On the road again (briefly)…

The other week we took a road trip up to Aberdeen to test run some new tracks at Cellar 35 and break out one or two old favourites that we haven’t played for some years.

We set off in tandem, in a hired van and Ian’s car, hereafter referred to as The Sconemobile, to the small club under the Noose and Monkey.

Our regular sound engineer Kas was back up from London for the night to jockey the desk, and hear some of the new tracks for the first time in advance of our planned touring for later in the year.

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Corps of Discovery – Minneapolis to Washington State

Minneapolis 3:30AM; Why is it so cold out here? Why didn’t the hotel receptionist warn me? Why can’t I sleep?

The following morning finds me standing outside the hotel, with Styrofoam coffee in one hand, Marlboro in the other, both jackets buttoned and eyes squinting against the glare of the snow-covered swimming pool. From the experience of the last few days it seems almost laughable to have a swimming pool here at all, save for it being used as a skating rink, but I suppose this far inland you have to take the rough with the smooth – bitter winters, roasting summers. Continue reading

Happy New Year, Happy New Start!

After a short pre-Christmas Scottish tour, covering the major cities (and Dunfermline), and rudely interrupted by the Twitter-trending “Hurricane Bawbag”, we returned to Edinburgh to eat our own body weight in turkey before a Hogmanay gig at the Third Door. A good way to work off the chipolata sausage and “TV chef” inspired goose fat potatoes. Continue reading

US Tour Diary – Boston to Minneapolis

We drive into Boston with the Pixies belting out Bone Machine, as a part of our “Geographically Relevant American Playlist Challenge”. The six in the back (myself included) are firmly lodged into our seats by a combination of EasyJet-esque legroom, four damp (and by this point fairly foul) snuggies, a pile of “small” (20oz) gas station coffee cups, and the Chinese-puzzle-box elbow situation going on. We are more than happy to get out of our stygian surrounds and replace them with an icy sidewalk outside the excellent Brighton Music Hall venue.

My mood is following small but regular orbits around the Venn intersection of the “manic”, “depressed” and “completely bananas” spheres, which I presume is some sort of hitherto undocumented post-New York effect coupled with a generous slab of hunger. I try listening to Graceland, Tom Petty, more Pixies. They just seem to exacerbate the situation. Eating a pizza helps, but only slightly. Ironing my shirt seems productive, so I do it. By the time US Royalty arrive in the dressing room, I am passed out on the couch with a jacket over my head and a half can of warm beer in my hand. We have so little time here, and as we are a little out of the city centre to the west, it seems ultimately pointless trying to do anything else.
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US Tour Diary – Philadelphia, New York, Brooklyn

"I'm walkin' here!"We drove into Philadelphia the following day for a radio session at World Café. The session went well, and the studio was great. We were loading the gear out down a back alley under an overhead railway line, in a pretty industrial looking neck of the woods, whilst a mile-long freight train sparked and scraped by above us, and it struck me that we couldn’t have been more “in America”. There was little time for whimsy however, as we had to head on over to the North Star Bar for tonight’s gig.

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US Tour Diary – Washington

001With our bags packed with recently-laundered laundry from the European tour, and as much hand luggage as we could squeeze into an overhead bin without placing the structural integrity of the aircraft in jeopardy, we made our way to Edinburgh Airport at 04:00 hours in a dark, grey drizzle. We were flying out at about six, arriving at Paris around nine local time, with a quick hour to change over for the flight to Washington. The first short leg was covered in a little Avro 85, which looked all wrong to me, the wings appearing to be welded onto a bulge in the roof of the fuselage. For some reason, I am more comfortable with wings underneath the plane – to lift it up, yeah? Although the physics of this was clearly something that Mr Boeing had gone through meticulously, and we landed expertly at Charles de Gaulle, both on time and with wings still attached.

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Touring, touring…

It feels like we’ve been away for quite a while, firstly touring with co-headliners Freelance Whales around the UK and Europe, then off to America for our first “tour proper” over there. The tour with Freelance Whales went very well, and saw us starting off in Edinburgh at the Liquid Room before heading to Dublin. We then had an unfortunate all-nighter to London due to a cancelled ferry which necessitated a horrible ferry ride at 02:00 to Holyhead after the gig at Crawdaddy, arriving in London after lunchtime for a quick shower and change then over to XOYO for the soundcheck, and to get our gear measured up for shipping to the US. Needless to say we were all mightily thankful of our bed that night…

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Tour Diary

The last week has seen us witness a few peculiarities around the country, such as the “you-got-served” dance-off in the Harley in Sheffield, the queue to get into the HMV Institute in Birmingham for “Magnetic Man”, whoever that may be, and subsequent encroachment by various drunken women onto our stage (in the room next door) via the sub-queue for the ladies toilets, the general Sunday night vibes of various clubs in Bristol, and the hefty police presence upon arrival at our hotel in Shepherd’s Bush. Oh, and Richard Madeley of course.

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London Pounds?

The other week saw us in London for a gig at Hoxton Bar and Grill on the Tuesday night, and some video shooting for Wednesday and Thursday. The Hoxton show was our first as a newly-streamlined six-piece (which was lucky as the stage was a bit on the “tight” side…) and our first in London in what has seemed like forever – it’s been a long summer. We felt this to be pretty much the start of Album 2 Proper so opened with some new tracks, which seemed to go over pretty well, and are becoming increasingly good to play as everything starts to “gel” more on stage. We were caught a little by surprise on the encore front, half of us having run out the door for some fresh air, there being no exit from the stage other than walking through the crowd and leaving the room altogether. Arriving late to the encore, we got to watch Jim and Rory play “Home”, the first time they have ever played this live, from the front of the stage. Which was all kinds of weird.

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Rainy Days In Dublin

We should have known that the Arthur’s Day gig in Dublin on Thursday was doomed from the outset, what with a combination of late departure and torrential rain and flooding on the M8 leading to us arriving at Troon some thirty minutes after our ferry had left for Belfast. However, we had time on our side and made for Cairnryan to swap onto a later ferry for Larne, losing a few hours in Dublin but hopefully ensuring we arrived in time for the gig. This was to be our first outing with the new line-up as it will be for the tour in November and we were all looking forward to getting started on “Album 2″ properly.

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