Oh, hey, I haven’t gotten to an Ancient Champion column in a while. I should do more, but I tend towards the doing of nothing. Critics of my part-time, poorly-kempt ethnology assure me, it is preferable that way.
Last week, I met up with Outsideleft’s film editor, the author, Lake, and that doesn’t happen much and I don’t go back that far with anyone else and we talked about how we used to play pool in his mum’s house. Alright, don’t get carried away, modest sized table. Those were the days before reappraising our indoor sports habit and switching to Subbuteo, building a stadium and a replica low pressure weather system in the spare room of a flat we had for a time with our girlfriends in St. Leonards. Way before anyone wanted to go there. We did it anyway. It was quite exciting in some respects, maybe more dangerous than the typical Subbuteo set up - hanging from the candelabra above the green baize was a not miniature lawn sprinkler attached to a garden hose - thank you Hozelock - on a timer, and it could potentially come on and make heavy going of the playing surface and all the participants at any time. Oh how we smiled.
But look… authenticity is a real thing. That’s right, in the winter the flat, across the road from the sea, above a hairdresser and a locksmith, was so cold that the sopping field of play could easily freeze. Games would have to be played with the orange ball. We were early adopters of gloves. The chipboard under the field sagged. It was all as terrible as QPR’s artificial pitch if you remember. Hard to imagine now the Hoops even were allowed to get away with that. Still we persevered.
While the creative output of our Playground Record label suffered, amounting to one cassette by the Disco Scooters. One copy of which is now more valuable apparently than the complete manufacturing run back then. Inflation. Huh. At least the football that winter was good.
As I write this, the commentariat on TV are moaning about the football violence in the stadium at the Black Country derby, Baggies vs. Wolves, "Riots like scenes from the 70s, apparently" Why not? It's like the 70s here.
I suppose I could add that my own real life football career went backwards fast too. At six I was a striker, at 15 moments before hanging up my boots because of a shower of rain at training, near the canal and the Flavels factory, I’d taken giant strides backwards first as a hopeless right footed left back - a younger, more stylish, more punk Kieran Trippier on his current form. And finally by the day I quit all that, I had been keeping goal for a couple of years. I remember the sticky ankle deep mud between the goalposts stopping more shots than I did.
When I was living in London, less than a decade later, and with all that all weather Subbuteo experience to call on, I decided to attempt a comeback. Have you ever attempted to go back to anything? I’d like to hear those stories because I am unsure football is one of those things you should go back to. So, is anything? I’d literally become a carthorse. I mean, I have often considered myself a working class masochist pit pony. But no… Not on that Saturday morning alongside dudes who illustrated kids books I hope no one wanted from the then Duchess of York and some guy whose kids friends’ dad also played football on the weekend, except, well he played for Arsenal. I found myself moving so slowly that attempting to tackle those fleet footed graphics guys was futile, I chopped them inadvertently to ribbons.
To my eternal dismay then, there was nothing left but the typewriter. No one cared how slowly I typed.
This is what I was thinking when I was thinking about releasing/sharing some new music because this week I managed to put together the first new Ancient Champion pieces in an age. 'Magic Says How Much' is on bandcamp now, but you can hear it here obviously. DJ Woodenhand said this… “Duane Eddy's Peter Out Gunning Yello in a 'Race' whilst soundtracked by Mr Ozio's flat beat played on a Bontempi by Money Mark?”The animatronic bird voices I do like. This is the first new music I have gotten to in a while, but since I have so little else going on, like nothing - don’t pity me, that’s as you see here, the culmination of a life’s work, I might keep dabbling in '24. You know I will. Anyways, massive gratitudinals to my friend, Magic, for enabling me to take his name in vain. Also of course the poet Jay Lewis for producing this crazed robot madness.
In that way that things used to be, this is a double-a sided music release. The other piece, ‘One Minute You Won’t Get Back’ features Brandon from New Jersey on gnarly bass guitar. Brandon survived the guitar chaos by meeting the challenge with… Fuzz. That is the prerequisite required to reanimate the Ancient Champion live experience. Which is the plan. I can tell you already it is going to be great. Once you hear Brandon from New Jersey’s bass fuzz pedal you’ll know too. ‘One Minute You Won’t Get Back’ is on Bandcamp but might end up here to save you a roundtrip. Whoever knows...
In that robot video, that's me dancing in the dress, I’m not the creepy eye dude
Ancient Champion artwork at the top of this page by Prehistoric Man
Robot video by Jay Lewis
Ancient Champion on Bandcamp and elsewhere.