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Guitar technician reporting from the tourbus....

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Complete Tours

Been doing a spot of driving for this fine little Lincolnshire-based enterprise. Click on their logo for more info about their range of services which include luxury splitters, backline hire, storage, tour management, techs and roadies, and much, much more.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Berlin then home

Local support Dance on the Tightrope's ample guest list ensured there was a far healthier crowd at Berlin's graffiti-clad Comet Club, and those that stayed to watch the headliners were as taken aback as any lucky punter on this short tour by the sheer wall of glorious noise North Atlantic Oscillation produce live. If merchandise sales are any indication as to whether or not a tour has been successful one can't help but conclude they must have made a pretty strong impression on virtually everyone that turned up, who to a man will soon be boasting that they were there in October 2011 in a tiny club with a handful of others just before NAO hit the big time. And they'll have the tee-shirt to prove it. They really are that good and I wish them every success. Check them out here

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Hamburg 2

As far as the evening meal was concerned we chose (well, drummer Ben chose) a random Italian restaurant close to the Reeperbahn, waited well over an hour for some decidedly dodgy tucker and watched amazed as the head chef resigned right there and then in a fit of pique, marking his departure by smashing a large dish on the kitchen floor. Gordon Ramsay would have had a field day.


I never thought I'd write these words but I really wish there was a Formule 1 hotel nearby we could check into for a couple of nights - anything other than the unsettlingly weird Wira Guesthouse we've just dumped our bags in and fled to the nearest bar from. It seems an ageing gentleman found himself with a few redundant rooms in quite a large council flat, presumably after his children grew and fled the nest and his missus either left him or died - or perhaps both. One assumes at which point he thought, "Hang on, what if I put six beds in each room, name each after a continent (or a country for ante-rooms), and then charge people to stay there, all the while providing the absolute bare minimum in terms of facilities. Yes, that will work." And it does, kind of. We had to pay extra for "bedding" - our foam mattresses bend upwards at the corners because the elasticated sheets are too tight, the cases to cover our malformed, inadequate pillows are far too large and completely the wrong shape for their lumpy contents, and we find ourselves having to tip-toe past six sleeping strangers to get to our dingy quarters - quite arbitrarily named "Sweden". The room puts me in mind of Sweden in much the same way Idi Amin does, ie not in the slightest. It costs a euro to hire a towel should you wish to bathe - Chris circumventing this charge by drying himself off with a bath mat. There's that ingenuity again. Paul has decided he's keeping his, reasoning that one euro is a fair price to be paid for a second hand towel. The place is clean though, and right opposite a handy U-bahn station so I suppose things could be a lot worse. We're here for two nights so there's plenty of time to see if indeed they can be.

A report on our eventful evening meal will follow in due course.

Friday, 21 October 2011

And speaking of Chris

he related to us a charming anecdote which so far holds the title of "most heartwarming tale of the tour" and displays a level of ingenuity and resourcefulness seldom found in the bass-playing community. When he was a child he and his brother reportedly left a portable cassette recorder permanently armed so that whenever either of them felt the need to break wind all they had to do was disengage the pause button to commit the audio portion of their emittance to tape. When the end of the side was reached they were able to sit back and at their leisure enjoy the experience of listening to a seamless forty-five minute fart. Remarkable.


Top gig at the 013 last night by the band whose membership criteria appears to be that no-one must have a name longer than one syllable - hence Sam, Bill, Ben, Pete and Chris. Even sound-man Paul fails to break this curious rule. And that leaves me, currently toying with the notion that in the land of the monosyllabic the disyllabic man is king. How I can leverage (as twats who use words like "leverage" would say) this to my advantage is another matter entirely. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Great to see top Netherlander and fellow Cardiacs nut Maarten Adventurer at the show, and very kind it was of him to bring me a case of fine Belgian ale. Brilliant also to see my old chum and ex bus-mate Jamie Cavanagh. It'd be good to see both of them more often.

On our way to Arnhem now - pausing only at some football stadium or other to procure a special, magical pin badge, if bassist Chris gets his way.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

North Atlantic Oscillation Day 1

It's been a little over half a day since I set off on this particular trek and I already feel compelled to put finger to keyboard and wake this sleeping page. Somehow, and I don't know how, my hiatus from touring has numbed my faculties and allowed me to forget what a complete waking nightmare, prison-like hell an overnight ferry crossing can be - this time courtesy of DFDS and their boat (yes captain, boat) from North Shields to somewhere near Amsterdam. I don't know who it was who long ago came to the conclusion that "shit nightclub on the ocean" would be the best approach to keeping fare-paying inmates entertained during their crossing, but they really should take the time to point out to the lead singer of "NRG" that the well known and quite excellent Abba song "Dancing Queen" does not contain the line "feel the beat of the tambouroon." Even my spell checker knows that.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A brief hop over to Europe...

is what's in store for me, somewhere around October twentieth for a week or thereabouts. I'll be driving, teching and merch-selling for those perky progsters North Atlantic Oscillation who, as those with keen faculties will recall, supported Anathema on more than one prestigious occasion and gained many friends in the process. It's been a fairly quiet summer for me since I resigned as Anathema's guitar tech way back in May when the band and dear old friend Les Smith parted company in less than ideal circumstances, though I've picked up a few jobs driving young punk bands to and from festivals and erected a few stages in the meantime. I've also been recording my own band Idiot's debut ep in my home studio (ie a laptop, keyboard and mic), and I don't mind saying it's much harder work than I ever dreamt it would be, but most definitely worth the effort. Won't be long now.

Back soon.

Monday, 18 July 2011


...this blog will be resurrected in the autumn. I might just have a tour with a band not entirely unconnected to the Anathema family. Watch this space (if you can be bothered).

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

That's all folks...

Well, as far as working for Anathema is concerned it is. Due to circumstances way beyond my control I have made the decision to terminate my role as Anathema's guitar tech. It's a shame as I've had some great times on the road with them and wouldn't swap those experiences for anything. I've enjoyed putting this blog together over the years, it helping to keep me sane when I've found myself in all manner of odd places and situations around the world. I hope you've enjoyed reading it. If I find myself on the road with another band (anyone looking for a guitar tech?) I'll write some more. In fact, I might even have the odd rant from time to time if I feel like getting something off my chest. I'll leave it here for the time being and we'll see what happens.

Cheers everyone, and make sure you listen to Cardiacs, the greatest band on the planet.


Saturday, 26 March 2011

Anathema are currently in the studio so no shows for a little while. Normal service will resume presently.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Another top French band name.

Stefan gets creative with the lights as Cloverseeds set up in Rennes.


Back in the Antipode where I did sound for Ruby Throat a couple of years ago and we seem to have arrived in the middle of a cigarette smoking convention. Also, rather worryingly, the catering lady puked into a waste paper bin while preparing our sandwiches. Things have been a little subdued of late - the dressing room in Caen was rifled and laptops, wallets and phones were taken. Still, last show today and everyone seems pretty chipper, if a little hung over.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


"Alright you f*cking c*nts, please welcome, all the way from Sweden, the worst singer-songwriter in the world......Petter f*cking Carlsen."

In addition to his compèring activities John Douglas is also available for children's parties, after dinner speaking and humanist funerals.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011


Day fifteen and we find ourselves at what must surely be a serious contender for best venue in Europe, namely Le Bikini in Toulouse. It's a fairly recent build, its original incarnation having been obliterated in an explosion at a nearby chemicals plant in 2001, a blast which also sadly left twenty nine dead. A lot of thought has been put into the design of the new venue, and I can honestly say I've never heard a PA sound so good. In fact I reckon you could mix an album on it. As is usual in France, and as I've mentioned here before, the food they serve us while on tour is generally excellent, though the staff in the kitchen at Le Bikini have somehow managed to raise the bar even further. Octopus for breakfast anyone?

Last night's gig in Clermont Ferrand is one I hope to wipe from memory before too long. After replacing Vincent's guitar, amplifier and cables mid-song(s) in an effort to make it all work again the problem finally turned out to lie within the venue's equipment. You don't half feel like an idiot though, frantically redesigning the stage while hundreds of punters look on.

Vincent ponders what to eat next.

Monday, 21 February 2011


Day thirteen of the tour and I'm starting to feel the first twinges of bus-trophobia, there being no nice little front lounge on this one in which to hide away. Another down side is that, while we can see perfectly well where we've been and where we currently are (on a moment by moment basis), we can't actually see where we're going. I miss that.

In a recent attempt to alleviate boredom I watched the sci-fi movie "Skyline" which I shall review as follows:

People you don't care about dying unheroically for no good reason.

Yep, that about sums it up.

Friday, 18 February 2011


Sat in the Blackbird ale and pie house in Earls Court, immensely satisfied after scoffing one of their delicious speciality pies. The sold out show at the Scala last night marked the end of a hugely successful UK tour which saw audiences swelling (in the nicest possible way) and new territories conquered. Highlights included the backstage facilities at the Assembly in Leamington - Tammy Wynette's ornate sixties touring caravan and an even older fairground dodgem among the artefacts thoughtfully provided for our amusement. A couple of days earlier in Nottingham I missed out on a late night seance in caves under an old pub due to tour fatigue - the landlady of said establishment reportedly able to summon ghosts at will (yeah, right - why's it not the focal point of some serious scientific research then?) by getting gullible punters to hold hands in a circle in the dark. What she hadn't banked on was Anathema turning the pointless spectacle into an impromptu round of hokey-cokey. I'm sure the dead (had they turned up) would have found it most amusing. Another highlight for me was being able to watch North Atlantic Oscillation play their set every night. Shame they're not staying with us.

We set off tonight for Lille and the first of nine shows in France.

Merch spiv Brian Moss in the Noddy car in Leamington. Below is Tammy Wynette's caravan.

And for the record, I don't believe for one minute that Danny got his shiner by walking into a tree in Sheffield. I reckon he most likely bumped heads with Ken Clark.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Nottingham 2

On our way to Leamington and the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen-designed Assembly venue. I really don't know what to expect but it should be noted that roadies don't do fancy. I somehow managed to cram in two incredibly disappointing meals in Nottingham where we stayed for our day off. The first was a pitiful excuse for a roast chicken dinner served at the Yates's pub by the main square, not redeemed in any way by the "free" splat of crumble and custard masquerading as dessert. After Lee and John witnessed their beloved Everton getting thrashed by Bolton on a screen thirty feet wide a few of us ventured out to a curry house around the corner which (judging by the messages on their wall) comes highly recommended by much of the UK's celebrity elite, all of whom must have appeared at one time or another at the theatre across the road. Since the aforementioned meal I find myself urged to pen strongly-worded letters to, among others: Bob Carolgees, Little and Large, Christopher Biggins, David Essex, Lenny Henry, Dawn French, the bloke out of the "Confessions of..." films, and Whitesnake. I intend to ask why exactly they would recommend such bland, lukewarm and overpriced fare. Ah, thinking about it, I might have answered my own question there.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


The morning after the gig at the Rescue Rooms and we have a day off. Unsurprisingly the weather is purest gloom, though I doubt we'll be spending much time outside as there were murmurings last night regarding Sunday roast dinners and the match involving Lee and John's favourite football team being shown on the television.

In other news, a member of our entourage found himself much the worse off in an early morning disagreement with a Sheffield street tree and now sports an impressive lump on the forehead, one which will surely become more colourful as the days progress.

Friday, 11 February 2011

UK Tour

Currently on our way to Sheffield for gig number three and things are going pretty well. Despite being a man or two down crew-wise load-ins and outs have been relatively stress free and have in fact proved a useful source of exercise, this being good as you'll never find me giving any of my hard-earned cash to a poxy gym. North Atlantic Oscillation (so nice to have a support act I like) have been chipping in, and the local crew at the Cathouse in Glasgow were supremely keen and helpful, making the hell of their steep sticky stairs that little bit more bearable. On the subject of the Cathouse, this was the gig I was least looking forward to on this jaunt. Last time we were there (on the day Obama won the 2008 presidential race) the band played to around eighty punters in a filthy room (or was it eighty filthy punters in a room?). The dressing room was a dimly lit pigsty (the shower would more aptly have been employed as a second toilet should the other be occupied and the need great), and the catering seemed the product of some nightmare that involved wandering aimlessly around Netto with a dole cheque. Not so on this occasion. It's amazing what a lick of paint and a bit of TLC can do to a place. Three hundred or so punters this time as well.

In other news, Vincent is playing a shiny new Paul Reed Smith for part of the set, leaving me with the formidable task of figuring out a way to purloin it without anyone noticing. It is a very nice guitar. Les currently has a form of beard growing on his face, causing some to liken him to the late Dennis Hopper. Personally, I see more of a resemblance to Albert Steptoe.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Off we pop again:

09-02-2011 Live Lounge, Durham
10-02-2011 Cathouse, Glasgow
11-02-2011 Academy 2, Sheffield
12-02-2011 Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
14-02-2011 The Assembly, Leamington
15-02-2011 Academy 3, Manchester
16-02-2011 Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
17-02-2011 Scala, London
19-02-2011 Le Splendid, Lille
20-02-2011 La Laiterie, Strasbourg
21-02-2011 Ninkasy, Lyon
22-02-2011 Cooperative de Mai, Clermont Ferrand
23-02-2011 Bikini, Toulouse
24-02-2011 Theatre Barbey, Bordeaux
25-02-2011 Le Cargo, Caen
26-02-2011 LE 106, Rouen
27-02-2011 L'Antipode, Rennes

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy 2011

2010 ended a bit weirdly really, what with the mini tour of Ireland which for me was broken up by the funeral of a friend. We then had a charity show for the poorly kiddies in Liverpool and all of this was only a few days before the massive pig-out that is, at least in my calendar, Atheist-mas. What I will say though is that despite the entire British Isles being crippled by snow and ice and all major airports being full of disgruntled, stymied, would-be passengers we managed to take a tour bus across to Ireland (by means of the roughest ferry crossing I've yet encountered) and drive around unhindered for three days. Leaving everyone behind in Belfast I flew (with only half an hour's delay) to Exeter and then from there to Manchester a couple of days later. I then took a coach to Liverpool and rejoined the bus which dropped me off the day after just in time for me to catch a train back home. I really don't know what all the fuss was about.

Happy New Year from all (i.e. me) at Das Bunk.

Saturday, 18 December 2010