Best laid plans….

… travel day – driving from Tucson AZ to Abilene TX and decided we should stop in Roswell NM to look for aliens and hang out… Didn’t make it to the museum as I was doing paperwork… Then went out and fully intended to leave after eating and two pints (of Alien Amber!)… However waitress totally misunderstood the request for “another round of wings” and brought out another round of drinks… Would be rude to return them them so had to drink them! Still was vaguely sensible and had a glass of water with each pint so now I have a nice buzz but shouldn’t get the hangover!

Main down side to todays activities was not making it out on the bike… Often a bit of a gamble riding on tour… Not managed too much this tour but been pretty good so far…

Sacramento was great for riding – found a great path – being the weekend and sunny it was busy, but enough ladies out riding or jogging to make it quite pleasant viewing. Managed to tag onto a chap on a time trial bike and managed to hang on until he slowed down towards the end of his ride. Nice camaraderie amongst most bike riders – was touched that this guy was really concerned I had enough “fuel” to get back!

Provo UT on another travel day was a bit of a fail… had planned to do something called the “Alpine Loop”. Headed out in a light drizzle and in a totally rookie move didn’t dress correctly… As I headed up the canyon it got colder and colder and the rain got heavier and heavier until it was more like sleet. Once I had lost all feeling in my fingers and toes I decided I really should turn back… had to neck a boiling hot tea when I got back to the bus to try and thaw out a little… Pretty brutal day…

Anaheim day off was kind of cool – got out on the Santa Ana River path (well they call it a river – whenever I have been there it’s a dried up storm channel!) which took me out to the coast and Long Beach… Rode all the way up Huntington Beach. Realised that the pier there is the one from the shoot out scene in “Falling Down” (great film), I think the storm channel (or Santa Ana river??!!) is where the truck and motor bike scene from Terminator 2 was shot (not a bad film) and that Angel Stadium that I passed at the start of the ride is featured in Naked Gun (very funny film!).

Still not a fan of LA but generally whenever we do shows there the actual venues and staff are very very cool but I lose at least three days of my life for every one LA show – amazing how draining one show can be! We played at the “legendary” Roxy the other night and was a pretty cool show – trying to get into the “legendary” Rainbow next door after the show wasn’t quite so cool!

Met some great people on this trip and as the tour has been extended hoping to meet more! The addition of shows might be good for the bank balance (and the bands career!) but it means I’m going to miss the family holiday which was booked months ago… Was quite looking forward to that… Life just gets in the way sometimes!

Pointless bus conversations! What is the grimmest, darkest Vietnam war film? This started as we were watching “Full Metal Jacket” – we all agreed that we had missed the best bit – the first half which is deeply disturbing before we even get to any combat scenes! But then opinion was divided as to wether “Apocolypse Now” or “Platoon”  is the more messed up film!

However, they are all way better than “U571″ which I had the misfortune to watch a couple of days ago – what a total load of garbage… You want a classic Naval war film? Nothing will ever match the grimness of “The Cruel Sea” and film makers should learn to stop trying…

Anyway… Need to pack up the office and hang around waiting for the 0400 bus call… The glamour just never ends…

 

 

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End of one tour leg… straight into another one…

Last two shows with Sick Puppies – been a blast and an absolute pleasure, but its nearly over and time for Lacuna to step up and take over headlining on their own little run… Looking forward to it, but it really has been an absolute pleasure to work with the SP posse – really nice to meet and work with cool people who want to make shows as good and as easy as we do…

Of course we had to have a bit of drama which was provided by the bus computer (???) blowing up on the drive into Portland OR on Sunday. However we lucked out again as the whole of the Roseland Theatre production team swang into action and did everything they could to help us make the show and to make us feel incredibly welcome. Love days like this – started badly when I woke as the bus died and shuddered to a halt at the side of the road – got better and better as the whole tour and the venue pulled it together to make it happen and ended with an interesting trip to a “metal burlesque” night (??!!). Most disappointing part of the day was being dragged to a strip club that didn’t even serve beer… I guess Im missing something but that seemed pretty pointless! Having said that the last club I was dragged in to in Nashville ,I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seems I left with a pocket full of singles! Body of opinion on the tour was that I had done something very wrong!

Into LA and I’m not a fan of the place but really enjoying the mild weather and being able to wander around at midnight in shorts and a t shirt! Dragged our bus driver into an “English” pub for dinner – had a couple of English style dishes on the menu and we even managed to persuade our illustrious driver into a couple of pints of proper English ale – Fullers “London Pride” which is a massive step up from his usual Miller Lite!

Staggered back to hotel to get my end of tour accounts started and whilst ploughing through the receipts a couple of tunes popped up on iTunes that reminded me of my DJ days at the Underworld in Manchester. Now I loved filling the dance floor playing new tunes and some golden oldies at the height of the night. But one of my favourite parts of the evening every Friday was before anyone had even hit the club and I could play what ever I wanted and play it loud! A lot of this was promo material I had been sent but the following selections featured quite heavily and whilst possibly morose I found many uplifting – some upsetting – some loaded with emotion for various reasons – memories flooding back…

So in no particular order just put these tracks into an “Early Doors at the Underworld” play list… Some bands may be obvious – like to think many of the tunes are less obvious… Anyway… Enjoy!!!

Play Dead – Treason (into) Reward

Sisters of Mercy – Afterhours

Interpol – Untitled

Sentenced – No One There

The Gathering – Saturnine

Virgin Prunes – Ulakankulot (into) Decline and Fall

Ex Post Facto – Oceanic Explorers

Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

REM – Turn You Inside Out (closely followed by Everybody Hurts but after carrying Paul B’s coffin into the crematory to this tune I still have massive problems listening to it…)

The Three Johns – No Place

Depeche Mode – Higher Love

House of Love – Destroy the Heart

The Fall – LA

Wolfsheim- Find Your Gone

Underworld – Dirty Epic

Jesus and Mary Chain – Cracking Up

U2  - City of Blinding Lights

Tears for Fears – The Hurting

Fad Gadget – Under The Flag (I and II)

Echo and The Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here

The Chameleons – Intrigue in Tangiers

Black Market Flowers – Pink Heavy

Bauhaus – Terror Couple Kill Colonel

The Bangles – Going Down to Liverpool

Altered States – Drowning Children

Adoration – Same as it Ever Was

Subhumans – Susan

10,000 Maniacs – My Mother The War

Police – Every Breath You Take

Einsturzende Neubauten – Halber Mensch

Solitary Experiments – Odyssey of Mind

James Ray and the Performance – Eddie Sedgwick

Soft Cell – A Man Could Get Lost

OMD – The More I See You

Loop – Collision

Julias Dream – Lift

Joy Division- The Eternal

Altered Images – I Could Be Happy

Japan – Sons Of Pioneers

The Jam – Thats Entertainment

Human League – Seconds

Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars

A Place to Bury Strangers – Keep Slipping Away

Ride  - Drive Blind

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – Calling

Ramones – She Talks To Rainbows

Rammstein – Rammstein

PIL – Order of Death

Project Pitchfork – I Live Your Dream

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Some of the ups and downs of touring….

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I can’t recall a tour I have suffered so many physical issues on! It started badly with the suspected cracked rib and just hasn’t stopped. When I finally got to go running managed to twist my knee quite badly and seems the tour lurgy is doing the rounds now so not been feeling great for a few days now.

Managed to get a short ride in on a day off in Amarillo and had hoped to ride today in Salt Lake City, but got into a very involved discussion about merch designs for the upcoming tour and then totally bottled out when it started to snow a little. Given I was planning to go up a pretty big mountain and have been coughing up all sorts of unpleasant green yuck figured maybe for once I should be sensible…

Been a mixed week on the show fronts – Houston was great – very cool people and very cool venue… Though I was a little confused by this notice in the mens room…

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Had the misfortune to be in Austin during SXSW again as from a production point of view it’s a totally painful experience. But the guys at the Dirty Dog bar were so cool and helpful and made the day as painless as possible that I think everyone left buzzing… And generally I liked the vibe with the closed down streets, the large number of cyclists, the range of food options, friendly locals… Just a good day.

However the next day in Dallas was painful from start to finish and it really shouldn’t have been… but it was… The tech crew were great but it’s a weird venue attached to some tv celebrities (Gas Monkey??) bar and restaurant and the staff (restaurant manager was more interested in repeatedly telling me that this was the busiest restaurant in Dallas rather than get things done right), service (incredibly rude and disinterested bar and serving staff) and food (how can you ruin a salad that comprehensively???) was pretty shocking. It also didn’t help that the stage was outdoors on the patio and it was not a warm day… Maybe I got unlucky and managed to get all the wrong people at the wrong time… But a pretty miserable experience…

We managed to pop into the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo and a couple of the gang went for the challenge which is pretty brutal – 72oz steak plus baked potato and salad and bread roll – no way I would even attempt it! However I think most of us overdid it that night as yesterdays show in Denver a lot of people seemed a little delicate. Bit of a shame as do enjoy spending time in Denver – another great almost European style city – but the lack of oxygen can be quite exciting!

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Anyway off to the gym for a quick work out before heading out for food and a few shandies and hopefully catching up with the Sick Puppies gang!

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Beware Beware…

So I’m going to get this out of the way now as I think I can confidently predict a messy day ahead – I can be pretty confident as I’ve started the day with a nice cold ‘Goose Island’ 312 wheat beer and I expect the day to continue much in that vein! Guess I figure there is no point in hopping off the wagon when you can hurl yourself under the wheels!

In Nashville for a day off en route to Louisiana and given we have another travel day tomorrow to try and recover from the horror I suspect today could get messy. Never really done the sights in Nashville, so despite the continued shockingly cold weather am determined to get out of the hotel and leave the office work behind and go check some of it out. Want to get down town to try and catch some of the cool music bars and will no doubt indulge in a few shandies! And if it all goes pear shaped there is a strip joint across the road from the hotel that advertises “100 beautiful girls… and 3 ugly ones”! Whatever happens today, tomorrow we will be in the company of some great people who are opening their home upto us so there is a chance of recovering before the next show day! One of the joys of this job is meeting some wonderful people on our travels around the world – really is a great job most of the time!

NYC was cool – caught up with a few friends but as usual didn’t get out to wander the streets of  Manhatten which I do enjoy. Had hoped to catch a glimpse of the space shuttle that is now displayed on the deck of the USS Intrepid while we waited to drive to the venue – unfortunately that now lives in a big shed on the flight deck so didn’t even see that…

Have been trying to stay off the booze on this tour but slipped a little in Lancaster, PA. Allowed myself to be dragged into a little session at the end of the night by the local security and crew at the Chameleon Club. I could try and justify that one as networking and public relations, but in reality just a nice group of people to hang, crack jokes and sink a few good local beers with. And it was way more appealing than nursemaiding a couple of the band who were in the after show karaoke party downstairs…

More snow! After a perishingly cold day (inside and outside the venue) in Worcester MA we got caught in the latest “big” snowstorm to hit the States in Joliet, IL. Started out as a cold but dry day – then the odd snow flurry – then a few hours later a carpet of maybe 4 or 5 inches of snow. Made the little luxury of the promoter finding us a room at the local casino to use for showers really appreciated! Finally able to do some stretching and basic physical jerks which made me feel a lot better – ribs still not right but getting there – really need to start being able to work out, but most of the venues on this tour aren’t at all conducive to working out and no way I’m going to try riding the bike with all the ice around. I did succumb to some pizza and beer on the bus at the end of the night as a reward for getting through another long cold day but at least I didn’t get involved in the huge party who headed off to the casino and the ensuing carnage

And into South Bend, IN… Quite a few of the tour party seemed a little delicate after the excesses of the night before and it looked like the show was going to be a bit of a wash out due to another big storm being forecast but promoter made a big push and turned out to be a pretty good night. Funny – we were here a year ago with Sevendust and weather was exactly the same – ice and snow everywhere and very cold!  Ate in the same places as well – healthy ‘ish’ soup and sandwich for lunch – big greasy burger for dinner!

In the UK I aways think some of the most depressing places you can visit are seaside resorts out of season – in America its being downtown in some of these run down abandoned towns – you can see they used to be busy affluent centres of commerce and business and people used to live and work in them and yet they have been allowed to deteriorate in favour of “carbon copy” malls on the outskirts of towns that you have to drive to… very grim…

Also pretty grim was the news of another pro cyclist being killed in a training accident… Read this piece…

http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/heinrich-haussler/goodbye-kristof

…and think I related to the sentiment and feeling in it as it reminds me so much of our good friend Paul… Still sorely missed…

Anyway… That is enough being maudlin… Going to grab a shower… Wrap up warm… And head downtown… Watch out Nashville!!! Here we come!!!

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Back in the States… Back on tour… Week One…

Been a painful start to this latest Lacuna Coil stateside tour. Flew in just over a week ago and as expected New Jersey was very, very, very cold – huge piles of snow and ice lining the roads and painfully cold. After a very mild but very wet and windy winter in the UK it came as a bit of a shock, but got in and started work prepping gear ready for another three month run. No problems there but unfortunately my luggage didn’t make it over with me… actually seemed to disappear for a couple of days… Not a biggie but there comes a point when you really need to change your socks!

Anyway suitcase finally showed up followed pretty quickly by the rest of the crew and the band. Our FOH guy had found a very cool bar in Clifton, NJ for us to rehearse in. That turned out to be a great experience and I will be popping into Dingbatz again when I get chance. However it was also the scene for one of those unfortunate experiences which literally leave you lying on the floor in pain. Had driven the band back to the hotel after a days rehearsals and went back to venue to collect the crew – in the thirty minutes I had been away the pavement outside the venue had turned into a huge sheet of black ice as the temperature plummeted. To say I took a heavy fall would be a slight understatement – was lying on the floor stunned for what seemed like an eternity and once I managed to get back on my feet quickly realised I had really hurt myself this time… Damaged myself more than when I’ve thrown myself off the bike at speed in the past… Typical…

The last week has been extremely painful as I struggled with, if not a broken or cracked rib, then an extremely heavily bruised rib cage and a badly banged up arm as well. It’s been a little embarrassing as I’ve not been able to lift anything and sleep has eluded me – especially in the bunk on the bus – actually just climbing into the bunk has been quite a performance each night. However after a week of quite crippling pain when laughing, coughing, sneezing and deep breathing have all left me doubled up in pain I think things are finally starting to settle down. Still feeling that going for a bike ride or a jog are probably a bad idea – especially with all the ice still around but at least I managed a little stretching yesterday on our first day off after five straight shows…

Tour is shaping up to be a very cool one – we are out with Sick Puppies at the moment and they have an awesome totally laid back crew. Every day has been so relaxed – just the way it should be – great vibe on the tour and shows been going well. Now if I could just get back out and do some exercise – even after just a week off feeling out of shape…

Though that could be due to the usual food issues – it is of course possible to find good food over here – but you really have to be careful and check what you eat… Been good so far… Not too many pizzas or burgers and fries and quite a few salads, but have slipped in some ice cream. But my excuse is that they have some really cool flavours over here that I just don’t see elsewhere! But it does seem my tastes have changed a little – I used to adore Arizona Iced Green Tea – cant stomach it now. Find iced tea quite pleasant with meals but have to buy unsweetened and add sugar to taste as the only way I can get away from the diabetic inducing excessive levels of sugar (or more accurately high fructose corn syrup) of sweetened iced teas here… Actually most everything seems to be excessively sweet here – the soft drinks, the bread, the sauces on pasta and pasta, even the veg at dinner sometimes – sugar coated baby carrots?! Or perhaps a baked sweet potato with honey butter and brown sugar?! And that was in an allegedly Australian themed steak house?!

I have found I’ve gone of other things I used to crave over here. ‘In N Out’ burgers I will still take over a mcsatans or buggered king any day but plenty of other options that are far more appealing. Chinese food doesn’t seem to rase as good as it once did. Maybe it’s all a sign of getting old but i prefer to think of it as a refinement and maturing of taste… At least there is always beer and there are some great micro brews to be found over here now – unfortunately I’m trying to keep the beer intake down…

Anyway had a bit of time tonight to scribble some thoughts down as promoter has added a couple of extra bands to the bill which is fine – it happens – but its going to make it a later finish and will put me way past my bedtime! After this last week of rib pain driven insomnia I need my beauty sleep even more than usual! 

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Just Another Friday…

Needed to ride and decided a little jaunt to Buxton, 20 miles each way with some canal paths, a bit of off roading and quiet back roads would be just the ticket on another pretty decent winters day – wonder what happened to the arctic blast they were predicting not that long ago… 

Another reason for the choice of destination was wanting to make a trip to my favourite butchers – 40 mile ride for good meat? Worthwhile? Hell yeah!!! Had a yearning for some ‘Peawack’ –  one of those great heavy English winter foods and that meant I had to go to the butchers so off I peddled…

One of the nice things about riding this time of year is there is no training pressure or stress – not that there ever really is much anyway – its all fun these days! Was a little tired on the way back so pulled off the bridle way and sat, back to a dry stone wall, looking at the hills and watching the clouds scoot by overhead. To top it all indulged in that well known scientifically endorsed winter mid ride snack – bag of pork scratchings – sometimes it’s the simple things!

Had another good day yesterday sorting through my CD collection – another 80 going to music magpie or the recycle bin. Going through all my CD’s has meant listening to a whole lot of tunes I haven’t heard in quite some time – been really good to rediscover so many classic tunes – been quite uplifting…

Making quite a bit of room on the CD shelves but still undecided what to do with the years and years of glossy bike porn magazines stacked in the house… Can’t bring myself to chuck that away.. At least not just yet…

Did go through a little phase of popping to my local on Friday afternoons for a crafty couple of pints and was tempted today but decided against it – but think I may treat myself to a little trip into a hostelry sometime over the weekend. Apparently there is a big beer festival on next week at the Velodrome – guess I should probably pop along there one day…

And after a fun night packaging tickets for my little festival in August I think its time for a break – maybe a little of the fast disappearing Christmas cake and some cheese and hopefully an early night – toying with the idea of going on the club fixie ride early in the morning – lets see how painful that is… Laterz!

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Short and sweet…

Great start to the CD clear out – box of 100 CD’s ready to be collected by Music Magpie – sure some will get bounced back but should earn a little extra pocket money, which will be nice. And a bag full of other CD’s that I’m going to chuck in a local collection bin and hopefully they can recycle them or something – there is a limit to the number of CD coasters you can have in one house! However that was the easy stuff – now need to work through my old DJ boxes and the shelves to see what, if anything I can lose from there…

Combined with my periodic clear outs of musical gear and bike bits and pieces feel like I’m moving closer to something – not sure what – apart from less clutter and that has got to be a good thing…

Got an exciting day waiting in for a delivery tomorrow – hopefully they will turn up early so I can get out on the bike for a bit. Now I have my shiny new pedals and shoes for the cross / touring bike feel like heading into the hills. Been avoiding those recently as I’ve been concentrating on the fixie which is great on flat or rolling roads but is brutally hard going up longer / steep hills and absolutely terrifying hurtling down the other side when you can’t freewheel!

Been a while since I worked and it’s been a fun few weeks catching up with various people around the UK and even a little jaunt over to Vienna before Christmas but quite looking forward to getting back out on the road. In theory a few weeks and its off to the states again – wonder if after all these years I can finally get some new carpets fitted before I go!!!

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