The "New Age Corridor" at O'hare aiport
The United terminal at O'hare airport has what I call "The New Age Corridor" which is a tunnel that is full of neon lights and "people-movers" (flat escalators) and while you are travelling through it, you hear this tinkly-chimy sort of new age music. I love it - even though this time, moving through it, I discovered that right at the end of it, you can hear a melody hidden in the chimes that is "Rhapsody In Blue", the United Airlines theme! The guitars fit perfectly on the plane in the overhead compartments. There was another band (one I'd never heard of) from Milwaukee, called "Willie Porter Band" on the flight, and they had all the right hair and clothes; people were coming up to them and fauning over them. They were really nice; Howie chatted with them. Howie came back and asked me if we had any demo tapes to give them and I just said, "NO." I guess I was pretty aloof. I was tired, though, and I really didn't have any promo stuff with me. So there were many guitars on the plane. The movie on the plane was "Nick Of Time," a terrible movie, with a climax consisting of a token black shoeshine man getting shot in his wooden leg, breaking it off, and bashing the evil lady's head in with it. That made everyone in the plane laugh. I can't believe they actually played such a violent movie on an airplane, myself! There were no surprises on the flight at all, and as we went through customs, no questions, really. They asked us what kind of music we play; that was sort of hard to answer. Then we walked through the area where they make you stop and empty out all your bags; nothing. We just walked right through. I have a bag full of those demo cassettes; I was worried about that, but no one stopped us.
Jet Lag isn't a real sickness: it should just be called, "I slept 0 hours last night." From Chicago, you get on a plane at 5pm, and 7 hours later, at your time, 1am, you're in London, and it's 7 in the morning for you. Time to wake up and start a brand new day. Uggh. So you walk around in a daze for the entire day.
Day Off In London!
We spent the day at my little sister's "flat" in London, and went out to the Hayward museum to see an exhibit on "100 years of film." Afterwards, we saw the premiere of "Trainspotters" which is the new movie by the guy who did "Shallow Grave." It was pretty great; one of the most amazing points about it was one of the stars of it had the deepest Scottish accent in the world, and it was the guy from "Hackers," but in that movie, he spoke with an American accent. Uncanny. In England, trainspotter is a term for "loser." The movie was filled with people who were losers; lots and lots of heroin scenes. I think my poor little sister has been traumatized now; she's not really into violence or drug scenes in movies.
The Museum, Ken Russel, and Apocalypse Now!
This exhibit was fantastic; we really enjoyed it. There was an exhibit by Peter Greenaway, the guy who did "Drowning By Numbers" and "The Cook, His Wife, The Theif,..whatever..and her ex-lover" or whatever that movies is called. You walk into a huge room and there are 6 very, very long tables. Each table has about 30 small exhibits of props for a set, beautifully lit. Each exhibit would say something like "Day 7, Doctor's Office" and have a stethoscope and other doctor things. There was a moving sewing machine for seamstress-day and a day with two buckets; one with an actual pig's head in it and another with what looked like boiling blood! Movie music, gunshots and stuff was blaring out of loudspeakers. At the back of this huge room, inside 5 huge plexiglass cages, sat 5 people! They were lit very scarily; I thought they were robots at first, but as we approached them, we saw a sign under each of their cages; "Actors Who Have Appeared In Ken Russell Films." You could just go up to them and stare at them. They'd sometimes nod at you, and sometimes make signals to each other from their cages. Howie went up and stared at a beautiful, scary-looking blonde girl and asked "are you having fun?" and she gave him the big "thumbs up," with a smile. I wonder if that means the same thing here as in the US. There was a list on the wall by the door of who was going to appear for the rest of the month; one of the days had "Actors Who Have Shot Guns In A Movie" and so on. The people in cages part really, really impressed me.
There was another room with a 50-foot wide paper banner pinned to the wall, with pencil-scribbling all over it. As I got closer to it, I noticed the writing was a complete written-out log of events of the movie "Apocalypse Now." A girl named Fiona Banner had sat and watched the movie and hand-wrote out what was happening! I stared at this exhibit the longest. There was also "24-hour Psycho" which was the movie "Psycho" slowed down to cover 24-hours. We came in right during the shower scene, with the million edits; it was really neat-looking and very scary to watch each frame of a woman's terror slip by, almost 1 per second.
This was Superchunk and Seam's bus before us!
The TOUR BUS, YES, THE TOUR BUS picked us up in front of my sister's apartment. We are on a TOUR BUS. It is Steel Pole Bath Tub's Tour Bus, they are paying for it; It is much cheaper than getting hotels each night. For us, it makes it possible for us to tour with them; if we would have had to pay for hotels for all of us, there is no way we could tour here. So a Tour Bus is the best and cheapest option! Steel Pole had never been on a tour bus before, either; I've been sitting in here for about 2 hours now and have decided that it's pretty damn neat.
The TOUR BUS, the Rolling Stones, and life-support systems.
This tour bus has 12 bunks in it, and there are 13 people total on this tour. Right now the opening opening band "Surrogat" isn't with us yet, so we're pretty comfortable. The bunks are very, very small; very coffin-like; they are probably 6 feet by 3 feet by4 feet, I'd guess. You have to slide yourself in exactly the way you want to sleep because you can't really twist around inside the bunk. You are also supposed to sleep with your head facing the back, incase the driver hits something! There are other rules we were told, which I'll talk about later. The bunks are very comfortable; I went in one for a couple of minutes and fell right asleep. There are windows looking out of the bunk and shades if you don't want to see outside. Right now I'm typing and everyone is asleep in their bunks, and we're on our way to Leicester. In the back of the bus is a sitting area that would probably seat 8 people, and a little TV and VCR and CD player! In the front are two tables for eating, and seating for 8. The very front sits the Tour Manager and obviously, the bus driver. There is also a bathroom that it is very hard to sit down in, and no toilet paper, because you're not allowed to crap in the toilet. I guess there aren't usually girls on the tour busses, so there's no toilet paper in sight. There are two girls so far on this bus; me and Amy, the t-shirt selling person. She seems very, very cool. The Steel Pole Bath Tub guys are very nice, too. I want to make sure we never crowd them. The best part about the tour bus for me right now is looking at the people outside; they stare in and don't know what rock stars are inside! It could be the Rolling Stones, for all they know! Rick says, "They know it can't be the Rolling Stones because there's no life-support systems in back."
First show, Leicester England
Of course, someone with a U of I sweatshirt comes up to me as we're soundchecking and says, "Hi Rose, I'm Sridhar from Champaign." We have a joke about the fact that anyone who comes to see us in Europe is almost always from the US. It was the old drummer from a band called "Free Range Chicken." He is now studying in Cambridge. He was treated to an excellent show tonight; we thought we played very well, and the 30-50 people in the room seemed pretty happy about it. Then Steel Pole Bath Tub went on and were as completely awesome as I remembered them, I'd probably say that they are the best live band in the world. The club looked just like any other club, walls painted black and nice yellow radiation signs painted all over. People actually danced to the music, too. The club tried to steal some of our equipment, which was very interesting, because when we arrived, it actually took us 2 hours to find an extension cord to plug in one of the amps; we kept asking different club employees and they kept telling us that the bands steal the extension cords, so there are none left. Finally Rick went into a cabinet and found an extension cord just sitting right in front. This does not make the English look very good. A good sign that someone is a thief is when they accuse other people of stealing. Dinner tonight was chili, and I think there was enough for everyone. Definitely not the huge spread of meat & cheese & bread that you get in Europe. Touring England is sort of like touring New York. Don't expect any favors, and watch your equipment.
Since the next show is 25 minutes away, Mario the bus driver parked the bus in a truckstop area, just like in the US, and we all talked for a while and then went to bed. The last inhabitants of this bus were, get ready for this: Superchunk and Seam!! Neat, huh? Later on tonight, another bus pulled up next to ours, like ships in the sea, and Mario spoke German to the next bus driver. Then he turned around and told us it was a "5 Star Bus," very expensive. We didn't ask how many stars our bus was; I think we may know... The other bus driver came aboard our bus for a while, and told us that he was the bus driver for "Pen Rem" a band who was opening for "Deep Purple!!" Wow. This is such a weird place.
Lunch in England
We woke up in the rest area today, and the bus was so cold you could see your breath. I guess the heat goes off at night. Brrrr.. it was ok because we had lots of blankets. The sky is dark blue outside and it is raining. The truckstop had a KFC in it, but we didn't eat there; we ate in the upstairs cafeteria; Rick and I had a very spicy Chicken Masala, and Howie ate a "Fisherman's Pie." I wanted to know what was in the fisherman's pie, so I asked the guy. He said, "Fisherman's Pie." Oh. As we walked out of the rest area, there was a little boy laying on the ground surrounded by police and a screaming mother. People were crowded around, just staring at him. His eyes were open, and he looked ok to me, but he was just laying down on his back. I didn't know what to do, so I left. I thought it was impolite to just stare, but then I remember ML (our old manager) telling me that in Europe, people will just stare at you, and it's not considered impolite.
Mike from Steel Pole Bath Tub displaying some of our choice of movies in the back of the bus.