BELOW IS THE MARCH ARCHIVE FOR PAUL SLACK'S 2010 TOUR BLOG
Mark & Rob have asked me if I'd write a blog over the coming months detailing what daily life is like whilst touring with the band.
In the blog I hope to provide descriptions of venues, support bands, and of course people I meet along the way. Interwoven in all this will be the story of my comeback into music, after over two decades of being parted from my bass!
Some photos from yours truly will also accompany the text...
KEEP CHECKING THIS PAGE
Wednesday 24 March
Welcome to my blog!
I guess the Spring/Summer tour started yesterday when I met up with the other guys to rehearse in Stoke Newington, London. Although I've described it as a tour it is in fact a series of dates spread out over the next few months with time off in between.
I set off from my home in East Sussex around 2.15pm allowing plenty of time because of the unpredictability of London traffic. As it turned out I arrived about an hour early so I used the time to send a few emails and catch up on Facebook.
I'd seen Charlie over the weekend when he and Yuko came down to my gig with the Flying Padovanis and stayed overnight at my place. That's Charlie and Yuko for you! They’d only just got back from a gruelling European tour and yet they were ready to come and support. Actually it was a pretty good night with The Penny Black Remedy and Allegra Shock on the same bill. Over the next couple of months I'll be putting a band together with Allegra, but more on that later.
It was good to see some old faces at the show such as Tony Morrison, the former Angelic Upstart and now with Long Tall Shorty. J.J. Johnson, formerly with Wayne County and the Electric Chairs was also in attendance having come to see his old mate Henry Padovani who is also an ex-Chair.
I'd guess it was inevitable that the conversation would turn to that infamous Electric Chairs/U.K. Subs gig at the Lyceum all those years ago when Subs fans ended up turning on Wayne/Jayne, pelting him/her with bottles and cans with the night ending in chaos and Wayne being arrested and taken to a police station for questioning after throwing a bottle back and hitting a girl in the crowd. Those were the days.........!
Anyway it was good to see Jamie and Jet again. Two great guys I love working with.
We soon launched into the set starting with Emotional Blackmail which sounded powerful and tight straight away. Both Jamie and Jet are very precise players and it's easy to sit in with them. The only thing that makes Jamie difficult to play with is that he notices every bum note I hit. The moment it happens I know that if I turn to him he'll be laughing his head off, the fucker.
I won't give away too many of the numbers we're going to play but there are plenty of old favourites in there. Charlie has this thing that when I'm in the line-up we play mainly songs from my time in the band and that seems right to me. After rattling through the set we adjourned to the pub next door where Charlie outlined his plans for a new album. (Please, please, please - more details Mr Slack - ed!)
I guess we all need to start writing some new songs..........
I got home around 10.30pm just in time to say goodnight to the kids and give Katie some t-shirts Charlie had got her.
Tomorrow it's the Bierkeller in Bristol with Total Chaos. Time to roll and rock.........
Thursday 25 March
There was heavy traffic leading out of London to the M4 as well as a storm of biblical proportions, which meant we arrived in Bristol later than planned.
The Bierkeller is a 500 capacity venue situated in All Saints' Street in the heart of the city.
The load-in is through the main entrance up two flights of stairs in the opposite corner to the stage. Trust me when you're humping gear around night after night load-ins become important, and often venues are remembered as much by how easy it was to get the gear in and out as anything else!
Poor old Charlie's sciatica was playing up which meant conveniently – sorry! – I meant unfortunately no lifting for him! But as luck would have it Pumba the drummer with Total Chaos had a battery operated TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator for you geeks out there!) used for pain relief.
Some of you mums might know what I'm talking about. Anyway no excuses tomorrow eh Chas?! Our late arrival meant just a two number sound check, so thank fuck we'd had that rehearsal.
First up was Picture Frame Seduction (pictured left), somewhat ironic I thought, given my occupation for the last 15 odd years. Can't say too much about them as I missed most of their set but what I did hear was tight brutal old-school punk.
Total Chaos are an LA outfit in the middle of a 40 date European tour. Cool guys with the right attitude. Plenty of energy and some great songs. Our show? Well I guess we felt reasonably happy with our performance. A little rusty perhaps, but hey that's to be expected in the early stages of a tour. Just the one major fuck-up - I won't say by who because the Japanese can be a little sensitive over such issues... ;o)
After the show I ended up comparing notes with Total Chaos bassist Ryan. He’s a young guy who's only been with the band nine months. He told me about how he was recovering from a night in the cells where he'd received a good kicking from the London plod after being nicked for pissing in the street. Welcome to England buddy!
It was nice to see Angie Thompson at the show. I also met Charlie Chainsaw too, who is a landscape gardener and I hope to God that's how he got that name? And a geezer called Danny was there too, who is an old friend of Mr Harper, who he described as “a bit of a rogue - but a good bloke to have on your side!" Aren't they all mate!
Next stop Camberley...
Friday 26 March
I thought I'd start today's blog by posting some interesting facts about the town of Camberley. Well sadly this is the best I could come up with - Camberley was mentioned in the 1963 film version of William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies" directed by Peter Brook....... Honestly that's it!
The Agincourt Rock Venue was established in 1964 and claims to be the UKs longest running rock club. The Rolling Stones and The Levellers are amongst those who have played there in the past. It's certainly one of the most hospitable venues around. So a big thanks to all the staff there who do a great job.
The night opened up with two young bands; Kicked In and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels both of whom went down well with the crowd. Next up were Rage DC, formed in 1996 from the remnants of the Screws and Cranial Rage. They are certainly a great band who deserve wider recognition. Thanks for the CD guys. Well worth checking out.
Our set tonight (see picture right) was notable for the world premier of "Creation" written by Jamie. You'll notice that it's missing from the set list. But we decided to give it a go halfway through the show after some very vocal demands from those old reprobates Gaga and Mr. Ramsgate. This is one of my favourite Subs songs at the moment so hopefully it'll become part of the set on a regular basis (amen to that – top work Gaga - ed!)
Tonight’s gig also boasted amongst the crowd one Peter - of Peter and the Test Tube Babies fame - good to see you there - nice one Pete.
Also worthy of mention is my mate James from my home town. James is the can-do guy who got me to the Bridgehouse 2 gig in January for Pluto's birthday bash. James drove his mighty Land Rover Defender through all but impassable roads, 8 inches deep in snow to get us there. You might want to buy him a drink next time you see him Pluto.
Back home by 3.30am, up at 10am, and am now heading off to The Forum. Wish me luck.
Oh and by the way. Next door to the venue there's a pukka Nepalese restaurant for those of you who like your scoff.
Above: Paul's pictures from this gig. Hover over for details / Click each to enlarge.
Saturday 27 March
Now here's a thing - I thought I'd have plenty of things to write about after the Forum gig but strangely I felt a little detached from the day in general. Maybe it was the early start as being on stage at 6.30pm is definitely a bit odd.
We all made our way separately to the gig and that was odd too. A lack of any sound check didn't help either. Suddenly you're on stage and there's a show to do.
I'd never played The Forum before but had seen bands there in the past including Les Negresses Vertes back when the venue went under the name of the Town and Country Club. Les Negresses Vertes were one of the best bands to have emerged from France in the last 20 odd years. A sort of Gogol Bordello for the 80s.
Anyway, the venue is certainly impressive with good acoustics and a nice arena for viewing. I watched most of The Exposed set. I'd seen the band before when they supported us at the Guildhall in Gloucester last year. Definitely out of the Clash school of punk and that's not in any way a criticism, as they have a style of their own.
Maybe it's the fact that the singer Tony Corrales reminds me of a young Mick Jones. Anyway they deserve to do well and I would pay good money to watch them.
Next up it was our turn. I think we did alright despite that fact Charlie was still suffering badly with that trapped nerve in his neck. However, some nights you do come off stage and you really don't know if you were good or bad, and this was one of those occasions. We stuck mainly to the set we'd played the two previous nights, just swapping a couple of songs around.
After we had played I needed some fresh air so I went with Monica down the road to the Flower Pot to see an old friend of mine Ivor Wilkins. Monica is a singer/songwriter from Sweden who plays under the name of Monica and the Explosion. I first met her when she was performing at Rebellion in Blackpool last year, just before she went on to tour Australia and New Zealand. I'll be helping Monica out with some recording next month along with Rob who is the Dun 2 Def drummer . I'll let you know how that goes.
My friendship with Ivor goes way back to when he used to roadie for the Flying Padovanis in the early eighties. One of the nicest, most reliable guys I've ever worked with. He was part of our gang and we had some great times together. In 2008 when the Padovanis were booked to play the Fuji Rock Festival we invited Ivor to roadie for us for old times sake. At the time he was working for Live Nation running festival bars and doing really well for himself, so we felt a little nervous about asking him, but he didn't hesitate to say yes so off we went to Japan. It really was just like old times.
Going down to the Flower Pot meant we missed seeing Penetration but we were back in time to see The Boys. To me they seemed a strange choice to go on before Cock Sparrer - but what do I know?
By now I was beginning to flag so we decided to watch Sparrer from backstage only to be told that the band didn't want anyone on the side of the stage - some bands insist on this but I've never quite understood it - so fuck it I thought. As I still had a two-hour drive in front of me I decided to duck out.
Good to see Jon Flash at the show up from Portsmouth as well as Mark Heath, one of the old Battersea punks. Thanks also to Nick Knight (Mr Ramsgate) who posted some great photos of the show on Facebook which can also be seen on this website.
The next gig is in Buckingham on 3rd April so there is a bit of a gap. I probably won't blog until then as who the hell wants to hear about picture framing or how my garden's doing?
But if anything interesting comes to mind you might just hear from me................
Cheers for now.
Sunday 28 March
I went to watch my 15 year old son Felix play football down at Horam. I love watching him play - always have done. He's a pretty fearless right-footed left back if that makes sense. Useful with both feet and not bad in the air too. I've been lucky with my kids, Felix is someone with whom I'm able to indulge my love of sport. When I was younger I played every sport going. As long as there was a ball involved I was happy. Now I just manage the odd round of golf - whoops there's a bit of my street-cred gone I guess!
On the other hand, my daughter Katie, or “Kt” as she signs herself, is interested in all the other things that have absorbed me over the years. Namely art and music. She's been learning drums for the last couple of years and we're now at a point where we can jam together.
Not bad for a 12 year old! So, so cool.
So really I am a very lucky man to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Since I started playing with the band again, most people I've met and talked to at gigs have wanted to know how my ‘comeback’ came about?
Tomorrow I'll tell all.... as the papers say!
Tuesday 30 March
Back to Bass-ics - Playing Music Again (part I)
Whilst there are no gigs to write about, and as promised on Sunday, here is the tale of my ‘comeback’ into playing music again.
One Sunday afternoon in early September 2006 Jon Stock, my next door neighbour, popped round to tell me he'd been listening to a new album that my old friend Henry Padovani had just released. This news was to turn my life on its head and plunge me back into a world I'd left behind many years ago. It really is amazing how the smallest incidents can alter the course of your life isn’t it?
It's no exaggeration to say that when I finally quit playing music sometime in 1985, I did so with such finality that I didn't even pick up my bass until 21 years later. It wasn't that I was no longer interested in music; it was just that I'd somehow fallen out of love with the whole scene.
Life on the road can be pretty gruelling and it certainly contributed to the failure of my first marriage. However, having said that, I don't regret a single moment of my first adventures in music. How could I? I was fortunate to be born into a generation that was going to change the music scene forever and with it the way many people lived their lives. Again it’s certainly not an overstatement to say that the repercussions from those early days of Punk are still being felt today.
Anyway, back to my neighbour’s appreciation of Mr Padovani’s then latest offering. I listened to Henry's album on the Internet and immediately e-mailed him to offer him my congratulations. "A Croire que C'etait Pour La Vie" (When You Believed It Was Forever) is a first class record.
Henry had recruited many notable musicians to play on the album. Sting, Stewart Copeland, Glen Matlock, Manu Katche, Steve Hunter and Chris Musto.
Soon Henry and I started exchanging regular e-mails which culminated in Henry, Chris Musto and I meeting up for the first time since the demise of the Flying Padovanis in 1983. I invited Chris and his family to stay with us at our house in France for October half-term and Henry joined us a few days later.
I recall wearing a long Halloween wig to greet Henry in - but he wasn't fooled.
Up to this point I still honestly hadn't thought about what this meeting might lead to. As far as I was concerned it was just old friends getting together for old times sake.
I remember the three of us sitting outside drinking red wine, laughing, joking and telling stories but I can't remember who it was who actually came up with the suggestion that we should reform the band and play a few shows for fun. Well it must have been the amount of wine I'd drunk because it sounded like a bloody good idea at the time.
It wasn't until later - back in England - that the full implications of what we'd promised each other sunk in...........
But the first thing I had to do was find my guitar.
Tune in again to find out how early rehearsals went, what the first gig was like and what it was like to see Charlie Harper again!
Wednesday 31 March
Back to Bass-ics - Playing Music Again (part II)
Now where was that guitar........?
Well, the guitar in question wasn't any old guitar I’ll have you know! It was my 1979 Travis Bean bass that I'd bought in New York whilst on the first Subs American tour. It was also the same bass that I'd used when we recorded the live album "Crash Course" in May 1980.
It can also be seen in action when I sang "She's Not There" on Top of the Pops.
I knew I'd lent it to somebody, but to whom?
After racking the old memory cells for a while I recalled that the son of a friend of mine had borrowed it as he was learning bass - but that had been over a year ago.
Fortunately I knew the family well so I wasn't really worried that I wouldn’t be able to retrieve it - but he was a teenager after all.
Anyway, one phone call later, followed by a short journey and my baby was back.....
So here’s your little musical history lesson for today. Travis Bean was one of the first pioneers to make metal neck guitars. Despite this, his company actually only survived for a few years. Starting production in 1974, the last guitar came off the production line in 1979. My bass is a black TB2000. Only 1020 of these Koa wood aluminium necked guitars were made, with mine bearing the serial number 975. So a pretty rare beast.
OK so I had the guitar - but which way up did it go? Obviously it wasn't that bad but hell - it wasn't that good either.
You have to remember that at this point we're dealing with a comeback for the Flying Padovanis, a three-piece all instrumental rock and roll band. One of our numbers was called "No Place to Hide" and that's just how it felt. Playing in an instrumental band means there is no singer to focus on, so the attention tends to be directed to the instruments ... and the chumps playing them of course!
It's a funny thing, and I've talked to Henry about this, your fingers can retain their own memory or at least some partial memory. I found that if I didn't think too hard and instead, allowed my hands to take over, then that memory started to flow back.
It wasn't easy I assure you but I went at it like a demon, practising like I'd never practised before.
While my bewildered family looked on!
So, soon enough it was time to pack my bags and head out to Henry's place in France for our first rehearsal.
As I indicated in my previous blog, it’s strange how things come about. Remember that all this followed on from a chance remark from my neighbour. There was no turning back now!
To be continued…