British singer-songwriter Mike Scott recently toured with Kevin Seconds. Mike has been kind enough to provide us with a series of Dispatches from the tour, the last of which we bring you tonight.
After the glamour of the Alps and the Swiss countryside, we headed back over the German border and towards Karlsruhe, a place Kev was half sure heâd played and I was very sure I never had. We were all in an easily angered mood, mainly because 4 guys in a 2 man hotel room never leads to a good nightâs sleep and a happy car full of gentlemen, but we struck gold when we were given a full on band flat on our arrival in Karlsruhe. Right opposite the university. Which offered quite the view. Both architecturally and due the large amount of excellent looking students frequenting the place. The words gold and mine came to mind. We had a room each. Except myself and Rob chose to share a room. The buddy system. Never fails. Always then the option of some polite spooning during the night.
We arrived at what the SavNav said was the venue. Nothing. Except a slaughterhouse. We had a feeling we were in the wrong place. Turns out the Alte Hackerei (clue in the name) is a bar in the slaughterhouse grounds - a building that isnât allowed to be condemned so was saved by a group of rockers. Itâs a cool place, although as a vegan I think morally I was on very sketchy ground. I consoled myself by the fact that everyone who goes to that bar will be sickened by the smell of the abatoir as they go past and disgusted by the bloodstains in the meatvans. Plus they gave me any beer I wanted.
The gig was nice and intimate - seating, cramped conditions - ideal for acoustic shows. The outrageous silence between claps was a little intimidating, but it was one of those places and gigs that just doesnât exist in the UK. Plus, before it, we got taken to a sweet Italian restaurant and I got my second Penne Arribiata in two days. Itâs like we played Italian shows on the tour.
We retired to our band flat for a couple of beverages and falling asleep in front of Futurama. Quite the rock nâroll lifestyle.
Day 8 - Darmstadt
Desperate for a CD cleaner for our car so that it would play more than just âguitar legendsâ and an Anastasia CD we found on the floor, we headed into Karlsruhe before we minced up to Berlin. We found a Starbucks, and there was great rejoicing. The town is fairly incredible - another beautiful Southern German town - I need to play there much more often. We spunked 8 Euros on a spray CD cleaner. It didnât work. All we got out of it was half of the first Rage Against The Machine album and Eric Clapton unplugged. The car had a taste for the oldies I think.
The drive was only an hour, so even the sights and sounds of Karlsruhe didnât stop us arriving at the Oettinger Villa in Darmstadt hours early. It was completely locked up by the looks of it, and resembled the Batesâs residence at the top of the hill in Psycho. It sits nicely in the middle of a small park. And I think Rob had to blow someone to get the info on how we actually get in. We did eventually, and found a vast labyrinth of amazing rooms, huge chandaliers and a band room that could easily fit even the largest of brass-ridden ska bands.
I sat around, alone, drinking, waiting for dinner and the gig. Which I didnât mind. The dinner was amazing. The gig was amazing. A small turnout - mainly due to this show being booked just a few days before the tour because we didnât want a day off, but we set up so that we played in the bar area, put seats out and packed the area, added some candles, and played hugely long sets, fuelled by nothing more than beer (or, in Kevâs case, water) and crowd response. Iâd say candlelit gigs to seated audiences are about as punkrock as it gets. Plus, after we played, I got to watch hip-hop maestro Astronautalis playing in the other room, and was bought many a drink by kind people. I knew Iâd pay in the morning, but I didnât really care. And gigs like this are way I do it. Of course, falling out of bed at 8.30am, head first onto a cold, hard floor the next day took a shine off things, but a nice breakfast made things ok, and, well, I donât drive on tour.
Day 9 - Berlin
The drive to Berlin took five eighths of an ice age, mainly due to some serious gridlocks and a complete standstill somewhere on the way. And a 100km detour. We were worried weâd miss our 3rd Italian in 4 days, but the beautiful thing about acoustic music is you never need a soundcheck. So we met up with Kai, who booked the tour, and headed to the venue to drop our stuff off before going to stuff our faces. We went to a certain well known Berlin Italian restaurant where Pennywise have played before and the walls are covered in signings done by just about every punk band who have ever graced its doors. It was a veritable banquet.
Which leads me to another good thing about playing acoustic. Whereas I have thrown up on stage with Phinius Gage several times (once off the edge of the stage onto a load of equipment) you can get away with it playing on your own. So we basically drove from dinner straight to the Cortina Bob in hallowed Kreuzberg to play. The venue is about a mile long, but really narrow, so was a strange atmosphere, and Iâve never heard quite so much reverb on my vocals, but it was a fun night. In fact, fun enough that I stayed out till 7am, passing through various haunts in the Kreuzberg area. Which was a really bad idea, because we had been offered breakfast by Chris from the Briefs in his bar and we had a long drive the next day. But, you know, Iâm hard.
Day 10 - Nurnberg
Like fuck I am. I was rudely awoken seconds after I passed out, in our booking agencyâs band flat (in a bunk bed - the staple of German touring seemingly), finding even the simplest of tasks - getting the shower to work, finding clean underwear - massively taxing (tour managers are there to fix the shower for you too). The promise of breakfast was simply a beautiful dream that was about to become a reality. And Chris Brief supplied me with a vegan feast that every man needs in a such a situation.
The drive to Nurenberg was equally as taxing as the drive to Berlin. Picture, by now, rubbish everywhere, our stuff hurled all over the car, leg room at a minimum (especially when youâre 6ft 6). So we just loved to see another complete gridlock an hour into the journey. We ended up turning up at half 8, but weekend shows in Germany never start early, so we were in plenty of time. Italian for dinner - of course - amazing vegan lasagne - and a show in a cool venue, next to a trance night in the bigger room opposite and an traditional African gathering in the building next door. (Bad part of the night - we spotted the security being rascist to the African guests - nothing completely changes obviously). The show was fun, until we realized weâd been blocked in other cars. It took us nearly an hour to get out. And the night was just startingâ¦.
We tried to sleep on the long drive from Nurenburg to the UK, to get there in time for 2 shows the next day. Well its not easy with 4 guys in a Ford Mondeo. So, Iâd drifted in and out a few times when I heard these really dodgy noises. We broke down. Just by Cologne. On the turning onto a motorway. On a blind turn. Queue getting out and pushing the car to the hard shoulder. One car speeding round without checking and we were in trouble.
Luckily, we broke down 100 yards or so from a turnoff and a Burger King. We pushed the car there. It was about 6am.
To cut a long story short, we had no cover that would come fix us on a Sunday. No tow that wouldnât cost a fortune. No chance of the car working again (a crack in the engine). We were fucked. It sapped all the life and cheeriness from the tour. And Iâve never spent longer in a fast food joint. I even had a black coffee. Damn me for funding the machine.
Day 11 - Brighton
I donât want to dwell on this part and this day. I have very little memories of it that I want to remember Suffice to say, after a while, we realized we had to leave the car and hire one to get back to the UK. We would have to cancel our Kingston instore show @ Banquet records (sorry people - I know some people were pretty fucked off!) and head straight to Brighton.
Well we arrived at our Ferry about 2 minutes late, and got aggro for an American trying to get into the country with a musical instrument (the fucking cheek - how dare he?). So we got a late Ferry. It docked at 9pm in the UK. The show was scheduled to end at 10.45. We arrived at 11. 20 people got advance ticket refunds, people left early and others simply left when they were told on the door that Kevin and myself wouldnât be on before the last trains.
The show ended up being a donation show - no PA, just all acoustic, in the bar of the venue, to those who were happy to sit and wait. It was quite surreal. Myself and Kevin were utterly mentally broken - but it was great to see people sitting and patiently waiting. Sam Russo had kept them entertained with his entire back catalogue until we arrived. I offered to give up my set so that people could see Kevin. Kevin ended up playing a really raw set, interjected by tracks he asked me to play and stories of the day. A true DIY ending to the tour.
So, 12 shows in 11 days became 11 in 11. We got fucked for money on the last day. Kevin had 2 flights home afterwards. But, damn it was fun. Long may tours like this continue.