Mr Slack in action

Welcome to the Subs bassist's 2010 tour blog. Over the coming months Paul will be detailing what daily life is like whilst touring with the band.

In his blog you will find descriptions of venues, support bands, and of the various people that Paul meets along the way. Interwoven in all this is the fascinating story of Paul's comeback into music, after over two decades of being parted from his bass!

Paul will also share various photos from his travels with the band, as well as his life away from the Subs, such as other recording commitments...

The first entry for this month is at the foot of the page, with the latest entry at the top! Links to all the previous months' Blog entries are provided at the foot of this page.

KEEP CHECKING THIS PAGE...

 

Monica     and Paul - photo by Ken Sharp - click to enlargePaul has recently been at the Cannes Film Festival for Henry Padovani's film documentary Rock 'n' Roll... Of Corse - he will be performing with the Flying Padovanis in Austria on the 25th, 26th and 27th June at the Tri-days motorbike festival, and plays bass on the forthcoming Monica and The Explosion album...

After a recent writing break...

...his Blog continues below. WELCOME BACK PAUL!

Monica and The Explosion will be appearing at the Castle Tavern in Sheerness on Saturday 3rd July...

  • 27th May - The Haymakers, Cambridge - plus 2 more gigs

 
On the Thursday after Charlie’s party saw Monica and I travel up to Cambridge to meet up with Rob Bayliss to do a gig at The Haymakers in Cambridge. We were looking forward to hooking up with Rob again, having had such a good time recording the album together. Maybe it was the weight of expectation, the poor stage sound or the small crowd, but somehow we struggled a bit. I think each of us in their own way is a bit of a perfectionist, and therefore each their own worst critic. Maybe we were simply expecting too much from what, after all, is a band in its early infancy, but we all felt quite flat after the show.

Still, it was good to see some old friends turn up to the gig to support us. Among these were Chris from Dun2Def and the mighty Woodstock. It was reassuring to hear them tell us it sounded good out front… so maybe we were being too hard on ourselves? The next day we had a gig at the 12 Bar in London, but before that Monica and I decided it would be a good idea to ask Tom Savage, our engineer, to provide us with the drum tracks from the album so we could play along to them when rehearsing.This meant a detour to Peterborough and lunch at East ;-)

28 May 2010 posterAnd so, the CD picked up, we then headed back to London to meet up with Wilco Van Eijk who is the drummer with The Penny Black Remedy. Wilco had kindly agreed to sit in for the next two shows, thus becoming our third drummer that week. This time we’d arranged to have a proper rehearsal at Enterprise Studios behind the 12 Bar. Wilco is one of my favourite drummers and a real professional and a great guy to work with.

Monica’s parents were also over from Sweden for the weekend, so a good performance was definitely needed. This time we delivered and it felt good. A couple of people who’d seen us at Charlie’s party turned up and helped make the evening a success. We even won a seal of approval from Mr and Mrs Welander. This time there was no need for performance analysis.

The next day saw us due to do a photo shoot with an old friend of mine called Ken Sharp. Ken had once been one of Q magazines top photographers - until he decided that the constant travelling the job entailed was becoming too much. We wanted the shoot to take place in a sort of gritty urban setting, and had done some research the morning before we went to Cambridge. Monica test  photo for location by Paul - click to enlarge

We had actually found the ideal setting on the South Bank not far from the London Eye, a place used by skateboarders and covered in graffiti.
Unfortunately the day was really overcast, with the worst kind of light for taking pictures, and as Ken only uses natural light we abandoned the idea of doing the shoot that day. Instead we decided that we would go to Glasgow at a later date, where Ken lives and do the shoot there, which in the end turned out to be a great decision…
 
That evening we played at the Flower Pot in Kentish town, replacing the Flying Padovanis, who had been forced to pull out of the show due to a family bereavement in the Padovani clan.
Once again, it was another good show and a growing feeling that everything was gonna be alright…

Below: Pictures of this gig by Joanna Reich    



  • 24th May - Charlie's Birthday Bash - The Gaff

(Written Thursday 17th June)

Despite not playing with the Subs for the next 6 weeks, the boys from Time and Matter have asked me to resume my blog which I am more than happy to do. Obviously the focus will be on life outside of the Subs and I shall be writing about how the story of Monica and The Explosion unfolds, as well as what the Flying Padovanis get up to.

I shall also describe my early years with the Subs and how I came to leave the band first time around. So here we go...

For those of you who’ve been wondering where I’ve been, and why I haven’t been seen playing with the Subs, here’s your answer... It seems Alvin contacted Charlie asking for some gigs on the Subs' summer tour, obviously applying some “Emotional Blackmail”! Charlie, being the softie he is, agreed - and my fate was sealed...
 
I won’t pretend I was happy about it, especially as I had no say in the matter, but what the hell - I have plenty of things to keep me occupied as you will see...

 

Charlie's Gaff

So I’m gonna fast forward a bit to Charlie’s birthday bash at the Gaff in Holloway. I’m sure all of you that attended will agreed it was a cracking night.
 
For me, the evening was especially notable for two debut appearances. Firstly Jamie Oliver’s first solo show as a wisecracking troubadour. I’d never seen him more nervous - but it was a great way to kick the evening off.
 
Secondly, this was the first time that I had played live with Monica and the Explosion. Rob Bayliss, the drummer we recorded the forthcoming album 'Shut Up!' with was unable to attend due to other commitments, so Jamie sat in for him at very short notice. Now it was my time to feel nervous. Obviously over the years I’ve played in front of lots of big crowds, and to be honest I’m not normally intimidated by performing, but this was different.


I suppose it was because I really want this band to work. As I’ve said before, I’m immensely proud to have played on Monica's album, which I think sounds fantastic, so it’s natural to hope that everything that’s good about the album can come across in a live performance. Anyway, judging by what people had to say afterwards, I think we managed to do a good job allowing for the fact that we were totally under rehearsed.
 
I then missed Jock from GBH, as Monica and I went to find something to eat, but we managed to get back in time to see Allegra Shock, who is without doubt one of the classiest performers around. She has an amazing voice and writes great songs and is a lovely person. I’m sure she will go on to have a hugely successful career.
 
It was good to see Pete Davies’ band, who are called 1981, and they brought something different to the evening.

  • BELOW: Gemma Eggle's pictures from this gig, see all of them here

 
At the time I didn’t know whether this was going to be my last ever show with the Subs as I was still feeling let down by what had happened, so it was great that the show went really well.
 
Since then I’ve had time to reflect, and I’ve agreed to play at this year's Blackpool Rebellion Festival, as well as the previous week’s Rock and Blues Festival.
 
So you haven’t seen the last of me yet...
 
Next:
How the rest of the week went and three more shows with Monica and the Explosion. Also, how it all went down with The Flying Padovanis at the Cannes Film Festival.


  •  9th May - Reading... the Flying Plate-Of-Van-is...


 
So I woke up with that sinking feeling you get when you know something’s wrong, but you can’t remember what.  Then I felt my jagged tooth and immediately started contemplating a sizable dental bill. A great way to start the day…
 
Anyway at least my stomach had regained its composure - although I decided breakfast was perhaps inadvisable under the circumstance!
 
We got going fairly sharpish as Charlie and I wanted to watch Chelsea, hopefully, win the Premiership. And here I have to thank Jamie’s Liverpool team for being so utterly crap the previous week - thus setting up the seasons’ grand finale.
 
We got to Reading in reasonable time and thankfully I had my laptop with me so we were able to watch the match on Skyplayer, although we had to sound check at the same time. It was great to see them finish the season in such style. Any team that beats Man U, Arsenal and Liverpool, both home and away in a season deserves to win the grand prize in my book. Anyone for a  game of noughts and crosses? Click image to enlarge
 
So all was well with the World…
 
That was until about 20 minutes before we were due on stage. We were all sitting around in the dressing room, everyone in a good mood. Then stars…

…and lots of twinkly little lights, pain and lots of blood. Sounds dramatic right?
 
It turns out that Sarah, our van driver, had put a heavy china plate on top of a television directly above where I was sitting. As Jet (I think) shut the dressing room door, the plate fell, smashing straight down onto my beautiful, and until then, scar-free bald head.
Sarah, the plate, the television and sofa! Click image to enlarge
It’s amazing the amount of claret a head wound produces. The crimson stuff was everywhere, all over my face, hands and arms.
 
Now, by supreme irony, Sarah is also a fully qualified nurse (how lucky was that ha ha). Although she did confess she’d never treated anyone who she’d actually injured herself before. Well maybe she should start booby-trapping a few more dressing rooms.
 
After checking me for concussion and making sure I wasn’t dribbling or talking bullshit, obviously the bullshit test was tricky; we made the stage on time!
 
Charlie even managed one further test by suddenly including “Crash Course” in the set. I couldn’t remember the last time we played it, but I did remember how to play it so I guess I was gonna be alright…
 
Good to see the boys from Rage DC in the crowd - thanks for coming guys.


  • 8th May - Norwich...
    ...the start of a strange sequence of unfortunate events!


 
I arrived in Norwich in good spirits and relatively good order, despite suffering from a dodgy back, an old injury that had somehow flared up again.

Poster -   click to enlarge

 
I’d played the King Edward VII pub or The Eddy, as it’s more commonly known, last year with the Subs, and knew what to expect from the venue. It was a lively, raucous gig last time, so I was anticipating more of the same this time round.
 
We sound checked and then had a couple of pints with those Dun 2 Def boys who’d come along to heckle ;-). After we’d had something to eat (a very tasty curry – thanks Gibbo), I went to watch the support bands. It was then that things started to go wrong.
I started to feel a bit odd. This necessitated a rather hasty trip to the toilet, where I then spent most of the evening leading up to our stage time. Obviously it’s unnecessary to go into too much detail at this point, I’m sure you get the picture, but hell - I was seriously worried about being able to get through the show.
 
Anyway, with a dodgy back and clenched buttocks, I stumbled onto the stage and off we went.
 
The Eddy has a very low stage which is always a bit of a concern, especially when faced with a crowd as lively as this.  Towards the end of the set the crowd surged forward, knocking someone in front of me over and as he fell he grabbed my mic stand just as I was singing. The mic hit me smack in the mouth, breaking one of my front teeth in half. Fuck it! I thought “Who the hell’s gonna love you now you ugly bastard” as I spat out bits of enamel.
 
We still had a couple of encores to deal with before I could inspect the full extent of the damage. Pete Davies joined us on stage for the second, I know we played Limo Life, but I can’t remember what else. I was still counting my teeth with my tongue.
 
Thanks to the support bands Compact Pussycat (a four- piece girl band), Hotwired (girl singer) and PMT (a three-piece all-girl band). Sorry I missed you.
 
The next morning I woke up thinking today has got to be better… surely?
 
But as you’ll see - even more shit was about to happen!


  • 7th May - The Flying Padovanis at the Charlotte Street Blues Bar


 
I returned from Peterborough and went straight to a rehearsal with the Flying Padovanis at Enterprise Studios, behind the 12 Bar Club in Soho. We were doing a gig that night at the Charlotte Street Blues Bar, supporting our dear friends the Penny Black Remedy who were launching their new single “You Have Wasted Your Life...” TPBR - Single cover
 
The Pads hadn’t played together since our Forum gig in Tunbridge Wells, back in March, so a rehearsal was very much needed. Not for me you understand - more for the benefit of the others ;-)
 
We went through the set a couple of times, and although a bit rusty, we felt fairly confident we could pull off a half decent show.
 
Hmmm, that confidence was a little misplaced, as we rather laboured through our set.
Obviously one tends to be hyper-critical about performances, but this definitely wasn’t one of our best. Still, the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves. The one thing about our music is that most people who have never heard us before have probably never heard instrumental music like this - and so we come as a bit of a surprise.
 
Anyway, I think we got away with it and did a good enough job of warming up the crowd for the Penny Blacks. If you don’t know this band you really should check them out. They are without doubt one of the best live bands around, with lots of great sing-a-long tunes. Keith Thomson is a great front man, with a touch of the young Johnny Cash about him. The whole band has a real swagger and I’m sure great things lie ahead for them.
 
After the show I headed to Jet’s place as the Subs were setting off the next day for Norwich.
 
I understand that the show in Hastings, I’d missed, had been a really good one and nobody had missed me! That’s show business for you.
 
I’ll try and find some pictures from the Pads show and post them later. ...as seen by Mr Oliver!
 
Next – read all about the personal misfortunes that turned my weekend into a mini disaster…
 
Oh and by the way, if anyone fancies coming to the next Padovanis show, it’s at the Cannes Film Festival next week where we’ll be playing the aftershow party on the beach. Henrys’ film “Rock and Roll of Corse” (yes that is the correct spelling) is being premiered there. Pretty fucking cool I think you’ll agree.

 


  • Wednesday 5th & Thursday 6th May at Jigsaw Studios

 

Mixing Shut Up! – The Monica and the Explosion album.Yours truly looking uncomfortable - click image to enlarge
 
 
Since we recorded the album, Monica had flown back to Sweden to do some solo shows and present some seminars on song writing to school and college students.
 
Only able to find a couple of days in her busy schedule to mix the album, we were under pressure to have a clear idea of what we needed to achieve in that time. Monica encouraged each of us involved in the album to voice our own opinions, and we all exchanged regular emails to that effect. Laying the groundwork was important, given the restricted timeframe.
 
The star of the  show! Click image to enlargeSo on Thursday morning I picked her up from Heathrow on my way up to Deeping St James. The journey allowed us further opportunity to discuss the songs. Monica is a very driven person and her music is very personal to her so she has clear picture of how she wants the album to sound, and yet is still open to suggestions. We have developed a good working relationship over these last few weeks. What has been surprising is the unity of understanding that has emerged between each of us involved - without too many differences of opinion – however, ultimately the final decisions would lie with her.
 
We arrived at Jigsaw around 4pm and found Tom in place busy editing and tidying up various bits and pieces – making sure we had the best take of each of the numbers.
 
Well, without going into too much detail, with a bit of fine tuning here, and some tweaking there, over two days of intense scrutiny we emerged with an album that Monica and the rest of us can be extremely proud of. A slightly bemused looking Rob - click image to enlarge

This has been an enlightening musical experience for me. Monica is an exceptionally talented musician and to my mind she deserves to be heard by a wider audience. Hopefully this album will help further her career.
 
Tom at the controls - click image to enlargeThe album will be mastered shortly; some of the artwork for the cover has already been done so hopefully it won’t be too long before it’s released.
 
And in case you’re wondering – plans for the band to play some live shows are already under way.
I’ll keep you posted - I for one can’t wait.


 


 

 

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