Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Krakow, old memories

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...

Anyway, Krakow offered a chance to meet up with Hayden Berry, formerly the singer in Ripcord and now a Krakow resident. Interesting factoid: his girlfriend used to be one of the Polish Teletubbies. Yeah, that's right, we know all the stars. Anyway, he helped us navigate the streets of the capital (what - no sat nav? Yep - going to have something to say about that shortly) and there I was, driving a van full of gear, a bit lost, with Hayden sat next to me saying "I think if you take the next right... no wait... left..." and it seemed like I'd just been transported back to 1998. It was really rather a sweet moment and kind of lovely.

It made me wonder: do I miss those days? Now I'm all / mostly grown up, with a real job and responsibilities. In those days, we were incredibly cavalier, had a lot of fun, made a lot of mistakes at our own expense and enjoyed a mix of tremendous highs and thunderous lows. The things I don't miss are the stress - I felt very responsible for the bands we worked with, and wh
en things went sour and we'd run out of cash I was pretty much on the verge of a nervous breakdown and just upped sticks and left. Guys like Dakota Suite were never so much of a problem, but Triumph 2000 (Richard Formby's extremely ace project) and Ripcord were left floating in space. I woke up in the night panicking about it. So, no, I don't miss that.

On the other hand, there's the fact that you spend all day dealing with artistic or creative output. I miss that a lot. For me, being able to come on a "busman's holiday" of sorts is an unbelievable luxury. Most people my age that still work in music are either very successful or kind of clinging on to former glories or youth - still hanging out at gigs with 21 year olds and trying not to act their age. With Dakota Suite, there's no pretence at being fashionable or trying to make a buck (nobody is likely to get paid off the tour - hey! we're in it for the love... and you the audience of course...*). Instead, we try and go places we know people want to see what we do, not just hear the "hits" - hahaha like there's lots of them. 

Krakow was a good reminder of why we do this kind of thing, driving stupid distances and eating crap for a while. First up, Iowa Super Soccer were a great support, the singer had a lovely voice and the tunes were good. Secondly, the place was packed and the show was a good one. We were really close to the audience too, which means you can feel the response. This was something that I can't imagine most musicians my age get to do - at this point you're either a big act and on a big stage, or you've just given up. As I said, it's a privilege. Every moment of the tour is there to be savoured, as next week I'll be back at my desk and stood on a London commuter train and looking to pay the bills and bluff my way through life, as ever. 

Yes, every moment... even the ones that seem horrendous at the time. For instance, the journey from Krakow to Vienna... Oh yeah, Hooson, you're going to get it now :)

*Caution: may not actually be true

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