of years I?ve seen Julian every day, over and over – he plays Detective James Burton in the forensic investigation game Casebook, which I produce as my day job. I can honestly say I like Julian?s music more and more as time goes on.

Tono and I first played a gig together a couple of years ago, both of us as soloists. Every now and again he claims that I was the inspiration behind the hyper-newzealandisation of his singing accent. I like to remind him that I in turn stole my accent from Martin Phillipps. We?ve gigged together and played together a few times over the last couple of years, including recently at the Pages From Dunedin release gig at Dunedin?s Regent Theatre. I played tambourine on one of his numbers, and the Finance Company became my band for one of mine. Tono is fast making a name for himself in this part of the world as a purveyor of well crafted wit-pop and socio-political commentary.

Operation Rolling Thunder are one of my favourite live acts. Two brothers originally hailing from the depths of Invercargill who create such an awesome noise as to leave most listeners gaping. They?ve been around for the better part of a decade, and they don?t play very often. Maybe this is so that they always leave you wanting more. I want more right now. Their set at the Biff Merchants album release show earlier this year was fantastic and I?m very, very happy that they?ve agreed to play.

The Sunley Band for the night is a six-piece affair. On drums, Benjamin Sargeant of the Biff Merchants. He was a little scared of the country music at first, but after a couple of drinks he loosened up and eased into it. Ben also played with the Frankenstein supergroup Corrosive Se?or Quail, he?s a fun guy. On bass, Scott Campbell. Scott has been a member of almost all incarnations of the Sunley Band and I?m very glad about this, he?s a great player. Scott also plays with the Julian Temple Band and the Entropy Trio, as well as the Dunedin City Jazz Orchestra. Aidan Fraser joins us on keys. This is the first time we?ve played with Aidan, although Scott and Aidan have played together plenty, notably in the now-defunct Retrophonic Funk Machine. Aidan has also just taken over composition duties from me for Casebook and has scored episode four of the game. On guitar is Chris Keogh, of Sex With Bowie and previously the Tweaks. Chris is another one of these guys who can pick up songs and make them his own very quickly. He?s also always creating? I?m very jealous of him. And finally my good friend Karl Fearsforlife will be playing banjo and whatever else we shove in his hands. I?ve know Karl for over fifteen years – he taught me my first bitchin? electric guitar riff (it was ?Enter Sandman?). He played with me in the Evan Sunley James All-Star Tribute band and in For the Quail, and he?s played in almost all of the Sunley Bands. Hopefully at least three of these guys will be singing as well.

We hope to see you there!

check out the Facebook event page

Badvertising

“Cadbury should eat a dick, I hate that ad,” my girlfriend said as I was cooking a green curry. That got me thinking about bad advertising. Yeah, I hate that ad as well, but for no reason other than it annoys the hell out of me. You know, the one with the eyebrows. The sequel to the gorilla ad that sent Phil Collins to the top of the charts again (honestly though – I just can’t believe people went out and bought that single again. Didn’t they have the Miami Vice series soundtrack?). Generally, I’m fairly happy about that particular style of advertising.

No, it’s the misleading and downright outrageous advertising I want to talk about. And I have done before. I probably will do again. I was spurred into pre-action this time by a tweet (which, I’m sorry, I can’t seem to find) that linked to a New Zealand blog (which I now can’t remember, I’m terrible) about bad advertising. The latest post was about the Richard Hammond Telecom XT Network adverts, in particular the first one, which “proved” XT’s comprehensive coverage by recording some voices in a studio and pasting them over some pictures of a stuntwoman in various places that.

Yep, that was bad, but I just can’t believe the latest one. Hammond doesn’t want to talk about Telecom’s pricing plan (I wouldn’t either, it’s extremely expensive. I’m not defending Vodafone NZ, in New Zealand, we get roofied and violated with a chandelier the minute we pick up a cellphone). He wants to show you that the XT mobile network can deliver a picture faster than a jet sprint boat can go around the course.

Now, I’ve had a look at the New Zealand jet sprint boat racing siteand it looks like a good, fast result for a lap on a course like that is about 49 seconds. Now, the maximum specified downlink speed for a 3G network is 14.4Mbps, maximum uplink 5.7Mbps, and Telecom has this to say about XT:

The new network supports average speeds of 3Mbps downlink and 1Mbps uplink and peak download speeds will be 14.4Mbps downlink and 5.7Mbps uplink.

Now, in real terms, at peak you might transfer 84.11Mb downstream and 33.29Mb upstream in 49 seconds; at the average speed you might get 17.5Mb downstream and 5.84Mb upstream.

OK. So let’s assume that the picture that gets sent is 1Mb (which it almost certainly isn’t, but I can’t be bothered trying to find Telecom’s maximum dimensions for a picture in an MMS). At the average network speed, and allowing for some time lost in the dark places between in the middle between the sender’s phone and the receiver’s phone, this isn’t really even a competition. Or at least, you’d think not. But the advert suggests that the boat and the message are almost neck and neck… or fairly close at least. Are they suggesting the network is slower than advertised? That your messages are going to spend a lot of time on Telecom’s servers being inspected by the thought police? That coverage at the sprint circuit is pretty poor and it slows the user down (after all, it would probably be a more remote location than those in the advert that showed off XT’s coverage)?

It’s stupid, and it’s frustrating. Telecom especially annoys me, because I believe a lot of their customers come from a time when we had no choice for telecommunications (by which I mean we had no semblance of a choice; we couldn’t choose the shape of our tormentor). I think (and I have no proof, I’m just speculating) that in much the same way Microsoft Explorer still has users – because it’s the button on your new computer that says “internet” – Telecom gets internet and mobile users because that’s who installed the party line on the farm back in the day. Surely, if you really have a good network, you aim your marketing at nerds and people who actually need good mobile coverage. But this advertising is pure lowest common denominator, using celebrity and whiz-bang imagery but absolutely no substance whatsoever. I’m not alone in this though, as a quick search for discussion about this campaign will show.

Incidentally, I couldn’t find the ads on the Telecom website. Maybe they’re embarrassed.

I don’t have a landline any more and I’m happy about it. I know the money I pay for my naked DSL mostly goes back to them, but I’m happy at least that a small Christchurch company can take a cut on the way through. I’m anything but happy with my mobile service, but these adverts are doing nothing to tempt me over to Telecon, typo intended. All they’re doing for me is eroding what love I may have built up for Hammond watching Top Gear.

Still they’re nowhere near as self-face-punchingly disgusting as that awful ad for Milestone Homes; or as skin-crawlingly vomit-inducing as the TV2 promos for Desperate Housewives that feature middle-aged women with scary looks on their faces jiggling and swarming towards the camera like so many horny zombies. I can’t even lookat that one.

Sigh.

Log

I’m the first to admit, I’m not great at blogging. It’s not like I don’t have a lot to say. It’s just that I mostly have a lot to say after someone pisses me off or after a nice walk to work in the morning.

Also, at the moment, I get home from work with burning eyes and I’m not that interested in thinking. Ideally, I should be spending my evenings finishing up the album.

The good news is that we are very nearly there now. All but one (possibly two) of my guest appearances have been recorded. I have a few days of editing and final touches to the mix and then it’s over to Tom for mastering. I have the first three finished tracks back and I like what he’s done so far.

Now I’m off to try and update my iPhone!