I’m three lines away from finishing All Of The Words for album four (last minute natch) and it feels weird. Like, the process of writing the album IS the album for me, and it’s a joint away from being over. I’m standing awkwardly with this record in front of some grand capital city station entrance, about to break up with it, knowing this is the end of whatever and trying to make sure the last things I say are something more than another glib Hold Steady reference.
We have to get over each other and move on, me and this record. I hope that when it finally gets off that train and meets you all, it finds someone to love it as much as I do. I mean, did. This metaphor is broken.
Its been ages since I moaned about stuff on the internet right?
One question we always get asked is, when are you coming back to Canada. Seriously, people in Toronot think we’re famous or something, it’s kinda awesome and very flattering and up until today, the answer has always been -soon. Well, now, it’s looking like -probably never.
In the 10 mins research I’ve just done, I’ve seen various figures quoted, from $450/band to $275/member to $425/member. And $150 for every non Canadian touring personel, like soundmen and crew and drivers.
These are fees the promotor is obliged to pay the government, every show.
I don’t really understand why tour taxes and visas are so expensive for musicians whatever country they crop up in; sure, we’re prancing into your country plying our trade but it’s not like we’re replaceable workers that can easily be locally sourced. We stay in your hotels, we get our merch and transport and gear and fat bellies from your industries, and if we’re worth it then us and you have more fun and the promotors live on to do it all again. It seems shitty that we’re treated like we’re coming to steal work from the locals (and thats a whole other stupid arguement), and it’s drastically unfair that cost is the same whether we’re selling out arenas or we’re just johnny fucking foreigner.
And beautiful weird Canada hey seemed to understand that more than anyone. There was a period a few years ago where the government roamed the streets throwing money at any kid that wanted to start a band. Then a few years later, everyone was like wow! Hot hot heat broken social scene most serene republic crystal castles the weakerthans! It was proof that investing in art and talent leads to global rewards and reputation. Chadvril probably accounts for half their GDP.
Oh yeh, also, this tax is only for clubs and bars right? Not arenas and megadomes. So if promotors can’t take the hit, then they’ll move up to bigger venues, cos you can’t magic an extra $2000 a night from a 200 cap. venue. Or, they won’t because all those arenas already have staff, thanks. So they’ll just put on the same local or national bands, to dimishing returns, until they give up. All that energy, that ethic, that pride that you guys deserved so much from the 2000s, wasted, and the only overseas acts will be the same international dullards that we’ve all been kicking against in the first place. Why don’t we all just stick to our own countries. It’s progress! Mumford and Sons are still coming, and these cheeseburgers are cooked to the same standards wherever we are. URGHHHH.
Canada, you know France, right? Take a tip from them and fucking riot. No, wait, first sign the petition, (theres gotta be a petition right?), wait for the government you pay to represent you to ignore it, and then riot.
We have rehearsal in 5 hlurs. I’m going to go mumble Crass lyrics in my sleep. YOU CAN DO BETTER.
A record of that time us and Playlounge did a Eurotour.
day 1, Birminghasm
We host a leaving party in our lock up. Kinda spontaneous ill thought out idea that we excel at, but we rob procedure from our friends in Chicago (apart from the no booze rule) and everything turns out rad.
The Spills and My Psychoanalyst and Mutes play with us and everyone is awesome, and not enough/not too few people turn up to mean we can probably do it again. Go home and sleep for 3 hours. On tour, in own bed, sucks.
day 2, Travel day
Drive from Birmingham to Amsterdam, via a glistening morning sea and some other countries, throw our luggage into a hostel, find a coffee shop, aaaannndd relax.
day 3. Berlin
The autobahn hates us. Realise I should have bought van pillow and resolve to steal one from next bad hostel. Pick up our merch with seconds to spare, run late into sound-checks, miraculously perform rock show.. Oh yeh, fridays, autobahns, terrible, didnt you know this? everyone says. Feel like tourists. Steve and Laura brsss come out to see us, they’ve relocated to make a record. That’s doing band right, that is. Wander around Berlin being all overwhelmed at how relaxed and friendly everyone is. Me Sam and Lewes wander down a leafy alley onto a river to find a nice bed time smoke point, there’s music and people noise spilling from every apartment and at one point we get tailed by a small group seeking The Party. We’re as geographically blind as them and lead them to a dead end, but it’s reassuring to know we don’t walk like tourists.
day 4, Krakow
We’re here for Green Zoo, a multi venue sprawl of a festival featuring a million bands we’ve never heard of, and Vera Cruz, and us. The police show up during soundcheck and complain about noise levels. So we shut the doors and promise (lie) to turn down. Our show the last set of in evening in a tree-shady courtyard, it’s a beautiful evening, and when we fall off stage at the end, there’s a tray of mysterious shots waiting for us. This is going to be a recurring theme. We get taken to another venue for an afterparty, this weird dilapidated bar that’s half punk venue, half secret garden. Sit down in a cavernous room to watch Enchanted Hunters, get goosebump overwhelmed by their weird glacial beauty. When I come out Lewes and Jun have been sexually assaulted by some tourist baiting ho. Which, I guess, is the polar opposite of what I’d just felt and thus the universe realigning itself. Krakow is pretty and special but it’s good to be reminded we’re not in the Englands. We’re on the list for the big party to end the night, but we’re all tourtired. The friendly dude who walks us to our apartment leads us thru the nightlife into a massive park. The whole of Krakow is just hanging out with eachother in the park at 2am. Dude leaves us with a joint of synthetic weed, so we’re kinda fuzzy by the time we get to the apartment. We cant translate the words but going from signage alone, we’re staying above some kind of sex place. Or a place that makes signs for sex places. Synthetic weed is kinda weird and very druggggy, but we manage not to eat each other.
day 5, Drive Day
Drive to Pag in Croatia. 15 hours. or 17 hours. just 2 more hours. 29 hours. another half hour. 365 hours. Makes little difference. We are officially delirious, so when we do arrive at our little holiday home, it seems almost natural that the owner’s grandchildren are waiting round a big table with dinner prepared for us, but the lack of van engine noise is eerie as fuck. We go find our beach by phone torchlight, and after half a dozen accidently breaking into other people’s gardens, we find steps that go down and down and down and holy shit water so clear you can’t actually see it zomg. We’ve made our way onto a thin stone jetty and we lie down awestruck for a bit and wonder what this place actually looks like in the day. The silence is pure and almost solid.
day 6, Holiday
There should be a japanese word for that; the big reveal when you arrive somewhere at night and wake up with no clue what the view from yr window will be. We have hit the fucking jackpot. Our beach has wifi, our home is awesome, currency rates mean we can buy all the shop, and the weather is too perfect. So we cut the legs off our skinny jeans and go swimming and do some casual urbex and walk around the town drinking cheap wine like tourist kings.
Finish evening by watching Beavis and Butthead and drinking in the bath. Sleep like champions until about 6am when God’s Personal Thunderstorm erupts on our roof and everyone wakes. We scramble to rescue drying clothes from our balcony and the rain is so thick it’s like a sheet of pure grey and it sounds like the a million airplanes crashing into each other above our roof. Jun’s half stuck in a dream where I’m losing a UFC bout, which only adds to the surreal.
day 7, Zagreb
We wake up and Pag is sunny again. The only signs of the storm are my soaking jeans and a cloud halfway down the mountains opposite us.
Drive thru only slightly war-torn and lush green Croatia to the new Paramore album. My longstanding opinion - that Paramore is for people too stupid for Pretty Girls Make Graves - is rescinded under giant pop chorus and 80s steals.Trying to find the club, on a university campus, is frustrating Dan so he parks up by a gate and goes hunting on foot. We get beeped as soon as he’s out of sight. - “you are blocking the exit ramp” shouts a voice from the car squeezing round us. None of us drive. “It’s not an exit-ramp, it’s a just an exit” I shout, helpfully. When we find it, K-set is thee coolest venue, a converted warehouse with a post apocalyptic theme and a huge stage to run around on. The show is rad. We meet Tena who paid like E400 to fly to see us in the Netherlands a couple of years ago and only found out we cancelled on arriving at the venue. So we play some songs from a couple of years ago’s setlist and she cries, takes me to a cigarette shop, and we all go sit outside our hostel and get destroyed. It is nice.
Develop unifying hippy theory of tour: We go to these places all over the world and meet a bunch of people who have the same shoes/records/hair etc as us and it’s kinda tribal and priviledged and super cool, but these people grew up so far out of our mainstream, they don’t even know Bill and Ted and Wayne’s World. BUT now thanks to magic internet, they know Game of Thrones and The Avengers at pretty much the same timeframe we do. Is this a good thing for humanity; discuss with strangers till you finish your bottle of wine and the lady behind the desk says - oh you brought some cheap Zagreb wine and you try and be cultured and reply - oh no i picked it up from a local store in Pag and she says - no, only our cheap wine turns your mouth blue like that and turns over the bottle in yr hand to show the Zagreb label.
So I’m the last to bed and the night staff decide the best way to show me to our rooms is via a tour of the artworks on the walls and mysterious hipflask shots. They asked us to plug their establishment, so, for the record, Hostel Fancy in Zagreb is the finest and friendliest and cleanest and sweetest place we’ve ever stayed (with the hugest softest and totally morally unstealable pillows EVA) and we all kinda want an excuse to go back.
day 8, Holiday
A homemade sign above our room reads “Remember, nothing is impossible; even the word itself says “I’m possible”. Wake up and decide I must be hangover proof.
Our next mini break is in Budapest, and from reputation, the Croatia/Hungary border is the hardest and harshest to cross. There’s carnets and vignettes we think we need but don’t have and there’s probably more we don’t even know about, so it’s totally not hilarious when the Customs Agents demand to look thru our gear and we can’t open the back of the van. At all. We try kicking, shaking, punching, crying, but it’s no use. What was once a lockable and fully openable set of rear doors is now an impenetrable sheet of metal, and we’re left with no choice but to drive back into Croatia to find a Mercedes specialist at 6pm. Obviously that doesn’t happen and the third garage we take the van to has a man with a blowtorch who cuts merry fuck out of the door panels and shows us a tiny thread that messed up the lock, frayed from too many years of enthusiastic slamming.
James has developed a Colonel Kurtz esque persona from all the stress. Everything we do is now prefaced by an increasingly drunk and dramatic motivatinal speech. Back to the border, open the back, look, amps and guitars and stuff, fine, drive to Budapest. We get to our hostel about 2am and wander round agog. Budapest is fucking gorgeous, and you get a way better feel for a city when all its occupants are in bed. End up waiting for Mcdonalds to open for cheap breakfasts. Actually not, we decide waiting outside a McDonalds is waay too tourist, so we kill ten minutes waiting out front of a beautiful ornate old hotel turned strip club instead. It’s called “4playlounge”.
day 9, Holiday
We hang out on a dual carriage way turned riverbank by the floods, Colonel Kurtz leads us up a giant hill, we walk back down the hill, hang around some ornate squares, and then get taken out to the 3rd greatest bar in the world. Apparently. It’s pure William Gibson porn, a courtyard gajin ruin bar of the highest order, where the prominent common language is americanised english and the walls are covered by pop culture ephemera There’s a bunch of bars in the corners, each selling something different. A projector plays out faux-vintage videos of surfing dogs and me and Laurie’s seat is wedged in the bonnet of a long dead Mini Cooper. It’s vaguely cheap and unbusy enough to sit down and relax. Which we do, into drinks called “zombies”. which are basically, all the rums. One of Jun and James’s friends lives out here, a real concert pro, practising piano for 15 hours a day. How do you stay focused for so long? I ask. She writes the name of some quasi legal imported japanese chemicals into the internet enabled sheet of glass that is my phone, and my Gibson fantasy is fully realised. Stop at a taco bar on the way home and pile all our native currency into tequila shots. The tequila tastes like ethanol and the tacos are technically enchiladas, but it’s still a better quality of day off than we’re used to. Annoyingly, the hostel staff are lovely and even (sort of) forgive us for smoking in the room, so I’m still pillowless.
day 10, Bratislava
Slovakia is charmingly rundown and friendly. Todays venue is another reclaimed warehouse. If Croatia wins at -post apocalyptic themes, Slovakia gets just -post apocalyptic. There’s discarded theatre props everywhere and Martin has to pretty much rebuild the PA. It’s totally us. It’s an excitable crowd and there’s dancing and crowdsurfing and other fine international symbols of Good Gig. At one point some kid yells at kelly to get her rat out. Someone pulls him out and he reappears three songs later missing most of his clothes with a crazy gappy beaming smile. and i eat the first goulash that didn’t remind me of terrible nan-made stew. The promotor is an awesome lady called Tana, and we stay at her house, which is what we in England would call a Giant Fucking Mansion. There’s cabinets lined with trophies won by her brother, a dancer and retired in his twenties, and the two of them stay up with us. At one point, they disappear and return with plates of salad and meats and cheeses and weird localfoods, and we demolish half of it before they come back with cutlery. Tourists. At some point Tana decants these shots made by her grandad in their vineyard. 40- 50% proof, she says. They taste like a hug. Everyone else covers their glasses when she goes to refill. It’s ok, I am hangover proof.
day 11, Prague
Klub 007 is a legendary Prague punk venue. We stumbled on it accidentally a few years ago, had an awesome night, and vowed drunkenly to return. Feels good to keep that promise, and it’s the same crew that come out to meet us when we pull up. Kelly finds some JF 2010! graffiti in the girls toilet. Everything runs super fast cos they have a 10pm curfew, People pile in, we play, it’s sweaty and loud and rad, people leave. Dan buys everyone absinthe shots and as I’m puking my guts up 15 seconds later in a cubicle i have deja vu. Realise I have never once kept down a shot of absinthe. The hostel is spiteful and shitty but we’re in UK stag do central so I guess it’s to be accepted. There’s a big poster for our show in reception. I ask if I can take it. -It’s not my poster, I couldn’t let you- simpers the clerk. Bastards just lost themselves a pillow.
day 12, Freiburg
And back down into Germany, to the White Rabbit, on my comfy new pillow. It’s an awesome cellar venue in a queit playmobil town. Schneider the promotor is great. - Here are some cakes, I doubt anyone will show up, but lets enjoy ourselves. There’s no stage, we play on the floor. - Just ask if you want a drink. I don’t think anyone is coming, but you can smoke your weed in here if you like. In the end, enough people show up to form a front row and we dedicate a song to each of them. Got to smoke a joint onstage tho, dudepoints.
day 13, Aachen
Schnieder meets us at the venue and buys us all sorts of rad breakfast food. Paprika overload. - Beautiful weather, big festival the day before, no one was going to show up, he grins. -Would you like to take some drinks with you?
Back into the van, back up the autobahn. Another rad past discovery, Az in Aachen is a reclaimed nazi bunker, run by a vegan punk community. That’s a thing, in Europe.
The main room is an awesome space that we could never hope to fill. but with a giant sounding and unsweaty stage. So we’re pretty disappointed on wheeling amps in, when we’re directed thru the room to a sidestage in the back bar. Massive downgrade, we scowl at each other.
Persistent asking leads to finding out the promotor was sick of being the only one prepared to move the PA from room to room so it stays in the bar. -Building PAs is what I do for a living. and there’s like, 10 of us, says Martin. So we build the PA, and fuck it, 30 people is nothing in a room like that but we sound like gods. The opening band are great and sound like North of America.
(also best show flyer ever)
day 14, Hamburg
Another downgrade; Molotows downstairs nightclub is closed for the Summer, so we play in the window.of the upstairs bar. Well, half of us do, Kellys stands by the side wall and i stand in the doorway, and it’s fucking rammed and dancey and its an awesome if a little cramped show. I sing “walked out on the reeperbahn” and then walk out on the reeperbahn when kelly sings the chorus. and nothing happens. idk what i was expecting. The owner is lovely, she tells us how the council want to close her down and it’s the only independent club left on the strip. There’s “don’t close us down!” signs all over the windows and it’s kinda sad cos every stupid british indie band ever has played this bar. Outside there’s girls, there’s always girls in Hamburg, and they always seem kinda let down that we’re not Lads On Tour, so we talk awkwardly on the pavement till the bar shuts. They teach us how to recognise whores (bum bags) and dealers (black guys) and once again everyone has heard of Game of Thrones but noones seen Wayne’s World. le sigh. Suffering disconnect. We stay at a band apartment. there’s a pleasing lack of cocks drawn on the walls but the amount of indie backslappery graffiti on the posters is enough to Luke Haines me into a homesick mardy and I fall asleep on the internet.
day 15, Utrecht
Spend the morning slumming round the boutique part of Hamburg. I get pulled aside in an anti-facist trinket store, two women asking to take my photo for some fashion magazine. I’m so taken aback i forget indie legs, and have to shuffle out past them hoping they don’t notice the rip in the ass of my £7.99 jeans. Debate whether or not to book centreparcs for day off. Centreparcs is cheap off season. Centrearcs has fucking pedalos. Centreparcs is booked. Of rock biographers, Kelly has brought a book purpoting to be Shaun Ryders memiors, but ghost written by some hack cunt from the Daily Sport. It’s’s car crash reading, and I ignore the beautiful passing landscapes to learn the whys (smack) and hows (other peoples money) of the happy fucking mondays. It has some subconcious effect cos as soon as the bus stops I grab my passport and head into the nearest coffee shop to buy drugs. The venue is a stuffy box with no aircon and we have a prolonged and sweaty soundcheck as Martin struggles to teach the house techs how all their fancy equipment works.
There’s rider hassle too, for the first time on this tour we have to argue for gin. Dan does his best hxc TM impersonation and we get half our beer removed for three doubles and some muttered insults. Shit deal, but we need it to stave off the encroaching sense of the real world, 3 days out and closing fast. We expect the show to be shit and maybe because of that, it’s really not. I lose my sunglasses. It’s probably symbolic. Impressive weed tho.
day 16, Holiday
Centreparcs. All worries forgotten. Ride Pedaloes in around lake in pouring rain. Ride bikes out to the turbines on the highway. Drink Orange Chocolate Booze drink. Eat massive buffet dinner and go ride bikes some more.
I come back early because the bath is frankly, sublime, whilst everyone else goes and forms a bike gang. Me and Martin are sitting on our porch and i’m smoking a joint of - tomorrow we cross a border - proportions, and a smart middle aged lady comes out of the neigbouring cottage. - Excuse me, the teenagers staying around you are my students. I can see you are here to relax so I apologise if their noise disturbs you.
When it gets dark we go ride bikes some more. ILU 4evacentreparcs
Here is the Bike Gang everyone formed when I was in the bath.
day 17, Antwerp
Belgian ghosting. The venue is a big concrete cube next to a bunch of other concrete cubes in some fields. We think it’s a college but it could be a factory or a storage yard or maybe a film set just for us. The last show of tour is always weird. Everything’s regimented and smooth and it feels like im watching a movie of me do a gig. And i keep getting distracted by the real world; what bills are jamming my letterbox, whats my bank balance in sterling, where am i sleeping, do i need a pillow? Look back to the screen and i’m still being me, soundchecking, smoking, drinking gin that someone i never met bought me for free, doing a gig. The show is nice, everyone’s friendly and laughs at our bad jokes and we drink all the drink and pack up and cram ourselves back into the van and Dan drives us back out of the bubble.
And it’s over, with shitty UK McDonalds breakfast at a service station outside dover, and grey loomy clouds that openly mock our homemade shorts. We’re deposited unceremoniously back into our real lives where we know what the foods taste like and where the toilets are. Don’t ever trust anyone who tells you they never want to travel.
Thanks to Laurie and Sam for being 100% awesome humans to live inside a travelling metal box with. Thanks be to Dan and Martin and James for driving and soundguying and techguying and all the extra shit we made you do. Thanks to all you awesome promotors in every corner creating little cliques and scenes that obsess over exactly the same bands as we do even tho you don’t know what -schwing means. Sorry to the guy I shouted at in Zagreb. Thanks be to all the owners and landlords and managers and organisers of the places we played and slept in, we tried not to leave a mess. Thanks to everyone who came. Thanks to Europe, specifically and in general. Lets make this a thing.
See you all next time!
Friday August 2nd - Y Not, Derby
we are definitely Thee Coolest West Midlands Band here.
Saturday 3 August, Tropical Hotdog Reunion
Sunset Cinema Club are the only band in the world that can reform whenever they like and still keep their legend. This is going to be special.
Friday 9th August, Listener in London agswhkeahksgkdad
Capital City Fanboy Deathtrip 2013 continues. A few tickets left here..
Friday 30th August, Cardiff
that is a lovely poster. TICKETYLINKY
Saturday 31st August, ArcTanGent, Bristolwe’re playing a Rock Festival so no ballads.
THEN WE’RE GOING TO MAKE AN ALBUM I HOPE THATS OK WITH YOU xoxo