Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Off to the ATL for a couple of days. A little ATC Peachtree discussion followed by quality time with the friends at Big Peach Running Company. Just meself and Coxy. Quick trip. Light backpack, some running gear for the one hour elliptical I won't do, and positive attitude helped no less by my 25 listens in a row to Niki And The Dove - Mother Protect.

I don't know much about them other than the info on their myspace page. She sounds like Fever Ray with even more dramatic music. There may even be a hint of Tegan and Sara, not that I'm a huge fan of the Canadian pop duo, rather her voice just sounds like one of theirs. They are out of Stockholm and sing some wonderful songs. None more so than the one below. It is free to download at their website.

I love the tune, the way it builds to an epic breakdown, her voice, the layers and wonderful arrangement. The Scandinavian female pop singers have been doing something right over the last few years. And here is another one to celebrate alongside Fever Ray and Lykke Li. Fantastic.

Love Kel

Monday, November 29, 2010

Little Vision Come Shake Me Up

Ah, t'was a bit of a legend 4 days off. I love work but I also enjoy the down times. Thanksgiving provided all of that. I hit the trainer hard on Thursday for some reps to work up an appetite for dinner. I was starving and my hard work was rewarded by a Mylene Cox special thanksgiving dinner, involving deep fried tofu with peanut sauce and a coconut curry. Maybe the best thanksgiving day dinner I've ever had. Throw in some 90 minute IPA and to be honest it was actually the BEST TG dinner I've ever had. I met up with Mark Carroll and Pat Tarpy for a night cap, lovely.

On Saturday morning myself, Coxy, Pat, and Joe hit the road for a ride somewhere around 60 miles. It was very cold so rather than mess around we hit appropriate sections very hard. I started off with a mild hangover after a night of College Football as bizarre as that sounds. Marko is coaching at Auburn and was fired up for their game. Not being one for college football I was pleasantly surprised, the game ended up being pretty epic in the end. The hangover lifted after about 30 minute and the ride turned into a bit of an interval session which suits me just fine. Then on Saturday night we had the 1 year anniversary of RI Threads the clothing line designed by my friends Ro and Myles. The shirts and hoodies are RI themed. The party launched a new shirt and was all in all a very successful evening, followed up by some AS220 and The Avery.

With a beautiful blue sky and large sun greeting us on Sunday morning I had an urge to go for a run. With Pat and Kim doing 12 miles it was only natural that I'd want to join in for some of it, so I did. I lasted about 10 minutes before my calf seized up and my knee swelled up. Liverpool lost to Spurs and all the sunshine in the world wasn't making the slightest bit of difference. I bagged exercise for the rest of the day. Perhaps the rest was wise given the amount of late nights that preceded my hard training sessions but really I wasn't tired. Sometimes I think I am fine with not being able to run and then other times I realize that I am not fine with it at all. Sunday was one of those days.

The brightside was listening to Wolf Parade live on CBC Radio and the Q sessions. They were great and one of the videos has surfaced. All three will come out but for now we just have Ghost Pressure. I know I said I would not show/talk Wolf Parade anymore but the truth is my window is very small. Wolf Parade have announced that they are taking an indefinite hiatus. I have no idea what this means. Are they breaking up? Or are they going to focus on other projects for a few years before they consider a 4th album? Either way I'm sad. It was a great year for the band and I hope they play a couple more gigs before its all over. Check out the video below, the quality is really good.

Love Kel

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm A Dream Catcher Hanging In The WIndow Of A Mini-Van

Every Wednesday during the fall NBX put on a cyclocross training race under the floodlights of a city park in Wakefield RI. My buddy Joe Savic, one of the owners of Providence Bike brought me back in October to my first cyclocross event which happened to be one of these training races. I loved it despite crashing and being generally apprehensive at every technical section. But I flogged myself and went to the Mews Tavern after and had a couple of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA's. Fast forward almost 2 months and things have changed, only slightly. Tonight was my 4th Training Race and my 7th Cyclocross race of the season. And like wine I've gotten better with time. I rode well tonight, no crashes and smooth over the barriers. In fact I beat a couple of guys who were a minute ahead of me earlier in the fall. I still think its a very tough game but a night like tonight has me fired up for next season already. Big shout out to the organizers who do a great job considering the event is just a glorified training session.

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving I have a day off work. Ordinarily I'd be heading to a Turkey Trot but alas no more. Even the local 5k is a little too much on the old knees. Instead I'll be going for an easy 2-3 hour ride over the hills to prepare for a day of food and friends. Might end up at Wild Colonial since its open tomorrow night. We'll see. I am also going to use the day to catch up on the long list of music I need to listen to. I have a few albums and a lot of singles in my waiting and they will get the love they deserve over dark coffee.

A few weeks back my friend Dan Mazzocco introduced me to an artist who records under the name Pictureplane. This guy is right up my alley. He is from Denver and has been DJ'ing the techno and trance scene out there for a few years. I may have even come across him during my time in Boulder at the many Communikey parties I used to attend and the random nights down in Denver for a fix of minimal techno. The name of the album is Dark Rift and it is awesome. Despite sounding DIY at the best of times there are some breathtaking moments, especially the delayed synth and chopped vocals of Goth Star the song I have below. Other songs simply give me nostalgic feelings of the rave days back in Ireland. Not disimlar although perhaps less epic than M83, these songs bring up lots of memories. The song 5th Sun has me on the dance floor at Luci's in Drogheda around 1994 with my hands in the air and lined up among the ecstasy induced rave generation. I liked these days, it was all love and peace. A few years on the darkness settled for many but no one can deny the happiness of a piano loop over a 4/4 drum beat. 5th Sun really captures that feeling and I'm sure a lot of people would have flash backs like I had. For those that were a little more into the breakbeat sound or hardcore rave a track like Trance Doll will do the trick. Old Skool breaks intro and pave way for a 4/4 layered over synths and loud stabbing drums with classic rave melody. Superb. While M83 echo the sound of the 80's, Pictureplane captures the early 90's rave. The hands in the air generation, sharing love, joy, and many after parties. Unless of course there was a race on a Saturday morning. Thats why I chose the DJ route.......Coca-Cola seemed to do the trick!

Take a listen to the below track and if you like it check out the album. Its a great tune and perfect for some post race chill out time.

Peace and Love,


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goth Star

Yesterday Providence College put out a solid showing at the NCAA's. The guru keeps churning out the results. The Women were 9th and men were 22nd. Both teams are pretty much back in their entirety and the women had an injury at the meet with a stud fresher not running. Very positive. It always makes me reflect on my own NCAA's which was dare I say, 10 years ago.........Getting old as them there hills. Of all the things I miss about running and the great experiences I reflect on one thing stands above everything else, and it is the 5 months from July 2000 - November 2000 and more importantly the people I shared those months with. I doubt there has ever been a team of guys who related better than our crew did. I mean, I have no comparison of course but I have seen teams come and go and I listen to the way Ray or Nick J talk about that group and everyone agrees it was a pretty rare period. We literally did everything together, worked, lived, trained, ate, took the same courses, partied (rarely during those months), and we never argued. We never fell out or had low periods. It was like someone spiked our cornflakes with ecstasy every morning. Maybe I am remembering with rose tinted glasses but I look back on my training diary (it was the only season I kept a thorough one) and it was happiness every day. We were best mates and it may sound sappy but there was a lot of love among the guys and our relationship with Ray and Nick. When we toed the line at Nationals 10 years ago we didn't need to say anything in the group huddle, we were choked up because for one we were nervous and believed we could win the team title and secondly we didn't want to let each other down. It was not about individual performances it was about the team including the guys that were cheering back in Providence. Our whole squad. It was very big and much bigger than my own performance. I had the opportunity to spend time with the one and only Hamish Thorpe a couple of weeks ago. We only had one day so it was spent in the pub reminiscing and it was really great to hear Thorpy speak so fondly of that period given his radical life change from the runner he was. Just awesome. I would love to get everyone together again and maybe it will happen sometime soon. I'm sure Ray and Nick would love it too.
 Hamish still looks like he could rip it up in any race (pay no attention to the big cheery beard, he is skin and bones underneath) I'd give the guy 2 months and maybe a shave and he would look world class. He always had that, both he and Sutts. The guys could eat their weight in sugary late night snacks and not gain an ounce. Myself and Reilzer didn't have that luxury but we opted to partake anyway. It really was a fantastic season. The girls did well too and that was expected. If Ray doesn't have a girls team in the top 15 at nationals its considered a bit of a disaster!

So the Monday before Thanksgiving always holds wonderful memories for me and it is one of the great days on the running calender. A big up to Shelby and Lee for achieving All-American. And a big up to The Guru for keeping the streak alive.

Damon Albarn is a fantastic singer. I've always been a bigger Blur fan than Oasis, an important comparison given the rivalry they had during the rise of Brit-Pop and the very need to decided who was better circa 1994. I chose Blur because I thought Damon's voice was better and I could see the band would evolve whereas by the time Be Here Now came out Oasis were on the decline. Blur kept getting better and better. The album 13 is magic. Fast Forward 10 years and Damon continues to be wonderful, he voice distinct and his desire to try new things very clear on each release. He recently played some BBC live sessions of Gorillaz tracks that are stunnging. He also did a cover of XX Crystalised, its amazing. Thats below along with a beautiful rendition of Up On Melancholy Hill that will take you to a different place. Its as good as it gets, and his passion is so evident here, he is simply brilliant. Enjoy.

Love Kel

Monday, November 22, 2010

Awesome Texas

The last week in Austin was superb. A run around town lake would have been nice but exercise aside everything about the week was really nice. Austin is a great place, throw in great friends from all over, throw in a Wolf Parade gig and throw in a meeting with said band. Mix this with joyful evenings and no hangovers and you have the recipe for a happy Kelrock. This new song by Cut Copy kind of reflects my mood and feelings about the week. Cut Copy have been quite since their In Ghost Colors record from 2008. I listened to these songs a lot when I started this blog and its nice to see them back with some post nu wave happiness.

Cut Copy - "Take Me Over" (Radio Edit) Premiere by modularpeople

So first night down I bump into my main man the AAA Jay Romasco. He is town for Tifosi, bringing fantastic eye-wear to athletes at every level. I know, because he gave me some, and I banged out 3 hours on Saturday wearing them. Joyful.

Anyway the first night was Wolf Parade. I know I talk about this band a lot but they happen to be touring and this truly was a coincidence, not that I would be embarrassed about traveling anywhere in the globe to see these guys. The night was made even more special by the presence of many great friends. Most of the Reebok team came along with my bros John Clarke, Kris Hartner, Henry Guzman, Cody Hill, and Adam White. There was another guy along but in the whole panic I feel before any show I go to I didn't meet him. We met up with Ryan Hall, as in the cool ass Ryan Hall who loves music, not the fast marathon runner. I also met up with Brian Hanley and his lady friend, Courtney. Brian is the guy who got me into Wolf Parade when he played me I'll believe In Anything back in the summer of 2006. I bought Apologies To The Queen Mary when I got back to Boulder and its been a strong relationship ever since.

The show was as expected, breathtaking. More and more I appreciate the chemistry on stage between Dan and Spencer. Usually I just loose it to everything Spencer sings and I somewhat recover during Dans songs. And that is not a knock on Dan. Spencer just sings in a more epic style and his songs are longer, more intense, and for me simply better. A lot of people would disagree and thats all good because if there was no Spencer I'd still love Wolf Parade. Dan is fantastic and brings a wonderful energy to the stage. They blitzed through a typical set with all the tunes I want to hear played. Kissing The Beehive may be my favorite closing song of any show. Its long, its almost too much, and the feeling of being completely melted after the song is rare and matched by maybe one or two songs by other bands. Another song that come to mind, Idioteque by Radiohead. Its on that level.

It was great having our retail partners at the show and I'm glad they enjoyed it. They could be just telling me that but I know they liked it. Its impossible not to like Wolf Parade live. So a few scoops and it was bedways. Next morning we woke feeling inspired and alive so we took a trip to Mellow Johnnys for some Juan Palota coffee (yes Lance Armstrong, I don't care, he is a pretty cool guy and his shop is amazing) and upon returning to the hotel we saw Arlen Thompson sitting down chatting with another dude. Arlen is the drummer in Wolf Parade and I was excited. Coxy told me to go over and chat with him but I decided I'd leave him talk, didn't want to interrupt. By the time I reached my room I changed my mind. I wanted to see who else from the band was around and I wanted to tell them how great they are and how their music has been a massive wind in my sails over the last 4 years.

I sat down next to Arlen and a representative from Sub Pop Records. They were awesome. So nice and friendly and contrary to what I thought Arlen really appreciated my stopping by to thank him for his music. I joined them for coffee and we casually chatted about touring, about playing in Ireland and Europe in general. My own experiences on this tour etc. Fantastic. Next Dante arrived, he plays guitars and keyboard and he was dying with a hangover. In fact he uttered the magic words, "I'm never drinking again". I laughed and told him that its a weekly ritual of mine to speak such words with little intention. We laughed and he napped on the couch. It was at this point that I realized Dan would not be around, he was staying elsewhere with friends. There was no sign of Spencer but this was fine. It was at this point that I was confronted with a major decision. The Sub Pop rep and Arlen told me I was welcome to "Hitch a ride to Dallas on the Bus". As in, sit on the tour bus with the band and go see them perform that night in Dallas. Panic washed over me like a tsunami. I had the stutter and the shakes. Here was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hang on a tour bus with a band that sits comfortably in my top 3 of all time. But I couldn't go. I was in Austin for work and my job paid for me to be there. To hang with our retail partners, to be part of our very important team. I thanked them, told them I'd regret it, and said I had to work. It was all good. I told Arlen it would be like me asking him to skip out on a gig to go on the beer. He laughed. Casual and very friendly. A couple of minutes later Spencer Krug walked out of the lobby Starbucks and I can admit without any shame that I was genuinely lost for words. Don't know why, I was really enjoying the conversation, but it happened. My heart rate elevated and I was not sure what to say such is the respect I have for his talent. The Reebok crew arrived at this point also since we had to leave for expo set up. I shook hands with Spencer, introduced myself and thanked him. I told him I was a big fan and I thought he was exceptional. Coxy told me he has never seen me so nervous. I mean I'm 33 I should not be acting like a bloody teenager but thats what happened. OK maybe I wasn't that bad but you get the picture. Spencer was super cool. In fact, he was more intrigued by our Reebok team and he wanted to know what we did etc. When we told him that we worked in running his response was "we have a song called, I am a runner and I am my fathers son". No shit Spencer, I know every word and note of the song. More handshakes and more respects paid, a few questions about the future, about Moonface and Sunset Rubdown. Spencer thanked me for listening to Moonface and said not many people know that project. Wardy told him that he too loved Moonface. Spencer was happy. And like a click of the fingers it was over. The bus sat across the street and I walked away with the team. No pictures, no signatures, just a conversation with 3 of the 4 members of Wolf Parade. One of the best moments of the last few years.

A couple of nights later and we found ourselves out on the town again. This time hanging with Rich Verney and Mike Rouse, super guys from So Cal via New Zealand and Texas. The Reebok team was out in force and the good times rolled. We bumped into Chris Macca McCormack who recently won the Ironman in Hawaii. Great guy as was his buddy MG. We had BJ from Salt Lake along for some free scoops. Macca is a bit of an animal and a great guy. Loves his running. My respect for he and his team rose significantly when we had a 15 minute conversation about distance running in the 1980's. They have a wealth of knowledge. I will always take my hat off to the Aussies, they know their sport. Later on in the night Macca introduced us to a shot called a Stuntman. It involved drinking a shot of Patron, snorting the salt, and squeezing the lemon in your eye. Silly I know. But I did it and it hurt, it was horrible, and I laughed hard.

Next day we were alive and kicking and back on the floor hanging with retailers, catching up with JC and Guz and generally having a great time. The Reebok booth has been quite in recent years but not 2010. We met lots of new people and thanked our old friends for their continued support. Great week. Below is some Wolf Parade. One last video just to hammer home the point. I'll leave Moonface for another time.

Peace and Love


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Like A Hammer On A Semi-Precious Stone

I just got back from Austin, TX and I've been inspired to kick off my blog again. Over the last year its seen the grave on more than one occasion, mainly because it was loosing its luster and its very reason for being in existence. Its hard to maintain a training journal when one doesn't actually train anymore. However, over the last month between NYC Marathon week and especially last week at The Running Event in Austin TX many people, some I know well, some I don't know at all told me that they were disappointed in the lack of posting. Some people told me I went from the Favorites toolbar to the deleted bin. And what was most interesting was to hear that it was nothing to do with the running part, it was to do with the music part combined with the struggles of someone who is in constant pain and working full time to get out the door. On Wednesday 2 people came up and told me that they needed the blog to keep them up to date on new music, or different music. There was no mention of running. So after some thought I decided to get back on to daily posting. Maybe every other day during busy periods but at least consistency.

So where to start? Well, I race cyclocross these days and I'm awful at it even though it should be right up my ally. All out bike riding on a cross country course does not equate to all out running on a cross country course. For one, there is no skill in running, nor is there the need to output lots of power. I loose ground on all technical sections and the stop-start nature of the game serves to frustrate me and coming out of every corner I have to watch powerful dudes (less fit too) pull away because my skinny arse cannot push the pedals hard enough. I have crashed in every race and think I broke a bone in my hand because its been three weeks since I landed on it and the pain hasn't subsided. On the flip side, cross is one of the most inviting and cultish sports I've been part of. The guys and gals love it, they live it, and they are hardcore about the scene. Cross Running can learn a LOT from Cyclocross. The courses are challenging, and where in running they avoid too many bends or ditches in cyclocross they seek them out. They have beer sponsors that pop up tents along the most technical parts of the course and allow fans a few pints and the opportunity to see the odd crash. The last time (maybe the only time) we had something like this was Jonseys Ditch at the 2007 national xc in Boulder. Pete Julian decided he was not going to avoid the dodgy and very muddy ditch and reassured by Jonsey he kept it in. Some athletes complained. Coaches were "concerned" about injuries. However, nowhere on the course could you find more people cheering and embracing the joy of cross running then right at the ditch. I have always maintained that Cross Running is too soft and not in the muddy sense. Coaches want to protect athletes and courses are becoming more and more like road races. Flat and firm. Cyclocross is the opposite. They want courses that are unique so that Cross Specialists have their moment to dominate. I would love to put on a race in Providence that was technical, muddy, and had atmosphere in the form of music and a beer tent. It would never work of course but maybe a collaboration with a cyclocross race? That might work. Here is some sketchy video I took at Gloucester this year.

Enough of that. Over the last 6 weeks I've been on the road, San Diego, Alaska, NYC Marathon, and Austin TX. All great trips and very productive. Things at Reebok keep getting better and more and more the positives encourage a stronger work ethic. Happy days. It was during the week in NYC that my highs and lows couldn't have been more pronounced. The week was excellent but I had lots of bottled up feelings of depression. Seeing all the people in town to run the race, not to mention the race itself kills me. Especially given the hangovers and the highs from seeing both Interpol and Wolf Parade in concert. I was going to run NYC this year, just for fun. We were talking about a few of us from Reebok doing it together at 3 hr pace. I know I would have most likely broke off and ran 2:40 or something (7 min pace hurts more than 6 min pace for some reason) but I can't do it. The pain in my knees won't allow me to complete 6 miles let alone 26 miles. Its when I'm resigned to wanting to do something for fun and my legs can't handle it that gets me down even more. On a positive note I went to Philly to see Wolf Parade with Bob Schwelm and Terry + Carley Shea. The show was incredible and we all had a blast. It was Bob's first time seeing Wolf Parade and I think he realized exactly what I've been preaching about this band. He put it best when he said that every song seemed like the last song of the night. I agree. They put such an epic performance into every tune that some songs actually require recovery, like a hard repetition on the track.

The following night myself, coxy and mylene went to see Interpol at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights. The venue is really beautiful, one of those classic theaters with tight seating and ornate decoration. I am typically not a fan of these venues for shows that I want to dance at but I was close to the front and the people around me were jumping and singing so it was all good. The show was very good but still my least favorite of the 5 Interpol gigs I've been to this year. An Interpol show is always fantastic but one has to be the worst and for me it was this show. The all seater definitely takes something away and the night before Wolf Parade had so much energy that this show seemed a little subdued. I compare it to Interpol up in Rochester NYC at the start of the tour and it was a completely different atmosphere. We were treated to all the great songs and it was still a fantastic and very uplifting show.  

The race was wonderful. Haile Geb had his issues but didn't take away from a great day. The womens race was better than the mens in terms of drama. Flannigan had an incredible debut to finish 2nd but I was most excited about my landlord Kim Smith grabbing 5th after a pitstop that cost her 30-40 seconds. She would have undoubtedly challenged for top 3. She is disappointed and fired up so expect to see her on a rostrum at a major very soon. It was great to be in NYC catching up with lots of friends. We had a blast the night before the race taking the show to a dodgy karaoke bar and getting well oiled. My good friend from Drogheda ran and to see him embrace the event made me very happy. He did what all positive people do, took advantage of everything good about the NYC Marathon. High fiving the spectators, chatting with strangers, and embracing the culture of marathon running and the energy of the city. Hopefully we'll see Yogi back next year with some of the other members of the lads fc.

So thats the NYC buzz and thats all for now. I need a separate post to discuss the good times in Austin, TX. Some fantastic stuff happened down there.

Great to be back!

Love Kel