Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Firstly ... Well all great things must come to an end. To cut to the chase, when EWITFRN tour around the US next month, your humble narrator will not be joining them sadly. It was an extremely tough decision to make, but current circumstances won't allow me the time basically, but hey it'll be ace as Ian from Art Brut is doing it instead ! However I did go off to SXSW with Ed & Dyan, & here is my account of it !
Austin Tx, some 1600 miles from the EWITFRN base of Los Angeles CA. Dyan & Eddie are driving (well, Dyan is driving !) & I got an affordable flight at the last minute, arriving on the Tuesday, via Dallas. On the Dallas-Austin flight I cannot get an assigned seat so I am seated mid-row, which i hate. Then a guy & a girl turn up, together, so I offer to move over so they can sit together ... "oh no, we aren't a couple or anything, don't worry" they say, so I stay put. They then spend the next fucking hour talking across me, discussing business / SXSW etc like I wasn't there ... I can tell you from what I learned that it was the dood from Drive By Truckers & somebody from his record label & jesus christ on a bike I could tell you their entire SXSW schedule /business / favourite foods if you'd care, I heard it all ! ..... I have not even got to Austin yet & I already want to kill everybody in the music industry !!!
My first day & I am alone ... everybody else gets in on Wednesday (well apart from my mate Mark "Fuzzy" Fraser who is due to arrive Tuesday eve late from Bristol UK but due to flight complications might not make it at all!). Im am at a shitty hotel by the airport (just for this day) so I get a cab downtown. I go to registration & get my wristband & generally avoid people that I sort of know but really have no interest in wasting breath talking to. That is what you do at SXSW (or that is what I do at least!) !! Another thing about SXSW is that everything sort of blurs into one .... I can't really remember what I did between 6-10pm this day, but it involved standing in a line for an hour to get a pass for some corporate sponsored free-drinks house/refuge, eating wings in Champions sports bar, & later consuming free drinks while watching terrible Brit landfill-indie shite at the, ahem, British Music Embassy (really!). I do remember this though ... at about 10pm I see Mark Fraser's head come around the entrance door : he made it , & I am delighted so we have drinks together watching more conveyer-belt-Brit-shit-pop !!!! SXSW starts here ! PS ... I don't have any pix from this day so here's one of me & fuzzy from a couple of days later enjoying some Lone Star beer in that great area near the university (the name of the neighbourhood escapes me!).
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
... lots of songs with "Amsterdam" in the title: the Jacques Brell tune that Bowie covered, or what about Mojo Nixon's "Amsterdam Dog Shit Blues' ?! ! ! We arrive after a short drive & check into a nice little b&b, actually right next door to the famous Quentin Hotel, an artist/musician freindly hotel that I have stayed in many times! Our hotel also has THE steepest staircases imaginable, just like the Quentin, which could be dangerous ! Chalkie has arranged with the lovely folks at The Paradiso (one of the most wonderful music venues in the entire world fyi) for us to store our equipment there while we cut loose & wreak havoc across Amsterdam on our day off ! I love Amsterdam ... I really love those little kiosks where you deposit some money & get a delicious hot snack from behind a mini-glass door... I am particulary fond of those little spicy minced beef pasties ... mmmm! Anyway, we eventually meet at the marvelously named Winand Fuckink, an establishment that has been making & serving liquers since the 1600's ... oh boy, it is phenonenal ! A strong liquer (& there are hundreds to chose from) is a mere 2.50 euro's, & washed down with a beer you still get change from a 5 euro note ! We can't drag ourselves away, & everybody has a nice warm buzz ... in fact Eddie comments that he feels like it's christmas day, which I must say I cannot disagree with ! We walk back & find another lovely cosy little bar, we drink some lovely local lager & it still feels like xmas morning !! Bliss !!! After a good nights sleep I do some great record shopping the following day, including Distortion Records, which I wholly recommend ... I found the rare 1979 diy-pressed Hardware ep (pre-Pigbag) for 2 euros & orig pressings of the first Radiators From Space & The Flys LP's for 8 euro's each .. not bad ! Anyway, over to the venue & it is the last gig of the tour ... boo !!! Everything is great.... lovely people again! And a great gig to finish on, lots of people, a great reaction ... what more can you ask for !! Woo hoo ... WE DID IT !!!!!!! PS I have also attatched a pic of The Lezerplien ( the main square in the center) on a Friday night ... it is MENTAL !!!! Ok, drive to Calais tomorrow, then ferry to Dover, then drive to London, then home !!! PHEW !!!!
... there is nothing like an eleven hour drive from Switzerland to Rotterdam (via what seems like most of Germany) to sober you up before you finally arrive in Holland ! Oh man, what a delight, the venue is the polar opposite of yesterday, with a really well run amazing sound system operated by really helpful knowledgeable nice guys !! Not a lot to ask for really, but we feel blessed, & spirits are high ! The venue is also a (seemly reputable) restaurant, & the food we get is delicious: I go for the grilled mackerel with scalloped potatoes, a step up from the likes of the legendary Dudley JB's salmanella-cheeseburger (always icy cold in the middle) that us Midlands musician would consider somewhat luxurious back in the day !. We don't have a lot of time as we arrive late & the show is fairly early, so not much to report really, but it is a fun show, not our biggest crowd but an enthusiastic one ! To be honest, after a gruelling couple of weeks (12 consecutive shows with some LONG drives) I would say that it would be an understatement to say that everybody is excited for tomorrow ... a totally schedule-free day-off in Amsterdam ... so we take off fairly early to our hotel, or I should say boat-el ... it is a docked boat on the water that is a Chinese supermarket, Chinese restaurant & lodging facility ! We do have one of our now-legendary night-caps, & I make a make-shift bar out of the left over beer / booze left (see pic) but it is quite possibly the earliest night of the tour so far (well, 1.30am or so !).
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Friday, 12 March 2010
... well it started out nice ! A short drive, a nice (if overpriced) lunch & a stroll by the lake. It is beautiful (see the first pic I took ... exactly like the picture-postcard Switzerland!). Then we get to the club: everybody is nice, but I am concerned at the sight of a group of people crowded around the mixing board (one of those horrible small digital mixing boards at that), staring into it like it just randomly landed there from outer space or something ! After an hour or so we try & prod them in the direction of letting us soundcheck, which is about when it becomes apparent that they have no control over what instrument is coming through which onstage monitor, & we figure out that they just got a new mixing board the other day & we are the guinea-pigs ! Thanks a lot guys ! Cue a four-hour soundcheck ! (well, not really a soundcheck, just them fucking about trying to make it work!). Eventually it sounds just about decent & we have the right things coming through the right monitors (we use backing tapes so if we can't hear that onstage well the gig is toast basically!). Then the support band load onstage, set-up & the sound-crew completely forget / lose everything we did over the last four hours !! ... Brilliant ! .... thanks again guys !! ... Things get worse ! We cope with all of this in the very best way we can ... by drinking massive amounts of alcohol obviously ! Dyan & Chalkie go back to the hotel & Eddie & I sit at a candle-lit table in the club after dinner, watching the opening band, drinking bottle after bottle of wine, Ed jokes about how it feels like Lou Reed at CBGB's in the 70's ... ha ha !!! Stage time, the gig is somewhat undersold, we are pretty drunk & it is probably going to sound like shit ! : what can we do ? Firstly I grab the ridiculous Guardsmans outfit we found in the production office earlier & insist on wearing it (see pic) ! Then we decide to change the chorus lyric of the set-opener "Creeque Allies" to a direct attack on the Swiss ...... "Everybody was in the French Resistance... Except YOU !" !!! Oh dear, & oh what japes ! Well it goes balls-up from the very top: .. we start the gig & there is NOTHING whatsoever going through the P.A / sound-system !!!! So we stop. We play for a bit longer, then have to stop again for whatever reason ! This is how the gig goes on ! The crowd are really cool & understanding ... we feel really bad for them having paid their hard-earned Swiss-Franc for a good show which they aren't really getting ! We somehow make it to the end, & the crowd are lively & really want an encore, so we oblige ! We start the track & it sounds like absolute garbage ... in the two minutes we left the stage the sound crew fucked it up AGAIN!! ! Basically, I totally lose it !!!!!! In fact I completely fucking lose it !!! I can't remember exactly what i said but I go on a long shout / rant at the club / soundguy / situation, with a lot of expletives, a LOT of expletives (like "you f**king completely useless bunch of absolute c**ts, f***kin useless ! "... that kind of thing !) .... then Eddie comes over, gives me a hug, & reminds me that there is a father with his two young pre-teenage kids right in front of the stage !!! Oh dear oh dear !!! Then I realize that I am dressed in a comedy guardsman's uniform ! Oh the humanity ! Anyway we finish the song acapella (a first for EWITFRN) ... considering our state we actually pulled it off !!!!!! & then we all crawl under a table & want to die !! (or something like that !). What a (insert expletive) day !
... is admittedly a shit (yet legit, read on) subject header for this update but a: I can't think of anything else & b: I did actually go for a walk in Winterthur & there was some snow on the ground ! So there ! ..! It was a long drive from Cologne to Switzerland, and we got pulled over AGAIN by the German police (Eddie reckons it was cos I had a stripey sweater on & Chalkie was wearing a beret & they thought we were dressed like we had just done a burgulary !!). Anyway we cross the Swiss border & I am excited as it is only my second time here (1988 with da Drops was my last time!). Winterthur is beautiful, & we are playing at Albani which has been a rock club since the 60's ! An old mate Steve from And Also The Trees sent me a note a few days previously saying how great the club / people are but how small the stage is ... well he was right on both counts ! We are the smallest band ever with a tiny backline & we can barely fit on the stage ... attatched is a pic of Dyan setting up ... she could literally reach over & pull her own pint from the bar from her spot onstage ... I'm jealous ! Then we notice a, gulp, second band with mountains of equipment loading in & wonder how on earth they will also fit on the stage ! The amiable promoter takes us away from all of this to a lovely Italian restaurant around the corner & when we get back, the opening band All Ship Shape go onstage ... and they are amazing ! The singer is a Swiss young Mick Jagger reincarnated through a Modern Life Is Rubbish - era Damon Albarn !! They are great lads too ! The Swiss also show no concern for expense in as far as what we get in the dressing room, including some more amazing beer & some nice wine & vodka is consumed by both bands! I am amused by a pic of Dr Feelgood on the dressing room wall with NO original members !! Sheeesh ! Also I forgot to mention but the venue is also a hotel & we are staying upstairs, which is funny: in fact after the gig we decide to change into our pyjamas in the dressing room (see pic) as we consume what we can of the generous rider & listen to ace Swiss punk/post-punk band Kleenex / Liliput into the small hours ! ! ... and nobody mentioned Nazi-gold all night !
Thursday, 11 March 2010
... here's a brief flashback to the very beginning of the EWITFRN tour. This is me & one of my oldest mates Paul Lunt (who I have known since age 5 !), taken in the brilliant City Tavern in Birmingham, a Davenports pub ! When we played our second gig, a warm-up in Birmingham, Lunty & Mr Jon Farrington (aka Fazza) kidnapped me after soundcheck & insisted we go to sample the beer at this fine establishment ! Oh man, it was amazing, both the Bitter & the Mild were to die for ! ... real beer ! Mmmmmmmm !!!
... the beating of my heart is the only sound ! (groan!). Koln (or Cologne): back in 1988 when I was in The Mighty Lemon Drops we finished up a long European tour here, coincidentally our good friends & neighbours Pop Will Eat Itself had done exactly the same thing the night before, & came along to our gig to have a bit of fun ! I can't even begin to describe what a drunken carnage our ahem "gig" was that night ... let me just say that when it came time to play / perform our "single", the one that the German record company (present & out in force) had put a lot of time & money into promoting, I don't think there was a single Lemon Drop on stage ... I do remember that Craig Jennings, tone-deaf & pissed-drunk PWEI manager handled lead vocals ... if that gives you an idea !!!! We were never invited back to Germany !! ... Anyway, this time, with EWITFRN it was a bit more civilized ! Dyan & Eddie did a long interview for a German TV show, & while the club (Blue Shell) was a bit more rough & ready than the comfort of the previous nights luxury in Frankfurt, they looked after us well & gave us these amazing HUGE bottles of delicious Wickuler beer !! Gig was great, though we opt for a relatively early night as we have a big drive to Switzerland tomorrow, but not before clearing out the fridge of that amazing beer !!! Oh by the way, forgot to mention about yesterday in Frankfurt: they also put us up in a ridiculously trendy hipster hotel, a room each, so we had a hotel-room "nightcap" that became a party, finishing up the rider, listening to David Essex & The Boomtown Rats & watching youtube video's (including an amazing one of Ian from Art Brut f**king himself up really bad crashing a bike, that you must see!)
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
... to quote that great Desperate Bicycles b-side John Peel used to play back in the day .......... ok I made that one up, there is no song ever written by that title, to the very best of my knowledge at any rate !! We arrive late afternoon at the venue "Mousonturm", which is an art gallery, venue & performance space. It is not some crappy underfunded half-arsed space like you would see in the US, it is brilliant, big, clean & really well run ! (it actually looks like it used to be a hospital ) ! And again, like in most of Germany, their hospitality is second to none ! After eventually figuring out how to operate the self-locking dressing-room (shame there isn't a picture of that one!) we enter a world / room of cold-cuts, amazing beer, fine French wine, Vodka, amazing bread & free wi-fi ! As if this isn't enough there is an amazing Indian restaurant next door, so we do curry night ! Mmmm! I have attatched a couple of pic's of Eddie & Dyan happily whiling away the time in said dressing room, and another one of the cold cuts !!! PS I leave a note for old pals the reunited The Woodentops who are playing the following night ... I had no idea they were back together !
.... is ****ing freezing ! Berlin was cold but the streets of Hamburg are covered in frozen ice ! We are staying at a nice small hotel run by a very friendly chap on the famous Reeperbahn where some band The Beatles once stayed, alongside some other less dubious artists ! (see pic !). The venue, built in the late 1800's, used to be one of the first movie theater's in Germany, & has been a gig since the late 60's (we are told Bowie played here in the early 1970's!). After soundcheck I buy the German "Rolling Stone" magazine as there is an article & review on EWITFRN in there & "Creeque Allies" is on the cd attatched to the cover ! ... shame it is in German as I can't work out if the review is complimentary or not ! Anyway on to the gig: to be honest I was a bit knackered from the previous late night, but did my best & thanks to the promoter giving us a litre bottle of Jack Daniels! it was actually one of the best gigs of the tour !! I even recovered enough to have a bit of a dance at the indie disco afterwards, being Saturday night n'all that! (& thankfully there are no pictures available of that !).
First one is of Mini-Zeb, a chap that did an interview in the dressing room with Dyan & Ed, who Chalkie pointed out looked like a scale-model of Blood Arm guitarist Zebastian Carlisle, so I made him stand on a table & strike the Zeb guitar pose ! Second one is of my nightly stage "cave", a den of my equipment consisting of some drums to my left, my amp behind, "drumphrey" the machine with the backing tracks etc to my right, my pedals in front and my lovely 1971 les Paul gold-top ! Amiable German hippy sound-engineer optional !
... is the most obscure song title reference I have used so far on this blog (it is an ace punky track from the early 80's by The Uninvited, released on a Stoke Musicians Collective compilation album called Cry Havoc ... you still awake at the back there??). We eventually arrive in Berlin at around 7pm, after a couple of pit-stops at German service stations, some great sausages & some great beers too (no wonder the Germans drive at a zillion miles an hour on their autobahns!). After soundcheck we eat thai food in the dressing room & Dyan's friend Graham shows up, a Scottish ex-pat who also helped make three of the FR live backing tracks ! Gig is great ... again we are nervous as to how the Germans will take to our band / concept / name, but I am still here typing this so all was fine obviously ! Funny as they were fine about us making fun of Germans & the French but they didn't find the bit where we make fun of U2 funny at all ... go figure !! We have an uber-late one, & Bekki leaves first thing in the morning, then the four of us do a bit of sight-seeing & Dyan buys an overpriced supposed actual piece of the Berlin Wall in the form of a fridge magnet (which I reckon is probably just a random piece of concrete spray-painted ... !!).... on to Hamburg!
Sunday, 28 February 2010
.... that line is from Wasted Youth's "Paris France"... anybody from the post-punk-Peel generation get that one? Anyway, the start of the "difficult" drives (though nothing on what is to come tomorrow!). Eventually we get to Paris & we are sharing a dressing room with The Fiery Furnaces, who we are supporting ! Also crammed in said dressing room are about ten of the venue's staff, legs up, drinking their way through our rider... in fact Eddie walked back there & one of them was using his laptop ! Anyway, we are all nervous about the gig ... performing a verbal historically accurate account of the outbreak of WW2 to a roomful of Frenchies will do that ! (the first line Eddie sings is "When the nazis marched on Paris, the French were quite embarrassed, I think you know what I mean"). Surprisingly again nobody get's hurt (or maybe the French are literally still quite embarrassed !). Dyan is a big Fiery Furnaces fan & we all watch the gig. Afterwards Bekki & I are talking to the nice guitarist bloke & it turns out we have mutual friends that he knows really well & mentions being in some other band & after a drunken grilling from moi it turns out he was in a band called Sebadoh & his name is Jason !!! Ha ha .... I had only played a gig with him & said mutual friends in Straight To Video a few years back ... small world !!! Eventually Chalkie rounds us all up & we start the BIG drive to Berlin ... well we drive out of Paris into Germany & get a room in the early hours in one of those weirdly efficient German moto-lodging places ! Berlin tomorrow ! PS: I already posted a pic of the gig so I have posted pics of Dyan, Bekki, Ed & Chalkie having dinner & one of some "profound" poetry that the singer bloke (tosser) out of Stone Temple Pilots felt he needed to write on the wall of the restaurant we ate at ! x
...I think that was the title of a Belgian Factory Records/les disques du crepuscule post-punk compilation from the early 80's ! I may be wrong ! I was going to call this note "the Belgian police, they invented the waltzers" from Vic Reeves' cover of Ultravox's "Vienna", but I thought the better of it.... ! So, after a night off in London (where me & the missus treated ourselves to dinner at The Ivy), it's off to Europe we go .... minor bit of drama as they make Chalkie check in the van onto the ferry as a commercial vehicle which costs more money, though the bonus is we can use the commercial drivers lounge/restaurant, which is really cheap ... a seven item breakfast for 3.75 euros, though the glares we got from other drivers were quite un-nerving, especially for the girls ! So off the ferry & a two hour drive to Brussels. I love it ! We check in a small family-run hotel & there is an ace little bar next door ! The gig (Botanique) is not only beautiful (er sort of the opposite of Leeds Brudenell Social Club) it is in an actual botanical garden too !! There are two venues in the same building & in the other (larger) one The Original Wailers are playing (well, not the actual original Wailers as the singer bloke is obviously missing) but we do end up as good as sharing a dressing room with them which is funny ! Also we have now opted to go on stage to intro music: the French national anthem ... so as you can imagine we are a bit nervous about going onstage to this in a country that basically hates the French.! Thankfully no bottles are thrown & in fact it is a great gig ! We unwind afterwards with 1.60 beers at the aforementioned bar next door to the hotel before "nightcaps" in one of our hotel rooms (a tradition that will prove popular over the coming weeks) !
Saturday, 27 February 2010
...Ok so I have been rubbish at updating the blog since I got to Europe. Sorry ! The 10 hour drives followed by the gigs are mostly responsible for this! We are now almost at the end ... tonight is the final gig in Amsterdam ! I have a lot to tell & I will blog about it & post some pics as soon as I get chance. In the meantime cheers for all the kind words y'all have been saying, & here is a pic of us onstage in Paris supporting the Firey Furnaces ! Cheers x x x
Monday, 22 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
It was nice to do a short drive for a change... just 40-odd miles across the Pennines to rainy Manchester ... and yes it was raining ... and cold !!! A great venue, the Ruby Lounge. Bekki went to the Arndale Centre so I did a bit of record shopping (found some nice old reggae 7"s !) & had a quick half at a pub next door to the venue, a umm colourful establishment plastered with signs like "Anybody purchasing merchandise stolen from the Arndale Center will be ejected immediately" ... you get the idea Anyway I am excited as some friends are coming as well as my niece Kate & her beau Ash! So after soundcheck (& two duck dishes in Chinatown) I get something I was NOT expecting .. a text telling me that Marcus Williams is coming down, legendary Mighty Lemon Drops bassist (number two in a set of two), a man that is known for his penchant for a drink or twelve & somebody that I haven't seen since he was playing with Kirsty McColl in 1997 !!! I have attatched a pic of Marcus, who was on top form & looks even more like Henry Winkler now that he did back when !!!! And it was a great gig, one of the best of the tour so far ! Oh & Marcus, predictably unpredictable as ever, disappeared before we played the gig, by the way !
A while back Mr Argos put his back out on a European Art Brut tour. Fortunately after several visits to German specialists & some heavy duty painkillers he managed to get it sorted ... until waking up last Sunday morning after the Bristol gig in agony ! Poor chap ... he really was in pain ! However, a spell lying down on the cold floor of a bumpy 4+ hour ride to Leeds, something miraculously happened & Eddie was well enough to do the gig thankfully, which turned out to be a really good gig actually ! In fact he surprised everyone by with an impressive juggling act in the dressing room before the gig! The Brudenell Social Club is exactly what it says on the packet ... an actual working men's club, but one that has been putting on indie-rock gigs for years (everyone from The Only Ones to The White Stripes has played here !). The only thing missing was The Lovely Eggs, who were replaced for this gig by Internet Forever, who to be honest I don't really like that much (nor they are particulary nice people either come to mention it !). We did have a nice hotel, the Leeds Hilton, which had a very late bar that we took advantage of ! Oh & it was Valentines Day too, so it was funny watching couples awkwardly acting like they were enjoying themselves out on dates together ! Bye Leeds !
... the Bristol Stomp ! Well the Friday day-off was a blur: I accompanied my mate (& former Lemon Drops sound guy) Noel Thompson on a crawl of Hampstead / Belsize park hosteleries, culminating in a good few hours in The Haverstock Arms, quite a famous boozer frequented by the type of "celebrities" that most reading this would basically probably hate . Chalkie arrived & we then went into Soho to celebrate the birthday of one of The Sugars (also present were Little Barrie, Andy Hackett & various others!). Then my mate Fenners turns up & we ran into Shag who used to be in Linoleum & Elastica, & THEN we bumped into Jeff Barrett (Heavenly records etc) on the street & he tried to drag us to see The Soft Pack at The Social ! Mental really !
Anyway, Bristol ! We finally get moving & Chalkie & I have to pick up Eddie & Dyan from Southampton (it was Ed's mom's birthday), so we do, & as fate would have it we stop off for a piss-stop at an amazing Marstons pub on Salisbury plain. I make everybody drink Marstons bitter & eat Scampi Fries ! We drive by Stonehenge & we make the obligatory usual Spinal Tap jokes, as one should ! It was a gorgeous drive, especially for me as I was basically still drunk from the night before !
We arrive at Bristol, & the gig is The Thekla, which is a boat that the great Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Band used to own. I was reminded of a Blue Aeroplanes gig I saw there in about 1989 & I distinctly remember a toilet in the gents room was overflowing, the contents seeping through the ceiling onto the bar below where several customers pints were getting a nice "urine top" !!! (they have now, thankfully, moved the bar from below the toilets!). My missus Bekki arrives, & Eddie's dad does too (& not forgetting good mates Fuzzy, Mary, Bev & all!). We had a great gig & afterwards we all (as in us, The Lovely Eggs & our pals ) go to some other club (well it it is Saturday night) and well fuck me till I fart but there is a band playing with Amelia Fletcher from legendary indie stalwarts Talulah Gosh / Heavenly playing ! They were ace, & I have attatched a pic of Bekki & I with ol' Amelia (even though I reckon she could tell that we were both a bit worse for wear !) .
Leeds next !!!! . . . . .
Monday, 15 February 2010
... haven't had time (or internet access) over the last couple of days. Before I do the Bristol & Leeds (& Manchester!) updates here is a picture of my old mate (& former Mighty Lemon Drops sound engineer) Noel Thompson taken on a day off in London last Friday by me at The Havers aka The Haverstock Arms aka Chris Evans's / Noel Gallagher's local (owned by that barman bloke from TFI Friday) ... enjoy the pic's of Melinda Messanger & Barbara Windsor in the background !.
Friday, 12 February 2010
... so said Nicholas Parsons at the beginning of every Sale Of The Century for what seemed like a hundred years (that is an old tv quiz show for any possible younger readers). The drive from Nottingham to Norwich is actually quite a nice one, no real motorways to speak of. And talking of our drives ... let me give any readers / followers of this blog a description of the average drive. Usually Dyan & Eddie opt for the rear lounge of our vehicle, which contains six comfortable coach/train style seats, a fridge, a dvd player with not one but two screens, and usually the remains of the previous nights rider (mainly crisps & beer, though there is actually some smoked mackrel in the fridge as I type left over from the Dingwalls gig!). Myself, so far I have opted to sit up front next to Chalkie as he drives. He is top company on these journeys, and together we put the world right with great conversation about everything from local history to football to analyzing the original line-up of Ian Dury & The Blockheads. Ed & Dyan are usually asleep by then, though Eddie sweetly admitted last night that he loves drifting off into slumber while listening to the wisdom he hears coming from up front of the bus (which is a relief as sometimes I think I am boring poor old Chalkie to death !!!). So anyway we arrive in Norwich & it's bloody freezing with snow & ice on the ground, & the venue is a converted old church which houses the Norwich Arts Centre, which I believe I helped build .... yes really.... though not physically with my own hands or anything, but i do remember as far back as 1986 when I was in The Mighty Lemon Drops we did a benefit gig to help raise funds for a planned Arts Centre in Norwich , so in a nutshell last nights show was made possible entirely by ME, basically!
Anyway, the gig was great n'all that, but instead of banging on about us I would like to introduce you to our amazing opening band on the tour, The Lovely Eggs. There are just two of them, Holly & Dave, & they are just brilliant, and they are also very funny people & great company. ! Go & listen to them. In a weird way there is something in there that reminds me a bit of what my pals The Happy Hollows might be like if Charlie & Chris let Sarah do exactly what was in her head all of the time ... and I mean that as a compliment to both parties by the way!
Ok, day off today, then Bristol tomorrow, the missus arrives, & we play on Viv Stanshall's old boat, the legendary Thekla !!!!
Thursday, 11 February 2010
The Bodega Social ... possibly previously owned by the Heavenly group of folks if I am not mistaken ! A great little venue ! I like Nottingham ... has the oldest pub in the country, home of Boots the chemist, also that Shane Meadows bloke who makes those top films (though that last one with the kid from This Is England living in London with the Polish kid was ok but not my personal fave!). And not forgetting (& least famously!) once home to brilliant post-punk band The Favourites, who managed to provide me, as a record collector, with my single longest ever search ever to track down a record I heard on the John Peel show in 1979 ... i finally managed to track down a copy of their elusive & frankly incredible "S.O.S" 7" 45 just a couple of years back (via eBay ... at great expense!). (The Favourites were also previously one of the first ever bands signed to Stiff records in 1976 as pub-rockers Plummett Airlines, fyi !). Anyway, a fun time was had by all. We ate dinner in a spooky-creepy pub called the Pit & Pendelum ... if 16 year old goth girls dressed as 8 year old goth-girls is your thing, then this is the place for you ! Again I missed the opening bands (I was meeting my old mate Ferrett in the aforementoned P&P) but everybody said they were ace ! It was a rocking gig for a cold (snowy!) Wednesday night, & we met some really nice people. Afterwards the club became an indie dance club (an insane one that, for some reason played Rosanna by Toto !) & I have attatched a picture of some broken glass & puke on the streets of Nottingham to give you an idea of what it was like ! After a few more drinks with Ferrett, on the way back home I caught Eddie prowling the streets of Nottingham desperately trying to locate a bottle of red wine to accompany he & Dyan's late night soiree: watching Die Hard on the hotel tv !! Aaaah .... now we're talking ! !!! (the Bodega kindly sold him a bottle to take out btw !).
Well the day arrived, the "official" debut of EWITFRN (rolls off the tongue !!)). London Dingwalls. I spent many a night here in the 80's as a youngster, one of the most memorable nights was watching an unknown bunch of oiks from Manchester load their gear onto the stage about to play third on the bill at the Monday indie Panic Station night, then witness the bassist take a piss up his bass-amp thinking he was in the toilet ... it was The Happy Mondays and they went on to do ok ! Anyway, our gig was ace ! After a band/crew communal Camden Weatherspoons steak Tuesday Grill Club soiree & meeting some pals in the Lock tavern (including my mate Cubby who I hadn't seen since the end of 94), i was a tad miffed to realize that I had missed both Fulcher Smith & Dance (featuring two of Ed's fellow Art Bruters ... the band name is sort-of the give-away as to which two!) & the great Internet Forever (though they will play with us in Leeds, so there will be no excuse for missing that one!). I didn't get any pics of the gig, but here's one of Ian of Art Brut helping Eddie offload our sweat-shop made merch onto unsuspecting kids, & one of me & a bunch of my pals in the Lock Tavern. Oh & then it was back to TOTP towers to celebrate, along with visiting US rockers Surfer Blood celebrating the end of their first UK visit and our Chalkie celebrating his birthday, singing Wurzels lyrics along to Melanie songs into the small hours ... and yes it was quite a late one !
Monday, 8 February 2010
... is the title of a tune by Birmingham born & bred Lawrence Hayward, ex of Felt, Denim & more lately the quite brilliant Go Kart Mozart. Laughing Larry stole that from the not-very-successful Cliff Richard film "Take Me High", "Brum Burger" being the name of a burger served at the fictitional 1970's Birmingham restaurant that pre-colostomy Cliff worked at in the film (check out this amazing youtube clip HERE). Nothing in Birmingham today really looks as it did in this movie/70's Brum anymore (despite going relatively unchanged for MANY years previously!), so much so that I managed to get lost twice walking around my old stomping-ground! In my defence, the venue we played at The Flapper is kind of out of the way, in the newly gentrified canal district, & Chalkie got us there nice & early so we had plenty of time to wander ! After soundcheck I went to meet a load of my old Wolvo mates in The City Tavern which had the best pint of Davenports bitter you could imagine (yes Davenports is back ... remember the old ad's in the 70's?? click HERE), then it was over to the gig, pausing only to take a pic of Noddy Holder's star on the B'ham Broad St Walk Of Fame! (yes, really !!). The gig was good, especially considering it was only booked a week ago as a warm-up. What else?..oh a couple of nice chaps took some nice pix that you can see if you click HERE ! Couple of days off then it is the " official debut" in London at Dingwalls on Tuesday 9th! More then !
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Firstly, I was wrong , there is no free wi-fi internet on National Express coaches, though we did get a good glimpse of a pensioners cock for entertainment (we sat right next to the toilet & somebody opened the door on the poor old guy as he was mid-leak!). And we now have our first UK gig under our belt. Cambridge city center is lovely (my first time there ever!) though of course we were playing at a run-down-pub-converted-to-gig in a less salubrious part of town! The opening band The Regency Array were great. Unfortunately we made the minor error of leaving "Drumphrey", the machine containing all our rhythm/backing tracks for the tour, in Camden, so we had to use the back-up plan of playing the entire gig along to Dyan's iPod. Thankfully, despite a few technical errors, it worked & a good time was had by all! Also the promoter was really generous with the rider (note to gig promoters: bands really like this touch, fyi !) ... we were chomping on hummus & salami sandwiches washed down with cheap vodka while listening to The Replacements into the small hours at the Travelodge! Birmingham here we come !