(London and Bristol gigs are ages 14+)
We have had 3 shows in a row so far and have been in three different countries .. It’s hard to say where you were yesterday, especially when you can’t even pronounce the name properly. . . You end up remembering the little things and rememinicing . They tend to come up a few weeks later. Which makes it hard for me to write a blog/diary about the tour we are on, when we are on it .
But I’ll try my best.
We had to travel to France to pick up Freddo, our French Caribbean promoter who has an eye for good times. We ate some food in a typically Parisienne restaurant after a long journey throughout the day . I had what I like to call a 2 day meal . I mean . A steak is all groovy. But when it is loaded with beautifully rich and creamy mushroom and double cream sauce and a mound of French fries, watered down with a bottle of red wine, it leaves you feeling like a Roman warrior at their most decadent of times … Charlie and Jim being vegetarians had two of the best and biggest looking pastas i’ve ever seen… (we were enjoying the food to much to take pictures sorry… besides.. thats silly isn’t it really; taking pictures of food)
So, comatosed from putting things in our mouths we slipped off to our abodes for the night. Three of us in a hotel and two of us at Freddo’s place . Myself and jim ended up with Freddo listening to Jazz much to Jim’s approval.
After a few beers arrived I forgot I was ready to sleep and proceeded to start playing “otherside” by David Gray on the acoustic guitar. Which I will add is currently my favourite song in the world. Fucking pure excellence . ”Love’s a raven when it flies” … great lyric… he reminds me of Bob Dylan somehow.
So the first night was like being on holiday really but with four shows over the next four days and a couple of thousand miles driving we really weren’t in a position to carry it on.
Putting ones self to bed is sometimes hard to do. I am more of the “sleep when tired” variety as opposed to the “sleep on cue” cats.
But i did. I responsibly tried to put myself to sleep … but as I lay next to Jim I became outrageously aware of my own breathing. I started thinking . Fuck. I’ve forgotten how to breathe. Umm… In through the nose.. Out through the pipes … Then I started thinking about David Gray again and fell asleep.
We awoke rather early after my 3am switch off… 6am to be exact . And all felt surprisingly chirpy .. To such an extent I decided to do some driving. I love driving, especially when it’s an open road, but it unfortunately, was not. It was a traffic jam. For about 4 hours.
Anyway we arrived at the first show in Switzerland, and were pleasantly surprised to see a group of eager Swiss men to help us unload while we all wandered for 10 minutes around the festival site. Some of us ate nibbles, some drank some water .. Some marked our territory. I mean .. Just usual rock and roll stuff really . You know . Sitting waiting to play strumming a guitar looking all pensive . Maybe smoking a cigarette or two for added effect. Thinking about what it would be like to drink scotch with Sly and The Family Stone, or smoke a joint with George Clinton… Neither of these things happened .. But … These little dreams stop you from becoming a robot . Never let them go. Just thoughts.
The show was actually brilliant . We kept true to ourselves and played half the set with the stripped down vibe. More acoustic, we played loads of our new album and then smashed into a load of fast paced ska and heavy grunge to round the whole thing off. It was delightful and then we met a dude called Guive, who had a large group of girls with him . About 10 . We sat on the pavement and talked about talking and stuff. . Lots of stuff. And then Guivos friend turned up with a smile on his face and .. We all went back to our hotel. The young girls now seemed to have moved from Guivo to other avenues, (Mainy Charlie to be honest) and we proceeded to get drunk and play music . Sing songs . I think. The rest is ….. but I awoke fully clothed beside my bed feeling surprisingly good again . I went to the room I was sharing with Charlie where my bags and belongings were and it was just him in the room. The girls had all left. He is in a good mood . It’s a new day and a new dawn and a new light.
We had to leave abruptly after 4 hours sleep again to drive to Germany for a festival .. The drive was rather long actually and we ended up watching eastbound and down on the TV for most of it .. This is very funny and I would recommend watching it for some wrong humour. It’s very giggle funny….
After a few episodes I was driving again, and at one point and I looked to my right , there were parked police eying us up like tawny owls .. As we passed them, low and behold they pulled out. I just knew they were on us. We did our emergency clean up of the van and they ended up driving past us, putting on a sign saying “follow us” and we followed them off the autobahn and towards the police station. By this point I was fully freaking out about what the reason was they stopped us.
Now I could tell you the whole boring story, with a little cynicism.. Or I could tell you it in short . The latter is best . They weighed our van on a platform, and basically robbed us of 500 quid. We were overweight… WHAT??? They said we had to take people out of the van. Everybody had to get out, we were weighed again . Still over. So the band had to take their bags with them.. No mercy.. Just “we do not care where you are going they can’t stay in the van, someone must pick them up.”
Anyway we just picked them up down the road and carried on our journey . They literally didn’t give a hoot. . . And to rub it in then gave us a lighter each!!! A fucking branded police lighter!
We made it to the next show a little behind schedule . This one was awesome . In the middle of nowhere. German subculture is amazing . People there really have less inhibitions than most places we have been.
We seemed to have the crowd in the palms of our hands .. a perfect match of people and environment for our tunes . Germany we have a special place in our hearts for you. . . I also had a lovely dance to some psy trance music with a load of half naked people in a teepee and then we popped back to the hotel as we, yet again, had to wake early and drive many many miles to another gig in a far away land. The hotel was beautiful actually and before i went to sleep i gazed out of the window at the stars for an hour.. there was a garden and flowers filling the air.. the moon was absolutely massive… my damn phone was locked in the van.. couldn’t take a picture…I just have a mental one. I really miss my girlfriend and my son at times like this, it’s a new feeling for me, missing home when i am on the road, but i am just channelling it into making me work and play harder… responsibilities are now in my life…
By this point the late nights and early wake ups were taking their toll and the journey was mainly silent and a continuation of sleep… The next show was the summer swing pool party.. The name kind of got us excited.. The show was banging and we then drove to koln where we were to do some busking . but we never went swimming which in hindsight is a little odd.. i bet every single one of us would murder a swim now.
We ended up in Koln having a fantastic jam in front of the gothic cathedral … Which went very well, but then the police turned up (after the security guy screamed literally like a baby) so we had to rather abruptly stop in the middle of a very lovely acapella version of “train”… Somehow it seemed to work for us because people flooded in as it all happened and we sold out of our merchandise …
We ended up going for a meal and paying with it with coins. To be honest I just couldn’t handle seeing the reaction of the poor person that had to count 80euros in 20 cent pieces . So we split when we finished !! i think there was a tip… i hope there was anyway.
I must say the next part of the tour was rather different for me to the others. We were pulling straws to see who got to sleep on the next leg of the journey .. (We have only one bunk in our tourbus for the driver) and I was the lucky one. So I fell asleep only to wake up in a different country with the story of the night before to follow.
In short it went like this. We had planned to camp in koln. But when we arrived at the campsite it was locked. So we decided to drive towards Amsterdam where our next show was and camp somewhere magnificent on the way, you know, wake up with butterflies on our faces and stuff. The boys found an amazing spot (apparently) and pitched the tent, only to fall asleep and be woken three hours later in the middle of the night by a monster of a storm. The kind of storm that makes you go .. Fuck… I’m in a fucking storm. The kind of storm that would make a caveman cry, the kind to make Bear grylls jump in the back of a warm Range Rover off camera to find a lighter and a slice of dominos pizza. You get it. (I have to imagine it like you because i was asleep in the van smiling through the night)
So in this perfect storm the boys were all soaked to the bone. As were all of our pillows and blankets etc…
In the end the picture was Charlie, Jamie and Manu all huddled round the air blower in the front of the van at 5am in a thunderstorm with all of our stuff outside the van on the floor, drenched beyond salvation. (With me still asleep in the back like Lord Fontelroy.) I can only imagine how they must have felt but must admit I am glad I chose the straw I did.
Thankfully everybody saw the funny side of the situation and ended up laughing hysterically at it all after a quick stop at a coffee shop in Haarlem. :-))) We then decided to go busking in Amsterdam to cheer ourselves up even more. Probably one of the best parts of the tour so far. After playing for an hour or so in dam square a lady came up and explained that it was international world peace day and that at 6pm people all round the world would be singing peace songs together. She asked if I could play imagine by John Lennon, which was thankfully one of the first songs I learned, and undoubtedly one of John Lennon’s finest, most direct songs. I took the offer up and at 6pm we sung that song. But hundreds of people (about 5-700 I would guess) suddenly all held hands and made a circle round us, and joined in singing. It was absolutely breathtaking. Such a moment I will never forget it and I’m very happy it was filmed. It just goes to show how much we all want peace. Against all the actions being taken all we fucking want is peace, quiet and love … Beautiful.
That evening we were all in very high spirits, but completely battered from the road and lack of decent meals and carrying a heavy lorry battery all over town to power our shenanigans. (oh such a hard life) . So we kept it light in a hotel. A luxury not to be taken for granted, but one that was necessary and much appreciated because we were opening up for Fat Freddys Drop the next day .
I must say we were all very excited to be playing with these guys because we are massive fans, but we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for the venue. It was right on the beach, a sandy beach reminiscent of Venice California, only with sand dunes.. The bar and stage were facing the water, west side so we were also facing the sun as it went down. It was utterly brilliant and the crowd were electric.
The rest of the night was spent on the roof. Due to a successful show the owners made the grave mistake of giving us a massive bottle of Jaegermeister. That stuff is sometimes like nectar for me. I love it. But it makes me forget stuff . So I awoke in the porch of Jims tent using his shoes as a pillow, fully clothed .. And did one of those zombie stumbles, you know, when you wake up at a festival and have no fucking clue what to do or where anybody is or who you are in fact, and I continued straight to the beach , where the venue owner Michelle saw me and laughed/ frowned only to tell me some of the stuff that happened. Charlie was thrown into a barbed wire fence and punched in the face twice for stealing a beer from the next door neighbour.
I was acting like a drunk groupie in Fat Freddy Drop’s dressing room and giving vinyl to everybody.. I ended up passing out in the car park .. Shame on me. I apparently threw myself out though which is good to know. . an annoying loud drunk isn’t really how i’d like to be remembered by that particular band.
Anyway thankfully I spent the day with Michelle, the owner, in his car doing doughnuts and trying to get into the nearby racetrack to do some drifting. (We share things in common, driving being one of them)
The guys nuts, he says if artists/tour managers piss him off he sometimes takes them in his car to the racetrack, says he’s gonna show them the area, then without informing them what he’s doing he scares the living shit out of them by driving onto this racetrack and ragging it round at 170 miles per hour. Genius.
We made amends with all the people who we had come across at Woodstock with fat freddys the night before. It all ended very well because we took the top spot of “baddest motherfuckers” on their wall of fame (they do actually have that). We have been talking with them about doing our own show there next year. It’s undoubtedly the coolest European venue I’ve ever been to. And if you see tickets available for our gig there next year, take a long proper weekend and come. You will not regret it.
Today we have been driving to another gig in Germany called Lott festival. My other brother Charlie is with us which is classic. It’s his birthday though so he needs controlling, Generally good times in the pipeline.
Family times are great, one thing I have realised is that time spent on the road, when its for a while, is what ends up making or breaking you as a band. I love being out and moving from place to place, new adventures at every stop. But it can become incredibly obvious very quickly when people aren’t compatible… We are very lucky we all are actually.
Anyway a much deserved two day break was needed .. I miss home more now for obvious reasons . Bobby is growing up fast . He is 10 months now and can very nearly walk and he is unbelievably fast at crawling… he’s cheeky and needs a constant eye watch. Great man.
Next was Komedia in Brighton for the harvest sessions with our dear friends House of Hats next .. A great show but there were sound issues for us… it was a tough one actually. Especially going on after the Hats exquisite harmonies. They are perfectly always in tune.. it’s utterly beautiful… listen to “home is where the heart is” … Noddy’s voice is soothing and beautiful she sings it straight from the heart every time.
Having said that the reviews were pretty good . That’s sometimes really spoons me out. You know . When you hear a mess on stage and out front it sounds brilliant . Fucking annoying.. Nonetheless it was a great night and we got horribly drunk and stumbled into a late night diner to talk about aliens and algorithms for streaming music . As we do when in Brighton.
We are now in the van leaving boom town festival .. It was an amazing gig actually .. The sound was amazing and despite it pissing it down with rain torrential style there was a great crowd and people went crazy. Some even got naked and lost their shit completely .. The acoustic guitar broke and we had to play with two electrics . It was actually great and i think for these festivals it’s better perhaps …
We are going to get some sleep now and head to Belgium for a festival in the morning. Back on it again . This has been a long tour, I can’t even remember when it started.
Thankfully it was home again after two of the best little shows so far. I say little . They were good sized .. But I suppose relatively small – 2-3000 people . The first was Donkey Rock in a small town in Belgium. It was an interesting setup.. Kind of half way between a big night at a university and a festival . But obviously the whole population of the town was there and the vibe was great. We kept it simple and the promoters were gushing. It’s lovely when we keep things simple . I often think about simplicity being the key to life . Complications of the modern world just can be overwhelming sometimes … Even my songwriting shows it. Some of the new album has a million chords and a million key changes, and some of it just has 4 chords and simplicity. . At the time of making the complex music I sometimes feel engulfed in the fact that I am discovering something, pushing my boundaries .. Getting better… that i am capable… But… Then when it’s all done and I can go back to being objective, the simple stuff seems to resonate more. It’s a fine line though beause you constantly what to discover.. there is just such a massive world in music… I have digressed .. Sorry.. we kept it simple and it worked basically.
The next show was in Germany . Weinturn open air festival. It’s a master class in small festival culture . This year was it’s 37th year, completely run by volunteers. A love based festival. It was an utterly incredible place and the crowds appreciation from everything to two cellos playing Bach to a red hot street band from Berlin, to an experimental instrumental band from Sweden, to us, was nothing short of a pat on the back to humanity. We sold out of CD’s on this show, lucky we are home today to get more. The planets just aligned, in fact it was also the only place you could see the Milky Way in Germany so we were very lucky to be a part of it. Bless up Germany we can’t wait to see you again .. and well done for being so damn efficient..
We have a few more european shows and then a tour in the UK in september, then Holland in November… Be sure to get your tickets here!!! we would LOVE to see you.. oh. also we just got our first play on Radio 2 today.. they played Trustworthy Rock (which is out now so please buy it if you haven’t yet!) And look out for our new album “Whistleblower” which will also be out this September.
We are very excited for you all to hear it..