Shimura Curves

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is the post where I say...

First day back at work and I'm exhausted and ill and have spent half the day catching up, and the second half of the day in a meeting about things I don't remember from last week ("so how far have you got?" Errr... actually, I've been off for three days, I haven't done anything.)

After reading Tom's review, I don't feel quite as shit about the gig as I did on the night, because I get the feeling that as awful as it was, it seems like what we were trying to get across got through. Though I wonder if someone who didn't know me/us/our tastes so well would have "got it" the same way?

The sound was absolutely terrible. For the first two songs, my laptop kept cutting in and out. Because I didn't put my guitar pedals away between soundcheck and stagetime (trying to save changeover time) all the settings got messed up and it was half a set before I had them back to normal. I know that it's stupid technical problems, but it just makes *me* feel incompetent. And once you lose your confidence onstage, it's very hard to get it back. I've got good at faking it, and appearing to be having a good time, and putting on a decent performance when really I just feel like pulling a total Cat Power and just saying "fuck this, it isn't working, can we do something else?" I felt under so much pressure because so many people I knew were there and the only thing worse than failing in front of strangers is failing in front of friends.

What's wrong with me? Why am I not enjoying the band lately? To be honest, the work to fun ratio has gone way down. I feel like it's loads of time spent organising and stressing to the point where there's so much stress and pressure I've forgotten what's good about it. I'm sick of feeling like The Bad Guy and/or people's mom or boss for asking people to turn up to rehearsals and soundchecks on time. (Don't shout at me for saying that - it's how I *feel*.) I'm sick of rehearsals and especially soundchecks that don't even *start* on time. Maybe I've spent too long working in the corporate world but poor organisation on that level winds me up and stresses me out.

I'm sick of feeling stressed out. I thought this was supposed to be what I do for fun, to kick back and relax when my job stresses me out. But it's starting to get that "another job I don't get paid for" feeling to it again. Maybe a band meeting and reorganisation/restructure of responsibilities will help. Maybe the meds will help. I've been given yet another counseller who I meet tomorrow, but I've not got high hopes. Therapy is a load of bullcrap; how many different ways are there to say "I have anger issues because I hate men incompentent twits?"

Oh well. I will try to end this post with some positive thoughts. I really like my new haircut. I've got tabby cat stripes in topaz sort of colours and I feel very happy being blonde again. I really like my new clothes, pink paisley Liberty print shirts and preppy tweed. I love having Percy back, pornography and demo CDs on demand.

Which reminds me. Looks like Magnus is going to be released on a compilation. And so it begins...

So I Lied

Yeah, I know I said that I wasn't going to read any more press, but this isn't press, it was on a friend's blog:


And even though I really didn't enjoy the gig, that review makes me want to jump about and dance and sing "hallelujah" because of someone in "ACTUALLY GETTING IT!!!" shockah. Hurrah.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bad Head

You don't know how much your medication is really working until you try going off it for a few weeks, and turn into a complete mentalist. Not good. Can't get more until Wednesday. Will just keep off the booze until this is sorted out, because two blackouts in just over a week is not a good sign.

Gig tomorrow and I'm feeling really not good about it. It's something more than nerves. Its the feeling that you've done something *realy bad* but you can't quite remember what. That real "Sunday Morning" sort of sense of overhanging badness.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Egg In The Twat

This was killingly funny at about 10pm last night, when we were so exhausted we'd reached that sleep deprivation slap happiness.

Someone left a mint green egg-shaped percussions shaker in the rehearsal studio and we all took turns coming up with more and more ridiculous things to do with it. AMP had it between her breasts and was jumping up and down in rhythm at one point. We decided it was a totem or some kind of omen and symbol of our femininity (I'm seeing too many signs and portents lately. The black man on a white horse on Brixton Hill, the roller skating angels outside the National Gallery, the egg is the symbol of the soul, or fertility, or womanhood, or something, I don't know, ask me when I've had more sleep.)

Anyway, so Anna was trying to chuck the egg back to AMP like a schoolgirl passing a note (enough for the girls) and ended up whacking her in the crotch with it. Oh, how symbolic, that the egg wants to return to the twat. And egg in the twat is the new Pin The Tail On The Donkey. Hurrah.

So yeah, rehearsal. I'm getting the fear, because I always get the fear before gigs. Frances couldn't make it because she was off in Brighton editing that magazine what she edits, and Anna was burned out from 12 straight hours of writing John Peel's website and interviewing Katie sodding Melua, and I could barely see straight due to the rubbish described below. So we sounded rubbish. Though we persevered, and by about the third repetition of the set, we actually managed to sound passable.

And then we jammed on Neufriend for a while with all my pedals flat out and jumped around and struck Rock Chick Poses and that was the best thing ever. (Though really it does sound more like early Stereolab than Neu! We'll have to get Anna to work on purring sexy things in German over the outro.) Until I had the dodgy chocolate chip cookies and felt like doing a sick. Bah.

We hate the Little Room. We don't want it again. And as I paid, I found out that it wasn't even originally supposed to be our room, but they SWITCHED US with some sodding rubbish indieboybollocks because their drumkit wouldn't fit in the Little Room.

Maxwell's Demon

I'm doing something fiendishly complicated at work - really in over my head, basically taking a report to pieces and putting it back together, hacking and cracking bits of code that seem to do the things that I need them to do even though I don't actually understand the code itself. There's an example oft quoted within debate on "what comprises consciousness" about a person locked in a room with a set of descriptions of how to react to instructions - essentially doing blind translations in Chinese without understanding - and I want to call him Maxwell's Demon, but that's to do with heat transferrence in Physics. This is essentially what I'm doing in programming terms.

And I feel like a freak because yesterday in a meeting, one of the bankers asked me what my band was called, and I said "Shimura Curves" and he said "Shim... WHAT?" and so I asked quite casually if he'd read Fermat's Last Theorem (not an unreasonable request - it was on the bestseller list for ages) and they all burst out laughing as if I'd asked the question in Chinese.

But whatever... I was called on the carpet this morning and essentially told to develop more social skills to cope with the FD's foibles or something (when the thing that provoked this was me trying to find a time-proven way to cope with my own shortcomings and poor memory) and burst out crying because of the stress and the pressure and I'm a human being, not a robot, and there's only so long I can carry on working 10 to 12 hour days doing seven impossible things before breakfast before my brain just collapses. (And if I collapse, they really *are* in trouble because no one else here understands the legacy system and What Went Wrong with it.)

I'm not sure what any of that is about. Probably to explain why I was so burned at last night's rehearsal. Which I'll talk about in another post.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Problems with Percy, Continued

My laptop is still in the shop. Apparently they managed to fix the optical drive, but in the process broke the logic card (whatever that is). I was all wound up to throw a strop and demand him back, fixed or not, but the shop girl was so young I felt too sorry for her to get a good strop on.

Will he ever come back to me? Can anything go right in my life right now? (Wah! Commence violin music.)

She promised me he would be fixed by tonight. If he isn't, I'm going to camp out on Regent Street until I get him back.

The private party on Sunday has been cancelled, due to a double booking error the club made. I'm actually slightly relieved at the thought of not having to play 2 gigs in 3 days. Plus, I still have the days off work anyway. I was contemplating running away to Paris for the weekend, but in the end Sense won over Sensibility. (Besides, I thought Paris would be rubbish when you're on your own.) I'm organising an Urban Ramble from Greenwich to Canary Wharf instead. Still a City of Light, though not as romantic, perhaps.

Friday, September 16, 2005


What happens if you fill out a profile on a well-known interweb dating site? What then?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Search For Self Called Off After 38 Years

From The Onion:

"You're wasting your life. The sooner you realize you have no self to discover, the sooner you can get on with what's truly important: celebrity magazines, snack foods, and Internet porn."


Feeling a bit shattered this morning. Rehearsal last night started late, so it ended late, and I didn't get home until midnight, having drunk a bit too much pink wine and feeling tired and out of sorts. My laptop is still not back from the shop so we were a bit acoustic which was a bit of a disaster for me (except for the bits where I suddenly decided I was in Sigur Ros and started playing the guitar with a violin bow).

AMP was talking about how she'd been up for four days writing and not leaving the house, and she was starting to feel very disconnected from her own body. Anna laughed and quoted (I think it was Anna? Wine and tiredness fuzz the memory when you can no longer remember which of your bandmates said what) a quote about writers and artists becoming so disconnected from their bodies that they start to treat their bodies like a soccer mom station wagon to ferry their minds around.

I don't just feel disconnected from my own body lately. (Why would I want to be connected to my own body? It just hurts constantly, arthritis starting in my ankles and my bad knee making it hell to go down stairs.) I've started to feel a bit disconnected from the people around me. It's hard to talk to people. It's hard to interact, to feel that spark of connection when minds align. I feel a bit like an insect, trapped behind the glass of exhaustion, synapses firing, but not picking anything up. Even among my friends, I feel like a bit of a burden, like people have to carry my silent or whinging self because I can't properly communicate, either data in or data out. Just a missed connection, a faulty line.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


I have made (I think... I hope!) the decision not to read any press about Shimura Curves. I hope that I can stick with it, as reading your own press is insidiously compulsive, especially for a "paranoid narcissist" like myself. (And I hope that I am not jinxing myself so that we receive no more press.)

This was brought on by a silly little review on a website. It wasn't even a "bad review" (though it was perhaps lazy bad journalism) - just a bit narrow. What really wound me up was a passing reference to my old band, comparing us (the reviewer probably thought favourably) to a current trendy, media darling band who post-dated us by about five years (and who, conincidentally, I am not very fond of. It's not that I hate them or anything, it's just that I think they're a bit dull and rather missing the point of a genre I am very fond of.)

Anyway, it's not important what was said, but what frightened me was the extreme nature of my reaction. In my old band, I used to receive little package of press clippings every now and then. I had forgotten how much I actually used to get wound up by them. For every moment spent dancing around the flat with glee and ringing my mum to tell her to buy some glossy magazine with a picture of us in it, there were dozens of tooth-gnashing, self confidence-smashing, real black dog moments.

Which is ridiculous, really. I know; all press is good press at this stage. I memorised the NME's "bad review" of us word for word because it captured the spirit of the single so perfectly, even when Swells thought he was insulting us. ("Long-haired vegan girly boys who read french poetry and think football is vile" -- yes please!)

And the irony being that all four members of this band have been music hacks, three of us professionally. (So I suppose we have won the right to sniff "...and it's so *poorly* written!" of poor reviews.) I joke that the reason there are so many music journos in my band is because I never wanted to be reviewed or interviewed again, because it would be a conflict of interest.

I know it's petty, and probably my inability to take criticism is linked in to my inability to take a joke, that I have no sense of humour. But it does irk, it does get under my skin and it does wind me up. So I'm just not doing it any more. Somebody please hold me to it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Laptop Love

I took Percy to the Apple Store Genius Bar yesterday. His optical drive has been broken for months, but I've not had to the time (or the money) to get it fixed, so he's been limping along in his own self contained world, unable to connect to the internet or send missives to other computers by disc.

(Not to mention the fact that I've been unable to make demos for months, or teach the new songs to the rest of the band.)

He's got to stay in hospital the shop for a week. One day without him, and I'm already feeling lost. I don't know what to do with myself. Life seems empty without that warm little hunk of titanium sitting on my lap at night. No music. No writing. Is it wrong to be so emotionally connected to an inanimate object? It's not as if he's my connection with the world anymore, since he hasn't been connecting with the world. He's more like my connection with my inner self, with my creativity.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Joke for K8

Do you know why pirates are called pirates? Because they Arrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!


Monday, September 05, 2005

Load of Bull (and Gate)

Hurrah to everyone who came down to the Bull and Gate on Saturday! Hurrah to Fractured for inviting us to play! Hurrah most of all to The Lex for being our super-gay-disco-dancer, with lovely orange feather boa and everything.

Anna and I arrived on the same train, scuppering those "shoe disaster" rumours forever. Lots of backstage cameraderie with the Roktor C, lots of girly giggling as we got dressed and shared glitter. Miss AMP rocked the Saucy Secretary look, while Frances went for the Psychedelic Housewife look in her hooded Kaftan. Anna was a doll-like cocktail hostess while I tried for the early 60s Marianne Faithful look with a frankly terrifying display of Liberty-print wrapped cleavage. ("I'm not staring to be pervy, honest," said Anna. "I'm just jealous!")

The first band cancelled so fortunately not only was there no Croydon dub, but we got to soundcheck and go onstage at a leisurely pace, with a good warm-up singing "Ma Made Me Mow The Moon" in the dressing room.

I flubbed guitar riffs left and right, and even started singing the verse in completely the wrong place in one song, but energy levels were high, the sound was fantastic, and everyone was bubbly and giggly and feeling fun. I kept looking over and seeing my bandmates dancing like an electro-clash Three Graces. Our harmonies were spot-on and lovely; there were moments when it sounded like we were singing with one voice - spine-tingling!

Fractured were fabulous - hillarious and fun - big, catchy pub-rock anthems with witty lyrics ("We're The Support Band" was the highlight for me). I totally envied Dr. C his cool harpsicord/electric piano sample sound.

They had neither pink wine, nor big bottles of wine at all, indeed! So we all had to make do with little tiny personal bottles of wine. Some people got snogs in the bar, some people perved over random pointy-nosed blond boys, and our manager passed out on a table. Rock AND roll!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wuthering Heights

Well, we had our Dress Rehearsal at the Premises last night (always weird for me because the boy that the Lollies track Channel Heaven is about works there) with a BIG ROOM and A REALLY LOUD PA and, best of all, A STAGE.

Bit of a wonky start because it took me ages to set up, and none of my new pedals (yes, I got Electro Harmonics Memory Man and Smallstone and a Danelectro Tuner) wanted to work so I got a bit cranky and shouty, (and poor Frances had to go back and get a power supply for the Mac cause I forgot mine) but when we finally did get it all worked out, wow, we sounded like a real band! We changed the set order around a bit to try and disguise the fact that we haven't learned the new songs yet. And sang some of our more problematic songs (Insecurities Trader and Thoughtworm) over and over and over until we finally worked them out, and they were lovely.

There was lots of synchronised dancing and bad 80s pop (I am shocked - SHOCKED! - that Frances actually knows all the words to cheesy Whitney Houston songs) and impromtu Kate Bush covers and ballet moves - I really really really hope that these things happen onstage on Saturday night! Well, apart from the Whitney bit. But still. And we took the mics off the stands and practised wandering around - well, some of us were better at it than others. When I chucked my mic stand across the room and started rolling around on the floor, I got quite severely told "Kate, you're not on tour with the Stooges any more!" Humph.

And as we were all patting ourselves on the back and saying "well done, we got lots of things accomplished!" someone helpfully pointed out that it was the first rehearsal we'd done *sober* in, well, ever. Hrmmm, perhaps I should carry on with this detox thing.

Anyway. Excited for the gig now!