Our first single. Contains an acoustic cover of "Maps" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Video directed by Jack King.

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Jul 29 2014
30 notes

A post about our poster

A limerick about our latest merchandise item, if you please:

The post it plays host to our poster,

With your wallets we think you should toast her,

She looks rather grand

In the palm of my hand

But your walls are the place you should boast her.

There are only 200 of these screen printed posters in existence & we’ve signed every single one… You can get yours here, but when they’re gone they’re gone.

Here’s a gif to get the whole tumblr community in a lather:

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Thanks y’all.

^JP


Jul 23 2014
53 notes

Brand new limited edition merch!

Hello All,

Whilst we’ve busily straddled the UK and the continent playing festivals this summer, a very talented friend of ours has been working away to come up with a stunning new piece of merchandise.

James David Murphy, illustrator of our comic book and dinosaur t-shirts (amongst other things) has created this poster featuring all the lyrics to Choices. There are only 200 of these and we’ve signed the lot so head to our store to grab one as before they all get grabbed.

Here’s a photo of me looking impressed at both the poster and also the discovery of how to flip pictures on iPhoto.

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More soon…

^JP


May 29 2014
37 notes

North American Balcony Sessions

Hello All,

Whilst we were across the pond on our recent tour we decided to revive Ralph’s Balcony. Luckily we received offers from hosts and other friendly folk who let us record in their homes/on top of their buildings, which meant we didn’t have to resort to the tactics of breaking and entering that we’d rehearsed before we left.

We ended up with these four nuggets and hope you like the results. Marvellous at our special guests (dogs) and our expanding waist lines as we attempt to remember the notes and the words to this quirky quartet where we covered artists who were from the same cities that we filmed these in…

More soon.

^JP


May 18 2014
114 notes

North America weeks 6 & 7

The last two weeks of tour were a near-hurricane (we missed one by just 10 miles) during which our collective thirst for a Great British cup of tea became almost crippling. Before we succumbed to the madness though, we had to play just a few more gigs. First up on the home stretch were three shows in Phoenix with our label mate and Wembley-headlining folk punk maestro Frank Turner. As we left California the landscape became yellower and sandier and the heat leapt up to over 90 degrees (that’s mid-thirties, Europeans) making us pallid folks a sweaty bunch indeed.

Ben loves pricks.

The first of the trio of Frank Turner shows was in Phoenix, the state capital. The stage was large and the crowd were very appreciative, especially during the louder and heavier moments. The wonderfully hairy Drowning Men, who were one man down after their keyboard player got stuck in customs somewhere near Dallas, followed us. They sounded great despite their missing member. Before long Frank arrived and played a marathon set of nearly two hours that left the crowd in rapture. The spirit of the show made me a little nostalgic for the days of my youth when I’d lose myself to various US punk bands that’d made the reverse trip over the ocean wearing armbands to London.

 

Southern grammar at its finest.

Next up was Tucson, an arty and alternative town that served a fine line in duck sandwiches. Wilting in the heat once more, the group decided that some lighter apparel was required, leading us to the local thrift store. Said store had its best day of business in years as Taffel replenished his flagging collection of vests, whilst everyone else bought things with sleeves still attached. The gig was a blast and another testament to Frank Turner’s endurance with no drop of energy in sight. The same was the case the next night in Flagstaff, a town deceptively high up in the mountains where I became short of breath on several occasions. I’m glad that someone let me know about the altitude, as I was fearful that my health had deteriorated so badly after five weeks on the road that breathing was becoming an issue. Here we all are at the end of the show before a few drinks next to the venue:

Everyone was pleased to be crowned joint-winner of the standing up game. 

We then headed west to Las Vegas, home to the world’s most subtle light show. Back we were with Bastille in ‘Sin City’ in  yet more searing heat, playing at the House of Blues. The show was great fun and we ran out several pens signing merchandise and people afterwards. That left the rest of the evening to explore the main strip. I was very pleased to recognise all three of the casinos that were plundered by George Clooney et al in Ocean’s Eleven, alongside seeing the mighty Trombone Shorty for free at the geographically-suspect Hollywood Bowl. After I accidentally role our bowling lane’s sweeper we fled at great pace to a nearby casino. The Bellagio was a strange place, a palace of desperation where oxygen is pumped into the room to make sure people are awake but not alert enough to realise they are still haemorrhaging money. Despite some decent wins from Ralph and Grant, the joy was snuffed upon seeing their astronomical bar bills.

Ralph disarms the one armed bandit.

Perhaps if I ever don’t have to worry about money Las Vegas will become more appealing, but the amount of homeless people who have nothing in a city where almost everyone is throwing it away made for an uneasy juxtaposition.

Dumbo had found a new lease of life since escaping the circus. 

The bright lights of Las Vegas soon made way for another stop in Arizona, this time in Tempe, where some of the keener fans needed hospital treatment due to too much sun in the queue that started about six months before the show. Before then we’d stopped of in Tombstone, an old Wester-looking town with all the trimmings, including these guys:

TKAK 2055 (from left to right): Taffel, Grant and Ralph.

After a strong show we returned to Texas, finally completing the loop that had started so long ago at South by South West. Upon our arrival we went to the House of Blues, Houston branch (where playing the next day), to see the hotly tipped trio that is Haim, who spent a good chunk of the set jamming to a boisterous crowd. Soon after we made our way across the road to a bar called Dirt, where the two barmaids could have been clones, both sharing very similar tattoos, hair, complexions, wardrobes and enhancements. I particularly enjoyed the music they played, as I never thought I’d hear NOFX or Rancid in a bar, anywhere, ever, let alone on the very same night.

Ben takes woman tips from the Walrus of Love, Mr Barry White.

Playing at the House of Blues the next day was a strange experience, a 180-degree flip from the previous evening. From the stage the venue seemed far smaller and we made many friends, both gig-wise and also backstage with the various artwork on show. The next day at Emo’s in Austin featured a backstage pool table, a criminally overlooked feature that should really be mandatory at any venue large enough to house one.

 

The shot you’ve all been waiting for.

The next day, half of our crew hired a car and headed to the Gulf of Mexico, whilst Ralph, Grant and I went to space, or at least as close as we’re ever likely to get. After a sinful breakfast KFC (sorry mum), the Space Centre in Houston was the destination. Here we got to see the main control room from the real Apollo 13, the training area for the International Space Station where people get used to moon boots and anti gravity, and a fully-fledged space rocket that was about the size of a football (soccer, for the Americans) pitch. My mind boggled at how they got that thing or anything similar up so high in the air, leading to a far more excited mood than our sour-faced tour guide. I left with a newfound appreciation for mankind’s intellect and a little more conviction in those moon landing conspiracies being true.

The inmates of Guantanamo Bay’s youth wing joined us on day release.

As for the rest of it, it’s all a blur. Nashville was unbelievably wet the entire day, resulting in our van’s aircon unit doing its best impression of the Niagara falls, which was infuriating and soggy. The venue was beautiful though, the crowd’s spirits completely unaffected by the weather outside. Georgia featured the fastest pre-Pompeii dinner in the history of TKAK so far, with various Japanese delicacies inhaled at light speed leading to some quite uncomfortable onstage ‘eh-oh’s.

Squirt’s* ‘less than 1% juice’ stat was deeply troubling.

By the time we returned home deliriously jet lagged we’d played 40-odd gigs in 54 days, having travelled 14,000 miles or so in the process. We had an incredible time seeing so much of the US and Canada, witnessing some wonderful sights and meeting some beautiful people.

Despite the demands of tour, Grant looked better than ever. 

Finally, on behalf of us five, to everyone who saw us, clapped us, bought our music and merch, let us stay with them, told us what where to go and what to see, to Alice for her organising, Siobhain and Nick for their driving, Debbie for her photography mastery, Olivia for consummate schmoozing, Bastille, Frank Turner and Xtra Mile Recordings, and anyone I might have missed, we’d like to say:

 

 

 

^JP

 

 *Its real name


May 05 2014
62 notes

We are now home but here’s North America week 5

Getting back into the US for our Seattle show was a task made much more difficult than it should’ve been. Of the six lanes at the border, only three were open, leading to a mass merge that meant that the officially estimated 30 – 40 minute crossing time ended up being double that. Due to being cast as villains in 90% of Hollywood movies, our mostly English accents aroused suspicion, so some extra checks were needed. Soon we were back in the Land of the Free ™ and heading towards Seattle, the home of grunge.

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Tired of band life, Ben turned his back on the world to live here.

Unfortunately, the earlier time delays returned to hunt us again, our final 10 miles taking us two and a half hours. Much of the blame can be put down to the first baseball game of the season taking place that day, and once we’d discovered this there was a volley of invective hurled at America’s pastime ™. It’s just not cricket folks! The gig was notable for the largest backstage area we’ve yet been treated to, plus room service having ordered our food miles away at the bar.

The next day was another huge drive, this time south along the west coast and into the Promised Land that is California. The scenery was beautiful, ranging from thick forest to sun-kissed sweeping hills, and with madness abated, after 13 hours we were in San Francisco.

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The West Coast could afford to boast with views like these. 

After some morning eggs we spent five minutes walking downhill in the blazing sun to the beach. Yes, the Pacific Ocean was on our host’s doorstep, and as British students on their years abroad, we could fully understand why a return to grey Britain was as appealing as a toenail sandwich.

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The size of my cone made Taffel nervous.

Despite this suburban glory, central San Francisco has a darker side that we met head on behind the venue that backed onto the Tenderloin, a high crime area with the densest concentration of homeless people I’d ever seen. With the weather as glorious as it was I could see why you’d rather be homeless there than in New York, but it was unsettling and upsetting to see so much hardship.

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I couldn’t photograph the homeless for obvious reasons, so here’s one of their self portraits for the curious amongst you.

That night the crowd were warm and incredibly enthusiastic, just like all the Californians we’ve seen on TV. Our set was really well received and was notable for a choreographed dance during Funeral that Ben and I unleashed after years of fine-tuning. I felt like a member of Bruno Mars’ stellar live band, although the nerves leading up to this moment were crippling. I’m not a natural mover, but I think this was a decent debut.

The next day was ours to explore the area. Much of the troupe wanted to go surfing so I accompanied them as the bag watcher. As I sat and enjoyed some music on the beach, the rest rode the waves for an hour and a half, which filled them with unfathomable glee.

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The lords with their boards.

Once we’d returned our boards we headed for the fabled redwood trees in the forests up the hill. We found some titanic trunks and got our inner hobbits on, crossing log bridges and finding many friends amongst the foliage.

Ben meets Lucinda the lizard, parts 1 to 4:

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The drive to LA the next day was much like the drive to San Francisco only hotter and with many more palm trees. The scale of LA became apparent when I caught one of the numbers on a roadside building which read 24870.

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An army of palm tree.

That night we headed to No Vacancy, an exclusive burlesque and cocktail club in the centre of town. This was an interesting, fiery, tasselled experience, complete with a great live band that accompanied the dancers and must’ve been doing it long enough to no longer be distracted by what was going on in front of them.

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I couldn’t photo in the club for obvious reasons, so here’s some neon porn for the perverts amongst you.

Over the next few days we played at Bardot, an open-air venue opposite Capitol Records, which went down treat, and Hotel Café. One our day off I got a bus from the centre of town to Santa Monica that took in the Beverly Hills sign, gay West Hollywood and a huge Mormon church. A walk from here down to Venice Beach followed that, during which I saw a man completing a 100 metre slack line, some hyper aggressive basketball, a freak show, hippy drummers and some brilliant street dance. It was a fantastic walk and one that I’d happily do again. My other LA highlight, other than an Umami burger, was being mistaken for a Latino when a man said ‘gracias’ to me after I held open a door for him. I love blending in, even though my tan is not at its finest and my and face is not remotely Latino.

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The joys of the b-boys. 

Weeks 6 and 7 will come together is a super succinct double whammy. You have been warned.

Thanks y’all!

^JP

 

 

 

 


Apr 24 2014
59 notes

North America week 4

And so it began. Week four saw us hook up with Bastille once more, but before the show another balcony session loomed. This took place 43 floors up in downtown Chicago, making Ralph’s original 15 floors seem somewhat modest. Grant’s fear of heights and the famously strong local wind made for an unpleasant two hours for him, wracked with fear that he would be blown off the building any second. Our reward for our efforts/bravery was a classic deep pan Chicago pizza that our host bought us. This was an intense slab of savoury goodness and weighed enough for you to work out with it as a pre-emptive calorie burner. That evening’s show fitted the Bastille blueprint to a tee; long queues years before doors, banners and screaming akin to zealous devotion.

Ralph’s tour of the Chicago skyline fell on deaf ears as Grant clenched for dear life. 

The next stop was Minneapolis and a venue called First Avenue, famed as the place where Prince shot much of his film Purple Rain. The show was great fun but Grant was really upset as he forgot his beard trimmer. Poor Grant. Taffel spent the night being slept on by a very excitable pug dog called Peter.

Next came Canada. Other than Taffel who is half Canadian, we knew little of the world’s second-largest country except for the stereotypes of maple syrup, ice hockey and what we’d seen on South Park. The journey to Winnipeg was straightforward enough, whereas loading into the venue was the most treacherous yet and made Ohio’s snow run look like child’s play. Already off balance from holding heavy gear, we then had to navigate a path that was easily confused with the local ice rink. Luckily no one fell prey to this, although later that night I did fall spectacularly. The gig itself was in a theatre/cinema with some of the most plush carpet I’ve ever seen in a venue. When not playing or admiring the upholstery we were fortunate that the hotel was adjoined to the venue, making swimming before and after the show a rare MTV Cribs-style treat.

Calgary’s grasp of the alphabet was far lower than the national average. 

The next day we spent 18 hours in a van driving through the monotonous, white wilderness that separates Winnipeg and Calgary. By the end of the journey we had all gone slightly mad, the result of a journey in which the sky is indistinguishable from the land (white) and completely flat.

This was a rare break in the cloud. Most of the journey looked like this…

Flat white had a whole new meaning.

The highlight of this purgatory was standing on the edge of a frozen lake for a photo and then trying and failing to crack the surface with any available rock, along with a brief stretch through a beautiful national park where the sights of elk and bears were not forthcoming.

The inmates tried to get as far from the van as humanly possible.

The journey should’ve been a mere 17 hours, but as we approached the finish line a broken bridge sent us on an hour-long detour, twisting the knife yet further. We wondered whether we’d ever arrive and if Canada hated us completely. Once we were out of the tin can, sanity slowly ebbed back into our souls and we slept like never before.

 

Symmetry is a wonderful thing.

Edmonton was our next destination. Having spent so long in the van the previous day, one of our nameless drivers decided that a brisk pace would be best. We soon came to the attention of the local authorities and some hilarious numbers were exchanged regarding perceived/actual speed limits and our true speed. Our grasp of the numbers was flaky at best, but after a stern talking to and some very British apologies we were on our way again, this time at a steadier pace.

Ben screamed with terror as the microphone made a b-line for his face. 

The venue was laid out in the round, with the crowd encircling us from floor to ceiling. Some lucky punters had the pleasure of watching our posteriors jiggle for the course of the set, their applause indicating satisfaction with our sounds as well as our gyrations. The after party was the biggest we’d had so far, so it was with sore heads that we travelled west to Vancouver.

 

Canadian shopping mall (roller coaster as standard).

Vancouver was our favourite Canadian city. Here we filmed the latest balcony session featuring a hound called Blue who you’ll meet soon in his beautiful riverside garden. We also ate sushi and went to the beach. The gig segment of the day was notable for us driving down a one-way street not once but twice, thankfully with no repercussions. We maintain that this was the fault of the road signage and not of our own lack of skill. Said venue also had the friendliest crew I can remember for a while, who regaled us with stories of Dropkick Murphys shows and ice hockey riots. The gig was a lot of fun and before long we were having our final snooze before returning to the Land of the Free ™ .

More soon.

^JP 

 


Apr 06 2014
59 notes

North America Week 3

The next four days of our trip were spent in New York City. Having last been in 2006 on a family holiday, I was excited to be returning on my own terms. We were all giddy as we approached the city and its famous skyline rose into view. My advice to our party of not looking up if you don’t want to look like a tourist fell on deaf ears as chins after chin faced skyward upon our release from the van. Having parked and loaded in to the evening’s venue, food was agenda item one. Katz’s, one of New York’s most famous delis and the very same one where Harry met Sally was the destination of choice with many a mountainous salt beef sandwich as the order of the day. These were delicious if somewhat expensive, but with hunger sated and sound check complete we were free to roam Manhattan for a few hours.

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Katz’s Deli; so good they named it twice.

With Washington Square conquered that afternoon, our attention returned to the job at hand. Proving its credentials as the city that never sleeps, we were due on at 11pm, after a band featuring Ezra ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ Miller on drums. With the celebrity shenanigans out of the way we bestrode the stage and played an energetic set that held the crowd’s attention throughout. I had New Yorkers down as disinterested arm-crossers especially for out-of-town, let alone out-of-country bands; luckily I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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New Yorkers begging for change.

The next day was spent learning our New York City cover and filming it on the frozen doorstep of our wonderful hosts (thanks Valerie Gritsch!), after which we sped figuratively but not illegally into Brooklyn for the latest Sofar Sounds gig. This one was in a warehouse apartment in Williamsburg. For the unaware, ‘Billyburg’ is home to most of New York’s hippest hipsters, a la Dalston or Peckham or wherever else they’ve moved to in London these days. As a hipster hive, said apartment was complete with fixed gear bikes hanging from the walls, a bottle opener that looked like a fish, an open-plan office space and ironic hand sanitiser gel. As if things couldn’t get any cooler, the couple whose apartment we were in had adopted a dog without any teeth. 

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The least hip ornaments in the apartment that night.

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I never found out if ‘Original Fresh’ meant penis-scented.

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I’d be as glum as this toothless dog if my diet consisted solely of soup.

Wednesday was that rarest of tour things, a day off. There were no gigs, no sessions and no interviews; New York City was at our mercy. We splintered into various groups (all of them non-violent and a-political), some taking in Chelsea’s elevated walking garden, others heading to Times Square and Central Park, whilst I went on my thrift store tour of Brooklyn in an attempt to replenish a flagging wardrobe and get a haircut, that I eventually got from a large Russian lady (conversation topic: winning the lottery). Despite our varied coordinates we were all victims to a fierce, biting wind howling in straight from the Atlantic.

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Ben had underestimated the size of his new keyboard.

We reconvened in the evening for a visit to the Comedy Cellar, where after waiting in the polar temperatures for longer than necessary we were treated to a bill featuring comics who all seemed to have appeared on Saturday Night Live, but none of whom were Tina Fey or Will Ferrell, unfortunately. They had us chuckling nonetheless, and we headed home in good spirits that helped ease the confusion that reigned on the subway journey back to the van.

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Our wagon was ready for battle.

Our final day involved a gig at Cameo that went well. After the show we headed to a laundrette to do some much-needed washing, followed by our final drink in Barcade, where alcohol and classic arcade games join forces and conspire to rid you of all your remaining cash. New York then was a blast and felt strangely familiar; fast paced, over-priced and ever so slightly surly, I realised I enjoyed it so much as it was much like home in London, the whole world (people-wise) in one city with seemingly infinite possibilities.  

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New Yorkers in all their glory.

Soon we awoke and with a final bagel in our bellies headed to Pittsburgh and the tour’s best-named venue, the Smiling Moose. Our Lonely Planet guidebook once again used the word ‘rugged’ to mean ‘working class’, exuding a simmering snobbery when informing us that Pittsburgh isn’t as rough as it used to be. The Moose was in a slightly alternative part of town with vegan cafes and the like, and featured the smallest cubicle I’ve ever had the pleasure of endorsing. The gig was great fun and a fair chunk of the crowd knew the words, which we found mind-boggling. Amongst them was Dean, the barbecue baron of Nashville (not his official title), who was back in his hometown for the weekend and accepted us weary travellers into his palatial abode for the night.

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TKAK rocking the Moose. That is not a euphemism.

Next came Cleveland, Ohio, and the first snow of the tour. There was a barrage of the stuff that made loading into and out of the venue quite a challenge. This show, at the wonderfully named Grog Shop, was notable for featuring some of our keenest fans thus far, some of who had travelled up to five hours to see us having thought we wouldn’t make it to the USA for quite some time, if ever. They were bellowing the words along with every track, making our in-crowd rendition of Bloody Shirt the equivalent to a rowdy lock-in.

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Here’s the smallest and most belligerent-looking snowman I’ve ever seen.

The final date before joining Bastille took place in Chicago, the windy city that on this occasion was surprisingly still. Fine artist Nick Hoar arrived to add yet another joker to our pack and the gig itself was a solid warm up for those to come. It also foreshadowed the weeks to come when Dan arrived mid-set, half the room turning 180 degrees and speeding towards him like vultures to a sun-baked carcass. He sang Choices with us which was a treat and a fine way to finish the week before the queues would lengthen, the crowds would swell, and the screams would deafen, standard fare for the world that Bastille inhabit.

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The ‘Sensible Portions’ tag line was a complete lie. 

I’ll be back soon with fourth instalment.

Until there, farewell.

^JP


Apr 01 2014
52 notes

North America Week 2

Our second week began in Dallas where we played for our board at a hotel surrounded by turtles. After a few laps of the pool we played an acoustic set to assembled guests, followed by an evening of tabletop pool playing that improved steadily with every subsequent trip to the bar. Said bar was home to the least friendly American we have met so far, but thankfully these are rare.

For the intrigued, this is what a gig in a hotel looks like. 

The next day was spent travelling to Little Rock in Arkansas. Arriving hungry at 10pm, we prowled the local streets in search of treats and fared so badly that we ended up ordering pizzas to our rooms. A TV dinner followed, with the half-the-price-it-is-at-home Dominos providing the perfect accompaniment to documentaries about some of America’s most notorious gangsters. I’ve not done anything more quintessential American than this just yet, so that felt great.

They don’t mess around in Little Rock. 

When we awoke we returned to Nashville where we’d kicked off week one. What followed was a gig to a scattering of people, albeit a well-received one if this review is anything to go by. The next day we had the pleasure of enjoying yet another a barbecue, prepared by the host of that evening’s Sofar Sounds gig. Dean was a barbecue behemoth, resplendent with tongs the size of my face and an immaculate, manly apron. He’d gathered all the bands that were playing that evening for this meaty lunch, which was a lovely touch. I’d not had beer as the first drink of the day since a stag do in 2011, but in the southern sun and with such great company it tasted much less wrong than it felt.

Dean and his young apprentices. 

It was with bloated bellies that we headed back to our host’s flat to shoot the latest balcony session on the roof of her block. After schlepping our gear up ten flights of stairs, we were ready to film when a smartly dressed lady emerged to show a potential tenant around. Her face made it plain that we were as welcome as a vegan in a dairy. Moments later her superior (taller, smarter, less facially challenged) strode onto the rooftop and announced that filming the session wouldn’t be possible unless we paid a $1,000 fee. After counting our combined dimes we realised we were 98% short of the total. We politely declined to pay and returned downstairs to our host’s far smaller, far noisier balcony, where the efforts of local traffic and an over-excited jackhammer failed to prevent us recording a gem that you’ll all see soon.

Our original skyline, prior to ejection.

Two dejected bandmates on the small and lonesome second balcony.

That evening we returned to the site of the barbecue via the airport where we picked up Wolf James Photography, assuming the gig was there. We soon discovered we’d gone to the wrong place and felt like Ben must have when he got his own birthday wrong. We arrived at the correct venue in the nick of time and thankfully Dean was very cool about the whole thing. Our set went down well and we were pleased to be a part of the first ever Sofar Sounds in Nashville.

Taffel kept quiet as as everyone blamed everyone else for the mistake. 

A 5am start greeted us the next day like a kick to the collective scrotums and ovum’s of our touring party. Richmond, Virginia, where much of the US Civil War was fought, was our destination and I utilised the art of sleeping to severely shorten the 13-hour journey. Once we’d arrived we had a stroll, taking in the mighty Mississippi river and the picturesque Belle Isle, which soon lost its looks when we read that it was once a Prisoner of War camp from 1861-63. The gig that followed featured a small and seated crowd, but every show is a great way to warm up for the main event with our buddies Bastille so we powered on regardless.

 

We had a tremendous time on the No Fun River Walk.

Philadelphia, not named after the famous cream cheese spread, was a rugged city and our next stop. We were here to continue our Sofar Sounds tour of America, this time in a more bohemian area called Fishtown. The set was met with wild (drunk) applause and we shared the stage with the excellent locals Maitland, alongside Prides, who’d come all the way from Glasgow to reap the post-SXSW rewards of the eastern states.

Ben finds his long lost brother in a living room in Philadelphia. 

As we headed north the temperature dropped faster than a hooker’s drawers and before we knew it we were in Boston. This was the first full band gig since Austin that felt proper as there was a decent, standing crowd. Support act Grey Season were an awesome local band playing a sort of folk punk not dissimilar to local heroes the Dropkick Murphys, only less gruff and with more mandolin and banjo. I particularly enjoyed the melodic wanderings of their bassist, alongside a beer called Hop Devil that I sipped far too many of. Loading out of the venue was a harrowing experience as we were downwind of sub zero gale that could’ve proved lethal were it not for the booze jackets we were all wearing. It seemed as if this ice blast was doing its level best to kick us out of town and down to New York City.

The fireflies of Boston were outrageous exhibitionists.

I’ll regale you of our week in New York and beyond in not too long.

Until then, adios.

^JP


Mar 22 2014
22 notes

Photo

Los Angeles… We’re heading to Bardot on April 14th for ‘School Nights’
It’s a free show & we’d love to see you if you can make it, RSVP here to get on the list: http://bit.ly/1lMFbSi

Los Angeles… We’re heading to Bardot on April 14th for ‘School Nights’

It’s a free show & we’d love to see you if you can make it, RSVP here to get on the list: http://bit.ly/1lMFbSi


Mar 19 2014
65 notes

North American Tour week 1

Our first week of our seven in North America has been a frantic affair but we’ve many stories to tell. Now that South By South West is over and done with I felt the first blog was due.

 We began at Heathrow on Sunday 7th March, where after mummifying our guitars and a few cases with baggage wrapping, we ate a fried breakfast whose price to size/quality graph featured a strong negative correlation. The waitress almost threw a tantrum at our request to split the bill, something we have yet to encounter over here, where the service is sublime and the tipping reflects this.

Taffel demonstrates the travelling stoner look, with mummified bag to the left.

Taffel unwrapped his birthday presents with an unusual ferocity. 

The flights themselves were relatively painless, despite their length. The excitement felt by all kept us in high spirits, despite essentially travelling back in time. I had a mild seizure upon our arrival after discovering that the airline had put my bag on the flight after the one we actually flew on. Once I’d recovered we had soon arrived in our hotel in Nashville. After so long confined in tin cans 30,000 feet up in the air it was great to be able to spread all four limbs as far as possible on a master bed. Taffel and I then ordered a burger that instantly became the best we’d ever had (this has happened thrice since). I managed to have an accident with a freakishly high-pressured ketchup sachet that exploded into my face, hair and onto the mirror behind me. This gave me the appearance of a gunshot victim before I’d even had the chance to irritate any American into drawing a weapon.

Ketchup: Heinz, face: model’s own.

After a dab down we headed into town to a bar called Soulshine that upon entry smelled like a cheese factory. The music that had drawn us took the form of a blues jam night and the standard was ferociously high. Every fifth male in Nashville looked like ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill in a trucker hat and all were steeped in the blues. After a couple of hours we fell into bed and attempted to cheat the jet lag.

Picture drawn by me in the van. 

The next day we picked up the mighty vessel we will call home until 1st May. With its plush leather seats and onboard wifi, this is a van like none we’ve driven before and we’re pretty pleased with it. The fact that we were still saying that after a 14 hour journey down to Austin is testament to its charms.

On Tuesday we ventured into town for our first taste of SXSW. After a remarkably smooth accreditation process we were in need of sustenance. Several of our party had heard that the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) was a decent eatery and a branch was was conveniently located just over the road. Unfortunately, IHOP was a major let down. Luckily the food since has been a blur of supreme medium rare beef and all things Mexican, which we’re now very well acquainted with after meeting some East LA Latino homeboys who gave us a detailed description of all their native food stuffs. They also promised us that they’d have our backs if we ever came to hang with them in their part of town. Having since discovered that their hood is about as safe Compton or Watts, we’ll be passing them up on their gracious offer.

American cuisine at its finest.

SXSW was a mass of humanity, with people trekking from far and wide to converge for the near-constant noises being emitted by the city. With the US music industry generally split between New York and LA (save the country hub of Nashville), Austin, Texas was a warm and welcoming middle ground where close to a thousand acts peddled their wares to any available ears. Brass bands, lone drummers and magicians lined the streets, and that was before you’d even got inside one of the myriad venues. We played a couple of sterling full shows as well as acoustic sessions, and almost featured in a Hip Hop video. No really. At an acoustic gig in a house just outside the heart of town we were peeping through the garden fence at an entire rap crew who were the absolute real deal, miming out a yard scene for their latest release. After enthusiastically inviting us to be involved they made their way over the road but unfortunately our packed schedule was against us and we just missed out on becoming the awkward-looking extras that the rest of the guests became. We did manage to complete another teen dream a few days later though, where at the same locale we played fully amped up in the front room of a house party, complete with the mythical red cups that we’ve all grown up seeing in the movies. 

Our amps, on loan from Orange, back up the local phrase that ‘everything’s bigger in Texas’ (thanks Orange!).

Taxis were hard to come by at SXSW. One night a trio of our troupe were out raving hard till late and had no option but to hitch a lift. With everyone being so much friendlier in the USA than in London, this wasn’t a problem. Here’s a transcript of what followed:

Ben (sheepishly): Can we pay you chaps $30 for a lift back to our hotel please sir?

Cody the driver (straight-faced): No problem man, but if you pull a knife on me I will shoot you.

As it turned out, Cody and his buddy Emerson were two of the coolest guys we could have hoped to meet, both self-titled ‘roughnecks’ who made a killing working on the Texan oil fields, and as such didn’t accept our money. They were also armed to the teeth, their pick up truck like an NRA convention on wheels. They came to our gig the next day and took Taffel out for several whiskeys, which resulted in him acquiring a small tattoo of the state of Texas on his upper back, which was classy.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Josh ‘Texas’ Taffel.

Our first week here can’t be accounted for without our accommodation getting a Trip Advisor-style mention. Austin Suites was the kind of place you would never book if you had any sort of a budget. The rooms were generally fine, although their whites wash could’ve done with around 100% extra bleach. A more pressing concern was the clientele. One man we met was a hardcore nicotine addict, asking us all nightly for a hallowed cigarette. It wasn’t until we were about to leave that we found out his name was Kevin but went by the alias of Igadda Bigadda. He claimed he’d been abducted by aliens, tried to give us drugs (‘I wanna help y’all party but don’t drive on these’) and carried a spray bottle around with him filled with chemicals that he’d aim at the eyes of any potential assailant before they could land their sucker punch. This is the type of person who hung around the gloomy, bloodstained landings of the Austin Suites hotel. As much as we’d enjoyed Austin there was definitely a part of us all that couldn’t wait to leave.

Our friend Kevin, also drawn by me in the van, who looks a lot less like Bob Dylan in reality.

We’re now heading north and if you’re an American or Canadian who fancies watching us, here’s where you can still do it:

I’ll speak to y’all soon.

^JP


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