Friday, September 19, 2014
I wake up early, around seven. Around about the time Polly normally rises. My body has a hard time shaking the routine. I'm also dying for a piss and go through the usual half hour of convincing myself I'll sleep it off only to eventually get out of bed defeated and piss so hard I'm sure the pan is going to crack. I wake up again around ten, starving. Hungover? Maybe, not sure. Don't feel great but don't feel that bad either. Kev's got the kettle on. Nice one.
A quick shower and I'm ready for some breakfast. We've mistaken check out for eleven, it's actually noon, but I'm in no need of another hour in bed, I need food. Kev pops over to Vik and Luk's room to see what they're up to. He comes back saying they'll be ready in fifteen minutes. I grill him on the situation over there. He tells me that Luk was just getting into the shower and Vik was in his pants. No way. Fifteen minutes my jacksie. We head off and tell them we'll text the info on where we are. I know this will prove to be a wise decision.
Kev, Jack and I actually end up in that oldest pub in Leeds, the Packhorse. Jack had found it last night. We're amongst the first in the joint. Laura joins us shortly afterwards, her and Jack both feeling a little worse for wear. My craving for a beer wins the battle over my conscience and I order a pint of IPA, it's only eleven but fuck it, I'm on tour. I order a Ploughman's to wash it down with. The pint tastes of guilt, not to say it doesn't taste good. The taste of guilt is often sweet. Vik and Luk turn up around twelve and the same, I'm guessing Vik and his conscience are good. “Ahhh, oil”...
Today we're taking the train, changing at Sheffield. Piece of piss. I could get used to touring in this fashion. Would be amazing touring Europe by rail. Vik's wondering loudly where the trolley is at but it doesn't show. There's plenty of space on both trains and we spread ourselves about the carriage, enjoying the space. We get to Nottingham around three and make our way straight to Annie's Burger Shack. She's moved out of the Navigation since we were last here a year ago and now has her own restaurant. The place is stunning. Very New York feel to it, big and spacious with an open kitchen. The bar has some fine choices in ale and the burger menu is just ridiculous, every option coming in either meat, vegetarian or vegan. Kev had contacted Annie a few days before about booking since you're fucked without a reservation, such is the buzz about the place. Annie has come a long way since she arrived from the States back in the Nineties. She's out of town today but she's put us on the guest list and we're taken straight to our table. Pure fucking luxury. It really feels like we're on holiday rather than tour as we're sat in this awesome place, supping on beer, waiting for the grub.
Lee has made the trip down from Glasgow today and gets here in time to order some food before ours arrives. It great to see him as always. He was going to come to Leeds last night and make a weekend of it but he'd picked up the keys to his and Kelly's new house after work and was knackered by the time they were sorted. We've been talking about him following us out on tour if we do a proper stretch in Europe next year, would be like old times again. I hope it happens. Although, any touring from now on will have to be done when I'm on a break from college... Can't risk missing time like this again. Full of burgers we head over to the venue.
Last time we played here some poor bastard was kicked to death in the street, just down the road from the punks stood outside the venue drinking. We pass the spot where it happened, hoping for no such drama tonight. The gig tonight is a bit different from the others on this stretch. Since our mate, Boulty, is the guy who runs the place, we'd managed to get ourselves on the already booked bill. It's a predominantly grind orientated line up, but that's ok for us, sometimes it works being the only hardcore punk band of the night. Plus, we've got a few mates coming down so it should be good. Typically enough though, Endless Grinning Skulls, as well as my old mate Slaven's band Grey Hairs, are playing on the other side of town, supporting the now hyped rant band Sleaford Mods. Really strange. So most of the crew coming tonight aren't actually Nottingham, that lot are all over at the since long sold Mods out show...
One friendly Notts face that is hanging about though is Steve, who plays in Molluch and Beast as God. It's good to see him. I first met him in Leipzig when Molluch were playing with Victims, we've stayed touch somewhat sporadically since then. It's good to catch up with him. It's always good to see Boulty of course, but he's running around like a blue arsed fly during the headlining band's soundcheck. We're not really sure where we're sleeping yet. We stayed here last time, and Boulty tells us we're welcome to do so again, but the room with the mattresses is obviously going to be pretty cosy since two of the other bands are sleeping here already, so we decide to keep our options open. We decide to head to the pub to ponder the situation..
A couple of the old Speedhorn guys, Jay and Dave are here for the show, along with our old friend Jim, who has taken my place in the reformed line up. They were in some pub in town earlier but we’ve missed them by now so we agree to see each other at the show later on. Will be good to see them, I'm chuffed they've come up to hang out. We're deciding on what pub to head to, Kev determined he's not going to the Angel, since whenever we go there he ends up fucked. We argue that we're only having the one but Kev is sceptical. He eventually concedes and we make our way there. Kev leads the way into the pub but before he's even stepped through the doorway we hear a chorus of, “Kev!!!!”
The guys from the X-Rays are stood at the bar, beside a seated Sean who used to play with Kev in Hard to Swallow and is now the landlord of this place. Everyone is delighted with the surprise visit of prodigal son Greenham. The X-Rays boys have obviously been here all day, the lot of them, boats. Sean tells me they'd come in at one this afternoon, decided they were going on a bit of a pub crawl, headed to another pub, drank six pints each and came back. They've been here since. Coop, their bass player, who I've met a few times and is a mutual friend of a lot of people back in the Stockholm scene, spots me and heads over grinning. Coop only has one volume and it's set to shouting. I get caught at the bar with him and the rest of the X-Rays guys, all telling me how much they love Kev, who is presently caught up in conversation with Sean. They've heard we're playing tonight and they ask me roughly around nine or ten times what time we're on. I patiently tell them eight thirty, over and over again. They're all so fucking chuffed that it's hard not to be taken in by their drunken charm. I eventually make my way over to the table where the other guys bar Kev are sat to enjoy what's left of my pint. It's soon time to go and we motion to Kev on his way past our table that we need to leave, he shows us the two pints he's holding in his hands, “Well I told you what would happen if I came here! I've just been bought these two!”
We eventually get out of there, Coop and the X-Rays in tow, the lot of them shouting as we go. We head to the Polish off-licence on the way to pick up some booze for the gig. Gaz, the X-Rays singer is again asking me what time we're playing, he's panicking a bit, saying he's promised his wife he'd be home around ten. I tell him he's got plenty of time. He's worried, saying he has two kids birthday parties to attend tomorrow. One of their other mates that are with us is trying to get through to him, assuring him it's ok, that his wife had told him earlier that he'd could sleep in the spare room tonight, no problems. “What time are you guys playing?”.. Fuck me... We walk into the off license and pick up a few cans of beer each. Gaz buys a bottle of rum and a big bottle of Coke, pours some of the Coke off and tops it up with the bottle of rum. Amazing.
We're too late to see Boulty's new band, apparently they only played for eight minutes. Megaladoom are about to start and after them, we're on. Snitch and Kimmins have arrived, they've driven over to see us play. Really chuffed to see them. I explain to them about the passport situation and tell them I'll most likely see them in Corby next week... The Speedhorn boys turn up a while later, all of them fairly drunk, but Dave is fucking blasted. His eyes are already on the close. Jay is loving every second of it of course. It's good to see Jim. I haven't seen him in a very long time, not since the days that I was in Speedhorn and he in Charger and we toured together. Funny that he's in Speedhorn now. He's a great choice for the job though. It's nice catching up with him.
Megaladoom are of course very doomy, no vocals, just slow, epic riffing for about twenty five minutes. They do it well though. I can see Lee is kind of digging it, right up his alley. Again, we're using other people's amps tonight. I'm on Boulty's beast, whatever it is. If I'm honest then I've had a few, just about on the cusp of reasonable, just. No soundcheck again, just up and blast. I'm pretty chuffed with the sound I've got but I can't hear Luk. I shift my thumb up in the air, demanding more volume from him but he's already on ten. It takes me a while to get to grips with what he's saying until I eventually turn down. I ask Kev if he's got vocals, he shrugs as if to confirm he has but I haven't actually heard anything out of him yet. Fuck it, let's go.'
If it was hard to gage the sound out front last night, it's not that difficult tonight. It's pretty obviously very loud and very chaotic. We're opening with Hypnotic Eye from the split tape with Hello Bastards, the slow song, and then straight into DB followed by Nausea. I've broken a string half way through DB... It replace the string fairly rapidly whilst Luk and Vik make noise but still, it's a pinch in the balls to bring the set to a stop so soon. I don't really take the time to stretch the new string in and Am I Stupid? Or Idiot! is way out of tune. Sounds fucking cack from my side. I tell myself to get it together and by the next song we're ok. But let's face it, it's a pretty pants start to the show. It gets better but the chaotic sound ensues, we've left Boulty pretty much fucked as far as being able to do much with it. The small room has about thirty people plus bands in it anyway, enough to make the place feel pretty decent, and I guess the vibe of our set kind of fits with the backdrop this little DIY space provides.
We spend most of the two headlining bands sets stood outside drinking and catching up with everyone, the sweat is bellowing out of me in the form of stream and I'm in desperate need of the cooling night time air. There are quite a few of us hanging around outside. Kev has clocked how fucked Dave is and has decided to pick on him, give him a bit of hell about the Speedhorn reunion, all in the name of fun. Just like old times again, Kev loves taking the piss out of Dave, it's too easy I guess. Of course, a while later Dave is over to me, little slits for eyes, telling me he's quitting Speedhorn. Love the little berk.
The rest of the Angel crew have left, but Coop is still in the building, down in front of the bands playing air guitar, going mad, t-shirt soaked in sweat. Kev starts taking the piss out of him, playing air bass, but as he does so he catches his thumb nail on one of his belt studs and rips the fucker, blood starts pissing out. I find Kev walking about with a bloodied napkin wrapped a his bulging thumb, looking a little shocked. All he gets out of me and Vik is laughter.
I head inside to catch a little bit of the last band but as is always the case when you play a gig with a lot of mates in attendance, attention is elsewhere. I do get chatting to the headlining band's sound guy afterwards, in one of the rehearsal rooms at the back, he seems a nice enough guy. I come to the realisation whilst we're stood there though that sleeping here tonight isn't really an option. Lee had been lobbying the idea of a Travel Lodge, but the prices are just too high in Nottingham. To think Kev had booked four bus tickets from London to Leeds, two hotel rooms in Leeds, four train tickets from Leeds to Nottingham and four bus tickets back down to London from there for the grand sum of one hundred and four quid, a sixty four quid room at the Travel Lodge in Notts simply wasn't on the cards. And besides, Sean had offered us a place to sleep in the flat above the Angel...
We head over there, leaving Boulty singing nu-metal karaoke at the venue. We arrive with the gear and take it immediately upstairs to the flat. I can't really work out how we're all going to fit into the living room but decide that's not important right there and then. I'm getting pissed tonight and sleep will take care of itself later. To be honest, pissed is the only way sleeping tonight is going to work. We head back downstairs and there's a party going on. Some mate of Sean's is celebrating his 40th and there are a couple of DJ's in, playing old Eighties pop songs. Winner. The Speedhorn guys are in the lounge, along with Dix and a couple of others from Corby. To my amazement, Walpole is also in the building: Jay tells me he'd called and happened to be in Leicester, when he'd heard the boys we're in Nottingham he'd got straight on the train, and now here he sits, shirt buttoned unashamedly halfway down his chest and sunglasses on. He'd best not venture into the bar, he'd get fucking murdered looking like that. Before I even sit down, Walpole has put a shot of Sambuca in front of me.
Everyone is pretty boats but Dave is beyond, his forehead now resting on the table, some band sticker stuck to the back of his head, Jay taking photos. I get talking to one of their mates who has an Orchid t-shirt on, one of my favourite screamo bands, and we blether about music for a bit. Good guy. I recognise him from one of the bands back in Corby. We sit around noshing for a bit longer, Dave invariably coming round now and then to tell me he loves me and he's quitting Speedhorn, Jay lapping up his misery.
They head off to Rock City around one. They ask if I want to follow but there's no fucking chance. Jim has long gone home, probably a good idea. I hug them all goodbye and me and Vik head back into the bar, doing our utmost to avoid brushing Scary Sean, this evil looking punk who plays in The Vile, who is stood at the bar. Fucking terrifying looking bloke. The party is rocking and before long the four DB boy are bopping to Eighties cheese. Luk has got his dancing shoes on. Lee has that smirk on his face. How many times has he witnessed this carry on over the years...
The next hour or so goes by in a blur of bad music, drunken chat with Sean, Luk playing keyboards on the bar top, Kev falling asleep on it, Vik getting his moves on on the dance floor. Luk reminds me of the night before when Vik had been sauced up and moaning about today's skinheads, saying they're all fucking wimps nowadays.. “None of them fight, none of them” he was laughing to himself before shouting at me, “Gaz! Shave my head Gaz, shave my head!” We crack up at him, now with a big grin on his coupon, dancing to Madness.
It must be around three by the time we call it a night, we're amongst the final few left in the bar. I barely remember heading upstairs, although I'm of sound enough mind to brush my teeth and get in to my Don Draper pyjama bottoms. I find a sleeping bag from somewhere, not daring to inspect it for filth, I just crash out on it on the floor beside the table, knowing fine well tomorrow is going to fucking sting...