We took breakfast at this place called Polly’s Pies which was just next to the car park of the motel. I thought the name promised good things but the quality of the scran didn’t really live up the establishment’s fine name. It was okay though, eggs and hash browns you can’t really go wrong with. The coffee tasted like piss though.
We left around twelve, hoping to get to San Diego in time to enjoy the city a little before show time tonight. Eric was telling us about the guy in reception last night, said he was like something from the Twilight Zone. This old guy with a three strand combover and in the middle of his noggin, a big old boil that was on the point of bursting puss all over the place. He spoke really slowly and kept bending down over the desk all the time so Eric had this boil looking right at him the whole time.
The drive down the highway takes a little longer than hoped for. First we stop into a music store just a few minutes from the motel, Johan needs a new tuner. And then Andy is gone for about twenty minutes, just disappeared, leaving us waiting in the van. Think maybe he was off looking for a pharmacy or something. Probably feeling the burn from last night. It is a beautiful day and the roads are full of people heading to the beach. Wouldn’t mind a dip myself, the ocean looks mighty inviting. Despite the traffic it’s still a pretty nice drive, cruising down the freeway, viewing the green hills with eagles hovering above them on the one side, the Pacific Ocean on the other side and Wings on the stereo.
We arrive at the venue around four pm. It’s right next to the airport, which itself is right in the middle of this hip, low rise area where there are a load of nice looking restaurants and bars selling trendy beer. I’m fascinated by the planes coming in over head. Literally the cross section the venue is on is right at the end of the landing strip and every couple of minutes 737’s are flying over at just a few hundred meters. It’s fucking insane. It goes on until around midnight and it never gets boring.
The venue tonight, The Casbah, is a lot smaller. Seems like it’s a legendary place, judging by the old gig posters on the walls. It’s a sell out tonight at five hundred people. Really small stage, beer garden area out the back where the merch is set up. Perfect. I head off with Eric in search of a parking space for the bus and once sorted we meet the guys and head to the Ballast Point Brewery around the corner. The place is packed and it takes ages to get served but it’s worth it. I take a glass of Serano IPA, which has a great aftertaste of the chili. We sit outside, quaffing away and munching on crispy fries. Can’t help thinking how VIktor DB would love this place and how jealous he’d be of me right now. Life at this very moment isn’t too shabby.
We head back to the venue, pull the van around and load in the gear. Melt Banana are soundchecking when we’re sorting the merch out, it’s loud as balls in here. I get the feeling it’s going to be a sweaty old show tonight. My neck is feeling very fragile, fuck knows how I’ll do during the gig. We have a decent soundcheck ourselves tonight anyway. The SG I used last night though is causing some issues so I try out Eric’s Les Paul. It’s a beautiful black guitar, but the weight of it is the issue. But I try it out and I have to admit, it sounds so much better. Johan’s face lights up when I give it a blast and I know that I’ll be using this guitar tonight. First time ever playing a Les Paul during a gig, we’ll see how it goes. My sloppy style means that I keep hitting the pickup switch so I’ll to try and work my way around it.
We head off for some food after soundcheck, Cookie has made the trip down, and he follows us. We planned to go to this Mexican around the corner, we’d passed it earlier and they had a lot of nice looking veggie options but when we arrive I hear they’ve got a thirty minute wait. We walk down the street, through Little Italy, and come up with nothing. We end up in a fast food burger place that has an okay Quinoa burger and Ballast Point on tap. Does the job. We head back down to the venue, watching the planes fly just overhead as we go. It’s Friday night and the restaurants and bars are packed and it only seems to be us that cares about the planes.
We have a lot better show tonight. The Les Paul takes some getting used to, but I have more energy than last night, it’s not a struggle from the get go thank fuck. The sound on stage is perfect. The crowd seems to be into as well, it’s dark in the small sweaty room but I think there’s some movement going on. We play well too, although Jon has some issues with his sound. Although he doesn’t notice this himself. I clock Andy looking at Jon, he looks like he’s just swallowed a fart and I wonder what’s up but then during the next space you can clearly hear Jon’s guitar screeching and then just cutting out. Johan tells him to check hi leads, Jon looks at him confused, “Is it me?” Thankfully it’s a small issue and we’re soon back on track. We have to cut a song though since the time gets tight, but that’s fine by me. Good gig, a relief to be personally back on track after last night’s ordeal. It’s nice to feel like you’re about to throw up.
We load out on to the street straight after. We borrow some orange cones and put them out on the road, since we’re loading in to the side of the van, directly into traffic, planes flying in just above our heads, the dark of night just adding to the surrealness of it. Once done we head back into the garden area and fix some drinks. The drink tickets are good for any one drink from the bar so I treat myself to a Lagunitas, some old bartender with a face like a slapped arse hands me the beer and leaves me wondering if I’m taking the piss with ordering the good beer on the ticket. A couple of minutes later I’m stood selling merch and Jon comes stoating back from the bar with a gin and tonic, grinning like a Cheshire cat. I drink up the beer and Johan and I send him back with an order for three more.
It doesn’t take long until I’m feeling a bit sauced up. Not pissed, but a bit giggly. Johan is the same. Jon is knocking back the GT’s though, laughing like a hyena. Enjoying the buzz I head into the venue to get a proper look at the Melt Banana show. Once again, they are truly stunning. The crowd are going mad for them. They’re simply a great live band, and the two of them are so nice, and so wonderfully Japanese. You just want to go up and give them a big hug. It’s fun hanging out with them after the show. I say to Agata that Kev says hello and I hear him saying to Yasuko about Kev. I can work it at least since I hear amongst the Japanese, “Bloody Kevin”, it takes Yasuko a second to work out who he means and the Agata says “Hard to Swallow” and then puts his hands to his eyes making a sign for glasses. “Aaaawwww, yes yes!!!” enthuses Yasuko. Brilliant.
We have another couple of drinks whilst Napalm play, I only watch a little from inside since I can see them through the door anyway, and it’s nice standing out here hanging out with Greg who is at their merch table. We meet one of the guys from Bio Crisis who is playing with us tomorrow, he’s telling me about the gig, saying it’s going to be crazy. I hope so.
Eric has had a bit of a chill out in the van and when Napalm are done we load out the merch and start rounding up the troops. We’re heading back to Nath’s tonight so we’ll have the day to chill out in LA tomorrow. We say our goodbyes and by the time we get out of there it’s almost two. I say to Eric that I can take the passenger seat and keep him company. I hope I’m up to the job, I’m feeling a little weak if I’m honest but I know fine well if Jon takes the seat he’ll be asleep in minutes.
We make a stop for chips and coffee but there’s no coffee at the first gas station so it’ll have to be chocolate. Jon is shuffling about the store with two bottles of red wine, fucking wankered. It’s after two though so the guy has to deny him. Just as well. I sit up front with Eric and we blast out some Eighties pop music and have a good chat. I then play him some Strollers records, and then we start taking turns on Spotify. I’m flagging monstrously by the end of the trip but manage to just about make it and we pull up to Nath’s around four thirty. Miraculously there are two spaces right outside Nath’s place so we put the bus right there. We grab our bags and all I can think about is making a beeline for Nath’s bed. Jon falls on his arse as I’m hopping out the van and is wedged between the seats.
We walk through the door and find Nath fast asleep on the couch, his arm hanging down. I touch his hand and scare the life out of him. Wasn’t really the intention but it gives us all a good laugh. I dump my stuff in Nath’s room and Andy pulls in a couple of mattresses from the bus. And then I get a bit of a second wind, aided by the beer Eric gives me. For a moment, sat there in sweat pants besides Nath on the couch, it all makes sense. But when the beer is gone the second wind is well and truly gone and I walk like a zombie to bed. Jon asks me to bring out one of the mattresses, saying that he’s going to sleep out here. By that he means he intends to carry on boozing. I come back with the mattress, dump it on the floor and head back down the hallway. Behind me I hear a crash and and a “Woaaah!” I turn back and find Jon sprawled out over the coffee table, he’s collapsed into and sent a load of beer flying. Nath is cleaning up and Eric is helping Jon up. Jon says sorry, totally hopeless, and then asks for another beer. I head back to bed to the sound of Nath and Eric telling Jon that the bar is closed. By the sound of it, Jon is taking some convincing.