It's me: Rob, your favourite member of semi-popular beat combo Marsicans. How are you? What's new in your life? Who did YOU think would win 'Dancing On Ice' in 2011? Oh wow, I also thought it would be Vanilla Ice. It must be love.
Now that we have all the burning questions out of the way, I'm going to take you step-by-step through all things Marsican from the month of March.
Let me set the scene: it's March-eve (February 28th to non-weirdos) and sh'boys have just finished our final tour rehearsals with full production and all the trimmings. Tomorrow is the first day of our UK headline tour and we're all really excited to come out and play some sold-out shows to you lovely, lovely people. We make a list, check it twice, Oli breaks a microphone and we pack down ready to load the vans. As we open the doors, we find the worst snow we have seen in our adult lives. It's about a foot deep and still falling, freezing our fingers, toes and dreams respectively. Will we be able to get home? Will we have to sleep on our amps? Will we have to cancel the tour? All questions we ask ourselves during a moment of mass panic!
Someone puts the kettle on. Everything seems a little less harrowing.
We load in, roll out and bunk up for the night hoping beyond hope that the #BeastFromTheEast will kindly fuck off and we will be able to embark on our voyage the following morning. Not much sleep is had between us, and when we wake things are just as bad, if not slightly worse. Phone calls are made and despite the advice of our agent, the weatherman and my mother, we set off for Birmingham in a blizzard, two battered old vans and our big coats.
Much to our surprise, doors open on time and so many of you celebrate the first night of tour with us. We finally get to meet Vistas, our labelmates and 10 inch vinyl neighbours, and the show is incredible. (Special thanks to everyone who brought us presents that night, including four big bags of the peppery magic otherwise known as "rocket" and the Galaxy Ripples complete with a hair that have granted Oli access to some 'cold hard vouchers' for free chocolate). We sleep soundly in our hotel beds knowing that the snow is meant to subside and that, if the rest of tour is this much fun, we are going to have the time of our lives.
Morning arrives and we head south towards London, the beast in cold pursuit. A few Greggs pasties later we arrive at the Borderline with very wet socks. Soundchecks are successful and we have quite a nice dressing room. Life is good. Vistas play a blinder and our crew come to collect us for stage. It's a funny thing being on tour, there is lots of driving, lifting, carrying, waiting around and hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the run up to that one hour in which we perform, but there is no feeling in this world quite like walking on stage to a room full of people who care as much about our band as we do. We leave the stage in awe of the noise that you have made for four idiots from Leeds, hundreds of miles from home on one of the coldest nights in a decade.
The show is over, everyone has gone home and we are ecstatic, but have lost our manager. He can't remember where he has parked Pat the van and with no phone battery can't find his way back to the venue or contact us. He finally shows up but in the confusion we leave behind some gear and wake up the next day in a hotel knowing that someone has to stay in London until the venue re-opens and travel to the Bristol gig by train. James gallantly volunteers, paving the way for when we are famous and all travel to shows separately, demanding individual dressing rooms and all the incense in the world. A quick snap by Tower Bridge and a South West Trains experience is on James' itinerary, while the rest of us drive west admiring sound engineer Pross's in-van air drum kit, complete with crash cymbal gear stick.
The Louisiana Bristol has rather slippery, carpeted stairs on load-in. Marsicans' UK headline touring party has four very large flight cases full of flashy lights and other techy bits. They are very, very heavy. Chaos ensues and only a lemon and ginger tea can bring me round after the ordeal. We set up and have time to start a prog-rock band, record 6 albums and discover the meaning of life whilst waiting for James to arrive from London, but he finally does with a stage box under each arm and an ethereal beam of light behind him on entry. Another bag of rocket is thrown at me during our set and we come off stage feeling fantastic. We find out that some fans have travelled for six hours to come and see us, some have been at the London show the night before and were too shy to ask for a lift, and some still have five feet of snow surrounding their houses. Commitment to the cause is very high in Bristol, especially that of the venue's sound engineer who waits outside with our merch after the venue has been locked up, as we realise we have forgotten every single item and have to turn around to collect it.
We have a few days off. We put a wash on.
Glasgow is next up and a scenic drive is on the cards. We admire a collection of trees that resembles a big willy from the motorway, eat too much in a Wetherspoons, catch up with a lovely band called Indigo Velvet then take to the stage. It's just another Wednesday but the inhabitants of The Garage's Attic Bar, Glasgow would have you believe it's New Years Eve 1999. The barrier at the front of stage wins an award for bravery and we are gifted a bottle of single malt whiskey as a congrats for selling out the show. Our manager is very pleased with this as he has Scottish blood and and a thirst on. Our accommodation for the evening has wing backed chairs and leather bound books. It does not have heating.
Somewhat bleary-eyed and a bit chilly, we set off for Manchester, stopping at Tebay services for a horrendously overpriced halloumi wrap and a look out over the lake. (It has a lake!) The city is in our sites and we witness a nasty man using a speeding ambulance as his own personal traffic partner then getting pulled over by a police car which just so happens to be parked at the side of the road. It's the best example of karma we have ever seen. The Deaf Institute, Manchester has a very tall stage and a very bouncy floor. The crowd go so crazy that our lighting engineer Harry is worried his expensive toys will fall off the stage causing the kind of mass killing known as 'indiebandfanocide'. Luckily no disasters happen and we are blown away once more by how many people are there to sing every word. There is a club night on after the show and our front of house engineer Pross goes from being mild mannered Scouse sound guy to dangerous drill sergeant in a matter of minutes. Barking orders at everyone, he ensures we are packed down and out of the venue in record time, in a display of aggressive masculinity that would rival Gordon Ramsay in a particularly high pressure episode of 'Kitchen Nightmares'. In a quick Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde turn of events, he returns to his former, lovely self, and hugs are shared.
Just one show left.
It's a miserable morning in Leeds but misery is far from how we are feeling as we load into Church, a grade-2-listed-building-turned-live-music-venue that will play host to the biggest headline show we have ever played. Months previously, we sat and argued about booking such a large space while Cale's dogs drink from their water bowls, each at the appropriate height for its owner. Although absolutely terrified no one would come, we agreed to go ahead with the show and to our amazement we are setting the stage knowing that it's completely sold out. Doors open and the room fills up. Our mums are there; they are all proud of us. As we walk out and the lights come up, we see three years of hard work come to fruition in the most exciting way possible. Fans are held aloft on shoulders singing as loud as we are and it feels like we have all got to this milestone together. We set off some confetti cannons during our final song. My dad later refers to them as 'party poppers' and we all have a laugh. It's the best night of our lives.
This tour has been a wonderful, humbling and incredibly memorable experience. I know bands are supposed to be 'cool' and act a bit like they don't care, but we genuinely love every second of what we do and without people coming to our shows, there wouldn't be a band to act 'cool' in. Thank you to anyone who made it to a show, bought some merch, braved the snow and made us feel like pop stars. Thank you to anyone who wanted to come but couldn't. We will try our very best to come and play for you soon. Finally, thanks to anyone who is reading this blog. I'm sorry it's so long but I do tend to ramble a bit. I look forward to sharing more of our adventures with you, but until then, this is sh'boy Rob signing off.
p.s. In other news...James has torn his National Geographic fleece, Oli paid lots of money to have his hair dyed the exact same colour, Cale is having counselling after his mum stayed out til the bar closed at our Leeds show after-party, and I am the leader of a notorious criminal gang called 'The Lavender Boys'.