Welcome to the Subs bassist's 2010 tour blog. Over the coming months Paul will be detailing what daily life is like whilst touring with the band.
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 band, as well as his life away from the Subs, such as other recording commitments...
The first entry for this month is at the foot of the page, with the latest entry at the top! Links to all the previous months' Blog entries are provided at the foot of this page.
KEEP CHECKING THIS PAGE...
- Wednesday 28 April 2010
Day Eight - Arlon
I’m not going to dwell too long on the Arlon show, as it was the most average gig of the tour. Whether it was us or the crowd I’m not sure, but it’s a shame because it was the last date of what had been a really good tour.
The best part of the day was sitting outside a bar in the town centre with Jamie, knocking back some cold ones, and watching the world go by. It was an attractive bar, that is until Jamie started spreading out his wet laundry all over the place, turning the whole area into some sort of gypsy camp…
Anyway, no-one objected, so I guess they’re used to that sort of thing in Arlon.
The only other thing worthy of note was the resumption of hostilities across the pool table. On last winters’ tour Jamie comfortably won our battle, in fact it was pretty humiliating. So it was a surprise to both of us when I took the first frame. Sadly I then lost the next two (I was so unlucky!) but its early days and this time it’s gonna go down to the wire…
Sorry there are no pictures - note to self - “Pictures are good”
This has been one of the best tours I’ve been involved in, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped make it such a success. Charlie, Yuko, Jamie, Jet and Sharie, as well as promoters and helpers, the other bands we’ve met and all the great people who came to the shows… Salut!
Day Seven – Liege
King of the Franks, Pippin the Short or Pépin Le Bref - as he is known in French - came from Liege in the 8th century and was father of Charlemagne, who became Emperor of the Franks. Pippin never played basketball but this fella Axel Hervelle (also from Liege) does.
Axel was the first Belgian player to be drafted into the NBA by the Denver Nuggets.
At just under 6' 9", Axel is known as a small forward - power forward. God knows what position little Pippin would have played...
Actually anywhere he fucking wanted I guess, after all, he was King!
Today was Yuko’s birthday. And what better way to spend the day than being stuck in the back of a van with us lot. Every girl’s dream I guess…
Under accommodation in the tour itinerary, it just says "Dormitory", which we discovered was an unfailing honest description. No place for a girl to spend her birthday night, at least not with the present Charlie no doubt had in mind...
So whilst our beloved leader scurried off to find a hotel, the rest of us set up and sound-checked.
I missed all the support bands this evening as we had a little backstage party for Mrs H. The champagne and a Swiss roll cake (see above pics) went down well and set us up nicely for the rest of the evening...
"I Wanna Be Your Doll" is a song title from the forthcoming Monica and the Explosion album. By clever subliminal messaging, I have included a different song title from the album in all of my recent blogs.
I will be doing the same when the next Subs album is underway..
- Monday 26 April 2010
French Tour - Day Six – Paris
Ah Paris… city of lovers…
Also a city of miserable, unfriendly, arrogant club owners! Well at least one. So fuck you whoever you were, I hope I never have to set foot in the Pena Festayre again… at least whilst you’re around.
I mean it’s simple – you supply the venue, we supply the crowd, and you make money. So how about showing us some respect? Tosser... OK, so I’ve got that off my chest…
The Restarts, The Real McKenzies and the Subs should make for a great night and so it proved. Once again the crowd was up for a good time from the start and all the bands were warmly received. I’d already seen the Restarts a couple of times recently, and once again they delivered a set of powerfully energetic political songs. Kieran, Robin and Bram are top geezers, and it’s always a pleasure to see them.
I’d been warned that the Real McKenzies have a reputation for being hell-raisers but we caught them on a night off. Apparently they’d been so pissed the night before they could barely play. The first thing they did was to ask us if they could borrow our hotel rooms for a couple of hours to get some much needed sleep! Well it obviously did them some good, as they showed no sign of fatigue as they delivered a lively set of Scottish influenced Celtic punk anthems.
Six days into the tour, and I was beginning to feel a little fatigued, so I ducked out of the party the Restarts were having, but Mr "Party Animal" Oliver attended, and well, the above and below photos speak for themselves!
Tomorrow it’s on to Liege, and Mrs Harper’s impromptu birthday bash…
Oh, and the anagram answer is "I Wanna Be Your Doll" - Why? I'll tell you tomorrow.
French Tour - Day Five – Nantes
The land hemisphere, sometimes capitalised as the Land Hemisphere, is the hemisphere on the Earth containing the largest possible area of land. It is centred on 47°13′N 1°32′W / 47.217°N 1.533°W (in the city of Nantes, France). The other half of the Earth is the water hemisphere.
Well would you fucking believe that……..
Le Ferrailleur is situated on the banks of the Loire River, which runs through the centre of the city.
The area used to be famous for its ship and boat building, but now the old cargo warehouses have mainly been converted into bars and clubs. It’s a nice place to sit and chill with a cold beer and watch the activity on the river - which is exactly what I did when we arrived.
The weather’s been good for the whole tour so far, although any opportunities to just sit in the sun have been few and far between.
It was good to rest my voice, I’m not that used to singing and after a few dates I start to sound like Tom Waits on songs like “Watch her Disappear” from the album “Alice”. I’d been listening to that LP on the way to Nantes. Not that I’m complaining, it’s better than sounding like an English version of Woody Allen... ;-)
This gig seemed to have been organised by the support band El Royce, and what a nice bunch of blokes they turned out to be. They couldn’t have been more helpful. Offering to help carry our gear and making sure we had everything we needed. So it’s good to be able to give them top marks for their show. Check out their myspace.
The usual mayhem got a bit out of hand tonight – too many people on stage. Someone fell onto the drum kit, and then an amp got knocked over, fucking chaos really. Like I’ve said before, I don’t mind a bit of madness, but when it stops the show it gets a bit too much. After all, I assume people have paid good money to see and hear us play.
Here’s an anagram for you…… “A runway bloodline”
- Saturday 24 April 2010
French Tour - Day Four – Callac
Song of the day "An Audience with the Pope" by Elbow
A seven and a half hour road trip! Let me tell you, it’s not the ideal thing to do when you’re nursing a hangover of biblical proportions. Especially when you’ve managed just a couple of hours sleep the night before. Still we all learn from our mistakes don’t we?
In this fragile state, the prospect of reading a book, or even writing a blog, both activities that require at least some small degree of coherent thought, seem well nigh impossible.
Luckily, each day Jamie and I had been watching a couple of episodes of the brilliant BBC natural history series “Life”, narrated by David Attenborough. How fucking rock and roll is that…!
Seriously, if you haven’t seen the series then you’ve missed out. It opens your eyes to the sheer mind-blowing diversity of life that enriches this planet that we are rapidly fucking up. That probably sounds hypercritical, given the fact that we’ve been pounding up and down motorways the last few days, but something has to be done, and the short term thinking has to stop at some point.
Anyway, it was the prefect antidote to the previous night’s excesses, and it makes you realise, as you sit cooped up in the bus, that you can get more out of life....
Callac is a small town in Brittany with a population of less than 3,000. I tried to find out something interesting about the place, but even the internet seemed reluctant to come up with anything of note-worthiness.
Le Bacardi is situated in the middle of an industrial estate - like so many French venues seem to be. We shared a dressing room with a French band called La Souris Deglinguee, who have been around nearly as long as us. Cool guys…
Another great night - as France continues to surprise
- Friday 23 April 2010
French Tour - Day Three at Limoges
Song of the day - "Protection" by Massive Attack
On December 27, 1999, winds reached 148 km/h. On average, the city receives 41 days of frost and seven days of snow each winter. Limoges is one of the hottest and driest cities in France (aside from those on the Mediterranean coast), during the summer months. In June, July and August, precipitation tends to come only from violent thunderstorms which are formed over the Bay of Biscay.
Which I guess puts Limoges on the weather map at least...
From the outside, the club C.C. John Lennon is a very unimposing building, but inside it's a cool 600 capacity venue which was pretty much full by the time we got on stage. I think the best thing I could say about the support acts is that they were all very French...
I had no idea crowds in France could be so enthusiastic.
I honestly expected them to be more reserved than they have been. Lots of crowd surfing and general mayhem, which makes any gig more interesting, is alright with me.
There was a moment when I felt like lauching myself into the crowd... well almost.
Even Alex the promoter had a go.
After the show, Jamie and I headed off to the aftershow party in a club called ZinZinc (I think!) As soon as we arrived I got a call from Jet asking if I had the hotel key (oops!) So he had to trek up to the club, which wasn't too far, and he ended up staying. There's always at least one night like this on tour, when I have to go out and get absolutely hammered and this was the night...
Not the sort of thing Nicky would approve of...
- Thursday 22 April 2010
French Tour - Day Two at Dijon
Back on the tour bus, and heading for Dijon after last night’s intoxication and nursing a slight hangover...
I’ve been listening to Diana Jones, an Appalachian country singer I went to see towards the end of last year. There’s this one track called “Cracked and Broken” from her album “Better Times Will Come” that always gets to me… it’s a seriously good song.
One of the pluses of touring is you can catch up with your listening and reading. Yesterday when we were at Maidstone I managed to pick up the final book in the Millennium trilogy by the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson.
I’d enjoyed the first two books,“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl who played with Fire”, so I was really pleased to see the last instalment on the shelf.
“The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” once again sees Lisbeth Salander and the journalist Mikael Blomkvist fighting the forces of the corrupt inner circle of the Säpo - Sweden’s state security police. According to the sleeve notes, only with Blomkvist’s help can Lisbeth avoid the fate that has been decided for her, and together they form a compelling and dynamic alliance.
Sounds like just the stuff for long road trips…
Les Tanneries is a squat on the outskirts of Dijon run by Jean Christophe.
I liked the place straight away. They’ve got a good vibe going on there, with a real sense of community. The two support bands, both local, went down well as you might expect. In fact, I enjoyed both DTC and Kraskatoa - well worth checking out.
I hadn’t played in France with the Subs since 1980, when we supported the Ramones, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d played here a lot with the Flying Padovanis of course, but to different sort of crowd. Let me tell you - this was a seriously good crowd and we went down a storm.
However, there was a moment of concern for Jet during the set when a bloke in the crowd kept trying to wipe blood onto his guitar. It turned out the guy’s girlfriend had died 4 years ago, and they used to listen to Warhead together and it was a gesture on his part – a sort of message to her. I know anything to do with blood can be a bit scary these days, but seeing how emotional he was afterwards when he was explaining why he did it, I certainly felt some sympathy for him.
Of course the real highlight of the evening was the return of Yuko from Tokyo, via a flight to Paris, after being stranded in Japan for 3 days longer than planned.
Holiday’s over Charlie... the boss is back.
Let’s hope the rest of the dates are like this…
Wednesday 21 April 2010
Charlie started singing the Saints' song ‘I’m Stranded’ in the pub the other night, as we'd been discussing all the people we knew who were stuck some place or other, trying to get home. Yuko is stranded in Japan, Biff and Jessie in Brazil, whilst Monica is stuck in England wishing to be back in Sweden, and facing the prospect of a 24 hour train journey...
We take so many things for granted. We think we're masters of all we survey, but here are some sobering statistics.
The exact number of volcanoes is unknown.
There are probably millions of volcanoes that have been active during the whole lifespan of the earth.
During the past 10,000 years, there are about 1,500 volcanoes on land that are known to have been active, while the even larger number of submarine volcanoes is unknown.
At present, there are about 600 volcanoes that have had known eruptions during recorded history, while about 50-70 volcanoes are active (erupting) each year. At any given time, there is an average of about 20 volcanoes that are erupting. I'm also pleased to tell you there are two volcanoes named after me;
ST. PAUL - Stratovolcano (historical) - Indian Ocean (southern).
ST. PAUL ISLAND - Shield volcano - (radiocarbon) - Alaska (western).
Today is the start of the French tour. I'm at Jet's waiting for the others to turn up around 10am. So I will write today's blog as it happens. The plan is to catch the 2.20 pm train from Folkestone and to stop overnight at Metz, on our way to Dijon.
It's 8.30am, and I've been awake since 6. Can't sleep these days - must be getting old...
Waking at Jet's place, and am already being entertained by Fatso. Some people are allergic to cats, especially the long haired type like Fatso, which is a shame because cats are OK. I know it's a sweeping generalisation to say pets and their owners look alike, but sometimes when I look at Jet, I can't help think he and Fatso share the same hairdressers.
By the time we'd packed the gear and merchandise into the van, we were fashionably late. For once though, the London Traffic Gods smiled benignly upon us and we made it to Maidstone Services with plenty of time to spare. So after a quickish stop we hopped back in the van only for Shari to drop her brand new Sat Nav, breaking the screen. Now, I know back in the day, we used to tour with good old fashioned maps with pages missing, or sometimes just with the stars to guide our way... but fuck that!
No problem! We still had time to buy another one at the Euro tunnel terminal, plus I wanted to pick up some new headphones. Shop keepers must love people like us, rushing in throwing a couple of hundred quid at them and rushing out again before they even have time to say "Have a nice day..."
So through British passport control straight into the waiting arms of French customs! The game was up... After assuring them the only Charlie we had with us was sitting up front, and the hardest drugs we were carrying were Charlie's blood pressure tablets, we managed to miss our crossing by 30 seconds. Yes, honestly, 30 fucking seconds.
Hey Charlie! Pass us those pills would you...
Anyway, we made it to Capsule's place near Metz by about 9.30pm, where he greeted us with food and drink and wonderful hospitality. Caps is the bass player with the French band Charge 69, and has been friends with Charlie for about 20 years. A real cool guy.
We stayed up late playing music and telling stories. Charlie wanted to hear Monica's album, but as it's unfinished I was a bit reluctant. Initially I said I'd play one track, but it went down so well we ended up listening to most of the album. As I value Charlie's judgement I wanted to hear what he thought - here's his review:
“Cute, edgy and brave - she has her own distinct voice - I think it's really interesting."
That'll do for me... nice one Chaz.
The later part of the evening passed in a fog of alcohol, but a great way to kick off the tour.....
Dijon here we come.......
Sunday 18 April 2010
Not some weird Swedish expletive - but the name of the region where the Icelandic volcano erupted.
With British and French airspace closed and a French national train strike happening at the same time, the promoters decided to pull the plug on the Annecy Festival the Subs were due to play.
But as every cloud has a silver (ash) lining, the cancellation allowed me to rush back to the recording at Jigsaw studios with Monica and the Explosion. I'd been reluctant to leave anyway, as I wanted to see the project through to the end and now I'm back home with a rough mix to listen to. As a result, I'm even more convinced that it's a mini masterpiece. An intense but magical week...
So now let's backtrack a little to Nick the Postman's Birthday...
I liked the little bit of Buckingham I saw whilst walking around the town, killing time before the soundcheck. The gaol in the centre of town was built in 1748, and was in use up until the late 19th century. Since then it's been used as a storage space for the town's fire engine, an ammunitions dump and also an air raid shelter - though presumably not at the same time.
Back at the community centre, Nick the Postie was rushing around making everyone feel welcome. I lost count of the times he shook my hand. There's no denying it felt like a party rather than a normal gig but that's OK sometimes.
Dun 2 Def were up first ... Jeez, these guys seem to pop up everywhere these days. Monica was there too and we'd been hoping to see Rob play, then get together afterwards to discuss the album but he'd managed to damage his foot (not a great idea for a drummer), so had to miss the gig. Anyway, despite that, Ferret and co. managed to put on a great show as usual.
I was really looking forward to seeing Sick on the Bus for the first time, and they didn't disappoint.
I'd met Tony Evans, the guitarist, in 2007 when he drove the tour bus for the Subs reunion tour. In fact I seemed to spend most of my spare time with Tony and his lovely wife Rea (who bakes the best cakes I've ever tasted). We got on really well and they were a big part of the reason the tour was so enjoyable.
Anyway I really enjoyed watching the band. Biff is great to watch and I love his style of playing. I look forward to seeing them again. All in all a great night was had by all. A big thanks to Nick and his friends for their hospitality.
Next stop France. Go, I gotta go...
Wednesday 14 April 2010
Monica and the Explosion at Jigsaw Studios, Deeping St James.
I'm here at Jigsaw Studios on day three of recording with Monica and the Explosion.
I first met Monica at last year's Rebellion Festival in Blackpool. The Subs were playing on the Saturday night so I'd arrived on Friday and was hanging around catching up with old friends and enjoying the unique atmosphere of the festival.
She and I got to talking and ended up exchanging email addresses. Monica was just about to embark on a 5 month tour of India, Australia and New Zealand - just her and her acoustic guitar. As I was about to start a series of dates with the Subs we thought it might be a good idea to keep in touch and exchange stories and share our experiences of life on the road. I'd missed her show at Rebellion as she'd performed on the Thursday night, but I did get chance to see her live before she left, when she played at the 12 Bar in London.
Through our emails I discovered she was planning to record a new album when she returned to the UK sometime in March. I knew straight away I wanted to play on her album but was slightly wary of volunteering - these things can be delicate but if you don't ask...
Anyway I eventually offered my services and luckily she accepted. So here we are making an album...
I'd been given some rough demos of the 12 songs we were to record just before I went on holiday. With no specific instructions, Monica left it to me to come up with bass lines. It's nice to have someone's trust, but at the same you end up praying you connect, and are on the same wave length.
So it was with some trepidation that we set off on Monday morning to Jigsaw Studio in Deeping St James near Peterborough.
In 2007, the National Office of Statistics gave Peterborough's population as 164,000. We enjoyed a couple of cold late night walks through the near deserted city centre, past the 12th century Cathedral in search of food rather than spiritual sustenance. The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the three high gables of the West Front, was originally founded as a monastery in AD 655 and re-built in its present form between 1118 and 1238.
Top marks went to the Thai restaurant "East" which operates out of a barge moored on the River Nene next to the Town Bridge. The barge was built in 1907 and spent most of its working life on the canals of Holland and Belgium. It was towed to Britain in 1997, and is believed to be the largest container barge in the UK.
The first day it was just Monica, myself and Rob Baylis. Rob is the drummer with Dun 2 Def and also The Destructors. We didn't waste much time and set up and plugged in straight away. So now was the acid test - could we gel?
I guess you'll have to judge for yourselves but I strongly recommend you buy this album as soon as it's released ;-)
(...more details to follow...)
Monica and Rob are really easy to work with. I seem to have continued my lucky knack for finding great people to work with. Another huge bonus was that Tom Savage, the studio engineer/producer has an easy manner - quick, unfussy, incredibly observant and with the right blend of encouragement and constructive criticism.
- Below: Pictures by Paul from the recording session
So in that first day, in an 8 hour session, we managed to get the bass and drums down for 7 tracks - later discarding one which we re-recorded the follow day, a good effort for 3 people who'd never previously even been in the same room together.
Day two was slightly tougher going however. This was mainly because I felt under prepared for the songs we were doing. Nevertheless we managed to nail the last of the songs by late afternoon.
So day three has been about checking and re-checking everything we'd done and getting Monica's guitar recorded. Ferret and Chris from Dun 2 Def dropped by to say hello and will eventually do some backing vocals. Our very own Rob Cook came by in the afternoon to do a couple of video interviews for the site. Thanks Rob.
I knew Monica was a rare talent, but in the studio she was incredible. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. She has an amazing voice and writes great songs. It has been a real privilege to work with her on this album.
Flying to France with the Subs on Saturday... volcanoes permitting of course!
And now I've just heard the Annecy festival has been cancelled!
Right! Time for me to shut up! …or as they say in Sweden - Håll käften!
Saturday 3 April 2010
Paul's blog from this date is contained in his entry for Sunday, 18 April 2010.
Above: Paul's pictures taken at the 3 April gig in Buckingham.
Friday 2 April
Back to Bass-ics - Playing Music Again (part IV)
- Performing live again
Rehearsing was one thing – but playing live was another.
We were helped in this respect by the fact that during those first days of practise people kept turning up to see what was going on. Friends and neighbours of Henry, who knew what was afoot, would drop by out of curiosity to check us out. Henry's studio backs on to the local church and I remember one afternoon Roger, an octogenarian neighbour of Henry's, popping in to politely ask if we could turn it down for an hour or so as they were having difficulty hearing the priest deliver the Mass.
Roger returned an hour later to thank us and ask if he could stay and listen! He stayed for the next half hour as we ran through half a dozen songs, applauding at the end of every number, obviously enjoying himself immensely. What a guy!
Yves Aouizerate also came by. Yves produced Henry's solo album and plays with Rachid Taha. Check out their version of the Clash's "Rock the Casbah". Yves gave us plenty of encouragement. I never mind if people turn up at rehearsals, as usually it helps focus the mind. And music is for sharing after all.
Chris and I returned to England believing that there was definitely some mileage to be had in getting the Pads back on the road.
Soon after we returned, I went to see Chris perform with Koozie Johns under the name of Sinnerstar, in Soho, London. I was really knocked out by the performance. It was just Koozie singing and playing acoustic guitar with Chris playing a weird collection of drums. Really interesting stuff. At the time, the two of them were Philistines! That's to say they were playing with Glen Matlock and the Philistines, but had been working on this side project called Sinnerstar.
Anyway, I hung around after the show and had a drink or two and listened to Koozie confess to having been a Subs fan in his youth.
A week later I got a call from Chris and Koozie asking if I'd be interested in playing a bit of bass for them. I didn't hesitate, I could see the potential, but things were now moving at an alarming rate…
Suddenly I'd gone from no bands to two bands in what seemed like the blink of an eye. But things were going to become even more interesting when I bumped into my old mate Charlie!
Thursday 1 April
Back to Bass-ics - Playing Music Again (part III)
- First Rehearsal
Henry Padovani lives in a sleepy village not far from Chartres, which in turn lies roughly an hour's drive south-west of Paris.
Chartres is known chiefly for its magnificent gothic cathedral, which was constructed between 1194 and 1260. Chartres cathedral is renowned for its incredible stained glass windows and has been designated a World Heritage Site. At the heart of the cathedral lies a labyrinth built in 1205. The labyrinth is 964 feet long and is used by monks and visiting pilgrims for walking contemplation. #
The cathedral dominates the skyline for miles and Chris and I could see it clearly, long before we arrived at Henry's.
Such was our enthusiasm, that despite arriving at 10.30pm after a 7 hour journey, we immediately started setting up the gear. Henry has his own studio which is detached from the main house, a big space where you can make plenty of noise.
With the gear in place, and after a shortish pause to take on some liquid refreshment, which not only re-hydrated us but helped put us all in a more relaxed state of mind (if you get my drift), we plugged in and played for the first time in roughly 22 years.
And you know what - it felt great! It was as if time had stood still. Hell, we sure didn't look the same! But the spirit that bound us together all those years ago had somehow survived.
People have often asked me over the years whether I missed playing. My answer has always been the same and along the lines of "not really I don't think about it much" - which was true. Now as we played late that night in France, it seemed to me that I must have been in denial. This was fun, this felt natural - it felt like coming home.
I think we blazed on into the small hours, finally calling a halt at around 3.30am. Knackered for sure, but grinning like idiots, we carried on drinking and talking until the sun started to rise.
Yes it was a little rough at the edges but we could still play...............
Now if you're wondering what the fuck this has to do with the U.K. Subs, all I can say is that it was an essential part of a sequence of events that would lead to the 2007 "originals" 30th anniversary re-union tour.
However, as Hannibal Lecter once said, "all good things to those who wait!" Next Blog stop, our first gig back, joining Sinnerstar and seeing the Godfather of Punk again.
# Footnote: Henry is friends with the head honcho at the Cathedral and we've been promised a trip around the parts of the building normal punters aren't usually allowed to visit. Might try and sneak the old camera in. It helps to have friends in high places!