New Zealand IV: A Hundred Days Off
Raife was hunched over the computer.
'THERE MUST BE SOMEWHERE WE CAN GO!'
'In theory, there is.'
'LET'S GO THERE.'
'I said, in THEORY.'
'Well, WHERE DO WE GO?'
'Raife, you're in Auckland, and it's Tuesday. If there was something really exciting happening, someone would've told us.'
'WE JUST GO FIND SOME EXCITEMENT.'
'WE'RE IN AUCKLAND. AND IT'S TUESDAY.'
'Well this website says that a bar called Globe is open.'
'Oh does it.'
'It says it's good!'
'Ericka once punched someone in Globe bar I think.'
'It sounds great!'
'You can go. You can absolutely go. I will not stop you from going to Globe bar. Afterwards you can go to Margarita's, and after that you can come home and tell me all about it.'
* * *
'We could just have some people over here. This hotel room is bigger than my house.'
And so began what was meant to be a few days off and instead I spent it getting through the Jaeger reserves. On the last night I had to put myself to bed.
©Emily Raftery 09
Emily Raftery is my antipodean Ericka Duffy. Photo theft a-go-go. I didn’t do laundry, I didn’t really leave the house, I just sat around sewing, or on the internet, eating Raife’s cereal and going fifty metres up the road for katsu curry and seaweed salad at Bian.
And all of a sudden it was time to go to Hamilton.
Hamilton was…..it was lovely, and it was odd. There was a cockroach in the hotel shower, which is unusual for New Zealand and people talked to us like we were Actually Famous. I dunno. I get really nervy when people get nervy with me, which makes me come off all vapid and weird, and then they get more nervy, and I get more vapid, and more weird….
But the show was great, and I’m certainly not complaining that people were happy to see us. I’m just really not very good at it.
What WAS weird was the story the first guy we met in Hamilton told me when I asked him what the hell happened to his face.
'Oh….ha, I keep forgetting I'm, like, covered in stitches.'
He was, too. About six in a vertical line down the forehead directly between his eyes, along with miscellaneous other well gauzed and taped scrapes.
'Yeah, I mean, I don't wanna be prying, but jesus, what happened?'
'Um, I don't really know. I was out last night, we had these, like, playboy girls in the club….and so I went out with them and some people I kinda know, and I wasn't really drinking much, but then I woke up and my face hurt and I realised I was lying in a pool of blood.'
'Last night?? Those are FRESH?'
'Yeah, just this morning.'
'You're dealing very well.'
'Oh it's fine. So yeah, I'm kinda waiting for someone to text me and tell me what the hell happened. I'm thinking maybe I got spiked I guess….and maybe passed out….the bar was made of marble….'
Them playboy girls. Watch your beverage.
2:52 am • 8 December 2009
New Zealand III: Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab, Jab
'Scuse me, who's fighting?'
'I know. Who do I want to win though?'
'Red shorts. You're not a boxing fan, obviously.'
Not into sports, per se, I have a tendency to become absorbed in sports events from time to time. Sometimes I think it’s just about exposure. Once Liam made me watch the entire Ashes series with him, and by the end of it I Really Cared.
And I do know I like boxing occasionally. If it’s…..I don’t know what the polite word is. If it’s bloody. And it was. For a fuzzy headed state, as well, watching two smallish, muscled-to-verging-on-exoskeletal men whale on eachother was pretty perfect.
Gradually everyone else appeared and we spent what was meant to be soundcheck in occasional quiet nudges, winces, and gasps. It helped that Manny, our hero, looked not unlike Dre.
'Oh I don't feel very good.'
'Yeah that was brutal.'
'Oh no that was GREAT. It HELPED. I just….don't feel very good.'
'Least you're not Finn.'
'Remember how he has to play TWICE tonight?'
Finn is currently playing guitar in James Duncan’s band. I’d been out to see James’ band a week or so prior, in a bar that people who knew me warned me about. I’m not massively into crowds. Cramped spaces. I like to find a quiet corner. This bar is one giant quiet corner, with the result that there are no quiet corners at all. I lasted long enough to know that James’ band was REALLY GOOD then sorta….oh fine I left. I’m a baby crossed with a nana and I couldn’t deal and I left. But it was okay cos I got to see it again at Juice - Emerald City couldn’t make it so James was supporting.
We got kinda ridiculously lucky this tour, with supports. Emerald City rule, James rules (I am particularly enamored with his co-vocalist) and then in Australia Oh Mercy and White Birds -if you’re frustrated with waiting for Melbourne tales, White Birds have described it, I intend to tell my side of it soon, but theirs is entertainingly accurate.
Anyway. Finn did indeed have to play twice. Everyone always thinks he’s so fragile, if you want proof otherwise, I don’t know that I physically could’ve done it. And I don’t even have to sing Jesus.
We left pretty quickly after the show. We had a few days off, in a building apparently voted ‘ugliest in auckland’ but in fact it’s lovely inside, if you don’t mind a vague safari-style decorating scheme.
'I'm not going to do ANYTHING tomorrow.'
'We could have a nice dinner.'
'We've still got loads of Jaeger.'
'I know. Let's not think about it.'
4:19 am • 4 December 2009
New Zealand II: I’m So Happy
f you live in Auckland, no, if you live anywhere NEAR Auckland and have never been to Leigh Sawmill then you’re an idiot. Despite post-Dunedin fragility, we spent the drive cooing over scenery (Raife: ‘I’ve never seen anything so……foresty….’) before pulling up and being shown where we were sleeping.
It’s hard to describe a certain kind of New Zealand house, if you haven’t seen it. Corrugated iron roof is part of it. Weatherboard. I guess a little like old religious residences, but those seem to mostly be made of stone. It’s always a little dim, and cool, and the cold tap makes a dry hissing sound when you first turn it on, before it explodes with water. And outside there is always a table, and usually a path made of something that hurts bare feet, like gravel, or shells. Which again goes with the slightly religious vibe. Peace and hot coals. And there was a cat. I was so happy with it that I almost wasn’t going to nap, but then this brown furry bundle appeared, jumped on the bed, started washing and I realised how long it had been since I’d catnapped with a real live cat.
Sheep noises woke me up. The cat and I sat at the picnic table, and I gauged contentedness against all other episodes of pre-gig content, like the time in Rome, again cat related, with the little white cat with paws all pink from the Roman dust, or the time in Tucson involving a thunderstorm and an all in one lycra batman suit. Leigh came out WIN.
Dan appeared in the doorway of the bedroom.
'This is nice.'
He vanished again and came back with a camera. He began stalking the sheep. The cat and I watched with interest. The sheep were no fools. They weren’t about to be herded by a midlander in a flatcap.
There was dinner. Pizza with fillet steak on it. That’s right. Pizza. With Fillet Steak. On it.
Everyone came to Leigh to party. By about nine our sheepfarm was a mess of people. I’m dreadful at being sociable before shows. Properly dreadful. After having the same coversation about three times in a row and being unable to focus on it every time, I decided it was perhaps time to make myself scarce to avoid having everyone think I was out of my mind. Opening the bedroom door, I discovered Raife sitting on the bed.
"What are you doing?’
'I had to escape. I was talking to someone and suddenly realised I wasn't making any sense.'
'Shall we just sit here for a bit?'
Ten minutes later the door opened.
Dan: ‘So, I can’t seem to hold down a conversation…’
We sat in near silence for about half an hour.
'This is better.'
'Why can't I act like a regular person before shows? I don't even feel nervous.'
'I never can. Dunno why.'
'Finn seems to manage.'
'Yeah but he's scatty as hell in normal life.'
There was a lot of……good feeling…..in the room when we went on. There was a lot of it throughout the show. It was amazing. I’ve never had shots with my mates while playing before. It was amazing. Post show started with being thrown, wrestling style, by Finn’s sister Lia directly (accidentally) into a guy on crutches, who was good about it. It carried on through what felt like an evening-long forum on matching underwear. Eventual verdict: men dig it. Few woman can be assed with the effort. And doing it on special occasions just makes you feel awkward. ‘Yes, here I am on the bed in my matching underwear….what am I doing? Oh nothing, just reading this magazine…..matching away….’There was a second throw attempt that went equally wrong, though Lia suffered that time around, and suddenly it was daylight and time to go to sleep.
I woke up with mega party guilt. The cat and I collected smouldering logs from various locations on the lawn and replaced them in the fire pit. Then we did the dishes. Or, I did the dishes and the cat had another wash. Excellent cat.
6:37 pm • 2 December 2009
New Zealand I : A Carwash Called The Clean
I’m sorry this took so long. It’s odd. It’s partly that, not to get all….uppity….on it, but partly that New Zealand’s wireless internet availability is kinda….shoddy. And, expensive. Everyone seems to have it at home, but hotels still appear to be under the impression that they can charge pretty much what they like and somehow nobody will notice that it’s exorbitant. Or else they just don’t have it. I’m okay with it, it just makes blogging a bit challenging.
Or I’m just making excuses. I started feeling like I was going all Hemingway, like I was going to have to start waking up at 5am, fixing myself a vodka and OJ and just sitting here til it happened. The juice weren’t flowin.
Or else it was all that free Jaeger.
I think I might just sit here and try go through it, and no doubt forget all the funny bits and it’ll come out boring and Dan will go ‘yeah your new blog’s crap.’ But nobody’s OBLIGED to read it.
We drove to Dunedin. Checked into a hotel. The proprietor told us, in some detail, about how they’d just had new tarmac laid in the driveway. Raife was giving him odd looks but I was kind of into it.
Sammy’s in Dunedin is fucking wicked. As is everyone in Dunedin. It felt like the first show proper, I guess. There’s something about NZ crowds, I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. I remember when I first moved overseas and started going to shows I would get super weirded out because everyone would just sorta…..stand there, during them. It wasn’t the point of shows, in my experience. Now I’m used to it. I guess it’s different for different kinds of bands, I’m sure there are some bands people go all nuts to, everywhere in the world. But at home, everyone goes nuts for everything. And when you’re the one on the stage, it’s the best thing ever. So Dunedin was….well it was coming home, I spose. Coming home and seeing someone stagedive during Nux. And I loved it.
Afterward we got invited to a party in a warehouse. Raife and I left after a time, and walked back to the hotel. We got a bit lost, and ran into a Candian tourist. A little full of the joys of the day, we spent some time pointing out a poster of us to him, yelling ‘THAT’S US!’
He didn’t believe us. He genuinely thought we were lying to him. Despite the fact that it was a photo. Of us. After a long time trying different approaches - pointing to eachother’s faces, then the faces on the poster, and yelling ‘SEE! US!’ went on for ages - he conceded that I ‘do look a bit like that girl’ and went on his way.
We didn’t let it bother us. We spent the rest of the walk home deep in an elaborate fantasy about the kinds of chocolate we were going to buy should we walk past a shop selling chocolate. Didn’t though. Freddo frogs. Didn’t though. Settled for a mug of powdered hot chocolate in the hotel room and fell asleep.
I woke up in the morning feeling suspiciously cheerful. Slightly TOO cheerful. Light headed.
I went to wake up Dan and Raife. There was someone in the living room.
'This is Molly! She's a pharmacist!'
'I'm not a pharmacist! I'm a fashion student!'
'You said you were a pharmacist!'
'I WORK in a pharmacy!'
'YOU'RE A PHARMACIST!'
'Raife! We can get chocolate this morning!'
'YES WE CAN!'
'Don't get Cadbury's it's got Palm Oil in it.'
'…..like………..for your hands?'
A flight to Auckland.
2:23 am • 1 December 2009
It wasn’t Dunedin we were driving to! It was Christchurch! Wasn’t it! Yes! A show with the Buzzcocks!
Southern Amp got cancelled, and we ended up on a bill with the Buzzcocks, Bats, and Emerald City. I was excited about the Bats and did that thing where I talk too much and sound like a dork. Not as bad as the time I yelled HOLY SHIT in Jack White’s face, but still. I’m not good at admiring in a cool way. Not good at all.
The Buzzcocks had a Special Room with a TV in it and Special Drinks. I spose they are legends. I dropped my toothbrush in front of the guitarist as he was going down the stairs, nearly causing him to fall, and he was nice about it. The rest of them looked sort of like they were a bit fed up. Which maybe you would be. We were forbidden from eating their snacks. Raife got in trouble. He may have taken revenge. Best not to mention.
We did an interview before the show, for Nightline, where somehow I managed to say a sentence in a way that when it was cut sounded like I was saying how I love London cos I get to be a wanker to everyone. If you saw it and thought that was what I said it wasn’t. Just so you know. I was attempting to explain why people in New Zealand seem nicer, in general, and used some dodgy pronouns and then it was edited and…… Now I look back on it I was sort of one giant fail the whole first part of the tour. Maybe the whole tour. Not the whole tour. Hopefully.
The show was wicked though. We began to love Tex and Mike, our tech and soundman. Tex’s name is Tex Houston. Seriously. And he has this jacket.What’s not to love? The Bats played North by North, as well. Happy.
The first time we ever came and played in New Zealand, we started in Christchurch. Dan and Henning went out after the show and ended up taking party pills. We had warned them, but they didn’t listen. Henning read four books in a row before he could sleep. This time, still lagged, we just went to bed.
12:12 am • 24 November 2009
I was sewing. Finn nudged me in the side. I looked out the plane window. There were a lot of mountains. Really a lot of mountains. With snow on em. Then there was a glacier, I think. And some rivers. And more mountains. More snow. I stood up. Dan and Raife were about six rows back.
I mimed that he should nudge Raife to wake up. He looked at Raife, whose sleeping head was lolling sideways into the aisle and shook his head.
It was quite something. I’d never been to Queenstown before. Apparently the pilot doesn’t always do a loop of the valley before landing, but this time he did. Quite. Something.
I only brought one sweater to New Zealand. I wore a coat to the airport but I didn’t expect to need it. I never thought I’d be so grateful to London Autumn.
'This is the furthest south I've ever been.'
'Y'know, me too. Weird.'
Golly it’s pretty. Really pretty.
There’s a shop in Queenstown that sells, aside from sheep face masks, hats with plastic fists on them that when you squeeze an air pump raise a finger. Didn’t buy one. Don’t know why. Jet lag, probably. To blame for all bad decisions.
Barry and Nancy were in charge. Promoters, ostensibly, occasionally they like to get out on the road and drive some musos around. God knows why - Barry spent the whole trip finding whatever item Raife had happened to lose the night before and then got ill on the last day. Nancy blossomed. But that’s to come. They also had the answers to all the questions.
'You know how this tour is sponsored by Jaeger?'
'Does that mean…..we get free Jaeger?'
'Yeah it does actually. We've got a case up in Auckland for when we get up there. All you can drink, basically.'
The next day we drove to Dunedin. We stopped at a beautiful lake and I regaled everyone with tales of going to the high school national rowing champs in the late nineties ‘at a lake JUST LIKE THIS’ only to turn around and see a sign and realise it was in fact the very same lake. At fifteen, as fit as I’d ever been and probably will ever be, hauling 200kg of boat through 2km of glaciermelt in eight minutes or so, did I ever think I’d be standing on the shore ten years later on my way to play a show in Dunedin?
No. No, I didn’t. I don’t know what I thought I’d be doing. It seems like a long time ago, and in another way not long ago at all.
1:14 am • 18 November 2009
It’s nice to be home. Nicer even than I thought it would be. The only really bad thing about New Zealand is that not everywhere has internet, and as a result I’ve gotten behind. Also being sans camera means I have to rely on other people’s cameras, and other people’s cameras get lost, or left in places that aren’t where I am. So for photos of Dan chasing sheep you’ll have to wait.
I might try to do it in order, but there’s a lot to tell and I’ve forgotten, probably, some really good parts, and whenever I forget good parts people get All Upset and come up and go ‘But you didn’t put in that part where I said such-and-such and I thought that was SO FUNNY.’
Aside from shows, I’ve been hanging out a lot with this muppet, and her mum
. We fell into a pattern where I’d tuck her in at night, and we’d discuss what she wanted to do the next day. It’s nice to hang around with a small somebody whose idea of the most perfect and glorious possibility for the future is hunting for strawberries.
Photo ©Emily Raftery 09
Dan and Raife arrived a week and a bit after me, jet lagged all to hell, and we spent a couple of days introducing Raife to Auckland. By the third day he was no longer calling flat whites
‘smooth criminals’ and it was time to go to Queenstown. Which I think I might wait for photos to write about.
6:44 pm • 16 November 2009
'Excuse me, are you Donna?'
‘Yes.”Hello, I’m Gareth, just introducing myself, I’ll bring you some drinks from up front a bit later on, is everything okay?”Yes everything’s fine. I don’t drink so don’t worry, I’ll be alright.”Oh, okay. Well, give me a shout if you need anything.’
What’s so special about Donna? She’s sitting next to me in economy. We DO have the best seats in economy, the ones by the emergency exit, where you have a clear two metres of leg room in front. I thought maybe Air NZ was secretly thanking me for appearing in their inflight entertainment system (‘A thirty minute interview and acoustic session with Kiwi band THE VEILS’) when I found out I was sitting there, and the appearance of this clearly special Donna person backed that up….but it was mysterious. Nobody was introducing themselves to ME. It had cheered me up a bit though, the seating. Hadn’t been a very good morning. I don’t like goodbyes.
The plane got in the air. I thought I’d get my ipod out of my bag. I opened the overhead locker. An orange handbag fell out. Right on Donna’s head. She screamed. I guess if something falls on your head, and you’re on a plane you would scream. I apologised. It was her own bag, at least, but it was a bit like when you accidentally hit someone in the back of the ankles with your trolley in the supermarket queue, and then have to stand there waiting behind them, knowing they’re loathing you. Except worse, because Donna and I were sandwiched together for the next twelve hours. I resolved to try not to do anything else to irritate Donna. She was rubbing her neck in a slightly irritated way.
About an hour later I thought I’d get my book out. This time my plastic bag full of sewing supplies cascaded over Donna’s head. Picking spools of thread out of her hair, I apologised as best I could, resigned myself to the waves of loathing pouring over the armrest and discovered that Death Note part 2 was in the movie selection.
Thought about listening to our Veils Air New Zealand special. I remember when we did it, we went off on a little rant about how if anyone was listening to it they should jump up and yell out ARE THE VEILS ON THE PLANE because chances were we would be. Nobody did that. I didn’t listen to the special.
And ten hours just flew by. As we got off the plane, some stewardess cheerfully told Donna they thought they’d have a seat for her in business on the next leg. It all became clear. Someone at Air NZ had overbooked the business class, and poor old Donna got booted. I wonder how they decide that. Ask for volunteers. ‘Anyone fancy some slumming??’
Got out in LA and sat in a transit lounge watching WWE for a bit.
'Air New Zealand is paging passenger Ian McKellan. Would Mr Ian McKellan please make himself known to an Air New Zealand staff member.'
No idea if it was THAT Ian McKellan. Seems possible. Though you’d think paging him would be kinda unnecessary. Just have a glance round the first class section, surely. Or start yelling GANDALF.
I wish HE’D been the one to get downgraded.
Got back on the plane. Donna sat back next to me. I decided against getting anything out of my bag. Then another stewardess appeared.
'Are you Donna?”Yes.'
'Come this way please, we've got you a seat…'
And Donna was ushered up the front. Our time together was over. I was so glad not to have to keep sitting by her, terrified of falling asleep and spasming and smacking her in the face, or spilling my coffee on her, or some other horrifyingly gauche incident that I didn’t even resent her for getting to go business. A nice tall man ended up in Donna’s seat. He offered me one of his eye masks (he had two eye masks! TWO!) and though I didn’t drop anything on him I bet he wouldn’t have minded if I did.
But just as I thought my trials were over, I heard a noise. A sort of….oh not even a sort of. A bona fide retch. A LOUD retch. A definite retch. From behind. I resisted looking behind me and awaited further developments.
It’s weird, planes. I think that’s why the Donna thing was so bad. It’s so rare to be so closely quartered with strangers, to fall asleep inches from another persons sleeping face. All sorts of subtle etiquettes. It’s like that Curb episode where Larry hates that the guy is wearing shorts on the plane. Actually, I was wearing shorts, but I had tights and long socks so I don’t think Larry would’ve minded. Anyway. I feel like one of the things you’re not supposed to do is get too interested in anyone. Like, your neighbour, fine, maybe a short chat. People behind you…they might as well be in another world. Besides, nobody who’s retching wants to be viewed.
I heard a stewardess approach.
'Are you ok?”Um, no.'
It was a young girl’s voice.
'My friend and I are both really ill and we….we don't know what to do.”Do you want to be offloaded?”……..n……no…..”Well, if worst comes to worst we have oxygen on board. And I'll bring you some sick bags because you won't be able to get to the bathroom during takeoff.'
I dunno why she offered oxygen. Maybe oxygen cures nausea. Who knows.
They WERE pretty ill. It was rough. The PA came on.
'Hello, uh, this is your captain……uh…..we're being held at the gate, because for some reason…..somehow the plane has been overfuelled by about twenty tonnes. Um…..that takes us way over takeoff weight. Luckily, we're carrying a lot of freight, so I'm afraid we're going to be held here, and they're going to offload 15 tonnes of freight to get us back down to weight. Uh….might be some time, I'll keep you updated.'
Lucky for the retchers. They spent the next hour doing bathroom relays. By the time the flight took off an hour later, I’m just going to be honest, they were pretty messy. Like…..damp. I missed Donna.
I fell asleep. Seemed like the best option. Put the ipod on, let it run on shuffle, and doze. I may have snuggled the tall man a bit, but I think he was asleep, or at least he was polite about it.
In Auckland I saw the retchers at the baggae carousel. They seemed to have recovered. Didn’t see Donna. It turns out that 12 hours of ipod on shuffle is only 200 different songs. I thought it would be more.
1:32 am • 1 November 2009