Thursday, 18 November 2010

We've teamed up with our friends at Macbeth for some instore signingss

Macbeth Shoes have set up a series of instore signings for us on our UK tour. We'll be signing for one hour at the below stores on the following dates-

24th Nov- Blue Banana, Birmingham. 5-6pm.

25th Nov- Rock Collection, Norwich. 4-5pm.

30th Nov- Pulp, Glasgow. 5-6pm.

5th Dec-Blue Banana, Cardiff. 5-6pm.

Go check out Macbeth's new Holiday Range which is available now at as well as all the stores hosting signings.

P.S. To avoid any confusion- entry to the instore signing we are doing in Pulp is done by wristbands. They're free and can be picked up from the store on the following days- Sat 27th & Sun 28th (for Pulp card holders) and Mon 29th & Tues 30th (for everyone else). There's 250 wristbands available.
The other 3 are first come first serve!

See you all there!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

European Tour Diary: Day 38 - Antwerp, Belgium

I always think of the Enter Shikari song Antwerpen when I hear the name. It’s probably my favourite ES song. Bit of shinfo for you there, folks.

The length of this run is beginning to catch up with us now. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of us that was looking forward to getting home in some ways. The headline tour is going to be amazing! We’re not there just yet, but we need to prepare so we sound check for a little longer today, working on some links and ways to change the songs we’ve been playing this year to make them more interesting and to change our set up etc.

The sound in this venue is awesome, and it’s one of the biggest too so we’re all excited to play tonight.

We play and hang out at merch afterwards and amongst others we meet Laura, oceane, Virginie and ludivine who have all travelled here just to see us tonight. We are lucky to have such great fans in a place that we’ve never even been to before, and I’m genuinely touched by their enthusiasm. We talk for a while, then the venue closes up so me and the guys make our way back through the venue as the staff begin to clean. Humans have an amazing capacity for creating rubbish. A venue after the doors close is always a grim sight, thousands of plastic cups and bits of crap lie everywhere, the floor is a swampy mess of sweat alcohol and water, the walls are slick with condensation and it’s the poor venue workers who have to clean it. We make our way through the junk and back downstairs to pack up, where for no reason at all I am suddenly sick. I have no idea why, I’m guessing it’s just because I’m so tired but we promptly pack up and leave to get as much rest as we can. I suddenly feel really shit so shower then crawl into bed and go straight to sleep.


European Tour Diary: Day 37 - Eindhoven, Holland

Ouch. Heavy night. Great fun hanging with old friends in Amsterdam but man are we feeling the effects today. I’ve managed to catch about 2 and a half hours sleep and that was on our friend’s floor. The charm of doing things DIY can wear off real fast when you’re crashing on floors or couch surfing all the time, and I’m really bloody glad we don’t have to do it as much as we used to.

We leave our friends and walk back to the venue where the van is parked. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, one of my favourites out of the cities that I’ve seen in my life, but the canals it is so famous for serve to make every street look pretty much the same. It is VERY easy to get lost in Amsterdam, especially when you’re us, and even more so when you’re us and hung over. A five-minute walk takes half an hour and when we spend another good half an hour deliberating over what to eat for breakfast we are well on our way to being late before we manage to get to the safety of our van. We crawl in and assume the position - earphones in laptop out, TV show/iTunes/whatever running, and brain off.

Somehow Ben has gotten chewing gum in his hair and slept with it in, which is the only thing that keeps me alive – laughing at Ben is a great way to pass the time!

I watch some more of The Wire and work on more tour diary stuff while everyone else sleeps, and then I succumb as well and wake up as we arrive at the venue, face imprinted with the faint shapes of a mac keyboard. Coupled with my Movember moustache which I truly hate this is a strong look. On that note, if anyone isn’t aware, we are all growing moustaches throughout the month of November in support of raising awareness and raising money to help combat prostate cancer in men. It kills one man an hour which is a pretty horrifying statistic so if you want to help us out make the pain of all looking ridiculous for a month, and get involved with a worthy cause then head over to and do a search for either myself Gustav Wood or our team Young Guns UK (or indeed any of the guys in the band or crew if you know their names) and donate whatever you can. Even 1 pound or 1 euro, whatever you can – it all helps.

We play the show and somehow, despite all feeling like crap and being pretty certain that we were going to suck, it’s one of the better shows of the whole 6-week tour. The sound is really good and everyone is into it. Awesome. Afterwards we sit upstairs with our managers and have a meeting where we talk about our plans for next year, touring, writing; recording etc., and also the upcoming UK run. We are so fucking excited to be doing these shows. The biggest we’ve ever done, and with a bit of luck, and the help of some of you guys reading this, the best. I can’t believe we’re headlining a show in London at the Electric Ballroom, but more about that another time.

We wrap the meeting up, I head down to talk to people by the merch stand and say goodbye to a few of the people that have travelled loads over the past few weeks to see us. Sad to say goodbye but we’ll be seeing them again in February seeing as we just announced that we’re coming back over here on tour with our friends in All Time Low. Can’t wait for that.

We load the van in the rain, say some more goodbyes and are given a few more presents by people (thanks!!!) and head back to the hotel. Our TM Emre has gotten us a deal in a nearby hotel. The hotel turns out to be a 4 star hotel and we spend the nights doubled up in the nicest most expensive looking hotel I’ve ever stayed in. After a few floors and a lot of Formule 1 hotels, this is an amazing luxury, and I spend ages underneath the gigantic shower and crash out in the world’s most comfortable bed. Next to Emre, granted, but still better than every other sleeping space so far.


European Tour Diary: Day 35 & 36 - Amsterdam, Holland.

Day 35 – Day off – Travel to Amsterdam.

Today is the last of the long journeys thankfully (except for the mammoth drive home) so we get into the van and yet again slowly make our way to The Netherlands and into Amsterdam through horrendous amounts of traffic. The heavens open once again and this time chuck some thunder and lightning in for food measure. At one point lightning must have struck really close to the van because the whole van is lit up as if a bomb went off nearby, so bright that it wakes the people that are asleep. Scary.
Weariness is definitely beginning to set in, and we literally inch our way into Amsterdam’s city limits. We arrive at 9pm and check into a hotel called The Backstage right next to tomorrow’s venue, the awesome Melkweg. The hotel is designed around the idea of live music and touring bands and is one of our favourite places to stay when/if we can afford it. There is a communal area with a bar and instruments on the walls, and an old piano covered in the signatures of bands that have stayed here before. All the rooms have furniture made out of flight cases; all the light fixtures are saxophones, snare drums and stuff like that. It’s really neat.
Our friend Steve who sang for the band Outcry Collective until they split recently has flown out to join us in Amsterdam, so we head out to meet him then go for some dinner and drinks.

Amsterdam, let’s do this!

Day 36 - Amsterdam

Love this hotel! It’s so cool. We check out and go for breakfast/lunch before making our way to the venue. This is one of the few places we’ve played in Europe before. The Melkweg (‘The Milky Way’) is an awesome modern venue right in the centre of Amsterdam and we’ve played the smaller room here twice before, first with The Blackout and then with Madina Lake. This time we’re playing the big room and it’s nice to know your way around a venue. We are good friends with someone who works here so she takes care of us for the day while we hang in the dressing room. I do 3 or 4 interviews and then we pre-record 10 or so video messages for TV stations in Japan. I cannot fucking believe we are doing this! This is all amazing for obvious reasons, but mainly because when I was a kid, first exposed to rock music properly through my brother, I used to watch a VHS he had of Nirvana religiously. It was called ‘Live! Tonight! Sold Out!’ and I must have watched that thing a thousand times. To my 10/11-year-old eyes being in a band was the most incredible thing.... Obviously I didn’t quite grasp the enormity and musical/cultural importance of that band in particular but still, I just connected with what I was seeing. I will never forget a clip on the video where they do a bunch of ‘idents’, little short clips for music TV, and one of them is for Space Shower TV which Kurt calls ‘Golden Shower TV’. For some reason I never forgot this, something about it just stuck with me. Now it’s 2010 and not 1994 and I’m sitting in a backstage dressing room in Amsterdam filming a video clip for Space Shower TV. Clearly our situation is vastly different to Nirvana’s but regardless of that the enormity of what I’m doing is not lost on me, and although it’s not in itself a huge thing (I’m just sitting in front of our shitty little camera filming a 10 second clip) to me it’s huge and the more I think about it the more it affects me. I tell the guys, and none of them really seem to grasp it as much as I do, I guess it’s a personal experience and without the emotional attachment it might seem stupid, but to me, it’s not. I will now listen to nothing but Nirvana for a few days, in homage.

Tonight’s show isn’t one of our better ones, it must be said. I have a few problems with my voice and the guys have technical problems. Coming off stage and being disappointed at yourself is a really shitty way to be, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it – it’s just so annoying. I walk around under a black cloud for a while but remember earlier and tell myself not to be a prick and snap out of it. Let’s be clear here, I’m not diva stropping around the place, but truthfully I can (to a degree) understand why people can become precious and hard to work with when it comes to playing music live. Maybe I’m opening myself up to a lot of piss-taking (probably) but the thing is, when you care about something so much and want to be good at something so bad, when it doesn’t work out for whatever reason, it’s crushing. To me, in this frame of mind, a bad show isn’t just a “bad show”, it’s not ‘just one of those things” it is a revelation, the curtain finally lifted on our true shitness that I suddenly think I always suspected, all my hopes are pointless because we suck and are going to get nowhere, and I’m a fraud. Really it’s ridiculous, it simply is a bad show and I’ll be fine in about half an hour, but I would hazard a guess that most people in bands feel this way, if perhaps not quite so extremely. It’s just a byproduct of wanting something so bad, being so emotionally involved in something. Either that or I actually am one of those Divas you always hear about. Shit!

Anyway I have some drinks and chill for a while and all is well. We hit Amsterdam again for another messy night.


European Tour Diary: Day 34 - Cologne, Germany

Ah, Cologne! Or Koln, as it is in German. This is one of the few places that we’ve randomly ended up playing a few times this year already. We first played here with Madina Lake back towards the beginning of the year, then ended up with Story of the Year back at the same venue, The Underground, less than two months later. After that, just before we played Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, we came back again for a one off show with Anberlin a few months back. These shows have always been great, so we have a soft spot for the city and for that venue in particular.
This time, we are playing a venue down the road, that up until now we’d only heard about, The Music Hall, which is a hell of a lot bigger. We’re coming back here with All Time Low in February but we aren’t allowed to announce that yet! Any more and it’d probably make more sense for us to move to Cologne, but it’s nice to feel like we’re beginning to build something out on the continent, and as I said, we genuinely like the place.

It’s a good show, and it’s nice to see some familiar faces in the crowd. It’s amazing that people are coming to these shows just to see us play. I feel bad that they’re paying so much money just to see us play a half hour support slot but we’ll be back to do some headline shows next year so hopefully that’ll make up for it. 
We say goodbye to some of the people that have travelled to a few of our German shows on this tour, and head back to our room for the night. We’ve agreed with another venue to let us rent out the flat above their venue for the night. Far from gross, it turns out to be a really nice place, which is always a nice surprise. We put our bags down, freshen up and go for a few drinks across the road in a bar that turns out to be full of Danko Jones fans. They’re all good fun so we have some drinks and head back to sleep. Yet another long journey tomorrow.


European Tour Diary: Day 33 - Saarbrucken, Germany

Unlike Marlebach (which is in France anyway) Saarbrucken is a lovely town/city/place/whatever it is.
Me John, Dave and Ben have our heart set on eating some Mexican food for lunch and have seen a cheap place in the centre so we leave the others in the venue and go off to find it. We stuff ourselves with fajitas and enchiladas and head back to the venue content and in serious danger of lapsing into a food coma.

We’ve not had many chances to use the internet on this tour, often the venue’s wireless networks don’t work, or do but are being hammered by all the bands/crew/venue staff, but today is usable so we spend a few hours catching up on e-mails, sending off these here tour diaries, doing mailouts and taking care of business. Nice to feel connected and not out of the loop for once.
We’ve been writing and mucking around with ideas on Garage Band on this tour so spend the early evening showing each other ideas, playing around with the acoustics we’ve brought with us and talking about album number 2, which is on everyone’s minds at the moment. What do we want out of it? What should it sound like? All these questions are circling around in our heads and we’re excited to really begin the whole process again. I can’t imagine actually sitting there having a second finished album – right now it seems like a million years away but as we’ve learnt these things have a habit of creeping up on you, and one way or the other there will be a point in time when we have our second record in our hands and ready to show the world. I can’t wait.

Today’s show is ok, not one of the best but not one of the worst either. It’s a big room but the crowd is here for one reason and it sure ain’t us. We play and get a polite reception, and pack up our stuff to go back to Merlebach for another night, meaning that we came from France this morning to play in Germany, now have gone back to France to sleep. Back to Germany tomorrow.


European Tour Diary: Day Off in Merlebach, France

We have a day off so decide to be constructive with it. We’ve booked a cheap hotel in a little town called Merlebach which is between Strasbourg and Saarbrucken, tomorrow’s destination. Booking Formule 1 hotels is like playing roulette. Sometimes the rooms are ok, sometimes there’s old vomit on the floor and gum and junk all over the walls. That’s what you get if you spend 30 euros a night on a room that sleeps 3 I guess. Communal toilets and showers, but it’s not too bad really, and it’s quite funny seeing middle aged European men traipsing down the hallways in speedos, a t shirt and flip flops on the way to the shower, and Ben in amongst them.

We set up camp in the rooms, before getting all of our luggage, forming a little train and walking into town with all our stuff in search of a launderette. There’s only so many times you can re-use clothing before it becomes damaging to your mental health. Most of our clothes could probably walk to the launderette on their own by now. Not cool. 
Merlebach was a small mining town, but like a lot of the mining towns in England, when that dried up so did the town. It feels like a ghost town, the streets are dark and deserted and we make a ridiculous amount of racket dragging our suitcases, the 5 minute journey promised to us by the F1 receptionist inevitably turning into a half hour journey. We see our destination in the distance, glowing and promising cleanliness and shelter from this shitty evening.

We take over the launderette and load our clothes in and begin the wait. We’re all so excited to have clean clothes - we’ve been good with keeping ourselves clean but seeing as it’s impossible to realistically take 6 weeks of clean clothes on a tour, we packed what we could and had to hope for cleaning facilities along the way.

Showering then getting into old clothing is never cool, so we eagerly watch the machines do their work and kick about the place waiting.

I remember being a kid and waiting with my mum in the local launderette down past our estate, waiting for what felt like 5 hours for our clothes to wash and dry. In here, it takes like half an hour to clean, and another half to dry. Either there have been some serious advances in washing machine technology or I was an impatient little kid. I’m guessing the latter, but it is funny how being young warps your perception of time.

We order some pizzas from across the road, expecting them to be dodgy but (quelle surprise) they are amazing. We order two huge pizzas and feast on them back at the hotel surrounded by our clean clothes. Serious amounts of contentment going on right now. Nice to chill for a day and do nothing much but watch films eat pizza and shower.


European Tour Diary: Day 31 - Strasbourg, France

What’s this France, more rain? Weird!

Before leaving we pop into a nearby Boulangerie for croissants and CafĂ© au lait. The croissant is maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten, tastes delicious and is cooked to perfection. So simple but so good.

Ben and Fraser have very impressively gotten up a few hours before everyone else and gone for a run in the morning rain, so emit the glow of those that just know they are better than everyone else by the virtue of having achieved the impossible on tour and actually done something GOOD for you. Bastards. We arrive in Strasbourg early (shock horror) so walk around the lovely centre and decide to go for a Korean lunch. My first ever, and man it was delicious.
We are in the Alsace region, which is a territory known for having gone back and forth between German and French ownership which has led to it being a bit of both. Depending on where you are, they speak French or German, same as where we’ll be staying, in Merlebach. It’s getting extremely confusing now, knowing which language to attempt to communicate in.

We play the show which is cool but rather uneventful, and head off to the F1 in Strasbourg for some rest.


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

European Tour Diary: Day 30 - Paris, France

France, you really don’t seem to like us do you? It’s like it’s a body and we’re a foreign invader, and it’s trying it’s hardest to get rid of us. The weather is absolutely shit today, it is pouring it down and so grey that it’s hard to see anything. We crawl to Paris in yet more shitty traffic and it’s definitely fair to say that Morale is low. We are tired, all have a cold, the van is overcrowded and full of junk, and we are late. Not a good place to be right now. Despite all of this, I’m really looking forward to tonight. We’ve only played one show in Paris (with Madina Lake earlier this year, in a smaller venue called Glazart) but things just seemed to click and we’re hoping for the same tonight.
The venue is called Elysee Montmarte, an amazing old venue that I’ve actually been to once before. Me and my brother went to see The Dillinger Escape Plan and Poison The Well here a few years ago and it was fucking awesome. Pretty mad that the next time I’m here it’s ‘cos my band and me are playing.

We get to the venue in darkness, and park the van on what feels like a 70-degree hill, haul all the stuff out the back in the pouring rain and take it in. We’re all soaked by now, ill, all our clothes are dirty and despite being excited about being back in Paris, the general mood isn’t great. We soundcheck and it sounds wicked on stage, which cheers everyone up a bit.
More interviews.

We play the show and it’s another good one, awesome! Fully happy now and really excited to go out to dinner and meet some friends in town.

We go out to some bars for some drinks, somehow end up in an Irish Bar (there seem to be tonnes of these all around Europe) with a French dude singing Radiohead songs with an acoustic.
We get merry, then head out into La Pigale. We search for the Moulin Rouge because we really want to get a picture outside the famous glowing windmill - We’ve not managed to see many famous sights on this tour, and though the most obvious one would be the Eiffel Tower, we saw that last time we were here, so seeing as it’s nearby we’ve decided this is the best option. After searching for what feels like an age, we see it in the distance and trot up the street to it. We position ourselves across the road so we can all fit in with the windmill, get someone to take the picture and then eagerly take a look at the photo.
Strangely, it’s pitch black behind us. Odd. We turn around and it turns out that the place shut down for the night a split second before we managed to actually get a picture. Shit.

This area is a bit rough (How does this keep happening…?) so as all the bars are closing up we say goodbyes to our friends and go back to the hotel for some sleep. I’m sad that our time in Paris has been so brief, so plan to get up mega early and go to Montmartre, which is nearby. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t happen.


European Tour Diary: Day 29 - Toulouse, France

We head off nice and early as have a lot of ground to cover. We’re all still basking in the winter sun of Spain and it’s amazing how much difference nice weather can make. We’re all exhausted but the sun and warm air make it impossible to be moody. Good times, windows down as we roll out of Spain and towards France. We pass Montserrat and encounter our second mountain range of the tour. We spend 40 minutes or so debating what it is and where we actually are, but a helpful road sign resolves it all as we whiz past. The Pyrenees! Amazing. Like a hotter drier version of The Alps, it’s beautiful here. We pass towering mountains and plunging valleys and gorges, still lakes, scrubland and it’s all amazing and so completely different to being home. We stop off and get our tourist on at a particularly beautiful valley range (ignoring The Simpsons style power plant on one side) taking snaps and admiring the view. I always find it quite funny looking around at us reprobates in such grand environments. It’s like someone plucked us out of our natural habitat of mess and small English rooms and dunked us into spectacular places that we just don’t belong. We stick out like a sore thumb!

We reluctantly get back in and continue our journey, and the more French and less Spanish things get, the greyer and darker it gets. Hmm. Come on France, cheer up!

By the time we reach Toulouse it is torrential rain. Toulouse is a beautiful place but alas we don’t’ really get to see it, as per usual, and our 7/8 hour journey has taken it out of us so we load in and flop down in the dressing room and wait for Danko Jones to finish soundchecking so we can begin ours.

The venue is modern and quite clinical but there is amazing catering. I’ve said this before but in England you get crisps, bread, ham and cheese etc, here we are served a lunch of home made soup, beautiful salad, selection of continental meats, fresh coffee, wine etc, and a dinner of beautiful pork chops, vegetables and amazing Banoffee Pie. Everyone laughs at me because I thought Banoffee pie was so named due to it coming from Banoffee, when in fact it’s because it’s made with Banana and Toffee. Oops.

Sometimes I watch Danko Jones sound check, and then play and I imagine what it must be like to come half way across the world (they hail from Toronto, Canada) and play to such large crowds, with such great lighting and all that kind of stuff at their disposal. Their sound guy, Corey, has become one of our favourite humans on the planet and is great fun to talk to, or just listen to as he tells one of his stories from his years on the road. Corey has a lot of stories. He’s been touring for 27 years, and DJ themselves have been around a long time too, having toured with the likes of Guns ‘N’ Roses (!). I wonder if the lifestyle ever gets old or if it’s possible to fall out of love with the game (sorry, too many episodes of The Wire). I doubt it, though the miserable weather sure does get old pretty quick.

Tonight’s show is also one of the better ones and we do well selling CDs afterwards. It is really reassuring to know that on a good day we can connect with people that so obviously wouldn’t have thought they’d like our kind of music. We’re all guilty of it, but first impressions or unfounded assumptions cut us off from so many things and experiences we’d probably really like. Makes me wonder what I’m missing out on.

We pack up, head to our hotel and get ready for Paris tomorrow! Can’t believe we’re approaching the last stretch of this tour.


European Tour Diary: Day 28 - Barcelona, Spain

We’ve loved Spain so far, and today our drive is amazing. The scenery is really amazing, arid open flat plains that look like the deserts around LA and jagged hills and mountains.

We can’t get over the fact that it’s so hot in November. Love it! Those of us who didn’t go out lord it over the ones who are now hung over and retreating from the sunlight in the darker corners of the van.
We stop at a service station to eat and refuel. It’s almost like walking into a kitchen, and it’s all Tapas but it’s all strange and unidentifiable food. I eat some meat on skewers and it’s impossible to actually tell what it is, even as you eat it, which is quite unnerving really… Definitely feel unwelcome in here too, lots of stares and scowls. Time to go then.

We drive on and encounter the worst traffic in history. Suddenly the heat is a lot less nice as we’re all stuck in a heated can, and we crawl into Barcelona an hour late and with the opening time approaching. This means it’s a serious case of all hands on deck as the venue staff and we grab all the equipment out of the van (we have acquired a lot and it weighs a couple of tonnes by now) and drag it into the awesome sleek, minimal and very modern building that houses the venue.

Once in I have to rush through a few interviews (including an acoustic run through of weight of the world with the venue staff running around behind me) while the guys get the stuff on stage and sound check. 
We get everything done in time, and head to our dressing room to try and get some food in. Our dressing room today is a corridor that connects to the main stage room so we’re ready to go on at a moments notice. We play the set and for me it’s one of the highlights of the tour. It’s funny, you can never tell what a show is going to be like, sometimes you can be stressed, rushed and disorganized and end up having the best show ever, sometimes you can be relaxed, prepared and confident and then the show will not go your way.

We talked about getting tattooed while we were in Barcelona as there is a specific area with shit loads of great tattoo places but we’ve simply not had time so we hang out by merch, talk to people, then hustle CDs as people are leaving, as per usual.
Head back to the hotel as we have yet another long drive tomorrow to get back to France.


European Tour Diary: Day 27 - Madrid, Spain

Madrid is a beautiful city. We get to the venue and John and me shoot straight off for yet more press in a coffee house nearby. By this time I’ve already had a Red Bull and a coffee but seeing as we’re going to be here a while I order and we sit with our coffees and talk for a while. Doing interviews can be a strange experience because you basically have to, for that period of time, be self centered and talk about yourself and feel very self-important. Easier for some, harder for others. I kind of fall in the middle, I like to think I’m quite good at talking, but sometimes it feels weird going on about myself and my band for ages. Ah well, it’s hardly a problem, and doing press is generally really cool so I have no problem. We talk for quite a while and have to rush back to make our soundcheck.

We’ve spent quite a while figuring out what songs work best on this tour, and which don’t so by now we are quite familiar with everything and it’s just a case of getting our sound on stage right. Mind you, I say that like it’s a small easy thing – on stage sound we’re all happy with is just so rare. The sound on stage is really different to off stage, but it’s probably also because we’re a fussy group of guys. 
We head back stage, begin the process of warming up, eating and generally getting ready for the show. Madrid is wicked and as soon as we’re done we head off to grab a bite to eat in a Mexican restaurant nearby. I want to go on the record and state that Mexican food is my (and ours as a group) favourite food in the world. Tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, whatever – if it’s Mexican I can pretty much guarantee I’ll love it. Head back to the venue, hang out with people that want to say hi, and then pack our gear away.

It’s pretty rare that we’ll go our separate ways for the evening but some of the guys want to party and me and a few others just want to crash so that’s what we do.


European Tour Diary: 2 Days Off in Barcelona

We have two days off so we go to Barcelona to stay there for a day before travelling to Madrid ahead of our show there. The journey is long but amazing, and the sky as the sun sets ahead of us really something, it looks like the sky is on fire and changes colour dramatically, almost looks like a hologram.

We reach Barcelona as night falls, put our bags down in our rooms and all go out for a great Spanish dinner of Tapas and Paella and some huge beers. I have to leave the group and go back to the van to do a quiz live on air for Nick Grimshaw‘s Radio1 show that I fail miserably at (5-2), as well as getting the name of the caller I’m competing against wrong. Sorry Roy.
I meet back up with the guys and we go to some bars around the area that to me looks like Barcelona’s equivalent of Leicester Square called Las Ramblas. Basically it’s full of people selling you touristy shit and dodgy guys everywhere. We’ve been warned about pick pocketing as it’s really common here, and nearly end up in a fight with a drunken polish guy when he tries. As much as it’s cool to be in Barcelona, I get the feeling we aren’t actually really seeing Barcelona.

The next day is much better and we spend some time at an awesome beach in the afternoon. We sit right out at the furthest end of a pier dangling our legs over the beautiful clear water. Looking out at the sea, on a beach in weather that we’d be lucky to get in high summer (in November here) we feel lucky to be here. Sadly we have to get to Madrid so we leave all too soon. We get out of Barcelona and make the drive to Madrid through spectacular wild Spanish scenery. I love Spain, and although we’ve crossed many borders and gone through loads of different countries already, Spain in some ways feels the most like we’re in a totally different country. I guess partly due to the climate, but either way we’re really stoked to be here.


European Tour Diary: Day 24 - Lyon, France

Halloween! I’m an idiot and am unsure if they even really celebrate Halloween here in France. We are all completely zombified from the drive from hell, so it seems only right that we dress up as the misfits for tonight’s show. As usual we’ve left it all completely to the last minute so we use some of Erin (merch girl from Danko Jones)’s fancy dress make up and paint ourselves up as Jerry Only and co. Pretty cool I think!

I do an interview and realise half way through that I pretty much have no idea what I’m actually saying, and I’m not entirely sure that the guy does either. Oh well. We eat; get ready and go on stage. We’ve blagged a new intro to our set for tonight, which is basically just a couple of bars of a misfits song. Great idea but doesn’t sound so good when it comes out at the volume of someones ipod turned up too loud. Most underwhelming set ever. We start playing and my moniters aren’t even turned on which means I can hear nothing. Pretty much goes downhill from there, but we try to play well and hopefully the crowd enjoys our set. Sometimes these things happen and you just have to roll with the punches and do what you can. We traipse off stage heads low and make up running down our faces, flop down in our dressing room and try not to fall asleep. We pack up as soon as we can and head to the hotel for some much needed sleep. I’ve been looking forward to the French shows for ages, so am a bit sad about the bumpy start. C’est La Vie I guess.


European Tour Diary: Day 23 - Dortmund, Germany

Today’s show has been one we’ve been simultaneously looking forward to and been nervous about. We’ve been lucky enough to do a series of short video blogs for the German music website which is great for us and a really cool chance for us to introduce ourselves to the German rock scene, which have all led up to todays event, a 2 day indoor festival in Dortmund. We’re honoured to be playing below John Garcia of seminal stoner rock band Kyuss fame, and the whole thing is being filmed for German rock TV show Rock Palaste which is the equivalent of, we’re told, Top of The Pops in the UK. No pressure then. We arrive in the afternoon and walk in to John Garcia and his band sound checking. This is really really cool. When I was at university I listened to a lot of Kyuss (who counted Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age/Eagles of Death Metal and more) in their ranks and influenced a whole generation of bands, so to see JG up singing on stage is cool. He’s a total rock star, shades on indoors, walking around with that air of someone who just knows they are cool (almost as bad as Ben). We hear rumours of his demands to be moved not just bed, not just room, but hotel when he found what appeared to be a pubic hair on his mattress before coming here. Nice work John, nearly as bad as Fraser.

We mooch around backstage for a while surfing the web or laughing at the fact that our manager Andy accidentally called the band we’re sharing a backstage room with ‘Pink Snot Red’ instead of ‘Pinks Not Red’, before doing an acoustic version song for the website. We’ve done this a few times on this tour now, but this is my favourite time that we’ve performed the song. We wrap it up and have some food and coffee before getting ready to play. The show itself is an odd one. Great stage, great lighting, but the audience is definitely hard to get moving. We aren’t unused to this though, so plug away and do our best. It’s always tough but we plug away and get a good response in the end, which is awesome considering that John Garcia is such a cult figure that most of the people here are die-hard stoner rock fans. Not so much our target audience, perhaps. We get given a CD of filmed footage from our show straight away when we come off stage but I hate watching videos of us playing live so I elect not to watch it.

We hang out, watch Danko Jones and some of John Garcia play before we get ready to leave, which brings me to the other reason we were apprehensive about today. Tomorrow’s show is in Lyon. Lyon is in France. We are in Germany. It’s a 900 kilometre drive and there’s no travel day. This pretty much means we have to leave the show in Dortmund and drive all night and all morning in order to arrive at the venue in time to make our soundcheck the next day in France. Shit. We spend so long in this van anyway being in here for 14/15 hours straight really sucks, let me tell you. You go a bit mad, but it’s all part of the experience, and electing to do it as DIY as we have means you have to do things like this. The guys take shifts of 3 hours or so while I sit in the back enjoying the one time that not being able to drive is a benefit.
I’m beginning to lose track of which country we are actually in.


European Tour Diary: Day 22 - Frankfurt, Germany

We pick Ben and Simon up from the airport as they flew home for a few days, and make our way to Frankfurt, the night before our first show since our little break in Italy. When you spend pretty much every minute of every day together, it feels really strange to spend time apart and it feels like we’ve not seen each other in years. We catch up and grab a bite to eat in a pretty dingy diner by the motorway that is full of what I can only imagine is the German equivalent of chavs, getting pissed and being obnoxious. Nice to know that we aren’t the only country capable of producing meatheads, though we do seem pretty good at it. We eat the food, which is the worst we’ve eaten in our time out here, and leave. Off to the hotel to get some rest.

The next morning we’re all excited to be touring again, the time off has been awesome but it’s been really nice to get back to work and be playing music again. We’re all rested and excited and it feels obvious when we play. We’re all full of energy and it’s one of the more enjoyable shows on the tour so spirits are high. Ahead of us we have one of the tougher stretches of the tour so we try to get as much rest as possible.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

European Tour Diary: Day 17 - Milan, Italy

Italy!!!! Fuck yeah. Always wanted to go here. I spend the majority of the journey attempting to pick up some basic Italian. After tonight we have 4 days off in Milan and I hate feeling so ignorant, not being able to communicate at all, so I at least want to know how to say the basic stuff. I find it really interesting (though I’m pretty sure nobody else in the band cares when I bang on about it…) how close many of the European languages are.
We arrive at the venue in Milan, and my first impressions of Milan are that it ‘s pretty grimy. The venue is in quite an industrial area, but the venue itself is small but cool. The sound system is great, and we like these smaller shows as they’re more cramped and sweaty, kinda like our own shows at home. We graze the rider then me John and Fraser head over to a radio station down the road called Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio to do an interview and play an acoustic song. The DJ is cool and speaks great English but still feels the need to apologise for not being clear enough. We point out the constant truth wherever we go on this continent, which is that undoubtedly his grasp of English is far greater than our grasp of his language. We sign the walls of the corridor outside the studio then head back to the venue. As it gets dark the heavens open, and Milan gets approximately 10,000 times more miserable. Loading out in this will be fun.

There’s no backstage so we loiter around in the front of the venue while people stream in and get ready to play, and laugh at the fact that here the toilet is stuck in the middle of the room with urinals lining the four walls. No cubicle, no nothing, just a toilet on a small platform. Like a throne!

Tonight’s show is probably my favourite of the tour so far, the crowd really get into it and there’s a great atmosphere. Yes! Awesome, thanks Milan. We watch Danko Jones play for a while and wait to load out. When the venue is clear we run out to the van in the downpour, throw open the door and start slinging stuff in. If water damages any of this stuff we’re fucked, but everything is cased up so we should be ok. We squash everything in and shut the doors then head to a bar next to the radio station we were at earlier for some late night dinner and drinks. Our fantasies of fine pizza and pasta are soon dashed when we see the menu. 7 servings of Chicken nuggets and chips per favore.

We are all exhausted, but excited at the idea of having some time off, though it feels a bit strange the idea of parting ways for a few days. A few of us are going to stay here in Milan, some are planning to go to Lake Como, others Venice, and there is even talk of travelling to Monaco. We get into cabs and go to our hotels to pass out.


European Tour Diary: Day 16 - Zurich, Switzerland

We get up early and go into Lindau for some coffee and to look at the town a little bit. We find a pharmacy and stock up on toiletries and vitamins. It is so hard to stay healthy when touring in autumn/winter, so pills, drops, effervescent tablets and whatever else you can use to fight off illness become important and part of your routine. Wander to a little dock and see the boats floating around, gulls in the air and Alps in the distance. I could get used to seeing views like this.
We make our way to Zurich and to our excitement actually travel through the mountains, driving through tunnels burrowed underneath, and roads winding round them, climbing higher and higher. We stop at a bridge that reaches over a river high up on a mountain, take pictures, and throw stuff over the railing. We watch as the coins and pebbles disappear from view before they hit the water. Man we are high up right now.

We continue on through the mountains and drive through the best scenery I’ve ever seen before reaching the border. Luckily we pass without incident and we are on the home stretch to Zurich.

When we arrive, it is obvious that it is the most amazing location for a venue we have ever seen. The venue sits on the edge of a massive river that stretches out all the way to The Alps on the far right. Directly across, Zurich lies on the bank at the foot of the hills behind it. It’s really something.

We get treated to a great dinner in the restaurant that joins the venue, and we make the brave decision to try different meals. Obviously the second the food arrives I regret trying to be different as mine is clearly the most boring. Curse our hive mind mentality. That’s what I get for trying to be different.

We sit outside and let our food digest while we look at the view. A full moon has risen over the hills, and below it Zurich shines in the night. Coupled with the Alps looking on from afar. And it’s incredible. What am I doing here!?

We play the show, do our usual hustle then discuss the idea of going out into Zurich. We spend so long drinking and deciding whether to actually go out or not (and playing on the swings next to the water.... ahem) that before we know it it’s 2 am and going out isn’t even possible anymore. Oops.

Resigned to our fate we drive to our hotel for the night and crash. I won’t forget Zurich in a hurry, though it feels like it’s passed in the blink of an eye.


European Tour Diary: Day 15 - Lindau, Germany

When you’re away for so long, it’s pretty difficult to pack appropriately. Some of us have brought way too little (Fraser…), some of us have brought way too much (Simon, I’m looking at you here…) so there is always shit everywhere, wherever we go. We put stuff back in our suitcases, and try to salvage what we can find that’s clean enough to wear. Luckily, the mini kitchen we had access to had an antiquated washing machine and dryer so we’ve managed to wash some clothes at last. Thank god. We drag our suitcases downstairs and into the van and set off to Lindau.

The journey is long and uneventful and we spend it on our laptops or reading or whatever, but after a few hours someone looks out the window and exclaims. In the distance, over the hills and almost invisible, are The Alps. No way! We crowd the windows taking pictures like the tourists we are. Such an iconic sight, silver-glass-blue mountains with white peaks on a clear afternoon. I’ve never seen them before, or even mountains like these anywhere. Awesome.

We cruise along and The Alps settle to our side, visible every now and again through glimpses in the roadside trees/rocks/hills etc. It’s easy to forget where you are and then things like this bring you back to reality with a jolt.

More tags in the venue, I spy The Blackout’s handiwork on a couch, NOFX and some other cool ones. We play then load out our gear at the back of the venue. Heading into Switzerland (which we are tomorrow) can be tricky – if the border authorities suspect you of being a band with merch they will make you take it all out, they will count it all and tax you for the privilege of taking things across the border that you intend to sell. In itself not unfair, but the tax is super high, so people stash their merch where they can in the hope that if they are searched, their haul won’t be found. We pack some into our home made stage boxes that we use, and put the rest in suitcases, mostly in Simon’s as his is massive.

Lindau is a great little town but being a little town it doesn’t really have much to offer late at night, we leave the venue and head into the outskirts of the town to try and find some late night dinner as we didn’t really get to eat tonight. All that’s open is a McDonald’s, so as depressing as it is, we pull in and go to grab some food. I don’t know if it’s because there isn’t much to do, but it seems like every young person in Lindau goes to McDonald’s to hang out on this Friday night. It must be said, though; even the McDonalds is moderately decent-ish.

We stay in a quaint B&B style hotel for the night. Simon has to drag his suitcase up 3 floors, which at this point is so heavy with all his clothes and extra merch that all the handles snap off. I can hear him rattling up the stairs as with his coffin of a suitcase as we get into our hotel room.

In bed I read for a little while. I am reading a Stephen King book on my Kindle called The Last Gunslinger, about a man named Roland wandering a foreign land looking for answers and chasing something he’s not even sure exists. In many ways I feel the same.

We fall asleep to the sounds of rats scurrying through the walls all night.


European Tour Diary: Day 14 - Vienna, Austria

We turn up to the venue today and it’s more like a compound than a venue, same as most other venues in Europe it seems. I may have talked about this already but I will again now, just in case… Going to a show here is a different experience to the one we’re used to at home in England. In England, you watch the band, spend 5 or ten minutes looking at the merch then are kicked out by security and you make your way home. Here, you stay around, have some beers with your friends in the evening air by the outside bar, often lit by lights in the trees. It’s really nice. Anyway, as I said this place is more like a compound than a venue, it’s a big courtyard with the venue in the middle, and buildings all around, plus another bar to the side. Turns out it was abandoned, and in the 70’s was taken over by squatters who ended up living there for so long they were allowed to keep the place, so did it all up and turned it into a venue. It’s a great communal atmosphere, kind of like if Byker Grove put on gigs. We load all the gear in to the venue before sound check and cross the courtyard (decorated – of course – with graffiti everywhere) with our suitcases and wander into one of the other buildings where we’ll be staying for the night. Our room has a mini kitchen with a fridge full of beer and soft drinks, and food for us to eat, a small bathroom and one big bedroom with three triple bunk beds. The top bunk must be 12 feet up, fuck staying up there!

The whole room has been tagged by bands that have stayed here before us, like most of the backstage areas that you see on the road. The ceiling, the floor, the walls, the bed, the light fixture… It’s one of my favourite parts of touring and seeing different venues, seeing bands that you know personally that have been here before, or bands you are a fan of. It’s cool to think that these people are separately travelling all over the world and converging or crossing at different intersections all over the globe. I imagine a planet covered in wandering dotted lines that occasionally cross over. It feels like we’re part of something, a select group of people living a bizarre life and sharing the same experiences.

One of our favourite stories we remember every now and again is a story told to us by our friend and ex Young Guns member Tom. He and some other friends of ours used to be in a UKHC band called Awoken, and years ago when they were on tour in Europe they stayed in a room with huge triple bunk beds. They made one of our friends who was the other guitarist in Awoken stay on the top bunk. When he went to the toilet in the middle of the night they all leapt out of bed and removed all of the slats from both his top bunk and the middle bunk before gently placing the mattresses back, setting up the camera and getting back into bed. Dan comes back, makes his way up the ladder and hops enthusiastically back into bed before crashing down 10 feet, through two bunks and landing face first on the floor level bed. Brilliant. This is the place! I would never have guessed that when listening to this story years ago, full of envy that they were living this amazing existence, slogging it on the road travelling far and seeing new cities and landscapes with their friends etc, that I would one day be sitting on a bunk in that very same room. It is deeply satisfying and makes me smile.

We soundcheck, have the customary lovely dinner and play our first ever show in Vienna. It’s really great to see a few Young Guns shirts in the crowd, and we meet Lenka and Petra, who have both travelled far to be here, Petra has come 500km to see us play, and Lenka has come from the Czech Republic to be with us tonight. Wow. Thank you guys. I’ve said it before, but it is early days in Europe (and really, in general) for us, but it is so amazing to meet people that are dedicated enough to travel so far just for us. I’m humbled.

I’m still feeling a bit shit so we pack up and I head back for the night to turn in early while some of the other guys have some drinks in the bar nearby. Good night Vienna, see you again some time.