Muchas gracias to our UK hosts who went out of their way to make sure Diana, the intrepid indie jetsetter and Drugstore fan who travelled all the way from Brazil for our 'Best of' launch, had a real great taste of El Gran Reino Unido.
I could not have booked if I tried to a more special selection of hosts:
John Kennedy, London > superlative DJ @ XFM radio station, host of cutting edge show Xposure.
It must have been some experience for Diana to sit in, while the show hit the airwaves live, then he invited her down for some exclusive XFM gig-party. I'm with the gentleman DJ - lemme in!
Lucy Brower, Glasgow > indie-maker supremo & promoter, who not only dragged our musical tourist to a pub-quiz, but managed to win the coveted prize: a crate of Red-Stripe.
Now, that's what I call a local experience.
Mof Gimmers, Manchester > topdog musicologist, writer extraordinaire and footie fan who I fear was forced by Diana to go on a magical mystery record store foot-search, looking for that elusive Drgstr album.
They managed to find it > in whippin' Picadilly.
Thanks to you guys, Diana will be taking home some rather special trip memories - and let's face it> being nice to Diana was a dead easy task > the girl is a proper little gem of a person.
Band had wonderful time @ Madame Jojo's gig - lost in all reds and blues and a great atmosphere all around us.
Best of album released - and a real sense of achievement.
It really is a beautiful record, dare I say, our best.
No tracks forced down the drugstore throat by publishers, managers or band members, as sometimes has happened in the past, but a lovingly put together collection of songs, that I hope will be listened to and enjoyed long after this wayward songstress has hit the ground.
Having done pretty much everything I could and more to bring the 'Best of' together, it is now in the label's hands to make sure people have a chance to find out about it.
I believe it is worth it. I do.
ps > wonderful gig vibe much enhanced by so many of our supernice fans, many who'd travelled from far afield to be with us. Every one of you, a real delight and a privilege to have around. love. x
Our world is brimming with good and worthy causes in need of our support: from saving coral reefs and protecting the beetles, to bringing an end to poverty or creating shelter for the vulnerable.
There is no end to humanity's and our planet's needs.
Sometimes it can feel hard, and you wonder how you can make a difference at all, as some of the objectives seem gigantic and beyond our reach.
We've been supporting 'Attitude is Everything' since its early days. It's a charity close to our heart, aiming to improve access to music venues for people with disability and hearing difficulty. Nothing far fetched about that. Their work is dead straight-forward. Their message simple and to the point: 'We want everyone to be able to attend a gig or festival.'
And it doesn't take that much for a venue to become accessible: a little bit of cash and some good-will - that's all it takes. Going to gigs and festivals was such a big part of my growing up, discovering 'my tribe' shaped who I am and helped me find my feet in the world, that I find it difficult to imagine my life without it - yet, this is sadly what many music lovers everywhere have to face: unable to attend gigs, because something as simple as a ramp or a disable loo is not available.
People: we have a rolling rover with a super hi-def camera on Mars, surely we can make sure every music venue in the land is accessible to all?!
Every now and again people ask me what it was like sleeping with ' xxxxxxxxxx ' or singing with ' you know who ' - but I have to say, that although I have met an awful lot of cool and lovely people, only very few have left me feeling humbled: Suzanne Bull, the Jefe at AiE, is one of them. Determined, driven, with more attitude than a punk band on speed, she is a real life force and an inspiration to us all mortal folks. Very pleased she was recently awarded an MBE - but she deserves way more than mere royal approval: she commands respect from us all.
Although the initial protests about bus fare rise and the public outcry that followed, after heavy-handed police reaction, were undoubtedly genuine,
the situation took a disconcerting turn when a number of right-wing political
forces, who have been out of power in Brazil for over 10 years, spotted
the unique opportunity to infiltrate, galvanise the masses under the
universally appealing banner of - 'against corruption' - 'change
brazil!' - and point the protest towards the leading Worker's Party, in a
bid to create unrest, disruption, and ultimately destabilise the
Government of Dilma Roussef.
The elite, you see, never expected Lula's party to remain in power for as long as they have.
Their snobbish assumption was that the Government of this ex-metal worker, a working-class hero that could
not even spell properly ( ! ), was going to be so disorganised, that it
would fold down quickly, and that they, the elite, would soon be back
instead, under Lula's leadership, Brazil flourished, the economy
prospered and the lives of many of the poorest improved with a number of
one can dispute that the vast majority of people who took to the
streets have plenty of valid reasons to protest about: corruption, impunity, rising
taxes and inflation, Fifa, poor services.
corruption and impunity, the loudest cry of all, is not something particular to any
single political party, I fear, but endemic to many public institutions
in Brazil and all political parties. The question, sadly, is not who is or isn't corrupt - but which party, despite corruption, has done and/or will continue to do more for the poorest in the country. In this respect, only Dilma's party has done so, despite the scandals and many flaws. Perhaps the protesters can be divided by: a - those who feel disappointed by the Worker's Party, and wish they had done more. (working class people) b - those who feel that the Worker's Party went too far. (the elite).
must not overlook the fact that there are powerful and well-organised
forces waiting in the wings, feeding this chaotic bonfire, desperate to
overthrow a leftist Government, they simply cannot beat out of office in
the election polls. I am concerned that the voice of many protesters, by and large genuine, is being hijacked by the elite-controlled media, to sing a different tune the people are not even fully aware of.
must also keep in mind that when sifting through social-media networks
for 'real perspective' of the 'brazilian spring' - that the majority of
working class brasileiros are NOT on twitter, or Facebook, and
with a population of well over 190 million - a protest of 2, 3 or even 5,
will only represent a fraction of its people. At best, and perhaps,
in an incredibly ironic twist, the protests might even strengthen
Dilma's Government, and give her the opportunity to push forward some of the
many proposed reforms that have in the past been blocked by Congress. At worst, what many already fear: it is the reactionary right who stands to gain the most. I'm in no doubt that whoever replaces the Worker's Party, if it does come to that, it will be to the detriment of the majority of the working people of Brazil, as many of their social policies, that have been introduced in the past 10 years, will undoubtly be scraped away in an instant. There are those who go even further, and believe what is happening in Brazil is no sheer accident, but the fruit of smart and careful planning by an elite of businessmen, who favour a much harder privatisation of Brazilian exports and goods and sharp change in currency regulation, and an easing of foreign investment. Although far-fetched, it is not implausible. Today, snooping around, I came across a number of undisputable strong connections between the people who started posting the 1st 'changebrazil#' hashtags, and a very powerful business and media conglomerate, + a number of influential right-wing empresarios and a PR and Media company. All connected. It does make you pause and wonder. I have also noticed that the vast majority of those protests spring to life out of Facebook groups, whilst appealing to a vast number of people with calls to 'stop corruption' or 'better brazil', they often hide a much darker agenda - their head-members, hidden beneath their style-challenged 'anounymous' mask, show the true face of fascism and extreme anti-democratic views. It's a rather disconcerting thought that these thugs, weather ideology driven or paid by political barons, are holding the country's destiny in their filthy hands.
can only hope that whichever way the situation develops in the next few
weeks, and whatever its outcome, the Brazilian people will not
jeopardise the democratic process, for which so many have fought and
died for, and will eventually see the light. - Here's the most authoritative essay, by someone else who shares my views: It's by Pedro Serrano, lawyer and professor of Constitucional Rights at PUC University, one of the best in BR: (article in port - but basically states most of the points I raised here)
And couple of articles here about how some of the protests are being hijacked by the right-wing, the elite, the Brazilian media (all main
tv/press controlled by 3 elite Murdoch-like families, btw) - to promote their own interests:
you gonna try to tell me that these people here are concerned about bus
fares, better public transport and hospitals in Brazil?! you have got
to be kidding me. These people have never been inside a bus in their lives and never will. They are pissed off about high taxes financing social programs.
"Do you receive 'food vouchers' from the Government? - then you have no right to Vote!"
thats's the democratic spirit. makes me sick.
"Bring back the Military!" - "Out w/ Dima and the Worker's Party"
the friendly face behind 'anonymous brasil'
- almost forgot to mention: although this is my own personal take on
the situation, it was much enhanced by the many brasileros that
engaged/contributed to our chats and posts in my FB page (you know who
you are) + many bright and savvy writers, bloggers and commentators on Brasil. obrigado a todos.
I come from a pretty rotten family. Like all of us, that is one choice I did not make. But
out of a long-line of elitist, arrogant, conservative bankrupt bankers and
land-owners, there once sprung a beautiful branch, one that I cannot
help but feel proud of.
My grandfather, Oswaldo Costa, was an outspoken newspaper man, a socialist of real integrity, who way back in the 50's and 60's fought avidly against dictatorship and corruption, was sent to jail, and had his newspaper O Semanario, closed down when the Military took over back in 1964.
His newspaper, campaigned very hard to keep Brazilian resources for the benefit of its people.
It is only due to the incredible bravery of many brasileiros like him that PETROBRAS, (the state owned Brazilian petrol co) one of our greatest assets, still exists today and it's thankfully not called Texaco-BR.
- This is the front page, of the very last edition of his newspaper. His last editorial. It is dated 1st April, 1964. the very day the military Coup took place, and the darkest era in the history of my country began.
The military closed his newspaper down that very week.
I never got to meet him - he was gone by the time I was born, but I'd like to think that something of his DNA and ideals still lives on, I just wish I had more of his courage.
So, to all the Drugstore fans, who have been a little perplexed and bemused by my emotional political rants of the past few weeks - I hope they can now understand better why I fear a military coup, why it's not about whose Party it is anyway - but how strongly I hope for Democracy to be preserved and strengthened, and that the best interest of those who have no twitter accounts and no I-pads: the majority of the hard working people of Brazil, should always be at the forefront of our hearts. (you can click pic to supersize, + right click 'view image' - takes 2 secs to load, but paper still v readable.)
- and how incredible that the discussion and concerns of his last editorial, still ring relevant in 2013.
He would undoubtedly be very happy to hear that Dilma Roussef's proposal for royalties of PETROBRAS to be ploughed into education and health, has been approved by the BR Congress today.
Website pre-launch + homage to a well-deserving fan
Having spent over 3 months conquering 'HTML for really dumb people' (learning ancient Mandarin would've been easier...) - and just as I was about to publish the 'band website' I'd been working on forever, computer said NO, hardrive malfunctioned, and as I result, I ended up losing all my files and had to start the now renamed 'bloody band website' from scratch, all over again. arg.
It's finally done - will be uploading this week.
Hardly the web-design masterpiece of the year, but hopefully, an easy to use, fun and simple introduction to our band.
Having a band website - Does it make any difference?
Nope, it doesn't make any difference whatsoever - but, it's nice to have something up online, like a calling card, that perhaps a 20 year old from Paraguay who's never heard of our music, might come across by chance, and the site will give him a glimpse into our universe, our music and who we are.
That's all really.
I've tried to stick to a basic, simple layout - nuthing too fancy or too 'whacky' ( that is one word I truly dread...), and give a taster of everything we do: a few songs and photos, a few tales, a bit of everything.
Most fans will be already familiar with most of the site content, but there will be a surprise or two, and the opportunity for fans to collaborate and get involved in projects too - and that's fun for everyone.
Finally, we couldn't publish our own site without acknowledging the great help 'http://www.drugstoremusic.co.uk/ - a really awesome site run by our fan, Gary Simpson, has been for the band.
Following the band's disappearance during the dark years, when there was virtually no information online about our band, I mean, nada, Gary's site was (and still is!) a beacon of light - and I hope it will remain so - he's got the best collection of Drugstore photo-reportage's - and methinks this vast universe of ours should easily be able to cope with more than one Drugstore related website.
Let's do it!
(googles: ftp server +crazywoman +how to upload...)
Link to Gary's site here>
I was the first person in my street to get a PC, back in the days when home computers were still a bit of a mystery, and most machines were only used in offices.
It was love at first sight - and I've never looked back since.
But, as with any relationship, we've had our ups and downs, and many a tear shared over a blue screen of death.
I'm probably the worst kind of user, who doesn't really know that much, but mistakenly believes I do - and am brave enough to dive into the registry, changing settings, deleting essential files, just 'cause for some reason, I don't recall seeing that DLL there before - was it there before? hummm... oh well, let's just delete the bugger and see what happens... But, worst of all: I never back anything up - I think about doing it, but I never do it - there's always mañana.
So, as you can see, more often than not when my PC goes down, it's entirely my fault.
Last year the cooling fan packed-up, but instead of installing a new one, I just sellotaped a hand-held fan to the back of the beast. It worked!
But, a couple of weeks ago, just as I was about to publish the band website I've been painstakingly putting together for the past few months - PC went completely dead.
Not your average nervous breakdown or virus that I can easily kill with a couple of sharp clicks, nope, it was a major hard-drive failure. heart stopped beating.
All my files, music, photos, website, new lyrics - everything: gone.
This must surely be one of the most stressful malaises of our digital age - we should have helplines, free opium from the NHS - and a handsome nurse come round to comfort you and ease the pain - for painful it is.
And so it was that I hit PCWorld, teared-eye and desperate, and this time determined to buy a brand-new-machine - no more 2nd hand PC worries for miss monteiro.
Got sold a decent modern PC - well, that is, until I got home and tried bloody WINDOWS8.
And what an absolute joke of a system it is.
Crammed with free crapware, restricted access, dreadful interface that doesn't even allow you to open more than 1 window at the time - how shitty is that?
When I'm working with music or graphics, I don't need 2 windows: I bloody need 6, 7, sometimes 8!
The system also wraps itself around your browser, adding an extra ugly band on top of every website - how crappy is that for people working with web graphics? - and more worryingly, it controls your browsing habits.
Sorry, I've got nothing to hide, but that doesn't mean I want to take my PC desktop online with me. No.
The list of what's wrong with WINDOWS8 is kilometric, and if you don't believe me - just google: WINDOWS8 + annoying, frustrating or shit etc.
It just had to be taken back - but that's another blog entry, when I got to read PCWorld's small-print return policy.
Long story short (-ish) had to buy yet another computer, but thankfully this time, with XP-pro installed.
I'm not obsessed about operating systems, in fact, the best ones, are the ones that are invisible, and just let you get on with your work.
So, where are we now?
Well, I've spent the last week or so trying to recover whatever online files, folders etc are still around and started another website from scratchio - this time, something simpler, but hopefully not embarrassingly poor.
I'm pretty much done - website will be up and running next week - also have some really cool Drugstore news in the bag - and can't wait to share with everyone else.
I'll leave this post with a warning from the heart, so you don't have to go through the same horrible pain I endured - and ask permission from the graphicologists out there to, on this occasion, allow me to use 'capital bold':
1 - BACK EVERYTHING UP 2 - DON'T - UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - UPGRADE TO WINDOWs8. blip blip bye bye
The sad tale of the real Sweet Chili Girl of St Pancras .
Many moons ago when I used to live in the 'flat with no name' in Poplar, I met a sweet little girl named 'C'.
The rundown Council Estate was controlled by an old skool cockney drug-lord, who manufactured and supplied the whole of the E14 postcode with all sorts of illegal goodies.
As the years went by we got to know the druggist family fairly well and a shared, if muted, respect developed between us.
During the summer holidays, the girl called 'C', their niece, would turn up on the estate.
She was a scruffy, quiet looking 9 years old with skinny legs and dishevelled hair. Both her mum and dad were 'inside', doing time for drug supply and robbery, and I ended up befriending her and we soon became tennis partners.
Did I say tennis? Well, it was really just a couple of cheap plastic rackets and a soft ball, played over the dingy car-park, while the noisy motoboys were busy going round picking up the deadly deliveries.
She was a very sweet little girl back then, - and the following summer, I started teaching her to play guitar. On sunny afternoons we would sit outside my flat overlooking the car-park, and play things like Hank Williams' Jambalaya. She absolutely loved it.
If I had been away touring, the very next day I got back, she'd wake me up with her little voice through the mailbox: 'you coming out?' 'you wanna play tennis?' 'can we play guitar?'.
This went on for a good 3 years, until one summer she never turned-up.
I bumped into her drug-Lord uncle and asked: 'Where's 'C'? Is she not staying over this summer?' -
'The little rat did a runner - foking nightmare - she did a runner..'
That didn't sound right.
'C'? Running away from home? She did not seem equipped for it. Some 12 year olds, like myself, are already so well versed in the ways of the world, that you can easily imagine them boarding a train or cooking a meal - but not our 'C' - She was just too fragile, like a soft fruit that has yet to develop a hard protective skin.
She probably just went to stay with some new best friend, I thought - I'm sure that's what happened.
Then, a couple of months later, just as I forgot about her - she turns up - on a Missing Person's appeal on BBC's Crimewatch UK.
And the terrible news: she was last spotted sleeping rough around the vicinity of ST Pancras and Kings Cross - and the inevitable fuzzy CCTV of her skinny, blurry stick of a figure in the corner of the screen.
She had been working as a street prostitute. She was only 12 years old.
Even as I type this now, I can almost see the darkness descending upon my room - a darkness so dark, no good, no life can ever escape from.
I never heard anything else about her, and have no idea whether she was found, rescued or not, but her story remained locked in my memory, like an unfinished book where the following chapters have been ripped away, and we're left in limbo, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst
Hers is, sadly, not an unusual urban tale, like so many of the
faceless, the forgotten, that fall down the grey cracks,
leaving no trace behind.
Writing the song
2 years ago, round about the time I started writing the Anatomy album, I was given one of those funny-cute valentine gifts: a pair of girlie pink undies with Snoopy on it, the kind you'd expect a little girl to wear, but in the same box, there was also a red hot sweet chili pepper charm.
It was an odd combo: pink innocence next to red hot worldliness.
That must have triggered the 'C' memory, for within a few days 'Sweet Chili Girl' was written.
It's still a bit of a mystery how songs come about. To be honest, I don't really know how it works, they just seem to occasionally pop out of nowhere, ready-made.
Next friday, we play St Pancras Church, and as you walk along King's Cross, you will notice that the Council has made a big effort to clean-up this old and dirty red-light district, but look a little closer and you will see that amongst the glitzy new hotels and hip yogurt bars, there are still dark alleys, where only the most desperate roams at night, and that darkness still lurks deep right beneath our city streets.
Bands should never share their dressing rooms, however cavernous they may be. We never do.
This probably comes across real bad, like, proper prima-donna stuff - but it is, as you will see, quite the opposite.
We don't do it so we can spend the day staring at our pathetic figurines in the mirror, thinking; yep, I'm cool - but, so we can deliver the best possible gig, every time.
Some bands love having a big entourage around and carry along an assortment of hangers-on in tow, like a dysfunctional circus troupe.
I've always hated that, and like most decent, cool bands we've met along the way, we try to keep our gig-days self-contained, reserved only for musicians and crew.
After the gig, that's a whole different party game altogether, where friends, lovers, strangers of all kinds and anyone holding a napkin and a pen is totally welcomed to join the post-gig party. But never before the gig.
Bands are funny little entities, and what we've found from experience is that keeping ourselves to ourselves tends to deliver better gigs, as the slightest distraction affects how the pack behaves, interacts and the flow of the evening.
In the past we used to dread the times our manager, or PR person would turn up earlier and hang around in the dressing room all day.
They meant well, of course, but part of the problem is that we're reasonably nice people, and whenever there's someone else around, we can't help but try to be a good-host, chat away, entertain - so, by the time you get up onstage to do what you're there to do, some of your precious energy has already been burnt, your voice is a bit tired and you can't quite remember where your tuner is. Not good.
Pre-gig time can also be the band's last-hope-saloon to change arrangements or setlist, for no matter how many bleedin' rehearsals you've had, there's always an extra verse to be added, a chorus to be chopped.
There's usually also so much new information to be digested and organised on the day, that the less different it rolls from a rehearsal, the better.
So - my advice to bands is this:
keep your dressing-rooms to yourselves and crew only - it's a sacred space for focus, prepping and bonding.
sometimes there may be 2/3 bands on the bill, and only 1 dressing-room available: in this case, try to allocate areas, corridors, loos/wherever for each band - so everyone can have their own haven.
friends, lovers and music biz people on the guestlist always want to say hello, wish you good luck before the gig: don't need to, we know you wish us well. Instead, please come after the gig, preferably holding a cold drink, ready to give us a big hug. That will be nice.
But try to wait a good 15 minutes before you show up, give the poor sods a chance to re-apply mascara, find tic-tacs etc.
Lastly: dear bands, please try NOT to leave a shitty mess behind you, like you're trying to say: "fuck the government, fuck my family, fuck everyone. I'm in a rock'n'roll band now - I don't need to clean after meself. wayhey" -
Just remember: the only person you're gonna be pissing off is the venue cleaner, who, by all accounts, probably already has plenty of reasons to be pissed-off about, right?
(down drugstore memory lane: Daron used to be very good at organising the dressing room, both before and after the gig: bottles of water to the left, used glasses to the right, everything perfectly aligned and colour coordinated - I now try to carry his mantle and make sure the only thing we leave behind are hopefully good memories...)
There - now you know how to behave like a proper band on gig day. As for how to misbehave and be totally improper - I would not know a thing about that - honestly. x x x ----------------------------------------------------------------------