My band 65daysofstatic's third album, 'Destruction Of Small Ideas', was released in Spring 2007 and we spent the rest of the year on the road in support of it. 2008 came round and we were intending to start work on album#4, but The Cure invited us to go round the world supporting them so we did that instead. Got back in the summer, spent the autumn, winter & spring writing and forgetting how to socialise. These spring shows we dubbed the 'Test Tour' 'cos we booked small, cosy venues to try out a bunch of new material. This is how it went down.
TUESDAY - LEEDS COCKPIT
The 65 Test tour begins in Leeds. Pick up some limited-edition screen-printed posters. They are beautiful. Not very many people buy them. At soundcheck we discover that the flight home from Poland a few days earlier had broken the sampler. We fix it by taking it apart and putting it back together again.
Half the songs in the set are new ones. They are generally well-received by everyone except the four of us who are in the band. We aren't settled on the order of the setlist yet. Will keep experimenting.
Might have broken my guitar at the end of the set.
Al the Guitar Tech says it's fixable.
WEDNESDAY - GLASGOW KING TUT'S
Van ride up from Sheffield spent mostly practising being a laptop-DJ for our pending, first-official DJ-slot. Very, very tempted to play nothing but tech-house. Not sure how well that will go down. Have yet to look at my guitar. Show has been sold out for ages. In fact, all of the shows on this tour have. Decide it would be a nice idea to give away two of our guestlist. Announce this via Twitter, challenge people to find Joe in Nice and Sleazy to get them. Nobody shows up.
Simon is sitting in the corner destroying a cryptic crossword. I am sat in the dressing room doing email interviews and drinking coffee.
Al the Guitar Tech just told me he fixed my guitar. Winning!
The sound limit at King Tuts is 105db. The sound coming off the stage during soundcheck was 109db. With the PA switched off. This may cause a problem, but apparently sound level rules are based on averages. So we are allowed to peak to 137db once every 15minutes, as long as we are quieter for some of the other time.
This includes 'inbetween' songs. There's a lot of strategy involved in being as loud as possible. I think this is how Mogwai manage to do it so well.
Is this interesting to anybody at all or are we geeks?
Show was OK. Switched up the set a little. Still finding our feet. We got given a bottle of Scottish Vodka for selling the place out. Later, Keiran, our Scottish guide, took us to a late bar on Sauchiehall Street for some sophisticated drinking.
Arab Strap were sat at a table, drinking sophisticatedly. We didn't want to interrupt them. Where do you even start talking to a band as great as they are?
THURSDAY - MANCHESTER THE DEAF INSTITUTE
Wake up in a fucking Travelodge. No way for anybody to start a day. We find bagels and it smooths us over a little bit.
Drive down to Manchester is entirely uneventful.
The Deaf Institute is tiny and glorious. As we load in a jumblesale is loading out. The most stylish Youthmovie is in attendance. The room has recently been reduced to a 220 capacity, but they sold 300 tickets. People getting turned away at the door. Touts everywhere. It's not usually like this at 65 shows. We eat vegan treats whilst crew eat sushi, balancing ideologies like a beautiful, metaphorical see-saw.
We finally feel like we properly nail the show. There is no encore as the drum kit is spread across most of the stage.We stay till late, late, late, drinkin', drinkin' drinkin'.
FRIDAY - LEICESTER THE MUSICIAN
Tiny venue with a nice line in passing Blues trade. The PA is upside down so Tom, our renegade soundman, decides to flip it over before the in-house engineer arrives
(Tom's been spending a lot of time on The Prodigy tour recently and been infused with a new sense of punk).
Me: "What's your take on turning PAs upside down without asking the people in charge, Tom?"
Tom: "Fuck 'em, and their law!"
The crowd were RIPPING IT UP, bravely dancing through all the loud beat-y bits, and then pretending that the quiet, non-rhythmic bits were also loud beat-y bits and
danced through them too, making sure they yelled '65!!' at very regular intervals.
By the time we got back to Sheffield in the early hours of the morning, our driver was being directed to the drop offs via the medium of changing the lyrics to the Girls Aloud songs playing on the stereo.
SATURDAY - SOUTHAMPTON TALKING HEADS
Long way down. Sun shining. Played Southampton more times than we can remember but never here before. Another sold-out show.
Old friends took us out for Thai food and bought us vanilla vodka. Amusement Parks On Fire were actually on fire tonight. Sounded fantastic. They're headed to a studio in LA after this tour to record with the guy who made the Sigur Ros album. That's pretty great. However, we going to a studio in Sheffield after this tour to record with the guy who made the first 65daysofstatic album. Yes! Totally owning you there, Amusement Parks On Fire.
SUNDAY - LONDON DINGWALLS
London on a show day terrifies us. Discussing string theory and the existence of graviton particles in the back of the van whilst listening to Buddy Holly in the front. Suck it up, Motley Crue - this is how we roll in 2009!
A different Youthmovie is in attendance and he is also BEYOND stylish! Later on he tries to break Joe's face with coathangers. He fails, but does manage to hurt our tour manager's back. The show was OFF THE HOOK for a while and then the whole of Camden exploded into a blackout. Rob kept drumming for a little while, but he wasn't connected up to the grid, so all of that drumming-energy dissipated into the sweaty night. Then a loud-hailer was produced and people got asked to leave.
This is what the future will be like: Dark, filled with confusion, and with no way to get your money back.