Kieron Gillen's workblog




I return and as a vague attempt to warn up my writerly-head, I blog about my week away from the beloved Internet.

(Bar a couple of methadone moments courtesy of Ste "Get off the internet now, Kieron" Curran and Dave "You've been gagged when you were away" Bushe)

The major reason for my leaving you was toddling off to All Tomorrow's Parties. It was my first time there, as I'd previously avoided it due to an over-active case of inverse-snobbery (It being the festival for people to good to go to normal festivals, ergo, lowly and to be looked down upon) and Belle-and-Sebastian phobia (Since they curated the first one).

I changed my mind, as I had one of my rare realising-I-am-full-of-shit moments that I don't like to dwell too much upon.

I get there and realise, very swiftly, everything everyone has ever said about ATP is true.

For non-music people, it's set, in a stroke of real genius, at a Pontin's holiday camp. So rather than crouching in a tent and wading in your fellow festival go-ers faeces, you have a small challet you share with others, set in a compound and with the ironic dissoance between relatively obscure music and 1960s style British Working Class Holiday Camps.

If Glastonbury is the Indie-Somme, ATP can be cruelly referred to as Indie Auschwitz. Or, probably more accurately in these modern days, Indie Guantanemo Bay. Especially when half the acts are close to the sort of things that, as shown in the Men Who Stare At Goats, are what the US Army would blast at prisoners.

Another easy way to describe it: A fair chunk of the bands are the sort of bands who I always assumed what my Co-workers thought I listen too. You know: two notes in ten minutes, five minutes each played at sufficient volume to sterilise the audience. Not that Wolfeyes was anything but brilliant.

So: memorable moments.

Well, I've always had a theory that parties - specifically house parties - concentrate time. A good night out can have a similar sort of effect, but it's an intense, highly interactive group which leads to the emergence of LOTSOFSTUFFHAPPENING. Parties are good like that.

This was, essentially, a three day party.

Not that I'm sure how typical our experience was. On Saturday night, our neighbours came around at some point when the clock was crawling towards 7 a.m to ask us to turn down the PS2 Singstar Karyoke as we were the only chalet in the building. Not everyone was really living it as much as we were. But - hey - we're the only people who counted.

(We blanked the request, which was for the best. The people who came around were, I realised later, the same people who only a couple of hours earlier had started a fight with Triforce Internerd Sidekick Rob in the pub near closing time since he slagging off George Elliot's Silas Marner to them. Because one of them had "Silas" written on his T-shirt. Some people can't take critical re-examining of classic novels.)

And scanning through Ste's photos of the event, I find myself recalling things I'd completely forgotten, like applying a giant Tattoo of a Phoenix sicking up a dismayed Mermaid to Rob's chest in the toilet, much to the seeming bemusement of the surrounded post-rock massive.

So a mass of experiences. Jokes were manufactured at an industrial rate through the seething power of the Ste/Byron/McCarthy axis only referred to as "The Triforce", though Chalet-comrades Jude, Chris and James and myself did have our own cottage industry. There's too many to list, which makes it lucky that the Triforce were keeping a book which, hour by hour, they noted down the eb and flow of the events. It's a little like the Odesey, but with a lot more Odd and will eventually find its way online.

By the time it got to 7 .a.m. on Monday morning and there was a spellbinding Greatest Running Joke hits performance at some bewildered chalet guests, minds were disolving into soup. In terms of personal moments, James, Chris and I refusing to stop singing Just Like a Pill at a similar period, even when the Singstar backing tape had stopped, was heartwarming and dumb in about equal measures. As opposed to a few minutes earlier, when I had dramatically warned everyone to be ready for clouds of smoke since the oven had been left on from Jude's cooking food when she wandered off to the Beach, opening the door and being unable to locate anything, so deciding she was so Drunk she hadn't remembered to put stuff in. Oven turned off. Then when Jude comes back, she opens the oven and pulls out the chips. I'd somehow missed it. Marvelous.

The minor annoyances that caught me at times disappear in my recollection, acting as artful noir shadows to the emotional topography of the weekend. So, to invoke another of the sacred running jokes, It Was A Lovely Time. Also, AWESOME.

I still have, for the record, no idea why I casually - if intently - informed Rob and delightful missus Ruth that I was a - I quote - "very sexual person".

Er... Haven't mentioned the Bands yet. Stand outs: Wolfeyes. Mercury Rev. Little Wing. Miss Kittin (FIGHT - RUNNING - GAG). Peaches. Trail of the Dead. Silver Mount Zion. Pelican. McCarthy singing Ace of Spades before pulling open his coat to reveal he had somehow sneaked a whole round past pub security at 4am or so, then diving back into it and... oh, I think we're back to us rather the bands again. Man, we suck.

Before moving on from ATP, a couple of photos. Firstly, some bastards who tried to start a fight on the Beach with us.

And a man who used to be one of the most respected journalists in the industry.

Monday was the end of ATP, but not the end of my adventures, deciding to spend another couple of days in the Smoke so I could interview The Dresden Dolls for Plan B. This went about as well as an interview with me can ever go: I consider the actual face-to-face chat pretty much the worst of my skills as a journo. Could have gone infinitely worse, since half an hour before I was a giggling schoolgirl mess while eating Breakfast with Jane and trying to work out what I wanted to ask. Trying to get in the mood to find questions featuring words like "Semiotics" rather than "Pooooo" proved troublesome, but a swift glass of wine and I was ready to do my best Simon Reynolds impression. Self-laceration aside, they seemed to enjoy it and even complimented the questions afterwards. Which could always be a band playing a journalist, but seemed genuine, especially when backed-up with the camera man grabbing me to say likewise on the way out.

Maybe I am too hard on myself. At least I'm aware that you really should have something a little better to ask than "Why are you called "The Dresden Dolls" or "Why do you wear Make-up" when you go meet a band. Or if you *do* want to ask those questions, at least hide them behind a little intellectual fog (The Semiotics question related directly to the image, natch).

Caught the gig in the evening with co-tyrant Alex De Campi, which was a spectacular, glorious success with moments that absolutely transfixed me as if they'd hammered a bloody great nail through my chest. As much as I loved the ATP bands, its heights even topped the way "I never dreamed I'd hurt you/I never dreamed I'd lose you/
In my dreams, I'm always strong" cut me open during Mercury Rev's encore of "The Dark Is Rising".

After I finish a rubbish PC-game review, I'm going onto writing my featurette, which I'm looking forward too immensely.

Final moment I want to keep for posterity. Having got back to Bristol, Jane and I stop for a drink before I have to sod off back to Bath. Heading piss-wards just before ending, I literally feel my games-journalist brain switch back on at full force as I - for no discernable reason - start to create a concrete argument for Game Entryism to be thrown into a piece on KOTOR2. Not that I've been actually *asked* to write something on KOTOR2 yet even.

Feeling your brain TWIST in such an obvious way is rare and glorious. It took a week's worth of sleep deprivation to create it, so I salute it too.

Rare and glorious. Now there's an apposite phrase to close on.

To work. I have a rubbish RPG to mutilate.




Kieron Gillen's Workblog, foo'.