Monday, June 27, 2011

Mercy Buckets

so last month we went and got a proper french record deal with these awesome guys. we've just spent a pretty idyllic week in their company, as part of a mini-promo tour with these awesome guys. here are some words and crappy camera phone pictures of of it:

the first show was a tenth birthday party for hip hip hip's parent company. Ankama is sort of like dreamworks (in french), it's awesome, but their universe is pretty impenetrable to our gcse french..seems to be centred round a bunch of kawai little cats and trolls and things who all hang out in a forest.(en francais). its an mmorpg and a cartoon and a comic and a toyline, and, judging by their beautiful converted ex mill of a headquarters (um, and the fact they have their own pet record label), they're doing pretty well. we get a tour and peer thru open plan layouts at everyone working, its got this awesome atmosphere of people having loads of fun being creative and getting paid for it. /sigh.

mr lea room, if yr reading, we found a french you, but this is the closest we could get to a snidey photo:
for their party they set up a stage and a free bar and bbq and a bouncy castle. We get presented with a massive bottle of french english gin within minutes of getting out of the van. between that, and the exhilaration of playing outdoors in the sun after no sleep and a 15 hour drive, we're pretty contentified. jun eats a raw sausage by mistake. kelly kicks everyones kids of the bouncy castle to take photos.

we have traditional tourbus luck early on when the back doors refuse to open. luckily, there's a man at ankama whom everyone calls mcguyver, and after a brief inspection, he reappears with a massive drill and proceeds to make a giant hole in the back of the van we dont own. pssssssh. nothing fazes us. tom maldini sticks the broken facia of the lock over the hole with chewing gum., and we finish our drinks and drive to the hostel where we'll be staying for the next few days.
i fucking love the feeling of staying in hostels for multiple nights, it's like getting a hotel room for free. we can smoke joints out the window and rehearse stuff and stick maps on walls. only this hostel isn't playing fair, and insists on closing in the day, so we spend the next morning wandering round lille, eating tiny baguettes in cafes and feeling continental. we learn the french for "get out of this museum, you havn't paid".
todays show promises to be a crowd peak, it's a free show for fnac (like hmv, in french) in a converted railway station. the stage manger explains french governments lean really heavily on companies to retain some sense of heritage and reuse buildings as much as possible. so out went the trains and the tracks, and in their place a cinema, an art gallery, a bar, a playground, and a giant venue. it's all super lovely, but we can't take the credit for the audience; we're supporting miles kane, who is as boring as his trousers are tight (these are the kind of metaphors you come up with when watching bands with three drunk girls).

we walk in as the kanesters stuff is being set up. there's families sitting around eating lunch, a coupe of curious girls in artic monkeys tshirts, and the fnac reps, who tell us where catering is, and explain our backstage area is a huge empty cinema behind the stage. The MKs tour manager come over to one of the reps; miles kane can't soundcheck in front of these kids, he surls. oh, ok, she says. she gestures to us; this is one of the support bands. he blanks us all. she goes round, embarrased, asking people to leave. Us and maldini soundcheck in front of about 100 people, we take the piss mercilessly.
there's a pair of knickers on stage during our soundcheck. "fuck alex, go team miles" scrawled in eyeliner on la derrière. both our bands slay, it's a totally sweet show. catering is coldcuts and cake and as much box wine as you can handle. i try and watch a bit of old miley k but it's horrendous, awful pubrock retro piss, recycled so many times that each chord change and pose seems like some dirge ballet of something that might have once meant something to someone. clones get weaker every time and this corpse is powered by corporate swag and swagger and i fucking hate it, its like anti-music.
we finish off the rider, gina maldini splits an apple in half with her bare hands, we're drunk and confident and the lady behind the hostel desk hisses at us to be quiet when we get in..
the next show is the polar opposite, a birthday party for our label bosses girlfriend. we spend an hour rehearsing an acoustic set at ankama hq in one of their video game rooms they have dotted about. srsly, just a room with some massive flatscreens and consoles and sofas, and us ignoring everything.

we made up for it with a massive lunch at the ankama restaurant next door to the ankama salad bar down the street. did more rehearsing in the hostel whilst maldinis went and did some promo, and then all went to fannys house. her cousin supplies a second gin bottle, we smoke lungs in the garden, get fed nibbles and end up so nervous that we're shaking the whole way thru the first song. to 20 people in a living room in robaix.

we elect to go on first for the house parties and it's just as well, maldini take to acoustic sets effortlessly, they sound layered and elegant and everyone's pretty much in awe and goosebumpy by the end of their set.

pack out of hostel and drive to rennes for "hipster garden party". eat predictably awful motorway sandwiches on a 6 hour drive, and once again get greeted at the door with gin and mounds of food. i think angelique is the queen of france, she puts bands on in her garden, puts a bar and some decks in her shed, and makes a bedroom for each band, and spends the night fetching us drinks and cigarettes.
it's like the philly scene all over again, only with a comedy language barrier. we're slightly more confident this time, and play correspondingly worse, but maldini are simply amazing. there's 50 people crammed into a tiny garden all dancing and losing their shit, whilst massive clouds of starlings float above in the sunset and cats watch from the bushes. one of the best shows i'm ever going to see. We get fairly slaughtered, kelly starts wrestling boys and we befriend pretty much everyone and pass out in a haze of forgotten names and french weed.

angelique sleeps in her boyfriends van and reappears in the morning with jeff and fanny and a massive breakfast that we eat outside whilst party stragglers rise and leave around us. we are SO up for playing in peoples gardens right now. today is special tho, we're going to l'orient, which is where jeff used to live; there's a beach and ice cream, he says, you'll like it.

and we more than like it. the beach is amazing, a little cove and then a massive expanse of sand and clear cool atlantic. the ice cream comes out of the machine with strawberry sauce already laced. there's two currents ebbing and flowing into the cove, with loads of little sandbanks and shallows, meaning me and kel can walk like, 10 minutes into the sea without getting our clothes (that) wet. everyone else dives straight in, chris maldini buys a beach ball, a dog comes and steals and bursts it in the cutest way ever, a stranger lends everyone his towl and we walk back along the shoreline to the van and the show. We're playing at an old fishermans pub called le galion. "pirates and prostitutes, now punk bands" says jeff, and it's pretty easy to imagine the debauchery thats taken place in these walls. the room is overlooked by a massive painting of a girl with a shotglass and a cigarette and the stage is loud and hot. we get cooked some amazing fish thing and some amazing pasta thing and drink our meal-wine like pros.

the show is awesome, JB, the owner, takes us aside and tells us we're the best band he's seen in 5 years while the barstaff agree and all queue up for merch. tis lovely. we're too tired from houseparty and beach hijinx to take full advantage of the free bar, we sit and bliss out in a corner while the staff close up the bar, and we drive to JB's flat to sleep ourselves out. He lives on the top floor in a beautiful apartment full off pre war antiques and punk rock posters. i pass out on the couch reading 100 bullets and listening to him and jeff and the soundman finish a bottle of vodka.

and wake up to the sight of jeff in his pants and an army helmet chasing a massive bee around the room. last show day, sad times.

paris is a complete slow heatwave bitch to drive around, but we manage to unload a block away from the venue and we're all on time for soundcheck. it's a bit of a comedown, there's limiters on the pa, we get some chicken bones and two drinks tokens each and its hotter than the sun. some of our friends have flown to see us, and vee comes down in her formal role as parisian ambassador to english indie rock. there's 11 people not counting our entourage. and 9 of them are on our guestlist, so it feels like a private party. the kind you have to go to the offlicence and sneak yr own drink in. maldini slay, and we play our trademark sloppy and overly emotional last gig. everyone comes onstage at the end and we drag it out to a teary eyed conclusion and pack away for the last time.

we have a ferry at 5.30am, calais to the real world, which gives us just enough time to scream crazy around the arc du triomphe and go for a wander underneath the eiffel tower. its 1am on monday morning and the cafes and bars are still humming. there's couples walking dogs, kids drinking and smoking on the grass, it's an amazing relaxed vibe unlike any other capital city monument we've ever seen before, totally tranquil and serene. france is totally rad.

"the next tour will be proper" says jeff, "this was just to introduce everyone and have some fun".. it was more than fun, it was a totally productive and awesome holiday, and the most consistently happy tour we've done for ages.

massive thanks to jeff and fanny and guilliames, we couldn't have lucked out with a better or more fun label. also, to everyone that fed us and put us up and came out to see us. we'll be back super soon with an actual record to promote..

also, screaming maldini yeh, fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. absolutely incredible jaw dropping goosebumping jazzed up shimmery pop songs and lovely lovely people. they lent us equipment and gave us snacks and drove us around. you can't ask for than that.

ok, back to being enigmatically quiet about the record now. we've just got an almost finished mix of the most epic song we've ever done and it's blown my ears off. i hope it does yrs too.


Jay said...

Holy moly, I finished reading that with a tear in my eye. 'mazing stuff, chuffed for you guys.

Romain said...

Awesome tour report. It sounds like it was a blast overall. Now, I just wish I would have been in France to see you guys and the Maldinis. I am part of Jeff, Angélique and all that Rennes crew but I now live in Ohio. If you ever come to the US I would be more than happy to help you out with a couple of gigs in the Midwest (where the punk/DIY scene is more than amazing)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an absolutely amazing adventure, particularly the garden parties. I'm mildly in love with Angelique x

Arnaud said...

Best show of 2011 at Angelique's garden ! Rennes loves you guys.

Anonymous said...

This place is one of the best to spend my Christmas vacation together with my family and children. Thanks for sharing this!

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