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Specialist Subject Mega Tour, Day 5: Glasgow – Edinburgh

Posted 11th May 2016

Woke up in darkness (literally not emotionally). Needed a piss but no one was up and I didn’t have a key card so held it in until Huss appeared, alerting me to 5 spare key cards sitting on the table. Doy. Had hostel breakfast with Huss, Dean and Jay which for me consisted of powdered eggs taking a swim in some beans. The hostel breakfast area has one of those big revolving toasting machines. Iona put cheese on her bread before putting it on the conveyor belt. The cheese fell off onto the grill and started burning, but still, good idea in theory.

Went and mucked about by the river for a bit, some of us went to H&M for some swim shorts. We got back in the van and everyone’s collective heart melted at the sight of the world’s most adorable puppy out the window. On Iona’s recommendation we all set off for Buchanan Castle, an abandoned derelict castle that is structurally questionable and you have to climb a fence to get into. Structurally questionable is maybe a little kind… half of the fucker isn’t there and it’s been taken over by greenery. It’s all kinds of cool though, even if the ground feels like it’s going to give way on you any second.

From the castle we drove to Loch Lomand to do some swimming. I gave Dean a piggy back and his junk fell out due to his new pink short shorts. There’s signs everywhere saying ‘No Swimming or Paddling’, Hamish goes and asks someone at the ice cream stand if there’s anywhere that we can swim, only to be met with a blank expression and confusion from the adolescent vendor (“I think that was his first time talking to another human.”) Finally settle on a spot and decide to go for it anyway. A few of us went in all the way and it was the coldest thing since iced bread. Hamish covered himself in the silt from the sea bed which looks suspiciously like faeces. The weather is still lovely, so naturally Nicola takes to the shade, a true Scot. She stands there with her hands on her hips looking out over the Loch. It sort of looks like she’s beaming with pride for her land and taking a solitary moment to drink in the scenery. She’s not though, she’s just terrified of catching fire.

Off to Edinburgh, it’s only an hour away but takes 2 cos of rubbish traffic. Raph is putting us on tonight and we pick him up on the way. He’s got individually wrapped burritos for everyone and that’s just lovely. Good snack game too, so good that Huss kept wandering off stage during PB’s set to munch on crisps. El and I discuss having shitheads in your extended family which I feel like most of us can relate to. Phil and I discuss how enjoyable smoking is; I’m 2.5 years clean but still love the smell. We play and it’s good fun, probably our second fave of the tour after Bristol. We do the super special secret cover (which is no longer very secret) and it seems to go down pretty well. Nicola’s brother is at the show and we hang out with him for a bit afterwards, being subjected to a million videos of his baby daughter (she’s super cute to be fair). I can feel myself getting ill, beer is helping. Tenants pal.

Doe and PB head back to Raph’s after some dumpster diving action, I’m grateful for the early night. I woke up before everyone else feeling a strange mixture of ill, uncomfortable and excited, desperate for conversation. Leeds today hooray.

Specialist Subject Mega Tour, Day 4: Glasgow

Posted 10th May 2016

Started the day off with a Weezer jam in Morgan and Steph’s front room – Nicola on banjo, Morgan and Jay on mandolin, Dean on guitar, everyone singing. It was beautiful and far better than anything on their new record (Dean will kill me for saying that cos he loves it and that’s totally ok, I’m sure it’s great really but I’ve made up my mind after one listen cos I’m stubborn). Stopped at Tesco for snacks then hit the road to Glasgow.

We arrived at The 13th Note early so sat upstairs and had beers. I played here 11 years ago to about 5 people and can’t remember all that much about it, but I’m stoked anyway cos it’s a venue that I used to hear about all the time via Bis. As a 10 year old in Essex I used to sit in my room and daydream about just paying it a visit one day. Dreams do come true kids, as long as you aim relatively low. Dean wandered to Forbidden Planet and returned with a Re-Action figure of Willow from Buffy. Caves and SP roll in, they’ve been to a lake for swims and we’re a little jelly. Minty and I shared a ‘Glasgow Megadeth Bloody Mary’ cos we thought it’d be lethal. It wasn’t. Load in then food – Bob the promoter had veggie/vegan chilli and tacos waiting for us and they were everything we could have hoped for.

The show was cool. Some familiar faces in attendance including our good pal Tommy Simpson, Adam formerly of Great Cop/Spoilers and Andrew Milk whose moustache is looking tremendous. The geezer from the Vaselines was there too. I probably don’t have to continue saying that Shit Present, Personal Best and Caves were ace and that I enjoyed their sets loads, but they were and I did.

After the show Huss and Phil parked the vans and we walked to our accommodation for the night: a hostel. Not just any old hostel though, a ‘VIP’ hostel with a ‘secret garden’ (also known in some parts of the country as a ‘smoking area’). It was one of my fave places I’ve stayed on tour I think. We were divvyd up into 2 ten bunk rooms and then all went exploring, most of us eventually ending up in the garden. Lou, Hamish and I discussed weird drum hardware – rack tom mounts that look like scaffolding etc – and forgotten 90’s uk indie bands – The 60ft Dolls, Seahorses, Mansun… it’s crazy what you’ll find at the back of your brain. Nicola proved once again that she is impervious to weed (seriously it’s nuts). Minty and I discussed GWAR and the death of their singer Dave Brockie (RIP Oderus). People started gradually ducking out to bed and a few of us stayed up a little longer. I’m not sure quite how we segued into it but Minty got on to telling us a fucked up tour story about seeing someone drunkenly swim across the Thames in Kingston on a hot sunny day, only to struggle and drown in the process, which the whole tour party witnessed. Ben SP let out a suitably horrified shriek, everyone finished their cider, then bedtime innit.

Edinburgh today, it’s still really lovely and warm and everyone in Scotland looks terrified of the big yellow thing in the sky, Nicola included. Maybe we’ll go to an old castle and a loch or something!! (spoiler: we totally do, come back tomoz.)

Specialist Subject Mega Tour, Day 3: Bristol – Liverpool.

Posted 9th May 2016

We had a customary breakfast at Cafe Kino, joined on our table by Kate from Personal Breakfast, Jen from Colour Me Breakfast, Sarah from Kate’s Breakfast and Daniel from Daniel vs the Breakfast. I can’t remember much of the conversation but I know She-Wee’s were discussed at length, as was urine generally. We had a group photo outside, only to look up and see Huss across the other side of the road looking glum that he had missed out.

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We set off to Liverpool slightly bummed that we’d missed out on meeting Sammy’s famous dog Pickle. Nicola, Dean and I listened to our latest round of album mixes in the van and got stoked. We took a pee stop where I purchased a bottle of water, bottle of Irn Bru and some gum for the reasonable price of eight squillion pounds (actually £5.17 but still what the fuck!) Jay tried to win a Kindle in one of those machine things. Dean bought a bouncy ball, he bounced it to Nicola who missed the catch and it ended up going into the tray of tomatoes and cucumbers at the service station’s buffet. Huss went over to do damage control learning that they would now have to replace the tray. We left post haste. Dean and El played more bounce in the car park where the ball hit someone’s wheels and later ended up dropping straight into Jay’s bag.

We got to Maguire’s Pizza Bar a little before the Caves and Shit Present party bus so sat out the back in the sun with a beer and quizzed one another on band related stuff. Caves and SP arrived and joined us, then we all ate really good pizza. Iona SP discovered her pot of honey she’d bought for her voice had exploded in her bag, pulling out a pouch of baccy to find a tampon stuck to the underside. Dean and I ordered pizza dogs, one vegan one veggie. When they came out I said mine was the one with ‘normal’ cheese. I was appropriately shut down.

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The show was a little on the quiet side but real fun all the same. First up was Pardon Us who were dead good, then Shit Present who settled in after some tuning/sound issues and were banging. Thom briefly mentioned Harry and the Potters during their set, prompting someone in attendance to say “They’ve got an oriental haven’t they?” which made everyone really uncomfortable. PB, then us. Just as Caves were about to play, Hamish opened up an old wound on his finger and started bleeding, improvising a temporary bandage with gaffer tape. I feel like everyone is starting to hit their stride now and it’s a pleasure getting to watch these 3 bands play every night. I’m sure I’ll get sick of it (deffo won’t).

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Us and PB stayed with Morgan from Pardon Us/Down and Outs and his partner Steph. Their flat is great and has so much cool stuff everywhere. The first thing I spotted was Braindead on VHS which instantly won Nicola over – She wrote her dissertation on the representation of female zombies in horror movies from 1930 to present, Braindead features in this and is also one of her fave ever movies. I hope you enjoyed this Doe fun fact.

We sat around for a bit drinking Carlsberg and green tea, listened to Jay play the banjo and Huss doing Kermit the Frog impressions and got the giggles for an hour. Doe and Kate shared a room, we all said goodnight to her in unison like creepy horror movie children and continued to giggle until we fell asleep.

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Tour makes me happy but also apprehensive because I fear at some point I’ll get bummed out out of nowhere and retreat into myself. Sometimes you just don’t know when it’s going to happen. The last tour we went on with Dogs On Acid I bought us all finger goblins in Norwich, a few days later in Sheffield I was close to tears when I lost my one (Kathleen Teadrinker got a good laugh out of it though.) This tour is so far so good and I’m really pleased to be with such nice people – I know nice is kind of a meh word but it feels fitting in this context. Remember, it’s important to be nice. I’ll give you that one for free. You’re welcome.

Glasgow today: Bis country and current home of Tommy Simpson. #tommysimpsonholdingdrinks.

Specialist Subject Mega Tour, Day 2: Deadpunk

Posted 8th May 2016

Wandered downstairs and sat in the living room for a bit, listening to the sweet sounds of El practicing for Dear Everyone’s set. Jay is ill with a throat/head thing that he feels is spreading down his back, which kind of sounds like he might be dying (spoiler: he’s not dying). The rest of us head over to the Stag whilst he goes on a mission to find a day clinic. He’s wearing a Lemuria patch so hopefully that means he will ‘get better’ (looool).

It’s only a little before 1pm when we get to Deadpunk and there’s already a billion (spoiler: not actually a billion) lovely familiar faces milling about including our mate Sammy working the door who we don’t get to see much. We managed to catch the last few Grand-Pop songs then went to find lunch. Nicola insisted she take a picture of Dean and I climbing on the shop front of Dick’s Climbing before we ducked into a sparse, union jack-clad cafe called Andy’s Sandwiches where we had what could loosely be described as ‘food’.

Got back to the Stag to see Jesus and his Judgemental Father play. We saw a few standard blokes leaving shaking their heads during ‘Cis White Noise’ which was kind of apt (JahJF were pretty chuffed with that when we told them later.) Colour Me Wednesday were great as per and Dean and Nicola snagged an EP. Each one has an individually handmade collage cover, Dean’s one features Buffy and a potted plant, Nicola’s one a beach.

One of the main downsides I’ve always found to playing all-dayers is the temptation to drink seventeen beers before playing. Somehow I managed to resist that urge, opting for one before and one during. I was unexpectedly nervous as shit and I think that made it all the more enjoyable. I honestly think it was one of my favourite shows ever ever ever. Everyone in the room was on point and I spotted some friendly faces including Zach Potentials and Laura Ankles down the front giving it large. We played our super special secret cover too and it was fun as fuck.

The finer details of the rest of the afternoon are a little hazy because beer, but I remember Personal Best and Caves killing it. Also the Arteries were insane; we don’t have a bass (did you notice?) but if we ever needed one (we won’t so bassists please stop writing us) it might have to be Jamie… I’ve never seen someone flail around so maniacally whilst still hitting all the notes with such precision. Oh and there was a dude in a Buffy t-shirt and Sammy and Dean were so jelly that they both hopped on Etsy and bought the same one. I wonder if he’ll get commission?

In summary, Deadpunk was great and Dave Campbell (nee Brent) did a pretty remarkable job as always, running the whole thing like a well-oiled machine whilst just about keeping the vein in his temple from exploding. After it all ended we went back to Warren’s and sat around talking about accents and admiring the cat. Jay told us of his 2 hour wait to see a doctor only to be told that he’s fine. Then we went to bed.

10am: Dean is saying “We went to get veggie patties yesterday too, they were dope, shout out patties.” Nicola is saying “Is my outfit too cliche?” – she’s wearing a Bikini Kill shirt and a tartan skirt and she looks ace. Liverpool today but Kino breakfast first. Tour is great.

Specialist Subject Mega Tour, Day 1: London – Manchester – Bristol

Posted 7th May 2016

Woke up to dead nice weather and a trip to the doctors due to an all over body rash, possibly caused by the dead nice weather. Spent the rest of the morning speed-rolling our new shirts into handy size labeled bundles whilst watching Frasier (all the punx are doing it, maybe not the Frasier part). Dean came over to help but just ended up dropping Nicola’s sandwich on the floor. Nicola still ate it… most of it. Personal Best came to pick us up in their tour mobile which is named ‘Eugene’. Everyone used the loo, I forgot to take the bin out, you only YOLO once.

In the PB van there is a ‘one veto’ rule: everyone is allowed to veto just one song from the radio a day and Huss or Kate PB will change the station. Dean vetoed ‘500 miles’ by the Proclaimers within the first 5 seconds because he thought it was something else. It stayed on though, complete with Nicola singing along in an exaggerated accent of her people (the Scots, FYI). We giggled at a guy out the window that looked a bit like Harrison Ford, El and Jay PB painted their nails, then the heat naps washed across the middle row thick and fast.

First pee stop: Nicola and Kate got Callypos, Huss and Jay got frothy soy iced coffee things, and Dean got freaked out by a guy in a Merc who tried to flog him some stuff from the boot (he also asked if Dean’s nail varnish was ‘gothic’). Second pee stop: we ran into Caves and Shit Present at the petrol station, lots of hugs and a couple of introductions. The toilet is pube city, one of those ones where you can’t lift the lid without shaking hands with someone else’s piss.

We get to Retro Bar and there’s an Ecuadorian cultural night going on upstairs with food that smells great and cover bands who I’m sure also smell great but I daren’t ask. Speedy load in just in time to watch Crumbs play (v good). PB next and then us, we were rusty as fuck but the set was fun, I think? Nicola had some stage bants about bloke-heavy bills and her period which had decided to arrive the day before. First time seeing Shit Present and they were wonderful. Thom SP mentioned that during our set everyone upstairs was going nuts for a guy playing recorder… I mean who wouldn’t? Caves = blinding, I wish I had Lou’s guns, Minty’s hair and Hamish’s Hamish.

Load out, Ecuadorians still partying hard. We get late night mexican food and Huss powers on through to Bristol. We are greeted by a jetlagged but lovely Warren from Grand-Pop. He shows us to our respective sleeping places and tells us there’s a cat that might pop it’s head in and tap us on the face. That’s just fine.

It’s 9.44am and there’s no sign of this cat (EDIT 9.49am just seen it, it’s called Little Man and it’s really fluffy.) DeadPunk today and so many good bands OMG etc etc.

Jake x

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Nicola Leel)

Posted 3rd February 2016

2015: A Year’s Worth of Memories (Nicola Leel)

Deadpunk 2016

Posted 15th January 2016

We’re headed back to Bristol in May to play Deadpunk alongside a ton of excellent bands!

Advanced tickets are now on sale so get them while they’re cheap. http://www.exchangebristol.com/…/7-may-16-deadpunk-special…/