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Black Mercies Tour Diary #3

 
By on Tuesday, 12th May 2009 at 2:19 pm
 

stor3Edinburgh, Scotland

Sneeky Pete’s

After a night of haunted revelry and under the table drinking in Ipswich we were ready to cram back into our rental van and head towards Scotland. While most here bristle at the 6 hour drive, honestly, it’s nothing compared to the west coast of the US. When we do a regional tour at home we string shows all the way down from Portland to Los Angeles or San Diego and then high tail it home in one day – usually a 12 to 13 hour proposition – so this stretch was definitely manageable.

Right out of the gate we blew a tire on the motorway and had pull off and fix the mess. . .a van full of gear, an incomplete set of fix it tools and whiskey, guinness & cider on the brain and thick in our bodies made it a bit dicey as cars screamed by us only inches away, but ingenuity prevailed and after a few bloody knuckles we were back on the road.

The day was as beautiful as it gets here this time of year. Quite like Portland, the weather – usually overcast and drizzly – blessed us with a surprisingly blue sky and a warm sun. We drove into the night and arrived in Edinburgh late evening.

We awoke to another massively beautiful day in Edinburgh. Our first stop was at 98.8 LeithFM for an on air interview and acoustic performance with DJ Kevin McHugh. We initially met Kevin in Los Angeles when we played the Knitting Factory our first time out. Kevin splits his time between LA and Edinburgh and is really a top rate fella. We had a blast talking music and enjoyed the decidedly non-corporate feel of the radio station. On to the club:

Sneeky Pete’s is a tiny venue in the middle of Cowgate Street where everything rock, punk and dance happens in Edinburgh. We had a great show and again were amazed by the genuine friendliness of the people and the other bands. First up was Eskimo Blonde – a true rock band – Kings of Leon clashing with Led Zeppelin over the last biscuit at a Kaiser Chiefs tea party – lovely fellas with whom we really got on well. After our set Cry Over Billionaires assaulted the room with a bombast that was truly fantastic – Built to Spill cum Ned’s Atomic Dustbin defiling Dinosaur Jr.’s gear. . .loved it all!

Drunk and disorderly we stumbled our way up to Edinburgh Castle at 1am. I was completely overtaken by the beauty of this city in general and the Castle in particular. . .history is nothing but a blip and a blurrrr in the states. . .

 

Review: The Enemy – Music For The People

 
By on Wednesday, 29th April 2009 at 2:00 pm
 

We live in an awkward time, a time where dollar giants Warner Bros. can sign a band from Coventry and use their marketing people to sell them off as ‘working class heroes’ or (even more cringeworthy) ‘the voice of the credit crunch.’ This band is The Enemy, after the decent debut ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ it was all eyes on the trio to see if they could pass the sophomore curse. They fail. ‘Music For The People’ is 43 minutes of bland noise which sounds like the worst 80s punk bootleg you ever heard. Honestly, the band sound like your dad and uncle just set up a (bad) Clash tribute band. They steal not only musically (London Calling = 51st State) but also seem to rob The Clash’s ideas rather than use them as a muse (Carrear Opportunities = Nation of Check Out Girls). Talking of a muse it leads us to another problem – vocals. It seems whilst Tom Clarke isn’t trying to be the new Joe Strummer he’s busy perfecting his Bellamy moans, the grit of ‘We’ll Live and Die..’ is gone, all that remains is an imposter.

It’s a shame really, the novelty of using tapes to record wears off as 51st State opens though it is a nice touch. No doubt the better tracks (of which there are a couple) will go down well in Wembley when the band support Oasis. However as a whole The Enemy have turned to borderline plagiarism as opposed to develop their own sound. The listener longs for the orchestral brilliance of ‘We’ll Live and Die in These Towns’ or the raw energy of ‘Away From Here.’

It seems the band think it easier to play along with whatever Warner want, a load of Clash rip-offs only with a glossy pop surface.. take this album for what it is – average at best.

5/10

 

Black Mercies Tour Diary #2

 
By on Wednesday, 29th April 2009 at 10:00 am
 

img_0250IPSWICH. . .

The people of Ipswich are amazing!  Gracious, hospitable and super friendly.  We showed up at PJ McGinty just in time to catch the last half of the FA cup match between Arsenal and Chelsea. . .had a pint and then hauled our gear up the treacherous steps to the Blue Room.  Did the usual sound check thing and settled back to watch locals ATLAS open the show with a wonderful sort of Billy Bragg meets Joe Jackson set.  We came on next and were fortunate enough to play to a near capacity room.  However, the night was not without it’s challenges – right from the start our laptop running the keys decided it was going to quit 4 bars into each song. . .what could have happened between a successful sound check and our set time God only knows.  Despite the keyboard failure, we rocked the set out as power trio and got our first encore which was amazing!  The energy was brimming and the crowd was on our side. . .what a great night!!  Following us the Waking Captors laid it out with a more hardcore Constantines-like dissonant punk and the headliners Alpha Road just blew us away with an early “caught by the fuzz” Supergrass type set. . .man those gents were good and again all the fellas were extremely friendly.

Veronica and Dave, the pub manager and booker graciously offered to put us up for free in the flat above the pub.  Built on the original town wall, it is apparently the most haunted in Ipswich. . .the friendly apparitions: a little girl who passed away due to cholera – tugging at your sheets at night, an older gentleman standing behind the television while you watch, a woman dressed in white victorian garb watching as you leave the pub toilet and a Monk who left the church and wound up at the bottom of the well that sits inside of the pub.img_0253

Left Ipswich this morning to the chants of the revellers marching their way to the darby match between Ipswich and Norwich. . .give ém hell Ipswich!

2 miles out had a flat on the motorway. . .no mind. . .we’re all in it together!  fixed the flat and we are now heading out to Edinburgh, Scotland.  We are very excited for this one as we have been asked to come in and do an interview and live acoustic performance on 98.8 Leith FM.

We are doing NO sightseeing and getting what believe to be the real UK experience. . .real people, real countryside.

 

Black Merceries Tour Diary #1

 
By on Saturday, 25th April 2009 at 9:40 pm
 

img_02151So, what do you do when 3 days before you leave to tour the UK your keyboard player still hasn’t received his passport?
Unfortuantely, you stay awake the whole weekend before you leave trying to import keyboard tracks onto your laptop and rock it without him. . .what’s the cliche?  the show must go on. . .so on it goes.

We arrived at Heathrow on Tuesday afternoon and got fleeced on our hotel room. . .is this an omen?  well, we’re here, let’s make the best of it. . .got pissed in the lobby bar and crashed for the rest of the night.  Wednesday morning we drove through London to pick up our rental gear from Matt Snowball Music – great people who were really friendly and very accomodating. . .unbelieveably, we were able to pack our gear into an SUV – though storm and i had to give each other no-commital lap dances for the roll to Colby’s brother’s house where we took a little nappy.

When we checked our email for the specs on the first nights gig at the Jericho Tevern in Oxford, we were surprised to find out that they cancelled the show. . .WTF?  another omen?  steady boys. . .we gotta turn this thing around. . .apparently the headliner – who were to supply the drum and bass backline pulled out of the gig and the promoter decided to pull the whole show. . .sounds dodgy to me.  According to quite a lot of musicians we’ve come in contact with while we’ve been here this sort of thing is not uncommon for the Jericho. . .F#$k ’em. . .let’s go get pissed!  Drank a lot of guinness and jack and geared ourselves up for Club Quattroz in Harlow and what a great night it was! ! ! The crowd was sexy as all get out and the two other bands on the bill (the Campaign and Broken Mile) were great and really superior individuals. . .we are amazingly thankful to be playing here with the likes of them. . .

at any rate, the beer flowed like wine and the rock was at a fever. . .i can only hope that the rest of the tour goes as smashingly as last night went.

img_0222

 

Marvel Tour Diary #1

 
By on Monday, 20th April 2009 at 2:00 pm
 

Hey, Sam here from the band :S. You know, Marvel – like the comics! But not like the comics. Or we’d get sued. Badly.

Before you read the blog, I should make the point that I will be referring to myself in the third person for this article. But if I start writing ‘Sam’ did this and in the same sentence, ‘I‘ did that, know that this is not because I am having an identity crisis, but because Todd and Dom are playing the chords to Wonderwall in some filthy tuning while screaming the words in the background while I am trying to write this blog. Here is photographic evidence:

backgroundnoise

Anyway, enjoy reading our blog! It had been a pretty mad time.

Thursday 2nd April, The Enterprise, Camden Highstreet, with Meateye & Dylan, The Shoe Strung + Bleech

The First day of our ‘Not really a tour Tour’ or ‘Camden tour’ and, after little sleep – never a good idea – the Oxford to London coach roles into Marble Arch. We head to where we will be sleeping most of the next month. Sam decides to open his guitar case ahead of sound check so we can practice some vocals.

Sam: “Strange, the strings feel pretty loose”

[Brief pause]

Sam [broken] “Oh no”

Sam’s left-handed Gibson ES – 335 has snapped at the neck. The only left-handed guitar we have. Sound check is in half an hour. Good start.

We arrive at the venue, sans one guitar and half our keyboard equipment (we won’t be needing it). Tonight, our perfectionist, fine-tuned and practiced set has been thrown violently of the window and lies crumpled on the floor awaiting the paramedics. Instead, we’ve patched together a group of very old songs and so we will now be playing for under 20 minutes. Attendance is good. We understand that the NME is in the audience, which is always nice. Perhaps less than perfect considering the ramshackle state of our set, but we soldier through and things do, in some sense, come off. Roll on tomorrow.

brokenguitar1

Friday 3rd April, Dublin Castle, Camden Town with The Dive + Guerrilla Radio

We are woken by an incensed vaguely Middle Eastern man who yells at Todd for the noise we were making by walking on our floor last night. Evidently he lives below and is hypersensitive to the sound of movement. He shouts. Todd tries to give him the wrong number to call if he needs to get hold of us. He then calls this wrong number. He continues to shout. Todd gives him his real number. The man makes threats. The man leaves.

Thank God that Sam’s cousin was flying to London to see his fiancée- we’ve got him to grab Sam’s battered my-first-guitar from home in Jersey and bring it to us. The cousin’s plane is an hour late because of fog in Gatwick. Sam gets his guitar 10 minutes before sound check. It has no strings.

We get to Dublin Castle. Sam plugs his guitar in. It cuts out erratically throughout sound check. We unscrew it to find that the wires, for no rational reason, are partly unsoldered. So we tighten things up and hope it won’t ruin the set.

So we tear through our set and unexpectedly, the guitar miraculously doesn’t fail to work. Apart from when Sam kicks out the lead. Everything goes to plan. We play our proper set. We got the singing parts right. The keyboard levels are good. People are getting into it. We get a booking on the 13th at the Hope & Anchor. Done.

Tonight we hear one of songs played on a London radio station. They call the song ‘Hero’. The song is actually ‘You Go Nowhere’, the track on the CD before the one they meant to play. Fail.

 

Tour Diary: Hot Toddies #4

 
By on Friday, 17th April 2009 at 4:00 pm
 

Catch the first part of the The Hot Toddies’ Tour Diary here, the second part here and the third part here.

At this point in the tour, our sleep deprived, whiskey addled brains must be forgiven for forgetting any important details. Preston was a blast – we played at a venue called the Mad Ferret. Yet another great show! The singer of the Fifty 50’s graciously hosted all nine of us in his house and it was probably the first night of the whole trip that we all had a bed, couch or air mattress to sleep on. Hurray! In the morning we headed down to Oxford. It was the longest drive of the trip. We saw a lot of cows, sheep, roundabouts and experienced the nice clean rest stops provided in the UK. In the US we usually have the pleasure of stopping at dirty gas stations with nasty bathrooms and buying Cheetos and Coke for lunch but the UK has it done up right with super clean bathrooms, hot soup and fresh sandwiches. Wimpy’s burgers and fries did leave a bit to be desired however…

Oxford was another rockin’ good time. Lots of smiling faces, dancing, and drinking. We headed back to Max’s house after the show and stayed up playing games. The next day we drove to Peterborough and played our last show of the tour at an awesome venue called the Met Lounge. Unfortunately the sound went a bit wonky on stage during out set but everyone in the audience said it was fine so that was good. We did an interview for Radio Nowhere which will be up next Monday so you can check that out too. Another highlight was getting to see our old friend Gurps who came down from Nottingham for the show. Gurps used to be the tour manager for some of our friends Link 80 and RxBandits when they toured the UK. He knows everything about being on the road and managed to score us an impressive 90 beers for 25 pounds from the venue as we were leaving. Obviously, we had another party that night.

Hot Toddies (Oxford)

The Hot Toddies and Foxes! were pretty severely bonded at this point so instead of heading to London for our night off as planned, we went back to Brighton and spent one last evening kicking it with our new buddies. We’re already plotting to get them out to the US this September for our “California Dreamin’ Tour”! Stay tuned for details on that. Overall, we really have to say this tour was amazing. People kept asking if there were any bad shows, and the answer was honestly no! Just can’t wait to do it again… sigh. Over and out, Toddies.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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