Fri 18th August 2006
One week, five Scots, two Londoners, several hundred miles of motorway and lots of beer. Yes it's tour diary time again. Ix Guitarist Wally tells the tale...
Naked Shit - Linds: Drums and Tim: Guitar/Vocals
IX - Guss: Vocals/Bass, Steve: Keys/Guitar/Vocals, Wally: Guitar, Neil: Guitar amd Hamish: Drums/Vocals
Saturday 5th August - Edinburgh
Woke up on Steve's couch after a variable and bucky-fuelled last minute practise the previous night. Steve surfaced around mid-day and we spent the afternoon in town getting last minute supplies for the forthcoming week. This accomplished, Guss came around to Steve's with the van and we loaded it with gear before heading down to the Venue for about five. According to texts, Naked Shit had hit some traffic and were only at Newcastle by this point. No big drama since we'd brought most of the backline with us. Or so we thought.
Upon arriving it seemed that weegie nutjobs Take A Worm For A Walk Week (henceforth TAWFAWW) had already arrived and set up their backline. Not wishing to disrupt thing further, we set up what we needed alongside them, and then spent the next wee while sorting out soundchecks etc.
Doors opened and Mothertrucker were on. Spent most of their set outside catching up with an old friend, so I can't really comment. What I did see was sadly forgettable. They have the riffs and the potential, what they lack is either a truly compelling sense of dynamics or a vocalist/ focal point. In this they are not alone, and for what its worth, I could (and often do) level the same criticisms at Pelican.
Barry Whitehouse were onstage next for all of four minutes of white noise, misogyny and tourettes. Whether it was a rough sorbet to cleanse the pallet for what will follow, or a joke that didn't manage to outstay it's welcome, I leave for posterity to decide.
By the time TAWFAWW hit the stage, Naked Shit have arrived and loaded in, and we're all inside getting the banter and (in my case) getting beered up. The boys from Glasgow do a decent set of technical hardcore/grindcore and their sound's absolutely crushing. Not massively my cup of tea, but their sound is powerful and they're great guys.
Next is Eye, a deeply amazing band from Dundee. They lock into a set of slow-burning and hypnotic instrumentals that frankly blew me away. Given that Eye were one of the bands that initially inspired me to get Ix going, it's weird seeing them "supporting" us. They deserve to be fooking huge.
Finally we get to Naked Shit. Tim plugged his guitar into every cabinet on stage (guitar and bass), let it start to feedback, and then played a quick game of cards with Linds in front of the Drumkit before kicking into a set which upped the grymm factor considerably.
And finally it was our time on stage. We were airing stuff from our new split, and although we'd played Sleeper live a fair bit since January, this was the first time we'd ever played The High Handed Enemy. Sleeper went well, pretty assured, and having Steve on third guitar really upped the ante on the closing harmony section. By the time it ended, I was sweating like a pig, so the shirt came off (sorry folks) and we launched into "...Enemy". This is where Steve's tasty lead playing really came to the fore, giving us that nice Funeral Doom sound we sought. Then, after one of our typically Post-Rock-esque build-ups, we launched into a volley of blastbeats and cod-Black Metal riffing which served as a perfect release to the slow building atmosphere during our set. I was chuffed, the crowd seemed to agree, and all in all, I have no complaints.
After the gig, we loaded out, said goodbye to the punters and went back to Steve's for chips and weed before bed. Well, all except for Guss who took the van and our gear back to his parents for the night.
Sunday 6th August - Newcastle
We woke up fairly early when Linds had to go to the airport (poor dear has to work all this week), and lounged around for a while before meeting up with Scot from Cold Dead Hands for brunch and banter. We were soon joined by Kay and Graeme from CDH as well and we then took a wander around Edinburgh for a bit before reconvening back at Steve's to load up the Van and set off for Newcastle. We then divide into what will be the order for the rest of the tour: Me, Neil and Tim in Tim's car listening to actual music, and Steve, Guss and Hamish in the van listening to Death and Black Metal.
The drive south is uneventful, and we soon arrive at the Stout Fiddler, which looks like an old man's pub and is run by a friendly wee Geordie called Andy. We load our stuff downstairs into the cellar where the venue is, I set up the merch stand and the rest go off to get food. First up is a local drone outfit called Ultrashit Inferno. Pretty oppressive noise, but not something I'm in the mood for, so I go for a wander upstairs for a bit, coming down in time to catch the end of their set.
Tim's up next. No Linds, so he does some solo drone stuff, aided by one of the lads from Ultrashit and his laptop. Pretty groovy stuff, and I get occasionally absorbed by how Tim uses his pedals to layer in different sounds, allowing his one instrument to sound like many. Andy the landlord has also revealed himself as a character by this point. He comes down during bands, takes photos with his digital camera, and then has them printed out and given to the bands. It's also been decided that we'll be crashing at the pub tonight with TAWFAWW , which sounds like an incredibly fun notion. The Landlady assures us she'll wake us up at half nine and unlock the pub so we can load out and begin our drive down to High Wycombe.
TAWFAWW are up next doing their thing again, and I'm getting more into it. By this point, I'm also enjoying the cheap lager at the bar, and I'm starting to get nicely lairy. Then it's us again, same stuff as last night, no idea if the crowd (6 punters + bands) was into it or not. I'm not especially caring at this point, cos I'm having great fun!
Afterwards, we chat to punters for a bit, and then us Scots (and Tim) retreat down into the cellar to begin our lock-in. The banter flows thick and fast and as Andy gets more drunk and stoned with us, we start getting tales of him wanting to burn rival pubs down and threatening to break the legs of anyone who tries to raid his optics. That said, he also plies us with loads of cheap and free booze and king prawns. I pass out at some point and wake up on a pub floor. which is every bit as grotty as it seems.
Monday 7th August - High Wycombe
We wake up around half eight/nine the next day and begin to prepare ourselves for the arrival of the landlady to let us out. By 10 she still hasn't shown, and we begin to get worried. By eleven, we go upstairs, find their mobile numbers and get in touch with Andy who unlocks the pub for us. He has no idea where his wife is.
Running late, we load out, say farewell to TAWFAWW and head off down the road. The drive to High Wycombe is a long one, and there isn't much chance for banter en route, although me and Hamish do form a rudimentary form of communication between vehicles by making rude gestures at each other.
Still we get down there with an hour or two to spare before doors. Enough time to load-out, get food and a couple of pints. Also enough time for Tim's car to mysteriously and temporarily die. It gets better by the time an AA man arrives, so I assume it was something that overheated during our epic journey south.
The promoter's a nice wee kid called Duncan who makes noise under the name of Gland, and he keeps things moving. First up is some kid who thinks that an out-of-tune acoustic guitar and an opinion makes him Billy Bragg. Cringeworthy stuff, seriously.
Next up are Glockenspiel, a guitar and drums two-piece who make intricate soundscapey stuff. Pretty good, but I occasionally find my interest waning. Wouldn't listen to an album full of the stuff. After that, the 'Shit are up and Guss is doing guest vocals. Tonight they perform a one-riff improvisation which ranks as my favourite thing of the tour by them. Total Swans vibe. As soon as they're done, Linds is run off to the station by Tim and we set up.
We do our thing. Most of the crowd don't seem that bothered about it, but like the previous night, I don't care and go about playing. Sleeper's given a rest tonight in favour of "Mythopoeia" from our first demo. We play well, Tim joins in for some added grymmness at the end of "...Enemy" and it all goes swimmingly.
After that, it's back to the promoter's parents house where we drink our carry-out beer, smoke our relevant poisons and wind down from the days exertions, then it's off to sleep for another day.
Tuesday 8th August - Bournemouth/Parkstone
After awaking, we faff around High Wycombe for a while, including a stint in a nice wee record shop around the corner from last night's venue. I've just been paid and proceed to score a few cheap DVDs, a Neurosis T-shirt and a Mountain Cd. Score! After that, it's another long drive over to Bournemouth for that night's show. We arrive by late afternoon and then proceed to do what any bunch of right-thinking heterosexual males would do on a scorching summers day: We head to the beach and check out the lovelies in bikinis!
After an hour or so, we're met by the lads in Sunshine Republic, who take us to a Wetherspoons nearby where we proceed to eat, drink and bond some. After a while of this, we all decamp to our various vehicles and head over to the venue in nearby Parkstone. The venue is upstairs in a pub, and the loading in and out is probably the most annoying of the tour. Particularly since Perry from Sunshine Republic has an Ampeg bass head that feels like it's made out of fucking lead!
First band up are a technical hardcore band, pretty good, but nothing I feel the need to get excited about. It's during their set that the mid-tour blues kinda kick in for me. My initial wave of enthusiasm is spent and I really just wanna get away from folks for a bit. We're up next, and I play probably the worst I've played all tour. My glasses come off my face before the clean mid-section of "...Enemy" and I can't see the fretboard, so I hit every bum note under the sun. Dreadful; and by the time we're offstage, most of the crowd are in the bar downstairs.
Naked Shit are next, and they do a great job as well, playing some acoustic stuff before ripping into their signature horrid noise. Finally Sunshine Republic come on a just slay, absolutely brilliant and absurdly powerful stuff, although the guitar gremlins cut their set short. I wanna see these guys again!
After that, we load out and separate. Linds, Hamish and Guss take the van back to London, whilst Tim, me, Neil and Steve head over to Tim's parents for a night in their thatched cottage. Tim's dad is there to meet us, but soon excuses himself. We then chat a bit before I go upstairs and claim a bed in their guest bedroom and sleep the sleep of the dead.
Wednesday 9th August - Brighton
We wake up at around eleven and are treated to Coffee and a brief tour of the manor and land that their cottage is part of. After this we're taken for a bar lunch before we finally say our goodbyes. The area they live in is absolutely beautiful and the weather is perfect to enjoy it in. Hopefully we can come down to see them again when next we're down that way. The time spent with them really helped recharge my batteries for the last few dates.
We get on the road about two, for a three-hour drive to Brighton. It seems that Guss and Hamish, rather than stay at Tim and Linds flat last night as Tim had suggested, decided to drive to Brighton and sleep in a layby. Consequently, they've been hanging around Brighton all day with about three hours sleep between them. Visions of refugees from Hunter S Thompson novels dance before my eyes, but they're basically as amiable as ever.
After some faffing around with the key, we're let into the venue, a volunteer-run community/drop-in centre. It reminds me instantly of one in Glasgow that Ix played about two years earlier. I see a sign on the bar that announces it's closed, so i head across the road with Mr Steve and proceed to buy a large quantity of cheap lager to get us warmed up for the nights playing.
First up are Aries, a cute couple in matching outfits who play guitar and drum soundscapes not a million miles removed from Glockenspiel. However their performance is more visceral and they seem to be friendlier people, so that makes a big difference. We chat to them a fair bit during the night and do some CD swapping. By the time they're done, the TAWFAWW lads have appeared. They have no show tonight, so they've come to hang out, drink our beer and cure our homesickness with a bit more banter.
Rope up next are weird. Angular hardcore ala Fugazi, but the bass seems to be providing most of the rhythm, and the guitar provides an almost drone-like texture. Bizarrely though, despite having the option of two Marshall 4x12's, the guitarist chooses to plug into Tim's small amp. This is something I pledge to fix when they play with us in London the next night.
The Shit do their inimitable thing next, a random noisy jam that I don't recognise. Then it's us. Given my performance yesterday, I've taken it upon myself to practise the riffs to "...Enemy" constantly during the other bands. We play both the songs off the Split and we nail them tight. Joe from TAWFAWW and Tim both join us on vocals for the close of Enemy and it's fucking great. Afterwards, we load out and drive off to London after exchanging CDs and Myspaces with Aries.
In the car to London, me and Hamish have a loud and drunken argument about Humanism much to Lind's amusement/annoyance (I'm never sure which). We get to Tim's flat, unfold the sofa bed and claim it, much to Guss' annoyance. I sleep, and it's Thursday already.
Thursday 10th August - London
I awake with a whole day to spend in London before our gig there that evening. We all shower (in turns) and then Tim takes us to an awesome greasy spoon cafe where we proceed to gorge ourselves on stodge. Then me and Hamish head down to Oxford Street where we go shopping for CDs and hit Denmark Street, home to about a dozen guitar shops. I pick up a new piece of artillery in the form of an MXR Blue Box, the unholy wedding of a Fuzzbox and a 2-octave drop Octaver. I can't wait to try it out that evening. Guss meets us towards the end of our excursion, we get some more stuff and then reconvene at Tim's flat to drive from South London to the Venue (in North London). Easy, right?
Wrong. It takes us almost as long as the drive to Brighton to get from South London to North London. By the time we get there, TAWFAWW are already there and Rope soon arrive. For the last time, we all load in and set up. This time's strange because we actually meet a few familiar names and faces. There's Dan and Hal from Orchis, a stoner band that we used to play in Edinburgh with, Dougie, who's done the sound for most of our gigs at the Subway and Kunal, who runs Superfi records and has long expressed a curiosity in our doings.
TAWFAWW are up first, they do their thing and it's good. Over the week, they're really grown on me, even if 3/4 of the band do have unfortunately myspazzy haircuts. Rope are up next and I drag guitarist Dan over to a big amp and set it up for him. They're better tonight, and I really find myself getting into it.
Naked Shit are up next, but by this point it's becoming a Magners-tasting blur of noise. I do remember adopting the lotus position and closing my eyes for at least part of their set though. Then it's us, doing the split tracks again. We rock hard, and the new pedal I picked up really "browns-out" the droney sections. I think I'm in love!
After that, we re-organise the stage slightly, set up two drum kits and start the Grymm orchestra. Me, Tim and Neil are on Guitar, Steve is on Bass and Keys, Hamish and Linds are in a Drums face-off and Guss is rolling around the floor doing his inimitable vocal stylings over our two-chord jam. It only lasts about 15mins and the venue's empty by the time we've done, but we don't care.
After all that, we say our goodbyes to TAWFAWW, who have been unofficial tour partners all week. We then go back to Tim and Lind's flat with Dougie, where we proceed to drink, smoke and banter until the wee hours.
Friday 11th August - Nottingham
We're awoken by Timmy who's off to get his hair cut. We all get showers and then head over to the greasy spoon for more breakfast stodge. We then hang around out front until Tim comes back, load out our gear and proceed to head to Nottingham where we're playing with Tim's other band, Among The Missing.
Because we don't have Tim's car for this final run of the tour, two folks have to sit in the back. The first two are me and Hamish, for what is only supposed to be a 2-3 hour run. It's actually closer to 5 hours by the time we arrive at the venue, and the back of the van lacks both warmth and light. Still, we get there, unload and set up with practised ease. We also get a chance to chat to the lads from Red Stars Parade who still haven't forgotten my heroic pissedness when we played with them last November. The shame!
We're on first, we play the split tracks and it's all going well until Neil's guitar starts cutting out during "Sleeper". Turns out his speaker cable wasn't in right and the problem's fixed by the time we play "...Enemy" for the last time on tour *sniff*.
After that, it's time for more booze, before I head to check out Among The Missing doing their Black Flag-y thing. It's great stuff to headbang to, and I'm in the mood to do that now, so I do, a lot. After them it's Bumsnogger, and by this point I'm pissed enough to attempt a stagedive into a crowd full of strangers. I don't think the Nottingham scenesters are used to Edinburgh gig banter. Ah well, their loss.
I go looking for a cash machine at this point, so I miss Red Stars Parade's first song, but I arrived back during "Zemanova" and I proceed to get well into it. At one point in their set I'm sure I had little Matt from RSP on my shoulders. I'm pretty sure he's the only guy in the world I could actually bear aloft in that manner for any length of time. Still, great banter.
Palehorse are something of a blur at this point. Khanate-y noise, check; two bassists, check; two vocalists, check; tunes, nope. Still, pretty good, kinda fancy seeing them again.
After this we load out for the last time and begin a herculean 6-hour drive from Nottingham to Edinburgh, where we disembark and go our separate ways. And thus ends my first ever tour. A strange experience and one I'm looking forward to repeating.