Sunday, December 23, 2012
New York City
I heart New York City. It hasn't always been that way though. NYC and I had a bit of a rough start.
The first time I was here I had a bit of a nightmare. We were recording the We Will Be Dead Tomorrow album with Speedhorn. Twelve days in Billy and Danny Biohazard's studio just over the river underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We were staying at the Gershwin Hotel on West 34th. St. which was a pretty cool place, inhabited by poseurs and artsy fartsy types. We didn't really fit in there but then we didn't fit in anywhere. As cool as this all sounds though, and it was a fucking privilege to be in New York recording a record, we were all low on money. I think I had something like one hundred and fifty dollars to last me the almost two weeks we were there, which was supposed to be my food fund. Of course, we got steamboats the first night and by the morning of Day Two I had about twenty dollars left. New York is a hard place to be if you're broke. I spent most of my time in the studio anyway, but at that time I was young and didn't think the studio was as fun as I do now, in fact, it bored the tits off me, so I spent most of my two weeks in New York skint and fucking miserable. It wasn't the experience I'd hoped for.
I was convinced after that first visit that New York wasn't the place for me. The next time I was there I fell in love with the place..
I've never tried living there and I think maybe that if I did then I wouldn't handle it too well, much the same as London living would ill suit me I guess, but I love visiting the place and nowadays if I don't get to see the Big Apple at least every couple of years then I get withdrawals. Luckily, thanks in large part to playing in hardcore bands, I've had the chance to go there regularly since that first visit.
When we woke up in the van which was parked near the East River somewhere in Alphabet City, I had that familiar buzz that being in NYC gives me. As an added bonus, we had a day off. Kev and I were first up and the two of us got the fuck out of there as soon as we could. One thing neither of us could be arsed with today was trudging around Manhattan in part of a large group with everyone arguing.
It had been a pretty full on tour, the last time we'd had an actual day off that wasn't spent in the van was way back in El Paso, four days in. And that wasn't exactly a bag of laughs. We were now nearing the end of the tour though, and amazingly we were to spend three days in New York. We had one show which was sandwiched between two free days. Dutch had the van parked up, and apart from moving it back and forth to the venue tomorrow, he wasn't going anywhere until the early hours of the morning in three days time. After the hard slog this tour had been, these three days felt like a holiday.
Kev and I spent the day wondering around the southern part of Manhattan, checking out the usual stops like Generation Records and Bleeker Bob's. We got some great sushi by St. Marks that cost seven dollars, proving you can find cheap grub in New York if you look hard enough. For a while it was almost as if we forgot we were on tour, but then we bumped into Gordon and Jay, with John dragging behind. They seemed to be having a hard time deciding on where they were going or what they were doing. Kev and I fucked off quick smart, giving Gords a wry smile as we did so. I had the feeling he'd rather be walking about on his own. Fuck knows where Daz and Lasse were, they were still asleep in the van when the others had left. We decided we'd meet up later and go for dinner and some beers together anyway. Bianchi was flying in today for some other business, the flash fucker has always got business over here it seems, and was going to catch up with us later. It was always great to see Bianchi, especially out at a bar when he had his company credit card with him. It usually always ended in chaos. Bianchi may be a high flying business man these days, but like the rest of us, he's from Corby, and when Corby collides with Corby, the worst in you normally comes to the surface.
By the time we headed back to the van, sometime around six pm, we were fucking beat. We'd been walking around all day. The rest of the guys were already back. Daz had been in a bar for the best part of the afternoon and the others had joined him there for a couple later on. Lasse had been walking around the city on his own, putting the camera he'd finally gotten around to buying into use. Dutch was nowhere to be seen. After putting our feet up for a half hour we decided we'd head out for a drink and some grub.
After some dinner I took the metro up to mid-town and met up with Bianchi at his hotel for a “meeting”. It was basically an excuse to have a drink and talk shit. He was staying at some fancy gaff overlooking the park, of course. We drank a round of ridiculously expensive Manhattans, what else? and then headed up to his room and had a couple from the mini bar, whilst Bianchi played us some songs from his latest find, some pop band I can't remember the name of that were going to be the next big thing. Before long the old white powder came out, but not being into that shite, in fact it fucking winds me up, I was soon up for heading back out and meeting up with the rest of the boys. I didn't like it that all of a sudden I find myself in some bullshit, seedy little scene and it makes me uncomfortable. Just the cliché of it all is enough to make me puke.
We're soon out of there though and heading in a cab to meet up with the rest of the boys who have found themselves in an Irish bar somewhere around 20th. This scene is just what I was hoping for. A quiet, easy going little place, in fact the only customers were our lot, a friendly bartender and a good pint. We sat at the bar chatting away to the Irish guy who was tending it whilst the drinks slowly slipped down. Bianchi is getting pretty drunk and telling me about some crisis he's going through, whilst Lasse has that cheeky look on his coupon and lobbying for a round of shots. I hadn't really noticed since I'd been sat at the other end of the bar from him, but Daz has slowly and silently gotten himself wankered, although now he wasn't being so silent about it. I don't know what he's said, but the bartender, who we've been getting on royally with all night, is now really pissed off with him. Knowing Daz he's probably called him a cunt and offered him outside, all in the name of humour of course. The bartender is well and truly fucked off with him though and tells him he has to leave. We all sit there in awkward silence as Daz and the bartender have a bit of a stand-off. Daz is refusing to leave. The bartender then comes around the bar, takes a hold of him and starts marching him out of there. Daz looks at us, smarmy grin on his face and calls for us to follow him. The bartender looks at us and says, “No no lads, you are all alright, it's just this prick that has to go.” Chuffed, we all stay where we're sat as Daz is unceremoniously thrown out. The bartender calmly walks back behind the bar and then lines up a row of complimentary shots for us. This is too fucking good to be true! I'm thinking. The bartender now has a broad smile across his face, as do we. We take the shots in hand, look down the length of the bar to the large window that looks out on the busy street, which Daz has his face pressed up against, looking like a sad puppy. We toast him and knock the shots back, the bartender joining us. We then all burst out laughing as Daz slunks off into the night. Fuck knows what Daz had done to offend him but we were chuffed enough. We really were a bunch of cunts when I think about it.
It's pretty late by the time we leave the bar, by which time we're all a bit sauced up. Gords, John and I go by a late night deli on the way back to the van and grab some sandwiches to munch on, the others head to another bar for “one last pint”. When we get back to the van Daz is sat there waiting for us. He looks pretty pissed off. I guess he's been sat here drinking on his own because he hasn't sobered up any. “Alright Daz?” Gords inquires, barely containing the smirk it's shot from. We sit down at the table and tuck into the sarnies. Before long Daz pipes up and let's us know we're a bunch of cunts for deserting him. John reasons that he was being a twat and that he felt it would have been an injustice if we'd all been made to suffer. The two of them start to bicker until eventually Daz mutters those famous last words, “Me and you outside.” He gets up and heads for the door, exuding an unshakable air of confidence. John barely stirs before he's finished off his food. When he's done he wipes the corners of his mouth for crumbs and then calmly stands up and walks out.
Gords and I barely think anything of it until about five minutes later when Dutch appears sleepily from his bunk, wearing nothing but his boxer shorts and looks out of the still open door out on to the street. “What the fuck is wrong with you guys!?!? Your singer is beating your bass player to death!” Me and Gords look at each other, look at the remaining mouthfuls of our food and then continue to eat. “Argh they'll work it out” Gords assures Dutch.
“Seriously guys, for fuck sake!” Dutch implores. Only when our grub is polished off do we get up to inspect the cause of Dutch's worry. We find John sat on top of Daz, who is sprawled out looking fucked, punching Daz repeatedly in the face. “John, leave it now mate, he's done.” John stops, looks up at us, and begrudgingly gets to his feet, leaving Daz lying there in the street. “Fucking prick!” snorts John as he climbs back into the van. Gords and I help Daz to his feet, checking he's not too bad. He's got a bloody scalp and a few scrapes and bruises but otherwise he's ok. The amazing thing about Daz is that he doesn't hold a grudge very long. “I guess I deserved that...” We crack up. It seems John has literally knocked some sense into him.
This is a scene we'd all witnessed many a time, although it was pretty rare during this period of the band. Dutch seemed disgusted with us though. John is still pretty fuming and when we sit Daz down on the sofa in the van, John tells us to keep him the fuck away from him. We check out the top of Daz's head, which is bleeding quite a bit. Gords has a bit a go at John then, “Fuck sake mate, was that really necessary?”
“I barely fucking touched the cunt! He swung at me as soon as I stepped off the van but the daft cunt missed, fell to the ground and hit his head. That's what that cut is! And after that I was pretty much tickling him. Believe me, if I'd gone at him for real the cunt would be on his way to hospital by now!” I throw a glance at Dutch who is stood there looking at us all like we're filth. I try to assure him it's ok, that these things happen now and again. He's just shakes his head and goes back to his bunk.
The rest of the night is pretty much spent in silence, John only muttering now and again the grievances he has with Daz. “A few nights ago I risked getting stabbed for the wanker and now he's offering me out for a fight! Fuck him...” I get the idea though that by now he's starting to feel just a slight pang of guilt..
We play the next night at a big venue right off of Times Square called B.B.King's something or other. The rumours of the fight have spread around the touring party and the Soilent guys are enthusiastically checking out Daz's scalp, which Daz seems to be showing off as some sort of trophy. All is apparently forgotten. Even John is laughing about it now. The SG guys are loving it. A representative from our label comes down to the show, full of the usual fucking hot air about how good things are going with the new album. I don't care. I simply don't care to hear it. He seems worried about the fight we'd had last night, but Bianchi assures him it won't be the last time something like that will happen and that it's nothing to worry about. “These things happen now and again me old mucker!” laughs Bianchi in his usual Del Boy tone.
Being that this is a large club in a major city, and given the experience we've had on similar occasions up to now on this tour, we're all expecting a less than approving response from the crowd. For once though, we're pleasantly surprised. The New York crowd kick off big time. We have a great show and by the time we come off we're all buzzing. We're buzzing after every show, although most of time it's because we're pumped up on the disdain that's been thrown our way from the crowd. Every now and again though, it is nice to get a positive buzz from a show.
We have a drink or two afterwards and talk some mundane shit with the label guy, “We're really going to get behind this album, bring you guys back over on a better bill and blah, blah fucking blah.” I've heard it all so many times that it doesn't even piss me off any more, it simply bores me.
After that we head off to a bar with a couple of friends for a couple of drinks, although the mood is a lot more relaxed tonight. The pair we're out with are a married couple called Sally and Adrian. Sally is from Nottingham, she used to work for Earache and moved out here when Digby set up the doomed-to-fail New York office. She's good friends with Bianchi and she's Kev's ex. To put it mildly she's a bit eccentric, and she gets fucking mental when she's had a few to drink, but I like her all the same. Her and Kev have a sensitive relationship though. Her husband Adrian is a big, quiet guy and no harm to anyone, and since he's always buying the round in we lap the fucker up. After a couple of pints and an oral bombardment from Sally and Bianchi chatter we head back to the van, having made plans to meet up with the three of them the next night.
We spend the next day buying records, Converse shoes and whatever else Manhattan has to offer, you have to take advantage when the dollar is on it's arse... and then we meet up with Bianchi at a bar near his hotel. Before we've even sat down Gords is instructing Bianchi to get his credit card behind the bar. Bianchi just shakes his head, calls Gords a cunt and then gets a round in. Sally and Adrian show up a while later and then Gords goes to work on Adrian's wallet, to the benefit to us all, of course. We're discussing what we should do with our night off in New York City when Sally announces she has got us on the guest list of some low key fashion show over in the Meatpacking District. We all scoff at first and tell her to get to fuck. “Argh! You're such a bunch of twats! Listen, there's a free bar at the do...” Say no more Sally, we're there!
We split up into a couple of taxis and head over. We pull up outside some shady looking warehouse with a line of pretentious looking wankers queuing up outside and immediately I feel a sense of regret at coming here. I'd much rather just be in a pub with a bunch of old boys having a natter. Sally senses my trepidation and gently nudges me towards the cliché knucklehead bouncer stood proudly at the door. We're in without any bother though, Sally's guest list coming good. I can almost feel the people in line horrified by the state of us, looking on in disbelief as we waltz right past them. They must be fucking gutted.
I've barely gotten through the door and located the direction of the bar when some ponce in sunglasses and a scarf approaches me and wraps his arms around me in a loving embrace. “Hey man! Great to see you! I just loved your last film!” For a second I think he's taking the piss out of me but he quickly recoils in embarrassment when he sees the scobbied look on my coupon and I understand he's just made a right knob of himself. We both kind of stand there nervously laughing for a couple of seconds and then go our separate ways. John asks me the fuck that was about. I have no answer.
The place we're in is a dim, narrow room with a bar at the end of it. Off to the side of the bar is another room about the same size, although this room is empty. This is where the fashion show will be held apparently. There are a lot of good looking people in the place. We must stand out like a sore thumb. We converge a few feet away from the bar where we bicker over who is going to find out the crack with the free drinks situation. After a few minutes I'm elected...against my will. I approach the bar and the rest of them shuffle in behind me. The bar staff all look like they're in the modelling industry. I nervously ask this film star looking bartender if it's true that the bar is free, to which she tells me that it's only Jack and Coke and Voddy and Coke that are gratis. Chuffed, I order in a round of Voddy and Cokes.
Now that we've been given the green light, we happily spend the next couple of hours necking free drinks. I completely miss the fashion show. I remember there being a lot of people crowded around in the adjacent room and the modelling taking place on the floor instead of a catwalk. I guess it's kind of like a DIY/punk style fashion show. We spend the next couple of hours getting pissed up on the free bar, the event simply passing us by. The only thing I remember about the whole thing is a slight buzz of excitement in the camp when the rumour goes around that Chloe Sevigny is at the club. Jay goes on about finding her and chatting her up for a while but nothing comes of it. We're locked like flies on shit to the free bar and it's handsome staff.
By the time the fashion show is over and everyone begins to pile back into the bar room where we're still stood, we're all pretty sauced up. I head to the bar for another round of Voddy Cokes. Before the barmaid sets about pouring the drinks she says to me with a condescending look, “You know the bar is no longer free?”. I tell her to hold up with the drinks, that I'll be back in a minute. I can tell she's not holding her breath.
I head back to the guys and deliver the bad news. I get the exact response I'm expecting. The same response I've heard a thousand times from the cunts, “Fuck that then!”. Sally is pretty drunk by now and she's doing her best to convince us to stay. But with the drinks now costing ten dollars a pop we tell her there's no chance. She moans at us for a while, calls us a bunch of cliché small town aresholes, but to no avail. Adrian then pipes up and informs us there's a bar down the road where you get a free hot dog with every drink you order. “Fucking sound!” laughs Gords and in a flash the lot if us are heading to the exit. Sally gives her husband a look that tells him he's in for it later but he's soon washed along in the tide that is the six of us enthusiastically heading towards this new bar.
This next place is far more suited to my tastes. Small place, small crowd, friendly bartender, decent enough jukebox and free grub with every beer purchased. We spend the next hour or so here, devouring hot dogs and beer as if we'd just come from a month in the desert. AC/DC on the jukebox, we're all chuffed.
Sally is a rake thin woman and it doesn't take much for her to get pissed. And when she's pissed she gets wild. Bang on form she starts arguing first with Adrian and then Kev. Before long she's punching Kev, calling him a bastard whilst at the same time telling him she still loves him and that he broke her heart. Kev is having a hard time of it. Adrian just stands there with a weird smirk on his face that's doing a bad job of deflecting the expression of defeat in his eyes. I'm sure he's seen it all before. Bianchi is now in the middle of it, trying to settle things down but being pissed up himself can't really handle the job. Before long it's pretty obvious from the look on the friendly bartender's face that we should get to fuck. Sally continues to fight with Kev out on the street, Kev still looks completely baffled by it all. We grab the first cab that comes our way and pull Kev inside. “Every fucking time...” he mutters as we pull away from a tearful Sally as she now turns her attention to Adrian's poor mug. Whilst this is going on Bianchi is waving us off with a broad smile, seemingly oblivious to the scene behind him.
It's late and it's probably just as well we head back to the van. Our little holiday in New York City coming to an abrupt, if not entertaining end. There is only a few shows left of the tour now. We're heading south again, down through Virginia, Georgia and then back to Texas. New York was the last highlight of the tour for me, and now it's over I'm ready to go home...