Thursday, 31 October 2013

Day 7 Paris, FR to Reims, FR

No need for an alarm clock this morning… Oh no, no, no! Being licked in the face by a dog will surely do the trick. Wiping the slobber off the face, we got up and headed to the Cardis. Now… if we had thought about the logistics of how our cars were parked the night before, then we wouldn't have had to wait an hour to get the Cardis out and hit the road to Reims - mistake noted. While we waited we had the pleasure of watching 3 friendly dogs having fun. Too much fun perhaps as one decided to urinate on the French bands guitar head. Not cool. We said our goodbyes to the other bands and away we went.

We're getting really good at making sandwiches in the car. Like really good.

Music shop
We intentionally arrived in Reims about two hours early before we were due to be at the venue to see some of the sites, seeing as this is our 4th time in here and we haven't seen any of it! Reims has a pretty big Cathedral named Notre-Dame de Reims and is where the Kings are/were crowned. It's very nice. Reims also has the only place we've seen to have a security guard to monitor the use of the toilets at McDonalds. We didn't see the inside of their toilets but we did make use of their wifi from outside. Continuing our wander round the city we hunted for some food & we found a place that did a very nice chicken sandwich (the guy who served us was a French version of Colin Farrell). Sam had been looking for a place to buy a new bass drum skin so finding a music shop was very handy. The guy gave Sam a massive discount (probably because we are complete lads).


We made our way back to the car and drove round to the venue, we had arrived bang on time (5pm) but were told to come back at 6 when the venue was open. Sam stayed at the car to put his new skin on while I went for a walk. I sat on a bench and had a conversation in French with a man, who proceeded to ask me for money after we finished talking… he left empty handed.

I arrived at the venue at six and Sam had already started to load the gear in. The place we were playing was called L'apparat Cafe and was organised by a really cool guy called Francesco (possibly the coolest guy in France). Francesco had arranged for us to eat at a place a couple of doors down, the two burgers and chips we had went down very well The other two bands playing that night were Chaos E.T Sexual from Paris and Caustic Lips from Reims. Reims is the place we have played most in France so it was nice to see people who have been at previous shows coming to see us play again. Both of the other bands played and were good, by the time the second band finished the place was really busy. We set up and played and it was pretty good, not the best we have played this tour but people were really, really into it which was great.

After the show we packed up and went back to Francesco's flat, he had a secure underground parking garage which meant that we didn't have to unload the gear… cashback! Francesco and his girlfriend (Ségolihe) bought out loads of alcohol that Ségolihe's blind grandfather had made, it was surprisingly nice. Being that we were in the Champagne district and Francesco being a true player, he cracked out a bottle of Champagne to celebrate a successful gig. We sat around listening to records and chatting until about three and then went to bed. The guys from Chaos E.T Sexual had to get up at 5.30 to do a ten hour drive to play their next show in Czech Republic, nutters!

Francesco and Ségolithe set up the Champagne 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Day 5 & 6 Gent, BE to Rouen, FR to Paris, FR

Day 5 Gent BE to Rouen FR
Julie / Nico / Robin. Music. Foods. Cats. check oil and water, air in tyres.

We woke up the next day and were treated to a breakfast of coffee and pastries. We didn't have a show today so we were going to drive to Rouen to stay with our good friend Nico (Seal of Quality), who we have toured with before. We said our goodbyes and set off at around one, Rouen was about four hours away and we wanted to get there in time to cook Nico and his housemates an evening meal for having us stay, and for previous times we've visited. We wanted to buy some Belgium beers because they are super cheap in Belgium (obviously). We went to a supermarket called Colruyt and bought enough food to feed the 5000 and a lot of very good, very cheap Belgium beer. I think we're going to come to one of these supermarkets again on our way back to Calais and STOCK UP!
We arrived at Nico's at about six. It was great to see Nico, Julie,  Robin & their two cats. they were moving out of their really nice farm house where they have been for a the last few years, so everything was in boxes. We spent a couple of days here on our first tour of France and it was really nice to be back, shame it would be for the last time. We cooked a huge meal of pasta and vegetables drank some of the beer and wine we bought. Most of the vinyl records had been packed away and moved to their new homes, so we spent the evening listening to the leftovers, which we actually pretty good. We went to bed at about midnight to the gentle sounds of Devo. I'm glad we managed to get an early night.

Day 6 Rouen FR to Paris FR

Oh, how we enjoyed waking up late after an early night. Another sign we really are ageing! We were in no rush whatsoever today as we were heading to Paris, only a two hour drive away. Easy. Crawling out of our sleeping bags like snails sliding out of their shells, we headed straight for the shower (separately of course) followed by some fresh coffee and croissants prepared by the lovely Julie. We stayed for lunch with the rest of the house, who were still in full swing of packing up the house. To celebrate everyone moving out, lit sparkers were put into bread like candles in a cake and a verse of french song sung to a backing track of Phil Collins. Only after this were we allowed to start eating lunch… awesome.

We eventually said our goodbyes and headed to Paris. The last time we played in Paris, the traffic was such a nightmare that we vowed to never play in Paris ever again. But then we played the show… It was bloody great! So we quickly retracted our bold and definitive statement to never play Paris again, and unanimously agreed (easy when their's only two of you) to play in Paris the next time we toured. The show was put on by Eric, Camille & the really nice guys who make up 'En veux-tu? En v'la!' (who we played for last time) and they surely look after you with their lovely food spread. Delicious! We were disappointed that Camille wasn't wearing his personalised Brian Eno Nike trainers but very happy to be at La Canitne de Belleville.

The other two bands also playing were 'Michel Anoia' from Lyon, France & 'Under the Pledge of Secrecy' from Aachen, Germany. Really nice guys, both playing really fast Grindcore. Everyone was in great spirits and it was a good atmosphere. We smashed through our set with some broken English/French banter along the way. I guess we played well enough to warrant us having to pull a really old song we haven't played in 2 years out the bag to satisfy the hungry French. We surprised ourselves we remembered 'Lungy Media'. Thank god for muscle memory!

Camille without his Brian Eno Nike trainers.
With the night all done, everyone packed up and all headed off to the outskirts of Paris to stay at a squat that would house all 11 of us. We learned that a French man actually really enjoys English food - this is a rarity to hear as most don't enjoy it so much - gravy being his number one. A beer and some table tennis later, we went to bed with smiles on our tired faces from a pretty sweet day.

Day 4 Hechtel, BE to Gent, BE

Many churches. Chips. Icelandic Cats. Rabbit. Turkish shops. Holiday. Charlotte. Nice new house. Great cellar. Great cheap wine. Great cooking. Great cookies. Just great.

Lovely Belgium trees
We got up at about 11 and the guys were cleaning the house, it was in a right state. We packed the car, said goodbye to the guys and got on the road. Gent is only and hour and a half away from Hechtel, so we thought we'd take the time to have a look around the city. The drive was pleasant, Belgium is a really nice country to drive through in the autumn with all the leaves changing colour.

We arrived in Gent in good time and parked the car, the town was really busy as it was a Sunday so we had a bit of tousle finding a space. Gent is a beautiful city, with loads of churches and majestic architecture; I can see why a lot of tourists come here. We took a walk around the city, bought some frites (chips) and had a nice sit down. Even though there was a lot of people milling around it seemed really quiet, I think that this is just Belgium in general. We came back to the car and decided to make our way to the house where we were playing. The show was being organised by a girl called Charlotte who we met last time we were in Gent, she had just returned from a few months in Iceland, moved into a new house and wanted us to play in her cellar. Charlotte greeted us with a beaming smile and welcomed us into her new home. She made us coffee and ate home-made cookies while we relaxed in her kitchen, I don't think we realised how tired we were until we sat down.

Charlotte had rescued four kittens while in Iceland, the person who owned the farm where she was working wanted to kill them, but she managed to bring them all the way back to Gent, giving her sister two and keeping two. Charlotte's were two of the cutest cats of all time, we spent ages playing with them. (They have been given Icelandic names and we have no chance in remembering them - they sounded lovely names though!) We went shopping with Charlotte to get some food for the evening, she lives in the Turkish area of the city so there are loads of good shops to get food and most of them stay open on a Sunday, unlike the rest of France. Charlotte then cooked us a really nice dinner of roast chicken, roasted vegetables and boiled potatoes… a really great meal.

We unloaded our gear and put everything in the empty, bare cellar, with a low the ceiling so it was clear that we wouldn't be able to play as loud as we would normally. Charlotte's friends started to arrive and everyone was really friendly, we sat around, drank and played with the amazing cats. They really liked to go up on your shoulder and sit there like a parrot.

We played at about ten, Charlotte made the room look nice with coloured paper and fairy lights, considering it was a cellar it was quite cosy! We played softer than usual because of the shape and size of the room, but I think it was still okay. After we finished playing we sat up and listened to records with everyone in the lounge and played with the kittens some more, so addictive. One of Charlotte's friends gave us a really cheap, but really nice, bottle of wine to take away with us, good lad. Another great evening.

Day 3 Amiens, FR to Hechtel, BE

We woke up the next day at about 11.30 and ate breakfast with Charles and his housemates. Charles lives right on a river (don't know which one!) and we had intended to get up at 10am go out on the river kayaking with him. Although we were late getting up we still managed to get out on the river, it was super relaxing. Sam and I shared a kayak with Charles riding out solo out front. We paddled around in the sun for half an hour, moored the kayaks back up and went back into the house... we were quite damp. After showers we packed the remainder of our gear, said our goodbyes and started our journey to our next show in Hechtel, Belgium (which no one seemed to have heard of.)

The drive was quite easy, we're avoiding the toll roads as most of the drives in France are quite short and we have a small car. The drive took about four hours and was relatively uneventful, we couldn't see any signs for the place we were heading for until about 4 miles from our destination, we knew that it must be quite a small place. We arrived at 5.15, only 15 minutes after we were meant to be there (win!) and parked up. We were playing in a house that used to house the local bishop but is now vacant. It's still owned by the town council and is available for hire. Tonights show was organised by a collective called 'I See Clouds' and every room in the house had something different happening. There was a large room downstairs where we were going to play and there was another smaller room upstairs where people were also playing. When one act finished in the room upstairs, one would start downstairs and vice versa. Filling the other rooms in the house was an art exhibition which included art from 15 different local artists and not forgetting the all important bar.

Charles' pad in Amiens

We sat down to eat with Brecht, Woulter, Yann and some of the other people who helped organised the show, they fed us an amazing pumpkin curry and rice. We wondered round the house to look at all the art, it was strange but really cool. I don't really know anything about art but I'm pretty good at knowing what I like, and i liked most of it, especially the bath filled with blue water.

People started arriving for the show, it was cool see people from all ages coming to look at the art and enjoy the space. The music started about 8pm, some of it I wasn't that into but that's okay; Brecht and Woulter's band Codyceps played who were cool, but I wasn't into the guy playing Ed Sheran and Coldplay covers, different strokes i guess.

The house was getting really busy and the beer was flowing by the time we played, everyone seemed to be having a good time. We set up our gear in about half an hour while someone was playing upstairs. I was really worried that we were going to be too loud, but luckily people didn't seem to mind. I think we played well again, better than the previous two nights. The set we're playing on this tour is made up of songs which we wrote after we released our first album, so no old songs... we might learn a couple of we get time over the next few days.


After we played there was a fire show outside with guys doing fire breathing and all that jazz, it was cool. By this point we were well into full blown party territory, we were drinking La Chouffe which is a really good Belgium beer that has a gnome on the bottle. There were a few DJs after us who got the place going and we spoke to some really nice and a few crazy Belgians. The music stopped at about 3.30 and we went to bed at about 5am. A really good night.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Day 2 Maidstone, UK to Amiens, FR

We arrived at Sam's sisters place in Maidstone at about 2am after the show and quietly put ourselves to bed. We woke up the next day, had coffee and toast with Nick (Sam's sister's boyfriend) and left to do the big tour shop. We stocked up on all the important food that is essential for the success of any tour; crisps, peanut butter, Rivita, 9 bars, energy drinks and chocolate soy milk... all extremely essential. We also needed to get reflectors for the headlight,s which neither of us could remember packing (turns out we had packed them and now have two sets, BAM!).

We gunned it straight to Dover (by gunning it I mean going the speed limit), arrived at the ferry port in good time and boarded the ferry. We were both well and truly pooped from working the day before and getting ready for the tour in the previous days, so we needed to get a bit of shut eye. We curled up on the two tiniest sofas of all time and drifted off while we made our way to Calais. We were woken up about 20 minutes before we docked by a bunch of screaming middle-aged Welsh women, who were completely hammered. They'd taken full advantage of the reasonably priced Bulmers cider and were trying to kiss as many people as they could before the ferry docked... god bless the Welsh.

We fired it right out of the ferry and headed to our first show in Amiens. The show was at the Grand Wazoo, where we had played before and was being organised by our friend Charles from the amazing band John Makay. We arrived when the venue had just opened and started to load the gear in. Charles arrived shortly after and bought us a pot of amazing food, which sat down to eat with everyone. The other bands playing that night were Urge, a free-jazz improv band from Caen and Carte Noire, a guy called Romaine from Amiens playing electronic\noise stuff.

We were still really tired before the show and could hardly keep our eyes open so we decided to go for a walk around Amiens. We've been here a few times but haven't really seen the city centre before ,like most French towns it's really nice. We came back to the bar and it was time for the music to start, both of the other bands were totally great. 

Soon it was our turn to play, we were still pretty tired  but as soon as we started playing we woke up. We played pretty well and people seemed into it, as it was Saturday night loads of the French people were hammered, it's really cool to see people having a good time! We finished playing and became tired again. Charles asked if we wanted to go and party with the other bands at another house or go home and listen to records and chill, we opted for going back to his place and chilling, we must be getting old! We packed up the car and said goodbye to everyone and drove to Charles' place. Charles was walking so he arrived shortly after. We sat and chilled in the kitchen then to our surprise all the other bands arrived and wanted to party. We stayed up and drank with the guys and listened to records. Went to bed at about 3am, we were super tired but happy after a great first day on the continent.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The night before...

I've been getting ready for the tour all week, there's always so many small things to organise and so many loose ends to tie up. I tried to start the car the night before we were going to leave and it wouldn't start, panicking I asked a friend if he could jump start my car, but his van wasn't working. We thought it might be a good idea to try and bump start the car so I had three guys push my car down the road while I dropped the clutch and threw it into second gear. This didn't do anything so I had to call the AA, this is not ideal the night before leaving for a 5 country, 10 date, 2000 mile tour. The AA man arrived, a right jolly fellow, and had a poke around the engine. The spark plugs, the original suspected culprit, were fine so I thought that it might be something serious. The AA man thought he knew what the problem was... Apparently on Fiat Puntos there is a fuel-line kill switch behind the material of the wall of the passenger footwell, this can be set off if there is serious trauma to the car, like a crash, or simply if someone knocks it with their foot. Thankfully, this ended up being the problem and all it took to fix the car was a simple flick of the switch... what a relief! Thanks a lot to Stef, Dan and Ed for all the pushing and keeping me calm when I was in a bit of a panic. I went to bed knowing that everything was totally sorted and that we were ready for the tour!

Day 1 Go..! Go..! Go..! // Wycombe //

Day 1 High Wycombe, UK

So, we've started our adventures, back in the Cardis (Blue Fiat Punto). We're 4 shows into our tour which has taken us to High Wycombe (UK), Amiens (Fr), Hechtel (Be) & Gent (Be). It's been bloody great. We began in our home town Wycombe @ The Scorpios Bar, joined by MASIRO and our good friend THEO. With Theo we fuelled ourselves up with a Noodle Nation before heading back to the show being put on by our good friend Nij. 

Mike & I have both moved from our hometown now and don't find ourselves back that often anymore - so being back and able to drink our local Rebellion Brewery Ale made us happy. Nothing like the taste of a good ol' pint of Rebellion IPA! Theo and Masiro played like solid machines, with us breaking up some of the rustiness we've built up. An great evening seeing some great friends and family.