Blog - Andy Cato (Groove Armada)

GA Live touches down in the USA

First gig – legendary venue. The Fillimore, San Fran., where the Pistols played their last gig, the Doors,  everyone. It’s where Scorcese filmed The Last Waltz. The posters of previous gigs below are a fraction of what’s hung on the walls. 

The night before we’d arrived from the UK and went straight from the airport into a DJ set at a small party for our new label OM records. Afterwards, we made the mistake of staying out late enough so it’s morning again in the UK and sleep is impossible.

This made the 5 hour soundcheck hard work, but we needed to get the track History into the set. It’s winning the most votes on the download charts in the US at the moment.

The Filmore crowd did us proud. The response at the gig was electric. Saint Saviour blew people away as always. MC MAD raised the roof as always. They love live music here and the Black Light combo of rock n roll and electronics feels right.

We went out to a couple of places afterwards, but I called it a day when someone tried to pierce my ear with their earring. 

San Fran sold out so fast that we had to add an extra show here. It’s always nice when you do two nights and can stroll into work the second day with everything set up.

We then headed to a record store named, Amoeba for a quick interview. It’s good to know there are still record shops. The store was up on Haight street. Beatnik captial and hippy hangout of the 60s. It’s still got that feel, mixed with a lot of people a bit to old to be carrying skateboards. It turned out that a member of the Brian Jonestown Massacre worked in the shop. If you haven’t seen the film Dig!, then watch it and all will become clear.

Back at the venue for soundcheck, an immaculately turned out californian woman arrived to make me some new in-ear monitors. This involves filling your ears with putty so they can get a model of the inside of your ear. But before they can do this, they need to clean your ears out. The Americans are never shy of throwing a chemical at a problem, and true to form she used Peroxide. Presumably I now have punky, blonde ear canals.

Gig 2 at the Filmore was sold out as well. The word seems to be spreading. The guys from our new label over here are san fran people so it felt like a family affair. Afterwards, we went back to a place we’d found the night before called the 3 Crowns. Greg Wilson was DJing. It’s the only time I’ve heard ’Walk LIke An Eygptian" in a nightclub. At 1.58 a bouncer came and shined his torch on my drink until I finished it. It seems like they take the 2am licensing law quite seriously. But there were little speak easy places everywhere for the determined.

-Andy Cato

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Posted by: Andy Cato (Groove Armada) on March 19, 2010 @ 11:09 PM
Posted in: Travel

Today is my birthday, and to celebrate the UN has published the official Copehagen guest list. It runs to 3 volumes, and includes some suitably rock and roll entries. First prize goes to “The Compensators”. Whether or not they have a Motown history remains unclear, but it’s something of a supergroup either way. George Clooney’s in it, alongside Tommy lee jones. Sir David Attenborough is a ‘compensator’ too, presumably as MC, and so is the Bishop of London, maybe heading up the choir. To seal a record deal, they’ve also signed up Richard Benson, ‘founder of virgin unite’. Questions as to whether that’s a fairly transparent cover for Branson remain unanswered.

Another day, another EU proposal, this time a 50% cut in the rate of deforestation by 2020 and a complete halt by 2030. But Brazil said it did not want a specific target or timetable, which is a blow given that it has the biggest swath of trees in the world. The Brazilians are probably not too happy with Google either. They stepped in with a new technology that enables online, global-scale observation of changes in the earth’s forests.

Meanwhile, more than half the world’s countries pledged to only sign a deal that attempts to hold temperature increases to no more than 1.5 degrees. The current target is 2 degrees. They have day to day evidence on their side.

“We have two research stations, one in the pacific and one in the Caribbean. They both suggest a rise of 2 degrees is completely untenable for us,” said Dessima Williams, a diplomat speaking for island states. “Our islands are disappearing, our coral reefs are bleaching, and we are losing our fish supplies”. Tears were shed by delegates from sub-saharan Africa as they described the impact of climate change on their people.

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Posted by: Andy Cato (Groove Armada) on December 14, 2009 @ 9:41 PM
Posted in: Take Action

Yesterday, the Times published an extract from a booklet I’d put together – a Condensed Version of Climate Change aimed at people like me who read the articles but felt a long way from the facts.

Following its publication, I temporarily deflected some of the venom that usually gets fired at the regular eco pundits.

The messages I received were split roughly into 3 categories.

1. You’re rubbish, you’re a musician so you don’t count, your songs are rubbish even though I haven’t even heard of you but if I had heard of you I’m sure they would be rubbish, you’re a hypocrite because you go on tour whilst telling us all this, you’re a second rate singer that doesn’t deserve a comment, but here’s a comment….etc etc

2. You’re a gullible idiot like everyone else, close minded and believing the lies you’re being fed. It’s all a natural cycle/sunspots/1500 year cycles or it’s not warming up at all.

3. You’ve haven’t thought of this, that and the other.

Category 1
You’re rubbish etc. Not much to say here, apart from the hypocrite angle. Touring is a tricky one, especially in a world where music is free and gigs are the only way to make a living. However, most people commenting seemed to think that we travel like U2, with a cast of thousands and stage sets the size of small cities. It’s not quite like that, with 15 of us sharing a bus, pulling a trailer full of gear, and an ‘entourage’ (a word that came up a lot) consisting of the bus driver. So if you’re going to exclude musicians who do that from having an opinion on climate change, then you need to exclude the hundreds of thousands of business men who fly as much as we do, and probably also regular burger eaters, given the contribution to global warming from beef cattle. I suggested we let everyone discuss it now, work out a solution, then standby that solution, even if it requires lifestyle changes from local food and holidays, to virtual-only touring. Not everyone agreed.

Category 2…


Continuing Reading Andy Cato’s Blog Entry Here


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Posted by: Andy Cato (Groove Armada) on December 14, 2009 @ 9:37 PM
Posted in: Take Action

Big news of the day was a leak of a Danish document proposing the outline of a new agreement which didn’t involve the UN, or the Kyoto Protocol, the only current treaty on limiting emissions. Yvo de Boer,executive secretary of the Copenhagen talks, was keen to point out that “This was an informal paper ahead of the conference given to a number of people for the purposes of consultations”

Development agency representative Sol Oyuela was not so sure. “The document should not even exist. To be working on a rival text is a kick in the teeth to the UN process that has been negotiated for so long.”

The leaked document proposed $10 billion of aid for poorer countries to adapt to climate change. “Quite good” said an Oxfam representative. This isn¹t even enough to pay for our coffins² said an official representing the poorest countries.

Dissapointingly, the leak showed the rich and the poor divided on the amount of emissions cuts poor countries should make, the date by which global emissions should start to fall, and how any deal should be funded. Quite a lot to sort out in 12 days.

Meanwhile, the World Meteorological Organisations¹s (WMO), a body made up of the UK Met Office and equivalents around the world, announced that this decade has been the warmest on record.

“Oh but releasing that now is an attempt to influence the negotiations” said the same people who’d been giving out stolen emails last week . “That’s right” said the WMO.

The US space agency Nasa weighed in, predicting that a new global temperature record will be set “in the next one or two years”.

In a curious coincidence, Filipino Bernarditas de Castro Muller, an outspoken campaigner for the worlds’ poorer countries and at the
centre of climate negotiations for 20 years, was left off the list of the Filipino delegation just after a visit from Hilary Clinton. She was snapped up by Sudan, who seem to be offering shelter to out of favour diplomats.

The Copenhagen mayor sent postcards to all central hotels warning summit guests not to visit Danish sex workers. The prostitutes have negotiated a solution far more effectively than anything yet achieved by the summit delegates, and are now all offering major discounts to anyone carrying the mayor’s postcards.

The EU delegation showed some journalists around their rooms at the Bella Centre, where the negotiations are taking place. In a strange twist, they have been assigned rooms which carry the names of great Swedish inventions. Their meetings move between Safety Match, Adjustable Spanner, Cream Separator or Zipper. Meanwhile, as you would expect, the US have a hi tech operations centre, and the 132 countries that make up the G77 of the worlds poorest nations have a few broom cupboards.


Continuing Reading Andy Cato’s Blog Entry Here


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Posted by: Andy Cato (Groove Armada) on December 10, 2009 @ 11:08 AM
Posted in: Take Action

Amsterdam is the nearest hotel room to Copenhagen you can get. It also happens to be where I’m doing press for the new Groove Armada album. Coinciding with the climate talks is quite handy as it means I can shift the conversation to that rather than ‘where did you meet’ or ‘so, your new sound, tell me more’.

Yesterday’s opening of the summit had some good points. Gordon Brown doing his bit and pressing the EU to offer 40% emission cuts by 2020, for example, or the confirmation that all the key political leaders are actually going to turn up next week. Obama has played a shrewd hand and got CO2 classified as a danger to human health, allowing him to regulate it without relying on the Senate, where an ugly alliance of oilmen, republicans and alaskans have vowed that Barack won’t pass any legislation, even if it kills them.

On the other hand, the opening day got a bit school playground when the Chairman of the talks had to request that in future the delegates come back more quickly from their lunch.

We also heard that India’s chief negotiator and right hand man have refused to come, which isn’t a great start from the world’s 5th biggest emitter. However, if the Indian press stay at home with them, that might help the organisers of the Copenhagen media zone who are trying to fit 5000 people into 3500 places.

Day one of the talks saw the Saudi’s coming clean and saying that they doubt warming is man made. I wonder why that is. A bit shortsighted though, coming from the country that is so short of water it’s had to stop growing it’s own grain. Dubai are also sounding strangely sceptical. You would think that a country which is 2mm above sea level would want to sort things out. Having said that, their famous ski area in the 45 degree desert heat is probably not compatible with a low carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, speculation was rife as to who was behind the leak of the emails from the East Anglian research centre. Theories ranged from the Russian secret service to the Canadian tar sands oil barons. The one thing that was agreed was that the timing of the leak and the speed with which it spread around the world were not accidental.

It was a good day for the UK press. The Guardian successfully coordinated a campaign in which 56 of the worlds’ newspapers carried the same editorial urging the need for decisive climate action, a move which Alistair Campbell described as ‘suprisingly impactful’. It’s not so suprising. 56 newspapers from Shanghai to London with a joint circulation of several hundred million, all agreed on the same text. It’s unlikely that would go unnoticed.

1200 limos and 140 private planes have arrived in Copenhagen. ‘It had better be worth it’ said news presenter Jon Snow, muttering angrily about summit’s carbon footprint.

Continuing Reading Andy Cato’s Blog Entry “Dodgy sources were the order of the day”.


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Posted by: Andy Cato (Groove Armada) on December 9, 2009 @ 9:53 PM
Posted in: Take Action
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