Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ideas Men

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Thomas Alva Edison

With 1,093 patents to his name, "The Wizard of Menlo Park" gave us among many things, light bulbs and record players. Widely regarded as the greatest inventor of all time, and clearly not an influence on...

Gorka, from Noise on Tour, who when informed this morning that Gareth has lost his voice and the band need to cancel at least one show, makes the compassionate and ingenious suggestion that we play instrumentally until his voice comes back.

Wow! Why didn't we come up with that idea???

(probably because as far as ideas go, it's a ridiculously shit one Gorka)


Monday, May 28, 2007

Three Blurry Weeks

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This posting marks the three week anniversary of The Drones last day off, and coincidentally enough, happens to be a day off itself, in the town of Mainz, Germany. I am now faced with the arduous task of summing up three very blurry weeks of travelling daily, and playing nightly. So here goes. We begin in the town of Poitiers, France…..

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In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses utters the immortal phrase that “man doth not live by bread alone”. This was later paraphrased by Jesus in the New Testament. It is evident to me now, that neither of these chaps ever backpacked through France before they settled down and started working in the Messiah trade. Had this been the case, they would never have come out with such malarkey. O.K, I can cut them some slack. The Drones were fortunate enough to have the odd slice of cheese or ham come our way, but generally speaking, our source of sustenance was largely wheat-based. Now before you say, “hey you imbeciles, there’s lots of gastronomic options in France. What about escargot? Frog’s legs? Why didn’t you try the duck a l’orange?”, let me defend the group by explaining that we simply didn’t get any opportunities to visit any of those fancy things you call “restaurants”. The closest we came to the world of “a la carte” was every morning at the petrol station, where we had to make the difficult choice between a baguette with ham, or a baguette with cheese, both containing the sufficient amount of butter required to wax a surfboard. Of course, we were supplied with platters at the shows every night after soundcheck. Lovingly prepared trays of brie, Roquefort, Camembert, Prosciutto and Jamon.

Ham and cheese.

Pass the wine.

The shows however, were terrific. We were all thrilled with the turn-outs and the enthusiasm of the French audiences. The venues were superbly run, and very accommodating. There was one in particular, was it Poitiers? I think so. Some issues with the rider.

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But apart from that, a massive art-space in the backstreets of town, with an amazing band room, ultra-modern p.a, an art gallery with some stunning works therein, and a greenhouse full of plants, concealing a small p.a, guitar amplifier and a couple of casio keyboards. What? Why? Turns out the staff were hoping that we could “play some music for the plants” before our show.

“Er, pardon?”

“We were wondering if you could play for the plants?”

“Play for the plants”

“Oui, before your jig”

“Before our jig?”

“Oui, before your jig”

“What jig?”

“The jig tonight”

“Ohhhhhh, the jig, oui”

“Oui. The plants thrive from music”

“Have you heard The Drones?”

“Oui. Of course”

“O.k then”

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We were chased out of town the following day by irate French artists, hurling dead plant matter at the van.

Another show which has managed to hold it’s grip on the slimy walls of my memory bank, was the jig in Paris. Something of a debacle, to coin a French term. Our scheduled performance here was moved to a different venue with two days’ notice. A very different venue. A venue the size of a well appointed latrine, with a home stereo system for a p.a, one microphone stand, and run with cartoonish arrogance by a French “rocker”. When I say “rocker”, I refer to a particular brand of rocker we often come across throughout Europe. The creeper-wearing, denim clad, “eight ball” rocker, with the pocket-chains and the super-glued quiff. This particular feller didn’t even know we were playing at his bar it seemed. We figured that if the owner of the establishment wasn’t aware of the show, not many other people would be either.

So after a brief conference, we decide to cancel the show in favour of a stroll down the Seine, arm-in-arm with each other, maybe take in a show at La Cage Aux Folles, followed by a romantic dinner, just the six of us. However, just as we were making our way out of the latrine, we were accosted by a small group of lovely Frenchies. They seemed crestfallen upon hearing the news the show was to be no more. They told us they’d been looking forward to the show for months, and that many of their friends were coming. Hearing this made our crests fall just as much as theirs, and we duly informed them that they had made us feel guilty enough to play the show. And we’re glad we did, after all. Turns out it was more “Tardis” than latrine, as we managed to cram about fifty lucky chain-smokers into the venue, all gasping for air, and all gasping for the right words to describe the incandescent flare that is The Drones live show. “Very noisy”, somebody finally suggests.

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Later in the night, our ever-wonderful friends Dimi and Sophie have us, and the rest of Paris back to their apartment in Menilmontant for aperitifs and foie gras. The night was long and lovely.

As for the rest of the country, I’m sorry but I just don’t remember much. This is not due to any excessive behaviour, mind you. This is more due to an excessive amount of jigs.


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They all said “jigs”.

Now if I recall correctly, we left you hanging onto the edge of your seat in great anticipation of our meeting in Bilbao, with the head administrator of this beguiling musical odyssey. Issues we’ve had with this tour have been piling up on the table at a furious rate, and now we finally have an opportunity to discuss these problems with their chief architect. But before we do, there’s a show to play.

Tonight had us playing in Bilbao, Spain, to a large audience alongside California’s “The Angry Samoans”, and Sweden’s “The Soundtrack of our Lives”. We were in the middle slot. Now I hope this doesn’t come across as overly-arrogant, but here’s a chance to be the delectable filling between two slices of white bread. Unfortunately, the whole sandwich ended up resembling something in the bottom of a twelve year-old’s schoolbag.

The Angry Samoans show was mystifying for all the wrong reasons, and The Soundtrack of Our Lives, played as if our lives were spent living inside a busted sauna, eating meatballs, while The Drones had one of those metal-fatigued shows where everything decides to fall apart in the performer’s hands. Gareth suffered an inordinate amount of string breakage and fractures to two sections of his beloved Fender workhorse, rendering it virtually unplayable with several songs left in the set. This, as well as yours truly suffering a blow to the side of the head from an errant drumstick, travelling at the speed of sound (Mike assures me it was an accident), made for an exceptionally difficult show to get through. Luckily for us, we have enough performances under our belt to give the impression that things are going well, and we leave the stage whispering “I think we got away with that”, Basil Fawlty style.

After a brief period of relaxation backstage, watching forty-something Californians drawing dicks and tits on posters, we are greeted by you-know-who (YKW). Now, YKW also happens to be the organiser of this particular show, so he is a very busy man tonight. Still, we will surely have enough time to sit him down and explain our problems and between us, resolve a few issues.


What we got was about thirty seconds of chit-chat, and then as soon as “point one” was brought up, suddenly YKW becomes a busier man than ever. He excuses himself, and we don’t see him for the rest of the night.

What’s that all about G?

So what could have been this:

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Or at the very least this:

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Just becomes this:

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And we continue on to Barcelona.

Unfortunately we arrive during what these lazy buggers describe as “siesta” and our soundcheck becomes non-existent, so we head to the hotel, dump our luggage and go to a guitar shop to get some much-needed repairs made to our overstretched equipment. On the way there, we accidentally get to see some of Gaudi’s wonderful architecture, and I wonder to myself how many more buildings might exist like this in Spain if more people had decided to stay awake during the afternoon.

Alright, alright, alright. I’ll lay off. I mean, who am I to even comment on a country, who’s blackened band rooms, budget hotels and petrol stations are the only things I’ve actually seen?

It is a country not without it’s many charms, but we’re at ten shows in a row now, and losing our senses of humour, balance and hearing at a frightening pace (for the record, a day off is when we neither travel, nor play. Some nights we don’t play, but spend several hours in Van Morrison. Ten shows in a row is the longest stretch of travel/gig on the tour). Plus we all smell terrible. Really terrible.

The show itself was passable, but the celebrations of a ten show run without any fatalities were far more enthusiastic. Aided by our good friends Lilith and B.J, we got quite drunk and hit the dance floor with a vengeance. Possibly a little too much vengeance, as I was duly escorted out by security for my passionate interpretation of “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys.

It was time to leave anyway.

Woke up the next morning a little sore, and headed east for our run of shows in Italy. A two-day drive meant we stopped over in Nice, France, for the night. Although we arrived at ten in the evening, we still managed to find a great restaurant and soak in the opulence of the French Riviera for a couple of hours before retiring. The next morning had us fumigating and delousing our clothes together in a nice, Nice laundrette. In a matter of hours we were in the town of Faenza in the north of Italy.

Italy was for the most part, very agreeable with The Drones. Our venue host, Marena, was an absolute delight. When she wasn’t preparing incredible food in the kitchen, she was putting microphones on the drum kit. We were wondering what our chances were of securing her as the new tour manager. She was serious too. When she set yet another plate of heaven in front of me at dinner, I blurted out:

“Thankyou Marena. I love you!”

She fixed a steely glance on me and said:


Then walked away.

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The next two shows in Italia were in Fossinone, and Pescara, respectively. Fossinone was a little strange. We played in a converted petrol station in the industrial badlands, to around a hundred people who preferred to stand outside the venue during the performance. Earlier in the day the venue owner’s son and daughter were outside kicking around a soccer ball, being very loving and cute with each other. Tour manager, Gorka thought he’d join in with them, and impress us with his deft touch and finesse. But there was nothing impressive about watching a thirty-five year old guy kick a couple of little kids’ football into an impenetrable field of blackberry vines. And there was something downright devastating about watching a couple of brave little troupers kicking around a burnt cob of corn instead. Maybe it’s the fatigue, but I almost broke down and cried watching this. On behalf of that guy, we’re very sorry kids, one day we’ll come back with a shiny new soccer ball.

We promise!

Then on to Pescara, where the crowd was slight despite the efforts of Paolo the Champion. I don’t know. Maybe it was the French Jazz/Rock/Fusion band that opened for us, maybe it was the Champion League Grand Final being on that night, or maybe it’s because Italy has a very strange attitude towards rock and roll music. A few people there told us this. It has a strong grip on it’s past, as far as the arts go. A real classicist bent. A reporter there told us that the only music festival they have in Italy is a family based event, where the best performer wins a prize! Maybe Melbourne should put one of those on. It is odd though. Can anybody out there name any Italian bands? We can’t (The Three Tenors doesn’t count, Gaz).

The next night was a blast, though. A show in not so ancient Rome, with Dirty Three. It was just the tonic. We played a good show, and then had the pleasure to recline side of stage and watch one of our favourite bands in full flight. Something a little odd occurred between the two performances, however. While we were mopping ourselves up and getting our breath back, we received a visit from two delegates of the Australian embassy. It was a truly surreal moment, reminiscent of the scene in Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Look Back”, when he gets a visit from the very proper lady of the manor. These very eloquent and important-looking people told us how delighted they were that we had played, even though they were only able to listen to us from outside the venue (an Italian tradition). They gave us some strange embassy-merch, told us that if we ever have any issues with the Italian government that they would help, and then asked us if they could “possibly speak with the classically-trained violin player, who now plays loud rock music”. We informed them that he was on stage about to play, and they took their leave. Strange.

As I mentioned before, their show was a highlight of the tour for us, and we were very flattered when Warren Ellis dedicated a favourite of ours, “Everything’s Fucked” to The Drones. “The hardest working rock and roll band in the world, ladies and gentlemen. They’ve just played a hundred shows in thirty-two hours, and they need new socks, underpants and clean hankies, so please give generously”. Fiona’s request of “Sue’s Last Ride” was honoured, and they left the stage to rapturous applause. Lovely gentlemen they were. There was talk of a tour together, at some point in time. We shall hold you to that chaps. Thankyou for the show.

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But shit! We have to leave in the morning! What about that Colosseum thingy? We race back to the hotel, dump our bags, and get the concierge/janitor to order us a cab. At around 3 a.m, the cab shows up, we jump in and say “Step on it, Mario!” Mario steps on it. Mario puts a freakin’ whole through the floor. At a cruising speed of 140kmh, we are taken to the Colosseum, and come face to face with all that incredible majesty and horror. As far as old things go, this one takes the tiramisu folks. We leave after a while, very happy that we sacrificed some of that precious shuteye.

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Two more shows followed in Italy, which were once again fatality free, and then a festival here in Mainz, Germany. A festival which at first seemed downright scary in a fun for the whole family kind of way, turned out to be a real humdinger. Hundreds of writhing Germans, and our first encounter with en masse bodysurfing. After the show two little guys about the age of ten came backstage, and made us write all over their arms with a permanent marker, and declaring in a very thick German accent that Gareth is like “Dracula with a guitar”. Which he is, of course.

I have to stop writing this claptrap now. We went to a fucking disastrous sushi train earlier, and frankly, I’m a little frightened for my life. I have never seen sushi that colour before, and canned peach and pineapple on a plate is surely a sign of a restaurant a little unsteady on it’s feet. Let’s face it, the last time the two countries teamed up it wasn’t a roaring success.

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I’ll check for spelling mistakes later.

Over and out.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

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Very sorry for the lack of action, people.

We've had a show every night, bar one, since the last post.

Internet access has been as scant as our collective brain power.

However, we shall return in around three to four days.

Hold tight.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

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Grenoble, France (13)


This, due to an unhealthy obsession with the WWF as an early adolescent, is the only association I have ever been able to make with the town of Grenoble, in the French Alps. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. The next time somebody casually drops the word “Grenoble” into a conversation, I will be able to conjure up an image of a quarter-filled adult cinema, which is where we played tonight. Okay, so it wasn’t an adult cinema, but looking out into the audience, and seeing the dark shapes fidgeting in their seats while the more rabid gentlemen sat right up the front, one couldn’t help but feel like a tired and haggard pole dancer, as opposed to a tired and haggard musician. So this,

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plus this

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Are the two images I now associate with Grenoble, in the French Alps.

The day began with much promise. I drove into Grenoble with the Dimi Dero Inc. folk, as I’d been playing truant in Paris the day before with a friend, running through the Catacombes (The Bone Express) and plonking out on the grass in front of Sacre Coeur for most of the afternoon. When we arrived, we were immediately whisked away by the venue owners and promoter for dinner. During this dinner, I realised something a little disturbing: These dinners are starting to irritate me a little bit. Well, this particular day anyway. I was tired. I needed a shave, and a little lie-down before the show. I didn’t need conversation, nor fish covered in orange cream, a salad of raw shrimps and cantaloupe and of course, more fucking bread. But it is considered very disrespectful to decline the dinner in France, so having propped my eyelids up with toothpicks, I smiled and nodded through the meal, then when the time was right made my leaving sounds, checked into Hotel Splendid, found my room, collapsed on the bed, wondering, among a thousand other things, about the footy scores, had an argument with a friend back home via text message, slipped over in the shower and hit my head, but not hard enough, pulled disgusting, filthy shirt, after disgusting, filthy shirt, out of my suitcase, chose one to wear, and then headed back to the venue, to play for twenty five people. The atmosphere of this place, this anomalous place, was as electric as a balloon that had been rubbed on a kid’s head for two minutes. Dimi Dero Inc. played a fine opening set to all the flashers and lechers in the back rows of the theatre. Then we played (I think I will no longer describe actual performances unless something unusual occurs while on stage. Just assume that they are brilliant unless otherwise informed). And having just written that in brackets, something unusual occurred while we were playing. Just before beginning “Motherless Children”, the last song of the set, Mike suggested that we get the entire audience up on stage to dance, and they duly obliged, while I happily sat in a chair in the fourth row, playing along.

Whatever gets you through the night.\\

Gerona, Spain (14)

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Departure time: 12.00 p.m.

Well, it was supposed to be anyway, except we were waiting in the car park a little while longer for a member of the entourage to show up. Turns out he felt like having a little lie-in, and woke up at twelve. Which is fine I guess, as long as the member isn’t the tour manager, or anything. Ahem. So, after a pretty passionate discussion about responsibilities and job descriptions (“Have you even DONE THIS BEFORE??”—“This is how I do it, man”----“But…do it?…Huh?....wha?”) The Partridge Family hop into the car and head south to Gerona, Spain, some six hours away. We probably should have left at ten thirty in reality, because we turned up very late. The staff at the venue seemed a little put out by our tardiness, but were willing to make some compromises. Then something strange occurred. At the behest of the late guy, we were made to cut our soundcheck down to twenty pointless minutes. While monitors were still sending jolts of feedback through our skulls, and while Ryan was still unpacking microphones, late guy was ordering an end to it, using throat-cutting gestures, and lots of wrist /foot-tapping. This bugged us all. A lot. Something had to be said. Something was said. Said loudly. Very loudly. Boy, was I loud (“AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL MIKE TO SHUT UP AGAIN!!!)*. The others came over after a couple of minutes, stepped over my shaking, foetally-positioned body, and offered the late guy a trip for one, back to from whence he came, with one hundred Euros spending money. Bizarrely enough, he refused to take the prize and wanted to play on for the cash. He’s a trouper, I’ll give him that.

(And just quietly, between you and me, reader, things have been a little better since. A little. Will it last? Of course not. Shut up.)

Tonight’s dinner was at The River Café. A modern brasserie/shrine to Bruce Springsteen, situated approximately 7.3 million km from the venue, near the New Jersey Turnpike. The owner was very fastidious when it came to making all things Springsteen related. Even the waitresses looked like “The Boss”. Our “Nebraska” era waitress, brought over our first course of “Corn in the U.SA”, followed by our mains of “Dancing in the Duck”. Everybody had a hungry heart that night, and ate with gusto. Towards the end of the meal, a dishwasher wearing a bandana, burst through the kitchen doors, screaming “I’m on fire!” From out of nowhere, a huge black guy wearing venetian-blind sunglasses came over and beat the flames out with a tenor saxophone.

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And keeping with my policy of not describing actual performances unless something truly amazing, strange or even mildly interesting occurs, we shall load the van up, have a little kip, and head to…..

Perigeaux, France (15)

It may be worth mentioning at this point, that we are now three days into our ten-in-a-row stretch. When we began working on this tour back home we stipulated with the booking agent that we wanted one to two days off per week. Through experience, the band has learnt that these nights off are very helpful when it comes to maintaining it’s collective sanity. This request, along with a request for a van that is visible to other drivers on the road*, has been duly ignored by said booking agent. It is not advisable to play ten shows in a row, in any situation, but when you factor in seventy or so hours in a car, criss-crossing Europe like a massive fucking shoe-lace, eighty more decibels of noise a night than is healthy, a van that actually seems to shrink if you leave it out in the rain, and not enough time to sleep, it goes from being not advisable, to some of the worst advice going around. Hey, Gorka in Bilbao! Hey Booking agent! Hey you! Do you read this? Huh? We’re coming to Bilbao (as I write) in three days!! WE HAVE A COUPLE OF ISSUES!! ARE YOU COMING TO THE TABLE?? PLEASE COME TO THE TABLE!!

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Pardon me.

So we’re late to soundcheck again, but this time it’s because the Spanish-speaking Global Positioning System in the car, wanted to visit his great grandmother in a remote village in the south of France.

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After a tearful reunion between piece of hi-tech equipment, and confused old lady, the GPS finally leads us to our gig in Perigeaux, near Bordeaux. Soundcheck completed, we are lead to the dining room for the obligatory, long, sociable, lactic French meal. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I really don’t. It’s just that after sitting in a car for five hours, then unloading half a ton of black boxes and soundchecking, all you really want to do sometimes is nothing, Sweet nothing. I think perhaps The Drones were a little unsubtle tonight about not wanting to hang around for dinner. As twenty or so staff and friends stood over on one side of the room, drinking their incredible wines and making happy French noises, there we were on the other side, using plates or bits of bread as pillows, or walking around the room trying to find wireless internet hotspots. Some guests of honour, we were. Our apologies, Valerie and staff. Finally Mike and I check into our room, our really weird room with no curtains or bathroom door, and catch half an hour of the Eurovision song contest. It was a jubilant feeling, knowing we were to visit several of these countries over the next few weeks, not needing to feel musically-intimidated by them in any way, shape or form. I’m not sure who won (apart from “songwriting”), as we had to leave before the end, but we took a lot of strength and inspiration along to the venue that night.

And we had a great show! Lots of people! Lots of cheering! Lots of thankgodforthatIthinkIwasgoingtotopmyselfifthiskeptups!!!!

Our very own Eurovision.

But this is only the third show of ten in a row. Will we maintain? Or will we implode in the van, covering the windows in blood, guts and half digested croissants?

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Stay tuned folks, for more adventures through France, and our exciting and much anticipated boardroom meeting in Bilbao.

The guitar player.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Utrecht, Holland (10)

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Utrecht is a charming and elegant Dutch city, and it would be unfair of me to label it as a mini-Amsterdam, but sometimes life is unfair.

We had a night off here in mini-Amsterdam, which was spent crossing canals, pointing at old things, eating Greek food and enjoying the comforts of a three-star hotel (“Hey Mike. Come and look at this. Towels!!”). There was a Spanish rock band staying at the hotel, which pleased our tour manager greatly, as he was able to stay up all night in the bar, telling them what a bunch of pricks we were, no doubt.

The next day had us playing at DBs. A rather strange venue in the middle of an industrial park, on the edge of town. After yet another triumphant soundcheck, in which Gareth and I entertained the others thoroughly with our twin guitar suite of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”, we were treated to a Chinese meal from the venue. The pork was fluorescent pink, the rice had large slices of processed ham and fried eggs on top and the beef in black bean sauce was like staring into an abyss, but still, being in this land of generosity and respect towards musical outfits affects me so, that I relish every glow-in-the-dark morsel (I side-stepped the ham). As I write, I’m struggling to think of one venue back home that would go to as much trouble as this place, and places like it all through Europe, to make a bunch of scruffy noise-merchants feel fed, watered and welcome. Generally speaking, the European attitudes toward music and musicians are quite remarkable. They value the contribution their artists have made over the past dozen or so centuries, which have helped shape and inform who they are as a people today. The artist is seen as a vital contributor to society, equal to the engineers, doctors, and the various other pursuits otherwise described as “proper jobs”. As many Australian musicians/writers/painters etc. would know too well, the general attitude at say, a barbecue with all your uncles, aunts and parent’s friends, is more likely to be “How are you Dan? Still doing the music thing? Oh well, keep it up mate. Listen your Dad’s got my phone number. When you wake up to yourself, give me a call and I’ll get you some work in despatch” than “Ooht! You are moosician? How very wonderful!!” which you may hear at a Hollandaise barbecue, I don’t know.

Point being, it takes a little getting used to, this generous, passionate and encouraging approach to the artist that they employ over here. It’s a pleasure to experience, though one should be mindful not to get overly acquainted with such a thing. Before you know it, you’ll be back in the country where it’s shape and information is for the most part, supplied by the people who can run and swim fast.

Not a terribly large crowd tonight (if your serious about shaping and informing a continent’s culture, you have to do a lot of shows to small audiences!!), though a gritty and sincere performance, they did receive. Sincere that is, until Gareth decided to stop singing in English about convict/cannibal, Alexander Pearce, and affect his “Dutch” voice instead. It’s a very quiet, slow and moody tune (“Words from the executioner to Alexander Pearce”), and very hard to play properly when you’re facing the wall behind you, with tears of laughter rolling down your face.

Having realised that as artists, we’d done nothing in Utrecht, to justify a free Chinese meal, we don the collective hairshirt, and head to Bonn, in Germany.

Bonn, Germany (11)

If anybody has been following the course of this tour with an atlas handy, you may have begun to notice a maddening “dartboard approach” to the booking of these shows, and it has only just begun.

So we drive five hours west of Utrecht, to play in a train station in a town several miles out of Bonn. Forgive me for not recalling the name of this town. For convenience sake, we call it Bonn. O.K?

If you say “Bonn” in France, people think you’re saying “good”. If you say it Germany, people think you’re saying “Nunawading”, or the equivalent of. Our show tonight was a last minute addition to the tour, no doubt so the agent could make some last minute pesos off a venue stupid enough to offer a guaranteed amount of money, in spite of there being no time to promote the show, put posters up etc. Needless to say, there were very few people in attendance. Maybe, ooooh, eight or nine. I hope it was worth it to somebody out there, though it’s hard to imagine it could have been. We had an American band supporting us at this show called……….oh………who cares? They were a self-described “Trucker-Punk” band, all seeming to be revelling in the fact that they were in Bonn, far away from their snotty kids and nagging wives. The amount of enthusiasm they mustered for this utterly pointless show was commendable. Not even the fact that three members of the audience seemed to be asleep, put them off their many “Cheech and Chong” routines, yelled verbatim through their microphones between songs, and their endearing repertoire of fart-based humour, served with a side-order of racism for good measure. Meanwhile, we were back in the band room, fantasising about hanging out with all of their nagging wives and snotty kids, instead of them.

Then we played.

Then we packed up.

Then we went to the hotel. A little place, run by an elderly couple. A very sweet couple with a distinct bloodline running back to the Wonka clan. Even though it was like sleeping in a giant cuckoo clock, it was a delightful place to kip, with a traditional German breakfast thrown in.

Then we went to sleep.

Then we woke up.

Then we had breakfast.

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Then we drove to……

Den Bosch, Holland (12)

Still have that atlas handy? Funny, huh?

Tonight’s show was in support of American band “The Black Lips” at one of the better venues we’ve encountered so far, called the W2 in Den Bosch, Holland. A great room with a cracking public address system, and very hospitable and helpful staff. The Black Lips were friendly folk, asking after people in Australia who we knew as well, and letting us use their equipment. We played to a healthier sized crowd tonight, and played well enough.

One thing I haven’t touched on yet in this diary, is the world of small-scale, music merchandising. The Drones have a selection of t-shirts and albums in the van, which are hauled out at every show, and which are attempted to be sold at makeshift little souvenir stands, set up by one of the band members after soundcheck. Any money that the band itself might make on this tour can only come from the proceeds of these little stands, lest we succumb to a more overt form of prostitution. Sales are often a good gauge of how the show went that night, and going by the progress the stand was making this particular evening, I had to rack my brains and remember if anybody in the band had actually killed someone in the audience by accident. Having drifted off into my regular pumpkin-hour catatonia, I adopted the unusual and experimental technique of yelling at people to make them buy something. The first person I yelled at was so dumbfounded, he had no recourse but to dig into his pockets and hand over the necessary amount of Euros to buy a copy of “Wait long….” My colleague in retail, Fiona, was suitably impressed, and asked if I was to yell at any more people or if perhaps we should just cut our losses and pack the stand up. Not having much voice left, we opted for the latter.

Our next show was to be in Haarlem, which is a phonetic spelling of the way Bono sings it in the song “Angel of Harlem”.

Haarlem is quite close to Den Bosch, and only a twenty minute drive to Amsterdam where the concurrent show is to be played, so we were quite happy to be staying relatively still for the next few days. That is, until we were informed by our tour manager that this show has now been cancelled, and instead we have a new show lined up back in Germany, seven hours away. Sure, the show is not listed on our website. Sure, the show is not listed on our booking agent’s website, and Suuurre, the show is not listed in any way on anything, anywhere in the universe, but “yeeeeessss we have gig there now”.

“Nooooooo we don’t.”

“Yeeeesssss you do.”

“Nooooooo we don’t.”



What do you think reader? Should The Drones decide to do this show in Germany in front of less people than the show in Bonn, then drive the next day to Amsterdam for eight hours? Or should The Drones politely decline and take the day off in Amsterdam tomorrow?


Amsterdam, Holland (13)

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Beautiful Amsterdam. Making inelegance elegant since 1178 A.D.

On the second day of our mutiny in Amsterdam, we played at the ornate and elegant Paradiso. A beautiful old theatre with two mezzanine levels, standing room only. Another show supporting The Black Lips, and the much better of the two. This time at the souvenir stand, Fiona and I were happily run off our feet for twenty minutes or so. One of the more interesting sales I made, was to an older, larger gent, who was insisting I sold him the girls medium t-shirt I had as a display-only item on the table. Perhaps as a gift? Upon making the exchange, he immediately ripped his own shirt off, and managed to squeeze into his brand new acquisition. He looked like a living, breathing Aphex Twin film clip. He attempted to celebrate his purchase with an animated gulp out of his can of Fax, yet only managed to destroy the re-sale value of the t-shirt. Meanwhile the crazed gypsy who was dancing up the front like an autistic Stevie Nicks, managed to break through the wafer-thin wall of security at the merchandising counter, and attempted to taste what Mike had eaten for lunch. As Mike was struggling for air, her perspiring, giant husband approached the counter. Uh Oh.

Turns out they’re both big fans.

He offered Mike his leather jacket.

And quite rightly too. From a strictly performance-based perspective, this had been the show of the tour, and might I say, I think we all deserved a creepy and sweaty leather jacket.

Later that night saw Gareth, Ryan and I making a complete spectacle of ourselves in a jazz club near the red light district. We found a table, and sat down in front of some of the most perplexing and downright awful scat-singing known to mankind. Initial shock turned to uncontrollable laughter, and we took the none-too-subtle cues from several of the patrons, and excused ourselves, settling ultimately in a terrifying Latino bar.

The next day was an ever-so-rare entire day off in a beautiful city, with nothing to do, and nobody to see. Lap it up Drones. The next one of these is in mid-June in Helsinki, but that that is a long way away.

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I woke up with every intention to take in the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s attic and to walk along at least seven canals, but with the rain falling soft and steady, I opted to sit in the café downstairs for most of the afternoon, reading, writing and staring out the window. If you think this is a tragic waste of a day off in Amsterdam, I can assure you that it was an entirely pleasurable inactivity.

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We had a fine evening planned. Some Italian food, and then back to The Paradiso for a performance by Low (Mike had blagged us onto the guest list the night before). We’d had great luck with food in Amsterdam so far, and tonight’s meal was no exception. Upon stepping out of the restaurant though, we could hear something coming. What sounded like a train approaching through an underground tunnel, turned out to be a few thousand football fans barrelling down the street, heading in our direction. A waitress calmly told us that we should get out of there as fast as possible, as the riot police will be arriving soon, and once they do, you are considered part of a riot.

“What happened?”

“Holland beat Spain in the football today”

“Why are they so angry”

“They’re not angry, they’re happy. Just in a very violent way”

So of course, we split. Everyone except Gareth and Ryan that is, who seemed to need a canister of tear gas to explode very near them, in order to get a wriggle-on. As The Paradiso was literally battening down it’s hatches, we made it inside at the last second. To walk out of a soccer riot, and into a Low concert, is one of the more pronounced contrasts you’ll experience in life. They were exceptional. Playing mainly off their new album “Drums and Guns”, they had us spellbound all night. What incredible voices they have! What beautiful songs! They control their dynamic range so well, swooping and soaring at will, and never hitting too hard. It’s all in the voices. At one point, Alan Sparhawk very casually asks the audience if anybody has a place where he and Mimi can stay while they’re in town. I quietly wonder to myself if they have the same tour manager as us.

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Watching them play tonight made us all feel at peace with our choice of career. After what has been a very trying three weeks or so, for this, we were very grateful.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel, all very relieved that not one of us had fallen down it’s stairs and broken our neck (that most of us hadn’t anyway), and bade goodbye to Amsterdam.

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Rouen, France (13)

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(Nothing mock about that tudour)

There was much debate over the pronunciation of “Rouen”. We’re pretty sure that it’s “won” as in won-ton, but with a little Frenchy sound at the start.

Rouen is famous for being the town where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and after The Drones blazed their luminescent trail through town, it still remains famous for that, and for that only. This was perhaps not the greatest sounding venue we’d played at so far, but by George, it was certainly the oldest (est.1585). The Emporium Gallorium. Emily and her team of enthusiasts were terrific hosts, at great pains to make The Drones of Arc* feel at home. Thankyou Emily. The band room was more dungeon than anything, and the local man who ran the p.a resembled a hunchback with a half-decent back doctor. “Chiro” I believe we dubbed him. He had a real bee in his beret about Ryan touching his desk. But Gorka sorted him out the only way a Spanish guy who speaks o.k English, and a French guy who speaks none, can. In a very long, drawn out, and frustrating way. After much confusion, Ryan was allowed to touch Chiro’s absolutely terrible p.a, and we were allowed to soundcheck in the exact same place Joan of Arc’s cousin pulled beers. We met up with the support group tonight, our very good, froggy friends, Dimi Dero Inc. and had a fine meal of homemade quiche, wine, bread, cheese, wine and bread.

A very loud show it was. Like playing inside of a stethoscope. But when you get that "old dungeony feeling", you can’t help but have yourself a good time. The Drones, Dimi Dero Inc. and the locals celebrated a deafening performance with some French moonshine, sending everybody to an early night’s sleep in this place.

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The scariest sight a stumbling bumpkin could imagine.

Didn’t fall down them and die, though.

More photos to come.

*had to be done

Monday, May 7, 2007

London, England (6)

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Our cancelled show in Leicester means we arrive in London a night early. London is, as most people know, a city you don’t just arrive in and everything is more or less at your fingertips. If the big cities of the world are a share house, London is the filthy, surly guy who lives in the basement, complaining to everyone who visits that his clothes never seem to dry properly. Don’t ask him for any favours, and don’t ask him for a place to stay or he’ll put you up in a two room flat, miles out of town, that looks like it was furbished by a sixteen year old Goth.

After making about twenty-seven phone calls, we finally found a place to stay which was in Edmonton, about fifteen miles out of the city. It was a two room flat, adorned with purple curtains, fake cobwebs, glasses that had skeleton’s hands for stems, and posters of Brandon Lee on the walls.

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(We never got to thank her in person)

The six of us were to spread out between these two rather small rooms, and find whatever cushioned item we could, to use for a mattress. No one could come to grips with the idea that this place was actually on the internet under “accommodation”. Still, we all managed a night’s sleep, and a sound sleep it was, safe in the knowledge that the next night we’d have a proper hotel. Right?

Upon waking in this place I asked myself “How have I ended up on the set of The Cure’s latest film clip, and where is the hotel?” and “Why does Mike look so depressed?” The answer to that last question is because today is Mike’s birthday and he’s about to have one of the worst birthdays of his life, and somehow he already knows it. I thought I’d get him out of Morticia’s Motel, and down to Soho for some breakfast and some beautiful-people-watching. During the meal his sense of impending doom returned and wouldn’t shift. He’d well and truly gone off his breakfast. As we walked to “Guv’nor’s Most Expensive Music” to buy a new amp, Mike kinda freaked out and needed to take time out in the nearest pub. There he reaffirmed that there was definitely something strange, ominous and generally shithouse about this particular birthday he was having. I had little consolation to offer. I told him that there probably was, and we’ll just have to see what happens. We gathered our wits, and headed to the shop to buy a reliable, brand new amplifier, and then headed to our soundcheck. The gig tonight was at a place called 93 Feet East, in Brick Lane, East London.

Now far be it from me to want to cause any real controversy at this point. Not the painful type anyway. Not the type that can get you into actual trouble. So I will refrain from going into detail about who did what to who, and just say that before and after the show there was quite the shitstorm backstage, as the three competing teams; the promoter/venue, the booking agent/tour manager and the heroes of our story (That’s us) all locked horns in a staggering display of bad showbiz. A very boring and protracted (still going) case of missing money, had band against booker, against promoter, against booker, against band. Like I mentioned earlier, I won’t go into detail about WHY this ruined an otherwise very enjoyable show, I’ll just say that it did. You will never get away from this sort of stuff. You can’t ever expect the type of people who make musical performances happen, to all work together smoothly, intelligently, and with respect for each other. You can only be grateful and a little astounded when they do.

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The Drones Vs. The Music Business (Drones on bottom)

But the show was a good one. We did OUR job anyway.

After the show, Gareth was whisked away to a radio station to promote The Drones coming to do a show in London. Yes, we had already played that show, that’s true, but London is a strange town. Fiona, Ryan and Gorka took the van back to our hotel in Wembley. WEMBLEY! Who stays in Wembley?? Not even Queen or Oasis make a decision to crash there after a hard night’s work. The Drones stay in Wembley, it seems.
Wishing to celebrate Mike’s birthday and said fine performance in London, and wishing to avoid going back to said hell-hole, Mike, myself, and a friend, try to find that rare London gemstone, a bar that hasn’t shut yet. After forty-five glorious minutes of expensive drinking, we are turfed out and faced with the prospect of getting home. There is talk of catching the bus, but the chilly air and sketchy timetable tell us that perhaps a mini-cab is our only option.

We ask around:

“Excuse me good man, but how much for a cab to Wembley via Notting Hill?”

“Seventy quid”

“Er……..Excuse me good man, but how much for a cab to Wembley via Notting Hill?”

“Seventy fucking quid”

“Oh, it’s gone up”

Believe it or not, we managed to talk a chap down to fifty quid. We were still being stooged, but affordably so. After dropping our friend off in Notting Hill, we ventured forth to the Wembley Travelodge, with non-existent directions.

“It’s the…er…..Travelodge……in…….Wembley”

So perhaps he isn’t entirely to blame for what happened next. He did get us to a Travelodge, but not the one we were actually staying at. Of course we didn’t realise this till we were in the lobby of this incorrect hotel. Our cab driver would have been back at his flat by now, waking up his kids and telling them that they were going to Disneyland after all, while Mike and I were trudging north up the A682 motorway with a bottle of wine, a chill in our bones and love for all mankind in our hearts.

And speaking of mankind, here comes some now. About fifteen minutes into our journey, we were joined by six young upstanding citizens on pushbikes. Where they came from is anybody’s guess, for there was nary a sign of human habitation anywhere.

“Hello chaps. Have you come to offer us a dink into Wembley?”

Not quite.

For the next ten to fifteen minutes, Michael and I were surrounded by these “men” (average age about eighteen) who seemed to want something from us, namely, everything we had. Here you are Mike. Happy Birthday!

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(image captured on CCTV)

Now, there were three distinct stages to this encounter. The first being understandably, panic. There were six of them after all, and they seemed to be very keen to show us a gun that was in one of their bags, as well as the knives they all claimed to be carrying. The leader of the group kept saying things like “Why you wanna fuck with the North London Boys?” (I don’t), “You’ve got to give the North London Boys more respect man” (o.k. I think I can manage that) and “ Boomshalakka brother you is in for some of that nastee slidin’ shit N.L.B style brother” (I’m sorry, you’ve lost me now). Mike and I were carrying some very vital equipment with us. Laptops, passports, ipods and wallets full of mugger-joy. Things we really do need. Thus we begin stage two of the encounter: Negotiation. This particular process of negotiation involved huge amounts of lying from both camps. Mike and I lied about the contents of our bags, saying all we were carrying were clothes, and even though a couple of the lackeys looked through Mike’s bag, they were somewhat confusingly convinced of this (all the good stuff was in the other compartment, you numbskulls). And we were beginning to suspect that these gents weren’t actually telling the truth about owning a gun. They asked me if I was carrying any money, I opened my wallet to show them the space where the money used to be, thanks to our chauffer for the evening. I did however have a bunch of Euros in a compartment, and figured I’d probably have to give these boys something to spend at the milk bar, lest I have to deal with any North London Boy justice.

“Here you go”

“What the fuck is this?”

“They’re Euros”

“What the fuck are they?”

This, for some reason, angered me. I can abide social decline and all of the symptoms it creates, but I can’t abide stupidity. And this is where we begin stage three: Contempt For Your Attacker.

“It’s fucking money, you dimwit”

“It’s not real money, man. I want pounds. English fucking pounds, man,”

“Well you’re just going to have to go to the Thomas Cook and deal with it there, aren’t you”

“What’s the fucking Thomas Cook?”

“Oh god……..It’s a place where you can exchange foreign currency for English pounds”

“Well, why don’t you just give em’ to me now man?”

“Oh god……..because….you know what? We’re going. Mike and I are going to leave, Goodnight.”

“You want us to pull out what’s in the bag?”

“Yes. Yes, I do. Please. Is it chips? I’d love some chips. Surely you serve chips with your muggings. You serve them with Chinese food after all.”

At which point he felt it necessary to stand toe-to-toe with me and give me the “N.L.B stare-down”. I had a bottle of wine in my hand, and an overwhelming desire to go home. I calmly told him that he had some money, and that we should all go to bed now, and thankfully he seemed to agree.

And that, was that. Mike’s 29th.

He and I got one more cab with our remaining change, which dropped us off within sight of our actual Travelodge. We walked the last few steps, found our room, and then drifted off to sleep to dream of unicorns and rainbows.

Doncaster, England (7)

Eighteen people.

You want a review of that day? Piss off. Why weren’t you there?

ATP Festival, Minehead, England (8)

Hello, The Drones. It’s us. All Tomorrow’s Parties. Why don’t we get you out of those wet clothes, and in front of the fire.

It was with great relief and much anticipation that we made the trip west to “Butlins Holiday Centre” in Minehead, to play at the Dirty Three-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. For those unaware, All Tomorrow’s Parties run a festival where they ask a given musical act to choose the entire weekend’s line-up, and we were very grateful to be one of the bands chosen, alongside Alan Vega, Low, The Scientists, Nick Cave and his new band, Grinderman, Joanna Newsom, Spiritualized and many, many other fine artists.

Everyone who attends the festival, performer and punter alike, is housed in a serviced chalet. Which means all the festival-goers get to have showers, wear their favourite outfits, fix their hair, and look lovely and stylish all weekend. Very civilised. I took a walk around the site. It was like a strange and wonderful dream. Our good friends in Devastations (what happened to the “The” anyway) were staying across the garden, The Scientists a few rooms down, Mick Harvey and family were next door, and Alan Vega and his family were staying directly above us. Gareth and I were virtually struck dumb by this. One of the first things we established when we met each other years back, was that if pushed for a decision, Suicide’s first album would have to be our favourite album of all time. AND THE SINGER IS NOW OUR NEIGHBOUR. Ridiculous.

So we have a night off, surrounded by water slides, mini golf, good friends and great music. We took in some fine sets from Dirty Three, and The Devastations, and then I let the night lead me to a karaoke machine in someone’s chalet on the other side of camp. Heaven was indeed, a place on earth.


The next morning I bumped into Mike, who’d slept on Hugo Cran’s couch the night before (you had a bed Mike), and who was looking slightly unprepared for the set he was about to play with Joel Silbersher and his Spot of Bother (featuring Gareth Liddiard on “bass”). Though, having located his drums/wits, he managed a stellar performance alongside his equally stellar bandmates. Joel’s gooey, elastic blues, and his ever delightful patter between songs had his audience, his very discerning and tasteful audience, won over, and thus he rewarded them with a searing rendition of “My Pal”, which without a trace of nostalgia, sounded as fresh a newborn, hairy baby.

Later in the afternoon, as we were walking to his show, Gareth and I bumped into Alan Vega. Well, bumped into him after running towards him like giddy teenagers from about thirty metres away. As we were running, we figured out a plan.

D: “Who’s gonna talk to him?”

G: ”You”

D: ”O.K”

D: “Excuse me Alan”

A: “Yeah man”

D: “Hi. I’m Dan and this is Gareth and we’re playing at the festival too. It’s an honour to meet you”

A: “Hey that’s cool guys. What’s the name of your band?”

G&D: (with cracking voices) “The Drones”

A: “Oh yeah. Yeah I heard of you guys”


G: “We’re reeaaally biiiiiiiig faaaaaans”.

He graciously posed for a photo with us, slapped us on the backs and said:

“Take care guys. Keep your dreams”

What a guy.

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His show was incredible. Though visibly older, he’s kept the same sense of spook and menace he always had. Prowling from side to side, making spasmodic twitches, and leering at his audience through dark sunglasses, with equal parts contempt and compassion. Watching him standing on the edge of the stage, screaming at the audience without the aid of his microphone gave me chills. His wife provided cataclysmic backing tracks playing an unidentifiable device, which she seemed to rub and wave her hands over to get certain sounds, and his six year-old son joined in at one point, playing a very detached and dischordant harmonica. This was surreal. As dad crouched down next to him, repeatedly uttering the word “Gerri-nomo”, the little guy nervously blowed little puffs into the harmonica, while mum conjoured up the sounds of Armageddon on her instrument. This is the family who lives upstairs. Fantastic.

I was able to pass on my appreciation for the show later in the catering tent, while the poor guy was trying to eat his dinner. We actually have video footage of him, prowling from side to side of the smorgasboard, leering at the chicken curry, making spasmodic movements towards the potato salad and screaming at the bread rolls without the aid of his microphone.

We had the much-coveted slot of eleven o’clock, centre stage, Saturday night. We followed an amazing set by The Scientists, and played to a very full room. Nothing went wrong. Nothing broke. And we left the stage feeling good. Hooray. Glasses were raised, backs slapped etc. But perhaps the most notable thing that occured, was a visit by none other than David Beckham! Isn't that incredible???

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Our celebrations, further aided by a set from the inimitable Einsturzende Neubaten, were long and justified.


With a little bit of a headache, and a serious hunger in the belly, I took in Dirty Three’s Sunday morning set from my table at the Burger King. They were making a wonderful noise, which was complimented perfectly by my “Angus Burger Meal Deal.” Feeling like we could’ve stayed another few weeks, we packed up our things, said our goodbyes, and headed west to Dover to catch the ferry AWAY FROM ENGLAND!

Our many, many thanks to our beloved hosts, Barry and Deborah, who ran the whole sh-bang with humour, generosity and the utmost efficiency. Oh and thankyou Johanna for flogging our wares all weekend when you didn’t even have to.

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Venlo, Holland (9)

Our first show on the continent was at the erroneously-booked “Festival of Awful Dutch Emo Groups” in Venlo, Holland.

We actually headlined this festival, sharing the bill with bands like “My Nightmare Is Never Ending” and “Oot! My Clogs Hurt”.

Up in the band/class room, they had a stage plan of the festival drawn on a whiteboard. I gathered the troops around and came up with a quick and effective plan for our show.

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Not having the correct equipment however, meant we just got up and played music.

We went down like a clown at a funeral.

Some people have commented on this diary, suggesting that my take on everything is perhaps, overly cynical.

Believe me, it was not my intention to move out of my house in Australia, and go and have a really bad time with my bandmates overseas for four months. We’re all desperately trying to enjoy ourselves, and want to feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment on this tour. But, with the exception of ATP, it hasn’t been easy.

Perhaps when the burglaries, muggings and swindlings cease, the overall tone will get a little cheerier. We all hope so, anyway.

One thing is certain though.

That van isn't getting any bigger.

The guitar player.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

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Heathrow Airport

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A lego convention

The similarities between Heathrow Airport and the various lego projects I began as a child, only to abandon them halfway through, are many. Parts of Heathrow Airport’s infrastructure seem to be the victim of the same form of apathy and carelessness I applied to many of my half-baked legoland police stations, hospitals, space stations etc. Someone started building it and then thought “Oo’er, this is bloody ‘ard innit” and then went outside to play with their Action Man instead. Simply put, it doesn’t work properly and nobody seems to want to fix it. There are differences too, of course. For example, I remember my lego projects to be quite vibrant and colourful, but had I only had access to grey, green and mildew coloured blocks, perhaps this wouldn’t have been the case. Also, the people who staffed and patronised these projects of mine had squat, cylindrical, yellow heads with big smiles on their faces. Many of which had their arms in a fixed waving position. Substitute these with pallid, unhelpful, grunting hunchbacks, with their hands fixed in “pocket billiard” position, and the differences become fewer and fewer. It surely has secured it’s position in the top ten “places in the world made to test us”, and it is no coincidence it is only one interchangeable letter away from being named after the worst part of a prison.

Perhaps I’m being a tad harsh. I mean, it seems to work for the locals. When you find yourself behind a planeful of people, all content to stand two-abreast on a slow, slow escalator, without a care/thought in the world, you have to wonder if the problem is indeed, you. You’d swear by the relaxed expressions on some of these Briton’s faces, that they were inside a Japanese bath house and not this hellish people-processing unit. Is it possible then, that these people are CONDITIONED for such an oppressing and shoddy environment? Quite possibly. In fact, places like these are where the stereotypical “whinging poms” really come into their own. After walking through endless twisting tunnels, only to find their path has been detoured through to more endless tunnels, due to some leaking pipe, or glowing-rat stampede or something, you can almost see a strange, gleeful expression cross their face. For they know that they are home now, and they are happy to be home. Perhaps one shouldn’t assess anything after twenty-three hours in transit.

Who’s the whinger? My apologies. The Melbourne to London haul is not the most therapeutic of experiences. So let me say something positive.

The new Qantas in-flight entertainment system is the business. Great movies, easy to navigate controls and superb hi-fidelity sound and vision. The food was pretty good too. The fish-in -gravy being the winner of the day, albeit a dark horse. Actually, it may very well have been dark horse. Regardless, my compliments to the chef/robot.

I was also detained for some time upon my arrival by customs officials. The details are both far too fresh in my head, and boring to elaborate on. Suffice to say, it was stressful and shite.

After arriving on separate flights, The Drones are to be reunited in the seaside town of Myrtleville, Cork, Ireland, in a few hours or so………

Myrtleville, Cork, Ireland

Tonight, the Drones play in the small seaside village of Myrtleville, around twenty miles out of Cork. Myrtleville, it must be said, is a most picturesque little place. Rolling volcanic hills, covered in the most lush shade of green one can ever recall seeing. A fine mist blowing in from the ocean in the late afternoon, blanketing the town in a ghostly fog. Quiet as a church mouse, nay for the distant barking of friendly dogs covered in sea salt, and the “top of the mornin’ to you”s exchanged by the locals every so often. It boasts one general store, which specialises in the selling of newspapers, sugar-based foodstuffs, and the none too popular fruit and vegetables, and one pub called The Pine Lodge, which is where the action all takes place. One thing it doesn’t have mind you, is a restaurant. Luckily in the neighbouring village of Crosshaven, they had a restaurant, and a Chinese one at that, where we ate dinner two nights in a row. There’s a Melbourne based musician who some folks may be aware of, by the name of Paddy Chong. He’s the bass player in The Fuck Fucks. Could it be that we had unwittingly stumbled into the heart of his ancestral home? Let me tell you folks, you haven’t lived till you’ve been served by a Chinese waiter with an Irish accent.

Throughout the day, as we had access to the pub at all hours, we seized upon the opportunity to test out all the hire gear that we’re to use for the next fifty-something shows. It was quite bizarre, to be strolling up the hill from the beach, listening to the sound of the gentle waves, the seagulls, the aforementioned distant barking, and Gareth’s Fender Jaguar bursting forth from his new Vox amplifier, like electricity through a giant knife jammed into the peaceful little toaster that is the town of Myrtleville. I imagined all the dear old ladies hiding underneath their musty blankets, as Gareth’s apocalyptic guitar-visions held the community under siege for an hour or so. Unfortunately the Fender Twin I’m to use, which looked so sexy and new on first glance, has turned out to be a real lemon, and we are trying to figure out ways to fix this piece-a-shit, while remaining constantly on the move. Boring snoring.

The show itself, by any realistic standards, was a success. Even if the band room did resemble the dining area in Fawlty Towers.
At the very least, it was an ideal way to get this hairy behemoth’s ball rolling.

Dublin, Ireland (2)

Our first drive in our All-Terrain Assault Vehicle or tour bus, appropriately christened “Van Morrison” by the words guy in the band. The man and the Van have some things in common, it’s true. Both are squat, grunting, uncomfortable beings, full of irritation on the inside. Yes folks, the vessel that is to guide us through our sixty- three day musical odyssey is a bit of a dud. Having been promised a vehicle that, in this guy’s mind’s eye anyway, looked like something the folks back home would be jealous of, we are now in command of a school-locker on wheels, with a C.D player generously thrown into the deal. On first sight, you could hear the glug-glug-glug of five little hearts sinking (Myrtleville IS that quiet), but very soon after, the hammering sounds of five people constructing a brave, new, steely resolve (this resolve is still under construction, and construction didn’t even begin until a lengthy bitching session was completed). For it takes a lot more than a crappy van to make The Drones say “bugger this, we’re going home”. “Bugger this, we’re going home” Mike said as he despondently threw his backpack into the holding area. “At least have some breakfast first” suggested our mixer, Ryan. And sure enough, after this cereal-based tribute to sugar was over, the dark clouds of doubt and despair parted, and revealed a blue sky of wonder and possibility. We grabbed our luggage and bounded down the stairs to the car park, looked at the van again, and then it started raining…..

Fi pointed out that if you leave from Cork, it’s a surprisingly short way to Tipperary, and she was right. It’s not that much further to Dublin either, and after a couple of hours in Van Morrison spent plugging up holes that make the windows whistle once you get over sixty mph, we were there. Dirty Old Dublin Town. There’s not much to tell you about our accommodation for the night, except for that the rooms were this wide: ------------------------.

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In this room, Mike and I had little choice but to confide in each other.

The show however, was terrific. Our local promoters “Thanks for lunch” Phil, and “Thanks for dinner” Allen had put in some serious time getting the word out, and god bless em’, we played to a pretty full room (250 or so) of first-timers. We had fun, and they had fun. We were loud, and they were loud. Good craic Dubliners! We shall return.

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And here we are after getting off stage there. Note the steam coming off our heads......

Glasgow, Scotland (3)

Sunday night in Glasgow, huh. Sure, why not. First though, you have to get on the ferry that takes you from Belfast to Stranraer in Scotland.

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The ferry is great! A slick and modern ship with a cinema, amusement centre, gift shop and an inordinate amount of bars. After a replenishing breakfast courtesy of the good folk at Burger King, Mike and I wandered aimlessly for the next hour and a half around this floating Heironymous Bosch painting. For some reason my breakfast came with a voucher for a free cocktail, named “The Cruzin’ Confuzion”, and after some deliberation, we decided to cash it in and share it. I’ll spare you the review.

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After a further two hours on the road we arrived in Glasgow, home of the massive seagull. A steady diet of chips and deep fried pizza has caused these birds to evolve into an intimidating, pterodactyl sized creature that you would hesitate to shoo away, for fear of having your head ripped off and eaten, and I suppose I’m writing about seagulls because the details of the performance itself are negligible to say the very least, except for the fact that both mine and Gaz’s amps appeared to have begun the process of dying, and we now have a rather inconvenient problem that needs immediate addressing. Our tour manager, Gorka, fearless road warrior from the Basque Country, is on the case (or is he?....hmmm).

York, England (4)

And this folks, is where the wheels start to fall off……..

Typical dismal weather ushered us into the country of England, and into the town of York. In parts, a charming medieval town with winding cobblestone streets and remarkable architecture from a long time ago, and in other parts, a breeding ground for tracksuit-wearing criminal scumbags who are obviously so fed-up with their lot in life, that they feel they have to punish musicians who dare to house a glimmer of hope and the dying ashes of a teenage dream.. Let me explain.

After a dinner of crisps and water at the venue, stuck there while our tour manager drove all over England trying to find a hotel for the night, The Drones played what Gareth so succinctly described as “our worst show ever”. This show was cursed. Cursed people! Perhaps it all began with our support band for the evening, “The Talentless Twats with the Way Too Big Drum Kit”, and their unconvincing set of Sex Pistol covers and wretched “originals”. Or perhaps when the guitar amp finally did die on stage. As I put my ear up to the speakers, I swore I could hear my amp whisper “Get off the tour. It is cursed” in a Spanish accent. Then it’s little red light went out. Mike and Gareth had to finish the set off with “Sixteen Straws”, a big favourite in York.

Or perhaps it really began when nearing completion of the worst show ever, Fi and I step outside the back door of the venue and find that some hooligans have beaten the hell out of Van Morrison, and made out with contents of his trunk. Yes folks, some genius/genii decided it would be a capital idea to take to the windows of our vehicle with a crowbar and steal the band’s luggage. As Gareth and Mike left the stage, we had to break the news to them that they had better liked the outfit they’d chosen for the night, as it was to be their outfit for the rest of the tour.

As we gathered around the van assessing the damage, wondering what had gone and what had remained (Damn! Gorka’s CDs are still here! Shit!), a small crowd of well-meaning punters turned up and started to offer us words of consolation. “Aye, but it were a great sho’”, “Do yers want a beer then?” and “That’s a shame. That doesn’t happen much around these parts”. Doesn’t happen much around these parts? If you look at the town of York from a helicopter, it actually resembles a shaven-headed guy in a tracksuit, holding a bottle of “Scrumpy Jack”.

Turns out, amazingly, that the police caught the buggers and got most of our stuff back. They watched the whole thing on CCTV and it was a relatively textbook display of “Catch the Chavs”. So there you go. I was wrong about the prevalence of too many cameras, the loss of our civil liberties and the freedom of our movements. Screw them. I don’t need them when I’ve got my luggage. No more Orwellian-nightmare bashing for me.

Leicester, England(5)


It is to be a while before the windows get fixed and the band stop picking shards of safety glass out of their jeans. We have a show in London next, then ATP, then Holland.

Be sure to read the next instalment where the London show goes awry backstage, Mike has a birthday he’ll never forget, and the band move in next door to Alan Vega………..

The guitar player