Ten years ago this week I went on my first tour with Canada Water. This came at a time when I regularly documented my life, which means I have a (mostly) honest account of what happened, before the stories were retold time and time again and the details slowly changed.
We didn’t get to tour all that much in our short time as a band so the memories mean even more than perhaps they should. That said, reading these back one thing that surprised me is just how much this all meant at the time. Life sounds like it looked much bigger in these stories than I know it to be a decade later.
Thursday 9th October 2008
As a late addition to the tour schedule we threw a launch evening at iBar, just because we could and because both us and Amy Can Flyy owe a lot to this venue and the breaks it’s given us this year. The turnout was limited as expected, but it was nice to spend the night before tour officially started with our closest friends, as well as giving us chance to meet the tour co-headliners I Say Marvin.
Ed, George and Tom played an acoustic set that was actually suprisingly entertaining and went down well. Amy Can Flyy also knocked out a couple of tracks unplugged before Chris and Ben departed the stage leaving Clive to perform a suprise 2 song set of Near Saturn Lies Gold material.
I Say Marvin played a full band set as it was their first time playing in Bournemouth. I’d purposely tried not to listen to them before because I prefer to see bands live first where possible. Main reason being often our recordings don’t do us justice. I was really impressed by their set, it left me excited to be touring with them for the week ahead.
I took chance to test run dj-ing in the basement ahead of my slot for the Pop Disaster club night later this month. It resulted in me resorting to using iTunes party shuffle to cue tracks (we have a few issues to address).
I’d been to see Paige play at The Queens Hotel, Weymouth earlier this year so I knew what to expect before we arrived at the venue. As we soundchecked and time started to press on I was getting nervous about the turnout. As always I ended up breathing a sigh of relief. By the time we played the venue was comfortably filled throughout and the atmosphere had a positive feeling.
On stage our set sounded great (for the first time in a long while), we got a welcome response, but what really made this set for me was the energy on stage. An inspiring start to the tour.
Since our accommodation feel through in Weymouth we travelled back to Bournemouth to stay at Mark Davis’ flat. By the time we finally arrived in town we found ourselves walking almost in single file through the Wessex Way subway system with our life in backpacks and clinging onto our sleeping bags for dear life.
From Mark’s we headed out to the casino, where I signed up for my second casino in as many months, paid far too much for a single Southern Comfort and coke, but enjoyed it as if every sip was a fraction of the price paid. I won £5 on my free bet then proceeded to loose it by betting again, for me that was a big deal.
The next morning started with a call from Tom, who had walked back to sleep in the van, telling me to round up the troops at Mark’s. I pulled myself up from underneath a BMX that I’d fallen asleep underneath and played Mr Unpopular walking the floors telling the half awake that it was time to move.
Don’t get me wrong I have warm memories of Upton, in all fairness it was all we had for a couple of years back after the demise of Mister Smiths, but I was bracing myself for tonight. The fact of the matter is Upton is a bitch to organise because it simply isn’t a music venue, it’s a hall that we build from the ground up to bring to life the concert room it appears to be.
The decline in it’s following means costs are no longer covered. In short, tonight could well have been one of the the last Upton shows. For sentimentality I was determined for it to end on a positive note and thankfully it did.
Our set reminded me of how fun it was to play this venue back in the day. Looking out I think its fair to say almost the entire crowd was filled with faces that werent here 2 years ago. It’s reassuring to see a new generation taking an interest in live music.
After the show we went back to Chris’ house. For the first time on the Fix Up Look Daft Tour I had chance to begin to document our adventures so far and falling asleep on padded cushions from a couch was a luxury.
Woke up early, jumped out of “bed” and joined the rest of my band on a mission racing around to try and finish up the van to make it road worthy for the rest of the week and the further afield shows ahead. We were forced to make a decision between music in the van and aircon. We figured relying on windows for air would be a fine sacrifice in order to have a soundtrack to our journeys.
Southampton saw a shaky turnout but was full of familiar faces and personally made for a great show for us. I wrote last time we played here that it’s a big deal to play such a personal favourite venue. I think we did the stage justice this time around. Three days into tour and I feel like we might almost have our set down.
After the show a select few of us, minus I Say Marvin who had already left for Cornwall, trekked down to Walkabout which seemed to be the only club open, drank snakebite and free Sex In The Beach from a water gun, danced to 90’s pop music and then headed on to the casino.
By the time we all got into the casino Ed had won more than the money he’d lost two nights ago in Bournemouth. Greg managed to drag him out before the tables turned again. The walk home saw an alarming amount of bare balls, most of which Ed and Adam were responsible for.
Started my morning on the opposite side of town to where I needed to be, realised the time, made myself look presentable, said my goodbyes and headed out. It’s been a while since i’ve felt as rough as I did walking back to Greg’s house, yet I still managed to make a detour via HMV to pick up Cut The Blue Wire’s new EP Revert, Restart, Reset. I love this band, go check them out.
When we finally loaded in the van, we set off on our first long journey of the tour, all the way from Southampton to Johnny’s (I Say Marvin) house in St Ives, Cornwall. We arrived late that afternoon, his Mum introduced us to our floor where we’d be crashing for the next two nights and I suddenly realised that when Johnny said it was a studio he actually meant art studio rather than recording.
There was no show Monday night so after we finished a meal of vegetable curry that Johnny’s mum had prepared for us, he took us into the centre of his hometown to a bar where he used to work. I proceded to get very drunk, climbed in a boat, fought with a coach, almost fell asleep on a cab rank floor, met a lovely family from Birmingham and probably gave Bournemouth a bad name with our “song”.
By the time we got back to the art studio I was struggling to lay down without everything around me spinning. The next thing I knew I woke up.
It was morning. I was tucked up in my sleeping bag. Everyone around me was asleep. There were no clues as to how I’d ended up here. This has never happened to this extent before. It worried me a little.
While some of the guys went skim boarding the rest of us took a more lesuirely walk down to the beach, best known as Carbis Bay, to try get over the worst of our hangovers. Me and Chris seemed to be suffering most. Surprisingly it doesn’t actually happen that often but when me and Chris are drinking together in full force, hell is raised.
Tonight I Say Marvin headlined for the first time this tour, they’d previously sold out Bar 200 in Truro two nights in a row so tonight was rammed. It’s no secret how much I love Cornwall, but that aside tonight was easily one of my favourite shows. I’ll never forget the sight of the ceiling bowing where people were going off the wall upstairs during I Say Marvin’s set.
After the show we drove back to St. Ives for our second night at the art studio, tonight I fell asleep of my own accord, fairly sober and content.
Then I woke up. it was 4am, there was was less of the people I knew and more people I’d never met. It had gone 7am before I fell asleep again.
The drive to Plymouth saw our first breakdown. I say breakdown it was more of a scare. Heading up a hill somewhere on the outskirts of Truro suddenly all the fans kicked in. With cries of “abandon ship!” we all jumped out of our beloved Pegasus, who had really just run out of water and was close to overheating. A brief trip to a garage nearby confirmed that there was nothing visably wrong with her. The mechanic looked freakishly like Ben Stiller.
Arriving at Plymouth, me, Greg and Ed were straight into the Pavillions and swimming in the pool before Tom had started on another sandwich. We bumped into water fanatics Sam, Ash and Jim from I Say Marvin who’d already been in for “an hour or so”. The slide was alright, the pool attendent was hot, the shower was immense. Best £2.10 I’d spent on tour so far.
The Hub was an insanely good venue, it’s a real shame the promoter had done no work and only 10 people showed up. In all honesty I didn’t care, the 10 people that did show up were all really welcoming and seemed into the music. We even sold 2 t-shirts!
Once we finished up there, all three bands headed in seperate directions, I Say Marvin drove on to a friends place, Amy Can Flyy spent the night in a Plymouth B+B while they waited for a mechanic to fix Hercules (their van) and Team CW drove 2 hours towards our next destination and spent the night in a Travelodge, managing to sneak 5 into a 3 man room booking.
I whacked my headphones on, listened to some new records and fell asleep on a full mattress, albeit next to George. It, was, amazing.
I felt refreshed after our night in the Travelodge and optmistic about Northampton. Unfortunately, eventhough the turnout was better than Plymouth, the show was overshadowed by a few factors. In defence of the two promoters they were both really nice and seemed to have their heart in the right place. For one reason or another word hadn’t got around about the show, but the real shame is that the venue seemed to have let them down.
We left the venue with no hard feelings. I hate it when money get in the way of what we do. We’re not in a position where we have someone to do our dirty work, and when it’s you that has to chase the money that you need to get from A to B, as well as being an approachable and friendly musician it can be tough.
On a positive note, I had my first can of Grape Soda in Northampton. I’ve been meaning to try it for a long time. It was actually very nice.
Northampton hadn’t come through for us with accomodation so we’d resorted to another Travelodge. Except there was no way we’d get everyone in tonight, so most of us slept in vans with threats from the staff that they’d call the police if we caused any trouble. Coincidently I’d fallen asleep in an awkward position while a red TGI Friday sign glared outside.
In Horsham we had a suprisingly good meal at Spoons, were impressed by the character of the town and had time for our second swimming pool of the week before the show. This one had an outside heated pool. It felt surreal being outside and in water in October.
The show was another real standout for me, the venue had a real positive vibe, we were waited on like nothing we’d ever experienced before, with pizza appearing on the table as we lounged around on plush chairs and caught up on Hollyoaks. Finally, our dream rider! The people at the show were amongst the nicest I’ve ever met.
Apart from the sound problems that really let Amy Can Flyy down, it was a great show to end our time on the tour. It took a lot to tear us apart from our new friends in I Say Marvin, but as much as it sucked to leave, it was time to sign off.