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 him....my 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.