Get up at 4am, lo-cost airline from Paris Orly, 80kg of equipment, 2 guitars, uncompromising lo-cost airline rules, can’t take my guitar on the plane, have to pay EUR1.50 for a coffee, the same fat guy who always sits in front of me whenever I fly with his seat in full recline, arrive at Barcelona, cold as shit, wait an hour for guitars, picked up, taken to hotel, taken to venue, no toilet paper, nowhere comfy backstage (um, I’m not really too demanding but somewhere to sit down would be nice), audience standing in hats and coats as it was, as I mentioned, cold as shit. Audience probably not seeing much either due to the twenty or so photographers with big cameras and lenses the size of, well, really big cameras and lenses, who occupy my entire line of vision and seem to take pleasure in my discomfort of having to play guitar without my hat and gloves on….. cold as shit, did I mention?, Play show, get offstage to find all the beer and snacks backstage (and we were talking a potential, post show, jamon and queso sandwich here folks) had walked. OK, not to worry as there was no corkscrew for our bottle of rioja, but that’s OK as there were no glasses either but with the creative use of some little 25cl water bottles which we were able do decant our iberian nectar into we were able to unwind for a good three or four minutes before being asked to clear all of our equipment of the stage as the venue had to close…. Um, so, pack up, have a little post show tapas with Rosario, who was foolish enough to book me in the first place before retiring to bed in order to be up early to go to the airport, check in with a different lo-cost airline, and repeat most of the same routine as the previous morning, arrive back to Paris CDG, absolutely nowhere near Orly, wait for equipment, take bus to Orly (EUR40) , Friday evening peripherique traffic, eventually get car, pay EUR 50 for parking and drive 5 hours home in snow…
No point into going into details, you’ve read it all before here….
The only difference was that my band, the robin guthrie trio (and I swear, I hadn’t heard that before …lol) played like angels and made the whole thing enjoyable, um, almost, um, really enjoyable. As is probably obvious, I stopped weblogging some time ago about concerts as it just seemed to be a little too repetitive going over and over about losing my luggage and that fat guy who always puts his seat into recline in front of me but this time, although all the same things happened, I was with a bunch of kindly folks who shared the experience and made it seem a little more bearable.
I do love this band and feel ever so pissed off that we don’t get more opportunities to perform…
Thank you Steve, Antti, Florence, Dave, Drou, Rosario and Guti and the tech folks who graciously helped out to make it all happen.
So, a couple of weeks have passed since I was at a country club in Monticello, NY to perform at a rock festival, ATP, where I was invited to play by My Bloody Valentine. The memory has faded a little as I’ve not really stopped since then and not had a chance to write anything but I had an enjoyable day, even though it was entirely the wrong place for me to play. I got to see Mogwai and MBV without paying to get in, which is always a nice thing. However there was, as always, a price to pay and that was me suffering what I’d call the ‘being naked on stage with my trousers around my ankles’ syndrome, which I’m subjected to from time to time, coincidently each time I ever step on a stage. I had asked to use the video projection system that MBV had brought to show my animation, ‘Galerie’ but for some unknown reason, probably something to do with road crew and ‘pecking order’, I was denied its use and had to use the little house system. The video guy told me I couldn’t use my media player thingy as he didn’t think it was compatible with his system and tried to play it from a DVD. Well, as you can well imagine, it didn’t go exactly to plan and I ended up standing on stage with my dick out looking altogether rather foolish while he connected my media player thingy, encouraged by the audience as he worked his way through all the onscreen menus until he found ‘Galerie’ which went on to play flawlessly. I’m not bitching really, as to be fair, he was trying to do his thing, but, well it was me up there on stage for 5 minutes, standing there all dorky and unable to start my show. After that, well, I started to play, it was really waaaaayyyyy too loud so I turned around to ask the monitor man to turn the monitors up so I could hear something and, um, there was nobody there, nobody there for my entire performance actually. Apparently he had gone for dinner. Nice.
As I write so often on this web log. What Ever….
This was a long way from my previous performance, a few days before in Nantes at the Scopitone Festival, a festival all about music, artwork, live production and digital art which was hosted by a more dedicated and enthusiastic team. It really reminded me of why I try to avoid rock clubs at all cost. Sure, if I were to perform with a band and play some noisy stuff, rock clubs may be fun, but standing there, trying to present something downtempo and introspective while the PA system is cranked up full and people are standing about looking like they want to sit down is just wrong. Someone told me it was like trying to watch quiet music but it was ‘one louder’. I have to say that I like doing that show quietly but I have absolutely no control over the sound system so if it’s someone with a rock mentality doing the sound it’ll be earsplittingly loud and may lose a lot of the subtlety intended. OK, that sounded like a disclaimer but I do have to put myself into the hands of others who may well have a different sensibility or agenda to me. All that said though, the ATP festival was interesting to attend even if it was just for the drive through the Catskills to get there. I saw my largest ever roadkill, a rather large and very dead deer, in the fast lane of Highway 17, which I had to hastily switch lanes to avoid and I got to stay in a hotel which had something called the Sammy Davis room which smelled like it hadn’t been used since Sammy played there, while, presumably but not certainly, still alive. Oh, and just for the record I did lose my luggage on this trip and I’ve not been paid for the show yet but I get really fed up typing the same story every time I leave home. You’ve read it before and will, doubtlessly, read it again until the day comes when I can afford a tour manager.
Oh, and while on the subject of being in the US I now have the distinction of having my car towed away in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York not to mention Paris and London. What this says about me I’m not exactly sure but suffice to say it’s probably not such a good idea to lend me your car anytime soon. The last incident was about two weeks ago in Queens, New York on my way to JFK to take a flight to Seattle. OK, so I overstayed my welcome in my parking spot and got busted. My fault. Guilty. To my credit, however, I did catch the flight but with my wallet $300 lighter, which needless to say, meant it was almost floating.
For the last few months I’ve been writing little notes and journals but not posting them. I think it’s because I was starting to feel like I had no privacy, and well, it’s rather understandable, considering I was going to great lengths to publish all the details of my own shortcomings on the internet. However, I’ve suddenly realised that this may be a great place to publish the details of other peoples shortcomings. Actually, this whole non weblogging phase started back in March when I wrote a journal concerning my last trip to Chile in which I recounted the details of the whole sorry affair including all the contact details of the promoter who failed to pay me after I played which could act as a warning to anyone going to play down there. At that point I hesitated, thinking it a little ugly to expose him like that, even though he had renaged on a deal. So I didn’t post it.
However…. it’s monday morning, I just came in my studio to find that the 3 computers that I had rendering video overnight, the colour corrected version of my new animation Galerie, which gets it first viewing on Wednesday at the Scopitone Festival in Nantes, have all failed. I am, it has to be said, experiencing a certain amount of frustration. Therefore the only way I can possibly deal with this situation is passive aggressively, which means …….. well, here’s a little story from earlier in the year.
Mar del Plata, Agentina
I’m lying in a hotel room. I drift in and out of consciousness. I am aware of two paramedics, one of which is sticking a needle into my arm, the other speaking Spanish with the hotel receptionist who is translating. The hotel receptionist is being very helpful but she is looking a little curiously at me, half naked and sweating on the bed, her gaze lingering on my semi naked body and looking a little uneasy. She asks if I am still able to play the guitar like this. I’ve been playing the guitar like this for two weeks, usually clothed, I hasten to add.
Anyway, to get to the point, I find myself feeling a little poorly today.
It started a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping to continue along my recent theme of reporting on the culinary delights offered to me in far off lands but while in Lima playing with Resplandor, I was unlucky enough to eat, what I think must have been, a dodgy empanada. This, rather predictably, caused a good old fashioned case of ‘travel tummy’, not really debilitating but very fucking embarrassing. But, for reasons unknown, this ended up in an inability to eat anything without throwing it back up within ten minutes, an inflammation of my lower intestines and a visit from some Argentinean paramedics, something both debilitating and very fucking embarrassing.
But I get ahead of myself. I started with the illness to give a little background and colour to the following histoire.
Although the trip there wasn’t much fun, actually being back in Peru was very nice indeed. I spent time with some dear friends and met up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for years in the form of The House of Love who were in town to do a show. I played guitar with Resplandor, ate cervice and tacu-tacu and had some beautiful moments. I also had a little makeshift studio in my hotel room and recorded some lovely instrumental pieces. I bought, for my youngest daughter Violette, a Peruvian saucisson, something she asks me to do whenever I travel. You see, her mother is French. It makes sense. Anyway, all was well. All was very well.
At this stage I find myself searching for euphemisms that are appropriate for this weblog, ‘travel tummy’ being too vague and whimsical, ‘gut wrenching diarrhea’ being closer in meaning but too crude, ‘extreme stomach cramps, vomiting and spending waaaay too much time in the bathroom’ being too long winded (if you will pardon the expression) and ‘feeling a little under the weather’, the words that I was actually using to describe my condition, being a just tad less than useless, especially in the pharmacy where I foolishly tried to illustrate my condition with sign language and a Spanish phrase book. The toenail clipper and make-up remover that I was able to purchase will come in handy in the future, I’m sure, but didn’t seem to alleviate my symptoms any at the time.
So after eating something that didn’t agree with me and spending a couple of days within five metres of a bathroom, in a little discomfort, under the weather….. whatever, I felt well again and was happy to go to a restaurant with Luis, Antonio and Guillermo, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, thereafter going to the airport to catch a 2am flight to Santiago de Chile. The food was great but I remember feeling curiously devoid of appetite and it was a great struggle eating. Still, it’s rude not to, so I made an effort.
Fast forward to 3am. I’m on a plane. I don’t feel well. I have an aisle seat and I am about eight rows from the nearest bathroom. I really don’t feel well. Oh, fuck…. Where’s the little bag?….Shite, too small. I stand up and ease myself towards the back of the plane, praying for the toilet to be free. I’ve five rows to go. I’m sweating and the pit of my stomach feels like Mount St Helens. Three rows. Fuuuuuccckkk. Two. I stumble. One.
Well to my credit, most of the contents of my stomach made it into the bowl. The rest took a lot of paper towels and hand soap to deal with afterwards. After a while a flight attendant, whose presence I had been oblivious to, congratulated me on making it to the bathroom from eight rows forward. Her eyes were laughing at me. I couldn’t blame her. How incredibly embarrassing. Good thing no one will ever know, huh.
So, it was with a rather unsavory taste in my mouth that I arrived in Santiago at 5am which is not my best time of day, even in normal circumstances. So I wasn’t really prepared to be detained by the Chilean Department of Agriculture and charged with the illegal importation of a Peruvian Saucisson. I think my mistake may have been my advanced use of sarcasm, which I thought wouldn’t be understood. Unfortunately I was at a bit of a low and when asked why I had illegally smuggled a salchicha I said something I thought rather witty and amusing about using my sausage to please the young ladies of Chile. I mean, to be fair it was 5am, I’d just lost my lunch, in fact all my lunches for the past few days, and I wasn’t really feeling myself. The sausage police however didn’t see the wit in my ramblings and detained me for 2 hours, impounded Violette’s saucisson and fined me $100.
And so I arrived in Chile.
I’d like to say that this set the tone but that would be somewhat of an understatement. For, in truth this trip to Chile was unlike any other trip to a far off land that I can remember. It, for the most part, sucked but there were moments of extreme delight. It’s difficult to explain but I’ll try. I was asked to come to Chile to play at a festival, which wouldn’t pay me, but would buy my plane ticket and put me in a hotel. Sounded like some good cause, you know, saving the planet, that sort of at thing and, as I was slightly curious what it was like to be Bono, I thought, well, why the hell not? I mean, you know, buy me a plane ticket on a plane that crosses 7000 miles across the globe spewing goodness knows how many tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere in the name of saving the planet, and I’ll be there.
It would take too long, way too much bandwidth to explain what happened that week in Santiago and now that I am a couple of weeks away from the experience it’s a topic that I’m still reluctant to share. First of all, I wasn’t a lone combatant, I share this story with my wife Florence; Juliette, Sean and John who are 8mm from Los Angeles CA and Hanin Elias, a German, living in the south pacific one time singer of Atari Teenage Riot. A most unlikely combo, I’m sure you would agree. Things stated to seem a little odd from the moment we arrived. We were checked into a 1940’s style German run ‘Gasthof’ in the diplomatic district of Santiago, the hotel being decorated in an “early Hitler” chic and toilets which, universally, didn’t flush. To be fair, I was still using them with enthusiasm, but hey, when someone tells you, ‘Vee cannot be responsible if you use zee toileten paper’ when there is little else I’m actually capable of, well, it’s rather, how can you put it?, inconvenient. After a day or so here we were asked to check out as the promoter hadn’t paid for the rooms. We packed and sat in the courtyard of the hotel with all of our equipment and bags until someone arrived with a cheque and then we moved back in. Next day we were out again at the same time, with all of our stuff as the cheque had bounced. Now, I have to say, we had been told we’d be taken to the festival on the Friday, so we had to check out again on Friday morning. However there was a call saying there was only 8000 people at the festival so we’d be playing Saturday. We sat outside the hotel until someone brought cash and then checked in again, just in time I hasten to add, as I was in serious need of the bathroom. The camaraderie born of a hostage situation became evident over these few days and turning negative into positive we found that we had some wonderful new friends.
Now turning to the promoter, it was a Mr Rodrigo Saez (firstname.lastname@example.org) who had asked us to come and play in Chile and we had all experience of working with him before, so a matter of trust had already been established. I find myself a little ugly to say this but, well, even if your heart is in the right place, it’s not cool to lie to people. I guess that there are many reasons for these lies but, at a certain point I have to say, “Hey, why did you ask us to come here to play to an empty field?.” The line of demarcation is, you promote, I play. Oh, any you pay me, that’s the arrangement, unless I’m mistaken.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Well, as you can imagine, Saturday came, we were whisked off, very slowly, I should add, in a bus which must have had a long and colourful history. (I’m thinking long slow passage to internment camps, by the way.) We arrived to find a wonderful environment for a festival, lovely grassy areas, surrounded by impressive Andean foothills, however strangely missing a few of the regular ingredients which one normally takes for granted, water, food and the like. To be fair, there was a backstage area, even a stage, however the area where the audience was meant to be seemed to be several hectares of rolling grassland filled with, for the most part, grass.
Simply, there were not a lot of people there, maybe eighty or so, but I did recognize that some of the bands helped to make up that number. Oh well, my years of intensive therapy kicked in and told me to ‘play for the people who are there and not for the ones who didn’t come’. Bollocks, but anyway I did play for 8mm, Florence, Hanin, 14 people and a dog who got in free. The sound people, road crew or whatever, were of the ‘backwards baseball cap, hey I don’t do monitors, don’t ask me’ school and as ugly as I think it is to say so, they made my experience even more challenging than it was already. It was truly awful and would have been worse if it wasn’t for the presence of Diego Castro who had been doing all the things for us that the organisers should have been. However, just before the show we got really excited as someone pointed out an overloaded Renault 5 approaching the festival site, with perhaps upwards of three people in it but, sadly, I think it was someone who took a wrong turn… Anyway 8000 people my, by this time raw and raggedy, arse.
Fucking Liar. Now there’s a thought. Best not to get taken advantage of again, huh?
Well, after escaping the festival, not, of course, before Flo’s laptop mysteriously went missing, never to be seen again, we arrived back in Santiago where I had a show at the Centro Arte Alemeda… Lovely venue, lovely show, I was good. The people that were there seemed to like it too. If it hadn’t been for the somewhat dishonest people who staged and promoted the show, I’d have been content. The organizers may have been happy with my performance but evidently not quite happy enough to pay me. I spent most of the after show time searching for Rodrigo Saez (email@example.com), but although he was there he didn’t seem to be too happy to pay me. The people from the venue, Roser Fort and Arno Parra, who Rodrigo works for, seemed altogether unwilling to pay me either. “Sorry, I don’t have the money” or “It’s nothing to do with us, it’s Rodrigo who booked you” was all I was told.
So, what can I tell you?
I’d seriously suggest that anyone asked to play at the Centro Arte Alemeda in Santiago probably should reconsider, even though the people involved seem to be really nice, they probably will lie to you and you probably will not get paid…
After that, well a trip to Buenos Aires, which was delightful in spite of my concert being in another big fucking disco. Then on to the seaside town of Mar del Plata where I started this little story. A tip of my hat to Pedro Moscuzza from Altocamet who showed more professionalism in his little finger than my chums in Chile and was a very fine DJ as well, introducing me to some very fine tunes none of which I can remember..
It would seem that the food poisoning which had occurred 10 days or so before had lingered and caused me some lasting damage which, even after a few weeks back home and much medical attention, has left me in a state of discomfort and lacking energy. Or maybe that’s just just natures way of telling me to take a break from the music business.