Life is so strange. It’s odd to be on tour. Really odd. For me, at least. Three years ago I would never have thought this could be happening. Five years ago I would never have dreamed of having so many people listening to my music, much less arriving in a city I have never even heard of and watching people I’ve never met mouth the words to my songs…
I consider myself extremely fortunate. I suppose I have plenty of bad luck as well (such as my experience with all the computer’s I’ve ever bought dying within a year! haha!) But here’s just a bit of thanks for the people who support my music, to my friends from I Am Your Autopilot, and to Scalde, to all the people who like to exist in the same bubble of music-love as I do.
catch up from the outskirts of Paris
We have just played our first three gigs in France for the tour. The first was in the city of Nantes as part of the Scopitone festival. It went well. Things were a little bit off between us, so we were all a bit dissatisfied, but we got a nice response from the audience. The festival itself was very cool visually. Most of it took place in a very large hanger dissected by tall curtained installations.
The next gig was in Nancy. Nancy, first of all, is a really pretty city. Actually, the place where we were staying was almost like an enormous mall, but somehow this kind of thing makes me feel comfortable! It’s odd. The venue was super cool, all red and modern, but we were not on the main stage. It was a bit of a smaller room in the shape of a cube. Again, I think the show went over well, and we had a lot of fun, but somehow something was still missing between all of us! Maybe we hadn’t quite hit our stride yet…
The next day we were meant to leave quite early to get to Tourcoing for a early evening Sunday gig. But nobody was eating breakfast! Around the time we were scheduled to leave the Pilots started showing up looking… well, quite hung over. But nobody else came down until about 45 minutes after we were meant to leave… and further delays had us setting out an hour and a half late.
So in the van everyone, except for me and Mido (who was driving) was asleep. We were driving top speed on the motorway. Suddenly the van seemed to be driving on some odd ribbed concrete - the whole van started to vibrate. Everyone opened their eyes in a panic as the van began to swerve to the left and right. It seemed like were were about to go out of control, and this lasted for about 10 or 15 seconds. Thankfully Mido kept his head and got us over to the shoulder where we discovered that one of the tires had blown up and was absolutely shredded. We were lucky to not have had something far more serious happen…
Beyond the significance of having made it through this potentially deadly experience alive, this would be our last performance with Graeme on bass during this leg of the tour so we all just kind of brought all our emotions and finally gave the kind of show we had always intended to! It was really emotional and energetic. The audience seemed quite moved as well. And the venue was just great. Great sound, great crew. Just an overall memorable experience. We sat afterwards and ate dinner with the theatre crew.
Now I’m in Paris, feeling a bit under the weather. I think I’m going to take a bath and just stay in and read tonight. Next stop Le Mans…on the train to Nantes
So we arrived at our hotel and I could barely believe we were off the motorway! Just a two minute walk to the left brings you to a cluster of oil refinery buildings, one minute to your right brings you to a cluster of small domelike huts. A glance behind the hotel brings a view of the mountains and an old church! Despite this being a very industrial area, I kind of like it! It reminds me of where my grandmother lived in Huntington beach, California.
Anyway, the nextday we met with Sylvain and saw Lyon for the first time. I love this city a lot. I love that there are so many hills, making a great many beautiful vistas. Also there was a crafts fair taking place and I ended up buying 5 small handmade instruments.
We also visited two enormous churches, one of which was just a bit too decorated, but the other of which had a wonderful clock which had a huge crowd gathered around it. We waited around and five minutes later it tolled and strange little marching toys emerged from it’s framework!
The next day, after an accupuncture appointment Sylvain set up for me I was really happy to be greeted by the image of all my friends in the band on bicycles! We rented them from the street and biked around all afternoon.
Sylvain’s kind friend Colas joined us as well. It was a really nice day!
This post was writing on a train, alone heading towards Nantes for a solo performance which happened last night! Tonight we have a full band performance and apparently it’s sold out! We’re all very excited and happy to be getting back to work! I’ll write all about Nantes tomorrow!lots of love and a breakdown ends in Feyzin…
So the day after our first gig we had planned a relaxing day of a few small journeys. First off we were set to have lunch with Sylvain’s parents. They lived just about fifteen minutes from Geneva, so it was a very fast journey to their lovely home in the country.
Sylvain’s mother prepared the most delicious meal. We were all really grateful to get a wonderful home-cooked meal in such a beautiful environment and had a lot of fun playing with their cat, who looked a bit like a tiger and caught a mouse and proceeded to play with it cruelly before our very eyes.
After that we had the opportunity to do some recordings at a church nearby. The acoustics were wonderful and surprisingly reverberant for the humble size of the church. I’ll be releasing these videos on my website and vimeo soon. Just have to do a little mix. We performed a nearly acapella version of The Sad Song, a fully orchestrated version of Death of a Son and All In Our Hands there. We also did a strange vocal improvisation which sounded almost a bit Webernish! hahah, that’s not necessarily a good thing, but it was for us a very interesting experiment and we really got into it. It felt good.
After that we went to my friend Stéphane’s 40th birthday party down near the lake. Stéphane hasn’t changed even a touch since the last time I saw her nearly ten years ago. She’s the same spirited, wildly intelligent person I remember. We chatted with a bunch of her good friends and the Pilots stripped down and jumped into the cold lake - a very impressive feat indeed! Ben was telling me though that as he swam deeper out into the lake the current got quite strong and when a wave crashed over him and filled his mouth with lake water he very quickly swam back to shore!
So from here we drove back to Lyon. We watched Hitchcock’s Frenzy in the van, until the film had about 10 minutes until its conclusion… suddenly I smelled burning rubber. I looked at Graeme who had the same slightly quizzical look on his face. We mentioned it to Mido and Finnian up in the front seat and they had noticed not only that but there was smoke coming from under the hood. We were 18 kilometers from Lyon!!!
After a lot of headaches for poor Mido we made it safe and sound to our hotel. That’s another chapter though. I’ll post about that tomorrow.Off to a good start!
So yesterday was our very first performance of the tour! It was in the Alhambra theatre in Geneva, Switzerland, a place I’ve never seen before. It’s a lovely city, very gentle and… well square. And I mean literally. There are just lots of right angles in the architecture! Anyway, we played as part of La Batie festival. I can’t write too much right now because we’re set to check out of our rooms in 18 minutes and I have yet to pack (!) but the show went well. And a very old friend of mine, Stéphane Mitchell, who had just turned 40 on the very day came to the show! It was so great to see her, and have a chat after the show.
Also, and it sucks I can’t remember the woman’s name, but after the show we had a very long chat with a woman who came with her boyfriend David. He was the one who set up our live performance on the radio (THANK YOU!) and it turned out she was from the Bronx originally, which is where my dad was from, so we had a long chat about Mozzie (slang for Mozzarella cheese) and New York. She had been really moved by the performance of Umbrellas, and described her experience in such a way that really touched me so much.
I’ll tell you, the shows are fun, but really it’s meeting folks afterwards that brings a lot of warmth and happiness. So if you come to one of our shows afterwards, come and introduce yourself!
Here’s an image of Graeme and Scalde just before the show tuning up.