Wow. Today Doudou, the manager of the Thugs, went with us to drive to Rouen, a 4-hour drive from Angers, and we played our own little show in a basement of a tavern, and it was amazing. The place was packed, just for us! It was a teeny place, but it was a lot of fun. The audience seemed to have a great time, and we got an encore and everything. I didn't feel like anything was missing tonight; just an awesome show and people there for our type of music. Sometimes it's nice to play all by yourself.
After the show I feel like I entertained people with a stand-up routine, outside the club. People were asking me questions, so I tried to make the answers understandable and funny at the same time, so I wouldn't be boring. I sometimes wonder if a band that plays music like ours should attempt to act more aloof and stuck-up. How many big electronic bands do you know of who hang around outside clubs and talk to fans?
But don't worry. There's no way we'll ever change!
Gosh. After last night's awesome crowd response, we had a crappy, lukewarm show tonight. Maybe it's just because the stage tonight is 3 times bigger than the club we played yesterday and we've had 2 days off before that, but something felt terrible on stage tonight. I'm still frustrated, 2 hours after our show ended. I'm hiding in the van, waiting for the rest of the band to come out so we can leave. I just want to go to a hotel room and watch TV and read a book. I don't want to talk to anyone anymore tonight.
France is still wonderful. The food is amazing. I hope the Thugs aren't getting sick of us. Each night we go on and we are either good or bad, it seems like we are terribly inconsistent to me right now, but I can't imagine why that is; we are playing keyboards and samples, except for Howie. It's not like we're playing rock music that takes balls and stamina; it's just wimpy "brain" music. How can it seem so different each night? Maybe it's just what we perceive the audience response to be. I know that I could have played really shitty at a show but if a lot of people come up and compliment me afterwards, I will be convinced it was a good show. I'm very swayed by audience opinion with this band. Tonight just seemed overall lame. It will be fun to go home and play Poster Children, although even then I know I'll be missing Salaryman very soon.
It's funny; I went through an entire Salaryman interview today without mentioning Poster Children once, but I just had a relapse during the tour report.
We played at what the guys are calling a Sports Bar today. It was a huge theater complex with a patio and colored lights, along the side of a river, very picturesque. It was a very nice sports bar, and really there was no "sports" attached to it. I don't know why they are calling it a sports bar, come to think of it.
Anyway, today for dinner, we had "cohn-fee" De Cannard, the guy called it. DUCK. I was watching the ducks swim along the river, earlier in the day. Later in the day, I watched the guy cook about 20 ducks, in an outside kitchen, next to the patio overlooking the river, with (less) ducks floating by. The guy told me it's not the same ducks, but I'm not sure why that should make me feel better or worse. I have no problem eating animals, really, but I've never eaten a duck before. It was made with lots and lots of garlic. The meat of the duck was the color of a bruise, purple, and it tasted pretty greasy. The skin was really thick and fatty, it didn't taste very healthy at all. I couldn't finish my duck, for some reason.
My favorite part of the day today was watching the French guys sit at a card table outside the bar, play cards, and just look incredibly French. They looked like a French Person's Instructional Video. 4 of them were sitting playing cards, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, wearing shiny, sleek black clothes and wire-rimmed glasses. Gabba had a black scarf tied in a knot around the front of his neck; all of them slapping down cards and muttering to each other in French, looking nonchalant and unbelievably cool. I wondered if they knew how incredibly cool they looked. I think that all French people must actually have a national duty, like taxes, to look incredibly hip and gorgeous for at least a couple of hours each week.
Tonight, inbetween soundchecks, we played 3 Poster Children songs, using the Thug's equipment, just to see if we could still play; we have a bunch of Poster Children shows lined up for when we get back home. Playing with guitars again was extremely strange. It didn't sound like Poster Children to me, either. We played "Wide Awake," "King For A Day" and "IF You See Kay." I think I heard people murmuring, "this is not like Salaryman at all!" I guess it's just as suprising for people who only know Salaryman to see Poster Children as it is for Poster Children fans to see Salaryman!
After the show tonight, we were graced by the presence of a balding, spectacle-wearing, 30-something french guy in a biker jacket who felt the need to apologize to us for not liking our music. "Your music is shit, dit! dit! dit! (he imitates us playing keyboards). Rock music is much better! I would rather sit and work in a factory than listen to your music!" We were laughing at him, but I was sort of cringing inside, because we are giving up rock music for this short time to play electronic. Curt was saying, "So you like guitar rock, right? Like, Bon Jovi? Pink Floyd?" The guy was getting confused. "No, guitars like MC5 and The Stooges! Fuck America!!" he called out. Then Curt asked him what the best show he ever saw was, and guess what he said? The Buzzcocks. I could hold back no longer, and became Rose from Poster Children instead of Rose from Salaryman. "MY BAND WENT ON TOUR WITH THE FUCKING BUZZCOCKS, YOU ASSHOLE! PETE SHELLEY HIMSELF CALLED ME A TRUE PUNK ROCKER!! I FUCKING WENT BOWLING WITH THE BUZZCOCKS IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA!!" Steve Diggle HUGGED me the last time he came with the new bass player to one of our shows. He called to be put on the guest list. All this is true, but for Poster Children, not Salaryman.
I know it's so wrong for me to get so upset, but I don't like being accused of not knowing how to rock. Those of you who have seen Poster Children know what I'm talking about. I KNOW how to rock. And plus, I'm getting very bored of people who are not bored of rock music yet, and I'm getting VERY ready to go to England and play with Tortoise.
Yuck. We're basically playing in El Paso, Texas, here. We're in the southwest, Rick reasons, in the warm weather, and not as many people like heady electronic music here. This is why most of the audience left from the front of the stage as we played. In my opinion tonight, the crowd hated us. There were some fans standing at the front, clapping, but the whole front area cleared out as we twiddled our little keyboard knobs, and I felt like a fool. I kept thinking to myself, Alternative Rock music is so out-of-style now, people are so sick of hearing guitars, and here we are, Salaryman, ready to play new-sounding music for people, and we're doing it in front of the only people left in the world who still want to hear guitars. 90% of the world is bored of alternative guitar rock, and here we are playing electronic music to the other 10%. I cried in the car afterwards to Rick, and he tried to comfort me. By now, I start to wonder if the Thugs are embarrassed by us.
I wish we could play our punk rock music in front of punk rock fans and our electronic music in front of electronic music fans.
It hasn't been all bad. It's just these shows in the south that are going to be hell, that's all. It's just like Poster Children playing in the southwest of the US. For some reason, we just don't make music for the majority of people who live in warm areas. If you want to conqure Florida, you need to play death-metal, or at least music that kids can feel they are rebelling with.
It is absolutely gorgeous down here though.
Today right before we played, the crowd was sitting in the back of the huge theater. I didn't have the heart to try to make them stand up, so I did the most insulting thing I could think of, something I've seen another band do: tossed my remaining French coins out onto the huge expanse of floor in front of the stage and we started playing. And we had a DAMN good show, and the crowd just sat in the back of the room as we played. No one moved up at all.
Then the Thugs went on and the crowd moved like zombies up towards the stage. And stood absolutely still as they played. You could hear a pin drop in between their first couple of songs. And the Thugs sounded absolutely amazing, I had to go up to the front of the stage and dance. I have never seen such a shitty crowd in my life! When I went back by the t-shirt booth, there, surrounded by a bunch of assholes leaning against the merch booth, with their beers placed all over it, not buying anything, Gabba (Thug's t-shirt guy) and Doudou (their manager) and Curt (our soundguy) pretending to pick their noses and put their fingers in the guys' beers. They were even joking about peeing in the beers. Later on they were getting even cruder behind their little t-shirt booth protection area; it was very, very funny. I was glad to see that the Thug's management disliked the crowd as much as I did.
After the show we went on the stage and performed our song New Centurions with the Thugs (as per our split single) while a girl screamed "Thugs! Thugs!" But it was still very fun.
It's time for a new country.
I miss France. There is a French Cafe across the street from our hotel and I almost felt like going in there and sitting down for a while, but I'd been in there before and they sell a French Salad for 5-pounds, which is basically just a cut-up tomato with vinegar on it. We ate at an expensive Indian food place tonight where drunk people kept coming in and getting thrown out. There is spit all over the sidewalks here. It's just not the same as France. It's like a beautiful mist has lifted and here we are on the "mean streets" of London. Howie remarked that he has felt like he's had to be on his best behavior for the past 3 weeks, and now that we're out of France he feels like he can just be normal to people. We've been eating with decorum; apertifs, all kinds of special wines, breads and cheeses in France, and now we're sitting in London, being hassled by a grumpy waiter. Just bring us our damn food.
OH!! We took the CHUNNEL to get here! Except they don't call it a chunnel, it's the European Channel Tunnel. You drive your car into a TRAIN, and it goes underground, really, really fast! There is no pomp and circumstance or anything; the train looks like a huge, dirty Amtrak train inside with no seats. When your car gets loaded into the train no one tells you anything; they don't tell you if you can get out of the car or anything. You are informed not to fill up your gas tank all the way, for pressure purposes (I have no idea what you do if your gas tank is full when you arrive) and you are told to open your windows, and that's it. We had to guess that there were toilets somewhere on the thing. It was pretty scary. There are no snack bars or anything; it's completely hard core. You get across the Channel in 35 minutes though, instead of the ferry which takes an hour! Then you are 60 miles from London but it takes you 4 hours to actually get into London.
A guy came up to the stage, grabbed our record, kissed the salaryman picture on it and held it up in the air as we played our encore tonight. Another guy came up and kissed me on the cheek and said, "Heaven." We have apparently found our audience. It's nice to have our own show!
We had heard this amazing single by a new band named LionRock; I heard it in Rennes, first, I believe, and I was going nuts trying to get a copy of it. Finally, Rene, from Radical Productions, the Thug's management, gave me a copy, which was so nice. I don't know how to describe this music; just to say that at least one person from Salaryman LOVES it. I had heard that they were from Manchester and was going to look up the album when we got here.
In fact, when we got here, we walked into the club and Curt shouted, "OH COOL! The LIONROCK CD!!!" And little did we know, but the bass player of the band who played before us was the BASS PLAYER from LionRock!! Woohoo! I congratulated him on his amazing single and he told me it was a sample. Who cares though; it's totally awesome. He returned compliment as well, said he'd seen us with Tortoise and liked us. Now that's a compliment!
Gosh, the crowd seemed to love us tonight, too, and the bar owner wanted a signed shirt from us! That was so great, considering I don't think we put on an incredibly coherent show tonight! After the show, we were informed that we were the first "experimental" band they'd had at the club; usually they only have 'tired old guitar bands,' they said. The fliers said "Salaryman - 1 of only 4 UK shows!" and noted that we sounded like "Imagine the Charlatans doing Can." What up with that?
The Welsh Language
Ok, when we drove into Wales, all of the sudden, I saw the Welsh Language in action, on the road signs. Forget the wacky western-style font and Xs added to every word in Basque, at the top of Spain. In Welsh, the font remains the same, but it looks like someone just randomly typed a bunch of letters on a keyboard. A LOT of letters. There is NO way that this is a language, it doesn't even LOOK like a language. It looks so incredibly far from any English, and yet it's so close to England. Something is wrong. (Actually, Jim has determined that he wants to learn Welsh; he says he's always been intrigued by it.)
I am starting to put in my request for a Salaryman dress code modification. We like to present a tidy and professional image for our clients, which is why we wear work shirts and ties; it is the uniform of Salarymen in most countries. However, we have been compared to Kraftwerk a couple of times because of our clothes; and sometimes it is even noted, "Well, the band doesn't sound anything like Kraftwerk, but they do wear ties. In addition, Kraftwerk all wore the same outfit, and nobody in this band dresses the same; they can't even get the costume right." DUH?! I am starting to think that in order to avoid confusion of people coming out and wanting to see Kraftwerk and being dissapointed that we don't sound like them - and don't even really LOOK like them - we maybe ought to change our dress code. Maybe we can wear western Bolo ties the next time we come through Europe.
I think I am starting to understand this whole Salaryman thing. I think I'm starting to feel very comfortable with the idea of playing electronic music for people. I even think I understand why people like us. Hell, I like us! And I'm starting to be happy that there is such a division between Poster Children and Salaryman. I think that perhaps, Poster Children has no business playing in Europe. Salaryman is for Europe. It's just hard to see that Rock Is Dead when you play in Europe with a great, popular rock band. But just because a band like The Thugs can play to 800 people a night in France doesn't mean that Poster Children would be as much loved. It takes a long time to build up a following. And people are bored of rock. I really believe it.
There is a tape floating around the van named "Telephone Sex Erotica" and I popped it into the cassette player the other day to make everyone laugh but we got an even bigger surprise: the tape is all in German. Ladies speaking German, from the answering of the phone to the uh.... well, you know, Ending. We were cracking up, listening to it, because none of us know German, but we all know just enough words - and there are just enough words that are similar in English - just enough to make us laugh for a good 15-20 minutes.
German just doesn't sound like a Language Of Love to us. One of the guys suggests that the tape might come off better if there were S&M and whip-cracking noises in it. I am trying to convince the guys that it would be a good idea for us to just play this tape tonight and stand on the stage as it plays with our arms folded, instead of playing our songs. This would be a perfect opener for Tortoise tonight, I was pleading. We all laughed for a while. The truth is, I really would do this, if everyone else in the band agreed, but it's probably a good thing that they don't agree. It's a good thing someone has some common sense in this band.
Geez. We spent all day waiting for Tortoise to show up; we woke up especially early so we could deliver their transformers to them, and they showed up like 4 hours later than they were supposed to. In fact, because of their tardiness (and the club had the wrong type of mixing board, too) we didn't really get to soundcheck; we had to soundcheck in front of the whole audience, and we looked pretty silly. But we couldn't get mad at them; they had JUST flown in and were beginning their tour that night - they hadn't slept yet!! Poor things!! They are very, very nice, too. They apologized, like crazy, too. We are just happy to get to play with them again.
Tonight as we played, I looked over at Rick and saw him screaming at someone in the audience, "DON'T TOUCH MY STUFF!!!" over and over again. Apparently some drunk guy had climbed up a bit on the stage and was playing Rick's keyboard during our songs! This guy kept motioning over and over to me, trying to tell me something. I had no idea what the problem was, and started thinking he must be insulting us; he must be heckling us. So I started attacking him back. I finally gave him The Finger, right there from the stage. The room was full. It must have looked very weird. This guy finally turned around and pretended to moon us, and I realized that if we got him to drop his pants it would really make him look stupid. So I motioned for him to actually do it - and HE DID!! This guy actually pulled down his pants! And he still made a scene after that! So finally, I decided to try to get him to come on the stage. If this was America, the guy would have been out on his ass a long time ago. I figured, the only way to get this guy thrown out would be to make him come up on the stage. So I motioned for him to come up on the stage, and HE DID!! No bouncer came for the first couple of seconds, and then I noticed (all the time we are still playing) Johnny and Doug Tortoise, our friends, march across the stage, grab a hold of this guy, and throw him off the stage!! Our saviours!!! That was awesome. They looked like a young jazz mafia or something.
And then after the show, the guy was apologizing all over the place. I guess he was just too drunk or something. Anyway, Tortoise was AWESOME. They have a great year ahead of them, and they will be in the US, and if you can get into the show, if it's not already sold out, GO!
By tonight I am deathly ill. Now I know why the Thugs were so quiet at the end of the tour; they were all sick with this same cold. I remember playing tonight, but what I vividly remember was laying in the van after the show. I ran outside sweating, burning with fever, sopping wet, and stayed out there in the freezing cold van, waiting for us to leave. I laid on my side, with my hands clasped together in the dark, in a fetal position, so cold that I felt like my skin was peeling off.
when we landed in New York, the plane waitress announced "The outside temperature here in New York is 28 degrees. Celcius." I yelled, "That's wrong! It's gotta be fahrenheit! There is no way that it's 80 degrees outside." And I was wrong. We had left 28 degrees Fahrenheit for 28 degrees Celcius. UnbelieVable!
Rick ran downstairs the first night home and started playing with his studio. I came down hours later, and he was playing a song we had made up and recorded the month before we left for tour. We have demo tapes full of the 4 of us playing, songs we wrote the same day, and none of us recognize the songs; they came straight out of the air and were captured on tape. The song "I Need A Monkey" on the Salaryman record was one of those. So I heard a song and smiled at Rick - "Wow! That's a new Salaryman song! It sounds AMAZING!!"
And he grinned back, "No. That's Poster Children."
It's a new song we're working on, "Peck 'n Paw," a western movie that takes place around a pet shop.