A couple of days later, I was just finishing work when I got a call from Alex.
'So, um, we might need you to come round to my house on your way home and help transport the star back to your mums garage.'
'um…well, Helen's finished the frame…..and it's really awesome…..but I don't think it's going to fit in a car…..and I have to go to work.'
'….So we think it's probably going to have to go on the bus…..and then the ferry.'
'I'm extremely unexcited by this plan of events.'
'Figured you would be.'
'What if I say no?'
'Um……let me…..let me see…..I'll call you back.'
After some more faff I’d become slightly more amenable, plus he offered to buy me a burger. So I turned up at his some time later, and saw what truly was a very large star frame. And we did indeed take it on the bus.
And then, on the ferry.
And then my mum picked us up on the other side. As she said, merrily, opening the boot;
'You can fit ANYTHING in a hatchback!'
So then we were there for the forseeable. An ipod cable hooked into the stereo I had when I was fourteen, some spiders, and a selection of K bars.
But come saturday there was a working bee. It started badly, with Alex, his girlfriend Danni and I discovering that large quantities of childrens acrylic paint are not as easy to come by in a small seaside suburb of a small seaside city as you might think. There was quite a lot of faff, we were already weighed down by extra baggage, including serveral bright yellow foam pool noodles, but it got sorted and we salved the wounds with a trip to the supermarket for cheese and chippies.
'Oh shit. I forgot to get anything to make baby Saturn's ring out of.'
'What would we need?'
'Real Estate sign would be pretty handy.'
'Did you say you needed a real estate sign?'
Mum, wandering into the conversation.
'Why don't you nab the neighbour's one at the end of the drive?'
'Won't they mind?'
'The house is sold, and frankly I'd be glad to see it go. People keep wandering around in front of it gossiping about how much they think it sold for and you can practically hear them working out how much it makes theirs worth.'
'You're not allowed to tell them, all the same.'
'Deal. Pliers are under the sink.'
Finn’s sister Lia proved very adept at ring building and his brother Ossian did a beautiful job of cratering the surface of the moon. Danni did wonders with dacron, I sat in the middle of the garage covering star shapes in satin, and sure enough, around midday, straight off the plane and into a bucket of paste, the hat-man himself. It must’ve been quite a scene to step off a plane into, but he was very dignified about it, and got up to speed very quickly.
'So, how are we creating the universe?'
'….uh, not totally sure yet. Possibly star cloth.'
'Oh! Oh! When the moon spews, he should spew a ROCKET SHIP!'
Turns out waiting for things to dry was the most time consuming part of the whole affair.
We spent the evening at a party at Liam’s house. Danni and I got possibly more heavily then we should’ve into the gin, and finished the evening in hysterics at the noise control man, with Danni yelping ‘HE’S SOUTH AFRICAN! KNEEL! KNEEL! KNEEL FOR THE SPRINGBOKS!’
Which we did.
Sunday was kids costumes day. Finn showed up with a selection of breakfast delicacies, everyone slapped a bit more paste on the slightly more spherical spheres and headed off to see if it really is true what they say about working with children.
Considering that everything was made of cardboard and held together with staples, they were remarkably well behaved. And quite true to older type, by some lucky chance. By an even more lucky chance, it was by far the most placid kid who got stuck in the super-fragile paper lampshade.
'So….I guess we're going with 'Saturn doesn't grow arms until puberty…?”
He even only cried for a minute when a freak gust of wind caught the ring estate sign and it smacked him directly in the face. His name was Alex. He was pretty stoked when he found out what the director’s name was.
And then there was a week to do, with just Saturn and the Moon to finish. Piece of piss. Ho ho ho.
3:22 am • 26 January 2011
I said in October, before i decamped on the usual end of year escape to the world of four minute sunburning and six pound bottles of very acceptable fizzy wine, that i wasn’t sure that Finn’s plan to stay in London over Christmas and New Year was going to be the picturesque winter wonderland he seemed to think it was.
I then spent six weeks discovering that New Zealand’s gotten REALLY EXPENSIVE but that somone’s clearly bought a load of weather off the Bahamas as a special end-of-decade present, and received a series of increasingly desperate reports from the Lon. Someone had a seizure in an off-license. Everyone got norovirus. The entire country fell apart under a load of snow. Another friend appeared in New Zealand three days after her planned arrival date, with a one-line facebook message to explain:
‘Yeah i was on that Qantas plane that exploded. Really annoying, eh.’
She had been, as well. Apparently the paralysing fear of impending death was quickly replaced with paralysing boredom when they had them sit on the tarmac for five hours while fire crews ensured there wasn’t going to be a surprise fireball.
My boyfriend sent me a huge box of polish chocolate, cigarettes and a Spoon t-shirt though, to remind me of London’s good points.
Christmas rolled around and I found myself sitting on the edge of a swimming pool with my feet pruning in the water next to similarly shrivelling friends Alex and Hannah, while Finn’s sister Lia floated around in an inflatable ring. Alex was ranting on about his just-finished masters in film, and Lia, freshly completed her Fine Arts degree, was futilely trying to paddle across to her ringing phone.
As quite often happens around Christmas, i was a bit slow on the uptake. EP stuff seemed to be going all right, and the usual wonderful genie in the NZ government was giving us some money to make a video. With geographical issues, it was going to possibly be a slight headache. Eventually the idea fought its way past the pruning and the glare on the water.
‘What are you up to now?’
‘Not much. Going to this film.’
‘No but, like, in general around now. Like, are you going to be working?’
‘Nah. Got something starting round mid january.’
‘Wanna make a veils video?’
‘Email me and Finn some plans?’
A couple of days later, there was some garbled nonsense about a star with a death wish in my facebook messages. I responded with something even more garbled about how ‘that Knife video for Pass This On is awesome.’
But then Finn heard the plan and liked it, and we discovered the world of star puns over a game of 500 in Alex’s back garden with his girlfriend Danni and assorted others.
‘Yeah like he’s going to work, right, and he goes through the STARF entrance.’
‘MILKY WAY BARS. LOVES MILKY WAY BARS.’
‘And then, like, he has macaroni cheese for dinner and he puts GLITTER on it.’
‘Yeah and Finn really likes it.’
‘Bit tricky with him being in England and everything.’
‘I guess there’s always skype.’
‘Oh oh wait! He can be all sad cos y’know how it takes ages for light to get to earth from stars, well he could be trying to wave at earth and it would seem like earth was just ignoring him but actually it’s just light-years of time lag.’
‘That’s kind of heart-breaking.’
And an emo star was born.
Suddenly there was a sort of a script. Alex and i discussed my ability, or theoretical ability, to build an enormous star costume.
‘Don’t see why not. Chicken wire and…foam?’
‘When do we need to get this done by?’
‘It’ll be fiiiiine.’
‘Least everyone we know is on holiday and not super keen to commit to doing anything.’
‘Yeah at least there’s that.’ We came up with an idea for a leading man, and appraoched him with the only-natural line ‘James, we can make you a star.’ He seemed relatively into it. There was a moon character planned for giggles. A contender presented himself, but perhaps it’d be best to see if anyone can guess who it is when they watch. We discussed the thing at various christmas parties, including but not limited to one where we heard about, and then had confirmed as an accurate depiction of events -from the horses mouth, as it were - this video, which made me think no better video could ever be made, but we could only try.
That there, in the last segment, is 40,000 dollars worth of fireworks.
I also forced Alex to watch that Hurricane video for Jared Leto’s inexplicably, apparently massive, band. Googling the directors name gives added thrills.
'I'm tempted to send this to Finn and tell him to 'think of it as a sketch”
'DO IT. DO IT.'
We went on a heavenly New Years jaunt to waiheke, during which we were treated like super-special and much valued guests by one Mr and Mrs Corry, instead of like the lucking-out friends of their son that we were. Mr Corry took us out on his ambhibious boat and everything was just so generally glorious that it took til the last day to have some serious discussions. Somehow in the time between Christmas and New Years ‘star with death wish/lives in a bedsit’ had turned into ‘sad star tries to win heart of girl star but girl star goes out with Saturn who with his pal the moon is really mean to sad star.’ ‘This is….more costumes than i think i can manage. What’s this bit about children?’
‘Oh yeah Finn wants a bit where theres a photo of them as kids.’
‘Awesome. But so….all costumes double?’
‘Well….the moon wouldn’t have to be in it.’
‘I’m pretty sure this is beyond my abilities.’
‘Thats ok. I have a plan. Her name’s Helen, and she thinks she can do it, no sweat.’
And after that everything suddenly started going very fast.
‘This bit about him wanking to a picture of a black hole is pretty awesome.’
Two days back from New Years and Helen Alex and I are in Mitre 10 buying chicken wire and pliers. A man at the checkout in a leather sleeveless vest was babbling half coherently about motorbikes and we were pondering our requirements in terms of length and breadth.
‘Paste! Need paste for paper mache!’
‘Cable ties! Cable ties!’
‘I had no idea there were this many kinds of pliers.’
Helen looked at me sympathetically, the way you look at a slow child who’s eaten some paint. It was at that point that I realised she probably did know what she was doing. And that I sort of didn’t.
‘So, do you think Finn’s really going to be able to deal with not being here for this?’
‘Totally depends how much fun it looks like we’re having.’
‘I’d feel safer if he was here.’
‘Me too, but don’t tell him that or he’ll think we’re going to screw it up.’
‘It’s going to be really fun i think.’
Helen glanced at the chicken wire and gave me the look again. I didn’t know then, but she had a much better idea of what was coming in the near future, when the chicken wire interactions started.
I didn’t know how much of a goer it was going to be, but i had a plan to coerce my mum into lending us her garage as a workshop. I didn’t imagine she’d be very keen, but as it turned out she got completely overexcited about the idea and by the time i got home the next day she’d dragged an old rug out from somewhere, to ‘make it more cosy’ and seemed almost gleeful to see me spread myself over the back lawn with ten metres of chicken wire and a small pair of snippy pliers. I think it must be some sort of nostalgia trip, you’d think the words ‘paper mache’, would glaze a house-proud mothers face with terror, but she looked at me as though i was four years old all over again and said
‘But darling that sounds WONDERFUL!’
What was really not as wonderful was my first large scale interaction with chicken wire. Cuts, don’t it. And you never can tell when it’s suddenly going to make a TWANG sound and lodge itself viciously in your calf. Mum had a friend over for wine whom i hadn’t seen in about twelve years.
‘Moon head. OW’
‘She’s making a moon head! Isn’t it amazing!’
‘It’s going to be a moon head..?’
I’d done some sums i was very proud of. Over new years there had been one of those holiday conversations between me, Alex and Tom, who was producing this thing, about things you learn in school. Alex was claiming that the whole bit where they make you learn formulas was pointless, Tom and I certain otherwise. So i made sure to send Alex my calculations, with my use of pi x d clearly highlighted. And as it turned out the sums carried me through, by the time it got dark there was a roughly spherical object, first layer of paper mache (Mum: ‘But that’s the NICE toilet paper!’) with only small amounts of blood mixed into the glue, and I was feeling like this whole costume building business was going to be a cinch. EP comes out today. Actual copies sold out pretty quick but downloads last forever, and it’s not expensive. Turns out there might be a show or two soon as well. And by the time I’ve covered the part where I try to make Saturn, and the surprising ease of finding a child willing to wear a fairly restrictive painted rice paper lampshade for a photograph, and into the actual shoot days where the real money photos are, there should be a video too.
3:07 am • 23 January 2011
‘The industry should make more of a play for advertising and sponsorship pounds, which were worth £90m last year, up by 0.9%, said Page.
"That looks flat, but the more people are willing to innovate and create, the more brands will be willing to use music and the more bands will get involved," he said.’
7:37 am • 5 August 2010
That was Raife’s roof in Venice beach. What a bastard.
So, I’ve been learning songs. There are a bunch, we’re not doing all of them for the EP, which bodes well for the post-EP future.
There’s this thing on the internet, I don’t know if it’ll be fun, but I thought it might be. I guess it’s what the comments section on here is for, but maybe it’s more fun if it’s all formatted nice and stuff. Ask whatever, I’ll answer,
is that really egomaniacal? Not as egomaniacal as a blog?
I didn’t think Spain were going to win that semi-final. Netherlands for the big win, all the way.
8:37 am • 8 July 2010
I stopped doing this for a while, mainly because Veils went on a break and while I guess I could be one of those people who posts ‘what I’m up to outside of the band’ posts it seems like I pretty much do that already, with a veneer of Veils-interest, and..I dunno. I’m lazy. Plus ‘what I’ve been doing’ can be summed up in bullet points
-I work in a bar a bit. It’s a lot like being a band. A number of grumpy tired people in dirty clothes perform a service for a larger number of well dressed happy people enjoying a night/day out.
-I very much enjoy watching the video for ‘Alejandro’ when it comes on. As my friend Sid put it, ‘it’s a rare woman that can simulate a choreographed gang bang with a dozen men and not come off looking like a victim. Doesn’t even matter that the song sounds like a souped up version of La Isla Bonita.’ In related news: I quite like Tinie Tempah.
-A slightly waning interest in the world cup coincided neatly with wimbledon beginning. Or, a slightly waning interest in the world cup coincided neatly with the opportunity to gaze lovingly at Rafael Nadal.
-Didn’t New Zealand do WELL though!
Then all of a sudden one day I had lunch with Finn and it turned out he’d written some really good songs are we’re making an EP. This is Good, not least because it means I spend more time playing bass and less time watching music videos on TV. So next week we’re doing that. I don’t know if anyone knows who we’re doing it with, so maybe I won’t say. It’s a man. It’s not Timbaland. Or Ronson.
I guess maybe, depending how it goes, I might write some stuff while we record things. But that depends if the studio has a television. After all, the Tour de France just started.
10:32 am • 7 July 2010
Photos from USA 09 too golden not to share
'You guys wanna play on a tank?'
I break my own heart sometimes. Late in the tour, to the store for snacks, my subconscious takes over without my realising until I got to the checkout. Clearly in dire need of a salad, I end up with aspartame, lung cancer and oil.
The only answer I have to the question ‘What are you doing here?’ is the obvious one - ‘trying to pay with a shoe.’
Ever seen someone look this dangerous while eating a toffee apple?
11:28 am • 27 May 2010
That Promised TBC
A decent walk to School Of Seven Bells left us in a draughty building that managed to look New Yorky, the way draughty New Yorky warehousy venues always seem as though they’re full of smoke, despite this being unlikely, if not impossible. There was a high proportion of bellied older gents wearing many varied laminates. There was no band on, yet. There was no band on for AGES, but School Of Seven Bells were pottering around the stage making noises into microphones and checking synths.
'Girls with that kind of hair always terrify me.'
'What, the real angular fringe thing?'
'Yeah. How does it STAY that way?'
'Yeah I figured you wouldn't know.'
It might be that our standards were set a bit high by the one-two Thurston/Courtney wallop, but the most fun was had out of counting how many times the guitarist adjusted his hair during the set. And when he managed to find a moment mid-song to do a fringe re-arrange we just looked at eachother and went outside. It wasn’t their fault. Overkill. Tacos instead, on the way to see Basia.’
'THIS TACO IS HORRIBLE! IT'S JUST MEAT!'
'That's what a taco IS.'
'I thought they came with, like, salad and avocado and stuff.'
'That's a burrito.'
'But the taco you had yesterday had other stuff.'
'That's because I befriended the taco guy.'
* * *
'Y'know what….this meat is actually really good.'
I was crazy jealous of Basia’s show, because after her there was Quasi, and after Quasi there was Liars. But we could only see Basia, because we had our own show to do. She was awesome. Remains awesome. You’re retarded if you don’t get her records. Henning Dietz showed up, smoking a cigar, and was duly reamed in hilarious fashion. The last I saw of him was as Raife and I drove away in a cycle taxi, Henning standing in the middle of the road yelling ‘SOPH! YOU DIDN’T SAY GOODBYE!’
To Cedar Street!
And to the third stomach dropping musical experience of the day. Buddy. Miller. Two drummers. Rhinestone guitar straps. A woman who got up out of the crowd in a sort of anorak and twinset, as though she was just stopping by, and unleashed one of those perfect clear country voices that sound like a waterfall of cider vinegar in a mountain forest. I couldn’t really deal, I don’t think any of us could. Raife goggling at the drummers, one a chubby carpenter-type dude, the other a Steve Erkel lookalike, who played different and the same, grinning at eachother with utter glee, the chubber with a huge percussion bangle of sea-shells. The bass player who was one of those guys who look as though they are completely ignoring everyone and couldn’t give less of a shit about the whole thing and yet you could tell by the tiny incline of his head where his attention was, and by the fact that everything he played was the perfect and most simple thing that the not-giving-a-shit was a byproduct of a complete and natural knowing-of-his-shit.
And this is before you layer on the accordion player who was like what you imagine gypsies might’ve been like before gogol bordello got involved. And Buddy Miller himself, who was one of those guys that just…I dunno. He just so clearly loved it, that the whole thing was probably the most joyous looking show I’ve ever seen. It was unbelievable.
And yeah, we had to go on after it. AFTER IT. AFTER THAT. WE HAD TO GO ON AFTER THAT.
When they finished, I went down, goggly and manic the way I get when I’m a bit overwhelmed and Mr Miller was packing his stuff and I took a big breath and went up to him and said
'Hey, um, look, I have to play now and…'
and he interrupted me and said
'I know, sorry, I won't be much longer, just packing up.'
I don’t know what colour I went.
'nononono that wasn't what I meant. I meant, I meant um, um, oh, um, just that, that was incredible, and we have to play now and I don't know…..how it's going to go, but thank you, for making me feel like that.'
And he said
'Oh don't worry. You just do your thing, and that's all anyone can ever do.'
By this point I’d completely gone to bits and just gabbled thankyouthankyou and skittered off, only to bang into the Erkel drummer whom I also felt obliged to dribble thank yous and that-was-amazings at, who completely finished me off by saying he’d been at our show the other night and loved it and thought we were wicked.
And it actually didn’t go badly. Best one of the trip I think, Finn’s guitar fell right off him at one point but given the disaster it seemed like it would have to be after the buildup it was alright.
And another two hour wander around the city looking for a taxi, but we bought the best hot dogs of all time after the first half an hour and that made it a lot less painful.
8:19 am • 27 May 2010
Belated: Bewildered - SXSW III
'I think I want an icecream.'
'I want an icecream.'
'Why are we awake?'
'I don't know.'
'Where do we get an icecream?'
'I don't know.'
'I want an icecream.'
'I want an icecream too.'
By the third day it had come to this. I don’t normally want an icecream at eleven in the morning immediately following a mexican breakfast.
'Lets go to Mohawk.'
'Dunno. It's got that outside bit, where the wrestling was.'
Things made sense at the time that I can’t make any sense of now.
'We'll probably find an icecream on the way.”Yeah, bound to.'
'Dre's ordering a BEER.'
'This place is too full of people.'
'I WANT AN ICECREAM.’
'Fuck it. Let's go find one. We'll find the others later.'
Finn and I went in search.
'Where's that shop you got the mexican one from yesterday?'
'I don't know. Near the hilton.'
'This way, then.”No. Other way.”No, it's this way.”It's the other way, but I'll believe you.'
It wasn’t. It wasn’t the other way either.
'This was the best idea we ever had.'
'Raife just texted me, says we have to go back to Mohawk to see this band, Frightened Rabbit.'
'Fine. I feel like I can handle anything now I've got this.'
They wouldn’t let us back into Mohawk. Frightened Rabbit were popular.
'Oh. Just saw this text saying to lie and say we're playing cos it's full and otherwise they won't let us in.'
'Guess we probably can't do that now.'
'I'm texting Dre.'
True to form, he appeared, pantherlike, spoke some sort of voodoo words to a guy, and we were not only in, but up on the balcony with free instant coffee samples everywhere and a mysterious dude in a sailor outfit who seemed to think he was King Of Austin. I spent most of Frightened Rabbit’s set watching him, instead of them, with a sort of lazy loathing. Not sure why, I think because he looked a bit like Ed Harcourt, who wasn’t in Austin, and would have actually been King had he been there so I sort of resented this imposter dude.
Or maybe I was just tired. Either way I was happy. I think it was the icecream. Everything had a golden glow to it.
'That was okay.'
'Guess so. You guys should get icecreams.'
'Yeah you really should.'
'What do we do now?'
'Hole are playing.'
'Right there. But don't get excited, it's full.'
At that point, we ran into O Mercy. They were looking for food, and planning to also go and see Hole. It didn’t seem worth mentioning to them that it was full.
'Jeff can get two of us into Hole.'
We looked at eachother. Dan was first out.
'I grew up in England. I must've seen Hole sixteen times. Not interested.'
Dre was next.
'You pussies go ahead, I don't give a shit.'
'Oh wait! Jeff says three!'
I swear to god it was the icecream that turned the day around. I would’ve thought the new Hole would be a disaster of biblical proportions. A plague of locusts descend on the stage and chew Courtney’s throat out, but she keeps singing.
It was unbelievably good.
'It's not even that full in here.'
'I'm getting closer to the stage.'
We only saw maybe four songs. The lady still got it. Proper. What she also clearly has is the best make up artist of all time, because she looked ridiculously hot, and about seventeen years old. Seriously. It wasn’t just icecream glow. The Johnny Borrel lookalike guitarist was a bit irritating, but aside from that, it was stellar. Raife Finn and I just stood there gaping til it was done, then we had a hug. A HUG. That good.
'That was insane.'
I know. Best thing I’ve seen in ages.’
'Now I want an icecream.'
'And some sushi?'
'Yeah why not.'
'What happens later?'
'Thurston Moore. Then I kinda want to go see School Of Seven Bells. Then Basia. Then us.'
'Fucking hell, look at that queue.'
'Nah Muse are playing back there.'
'That's one of the biggest queues I've ever seen.'
A note: people queued, I believe, for days, to see Muse. To see Muse. Who tour every major city in the world on a regular basis, and for whose shows you can just, you know, buy a ticket and show up. Go figure.
'I wanna know. I'm gonna ask.'
'Scuse me? What are you queueing for?'
Some kid in a tshirt told me two bands. I had never heard of either of them. I felt suddenly a bit old. Especially with his smug expression in response to my look of complete blankness.
* * *
'This icecream is incredible.'
'No, but seriously.'
'Would I be on my second of the day if it wasn't?'
The queue for Thurston wasn’t as big as the other queue. Some kid came up to me.
'Scuse me…what is this queue for?'
I looked smug. I hope he felt stupid.
Eventually they opened a back door and we did a teenaged sprint around the block. Midsprint we collected O Mercy and a friend from New Zealand. I liked the sprint. Everyone janging laminates and wristbands, trying not to tread on flapping laces.
I was trying to avoid drinking, we were hanging about in a more or less empty garage talking bullshit to O Mercy, when Graham-from-NZ presciently said ‘guys, I think there’s another room, where Thurston’s playing.’
Only missed about ten minutes. It was stellar. Thurston and an acoustic and a really irritating dude in front of me with a video camera filming the whole thing. Watching a show through a screen. I gave him filthy looks for a bit but they didn’t work. And what’s even more irritating is that the dude doesn’t seem to have even put the fucking thing on youtube so I could at least link to it.
'Does anyone want to go and see school of seven bells with me?'
'What is it?'
'Uh…..arty brooklyn synth wank with twin girl singers?'
5:34 am • 30 April 2010