Wednesday, 21 December 2011

High Noon Tour Days 33-34

Days  33 and 34.

With the shows in Perth cancelled we have no reason to go there so the homeward flights are brought forward. I decide to stay out until Xmas to try and blag a couple of acoustic gigs, find the elusive sun and maybe write some music in a different setting. The other guys get booked on a last minute flight and are right now in the air somewhere over Asia, winging their way home with Lamont no doubt eating his body weight in aeroplane food.
The tour has had incredible highs and some sad lows, but we have done it. We have brought our music to the other side of the world, made friends, fans and hopefully established ourselves enough to do it all again in the near future. The emotions have been intense at times and I have kept some the details out of the diary as I need to let some things fester so i can write them into songs at a later date. Like a fine wine that reaches maturity, then goes bitter...that’s when we uncork it, add a riff and press record.
Happy Christmas and Happy New Year. Until next time.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 32

Day 32  11/12/11
I’m not totally sure I have my dates and days 100% right with this diary, but with the odd event being recorded on the wrong day the actual sequence is pretty much spot on.
We have a show tonight at The Annandale, right near the hotel. Its to be our last in Sydney, but the day looks beautiful so before worrying about the gig we decide to make the most of the weather and head to Bondi. It has rained constantly during our time here, but this morning was incredible and set to be a scorcher, however on arriving at Bondi we see one of the most amazing, fake looking storm clouds i have ever seen, and before you know it its raining, very hard indeed. We go and drop Mike’s guitar back to him on the way back to the hotel wondering what it is we have done to anger the rain gods.
The gig is an all-dayer, with us on early evening. A couple of local bands kindly lend us some gear and we play a respectable set before going for dinner.
It seems that most of the Aussie pubs have a book makers section in them. Drinking and gambling clearly going hand in hand. This pub is no exception, but with no money to place bets we end up just trying to pick winners for fun from the vast array of sports and races beemed from across the world. Dog racing from Singapore, horses from the west coast, horse and cart racing from somewhere else, football from Asia....gambling addiction must be rife here.

High Noon tour Day 31

Day 31  10/12/11

Tonight’s gig as at Oxford Art’s Factory, right in Darlinghurst, the scene of last night’s bad bar choices. It seems we should have chosen this place as its a cool little venue with good sound, good people and the other bands are damn good too.
Outside we see a sunglasses (at night) wearing Asian guy filing a pop video. He’s dancing along the street with the camera man trying not to fall over the people in his way. This little stretch of town seems slightly more alternative and if they manage ot get a shot without some hairy rocker in the background giving the finger i’ll be surprised. I just admire the guys guts to get out and dance like such an idiot without any apparent discomfort. There’s no way i could do it, that’s for sure.
After the gig a couple of us go to a bar called Gaslight. It has a roof terrace and its from there that i can see the moon which appears to have a black bruise in its side. I had no idea but apparently there’s to be a lunar eclipse tonight and here I am in the perfect place to see it. A cheer goes up when it appears totally eclipsed only for it to die down when people realise that last, somewhat faster covering was in fact cloud. Eventually the moon disappears and I suddenly think i ought to call Si. He is back at the hotel and missing out on something I’m sure he’d like. He seems enthused by my call and I feel a little pleasure in spreading the joy. Its not until i see him properly a day later that i ask him if he saw the lunar eclipse. With no sense of irony he said “I went outside and looked, but couldn’t see the moon at all.” No-one else found this funny, but its shit like that that really tickles me.

Friday, 16 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 30.

Day 30  9/12/11

Mike is a musician who has forged a successful path in both the UK and Australia, right now he is in Bondi and that’s where i drive with Si. On the way we get a call about picking up another guitar in a different part of town so go to do that first. However we arrive at the shop and get told the hire department is elsewhere. After far too long we finally get the damn thing, needed for tonight’s acoustic gig and manage to get to Mike’s before he heads of to play his own show.
We relate our tale to him, of the Asian tour, of arriving in Oz and of the ups and downs since we got here. Telling it to someone else somehow clarifies in my mind what i said before about feeling a little down, but knowing really i’m still very lucky. Mike recounts a few stories himself and its good to know that our situation is far from unique and maybe just a rite of passage.
We head to the Taphouse where we’re playing tonight, somewhere we played first in fact on this Oz leg of the tour. The stage sound is bizarre, the one monitor crackling like a broken radio and we have no idea if people can hear us properly out the front, but we battle through, playing every song we could possibly pull off acoustically.
Afterwards we head into Darlinghurst, every bar is populated by muscled guys in vests and girls with skirts shorter than I imagine their parents would approve of. The whole place feels like a meat market, or maybe we just chose the wrong places to go, but we give up and head home.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 29

Day 29  8/12/11

Tonight’s show is at The Metro in central Sydney. One of the main venues in the city. Soundcheck goes without a hitch and then Lamont and I are asked to go and do a video interview for Moshcam TV. To the question “What were some of the first songs you played on guitar?” I answered, “Old Rock n Roll classics, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly and Buckcherry........hang on that’s not right?!!” So if anyone sees it I am not a Buckcherry fan, just a dyslexic interviewee.
A friend of ours asks to go on the guest list for the gig tonight so we put him down, plus one of course. Later on as we’re eating he texts to say he’ll not be able to make it now, so we speak to the two German students sat near us and say if they want to go to a gig for free and say they are “Mr Cannot Be Named plus 1” they’ll get in. It was pretty cool to see when we went onstage two tall, blonde haired kids come running up to the front of the stage, dancing, swing their beers everywhere...shout “Thanks guys!” and head off before we’ve had time to get off stage. Youthful enthusiasm at its best.
After the show we head to Tatler’s bar...somewhere the locals we have mentioned it to all seem to think is bad, but after loud music and noise a quiet, discreet little place like this, with some jazzy band playing was a welcome break. The International Swingers guys were there too along with some of their friends and it was with some sadness we realised this was already to be our last show together.  Clem Burke is one of Lamont’s heroes and I found Jon stood watching Clem play a cowbell. Nothing else, just a cowbell, jamming along with the jazz band. Its an odd sight, first Clem playing cowbell in this situation, then the normally very composed Jon looking with awe at his hero play something even your gran could play. Cute really.
At a ridiculous time in the morning we heads back to the hotel. I check my e-mails and see that a friend of ours, Mike is in town and can lend us a guitar for tomorrow’s acoustic gig. 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 27-28

Day 27-28  6/12/11

Its raining...still...oh no, hang on a second...there’s blue skies!! A quick ring around the guys and I find Lamont is up for doing something fun with the day. We decide to borrow the car and drive to Botany Bay to see where Captain Cook came ashore, then head up to the cliff top nearby and try and see the humpback whales.
On the drive we’re chatting away and Lamont pulls into a queue at the traffic lights. After 5 minutes we notice the queue hasn’t moved, at this point we realise we have just pulled in behind a line of parked cars. Well done.
Eventually we make it to the national park area and the Botany Bay visitor centre. Its deserted and the sky suddenly goes grey, it looks like we timed it just about as badly as only we seem to be able to. We hurry down to Cook’s landing spot feeling highly unimpressed by the scene off the coast. To the right an oil refinery, to the left a sewage pipe and over head plane after plane going into the main airport. It could be beautiful, but instead its just a bit shit.
We jump back into the car to get up to the cliff top area to see the whales, but on the way the heavens open and we eventually stand for 5 minutes in the pouring rain looking at slate grey seas only to discover the whales are long gone and only come here in the winter.
The whole trip is a disaster so on the way back we pull in for a beer at the Taphouse. We played our first show here acoustically about a week agao and we get some free drinks and an offer of another show. Cool so at least it wasn’t a total waste of a day!
The next day i can’t remember what happened, but it was probably a non-descript day with me writing diary entries and the other guys fixing their gear.

Monday, 12 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 26

Day 26  5/12/11

Back into the Subaru iBack Breaker 2000 we go. I take the first shift driving, wanting to get it out the way and then attempt to sleep for some of the journey. As usual i fail (to sleep, not drive) but as i have nothing to do but stare at the scenery going by I do manage to spot some live kangaroos. Finally! Lots of dead ones littered about the road this time and we even see a truck with what appears to be a kangaroo plough on the front for clearing the way. That’d be an odd job.
Its a long day of just sitting doing nothing and conversation is at a minimum, not because we’re hating eachother, we’re just lost in our own thoughts/iPods/daydreams. We’re not sure if any more shows have been booked in Sydney to replace some of the cancelled ones and we feel like we’re not headed on an adventure, but returning to some familiar, grey, dull fate.  However it dawns on me that I’m in Australia, watching kangaroos jump a wire fence, driving between Melbourne and Sydney, here because of the music we make and I’m essentially one lucky fucker. That’s the problem with plans....if you make them and they go wrong you can sometimes fail to see that the resulting alternative is not bad, its just different. Resolving to not be such a miserable bastard and maybe to call home at some point I get back to my usual role of irritating whoever is awake and eventually we pull up at the hotel in Sydney, in the dark, exhausted, but maybe more inclined to accept things for what they are.

High Noon Tour Day 25

Day 25 4/12/11

Daytimes on tour can feel like limbo. Your work, your activity and your focus is all on the evening, so you’re either travelling, solving a problem or if neither of those things need doing you’re just resting or killing time. With no real desire to head into the city and wander around shops or go to a pub we spend the whole day playing cards, feeling a little ropey from the night before. As the day looks like it will crawl right by us we have a call from my friend Laura offering for us to go over to her and her boyfriend’s place for a BBQ. Boredom day is now gorge on meat day. We head to Coles (the big supermarket here) grab some meat, some beer and head over to an area of the town called Northcote.
Everyone seems relaxed, but there’s still a vague air of depression amongst us which we hope will be lifted by tonight’s show @ The Prague.
The venue is known as a bit of a home for metal, but this all day show seems pretty chilled out and there are some bluesy bands on before us. I go outside with Si for a smoke and look at the posters for the upcoming shows. One black metal band’s logo is so spikey and blood soaked that it pretty much just looks like someone has had their kitten attack a piece of paper, then use the scratches as their name. The other notable band were ‘Cunt Butcher’. I predict big things for them, although something tells me they aren't totally serious.
We also talk to some locals and meet a woman who is one of the writers of Aussie soap opera turned UK TV institution, Neighbours. Now most bands want to appear cool and say they grew up watching nothing but Clockwork Orange on repeat followed by their Dad’s collection of French Art-house cinema classics. Well we’re all of an age where there were just 4 TV channels and when you got in from school you either watched ITV for Home and Away or BBC1 for Neighbours. I happened to be a Neighbours lad. People like this woman have done more for the integration of Aussie culture in the UK than anyone since Crocodile Dundee. Recalling classic episodes like the Bouncer the dog’s demise, the one with the cricket ball going through a window and Harold Bishop being found working in a Salvation Army store 10 years after going missing in the water and discovering that the guy who plays the character Toadie is a bit of a cock takes us up to gig time. We’re on last and decide to play pretty much every song we have...why not? The more the better. Its actually a real luxury to be able to play a well paced set and not have to decide if its to be 30 minutes of calm or 30 minutes of noise. After the gig we head of with Bo and his friend on a fruitless Sunday night search for a bar that is open. After driving all over town we finally find somewhere that is still serving and settle in for a few beers and a bit of banter before heading home. Tomorrow we return to Sydney (again), just another 10 hour drive.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 24

Day 24 – 3/12/11

A bit of a nothing day.....get up, find coffee in a nearby cafe. Ignore how hungry I am as my wallet appears to be empty. Change guitar strings, re-glue my pedalboard’s Velcro lining then head to the gig.
Tonight’s was at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne. So close to our hotel it felt like we should have walked it, but still had too much gear to do that. The venue looks great and the sound guys are the same as last night so everything should be fairly painless. The stage even has a curtain so when we finally take to the stage we can set up our gear without being watched and with the amazing luxury of light on the stage! Most soundchecks are done in the light with not too much stress and no-one watching you. The stage is tidy and even then it can be a hassle connecting everything together, getting power cables to where they need to be and keeping track of what belongs to who. Then you pack it away until you actually play. This means re-setting up in the almost total darkenss onstage, with none of the power sockets you’d set up being where they were thanks to the previous can’t speak to eachother to solve a problem as there’s music blaring and this is all done under the watchful gaze of the front row. Its not a gripe, its just the reality of gigging, but its amazing how much you appreciate getting to do it with the lights on (!) after years of groping in the dark.
The actual set runs perfectly and personally it think it is the best i have ever played. I’m drenched in sweat after, but feel fucking great. Our friend Bo bails on a Foo Fighters gig early to come for a beer and we all watch the headline band, beer in hand with at least some feeling of things turning a corner for the better.
After the gig we head to Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane (i kid you not!) and James and I take to the dance floor. Amazingly the dancing there is so bad we blend in and end the night in classic fashion. Half cut, exhausted, but laughing and feeling like a gang. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 23

Day twenty three 2/12/11

I slept most of the day which was just bliss. I keep talking about it in this diary, but I rarely manage to sleep late, no matter how tired i am, and managing to sleep until after lunch was just what i needed.
I even volunteered to drive the band to tonight’s show at Geelong, about an hour or so outside the main city of Melbourne. After mistaking my brake pedal for the clutch again right in front of an oncoming tram we settled down to a thankfully short trip in the Subaru Discomfort 2000.
When we arrived at the venue there seemed to be activity, a soundcheck in progress with actual soundmen and a real band. Our few shows in Oz had resigned us to the fact this was never going to happen, but here was the evidence it could be done and with a sense of coming home we slipped into the routine we’re more used to back home.
The band sound checking were The International Swingers....a sort of super group made up of ex Sex Pistols, Blondie’s and Faces to name a few. We got introduced briefly before our soundcheck, but no real chance to talk which for Lamont was frustrating as the band’s drummer Clem Burke is one of his idols. Plenty of time yet though mate.
In the whole time we’ve been in Oz we have not seen one massive killer, bite-you-fuck-you-eat-you-and-your-family-spider. Well i’d managed to find a half dead Wolf Spider (google it) in the laundry room, but Si inparticular wanted to taste the adrenalin on something up close and personal. So with some surprise I noticed on the floor, right in front of me, in the dark a massive spider whilst we were playing. I was signing at the time and stuck at the mic, but with no lack of professionalism tried to get Si’s attention. I failed miserably and to the audience probably just looked like i’d pulled off a Peter Garrett move (UK people, Google him). Before the song ended the spider had gone and Si is still to this day to see anything bigger than a thumbnail.
During the set Si managed to break string after string so we had to change the set on the fly, playing a pretty unusual collection of songs, but the crowd seemed to get into it so we were happy.
After the gig I got talking to Lamont and realised he knows nothing about Nine Inch Nails! One of my favourite all time bands I decided we should listen to The Fragile on the way back to the hotel. Sadly two things were against us. One: The stereo in the car whilst now working sounded like it was dying a fate worse than its previous death; and Two: Si’s iPod being on shuffle. I have brought this up with him before....he likes to choose an album, but then let the iPod randomise the songs from that album. To me this is bizarre and with an album that is structured and conceived as ‘complete album’, not just a collection of songs, it is almost like vandalism. For any NIN fans you’ll know CD1 (The Left) of The Fragile starts with Somewhat Damaged, then the incredible The Day The World Went Away....the short, but necessary The Frail before launching into The Wretched. That’s just the first few tracks, but they HAVE to be listened to in order to fully appreciate them. Well, that’s my opinion anyway. I wonder if people will feel the same about our CDs?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 22

Day twenty two 1/12/11

Si’s birthday.

I was given a package of cards and presents when in the UK to take to Oz and give to Si on his birthday and it is with some pride i actually remember to do this. I wake him with a “Happy Birthday Mr Jackson” and watch him get a little teary eyed as he reads the messages from his loved ones. Very sweet indeed.
I go to make myself some food in the hotel’s self catering kitchen as i’d managed to find some gluten free bread on the journey down. There’s two slices left and i’m starving, however i very generously set aside a quarter of a slice for Si as it is his big day. I then spot a few candles lying in a cupboard and with some stolen peanut butter (sorry to whoever it belonged to) piled high on the toast quarter and a candle stuck in the top i go back to the room i’m sharing with Si and sing him happy birthday. He seems genuinely pleased which is great as i can’t afford to get him a real present.
From being told earlier in the week we’d had most of the tour cut, we’re told that tonight we’ll in fact be playing two shows. Its good to be busy.
The first is at The Laundry Bar in Fitzroy. A few friends from the UK attend the gig and some Aussie friends we know from our travels too. The other bands lend us their amps and drums and its a pretty good start to the night.
The second show is in an area of town called St Kilda, nearer the water. A local guy called Bo has booked us the show and meets as at the venue at midnight (almost sounds romantic) with guitar amps and before we know it we’re playing to a room full of VERY drunk party goers. I think we could have played anything in 5 different keys at the same time and they’d have enjoyed it....there’s tough crowds, normal crowds and then crowds that you cannot fail with. This was one of those.
We head outside to cool off and have a quick cigarette. A girl walks past in a strapless dress that really could have done with straps. However i think she is too drunk to notice just how welcoming her evening’s look is, but the more sober boyfriend who appears 5 mins later saying “has anyone seen a tiny girl with massive tits?” with a worried look on his face is definitely aware of the wardrobe malfunction she was suffering. 

High Noon Tour Day 21

Day twenty one 30/11/11

A day of travel awaits, Sydney to Melbourne by car to be exact. On the map it looks like its just down the road, but is in fact a 1000km trip and the sat nav tells us its going to take 10 hours. We’ll be meeting the tour manager down in Melbourne, he is flying there with the other band so lends us his car and we’re happy to take turns driving ourselves. Seems like it could be an adventure as we have no real rush and hopefully we’ll see Kangaroos on the way, stop in some small interesting town for food, take a know, a bit like when you drive down to Cornwall and take the scenic route.
However we didn’t see any kangaroos, not even dead ones. The towns on the way remind me of the out-of-town American style shopping warehouses we get in the UK and the car’s radio/CD player doesn’t seem to work. It could be there are amazing places to see and we managed to miss them, but its a weirdly soulless trip and we end up just taking 2 hour shifts at the wheel with a grim determination to reach Melbourne as fast as possible. Plus my legs are killing me. No idea why, but about an hour into the journey they start hurting as though i have already done a 12 hour trip in a couped up plane. I whinge to the others, but get very little sympathy and no offers of massages to decline.
When it comes to my turn to drive it becomes apparent that I’m not used to driving an automatic and give the guys a few scary moments when i push my foot hard on the ‘clutch’ only to discover it is the brake and everyone has to peel themselves off the seat back in front of them. James pulls his usual trick of managing to sleep most of the way, Si plugs himself into his ipad and Lamont snacks for most of the journey.  With no ability to sleep, no food and no entertainment gadget I have nothing to focus on but the fact this car has the most uncomfortable seats i have ever sat on. Subaru Outbacker, you have broken me!
As night falls we pull up to our hotel in Melbourne and decide to have one small fizzy yellow drink each before crashing out. We go to the local pub and meet our first local. He tells us about some kind of cannibal in Melbourne, then, as far as i can tell insinuates it is in fact him. Maybe i miss-heard, but it is quite possible he’d like to eat us. Looking around the table to see if the other guys had heard what i did i realise that with James looking like a tasty crab stick i'd be safe for eat least one course. With that comforting thought we make our excuses and head back to the hotel.

High Noon Tour Day 19 - 20

Days nineteen to twenty 28/11/11 to 29/11/11

I can’t remember the order that things happened over the next couple of days. I do know however that the weather finally cleared up and we actually had something we’d recognise as Australian summer weather. Considering how low our spirits still were after the bad news we’d received it did go some way to picking us up. We did also get told some of the shows would still be going ahead and we weren’t quite as stranded and we’d first thought. Thank fuck.
With a few days off before travelling to Melbourne we decided to take a band visit to the beach. As you can imagine this is not our natural habitat and we were somewhat unprepared. I have been to Sydney before and had visited Bondi beach. The locals think of this as the main tourist beach, usually full or drunken Irish guys getting caught in rip tides and posing men and women flexing their bronzed bodies so we decided to go to one of the smaller ones....something a little more underground. What we didn’t think about was that once we got to this cooler, quieter beach there’d be no shops....and we had no beach type stuff so ended up walking in heavy black clothes a couple of miles to Bondi to get to the beach shops. Asking the sales assistant for the cheapest shorts, towels and sun cream they sold they walked onto Sydney’s main tourist beach, horrifically white or flesh, squinty of eye and decked out in bargain basement garb. Cool dudes.
With only the smallest fear of sharks, jellyfish and stingrays Si and I plunged into the surprisingly cold water and spent an hour playing around like little kids, getting flattened by waves, getting in the way of surfers and inhaling a good deal of water. I haven’t been in the sea for years and years and I have to say i can see the appeal right away of having such simple, healthy, free fun on your doorstep. Lamont agrees, but admits Brighton beach right by his house is not quite the same.
After noticing we were starting to go a little pink despite slapping on layer after layer of sun cream we head back home only to discover that in the shade that ‘slight pink’ looks more like 3rd degree burns. James has it the worst with a pink front and white back with a perfect line where the two colours meet down his side. Si dubs him ‘Crab-Stick Boy’.
On the bus on the way home I look down at my newly aquired shorts and wonder if they were the right choice. I ask Lamont what he thinks of them. His response? "Oh for fuck's sake Jon, for 5 wonderful minutes i forgot i was hanging around with a bloke wearing those disgusting shorts." Where did i put that receipt?
Also on one of these sunny days we get invited to a roof top BBQ over looking the city. The guys who invite us are hairdressers so as well as a bloody good feed we all get freshly trimmed up for the rest of the tour ahead. Thank you kind, unnamed hosts.

High Noon Tour Day 18

Day Eighteen 27/11/11

Ok, i have had a looong break from writing. With almost no internet access, no computer access and some disappointing news the whole tour diary became less of a priority and i’m now writing from memory some 10 days after the events. I’m going to get as much in as i can remember, but God knows if the order is correct and i’m sure to be missing some interesting details.

The bad news i just mentioned came when the tour’s promoter came to our hotel room to tell us the headline band were pulling most of the Australian dates from their tour.
That means we’re here in Oz, having promoted loads of shows, arranged gear, transport, merchandise, accommodation and people to meet up with only to discover we’re only going to be playing a handful of shows over the next 5-6 weeks.
To say we were bummed out is an understatement. We were shell shocked and were expecting to be told we’d be flying home.
Soon after getting the news however we did actually have a gig to do, so we decided to put aside any worries until the next day and get on with the job in hand.
We were booked to play The Gaelic Hotel (most pubs and venues here are called The Something Hotel) in support of a local band, Red Fire Red. Our work sheet says load in is 3pm until 6pm, so we show up around 6 as we have so little to take with us. Around 8pm the other bands show up and we learn another lesson about Australian gigging. Soundchecks are uncommon and punctuality is a concept not recognised by 90% of the musicians here. In the mean time we meet a few guys drinking in the bar and manage to get ourselves onto a guest list for a ‘hot club’ later in the night. More on that later.
The show itself is great and we take out a lot of the day’s frustrations onstage, playing one of our angriest sets to date, but we can’t help be feel directionless as we pack up our gear. Conversation is limited and everyone seems in their own world.
Si and I decide to go find this club in Kings Cross and with a couple of Aussie friends go on to test our ‘All Aussie Beer Is The Same’ theory in hope of blocking out the inevitable reality that needs to be faced tomorrow. It turns out Kings Cross is something of a colourful district in town. Depending on your taste it is either the greatest place ever to have existed or its like Fake Boob night at Tiger Tiger. Like ducks to water we do not take and after marvelling at the wildlife’s anatomical displays settle down into a more cosy bar called Dive Bar. Led Zepplin, a pool table and dark corners. Much more our style. After losing a few games of pool i decide i have had enough for the night and go to catch a taxi, but it appears this is an impossible task. Kings Cross is awash with stumbling girls wearing nothing, seedy men ‘helping them’, kebabs all over the pavement and literally hundreds of people waiting to get a taxi so i set off walking with my hand raised all the way home hoping to get a taxi, but get back before anyone stops. Minicab firms of London take note.....get yourself a Sydney franchise! A killing could be made, i’m sure of it.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

High Noon Tour Day 17

Day Seventeen 26/11/11

On tour we try to travel as light as possible, guitars, pedals, leads. That’s about it. So for last night’s acoustic gig we borrowed some guitars, took a tambourine and James’ bass as we’d usually do and showed up to play. The band before us finished and onto the stage we go. But there are no mics, no soundman, nothing. In Australia its apparently common to have to provide these things yourself, something that never happens in the UK. So after begging the band before us to lend us some gear, fiddling with the PA that is wired incorrectly and hoping we can be heard we play pretty much every song we possibly can in acoustic form. People like it, they even dance and after what looked like potential disaster we pull something pretty decent out of the bag.
I order an ‘English Ale’ off the bar’s extensive beer list to celebrate and am confronted by something that resembles no English Ale i have ever drunk. Tasteless, fizzy and provided in a schooner (about half a pint) i’m not entirely satisfied with my beverage choice. So i try a few different beers. It doesn’t take long for me to suspect that in fact all Australian beer is the same drink, just with different names. The rest of the band agree, but we decide to research this further before jumping to conclusions.

High Noon Tour days 12 - 16

Day 12 – November 21st – Day 16 – Novemeber 25th

I’m writing all of this after a few days break. James and Jon have been on the one computer we have between us collating videos, photos and getting stuff on the website.
Our days off in Sydney have involved mostly rain. Loads of it. Its pretty cold too…the whole thing is like an English summer, definitely not an Aussie summer.
I go with Si and James out for some sightseeing, trying to remember what is where as I have been here once before and done the touristy thing before. First port of call is the Opera House which as soon as i see i feel the same sense of disappointment i had last time. Its as though the pictures lie to you….a huge conspiracy to make you think it is different to how it really is. There’s nothing wrong with the reality, but its like a professional magazine model….really photogenic, but pretty nothingy in real life.
Much better are the botanical gardens where we have everything to ourselves. Its pissing down, but there’s bats hanging in the tress, cockatoos landing right by us and kookaburras chasing eachother round the trees. Saigon and Singapore were nice, but having a little greenery for a few hours is restoring to the soul. We see a huge spider web and i joke about the fact there are hundreds of things looking at us right now, salivating. On closer inspection we see this might in fact be the case as the bush it is on has thousands of small, plain spiders. I have seen enough Attenborough to know the plain ones can be the nasty ones so we back away carefully, hoping not to alarm the little critters. You can never be too careful. They say in London you’re never more than 10 feet from a rat....well in Oz we work by the basis you’re never more than 10 feet from something that wants to eat you or at least make you die painfully.
We walk to the bridge and do the touristy thing, buy some chips and get attacked by seagulls with Si ending up being surrounded in some kind of weird stand off.

We hook up with some friends we met in Perth who now live in Sydney and go to see a band called The Upskirts. They were pretty damn good…way better than the band after them who sadly got better reception. There’s talk of the latter band’s singer being the son of some famous guy, so that’d explain the emperor’s new clothes attitude of the crowd.

After the show I go with Si to the ‘coolest bar’ in town. Shady Pines. Sounds like a retirement village to me, but with no obvious entrance or sign, just a big bouncer holding back a long, eccentrically dressed queue we know we’re in for some serious pretention. We have to queue for 45 mins despite being right at the front and its only with the amazement that people would queue so long that we stay queuing. Inside its like any other ‘old west’ themed bar you have ever been to, just more expensive and with a bigger sense of ‘we are in’ from the patrons. Not sure what we were expecting, but with some sense of self disgust at having contributed to its exclusivity through the act of waiting in line we take our leave.
I have no problem with the concept of a queue, I am british afterall and we’re renowned for our queuing skills, but for a beer? Where’s the sense in that? Give me a half full, normal pub any day with warm, flat English ale and prices that don’t feel like the artful dodger took a turn looking after your wallet.

We have a show tonight @ The Taphouse, a new venue in town. We’re told it is to be ‘semi acoustic’ whatever that means. Guess we’ll just show up and see what gear is there and play the songs that best suit the situation. After too many days off it’ll be good to be musical again.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

High Noon Tour - Day 11

Day 11 – November 20th

We spend the day by the pool at James’ apartment with thunderstorms overhead. Around 9pm we get our gear together and take a cab to the airport, ready to fly to Sydney. Its just a 7 hour flight which seems like nothing after the number of long haul trips we have done and like old pros we settle onto the night flight and fall asleep.
Well, that was the idea. The reality is only James sleeps (again) and the rest of us feel like death with only the odd disgusting meal to keep us from sliding into a netherworld like state of mind.
I watch a movie called Submarine about a teenager in Wales having girlfriend and parent problems. It sounds dull, but its great….i won’t say much more, but I highly recommend it.
‘Horrible Bosses’ on the other hand was a bad choice, but bad enough that I fell asleep! YES! At fucking last.
The pilot dumps us down with nonchalant disregard for our comfort at Sydney airport. Lucky as earlier in the flight he announced our imminent arrival at Melbourne. Nice to know they are on the ball.
We wait around for Bicci, our Aussie tour manager who takes us to the hotel and for a quick bite to eat. Our conversation is limited to grunts and head shakes as we crave bed and head off for an early night.

Lamont feeling the burn.

High Noon Tour - Day 10

Day 10 – November 19th

I’m writing this a few days after it happened so events are a little sketchy. We have no show to play and after I go out to get some food I come back to find all the guys and our host rotting on the sofa where everyone stays all day.
We go out again at around 10pm to a party someone we met from the night before invited us to. We have no idea what to expect, but the situation is so bizarre we could never have predicted it.
We turn up in the taxi to a massive house….billionaire style place you only ever see on TV. Out on the deck in front of the house are 100 people, 99% male and 99% dressed as angles or centurions. The friend  who invited us neglected to mention the exact theme, so into one of Freddie Mercury’s wet dreams walk 3 greasy, hungover rockers. Si is too haggard to come to the party so its just me, Lamont and James. We grab a drunk and mingle with the assorted fashion designers, bondage dressed businessmen and angels. After way too many vodkas and witnessing some kind of human centipede like performance by a few transvestites in the houses purpose built disco I decide to go for a swim. I haven’t swum in years and there’s a massive pool outside, so I dive into the deep end only to discover there is no deep end. The whole thing is like a kiddies pool and I’m lucky to not knock myself out. The pool looked deserted from the end I was at, but when I come up for air I’m right next to two naked men having a rather lovely time.
I dry off, drink up and decide things are taking a turn in a direction I might not be 100% used to so round up the guys and head off.

Sadly there are no pictures from this night.

High Noon Tour - Day 9

Day 9 – 18th November

I punched Lamont.
James’s apartment has two rooms, me and Jon in one, Si and James in the other. It’s a matter of being confortable with our sexuality and having to share beds. All is well, but in the night Jon said I sat up startled which woke him up. Seeing him there I looked confused and punched him in the eye. Sorry Jon, I didn’t mean it.

Dragging ourselves out the front door was hard this morning. My voice feels like shit, I can barely speak and we’re off to do an interview and play an acoustic session on the radio. The building we turn up to is some kind of military facility. It just happens to be where the main radio station here is situated too. We get searched, scanned and have to hand in our phones, cameras and ‘suspicious equipment’ to the armed guards. Surreal.

The acoustic session is ok, but me and Si both sound like 90 year olds so we’re not too pleased with our performance, but there’s no point complaining as we can’t re-schedule the interview.

The interviewer Harry is a total pro and it goes smoothly. We grab our stuff off the military guys and ride home in a cab driven by a Wishbone Ash obsessive. A couple of hours rest then later we’re heading to The Beer Market for soundcheck and the show. I’m just praying my voice miraculously recovers in a couple of hours.

Somehow it did. Singapore is humid and hot but they love the air conditioning here. So much so we are fucking freezing at the venue. We play around 10pm so have a few hours to kill and get given some bottles of our sponsor’s gin. Bulldog Gin for those interested.  Dangerous stuff.

We end up playing two sets, one of the quitter more shoegaze stuff, Kiss Away The Sun, Spoke too Soon etc and then a full on rock set at the end. It gets pretty nuts and the night went on and on with Lamont getting onstage to jam Crazy Little Thing called Love with the house band. Si drunkenly climbed onstage and added some wonderfully out of tune backing vocals.

The Beer Market - Singapore.
James and fan
Lamont playing Queen.
Si singing Queen
Lamont winning

High Noon Tour - Day 9

Day 9 – 18th November

I punched Lamont.
James’s apartment has two rooms, me and Jon in one, Si and James in the other. It’s a matter of being confortable with our sexuality and having to share beds. All is well, but in the night Jon said I sat up startled which woke him up. Seeing him there I looked confused and punched him in the eye. Sorry Jon, I didn’t mean it.

Dragging ourselves out the front door was hard this morning. My voice feels like shit, I can barely speak and we’re off to do an interview and play an acoustic session on the radio. The building we turn up to is some kind of military facility. It just happens to be where the main radio station here is situated too. We get searched, scanned and have to hand in our phones, cameras and ‘suspicious equipment’ to the armed guards. Surreal.

The acoustic session is ok, but me and Si both sound like 90 year olds so we’re not too pleased with our performance, but there’s no point complaining as we can’t re-schedule the interview.

The interviewer Harry is a total pro and it goes smoothly. We grab our stuff off the military guys and ride home in a cab driven by a Wishbone Ash obsessive. A couple of hours rest then later we’re heading to The Beer Market for soundcheck and the show. I’m just praying my voice miraculously recovers in a couple of hours.

Somehow it did. Singapore is humid and hot but they love the air conditioning here. So much so we are fucking freezing at the venue. We play around 10pm so have a few hours to kill and get given some bottles of our sponsor’s gin. Bulldog Gin for those interested.  Dangerous stuff.

We end up playing two sets, one of the quitter more shoegaze stuff, Kiss Away The Sun, Spoke too Soon etc and then a full on rock set at the end. It gets pretty nuts and the night went on and on with Lamont getting onstage to jam Crazy Little Thing called Love with the house band. Si drunkenly climbed onstage and added some wonderfully out of tune backing vocals.

The Beer Market - Singapore.
James and fan
Lamont playing Queen.
Si singing Queen
Lamont winning

High Noon Tour - Day 8

Day 8 – 17th November

Woken up one hour early by a Simon with an incorrectly set clock I feel a little sad and still tired as we sit in silence in the taxi on the way to the airport. The calm mood carries on through the whole journey and its not until we get to Singapore we finally really pick up. At the airport is James…our host for a couple of nights. He is a friend of a friend as is letting us stay with him for the time we are in Singapore. He’s a Brit, but grew up here so its good to get some local knowledge and it leads us straight to some local food. Kind of savoury pancakes with a curry dip. Damn good.

As soon as we’ve eaten we have to quickly shower, change guitar strings and get ready to head to Live-o TV. Its an internet TV channel and you’d not believe it unless you saw it.  Singapore is a modern, clean city, but the taxi drops us off in an area that looks like something from a 70’s cop show. An industrial estate with surly looking guys staring at us from the gloom as we walk with our gear wondering if this can possibly be the right place. The service life is big enough for fork lift trucks and the whole place stinks, but we see one bright coloured door at the end of the dank corridor and through it a modern TV studio and office with pool table, antique furniture and weird metal sculptures. It reminded me of Zoolander’s apartment if you’ve ever seen that movie.

We play 5 songs live on ‘air’
We’re All Gonna Die
Shoot Me Down,

Then do a quick live interview with a guy called Bi whose tag line is “Hi I am Bi, but I am straight”. 
The other guys head home, but I go with James to pick up an acoustic guitar from a friend of his as we have an acoustic session on the radio tomorrow morning. The drive through the city at night is incredible and I’m glad of the time to actually see the city however briefly. James tells me more about life here and I think it seems like a place I’d definitely like to visit sometime again. Its not the ‘grey city of Asia’ as I had been told it would be. They even drive on the left here, so maybe its just the familiarity i'm enjoying.

Si is sick and I’m not feeling so good, just too hot, too much air conditioning and too many flights are taking their toll. We all head to bed with an alarm set for some ridiculously early time in the morning again.

Leaving Saigon.
Ho Chi Minh's welcome sign. Obviously.
Gear trolley 1.

High Noon Tour - Day 7

Day 7 – 16th Nov

One week in and we’re now leaving Vietnam. This is our last day here and it starts with an interview with John from The Word magazine. An English language magazine for people in Vietnam and the sponsors of the 2nd show we played here. The interview is a good one, held over iced Vietnamese coffees and joined by an old friend from London who we bumped into on the way to the café.

More office work finalising everything for getting to Singapore and for when we get there, uploading pics and vids which I hope you guys are checking out and sharing!

Before we know it we’re in Acoustic Bar, the venue for tonight’s show doing a quick sound check, grabbing some food (yes, back in Margarita’s with the same old menu choices) and finally relaxing with a beer waiting to go on stage. We have an hour to talk to people and reflect on how things have been going so far. The general consensus is that its damn good, but maybe we should try to sleep more and that we’re going to miss Saigon, especially the little gang we seem to have formed whilst here.

The show is a weird one with a lot of the audience expecting a covers band as covers bands are pretty much all that is out here usually. We disappoint a good half of the crowd by not playing some old favourites, but everyone else there gets what we’re doing and with a broken string at the end of Romeo its all over. We take photos with everyone we know there, head for a last Saigon beer and slop off to bed. Goodnight Saigon, you have been wonderful.

Hanging out in the street outside Acoustic Bar - Saigon.
The sign outside Acoustic Bar.

Monday, 21 November 2011

High Noon Tour - Day 6

Day 6 – 15th November

The sound of an alarm ringing must be one of the worst things I can possibly imagine. The association of my specific phone’s sound with painful mornings means that if I am out and hear the same tone used as someone’s ring tone I actually got a cold shudder run through me as my body has learnt like Pavlov’s dog that that sound means pain.

I meet my friend 'T' for Vietnamese coffee. Cold, iced, strong coffee basically and feel a lot better right away. Its great to see someone who we met in January when we were totally new to this strange and overwhelming place. To see her again feeling more relaxed and having stayed in touch for the best part of a year it’s a great morning cut short by a call from the other guys saying there’s some work to be done. You see we have no manager with us and so everything from accounts to visas to uploading stuff like this diary has to be done by us. With so many countries, people, time zones and interviews and shows to do it’s a hard job to keep on top of it all, especially with the internet connection in Vietnam. It seems the chance to do some TV and radio has appeared in Singapore so we spend a few hours getting it all in order for when we go there in 2 days. I also take a couple of hours to write up what you are reading now. I intend to get this diary done daily, but so far that just hasn’t worked out.

We then get a taxi to Xone FM….Vietnam’s biggest rock radio station. The driver gets lost on the way as it is really not like London. You know how in London the drivers have to have The Knowledge? Well here it seems to just be a matter of drive round a bit, then stop to ask some people for some vague directions, drive a little more, stop and ask, repeat. Always repeat.

Eventually we get to Xone FM and settle into the studio to play a couple of acoustic tracks. We decide on We’re All Gonna Die, Ordinary Love, Son You Look Like You Need Jesus and Romeo. Oh Romeo. We have played that song so many times, but boy did we screw it up. Again and again! It’s the one we have played the most and is by far the most straightforward to get right, but because of that its easy to over think it and like a footballer missing the easy shot Si fluffs the mid section. Then we start again and I forget the words. So we try again and are concentrating so hard we just start laughing. Luckily the show wasn’t live and on the 4th or 5th take we actually stop messing around and play a decent rendition. The interview itself last ages, but I bet once edited down with probably just make a 3 minute segment in the show, but itd be cool for more to be out there as it was probably our most open, honest and funny interview we have done.

After the radio show we head to 17 Saloon. This was a favourite hang out last time we were here and we set it as a meeting point for everyone who is in town and free to come out. A few beers later we have a decent little posse together and decide to go play pool somewhere. We set everyone up in teams and have a competition accompanied by a few beers. Everyone wants Lamont on their team, the guy is the best of us and he ends up with our Aussie/Vietnamese friend Tanya. Two shots into the game Lamont pots the black, losing the game and losing his briefly won reputation as something of a pool god.  We want to play longer, but the bar gets a bit sex touristy later and the fat Brits are coming in wanting to get on the table so they can feel less awkward whilst bargaining the prices they are willing to pay.

We decide to go to a place called Vasco’s, another place we played last time we were here, but when we get there its closed. We’re in a weird end of town and the only places nearby are either classy and expensive or dingy and expensive. So we go dingy….right to tourist central, a place called Apocalypse Now. I think I talked about this place in my last blog so there’s no need to go into it again…but lets just say its not my kind of place.

The real pleasure though is getting to hang out with our friends here. All of them made through the band, playing gigs, through Facebook or just hanging out after the shows. I truly see our band as a club, as some kind of social sanctuary for people who feel like we do about the world, people who for whatever reason we click with. I could go on about it, but if you ever come to one of our gigs just stick around, say hi and get chatting to us. We’re on this adventure to find people like us, to not be ‘lost’ anymore and by the same action offer other people the chance to maybe find some kind of group to find a home with. I’m terrible at describing what I mean, but those who get it will get it. If that makes sense?

Lamont at Xone FM - Vietnam
The LSC playing at Xone FM.
Lamont losing at pool.

High Noon Tour - Day 5

Day 5 – 14th November

Hungover with bags to pack, a plane to catch and 3 other guys to kick into action I already don’t like today, but somehow it all comes together and we actually make our plane. Lamont discovers he's left his drum stick bag with all the sticks for the whole tour in a taxi last night so the slightly narky mood between us deepens, but by the time we’re on the plane we’re all out for the count anyway.

We land in Saigon and meet Mark, our tour manager here in a café. He tells us he is moving us to a different hotel due to me having stuff nicked from the previous one a couple of days ago.  It seems a good plan and other than the slowest lift in the world the new hotel is pretty damn swish. I have working air conditioning, 2 beds (in case I get bored of sleeping in one I can try out the other I suppose) and a view. I’m usually the one who chooses the wrong room, the wrong queue to stand in, gets the bad seat on the plane etc…so this was a real score for Mr Tufnell.

We called our friend I shall call Missy S to see if she wanted to join us for dinner as she’d helped us out promoting the Hard Rock Café shows. As usual the guys voted to go to Margarita’s, our home from home, kitchen o'plenty. We all ordered the same as we always do, Si something meaty, spicy and befitting a man of such beardiness, James something Italian, usually pizza or pasta and Jon and I Vietnamese and as the hangover ebbed away we began to feel more human. In fact James' love of Bolognese has us wondering if he should write some kind of seperate tour diary "Bolognese around the world" chronicling the differences between the different culture's take on the Italian classic.

The other guys decided to go to bed, but Missy S asked if I wanted to meet a friend of hers and have a beer somewhere more casual and traditionally Vietnamese. So I got onto the back of her scooter and we hammered through the Saigon streets with me perched like a giant praying mantis behind this tiny girl as she chats animatedly to her friend weaving in and out of the traffic next to us. I get a few strange looks and after a few wrong turns we settle down to my second dinner of the evening. Just like Hanoi it’s the tiny tables, tiny plastic chairs and bits of BBQ chicken, pickled salad stuff and Saigon beer. Not bad at all.

On quieter streets we head back out on the scooter and this time I relax more, not holding with tight white knuckles to the back rail and realise how cool their system is here. In a way its like a constant show of mutual respect. You just go…you walk, drive, ride, push your cart or walk your dog at a steady pace the direction you want to go. Traffic lights are essentially meaningless as are lanes and direction….you just look ahead of you and don’t hit stuff and everyone does the same. It shouldn’t work, but It does.

I go to bed though feeling more tired than I can ever remember being.

My phone beeps and I have a text from another friend we met last time we were in town. It is 2.30am, I have barely slept, but because they have to work I agree to meet them at 10am and with a heavy heart set an alarm for 9am. Punishing.

Flying over Vietnam.
Si takes an uncomfortable nap on the flight.