Welcome to the Subs bassist's 2010 tour blog, in which Paul will be detailing what daily life is like whilst touring.
In his blog you will find descriptions of venues, support bands, and of the various people that Paul meets along the way. Interwoven in all this is the fascinating story of Paul's comeback into music, after over two decades of being parted from his bass!
Paul will also share various photos from his travels with the bands he plays with, which at the moment is Monica and The Explosion and The Flying Padovanis...
The first entry for this month is at the foot of the page, with the latest entry at the top!
KEEP CHECKING THIS PAGE...
October 25th - Henry Padovani's X-Factor
Series 2 of the French version of the X-Factor. That's selling out I hear you cry, and I realise that the X-Factor is a blight on the music industry, producing a torrent on unpalatable crap and deflecting a spotlight away from truly talented musicians and poisoning the already feeble minds of the great unwashed… But hey I’d sell out too, in a heartbeat and fuck the rest… and I hope you would too.
Look, it’s not really selling out, as long as he remains true to his beliefs and tells it as it is. But what role will he take on? Will it be the cruel but honest Cowell, the affable idiot Walsh, or perhaps the sexy slapper Cole. My guess knowing Henry is that he’ll opt for the sexy slapper character, a role he’s tried to play throughout his life; with mixed results I’m told.
Whatever, it’s going to prove fascinating viewing I’m sure. Although I think he’ll have a tough time trying to unearth the next great French talent. Someone the equal of, say, Johnny Hallyday, Sacha Distel, Charles Aznavour or even the mighty Plastic Bertand. Oh no! I forgot Plastic is Belgian, bad luck France…
I also understand that Henry now has his own stylist, although I doubt they’ll be able to improve on the rustic clapped-out farmer chic that Henry likes to adopt when relaxing at home. (see picture right)
If this all sounds a bit of a heavy- handed piss take, then you’d be right! I can only do this because Henry likes to dish it out himself from time to time. Besides, I love him like a brother, and am truly pleased for him, and wish him all the best for the challenge that lies ahead.
October 2nd - The Flying Padovanis in Grenoble
Chris and I had flown out to join our “brother” Henry Padovani the day before. We’d caught the 7.15 am flight to Lyon out of Gatwick. This was no fucking joke as I had to drag my weary arse out of bed at 4am and drive myself to the airport. No time for breakfast, although I did manage a beer on the plane just after we took off - even impressing myself with that one. And for the record Chris had a cup of tea… the fricking lightweight ;-)
This being a European date, we were met at the airport by Breeze, one of the promoters and driven to our hotel in the centre of Grenoble. You see, that’s how things are done outside the UK. I know I’ve said it before, but musicians are treated with greater respect virtually everywhere else other than Britain. None of this paid to play bollocks. Here we were being properly looked after, all expenses paid.
I loved Grenoble from the moment we arrived. Not since Monica and I were in Amsterdam had I felt that here was somewhere I could quite easily live. Situated at the foot of the French Alps, where the river Drac joins the Isère, Grenoble, located in the Rhône-Alpes region, is the capital of the department of Isère. The proximity of the mountains has led to the city being known as the "Capital of Alps."
Apparently, Grenoble is famous for its walnuts, although nobody offered me any.
Henry wasn’t due to arrive until 2pm, so Chris and I took the opportunity to have a wander around, then park our arses outside one on the numerous bars near our hotel.
I love a drink at lunch time, and what could be better than sitting in the sun (and it was seriously hot, around 26 degrees) sipping a cold beer or two with good friends. OK, it’s a bit like the Last of the Summer Wine, especially when Chris and Henry start arguing about who’s reading glasses belong to who! But we do go a long way back.
After lunch, the three of us were driven to the venue, which turned out to be a Harley Davidson showroom where we were also going to rehearse. Pretty cool I reckon. The Padovanis do a lot of motorbike related gigs, and every time we come away from one I’m filled with the urge to buy one of the damn things.
The gig was a lot of fun, although it was slightly disconcerting to be surrounded by Hells Angels and Rough Riders, sipping white wine and nibbling canapés. I was expecting beer to be thrown around, accompanied by the sound of gunfire. ;-)
October 2nd was also my daughter Katie’s birthday, and I was sorry to have missed the day. She wants an electric ukulele, her newest hero being Itch from the King Blues.
- Below: Blog picture mix by Paul Slack
Saturday 9th October - How I became a U.K. Sub
The early punk scene was very DIY. Yes there were a few seasoned musicians around like Charlie, Nicky and Pete who’d been in bands before, but until I joined the Subs I’d never played any kind of instrument.
I sort of became a UK Sub by default really. I was studying art at St Martins* and I used to go and watch the Marauders play at the Castle in Tooting. At the time, my brother Steve was playing bass for them. This would have been in 1977, when the punk movement was really kicking off. I think it’s true to say that Steve never really embraced the punk scene, and it was soon obvious that he wanted to follow a different musical path.
I thought this was a great mistake. I couldn’t really understand why he wanted to leave. Things were happening so quickly and there was great excitement in the air, a real buzz. The whole music scene that had been so limp for years was suddenly bursting into life. Not only that, but there was general political unrest and punk was an outpouring of the sense of injustice felt by many of Britain’s youth. Punk became the focal point of rebellion against a system that had let so many down. Suddenly there where new bands springing up everywhere, bringing with them a tremendous burst of creative energy and I wanted to be part of it.
I tried to encourage Steve to stay but his mind was made up. I remember one evening having a big argument about it, which culminated in him saying, “Well if you’re so convinced, why the fuck don’t you play bass?”
So we sat up for the next few nights, while he taught me how to play. It has to be said that I wasn’t what you’d call a “natural”, but I was determined to prove him wrong about the Subs.
I still had to audition, but as I was already friends with Charlie I had a big advantage over the others. I reckon that I was pretty hopeless, but what I lacked in talent I made up for in enthusiasm.
Well I got the gig. Although at the time I was convinced that the Subs would make a valuable contribution to the burgeoning music scene, I had little idea of what an impact they would have on my life.
When I started my blog, I said that I believed that as you travel through life from time to time, you’ll find yourself at a crossroad with no indication of which way to go. Well I’d arrived at one and luckily for me I took the right turning.
I never finished my art school diploma, although while I was there, and way before I joined the Subs, I went to the first ever Sex Pistols gig on November 6th 1975, more by luck than judgement, as I’d gone to see my mate play drums for Bazooka Joe. So you could say I was there right from the start. I wish I could say that with incredible insight that, as I stood there watching them, I recognised the significance of the moment, but I came away from that gig thinking the Pistols were a bunch of complete wankers ;-)
Wednesday 6th October - A thank you Blog!
Things have been going pretty well for Monica and The Explosion recently. Gigs have been coming in on a regular basis and reviews have been great. So we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the many wonderful friends we have, who have been working on our behalf for no personal gain, just through kindness.
Monica and The Explosion go from strength to strength, so this isn’t some sort of valedictory message, it’s just that now and again you have to stop and acknowledge those who are helping you along the way.
But where to begin?
OK, firstly we have Mark Chadderton and Rob Cook, who run this amazing website. Their enthusiasm and encouragement has been invaluable right from the start. It seems that no sooner have we thought of something to put on the site - then it’s already done! Brilliant work lads - keep it up!
Then we have all the photographers who have given their time and work free of charge. Ken Sharp, Fishbones Glover (and Alison), Gemma “Librasnake” Eggle, Craig Lovell and Dod Morrison; you have all produced some fantastic photographs which have been so useful to us.
We’d also like to send a big thanks to all the smaller independent promoters and venues up and down the land. People like Adam “Waddy” Wood in Birmingham, Lee Evans in Stoke, Barnet Mark at the 12 Bar, Ivor Wilkins at the Flower Pot, Steve Alridge at Karn’s in Hinckley, Dave Marshall in Sheppy and everyone else involved in promoting shows, without your efforts new bands would struggle even more than they do.
We’ve also worked with some amazing drummers; we’d like to thank Rob Baylis for his outstanding work on the album, Jamie Oliver (U.K. Subs), Wilco Van Eijk (The Penny Black Remedy), Dave Marshall (All Flags Burn) and JP Morer (Hooligan). JP also promoted our Irish tour and has worked tirelessly on our behalf ever since. So to JP we owe special thanks.
In Europe, we have some very cool people helping us find shows in their respective countries. In Sweden we have Katarina from the band Disciplin, Crossler Roger from Smash It Up! in Gothenburg and Peter Johansson in Sundsvall . We’re receiving help for France from Luc Vergier, Richard Royce (El Royce) and Pascal Montoureur in Chartres.
In other parts of Europe we have Torsten Schilling championing our cause in Germany and Gwynn in Holland, as well as Rob Cole (OrientXpress) in the Czech Republic and the lads from Setting Off Sirens from Ireland.
In America, we’ve been talking to Colleen Caffeine from Choking Susan about doing some gigs together, and Honey Bane is helping us with PR in America and is also setting up a Twitter page for us.
We want to thank TV Smith and Texas Terri for their advice and willingness to pass on contact details of promoters and venues, that they’ve worked with in the past.
And Dun 2 Def for being mates. And all the other great bands we've worked with.
A special thank you to our old friend Charlie Harper also, who is always ready to listen, and to help with advice gathered from all those years in the business.
On a personal level, I’d like to thank my old friends Chris and Henry from the Flying Padovanis. They have always stuck by me, no matter what.
Of course, the danger with something like this is that you miss someone out. And I know I have, because there are lots of other people who have done what they can to help us. If I haven’t mentioned you by name I’m sorry - but we thank you anyway.
PS Colin Dogz UK Sub you’re a star…
Monica and The Explosion are now setting off on a 10 date tour of the UK, starting tomorrow. The story moves on!
How did I become a UK Sub? Find out in the next blog…
- NEW PAUL SLACK RECORDING TO PURCHASE:
Click the CD cover photo to purchase the totally fabulous Monica and The Explosion CD, with Paul Slack on bass. You will be taken to the secure Time & Matter Recordings Big Cartel site.
THIS IS THE ONLY U.K. OUTLET FOR THE CD, WITH A SMALL DONATION ALSO GOING TO CHARLIE'S CHARITABLE CAUSE.
Go on - you know it makes sense - give yourself a real new musical treat!