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tour diary! totally cont’d…

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As promised, dear reader, here is the second instalment of the diary.

 

Hebden Bridge (A love story)

Sunlight streams through the windows of the van, refracting off the slightly purple tinted lenses of my fake Ray Bans and bathing my brain in tiny little rainbows. Outside everything goes from brick and stone to green and sparkle. Hills arch up out of the flatness as if somehow alive and suddenly stretch up lazily, yearning for the sky. Trees like giant broccoli sprout atop them. My lungs ache for the freshness so clearly abundant outside. A little canal appears, whisperingly at first, to my right, house boats and ducks and an Englishness lost to urban sprawl, seemingly relegated to the pages of old books you only find in charity shops for fifty pence a throw. Sandstone buildings, postcard houses, comely cottages, bridges over seemingly never troubled water, conker-clacking, cobbled and tweeded to within an inch of it’s life, we start to question whether or not we are dreaming.

Did we all pass through the pearly gates somewhere on the journey? Has some ghastly accident befallen us?

Have we died and gone to Hebden?

 

As we emerge, blinking in the sunlight like startled voles, from our little tour van we take a quick look at the really rather lovely venue. It’s an old social club, all wood paneling and halves of bitter and mild. We can’t load in until 4, so the search for lunch begins in earnest having foregone breakfast with the promise of something special.

Earlier I had tweeted, “Where’s good for lunch in Hebden Bridge?” and the world famous Marie Du Santiago off of Kenickie had almost immediately tweeted me back with a succinct “Everywhere…” Can’t say fairer than that. However, after a while of wandering around essentially looking at everything and sighing contentedly, it is decided that what we really want is a pub lunch with a view of the canal. Almost as soon as this is decided we find ourselves in the courtyard of The White Horse Inn. We find a table outside, in the sun, with a view and peruse the menu rather like we’ve not eaten for a month.

Stuffy and I order the pork pie served with piccalilli and mash. When it arrives a single tear leaks lovingly from my left eye. “It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen”. This is no ordinary pork pie. This is a Hebden Bridge pork pie. It is bigger than I had even half imagined and twice as porky. In fact, fuck it, here’s a photo of the beast…pie

 

Oh, I forgot the mushy peas. There were mushy peas too. And they were glorious. Jesus CHRIST, I’m hungry…

Anyway, look, lunch was great. The beef roasts were amazing too, although I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than what was going on in my mouth. It is with great sadness that I have to report that I couldn’t quite finish all of the pie. It may well end up being one of my greatest regrets. My only other regret is not having gone down to breakfast in a posh hotel in Köln during the last Coxon tour but that’s another story. Just as my pastry coma is about to take hold we head back to the venue.

Our dressing room… sorry, the place where we are to receive our gifts… is housed in the little theatre next door to the actual venue. It’s very well appointed. There is a selection of books you can buy via a “trust jar” on the shelf. Fifty pence a throw, no less. I chuck in a quid and pick up the sequel to The Ghost Of Flight 401 and the exact, wait, the EXACT same edition of an illustrated children’s version of The Last Of The Mohicans that I had loved as a child and lost in a terrible explosion. That last bit’s not entirely true. I think it went in a box and lived under the conservatory until it was eaten by spiders some years later.

Are you sure we’re not dead?

The gifts are over-generous to say the least. Fresh meats and cheeses, wine, beer, all the crisps you could scrunch in the bag and then offer a playground pal. There are a series of post-it-notes lined up on the counter baring the sentence, one word per post-it, “ATTENTION ART BRUT THERE IS MORE BEER IN THE FRIDGE”

We all stop weeping uncontrollably after about ten minutes and it’s time for sound check. Wait, no it’s not. It’s time for Ian and I to have a wander through the local park, along the edge of the canal to marvel at the little houseboats so peaceful and inviting. We wonder if this isn’t the way of life perhaps we should all eventually adopt. Ian’s no stranger to the workings of a canal-boat, let me tell you and as the sun gently slides down behind the hills he tells me of trips spent as a youth, having to slow one’s body clock to match the flow of the river. It’s an almost startling and endearingly soft side of Ian Catskilkin that Hebden Bridge encourages and we saunter back to the venue like two boys returning from Cub-camp.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much about the actual gig, such was my and, indeed, all of our sudden and overwhelming infatuation with it’s setting. I can only assume it was as spinningly lovely as the rest of the day had been and all that I can remember is two young men barging into “the place we receive our gifts” to get us to sign things, take photos and have a quick chat being met, welcomingly, with open arms. I have, in previous incarnations and in no uncertain terms, suggested that uninvited people kindly “Get the fuck out of my dressing room” and yet tonight there is no need for such unfriendliness. It must be the surroundings.

Are you sure we’re not dead?..

 

Having opted to spend much of the next day in our new favourite place, we set about perusing a flea market, lunching at a café for dogs, indulging ourselves with sweet potato soup and crusty rolls. We stroll around the charity shops, in one of which I manage to get Stuffy to try on a pair of leather trousers that are sadly a touch shy of the right size. We treat ourselves to an ice cream and as we sit scoffing, watching the selection of “strong looks” go by, Eddie suggests, “I bet Razorlight weren’t allowed ice creams”. Beastly old Johnny Borrell had been playing at the venue the night before us, I should add. Before long, however, the inevitable is upon us and sent crashing back down to earth we are faced with tonight’s gig in…

 

 

Hull

Hull is a stark contrast to Hebden Bridge and the famous Adelphi is as stark a reminder of that contrast as I have ever come across. Punk rock for the last 25 years, the Adelphi has seen virtually every rock band worth it’s salt pass through  it’s doors and into it’s filthy little backstage area. A case of Carling awaits us there and whilst not wishing to seem ungrateful (“These gifts are UNACCEPTABLE! HAVE THEM RETURNED IMMEDIATELY!”), we opt to call the van our dressing room and attempt to order something for dinner in the Weatherspoons across the road. I say “attempt” because they don’t have any food left. Ian has a bowl of chips. I have a hot dog. The beer is unnervingly cheap, however.

We watch the awesome support acts and limber up for our performance. It’s really, really good fun. Sweaty and cathartic and unhinged and all that good stuff. Punk as fuck, mate.

We do a quick photo-shoot in the gents lavatory (yup) and before we know it our little home on wheels is careering out of the car park and “getting the fuck out of Dodge”. We’re Nottingham bound to one of our other favourite venues. Hooray for us!

 

 

Nottingham

The Rescue Rooms is a venue frequented by Art Brut and virtually every other band I’ve been in. It’s great. Nice big stage, pleasant back-stage and what is known as a “Flat load-in”. This means that rather than contend with iron fire escapes or stairs, you stick everything not on wheels on stuff that is on wheels and roll it all smoothly into the venue, where inevitably it all comes crashing down because you’re shit at stacking stuff safely.

Normally we’d head next door for some of their world famous fried chicken but I have done quite enough eating for a few days, frankly, so it’s coffee and wine until load-out time for Tobes.

Once again we are joined by the mighty Keith Top Of The Pops tonight and his revolving door policy on band members sees some new faces turn up. New to me, anyway. The rest of the Bruts know them all intimately.

Again, in contrast to the previous night’s punk rock ethic, tonight feels, by comparison, like a BIG RAWK SHOW ™ and it’s one I embrace thoroughly. I lurch about the stage, as it my wont. Freddie’s bass strap busts and as she darts across the stage to get her spare bass, momentarily looking rather like she’s running off stage altogether, Eddie is moved to say, “Oh, thank God, for a minute I thought I’d lost another one”. No, Siree. Tonight is a galvanizing and triumphant show, one befitting a band that has been together for longer than this short run and it bodes very well for the next chunk of gigs in November. Yes, yes, I know they’ve been a band for ten years but not with Sticks N’ Thumbs aka “The Rhythm Guys”. We are, for all intents and purposes, a new band and, by gum, it feels like a good’un.

Much slapping of backs is enjoyed. Stuffy’s old drum teacher even comes and tells him he’s done good. We jubilantly cheer ourselves into oblivion all the way back to London, which we get to at approximately Shit O’Clock in the morning. Total blast. Here’s to the next one.

We’re here, we’re Art Brut, get used to it.

Oh, I dunno, sunnink like that…

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You say “Tour Diary!” we say “Here you are, then”

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Dear reader,

Below is part one of the account of what happened on our recent tour, as seen through the eyes, ears and fingers of six-stringed-buffoon, Toby…

…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF THE BREAD…

or A Very Brutish Tour Diary…

by poet laureate, Toby Macfarlaine

 

Sitting outside a pub in Archway, North London, seems about as good a place as any to start this.

You might know the pub. It’s the one around the corner from the hospital. Usually it’s full of people either waiting for someone to be born or waiting for someone to die. A palpable mix of jubilance, anxiety and abject terror wafts over our table, filtered through the blazing sunshine and arguably London’s cheapest cooking-lager. We assume that those waiting for birth/death feel the same.

Once Ian and I have sufficiently topped-up our sunburn, it is decided that we really ought to get this show on the road if we are to make it to Manchester in time for the first sound check of the tour.

We are not going to make the first sound check of the tour.

A bottle of prosecco is procured for the journey and we trundle up North in our new home for 9 days chatting and joking and, rather like that scene in episode one of Spaced, the song “Getting to know you” chimes in the back of my admittedly slightly inebriated noggin.

 

Manchester

I’ve been in this dressing room so many times it’s like an old friend. An old friend who has been made slightly smaller with the addition of a toilet and a shower.  Nobody has old friends like that. That’s a dumb analogy. It’s like an old friend full of beer and sandwiches. There. Everyone has old friends like that. I may be labouring the point. I have been here before. So have we all. Which means going on-stage “festival style” (Throw the gear up, line-check, play) doesn’t worry any of us. We know that the monitor engineer knows his eggs and we are confident enough to be able to just have a rough idea of a set-list and play pretty fast and loose with the whole thing.

The “We’re gonna need a longer mic-cable” adage comes to mind when Eddie ventures out into the audience, the cable twoyoyoings taught and nearly knocks a geezer in the front-row’s syrup off. The little chunk of Icona Pop we shoehorn into the middle of Good Weekend is met with initial bemusement, then recognition, then cheers. At least, I think it is. “I don’t care, I love it” ™

I note that my tendency to lurch around the stage less like a caged tiger and rather more like a massive bit of over-cooked asparagus doesn’t tend to happen in rehearsals and I have to make sure that I haven’t accidentally knocked Freddy into the monitor booth. She assures me that this is not the case.

We triumphantly topple down the stairs to our old newly-be-toileted friend far sweatier than I think any of us expected. Stuffy’s shirt displays a perspiration pattern resembling the Bat symbol. Perhaps he is the dark knight after all. The black leggings are a dead giveaway.

Our Manchester digs for the night are not un-prison like and after a small decompressing one-for-the-road I clamber up to the top bunk, Stuffy lying on the lower deck and I drift off to sleep with the “Baby things just get too rough…” lines from Captain Coxon’s “Bottom bunk” ear-worming me to schlaff.

 

Glasgow

Having breakfasted in Frankie & Benny’s fine American Bistro (during which Ian will fall in love with our brassy waitress only to fall significantly out of love with her on receipt of a latte without any coffee in it. “I was going to take you away from all of this and now you’ve just ruined it”) we realize that it’s a touch more than a stone’s throw from Manchester to Glasgow and it’s a snoozy one at that. Feet up and watching bonny Scotland approach through the windows is mostly all I can manage having reached a relatively advanced state of refreshment after the previous evenings frivolities.

Once we’ve loaded into the venue, Ian and I nip over to Boots to stock up on essentials. It’s not really a tour without a trip to Boots, in my book. Even though I slightly regret it, I don’t join Ian in a deep-fried haggis supper. I have a little taste and it is awesome but I’m unsure my heart can take it. Stuffy goes off to eat sushi with some local Glaswegian hardcore legends, Ian and Freddy head off to the hotel for a bit of feet-up while Eddie and I chillax in the chill-zone (dressing room). After a time one of the ladies from the venue comes up to borrow a lamp for the merch-area. I half jokingly ask if we might have some candles by way of replacement. Bloody rock stars.

We watch a bit of the support acts and ready ourselves for tonight’s slab of rock.

Within thirty seconds of being on stage my hair-do has exploded into a hair-don’t, my usually dependable mix of products not being designed for such extreme punk rock heat. Freddy brilliantly lambasts an overzealous photographer with a simple point of the finger and a “NO!” as I bounce about trying not to knock her over.

No trip to Glasgow is complete without a few drinks in Nice N’ Sleazy’s and as it sits precisely next door to tonight’s venue, Eddie, Ian and I decide that this is no time to change that rule. Some fans buy us some rum n’ cokes, Ian insists that we join him in some Jäger.

It’s like a scene from that Tom Cruise/ Jack Nicholson film, A Few Good Drinks.

“Do you want a drink?”

“I want VERMOUTH!”

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE VERMOUTH!”

Until one of us decides it’s probably time to go back to the hotel. Tomorrow is another day, after all.

On the way back, Eddie buys a punnet of chips and kebab meat covered in cheese. It’s a solid brick of goodness which he hand feeds us like little baby sparrows. Little drunk baby sparrows. Who really dig grease and donner meat.

As we go to get into the elevator a very drunk girl asks Eddie if she can have a chip, which she then proceeds to eat in the most aggressively suggestive manner any of us has ever seen. “Sexy chips”. So much so that we all wait for the next lift.

I slip into my room and try not to wake Stuffy up by making as much noise as it is possible for a human being to make.

Goodnight, Glesga. You’ve been pure brilliant, man.

 

 

Newcastle

Newcastle is mental.

Everybody knows that.

An average Monday night resembles New Year’s Eve in most other cities. Shirtless men do push-ups in the street to impress the girls who smell like they’ve invented the new perfume they’re all wearing. I think it’s called “Chips”.

The venue is enormous. Bloody hell, it’s gonna be chocka round the edges the night, man.

Of course, we’re actually playing the small room up the top, although nobody seems to have told our audience that as they are all busy tweeting that they’re going to see us somewhere else.

Keith Top Of The Pops and his merry band are joining us on the bill tonight, which is nice as everybody is like a family having toured together previously.

We indulge in a photo-shoot before sound check and by the time we have officially rocked-out in front of the small but mighty audience I am way too pooped to go out partying with the gang.

I opt instead to room with Simon, our tour manager and soundman, for the night and after putting a sizeable kebab in the bin, being asked for a light from a man in a dapper suit who then joyfully pisses all over the rear wheel arch of our tour-van, I drift off to sleep almost instantly.

The following morning we all reconvene at Chiquito’s for a somewhat disappointing Mexican themed breakfast served by a waiting staff so slow as to be presumably waiting for us to walk out before having to actually bring us anything.

 

Wakefield

Possibly summing up Wakefield is the pub that sits next to the venue for tonight. It is called Fanny & Bacardi.

Stuffy went to university here. Wakefield. Not Fanny & Bacardi.

The venue is a groovy little place owned, or at least run by a jovial, gregarious chap who is particularly proud of the volume his P.A. can fire out.

It is a glorious sunny day and somewhere between exiting the vehicle and entering the venue, Eddie decides that rather than refer to the rider as “The rider” it should now be known as “The gifts”. When asking where the dressing room is, we should now politely enquire as to “Where do we receive our gifts?” The gift shop, if you will.

Tonight’s gift shop is in fact a small annex to the office with peeling yellow wallpaper and a stack of chairs in the corner. The gifts, however, are wonderful and gratefully received. So much so that I put half a can of cider into a plastic pint cup and sit outside in the sun for a while to ponder my fortunes.

Normally, one of the golden rules of touring is to NOT have a massive curry before you do a show.

Fuck that, we’re hungry.

We go over to a place called Bollywood and are served by an old Indian gentleman who doesn’t know the menu and checks for what Stuffy orders by taking the menu from him and turning it sideways. All he can see is numbers. It’s a bit like ordering dinner from Rain Man.

When it does eventually arrive, it is delicious, but as if to prove why the golden rule is there, the succulent spicy feast repeats on us something awful during the show. Mid-way through a guitar solo, Ian wanders over to my side of the stage and says, somewhat proudly, “I’ve just been a bit sick in my mouth!”

Rock and fucking roll.

After the show we’re taken to a little pub around the corner for a pint and to have a photo or ten taken with some fans. We’re then talked into going to a cocktail bar and end up drinking old fashioned(s) and Moo-moos until we’re blue (Curacao’d) in the face.

Tomorrow we head to Hebden Bridge. None of us has ever been there before and we’ve no idea what to expect.

Oh well, just one more for the road…

To be continued…

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Sad News Before New Beginnings

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Long service medals and great appreciation are due to Mikey Breyer and Jasper Future who have retired from Art Brut…

While one door closes another door opens and the band are delighted to welcome former Graham Coxon and Charlotte Hatherley sidemen Toby Macfarlaine (guitar) and Stephen Gilchrist (drums) – the new line up is pictured below.

AB8

Eddie Argos commented: ‘Being a classic rock band isn’t all just laps of honour round the World, and photo shoots in Rolling Stone, it also involves personnel changes. So after 10 years and 8 years of playing with them respectively we say goodbye to Mike and Jasper.

Press releases are not the best place for fond farewells but it’s been a blast and we’ll miss them……

It’s now time for Art Brut Mk III. Hello to Toby and Stephen. Let’s start ROCKING THE FUCK OUT.

See you in September!’

 

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Back Online with UK Dates and New Video Greats!

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Dearest Internet

We are back online! After a short sojourn in the digital wasteland (it will take more than a little bit of hacking to kick Art Brut off the internet. Fucking parttimers!), ABHQ is back in your electronic face giving the low down on the only things you need to know for Art Brut 2013. Tours, new videos, tours, new videos (did I mention tours?)… Hold on Internet, we’re going to rock your socks off! Here’s the press release –

“To commemorate their 10th anniversary, Art Brut released the career spanning ‘Top Of The Pops’ and, to coincide with this monumental occasion, Art Brut ran a competition to create a video for one of the album’s two new songs. Now, ladies and gentlemen, Art Brut is proud to announce the winner, Lillian Low! Leading front person Eddie Argos had this to exclaim:

‘Lillian Low didn’t just win the competition for ‘Best Art Brut Video’, in my opinion she won the overall competition for best video ever made! Citizen Kane, Dark Knight Returns and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey all pale in comparison to the work of art that Lillian has created. I’m honoured she spent so much time working on something for my band. Hooray for Lillian!

Behold the remarkable ‘Arizona Bay’ video for your delectation –

If this is not enough, Art Brut have also announced plans for UK dates later this year. Following their sold out Scala show, Art Brut start the series of spectaculars in Manchester at the Academy 3 on September 24th followed by 13 further venues before coming to an end on November 4th at Esquires in Bedford.” Get your clicks on this –

UK TOUR DATES

September

Tues 24 Manchester Academy 3

Wed 25 Glasgow Broadcast

Thur 26 Newscastle Warehouse 34

Fri 27 Wakefield The Hop

Sat 28 Hebden Bridge Trades Club

Sun 29 Hull Adelphi

Mon 3 Nottingham Bodega

October

Tue 01 Coventry Kasbah

Wed 02 O Gloucester Guildhall

November

Sun 03 Bristol Fleece

Mon 04 Tunbridge Wells Forum

Tue 05 London Village Underground

Wed 06 St Albans The Horn

Thu 07 Bedford Esquires

Any question? Let’s stay in touch this time, yeah?…

Yours resiliently

Barnaby Fudge

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The Running Fan / Best of the Best

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Dearest Internet

Long time no see. Where have you been? I have missed these little chats. My pitiful, servile existence has kept me quite busy in 2012. The majority of my time is spent ferrying Eddie Argos’ dirty linen between ‘Pressed to Impress’ in Burnley and Berlin. He says he likes the way the collars smell. I am dubious.

The rest of the band have decided to make use of the small Pacific Island they bought in 2006. It’s just been sitting there. For several years after the purchase, due to some miscommunication, several band members thought they had acquired private houses in Ireland. Confusing and somewhat embarrassing trips to Donegal have now become a minor Art Brut tradition.

If you have the means and inclination to visit ‘The Principality of Awesome’ (official status pending), here are the coordinates – 16°50′00″S 178°16′45″E / 16.8333333°S 178.27917°E. You may or may not be hunted for sport / boredom.

If for some reason Pacific human safaris are not your thing, plans are afoot to release an Art Brut ‘Best Of’ in 2012. Your favourite courses from the four album feast will be made available, along with some added extras. Listen to me for further information. I am the conduit.

In the meantime, come and see us play with The Vaselines in Wakefield. Long Division looks like it might cause some booze misadventures. Come and encourage our idiocy.

Let’s not leave it so long next time. Stay in touch.

Yours busily

Barnaby Fudge

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