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When I last toured Italy I had the fortune of stopping and parking my van for a week without needing to drive it anywhere.
I was located in Central Italy and able to use a car to drive into the towns and cities for shows where the lanes were too small and steep to get the van there.
All in all this was a great time to be touring and the only downpoint of sorts was that the static placement of the tour van ment I found myself housing some uninvited guests.
At first I thought little of the sighting (often while driving) of Black ants with Red heads appearing on the windshield and around the dashboard.
But After a while it became completely common place for 5 – 10 of these guys to take a wander while I sped down the highway.
Even after I left Italy and continued into Austria the sightings remained. Infact they stayed visible even upon my return to the UK.
As the winter came and went I thought that would be the end but alas not.
I don’t know what it was that saw them off but eventually after pretty much a year they seem to have moved on.
OR HAVE THEY!!!!!!……….
Bugscope (Currently Unreleased)
Decide (Currently Unreleased)
Along the Way (Currently Unreleased)
Thus far my return to Italy has been a joy.
I have been on the road since the end of June now and have played across the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Rep, Austria and now Italy. About 60 shows into the tour.
With my partner we have been living in my little Campervan ‘Udo’
With the help of good friends I have a solar panel on the roof and a vent for air. It’s a bit cramped for 2 people sometimes but it’s a step up for me from my old wheels ‘Betsy’. A Citroen Dispatch that was about half the size.
The shows have been their usual mixed bag. Some I want to remember forever and some I would sooner forget.
In the meantime the tour has ventured to Central Italy and I will have a few days rest before returning to the playing on the 17th Nov with a show located close to Lake Trasimeno.
Also shows in France and Germany have been added to the schedule.
South I head to the town of smelly sulphur – Otherwise known as Rotorua
I play a show organised by the wonderful Rogue Stage.
An audience member captured some of the show here:
Anyway after I played I got chatting to someone who`s an old family friend from the UK. Her name’s Margaret and although the last time I met her was when I was still in nappies she remembered me well.
She moved to NZ some years back and once she saw the inlay to my Vinyl LP (which has a picture of my Father inside it) she told me she had footage of an old Rugby match from 1965. It has my Dad playing in it.
Now the thing is my Father passed sometime back when I was very young. I`ve made a bit of a mission within recent years to try and find out more about him; and so to be on the other side of the planet almost as far from home as I can get. And to discover a video of him from nearly 50 years ago.
This almost melted my tiny mind.
But that`s the journey I`m on and it`s things like this that re-enforce it aswell as it being a worthy path to walk.
Following the show in Rotorua I Headed south to play a bunch of shows in Mount Maunganui & Hawkes Bay.
The shows were totally across the board from busy to empty to crazy to subdued.
Some were relaxed and other seemed very intense.
From there I would return North for a couple more shows in Rotorua and at the night Market (which is actually an afternoon market)
You can watch that here 🙂
Having got myself some wheels and successfully done a beg steal and borrow for bits I needed it was off to my first (on the road) destination. The Prana festival in the Coromandel.
I drove there by night and loved the clear moonlight route listening to `Sea Change` by Beck and `Man with a Movie Camera` by the Cinematic Orchestra.
The festival location was beautiful with a private beach and a vibrant friendly atmosphere.
I played 3 times over the festie including a big ol Jam session on the final night. I got to connect with some wonderful Kiwi musicians like Karen Hunter, Matiu Te Huki & Sunny Ray (All of whom would be touring and playing in Europe in 2013)
I left the festie the next day heading an hour south to play Waihi Beach. I had a hitchhiker with me. A young Scottish lad called Joe. A real friendly guy and good companionship. When I arrived at the venue I set up as normal. Only to discover I had left something behind. MY LOOPSTATION!!!!!! The panic hit my and cold sweat set in. Where was it. SHIT SHIT SHIT!!!!! It`s in a field somewhere in the Coromandel.
Not even having enough time to think about how much of a total twat I had been I began frantically texting people. In the mean time I played my show loopless and awaited with anticipation. Eventually word cam back that it was still on the festie site.
Anyway being without the Loops was weirdly refreshing once I came to terms with it. Obscure tunes and even a couple of cover versions seeped into the setlist.
There was also a table of old men who hated me at first but loved me by the end. Always nice to create a turnaround 🙂
From here I will head further south eventually crossing to the South Island.
So off the boat (plane) I arrive fresh from Tokyo. Ecstatic but exhausted from the flight and bewildered by the time and location shift.
I am met at Auckland airport by one of my closest friends Geoff, who has been a pillar of support and inspiration for many years. I would possibly not even be a touring musician had Geoff not opened my eyes to the ways of travel. He is an infectious enthusiast for living life.
Suddenly I`m out of the airport and sharing a barbecue. Lovely times ensue.
My first port of call is to gather all my stuff together that I have shipped to NZ from the UK. Guitar amps and CD`s and Vinyl. Then I must work out what it is that I need. Various stands and leads. These I hope to beg for from other local folks who are willing to help.
My schedule is immediatly hectic and within 48 hours of landing I have my 1st show in Auckland.
A bar called Tabac owned by Crowded House frontman Neil Finn. The show is a chance to get comfy in my new surroundings and despite the venue doing no promo I`m cool to get the ball rolling to the few of my friends who`ve turned out for it.
From there things busy up as I have a hectic stint of shows in the city over the next fortnight.
This also includes a trip across to Waiheke Island for a one off show in the community Theatre space.
The Ferry Route From Auckland city to Waiheke Island
I also have the envious task of finding a tour Van. I have decided to buy one this time around as hiring and borrowing in the past has always resulted in a costly outcome.
Geoff takes time out of his busy schedule to help me look as we jaunt around test driving different wheels. Some of them are ok and some are just a pure joke. One has a flat tire, won`t start and was clearly once involved in a crash concealed by a bad paint job.
Geoff`s partner Orla is pillar of support also as they allow me to invade their front room and Orla give me free use of her Car whilst short of my own wheels.
Eventually I am successful. A Toyota 96 Hi-Ace imported from Japan. She`s rugged but stirdy. I decide to take the plunge. My hope is she survives the tour and I can sell her at the end.
With myself set up for the long journey ahead (nearly 5 months on the road) I am lucky enough to have Geoff and Orla`s place to myself for a couple of days while they travel to Australia.
With this rare opportunity of space I cram the house with Dutch prostitutes and Colombian Cocaine.
Or I just stay alone and rehearse this song.
Now I`m ready for the long road ahead.
First stop is the Prana Festival in Coromandel over New Years.
So I have decided no matter how old the tour times should be I will try to blog as best I can.
This show was my final 2012 show in Japan. It must end somewhere and the gods of random bookings decided it should be here.
Unshudo Osaka was once again a show shared with the awesome NolenNiu-de-Ossi.
This once again resulted in us being able to join forces for a performance of `1-2-Seppuku`.
To say it was the perfect send off from the land of the rising sun would to be honest be a lie.
I was littered with technical issues and found it hard to relax.
Then to top it off this was a rare time in which a member of the audience was noticeably loud. She was gabbering away in Japanese ignorant or just choosing to ignore the fact this was a acoustic show with an otherwise very respectful and attentive audience.
I wanted to tell her to be quiet but did not want to destroy the atmosphere for the show for others.
Alas I think I made the wrong choice as the situation only ended up frustrating me further.
Still it was awesome to see and share the stage with NolenNiu-de-Ossi once more. A truly great undiscovered gem of a band.
During their set later in the night the same lady with her loud mouth proceeded to run it. I could see how much of a distraction this was being to Yasushi and Toruko from the stage.
I took great joy in telling her to shut the fuck up. I don`t think she fully understood me but she got the message from my tone of voice. It was great to see this bring a smile to NolenNiu-de-Ossi and they thanked my after 🙂
And from there that was it. Tour done and job done. From here I took the train back to Tokyo and got ready for my flight to the next destination.
Auckland – New Zealand
Socrates is simply a crazy place. Always showing perverse and twistid visuals on it`s TV screen coupled with almost every band I`m lined up next being deep into the world of noise and experimentation.
This was my 2nd time frequenting this venue and was no different.
Sandwiched between Goth, improv, industrial and yep J-pop. I felt adiquatly out of place.
The set list reflected the randomness of the vibe with Electro dirge `As Stubborn as a Sandfly` kicking things off. Also later in the show `One Schizophrenic` made it`s debut live performance. To fill the gaps I was able to loop the cymbals and snare from the house drum kit.
It is rare that any songs from the `Scenic` album get any live air time due to the complex nature of the recordings.
I`m happy to have tried 🙂
Final Tokyo Show of the 2012 tour and so I wanted to end the run on a high.
It was a Gaijin show and I was sharing the billing with other musicians from the UK and Europe.
The Watanabes and Jimmy Binks both provided great sets of both mellow and epicly upbeat music.
I tried to keep the material flowing and imediate as with many gaisin shows the audience does not wait for long before beginning to talk.
The set was a safe call of songs on the whole but was a typical example also of how I was no longer performing material from my 1st album `Autonomous Debut`.
But all in all a enjoyable final Tokyo performance of 2012 and always leaving the door open to return in 2013.
Which I did!!!!