Got up early and spent the required hour on the train into town, only to go straight back underground.
Got up early and spent the required hour on the train into town, only to go straight back underground.
More info and photos that weren’t taken on my phone here. If you’re in London, then go. Better to go on weekdays to avoid queues, according to the guy who was guarding it, but it is free, and there’s a nice courtyard where you can wait your turn.
Gatwick, 9am. We were flying into Ljubljana, Slovenia, then driving to Trieste.
'Is that the plane?'
'That's the plane.'
'I've never heard of Adria airways.'
'It's probably their very first day.'
'THAT'S the plane?'
'That is a SMALL PLANE.'
A balding man walking beside us laughed.
'That's the plane.'
'Hey, that's the director of Billy Elliot over there.'
'How do you know?'
We had a guest. Raife had brought along a friend called Stephen. Stephen is an Actor. I’ll talk more about him later, but for now it will suffice that we had a guest, his name was Stephen, and he’s an actor. I wouldn’t even mention the actor part except that it sort of comes into it heavily later on when Dan starts writing songs about it in the back of taxis.
'Actually, a lot of these people look like film people.'
'Obviously they're all going to make a film somewhere.'
'Maybe they're going to make it in Slovenia.'
'Oh this SUCKS.'
'When this crashes, we're not even going to make the fine print.'
'Why not! It'll be 'indie band dies in plane crash!'
'No, it'll be BILLY ELLIOT DIRECTOR DIES IN PLANE CRASH.'
'….you're right. Damn.'
'Maybe a little bit about Stephen.'
'Fuck you, Stephen.'
As we were waiting to board the Very Small Plane, a man approached us.
'Hey, are you the Veils?'
'Yeah! How did you know!'
Honestly, we said that with the excited glee of children.
'I saw your name stenciled on your drum cases.'
'I've also seen your drumskin on the wall of Bush Studios.’
'You're joking. What were you doing at Bush Studios?'
Turned out the guy knew many people we knew. Odd small world. He was going on the Small Plane to someone’s fiftieth birthday in a castle in Croatia.
'D'you think ALL these people are going to a birthday party in Croatia?'
As we got on the plane, there was a strange vibe. I thought it was maybe because of the size of the plane, but people were saying hello to us and stuff, as though they knew us or something. Someone made a joke about how the plane couldn’t crash because there was a band on board. I didn’t know if they knew the irony, but they didn’t sound like they did. But then, everyone else on the plane was also clearly a lot more successful and richer than us, and thus luckier, and thus more likely to prevent the plane from going down. For a second I thought perhaps there had been some mistake, and we were in fact on someone’s private jet, going to a birthday party in Croatia. But that was soon forgotten amidst the general terror.
'WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE WE'RE BRAKING.'
'I DON'T KNOW.'
'DO NOT WANT.'
We got there. Small planes. Officially not a fan. Maybe it’s different if it actually is a private jet. Must be. Surely Kanye isn’t constantly terrified.
At the airport, the reason for everyone’s friendliness became clear.
'You're not coming to Mike's?'
And off they went. I hope Mike’s was wicked. The one guy who recognised us from Bush stayed genuinely nice. Everyone else looked vaguely embarassed that they’d even mistaken us for People Who Would Be Invited To Mikes.
Drive to Trieste was an hour and a half. Slovenia is beautiful, in a foreboding, misty foresty kind of way. Apparently there are holes in the ground, all through the forest, that lead to caves, so that nobody can go for a nice forest walk without fear of falling through.
And then we were in Trieste. Regatta!
That’s a big square.’
'I like what they've done with that statue.'
You can sort of see it in the first photo, the stage was erected in front of this huge angel statue that sort of loomed out behind it. Whatever else you can say about Italy, they know about making things look nice.
I had raw prawns for dinner and they were really good. Stephen sprung on us the fact that he spoke fluent Italian, so we forced him to translate everything for the us the entire time, a task he took on with excellent humour. Then we played.
Midway through Sit Down, I looked out over a crowd that had been full, and steadily getting fuller, and thought, people are leaving. Why are people leaving? I thought we were doing okay? They’re LEAVING?
Then I noticed that it was pouring with rain. Pouring with rain.
Doorways filled. Some people did leave. But the people who stayed, and there were more of them than I would’ve thought would stay in the rain in Trieste for us…..they were amazing people.
At the end, they told us we couldn’t play any more. We pleaded a bit. The man in charge, who was wearing a sort of nautical sailing windproof weatherproof maybe sharkproof jacket, relented. Best Nux ever, and not just because, midway through, I managed to get all the way across the stage with a bottle of water and upend it over Dan’s head without him ever seeing me coming.
'I'm going to investigate rum and red bull.'
'I could join you in that investigation.'
Ten minutes later Dan’s jammed his head in a fuse box, and we’re hunting for a bar. We found one around the corner with pigs feet in brine in a jar, and settled in. I somehow ended up purchasing two heart decorated headbands and one pink bunny ear one, none of which I have any use for and one of which ended up on a ledge a story high opposite our hotel, where it flashed through the night and may still be flashing today. Stephen brought out a wooden chopping board loaded with cheese and bread, and Finn and I made him describe in possibly excruciating detail what Stephen Fry is like as a person, periodically interrupted by Dan yelling ‘WHERE’S YOUR MOTIVATION.’ and Stephen replying ‘GO SOME EXPRESS SOME EMOTIONS WITH YOUR GUITAR’.
Actors and bands. Now I understand why the combination is so famed.
Somehow we ended up in a van headed for the hotel. And were treated to a little light musical entertainment. We like music.
'You are an actor
you are just pretending
to be other people
I am just pretending
to be myself
that is why Im awesome
because I’m honest
do you know skype
skype is so awesome
you are just an actor
you are better than Raife
just because youre better
doesnt mean youre awesome
I am so awesome
because im honestI am so honest
I’m not pretendingto be other people
that is why I’m awesome
because I’m honest
honest honest honest’
Back at the hotel, I received the following text from Raife.
'MY FRIENDS ARE DO MUCH BETTER THAN TOY.'
That chair on the right is what I’m sitting in right now.
'What are you doing?'Washing my shells.'
Tennis with ping pong paddles and no net. Speedos though.
This is Costas. He is the prime minister? There are more billboards of him in Greece than I’ve ever seen of anyone, ever. They’re all the same billboard. There are no billboards of anyone else. Like, literally, walls of them. Everywhere.
'OOOHHH IT'S COLD'
'Stop being a baby, it's not cold.'
'You're right, I'm being a baby.'
'Wanna skim stones?'
'Now THAT I can do.'
* * *
'HOW DID YOU GET SO GOOD AT THIS.'
'It's my inbuilt desire to win at all times.'
'You're from COVENTRY.'
'We've got canals in Coventry.'
'You've got a special skimming STANCE.'
The ultimate speedo moneyshot.
That big white thing is the hotel, where all those earlier pictures were taken from.
'Left please…oh NO NO WAIT! I like a peaceful life!'
Groan. I know. Groan.
In 2007 we had a show booked in Athens. It got cancelled. In June we had a date booked in Athens. It got postponed. We didn’t know if we’d ever actually make it. I’ve always wanted to go to Greece. I don’t know why the one piece of information the internet seems to have about me is that I studied ancient greek for a while. I think I told someone that once, and it’s become my thing. People ask about it all the time and it’s embarassing when I have to admit that it is true but it wasn’t for long and while I can still read the alphabet, the only phrase I can remember is hurry up, slave. The internet is bigging me up more than I deserve. But I do like Greek things. Gods and yogurt. Ovid and the ocean.
'Soph, who would you choose to play you in a movie?'
'Benicio Del Toro.'
'Finn can be Zac Efron.'
'You want the obvious, Wolverine?'
'I'd rather be played by Kenny Baker.'
'You can be Peter Cook then.'
'What about Olly?'
'Should be obvious.'
'Not what I was thinking, but perfect.'
'Nick?”Bonehead from Oasis.'
'Did you know Bonehead doesn't have a wikipedia page?'
'He MUST do.'
'He's properly famous.'
'I've got one. He MUST have one.'
'Hang on, how do you know this?'
'I'm still thinking about Bonehead's movie career.'
'This is the best movie of all time.'
* * *
'She said she wanted me to teach her how to be bad…..then she passed out, so I held her hand.'
* * *
'See that guy over there?'
'He's got a collapsable dutch milkmaids hat in his pocket and I want it.'
* * *
'WHY IS THAT GIRL GETTING NUDE???'
'IS THIS THAT BAND WHO WERE SOUNDCHECKING BEFORE US?'
'BUT THEY ALL LOOKED LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE! I TALKED TO THEM. THE BASS PLAYER WAS WEARING CHINOS'
'HE'S WEARING A SILVER G STRING NOW!'
'WHAT'S WITH THE WRESTLING MASKS??'
'SHE'S PUT GAFFER OVER HER TITS!'
'WHEN SHE TAKES THAT OFF, IT'S GOING TO STING LIKE A BASTARD.'
'OH MY GOD!'
'WELL, THEY ARE GERMAN.'
'I DON'T THINK I UNDERSTAND MODERN MUSIC ANYMORE.'
* * *
(A late addition because I forgot - this was at scala)Just before our show:
'Oi, can you hear what song they're playing out there?'
'Yeah - did you think it was what I thought it was?'
'It was this. No physical prize but much respect for guesses what we thought it was.
'Is there anyone there?'
'Yeah a few people.'
'Just a few.'
'PATCH STOP MESSING WITH ME. IS IT FULL?'
'It's very, very full.'
I have no idea how many copies of Sun Gangs we’ve sold. Literally, no idea. It could be four. If it’s four million then someone be stealin. Sometimes people ask us. I think we’ve asked people, and they’ve told us, and I’ve forgotten. I don’t know. It should trouble me more, I suppose. But with things as they are in the ‘industry’ with this whole TERRIBLE DOWNLOADING BUSINESS, it seems like a slightly random figure to be worrying about. No doubt Beyonce feels differently. But she’s got stakes riding on it. Maybe we do too. Obviously it’d be better for everyone if we did sell loads….if everyone was shelling out the £8.99 or whatever it is (I don’t know what it is. That’s bad, and a giveaway, isn’t it. Oh well.)…..but if it comes down to would I rather sell a hundred thousand records or play a sold out show every night for a year….
Selling a hundred thousand is probably a pretty good way to get my fantasy tour (either that or radically downsizing venues - ‘THE VEILS PORTALET TOUR 2010’) but hopefully you know what I mean. What DOES trouble my thoughts is people coming to shows. And enjoying them, and then coming to more. And it always feels as though we have more…control….over that, than we do over the record buying part of things. After all, if you’re reading this you’re probably a Veils fan, and so you know people write and say very nice things about our records, and seem to like them, and you’re probably also aware that we are not currently battling it out for position at the top of the charts. We try and make good records, and that’s all we can do, but once they’re done they’re done, and after that it’s up to the gods and the ether.
Whereas a show…..it’s new every time. And every time it feels like a lottery and every time people come and they’re strangers, as in, not my friends or Dan’s friends or friends of Dan’s friends, I’m surprised. I think for a long time I genuinely somehow thought that everyone at a show was either a friend or somehow connected to this. Even though that wasn’t true. I think something in me still thought it, just because the idea of it being strangers is so….odd.
But sometimes I’m forced to face the fact that I just don’t know that many people, and neither does Dan. Lately, more often.
'Who were all those people?'
'I don't know.”Like….I didn't know ANYONE!'
I don’t know who you were. But thank you for coming. Especially thank you to the two young men front and centre who spent the show with arms around eachothers shoulders, sweating and yelling.
'PLAY CALLY-OPE!”PLAAAYYY CALLY-OOOOPE!'
'Uh, I think we already did.'
Seriously, I liked those guys. There’s something kind of….nice, about people who are clearly dilettantes in Veils-dom appearing in the front row. No doubt they really start to fuck you off, if you’re, say, La Roux, but as a novelty…besides, watching someone embarrass themselves is always kickass. The looks from people around them were priceless.
All photographs ©Katie Haddock
Afterwards a guy told me he’d come all the way from Egypt. There’s a fantasy tour. I finished talking to him and turned around to see Henning leaning casually on a cymbal stand as Raife packed up his drums. I wandered over. Raife was agitated.
'He's telling me all the things I did wrong!'
'You were mostly pretty good…..it was just some things…'
Henning. Honest. To. A. Fault.
Afterwards we adjourned to the Lexington. First some people carried some gear down some stairs. SOME people did. I ‘guarded the van.’
There are silver linings to humping gear. It’s not as though I do any other exercise, and how else would I maintain my Linda Hamilton shoulders?
The day after, Raife sent me the following text
Which sums it up nicely.
Oh and then we heard some rumours about gigs in Turkey, and Trieste, and France, and Portugal……and the Aus/NZ tour should be announced this week……
Everything is great. Oh and Black Tongue, it turns out, is just a reaction to too much peptobismol.
I’m going to do this in two parts I think, because I started writing it as one, and it’s getting a bit long, and I’m waiting to hear back from people about whether I can steal their photos or not. So, part the first. I like to send text messages. As it turns out, so does Raife, and it’s become quite the part of our relationship. We send eachother encouraging missives on important days, or sometimes just on a thursday afternoon when there’s not much else going on.
'WE ARE GODS'
'YES WE ARE GODS'
'FANCY GOING TO GREECE THIS WEEKEND?'
'THE ANCIENT HOME OF GODS! OF COURSE!'
'WE'RE SO GOING TO NAIL TONIGHT!'
'OF COURSE WE ARE! WE ARE GODS!'
And so on. From the outside it probably looks like a rhythm section desperately trying to prop up the crumbling foundations of their egos. It’s so not that. Our egos are fine, they’re like well fed persian cats. Who like strokes.
So it was worrying, on Sunday night, to receive the following:
'MY TONGUE HAS TURNED BLACK.'
There were other symptoms, but that’s the exciting one. Apparently, his wife, whilst doing an amount of doting, had taken a look at his tongue, and done, as Raife put it ‘the exact thing you don’t want someone to do, which was start yelling ‘OH MY GOD OH MY GOD! GET UP! LOOK AT THAT IN THE MIRROR! DEAR LORD I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING SO HORRIFYING!’
So Raife had the black tongue, which is apparently a legitimate medical condition, though the one listed on the internet is NOT the one he was suffering from, before everyone goes all googlehappy and thinks he’s got poor dental hygiene. If I let that go round the internet there’d be no amount of WE ARE GODS that could make up for it.
There was a moment where he thought he was going to have to ring Henning. We didn’t even know if Henning was in the country.
But come Monday, 2pm, I met Raife to load the gear, and his tongue was once more a normal colour. A miracle. We are gods indeed!
'He lives so near the scala that I told him not to worry about doing the gear here, he can meet us there.'
Neither materialised. For quite some time. By 3.45, Raife, Nick and I were in jellied heaps after carrying everything up four flights of stairs into the scala, red faced, puffing, drenched in sweat and begging for water.
'D'you know what the best thing is?'
'They're gonna get here, assuming that we're going to be really pissed off cos they're late…..'
'And I'm so happy!'
'Seriously! I'm stoked! We just did all that by ourselves!'
'All of it!'
'So come tonight……'
'I might carry a tom. One tom.'
'Maybe. I'll certainly be PRESENT when they load the gear.'
'We can be AROUND….'
'Oh it's going to be amazing.'
'I've never been this happy to be this sweaty and tired.'
Ducking out of lifting gear is a great art, in bands. The trick is to save it, like gold. Nobody wants to be the dude that never lifts. You go on tour, and everyone knows who that guy is. Within two days. His name is mud. You want to choose your moments. So that when the time comes, when you play a London show, and there’s a pub to go to afterward, you can, with a clear conscience, stand by and merely cast a proprietary eye over to make sure your guitar goes in the van.
But that was later.
They did arrive, eventually. Finn had spent the weekend in Florence with fifteen kittens and was full of stories about that, along with a truly disgusting palm of hand wound received when crashing a vintage BSA belonging to one Mr Barry Andrews into a wall.
'Just before I started it, I noticed there was a rolls royce right on the street. And so I thought, well, just in CASE, maybe I'll angle AWAY from the rolls……………..and as it turned out, that was a very good idea.'
Playing at the Scala means proximity to one of the best pubs in London. Known amongst the knowing as simply 'Spanish Pub', and courtesy of one Ngaio Davies for the discovery, if you’re ever in the area (and who isn’t, occasionally, in the Euston/Kings Cross area), honestly, it’s brilliant. The service can be a bit….Spanish, but once you’re expecting it it adds to the charm. They do coffee. They do amazing food. Sometimes they do rabbit, and sometimes you can spend a whole day there from reading the papers through to realising there are six bottles of wine on the table.
'Did you know the Scala used to be a movie theatre - got closed down cos they showed Clockwork Orange in it when it was banned.'
'Wow, I only knew it as a primatorium.'
'For a while it was a sort of…monkey theme museum.'
'Wonder if they've still got some bits in the attic.'
'We could try and have a look…'
'A chimp on the piano would be quite a nice touch.'
So we did that for a bit. I went back early and ran smack into the fortress of security that is the Scala front desk. Four large men surrounded me (one with a left bicep twice the size of the right, which was already christmas hamlike) and kept me there while we waited for someone with the authority to let me in. I amused myself with the fliers for MISS POLEDANCE 09 (£35 VIP all day pass, Oct 25th, the Scala). I know where I’ll be.
And then the doors were open.
'D'you think anyone's going to come?'
'I really don't know.'
Adam, the promoter, who we’ve worked with a bunch and really like, seemed to think people would be coming. We tried to take his word for it, but there’s nothing you can do but wait and see.
'Just…..what if we go out there, and it's, like….Sarah, Henning, four of our mates and one person who actually bought a ticket and drove all the way down from Preston?'
'All we can do is hope, but at least Raife's tongue's a normal colour.'