Pennyblackmusic Presents: Heist & Idiot Son + The Volunteered & Simon Bromide

Headlining are Heist with support from Idiot Son , The Volunteered and Simon Bromide
Hosted at the Water Rats London, Saturday 10th September. Doors open 7:30; First band on at 7:45; Admission £10 on the door or £8 in advance from We got Tickets
Located at ....... Click here to view in Goggle Maps We look forward to seeing you on the night. For more information Click here

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Flatmates - Part 4

  by Martin Whitehead

published: 13 / 1 / 2002

Flatmates - Part 4


Chapter 11: Dutch Tour May 1987 Back in January of 1987 we’d been phoned up by a Dutch promoter, Rob Berends of the Paperclip Agency, and asked to play some gigs in Holland. So it was that on the 1

Chapter 11: Dutch Tour May 1987 Back in January of 1987 we’d been phoned up by a Dutch promoter, Rob Berends of the Paperclip Agency, and asked to play some gigs in Holland. So it was that on the 12th May we bundled everything, including driver Jack Allen (father of Rodney) and reliable fan Jan Cox into a hired minibus and set out for Harwich to catch the ferry to Holland. That’s Jan pronounced "yarn" as in the Scandinavian for John, not Jan as in Janice. I think he’d appreciate me pointing that out you know. European promoters don’t pay badly, but when you’ve only had 2 indie singles out, you aren’t going to retire on playing 5 gigs in Holland. We covered the cost of the van hire and ferry crossing and made some pocket money, but the budget didn’t stretch to cabins on the ferry. I slept beneath a row of seats in one of the lounges and got shaken awake every time the engines changed speed. We arrived in the Hook of Holland the next morning not in the least bit bright eyed or bushy tailed. It was to set the tone for the rest of the week. Our first gig was in Den Haag, or The Hague. The club was large but the crowd was small, explained partly by the fact that the Dutch soccer club, Ajax, were playing in the final of the European Cup that night, which they incidentally won. Our Dutch support band for the whole tour, Buy Off The Bar, being from Amsterdam themselves were also fans of Ajax and so we watched the final with them in the dressing room. In accordance with the rule that whenever we went west from Bristol (Port Talbot, Coleford) the hospitality got markedly worse, the hospitality of the Dutch promoters couldn’t be faulted. Sandwiches were often provided upon arrival at the venue in addition to a cooked meal between soundcheck and show time. Beer and soft drinks were so plentiful that we ended up stashing half of what we were given in our guitar and drum cases. One promoter seemed genuinely disappointed that after having polished off a tray of beers we didn’t ask for more. We’d never had a promoter thrust more beer upon us before, but once our social faux pas had been explained we were happy to shout for "more beer, more beer". Jan was never one to pass by an offer of a beer and so he started on the rations that had been stashed away from the night before shortly after finding his seat in the minibus each morning. Despite his valiant attempts to lighten the load of the guitar cases we were still stashing up litres of beer, fruit juice and Coca-Cola every morning faster than Jan could drink it. We discovered that our driver, Jack Allen, was a man of many talents. A builder by trade he worked primarily for Michael Eavis on Worthy Farm, the site of the annual Glastonbury Festival. He also has the ability to sleep anywhere, through anything. We would soundcheck and Jack would lie on a bench, with lights being tested, drums soundchecked and bars being set up for the evening and sleep soundly for an hour or two. On arriving at someone’s house for the night, the host would make coffee and snacks and ask Jack if he wanted anything. "No I’ll just go to sleep thanks" and he would. He’d sit in an armchair surrounded by 6 or 8 people who’d all be talking and playing records and he’d sleep uninterrupted until the next morning. Every morning though, almost without fail we’d start off down the road on the left hand side. Not having Jack’s unique talent we’d all be catching up with our sleep so it wasn’t always apparent what was going on when Jack would say something like "These Dutch, they’re all crap drivers you know, look, these 2 cyclists are on my side of the road". Luckily someone would twig and shout from the back of the bus "On the right Jack, we’re in Holland, drive on the right!!!" Once we’d established it for the day he was fine and could drive 100 miles on the right hand side of the road without waivering, but it was just establishing the protocol every morning that would shake us. Holland isn’t a big country, and being generally flat and of a regular shape you can cross from one side of it to the other in about 2 hours. Most gigs were comfortably less than 2 hours away from the previous night’s gig, even allowing for traffic and finding the venue. Consequently we found ourselves with time to see the country. Most of this time was admittedly spent walking around the towns we had played the previous night and hanging out in cafés. Lovely as the Dutch are, and I think that throughout the whole of Europe they’re the most similar nation to the British, they can’t make a decent cup of tea. After a couple of days I was always asking for "very strong tea" at every café we stopped at. What arrived was invariably a cup of tea that could just about stick up for itself in a clash with a dash of milk. When we toured Germany a year later I carried a handful of English teabags in my jacket pocket for nearly 2 weeks to cover such eventualities, although it must be said that the Germans do make a more substantial brew. During one of our brief hops from venue to venue in Holland we stopped at the Allied War Cemetery at Arnhem. During World War 2, as Allied forces advanced towards Germany in the wake of the D-Day landings, the British 1st Airborne Division attempted to capture and hold the bridge over the Lower Rhine at Arnhem. Many troops were killed as they parachuted into the area surrounding the bridge. For those that survived the drop support that was supposed to arrive failed to materialise and the remainder died as their supplies and ammunition ran out. The cemetery was row upon row upon row of almost identical gravestones. In all over 1,600 Allied troops died in the failed bid to take the bridge. The sheer numbers of Allied troops that had died in this single incident was astounding in itself, but what was most sobering was their ages. Occasionally there would be the grave of an officer, perhaps as old as his early 30’s, but almost every grave was that of a young man aged between 18 and perhaps 22. This was barely much younger than ourselves and was the age of most of the people who had been coming to see us on the tour. Much is made of the way that children are often recruited into wars in Africa, but from where we were standing this didn’t look much better. The vast majority of the dead in that cemetery were hardly old enough to have finished a university education. We played many university gigs and would often come across student campaigns against fascism. Arnhem, and the dozens of other war graves like it are a monument to young people fighting fascism in its most real and starkest sense. Most of them were probably still schoolboys when the war broke out and were it not for the war would have been shop assistants, factory workers, bank clerks, delivery boys, miners, railwaymen, students or a hundred and one other occupations that people of our parents generation might have had that were preferable to occupying a grave in a foreign country. For all the hours I’d spent sitting dreaming and doodling in history classes at school, the hour or so we spent at Arnhem cemetery was a wake up slap in the face. For every single body buried in those cemeteries there must have been lots more young men, and even women, who were traumatised physically or mentally, or who simply experienced the terror of war, in a foreign country, without seeing their family or home for years. Sometimes it really is an education being in a band. Gig going in Europe seems to be done by people with absolutely no commitments during daylight hours. At Amsterdam we took to the stage at about 2 a.m. The soundman was doing 2 gigs that night - ours at De Stip and another at the club next door, so we had to wait for next door’s set to finish before we could start. The stage by this time was covered in broken glass and the crowd were so out of it we could have been anybody. Now I recall, we were so tired we could have been anybody. We got to sleep, I won’t say we got to bed, it was just cushions on Rob Berends floor, between 5 and 6 a.m., and we only had about a mile to travel home from the gig. The following day we walked around the centre of Amsterdam, all completely fazed. Sarah seemed worse than the rest of us… which is because she was. She collapsed in the middle of the street and was taken to hospital in Amsterdam. The gleaming and efficient Dutch health service enquired whether we’d all been taking drugs, and when we related our inexplicably clean lifestyles the doctors nodded but looked sceptical, and concluded there was no lasting damage. With a moderately clean bill of health and a couple of paracetamol they sent Sarah off again to be able to play the last 2 nights of the tour. The night after Amsterdam we played at Groningen. Buy Off The Bar included in their set a version of Television Personalities ‘Part Time Punks’ the lyrics of which were delivered in a committed but approximate style. This was where Rocker took the opportunity to establish his faltering solo career by joining BOTB as a guest vocalist for their rendition of ‘Part Time Punks’. Before leaving a barman gave us a box full of samples of tobacco in plastic sachets, each one just big enough for a couple of roll-ups. Jack, a roll-up smoker, got most of them as a bonus for getting home without markedly reducing the civilian population of Holland; but not before we’d cleared customs. In those far off pre-single market days, touring bands required a carnet to take musical equipment across borders. It was a list of everything of value you had, stamped by the customs of your home country and supposedly checked by the customs officers of every country you passed through. At the Dutch ferry port I handed the carnet to the customs officer who picked a couple of items off the list. "Number 12, Fender Telecaster guitar? - Goot. Number 21 - A snare drum? - Goot. And number 30 - A Fussbox. Goot! Now, your customs allowances. Do you have any wine, spirits or tobacco in excess of the permitted limits?" "Erm, no." Thinking he’d lulled us into a false sense of security he casually mentioned. "Do you have any illegal drugs in your possession?" "Er…I beg your pardon?" "Heroin, cocaine, LSD?" "……no." "Okay, thank you, have a nice crossing." I couldn’t help wondering if this was some cunning plan that would otherwise have ensured that, had the guitar cases been stuffed with cocaine rather than gallons of orange juice and 12 month old packets of Drum tobacco, I would have spilled the beans without putting up a fight. Alternatively is this just a symptom of the Dutch state’s relaxed attitude to drugs. "It’s really okay you know, we treat you like a responsible adult and if you were smuggling a kilo of heroin stuffed up your bum we’d completely trust you to tell us all about it." Either way, I’d like to know what seizure rate these guys achieve for drugs. Chapter 12: While you were gone It seemed that whilst we’d been celebrating Ajax’s victory, hanging out with the Dutch part time punks, enjoying Euro-hospitality and heaving to on the high seas, we’d been missing the fun at home. In my absence the local newspaper, The Bristol Evening Post, had called to interview me. Not that they’d suddenly gone all indie on us, but they’d wanted the inside scoop on my business dealings with the currently on the run from Interpol, double murderer, Kevin Long. Dave, my flatmate and 5 Year Plan keyboard player seized the moment and dished the dirt in a tabloid kiss and tell exposé and gained front page infamy with the following contribution; "A local musician who did not want to be identified said "He always seemed such a normal sort of bloke etc. etc"" It seemed that Kevin had not been inside (or even in Germany) for fiddling his expenses or killing his best friend in a drunken fight, but for murdering his wife. Within 6 months of his release he’d ripped so many people off in his pop promotions that he was forced to sell up (I’ll have the answering machine thanks) and do a runner to Spain. One of the bands he bounced a cheque on was The Bodines. When The Chesterfields played a gig in The Bodines home town of Manchester they received a visit from a couple of heavies hoping to find Kevin and extract payment from him in respect of the debt owed to The Bodines. It took a lot of persuasion to convince those guys that The Chesterfields weren’t hiding him in a spare guitar case. Following his arrest the papers didn’t go into any useful detail other than to say he’d killed his landlady, although we gathered later that his landlady was also his girlfriend. Suffice to say, he was banged up in the Costa Del Solitary confinement apparently waiting to be accompanied back to Blighty for his trial and conviction. Compilation tapes featuring Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’, Robyn Hitchcock’s ‘My Wife and my Dead Wife’, and anything by The Stranglers or The Police should be sent to Kevin Long, HMP Wormwood Scrubs…

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

digital downloads

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors