Tomorrow will probably pose the greatest challenge so far to this consecutive daily blogging project. I will be spending the first half of the day in a cupboard. I am not attempting some kind of highly watered down, poor man’s David Blaine stunt, whereby I spend four hours in a cupboard without food or water. I shall be joined in the cupboard by Michael and Sean, from my folk group The Young’uns. The cupboard is situated in the building that houses the radio station BBC Tees, and has been optimistically labelled a studio by the people at the station. It is tiny, can barely fit the three of us in, and has very rudimentary technology.
We’ve been in this cupboard before. There is only enough room for two chairs. There are only two sets of headphones and one microphone. We’ve even performed songs in this cupboard, which involves the three of us squatting at the microphone, very close to each other, while we attempt to sing in a very tight awkward space and position. That is what we shall be doing for four hours tomorrow.
We are doing a series of interviews from this one cupboard for a number of different BBC local radio stations. We will be put in the cupboard and then basically left to our own devices for four hours. A phone will ring on the desk, and upon pressing a button on the tiny unit, we will be connected to the radio station. We’ll then get asked a series of questions, perform a live song, squatting intimately together by the one microphone, with no previous level checks and with no idea how it’s actually sounding. When that interview is finished, we will then be disconnected from that station, the phone will ring again, we’ll press the button to answer, be put through to another radio station, get asked the exact same list of questions, have an intimate squat and a sing, be disconnected, and so the cycle continues.
We start with an interview on BBC Tees at 945 until 1030. At 1030 we are on Bbc Radio Lincs until 11. Then at 11, we get connected to BBC York, until 1130. At 1130 we are handed over to BBC Bristol. Then, straight after that we are contacted by BBC Radio Wiltshire. Immediately following this is a chat and a song with BBC Radio Merseyside, and straight after that, at 13:00, we are connected to BBC Cumbria. At 130 we finally exit the cupboard with a new perspective on life, decide that four hours squatting intimately in a cupboard with the same two people has pushed us to the brink, and consequently disband the group, therefore making the last four hours completely redundant.
If you’re a crazy person, then you could use the above list as a schedule and tune into all the shows. You’ll probably hear three people becoming audibly more and more insane with each passing interview.
We’ve had nearly two months off, and I feel as if I should have been spending that time mentally preparing myself for the moment that I spend four hours squatting in a tiny cupboard with the same two people, being asked the same questions over and over again. Perhaps I could have spent the time developing some technology that is able to do the interviews on our behalf. I could have fed all our answers to previous radio interviews into a computer, and then programmed the computer with a load of key words pertaining to each answer. When a presenter asks a question, the computer will check the list of key words and choose the most appropriate answer based on the best match. Given that I had a couple of months off, I’d probably have had time to make even more complex enhancements to the system, including programming the computer to detect the presenter’s intonation and inflection to register when a presenter might be making a joke, at which point the computer can choose from a series of Young’uns laughter clips, taken from previous interviews, ranging from mildly amusing up to side-splittingly hilarious.
This invention would save us the hassle of having to actually answer the questions. We could be sat outside the cupboard getting on with something else, and we’d only need to interrupt the Young’uns radio-interview-autopilot system if the presenter said something off the general script that the machine was struggling to find an appropriate response for. If such a moment occurred, the computer would then resort to playing out a series of hesitation clips until one of us came back into the cupboard and took over manual control. This hesitation collection would consist of a number of “er” sounds, “hmms”, throat clearings, and other miscellaneous filler sounds.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been spending my two months off on such a project, and so we’re just going to have to resort to the original plan of squatting in a tiny cupboard for four hours. If there are any engineers or computer programmers reading who fancy helping us develop this system, then feel free to get in touch.
After the four hours of radio interviews, we then have a meeting with an accountant. Following this we head to Middlesbrough town hall to do a sound check for the evening’s gig, our first gig of the year. I won’t get back home until about midnight, so I’ll be out all day, meaning that I’ll somehow have to write, read, edit and upload the audio and written versions of tomorrow’s Dollop during the day, in between all the various things that are scheduled. I started writing today’s blog post at 3 O’clock, and it’s now 4 O’clock. I could technically write another Dollop today, for tomorrow, and schedule it to be published for sometime the following day, but a part of me relishes the challenge of succeeding writing, recording and publishing on the road, plus I am too lazy to write any more today. If you are at the gig tomorrow and you see me typing on stage, then you know that things have gotten serious. I think that that might be a step too far, although it would be impressive if I could sing and type at the same time, perhaps typing in rhythm to what we’re singing. This would take multitasking to a whole new level.
Back tomorrow, definitely, even at the risk of being massively anti-social and possibly ruining a gig. At least I’m getting paid for this crazy venture though, hey? Oh, hang on … I am an idiot.