Matt on Masks

 I’m writing this as a response to some of the beautiful creations worn on people’s faces over our last couple of Rogue parties; especially Halloween.

I’ve always been interested in masks from my very first drama lessons when we studied the ancient players from Greece who would play certain stock characters and rely on exaggerated theatrical gestures to compensate for the lack of facial expression. I found something really interesting about the ‘permission’ to act differently that you are given as soon as you put on a mask and hide your own face; something that allows you to step out of your own skin and ‘be’ someone else is always going to be interesting.

Masks have always been important in human history and used across the world in funerals, religious rites, celebration, theatre and battle. They are practically as old as humans first recorded uses of pottery and clay and remain at the core of costume and pretending. We have been exposed to them since we were very young and are probably too familiar to really sit down and think about them.

There is of course something very creepy and distrustful invoked by masks simply because the face is obscured. Who is this person in front of me their eyes laughing in the semi darkness? Sunglasses of course are un nerving and shifty because they rob you of the expression in someone’s eyes therefore masks can be scary for the opposite reason when all you can see that is human of someone is their eyes. You only have to think back to when you first saw pictures of the masked heavy metal troupe from Iowa that call themselves Slipknot to realise the intensity masks still offer.

Many psychologists including Jung have written extensively about the concept of ‘persona’ and the mask we wear every day to hide our true inner self from those around us. Jung also proposed that there is a dark side to the personality, well-know to the field of psychology as the shadow. It includes both repressed, instinctual feelings and untapped potential. To me, the shadow is not just the “evil” opponent of persona, but is also imagination and creativity left behind or forgotten because of sensible or supposedly good adult behaviour that most of us adhere to in modern times. We make a conscious effort in Rogue to bring you back a little bit of that childhood and to show you that it really is ok to be yourself; creativity keeps us young, happy and open minded and playing with Barbie dolls, space hoppers toy cars and masks allow us to be open and ridiculous with less fear of being judged or thought of negatively. At their core masks allow us to be someone else even if that person is actually just ourselves uninhibited.

 I guess that Rogue is in part about escapism and a loss of inhibition as it provides a chance for us all to go a little crazy, to get outside of ourselves and push a little harder knowing that we can hide behind our masks, hide a little in amongst all the people around us who are also here to get away with being silly. We wish to encourage you all to be yourselves or anyone else you want to be, to dress up and be exotic and different, to make beautiful costumes that inspire, arouse and intrigue, to dance without convention or self awareness and to know that all around you everyone else is too.

This Halloween party just gone was wonderful in terms of costume and we thank you all for making such an effort, where else in Herts can you see 7 foot tall Grim Reapers on stilts hobnobbing with Mexican bandits? However we wish to remind you that mask and costume are not just for Halloween and will be received with open arms (no matter how ridiculous your outfit is) at each and every one of our parties. You might even win a prize.

So for future reference please continue to dress to impress and if you don’t like the attention you can always wear a mask so no one knows it’s you.

words by Matt ‘Red’ Turner.

photos of Rogue’s Dia De Los Muertos Halloween Party by Gavin Felgate.

 This article contains an excerpt from The Healing Arts by Cathy Malchiodi.

If you want to see pictures of what the hell I’m talking about then please feel free to have a mosey around our facebook site.

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ROGUE | Whats all the fuss about?

Rogue – What’s all the fuss about then?

First and foremost Rogue is a collective of different people all with different tastes and talents in the Hertfordshire area who are coming together to create something greater than themselves whilst having a whole lot of fun.

 We have gone from humble beginnings in the George pub and Remix and now run club nights at Club 85 Hitchin every other month. We aim to have more of a party vibe than your standard gig night out. Incorporating comedy, live music, art workshops where you can design and make things like masks, friendship bracelets and disfigured Barbie dolls during the night as well as guest DJ’s until 1am and visual artists who project their work over the 14 foot screen that makes up the back of our stage.

 And we are also heading into the exciting world of radio as well as we begin our collaboration with Mill FM and the beginnings of our very own radio programme later this month. Watch this space for more details.

 Through our web page and our Facebook we share links to anything that takes our fancy; from astrology and music to local artwork, blogs and graffiti. We want to celebrate the amazing diversity of talent in the local area so if you have anything to contribute from a rant or link to a blog or even a great picture you’d like us to see or band you think we should book then please email us via charlie@roguemusic.co.uk or matt@livecircuit.net alternatively get in touch via our Facebook.

 We encourage creativity in all its forms and dressing up has become a staple part of our Rogue nights which we regularly theme. In recent months we have had everything from dystopian visions of a broken future of aliens and spacemen, a trip down memory lane for the 90’s revival night to our very own masquerade ball. However the theme is as always just a general guide and we welcome with open arms anyone who wants to dress up and try something different. In fact we encourage it and you may find yourself with a free ticket to the next night if you’re the best dressed.

 Please join us for our next party on All Hallows Eve – 30th of October at Club where we will be hosting The mighty metallers Aghast, dark drum and bass from DJ High Gene, Lowdown Hoedown western style fun with St Albans very own cowboys The trailer Trash Orchestra, Live Hip – Hop from local legend Richie Spitz, Ambient alternative rock from Arc Generator and the Rogue DJ’s spinning what the hell they like as well as apple bobbing, unique décor, the ever popular drawing wall, party games and our special Halloween piñata going on until 1am!

All for £5 – view the event page here

MUSIC | Guest Column from Dan Furr of Audio Justice


MUSIC IS THE WINE THAT FILLS THE CUP OF SILENCE

A guest column courtesy of Dan Furr of Audio Justice

DEAR READER. Let me start this newsletter by apologizing for the shameful period of inactivity regarding ‘House of Cards’ album news updates. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d taken a break, or had somehow forgotten that I had a deadline to work to, or that I’d been kidnapped and held hostage in a Chinese bakery. Well, I’m afraid to say that none of the above is true. It has simply been a case of not having a huge amount to report on until now (but thanks for sending the search party out anyway).

Work has been slow but steady over the past few weeks. I’ve been in and out of the recording studio laying down track after track on the album, and each song fights another for inclusion on the final ‘House of Cards’ release.

In addition to the news item and and album update, I’ve uploaded a few more snaps from the recent album recording and playback sessions.

Don’t forget, you can be the first to get Audio Justice updates by receiving news and blog items in your RSS reader as soon as they’re posted. to add the feed. Don’t forget to add Audio Justice on and !

Until the next time, adios amigos!

Dan Furr
Audio Justice

THINK TANK | Bah Humbug! Scrooging along this Xmas

WELL CHRISTMAS is coming and the goose is getting decidedly edgy. The stockings and decorations are being dragged out of the loft and Cliff Richard is back on the radio.

I’ve got to say I am really excited as I always am around this time of year. I love Christmas and think its fantastic simply because it stops us all going mad in midwinter and provides us with an amiable time of year to eat, drink and be merry. However there are those amongst you who don’t like Christmas and amid the merry sleigh bells there is always a scrooge to be found, and it is these mean hearted, soulless wretches I wish to talk to you about today.
There are those who object for religious reasons bleating on about how they have no desire to celebrate the birth of some made up hippy who didn’t exist 2000 years ago and to them I simply say ‘well neither does anyone else.’ I’m fairly accurate that in saying for most people Christmas failed to be about ‘you know who’ a few hundred years ago around the same time that Easter became about chocolate eggs and this trend will continue slowly until good old Jebus is nothing more than an unfunny joke that we’re all ashamed of but importantly Christmas itself wont stop and its key meaning of friendship and family will remain cast in iron. Now those of you who know me well will probably know I’m about as anti religion as its possible to be without actually planning to napalm Vatican City or kidnap the archbishop of Canterbury, seriously this is the only time ever I have written the word ’Christmas’ on anything… I’m not kidding, since I was about 15 I have always referred to it as ‘Xmas’ wherever possible in some strained attempt to get the named changed to remove religious significance but of course I respect everyone’s rights and what works me doesn’t work for others and that’s all good.
Then there are those of you who insist on repeating the same borrowed argument every year in which they state (usually in monotone) that they hate Xmas because its all about money and advertising and forcing you to spend more and more in order to gain a feeling of adequacy and avoid a feeling of guilt at the inexpensive gift that you choose to be this years token of love to your girlfriend/mother/sibling or whatever. The important thing is the thought not the price and I really cannot stress this enough to you. If you find the perfect present for someone for a pound then that is worth the same as buying that present for a thousand pounds, in fact in some ways its better.
My entire family are poor as Concorde pilots and dodo farmers which means I never get very much for Xmas but I still love it dearly and relish any chance to be in the same room as my family for the day and cannot stand anyone whose whinging would take any of the shine off this. The people who spout these Ebernezian drudgeries about crass commercialism are often the type of people who mistakenly believe apathy is the height of fashion. I know that to the world at large being happy and open hasn’t been in vogue since the 1970’s and the hippy movement but its Christmas for God’s sake! Are you telling me you’re ‘over’ Christmas?! Obviously it’s not Christmas you object to but shopping and crass commercialism then isn’t it? Well bah humbug to you my friend because everyone hates feeling like they’re stuck between the pages of an Argos catalogue whenever they turn on their TV or set foot out of their door but they don’t let it get them down.
If you hate something the worst thing you can do is to let it get to you, rise above the raging torrent of shite aimed at you by the advertising companies and make Christmas your own. What really infuriates me is that these ‘haters’ of commercialism are would probably be quite happy to spout this nonsense whilst chugging down handfuls of big Mac washed down with a Starbucks coffee but they don’t see any need to complain at any other time of the year! Are they serious! Have you been on the London underground or turned on a television at any point this year?* but I digress.
*I dislike blanket advertising intensely preferring that my mind was my own but I understand that advertising itself is a fantastic idea gotten totally out of hand.
Think of all those people forced to spend Christmas alone or in nursing homes, or be ridden in hospitals. Seriously think about it for a minute because every time I try to imagine Christmas without my family I get a huge mental and emotional block and it simply feels like I’ve stepped off the edge of the world! Really think about it for a minute and maybe you’ll gain a new appreciation for a day spent with your daft old aunt who smells like cabbages and still gets your name wrong. Misery may love company but no one should be alone on Christmas day.
A couple of years back I took a 28 year old Chinese undergraduate student I was living with to Christmas with my family because I could not stand the idea of him being alone in our flat on that day. I know it’s not like he’d ever celebrated Christmas before and therefore not likely to miss it and he did spend a fair portion of it ogling my cousin’s breasts but I think that if you’re over here to experience this country then you deserve to have a Christmas and by the end of the day he was in tears of pure joy as he was accepted into the family and showered with presents, an event that made us closer as a family and allowed a 28 year old man one of the most crazy and memorable days of his life. If that’s not worth celebrating then I don’t know what is. In fact in order to bring a little extra cheer to the holidays this year I am going to have Xmas day with my family and then another Xmas with my friends and their friends a few days later simply because I don’t think that you can ever have enough good times and at this time of year my cup runneth over with good tidings to my fellow man – unless of course they happen to dislike Christmas.
So by all means celebrate in your own way whether it’s grandiose or as simple as seeing the family for a day but do celebrate in some way and don’t let what is supposed to be a happy time pass idle. Above all don’t let it be just another day.

Although this might be taking things just a little too far.

words by Matt

THINK TANK | The Writing on The Wall

COMING FROM the Italian word for ‘scratch’ graffiti is one of the oldest forms of human expression dating back to the first cave paintings carried out on walls in animal blood. Before language was invented we were putting our thoughts and stories on cave walls so that others may learn from them.

You only have to walk around Brick Lane near the Old Street tube station in London to see the wealth and variety of street art on offer and thanks to the anonymity of the artists involved it has become a way of making the art more important than the artist, something I have always agreed with and yet the top guns such as the infamous Banksy have their work commercially available, sold from basement shops in Soho to art galleries in Los Angeles and his new guerilla show which was set up under cover and recently ran for free in the Bristol museum.

Is this not a brilliant thing where undiscovered artists can clearly make a name for themselves even if they choose not to show a face? I’m sympathetic to people who don’t want their wall’s daubed with slogans and well aware that graffiti and vandalism is illegal in this and most other countries but my simply reply is that art is not illegal and not subject to these laws. I think that as long as the pieces can be considered artistic they have as much right to stay on the walls as the occupants have to live in their own homes and if those living there don’t like or deem it offensive it they can’t paint over it can’t they? Surely this is a matter of common sense and not of the courts in any circumstances? I understand that some slogans may be interpreted differently and disagreed with so if it’s on your wall and you don’t like it then you can happily do something about it. I’m sure most artists will get the message and paint somewhere else rather than lose all of their time and effort. This system works much better than trying to set out rules and regulations for what is acceptable and what isn’t – its art and that means you don’t have to like it and it doesn’t have to play by the rules.

Maybe graffiti has finally found its time and place, with the standard being raised from unsightly ‘tags’ to bigger and better pieces that can be considered art in its own right, popular opinion towards street art is changing and as long as it looks good and brightens up an otherwise dull wall who can really complain? In fact when one of Banksy’s pieces – stencilled on a wall in Bristol came under threat, a public vote showed that 97 per cent wanted it to be kept. Still there’s always someone out to ruin the fun isn’t there?

A famous sociological theory simply named ‘Broken window theory’ dictates that run down areas containing graffiti as a sign of the degradation of the area are only going to attract a higher crime rate because people assume no one ‘cares’ about these areas whereas a lot of the new style artwork in areas like shore-ditch is actually leading to a boom in people who want to live and travel there owing to the perception of the area as fun and vibrant with expression. Isn’t it about time England was put back on the map for artwork? Times are changing and town councils and art critics alike need to move with the times or simply stand aside because it’s not going to stop now, graffiti thrives as a much needed way of expression and the social commentary contained in many pieces is now the painted voice of those who have no other means than a spray can and a blank wall to show what’s on their mind.

Graffiti and street are constantly evolving and changing aspects of social commentary and art itself masterpieces are no longer only confined to canvas and graffiti has come a long way since the back of the toilet door and this is what makes it so exciting, you can walk past a stencil on a wall of the Mona Lisa and marvel at its place here brightening up a dirty alley but by the time you’ve run home and gotten your camera it’s been changed to a picture of Osama bin laden with a rocket launcher! There is no need to stifle this kind of creativity as it will run itself and simply by looking at the walls around you in a different way you can learn to appreciate not only art but the place in which you live.

I truly believe that making things illegal gives them an air of mystique (just look at drugs) and the tale of Banksy creeping around in the night and playing an ever more daring game of cat and mouse with the powers that be calls out and inspires the part of us that loves the outlaw, the Robin Hood’s and Batman’s of this world but this is just a man with a ladder, some stencils and an idea. The only difference between most people and Robert Banks is that he goes out there and does it and because of this he has become the stuff of legend and by keeping his identity hidden (to paraphrase Batman crudely) he has become ‘more than a man.’ These are interesting times we live in now that what he does has become accepted and in interesting times the doors are opened for hundreds of others who always wanted to do something like this but were always just looking for that extra push.

Looking at the unification of the art world and the way that those who paint on walls instead of canvas are now considered ‘artists’ instead of merely ‘vandals’ is a sign of the exciting times we live in. I don’t understand how anyone could object to the rise in beautiful outlandish paintings popping up in front of you as you walk around town, I cannot stand bad graffiti, mispelt and indecipherable tags on fading walls do not appeal to anyone except the narcissism of those who painted it. Our only hope is to separate graffiti and art and let those with talent reclaim the writing on our walls.

Life should be an art gallery and the streets are ours to do as we please.

Please feel free to comment, your feedback is appreciated and it’s always going to be about getting involved. If you’ve seen any fantastic pictures or clever ideas then please leave the link for us all to enjoy.

words by Matt Turner

THINK TANK | People Watching

YOU KNOW the times you spend just looking at people in the street or on trains and busses and wondering who they are? I’m talking about the times you find yourself sat on the fountain in Stevenage or using the underground at King’s Cross and you look up at a stranger and find yourself wondering what their story is or where they are going? and how come they ended up crossing your path as they do now? Do you ever end up wondering about the millions of people around you and how they come to interact and who they are?

Relax if you think this a little strange, just like masturbation everyone does this but only the confident talk about it, it’s a healthy extension of our own wonderment and imagination, it’s given the moniker of ‘people watching’ and different people do it differently, some watch others in a detective style trying to work out by their clothes and demeanour who they are and what they do, they use clues such the subject’s briefcase and choice of vocabulary or even the expense of their wristwatch to try and gauge what they do for a living or where they are from and they delight in the knowledge they can garner from even the smallest of clues.

But this is tediously boring and even slightly creepy in my humble opinion and whilst it is fascinating how much information you can gain about someone if you really look at them the real pleasure in people watching comes from making up stories and inventing the histories and missions of those strangers who cross your path.

I’m guessing that there’s a few of you who read that last sentence who know exactly what I’m talking about.

Without exception everyone I have spoken to about this has fantasized, actually that’s too strong a word, has conjured up stories about a stranger in their imagination to while away the time and the most common themes tend to be about those strangers really being spies and secret assassins, ninjas or other secret sections of society their humble briefcases containing much more than office stationary and a packed lunch, instead these mild mannered middle class commuters on public transport or passing you as you gaze out of the window of some bland coffee shop or eatery are actually carrying everything from unstable plutonium stolen to make nuclear missiles to silenced pistols and lethal poisons as they headed towards downing street.

Sounds far fetched and ridiculous now I come to read it on paper but that’s what I love about it. I know so many people who do this and the ridiculousness of their testimonials as they tell me what they think about in those private moments makes me so happy and it turn it pleases them to have the release of knowing ‘its not just me.’

If you have ever seen Ocean’s 12 or 13 where they steal the Faberge egg from a bland looking backpacker taking public transport whilst a convoy of impressive looking black cars distracts the attention of any would be thief then you will be able to understand that we never know what people have in their bags or who they really are or what they are doing. We can’t ever really know but it is a human tendency to wonder. I actually saw a guy stopped at King’s Cross and forced to empty his bag that was just full of different hats!

Where was he going? what kind’ve vital mission was he on with his bag full of hats? I’m infinitely glad it was hat man stopped instead of me on that fateful day though as I was carrying a mexican wrestler mask, a spray can and stencil, a number of small plastic army men, a cookie cutter in the shape of a ghost, superglue, furry handcuffs, some fantastic trousers and a purple silk bondage rope (all of which there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for and it ties into halloween nicely which starts to make more sense but I would just rather not have to have that conversation with the police)

We all know why we people watch, even if you’ve never really thought about it – because its our imagination drifting out into our surroundings and it takes the tedium out of everyday life helping to pass the time when we’re doing something mundane and are surrounded by others doing the same. In fact I can’t help but wonder about the lives I have lead in other people’s imaginations without ever knowing it – I wonder what they saw in me and where I was going in their imaginations?

If you have any running themes that you tend to imagine when you people watch or anything you do when in these situations or thoughts on what I’ve written then please share them as its always good to know that even the odd little things we do we ALL do together.

People watching in Picadilly

Words by Matt Turner

LIVE | Sonic Boom 6 and The Skints

THE REBIRTH OF SKA PUNK?

Relentless Garage, Highbury and Islington, 15/10/09.

I’D HEARD good things about the Skints from various whispers around town but never actually heard them until tonight and I just wish I’d seen them sooner.

With everything based around a modern rude-boi reggae style the band have a real slinky feel to them with each track floating along soon creating a crowd of nodding heads.

Each time I looked up to the stage the singer Marcia was picking up a different instrument starting of with keyboard providing the reggae upstrokes and then to flute, saxophone and even melodica throwing each of these instruments into the mix to keep the sounds diverse.

I realised that for a reggae band the Skints do have a very streetwise and forceful sound nestling up against the Morcheeba like calm and its this juxtaposition that makes them so instantly likeable without them sounding like a bunch of punks playing a few upstrokes, They are carving out their own sound and its brought together a lot of influences in a very unique way.

The band who are on SB6’s Rebel Alliance records have got complete control over their music with well written songs hinting at slight elements of The Streets if they were really into reggae music, especially on the vocals and backing on ‘Contemplations of a modern rude boy’ a brilliant upbeat story style tune that you can download from rebel alliance.com alongside the other bands on the label.

It might seem strange to some that they aren’t a bit more abrasive or distorted and tend to ride the wave of calm slinky tunes throughout most of their set so if you like your tunes strictly punk rock this might not be the band for you but on most line ups a band like the Skints represent a welcome breath of fresh air and a new direction of reggae and ska roots.

Go and catch this band for a chance to get in some really silly dancing and to allow them to make you feel happy.

SONIC BOOM 6 work so well combining the skanking riddims of ska with the ferocity of punk and cutting it neatly with well written songs, a mix of genres and a lot of great lyrics and choruses that bring you up emotionally when you listen to them. This is a band that can keep the crowd dancing in different styles through the set and keep the songs in your head after the show and that really is the mark of a great band.

Each song of the set contains a killer hook of its own and a hint towards a number of different genres from hip hop, ska, dub and punk and it’s just a case of picking your favourite tonight. ‘Piggy in the Middle’ with its nod to the old school Capdown era ska punk is an obvious highlight tonight as is ‘Sound of a Revolution’ one of the bouncier tracks of the evening.

A special mention should be made of ‘An ode to DIY promoters’ a vitriolic blast of punk rock that last all of thirty five seconds and thanks all those who have helped put on shows for SB6 over the years just out of love for the band and the scene. Technically speaking the band are flawless and so well rehearsed and the set delivers everything the die hard crowd want tonight.

At the end of the set the band announce that guitarist Ben is leaving and that this will be his last London show so as a special treat Laila and Ben play the last song off the bands newest album together before the entire band rejoin them for a rendition of their first ever demo track which ties the night up nicely and gives all in the crowd a sense of the band’s history. It’s a shame to lose the original three way vocals of SB6 but it wont slow them down and will just take the band in new directions which has always been their strength.

Always a band to keep an eye on I can see Sonic Boom 6 continuing to do great things with their genre terrorism sound and DIY approach.

Matt Turner – freakofthepit@hotmail.com please contact for reviews & interviews

Go to rebelalliance.com to download the label sampler featuring cracking tracks from the Skints and SB6 alongside a dubstep remix of random hand and tracks from Mouthwash and the Babylon Whackers

words by: Matt Turner