our 1st eurotour diary:::::
day one, travel day to dover!
rendevous redditch, hours of careful planning and following ley lines means that our tour is destined to start from birmingham's "answer" to twin peaks. it takes another hour of pushing, shoving and hoping to realise that there's no way we can fit both our bands and our stuff into our hired splitter. so junior's drums and xbox and katie's guitars get thrown away, we just about manage to fit our bodies in, and we're off.
yaytour! cosytour, mind, its like were on two mini backseats welded together. in fact, you can see the join. we can't complain too much tho, our beloved maddie went to van-heaven last month, we're grateful for anything that doesn't involve walking. spirit lasts about an hour then the van dies on the m25 and we're stranded. hour and a half in the freezing evening hard shoulder and the van is bundled onto a tow lorry. we're shuttled to the next safe place down the road, which turns out to be the carpark for a long abandoned creepy restaurant. us bands wander round taking photos of ghosts and scattered chairs, whilst lea and pete (our tm/soundguy) and the AA men try and recalibrate the flux capacitor. they get bored way before us, the dilithium crystals in the van can only be accessed by a mercedes specialist. so pretty much everyone and the van get a lift to tonight's travel tavern while me and nestor and lea wait for a taxi. wait like, 2 hours. get to travelodge, finish our weed in the carpark, and go to sleep superexcited to see our replacement van.
day two, paradiso, amsterdamn!
our excitement is totally justified when we load up in the morning. the only spare van the company had is like, King Of Splitters. airplane seats! hard drive full of films! curtain dividers! magazine racks! seriously, it breaks our heart to get out when we drive onto the ferry. me and jun and lea pay €10 for a superbreakfast. thats like, £10. its a bit rubbish.... we drop our bags in the hotel in antwerp and get to the paradiso in perfect time. the show is waaaaaay fun, we remember where the nearest cafe is, and people totally remember us (as the idiot english band who lost their passports, but still) and we're treated so well. there's gin in the fridge and the now traditional film crew who drop an amazing hifi dvd of the show to our dressing room after. i demolish the stage slightly by accident at the end, i try to apologise to the crew but they just laugh at me. amsterdamn = awesome. its a total shame we have to leave before we sleep. everyone asks if we'll be back for london calling, i hope we are..
day three fleche d'or, paris!
driving thru paris with a robot hand sticking out of the tiny sliding window trying to highfive passing crowds is more entertaining than any of us thought. hardly anyone responds. stupid anglais.
fleche d'or is mad right, it's based on an old train station. there are rails embedded in the floor and a madmax style train built above the bar. the staff cook food for us, and make sure we all have wine with the meal. this is totally normal in europe. in england you have to bargain with the promotor for mcdonald's money..everyone's supernice to us. weirdly we're on last at stupido'clock, its pretty flattering people stick around. especially since the two support bands are terrible awful rubbish that makes the 8 of us want to apologise to everyone who has come out. they were english so we're allowed to say that. we have a bit of a lamed gig, stuff keeps breaking and the monitors are made of cheese. but we're pro enough to laugh in the face of electrical connections. there's enough people who know our songs to make it feel like home, even if they speak english betterer than us. and they all seem to love us. ahhhhhhhhdontworrrrrry says random beautiful french person, tis alll punkrockkkkk. we do superwell on merch, we were kinda worried, what with not having a record deal here and all. were staying in an etap tonight. but french etaps replace the rape hole with a bath. an actual bath. heaven. this isn't exactly how we imagined paris, apparently we're in the ghetto corner. but it still looks pretty from the 30th floor..
for some stupid reason (qualityburger has an entrance off our hotel foyer) i eat chicken burger for breakfast. we gator around paris for a bit, scoring low on robot hand/native interaction..watch southpark in the van and i drift off watching the alien scenery thru the darkened mirror windows. im half asleep in the van and i think i hear katie talking of how tonight's gig is in an aquarium. and then i wake up, and we load into an aquarium. serious. tis a wierd art/nature centre, there are venues and gardens and a cafe, all in this beautiful old museum building. the venue crew are warm and witty people (total recurring theme alert). this gig's cooked meal and wine takes place an hour before we go on, so we're kinda unprepared. but nothing breaks and we're slipping into tour-smoothness. people are dead silent between songs, half thru politness and half thru translating what we're saying. i feel kinda patronising-tourist dumbing stuff down, but people understand us and dance about accordingly. aces fun. we don't get the lavish rider of sky larkin so we rob off their's. between us we have enough gin to get a whole battleship drunk. we swap an imaginary bag of diamonds for a block of hash with the lighting man, and at the end the bouncer asks us not not smoke it indoors. then he explains it's just because he quit so we should too.
we stay in a mad hotel, our room has themed bed covers. we find some free internet for the first time and send love back home, then climb the fire escape to the larkin's room and gaze out over the city. loads of buildings have amazing lights on the side, it puts the empire state colouring to shame. let alone birmingham's random cubes. its fucking beautiful, these amazing modern skyscrapers with moving blocks of colour and all these ornate cathederalesque buildings. one of them is missing a roof, so amid all this we can see into a small hall where a couple are sharing a bottle of wine looking at us drunken tourist wankers.
i heart touring.
gerbaude 9, cologne!
i wish all venues were like this. warehouse with giant pa and stage one end, and tiny bar room at the other. subs under the stage mean we can feel the music as much as hear it and it's so much fun. today's dish is curry and meats and sweets and two bottles of gin and beers and bread and dips. mushroom dip say wha? the gig goes dead smooth, the new songs feel like old friends and the crowd feels like new friends. we play super well (we heart loud stages) and the room fills up and bounces around. the soundman keeps giving us joints, we get educated on birmingham bands we've never heard of, seemingly everyone wants to talk to us and have us sign stuff, its acessss egotrip. only it's not cos they speak perfect english, and we barely know the difference between "ladies toilet" and "sausage based curry thing". we stay over the river in a beautiful hostel, its called the black sheep, and is, to all intents and purposes, a free house to stay in. our bedroom is the circus room, theres a tent drawn on the walls and various circus flyers pinned to the walls. we wish we had the dragon room tho..
day off! cologne!
aaaaaah another day at the black sheep. we're so lazy today, nestor and pete wake up early and go touristing while the rest of us drag ourselves out to breakfast at 2pm. first we sit on the roof and video a little song with office workers giving us odd looks form the tower over the street. lea doesnt have to drive, he wakes up, yawns, and opens a beer. we find europe's largest music store and depress the fuck out of each other finding bargains we can't afford. we've (our manager has) arranged new shirts to be delivered to hamburg so we have to make sure we have enough to pay the man. doesn't stop us buying lovely €5 pizza. we all get the translations wrong. who'd have thunk that pepperonzi (or something) meant peppers! and carbonara, theres no chicken in that! but its all super tasty and cheap, (beer is cheaper than pop) and we learn words for thank you and eggpizza.. find katie in a tiny record store buying an ancient sonic youth vhs i so would have got if id have got there first. instead i get a wierdy live casiotone single and an approving nod from the owner.
we spend the ends of our pds on chinese takeaway which we eat at black sheep with an overfriendly scottish ex army guy and a netherlands dude who's in town for the kings of leon show. we introduce him to the notwist and he plays us some dylan songs and me and jun and doug sit up in the kitchen after ewveryone else goes to sleep, trying to drink our way thru the rider. and that's where we leave you dear reader, jun's just said something rude to doug about not knowing the joan of arc back catalog, i'm going to roll our last joint, and we're going to go sit on the roof and talk about playing a show in hamburg tomorrow.
day 7, hamburg!
this shit is totally organised.. venue owns an apartment we can spend the night in and our new (NEU!) shirts have arrived before us. the venue is a tiny pub right in touristland,and the rider highlight is a bowl of weirdy chocolate tail things. me and kelly go looking for tape to sort out tshirts but shops in hamburg only sell sex-related stuff and fast food, so we wander down the reeperbahn (of The Beatles Story fame) and take in so much fake tits and dildos and noveltyfuck that we start to feel a bit sick. we go on annoyingly earlier than advertised, so halfway thru room totally fills up. we sell our last saltnpeppa 10". german people like records waaaaaay more than english people. hang around the indie club after, swayed by discount €1 glasses of wine and general palavering. there are girls here wot like boys in bands and we is boys in bands. tradition innit. only, we're not the fucking enemy, so effort is wasted upon us. it's a weird state, being part celebrity and part meat and increasingly drunk. we're not even the fucking wombats, tho we do have grapes. infact, we have a little john malkovich room inbetween rooms we can smoke and eat grapes in. grapes, there always seems to be grapes around these days. take subway to apartment, feel totally german/drunk. 3 hours sleep. psssssssh.
day 8, schorndorff!
we were kinda worried up to this point, no-one we've asked so far has even heard of schorndorff. and as we arrive its kinda obvious why. no chain stores or gaijin pubs, just a little green village made up of sleepy overgrown cul-de-sacs and abandoned tram lines. after the neon drunkery of hamburg, its completely what we needed. the venue itself is a big converted warehouse type thing, with panels of it deliberatly designed to look like they're falling off. tis kinda hard to explain. they so have a washing machine, YAY!, we all queue up for showers and clothes washing and chicken curry like a demented boarding school. the show is superfun, theres a total village fair atmosphere, we sell a ton of shirts, probably mostly down to my "NEU!" sign. there's this weird avantgarde US band on between us, a blatent double booking. i sit on merch and talk to this young couple, soaking up their subtlety free english ; "this band, they are ruining everyone's smiles, by the way is that a girl's hoodie you are wearing?" a lovely guy called phil manages to deliver us some weed. katie's kinda scared by him cos he takes her guitar away and returns it with all the strings tuned to A. at one point, phil asks me to tell the matronly woman on the door how we've invited him into our dressing room. i do so for the sake of drunken bonhomie and receive clearly disapproving nods from matron and mr matron pssssh ..stand outside smoking joints with the natives, pile in to van and drive to munich. being on tour messes up yr bodyclock. we've had about 3 hours sleep, driven all over the place, played a gig, got stoned and we're still not tired. so we walk into town to the burgerking in munich station, and sit watching the 3am gothics mingle around. i stay up too late delving into nestors ds collection, get forced to stop when my sd card dies. byebye every game ive saved in the last month..
day 9, munich!
up early, go sightseeing (and toothbrush buying, stoopidweedmemory). munich's kinda pretty but there's not much to do on a sunday apart from take photos of ornate buildings and not get runover by trams. gamble not eating breakfast against the chances of a filling rider, gamble pays off superwell. 4 different plates of meats and cheeses and fruits and salads and ting, and, right, gin, yeh, thas 47%. thats like, 11% more powerful gin. halfway through our set these 3 crazy guys appear and start airguitaring and dancing and stuff, they totally make the night for us. after the set they tell us how they drove from austria to see us and how we were advertised to be on later. thanks promotorzzzzzzz! apart from that, the whole night is aces. the merch desk is next to the stage and we sit on the side and get drunk and sign things and watch les alloutes. after, we go back to the hotel and sort of slightly trespass in a railway yard to get some photos of TGVs at night. then we get chased out and i make jun take photos of me doing illegal and dangerous things i wont mention (but the pictures are fucking rad).
day 10, zurich!
wake up feeling like tour is going too quickly. spend €3 on awful breakfast and fall asleep on drive to switzerland. wake up at various borders to admire scenery: snow, mountains, snowy mountains, etcraaaaaah. another sumptous buffet rider. tho we're down to 4 bottles of gin. get cFr25 each to buy dinner. put in wallet and make more sandwiches. try sell last band bag for 100cfr but end up being haggled to 15. the gig is a bit flat, kinda feels like a sunday crowd. apparently the town is still reeling from oasis/glasvegas the night before. pretty fucking depressing if we share audiences. the sound on stage is mega tho, we're in our own world somewhat. at the end of the gig i try and run out of the venue with the microphone, i make it halfway down the stairs before i feel the lead taut. pssssssh. the austrian dudes turn up, late again, we give them beers from the beer mountain in the van and they seem slightly happier. i dont think i've even travelled that far to see a band, we feel awful for them..tis a way to make friends.... stay in drab featureless etap. lacking in rapehole again but makes up for it by having thee most featureless toilet any of us have ever seen. s'like, a Defacation Pod. eurgh. find some KKerazzy german video game program with reallife streetfighter skits and try and smoke out of the windows..
day 11, berlin!
8 hour drive epic! we're up at 6, then fall asleep again in the van only to be woken up in a service station at 9 for feeding. we're machines, we need to be kept well. get hideous toothache, fall asleep on the front seat, megalegroom yay. arrive in berlin and step into most surreal day of tour so far. get out the van to get closer look at skylarkin superrfan autograph hunters, only to be presented with superglossy prints of us to be signed as well. tis a good start. wander to chemists - "me, english, tooth kaput", get given "germany's strongest painkillers". is a general sign of decent nights when the staff buy tshirts from you before you even play. berlin has a proper party vibe, and there are people here who're proper into us. like, they have records we made even i dont own. epic fail again with stage times, meaning today's Gutted hat is worn by anita from dresden who drove 2 hours on her own for 3 songs. watching her dance to us is kinda intimidating, she knows the words better than i do. nexttime next time next time.. painkillers and gin = winning combination, i have one drink and feel pleasantly toasted all evening. backstage is upstairs in a big hall with a snes and a giant buffet. me and nestor throw 70c polystrene planes at everyone then we have to say goodbye venue hello hostel. 8 beds in a room but we're all so tired no one even notices who snores most. sleep aided by amazing "kebap", easily the healthiest and tastiest kebabs we'll ever eat, ever..
day offffff. today we've been touristy. well, i mostly slept in the van and scavved internet in a carpark and accidently smashed a bottle of gin. but everyone else went touristing (and bought me a proper soviet hat from checkpoint charlie) and then we watched the police corden off a massive road for a motorcade and then we drink in the street for a bit before we go to white trash, which is like the acest burger restaurant in the world. we eat the same burger that elvis used to eat when he was in berlin. allegedly... feel about as bloated too. drive to rostock in preparation for ferry tomorrow. we're staying in an automated etap. tis kind of eerie, the grass is all overgrown and you get codes for yr room from a desk computer. how future is that? goodnight worlds!
day 13, copenhagen
wake up superearly for ferry. drive to ferry point. can't find ferry. panic! find ferry. stop panic, start picnic. at least, all you can eat breakfast picnic, we're determined to get enough food to last us a few countries. copenhagen is cold. there are girls riding bikes up hills in skirts and nordic model types cavorting around in tshirts and us in hoodies and coats and scarves shivering.
enconsed in our 8 bunk room, we find out that the british embassy has advised englishers not to go to the district we're due to play in. cos gangs keep shooting people there. english people, and people driving vans, and people with nothing to do with gangs. hey, thats us! fortunately, indie rock is a higher power than mere hells angels and turkish ultraviolence and culture clashes. (and we really need to get paid), so we check our 6s, move and fire, watch the shadows and unload into the venue in a slightly hysterical paranoid manner.
todays show is with metronomy, they're combatting the terror threat by being really fucking drunk, so we try to join in too. we have a shit soundcheck, eat awful watercurry before we go on, and the gig is wonderfullll. our guncrime jokes draw scared looks from pete and lea but generous laughter from the crowd. i have a moment watching an insanely beautiful (most people here are insanely beautiful) couple recoil backwards when we come in really loud in a new song, the atmosphere is great. we have to be up at stoopidoclock obviously, so we unload thru metronomy's superlofi lightsho set, and try to redress the good looks balance by clouting hordes of dancing kidzzz with our flight cases. we take a quick walk to the river before bed, super modern and hauntingly serene, never been so cold in my life but wanted to see how long i could last. slept super well, lost etiquette points for snoring.
day 14 oslo,
epic drive thru sweden. spend most of it asleep on stolen berlin pillow. wake up periodically at service stations to be epic confused by currency changes and foodstuffs. at one point i wake up on a ferry half convinced that i'm dreaming. "satnav says so" says lea. who never agrees with satnav thus surrealling up my day even more. buy a sandwhich on green bread with christmas coin money, have half a cigarette in a smoking pod and get bundled back into van and drive thru more postrock landscape beauty. stop for meatballs in ikea. lovely.
gig has shonky sound but is quite fun, we have a few dedicated followers here, and some total mentals. one girl grabs my ass and starts talking superfast to her boyfriend, i ask her what she's doing and she tells me she's helping sell our cds. someone asks nestor if he can watch him pee. someone takes a shit next to the van whilst were loading out. all this whilst the rest of the totally stunningly good looking population wanders round the pub fighting and kissing each other. this is the maddest country in the world but no ones out to shoot us so we sleep pretty good. we dont want this tour to end.
day 15 stockholm,
obviously, the best way to end the most fun tour we've had would be to play at some kind of pixies themed venue, so here we are. not before another trip to ikea where we find you can get FREE SALAD with the meatballs. we get even more lost getting out, it takes half an hour of simsville. anyway, debaser, yeh, there's a range of pixies song themed cocktails, but our van is creaking and weighed down with booze. and we can't take it with us. and leaving all the drink with the crew after a tour is really bad form. i got really drunk and don't remember much of this night. we played ok. kelly's best friend told us a hella embarrassing childhood memory about her. there was a pavement ist rad shirt. the toilets weren't unisex. our friend v from paris lost her job and decided to fly out to see us. that's pretty punk rock. the stage had curtains, i had two unimpressed hardcore girls standing infront of me thru our whole set, and we ended the night as ever, by packing away things into boxes, turning down offers to go to nightclubs we'd hate, and driving to traveltavern for sobering sleep.
about 5 hours later, we flew to heathrow, then to jfk, then caught a cab to our (TOTALLY AWESOME) rented apartment in brooklyn where we sat out on the street with our cases cos someone somewhere wrote the adress down wrong, and we thought, this is so totally us..
but thats another story.
this tour has been fucking acesssss. i know we keep going on about that fact. the late night how lucky are we conversation became a cliche about 3 days in. please don't mistake our eyes wide enthusiams for arrogance and deluded gloating. we're well aware that pretty much everyone we meet, whether shitting in the street or being impeccably cool and foreign, is more financially and emotionally stable than we'll ever be, lest we write a christmas song (retirement plan 1) or get a super-profitable sync (hello top gear!!!!!) and because we're of the righteously naive indie rock demographic (we've got surbUrbia here. on video. pirate video) who judge by music taste and converse choice it's slightly tragic that, the more people who like our band = the more awesome people we meet and more amazing cities we see = the less time we have to meet people or hang out in said amazing cities. it's like, showing you all these alternate worlds you could live in if you got a real job, and at the same time reminding you what yr missing back "home". this is still The Best Job In The World, tho, we're just mardy from jetlag..
we owe massive debts of gin and ting to nestor and katie and doug for letting us share their awesome tour and polluting their environment with us-ness. and even bigger thanks to tour manager pete, who is nothing like ian faith from spinal tap and has amazing taste in music, and even bigger and now traditional thanks to mr lea room for putting up with us and fixing our stuff and losing another two weeks of his life for the cause when he'd rather be on his speedboat being romantic. HAPPY GETTING MARRIED MR ROOM YOU OWE US BIG NOW YES??
also, it's insane how grateful half the people we spoke to were for us coming over when we get treated so much better by promotors and service staff. hot meals! wine! 47%gin! hello barflys! you dont care at all do you?
and and and, thanks to everyone who came to watch us and dance to us and humble us, as soon as this band is over, we're all moving in with you.