Mike Dennis – Junction 19

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One of the many things that crushed me about the closure of The Full Moon was that it suddenly became unlikely that I would ever play a set straight after Mike Dennis again. Luckily, we’re re-opening soon, and he’ll undoubtedly be back with his violin, cajon and loop pedal before too long. He’s the only artist to be given a monthly residency, which often coincided with my own gigs, and I just never get bored of watching him. Having developed a pretty serious work ethic, he’s pumping out a new top quality EP, ‘Junction 19’, and with it he has a new found sense of rage. The Cardiff debut performance will be at Gwdihw on 5th May, and the EP is available to pre-order at mikedennis.bandcamp.com.

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The EP kicks off with a gorgeous tribute to Bristol. The tone of the multitracked violins feels like the first morning of…

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Live Stream of performance at TedxCardiff

Greetings, all.

This Saturday, I’m doing a fifteen minute performance at Tedx Cardiff. Very excited. Very nervous! I wanted to let you all know you can watch the performance LIVE from this link at 1:40pm on Saturday:Live TedxCardiff stream

Please do tune in if you can!

My EPs arrived today and are available for preorder in signed CD or digital-only form from here:

http://mikedennis.bandcamp.com

mikedennis.bandcamp.com
7 track album

Happy Thursday! Back to practising for Ted….

Your friendly neighbourhood fiddling rapper dude,

Mike

The Full Moon

On Wednesday I saw the news that my favourite venue in the whole world had closed due to a poor period of trading and resulting lost faith of its creditors. The only way I could express how I felt about this is in the following poem.

Long Live Moon

 

It is so important to support your local live music venues. Go out whenever you can and watch some brilliant music people have poured their hearts into, buy a good beer or two, enthuse with the bar staff who are likely as passionate about music as you are. Imagine if we didn’t have these places.

#savewomanbyst

Junction 19 – preorder link is live!

You can now preorder my new EP here:

Mike Dennis – Junction 19 EP preorder on bandcamp

With a preorder, you get a high-res jpeg of the amazing front cover (without title as I think it functions better as a piece of art without the text) by Marseille based graf artist, Braga the last 1

AND an instant download of Men with Guns (Reloaded)

AND I’ll throw in a secret download link to an unreleased tune from 2011.

Thank you for your support!

Junction 19 – EP and Tour

Hello all. You may see from how busy I’ve been on social media lately that plans are afoot!

Part one of a two-part Mike Dennis EP is coming out in May of this year. Part one is called “Junction 19”. Part two is called “Junction 29”. Yes, those titles refer to junctions on the M4 motorway. No, the songs aren’t all about driving, roads or cars, you cheeky devil, you!

I’d like to enlighten you all with the tour dates…

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Support slots are currently being filled by the humongous talents of..

KOMEDIA, BRIGHTON 1ST MAY – Luke Bennett

GWDIHW, CARDIFF 5th MAY – TBC

THE BELVEDERE, WEYMOUTH, 6th MAY – Edd Bleach

THE BREAD & ROSES, PLYMOUTH, 8th MAY – TBC

GRAIN BARGE, BRISTOL, 11th MAY – Heybus, Henry Jackson

THE DRAGONFFLI, PONTYPOOL, 12th MAY – Turna Phrase

THE BIRD’S NEST, DEPTFORD, 18th MAY – TBC

THE FULL MOON, CARDIFF, 20th MAY – Acoumetal

THE EMPEROR,. CAMBRIDGE, 21st MAY – TBC

 

You can listen to the first song from part 1, “UnDo”, which features Rob Nichols of Junior Bill here:

Mike Dennis – UnDo ft. Rob Nichols

….I AM VERY BUSY!!!!!

 

Smiles & Cries – the lyrics

The lyrics to my album, Smiles & Cries, are below.

Smiles & Cries

That made you crack a smile, didn’t it? You felt the corners of your mouth lift a bit. And your mind followed.
Life is tinted by such sublime sorrow.
Your face forgets its place. Joy, you find hollow.
The older I get, the race tickles me more and more.
There’s always times I have to pick myself up off the floor
where I was rolling the aisles, holding onto smiles
like a baby to a breast with desperation.
And I can’t choose what to feel, but I CAN choose what to do
and when you enjoy yourself, you flourish.
And as you watch the zeal of this new flock of ruthless extremists,
you wonder if they die nourished.
Stoic solemnity, certain of suffering’s role
in redemption of a collective soul. It’s rough and it’s cold.
We’re brothers and you’ve only opened the hole.
White, black, brown, welcome to Smiles and Cries.
From the moment you open your eyes and you begin
to learn the choice is yours and your chance is thin for infinity
you’re clutching divinity to your chest like an absent parent
in the hope of a minute of ecstasy to elapse this madness bearing down.
I was wearing frowns for four years or thereabouts,
tearing out my hair at my place of work, the whereabouts.
That place saved my life and I came to hate it
like those who bring you into the world come to be those whose pain is grating.
So you chase your status, taking names and kicking ass
and it hits you fast who was the last to remind you to smile
and everything everybody says to you makes you either want to laugh or cry – your move.
It’s more eye of a needle than tongue in a groove.
Exacting. Your captain is mood-less,
saying “it’ll all be ok. It’ll all be OK…
…if you just…”

Flash In The Pan

Deep in the underbelly of Totterdown. The Flash, reckless and calculating in one dichotomous stroke plans his next move…
Oxygen, heat, fuel:
the slather of corporate dunderheads pouring shit in the pool.
I’m not angry. I’m even in so many ways:
chowing down on this offal like Chevy Chase.
So send me up the river with a pad and a pen.
I’ll come back and deliver the rhythm quicker than a bow and a quiver, I’m slicker.
Dismissing snickers and critics, bigots and trolls.
Fuck, I’m so sick of this rigamarole.
They get signed from waiting in line. It’s four to the floor.
“Way to go!” They get Miley on tape with a rhyme – more for the cause.
Now they’re flying, playing for hype that they get fine ’cause the bandwagon’s packed.
Then the bottom falls out and suddenly: holy shit, they were crap!
OK, I actually sat for the BGT audition.
Can’t believe those people told me their views while I stood and listened.
Without a look that glistens, I’m in the doldrums
and this assembly line has me feeling like Jeff Goldblum:
“It didn’t require any discipline to attain it.”
While I’ve taken pain and framed it. Sprayed it on the ages
with tears spotting the blanks, offering thanks to the very shanks that bled in my coffers and banks.
So, even a crackle or sizzle would do it for me,
spitting like the fat on your griddle, I’m ruining beats.
Crashing down on ’em like Acme’s piano…
Kaboom, kablamo!
HOOK:
Man, I wanna be that flash in the pan
Because I’ve had as much of that as I can actually stand
and if I ever get a crack, you’ll need to stand well back
’cause I’ve kept a flame burning since “Return of the Mack”/since the Queen’s been taxed.

I fiddle with a little instrument,
wiggling fingers with precision in an inimitable fission with
rhythmic riddles spilling from my lips and it’s
sicker than tickling prisoners in the nick.
Bittersweet, like giving a liquorice Rizla a licking,
distilling inner visions in the middle and
squirrelling iller emissions inna the mix for the killing.
Delivering imminent, eminent, shimmering sediment.
Chilling figures thrilling to these glittering elements…
Damn, I need to be that flash fire in the cauldron.
Take me home, all cosy like The Waltons.
I’ve wanted it since Liverpool lost to Bolton in the Coca-Cola cup
but since I’ve swollen up and grown a “fuck it” attitude,
it’s opened up a load of platitudes:
“Good things come to…” – fuck the waiting, give me Glasto, dude!
Been ready for Eavis and read up through the register
since I saw Beavis and Butthead Do America
and when it materialises, clear me the widest stage.
I’ll fill it with the teariest eyes and rage.
I know they flash and it’s over so fast, I
guess I’m just a hopeless romantic.
HOOK x 2

These Things ft. Amy D

Well, I met her at the bar I was working.
Couldn’t look away – I was flirting the minute I clocked her there, serving.
You see, we had a tight crew, lotta love
and she dropped right in like she’d knitted the glove.
I didn’t waste any time, I was 27,
asked her for a drink to her face –
it was then or never.
She said “OK” and her number came next.
Left me feeling gay like we were the same sex.
Next day, the snow was so crunchy.
I’m sitting in the pub with this girl from the country.
I remember her body language thrilled me,
leaning forward with a smile that could kill me.
Not long ’til we left on the pretence:
“Do you wanna come back for tea?”. Yes.
To her front door, now we’re in the living room
and she jumped me – that’s when I submitted to my doom
’cause she wanted no part of a relationship, just lust
and I was taken with her thrust from day one. They could kiss my dust.
Man, I was gone.
That fatal bit of trust had staked its claim
and I cradled it and blushed
because these things have their…
HOOK:
These things have their way.
Yes, these things have their way, they do.

Of course we split up – not ten months later.
I gave her a way out. I pulled some caper.
I burned a blaze hotter than Turtle Bay’s pot of their jerk paste.
Flash-fried my own backside.
A steaming mess of feelings, stress.
Sure I had the ladies picking that revealing dress – NOT!
But I didn’t care. I wanted one
who wouldn’t ever, didn’t now and hadn’t when we begun.
So, picture me, if you will, on tour
with a theatre show, trying to forget before.
Taking brave steps, trying to get me a grin
but every night crying in a new Premier Inn.
I know most of you have been there,
holding it together by a thread of your clean pair.
And the people routing for you fret
because you’re thinking that they haven’t seen anything yet but
WOAH. I cooled my jets eventually, just long enough to
see South Asia, move, and made a dent in this dependency.
It’s slow. But you can bet it’s meant to be.
Be strong and trust your weaponry
’cause love and war? Well, these things have their…
HOOK x 2

Idiot

You’re a lovely girl. You’re a lovely girl.

REFRAIN:
You’re a lovely girl.
Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, they were talking ’bout you.
You’re a lovely girl.
Men stare like their work’s night out was a trip to the zoo.
You’re a lovely girl.
You’ve got a brain – a metropolis, bustling with questions and visions.
You’re a lovely girl.
You’re not insane. They’d only need a half day to assess your condition.

CHORUS:
You’re a lovely girl.
But my God, you’re an idiot.
You’re a lovely girl
so I thought you should know
that you’re a lovely girl.
But my God, you’re an idiot.
You’re a lovely girl
but you don’t let it show.

VERSE 1:
No-one could say you’re not adorable, kind, sweet and a bundle of sass
and I’m deplorable, mine-sweeping the blunt and the crass.
Quite the dope, so we’re similar, pray tell
do you have a microscope to find the slither of braincells?
We’ve got them sitting in a petri dish,
stewing in their own juice,
watching Towie like it’s an edgy flick.
Both of them lonely – you’re more BBC4
– so why, when I give you my love, are you so needy for more?
Some might even say the song is sexist
but I don’t have breast-uh-ses in my lexis
and besides, I’m not denying that she is lovely
but time-to-time, she’s so dumb that Jesus, fuck, she bugs me.
I’m a blind mole staring up at a mountain, blinking,
hoping feelings soon come round to thinking.
You say you can’t trust me, must be
those flowers that I bought – you thought I got them on Gumtree,
for free? Or they’re ugly? Or is it my scuffed knee
from bowing down to some other goddess I was begging to touch me?
You weren’t drunk. It’s me. Yeah. Tuesday night too.
More fool me if I choose to fight you.
CHORUS

VERSE 2
Oh here he goes with one for the cavemen.
Those with no intention to stay friends.
The girl-bashing number, the one for the bitter and jilted.
Look – in fact – I was practically guilted
into writing this, so I’m calling a big bluff:
You give me mind games, I’ll give you lyrics for six months
and I’d use your game’s rules for suggestions of style
but they seem to have been devised by a petulant child.
You might find it maddening and absurd,
my artform of saying what I mean in very few words
and not one of them is: “fine!”, “right…”, “bastard!” or “Fuck!”
If you needed tips, you only need to ask…DUCK! Enough!
Believe me – I’m an idiot too.
I hand my pearls out for free like the Gideons do.
You’re a gem, honestly, and who isn’t fallible?
Our two lonely braincells are losing to free radicals.

CHORUS VARIATION:
I’m a lovely boy.
But my God, I’m an idiot.
I’m a lovely boy
so I thought you should know.
I’m a lovely boy
but my God, I’m an idiot.
I’m a lovely boy
but you don’t let it show.

CHORUS x 1

THE INEVITABLE FOOTBALL CHANT

CHORUS

REFRAIN

I’m A Cartoon

I was at home, getting ready, had a gig in an hour.
Had my tummy full, gear packed, time for a shower.
As I stepped out, thought I saw something – couldn’t be sure.
I had no time for double takes, so I opened the door.
Closed it behind me, tidy, I threw on the shirt.
You know, the one I’m wearing when I’m up here doing my dirt,
the same three quarter length jeans I’ve worn the whole of the summer –
If you’re looking for that gap ad rap, that’s a bummer.
I’d prepared the crowd a cover of The Cure’s “Lullaby”
and had the video stuck in my head, “his tongue in my eye”.
I shook the image, took a minute just to idiot check:
one violin, one…woah.. Something made me giddy and breathless.
My breakfast turned over, I’d just seen it again.
A reflection in the windowpane of me drawn in pen
and as I tiptoed timidly to the bathroom,
I looked into the mirror – “Holy shit, I’m a cartoon!”

HOOK:
It looks like I’m 2D. Turn me round, there’s nothing to me.
My tunes are loony.
Yeah, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a cartoon, I’m a
Yeah, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a cartoon, I’m a
x 2

Back in uni, it threw me, “you’re a cartoon of yourself!
Mike, you’re so loony, and moody, it’s like we knew someone else.”
My roomy, Pete, dude, soothed me with Susumi Yokota.
But I was duly out in front like a two-seat Toyota
and the true me like North Korea’s nuclear quota
was a hornet’s sphere, soon to be so rudely awoken.
Nuff of that, I’m a cartoon, don’t want you here, moping
and if you drew me in blue, green, I’ve assumed the emotion
So I’ve been Daffy and Goofy for a consid’rable time.
Since I was Gappy and Toothy, Mickey’ss been thickly-outlined
and you said “spit me a rhyme!”, yeah, you got it, look here bro’s:
I’m quickly disguised as one of your comic book heroes.
No cape, cawl or gloves, but I’m larger than life.
Demons and villains alike, I barge them aside.
But I’ll be swimming, calm, then I get hit with a harpoon
when I suddenly remember – “Holy shit – I’m a cartoon!”

HOOK
Now I’m…coming to terms with my colourful fate.
Came back from the show and spoke to my cousin at 8.
Told him everything’s over the top and all gone bold,
I’m having parties with His Nibs and Gordon Zola.
He said “calm down mate, why not run with it?”
I couldn’t see how I could ever have fun with it
but when I got a self-portrait from the Beano guy,
inevitably, I was thinking: maybe he was right?
This apparition on the stage is my Panthro, Hot Rod,
Gadget, Dangermouse, Bananaman – those soft spots.
I always liked to draw, turning my world vivid.
Now when I catch my reflection, I see Michael live it.
Now, I’m never gonna smash my violin on the floor
but, if you see the funny side, I’m sure we’ve been here before
’cause when you see what people do to get their kicks and their fun:
A cartoon? Holy shit we’ve all been living in one!

HOOK x 2

Two Feet

Now, I count one and I count two.
and you know
I’m up and down like a yoyo or a meerkat or a drone with a GoPro
tracking a skiier flat out on a snow slope. Did you hear that?
Like a coiled spring, I’m poised to jump for you. How high?
But you’ve never expected more than for me to be safe and well
so it’s “Ciao! Bye!” and just for you, I gave them hell.
I used to use your deodorant. I’d be in class, anxious.
Didn’t know if it was bad or if a man can just
smell how he likes.
Then you put a can of Lynx into my Christmas stocking ten years in a row.
If you’d forgotten I needed rearing and shown by a Dad for these things, I didn’t know.
When I was a toddler, you let my hair stay long
because you loved it. The opposite of neglect. The teachers couldn’t be more wrong.
And all I’ve ever wanted is for you to smile.
All I’ve ever wanted is for you to smile.
I think about how you were trying to raise a good person
at your age then, with a father I could’ve took the worst from
and maybe I have and still not aware of “should”s, cursed with
gains ill-gotten like the way a crook earns them.
Trying to nurture my gratitude and compassion,
put down self-doubt and fear (because) they’re sapping you of your passion.
But when I feel lost,
all that I can show you is I can stand on my own two.

CHORUS:
For you, I will stand on my own two feet.
Sitting here, living, working out my work-life balance.
Long years of yearning to earn from my talents.
Picking fights with bosses sucking the little life from this office,
starting mini revolutions on my head where we all profit
and not just monetarily. We say “think of the money”,
like “lie back and think of England”. It’s funny:
there’s people dying to get into this country for these jobs that we hate
and some still have the nerve to say they rob!
Now that’s a tangent, but I had to remind myself
I take it for granted that I’m in sound mind and health.
Eating nutritious food with free entertainment,
free speech, free will and a cosy living arrangement.
Some a product of the hours I put in,
dreaming of the biggest stage-door to get my foot in.
It’s pretty daft, punk, ’cause some of these things are down to your relatives.
“Up all night to get lucky”? But he already is.
So these two feet? You gave me them
and the salient point is I will stand on them like any homosapien.
If I have to mop pissy floors to freak out, empowered,
I’ll think of your resolve, cleaning for three pounds an hour.
If there’s a way I can stay afloat, afraid or delaying hope,
well-paid or dismayed and broke, I’ll stand up tall.
Because the days that you gave and spoke my pains away and
wrote me names to read and showed me make-believe,
the quotes that made it easy to cope with stages of grief,
the coats that gave me heat, my toes, nails and feet…
I’m thankful for.

CHORUS x 2
You gave them to me. Yeah, you gave them to me.

Them Over There

“One man’s certain is another man’s squabble” – Kate Tempest.

HOOK:
Hey! No, the other ones – them over there.
They’re most troublesome – them over there.
Blame your government, sit in your chair.
Let’s not cuddle up. I don’t like you…

VERSE 1
(I don’t like you…)
..mate. You’re just appropriating backwards views
from your Dads on jews, blacks, a crucifix
hanging round your neck and honestly, it smacks of poo!
Shit, we’re not nearly as informed as we guess we are,
whether you read The Sun sitting at your breakfast bar
or you were chauffeured to a private school in a Lexus car
where there were no people of colour or who had less than “Yar”.
But look, I’m playing the blame game
while I’m trying to say that we’re all built on the same frame.
You can point a digit at the man in charge and “rabble, rabble”
while he’s done a hard day’s work and now he’s playing Scrabble
with his wife and kid, frightened sick that he’s sealed some fates.
A six-figure income doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes
and, by the same token, being broke is not a condemnation
nor is being fat, white, black, light or ostentacious.
The more I read, the more I write
but the more I read about these oversights, the more I think
no-one can do anything right by everyone.
So we’re all aboard, the more the might the merrier.
Draw your sword and bury them round the corner from their border terriers.

CHORUS x 2
I just read something online and it made me chortle.
There’s no EDL in Cumbria fetching pails of water.
There is a healthy load of Muslims though,
helping out, no doubt they’re wearing hoods and cloaks.
“We’re in this together, son, your beef is mine.”
That’s a relatable, bovine, Mobb Deep line.
I’m sick of right-wing, war-mongering, paranoid nationalists,
Republicans, fundamentalists, take a slap from a pacifist!
You’re taking millennia for the penny to drop
that every refugee’s hell, it could be your Jennifer’s slot
so while you develop your plot, tending your crops
around your manor that terror forgot,
think of how few tenants you’ve got.
Plan a new shed at the top of your mineral rockery,
man, if I had land, it’d take a miracle stopping me.
I’d take one family in the lounge, one in the shed,
squeeze a couple in the west wing who were running from threats
and before I went and tarred them all Bin Laden,
I’d remember this was already in my back garden.
Sure, I confess, it’s a little facetious.
Preaching like I’m running community outreaches.
But before you go harbouring nuclear scars,
remember: them over there are just you from afar.

CHORUS x 2
“One man’s certain is another man’s squabble.” – Kate Tempest.

Try Again

It’s hard here. I barely know him.
Another forced conversation as my phone dims.
Staring at a screen wears so thin.
I can’t lift the room with a lone grin.
The house looks nice. I’ve done the dishes twice.
She sits and types while he cooks a mean fish and rice.
I try to give advice back to the source.
Wracked with remorse so she didn’t bite.
He’s helpless. I know him that much.
A glass of wine of an evening’s not a bad crutch.
I drive away and imagine the sadness
as if when I come back, “Abracadabra!”
but that’s just some magic words, it’s all
– I would say good but her back’s to the wall –
so I do what I can when she falls
and the man? Well, he’s there trying to stand up tall.
I wear my heart outside enough to know that when it comes to the crunch,
these words might be heard over lunch so I’m doing my best to not spike the punch.
Make it worse, fuel the flames, they converse, the duel remains.
The dog reacts with a wisdom past her dog years,
pads to her basket, drops and obviously yawns
like a creaky door.
It’s a stand-off that she’s seen before.
I watch her, dreaming of pork chops
or chasing a visitor as the door’s knocked
and I think of the times gone by this was happening and all that I could do was sigh.
It doesn’t change with medication, meditation,
but I love them all the same.

REFRAIN:

We’ll try again.

CHORUS:

This is my F-A-M-I-L-Y,
not a dry eye, heaven and hell combined.
We eat, we laugh, I watch you cry.
It doesn’t help when I figure out why.
This is my F-A-M-I-L-Y,
not a dry eye, heaven and hell combined.
We eat, we laugh, I watch you cry.
It’s Christmas. Have a mince pie.

x 2

There’s nothing to do but try again.
A crisp morning, a new day.
Nice weather for the UK.
The small talk a welcome break.
You’ve got a lot on your plate.
If all I can do is let you talk over me while he talks over you,
I’ll be sure to keep it zipped.
Broke a few promises as a kid, who didn’t?
And I’m sure to go through it with my own streaks of piss.
I’m never gonna have a house full of Christmas cards.
I’m just not the type.
Course, it’s nice to show love and appreciation,
I just really don’t care what you’ve got for Mike and I
get all my good traits from this household.
Come back to pick them up when they’re out cold.
Look in the mirror in the morning, thinking “how old?!”
The stories you imagined are now told.
I wear my heart outside enough to know every moment’s not wasted
when it’s spent with a smile on your face if you’re lucky enough to hold your orality sacred.
And I count myself among those.
A sister to live for.
Lift all by the horns when the pitfalls come by the shitstorm and leave you ithdrawn.
It’s the fifth crisp morning and I’ll
try again to make this house a home because you’re doing it too
and if we knew what we knew now back then
we’d grouse and moan because, in some ways, we’ll do what we do.
I’ll pick up the slack, mediate and stitch rifts,
bridge up the gaps, eat the cake, it’s Christmas
and this is a life-long one-man mission
’cause you’re the ones fully behind me in my ambitions.

REFRAIN x 2

CHORUS x 2

Around The Corner

Let’s wait until we get around the corner, corner, corner, ’til we get around the corner, wait x 4

CHORUS:

But Mum, I’m tired!
You said it was just
around the corner
but it’s not and I thank you for teaching me patience and decency, reasonable doubt.

VERSE 1:
It’s 3:30 and she’s there to pick us up.
My sister comes running, Mum is scared she’ll trip and cut
her knees, but we’re unaware the jig is up
and all we wanna know is where the car is.
We take a left out the school gates, chatter to
my class, passing through Cae Glas Avenue.
Then she says “it’s around the corner”. That’s a ruse.
Now we’re grumbling and striking bargains.
“Let’s wait and see”, she japes with a grin.
My sister starts dawdling and whining.
At the shop, I know my patience is thin,
throw a strop and tell her “Stop it with the lying!”
She’s having none of it and sticks to the plan,
down another road we turn and keep walking.
My sister’s crying. I’m just kicking a can.
Before I know it, we’re on our street, gawping.
And it’s a lesson that has lessened the blow
whenever I’m fed up of treading, yo, it’s kept me afloat.
When that impeccable show has seemed forever out of reach,
this devil below whispers “never doubt belief in the beat”
Walking it, found a fifty pence,
who would’ve known ’til you “turn around” like Nikki French.
A little bit lonely, like your life is hard-lived
and all you wanna know is where the car is?!

CHORUS x 2

VERSE 2:
Past the chippy, take a right through the park.
It gets a little nippy after dark so we march.
It’s a minute ’til we’re nipping on the swings,
still livid given the slip but inhibitors clipping for the win.
Wrenched off, we make a stop at Spar, a “Yazoo”
on the cards, the neighbour’s got a car that’s “brand new”.
She’s been cutting the grass so “Achoo!”
We hit the gates like we’ve reached the caves of “Batu”.
Halleluia! Mixtapes, Lego and tangerines,
all the sweeter from this wait, mega rad machines
with the message sinking into my sponge-like
brain, I think Mum’s right. Her game is a fun hike.
My trainers are untied and patience is useful
’cause wailing for sunshine in the rain isn’t fruitful
and there was a wry smile we needed to get
around the corner we could see it, we just needed to step.

MID 8:
But Mum, you said it was around the corner.

CHORUS x 2
“Corner coming up…
“You never know what’s around the corner…
“More corners usually. Imagine a world without corners…
“No-one would be able to cut any. Everyone would be going round in circles.”
“Wow. Enjoyed that.” – from Alpha Papa.

Hope I Don’t (Give It Away)

Dark secrets
in the vault where they’re safe.
Hoping that you can’t see the traces of doubt on my face.
Frown-lines and a glazed pupil,
muted body language nonetheless stays truthful on demand, it’s
spooked me, I am but a leaf,
blowing in the tail-wind of grief.
But it’s all passed with a sigh.
Everything is clear, blue sky.
Birds singing in the breeze,
perching in evergreen trees.
Not a cloud in sight.
There’s a fever around him tonight.
Billy-No-Mates. Gladly, he won’t suffer fools.
Pronate and a sharp jerk to his regular cool.
Friends rally for a time, following the etiquette to task
but he’s fearful of a tete a tete and prays their persistence won’t last.
Fever pitch in a mind stricken with a sickening admission,
given to a grin to pin it hidden.
Living’s been a difficult decision.
Love hurts us all. Things we do can limit the ache.
Less gluttonous for punishment.
I hope I don’t give it away.

CHORUS:
I don’t believe it when you say you’ve never felt this way before x 3
You hear me say that and you’re packing, ready, leaving for the door
I don’t believe it when you say you’ve never felt this way before x 3
’cause I have
You hear me say that and you’re packing, ready, leaving for the door.

VERSE 2
Made it this far
ducking questions about
love and lovers undiscovered so the truth doesn’t come out.
Fraulein, I’m a glazed fruitcake, putrid, odd and languid,
nonetheless make moves kid, often stranded
out on a limb, seeking peace,
picking up the bat at the crease.
Knock it out the park first try.
See how I deflect when you pry?
Cod-piece, endangered species, we’re running out of privacy
(See) how they run like my rhyming rhythm wizardry.
Pull the other one.
Just a little cynical, that’s all.
Had to sit with it today and
didn’t give it away at all.
Frozen in time.
Like a set of vows, took.
Never let my nearest and dearest hear a bleak outlook.
Frontman, with a whole lotta front, armour and shields.
No better than an underwriter totting up Starbucks’ yields.
Know it’s cold but I think some things are better unsaid.
They rip apart a heart quick like refridgerated butter on bread.

CHORUS

Stuff

You tell me when I’ll tell you where are we meeting for the feeding that we’re needing? isn’t greed if she’s as sleazy as me on a medium degree of feeling, guaranteed it’s seedy as a cruise comedian.

Breakfast for twos up in the air, cause it’s fleeting and we’re creeping like we’re two ships, in the harbour moonlit, looking for the loose lips, docking, then we’re plotting courses opposite, the shoe fits

You’ve got me all up in your hair – no, not like that! Don’t get sidetracked. Nearly had you typecast, but I’m such a nice lad. ‘sides, if i bite, fact is you’re gonna bite back!

So we’ll hold some back, we’re not quite there.

But we’ll get to it, wrecked through it, best fluids, exuding excrement, maybe how the rest do it, we’ll be holding hands and smiling ‘fore you knew it, bet… Knew it!

Don’t be bashful
We’re both adults
You’re not ready
But nor am I
Weeeeeell etc…

“..and tomorrow, you’re probably gonna wanna do it again.” (Eminem)

So here you are and here am I.
I know…! It’s like: what do we do now?
You’re cooking a roast up? And broccoli too? Wow!
I should be going, sure it’s almost properly two now!

Don’t stop to question why oh why.
It’s natural. We had a laugh and bullshitted, dignity intact and all pulpitted preachers can get the dilznick if they disagree with that.

I like that glimmer in your eye.
Now don’t start, I’ve got dinner on the boil and I’ve got the same urge as every sinner on the soil.
Still i keep chopping parsnips and fiddling with foil.

And your hands are twitching at your sides.
Ok enough, you’re a diamond in the rough.
Time is ticking – tough. I just did a blush. Truthfully, it’s looking like.. Well…We’re doing stuff.

Weeeeeell etc…

It’s two weeks on a Friday night.
Hey, Hey! I wasn’t drunken be this gonna – where’s double dragon? I’m undefeated..? By the…? The pisser… Come to me! Shit! Uh..the…

The bouncer here is SO polite..
That’s right, Mike, he is!
That’s my guy. Please sit back right, try be sick, act nice, I’ll be quick – that’s hindsight, relive,don’t cramp my vibe, she’s fit!

It’s not over to my delight.
Second wind and now look who comes by!
They let you in. We’ve got a good crew, sundried and booze-soaked.
Nearly stood – shoes untied!

We didn’t sleep together… Right?
Relax! It was a valiant fumble.
Could be time to add to our tally of tumbles
But I’m truly doolally from the cannies and rum bull.

Don’t be bashful
We’re both adults
Thinking rational
It’s just natural
Ribbons, tassels
In your satchel
You’re not ready
But nor am I!

Weeeeell etc

If you made it this far down, well done. You have my heartfelt congratulations and here is a photo of Molly that nearly became the album cover as a reward:

100_0249.JPG

About “Smiles & Cries”

I haven’t blogged for ages. Here goes.

 

I’m mere days away from finishing “Smiles & Cries” which is my third album I’ve released under my own name on my label, D-Funk Records. The label’s nothing more than a vehicle for my releases really but does give me a little smirk when I think of the series of tunes I wrote between the ages of 16 and 18 entitled “D-Funk #”, perhaps obviously an awkward homage to both Parliament’s P-Funk and Warren G and co’s G-Funk.

It’s actually the twelfth full-length album I’ve ever made. There are a couple of EPs I’ve thrown into the grand total there and called full-length. Here’s the full, amusing list:

DFace – Braces

DFace – Rap Tenor (heartcore)

Sett One – Made in the U.K.

DFace – Style and Grace

DFace – Tha Classikz E.P.

DSC_0137

DFace – A.G.J. (Appreciation, Gratification, Justification…obviously)

DFace – The Feel L.P. (gap year album)

DFace – Assimilation (first effort having moved to Brighton for uni)

DFace – Space March E.P.

Mike Dennis – Tired, Inspired, Fired

Mike Dennis – Another Hour

Mike Dennis – Smiles & Cries

Looking at that list, I think I may have forgotten a couple of projects. There was Rubberjack, for instance, an amazingly fun funk band I was part of in Brighton:

Rubberjack on Soundclick…SOUNDCLICK…!

and Fidgital, the gruesome two-some that were spawned from Rubberjack’s untimely demise:

Fidgital and Andy Gangadeen

Now I’m thinking there’s probably people who’d advise it’s best to leave a little to the imagination about my musical past but fuck it, I don’t go in for all that image/package rubbish (says the guy still mega chuffed about having Nigel Parkinson draw me like Dennis The Menace). I look back on all of these projects fondly. Each one of them has helped me ease the woes and drudgery of daily life.

I wanted to share some technical stuff about the new album, a few choice words and tell you a small bit about what’s been going on in my life of late in an attempt to set the scene somewhat for the album – I’d like to pretend every single song came to me magically through some inexplicable piece of inspiration but that’s not always been the case.

TECHNICAL BITS (hopefully interesting to some)

I use Cubase 5.1 on Windows XP (yes, laugh it up) with FL Studio 10 re-wired to make all of my tunes. I’ve loved Fruity loops for its simple interface and seemingly entirely latency-resistant engine since it first came out in…errrrm…1998? I got Cubase  from my good friend, Paul, who is one half of monstrous IDM duo, Baconhead:

Baconhead

Until this current album, I’d been using an M-Audio Audiophile PCI 24/96 for about twelve years (keep on laughing!) and I now use an Akai EIE Pro which is absolutely, without any fragment of doubt, the WORST soundcard/interface I’ve ever owned! Thankfully, I still have my Audiophile in my PC case and am going back to that with a clean install as soon as this album is completed. As usual, I’m writing, recording, arranging, mixing and mastering everything myself and, being at the mastering stage, thankfully I’m now past the stage where I have to rely on the Akai to be in any way good at handling lots of channels of audio! So, by some amazing stroke of luck, I seem to have avoided its shitness affecting these tunes at all.

I recently rescued my step dad’s TEAC cassette deck from his attic after panicking that all of my older albums on tape might somehow disintegrate and be lost forever to the ages. I’ve since digitised them. This has risked them being exposed to the world. Let’s hope that never happens, eh? Anyway, having re-discovered the joy of operating and listening to tapes, I made a conscious decision to experiment with putting my finished tunes for “Smiles & Cries” through the TEAC with slightly too high an input level so they distort and then back into the computer for a bit of nostalgia and, hopefully, a slightly retro’d sound. So I bought one of these bad boys…

DSC_0136.JPG

 

…for £6.99 plus P&P on eBay! They used to be 5 for a tenner, I believe, back in the good old days blah blah blah. These and the MA90s were always my favourite sounding tapes. I’m yet to try putting the masters through the tape and back in but, having done a little experiment with a section from one of the tunes, I’m not sure it’s going to be a useful technique. However, I did try it without having cleaned the heads and I was using a very old, used tape so there is still some hope!

One last tech point: I have the fortune of knowing and being good friends with the boys from Tritone:

Tritone sounds on Soundcloud

who have a wealth of tasty analog equipment in their front room. Last week, I bounced down all my drum tracks and put them through this guy with a liiiittle too much gain…

midas-venice-320-419116.jpg

and this guy in parallel…

rnc front onethird

…and I am mighty pleased with the results 🙂

I’m now on to the stage of using Waves plugins and my Alesis M1Active monitors to master the tunes as best as I can – I’m not a fool – I realise mastering takes people lifetimes to be good at but I have a good ear and a fair bit of experience with my own stuff so I’m just giving it my best shot.

Enough technical stuff!

 

Let’s say some things about what’s been going on. Perhaps most pertinently, I’ve just spent a week having “Stuff” (from the new album) as Tom Robinson’s 6Music Recommends track, which means I’ve been played by Tom, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie and, tonight, Tom again. To say I’ve been over the moon about this would be a gross understatement. I’ve been making music and writing down my deepest thoughts and feelings for close to twenty years and, though I’ve had a few glowing reviews here and there and a mention in Hip Hop Connection magazine when I was 16, I’ve never had any serious widespread recognition of what I do. I have been totally losing my shit over it. It has been mind-blowingly, incredibly, unbelievably amazing and awesome and I can not put into words how grateful I am to Tom Robinson for picking me up. I’ve felt helplessly lost on the days of this week during which I’ve not been played and completely invincible on the days that I have. I’ve never lost sight of the fact that many people could look at a relatively well-off white, British boy hunting for recognition as a rapper and see it as hilarious, irritating or all too common but I’ve also never entirely gone off the track of wanting to do it which makes me think that there is definitely some shred of raison d’etre about my musical pursuits. There have been times in my life when I’ve pushed very hard with my music and times I’ve rested on my laurels or just been too busy (note: my last job). Being on 6Music at a time when I’m really trying to walk the line of pushing myself and making other people aware of what I do whilst also not bothering them TOO much by adding to the whitewash of social media self-promotion feels so, so, so good.

I lost somebody close to me on the same evening I was told by Tom Robinson that he was bringing the date of playing “Stuff” forward because he was so impressed by my work. I’m dedicating the album to her and I’m not quite ready to make it public who it was and how exactly she passed away, not least because it feels a bit shameless to discuss it on a blog that is essentially another tool for my self-promotion. But I feel it’s worth pointing out, purely because it has very much affected how I feel about life and my family and my music in these last few crucial stages of the album. Also, can you imagine being told that something of a dream was going to come true for you on the same night you lost a family member? It was quite an intense few days that followed as I could neither feel entirely excited nor entirely in grief. I am trying to resist too much superstition but I’m not convinced that there wasn’t a tiny bit of divine intervention in my receiving such good news that evening, not least because the person who died was enormously instrumental in me receiving private violin lessons.

Those were the main things I wanted to mention about life during the production of “Smiles & Cries”. It’s taken me about four months to write, record and arrange the bulk of the album. I’m very glad I didn’t rush it and try to get it out in April as the best work I’ve done on it has been in the last two weeks. The title is taken from a short speech made by a PCP-addled Ethan Hawke in one of my favourite films, Training Day…

“You gotta control your smiles and cries…because that’s all you have…and nobody can take that away from you.”

…and I thought that it was a fitting title because everybody struggles to be content at times and, though you sometimes feel like you don’t, often you are in control of how you react to and deal with your worries, gripes, concerns, grief, heartbreak, etc. I suppose it’s a bit generic because it IS something everybody can relate to but it also works to describe the range of emotion I try to put across in the album for that same reason.

Which brings me tidily to the lyrics to the title track that I wanted to share with you. You can pre-order the album now at my bandcamp page. The artwork is temporary as my girlfriend is very kindly knitting the star of the front cover as we speak.

Mike Dennis – Smiles & Cries

That made you crack a smile, didn’t it?

You felt the corners of your mouth lift a bit. And your mind followed.

Life is tinted by such sublime sorrow.

Your face forgets its place. Joy, you find hollow.

The older I get, the race tickles me more and more.

There’s always times I have to pick myself up off the floor

where I was rolling the aisles, holding onto smiles

like a baby to a breast with desperation.

And I can’t choose what to feel, but I CAN choose what to do

and when you enjoy yourself, you flourish.

And as you watch the zeal of this new flock of ruthless extremists,

you wonder if they die nourished.

Stoic solemnity, certain of suffering’s role

in redemption of a collective soul. It’s rough and it’s cold.

We’re brothers and you’ve only opened the hole.

White, black, brown, welcome to Smiles and Cries.

From the moment you open your eyes and you begin

to learn the choice is yours and your chance is thin for infinity

you’re clutching divinity to your chest like an absent parent

in the hope of a minute of ecstasy to elapse this madness bearing down.

I was wearing frowns for four years or thereabouts,

tearing out my hair at my place of work, the whereabouts.

That place saved my life and I came to hate it

like those who bring you into the world come to be those whose pain is grating.

So you chase your status, taking names and kicking ass

and it hits you fast who was the last to remind you to smile

and everything everybody says to you makes you either want to laugh or cry – your move.

It’s more eye of a needle than tongue in a groove.

Exacting. Your captain is mood-less,

saying “it’ll all be ok. It’ll all be OK…

…if you just…”

 

Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Mike