Dan and New Dan
A WEEK BEFORE THE TOUR, SITTING OUTSIDE GROVE STUDIOS IN LONDON
Dan: ‘So, with Henning gone, the main problem I think we have, is who are we going to take the piss out of now?’
Me: ‘Yeah, cos…..let’s face it…….it’s not going to be Raife. He’s the most charming and witty man alive. He’s like…..he’s like the ultimate everyman. He’s who the everyman WISHES he was. And he looks like wolverine.’
Finn: ‘Well, it’s not going to be me.’
Dan: ‘It’s fucking NOT GOING TO BE ME.’
Me: ‘It might have to be, you know.’
Dan: ‘NO. IT WILL NOT BE ME.’
Finn: ‘The only hope is that it’ll be this tour manager. This ‘Andre’ character.’
Dan: ‘Well it’s a good start. Who’s called ANDRE?’
Finn: ‘Andre 3000.’
Me: ‘It’ll have to be Andre.’
Dan: ‘That poor, poor man.’
Then we met Dre. If there is a person less likely to become a whipping boy in any group of people, I’d like to meet him. We were left, rudderless, ripping mercilessly into one another with no fixed target. It was a chorus of curses, of invective before adjective after offensive lookalike, from morning til night. It was…..AMAZING.
‘oooohh listen to the Gelfling over here!’
‘Fuck you, at least I haven’t done a SKYPE COMMERCIAL.’
But then, one night, late. Raife was sprawled insensible in the middle row, screaming
‘HANDS UP WHO LIKES ME’
while we dutifully raised our hands and called ‘meee’
when Finn made a very astute observation.
‘That sounds just like the sort of thing Dan used to shout.’
‘It is, isn’t it?’
And Raife became…… New Dan.
‘THIS IS BULLSHIT! I’VE BEEN ME FOREVER. I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ME. I’M MEEEEEEE’
The terrible, sad thing about it is that that’s EXACTLY the sort of thing Dan would say.
In exactly the same voice.
‘THIS IS MY PERSONALITY. I’VE HAD THIS PERSONALITY FOR AGES.’
Old Dan, leaning over the seat behind, chin happily resting on elbows, watched the scene with the dignity of an elder statesman.
‘Thing is Raife, you do sound EXACTLY like me…..or…..like an inferior version of me.’
‘THIS IS BULLSHIT.’
‘NEW DAN! I’M TWICE THE MAN THAT TOMBSTONE TOOTHED MIDGET EVER WAS.’
‘I’ve heard you call me tombstone teeth a million times in the past two weeks. It’s getting OLD, Raife. Come up with something NEW. Besides, I LOVE my teeth.’
‘You’re like a photocopy when the inks running out. All grey.’
Us: ‘OOOOOHHH Nice CALL Original Dan!’
‘FUCK YOU ALL. I’M NOT NEW DAN. IM ME. MEEE! I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ME! I CAN’T HELP IT! THIS IS BULLSHIT!’
11:35 pm • 25 July 2009
‘Sal says that in Tucson it’s a hundred and twenty degrees.’
‘What’s that in proper numbers?’
‘Forty Five or something’
‘And then there’s the Chupacabra.’
‘And the giant poisonous leg clamping centipedes.’
‘Oh YEAH! Remember that guy at the show last time, with the ladder of scars up to his knee?’
‘From when he was a KID.’
Raife had an epiphany.
‘STOP THE VAN. I’M NOT COMING.’
We drove into Tucson through a lightening storm and checked into the Best Western. We got in a bit late, but we wanted to know if there was an open bar nearby. It turned out there was, and it was right in the hotel.
It was karaoke night. And so began our Tucson experience.
The next morning I watched two lizards having a war by the pepsi machine. At first there was just one lizard, all metallic bronze glint and tiny movements. And two fat caterpillars squirming on concrete. As my pepsi clunked into the tray, the lizard snapped up a caterpillar and began gulping its squirming little body down. It was a nice lizard and I was happy to see it prosper.
Another lizard appeared.
They noted eachother. Both froze.
The lizard eating the caterpillar didn’t know what the hell to do. I could see it frantically processing information.
‘I’M MID MEAL!’
‘ITS SEEN ME!’
‘WILL IT STEAL MY MEAL?’
‘Maybe I’ll just stay reeealllllyyy still and it will go away…’
So it did. The other lizard, however, did not go away. It stood watching the first lizard intently. The effect of the first lizard staying veerrryyyy stilllll was ruined a bit by the fact that it was clamped down on a very much alive and still furiously wriggling caterpillar.
They stared at eachother. Though the caterpillar eating lizard did a studious pretending to not really be staring thing, while the bug-less lizard was doing more of a staunching out type hard stare.
The tension was unbearable. I drank some pepsi.
The temperature, which was indeed nudging 45 degrees, added an air of drama.
But what of the caterpillar! The rogue element, and the cause of the whole affair.
It was still alive. And as I watched it wriggled its way back out of the lizards mouth, possibly even out of the lizards innards, and began making an escape. The lizard, if it’s possible, looked crestfallen. Its meal was escaping. But what could it do? There was ANOTHER LIZARD.
I left them that way, staring eachother down over a wriggling expanse of caterpillar. I went and drank my pepsi in the shade of the hotel room. And Dai, Finn and I went into town. We played Plush last October with Liam Finn and we remembered Shopping.
Some hours later, I was sitting in an about to open Plush bar wearing an all in one lyrca batman costume and a green rubber helmet covered in writhing snakes. Finn was wearing a furry wolf eared hat and a skull mask. Dai was nowhere to be found. The owner arrived.
‘Are you the Veils?’
In every town in America, there is a Euclid Avenue. I don’t know why, but it pleases me immensely.
Dai bought me a gold tooth.
After about an hour it fell out and I lost it.
But, somehow, I didn’t stay sad for too long.
Plush eventually closed, and we got in the van. There was supposedly an after hours bar somewhere nearby. When we got there it was closed and there was a brawl going on outside.
Dre just laughed a deep belly laugh and drove on.
1:22 am • 25 July 2009
Los Angeles, we love you.
stole this off someone on flickr but I don’t want to post her name cos I looked and she has photos of her kids and stuff and that just seems like a bad thing to publicise.
‘Where are we going for breakfast?’
‘Dre knows a place.’
‘Course he does.’
‘Dre where are we going?’
‘WHERE YOU GREW UP? WHERE YOU GREW UP WITH SNOOP DOG?’
I thought I liked Beach Street cafe. That was until we went to The Potholder.
Finn: ‘Dre, is it going to be Too Much if I order ‘the Couch.’
Dre: ‘lemme see……..thats a LOT of food.’
Finn: ‘I’m doing it.’
It came on three plates. All three were large. He won, in the end, but the battle was bloody. The waitress is beautiful and has apparently worked there for fifteen years. I liked the branded mugs.
‘Hey, do you sell these mugs?’
‘Yeah, but they’re cheaper to steal.’
So I did. Dre said she gave me the go-ahead.
Sated, or in Finn’s case engorged, we got back in the van.
Somehow, as happens about six times a day, an innocuous conversation took a turn into DRE IS AMAZING.
‘West Coast Choppers? Yeah I know those guys.’
Dan had a huffy aneurysm in the back.
‘I LOVE THAT SHOW. I LOVE THAT SHOW.’
‘You wanna swing by there? It’s right around the corner?’
We went. We weren’t allowed to take photos. Gilby Clarke had a bike being done in there. It was probably the nicest one. But they were all beautiful.
‘Soph, what does this place smell like?’
Dai can’t smell. Which is a shame. The smell was probably the best thing. More than metal. Metal and petrol, heat, an undertone of solvents and paint. There was a huge, spinning metal saw that I was afraid to stand NEAR. Genuinely. It. Was. Cool.
We had originally intended to go to the Getty. To be cultural. To possibly do some shopping. instead we went to guitar center, picked up a piano, and visited Target. And it still was lovely.
‘What are THOSE?’
Raife possesses a sweet tooth comparable to my own. It’s comforting to have someone so pleased by sugar to glory in treats with, but im not sure its doing either of our health any good.
‘Iced animal crackers’
‘Giz one then.’
Some time after soundcheck:
Dan: ‘So, Dre’s outside and I think he’s about to punch a valet.’
‘I dunno. He didn’t save our parking space like Dre asked him to, or something. All I heard was shouting.’
‘Probably best if we let Dre handle it on his own, right?’
‘Well, it’s not as though we’re going to be any help.’
Every time we play LA, there is this couple who come to the show and I adore them. Their names are Wayne and Patty. They’re about my parents age and incredibly, unbelievably sweet and nice. I dunno. It’s funny. Everywhere we go there are certain people who always come, and after we’ve been somewhere a few times those people start to feel like family, in a way. I’d quite like one day to do something really nice for all of them, but at this point it seems to be mostly them doing nice things for us. This time Wayne and Patty brought us strawberries and an exquisitely beautiful, not to mention old (as in, bought from the shop when it came out old) Jefferson Airplane record. I hope they know how much we like them, and all the people like them, who always show up, are always lovely, and make something that’s already a pretty marvellous life even better.
I suppose one of the things we could do is play a good show, and as far as being happy with a show goes, it couldn’t get much better than spaceland. One of my favourites of all time, that one.
I’ll draw a veil (?) over the hour and half immediately following the show. The night ended with Andre deciding to drive straight to Tucson via Kanters deli. We made it to Kanters, at least. Finn, Liam and I once spent two hours in Kanters eating blueberry pie in the middle of the night, so it’s got some fond memories.
‘Soph, does this smell like meat?’
It couldn’t have smelled more like meat if I’d had my head inside the god of pastrami.
‘Yeah Dai, it smells quite a lot like meat.’
‘Fuck. Dre! You told me to eat the one wrapped in tin foil!’
‘Maybe there are two things wrapped in tin foil…..oh…..yeah that’s my sandwich.’
‘How long since you’ve eaten meat, Dai?’
‘Huh. Well, it is REALLY good pastrami.’
Raife lay sprawled in the middle seat while I handed him small cake after small cake until he came across one he didn’t like.
‘TOO DRY! TOO DRY! NOT THAT ONE! OTHER ONE!’
Dai was silent in the front, processing what he’d just eaten. Dre handed me a fruit salad he claimed was the best in LA. Actually that was true.
‘This pastrami is AMAZING.’
‘Are we still going to Tucson?’
After dropping Finn, who was staying in LA to do sessions, we headed out into the night. We got as far as a small town on the edge of the desert. I was asleep when we pulled in around 7am. Dre’s ambition is to be admired, but more to be admired is his ability to admit when he’s been defeated. We all took FULL advantage of the fact that breakfast had started, and then curled up for naps.
When I woke up in the morning Dre was pissing himself laughing at one of those police car chase shows, showing no sign of having been to sleep, or even really moved since I last saw him. I had some more froot loops.
9:26 pm • 19 July 2009
The Sundial Bridge - Redding, CA.
‘Do you guys wanna take a little detour?’
‘Whatever you say, Dre.’
Aside from knowing the number of the exit for the northern-most brance of In-N-Out burger, and working in the vintage porn cataloguing industry, Dre is also an architecture buff.
Our love continues to grow. As does the dictionary.
Wouldn’t YOU love someone who turned off the highway and took you to the world’s biggest sundial?
It’s by Santiago Calatrava.
And after that some people in a pickup truck led us to In-N-Out. They weren’t even going to In-N-Out. They could obviously see how much we wanted to. Could a day be more perfect?
3:41 pm • 19 July 2009
‘You wanna go hang out across the street for a bit.’
When Dre tells you to do something, you do it. So I skipped away from the door of the hotel, sat myself on a fence and watched a woman laden with plastic bags trying to coax a chihuahua puppy down the street on a leash. It wasn’t having any.
‘I don’t know if he’s going to succeed, but he’s giving the desk woman some REALLY intense looks.’
If anyone was going to be able to get me out of a smoking fine at an eco-friendly San Franciscan hotel…..Dre was.
Finn trotted across the street.
‘I don’t think it’s going very well. But it’s still going.’
After some nervous time, we headed for the carpark. Dre arrived. His face was unreadable. His shades were like the mirrors of a mirror loving god.
A tense silence.
‘Don’t do that again.’
‘I promise. Is it…..’
Of course it is.
On the road again.
‘Dre, are we going past Santa Cruz?’
We took a turn, and ran straight into the back of a serious traffic jam. One of those ones where you turn your car off and just sit there for an hour, thinking about the people causing the jam who are no doubt having the worst time of their life. And you see the helicopter lift off and hope for the best.
Eventually we moved again, but by this time everyone was starving so stopping off for breakfast in Santa Cruz seemed like the best option, really.
Beach Street cafe.
Inexplicably, the walls are covered in original Maxfield Parrish prints. The coffee is delectable, the chorizo scrambled eggs are out of this world and the setting is….glorious. We went for a walk on the beach after.
‘What’s that noise?’
‘It appears to be sea lions.’
Dre rules #amillion: When he naps, this is how he naps
lets take a closer look
It turned out that our little detour to Santa Cruz meant that instead of taking the hugely uneventful I5 down to Costa Mesa, we instead found ourselves on 101. I’ve since been told that there is another, even BETTER highway option, but when you spend an entire day punctuating each five minute interval with a sharp intake of breath, it’s hard to fathom ‘better’ in any meaningful way.
‘Dre, this Arnold Palmer drink is fucking brilliant.’
‘And it’s only a dollar.’
‘Dai, have you ever seen the proper ocean before?’
‘I guess not.’
‘How is it?’
‘Dre, we just passed an In-N-Out’
‘Fuck it, I’m turning around.’
‘Dre, why are we stopping?’
‘You guys wanna jump out? The view’s quite pretty.’
We look like a band or something.
We got to Costa Mesa a bit late. Nobody cared. Finn’s voice was a bit dodgy. Nobody minded. We ate tacos in a restaurant that had bottles of hotsauce made by the dude from Offspring on the tables.
Dre: ‘He’s got his own jet, I guess it makes sense that he’d have his own hotsauce.’
Raife: ‘So, just now, this dude pulled up on this beautiful motorbike. He was about seventeen feet tall and had a matching yellow helmet and gloves…’
Dan: ‘Me and Raife were watching him, thinking he should totally be a friend of Dre’s.’
Raife: ‘Then Dre comes out….’
Dan: ‘And yells, JOHN!’
Raife: ‘Why can’t I be Dre. I’ll never be Dre.’
4:07 pm • 17 July 2009
I have a confession to make. I’d never really been….SOLD, on San Francisco. I think it’s because I’d only ever been there for twelve hours at a time. I felt like….the crowds are always lovely, but the city itself, I just didn’t know.
And then there was this time. Photos to come.
We got in, late at night, and checked into a hotel that claimed eco-friendlinesss and other smug credentials. On the ceiling above the beds it said ‘GOOD NIGHT’ in glow in the dark paint.
Finn: ‘That’s just creepy.’
Apparently everyone else woke up around eight when a man outside began shouting at the top of his lungs
GOOD MORNING AMERICA. WHY ARE YOU ASLEEP. WAKE UP AND GO TO WORK AMERICA
and then sang some songs. But I slept through it, and woke up with a day free and the desire to go on an educational field trip to City Lights. I was having my third coffee when there was a knock on the door.
‘Excuse me….I’ve just come to see if you……have enough chairs.’
He was carrying a clipboard. He craned his head around the door.
‘I think we’re fine for chairs.’
He took a step backwards.
‘You do realise this is a non smoking hotel.’
‘Really? No, I didn’t.’
‘Well it is. I’m going to have to fine you $250’
‘I….haven’t been smoking?’
‘We have to get everything drycleaned. $250.’
‘It’s not going to smell. You know that.’
‘It’s a non smoking hotel.’
‘Yeah but…look. It’s not going to smell.’
He left. My language was not ladylike. But whats to be done. Suck it up and go to City Lights, that’s what.
It’s funny, I didn’t expect it to actually be that good. But it’s a REALLY REALLY good bookstore, aside from the other side of it. The girl working behind the counter had quite the attitude, but that was ignorable. Sort of.
‘I wonder if there’s a second hand bookstore round here.’
‘There must be. I mean, if you were opening a San Francisco second hand bookstore, surely you’d think, hey, maybe I should open it near the most famous bookstore in the world.’
‘Do you think we could ask her?’
‘Surely. I mean….this is city lights! The whole point is that they understand poverty!’
‘Hey, is there a secondhand bookstore around here.’
There SO WAS, as well. But we couldn’t find it. We settled for a walk up a steep hill to a view out over the harbour that was really very lovely. Afterward I talked Dai into plum bubble tea.
We then went for lunch at Uncle’s Diner. I have to admit that the combination of vinyl booths, unlimited coffee, syrup on the table and spicy soy eggplant worked better than I expected. We discussed vegetarianism, namely Dai’s commitment to and my lack of. Turns out the best argument I can make for steak eating is
‘I’m going to die one day, and I like steak.’
San Francisco: officially won me over. BEAUTIFUL. And it only got better.
One of our traditions is a cafe near Bottom Of The Hill. I forget what it’s called, I’m sure locals know it, it’s lovely and the coffee is sublime. As is the banana cake. Dre disappeared inside and came back with a swiss army USB stick, having promised to load it up with music for the waitress.
Dan: ‘You know Dre, you’ve introduced me to genres of music I didn’t know even existed.’
Raife: ‘He’s making them up. He’s inventing genres, and the music just comes.’
We’ve started a dictionary of Dre. It’s a list of ways in which he is the coolest man on the planet. I’ll publish it at the end of the tour. It’s substantial already.
The show was LOVELY. Dan, Raife and I watched Foreign Born and admired Matt’s moves. He moves like Uncle Junior dancing, late at night in a bar in Miami. I befriended a very affectionate cat, who turned out to have a large half healed abscess under its jaw. It didn’t seem to mind. A complete stranger appeared in the dressing room, swaying. He introduced himself as Dan from Ohio, and forced twenty dollars on Andre for no apparent reason, before stumbling off again.
Afterwards, we packed, in a slightly sloppy way, and headed out. Dan brought two new friends along. Dre was taking us to his favourite mexican place.
We jumped out of the van on a street corner. Dan and his friends didn’t join us. If you’ve ever met Dan, you probably know how he feels about burritos. In his ideal world, they would happen twice a day. Or more.
Raife: ‘There’s a bar next door!’
And so we walked in. Dre had told us about a magical tequila. The best tequila there ever was. There’s a stag’s head on the bottle.
‘I see a stag’s head!’
‘Get Dre! Get Dre! This woman only speaks spanish!’
And so Dre ordered our tequilas from the short and smiling barmaid. The four or five other drinkers, down the back in the gloom, studiously ignored our overexcited yelps.
‘Uh….Dre….? Am I supposed to drink this in ONE?’
It was AMAZING. It was unlike any tequila ever before. It was…..it was like drinking the weather in Tucson, is what it was like.
And then we had the best Mexican we ever had.
Raife: ‘WHAT IS THIS SANDWICH. DRE DID YOU JUST INVENT THIS SANDWICH. THIS IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER HAD.’
We told Dan ALL about it. He’s still not stopped crying.
2:18 pm • 17 July 2009
When you spend weeks at a time fumbling around in unfamiliar surroundings, wandering the streets in search of a drugstore, or a soda, not knowing where the nearest….anything….is, it becomes intensely comforting to find anything familiar. We’ve built quite a collection of small familiarities, over the years. There are certain things that must be done, no matter how arbitrary those things are, in certain cities. In Sydney, we must have a coffee at the place on the main street that we can only ever find in relation to the position of the Oxford Arts Factory. In Breda, we visit Bagels and Beans. In New York, the first place we go is the Pink Pony, and we always check out the mirrors in the bathroom. Dan likes to drink V8 spicy vegetable juice. Finn has Reeses peanut butter cups. I start the day with Quaker Oats….
In Portland, we go to Union Jacks. Normally we play Doug Fir, and thus Unions Jacks is a mere stumble. But we weren’t going to let a little extra distance put us off. We’d already lost out on one of our routines, not staying at The Jupiter, and the other thing we really wanted to do, see the Mint Chicks play the following night, had been ruled out due to the length of the drive to San Francisco.
On the other hand, Mississipi studios is LOVELY, and we got to discover that Foreign Born’s Sal, whom we adore, does a nice line in Saudi Arabian casual wear. He picked it up in the actual Saudi Arabia, which is apparently a pretty strange place.
We arrived in the middle of a street fair. The carnival atmosphere infused the show, which pretty much the minute we came off stage turned to absolute carnage. Then again when people are drinking jalapeno vodka BEFORE the show, thats really not so surprising. One minute I was happily chatting away to lovely Sal, the next minute Raife had me by the elbow like a policeman and was handing me an enormous glass of straight whiskey. Later on I ate my very first PB&J, (thanks Shelby) and enjoyed it immensely. And then…..Union Jacks.
It ended with a taxi driver freaking me out completely
‘So where are you from?’
‘Where do you live in London? Shepherds Bush?’
‘You been playing a show?’
‘A Veils show?’
It turned out he hadn’t said Veils show, and it was because he himself once lived in Shepherds Bush. But still.
2:34 pm • 15 July 2009
I actually love jetlag. I love the way it means you wake up two hours before you need to, after Not Enough Sleep, feeling fresh as a persil wash, perky as a chipmunk, wide eyed with excitement about the possibilities of the day….
And the grinding gearbox explosion inside your brain round sixpm, as something deep in the brain goes ‘clunk’ and turns off, leaving you sitting in your chair gazing dully at everything around you, unable to work out how that sentence you were halfway through should finish…..
It’s not so bad. It’s almost peaceful. It’s like testing out what it’s like to only have half a brain. If you can go with it. If you don’t have to DO anything.
Which brings me to midnight last night.
Me: ‘We’re……gonna do…….a good……show.’
Finn: ‘Yes………we ARE.’
I think we actually might’ve. Did we? It was awesome fun at the time. Finn’s not dead. Everyone always worries that Finn will die. It’s because his legs look so snappable. He’s actually very hardy.
Raife: ‘That bit where you had a sitdown was amazing. After Jesus.’
Finn: ‘I feel like such a dick when I do it. Like James Brown or something. I just….really needed to have a sit down.’
Dan: ‘Yeah James Brown was FAKING.’
No but really, he’s fine. He could use a bit more sleep, but he’s fine.
Earlier in the day, at KEXP, we’d had cupcakes and scored stickers for our guitar cases. We always have good sessions there, I don’t know what it is. Everyone’s nice, and the room’s really cosy. We were so happy afterwards, pleased with the world and our place in it, that we even took a photographic series to prove it.
Some of us think we’re too cool to smile.
Some of us actually are too cool to smile. Also too cool to be proper sized photos. It would shatter your screen, that’s how cool he is.
After the show we had guests to entertain. Or, one, especially. One E. Harcourt esq, in town to make a record and come to our show to see how Raife was getting on. He seemed to enjoy himself, didn’t break anything, and he and I shared a very fine hotdog.
This morning we hauled ourselves out of bed, ate some ASTONISHINGLY good cookies Andre’s girlfriend made us, and went for breakfast at Del Taco. Raife and I had pretty much the best time of our life when we discovered that it is now LAW for fast food joints to post the calorie content of their entire menu prominently in their restaurant. And it is prominent.
I had a strawberry lemonade.
And to finish, Andre looking amazing.
12:54 pm • 11 July 2009