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27 March 2006

a life full of surprises

Current listening: various - heartworn highways ost




"the further away i get from you
the harder it gets for everyone else
the happier i am when i’m with you
the harder it gets when i am alone”


still in america. sitting in my hotel room in the holiday inn in minneapolis. we haven’t got a show until tomorrow night so i’m just doing some interviews tonight. and i thought that perhaps it had been too long since i last wrote a weblog and that we’d been to quite a few places and quite a few things had happened since we’d been in washington so i should really write a new one. we worked out today that at the end of this tour we will have been to twenty two different states in america. funny how things turn out. i’m sure i mentioned at the beginning of last year that i didn’t want to play live that much. oh well.

we played two shows in new york last week. at the webster hall. i went shopping during the day. this country’s total commitment to consumerism is quite admirable in a funny way. i went in to the legendary Other music and bought a couple of cds. the first album by Neutral Milk Hotel and Horn Of Plenty by Grizzly Bear, which i’d been looking for for ages in england but never found. then i went to another shop where i bought the Freaks and Geeks dvd box set. at last. and some Seinfeld dvds. and the soundtrack from Heartworn Highways. which i think comes out in the uk in a couple of months time. which is so fantastic. i just sit at the front of bus imagining i’m David Allan Coe.

then after the two new york shows we flew down to austin in texas to play three shows at sxsw. a bit of trouble at the airport. we got there and found out that continental airlines who we were flying with had oversold our flight. and that thirteen people didn’t have seats on the plane. two of those people were alistair, our drummer, and simon, our manager. they were offered seats for a plane on saturday. but that wasn’t really much use, because we weren’t even going to be in texas on saturday. in the end, the rest of us had to fly down to austin without them while they got on a plane to dallas, where they were told they would be able to get on another plane to austin. on our plane i was surrounded by people from the music industry who are probably very important but whose names i can’t remember now. sorry, i know i should try harder to network, but it’s just not in my nature. so, eight of us are on a plane to sxsw, expecting to meet alistair and simon at the other end. however, when we arrived in austin we got a phone call from simon and alistair telling us that there was no plane to austin. so they would have to rent a car and drive from dallas to austin. they were told by the pilot of their plane that it would take about four hours to drive it. so they figured that it was worth a go. we were due on stage for the first show at saengerrunde hall at about eight thirty. and when they rang us it was about half past three, so it was kind of looking like we might not have a drummer for that show. we waited all afternoon for them. did an interview with the telegraph while we were there. ate some burgers and funny green chips. not crisps. french fries. soundchecked without a drummer. worried a bit. and then as if by magic, at eight o clock they both turned up. with fantastic stories of their three hour road trip across texas. i think they ended up having a much more exciting journey to sxsw than we did on our boring plane.

after all that, the show wasn’t that great. i don’t know, maybe some people enjoyed it, but i didn’t see them. the whole thing reminded me somehow of gigs that i used to play in village halls when i was thirteen. we all felt very disheartened and kind of wished we’d never gone to sxsw. editors were headlining that night and we got to see them. and we met them afterwards as well. they are very nice human beings, and i thought they were fantastic that night. they gave us some good advice too. drop the slow songs for sxsw. people just talk through them.

then we got back to the hotel, and ordered some buffalo wings and sat by the swimming pool for a couple of hours, because i was waiting up to ring england. and i ended up going to sleep at about five o clock in the morning. on the floor.

the next morning we woke up and got a bus into town. we met a band on the bus called The Village Green from portland in oregon. very nice human beings too. then we made our way to the insound barbecue at club deville where we were playing at three o clock. we had a drummer and everything with us this time. no problems at all. and we were on the same bill as Love Is All and Pink Mountain Tops and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. i got to see Love Is All. really excited to be playing after them. love their album. and then we played our set. much better than the night before. a really great crowd. and we dropped the slow ones. it seemed to work better. Pink Mountain Tops were on after us. they were brilliant too. and then we met Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. lovely human beings again. unfortunately we couldn’t stay around to see their set because we had to go and soundcheck at the next venue. really disappointing, but hopefully we’ll get to see them some other time.

after the show at club deville we went four hundred yards down the road to play our third sxsw show at the elysium. things were looking good for us until six o clock, when somehow we managed to lose adam chetwood, our banjo player. i’m still not really sure where he went, but his weblog sheds a little more light on the matter. his weblog can be found at www.adamchetwood.com. if ever there was proof needed that adam chetwood is the sweetest guitarist in rock n roll then it can be found here on his weblog. so while the rest of us went off to do interviews or eat dinner, adam was wandering merrily around austin, thinking we were on stage at twenty to eleven. unfortunately, we were onstage at ten o clock. once we’d got back to the venue at nine we were all starting to worry a bit about where adam was. sxsw security put out a call for him, and we woke up his girlfriend in england. but no one had seen or heard anything from him for nearly four hours. i genuinely assumed him to be dead. i was checking the alleyway behind the venue to see if he’d been beaten up. then just when we were about to cancel the whole show, he turned up strolling absentmindedly down red river street. blissfully unaware that we all thought he had been murdered. five minutes before we had to go on. so in the end, we played the show. and i think it was probably one of our best ever. i guess it must have had something to do with the relief. i’m so glad that adam chetwood is still alive.

after all that, we flew out of austin at four o clock the next morning. when we were leaving the hotel, most of the other guests were just checking in. we slept all the way to boston. and by the time we'd landed i'd lost most of my hearing. and i still haven't really got it back properly.

since then, we’ve been to montreal, toronto, cleveland, detroit, and chicago. and now we’re in minneapolis. funny. i still don’t know how we ended up playing in america. i am always surprised by life.

there’s an interview with us in rolling stone magazine this month. and apparently, on a completely different note, the twenty first world pooh sticks championship was held today at the day’s lock on the river thames at little whittenham. entrants came from all over the world to take part. and the winning team came from the czech republic. more than two thousand people turned up for it. next year i’m entering a team. i need to win it.

also, last week someone sent out a message from our myspace page asking people if they wanted to be our friends. we didn't know anything about it and we still don't know who sent it. we’re very embarrassed about it going out. it's not the sort of thing we would ever do. it looks desperate and needy. but we've changed the password and hopefully it won't happen again. big apologies to anyone that received it.

anyway, i’m going to try and get to sleep now. i'm going to need to be well rested if we’re going to break america.

x

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