New York is, rightly, considered one of the great metropoles of the world, and it’s always an interesting time in the city. On tour you usually don’t see much of the places you’re in, but I was there recently recording and mixing the new album, so I had time to explore a little more, specifically in Brooklyn. It was nice to wake up at my friend Dave’s house and know exactly where I was, even though I was a long way from home. Coffee and bagels and a quick stroll through Williamsburg in the sunshine washed away the last of the bad feeling about the Sayreville show, and I started looking forward to the evening’s date with destiny, at the famous Roseland Ballroom (3,500 capacity, sold out).
Being the major stopping point of the tour meant that I had a lot of press to work my way through in the day, so I greeted Dani from Xtra Mile Recordings from the airport and set up shop in my sparse dressing room, ready to talk the day away. A lot of bands complain about the business of being interviewed, but for the most part I find it pretty enjoyable, particularly if it’s the kind of interview that becomes a ranging conversation. My major interview of the day was one such, and I succeeded in nattering enough to fill up one hell of an afternoon of typing up. A quick photo shoot later, I was soundchecking, and it was both gratifying and slightly intimidating to hear my voice echoing around the famous, cavernous space.
Sum 41 were joining the tour today, and they’re staying for the remaining Offspring shows. They’re a band that passed me by the first time round, though of course everyone keeps yakking on about how their singer is married to Avril Lavigne. In fact, Jay Beans On Toast sent me off from London with specific instructions to “talk him up” to her should I happen to meet her. The fact that I would almost certainly be meeting her through her husband did not seem to pose an obstacle. Hm. Anyway, so far no Avril, and in fact the Sum 41 guys keep themselves to themselves, so I’m sorry Jay, doesn’t look likely.
As showtime rolled around, I started to get a little nervous again, thinking back to the previous night’s crowd. Jersey and NYC aren’t so far apart… So with trepidation I took the stage, and was relieved to find that they were a great crowd, very open and receptive to the contextual weirdness of an English guy with a guitar. I had a great set, and was in a joyous mood afterwards. This was compounded by meeting up with old friends, including Arthur Smilios (of Gorilla Biscuits fame) – a man I met last time I was here. GB are one of my favourite hardcore bands, so it was great (if surreal) to befriend him. However, the man is fucking trouble, and after I finished off the last of my interviews he got me pretty comprehensively hammered. At this point in time fate decided to finally introduce me to the other members of The Offspring. They were pleasant and delightful to a T, while I was drunk and slightly incoherent. Oops. Noodles graciously tolerated a sketchy photo session with me. A good fun evening all round.
The next day began slowly but ended up seven shades of awesome. Tours such as the Offspring’s often have radius clauses. These state that you’re not allowed to do another show within a given radius (100 miles and 60 days usually). This meant that, despite having a day off from their tour, I basically wasn’t allowed to play a show today. However, being the raging black bloc anarchist that I am, we’d hatched a plan. The guys in Murphy’s Law own a bar in Hoboken, over in New Jersey, called DC’s Tavern. Joe, a guy I met at SXSW this year, organized a secret show in the bar, which I’d been covertly spreading the word about. In the heat of the moment at Roseland I’d also basically let the cat out of the bag, so I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect.
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John and I (after spending an indescribably annoying 2 hours trying to pick up some merch stock from central Manhattan – gah!) drove through the Lincoln Tunnel to a guy called Ronen’s house, for a podcast interview and session (now online at http://www.issueoriented.com/). Then we headed down the street to DC’s, which turned out to be a tiny but awesome room. In the event it was absolutely packed by about 9.30pm with about 80 friends old and new, and the show was a blast – definitely a night to remember. I also got to catch up with very old friend Geoff from Thursday, who was such an exemplary gent that not only did he bring his mum and dad to the show, he brought me and John some socks as well.
We slept late at Joe’s house, got dressed hastily and grumpily, and piled into Steve the car. Evan, John and I dragged ourselves through the treacle of Tri-State traffic, heading north towards Massachusetts, and waving a fond farewell to New York in our rear-view mirrors. I’d been telling everyone that the evening’s show was in Boston, but on closer inspection discovered that it was in a hockey arena in Lowell. Same difference to me. Having Evan on board for the drive was great – sometimes I can be enough of an arsehole to lose sight of how simply awesome touring is, particularly in America, but to have a pair of fresh eyes in the head of an old friend along for the ride brings it all home again. I’m a lucky fucker, and I know it. Sun-baked asphalt, drive through diners, rolling highways and more cliches than you can shake a stick at – the USA has it all.
The show at the Tsongas Arena was pretty much in the middle of the spectrum for me as far as the Offspring shows are going – big crowd, good response (but not manic). My friend Matt Pike, from Beverly MA (rather closer to Boston) had come over for the show, and we were due to stay at his place that night. On arrival at the arena, he asked if I’d be up for a show in his back garden later that night. Obviously I agreed in a flash, and so after toweling down in Tsongas, we jumped in the car and headed towards the north shore.
Some nights things come together in such a way as to make me pinch myself. My all-time, hands down favourite hardcore band ever is Converge. I have everything they’ve done, seen em a bunch of times (hell, I fell in love with a French girl whilst watching them at the Electric Ballroom a few years ago), and am generally utterly, hopelessly into them. So imagine my total, piss-stained shock when, in Matt’s garden, I find three members of Converge (Jake, Nate and Kurt) waiting for my impromptu show. This was serious fan-boy territory for me, but after pulling myself together, I found them to be really very nice. Evan was laughing his arse off at me constantly as I bit my lip and asked for a photo (mainly to send to Ben from Million Dead, so he’ll hate me, which totally worked). The show was improvised and entertaining – Matt’s two kids are big fans, so as well as hardcore heros, I had a bunch of two-year-olds dancing for me while I played Photosynthesis, their favourite song. Like I say, a surreal evening to say the least, and I went to bed feeling happy.