Category: Diary

Andy Cairns Solo Acoustic Tour September 2014

Exchange, Bristol 10/09/2014

I was looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint. T? has a lot of close ties to the Bristol/Bath/Box area with recording studios being used (Real World, Moles) and lot of time spent there, our new album is produced by Bath resident, Tom Dalgety and of course there’s always the great gigs over the years in the different venues. My first time in the Exchange and it’s fantastic. Lovely small dark room and fine sound. It’s lovely to see Tony Wright (aka VerseChorusVerse) on the bill too.

The crowd is very affectionate and it helps me settle nerves as it’s always difficult to gauge just how to pitch these acoustic shows. Too much heads down playing and people mutter and head to the bar, too much chat and they can get restless for sounds.

Well, Bristol, thank you for your patience and warmth. I played for an hour forty-five and could have gone on longer. All the singing and support was very moving throughout and i was brought back to all those night out on the town round Bristol during the Infernal Love era. A wonderful part of the world and i can’t wait to go back.

The Moon Club, Cardiff 11/09/2014

Cardiff’s famous Womanby Street is home to the Moon club and on another, less sober, evening it would be tempting to stay on afterwards and get involved. I park at the Cardiff Arms park and on the way back to the venue take a sneaky look at the rugby pitch where Cardiff Blues play. Later that evening one of my long-time friends and Blues supporter, James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers joins me onstage for a version of Die Laughing and during the song i’m thrilled by how fantastic it sounds. The Manics ‘Futurology’ is one of my albums of the year and it’s always inspiring to have James around.

The venue is compact and the atmosphere is rowdy, sweaty and very, very loud. A good natured bunch you lot. The crowd was so close that at times i couldn’t hear myself over their singing and had tonnes of goose pimple moments during the set.I managed to chat to loads of people after the set, thank you so much for all your kind words and my apologies to the pocket in the crowd screaming for ‘Straight Life’, i’ll learn it for next time.

Another shout-out should go to another long-standing comrade of T?’s Mr Simon Philips from Newport who took a chance on booking us in TJ’s many years ago and has been a friend ever since. I should mention that he gave me a copy of an album his son has put together called Roaring South. It’s a splendid compilation of bands and it’s a cracker.  If you go to www.roaringsouth.bigcartel.com you can pick up a copy. It was hard to drag myself back to the car after the gig but i had to head off to the hotel. Big up to the Cardiff crowd for making this intimate gig so special.

The Bowery District, Reading 12/09/2014

We arrive at the Bowery District, Reading and realise it’s the downstairs bar of Sub 89, last gig Therapy? played in the city. As that was a fantastic gig, the signs look good for this evening. Being close to London means quite a few friends have made the trip so a big hello to Mark, Clare and Kiran for popping down.

This gig is the trickiest so far. It’s Friday, people just want to let their hair down and get fucked up and that means that even though the lairy crowd sings along there is also a lot of very pissed chat between songs. Still, they’ve paid their money and as long as they don’t spoil it for the others then that’s fine. Fortunately the bar is in the back of the venue so many of the weekend warriors can retire back there for libations leaving the front of the stage free from office gossip. Reading has history with T? as we played the famous Festival three years in a row and the last one in’94 was one of my personally favourite gigs of all time. It’s a good crowd tonight and in the end it’s sweet to have everyone singing and cheering along together.

Afterwards I drive through the carnage of a Friday night and it reminds me of a painting by Hieronymous Bosch.

Grey Stones, Sheffield 17/09/2014

I wasn’t expecting this…..Drunken dancing, mad pacing fans ranting and tables and chairs of people at the back smiling serenely. It had a wee bit of everything.I got the feeling that at any moment the gig could collapse into chaos. How do you reply to someone so drunk their words don’t even have an onomatopoeic familiarity?

It’s a great mix of punters and it’s one of the most surreal gigs on the tour but in a good way because everyone seems to be having the time of their lives. I throw in a cover of Being Boiled by The Human League, a Sheffield band who once played one of my favourite sets in the Belfast Ulster Hall. After the show I was moved by all the kind comments and friendliness.

Afterwards we head off to stay in Leeds with the legend that is Diamond Dave and try not to wake up his lovely wife Cathy while playing with his wee dog called Chaos.

Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton 18/09/2014

Been in Wolves many times and always had fun but never been in Slade rooms. Lovely gig and they done it up nice for us with low lighting and seats.

IMG_7952_WOLVES small1

It’s an absolutely amazing crowd and the feeling at times is more like theatre or stand up than a gig. I played a long set and felt so at ease on stage that i could’ve gone on all night. Tony Wright joined me for a version of Lunacy Booth which he nailed and i got to mention the family from Wolves that relocated to my hometown in the 70′s and who taught me all about their hometown.

IMG_7952_WOLVES small2

Also great to see three of the band Thirty Six Strategies at the gig. Amazing band, check them out if you get the chance and yours truly plays a wee bit of guitar on their last record. After the gig it’s off to bed with a glow knowing that i’ve just played one of my very favourite ever acoustic gigs. Thank you so much Wolverhampton.

The Wardrobe, Leeds 19/09/2014

I love Leeds and it’s an unfamiliar venue , The Wardrobe. Good turnout, very, very loud and shouting for all kinds of obscure numbers. It’s a mix of leery cackling and lively banter and the noise doesn’t stop from the beginning of the set to the end. It’s great to see our friend Sarah from our Website and Wall of Mouths forum leading the ceremonies down the front with her pals and so many other characters that I manage to catch up with later. The lads that talk about my fave Saab cars, people regaling me with tales of early T? gigs and a touching story from a lad who came to a gig the day after a motorcycle accident even though he was in no fit state to do so.

I give a shout out to the sadly closed Cockpit venue (to cries from the locals of “It was a shithole!”) and the attendant Diamond Dave. Afterwards it’s great to catch up with the very talented Chris Catalyst and then it’s off for a late night drive home, diverted by roadworks, to arrive home early AM. Leeds you were ace as always, you mad feckers.

Borderline, London 23/09/2014

Ah..’that’ London. It’s the day after my birthday but i’m not hungover being the true professional. I like the Borderline Venue a lot. An early T? gig about the time of Babyteeth was there, I played acoustically there last May and have seen lots of brilliant shows there.

A fantastic turnout and a very warm-hearted crowd. There’s no nutters to battle with and the singing is very loud and scarily accurate nearly putting me to shame. As always in London there’s a special guest and this time it’s my mate Chris McCormack from Three Colours Red who does a tasty version of Screamager with me and Stevie. The jokes all seem to hit the mark tonight and again it’s feeling as if it could veer towards stand-up if I don’t keep my yapping in check.

IMG_8034_LONDON SMALL

My early start the next day meant that i’d to go straight from the stage to a cab to the train station so my apologies to those waiting to have stuff signed, photos and a chat. Next time hopefully. I was later sent a picture of our agent, Paul, selling the CD’s and that is a rare sight I can tell you. Big shout out to the Irish and Polish contingents who made their presence felt throughout the gig and a big whole-hearted thanks to all of you who came out on a wet Tuesday evening to support the show. Kudos.

Night & Day, Manchester 24/09/2014

Can I just start off saying Manchester a big thank you to everyone who chatted to me after this show. So many of you made me feel so humble by telling me stories of your hardships and how the music of T? had got you through turbulent times. Some of your stories and words left me speechless but i’m so grateful that it all means something to you. As a kid it was the sound of Manchester bands Buzzcocks and Joy Division that got me through adolescence so i’m grateful that I can reciprocate in any way I can.

The Night & Day is a legendary gig in the Northern Quarter and that gets me pumped up before I play a note. I pick up the Hyperdub 10.3 compilation from Piccadilly Records over the road, do some shopping and then get ready for the show. Everyone seems to be smiling, it’s one of those kind of gigs and it makes me feel so well inside. Even though i’m sober the affection of the crowd and the low lighting make me feel spaced out. Hats off to the promoter Matthew for putting the show on and extra thanks for guarding our belongings as there was no lock on the dressing room door. I think the author Gwendoline Riley may have worked here once or maybe i’m imagining i read that somewhere but she’s another, more recent, Manchester influence on me. (“a bad excuse for daylight” comes from one of her novels).

At the end of the gig we have a wee bit of a panic when we find ourselves (along with some punters) locked out of the NCP car park. A few phone calls later we’re on our way, relieved to avoid expensive city-centre hotel rates.

Manchester, you are magic.

Bannermans, Edinburgh 25/09/2014

In the early days of T? we would end up here after gigs in the Venue and it was a place we enjoyed going so tonights gig is one to look forward to. A very raucous crowd, very loud, very sweaty and extremely passionate which is what it’s all about. Everything about the gig is in your face, it’s like being in a massive party with everyone determined to have fun. It’s been a while since T? was here so it was superb to fly the flag in this stunning city. At times the cheering, hollering, stomping and yelling was so much it drowned out not only my voice but my acoustic guitar. It was such a joy to play I can tell you.

Afterwards the entire audience seemed to move into the pub next to the stage so I was able to enjoy an amazing evening chatting to people. A big shout to my pal Chris Nangle who I went to school with and a band mate in The Likwidatorz, an early punk band we had. It was lovely to see him and catch up over some Edinburgh Gold beer.

A big thanks to Christian at Bannermans for looking out for us and also to all the staff who were so helpful and kind. If you’re visiting Edinburgh make sure you pay this pub a visit. As for the fans, you mad mad people, thank you for such an unforgettable evening and all your wonderful hospitality. Can’t wait to get back with T?

 The Mooring, Aberdeen 26/09/2014

Up to Aberdeen on a Friday to a pub called Moorings. All very laid back during the day and to an extent very laid back in the evening. Strangely, more people bought tickets on the door than in advance (it’s usually the other way round) but i’m not complaining. The audience was by far the quietest of the entire tour and at times I was wondering if there was another musician called Andy Cairns and people had bought tickets by mistake. Three quarters of the way through the show things began to liven up and by the end of the gig it was fantastic. Afterwards chatting to people it was striking how many were from outside Aberdeen. Folks had travelled from Easter Europe, Germany, Netherlands, Inverness and Dublin to attend the gig, I’m always knocked out that people do this and to you all, i’m very grateful indeed. For once I managed to see a bit of Aberdeen during the day which was a bonus. After the gig we had to walk through flooded toilets to get to the dressing room which was, forgive the pun, a bit pish. Anyway, last night of the tour and a long drive home.

A big thank you to everyone who came along to all these acoustic shows. I love doing them as it gives me a chance to chat with some of the more hard-core T? fans that we never normally see. Your kind words have really touched and inspired me and all your encouragement has fed me extra energy. I couldn’t do this without your amazing support.

Thanks also to Stevie Firth for the extra guitar and the company and to Michael and Neil for being so understanding (really looking forward to getting T? back out there chaps). Thanks also to Kris, Jonah, Gerry, Susan and Paul for all your help with the planning.

See you all again very soon,

best,

Andy C

Summer Festivals 2014

HELLFEST, CLISSON, FRANCE 20/06/2014

Started off early on the Wed with a day of “Infernal Love” rehearsal which involved going back over the album and working out how to replicate the album live for our forthcoming Sonisphere show. Thankfully everyone had been doing a lot of homework at home so once we got the gear fired up and the sounds tweaked, everything came together really well. Great rehearsal and boding well for the show.

After a civilised breakfast we got in the van and began the run down to Clisson in France. Been an age since we drove through London during daytime and Mark acted as our official guide to ‘Sarf London’. Nice to see a few of the old stomping grounds as well.

Drive to tunnel went smoothly and soon enough we were in France and headed to hell(fest). Amongst the crew there was a birthday so it was celebrated in fine style by speed drinking Jack Daniels and getting progressively more excited about seeing Maiden the following evening. Weather was lovely and again, the drive during the hours of daylight was pretty cool.

Summer festivals 2014_HELLFEST_01

One of these men is celebrating his birthday with an 12 hour trip to France.

We (finally) managed to locate a bar which was showing the England match and over a civilised meal we watched the English team get thrashed. It almost came as a blessing when the manager came over to tell us we couldn’t watch the 2nd half as the ‘karaoke’ was due to start. Exit a few disgruntled English crew but at least we had full bellies and plenty to rant about on the rest of the trip. Finally got to the hotel just after midnight (sadly not two minutes to) and hit the sack for a most welcome sleep.

Showday!
Blistering hot today and it was a long slow crawl driving into the festival. Being the first day it wasn’t that chaotic backstage and it was nice to see all the dressing rooms were laid out in an almost open plan way, with a central bar and café for catering. Good vibe and after getting the relevant passes, it was a hot and dusty hike up to the stage to watch the end of Conan’s set. The tent was rammed and the hot claustrophobic air in there only added to the encompassing, oppressive noise from the band. It was fucking INTENSELY loud and the perfect way to get me psyched up for our show.

Summer festivals 2014_HELLFEST_05

Maiden day sheet

Backstage was stupidly hot so we went out into the press area and did a few quick but fun interviews and managed to catch a quick bit of some of the other acts. Really enjoyed Nocturnus AD, a blast from the early 90’s death metal past (their debut “The Key” is a classic, if somewhat hokey, blast of sc-fi influenced death metal) and one of those bands I’d never had a chance to see.

Met up with Diamond Dave who was over on a road trip for the weekend and Big Sean who was teching for Maiden. Great to see them both and we had a bit of a laugh and a bit of a weep about the football.

Diamond & Sean

Diamond & Sean

 

Up on the main stage Satan were doing their thing to a huge crowd and it was amazing standing side of stage and taking in the full spectacle of the Rob Zombie and Iron Maiden stage sets.

Summer festivals 2014_HELLFEST_03

When we hit the stage just before 5pm it’s hot, sweaty and dusty. Takes a few minutes to settle in on the big stage but the monitors are sounding good quickly and soon we’re deep into the set. Great crowd (as far as the eye could see, quite amazing), lots of dust kicking up from the moshpit and there’s a heartening cheer when Andy is introducing the songs. Anyway, don’t take my word for it you can    WATCH THE WHOLE SHOW HERE

Summer festivals 2014_HELLFEST_12

Acclaimer Evil Priest!

40-ish mins seems a bit short after our recent longer headline shows but we’re not complaining so after we’re off there’s time for dinner and a quick birdbath shower. Hooked up with Paulo from Trivium (who’s a fellow contributor to Bass Guitar Magazine) to discuss the pressures of meeting deadlines ;) and bumped into fellow Dragonforce and Crossfaith bassists which resulted in a low-end chumfest.

Summer festivals 2014_HELLFEST_10

4-string warriors of the apocalypse (photo credit Matt Heafy!)

After we managed to catch most of Impaled Nazarene (killer set and kittos for the beers after chaps!), Electric Wizard (awesome) and Godflesh. Hung out with the Conan folk for a while and between beers managed to catch Maiden from out front and a bit of Slayer.

Andy and Jon Conan

Andy and Jon Conan

 

By this stage the backstage had thinned out and rather than face being the last men standing we thought it would be time to hit the road and get at least a few hours sleep before contemplating the long road home. One hell of a fest!

Food rating: 8/10 Excellent! Nice restaurant style food onsite.

Shower rating: 5/10 Far too hot in the backstage so the whole place was a complete sweatbox.

 

CHAOS FEST, GUERNSEY 27/06/2014

The following weekend I was on a flight to Southampton and then a small plane onto Guernsey to meet up with the rest of the guys. They flew in a bit earlier so they’ve already been onsite and are back relaxing at the rather cool holiday apartments we’ll be staying in. The flight into the island was quite spectacular…clear blue sea and lots of little islands dotted around.

Summer festivals 2014_22Summer festivals 2014_15_Guernsey

View from the plane

 

Picked up by Lorna who’s to be our chaperone for the next 24 or so hours and up to the festival site it is. Again the drive round the island provides more spectacular sea views and the festival tent itself is situated on top of a hill overlooking the sea with only a lone lighthouse in view. Check the gear quickly (we brought our own amp heads but the cabs and kit are hired) and nice to see we’ve got a T? logo on the head of the bass drum..attention to detail, love it.

Summer festivals 2014_15Summer festivals 2014_15_Guernsey

Write a set list for the shows and as the “Infernal Love” album show is the following week we slot a few of those songs in just so we can get them road-tested a bit before Sonisphere. Get a couple of guitars back down to the chalets to do some run throughs/warm up and then have a nice bit of dinner over in a restaurant overlooking the bay. That’s good fun and its highly enjoyable watching the tide move quickly out and the town getting revved up for its Friday night.

Summer festivals 2014_18Summer festivals 2014_15_Guernsey

View from dinner

 

Back up on the hill SPunge are rocking the crowd so we check a bit of that out and I get a chance to catch up with Mark from local hard-core legends Insurrection. Back in my tape trading days I wrote to Mark looking for a copy of their demo (the good old pre-internet ‘soap the stamps’ days) and he very kindly sent me back not only their demo but a copy of their album which, at the time, was just about to come out on Peaceville. Great to finally meet him after 26 years and its lovely to see he’s a complete gent and the band are still going strong, quite surreal to meet someone you wrote to such a long time ago ;)

Summer festivals 2014_19Summer festivals 2014_15_Guernsey

View from the backstage

 

Soon enough SPunge are winding up and we go through a few of the last minute set tweaks in the dressing room. Again an up for it crowd in for the show and despite a few bizarre technical problems (BOTH our bass and guitar heads blew up during the set) the show goes off great. Really enjoy playing the “IL” songs again and it’s a good atmosphere in the crowd, with plenty of diehards and fresh new faces alike singing along. Quite an amazing reaction for a first visit! Afterwards have a bit of a post mortem as to the source of the technical problems, the only reason we can think of is that at the top of a mountain/cliff the power supply might have been ‘spiking’ and fried both the heads. Bear in mind my Warwick head has never cut out or even had a blip in nearly 10 years of service, it’s a strange anomaly that both it and the guitar heads would go at the same show (the power surge theory is borne out a bit later when an engineer looks at my bass head to find one of the circuit boards inside is complete toast). Anyway, at least we have a few days to get them looked at before Sonisphere.

Summer festivals 2014_20Summer festivals 2014_15_Guernsey

Mikehell, Chris, Kossu

 

After the show we hang out for a bit, the wind is getting up so we nip round to front bar of the tent where it seems to be a bit busier and a bit warmer. A few drinks there and we’re quickly back off to the chalets to get a bit of sleep. Big thanks to Chris for inviting us over and looking after us so well, much appreciated.

Food rating: 8/10 Lovely dinner in restaurant overlooking the beach/harbour/bay.

Shower rating: 9/10 Like the rest of the accomadation, immaculate.

 

SONISPHERE, KNEBWORTH, UK 06/07/2014

We hooked up in London the following week for the 2nd of the “Infernal Love” rehearsals and worked on a few of the tweaks that we deemed necessary after the Guernsey show and sorted out all the intros/outros for the show. Spent a bit of time double-checking all the new bits of gear (and the bits that had blown up at the previous show) and getting them wired into the live rigs as well…sounding awesome and it was good to have Pete our lighting guy down to sit in on the rehearsal for him to get a better idea of what the set was sounding like and who would be doing what and where onstage.

The original "Infernal Love" velvet jacket dusted off for the occasion

The original “Infernal Love” velvet jacket was dusted off specially for the occasion.

Early night and then we drove up on the morning of the show, arriving just as Gojira were destroying the main stage. Quick reccy of the area, some lunch, a quick trip to wander round the festival site and then started doing some festival press. Did a signing first and met a few familiar faces, a big WOMble contingent out in force which was great to see and plenty of vintage T? shirts on display as well.

IMG_7055

View from the dressing room

Hung out with the Kerbdog lads as well…always great to see them and this was to be my first time seeing them since they reformed. A few more quick interviews, catch a bit of Dregens set over in the Jager tent then watch the Kerbdog show from side of stage and a bit from out front. Sounds great and they have a good energy to them, really impressive and good to see the crowd rocking out.

Kerb Doggy Dogg

Kerb Doggy Dogg

A few more interviews (including a rather fun Gibson ‘Band Mates’ interview)…

…then we finally get into our dressing room and have a bit of time to unwind and start warming up for the show. The Bake In Black pastries are getting a pasting and there are ample star spotting opportunities from our dressing room vantage point.

IMG_7050

It’s an amazing sight walking onstage to see the tent packed and a very up for it crowd. Bear in mind we never played the ‘full’ album ever before and some of the songs only got played once or twice (never in the case of “Bowels Of Love”) they are greeted like old favourites.I don’t think we ever wanted this show to be a reverential plod through the material, we wanted the show to be a celebration of the album and a party with all the fans who’ve stuck by us and that album over the years. Which is exactly what the show ends up being! Sonisphere is in fine voice so there’s plenty of singing and a rather raucous mosh pit at times. As we have an hour slot and the album runs to 50 minutes we actually found ourselves in the rare situation of being able to drop a few more songs in. We hadn’t anything rehearsed so just went for a very spur of the moment one/two of “Potato Junkie” and “Screamager” which seemed to finish off the show in fine style. Even dropped a bit of “Creeping Death” into the very end of the set to whet the appetite of all heading over to see Metallica.

Summer festivals 2014_35_SONISPHERE

After a quick drink in the dressing room myself and Tom Dalgety head off to catch a bit of Beastmilk (their album is fantastic) which sounds ace and a pity we only see the last song. As they finish we hear the start of Metallicas set so Tom and head down the front to get a decent look (and a decent bit of volume) for Metallica…i’ve seen Metallica countless times since my first encounter (Ulster Hall, Belfast 15/09/1986..Master Of Puppets tour, Anthrax supporting, 12 days before Cliff Burton passed away) and this definately ranked right up their. Band sounded great and it was LOUD.

Afterwards hung out a bit in the dressing rooms and reflected on what a great show and amazing audience we’d had today, nice one folks, let’s do it all again sometime!

Food rating: 6/10 Festival catering, hits the spot and coffee was good.

Shower rating: N/A Didn’t get a chance after in the wind down/rush to see other bands.

 

Rock Herk, Hasselt, Belgium 19/07/2014

This one’s a flyer so an early start to Belgium means we all assembled the night before at the airport hotel. Had a quick catch-up with Dave and Claire (our ‘super-sub’ crew) then a bit of sleep before the 6am start kicked off.

Out of Heathrow there were lots of thunderstorms and quite a bit of turbulence so it was really very very welcome when the plane actually touched down in Brussels. Suitably shaky it was a swift drive up to Hasselt where we got checked into the hotel and worked out how best to keep out of the heat (30 degrees?). Went for a nice walk round the sleepy town centre, looks like everyone else was hiding in the shadows so it was a quiet stroll round the place. We’ve been in Hasselt quite a few times before so it was nice to wander about and see a wee bit more of the town than on previous visits.

Summer festivals 2014_26Summer festivals 2014_26_Rock Herk01

When we get down to Rock Herk God Is An Astronaut are already on and after a quick bite of dinner head over to see them and check out the stage we are due to be playing on. The band sound fantastic, I’m a recent covert of only a few years and their live show is quite impressive, need to see a full set sometime soon.

A quick wander through the crowd and chat with a few familiar faces then see a bit of Feed The Rhino whose high energy assault is going down great with the crowd. First time seeing them live and again, killer stage presence and lots of energy. Say hello to them afterwards and nice to see they are a bunch of lovely chaps as well, top blokes.

Summer festivals 2014_27Summer festivals 2014_26_Rock Herk02

The chat is football!

Spend the hour before our show alternating between warming up and getting a look at the Sore Losers who are rocking. Never heard or seen them before but first impressions are VERY GOOD! Perfect festival band and they get the crowd going brilliantly.

Our own show goes great…by this stage of the festival run everything is really tight and we can have a bit of fun with the songs and change things round a little. Play the two new songs we debuted earlier in the year and also do the ‘string’ version of “Diane” which I don’t think we’ve done in Belgium since the 1995 “Infernal Love” tour. It goes down great and it’s on a massive high we leave the stage!

Hang out a bit afterwards and get our stuff tidied up in the dressing room. There’s a kind offer for a late supper in the catering area but to be honest after jumping up and down for 75 or so minutes the last thing I want to do is have a sit down meal.

Spoke to Sam from the Muzikdroom who’s been a great host to us over the years and caught up a bit with him before a trip over to check out Shy FX. Soon enough the festival was over and we we’re shuttling it back to the hotel, job done. Belgium you were lovely yet again!

Food rating: 7/10 Nice pasta and good salad selection. Hooegaarden Rose in bottles as well, perfect summer drink.

Shower rating: 6/10 Standard hotel show, marked down due to stinginess with the towels.

 

Kuopio RockCock, Kupio, Finland 25/07/2014

Really looking forward to getting back to Finland for this festival, our club shows there are always great fun and it’s nice to be heading up North to see a different part of the (huge) country. We travel in the night before and (bar a ridiculously tight onward connection from Helsinki to Kuopio where we all had to sprint from one end of the terminal to the other) get settled in the hotel. Funny to see how light it still is at 3am and it leads itself to a rather fractured sleep.

 

It’s brutally hot outside so I venture into town to see what going on and also to check out Record Shop X which the name might suggest is a record shop. It’s got a great selection so I have to reel myself in as it would be very easy to spend a lot of money on all the goodies they had in stock. Walk down towards the water near the hotel and it’s quite beautiful down there…not a cloud in the sky and gangs of excited locals hopping on and off boats. Bump into Andy who’s heading for some lunch at Sampo so join him for a bit and then back to the hotel to try and shake off the oppressive heat.

Summer festivals 2014_30_FINLAND

Down at the show it’s insanely hot as well and our dressing room (a converted metal container) is like an oven…every time we put the a/c unit on, it blows a fuse so we decide it’s probably better just to suffer outside. Take a walk down past the seating stand and down to the other stages to catch a bit of Battlebeast who are highly entertaining in an Accept/Priest kind’ve way and then over to the main stage for Haloo Helsinki who are great. Really enjoyable.

Summer festivals 2014_32_FINLAND

Spotted quite a few vintage T? shirts in the crowd, seen here the very limited ‘RONY’ design

As we hit the stage the sun is right down low behind the audience so for most of the set I cant see a thing, just a huge retina scorching red ball which with the heat makes it one of the physically hardest shows I’ve done in recent years. Thankfully the crowd were well into it and that took the edge off the horrible dehydrated feeling I had throughout the whole show. The strange layout of the bar area was odd as well, only people over 18 were allowed in there..sooo…we know the Finns (cultural stereotype klaxon*), just like the irish like a drink so the majority of the crowd was shoehorned into the cordoned off bar section which was over alongside the main seated stand. It made for a bit of a weird dynamic as 80% of the crowd was far over stage left watching from behind a security barrier. Anyways, the show went great, fired in some earlier tunes like “Meat Abstract” and “Nausea” alongside some of the brand new tunes like “Still Hurts” and “Insecurity”. All go down great and we eschew an encore by just playing straight through for the allocated 75 minutes.

Summer festivals 2014_34_FINLAND

Offstage the heat is still ridiculous but at least the sun’s gone down a bit and we head over to the catering to get some well needed dinner. Chill out for a bit and then have a taste of the Impaled Nazarene beer that Kossu has brought me…its good stuff, a dark ale and it’s the perfect drink to wile away the rest of the evening with a few trips out front to check out headliners Popeda who are going down a storm. Nice one Finland, hopefully see you next year!

Summer festivals 2014_33_FINLAND

DRIIIIINK ME!

Food rating: 7/10 Great stuff though if I’d eaten at Sampo would probably be a 10

Shower rating: 8/10 With the heat so intense the hotel shower was a godsend.

Text and pics by Michael McKeegan

A week ’til Sonisphere

Week ‘til @Sonisphere and our “Infernal Love” album set! Rehearsals going great & we start Bohemia stage 19:00

Drum Tracking Album #14 (April 2014)

I had real fun recording the drums on this album. Tom had loads of great ideas and a few words of encouragement when I was being slack! It’s invaluable having the right person to bounce ideas off when putting your own arrangements together and trying to get the best performance recorded.

NC_kit_2-flip

Behind the kit

We spent a day setting up equipment and getting the basic drum kit sounds together, trying various drum head combinations and recording techniques. Tom had a few tricks up his sleeve to achieve those bigger, badder drum sounds!! Finished the day with the kit sounding great and began getting comfortable playing along to the tunes ready for recording proper on day two.

Front of the kit

Front of the kit

Full frontal

Full frontal

Between working on the new tunes in rehearsals and hitting Blast Studio in Newcastle, myself and Andy went over to Tom’s studio and put a click track for each song together. These are what I would be playing along to when recording. This approach gave me and Tom the luxury of running through the tunes relentlessly without Andy and Michael having to play the songs alongside me over and over and OVER again (a process which, understandably, can eventually drive your fellow band mates nuts!)

Tom Dalgety, Guide tracking, Bath March 2014

Tom Dalgety, Guide tracking, Bath March 2014

The next few days flew by. We recorded numerous drum takes for each song and chose the best performance and feel as the session progressed. After a few loooong days, the job was done.

From my end, a thoroughly enjoyable session.

Cheers, Neilx

Some sticks were harmed during the making of this album

Some sticks were harmed during the making of this album

#bishbashandquiteliterallybosh

My equipment list –

Drums

Mapex Orion series

22” bass

16” floor tom

12” mounted tom

13” mounted tom

14” x 3” brass piccolo snare

14” x 6” Pearl – brass free floating snare drum

 

Cymbals

Paiste 2002

14” hi hats

19” power crash

20” ride

20” china

 

Paiste Signature

17” crash

18” crash

Remo drum heads

Vic Firth sticks

Ruusrock Festival, Belgium 10/05/2014

Journey over the day before and that goes smoothly enough despite a bit of Giro Di Italia disruption in Belfast. Great atmosphere travelling up to airport on the train, I’m the solitary man in black swamped in a sea of pink revellers/spectators. Get to Heathrow in good time and head straight to John Henrys to find our bus packed and the crew ready to roll. Catch up when we’re waiting for Neil who’s got a later train and soon enough we are a bus. The driver actually drove us back in 1998 so he’d a good few stories about that tour, none of which I remember too clearly ;) Hit the ferry around 1am and it’s just us plus a few groups of bored French kids on school trips and the occasional grumpy looking trucker. We commandeer a table in the quiet part of the bar and relax until we hit France and then onto Ruusrock it is.

Normally at festivals you’re woken to the sound of a kick drum and someone shouting “Test, test, one two” over and over again, this time they’re checking the PA with some dubstep and, bizarrely, our version of “Diane”. Not a bad way to start the day. The festival is a new one on us and the promoter Staarje has very kindly opened his house to us to use as a dressing room during the day. It’s right beside the café which has the festival tent set up next to it and interestingly Andy spots something of interest there..

“I noticed that the promoter Staaf had a Genk scarf behind the bar so i began chatting about football and the Belgian players Chelsea have, turns out that he’s part of ‘The Mighty Blues’ a Belgian supporters club that make regular trips to Stamford Bridge to see Chelsea play. Seems they meet up at Staafscafe at 2.00am and travel overnight to make it for the game the next day. It was fantastic as i always see the ‘Mighty Blues Belgium’ banner at Stamford Bridge when i’m there so it was great to finally meet one of them and have a chat.”

We have a great afternoon ordering coffee from the bar and watching the bike race on TV even end up playing ‘spot the local landmark’ as the route runs right past the village I grew up in and goes through the town where I now live. Even spotted my mum and sister in law amongst the spectators…thankfully not streaking!

It’s a late show time for us today (00:30 so technically ‘tomorrow’ as the pedants among us keep reminding) so there’s plenty of time to potter about and we get a chance to check some of the most recent new album mixes on our trusty ‘boom box’. It’s over 15 years old and showing no signs of flagging, albeit sticky with 15 years of exposure to backstage living. It’s the system we listen to mostly and the mixes are sounding great on it, some minor tweaks here and there that probably won’t even be noticed but we are quite picky about stuff. All part of the process.

Outside it’s got a bit brighter but the earlier rain plus the footfall has churned the whole place up into a right mud fest, our Converse are certainly not the best footwear for the day. Catch a bit of King Hiss and they sound great, some cool riffs and lots of energy. Nice bit of dinner then we have a meet and greet at 9pm which is good fun. We dish out the local Ops Ale beer to the people and chat and get some pictures taken. Friendly, nice folk…we like. Then we settle down for some Eurovision before checking out Peter Pan Speedrock. Been a year or so since we last saw them and they are rocking as usual, great to hear some new tunes off their forthcoming album as well.

Our changeover takes ages due to an exploding amp head (big thanks to Peter Pan SPeedrock for the loan of theirs) plus the onstage power keeps crapping out so it takes a while before the local stage crew resolve the situation. Going on just after 1am it’s great to see a packed and crazy crowd in the tent. We start with “Meat Abstract” and dish up 90 minutes of tunes from the past 25 years…as always goes too quick and soon we’re finishing up with a double whammy of “Nowhere” and “Diane”. There was some spectacular pit action and crowd surfing during the show;  pretty manic in places. Special mention must go to the chaps who were diving off the MIXING DESK at the back of the hall and the ones who were waving the tables in the air and appeared to be jousting with them at one point. Cunningly drop in two new songs (unannounced) so it’s really cool to see people moshing, singing and reacting to songs they’ve never heard before. Bodes well for the new album!

Afterwards we chill in the house again, get showered and listen to the Crusades album Andy has brought along, it’s pretty amazing so do go check them out. As it’s a 4 hour drive to the ferry not much point in going to sleep so we have a bit of a playback of the new album mixes in the back lounge of the bus at volume. Great to hear them after a few beers and there’s a fair bit of singing along, air guitar and air drums on the go. Soon enough, we’re at Calais doing the ‘walk of shame’ onto the ferry and back to the UK.

Big big thanks to Staaf, his wife and everyone involved with the organisation of the festival for looking after us so well.Extra special thanks to the crazy crowd, that was a lot of fun for us and we really appreciated all the support…lovely Belgium indeed! Roll on Hellfest!

Michael

Food rating:8/10 Nice sandwich buffet for lunch then proper sit down dinner of meat, veg and potatoes followed by the filthiest chocolate mousse imaginable.

Shower rating: 9/10 Very hot, very clean and two water outlets so full cleansing from multiple angles.

Album Pre-Production Days 10 & 11

27-02-2014

Bit of a later start today and as we’re on the pre-production ‘home straight’ we go back over the songs that we have yet to do rough demos of. There’s 10 of them to do so we have a quick relisten to the latest versions and starting running through them again and again, getting them nicely tightened up.

McKeegan drops into a daytime TV wormhole

McKeegan drops into a daytime TV wormhole

Do a few arrangement tweaks here and there, a few days distance on a song gives for a good fresh perspective. Also have a bit of a chat about some reference points for the tunes….movies, books and records so we’ll be well prepared for when we hit the studios.

The day flies in so we have a quick bite of dinner to eat up at the Tanners pub then head home to do a bit of packing. Amazing how much stuff you can accumulate on a 10 day session.

28-02-2014

Today is the final push of pre-production! Our producer is back to hear what we’ve been working on so after a couple of minor tempo and arrangement tweaks we start putting down the rough demos. It’s a pretty simple set-up with all of us playing live but the end results are sounding ace and the clarity gives us a good idea of how all the parts are meshing. Much better than a quick ‘one mic in a room’ job.

Tracking those demos

Tracking those demos

Quick lunch on the run then back to the rocking and soon enough the tunes are all done. Can’t remember the last time we left a pre-production session with 18 songs demoed so that’s a very satisfying feeling I can tell you. Andy and Neil are driving back tonight so break down the gear and chat about some details for the TG20 shows in April and the album tracking. We say our farewells and after the producer does the necessary sonic tidy-up/back-up we head up to the flat for pizza and to get ready for my 5am start back home.

Been a brilliantly productive and incredibly enjoyable session, I can’t recall having enjoyed a rehearsal session as much and completely buzzing with excitement about the new songs.

Welcome To Hell

Welcome To Hell

Special mention must go to Blast Studios who always make us feel incredibly welcome and help with making every session here go so smoothly. Also big thanks to Neil and Andy for being complete gents and amazing players to boot, really inspiring company. The next step is to live with the demos and further refine them before starting the album tracking proper. We will of course keep you posted!

Album Pre-Production-Days 7-9

Mon 25th Feb

Woke up after very little sleep and an evening of ‘night terrors’.

Behind you

Behind you

Finished rehearsals last night and decided to sit up with Andy and watch the film ‘Prisoners’. For anyone who’s seen the film, the fact I’ve an 18mth old and a 9wk old at home, it probably wasn’t the best film to watch whilst I’m away!

Das kit

Das kit

 

Although I was tired we had a good rehearsal and began working on what we were affectionately calling the ‘Tad song’ and the ‘Black Flag/Spider song’.

For these rehearsals we’re not playing our usual equipment which always brings a different feel to things but everything’s sounding great.

Tues 26th

We spent the morning having a closer look at ‘Tad’ and ‘Black Flag/Spider’. Both are now sounding great.

We began the afternoon with the decision to jam around a crunchy, heavy, groover.  Some nice, heavy riffing with a hip hop type groove. You can’t argue with that really.

Finally we finished the day with a cover version for a bit of fun.

Power trio

Power trio

 

Wednesday 27th

The three of us were down at the studio for an early start today. We put the finishing touches to the cover version and looked at an idea which began with a hint of J Geils Band meets Gary Numan.  I’ll emphasise the word ‘began’ here.

We now have 18 songs for consideration for the album. We are very happy!

So, tonight we decide on a few beers with the footy on TV to celebrate. Result, as they say.

Cheers

Neil

Album Pre-Production Days 4-6

Friday 21/02
Start rehearsing at 10.30 am and get to work on arrangements for two songs before the producer arrives at 2pm and then we all take a break and knock about ideas of how we're going to work and how we'll record.
Next, we're all in the rehearsal space and running through the tunes, trying different tempos and trying to find a pulse that fits each individual song. 

The time flashes by and next thing we know it's 9pm and we've been lost in the noise for seven hours. It's been a really productive day and we call it a day. We've got a lot closer to finalising some arrangements, nailing tempos and even changed the bulk of one of the tunes to make it groovier and heavier. The day had some light relief in the form of custard creme biscuits.

The music is sounding together, exciting and fresh. I go to bed in the apartment and lie staring at the ceiling with the melodies running round my head.Try to read Angela Carter but no joy, I'm wide awake and buzzing.

Saturday 22/02
Down to the studio by 11am we set up mikes and run through the songs live and record the to see how they're sounding. Different tunings are tried out, choruses moved, middle eights slowed down, feedback added. By the evening we have 8 songs recorded in a rough state as we would play them live, I've been singing for hours and my throat is rasping but in a good way, a way that tells me I've been enjoying singing. I've got cuts and callouses on my hands and it's another day when I know I won't sleep. 

Try watching television (happy Chelsea won) and end up chatting away to Mr McKeegan until 2am about pop music and old friends back in Northern Ireland.

Where have the last two days gone? All I've seen is the studio and the apartment but I'm also grateful it's going so well. 
Sunday 23/02
We treat ourselves to a late breakfast and have an enjoyable day in the studio. It's just the three of us again today and we run through two songs. One is quiet and confessional the other a full-on fast song with Neil on top form.

Happy with twelve complete songs we break for the evening and plan more songs tomorrow.We go for a curry in Jesmond and have a great night and a bit of a laugh just getting out into a different environment for a while.

Looking forward to another week of working on this album. If it goes as well as the last few days I'll be over the moon.

Andy

Album Pre-Production Days 1-3

18-02-2014

First day of pre-production for album #14 so it’s an early start and a flight over to Newcastle to hook up with Andy and Neil. We’ve got 12+ new songs to tackle so looking forward to getting stuck into it and tweaking all the parts/arrangements and basically fine tuning them before we start recording in April.

IMG_5354

We’re just set up in the live room with a basic backline and start going through the songs one by one, trying different tempos and parts out to make the tunes as punchy and dynamic as possible. At this early stage we’re just recording them with a single mic in the room so we have a quick reference of how the tunes are sounding. Once we have all the songs up to speed we’ll get producer input and track some decent demos so we can live with them (and further refine)until the album recording proper.

It’s a very productive day and we get good solid versions of 3 of the songs down (one of which our producer has yet to hear so we email that off to him) and call it a night at that. Day one couldn’t have gone better, the playing, mood and vibe are excellent.

19-02-2014

Our manager is over so have an early meeting (9:30am!) to go through some plans for the recording, the TG20 tour and lots of other bits and bobs. Plenty of exciting options and projects on the horizon so all stoked about that.

Anyway, back to the job in hand and get started running through tracks 4 and 5…the riffs are sounding crunchy, the beats are killer and there’s some amazing melodies on the go. It’s an exciting bunch of songs, all with their own identity but hanging together with the kind of cohesion that lends itself to a killer album.

IMG_5356

Start in on the 6th song and once we have it somewhere we’re liking we finish up and plan to revisit after a good night’s kip.

20-02-2014

The restorative powers of sleep! Get the song from last night re-jigged and sounding mega…it’s taken on a whole new life and we’re all very pleased with how this has morphed from the original demo.

Quick bit of lunch and then move onto track 7. It’s a stomping beast of a tune and we soon get it all up to speed and move around a few of the sections for maximum effect. Record some basic ‘room mic’ versions in a couple of different tunings just to see where it sits best sonically and then move onto track 8. Again it’s a big, heavy, groovy melodic slab of all that’s good about Therapy? and soon we’ve got a really good version of it all sorted.

IMG_5341

Hear that our producer will be coming up to go through some stuff tomorrow so that will be cool to get his feedback on the tunes and do some further tweaking and fine-tuning. Pack up, dinner and an early night beckons.

 

Michaelx

 

Finland Day 5-Travel Day

Got back on a smooth train ride to Helsinki and chatted to Niksu about The Big Lebowski and Pulp Fiction.Not long to hang around the airport and then home by 21.30.

I’d like to thank Niksu at Live Nation Finland and for bringing me over, to On the Rocks and both Klubbis for putting on the shows, to Paul Bolton and Gerry Harford for putting the booking  in, Pauli Nurmi and Mad Professor Pedals in Tampere and Mr Michael McKeegan for looking after the social media for me when i was away (i owe you several delicious frosty beers when we get to the studio this week).

A really big heartfelt thanks to all the Finnish people who came to the shows (and those of other nationalities who travelled!) and for making it such a memorable experience, this trip has been such a warm and wonderful time for me. I’ll be heading to the studio tomorrow to see Michael and Neil to start work on album 14 and hopefully the next time i see you it’ll be with the full T? crew,
love and respect,
Andy C