Monday, 13 April 2009
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Once upon a time, getting to gigs was an affair fraught with difficulties. Yes, such things as maps have always existed, but did you really want to buy a map of
And so, in Europe, sat nav has been the most unbelievable change in how we get about. It's been a couple of years since we did this kind of journey and the all-permeating sat nav is standard kit to most people but for me this is like - wow! - I can ignore the person holding the map upside down and just listen to the soothing tones of the nice lady telling me "in 500 yards turn right" or the equally soothing tones of the bell that rings to say "Exceeding 110 km/h" - yeah baby, we are exceeding like crazy. Nice.
So you'd have to ask the question: why did our 287 km journey from Krakow to Vienna take 9 hours? No typo - that's n i n e hours. Well, Chris, who had sourced the sat nav machine, had loaded maps for Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland. But not Poland. Or Slovakia. Or Slovenia.
Still, no matter, surely - we bought a map from a petrol station. That should sort it, right?
I suppose I should have been more concerned with all that snow ans the disappearance of familiar road numbers at a particular roundabout. "No no this is definitely the right way," says Chris, brandishing the map as proof. This was to be our version of Bugs Bunny's repeated "left turn at Albuqueurque." In fact, within half a mile the road had turned to a pleasing mixture of compacted ice and snow, to the point that there wasn't a single patch of un-iced tarmac.
We went up and down two very large mountains. There was skidding, spinning, some panic amongst the less courageous of our team (Chris). There was much mention of the lack of a sat nav map and whose fault it was that we were in this predicament (Chris') and weather or not beatings / bodily penetrations should be administered with a small shovel, and to whom (Chris). Fortunately there was one hero on hand, someone who'd learnt the art of focus and driving mastery from ardent following of a fine sportsteam (me, Liverpool) as opposed to those who had learnt their cowardly and foolhardy ways from lesser sporting mortals (Chris, Ev***on). Let this be an important lesson - if we take nothing else from this, it's that Ev***on are a sack of donkey crap. Funny how often that comes through in life.
Anyway, there's nothing like arriving on time. In fact we arrived 10 minutes after we were due on stage and had to load in through the Viennese audience. A quick linecheck and we started up. How rock and roll is that? (A. Not very, we were just very late). I think the audience appreciated our heroic efforts not to blow the gig. In fact, we went down so well I'm thinking that we should engineer such circumstances for every gig.
Usually, we have to contrive to leave the stage and wait in the wings / dressing room for the thunderous applause that demands an encore (or, in the case of the refined and restrained audience in Halle, just go back on and ask if they want another one). In this case, we didn't know where we were. So we loitered awkwardly and had to do a second encore (rarity) as we had nowhere to hide...
Once upon a time, in a previous life, I used to have a label called AMOS Recordings, which was the label that put out Dakota Suite's first LP (they were still called LPs then - ha!) "Songs For A Barbed Wire Fence." There was also a band on the label called Ripcord, made up of 4 nice lads from a place called Heckmondwike in Yorkshire. What do you mean you haven't heard of it? It's right next to Cleckheaton! Yup, it was just outside the arse of end of nowhere...
Sunday, 22 March 2009
Small delay in getting these updates done. Mostly due to a lack of teh internets. Technology rocks as long as you can access it, huh?
We then saw a poster for what has to be the least appealing gig I've seen. I find it hard to believe that there's still a place on Earth where this combination of music is seen as a surefire winner for that festival vibe.
Then, of course, David mentioned the likelihood that, somewhere in Berlin, were a bunch of middle-aged women standing looking at one of our posters saying "So who the fuck would pay to see that bunch of miserable twats...?"
The first thing we noticed at the venue was that people were queuing from really early. Of course, this is because we were the support band. For Hauschka. Aside from being an extremely nice guy, his set was amazing. I hadn’t seen anyone play a prepared piano live before and it was quite spectacular, much more so that I’d expected. His sense of rhythm is impeccable and quite embarrassing to call myself a drummer in the same room as him.
Fortunately, I wasn’t playing tonight. This was because I suddenly became nervous at the sight of the string quartet and piano and thought maybe the full band thing might be a bit out of step. I probably needn’t have bothered in the end – the crowd seemed like quite an arty bunch who would have been open-minded enough, but it was still a good show. Alex played the piano stuff beautifully and the combination with Chris on the acoustic went down well. Got some video which I’ll upload soon.
In the end I took an early night as we’ve got a long drive to
Thursday, 19 March 2009
So, that was actually a pretty good gig.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
You drive 500 miles having left home at 5am and arrive just in time to be an hour late for soundcheck. There will be no food or drink until the soundcheck is complete, and all I want to do is sleep.
So, 7.30am and we’re at
Anyway, time to think on re the
h, there was never a time when the band were exactly killer live, it’s always more that, sometimes, there are moments in the gig when it just touches the right raw nerve or hits a momentarily meaningful groove. Of sorts.
I respect bands like Mogwai a lot. They somehow manage to still pull off sounding angry and emotional live despite playing some of those songs hundreds or thousands of times. There aren’t many bands that have been around a long time that are like that. Dinosaur JR still sound exactly the same as they did 15 years ago, but then they look exactly the same as people (and still haven’t learnt to “play” their instruments in that nice polished way that old musos do, thank fuck). Who’s still around? REM sound like old men trotting out radio singles. I’d rather just not play than be some cock-end like Michael Stipe clearly pretending to be in a world of hurt and then jumping into the limo.
Maybe that’s not a great comparison – we’re not exactly in the same league. But then that’s part of the thing with being a bit shabby and small band-wise, is that our gigs cost less than a tenner, every rehearsal we do costs us money we don’t really have or miles we have to travel to be together. In our horrible consumption society (dons beard, corduroy) we surely expect to “get what we’ve paid for.” On that b
asis, if it costs 6 quid to see us in London, compared with, say, 80 quid to see the Police at Twickenham, that means that we only have to be roughly 1/6th as good (or 6 times as disappointing depending on your approach) in order to be “value for money.”
And Sting is at least twice the cock Chris is.
Maybe 1 ½ times.
Other things to note from the
So there you go: we’re probably barely value for money, but on the plus side, we aren’t U2. At least we’re honest.
The idea that you get value for money in a gig seems alien to me. You either get touched or you don’t. Sure, if you buy 3 albums a year to play in the car and you calculate the admission fee divided by the number of singles you heard that you knew then maybe you have a formula for value for money. Me, I like it or I don’t.
Monday, 16 March 2009
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Thursday, 12 March 2009
One thing I have to mention incidentally: "How Safe We Must Seem" is a Dakota Suite song and hence the title of the blog. It also mirrors what we usually think about gigs. I've mentioned it before, but we are sometimes not very good. No, really really not very good.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Some shoes are hard to fill. Jason Bonham is not really cutting it on the whole Led Zep thing, although he's doing quite well compared to me. I'm more on the Julian to John Lennon ratio axis when it comes to filling John Shep's shoes.
We've got some history here.
There is no doubt that over-rehearsal can make certain kinds of music seem staid and dull. Guys who just stand on stage sighing whilst they belt out the same chords as they belted out last night and a hundred nights before - we've all seen bands like that.
Right, so first I should explain. I am not John Shepard, the massively talented bloke who plays on most Dakota Suite records. He's an extraordinary drummer, the kind of guy that everyone stops to watch when he's just soundchecking. I could play eight hours a day for a thousand years and never be half the drummer he is.