Monday, 22 September 2014

Good time reliance status: Phorium.

So here we are, then. I'm listening to Syro. That's the most pertinent news of the day for anyone who's alive. Jeb doesn't like it, yet. Then again, I will tease him forever for what I consider to be his deficiencies in the 'listening to too much soft-rock and thinking that mere gentilesse passes for beauty' department.

Hey, I get heroin AIDS needles jabbed in my ears for some of the music I listen to. You have to put up with this when you're all as opinionated and self-righteous as we are.

Especially Jeb 'Ken Bruce' Hardwick.

This in-band acceptance of interpersonal hatred and hostility comes from another fifteen-hour (or as I like to call it 'infinite') van ride down to Hamburg for the 2014 Reeperbahn festival. Binky The Van is looking worse than Mickey Rourke at the moment, which means we had to do a Rob Lowe and rent a much younger, more attractive model. We did, however, [Yewtree inappropriate], so it was a bit of a squeeze with five of us and all our gear.

Talking of Rob Lowe, Reeperbahn, or the Reeperbahn, if you don't know (Dad), is the red-light district in the port city of Hamburg. That's where we went on the first night.

Um.

It's a bit weird.

I don't know why I expected anything better than it actually was. Maybe because it was particularly grim. Imagine Blackpool (or, Hello Hometown, Paignton/Torbay), where instead of signs saying 'BIG CASH PRIZES' there are signs saying 'SEX HERE NOW BANG BANG BANG RELENTLESSLY'...and there are people who look like the operators of stolen, layby-parked fairground rides standing outside, somehow appealing to some members of the, inevitably, British, Australian, and American crowds that gather with rather more than money in their hands

Paignton: My first love. Feeling sexy, yet?
 

It was noisy, bright, and certainly a spectacle. We would return the following evening, after the gig, also, as it was heavily advised that we visit the 'Men Only' street, which, in its touristiness and bizarrely clinical isolation, resembled a Harry Potter film directed by [inappropriate Yewtree]. I started many conversations with the people there, trying to (Lord, why this vocabulary?) get a flavour of the mood and attitudes.

'Hi.'

'Hey, Baby.'

'How are you? Are you OK?'

'I'd be even better if you came inside.'

'No – I'm not going to. I'm actually wondering how you are.'

'Mmm, I'm good, baby – you wanna come in and I'll make you feel good, too?'

'No – I literally just said that I'm not coming in, and I don't believe the sincerity of how you say you're feeling. Are you actually alright? I'd assume it's a bit rubbish, in there.'

'You don't want me?'

'Again, I just said...'

window closes

The business of the gig was what it was. We were kind of tired, what with the logistics of transcontinental travel and infuriatingly obstinate prostitutes to deal with, but we think we were OK. We were filled with 'foreign country adrenaline', even if we left our sleep back in England. Running around all day... I mean, thanks to all who came. Everyone around the gig was really friendly, and, especially in 'the other countries', we couldn't do without that kind of support.

The trip was not all about prostitution and crippling insecurity in presentation, though, as we got to go to an industry party or two, which - for those of you wandering or dreaming about what these kinds of thing amount to i.e. what attitudes are involved, what the general atmosphere is like – is a million miles away from either of those things.

After such fulfilling adventures, then, it was left to a couple of Humming Records people and related artists to provide the perfect palliative to our spiritual fatigue, taking us around the city following those more insistent engagements and pulling the curtain back again on the superiority of German nightlife to the bulk of what our Great (and forever United, it would seem) Isle has to offer. Some of the German bars hold lights under 17,000,000,000 lumens, which is particularly novel. Beer is to be readily purchased for little outlay, and consumed in the street, where throngs of smiling revellers greet each other, relatively happily, their teeth not yet stained from midnight vomit nor the blood of their lips from too much sneering.

Still – I don't mean to complain. Consider it the standardly accepted weatherly whinge we accept when people return from Spain: 'Oh, it was much nicer over there...' etc., only consider that my gripe relates to core aspects of our self-determining culture, rather than weather patterns.

A bundle of idle noise, then.
 
The trip was whistlestop, bizarre, mind-bending, and distancey.

Straight to Southsea.

Actually a lovely change of pace, in Portsmouth. This was one hour, down the road. Weird. We like to keep it by the sea, when we can, it seems. Great crew, again – friendly and helpful and professional. I've said it before, but it's things like that that can make or break a gig and it makes a real difference when the people around you are supportive. So, like, thanks Southsea crew omg blushes

And yeah.

This is what hashing over memories with a cup of overly strong, cheap coffee and the new Aphex Twin will give you. A little bit of nothing and someone for everything.

Next time I'll fill you in over a cup of Chamomile and some Debussy, and we'll see if it comes out a little sweeter – a little less self-referentially hectic – and – perhaps – a little more standardly punctuated.

Unlike our lives, of course.

'Oh man, Tim, did that just come to you?'

'Yeah.'

'Cowabunga!'

'That's not entirely appropriate.'

So, it's Monday.

Our luck never changes, does it.

Be well, and don't try and be clever. It won't work.

Tim


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

We are doughnuts, all of us.

Dear Berlin, this is for you:



Fifteen hours. Fifteen hours in the van.

[Don't start with this, Tim, for god's sake.]

Hard seats and road noise and debates about the link between influential statements and criminal actions. Where does the buck stop? Long, long roads and Europe's flat and open fields. A 5am start, blind eyes punctured by text messages from one person or another:


Be safe!

This screen is too bright.

Don't forget to bring x!

I already packed, in a fit of excitement, three days ago.

Make sure you drive on the right side of the road! Not the right side, I mean, but the right side. Drive on the right side.

Destroy me. Take me to the place they make the glue.


6am: cigarettes and no breakfast.

Music, language, geography, and little leak of diesel.

[Skip to the end]

That evening, on arrival, we literally dripped into our apartment, funneled out of the cool Berlin air in what was apparently the 'interesting' part of town. It looked perfectly friendly to we naïve little children, wandering about in the dark with suitcases, grins, and hopeful eyes, like Pinocchio in the circus, or a cute, blonde, country girl taking her first steps onto the streets of LA, going to her first audition glad that there's that tarpaulin on the casting couch, lest she spill her drink. Oh, hello. With those huge arms, you must be a writer? No?

I was asked to go out and get some beers and, in a linguistic tangle, ended up buying shandy and not nearly enough of it. I was a fool. A damn fool.

Not for long, however, as after a quick dinner we hit the hay. Or at least I, my short straw being eternally long, so to speak, hit the sofa. The scratchy sofa.

Still, the road, used responsibly, is a powerful sedative.

First stop: First thing: a meeting in Potsdamerplatz. We all hopped on the U-Bahn, still confused and muddled and not quite ready for twenty-letter-long words, alien proclamations, or complex navigation around a city that seems to have de-marked its rail lines along the labels mauve, purple, magenta, off-blue-red, and dark lilac.

Even in the meeting, I rejected coffee as five other heads around me bobbed at the offer of water. I did the thing where you walk into a bar with someone and they offer to buy you a drink, and as a warm-hearted offer of gratitude you say 'Whatever you're having!', like a little Christmas cracker expression of companionship. No sooner, however, had I said 'Yes, water would be lovely, thanks.' than two other people grunted '...coffee.', and I immediately regretted my decision...but also in the spirit of what I'd already done felt uncomfortable contemplating my going 'Oh...actually...yeah, I'll have coffee.' Because I didn't want to be a pain in asking for a coffee that had already been offered to me.

We were all tired, is what I'm saying.

But we had a lovely time, up there on the somethingth floor, looking out of the big glass windows onto the city below. We began by talking about the weather. That made us feel at home.

That, then, and then after a little stroll and coordination we hit a café for a couple of interviews and a photo-shoot. There was an ashtray on the table. The British mind boggles. You can smoke inside. In a café. You know, in comfort. You can do something that you enjoy, in comfort. After being slightly underwhelmed by what I'd seen that morning (the city has something of a reputation for a slightly more Epicurean, rather than George Bestian hedonism - something I was looking forward to having thrust, Arthurially, in my puffy face, but something which had not yet occured), suddenly, with sensible Health and Safety legislation based on the practical apportionment of separate rooms and acknowledgement that perhaps life is not a mere exercise in sanitisation [pardon me, History, I really didn't mean to, though you may indeed wish to poke your head around a corner or two on this one], this place was starting to speak to me, albeit with yellowed teeth and sooty breath.

Another coffee offered to us, another one rejected. Two of them rejected on the grounds (grounds) that 'we've already had one.'

Damn.

Two really nice interviews, and a painful but honestly awkward photo-shoot in and around the place. I ended up with the one bit of sofa that had turned into a sink-hole, so as everyone else tried to look their coolest I was left just hoping I didn't look like a man with legs only up to my knees, waddling around and hunched over.

Me, only more gremlinised.

Move towards gig-time. Our first gig in Berlin and our first city gig in Europe; the only other European date being in Croatia more than twelve months ago.

See the venue. It's nice, in a cool 'under the tracks' kind of way. We were literally under the tracks, though – I don't mean that just to describe the type. Sorry to rail on at you, but I haven't been a good sleeper lately and it's tricky to stay on track.

Balb.

See the backstage area. There is coffee. There is coffee and you can smoke inside and there is beer in glass bottles and vodka and giant pretzels and chocolate. This is heaven.

Confusion. No sound-check? No pre-gig line-check?

ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, DEAR FRIENDS!

It's a blur until before the gig. People came! People were there! You lovely people! Who could ask for more? They came and they applauded and they cheered and they even sympathised with a little synthesised mayhem as a tiny glitch on the computer thought that Atomic wasn't avant-garde enough, so rather than ending in that big prog-euro-trance way that it does, it ended with a fart on the bass and a distinct sense of disappointment, like those brioche rolls that come in opaque packages and aren't really brioche and contain chocolatey liquid instead of chocolate chunks but you bought it thinking it was real brioche and you won't make that mistake again, because you're no sweetbread fool.

But, apart from that, we did ourselves proud [pats self on back with flapping bum]

Oh, good lord. 

So, I mean, I'm still getting over it.

Because then the evening happened, and Berlin in all of its glory came out to shine.

What's that? The hotel bar is closing and we're not allowed in? But...our friends said they were here. Yes, we are English. The bar is definitely closing? Yes!? Oh...there's our friend. Oh he's made eye contact with you and given you a little nod. Oh, we're allowed in now, are weyeswefuckingarebecausewe'refuckingPhoria. 

The good people at Humming Records know how to show their bands the city. They could not have been more welcoming or friendly and we heartily appreciate them and the work they're doing for us over there.
We all sat around then, drank, almost accidentally ordered shandy again, and slipped gradually down the cushions in the comfortable hotel bar.

Where are we going next?

Clubbing?

Sigh.

OK, but I don't dance. There won't be dancing, will there? I don't dance. I hate dancing. OK, I'll go and see how it is but if there's dancing then I might head back. Yeah, I know it's Berlin, but I hate dancing and just because I'm in Berlin it doesn't mean that if you're all dancing and I'm on my own in some club that I'm suddenly going to like dancing.

7am, then, and after dancing all night we're getting the train home from, like, omg the coolest club, like, ever. I had to text my England-stationed-bastion-of-hope-in-the-world to tell her that I was in a place that felt like:

...a mix between the house from Resident Evil and the club where Neo meets Trinity in The Matrix. Also don't be jealous and you're a total bitch who smells.

It was just one long roller-coaster of action that doesn't fit into much of a driving story. We hit another bar the next night and found it difficult to leave 'early' at 2am (we had to leave because we had to drive home the next day), because yet again the party was just getting started. That city just keeps going.

We, along with some of the German people we met, lamented a little the UK drinking culture and how, for us, its relative paucity of imagination was highlighted by this little trip. Not just little things that you get on the continent like, you know, being trusted as an adult to take a glass outside every now and then, but just the way in which the evening/morning is approached. I come from a small town in South Devon, and, on a Saturday night, the vomit stings your eyes and blue lights stink up the place. In Berlin, the capital city of Germany, this just...wasn't there. Not a hint of it.

Then again, we met a man outside the train station one night and he said, and I quote:

'...if Thom Yorke was in the same room as me, right now, I'd rape him so hard with a plastic dick that his arse would break into a hundred pieces.'

So I guess the civilised times are just where you find them.

That said, we want to go back, and hope that Germany can offer the same when we head to Hamburg in just another couple of days.

More road, more fun, more gigs, and we're going to try and bring Thom Yorke.

We hope you're well.

I'm going to spend the day tidying my little flat because I have an 'inspection' tomorrow.

It's good to be home.

I believe that's the Officially Sanctioned Motto of National Solidarity, anyway. That and 'Call Centre Positions Are Real Jobs', which we should repeat to ourselves over and over again, lest anybody begin to feel disenfranchised.

Heaven forfend.

Cheers,

Tim

Monday, 1 September 2014

'Something in the way she moves, affects me like no other mower.' - Something (it is a lawnmower) by The Beatle.

It's been about four weeks.
'My God...has it been that long? Martin! We've got to fly you into some of the past!'

That's how long it takes us to start living and lose all sense of 'band-time', only to regain the pace and begin again to watch the life drain out of us like dirty water in Norman Bates' bathtub.
There's a good excuse for our prolonged absence. The Northern hemisphere calls it 'Summer', and I hear that's exactly what it was. I wouldn't really know, as I've spent much of it inside, debating with my brain about whether it should debate with itself [we won!], and whistling along to The Bill theme tune. I've also eaten lots of vegetables because I hear they're food, now, and developed a cure for beard dandruff which involves covering your neck in anti-gravity hunting paint, submerging your head in a bucket of dead wasps, and blinking faster than a 1970s entertainer driving to buy a new computer. In my estimate the cure takes seven to ten years to take effect so here's hoping it works otherwise I'll have wasted the time I have spent on doing that to have the cure for it and stop it from being there when it is !have!
So, yes. You can see I've been busy and keeping on an even keel.
Trewin's been living on a farm, so it seems. He's had us over, once or twice, to ride the lawnmower [not rude] and paddle a little paddle boat around a great big god-damn lake. I tell you one thing, though: he never offered us a cup of tea. Not once. I'll never go there again; a situation in which I am doubtless the victor.
Jeb's been in his room, again, editing. Still.
I keep a little doll house of where everyone in the band is, so I can keep track and play with them and make them do things [not rude things!] when no-one else is around and when I'm just about to have a shower so I can properly picture what they're doing at all hours of the day without resorting to booting up the laptop and logging in to the 'safety-cam' network. The Jeb doll hasn't moved except for me to clean it up and wipe the tears of loneliness and fear from its face.
I threw the Trewin bit in the garden and I think a bird got it.
I take the Seryn bit in and out. Sometimes it's submerged in a glass of wine, surrounded by women's underwear and stuff, and sometimes it's in its room staring vacantly at the wall wondering why toenails, given sniff, do smell.
I sent the Ed bit around Europe and the UK in a sterilised envelope to simulate all of Ed's holidays that he's been on. I took the time to fumigate his part of the dolls house and plug in a Glade plug-in so that hopefully he'd forget about while he was out but ooh! a fresh surprise on his return.
There's some new music in the works, too, and we've had a couple of meetings and plans for going forward with a track or fifty and what we want to do and when we want to do it and, more importantly, why?
Why?
Well, for you, of course.
 














For you.
So that's our summer, post-tour.
We're off to Berlin on Thursday, which should be...you know. Nice.
We're looking forward to it a little bit.
If you're around (which let's face it, you probably are I mean it's only Berlin) then you should come.
Fun fun fun and back to work.
The evenings are getting dark again, too, which means I'm getting happier.
Enjoy the fruits of your labours, and the delights of your friends and family.
Unless you hate your job and other people, in which case just get by as best you can.
Watch a film, or something.
Bye.
Tim

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Toury Party.

 So here we are, then. Another attempt to balance the honesty of five idiots in a van with the need to publicly defend ourselves from any accusations that might come our way, or inadvertently create some sense that we are nothing more than a bunch of slobby losers who aren't right for your company.

'Hello? Bob? Fire those Phoria boys. What's that? No, I've never heard of them either.
What? We never hired them? You're a good man, Bob.'


We've just come home to Brighton. In an echo of our trip home from Nottingham after the first leg of our tour, we played the gig and then immediately left Manchester. Another multi-hour slog through Britain's midnight oil. Again I sat in the front, cajoling the drivers and making them question their own existence, all the while celebrating the end of the tour proper by drinking lots of rum and clouding the issue of my bronchus.

I can't say I didn't have a good time.

This was the set-up for most of the tour. Windows open in the sunshine, expressing ourselves through t-shirt tan lines and supermarket lunches. Dusty petrol stations and driving songs and catchphrases and the relentless rumble of Binky's diesel engine and the stench of cheese and dripped, fishy brine. Take your shoes off, put a smile on your face, and watch the frames of every chain store change before your eyes. Sometimes tall, sometimes old, sometimes sterile and worthless to visit but sometimes unusual and archetypal. It's a funny old country.

We lived mainly on kindness. Parents and friends of friends and family and strangers at gigs who'd put us up and leave us with a key as they went to work in the morning, leaving a note on the counter saying 'Help yourselves.'

Kettles were very important.

The business was good, too. Promoters varying wildly from those who don't arrive to those who do and dote on you. Ain't no food nowhere, to big pub-grub burgers that gave us reason to lick our ever more bonying fingers in public.

Man cannot live on carrots alone.

Sometimes smiles, sometimes grunts and a lift of the head. Who's the sound engineer? He's the friendly one, the quiet genius or the too-talkative fallabout who knows as much about what he's doing here as you do.

People are people. Ain't nobody perfect and this ain't no attack, but this is how a life like this be, if you're not aware.

So, resisting the urge to list every town and describe every drink and force every night into one hundred words of unreadably shuffled little letters; that's your lot. Maybe you got a sense of it.

Thanks to all those who came to the shows and deep thanks to all those who helped us on our way around the country.

I didn't think I missed Brighton as much as I did.

We're still moving – down to Farm Festival on Saturday. For some reason I don't see it as part of the tour, but some people say it is. I don't care. This is here, now.

Then it might be a little time off.

We might lock ourselves away; studiobound and writing. Who knows.

Maybe we'll put our feet up on the rocks of Brighton beach, and look at the sea for a while, waiting desperately for someone to recognise us.

Who knows.

Have fun, wherever you go, whomever you go there with.


Tim

Sunday, 27 July 2014

What else do you want from me?

                Trewin took a wrong turn.

                ‘This is the inner strata of the moon.’ I said.

                ‘I know,’ he said, ‘let me just do a u-ey.’

                Fucking bundles of particulated rock and bits everywhere. All grey and no light in there. We’d stumbled into our new network of anthill tunnels thanks to our little computerised map, which told us to turn right at Dulwich and then shoot four-hundred-thousand-kilometres-into-the-air and smash into the nearest ancient bag of rock we could find.

                Trewin was reversing.

                ‘You’re OK my side.’ said Jeb.

                The gear in the back fell down with a clang.

                The rear corners of the van were being smashed in now, struggling against the compact force of the fucking moon.

                ‘What are we doing here?’ said Seryn.
               
                ‘I don’t know,’ said Trewin, ‘but luckily Tim has this habit of lazily backing out from the interesting aspects of these accidental psychological investigations and introducing lazy post-modern excuses for meta-plots that suck all tension from the story faster than Niles Crane’s psychological probe.’

                ‘I understand that reference and what you’re trying to say.’, said Ed.

                I stayed quiet. The audiences here on Luna were of a greater size than those up and down our regular stretch of bum. The architecture here was better, too. Still large swathes of post-war influence, but post-‘year-of-Los-45-intergalactic-bosonic-mega-conflict’, rather than the whole 1945 thing. Rather more parochial, that one. Turns out from one of the markings that this old thing is a fragment of the skull of one of the animated rock giants who fought on behalf of the Emperor Beeg Chonsn.

                ‘The tour’s going well.’ I piped up as glass smashed around us.

                ‘Where are the babes?’ asked Seryn.

                ‘They’re at the other gigs, for now.’ I said. ‘And mainly on Earth.’

                ‘I don’t want to go back.’ Said Jeb.

                ‘We don’t have to, if you don’t want to.’ Said Trewin.

                ‘Let’s fuck off into space, then.’ Said Ed.

                The van by now looked like a piece of over-frozen vegetable. Its well pencilled lines, its once ripe and bulging wheels, had given way to a wrinkled old prune; disastered in assuming that all this old dust would budge.

                We reached the moon’s surface, but not before having to get out and push. It was surprisingly easy, in zero gravity.

                A large silver bird with square blue wings swooped around us.
               
                ‘Hello.’ It said. ‘I’m your satty-nav-sat.’

                ‘Oh!’ said Seryn, ‘You’re a stimpsons!’

                The bird turned toward us.

                ‘How’s the tour going?’ It asked.

                ‘It’s difficult to say, really.’, I said. ‘The drives are long but fun, the crowds vary between thin and thick but are always friendly, we’ve had a few upsets, we’ve had a few pleasant surprises, we’ve had a few strokes of luck and a few attempts to buy our legs at half-price. Some people have been good, some people have been bad. We’ve been up and down like a yoyo (though nobody’s thought of cutting the string), and sometimes, sometimes, we sit quietly as the landscape strokes our sides, thinking about how sweet all of this really is.’

                ‘Do you want to be friends, then?’ It asked. I got the impression it wasn’t really listening.

                ‘What, after you took us all the way out here? Is that why you brought us here, to ask if we want to be your friend?’

                ‘More than that.’ It said, as five tiny holes appeared around its reflective belly.

                It grew larger as its atoms trickled down to the moon’s surface. Far away, the Earth turned into a giant, judging eye.

                The bird put its vast, hot wings around us.

                ‘I thought we could just…you know…hang out for a little while?’

                --

                Cindy was crying.

                Green emerald dress and smooth blonde, curled with precision and a new, natural maturity.

                ‘But Dad!’ she whined through bubbles of black liquid, ‘It’s my birthday! Why do we have to do what you say all the time? I got all dressed up for nothing!’
               
                ‘Just a second, dear.’ He said, his fingers smarting from loading Cindy’s chair into the boot, but still tapping furiously on the little blue screen that illuminated the cabin of the car.

                He’d texted Cindy’s mother, already.

                ‘Gna b l8.’

                She’d received it as the last few invited guests had arrived, flustered.

                ‘We had a little trouble finding the place.’

                ‘Dad! Daaaaaad!’ through tears and tears.

                Her fist thumped against the rear window.

                The car now rocked with frustration.

                ‘Just a second, honey!’ he said.

                Then, under his breath.

                ‘Fucking sat-nav’s gone.’

                Oh, and someone else, taking in the scent of the forest, their fingers hovering lightly over the bark of a crumbling tree, watched all of this, trying to make out in the dim light if the driver’s side door was unlocked.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The touring test.

Where have you been?

We've been to Nottingham and Leeds, on the first, very tiny leg of our tour. Sorry to those in Glasgow who waited, with flowers and chocolates and other gifts and warm hearts, no doubt, for our scheduled arrival. We had to postpone. We'll be there soon enough, I hope.

Vanny van van, up to Nottingham. Looong vanny van van. Straight in, straight to the Rescue Rooms venue. Park up, load out, then follow one of the members of the other band around a million and one corners and roundabouts around and around again to our designated parking zone. Up and about, wrong turn after wrong turn, bundling around in our oversized van. 

Tired, then...soundcheck and...where's the dressing room? Oh, it's upstairs, up through another myriad maze of corridors and carpetless staircases and fire exits. Tired...

Tired...

Corners and unseen protractions of space and locked doors and unlockable doors so you have to press the button that resides on your right ankle if you hop on your left. Press it and then apply no more than 5lbs of pressure but no less than the gravitational force of the world's most recently birthed sheep. That's it. Now, the next door is a bit more tricky...

...but

WHAT'S THIS? A comfortable room filled with FOOD and a fridge filled with COLD BEER and WATER and HAM and LETTUCE and CRISPS and CARAMELLY BISCUITS. TELEVISION and an XBOX and a LARGE, CLEAN TOILET and all sorts of wonders. Nottingham makes you work for your destination, but boy were we happy to come across food for five and a kettle and a well stocked white box full of cold stuff. Nothing more settling for the 'first date of the tour'.

Really nice gig, really nice people coming up to us afterwards – thank you all for your kind words and support. If you're coming to one of our future gigs and aren't sure if you should come up and slobber over us once we've finished our mind-blowing set, then don't hesitate – just do it. We're nice, sometimes, and we will tell stories about you to each other in the van, afterwards.

We had time to spare, then, following the Glasgow cancellation, so we got to hang out in the city and spend some time with our totally random and very generous host who put us up for NOTHING but love and a cheap meal. We saw her giant print of a piece of broccoli that she'd hitch-hiked back from Barcelona, and made a pretty much consistent racket in her dining room with our new found table football obsession.

We went shopping, like professionals do, and it turned out that later in the day, on a stroll, after visiting one of the many characterful pubs that Nottingham has to offer, that Jeb, Ed, and Seryn, wondering about in the street, had been recognised by someone working in one of the shops. I don't think we've been recognised in the street before. The worker, however, was too shy to come out and say 'Hello' and so, apparently, her friend/co-worker had come out to tell these three fools that there was someone inside who wanted to say 'Hello' but was too shy.

Shy, too, however, were these fame-stricken fellows, unaware of how to take this as anything but news.

'Cool!', then, was apparently the comment of the day. Their resultant shame and embarrassment at not having gone in to say 'Hello', when I met up with them again later, was a joy to watch. They too, it seems, turn shy when presented with these situations they are not used to. I would, obviously, have promptly marched into the store raspberrying my own triumphant fanfare, scaring any would-be conversationalist into submission before their gag reflex could get them fired from their work.

These three superstars, however, struck by indecision and too much Curb your enthusiasm, carried on about their day in anxious awkwardness and indecision, leaving, no doubt, a curled up heap of Phoria fanhood fastened to the floor, the dents made by knees on carpet healing only as quickly as the hope-shaped hole punctuated into this poor person's psyche.

Anyway. A non-story, but a little insight into the curious oddities that can, on occasion, beset us.

Onwards, then, after much wine and whisky, to Leeds, where it was hot.

We hit the 'waiting' wall, a little. Trapped in the van between the back of the venue and a commercial car park, humming, 'hacking the sack' as those boys do, and just...waiting.

A nice gig, not without its slight technical difficulties, but still those who came were again kind and enthusiastic.

'I want to get home, tonight.' - Trewin.

Leeds to Brighton, then, leaving at about 23:30.

Mission.

Coffee and Subway.

Another service station. Another grand palace of worship to the consumption of convenient foodstuffs and cold, white floors. More toilets, designed like a labyrinth where every door leads to a new hell. The doors to someone else's floating poo are adjacent and unmarked.

Some of them kipped, from time to time. I was front-row-centre, jeering the two swapping drivers into wakefulness with cigarettes and mint humbugs and the standard 2am conversational patter. Grotesque scenes of a sexual nature, twisted into necessary decisions. Would you rather? What would you do if? Which pop singer/musician leaves traces of his fingers behind? Eh? Can you guess?

Prints.

Prince.

Long.

Drive.

Home at 6am. No sleep since Nottingham. We even hit a traffic jam at 3am on a diversion from the M1. In a fit of joy, we took the nearest capillary lane that lead South. One wrong turn turned it into a horseshoe. Back in the queue. Where does this lane take us?

Someone else's farm.

Back in the queue.

So now we have a couple of days off in Brighton before Leicester on Tuesday.

Here are the dates:

22nd July - The Cookie Jar, LEICESTER
23rd July - Oakford Social Club, READING
24th July - 60 Million Postcards, BOURNEMOUTH
25th July - Birdcage, BRISTOL
26th July - The Sunflower Lounge, BIRMINGHAM
29th July - The Castle, MANCHESTER
2nd August - Farm Festival, BRUTON

Come and see us, do.

We're much more interesting than these posts make us appear, and much more likely to sell you merchandise and give you aural pleasure.

Sit correctly.

Tim


P.S. If you live in any of those cities and want to have some fun and give us somewhere to sleep, get in touch through any channel you can think of. Facebook, email, twitter...

We'll try our best to make it worth your while and something else about sleeping at yours for free, please.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A perverse crossover of earnestness and crippling 21st Century anxiety.

Five-thirty.

Five-thirty in the morning.

I didn't even want to go to Abbey Road. Who's ever recorded anything there, eh? Eh? Come on. For goodness' sake.

Five-thirty in the god damn morning.

Still, Ed knocked on the door of the Phoria house looking chipper. Sez rolled out in the way that he does, all silky hair and a distinct focus on 'breakfast time'. Trewin, as usual, was full of beans – throwing van keys in the air and what-not as he talks to you.

I slept through the A27, needing a tea.

London traffic. A sea of cars sitting dead in the shitty morning sun. Everyone beeping and sitting perfectly motionless, except for the people adjusting their hair or their make-up. Seryn.

So, traffic – which is what happens when you flood an inlet – and then bundling across the pavement like a wagon in the wild west. In through the out gate. Honestly. And who says rock and roll is dead?

We slither out, excitable but...focussed.

Sign in at reception. Sign in for your session at Abbey Road.

'Yes , Hi. We're here for the session with x at Studio three.'

Mmmm.

And then we're in! Skipping down the halls, as you do, into the first open door. All dark and wood. All deep red rug and dead headspace. The peace of the treated walls hits you in the chest. A meet and greet, suddenly. The students we'd be working with. This was all set up by Berkeley, Boston. It's their session, but they pretend it's ours.

Handshakes. 'Hello.'

They're all clean. I slept in Jeb's bed (his presence in all but scent is regrettably ommitted from this story), and am who I am, so you can imagine how I felt. I'd just been in the back of a stinking van after a four-thirty start, so how do you think I was? Why did I suddenly have to face fifteen or so grinning Americans?

No, no. I kid, of course. 

Really.
 
So setting up guitars, then. Setting up guitars in Studio 3 of Abbey Road studios. No big deal, really. It's not like I've wanted this exact moment for the entirety of my colourful career so far, noodling around after school playing Guns n' Roses covers, all the while dreaming of doing exactly this, here, right now, strumming my freshly-strung telecaster in the same place any teenage hero I dare mention had strummed their own, so to speak.

So I played a little Pink Floyd. And the whole band, having set up, segued into a kind of chilled out funk jam for a couple of minutes. Ed was on a real Rhodes.

Man.

Time to work.

CRICKETS!

The fire alarms in the building, it turns out, we're being picked up by our guitars, and were forcing the sound of chirruping crickets down the microphones.

Numerous solutions were saught.

Trewin ended up sitting like a Yogi, trying to angle his guitar away from anything,to stop the buzz.

Still, we've just started recording, so sshhhhh. Quiet in the studio.

Cameras. Cameras everywhere. Everyone's documenting everything.

I found out later that there had been two ambient mikes placed in the studio, so as to record the goings on during the session. I'm a nice man (don't look at me like that) and don't often say things that I mean out of turn, but...now the paranoia strikes. What if I made a bad joke? What if I was having some fun just being a little bitch? I'm sure I didn't say anything. Oooh. I know I screamed. A lot. But then, that's just what I do.

40 odd takes of two halves of a song, in the end. Jesus, lads. Get your acts together. They don't call me Three-minute Douglas for nothing, you know.

Everyone's in and out – not knowing where to go or where they should be, but focussed. Always moving with purpose, despite not knowing how best to fulfil it.

Lay down the bass, Tim.

Synth was easy enough. Bass guitar was not. My hand had become a lump of lead. I played my balls off and, on holding the last note of the last take, screamed over a sustained note as I held back my left pinky, which was cramping its way towards the fretboard, ready to ruin my good time.

I showed it, though. I told it who was boss.

An original Hammond through a Leslie speaker. Our balls were literally exploding into dust at the sounds and the toys and the atmosphere and the people. Ed could have been skipping through a field of marigolds. Trewin had his eyes on everything.

It's a fucking magical place, I tell you.

FREE LUNCH AND DINNER.

Say. No. Mawah.

Back to Connie's. She's a violin player, playing in the quartet (made a quintet by the appearance of her fabulous bass player friend), for a quick beer and, good lord, sleep.

Do we sleep?

Do we?

God, we peeled ourselves off the floor that next morning.

I had to look at the financial district of London through caffeine-free and sleepless eyes. I had to watch the wankers in the back of their cars, skimming a little bit off everything, causing all the problems that we are told they are the answer to. It was one hell of an energising hour.

And I had the day off, on day two! I'd played my three god-damn instruments. It was the turn of the string-quairntet, and a bit of piano, and Trewin's vocals. One of the most magical moments was when Trewin, attempting the vocal track, very quietly asked for the lights to be turned off, and in the control room we were left in complete darkness but for the panoramic glow of the mixing desk. I just stared and listened, one of which things is something that I have never done before, ever.

And...I mean...it just happened. I spent the rest of the time at the back, getting drawn unnecessarily into an offensive joke swap. I swear, mum – I don't know any. We just...hung out and chatted with these fascinating and wonderfully friendly American students and, clearly, very kind, humble, and inspiring staff.

Their professionalism out-marked mine by a-thousand-to-one.

But I played Pink Floyd in Studio 3 at Abbey Road, which they didn't.

Then, Connie's. Or maybe not?

'I could go home.' (Not my words.)

Ah, a car park debate.

'If we ever come against an option where we choose whether to be men, or mice,' said Trewin, 'can we choose to be men?'

Agreed.

Back to Connie's. Again. More beer, this time.

More getting a knock from a frustrated neighbour because we were waking little children across the complex.

More dancing to tunes we didn't know., in our alcohol soaked pyjamas.

After all, we'd just been to Abbey Road, and we didn't have to wake up at three-thirty the next day.

I'm still getting over it.

We're on tour, next. Let's see how it goes.

Have fun, whatever you choose to play in Studio 3 of Abbey Road Studios.

I know I played fucking Pink Floyd.

Did you?

No.

Tim