17 February, 2018

Day One – Stoke-on-Trent, UK – Dawn Of Shattered Silence Tour

The first day of our tour: I'm feeling like utter crap, the most exciting thing I have to talk about is my 'packing list' and we're going to play in Stoke-on-Trent... yay.

Preparations

For the past few days, I’ve been quite sick: severe headaches, muscle pains, simultaneously starving but likewise repulsed by the sight of food (not just that which I’ve prepared myself, either), not laughing as I usually would when I see someone fall over, etc.

I’ve also been experiencing periods of distinct disconnect between my mind and corporeal being. It’s as if my spirit is being slowly dissolved, leaving nought but a heavy, aching mass of meaningless flesh where once sat a (arguably) sentient being.

But then, I remembered this tends to happen every time I read someone getting high and mighty on… well, pretty much anything over Facebook, so I’m putting that one purely down to coincidence.

Suffice it to say, it’s knocked me off my feet and whereas I identify the cause of this as being the manifestation of innumerable inner crises, stemming from a reluctance to ‘grow up’, Anna argues that I probably just under-cooked some salmon I had for lunch, earlier this week.

I expect she’s correct, I do like to live on the edge.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but there’s a reason for this – procrastination – because getting things ready is boooooring.

The almighty 'to pack' list

Over the years, I’ve played shows across in Macedonian car parks, Czech coal mines, morgues in Berlin, Ukranian garages and perhaps strangest of all – a bar in Ramsgate, UK.

As a result, you’d expect by now that the routine of getting things ready and packed for gigging ‘wherever’ would be second nature.

Your expectation, would be foolish. Hang your head in shame.

As much as I like to play things by ear, let the chips fall where they may and rely upon my own resourcefulness to successfully navigate situations as they occur, there’s only so many times you can forget camera batteries or spare pants before it becomes tedious – particularly, I’m told, for my band-mates.

This tour, as with the last few to precede it, is being pre-fixed by a lengthy ‘to pack’ list, comprising everything from asthma inhalers and currency, to an emergency supply of pistachio nuts and almonds.

As you’ve probably realised, I am dragging this out a fair bit. That’s because our first gig is in Stoke-on-Trent which means there’s bugger all of a journey worth writing about.

So besides that and feeling like utter dog turd (the strange, white variety, as opposed to that with chewed up Lego figures in it), I’ve precious little else to write about.

Alas, onto the ‘real’ stuff.

Doing the actual 'tour' stuff

14:00 – Time to pack! Obviously, I start with the two items which will be absolutely imperative to surviving some of the days ahead:

What else do you really need?

What else do you really need?

15:00 – Still feeling like crap, so I venture into Hanley to visit Rhythm House and enquire about the broken china cymbal I’ve been waiting for three weeks for them to replace.

Apparently, it was delayed because their provider has diabetes and it’s made his leg big. No, I wasn’t entirely sure how that was my problem either, but since the guys here have always been well-priced, friendly, helpful and my personality in these situations can jump from Ghandi to Malcom Tucker in a matter of nanoseconds, I just smiled and went with it.

Cymbal in hand, on to the studio!

16:00 – I’m the first person here – a rare occurrence if ever I’ve known one!

16:10 – My excitement at being the first one here is short-lived, as Dani (driver) arrives with Matt (bassist) in an absolute beast of a vehicle!

This is bloody luxury compared to what we’re used to. Having said that, the van that got us through Russia and Ukraine (twice) barely had wheels by the end of our time with it, so that’s not really saying much.

16:30  – A veritable ocean of busted boxes, drum bags and other random crap waits to be lifted into the van.

The prospect of lifting all this stuff in and out of the van every night for the next ten days, isn’t one I’m overly enthused about.

16:50 – Riley arrives with his brand new suitcase which he enthusiastically insissts is watermelon – not – pink.

No-one is convinced.

Sorry mate, that's pink.

Sorry mate, that’s pink.

16:55 – We pile into what’s going to be our home for the next ten days, still stunned that we’ve reached such levels of stardom!

In the van!

17:20 – Off we set, soon arriving at tonight’s scene of the crime against good taste and functioning ear-drums, Pilgrim’s Pit, Stoke-on-Trent.

We’ve played here twice before, the last time not being a couple of weeks ago. It’s a small, intimate venue and it’s always nice to know patrons are going to have their faces removed within a close proximity.

Pilgrim's Pit, Stoke-on-Trent

Pilgrim’s Pit, Stoke-on-Trent

19:00  – Alex (singer… sorry, vocalist) turns up and I proceed to mock, jibe and criticise him jovially. Why, you say? Because it’s part of my life’s work to ensure his is as miserable as possible.

Ginger

Why, you say again? Because this git’s the reason my fingers bled during the record of our first five releases and why not a single track of ours can go so much as a second before it “really needs tons of double bass” – much to the dismay of my poor, tired thighs.

Creatively though, our relationship does seem to be at its most productive when we’re subjecting each other to an unceasing conveyor belt of personally-directed abuse. All in all, we do this for the good of the band.

Plus, he’s ginger.

20:00 – Ernie K. Fegg takes to the stage/floor and proceeds to vomit a sea of inaudible nonsense at a crowd of people who seem split between those who are confused, bewildered and in deep consideration as to whether tonight was worth the entry fee and others who believe they’re witnessing a work of total genius.

Photo by Mike Woods

Photo by Mike Woods

It was like Phil Collins took a knock to the head while travelling through Stoke-on-Trent, nicked someone’s guitar and got offered a few quid to warm the place up.

I quite enjoyed it.

20:30 – Our turn. Still feeling like crap. Managed to make it to the end of the set without vomiting, although that might’ve justified some of the innumerable beats that were dropped throughout. Meh, win some lose some.

21:20 – I missed all but the end of Dead Herring and World Narcosis’s sets on account of desperately needing to eat something – but what I saw of each band was mega.

They shared a drummer, a young chap who’d we shared a stage with at an Icelandic music festival back in 2015. He hits them hard, fast and with admirable precision.

That lad was the shit.

00:00 – I forget if this is the precise time we left. Riley had already got the Captain Morgan’s out at this point, so the next couple of hours are a bit of a blur.

02:00 – Service station stop before our bladders explode.

05:00 – We arrive in Dover, ready to board our Ferry… not due to leave for a couple of hours.

It pays to be prepared and I’m knackered.

Sleep time, at last.

In conclusion

Personally, as much as I will vocally complain about Stoke-on-Trent, it’s a great place to start a tour off.

If people come to a show it’s because they genuinely enjoy or are interested in the music. Or, they just want to share in the collective energy created by eclectic bands from foreign shores and the people who appreciate the efforts they’ve gone to to play here.

A good, varied show in an intimate venue, we’ve had far, far worse ‘first gigs’ in our time.

But I still feel like absolute shit, so let’s see how tomorrow goes.

Thanks to all who stopped by!

Posted 17 February, 2018