Still Day 4 - Thursday, Nov 25, Dublin, Ireland
Today is Thanksgiving. We are in Dublin, Ireland. The road we're parked on looks a lot older than the road we had yesterday; it's still filled with stores, but these are old-school stores, not many things in them, little boutiques, and lots of restaurants, really pretty nice. Jim apparently found his way to a Natural History Museum here, just by walking towards the center town, but the rest of us were not that lucky. Rick went back into the bus to take a nap, and I just sat outside and had some fresh air and watched people walk around and live their lives.
There is no advertising up for this show at all, there are signs all over town for other shows that are going on in the next couple of weeks, but no signs for ours. In fact the flier for the club mentions our name, but we are one of the few bands for whom it offers no explanation of what we sound like. Even June of '44, who just played here a week or two ago, gets a paragraph. We just get "Salary Man." Not even spelled right. And no mention of Mina at all. It's not like there's not about a million great press quotes that we have in our press kit, and our booking agency has been sending out hundreds of posters to each show - I see the promoters putting up the posters each night, inside the club. Just to let people know what they've paid to see, I guess. It would be nicer if say, they put the posters up OUTSIDE the club, maybe even BEFORE the day of the show! Then maybe they'd make their guarantees, because people would know we were coming. (ok, Howie informs me later that there's an interview in the paper with us.)
This club is beautiful - all kinds of Celtic patterns all over it and a huge tapestry and chandelier hanging over the stage that are both probably older than anything in the entire United States. The club kind of looks like it could be somewhere in Northern Wisconsin; it has a very woody feel. The stage also feels really great, and I can hear everything beautifully without monitors, even. And the show went fine; people began filing in when the club opened up and it was nicely full of at least a hundred people by the time we went on stage! I was feeling so bold by the time we were starting that I got the audience to move up to the stage - without even using a microphone! You can only do that a couple of times per tour - you have to EXUDE stage presence. It's like you are diving off a skyscraper and trying to survive it - you have to believe with every inch of your body and soul that the audience is going to come up to the stage when you ask them to, because if you miss, you look like a big joke for the next 45 minutes. If you hit though, you WIN. Like we did tonight.
Later: Rick and I got Chinese Food from a place that was dirtier than I'd ever seen a restaurant be, before. I guess some of the other band had gone into this place and gotten scared and left. The chairs had stains all over them; the floor and tables were sticky - it was like a really dirty college apartment. The alternative was "Eddie Rockets: An American Cafe" which is where everyone else went to eat. I just was not looking forward to tasting the Irish idea of The American Experience. And the dirt didn't really bother me that much; it seems like most of Ireland is kind of grimy, from what I can tell. There was no soap in most of the bathrooms of the club tonight. It's funny that I'll only get a sense of a town or country from the 8 hours I spend there, and the couple of places I go into. I'm sure there are some very clean parts of Ireland; I just wasn't in them.
It's funny what people think of The American Experience here, anyway. I wonder if they get the sarcasm and cynicism behind it. How could they, really? I'm specifically thinking of a movie like "Fight Club." It's out here now, and we have a day off tomorrow. I am wondering if it would translate at all. Can Savvy Europeans really understand the underlying self-loathing of the American 'generation x'?
Day 5 - Friday, Nov 26, Ferry Hell to Newport, Wales
WOW. So we drove overnight to the end of the world, where the ferry from Ireland leaves - and it was unbelieveably windy outside - I was kind of enjoying the wind whistling outside our comfy tour bus - until around 7am when Harold the Bus Driver informed us that there was no ferry now. It was cancelled - hadn't even left England, he said. Now I was really freaked out, because I wanted to get to Wales tonight because I WANT TO SLEEP IN A ROOM TONIGHT. A ROOM WITH WINDOWS! I just crawled back into my bunk and pulled the little IKEA cover over my head and fell back asleep and I think the bus started moving. The next thing I knew, we were parked inside another ferry - a different company - and moving upstairs to the Safe Area.
As we walked into the ferry upstairs part, there were puke bags laying EVERYWHERE, on all the tables. If you don't know what a ferry looks like, it looks usually like a bunch of big lounges, like the kind of place where you'd have a wedding reception. Some ferries have McDonald's aboard, as we've already learned. Many have slot-machines now. All have Tax-Free shops. Some have showers. This one had puke bags in neat little inviting white piles on all the tables. And then the captain, "Captain Speaking," (Jim says that's his favorite Captain) informed us that it would be a very rough crossing. And that it was going to take a long time to cross. The wind was whistling so loudly outside and the sky was grey. But we started moving, and I was fine. I like the ferries- I have never gotten sick on them. Rick fell asleep - I think I did, too for a while, right near the water line. But then we got cold and moved, and found another area, and whereas Rick fell asleep again, I sat and listened to a man moan, over and over again, OHHHH, OHHHH, and then I heard the wet sounds of puke hitting a puke bag. And watched a bit of commotion down the hallway - the man had puked right in the restaurant area. I fell back asleep again for a little while and then woke up and started feeling kind of terrible. The boat was moving imperceptibly, but I found myself staring out at the window and watching a cloud trace a circle in the sky, and as my mind started trying to figure out just what motion we must be moving in for that cloud to be moving like that, I started getting sicker and sicker. But I know where the pressure point is on my wrist, so I held it and I just felt in stasis as long as I held it, just kind of queasy. I kept telling my mind that it wasn't going to let me get sick. I really believe that my mind is powerful enough to control parts of my body, so it did.
So the final score is: Christian, Mina's Tour Manager/Sound Engineer - wins, having puked 5 times. Jim actually puked once, (which is a surprise for me; I had assumed he would be out driving the boat), Howie felt sick but didn't puke, and Rick slept. I didn't puke, but I accidentally spilled a coke all over my tray in the restaurant.
We arrive in Newport, Wales - to the hotel. We've been here before - to the same hotel even - a small bed & breakfast near the club. Only 2 showers/baths for all of us in the hotel, but still it's nice to be home!
Later we went exploring the city and found it's full of restaurants and stores. In the same walk, we discovered a restaurant called "The Chicago Rock Cafe" which we didn't venture near, and then a couple of doors away, "La Bamba." We ate dinner at an Italian food place.
Day 6 - Saturday, Nov 27, Newport, Wales
We have all day to roam around the city of Newport on this freezing day. So Rick and I walk back into town, crossing a bridge and looking at all these amazing mosaic murals. Ok, to me, they were amazing - pictures of flower stores, vegetable stores, people selling stuff, trains, workers, all done in broken up tiles, all along the sides of bridges! Nobody paid any attention to these - even Rick seemed bored by them, but I thought they were amazing! Later on there is a huge mural leading to the library/museum in the center of town - shows some sort of political scene ending with a huge battle - guys with red tiles streaming out of their necks.
We spent a couple of hours in the library in the center of town - Rick read a movie magazine, and I read a .Net magazine, a Vogue-the first 100 years magazine, and a Buddhist Revue magazine, and went to the bathroom about 50 times in 3 hours. Then we went to the club.
I explained to Mina a couple of days ago that when you are in America and the club doesn't think you're going to make enough money, they feed you pizzas. That's the cheap food in the US - if you go to a club and you get pizza for dinner, you know what's up. In Canada, I explained to them, we were fed lasagna about 75% of the time on a small Canadian tour we did, so after the first couple of days of being ecstatic, we finally realized, that's the cheap food they feed you there when you are not going to make them enough money. So then I asked, what do you get here, when they think you aren't going to do well? And after a small amount of discussion amongst themselves, one of them announces, "Rice with Shit on it." Which makes us laugh, because that's what we got the first night! To us, it was like a special prize - but it's the cheapo food here! Hahaha - and the real way of saying it, they told us, was "Rice Mit Sheisse." Rice with Shit. Still, I love rice. I'd take that any day over pizza - it's way more exotic.
Tonight's dinner was Rice with Chicken Tikka on it. But we also got amazing strawberry cheescakes with banana-style ice cream. I'm happy.
Day 7 - Sunday, Nov 28, London
This audience was obviously comprised of people who came to see Salaryman because they are fans, they like us and our music and they want to see us play. No airs, no pretention, nothing but a sheer appreciation for the music. This is the kind of audience we LOVE! So there is NO problem at all, as far as I can see!
I would like to figure out what the hell is wrong with the people who run this club. My sister who lives in London was here with her husband, and my OTHER sister who lives in Chicago was here visiting, with a friend, and they were thrown out of the club at 11pm as we tried to pack up our gear. I am trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with this club that they felt like they had to throw us out like this. We knew there was a curfew at 11pm, but still got on the stage around 10:15 - apparently no one asked the opening bands to stop playing at the correct times. I'm assuming only we were policed around. And we do *not* need to be policed. Also, the bouncers seemed so terribly smarmy! "They can Wait for you on the Tour Bus," a bouncer wheezed at me, like I was rich to have a tour bus or something? The tour bus is the cheapest to take in the UK - much cheaper than staying in hotels. Don't they KNOW that?
I don't get jealous or angry at people who have a lot of money. I think that people who get angry at others for having lots of money are just as greedy as their rich enemies are. To me, having a shitload of money is like having a lot of shoes, or a lot of freckles or something like that. I really don't think it makes your life any better at all. Maybe I'm not thinking clearly, but really, I'm pretty happy right now, and I make about 10 times less per year than my richest younger sister. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like to be paid for the work I do, and I really hate when someone takes advantage of me. But I'm not going out of my way to join some sort of rat race, because I have found exactly what makes me happy. And I'm doing it now.
Willem tells us that Harald has never been on this kind of tour before; the kind where you have to take a shower in someone's living room. I think maybe he is used to much higher-class higher-budget tours. He sure didn't complain at all. What a great guy! (with a nice body, too.)