Friday, 6 December 2002

'I Don't Know You Anymore’ Tour.... Oct/Nov/Dec 2002

Wed Oct 2 Up early and out to the Airport, sharing the taxi with Brian O Toole (bass) and pick up Chris Teusner (drums). Get over-priced crap food in the airport and catch the flight down to Zurich. From there the train out to Solothurn, and the sleepy little town Biberist is next. The PA has yet to arrive, so its 'hello' to Chris from Cardiff, the gentleman who manages the place, and 'hello' to Dutch Mark, the bar-man and maker of EXTRAORDINARY cocktails. Eat dinner, and after sound check have a beer. Have a little nap and wake up growling like a dog....or a wolf!!! Some shamanic connection with my totem animal!!??!! Should stop reading books on chaosmagick!! The gig is fine, we'll get the sound better tomorrow.

Thurs 3 Solothurn........Went for a bit of a ramble around town. Got some fruit in the supermarket and had a walk down by the river. There's a nice crowd in for the gig. People who like to listen, some of whom saw us here last time. Our version of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" is working out well, and getting to play Louisiana Red's "Alabama Train" every night is great. The Guinness isn't bad in this place, believe it or not.

Fri 4 After ice-tea we take the short train ride into Solothurn for a wander around. Its bright and sunny and we grab a coffee in the square. Later we have a beer or two and check out some shops. Find Mr. Boomerang's shop. This guy sells, what else, but boomerangs....AND very strong weed!!. We have a chat and later that night he shows up at the gig. Afterwards we head downstairs to the nightclub for cocktails, mines a tequila sunrise, and a few bottles of Carlsberg for desert.

Sat 5 Biberist.......Wake up, pop on the walkman (I'm still in cassette world) and listen to Johnny Burnett, The Stones, Bobby Helms ("Tennessee Rock 'n' Roll") Clarence Carter, Anne Peebles.........Back in Solothurn we check out this huge warehouse we'd heard of on the edge of town. It's packed full of second-hand clothes, records , household appliances, old Hammond organs, turntables, obsolete computer games. Buy nothing, get caught in the rain, and Chris buys a big gong (!) to summon people to the dinner table!!! Tonight is the big party night, another band are on upstairs, we're on in the downstairs bar, DJ in the basement and the place is packed. A bit shattered afterwards.

Sun 6 Up after 2 hours horizontal, train to Zurich, and change our money from Swiss Franks into Euro at the airport. A rather eccentric American tourist is doing his best to jump the queue and get onto the plane before everybody else, only he's got a ticket to Rome. "Where's my plane, where's my plane" he's shouting.

Fri 25 Dublin.........With the single "I Don't Know You Anymore" getting played on the radio, we gotta do a gig at home. So, the Rumble Club it is. Its a Bank Holiday weekend, so a lot of people have fucked off down the country, AND there's gale force winds outside. We rattle through the set and Foxy plays some wild guitar and its all very non-eventful. Goodnight!

Thurs 31 It's one of those small planes that gets us to Stockholm in one piece, and I meet gig-promoter/ex TV star Smiley Bolger on the flight. Have a chat and a few red wines. Chris pulled out at the last minute leaving us in a very fucked-up situation. After the trek in from the airport we have dinner and get lost on the way to Rehnssgatan, where the imaginatively titled 'Hotel B&B' is. Do an acoustic gig and its crap. Big sleep.

Fri Nov 1 Stockholm.........Trying to read a novel set in pre-civil war America, but it's not that great. Sleep some more. Go for a ramble with Brian and Cian, and end up in Gamlastan, the old part of the city. Find an amazing record shop, real collector stuff. Come across old Joe Dolan records!!! Buy shades for 3 SK. Tonight Neil Martin (originally from Limerick, but living here) stands in on drums. Bjorn and Cari, who I met in Thailand last Spring, have traveled up from Malmo to see us. We have a few drinks together. Also Brigitte and Ulf have flown down from way up north, can't remember the name of the town, but it's over an hour by plane.

Tonight they see us, tomorrow they go to the Opera !! We need a few late drinks and that's what we have. Its Hallow'een, and stopping off for noodles at the 7 Eleven on the way to the Hotel we meet Satan, looking splendid in black cape, little horns a la Anton La Vey, and a bright bright red face. Brian has a chat with hero...Satan.

Sat Nov 2 Had a bit of a row with the booking agent on the phone and told Teusner to fuck off via text message. Not a good start to the day. Afternoon drinks in a local bar, and many tales of madness and excess from Brian and Cian cheer me up. Cian had spent a couple of months in Thailand last year with another band and got badly ripped off, so we have lots to talk about. Get dinner, and no more drinks for the rest of the evening. H2O for me throughout the gig., and it's hard work.

Sun 3 Stockholm....Back in Dublin, Åsa turns on Phantom FM and they're playing the single. Check my emails and got on the boat that brings us across the Baltic sea to Finland, an 18 hour sailing. It's the Silja Line, and altogether more civilized boat than the old Viking Line. The lads go out partying, but I crash early.

Mon 4 It's good to be back in Helsinki. All the usual head-cases. A bit of snow, it's bitter cold, and I phone Hank who is our drummer for the week. We get the gear up to the rehearsal room and he can remember the old stuff since the tour we did together around this time last year. We run through some new songs and pack it in after a couple of hours.

Down at Molly Malone's, our home for the week, we get set up. Klarky (ex-drummer) appears. Now resident in Helsinki, his set-up, Fresh TV, are putting together a documentary on the band, so he's filming everything. The gig is great...that's the strange thing about Helsinki, even Monday night gigs are great. Meet up with Marlene, who used to live in Dublin for a while. She's in great form and now manages a bar down town. Head over to On The Rocks, the late club across the road, for a night-cap.

Tues 5 Helsinki.......Check out some guitar shops, and fall for a Squire, but the 775Euro price tag brings me to my senses. Have to walk around town and down to the docks getting filmed for the documentary. Get some micro-waved food into me and do the gig. Cian Loughnan is such a wonderful mandolin and fiddle player, it's a joy to be on stage with him. He and Brian know each other from way back, so there's an instant vibe. Hank is playing better than ever too.

My old friend, poet, musician and madman, Davey McAree arrives in with a present of a crate of Lapin Kulta (beer) for me. Well, we'll have to drink it after the gig. So, it's up to the apartment, and Ari arrived in with a lady. They have a shag and then join us for drinks. The conversation gets around to tattoos, and Ari's bird shows us the huge eagle which completely covers her back, from her shoulders down to her ass. Somebody asks how she got the huge scar on her arm, and she tells us her body-builder husband did it to her. She's got metal pins holding the bones together.

Wed 6 I meet a perplexed and worried Ari in the morning...he's more than a little bit worried that his lady's husband may come after him and kill him! Find a record shop and get a Mink De Ville CD for my honey. Find a second-hand store and get a great pin-stripe suit for 12Euro. What a bargain. I like a good bargain. Promptly get lost and back at H.Q. the boys have cooked a great pasta dinner. Eat and crash. Get up and do the gig which isn't as rocking as I'd expected. Drinks in the club across the road .

Thurs 7 Helsinki.......Take the 7A tram and meet up with Klarky who films me in an icy cold attic, where I do two new songs live, "Roll The Dice" and "You Make Me Feel". Have look at some of the footage he's filmed. Short interview with Laura Kestila. Later that night, Davey has another crate of Lapin Kulta, but we gotta pay this time!! It's great to have my Guild De Armond guitar with me. It's got a big Bigsby tremelo arm , and going through the Marshall, makes a big fat growl. (We've been sorted out with a great back-line). Some of the gig is filmed plus post gig lunacy.

Friday 8 A long walk around town. Strangely, I feel at home here. As I stand at the bar getting a drink before we go on, a customer passes out , but somehow hangs onto the bar and remains (almost) horizontal. A bar man asks me to hold on to him (no way!!)until security arrives, but what a SMELL. I nearly throw up. The guy has just shat himself. Is this a barring offence....I doubt it in this establishment. Davey is OUT OF IT, but still gets up to play accordion with us AND he's great. Jarno hangs out with us. Upstairs we drink 'til 7 am, stories of pirate radio, long-forgotten lunatics, geniuses, Mannix Flynn, Aiden Walshe, Rory Jones...............................

Sat 9 Helsinki...... I'm interviewed in a bar by Laura Kestila, and she asks some very awkward questions. Eat some food and go back to bed. The gig is packed and Hanks friend Moza joins us to play guitar. Later Jarno joins us too.

Sun 10 It's good to have a chat with Irish Mick again, didn't see much of him during the week, but I fill him in on all the gossip. He's falling around the place at the stories from Thailand. After the gig, Hank insists we go to a club of his choice, and we end up in (I think) the Helsinki Club. Lig into the VIP room, where Cian learns what v.i.p. stands for. Yes, very important person....he never knew that before!!!???!!! What about CIA, the ESB bill, or even the AIB !! With Hank, the conversation drifts to conspiracy theories, politics, quantum physics, chaosmagick, shamanism........MORE BEER!

Mon 11 Get the money, everybody gets paid, the back-line goes back and we catch the ferry to Stockholm, stocking up on wine, and food. I hate it when they take your photo as you board the ship and then expect you to BUY this photo of yourself that you didn't want taken in the first place, so I robbed mine.Tues 12 Lots of snow in Stockholm. We've a long boring wait at the airport. A few red wines on the flight home help take the edge off reality.

Monday, 8 April 2002

'12 Below Zero Tour' December 2001 - April 2002

Wed Dec 26 Early morning. Rise and no shine. Out of Dublin airport and catch a flight to Zurich. I’m drinking red wine but notice that some people across from me have champagne, so I want some of that too, mixed with vodka, well it IS Christmas! I had ordered a vegetarian breakfast but it didn’t come. At Zurich we catch the train. One of those great Swiss double-decker trains, bang on time and great comfort. I’m having a beer when I get a text message from Cosmic Martin in Dublin wishing us luck on the tour.

A few hours later we arrive in Biberist. There’s no one to pick us up do we walk a couple of hundred yards in the snow to the bar. Chris is already there having flown in from London earlier. The manager of the place, a man from Cardiff, also called Chris, makes us feel welcome and we have dinner. We’re all a little bit tired, but the gig is good and the PA is fine. Afterwards we have a few drinks to wind down.

Thurs Dec 27 Manager Chris takes us in to Solothurn, and we get a beer and some spicy wedges for breakfast. Take a ramble ‘round town. Paul’s is trying to extract money from a bank machine so I amuse myself throwing snowballs at him. It’s real cold, so we find a small bar and have an other beer. Back to Biberist we have dinner and a lie down before the gig. Good sound. The monitors are spot on. We sell some cd’s and everybody seems to be in real good form.

Fri 28 There’s talks of going to Bern, or maybe up the mountains, but it’s raining all day, so we forget about it and stay indoors. The gig is great. Barman Mark, keeps us well supplied. Afterwards I fall asleep on the bar and miss Neil falling down stairs.

Sat 29 Biberist......Feel a bit rough. Spend most of the day in bed. Ramble to a local shop for fruit and get great chocolate. Drink lots of ice-tea. Listen to Nikki Sudden on my Walkman. Good gig.

Sun 30 DEC Go for a long walk to the outskirts of the town, out to see some great old farmhouses, geese, dogs, chickens. Back to bed for a while. The gig is a fairly laid-back affair. Go downstairs to the nightclub afterwards for a tequila sunrise. Get paid with a huge ruskie dog watching me as I count the cash.

Mon 31 DEC Biberist (Switzerland).......Get up after 1.5 hours sleep, and Welch Chris has slept in, and his phone is off, so we have to trudge through the snow to the train station at 5 am. Get there on time. On to Solothurn, where we change trains, and on to Zurich, which looks beautiful at that time in the morning, sunrise and snow-covered Alps.

Sleep a bit on the plane, and I’m home in Dublin by 2 pm, but can’t sleep. So I grab something to eat and head down to Whelans for sound-check. I’m playing with top rockabilly outfit, Seanie Foy and The Original Sinners, and it’s a big New Years Eve bash. Neil is here as well and he's playing fiddle with The Walls. We all party till 4 am. I need to crash out!

Tues Jan 1 Dublin.....New Years Day…go down to a local pub, Roddy Bolands, for a few pints. It’s the first day of the Euro, so there’s great confusion. Later I cook a big pasta dish for Åsa, her sister and Kevin from New Jersey. I go for a lie down around 10pm, but can’t sleep at all.

Wed 2 I’m up and out at the airport by 5 am and on a flight to London. I fucking hate Ryan Air, they try and charge us £300 for being overweight. The check-in bitch even weighs our hand luggage!!!! We complain to the main Ryan Air desk, but nobody gives a fuck. I tell the bitch I’ve decided to travel without my luggage, so get it back for me and I’ll let somebody else bring it over to Denmark on a later Aer Lingus flight. She says she can’t get it back, as it’s checked in. A row ensues, but I get my boarding pass and we don’t pay the excess.

In London the plane is frozen so we have to wait for ages to get our baggage and our gear. Eventually we get to Esberg, Denmark, and take the train to Copenhagen. Get there at 9pm. Gig at 10pm. Our friend Emma from Longford shows up. Get a text message reminding me it’s my birthday! I’d forgotten. What a way to spend you're birthday, argueing with Ryan Air staff .....14 hours travelling...After the gig we discovered the apartment we’re staying in is a complete kip. Shower doesn’t work, it’s cold… one particular member of the band (not Chris!!!) goes mental kicking shit out of the fridge and tries to smash up the washing machine. A heater gets fucked out the window.....

Thurs 3 Copenhagen.......The people who have us playing here don’t give a fuck about the accommodation situation. Spend time looking for hotels. Chris has developed big blisters on his feet. I think he's been playing drums in his stockings again. The gig is crap. Everybody in bad form.

Fri Jan 4 Taxi to Nordensten Hotel and check in. everybody is complaining about everything, so I grab a quick shower and fuck off. Visit the world famous erotic museum. Later, the gig is o.k. People are dancing!

Sat 5 Up by midday, and check out some shops. I enjoy myself rambling around Copenhagen. Last time we were here was '98. Buy a pair of boots for 1050 Dk. Makes some phone calls. See lots of ice-skaters on the frozen river. Back to the hotel to relax before the gig, which is a good one.

Sun 6 Get news tonight’s gig is cancelled.

Mon 7 Copenhagen......Check out of the hotel and go for a ramble. Later, have drinks with Chris in the Moose, a great bar-I wish I discovered it earlier. Have a drink in Copenhagen train station and then hop on the train. Change at Malmö. Take the midnight train to Stockholm (not Georgia). Beds, but no bar.

Tues 8 Arrive into Stockholm at 6.30am. Hang around till 9 waiting on info about the Hotel. Eventually we get the phone number of the place we’re staying in. It’s close by but difficult to locate. After a while trudging around in the snow we find it. Everybody crashes out, but I head off down town. At the Dubliner, where we play tonight, there’s a new PA and a bass amp that looks half decent. Find a nearby café and have lunch- a veggie pasta. They’ve got Marley on the stereo and I read Wired magazine which runs an article on T-Shirts impregnated with vitamin C! You wear the shirt and the vitamin C gets into your system.

Crash out at the Hotel and have dinner at 8. A fairly uneventful gig. Afterwards I meet up with Shane from a band called Sons of Roisin and we have a few late drinks, and there’s a bit of a session.

Wed Jan 9 We check out late, and drive on out to Västerås. When we get there the place we are to play in is closed, so theres an hour or so of hanging around. Find a payphone and use my call card to make a call. Explore the town. The gig is quiet and the PA is crap. Afterwards we drive straight to Eskilstuna.

Thurs 10 Eskilstuna.......I need something to read and the only available newspaper in English is the Daily Telegraph. A bit right wing, as I walk down to the little café for my pasta with pesto sauce lunch. I ate here last August…can’t remember the name of the place.

Look at some record shops, but it’s all chart crap. Back to bed reading Delmore Schwartz short stories and fall asleep. Then, up at 6, collect a call from the missus and have dinner. With Neil, I watch a genuinely scary Discovery Channel documentary on extraterrestrials and the whole Area 52 conspiracy. After the gig I meet up with some people who had last seen us play here in ’97 !

Fri Jan 11 Drive to Stockholm, picking up a coffee along the way. There’s snow everywhere. The dark, gray Swedish winter skyline is the perfect backdrop as I listen to Dylan’s “Love and Theft” on the Walkman. Back in Stockholm we check out some iguanas and other lizards in a pet shop.

Big dangerous chunks of ice and snow are falling off the rooftops and some of the footpaths are blocked off. (Later I learn, a girl was killed last night on the way to the cinema when melting ice fell from a rooftop and hit her on the head.) Down at the gig it takes them a while to get going. I’m drinking Red Bull, and later Guinness.

Afterwards I walk back to the Hotel with a limping Chris. Still got blisters on his feet from Copenhagen. Stop off at the 7 Eleven for noodles. Witness a loud-mouthed American making a collect call to the States. He’s shouting on about how he’s in the best University in Europe and he need funds sent over quickly. The guy is all decked out in shorts, T-Shirt and obligatory baseball cap. It’s minus 9 degrees Celsius outside. Beside him stands an Asian hippy that’s so out of it he keeps missing his mouth, so his food is falling all over the floor. Further up the road Chris spots a good photo opportunity. Through the window of a gym we can see a guy peddling away on his exercise bike, panting and sweating, giving it loads. I’m outside with my noodles. It’s 4.30am. Click!! Only in Sweden!

Sat 12 Stockholm.....Sleep all day. Get up at 7pm. We have a good gig.

Sun 13 Take the Silja Line Ferry to Finland. It’s a big posh ship, very much like what I’d imagine a space station to be like. We used to take the Viking Ferry’s before. Mad ships indeed. But this one is all very civilized. Get a bottle of red wine from the Duty Free. One nightclub pounds out techno; in the other one I see a dance troupe with big furry boots.

Mon 14 Arrive into Helsinki with a bad stomach. Down at Molly’s, June sorts me out with a vodka liqueur. When I go to send a postcard I realize we are in Euro land! Goodbye to the Finnish Mark, and welcome to the United States of Europe.

Sleep for the afternoon. The gig is very enjoyable, even dreamlike. It was over before I knew what was happening. Nice to have a listening audience as opposed to a stumbling around drunken audience. Play lots of new material and it goes down well.

Tues Jan 15 Helsinki......Up early and visit the Thai Consulates office to get our work permits sorted. Chris has problems here as he doesn’t have the required 6 months minimum left on his passport. Last night Neil was having some problems with his fiddle so I hang out with him in a music store while the fiddle visits the doctor. I spend the time playing very expensive Guild guitars. Find a really good Peavey tube amp.

Later, it’s up to Black and White Records, a GREAT (mostly vinyl) record shop. I buy LP’s by Fats Domino, John Cooper Clarke, Son Volt, Howlin’ Wolf, and Warren Smith. The gig is real good, and Miro arrives down, so it’s across to the club- On the Rocks, directly across the road for late drinks. We get the bargirl to play the Stones, The Clash and Deep Purple on the stereo.

Wed 16 Bit of a hangover. Down to the Thai Consulate AGAIN. Pick up our stamped passports. Visit the fish market. In the newsagent I flick through some top class Scandinavian porn magazines, and check my e-mails. I'm always happy hanging around in Helsinki. We've been here about eight or nine times now. Tonight’s gig is packed but it takes them a while to get into it. Chris has got vertigo and keeps thinking he’s going to fall off the drum-stool. A girl right up at the front is the spitting image of Queen Victoria, and I find this a bit unnerving.

Thurs 17 Call down to another favourite record shop of mine - Finnica, and buy a rockabilly compilation, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf (another one) and a blues compilation especially for a Leadbelly track “Notedrider”. Checking The Walls Website, I see Steve refers to me as “belligerent.” I get a name-check in his Biography. The gig is a good rocking one, with Chris wearing earplugs for some of it, which only means he hits the drums even harder.

Fri Jan 18 Get a text message to say our old friend Cosmic Martin has had a heart attack, but thankfully he’s going to be ok. I send him a ‘hang on in there/get well soon’ message. We have a really good gig. The place is packed. On “Hard Times” I change the phrasing around and after all this time the lyrics seem to make sense to me. Neil responds with an INCREDIBLE fiddle solo. We have a couple of guests. Henrik, who has played drums on a few tours’, is in the house, so he gets up to play on two songs. For the encore we do “Knocking on Heavens Door”, and Jarno gets up to play guitar. A really good night. Thank you Helsinki.

Sat 19 JAN Not as good as last night. The place is full, but everybody is fairly out of it. (That’s the audience, not us!) We have our moments.

Sun 20 JAN Drop into the bar around teatime, and Mad Madeleine gets me a Guinness. Have a few drinks with Buddy and Mick. Some things never change. Buddy STILL wants to buy my boots. The black ones with the big buckles. Not for sale. We play the gig and it’s a laid back one. We’re all tired. Get the money. Go to sleep.

Mon 21 JAN Alarm clock assault at 4am to catch the flight home via London. At Dublin airport they don’t want to let (Australian) Chris into the country as his work permit expired months ago. Eventually he appears, a bit freaked out, and understandably so.

After a few days at home we’re off again. Fly Dublin-London-Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). We have a few hours in Kuala Lumpur so I have a beer or two with Chris. Onwards to Phuket, a small island at the south of Thailand. It’s 37°C on our day of arrival. Take a taxi for the one hour drive out to Patong, a small sea-side town on the west coast of the island. The following night we play the first of 14 nights in a row. The bar is along by the sea front, right across the road is the beach. By day, populated predominantly by Australian, Swedish, German and U.K tourists. By night ladyboys ramble around offering cheap blow-jobs to naïve tourists. The food is great and the heat intense. Our hotel, The Lamai Inn is a short walk away. Our only connection with western civilisation is the BBC World News on the hotel room TV. Thai soap operas exist in a reality tunnel of their own. All day long, all you hear from the market people and the hustlers is, “Where you fom”? “…..” Where you go?”…..”Hey Elwis Pwesley”. …..We moved down to Bangla Road, a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on acid! It’s the street where all the mad bad bars are. A few doors down is the place where all the lady-boys do their dancing and have their photo taken by tourists and pick up clients. It’s wall-to-wall hookers, lunatics and lady-boys here on Bangla Road!! Nobody needs a license to drive a motorbike, and there’s millions of them. Even 12-year-old kids drive scooters down here. One million people in Thailand were injured in road accidents last year. Everybody’s got something to sell - . sex, cigarettes, fake Rolex watches, fake Nike runners, naked lady lighters…..”How much you wanna pay mista?” “I fuck you now for free, you pay later”……"Love you LONG time”.

Neil buys a big cowboy hat and I buy a lot of mad coloured shirts, big black shades, and, eventually a tailor made suit!!!! The monotony is broken up by Chris having a seizure one evening in the hotel and we have to call a doctor. It was brought on by exhaustion and sleep deprivation and we cancel the gig. Two days later Paul is in a car crash and received 18 stitches in his head. Severed an artery too, so he’s lucky to be alive. The show must go on, so he plays the next couple of nights sitting on a stool, huge bandage on his head, knocking back painkillers by the gob full.

Web-master supreme, Åsa Kärrman came down for a visit and on days off we took a speedboat to Raya Island. Drank beers on the beach, ate great food, walked through the jungle and had a great time. An other day we went to Phi Phi Island and stayed in the poshest hotel there. Checked out some mad bars and mad restaurants with whole swordfish and sharks on ice. Bought some pirated cd’s, jewellery and presents. And on an other day off Paul checked out Bangkok. We got to meet people who had seen us play in Helsinki last year, we sold cd’s to people from all over the world. There were offers of gigs in Shanghai. On St Patrick’s Day the place was decked out in green, white and orange balloons and every head-case in Patong was in drinking green beer. Some of us were on the verge of insanity at least once. (I blame Mekong whiskey)

As the weeks went on, all manner of drinks would arrive at the stage. Beer, whiskey, tequila, vodka. I tried to keep in touch with the world by reading the Bangkok Post. But as usual, the papers carry mostly bad news, and I learned of the deaths of Spike Milligan and Waylon Jennings. We meet a lot of Canadians, Aussies, Swedes who come back night after night to see us. Our audience is 60% tourist, 40% hooker. As our nine-week stint is drawing to a close, the rains begin. It’s the start of the rainy season, and after 48 gigs in Phuket, a total of 70 since xmas, I’m on my way home. (Monday April 8 2002)