With only two weeks to go before El Gran Drugstore Roadshow is switched back on, having spent nearly 7 years gathering dust in the corner, I've been wondering what is going be like to, once again, set up camp alongside Mike and Daron, and all the other lovely characters that have travelled along the way with us. Will the old magic still be there? Will it shine?
We'd spent so much time touring, probably a little more than we should have had, but I can confess, that although soundchecks and interviews can become a bit of drag after the 500th time, I have never, not once, felt bored or not excited about any of the gigs. From big Festivals to tiny rooms, every single show had the same sense of occasion and importance to me. I have not counted, but I probably must have sung 'Superglider' hundreds of times, and every time, without fail, I'd tremble at the prospect of that highway, where someone was gone for good.Some of the emotions contained in some of the songs are absolute - they can never change. It is like looking at a picture. I don't look at it everyday, but every time I do, it stirs the same reaction within.
I will now tell you a Drugstore Road story, one that I think, says something about us.
Most British bands tour the US in the summer. I have no idea why, probably because the venues are available or some other reason that I don't know of.
The summer's fine in the big cities, like LA, Austin, NYC, as there's always people, and we'd always managed to sell out. But somewhere between the east and west coast, you travel through a lot of 'University Towns', that in July and August turn to dustballs, as all the students head back home, and you're lucky if you spot a moving tumbleweed.
We had just finished a tour supporting Leonard Cohen's son, which had been a great laugh, we'd blown the poor guy offstage each and every night, even his crew just wanted to hang out with us.
Supporting bands get a great kick out of a situation like that. So we were tired, but on a high. Finished the tour and went-off to do a few dates of our own. The schedule was preposterous, sometimes we had 2 or 3 gigs on the same day - plus the usual malarkey of radio sessions and interviews. It was exhausting.
We turn-up to do this gig in a little University Town in the middle of nowhere, in the mid-west, which was almost completely deserted.
Did soundcheck and went off to get some mexican food.
Just before the venue was due to open, the owner talks to our tour manager, the memorable Steve Boynton. He says - "Look guys, there's a wedding party happening tonight, the mayor's son, no one, I mean, no one's gonna come and see this little english band. Why don't we cut our losses, I'll send the staff home early, pay you guys 80% of your fee, and you guys can have a night off?".
When Steve told me, I was not pleased: "What?! No gig? Are you crazy? Been waiting all day to play, furthermore we signed a contract. We have to play, what if someone turns up?". Boynton tried to dissuade me, saying that both band and crew could do with the extra night off, but, as you guys can guess by now, the gig went ahead.
The Bar owner was right - no one, not a single soul turned-up. The wedding party was right behind the place, and from the stage, we could actually hear the loud PA blasting country songs.
We carried on playing. Half-way through the set, the bar staff, 3 in total, had left their posts and were sitting by the stage, listening on.By 'Solitary Party Groover' one of the staff had joined us on stage on tambourine.
Finished the set, to the cheers of our audience of 3, who were shouting for more. Went back onstage and played for an extra 1/2 hour, as if nothing else could have been more relevant or important.
Got paid. Went back to the sleeper-bus, had a couple of Jack'n'Cokes with band and crew. Went to sleep as happy as a girl can be. We had just played a great gig.
no expenses spared for the upcoming Dingwalls gig: