My First Tour – Part Three

October 30, 2008

My First Tour
Part Three

The shows so far

Part One
1st – Start The Bus in Bristol
2nd – The Grapes in Sheffield
3rd – Old Blue Last in London
4th – The Assembly in Leamington Spa
5th – The Playhouse in Cheltenham
6th – Resident Instore (afternoon) and (evening) Digital in Brighton

Part Two
9th – Cockpit 3 in Leeds
10th – The Duchess in York
11th – The Welly Club In Hull
12th – Xscape in Castleford
13th – Photoshoot in Leeds
14th – Pure Groove Instore in London
16th – BBC 6 Music – George Lamb Session (morning); New Slang @ McClusky’s in Kingston
17th – The Regal in Oxford
18th – Moshi’s Tenth Birthday Party @ Matter in London

Part Three
22nd – I Fly Spitfires @ Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh
23rd – The Tunnels 2 in Aberdeen
24th – Deaf By Stereo @ Met Lounge in Peterborough
25th – Fuzztival @ Sheffield University Student Union and then Stealth in Nottingham

Now. Firstly I must confess a show was cancelled from this leg of the tour. The Other Rooms in Newcastle on the 21st. Apologies for those that were going to attend. It was beyond my control.

It was unfortunate but I can’t say it was badly timed. For during the day after my Matter gig I went to move the car and the Madame was not starting. So i called the AA who managed to start her and directed me to the nearest garage. The old lady needed her Glow Plugs changed (as women of her advanced years often do). The garage quickly turned the job round and as i drove Madame back to her parking place ready for the journey to the north; I was happy.

The 21st came and we were about to set off for Edinburgh. Hurray!..or so I thought. Imagine my shock as I soon realised there was a distinct lack of life coming from the direction of Madame Ananas…

Madame Ananas elle est morte!

After the grieving process and a brief moment of hesitation regarding the newly fitted disco ball. We hot footed it to Europcar. Where a shiny new Toyota was waiting for us. I shall now refer to it as the Moshi Mobile. (NB: en route I was recognised by a random for the first time…officially)

So. restarting the journey in a different car was somewhat emotional to say the least, but we pushed on. Up to Edinburgh – “Home of the Scottish (and it’s little known export)…Cold Weather.”

I have to say that our time in Edinburgh was fantastic. The crowd were brilliant. There were even some fans who’d come from Glasgow to see me. Plus we had the pleasure of witnessing one of the best bands I’ve seen this tour…damn it…this year! Withered Hand was their name. If you get a chance, purchase their ep Religious Songs. Even if it’s just for the line “I beat myself off when I sleep on your futon.”

We stayed with some friends that night and got up early to take in the sights on the journey to Aberdeen. Including rolling hills, power stations by the sea and Lindisfarne Service Station. What a beauty!

The gig was at a highly regarded Aberdeen venue called The Tunnels. Not named for it’s presence above ground as anyone trying to get there with Sat Nav will find out. The venue is situated below the city streets and can only be reached through a series of perplexing one way routes.

The gig went well until my voice decided to break like a pensioners hip . I literally couldn’t sing. Luckily it was two songs from the end of the set, so i bowed out gracefully. Well as gracefully as one can when they sound like a pubescent choir boy.

With the gig over, now came the serious fun. Driving down from Aberdeen to Peterborough for my next gig. Wisely, we decided to drive to Edinburgh during the night. This part of the journey was done by christiaan. The morning shift was taken by me and we ended up arriving just in time for load in down at Peterborough’s Met Lounge (load in for any non gigging musicians is as it sounds…you load in your equipment.)

This was a nervous time for me as I was having some problems even singing, let alone reaching some of the higher notes…mainly the chorus to This Sweet Love and the No Surprise verses. I decided after a shaky soundcheck to bust it down to Asda and raid their cough syrup section. I got myself some chewable vitamin c tablets, benedryl liquid joy and some menthol lemsips (which are genius by the way) although make sure you close your eyes as you sip as it tends to sting. I couldn’t resist buying a big tub of pineapple on my way to the till as I’d heard that it’s one of the best things for clearing mucus etc. (don’t ask me what the etcetera is!)

The gig was alright…I must say I didn’t sing well…but the sound was fantastic in there. Saw a great band called Exit Calm. They were from Hull I think. A mix of Sigur Ros guitars and Kasabian attitude. Loved it.

We stayed in a lovely place that night called the Thorpe Lodge Hotel. It even had it’s own bar down in the cellar. We conducted a small interview for the tour diary as we sipped our whisky on the rocks. Lots of grimacing on my front as I don’t really like whisky! Then we headed to bed, ready for the dual onslaught the next day of Sheffield and Nottingham.

The first of these. Sheffield. Was ace. Not a huge crowd as I was on at 4.30 in the afternoon, but I did have a special audience member in the shape of Mr Steve Lemacq. Who I’m reliably informed by christiaan was nodding along.

As soon as Sheffield was out the way, we cranked the moshi mobile back down to Nottingham and to Stealth…with it’s crazy £800,000 Function One PA. A fat system you might think and you’d be right…So bassy in fact that the vibration from every kick drum sent my laptop and audio interface inching towards the edge of my flight-case. We ended up having to gaffa down the interface and construct a foam cushion with extra bluetac grip for the laptop.

The sound was  large, the same cannot be said for the crowd, but it was good fun and everyone was really nice. I can’t really remember much though as all I could think of was getting home and into my own bed!

Thanks for reading!

NB: Part Two of the video diary (Octourber) shall be uploaded shortly.

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My First Tour – Part Two

October 20, 2008

My First Tour
Part Two

Hello…and welcome to part two of my first tour.
The shows so far

Part One
1st – Start The Bus in Bristol
2nd – The Grapes in Sheffield
3rd – Old Blue Last in London
4th – The Assembly in Leamington Spa
5th – The Playhouse in Cheltenham
6th – Resident Instore (afternoon) and (evening) Digital in Brighton

Part Two
9th – Cockpit 3 in Leeds
10th – The Duchess in York
11th – The Welly Club In Hull
12th – Xscape in Castleford
13th – Photoshoot in Leeds
14th – Pure Groove Instore in London
16th – BBC 6 Music – George Lamb Session (morning); New Slang @ McClusky’s in Kingston
17th – The Regal in Oxford
18th – Moshi’s Tenth Birthday Party @ Matter in London

So the first gig. Cockpit 3. A massive club with 3 live rooms. I was obviously playing the smaller of the three, but that was by no means the quietest. I had a great soundcheck after bonding with the sound guy Dale over the new Presets album Apocalypso, which he played at all free opportunities over the modest PA.
Christiaan and I were shown such great hospitality as we had our own dressing room complete with fridge, kettle, milk and a pile of tea bags. Anything a struggling artist on the road needs. Plus…and this is the piece de resistance…wifi. It’s great to be able to check your emails on the road…did i say emails…i meant myspace/facebook. However, it’s all very good if you have something to check…once you’re up to date you feel like you’re wasting the opportunity to use the internet so you start looking up random things…for example 90s band Sleeper’s lead singer’s name, second hand shops in the leeds area and the nationality of M.I.A. All important things I think you’d agree. Answers were Louise Wenner, Trash and Treasure, no.3 stonegate road and Sri Lanken.

The gig was good fun, sold all but one of the cds we had taken up for our northern leg. You see. We only had about 10 to last us the four gigs. A bit short sighted on my part. I should have got some more from Moshi when I was back in London. So for the rest of the gigs I kept referring fans to HMV. (take note HMV…I was pointing people your way…stock the album!!!)

The next night was a short drive to York. A wonderfully old and historic town. Not what I expected at all. I was prepared to see a vast industrial estate with smoke billowing out of roadside factories. It was the complete opposite. More like a local southern town called Battle with old castle walls surrounding the city centre. The Duchess is a relatively new venue. The managers Tim and Michelle told me that they had once owned a pub called the Duchess, which was renowned for it’s fantastic nights and high profile artists. After a lengthy period of time (which i forget how much) the brewery decided to claim back the pub and sold it off to make way for a hugo boss shop. The couple then bought the current site and kept tradition alive by naming the place after their once famous venue.

I was playing the club night and was due to go on stage at 11.30pm. Playing earlier on that night was Lykki Li supported by Yoav. It was a pleasure to see both perform and I was overjoyed to see the vast crowd that had amassed for them. I was less than happy to see the vast crowd dissipate faster than a line of coke from an ad executive’s pocket mirror.

I needn’t worry mind you. As a different younger crowd soon started pouring through the door. When, eventually, i did get on stage and asked if anyone had ever heard of me. One person put their hand up. I had a feeling I was playing to people who just wanted to dance. An ironic juxtaposition to my nights in sheffield and cheltenham. I guess I need an audience on the brink of dancing. An attentive head bob, me thinks. Or to paraphrase the NME a little “crancing”. (crying / dancing).

The Welly Club was a great night. Met a wonderful band by the name of Ambassadors of Morocco. Really nice guys. I’d be lying if I said the gig went without a hitch though. They cranked the sound so loud that my guitar was feeding back and I basically couldn’t hear my vocals. However despite my feelings of angst, the crowd (in the smallest sense of the word) seemed to like it. I did however get one guy repeatedly asking me for tracks by other bands. Obviously thinking I was some glorified DJ who sang and played along to other peoples stuff.

The lasting memory I shall have of Hull is when we pulled up to unload the equipment into the venue (NB: the afternoon!). We were accosted by three drunks (one lady, who did the talking and two men).

Drunken Lady: “scuse me…wah time duz the musik stard?”
Christiaan: “um…about quarter to ten i think”
[Meanwhile one drunken man slowly falls to the ground and is dragged along by his pal. Whilst inside my head one thought repeats “keep and eye on my stuff, keep and eye on my stuff”]

And so to follow the joy of Hull was the giant man made mole hill of the north. Xscape. A building that takes up one third of Castleford, the town in which it resides. I can’t describe how massive this place was. We found the Loft, which was the bar i was playing in and was then led through a maze of unfurnished corridors within the underbelly of beast. Eventually reaching daylight after a good five minutes of walking. This was our load in point of access…Awesome! So not far to walk with all the stuff then…

The gig itself was fun. Good sound, which made up for the lack of sober listeners. I was particularly chuffed to learn that a man called Neil had seen me at the cockpit in leeds and had brought his girlfriend along to catch me a second time in Castleford. Thanks Neil. That’s very nice of you.

With the end of this night , comes the end of our yorkshire experience (for this week). All that was left was a photoshoot in leeds the following day and a long trip home to bed.

ahh bed!

So back down in London and after a good nights sleep. The Pure Groove Instore was upon me. A lunchtime show, which I was a bit apprehensive about, but I needn’t be. The staff were really nice and it was good fun to play in their shop. A healthy crowd grew and then wilted as my set drew to it’s climactic finale. It was nice to be done by the afternoon for once. And I got to enjoy the evening and the next day before the second batch of gigs commenced.

First installment was McClusky’s in Kingston. A lovely night put on by the fellows at banquet records. I was supporting Esser whose set was absolutely fantastic. His drummer is one of the best I’ve seen. I guess as Ben (Esser) is a drummer himself you know he’s gonna choose a pretty tight drummer to play for him!

The next gig was The Regal in Oxford. One of the largest venues I’ve ever played. It was just me and some djs. A bit nerve racking but I was committed to having a good one. Something that was tested as a few songs in I was aware of an unhappy presence in the crowd. Some people shouting ‘You’re shit!’ and one guy asking me to put on an oasis cd. Well to those of you that didn’t enjoy my show at The Regal I have a few words for you….Go fuck yourself!

Load out was fun. There were about 1200 students between the stage and the exit. Luckily, We managed to persuade the security crew to sneak us out the back door as it would have been an absolute nightmare battling our way through the crowd…especially as there may have been some bad feelings towards me. The escape procedure was very exciting and I felt like an SAS dude. We worked in perfect synchronicity. As my entourage loaded up with equipment we were briefed on what to do. The closest exit was the fire escape through the back of the dressing room. It was alarmed and in order to de-set this the power had to be cut. This would almost certainly interfere with the DJ who was by this time in full swing. A vast crowd of 1200 dancing drunk ‘angry’ students…nice.

After checking everyone was ready. They cut the alarm and we (with ninja like precision) left the building in a veil of silence. A final insult to the people who slagged me off. (NB: not everyone I met hated me that night. the promoter was very nice and all the staff including the sound man Mark were absolute legends. And a big thanks to the lovely people I did meet in Oxford. It re-affirmed my confidence for the next gig…Matter…London)

This was pretty much the climax for the first two parts of the tour. I was to play alongside the other Moshi Moshi acts at Matter. Fabric’s new venue in the O2 arena. We arrived at 5 for soundcheck, with a provisional stage time of 1.30am. I was playing the smaller of the two rooms along with, Slow Club, The Wave Pictures, and Kate Nash. Whilst room one was home to Hot Chip, Tilly And The Wall, Florence and the Machine and The Mai Shi.

The night was a fantastic success. Everyone I saw was playing well. Wave Pictures and Hot Chip gave a particularly good performance that evening. It was an absolute pleasure to play and to finally meet some of the other acts on Moshi. Also a good opportunity to take in Fabric’s new venue.

So ends the second part. At this moment, Christiaan is furiously editing the next video installment. Did I say editing…I meant playing Need For Speed on the Xbox next door!


The Day After Release

October 15, 2008


tuesday at hmv, originally uploaded by jamesyuill.

A friend took this photo on tuesday 14th
get reordering the album HMV!


‘TURNING DOWN WATER FOR AIR’ OUT NOW

October 13, 2008

turning down water for air cover, originally uploaded by jamesyuill.

hello all
just a little blog to let you know that the album is out today!
visit HMV and pick up a copy….if you want
word

or visit your local independent…i’m sure they can order it!


VIDEO TOUR DIARY – PART ONE

October 12, 2008

written exploits below


My First Tour – Part One

October 10, 2008
 

Lads On Tour, originally uploaded by jamesyuill.

Now when most bands go on tour, you’d expect them to be driven round in a big tour bus (preferably one with onboard entertainment systems). To have roadie’s lug huge flight cases around. To even have their own sound man. Not I. For I am stupid (and perhaps a little spendthrift). Either way, I’m on tour with a friend called christiaan, my clothes are crammed into a lego club bag I’ve had since I was 5, my midi footpedal is in a plastic bag and a freshly installed kenwood stereo is all within our tour bus…or should I say Peugeot 106. Nicknamed ‘Madame Ananas’ for comedic value…with a value rating of approximately 2 cpi (chortles per square inch).

Christiaan is my scape goat/videographer. He’s busy filming random events and then editing them together into our blog-tastic video diary. He is also responsible for some other jobs. For example: sharing the driving, manning the merchandise stall and being generally annoying as he sees fit. I could have draughted in an actual tour manager, but it wasn’t economically viable. I would have been making a loss before the first performance. I guess they do deserve their money as it’s not a great existence. Constantly moving around. Having to keep some rowdy band in check. Being the victim to endless pranks. Like putting cling film over the toilet bowl then putting the seat down…always a classic, hey christiaan!

So let’s start at the beginning. A perfect place.

We set off from HQ early afternoon. Destination: Start The Bus, Bristol. As well as it being the first night of the tour, I also had the pleasure of playing alongside Rod Thomas, songwriter extrodinaire.

Despite Bristol’s crazy one way system (like most cities nowadays) we arrived in good time – due to me anally leaving more early than we needed. Soundcheck was delayed massively, but it was not a problem as I was able to sit and chat with my fellow performer. The gig itself was great. Had some friends down and sold some cds, which is always nice.

Now for this first leg of the tour. I had decided that it would be cheaper to head back to london after every gig, the incentive being able to sleep in my own bed and get a lie in! So for all the following dates bar our sheffield gig, we drove back to HQ and ultimately…bed.

the dates were as follows

1st – start the bus in bristol

2nd – The grapes in sheffield

3rd – old blue last in london

4th – the assembly in leamington spa

5th – the playhouse in cheltenham

6th – resident instore (afternoon) and (evening) digital in brighton

The Grapes up in Sheffield was a lovely intimate venue, to be found at the top of an old pub. I was supported by my friend Benjamin David and the Goliaths and my favorite folk band Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam. A lovely evening was had by all, but i couldn’t help feeling like my beats were a bit too much for some of the audience. I felt a bit stupid nodding my head in rhythm to the thudding bass as people sat around or stood motionless before me. I’d like to think they appreciated the effort.

After a wonderful night’s kip in a premier travel inn…with the emphasis resting firmly on the “premier” we indulged our stomachs in a slightly sub par breakfast from the adjoining little chef. Sufficiently satiated we left sheffield heading south to the big smoke….ah…alliteration.

We were heading to a festival I was booked to play, staged in the trendy reaches of shoreditch. Concrete and Glass the festival.  The Old Blue Last the venue. They made me feel extremely welcome there with a fridge full of beers in a lovely dressing room…doesn’t take much does it…Don’t forget I am traveling in a cocking peugeot 106, what do you expect!

I was playing with a number of really cool acts, who by all respects should have been on last, but the good Jon Kennedy of xfm fame saw it best when curating the night to shove me on at the end. A great response from a great crowd. Not as packed as the night before, though. I heard they had to turn Jack Penate away! Maybe he was trying to get in under his real name…Jack Fabian.

The next show on the saturday was the one I was looking forward to most. a) because I had convinced my girlfriend to come along and join me on the road for that night and b) i was playing with one of my favourite new bands…one of the freshest sounding acts around. Post War Years. Truly original and always perfect live. It was The Assembly in Leamington Spa and I (for my sins) was on last. Not sure why as PWY’s are much better than me…plus they set the bar insanely high with an outstanding performance, which consisted primarily of new songs…all of which where instant classics. 

The venue itself was massive. It used to be a bingo hall we were told whilst being shown round the immense back stage area. We all had our own individual rooms which jutted off from a main communal lounge, with it’s own bar, sofas, out of service dodgem cars and a trailer once owned by Tammy Wynette. Yes…a trailer indoors! The walls themselves had been built around this behemoth. The most garish pink with chrome trimming on the outside and crazy glass, mirrors and plastic covered cushions on the inside.

I felt like I performed well, at least that’s what the lads from PWY’s said…so I thanked, bid adieu and left them to their shenanigans in the pink and chrome trailer!

Now sunday was an interesting one. This gig was the Playhouse in Cheltenham. Promoted by the most wonderful Stefan and his lady Becca. It was a lovely gig with an attentive crowd, but I did feel like I was the oldest one there. The other bands were a lot younger than me. I felt like an uncool uncle when trying to chat to them. I guess I just have to get used to that. It was also another gig like the Grapes in Sheffield, where most people had taken to sitting down in a very chilled out manner. A bit weird when I was trying to get some people up and dancing with my electro musings.

I didn’t have to worry too much as this was one of the most successful gigs for selling merchandise. i guess they liked it after all.

Interesting story about the drive back. We nearly got fully up close and personal with a frickin stag. I’ll set the scene…paint the picture with my wonderfully poetic words.

Okay…so we’re driving along the A40. Christiaan at the wheel. Madame Ananas doing at least 60 (possibly 70….I know…lock her up! she broke the law!)

The conversation meandering into whether we’ve ever hit a badger whilst driving. I admit that I’ve at least seen the damage a fully sized badger can cause to a car….they can get quite fat down south!

Anyway about ten minutes later we see (on our side of the road, facing into the hedge) a fuck off massive stag…antlers and everything! Christiaan slammed on the breaks, but as he did the mammal turned and ran…full pelt…into our path. As we were still traveling pretty fast christiaan cleverly decided to accelerate around the approaching stag. We ended up swerving fully onto the other side of the road and missing the sprinting beats by 2 inches at the most. If we’d collided it certainly would have written off the car and possibly come through the passengers side…i.e.: my face!

This event was followed by a steady stream of expletives and blasphemy.

The last and final day of this leg was Brighton. Playing a little instore during the afternoon and then the sea front club Digital. It was a really good night actually. When we first arrived there were no lights on and I had to set up my stuff in almost pitch black. The gig itself was in the smaller room of the venue which still looked pretty sizable. I was worried that i would be playing to an empty room, but luckily some friends came down and added girth to the trickle of fans I managed to pull from brighton’s surrounding area. The sound guy Ally was really good as he’d been on tour with New Young Pony Club and The Go! Team so he managed to get a great sound out of the PA. 

The instore was equally as great. Not as successful on the cd selling front, but everyone who came along was really attentive and listened quietly as i strummed my way through my acoustic set. Perched on the counter next to the cash machine. They even let me choose and keep a couple of cds for free (which I thank them for again). If any of you are interested. I chose Plaid, Autechre and Clark. I had earlier bought a copy of Rex The Dog’s debut album too).

So there you have it. We have come to the end of part one of my tour. I’m currently up in yorkshire on the second leg. The video diary ‘Part One’ is still to be edited (christiaan?!) and uploaded. so let this be an appetiser.

Farewell

James


NME Album Review

October 8, 2008

NME album review, originally uploaded by jamesyuill.

This cheered me up somewhat!
Cheers Martin Robinson….you’re a legend!