30 July 2010

day 385- cambridge haymakers + SGP report
A pictorial of the trip is here:
And here's a live snippet of 'Don't Throw Me In':
(shot by Gary Simpson at the Haymakers)

15 July 2010

day 370- A new song, a silly demo and a free pornopic
Superbusy getting the trip to Cambridge organised; We play the Haymakers on friday 23rd, then the Secret Garden Party Festival, 1st on main stage, on Sunday. Doing all sorts, from sending wrong invoices, mixing up setlists and just trying to keep hold of everything that needs doing.
Managed to put together a super-rough demo of 'Don't Throw Me In', but now missing the cool live-guitars, band version really brings it to life, with the decadent, piquant vibe the song needed.
Wrote another couple of songs, one pretty nice, but no time to demo them yet.
Also, squeezing in a super silly song - not to be taken seriously at all, 'Hardcore True Believers' - but it has a good story attached, so, just for the record, or as it will not be the case.
this is just me on the porta, rough-demo, lacks the cool band guitar-parts. would make a decent album track. (ooops - link to myplayerwathever fxckd)
----------------------------------------------------------------------HARDCORE TRUE BELIEVERS not to be taken seriously, pleaz
A while ago I went out with this guy, whose family were hardcore Christians. The further I got into the relationship, the more involved the family got. Never a good thing. I don't care much about what people want to believe in, from sex-driven abducting aliens, to some irrational miracle-birth, if that's what you believe in, no problemo.
But I do take issue with people pushing their views down your throat. The last xmas we spent together, when I was given a bible and a ridiculous book by some demented american preacher on how to be a good wife, it was a sign that things would never work out between us, and it was time to open the emergency parachute and jump - naked.
So I wrote this stupid song, had to be done with a churchy, gospel vibe, and it's as silly as it gets. I sometimes write stuff like that, that is never meant to be heard by anyone else, really, but the temptation to share a laugh got the better of me.
Can't really tell who's the sickest: them, the bible eating family from hell, or miss, for writing this stuff and deciding to publish it here, with pornopic included.
(but that 60's keyboard solo, my best yet huh?...)
---------------------------------------------------------------------- decided to delete HardcoreTrueBelievers, got on my nerves - only really like it when v.pissed. might make a return, someday. ----------------------------------------------------------------------

9 July 2010

day 364- A year in the life
A year ago I posted my 1st blog entry: it was about switching the Portastudio on in over 7 years, demoing a few new songs and organising the Drugstore Dingwalls reunion gig.
That week I had a meeting with Daron Robinson at the Cave, when we discussed if people would turn up for our show. He mentioned we had about 300 fans in the newly set-up Facebook Group, and I remember thinking: 'Wow, that's a lot of cool people.'
A year on, and edging towards 1.000 FB group members, purely on word-of-mouth, having sold-out both the Dingwalls and ICA gigs, signed to a cool booking agency, played Glastonbury with an exciting new line-up, and now with a clear path ahead leading to a new album and more adventures, I cannot help but be super-pleased at our progress.
It's pretty amazing what a mini-person can achieve, if the heart is in the right place, is it not?
It's clear though, that there's absolutely no way I could have moved the idea forward without getting help, for there is only so much one can accomplish solo - and I have to say, no more so than in my case, as 'cave in darkness' pretty much summed up how very isolated I was.
I have totally enjoyed sharing the stories, the ups and downs, and am genuinely touched that there's people out there who are hoping that the tale that can never have a happy ending will, at least, have a few new meaningful chapters.
The list of people we already have much to thank for gets longer each day: from every Drugstore FB group member, mad twitter follower, Paul B, Emma at ITB, Vinita at RocketGirl, Suzanne at AiE, Harry F, to every email and good-will message received, fans who sent me a mobile phone and a great guitar to write songs in, and even a new pair of knickers, the Cowboys gone by and the one's who are still standing, who have dedicated a great deal of time and effort into the project.
Everyone made a difference.
As we're now about to embark upon PHASE II of this shambolic masterplan: recording new music, getting the band to develop, release an album, it will be a question of vocation rather than talent, as the potential for cool new music is now very tangible and real.
Vocation is not something that can be acquired, it's embedded in your genes, it gives you stamina, determination, focus and drive to roll with the crazy flow.
This now fast-moving Drugstore Express will keep hurtling its way forward, shamelessly, and no Divine Intervention could stop us now. Coming with us?

8 July 2010

day 363- * FESTIVAL STORIES * 3 - Drugstore x The Levellers and the rest of the known World 
We have always taken pride in the fact that despite the boiling cauldron of passionate arguments, tears and heartache at the core of Drugstore's carousel, we hardly ever let that spill beyond the confines of our own personal enclave, and most people who were in contact with us will remember a friendly, funny, super-professional, easy-going, charming bunch.
That is not to say, though, that every one of us in the band had, on occasion, behaved in such ridiculous manner, that did not represent the way we were for pretty much the majority of the time. But, more often than not in life, it's the rare awful incidents that go down in history and get stuck on you forever.
This is a tale about pride and professionalism, as seen through the eyes of a very drunken miss monteiro.
I have a simple but effective breakdown system alert, that works pretty much like a set of traffic-lights: 1- GREEN: I will mention it very nicely (like: can you please try not to be late, as it's inconsiderate and unprofessional blah blah blah), 2- YELLOW: is an upgrade from green, when the importance of a request is emphasised, 3- RED: that's when the 'for fuck's sake' appears within the sentence (like: 'for Fuck's sake, just don't be late again, as this is getting ridiculous and it's totally unprofessional etc etc).
Beyond RED, I no longer know how to cope or reason with the situation. More often than not, at this stage, I'll either get the eraser/knife out and give up on that person, or worst, I'll just make a scene and cry and say things I don't really mean to. What would you do? How do you guys cope with situations like that?
And of all the things that make me turn purple-blue with anger, it is shabbiness, lack of professionalism, not doing something to the very best of your ability, that is sure to light up my fuse.
Before we go into our horrible tale, I need to make a point that Drugstore had the most amazing, hard-working and adorable crew ever. We worked with the same sound engineer Dan, roadie Bambino and TM Stevo for many, many years, stretching over a decade of non-stop touring. There was a huge amount of love and respect between us. They were great guys and we were family. But in the following tale, you will see how a drunken, frustrated monteiro would spare no angels.
- To the tale:
I cannot recall the year, or where in Europe this Festival took place. Was it Austria or Germany? Poland or Sweden? I just can't remember.
We've been touring around and for the last 3 gigs the bass-guitar went dead half-way through the set. It was probably to do with my own lack of finesse and playing it like a feral cat on heat.
The crew had tried to fix it, but by the 3rd time it happened, I probably included the dreaded 'for fuck's sake' in the sentence, so we hit this Festival in Europe with a hint of nervousness in the air.
The trip got off to a terrible start, the promoter picked both Drugstore and the Levellers at the airport. The Levellers were a sombre, large group, taking up most of the seats in the bus. They were like a micro-travelling-village/community: dog on string, babies on back, stove, tie-dye pots, just like we imagine they would be.
We sat at the back, a small unit of 8 - suntanned, drinking whiskey, thinking we looked dead-cool.
Bus stops at the 5-star HiltonPlatz, and just as we're all getting off, promoter turns to us and says: 'Sorry guys, no rooms left at the HiltonPlatz, got another nice place booked for you.'
Hummm. Don't like the sound of that, and just as I suspected we drove away from the city center, into the motorway and half-an-hour later into a half-abandoned carpark, et Voila!:
Wilkomen to El ShittoLodge.
You know the places? No reception, no mini-bar, just a dreadful car-park, where sad-looking underpaid chambermaids sit outside long dirty corridors smoking and planning how to get a visa. Where the memory of the previous occupant is still fresh with the surprise hair under the pillow or the used tampax in the grubby loo bin.
You see, we never moaned about accommodation, we would ordinarily have laughed about it, but the promoter made the cardinal sin of letting us know that the Levellers were being treated way better. Bad move.
I was the last one to get out of the bus, stood at the deserted car-park and traffic-warden like, raised my arm and shouted:
'Stop - stop everyone.'
They came over, band, crew, promoter. I said: 'Ok, the Levellers are playing the Rock Stage, right? Drugstore are playing the Indie Stage, right? What's the matter with you - don't you like indie music?'
Promoter laughed, but I did not smile back.
Emergency calls were made, and as if by magic, rooms were now available at the HiltonPlatz. It was just the thought that the Levellers were probably not even gonna use their 5-star toiletries that got to me, and us, man, we would have killed for a decent shower-cap and a free mini-bottle of anything smelling vaguely decent.
The Festival was quite a big deal, as big as Reading - the whole thing was gonna go live on National Radio, equivalent of your BBC Radio 1 - so I was absolutely adamant that the bass guitar had to work properly.
We got onstage, big crowd of indie kids, gig was going fine. I'm aware we're live on Radio, so making sure I'm not swearing. Everything going according to plan, but just as I've drunk the best part of the bottle of local red vino - and we're playing one of the rockier tracks - yes, you guessed it right, Bass guitar goes dead:
d e a d.
Something came over me - I just started shouting at the mic:
'Oh For fuck's sake, for fuck's sake, you fuckin kidding me?! How am I fuckin supposed to play my stupid fucking songs, play my fuckin idiotic bass lines if my stupid fuckin bass-guitar dont fuckin work? HOW?! - Fuckinghell Fuckinshit Fuckingcrap Fucking unprofessional bastards... arrrghhhhh'
I went on and on and on, you get the idea.
I then smashed the bass-guitar up.
Believe me, I'm a petite mademoiselle, it's not easy to smash a guitar up, it's bloody hard work. I then kicked the mic stand, kicked the monitors and stood in front of the bass amp, crying.
The audience, band, crew - everything stopped - there was an eerie silence - no one spoke a word.
I then made the 'f off' sign to band, crew, audience, everyone and stormed off-stage, red-faced and in a flood of tears.
What I later came to know was that the radio station went off-air, 1st-time in their history. You see, what happens with those Festivals transmissions is this: they set everything up, they listen to a couple of songs, adjust levels, then go off to the kitchen and make a nice cup of tea. That's precisely what happened, they were all chilling out, when after a minute or two of my mad-rant, someone spotted what was happening and stormed into the staff canteen: 'Quick, quick, no music, Drugstore gonne crazy, swearing, bad swearing, put cd on, put cd on, NOW!' Apparently there was a lull of a minute, a long time in radio, when the station went dead, just like my bass, there followed by that classic announcement: 'Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties, we're no longer able to transmit Drugstore live, and now some nice music from the Cardigans...'
Funnier still, and I only found out about this when we got together for the Dingwalls reunion last September, and Mike told me that when the whole thing kicked-off he stood by the side of the stage and overheard this Festival security guard, shouting in his walkie-talkie:
'Attention, attention, she's coming back, I repeat: she's not done yet, I repeat: she's coming back onstage - attention, attention!'
(pause- I'm now hurting with so much laughter, my face hurts, this is too funny...)
What happened was that I did indeed went back onstage, not to destroy anything else, but to get my cigarettes and whatever was left of the red wine, patzos!
By that point, the sleeper-bus that was to take us back to our triumphant UK return and imminent Reading Festival appearance had turned up. I locked myself in the back boudoir and spent the whole evening crying, just like a little girl.
Next morning, I need to say this, both myself and our crew were desperate to apologise to each other, take the blame, but there was no need, stuff happens and we just very quickly decided to move forward, buy a new bass-guitar and agreed that in not too distant future, we would surely laugh it all off.
That was an essential quality we shared - no mountain too big to climb, no well deep enough to fall into - we were smart enough to grasp the bigger picture straight away, and move forward very quickly.
And as we were moving forward, away from the Festival site and back to England, hard to believe, but through the tinted glass of the bus, the crew spotted a guy proudly walking 'round the Festival site with the broken neck of my bass-guitar, but whether he was a Drugstore fan holding priceless relic, or a Levellers fan collecting fuel for his stove, we shall never know. And that brings an end to the Festival Stories' Season.

7 July 2010

day 362- * FESTIVAL STORIES * 2 - Drugstore x Radiohead
I have in the past avoided talking about Radiohead like the plague. I've never felt Drugstore needed to, but also because we have hung out and collaborated with a number of cool artists, from Wayne Coyne to Stuart Staples, all equally interesting.
This is a tale of confidence and vulnerability, for all artists, big and small, cannot help but carry a good deal of both in their luggage.
The year was 1997 - Radiohead had just released OK Computer, and were firmly established as the most exciting band on the galaxy; They were headlining Glastonbury on Saturday, Drugstore also playing the same day, at the NME tent, as it was then called, if I'm not mistaken.
We had just done a long European tour together and a friendly connection had been established.
Glastonbury 1997 was to become known as the 'Year of the Mud' - there were torrential rains and the whole site had turned into a gigantic mud-bath.
During the day, as we were vibing-up, Radiohead turned-up at our backstage area, and we spent the afternoon chatting, joking around, in the way that bands that have toured together often do.
Thom took me to the side and told me how terrified they were about headlining that evening. His argument was ridiculous:
'We're dreading it. It's gonna be terrible, people won't like us, there's tons of people here who hate us, we haven't got any special light-show effects, just our standard tour lights - It's gonna be a nightmare.'
Hello? I argued back: 'You're kidding me right? People are gonna go crazy, they're gonna love you guys to bits. It's gonna be amazing. Light effects?! You don't bloody need'em! You've got the BEST TUNES! The best SONGS! People are gonna be singing along to everything - it's gonna be amazing!'
The conversation went on for awhile, and the rest of the band joined in. All under the mistaken impression that their headlining set was going to be a disaster.
It's hard to imagine that with albums like The Bends and OK Computer under their belts, as adored and respected as it's possible to be, that they would be in any doubt that they were set to deliver one thing, and one thing only: greatness.
Just before we went on to do our gig, I told them to watch our set closely, as we had prepared a special surprise for them.
Our gig went down really well, probably one of our best Festival performances ever. The tent was packed and there was a great party atmosphere.
Phil and Ed were watching from the crowd - and the rest, Thom, Colin and co, from the side of the stage.
Towards the end of the set, I turned to the crowd and shouted:
'There's a great band playing Glastonbury! A Great band!'
The crowd thought I was talking about Drugstore, and shouted back: 'Yay! Drugstore!'
But I said: 'No, no, no, you're all wrong. Drugstore are not great, we are COOL, the great band is gonna be headlining the main stage later on, they're called Radiohead, and this is one of their songs.'
We hit our version of 'Black Star', which I have absolutely no problem whatsoever in asserting that it was considerably prettier than theirs. We've gotten rid of the over-blown stadium guitar riff, stripped it to the bone, and turned it into a duet-argument between two disconnected urban lovers, and in doing so, the true beauty of the song was revealed. It had a lovely plaintive cello melody, reminiscent of Schubert's Arpeggione, that echoed the impossibility and sadness of all of our modern-relationships, it was beautiful, and hopeless.
The crowd loved it.
We finished the set and Thom and Colin ran up to us totally overwhelmed. Big hugs all around, big 'thank you, we needed that' and so forth. Then, Ed and Phil came up from the crowd, and if I tell you Phil was crying - I mean, really crying, totally overcome with emotion.
It was an incredible moment, when two bands, in completely different paths, with completely different levels of success, had met in common ground, and right there revealed that all our expectations, hopes, dreams and anxieties are pretty much the same.
We never got to see their gig, if I remember correctly, we left straight away, in a sleeper-bus heading for the next stop.
We now know that they played a stunning set, regarded by many as one of Glastonbury's most memorable performances.
We knew they would, and probably, deep in their hearts, so did they, but as with every artist, regardless of how great we believe, know or think we are, every now and again, we all need a little hug.
Next week: Drugstore x The Levellers, in an ugly tale of a drunken Monteiro smashing everything up. Unmissable.