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Last month I went to the United States of America masquerading as a musician with cult anarcho-punk deathrock legends Part1. That's cult as in "not very well known outside a very niche sub-culture". But still - America right? I mean, sure, it hastened the Sex Pistols' demise, drove Bernard Butler bananas and broke the spirit of pretty much every other band who'd ever crossed the pond apart from The Beatles, but at the very least it was going to be something to blabber on about on LiveJournal.

Of course the trouble with anarchists is that organisation is not their strong point. And the leap into the unknown was not helped by the fact that we'd been advised to delete any and all contact details of anyone who might actually know what was going on in order to foil Mulder & Scully or something. We'd also been instructed to fly separately, a point I refused to accede to since anyone who knows me will be aware that two things that strike fear and terror into my heart are (a) flying and (b) being alone with my own thoughts for any longer than is necessary. Particularly when the biggest news story of the day was of a depressed pilot who had just flown his passengers into an Alp.

That's Ireland that is!

Consequently Jake (singer) and I arrived at JFK to be met by absolutely no one and spent an hour or so wandering around wondering if the whole escapade was some kind of elaborate hoax. Although I was one of two members of the four-strong band who was actually in possession of a working phone, I had no useful numbers, nor did we even know where we were staying. Just as we started to run out of finger nails to chew off Mark (guitarist) arrived, full of apologies, and took us to our digs in deepest Brooklyn via the "scenic" route. I'd always thought Brooklyn was an area equivalent to, say, Camden or Brixton. However, it's massive - it's more like saying "South London" - and we must have spent close to an hour trying to find a bar or restaurant. The only bars were nail bars or hair salons and although there were dubious takeaway places galore, sitting down to eat did not appear to be high on the list of priorities of the residents of our adopted hood. Eventually we chanced upon an "Applebee's" - think Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse crossed with a Wetherspoon's populated by characters from a 70s Blaxploitation movie. I actually rather enjoyed it, particularly when our "hostess" - not to be confused with our "waitress" confusingly - hollered "Gee, you guys have ACCENTS!" Not as thick as yours love. Anyway, a rather pleasant evening was had by us and the staff must have been very taken with those quaint olde worlde accents of ours because they even staged a highly authentic "bar room brawl" between two large gentlemen who played the parts of gangsters in an impressively convincing manner.

The Three MustGetBeers

Somewhat optimistically I'd brought my running gear with me and set off on a jog around the block the next morning in order to try and get my bearings. But all I got was confused that the Broadway, Lexington and other familiar street names I chanced upon were most definitely not the ones you see on the telly. Unless you're watching The Wire.

Riding on a Subway Train - Jake and drummer.

On my return we were at last joined by our errant drummer who had been staying with what I'll diplomatically call a penpal and we all toodled off to meet our American record company, Sacred Bones, situated in a much trendier part of Brooklyn in an abandoned warehouse that reminded me very much of the old Playlouder offices. Their boss Caleb looked like a cross between Alan Moore and Rasputin. I liked him a lot. Even more so when they took us out for dinner at a trendy French restaurant. It was almost like being in a real band!

Dejeuner sur le concrete. Rasputin not pictured.

In retrospect it was probably a mistake to start drinking 12 hours before we went on stage but we really had no idea our American live debut would start so late. The gig was described as an "after show" but not in the usual sense that it's a party after a big gig, with perhaps some live entertainment. No, this was an aftershow in the sense that we had to wait until after the show that was actually on that night had finished and we could hi-jack the venue, an unsalubrious joint called the St Vitus Bar replete with skulls, where the VIP wristbands were emblazoned with SATAN SAVES. You get the idea.

The glamour of life backstage.

Chaos reigned in terms of logistics with soundman, stage manager, promoter and assorted other personnel all volleying the blame between them, though I don't think any of them meant any ill will. They all had a lot more to worry about since our gig was just one of dozens taking place across the City - a bit like the Camden Crawl with less personal hygiene. The language barrier didn't help. Plectrum is not a common word in America it transpires. Nor did anyone have a satisfactory explanation for why the bass guitar I was eventually given was held together with masking tape. Still, it's punk rock, right? Who needs things like tuners and cables? We eventually crawled on stage at about two in the morning. Or 7am UK time. I was very tired, but we played what I thought was a decent, if ragged set. The audience was disappointingly muted, though. I'd had dreams of playing the Star Spangled Banner and stage-diving into an adoring crowd. Instead we limped off to a polite ripple of applause. Mind you, there were a handful of genuinely enthusiastic punters. "Man you guys are awesome! I've waited 30 years to see you live!" I felt a bit mean when I confessed I'd only been in the band for 18 months and had no idea about the rare early demos they were quizzing me about.

Still, not a disaster by any means. And we could write this one off as a dress rehearsal since Saturday night was going to be a return to the same venue and was bound to be better organised, right kids?


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2015 09:35 am (UTC)
Lovely stuff. I rented a bike when we stayed in Brooklyn (Greenpoint) and went for an explore. It pretty quickly stopped being Hipster Disneyland and I was in some areas I wasn't sure I was welcome. The ortho jewish bit was cool too.
May. 14th, 2015 08:23 pm (UTC)
I think Greenpoint may have been the area we were in? Or maybe where the record co was? Sounds familiar anyway. A bike would have been a good idea. We saw a lot of the chosen people wandering about for sure.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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