Diary

“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 2

DAY THREE_Spirit Store_Dundalk 27_04_2017

Following a raucous evening in Belfast we get up with slightly sore heads and begin the journey to Dundalk. I have the ‘S.Town’ podcast as my companion on the journey and time flies.

We arrive and have plenty of time for a relaxing soundcheck and get ready for the show. The last time we were here we played the ‘full on’ set so the sonic approach could not be more different. We make sure everything sounds as it should.The show’s great and, as always, both sets fly by. We have a great time.

Dirt deed dundalk cheap (courtesy H. Magee)

Dirt deeds dundalk cheap (pun courtesy H. Magee)

We all head back to the hotel for a relatively early night. Predictably this is the night we can all hear the nightclub sound system from over the road! Bass bins that shook the bed – I’m not kidding ha ha. A great night all the same, Dundalk.

DAY FOUR_Cypress Avenue_Cork_28_04_2017

The last time we played Cypress Avenue the drum monitor fell on top of me mid-gig so I have a love/hate relationship with the place ha ha. They’re always great gigs though! We arrive with plenty of time to relax and then soundcheck.
The crowd were great tonight and we really enjoyed the show.These acoustic dates have been so enjoyable. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reworking the songs with the boys and have had great fun tackling the acoustic playing style I’ve adopted – playing brush work on the snare drum, which is a complete departure for me and a whole new technique in itself!

(Pic kind courtesy Liam Kielt Photography)

Thanks, Cork. Another great night (and no monitor landing on me this time – smashing).And so onto Galway….

Cheers
Neil
Instagram: ncooper.insta

“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 3

DAY FIVE_Roisin Dubh_Galway_29_04_2017

I’m on driving duties this morning so we head off from a grey, cold Cork but with the joy of last night’s gig still in the atmosphere.It’s a long enough slog up the motorway and there have to be a few good and tea stops for those members of the entourage still hurting from the previous night’s revelry.

I haven’t been to Galway since the last time we played there in 1998 (last century, what a thought) and that was a tremendous gig at the GPO that was promoting the Semi-Detatched album and had NME in tow for a feature in their magazine. That night was rowdy and a lot of fun so I’m expecting more of the same from the legendary Roisin Dubh, a very famous venue that has had all the greats over the years and is renowned for having impeccable taste in music.
On arrival we’re greeted by the wonder Gugai who makes us feel at home right away and we get our gear set up for the evening. Outside it’s cold, windy and granite skied but in the venue it’s a womb like glow of low lights and good vibes.

From the off the audience are good naturedly shouting for songs and joining in with the vibe of the band. There are people in crowd singing every single word of every single song abdvwere very impressed that a lot of them know the lyrics to tunes off our recent Disquiet album too. It’s one of those special nights where, personally, I feel im among friends and the warmth from the occasion nearly moves me to tears especially on Lonely Cryin’ Only and Gone. There are people from Galway with others from Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Finland all getting involved and making it something special, a night I’ll never forget.

Afterwards the rest of the boys hang out in the venue and drink and swap stories with locals, fans and old friends while enjoying the greatest hits on offer courtesy of the house DJ while I take the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. We’ve played Galway a few times before including the massive Leisurelands venue during the Troublegum tour in 1994 but I can honestly say I enjoyed this one, at Roisin Dubh, the most. Hopefully we can get a chance to come back and play an electric show in the club very soon.

The next morning while we’re packing the gear away several people approach us in the street and thank us for the show. I’m gobsmacked but very grateful. Galway, you have. Even so very lovely.

DAY SIX_Dolans_Limerick_30_04_2017

Like Galway, we hadn’t been to Limerick for a very long time but it’s also the scene of one of our legendary gigs in 1992 at the Agricultural College, a night of hanging off wooden beams and everyone stage diving the whole way back to the mixing desk. All covered by Cathi Unsworth and Steve Gullick for Melody Maker.

Arriving at the impressive Dolans venue we’re given a hearty welcome and sat down in the front of the building where we intend to have Sunday lunch and watch the Everton v Chelsea game. Myself and Richard Baker, our Tour Managing Sound engineer are Chelsea supporters which causes all kinds of banter from the friendly bar staff. The food is great and the football better as Chelsea forge a fantastic away win, 3-0 so it’s a solid start to this bank holiday Sunday.

The gig area itself looks great with a high stage overlooking a wood and stone room and a lovely onstage sound. All the local staff, lighting and sound, are very helpful and Michael informs me that Dolans is one of the venues used in the legendary Siege of Limerick metal festival, an event he’d love to attend. He mentions some underground bands that have played there in the past.

The evenings gig is completely different from all the other Irish Wood & Wire shows. It’s very quiet between songs but not in an offensive way but more like the silence at the theatre or a performance arts piece. By the second set of the evening it’s a lot more boisterous which is what we’ve come to expect and afterwards we hang around to meet everyone, a good decision as there are a lot of super-friendly people waiting to say hello and get their photo taken. Among the crowd are a couple that were present during the real life drugs bust that formed the basis for our song ‘Loser Cop’ off our album ‘Babyteeth’. This takes me back and we’re soon chatting about that fateful night in Portrush when a house party attended by myself and Fyfe was shut down by the police and ended with many of us hauled off to the Police Station. Also in the crowd was film maker, Brian Bowler, who had very kindly brought along a copy of a book by Ivor Browne for me to read. Another very touching meeting was with a group of friends who had first met me at Feile 1993 and showed me a picture of myself and them backstage. We then attempted to recreate the photo in a selfie. I’m slayed that 24 years later these lovely people are still coming to see us play.

In the dressing room afterwards we’re all saying that it’s a shame to see the end of this six gig Wood & Wire tour of Ireland and we wished there was a ton more shows as we were having so much fun. Limerick, thank you for a brilliant day. Big up to all at Dolans and to all the wonderful people we played to during the show and met afterwards. Amazing times.

Andy C

Photos from Dolans, Limerick kind courtesy PAT GUILFOYLE and you can see more of his fine work HERE

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“Wood & Wire” EIRE/NI Tour-Part 1

DAY ONE-Rehearsal/Travel Day_London/Holyhead_24_04_2017

Early start and over to London for a rehearsal/travel day. Quick chat with the lads and straight into it as we have a longish drive over to Holyhead later. Dust off the acoustics and finally get a chance to try my new Warwick acoustic bass which I got after the European tour last year as a spare for the ‘D/C-tuned’ songs in the set. Sounded wicked and was an absolute dream to play so that was a nice feeling. In addition to the 27 songs we learnt for the last tour we had a crack at Meat Abstract and Unbeliever to see how they would work in the acoustic format. Andy had a very cool fingerpicked open tuning for “Meat Abstract” and Neil’s funky brush work really brought out the groove in “Unbeliever”. Another tweak or two at first soundcheck and we reckon they’d be good to go.

Sort out the rest of the merch and tables, stools and assorted sundries and then we’re off through London trying to beat rush hour. All was going great until we began to circle Birmingham…there was a diversion (accident?) so the sat nav took us on a two hour detour through some small and picturesque villages. Not ideal as we fancied getting a proper nights rest before our early ferry the following morning.

Finally we got to the hotel to find ourselves locked out and after some misinformation as to where the keys were and a torch lit search the keys were found and we settled down to crash for a few hours.

DAY TWO_Whelans_Dublin_25_04_2017

Next morning we started bright and early for a very pleasant ferry ride over to Dublin. Been a while since I’d been on a ferry over the Irish Sea during the hours of daylight so after some decent breakfast I hang out on the blustery deck for a bit and then chat with the lads in the lounge area.

These tides...

These tides…

Soon we’re into Dublin and checked into our hotel…as its a slightly later load in we can get lunch and go for a walk in town. I’m on a bit of a mission this tour, I need the Peter Criss solo album to complete my collection of KISS solo albums and I figured Dublin would be the place to snag one at a good price. Sadly I returned empty handed but a few hours spent in record shops is never bad is it?

Over to Whelan and meet up with Herb Magee whos to be our 5th body and merch-slinger for this run. He’s just back fro the US so have a good catch up with him and hear all his gossip. Jeremy who ran the 2 shows at the Button Factory in 2015 is there today and his hospitality is as excellent as you would expect from a fellow Ballyclare man.
Soundcheck goes well, “Meat Abstract” and “Unbeliever” are slotted into a section at the start of the second set and we hang about in the dressing room before showtime. We’re doing two sets as per the Dutch shows we did last year so we have split the songs into two sets of 12-13 songs with a short 15 minute ‘drink/bathroom’ interval for the audience.

First set goes great, lots of familiar and friendly faces in the crowd and everyone seems well up for it despite it being a cold Tuesday night. The capacity crowd sang (choruses, backing vocals and on a few occasions riffs and solos!), clapped, danced and headbanged along. The first hour flew by very quick and by the time the 2nd set kicked off the atmosphere had gotten slightly more rowdy. Great stuff!Once we’d finished up and took a final bow I was completely buzzing from the atmosphere, absolutely superb vibe and a complete pleasure to play for the Dublin crowd. Thank you guys!

It was a bittersweet triumph though as today was the day our friend and label boss Eric Cook was buried after a short ilness, so him and his family were never far from our thoughts. We had some friends attending the funeral in Newcastle so they were able to relay our sympathy in person. Much appreciated.

After a quick pack up we hop into the van and drive through the still busy streets to get a bit of decent sleep before the Belfast show.

Cheers to Gerry, Buzz, Dave, Jeremy and all the maniacs at the show. What a start to the tour!

DAY THREE_The Empire_Belfast_26_04_2017

Most pleasant drive up with only the customary ‘pastry stop’ to break the run. We’re in Belfast by noon so we get checked in and I take a quick walk into town to buy some more acoustic bass strings. The ones I’d on took a right battering in Dublin and I fancied getting afresh set on for Belfast. I also fancied seeing if I could track down that Peter Criss solo album on vinyl to no success. Perhaps not Dundalk but I might be in luck in Cork 😉
Get some lunch on Botanic avenue and i’m delighted to hear that my good friend RG Shiels is in the coffee shop next door treating himself to a coffee. He’s just back off a European tour so I get to hear all about that and catch up a bit. Cheers for the cheesecake and coffee Bas, next time my treat!

Always like the Empire as a venue, looks stunning and had some great nights in here…the Gifted live show a few years back and the one with Clutch in 2000 (Also saw some killer shows as well, GodSpeed You Black Emperor, Deus, Shellac and Jim Thirwell all spring to mind!)

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I recognise that chap in the hat…

Soundcheck is a bit tricky today…my bass keeps feeding back, something to do with playing a hollow wooden instrument on top a hollow wooden stage directly above a sub bass bin…woof woof! Finally getting it somewhere decent sounding onstage and Rich seems happy with it all in the room so we scarper off to the BBC to do a quick live interview and performance of a couple of songs. Once that’s done we hit the dressing room again and chill before the show discussing a few tweaks for the gig. Being a home town gig I’ve got a biggish guest list (family and friends galore!)and before the doors open there’s already a considerable queue outside. Word is that its going to sell-out so that’s always likely to make for a good atmosphere.

And what an atmosphere it was, definitely one of my favourite Belfast show in years. Very, very good natured and bantering crowd, lots of singing/clapping and a lot of love in the room. It was a bit special, you put a huge smile on my face for the 2 hours we were onstage Belfast…glorious.After we pack up, hang out for a bit then go catch up with a few friends in the downstairs bar. Great night and then we’re back at the hotel for a nightcap.

Nice one Belfast, that was a perfect ‘homecoming’, see you next time when we’ll be sure and bring  ALL the amps 😉 Special thanks to Shep, Dee, the staff at the Empire for their help and patience, Marie Louise, Paul, Stephen, Peter and all at the BBC NI for continued ongoing support plus RG, Beast and Liam for the hang! Belter!

Michael McKeegan

All pics below very kind courtesy Liam Kielt Photography

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

Therapy? performs @ The Empire Music Hall, Belfast

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Pleasure Death anniversary/recording/Harlow Square

Hello folks, ta for all the love for Pleasure Death today. Realising it was a quarter of a century old coincided with hearing this morning of the closure of the legendary Harlow Square venue. Such a shame. There is a story linking both venue and album.

Late ’91 we were touring the U.K. and had planned to record some songs at Southern Studios, London for release on the Wiiija/Southern label. The night before we had a gig booked supporting Spiritualized at Harlow Square. We were staying with Gary Walker, boss of Wiiija Records in North London so we headed down to Harlow with Gary and got ready to check out this venue we’d read so much about. Spiritualized’s soundcheck took forever and we weren’t allowed into our dressing room until they finished. When they eventually stopped doors were opening, an event that also coincided with our dinner being served by the venue. We went to take our baked potato and beans ( I remember what we had to eat. Is that sad?) into our dressing room and were told by Spuratualized’s crew that they were using all of the backstage area and we weren’t allowed in it. The three of us sat on the stage, dinner on laps and chatted to those punters who had made their way in early to check us out. This was very strange indeed. Within ten minutes our plates would be empty, we’d strap on guitars, pick up sticks and play to those who had just watched us scoff our food. When we went to leave our empty plates backstage a crew member told us we couldn’t come back. Naive as we were then we we’re still aware that this was a load of bollocks. Fyfe tried to push past the Scottish tech who proceeded to do what all Scots and Irish do in that situation and exaggerated his accent to sound as if he’d just come out of doing a ten stretch. Seeing the guy was giving Fyfe grief myself and Michael piled in, knives, forks, dishes flying everywhere, lots of pushing and shoving. In the background a terrified Jason Pierce looked as if he had just shat his pants while his crew huffed and puffed and tried to keep us out. Eventually, people from the club and Gary Wiiija got involved and the melee was stilled. We grabbed our instruments and played a blinder. The audience that had come for blissful space rock were startled while the noise heads down the front lurched back and forward In revelry.

After Spiritualized finished their set they got out as quickly as they could. We hung around and got amongst the vibes in the club. For some reason I decided that some speed was what was needed and got a punter at The Square to hook me up with a dealer who arrived in a navy blue Ford Granada and looked like Barry Grant from soap opera Brookside. I spent the night tearing the ears off Gary Walker and Harvey Birrell and ranting about soap operas I liked. I was still flying on the way back to Gary’s house in London, still awake chatting to Gary’s flat mates and still awake when we arrived in Southern Studios the next day.

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I remember recording Potato Junkie and thinking my Fender Telecaster sounded the best it had ever sounded. We hit the pub later that night and the next day we’re back in again. After we finished recording we headed out to do a John Peel session and drank more beers but this time Tennents Super which is, as some ‘specialists’ are aware the most awesome of beers ( if you’re wired that way). On the trip back from the Peel session I was hanging out the back of the van while being shouted at by the late, much missed,John Loder, head honcho of Southern who was in a vehicle behind and trying to get me into safety. From there we headed to London ULU to watch Silverfish. After their fantastic set us and Silverfish headed over to a party at RAK studios where I drank more and took microdot acid. This episode would later be memorialised in ‘Knives’ as I wandered around, kitchen knives in hand silently freaking out. I stayed up all night in a spare room with shades of ‘the fear’ and when I went into another room later everybody had left. The next morning staff at the studio came in to inform me that my bandmates had left a message that they would be at Southern Studios with Harvey to mix our album. They also, in no uncertain terms, requested I get off their property as they didn’t like the look of the saucer-eyed Wurzel Gummidge with the Ulster accent.

There I was, still tripping, on the street with no mobile phone (this was 1991) and hardly any money. I’ve a vague recollection of standing at a bus stop in Picadilly scared out of my wits and also a vague episode on Oxford Street. In the end I managed to make it to the studio where I was so fucked I spent the entire mixing session under the mixing desk shouting “turn up the feedback” or “sounds amazing” to anyone that would listen. That night the thought of getting on a bus back to another destination filled me with dread so, as we were due in the studio again the next day, I asked if I could sleep in the studio. John Loder didn’t mind, fair play to him, and so with the aid of a sleeping bag I bedded down under he desk. That night I had fitful night terrors and couldn’t settle, wishing the last of the acid, booze and speed would leave my system and let me feel normal again.The next morning I was woken by a staff member from Southern saying “Andy? Can you get up please? Cathi Unsworth from Melody Maker is here to interview you”.

Michael & Harvey Birrell(producer) at Southern Studios recording Pleasure Death 1991

Where the fuck did I get all that energy and capacity for shenanigans?

The album sounds great and, despite the freaking out, it was a marvellous time. Big up to fellow travellers Michael McKeegan, Fyfe Ewing, Harvey Birrell and John Loder. The album would come out in ’92 and go to number one in the independent charts and later that year my beloved Fender Tele would bite the dust on stage at the Mandela Hall in Belfast (it’s on display at the Oh Yeah centre in Belfast, fact fans. There’s probably still some speed lodged behind the scratch plate) so it was such a vibrant and thrilling time to be involved in music and involved with the band. I heard this morning that The Square in Harlow is to close. That’s a shame, a real shame. If you fancy it, get a can of Tennents Super and crank up Pleasure Death and wish the good people of The Square all the best. Go easy on the acid though….shudder….

Andy C

(You heard the man, CRANK IT!)

Band favourites of 2016!

ANDY CAIRNS

Listening…
Burial-Young Death/Nightmarket
Nothing-Tired of Tomorrow
Architects-All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
Savages-Adore Life
Danny Brown-Atrocity Exhibition
Moor Mother-Fetish Bones
Gonjasufi-Callus
Anxiety-Anxiety
Elza Soares-A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo

Watching…
Evolution
Neon Demon
Green Room
The Missing
True Detective 2
American Horror Story Roanoke
84 Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Arts Theatre
Watching Chelsea beat Manchester United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in a match that became a fitting tribute to the late, much missed, Matthew Harding.

Reading…
Chris Petit-Butchers of Berlin
Emma Cline-The Girls

MICHAEL McKEEGAN

Listening…
Blood Incantation-Starspawn
System Of Hate-Unhallowed Ground
Metallica-KEM/RTL remasters
Umberto-Alienation
Kvelertak-Nattesferd
Eagulls-Ullages
Ghost BC-Square Hammer
Gost-Non Paradisi
Okkultokrati-Raspberry Dawn
Darkthrone-Arctic Thunder
The Virgin Marys-Divides
BAT-Wings Of Chains
Naïve Sense-Art Failures
MAKE-Pilgrimage Of Loathing
Myrkur-Mausoleum
Horseback-Dead Ringers
Oathbreaker-Rheia
Bloody Hammers-Lovely Sort Of Death
Dinosaur Jnr-Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
The Body-Nobody Deserves Happiness
Voivod-Post Society
Oranssi Pazuzzu-Värähtelijä
Entombed AD-Dead Dawn
NASA Space Universe-70 AD
Miasmal-Tides Of Omniscience
Lust For Youth-Compassion
Howls Of Ebb-Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows
G.L.O.S.S.-Trans Day Of Revenge
Castle-Welcome To The Graveyard
Art Of Burning Water-Between Life And Nowhere

Watching…
House Of Cards
Green Inferno
Bone Tomahawk
American Horror Story
Hush
Coherence
Green Room
True Detective 2
Fleabag
Black Mass
It Follows
Stranglers-Nirwana Festival, NL
Mastodon-Limelight, Belfast
Marduk-Wacken Festival, DE
Mike Monroe-Stone Free Festival, UK

Reading…

Day Four-Sarah Lotz
A Death In The Family-Karl Ove Knausgaard
Midnight Sun-Jo Nesbo
A Brief History Of Seven Murders-Marlon James
Mr Mercedes-Stephen King
The Fireman-Joe Hill

NEIL COOPER

Listening…
DJ Shadow-The Mountain Will Fall
Lindstrom-Closing Shot
John Carpenter-Lost Themes
Philly Joe Jones-Philly Joe’s Beat

Watching…
The Missing
Murder in Successville
The Revenant
I, Daniel Blake
Deadpool
The Lobster
The Big Short
Mudhoney – Rescue Rooms, Notts
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) Silent movie with live musical accompaniment – Cathedral, Derby

Reading…
Hell’s Angels – Hunter S Thompson
The Axeman’s Jazz – Ray Celestin

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (week 3)

Porgy & Bess, Vienna
After a night letting off steam and eating well in Linz, the following morning we head over to Vienna. The venue Porgy and Bess is a renowned jazz venue and we’re very excited to be playing there. The venue’s wonderful and the gig’s brilliant. To top things off, our friends Christian and Hannes join us onstage for Screamager, Nowhere and Die Laughing which is great fun!

Colosaal, Aschaffenburg
Apart from the freeeezing cold dressing room, the Colos-saal was great. Lovely people and great food! The show goes down really well and we have a smashing time.

Stone Im Ratinger, Dusseldorf
(Before leaving Aschaffenburg)
Ok, so, me and Herb (our lovely merch guy) dropped everyone’s washing in at a launderette the previous day to be washed overnight and picked up before leaving for Dusseldorf. The morning’s plan was to quickly pick up the clean clothes and then head off… erm, not quite!!
Let’s just say something was lost in translation and the launderette thought we were picking up the clothes a day later than we wanted!! After much pleading from us both we were asked to return in 2 hrs and everyone’s washing would be done. This allowed us to have an unexpected walk around Aschaffenburg which was absolutely lovely I must say. The Christmas market was in full swing and Christmas was definitely in the air. What began as a disaster actually turned out very well (thankfully for me and Herb!!!)

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We eventually arrived in Dusseldorf, sound checked and made sure everything was nice and comfortable on stage. The gig turns out to be more like a ‘rock gig’ than most of the shows we’ve done on this acoustic tour (yes, there was even stage diving!!) Everyone was very rowdy and in fine voice. Thanks Dusseldorf, what a great night.

After the show we begin the trek back to Blighty. We make a start by driving to Holland to stay over before driving on to London the next day for an evening off. We all chill out and have a lovely meal together in preparation for London.

London
We arrive at the Union Chapel around lunchtime. All I can say is wow – what a venue! The place is stunning.
We spend time getting the sounds right on stage – tonight we have our friends playing alongside us, Stevie and also Jenny Nendick on cello, so we make sure they’re happy and sounding great.
For us, the gig was amazing. I loved every minute. Thank you, London and thank you to everyone who travelled to the show. What a fantastic end to the tour!

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An acoustic tour was always going to be an odd one for us (from our end and yours)
It was the first time we’ve attempted acoustic shows and I can honestly say I’ve not had so much fun in a long time.
Approaching the songs and the tour in the way we did was a real challenge but it was incredibly rewarding and to be honest I’ve come off the back of the tour feeling invigorated and full of new ideas for the future. I loved it! Thank you for your part in making each and every show so special.

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Finally…
A massive thank you to everyone who came out to the shows in each city and all who travelled from around the world to join in the fun. Also, thanks to all our friends who got up onstage and played alongside us. We really must do it again some time!

Cheers
Neil

(oh, I’m on Instagram if you fancy it… ncooper.insta)

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (Week 2)

Maastricht Musiekgieterij 22/11/16

After a day off we’re ready for tonight. Never been to Maastricht before, our hotel is opposite the MVV Maastricht football ground.Town is gorgeous and makes me regret not going out the previous evening with Neil, Richard and Herb.Gig is a wonderful old market complete with steel girders and cobbled stones and it works really well for an acoustic show. The audience are friendly and warm create a fantastic atmosphere in the venue. The lights are great and afterwards we chat and have photos taken with a few people. Thanks to all at the venue for the good food, helpful tips and hands with the equipment. We’d like to return to Maastricht with the full electric band experience.

Brussels Botanique 23/11/16

We didn’t know how this gig would go as it wasn’t seated and we were worried that it might lead the audience to believe it would be a full on show. No need to worry the Brussels crowd sang their hearts out from start to finish and made for a full blooded show with shouting, drunken chants and lovely smiles.
Thank you very much for your kindness. That was a wee bit special.

Roeselare De Spil 24/11/16

Another first. A fantastic venue. Stunning inside like an opera house. At first I found the setting strange but soon got into it. The crowd was really sweet keeping us going throughout and when we started asking them to boo Donald Trump they happily obliged. Thanks to everyone including the venue for making this a special night. We’d like to go back.

Rotterdam Arminius 25/11/16

One of my favourite cities in Europe and I don’t get a chance to visit it very often. We start the day at famous Barbershop Shroem where we play in the back while people get their hair cut. A first for us! Thanks to the guys for the food and drinks. Next time I might get myself a haircut.

I then spend an hour looking in record stores for local band release Sweet Release of Death but I can’t find it.
The gig was on another level altogether. Stunning venue, incredible crowd and I thought we played very well. What a night. Seeing all the smiling faces was an immense feeling, real goosebumps. A big thank you to all of you who came, all at Rotown and Ronald, our Dutch friend, who turned up with a vinyl copy of the album I’d been looking for!
Can’t wait to return to see you all again and the spectacular night took our minds off the fact that we had a twelve hour drive to Linz the following day.

Day Off, Linz 26/11/16

Arrive at 16.30, have beers in bar, find Bar showing Chelsea v Tottenham game.Drink more beer while cheering on the mighty Blues.Chelsea win 2-1 with a stunning goal from Pedro and a second, well worked one, set up by Costa and scored by Victor Moses. Come On You Blues KTBFFH

Go to curry house and, for the first time ever, let the guy talking us through the menu choose my meal for me. It’s delicious. Back to hotel, watch crap TV and hit bed. Big day, big gig ahead in Vienna. Go to sleep still buzzing about the Chelsea win.

Andy Cairns

“Wood & Wire” acoustic tour (Week 1)

Oosterpoort, Groningen

After an overnight boat from the UK its an early start off the boat but once we get our bearings we are straight on over to Groningen. We’ve played here a couple of times before and its exciting to see how it goes down in the acoustic format! Take a bit of time working through the sounds at soundcheck…Neil is using a very stripped down kit and both Andy and I have acoustic guitars/bass.

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He’s got Wood & Wire eyes

Soundcheck is sounding good so we have a quick look at the new merchandise and then have a lovely dinner in the venue restaurant. There’s no support tonight so we were doing two sets with a small interval, again, another first for us.

The show goes great and the Groningen crowd seem well up for it, singing in all the right places and clapping in the others. A lovely atmosphere all round, nice one folks, we had a blast.

Melkweg, Amsterdam

Great venue, nice staff and good soundcheck. Our friend Robert is joining us tonight for a couple of songs so we play them through at the soundcheck with him. Stagetime is fast approcahing so we get a quick bit of dinner down in the restaurant, chat with Eric the owner about the Die Kreuzen days and head back up to the dressing room.

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The Melkweg

Gig is pretty lively as acoustic shows go, everyone seems well into it and again lots of really great fun onstage. Robert joins us later in the set and its fun to have the additional guitar and voice onstage. After we get towelled down and packed up, head over to a pub for a quick beer and hang out with Robert, Ronald and a few others. Many thanks Amsterdam, it was a pleasure to be back in your city again!

Day Off

Sleeping, eating and showering. Perfect!

013 Tilburg

Another lovely venue and very cool staff and set-up. We’ve played here a few times over the years and its a great example of a custom built venue that looks and sounds great. Very helpful crew and nice backstage facilities which is always a bonus. Its should be a busy night, both our show and the one next door (Opeth & Sahg) are sold out.

Soundcheck for a bit and once it sounding good and there is a nice balance onstage we head down to the catering area for a lovely meal. Its a real luxury to get one decent proper hot meal a day as opposed to eating junk food at service stops. After that pop next door to watch a bit of Sahg at soundcheck and they sound ace, very chunky, very dark with some ace doomy riffs.

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Andy has very kindly chased me up a copy of the new Metallica album so its good to get a bit of that pumping in the dressing room before showtime! Again its the two set format and we play a slightly re-jigged version of the previous nights set. Seems to work well and from the off people and rocking out (or as much rocking out you can do at a seated gig ;))

Pack up the gear, sign a few things for people and then we’re trekking back across town for a well-deserved rest before nipping across the border to Belgium.

Warande Turnhout

The drive over is very smooth and the town seems lovely. This is the first show with a support act so we have a slightly shorter set and play it all through with no interludes. The crowd are quiet to start with, possibly getting their heads around the format 😉 Soon enough they begin to start singing and generally having some fun with us. Some nice heckling as well!

After we chill out, pack up and get back to the hotel for a nice easy night. Big thanks to everyone at the venue for helping us out and also to Jan De Bruyn for opening up…a very talented artist and very funny and entertaining company at dinner!

Orpheus, Apeldoorn

Very cool venue, super nice dressing rooms and a very cosy dining area meant that we were excited to be back in this area (for some reason I think we played a festival nearby in Tiel with Madness and The Virgin Marys?).

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Unfortunately the excellent run of gigs was slightly derailed tonight by a succession of onstage technical problems that seemed to conspire against us. First up there was a ‘bad’ cable between my bass DI and the PA which resulted in a horrible rattle throughout the first 5 songs (for some reason it took the in-house sound guy that long to work out the problem was with his cabling not ours!)…then Andy broke a string on his main acoustic (too much riffing!) so had to swap to his 2nd guitar, which was in a different tuning and that had to be retuned up and down until Richard managed to get onstage and get the guitar restrung.

The author typing his diary in Appeldoorn

The author typing his diary 😉

Thankfully we had an attentive and warm audience who had a lot of patience for the situation. It was frustrating for us as we always aspire to put on the best possible show for the crowd and tonight it was a tough one. SOooooooooooo thank you Apeldoorn, we appreciate you bearing with us through the technical hi-jinks. Its another day off tomorrow so we get our laundry (amazing how it builds up on tour) ready for ‘washday’ and chase up a few things before calling it a night and heading off to the hotel.

Thanks to everyone who’s come out so far…it’s been a brilliant experience so far…roll on the rest of the dates!

“Wood & Wire” Acoustic cd recording session

When we heard we were heading out on the “Wood & Wire” acoustic tour we thought it might be a good idea to ‘document’ the tour/idea with a companion cd which people could get at the shows, sort’ve a momento of the night with the reworked older songs on there. Anyway, to get the cd pressed/produced in time we found ourselves back in Blast Studios right at the start of October, acoustic guitars in hand. First day is always a bit of a set-up, get sounds up and fine tune stuff and as my flight gets in quite late, the lads have already got their gear up and are ready to roll. After a quick hello to everyone and a cup of tea later we are up and running. Once we fall into a routine it begins to go quick, normally we’ll re-arrange the song a bit, tweak the tempo, Andy will do a guide vocal/guitar and then myself and Neil would take a couple of passes at the song and nail the rhythm parts. Come 10:30pm we’re all feeling a bit frazzled so we decide to pick it up fresh again in the morning. We’ve still to drive over and check into the hotel so off we go to get settled in case of any late night ‘no room at the inn’ hi-jinks.

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Andy on axe

Walk over the bridge from Gateshead to the studio the next glorious morning is quite a feeling. Sun is shining and the streets are quiet, always nice to be up and at ‘em before the rest of the world is awake.

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Glorious views in Newcastle

We finish off the remaining 3 songs by noon and then after a short break Andy is straight in doing the guitars. Neil and I take the opportunity to nip out and collect some lunch for everyone and the rest of the afternoon is spent hanging out in the studio whilst Andy finishes up the guitars and moves onto the vocals. Our friend Jenny comes down after dinner time to add some cello to our new version of “Gone” and that sounds amazing. A very cool addition to the recording, hope you will agree!

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Jenny on cello!

Get finished up around 8pm or so and Andy heads back to the hotel whilst Neil and myself take the scenic route walking back over the bridge and enjoying watching the ebullient Newcastle nightlife begin to build-up.

Michael

We’re now at the final day of recording and we have a busy day ahead.
At this point in the session things have come together nicely for the tracks we’ll be putting on the acoustic tour ‘memento’ CD.

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Neil getting jazzy

After a long day, yesterday, Andy heads to the studio early this morning to record the vocals and guitar parts on the remaining songs. Once the recorded parts have been finished we all get a chance to listen through each song and make any last-minute comments and suggestions about the recordings. By mid afternoon we’re able to leave studio engineer, Thom, to begin the mixing process.

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Rythmn section hard at it

As mixing gets underway, rather than sitting around waiting and twiddling our thumbs, we’re able to meet up with our old friend Tom Hoad to take some photos and capture our time in the studio. He has a couple of locations in mind which we head out to and we also invite him in to the studio to snap away whilst we play through some tunes.

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Mr Hoad snapping away

Finally, before heading off on flights and long road journeys home, we head back in to the studio and listen through the first song Thom has mixed. Everything’s sounding great and really captures the session nicely.
Hope you enjoy it.

Neil

Nirwana Fest & Boerenrock 2016

26th August 2016
Nirwana festival,
Lierop, Holland

Sorry for the delay on this. After returning from the two shows and sitting down to type some kind of diary my laptop decided to grind to a halt, annoying the shit out of me. This developed from screaming at the machine into a period of red mist where I caught myself punching the keyboard repeatedly, smashing in the keys and power button. (“ooooh, you don’t wanna do that” I hear you cry… damn right I don’t!) So, a new laptop and a silly number of hours salvaging all the shit I’ve accumulated over the years. It’s true what they say about regular back-ups, kids.

Now then, the gigs…
The trip began with a pleasant trip over to Holland. Travelling across on the Eurostar and arriving at the hotel in time to have a beer with The Stranglers and crew. All very relaxed and everyone seemed to be looking forward to the following day’s show.The festival had really nice feel to it. Very relaxed and well organised. Who could argue with any festival that decorates the dressing room with this…

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Starman in the dressing room.

We were really excited about playing and got to add a couple of songs since our previous show. Having not played ’30 seconds’ in a while it’s a real treat to play.

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Setlist Nirwana Fest

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Men in black

The gig was great fun.
After our show we had time for a beer and got to check out The Stranglers who played a storming set!

27th August 2016
Boerenrock festival,
Kortenaken, Belgium

We began the day with a leisurely trip across to Belgium. The temperature was extreme. It was a bloody scorcher!!
We found our dressing room and settled in although it was miles away from the stage. This can be a little disconcerting – strangely, the constant thump, thump of a bass drum makes you feel part of the festival. When you’re sat in silence it can a be a little…. well, odd. Having said that, the gig is brilliant. The onstage sound is excellent and we all really enjoy ourselves.

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Full frontal

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Rear end

Holland and Belgium, thanks.
Until the next time.

Neil