Sat. 18 Sept The new version of Exit Hellsville arrived yesterday. The new cover looks great. It was designed by Cormac Figgis, he took the photos came up with the design, got it all sorted out. Canadian label The Beautiful Music are taking care of business for us on that side of the Atlantic and they wanted a new sleeve, so they got one. The gig down at the Mezz is a good one. We got Danny Monaghan joining in on lap-steel. Its good to change things around a bit every now and then. Try out some new sounds, see what works and what doesn't.
Mon. 20 Sept Dublin..... Exit Hellsville goes into the record shops. Same price as before, but it looks better. Post off a box to Canada, and a few other packages go out to Music Mags. in the US and Holland. Brian calls around and we drink a pot or 3 of coffee and then go for pints to a local bar, Mother Reilly's in Rathmines. Phone calls to the US takes up a while later in the evening. "Wisconsin Death Trip" is worth watching....saw it the other day. Reckon I'll get a song out of it.
Wed. 22 Sept Waterford......Not big on bestsellar type novels, but my missus gave me Holy Fools by Joanne Harris and said I'd like it. Set in seventeenth-century France against a backdrop of witch trials, regicide, religious frenzy and carnival life, it's entertaining enough to keep my mind occupied on a day when I'm on the road for seven hours. Three hours to get there, four to get back. The review from The New Statesman compares Harris's prose style to that of Angela Carter, who is one of my favourite writers, especially her short stories. Wonderfully twisted gothic (faery) tales. The plague, executions, dark sexual fantasies, vampires, carnivals. Angela is no longer with us, and I've read everything she wrote. Joanne Harris is no substitute, but she's a good writer in her own right.There's no PA at Greyfriars Arts Center. A bit of a fuck up on their behalf. Eat chocolate and strawberry cake. Eventually the PA arrives. Pauline Bewick paintings are on exhibition, some fetch up to twenty-seven grand ! Wish I could get that for a gig. Photos are taken etc..etc.
Thurs. 23 Sept Bray, Co. Wicklow.........Seaside towns always seem to have a hidden agenda and Bray is no different in this respect. It can be heavy on the streets here and I nearly got a punch thrown at me last week. The Atmospheric Bar is right beside the train station and although the staff are cool and the bar itself looks good you never can tell what sort of a lunatic is going to walk in. Tonight, more than a few people seem to appreciate what I'm doing, so there's no agro.Back in town at new venue Crawdaddy, I hook up with Steve, Joe and in fact all of the Walls band. Later, it's off to the Portobello, where I haven't been in about 2 years. Back at my place me and Joe play records 'til dawn.Sat. 25 Sept According to my black notebook (which I consult every morning) I'm supposed to go to Cork, but I've changed my mind. I'm entitled to do that....................
In Whelan's I meet Jimmy (on the way to rehearsals) and on and on we go. A new harmonica sets me back 25Euro and Smokey Robinsons "Going to a Go Go" on 7 inch vinyl sets me back 3.99. Having spent time in a few bars, including one with fat goldfish swimming around under the perspex floor, me and Åsa are at home with an empty vodka bottle, and a half full Tequilla bottle. Get a phone call from my old friend, semi-famous painter Ger Sweeny who is in town, needs a place to stay etc. etc. Later, having a piss on Fleet St (up against the wall) along come the coppers and I'm almost arrested. Don't they have something better to do? Our corrupt government are trying to sneak in a Public Order Offence bill in a few weeks where the pigs can give you an on the spot 100Euro fine, at their discretion if they think your a 'bad citizen'..... and they're talking about closing bars earlier too. What's this poxy country coming to???
Tues. 28 Sept Been sick the past few days, bad throat, fever.....feel like I've been in a car crash ! Get an offer of a few gigs in Switzerland but unfortunately they clash with gigs in Ireland that can't be rescheduled. A Belgian radio station are looking for a copy of "Exit Hellsville" as are Clare FM in the west of this emerald Isle, so a trip to the post office is undertaken. This also means I can stock up on Rubex, a phial of Guarana and other goodies from the chemist. It's been a while since I invested in a Vitamin B12 injection. A few years back we were heading off on a 2 week tour of Holland and Denmark and I got a B12 jab from my doc, and I felt great. It was the depths of winter, freezing cold and although the van we had was in good nick I wasn't taking any risks getting the flu.
I've been in Ireland now for 12 weeks, the longest time without leaving the country for a few years. I enjoy being home, but it's beginning to wear thin. So I booked a flight to NYC. A few gigs are lined up for New York and New Jersey.
Thurs. 30 Sept According to my black notebook (see Sat 25 above) I'm supposed to be in Munich, but I'm in Bray instead. Those German dates were cancelled a few weeks back but not tippexed out. I'll re-schedule them for early 2005 I think. I'll try, that's all that can be done. Austria too. Anyway, after the gig I'm getting all these frantic text messages and calls from Stef Hanvey, whose new album is ready to roll. My phone is on the blink, on it's last legs, royally fucked, one foot in the grave, ready to meet it's maker, ready to meet Elvis, heading for the scrap yard, it keeps breaking down....so he has to keep calling me back.
On Dawson St I bump into Dave from Trip Hazzard who gives me a copy of his bands great new EP. We chat a bit and eventually meet a very wired Stef. A few drinks later we're back at my place and around 5 am he disappears. I turned around and he was gone !! Haven't heard from him since. Bermuda Triangle vibe methinks.
Fri. 31 Sept Dublin......When mobile phones break down, everything slows down. This is a fact. OK? Eventually get my ticket to the States sorted, hear we're on the radio in Canada and its good to be the eternal optimist. A naggen of vodka washed down with Coke (the real thing, not the choice of the new generation), followed by a few Guinness, tequila courtesy of some guy whose birthday is being celebrated and its time for some live music.
At the Mezz Bar to see Kieran McEvoy's band we hook up with Mado (Alan Madigan) Racketeers guitarist 1996-2000, currently residing in Spain. Bob is there, and the taxi ride home is a vague memory. A good time was had by all.
Wed. 6 Oct Gillian Welch's 'Soul Journey' album is close to perfect. It's been on a lot these past few weeks, and seems to be a suitable backdrop to this windy Autumn weather we have in Dublin at the moment. First time I heard it was after sound check on a very wet and humid summers evening in Waldhut-Tiengen, Germany. Different weather conditions and different head-space. Another wonderful Autumn LP is Van Morrison's 'Hard Nose The Highway.' Gonna have to dig that one out and put on 'Snow in San Anselmo' and be transported off to .......someplace else.
Other stuff I've been listening to is Janie Jones 'House of the Ju Ju Queen' (backed up by the Clash circa 1979), Tift Merritt 'Bramble Rose' Mercury Rev 'Little Rhymes' from their 'All is Dream' album. Also Lee Dorsey, Lee Hazelwood's '13' and a Tony McMahon LP from way back.Played down at the Ruby Sessions last night. The set went down really well. Boy, do they pay attention to every note! ! First time I was nervous on stage in a long time.
Thurs. 7 Oct I'm on the phone trying to get the next few months of my life sorted. Eventually track down Mick Morrissey in Germany and he's thinking of bringing a band over to Ireland, and I'm looking into some German dates for myself in 2005. Bump into Klarkey (ex-Racketeers drummer, 1997-2000) now resident in Helsinki and he's got tales of playing in about four bands and a bit of gossip from that city that I've played so many gigs in.
Play a 'pay the rent' gig in Bray County Wicklow, and afterwards I drop in to the nappers' birthday bash in Mother Redcaps pub. Meet up with Swifty and a few folk who say they know me, but my memory seems to get worse and worse all the time. I used to take pride in the fact that I never forgot a face, but these days I'm afraid I have to admit the booze has fucked with my brain big time. At least I can still turn out a good tune every few days. Earlier I played a new one at my gig. It could be called 'Queen of the Night' but then again I might change it's title to 'Rosaleen'. It's about Australian painter and witch Rosaleen Norton.
Wed. 27 Oct Up early, but feeling good. In fact, feeling a lot better than the past few days. A good few gigs have been played this past while (since the last entry) and there's been a lot of late late nights. Falling into bed at 7am, that kind of thing. But it's all part of the job. Gate crashed a wrap-party for some movie with Foxy a few nights back after a gig, got a few free CD's, the Walls new single, Pete PAMF's excellent album.
Visited a few peoples houses for parties. At one house Tarot was read, and at another I smashed a chair. A few hours later, and very hung-over, I was picked up in a taxi and whizzed down to do an interview with Newstalk FM 106 on the Arts and Entertainment Show.Today there's a storm brewing outside. We've been told by the weather forecast people to expect floods, fallen trees, ferry cancellations and structural damage !! It's wet and windy, Autumn leaves whipping up against the window, streets deserted. The day got off to a good start with the offer of two trips to Switzerland for early 2005. Alton Ellis on the stereo, coffee in hand and a few new half written songs scattered about the flat deserving attention.
Fri. 29 Oct Played Bray last night. Another gig, another fist-full of cash. Collect the new ( eamonn racketeer) posters, designed by Cormac Figgis. They look great and will be used to publicize the up-coming solo gigs in North Arlington N.J., New York, Sligo and Holland. We'll probably get band posters with a similar design soon.A million phone calls later and I still seem to be getting nowhere, so its open the wine and stick on the Thin Lizzy documentary.
Sat. 30 Oct. Just about to kick into the first song of the night at Annesely House when Mado comes up to the stage to say 'hello.' He was with the band '96 - '01 but we had dealings going back a lot longer than that. Lives in the South of Spain these days. He's got a bunch of people with him too. The sound is crap early on, but things improve. At the end of the gig, Alan gets up and plays with us...we do a version of Bob's "All Along the Watchtower." Afterwards I pick up Åsa and with Mado and Mercedes we have late late drinks down at the Harcourt Hotel, hiding away in a back room until 4 a.m. Some folks from the gig are there. Irish ladies sniffing around, getting nowhere. A crap bartender who can't get the drinks out quick enough. Back at home The Birthday Party end up on the turntable and a bottle of wine is opened.