Joe Wilson's Diary
Written During The Course Of The Band's Career...
'Hum Of Plastic Part 1' - Dated Individually
15/7 My feet are cold. The luxury of tiled, summer floors is slightly offset by instant toe ice creams. This is a bit of a minor grumble in the face of bright sunshine and almost blue skies. I have swum for the first time in several years and am surprised by the rush of blood into lungs that haven't been flushed pink since I was a frisky teen. The test is whether the four of us can survive in a small house in deepest France, record an album, and not kill each other. It would be a shame if we only manage one at the expense of the other. Happy days.
The house we stay in has a very specific holiday home smell that brings up memories of a childhood I haven't actually had. I don't remember ever going anywhere sunny or French, so it must be a planted memory, that seeded by holiday programs I saw as a kiddie. Perhaps Judith Chalmers had some traumatic effect on me. Image this scene, a small boy sits in front of a television set. The door slams, and the set falls, crushing the small child. I am that child and the last image I see is Judith Chalmers orange face bearing down on me. This would explain the odd feeling I had when I first came here, an associated false memory, produced by seeing a sight that I had never previously seen.
17/7 Big tedious rows. Whenever we have gone or played in Manchester, we have always had massive stupid arguments. These would usually happen at restaurants, and it came to a point where I would rather eat apart from the band, because of the horrible inevitability of us being outside the Arndale centre screaming blue murder at each other. Its not that we hate each other, but rather there are undercurrents of unresolved issues. Anyway, to cut a long story short, this little corner of France is quickly becoming a facsimile of Manchester. This we should probably avoid. The big news is that it is properly hot, which actually makes for a lees tense atmosphere.
Before I left England, I heard on the radio an item about killing chickens. In the piece, the journalist refereed to the headless chickens as, "running around like small children". This daft metaphor puts me in mind of the amount of lizards I see scurrying around like headless children, moving so fast, that you only notice when they are gone. I would like to take them as some sort of signifier or metaphor, but in reality they are just cheeky little lizards scampering around.
18/7 I have The Fear today, which is a shame, since the weather is fantastic.
19/7 Not paralysed with the Fear today, which is nice. Last night was the evening of dreaming of animals. Liam claims he had a dream where he was being fucked by an Alsatian, which is possible, considering the amount of wild doggies, I hear chortling in the valley. Chris was doing some vocal take, late last night, and whenever he would hit certain notes, all the dogs would go mental. In a Julian Cope style solution, Liams dream could be explained in terms of grumpy canine vibes floating up hill, and going into liams room by mistake. Dave has also mentioned animal dreams, apparently he was watching some sports event, (I cant remember what kind) and a lion ran onto the pitch, attacking a sportsman. I think this is just some Aslan style religious image relating to some latent catholic thing. Which is nice. Animals have been present in real life too; giant centipedes in Liam's room and Dave found a glow-worm. Chris has been noticeably absent on the animal/insect axis, preferring to make music, which I suppose is the whole point of being here, rather than a Johnny Morris safari.
On a sinister note, a mysterious room has been found under the house, which we can't get at. I can only see through a crack in the door, and see crockery covered with cobwebs. Some kind of punishment room, I expect
20/7 as a postscript to the animal dream conversation, Dave has apparently also had a dream about a seal. I believe (but could be wrong) that male seals have large tusks, and female seals do not. When pressed, he claimed not to know the sex of the seal, which prevents any serious analysis. Sometimes a seal is just a seal.
Last night I left the house for the first time since I have been here. We all walked to the nearest village for a meal. The nearest village is actually an hours walk away, so the whole experience took on the feel of route march. No serious rows, just minor threats of antagonism.
Have decided to achieve a tan. World continues to turn.
21/7 Shooting stars! Now that is what I call country. Three successive bright sparkles across the French sky. In Damien: Omen 3, three stars align to show the exact location of the rebirth of Jesus Christ. This happens to be in England, somewhere near Salisbury plain, by the look of it. Damien is played by a pre famous, and still New Zealand Sam Neil. Is it possible that these three shooting stars hint at greatness below them, a drama played out under French skies? When I was a child I was accused of having messianic tendencies, and as I grew older, at the tiniest hint, I would cook for a large amount of people, using only the smallest amount of ingredients. Ha ha ha, IÕm so funny. I should go back to chatting about animal dreams. What I really should do is talk about the fine record we are putting together, but I am incapable of anything but free form chat.
22/7 Extremely hot. We travel to a nearby town, for a market. I buy a hat, and then the Fear descends while in a cafe full of freaks and non-freaks. The four of us sit about, Liam and Dave coping much better than Chris and myself. I don't really know what causes this, and it is very unusual for Chris to get freaked out. I'm usually the one who wants to run for it in public places. This eats up most of the day, so no real music done till evening. David and me go for a long walk in the hills, it is all long straight roads looping up and down. The main crops around here are corn and sunflowers. These line the roads on either side and are taller than us, meaning that you strut down leaf corridors, with a bright blue stripe above. The crops are irrigated with huge sprays of water, which loop in huge "u" shapes. One of these covers the road, so that the uninterrupted heat haze suddenly has a zone of heavy rain. The "Children of the Corn" atmosphere is suddenly changed in to a "Footloose" scene, all dancing about in the spray.
We are on tune number five and my hat make me look like one of Kid Creole's coconuts. I look the business, I can tell you. "Annie, I'm not your daddy" A discussion has erupted about whether Kid Creole was at any point in Grandmaster Flash and his Furious Five. I suspect Grandmaster Flash ("that's Mr Flash to you") was far more fun to be part of than being in Kid Creoles gang. Mind you Dave's newly washed hair resembles Ronnie Biggs hair and thus would suit Kid Creoles zoot suit garb.
23/7 I was woken up by electrical storms and bizarre dreams. I was in the record shop on Waterloo station when it was announced that Robbie Williams would be having a private party in the shop. He was helped in by a minder and was obviously coked out of his mind. His nostrils were bleeding and he was stumbling around. Now, the record shop on waterloo station is tiny, there is not enough room to swing a kitten, let alone an addled pop star. He kept coming up to me a shouting at me, "You're a cunt, you wanker, etc" I just kept appealing to his minder but he paid me no attention. It was at this point I woke up, and found that the storm had knocked our power off. The weather is crap, really grey and clammy, which kind of sums up how I feel. No matter where you are in the world, and whatever the weather, Sundays always creep around the corners and spoil your day.
The News of the World has printed names and addressees of convicted paedophiles, which seems a terrible moral barometer of the mood back in Britain. It seems the British public will not be happy until queen Victoria is back on the throne and we all salute the flag while burning witches on pyres built from banned texts. You get the government and media you deserve, if you aren't too careful.
24/7 Ian arrives today. Ian is the co writer of Sneaker Pimp material. You never see him in the photos, but you see his name on the credits. A bit like Don Black, but without the Cliff Richard style face. Double disasters have occurred, we have had a computer fail on us, requiring us to resort to desperate measures, such as placing a keyboard in the oven. This hasn't worked and has just made our kitchen hum of plastic. Disaster number two, in a series of two, was that I sat on my new Kid Creole hat.
25/7 A car pulls up in the drive, which usually causes us to panic for some reason. A pair of suspicious looking characters get out. For some reason, I am convinced that they from Interpol. A man and a woman, the woman slightly glamorous, the man, dark and quiet. Surprisingly, they turn out to be journalists, and interview Chris and Dave. To a background of lightning and spraying water, they chat away, drowned out by the thunder. It has been filthy weather all day.
26/7 The weather is still ghastly. The sheets of rain that curtain the villa, cause unusual animals to appear. A giant slug has started lugging its mud sausage form across a rug in Chris's room. I entertain fantasies of it crawling into Chris and eventually taking him over. He has a violently successful haircut, and is growing a pencil thin moustache. This looks fantastic and immensely suave, yet I don't think they can be linked to the slug movement. Sometimes it can feel as if animals are surrounding the house, all silently waiting until we slip, and then they will take us. There is pool man who comes once a week. He wears white shorts; tight tennis tops and has long sideburns and a moustache. He therefore looks breathtakingly cool, maintaining an effortless kind of calm and charm through sharp threads alone. I look forward to his weekly visits, and see them as a form of education. Mind you, I also enjoy the weekly visit from the dustmen, who all resemble chain smoking David Hasselhof types. I think only the pool dude and dustmen crew will save us from slug and wolverine attack. Its that or we will have to rely on the advice I have gathered from Puff Daddies latest smash; " I love you Jesus, you'll always be my best friend" I'm sure a man like Puff knows which side his bread is buttered as regards slugs.
27/7 In the morning, one of us have to go down to the nearby bar and collect our bread. Trudging down through the drizzle, I wonder why we are here. The bar is owned by an English couple, who supply "birds of a feather" style wanker dialogue. The atmosphere is distinctly Saturday night shit soap opera. The man could be played by the Labour party's Alisdair Darling, and she could be played by Glenda Jackson. I think Glenda Jackson would slash her delicate wrists if she found herself in a sitcom written by Marks and Gran. Surprisingly, he claims he recognises me from somewhere. He asks if I was in wormwood scrubs when he was. As far as I remember, I have not been to prison, so he must be thinking of someone else.
28/7 A short Science Fiction; "Jave stood erect for the first time in days. The blinking sand bounced of his lovely Yellow blonde hair. He had been tracking the Animals for days, across the airless dead desert of Aramis. Each day the sun bleached his lovely yellow hair, and burned his unusual arms. Each held a tattoo, a daily reminder of his days at the prison farm. There he had to forget the horrors of his surroundings, by indulging his addiction to preserves harvested from the space ants, that circled his prison bed. Jave had escaped by determination and a rare suave nature, rare in a man such as he, a native of the planet Fructus. Once free, he could return to his original task, tracking down the Animals, a breed who had killed his parents in cold green blood. " Am I not a mere Fructian?" he asked himself. As the droning days grew longer, he found it more difficult to hide his unnatural desires, but the baking planet was as devoid of the space ant, as it was of cool, clear water. Jave squinted at the sun, brushing sand off his exceptional arms. "I am ready for you now, you filthy bunch" he murmured through cracked and blistered lips."
The weather is better today, and we went to the local restaurant to eat together, last night.
"The Aramis sun beat down causing rippling sheets of air to billow in front Jave's sparkling crystal blue eyes. Each diamante sparkle refracted off his translucent orbs, making his aching brain twist and squirm like a maggot on a hook. "Damn this infernal inferno" Jave gasped. He had remained still for three days; the heat had sapped his Fructain blood, which was thin like his ideals. He had to find the Animals, but the heat made his solitary quest difficult. He needed brusque companionship to help him through. The manly Fructian race needed to the oily wrestling rings to relax, and these needed a manly companion with unusual arms to roll with. Jave sighed, and flicked his hair, involuntarily enjoying the suns rays bouncing off his bleached hair. Sometimes the Fructian could enjoy the simple pleasure of his magnificent body. Suddenly a sudden sound made him gasp and roll into the required Fructian tactical crouch. Through the sand he could see a water starved weed move across the surface of the ground. He knew of no moving plants indigenous to this desert world. Like a magnificent ocean liner pushing through an arctic ice flow, the weed pushed harder and revealed itself to be a humanoid form merely attached to the weed. Jave flinched in fear at the sudden arrival. Its face contorted into a cruel parody of a right thinking mans visage. " I am the Sand Weevil." He paused, the unholy genius of his words pulsating in Jave's beautiful head. " I am the guardian of the Sand and I will aid your living trail on this dusky hell-land."
It is really too hot now, but it beats the shitty rain. We are on tune number seven, so we are actually on schedule.
29/7 Work has staggered to a halt, under the influx of visitors. Erratic weather combined with only one car means there is a slight air trying to entertain the kiddies on a wet weekend in Bournemouth. Strangely homesick and rather bored. Last night was disturbed by Ian marching around talking to himself. I once stayed in a hotel in New York where I found that Ian has the ability to sleep with his eyes open. I have since found out that he also talks in his sleep. The combination is disastrous, meaning that it is difficult to tell if his conscious or not, especially when he his incoherently ranting at you.
30/7 Mind crushingly dull day. Nothing going for it all. I have to admit that today I wish I wasn't here at all.
31/7 Last night I was woken by shouting. "Hello HELLO. HELLO, oh shit, oh no, SHIT HELLO, oh no" Dave yells at me, "Its Ian, he must be in trouble." I think he must be locked outside or something. I run outside to find that Ian is infact in the kitchen. He is holding the handset of the telephone, which is no longer attached to the rest of the phone. He seems to be oblivious to this situation and is waving the phone around, shouting into thin air. "HELLO HELLO". I plug the phone back in and hand it back to him.
1/8 The Fear has been bubbling under all day. Feeling very creepy. I have burnt my legs and hurt my back. I cannot concentrate and feel very pissed off. We are on tune number nine. The cracks appear to show and then they are covered up, papered over until another day. We recorded Chris's vocals at the peak of the day, Chris bear chested with thick white sunblock plastered over his face. He looks very Apocalypse Now, especially in this heat. I'm inside at the mixing desk wearing my Kid Creole hat, with its inevitable arse dent. I am dizzy with heat and David has to go between me and Chris to sort levels and compressors out. The track will end up reflecting this atmosphere. I remember when we recorded Destroying Angel, we had been up for days and the heat in London was unbearable. We were drunk all the time, trying to describe the sound we wanted with empty bottles and microphones. Sometimes you blink and you are one year later than you thought you were, blink again and you are back in the present.
"Meanwhile the Animals sat and watched. They had stood on the top of the mountain for three Aramisian days. No normal creature could have withstood the throbbing member of the suns gaze. They lived by living under it, their skins blistering and puckering, but for every mercurial stab of focused primal energy their hides grew thicker and more resilient. Truly they were animals amongst men. Occasionally, they tried to string together sentences into words that rhymed. They could only communicate through rhyme or at very best, light sports such volleyball. Badminton tired them out, and chucking the Nickyclarkian Frisbee made them irritable."
2/8 "Captain Rowan Bungle stood upon the deck of the prison ship Vache. His cold glare was exacerbated by the fact that his eyeballs had been replaced with two glass facsimiles. His edictic brain however, was hard wired into a massive computer that had seen and lived in all known times. This combined with the captains' unerring ability to learn and practically understand nothing, meant that his blindness was no barrier to finding his way around the galaxy. Except in one respect, a daily torture that meant his cold hard features retained a permanent grimace. Tying the shoulder strap on the dungarees (a privilege denoting his rank and frigidity), Captain Bungle cast his savant brain back to the crisp features of Jave, the one man to have evaded is clammy grasp. He had to admire the Fructian and paused remembering his surprise at the advanced musculature of the man's arms. His glass eyes may not have seen them, but his moist palms did touch them. "One day, I will wear those arms like gloves" he growled.
Got up early today, to find a massive thunderstorm has cleared the air, making it much cooler. We start tune number ten today. Liam and Ian played football with some local kids yesterday. I hope Liam's competitive streak didn't lead to an influx of tiny childrens injuries, suddenly flooding local French hospitals. We have run out of things to say to each other, a side product of the isolation. I'm sure this will make no difference to anything.
David and Ian are practically living at our local bar, "Tony's". Each day they return in the morning with slightly more obtuse and conflicting reports. By the sound of it, it resembles "Ever Decreasing Circles" with more wife swapping and Stalinesque purges.
4/8 Small cuts everywhere. I turn around and bang! another little seam has opened. Some kind of paper cut genie, creeping up on my turned back. More rows last night, empty as paper bags.
5/8 Fight, fight, fight, tora, tora, tora.
6/8 Last night we went to eat at Tony's place. At about midnight, our collective paranoia kicked in. Tony came in, said he was going across the road for a few minutes and then locked us in the dining room. We were the only customers. We sat silently, each of us trying the locked doors with increasing panic. The only other exit was painted shut. Why had he locked us in, what did he not want us to see? Rosemary's Baby sprang to mind, Tony as high priest of some diabolist cult. As we were trying the doors again the painted door sprang open, propelled by a pair of fat slack jawed German Shepherds. The dogs whirled in to the room, rancid fur and saliva flying. I hate dogs at the best of times, but Alsatians really freak me. It is something about their arthritic gait, all lumpy hips and loose skin. Their bodies move with greater momentum than their fur can withstand, their skin arriving just after their paws have. Tony appears, all smiles. The locked doors were to prevent us being disturbed by the puppies. I begin to feel rather faint, general neuroses combined with the Fear and real big dogs makes for a twitchy end to the day.
8/8 Mice have gone through our rubbish. They have thrown tin foil around in an exuberant manner, making the lawn looking like the end of the London Marathon. Perhaps there is a mouse marathon around Bordeaux, like Ralph and his marvellous motorcycle. In Ralph and his marvellous motorcycle, he zooms around a hotel on a toy motorcycle. He uses half a Ping-Pong ball stuffed with cotton wool for a helmet. This has nothing to do with anything, but I always admired this mouse's ingenuity. He also propels the motorcycle through making the sound of a motorbike, but that is another story. We are on song number twelve, fuelled on tequila hangovers and vodka afternoon. David has been advising someone on what kind of swimming pool lining that they should have. He apparently is suggesting a Miles Davis cocaine swimming pool; the sides of entirely mirrored. I have a friend who I once tried to force into carpeting his house with Astroturf, he wasn't convinced, so I doubt that David's skills can force a grown man to mirror his pool. Tony appeared at the house today, bringing with him a French t.v. crew. He asked if I was the only one in, and when I said I was, he said "oh, how unfortunate". I think with that kind of attitude he can stuff his bar up his arse. The film crew resemble the Interpol pair who turned up a few weeks ago. I have a feeling that they are perhaps collating some bad information upon us, and Christ only knows there is enough, if only about the amount of glass we smash. The first three weeks, we couldn't have snapped glass if we tried; now it is an hourly occurrence. Wineglasses splinter and spiral, feet are pricked by errant shards.
"Jave and the man Weevil strode purposely into the night. The Aramisian sun lowered slightly in the dusk, the ever-oppressive heat lowering its guard. Jave and the Weevil had quickly assessed each other's various skills and found solidarity each other's physical oddities. Both beings were possessed by a vain streak, Jave for his highly desirable arms, the man Weevil for his highly talented hair. The man Weevils hair allowed him to keep his body at any desirable temperature. After they had finished grooming, they snacked on some nuts and crisps."
I can't really be bothered to keep up this short science fiction. My heart isn't really in it. I don't think that bodes well for a career as writer, or anything that requires any long-term discipline.
9/8 Superhot boiling hot sun. can't concentrate on rock..
11/8 Mice attacked in the middle of night again, I cannot keep up with their evening soirees. This combined with the purchase of incorrectly sized bin-liners has led to all out mess. I have two obsessions, dustbins and pylons. Mice figure in one and not the other. Today is the last day, we have to coil cables and unplug plugs. What do I have to show for this month? Well, we have thirteen songs, but I have broken my shoes and my swimming trunks have disintegrated. This means that I have to unplug things in my underpants. A bit like "Men in love", wrestling with wires by the light of the computer screen. I rock.
'Hum Of Plastic Part 2' - Dated Individually
21/8 So we have arrived back in London. I have to admit to an initial culture shock. This is caused by extra people, extra faces and extra words. I have acclimatised to the thoughts of just four other people (and the occasional Alsatian), and know there is the whole of London to deal with. We have also found that the people who owned the house that we stayed in, in France, have accused us of various crimes, such a projectile vomit over household appliances. This seems s extremely unreasonable and they claim that they needed teams of specially trained cleaners, who had to carefully examine the house in an "Adromida Strain" manner. This is just typical.
I spent yesterday enjoying the charm of household bleach. I remember having a friend years ago, who worked in a psychiatric hospital and a patient once threatened them with a syringe full of bleach. Having seen the effect a bucket of "Price Right Extra Thick Bleach" on a pair of jeans, I can only imagine the effect of a hastily introduced needlefull of the stuff on sensitive body. I have washed the trousers repeatedly, but I am failing to find a solution to the ever-present whiff of bleach.
Today we are doing some preparation for Chris’s collaboration with Double 99. This is a dance track rather than a euphemism for me Chris and David eating ice-cream, though the hot sun is beaming into our studio today, so the temptation is there.
22/8 The double 99 track is coming along nicely, soaring vocals and clanking acoustic. My trousers are still going crazy with bleach, but this is hasn’t been helped by me spilling a Thai soup down the front of them. Yesterday I saw a policeman having his hair cut. Several days before, I saw two policemen ordering a pizza. I seem to have hit a seam of coppers in out of character situations. I hope to see a policeman scratching his arse on a tennis court soon and one holding a baby in a black and white photo. While on the subject, I have also seen a pair of priests in Wimpy burger bar, but that was several years ago, when you still had Wimpy burgers. They had plates and everything. Once I was embarrassed by a family relative when I was a child, by them asking for cutlery in a McDonalds. If the relative had been a priest, I am sure it would have been a different story. Bon Jovi played Wembley stadium, and because they would be the last band to ever play there, Jon Bon Jovi said "Before these walls are torn down, they’re gonna have to come through me"
24/8 We have a record label. It is called Splinter, in homage to our previous album. At present we have three acts, The Servant, a fantastic glam new york style thing, Trash Money an idiotic house act and Robots in Disguise a pentangle meets stereolab band, led by Dee Plume and Sue Denim. They played a warm-up for Reading last night and me David and Chris went along with our Evil Record Company hats on. I like a schizophrenic lifestyle but unfortunately I think I played the card too well, and ended up as drunk as an A+R man on an expenses paid schmooze. Today I feel distinctly jittery and the thick sun isn’t helping either. I feel sick and shaky. In France and previously in America, constant sloppy hangovers seemed acceptable, the dry mouth and cloth eared daily grind an acceptable punishment for bad behaviour. Today it feels a sour reprimand from an unkind barmaid.
30/8 David has had some kind of housing crisis, which necessitates him staying in the studio. Previous tenants have included virtually all the band. When we were recording Splinter we all lived here by default, by the mere fact that we were working twenty-four hours a day. A hazy time at the best of times, at least people are in the studio, because of the passion of music, rather than the cold-hearted haze of booze/drugs/sleepless endless days. We are also trying to get our website up and pumping, so that you can actually read these dribblings.
Work wise, we are still putting the finishing touches to the third album demos and hopefully pursuing some remix work at the same time. Our studio is divided into one live room, and two control rooms. This means that the four of us can work on two separate projects at the same time. As my friend Jon remarked: "What does a mule do with two spinning wheels?"
4/9 One of the advantages of being incommunicado in France for a month, was that we avoided "Big Brother" and its associated trauma. We were distinctly having our own Orwell lost weekend in France anyway. So there I was watching some self-serving turd being chucked out of the house, when I recognised someone in the baying crowd. Looking dead mad. Davina Mcall interviewed everybody around him in the crowd, except him. He just winked at the camera, as if oblivious to the hundreds of punters spilling around him. It was all a bit Mark Chapman. I think Davina knew this and avoided him like the plague, avoiding his shotgun grin.
By coincidence, my flatmates have bought a close circuit television system. This has night vision and we have wired it up to a television in our living room. The idea of this is for us to record the activity of the insect nation that hives in my kitchen. The lights go off, the video recorder whirls and the little luminous animals wriggle out onto the linoleum. This was the idea anyway, but in practise, we all sit about watching each other mixing white Russians, complaining about mixing technique, volumes, textures etc.. I expect this is what happens in Sisqo’s house. I have found out that another friend (actually in the presence of the Mark Chapman dude in paragraph one) recently breakdanced nude in a ski resort for some kind of dare. Nude breakdancing can only be a good thing, but only for the risks it implies, scraping flesh on squares of lino. At least the nude breakdancers lino would be free of food and maggots, unlike my own lino.
"Assault on Precinct 13" was shown on TV at the weekend. What a supurb thing, even if just for John Carpenter’s music. He may be a tired old reactionary and him and Kurt Russell can fuck off in to their ivory republican tower, but boy can he make a shite old synth bang away with a threatening throb, that would warm the hardest heart. I recently bought John Carpenters soundtrack for Halloween and this make s for terrible background music on a sunny day. It is not so much the music as the spoken Donald Pleasance segments that are in between every track. The hot sun is diluted by Donald intoning every few minutes "He is not a man, he is inhuman." to a background of thunderstorms.
6/9 The album continues. Last night I forgot that my housemates had installed a security camera in our kitchen. While changing channels on the TV I was shocked and terrified to see myself staring back out of the television. According to the newspapers today, Noel Gallagher and Meg Mathews have split up, which is obviously a great shame, as they both did a tremendous amount for the community at large. With them apart their contribution to soceity can only be less. I can only really enjoy myself by laughing at other people’s misfortune. As Gore Vidal said "It is not enough that I succeed, my friends must fail as well" I expect he was rather fed up as well, when he grumpily announced this. Apparently, Wembley Stadium is still being knocked down despite Jon Bon Jovi’s statement that "they would have to come through him".
The best documentary I have ever seen was shown on television last night, the disastrous unravelling of events surrounding the 1972 Munich Olympic kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes. It managed to be both illuminating and moving. You wanted it to be shown in schools. I wish I had seen that as a child rather than recreations of what it was like to live in Victorian times. The main success of the programme was that it managed to present the terrorists without any kind of naive Red Army Faction/ Baader Meinhof/Patty Hearst chic. It being the seventies, I think this would have probably have been relatively easy to do, even the police looked cool, all seventies tight sportswear, flares and machine guns. Sometimes television seems so perfect, carrying a fantastic blend of perfectly thought out information and massively irrelevant froth. No other medium seems this delightfully schizophrenic.
13/9 Nostalgia is in the air. The heady scent of national hysteria has spread of the country. Petrol is in short supply and people are panicking on forecourts up and down the street. It is brilliant and hopefully will end with people pushing their cars of cliff tops. Everybody else has gone to the premiere of Jennifer Lopez’s new film, "The Cell". I have gone home instead to watch a documentary on Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Going to film premiere is one of the most bizarre things a person can do. We went to see the premiere of the Saint in Los Angeles and sat behind Duran Duran. Recently I found in a charity shop a box full of towelling wristbands. They were unopened and had on them Kajagoogoo and Duran Duran. I bought the Duran ones, as buying the Kajagoogoo ones would have been just plain stupid. This combined with the fuel crisis has increased the swell of nostalgia. When I was about ten or eleven, I would try to impress girls who I shared the craft table with, with my in-depth knowledge of the work the popular charts and the ups and downs of the cast of "Tenko". This was a show about women in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and horror that they had to deal with on a daily basis. Which brings me neatly back to Dexys midnight runners. Can you imagine any band today having the fantastic discipline to go for punishing runs each day? That kind of dedication only exists in S.A.W style manufactured groups. None of this detracts from the sheer unadulterated genius of the first Dexys record. It has that guttural excitement that touches all the best records, whether a Public Enemy or a Felt. I recently had a very sad fan boy moment, I found a single of "Lead Asbestos Lead Asbestos" by World Domination Enterprises and got all glassy eyed, remembering times of leaping around my bedroom as a greasy teen. Where are the World Domination Enterprise or Public Images, who wills save us now?
Apparently, the Cell was only okay.
17/9 "Futureworld" was only television last night. This is the superb sequel to "Westworld". I managed to incorrectly set the video recorder, and got some shit instead. I watched what turned out to be an extended item on Des Lynam, but as I was drunk he suddenly became Theodore Robert Bundy, wearing MY wristwatch.
18/9 Filthy weather, spitting rain that manages to get inside to your socks without touching the outside of your shoes. I am walking down to the studio, when I turned my ankle on the knackered Bermondsey pavement. This happens directly opposite the Zandra Rhodes design museum. This is an unfinished building that resembles a huge slice of Battenburg cake. The builders who work on the building always look despairing at the colour scheme of the walls, all dynamic orange and pulsing penis pink. The builders practically fall of their scaffolding in delight, when I fall in the street. They resemble the team of birds who shake themselves to a frenzy when Roobarb would do something stupid in "Roobarb and Custard". This collapse was an exact copy of an event that happened to me when ten years earlier. When I was sixteen I had what can only be described as a Walk. This strut led me to slip in a cartoon manner outside an underground station being renovated by a team of chortling builders. It was also witnessed by an unnamed man who would eventually edit a large music magazine. I would like to think that this event would have had some long-term effect on him, but I think it just made him laugh. Certainly I have never seen any heart felt columns on the subject.
19/9 This is a small mention about compilations. "Bubblegum Perfume" is a compilation album by the band Felt. It was released by Creation records in their pre pious phase and was the second compilation album the band had released. (the other one being on Cherry Red records). A compilation is usually a terrible way to be seized by a band, but this compilation, like Felt themselves was unlike any other record. Their myth ran that during the eighties they released ten singles and ten albums, and those singles were contained on this compilation. Each song was a heartfelt yelp in Lawrence’s voice, a Birmingham cross between Lou Reed and Jonathan Richmond. There are few other compilations of this genius. There is a Derek May compilation (whose title escapes me) that also fills this category. Two records, one steeped in New York 60’s underground and 70’s Midlands life and the other one a record born out of the60’s collapse of Detroit and the thriving dance underground that followed it. On the surface of it neither would appear to have much in common. Felt is all guitar jangle and Factory amphetamine strum, while Derek May is all glacial Electro discipline and inner city paranoia, but both have a ridiculous, almost comic integrity, and this is their link and this is why I believe they are genius records.
20/9 When I walk to work I pass under Blackfriars Bridge, which has escalated into a venue for over excited buskers. This has reached a peak with a series of opera singers.
27/9 We are in full rehearsal mode now. Because of the nature of our music, this is always a complicated process. The current set up is this. David is playing an acoustic drum kit, with four old school premiere pads. These are the same kind that would have been prevalent in the eighties and have a "Pigeon Street" funkiness to them. Liam is playing a unit that he has constructed himself, that he uses to trigger samples along with David. He also has some banks of filters to modify (i.e. ruin) the sounds with. The last set up he constructed for the Splinter tour took four people to carry it, so it is hoped that this one will be smaller and preferably made of Balsawood. Chris will sing a play guitar and a small hand held synth. I will play bass, acoustic, electric and do some backing singing. Rehearsals are always odd; the transition from recorded sound to live exuberance plus the added oddness of linking old songs with new.
5/10 We are still deep in rehearsal, but today we break to have a PhotoShop. This is unusually exciting today, for some reason it seems quite different to previous photoshoots. The usual facile nature of them has been replaced by a sense of glamour. It is a rare occasion when you actually feel like a popstar. The only difficulty is that we are apparently in a hurry to deliver some photographs to some agency in New York.
Radiohead album has been released to much brow and chest beating. Nevermind eh?
15/10 Hello again. Today a smallish Sneaker warm up tour begins. We are previewing new material from our third album. The music is still moving and impermanent and so what a lot of these gigs are about is seeing what connects and what doesn’t.
Aldershot is first on the list. I have never been here and it has the reputation of being a squaddie town, due to the presence of a massive army cloud, actually called "Aldershot, Military town" This does not bode well. We are sharing our van with our support act, Robots in Disguise, so that the van is fizzing with chirping and burping energy. We pass Birdworld and Legoland on the motorway. I went to Birdworld when I was at school, though it could have been Butterflyworld. I only remember vast tracts of netting and the sun being blocked out by the fluttering wings caught in the wire mesh. You would look up and see a moving black cloud, speckled with tiny pinpricks of light. Legoland was not built until I was at art school, but I would have dearly loved to have gone to a similar establishment. At that time, the only Legoland was in Denmark, and thus was beyond the resources of a ten-year-old boy. The Legoland in England was built upon the ashes of Windsor Safari Park, a terrible place. You can witness it in the film "Omen". Damien is inside a car with his step parents, Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, and they are driving through the monkey enclosure. The monkeys sense the devil in the midst and throw a collective wobbly, banging on the windscreen and shrieking. Windsor Safari Park had a similar effect on myself when I was a child. The School took me and my little friends to the Park on a verity of dismal occasions.
We pass a giant man made out of straw bales.
The van rumbles on and it quickly becomes apparent that I should have had a piss before I left. Dave usually is the one with the bladder stupidity, but he is busy nursing his hand, having crushed it in a piece of drum hardware. There was a point when I think he thought he had severed his digits. He then lashed out and booted anything that came within toe distance. This included by default, a weighing machine and myself. The gig looms up, as we pass a boutique called "Mutts Corner: the caring groomer". I think this bodes well for the evening.
16/10 Today we play Portsmouth. The gig last night was very good and the venue was pleasantly surprising. There was a strange return back to London and I found myself starving back at my flat in the middle of the night. I eat leftover Chinese meal from the bin and I found myself constantly surprised by the depths that I will sink to. On the journey to Plymouth we pass a giant man made from grey plumbing pipes. The country seems to be in the grip of some kind of Pagan Arts and Crafts movement, judging by the number of "Wickerman" structures we pass on motorways.
17/10 Oxford is todays gig. Each night we return to London, rushing down empty motorways and then the opposite in the morning when the arteries are clogged and hungover. Today we pass Beaconscot Model Village and I am thrown into yet another spinning bout of nostalgia. "Little boy lost down memory lane" Beaconscot Model Village (herein known as B.M.V) was where my mother would take me on the last day of summer holiday. We would go and see "The Jungle Book" and then to B.M.V. I imagine that I cannot have seen "The Jungle Book" every summer, but the mind blurs childhood into on great smear. B.M.V was exactly that, a large suburban village reproduced in miniature, except for man sized paths to navigate round the tiny streets. There was also a miniature train service that bustled about. Every year, the local papers, "The Bucks Examiner" and "The Bucks Advertiser", both in their own ways newspapers in miniature, would whirl themselves into a lather about the latest act of vandalism that would be visited upon B.M.V. My personal favourite was the destruction of the Airport, and event simultaneous with the destruction of the Blue Peter garden.
The gig is dominated by a discussion of a red T-shirt that David owns. I cannot go into details of the of the conversation, they would make you want to kill yourself and everyone near you.
18/10 London. The Resistentialists were a spoof French philosophical movement, whose slogan was "Les choses sont contre nous" or "Things are against us" Today is one of those days. London shows are always a pain and extremely stressful. I am one of the D.J’s tonight as well, just to make life a bit more difficult. I wear a woollen tank top and tie for the gig, which proves to be a something of a mistake as I feel myself disappearing during the set. Life goes on. The next day I am caught underground in darkness on the tube at Earls Court, a body is on the line, and they have turned the electricity off. The train is silent in the way only embarrassed English people can be. The only noise is from excitable Brazilian tourists.
29/10 We fly to the USA today. If you are more than five feet tall, then flying is a nightmare. The instant we take off, the seat infront of my zooms backwards and cuts my kneecaps clean off. The instigators are a French couple look like Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. They look so cool and well designed that I don’t have the heart to tell them that they have maimed me. Our sound engineer Rex is tortured by some drunk kids in front of him. We finally arrive at our hotel, but not before a bizarre circular route evolving returning to the airport.
30/10 There are big parades strangling New York. The gig is zooming along, and we leave the stage and see if the people want anymore. The four of us are stuck on a staircase with a door at the top. Someone knocks to be let back down the stairs. I stand behind the door to let people out and I am trapped in the corner, I can hear Nile Rodgers voice and I can hear the rest of the band saying, "Where’s Joe? we’ve got to go back on stage!" I am preventing going onstage by being trapped by Nile Rodgers. The legendary Chic mastermind holds me hostage. This doesn’t prevent him being an extremely cool guy.
31/10 Halloween. We have a drunken lunch with our Best American Friend Bruce and discuss the Way of the World. A man apparently walked into David’s room in the middle of the night, David says it was due to the lack security of the hotel. This is the same excuse that the Queen used in the 80’s when a man broke into her residence. Liam saw David Bowie and Iman in the street and was going to ask him to take a photograph of him and his wife Gaynor. Me and a friend once chased around Camden Town to get a photograph of ourselves with Alice Cooper. Go to Central Park and discuss America, specifically cheese, standing on a massive rock. American food is fantastic, except for cheese, which was also pointed out by Lemmy from Motorhead, so we are in good company. Jet lag is beginning to kick in. I hallucinated seeing George Lucas at the gig last night. I subsequently dreamt that he had taken me against my will to Skywalker Ranch, which was run not by George Lucas but by Luke Skkyywalker from 2Live Crew. What can it mean? Absolutely nothing I say to myself as we board the plane to Los Angeles.
1/11 Los Angeles has gone nuts. In a city where nobody ever sets a real live human foot outside a car, Halloween has cast a million nutjobs in non-Halloween related costumes onto the streets. Togas and Winnie the Pooh outfits dance down La Cienega Boulevard. I have the Fear like I haven’t had the Fear since the last time I was here. We are crammed in a people carrier as a flood of freaks drool up against the glass. This is one giant cocaine comedown of a town and its opened its Gucci Again arms up to us. The gig is suitably fun.
We return to the Standard hotel, which has a glass case behind the reception desk in which contains a naked girl reading a book under a sheet. She looks unbearably bored, or else she just effecting (as Peter Cook put it in "Bedazzled"*) being "filled with inertia" The lobby (and frankly the whole of the state of California) are doing their best "I’m not really stuffed full of cocaine" faces. In to the bar walks a Goss brother, whether Matt or Luke I cannot tell. He looks stretched, tanned and glossy, like a World of Leather sofa. I want to recline across his face. *The Dudley Moore/Peter Cook genius film, not Liz Hurley piss-poor horror. One of my friends believes that this remake was made specifically to hurt him. Brain Wilson believed that his arch enemy Phill Spector made a feature film to freak him out too.
2/11 The staff at the Standard conspire to hurl David and Liam into the swimming pool. This was witnessed by Gary Kemp who was standing a balcony counting his royalties from "Gold" and other Spandau Ballet classics. We record a radio session for an LA radio station without mishap and the fly to San Francisco.
3/11 San Francisco. Nothing happens here except we get messy with Jagermeister. Pretty town though.
10/11 The election fiasco in the States has meant a recount in Florida. By bizarre coincidence we have a record called "Miami Counting " which is now being played a lot on the radio. Just call us zeitgeist. Back in the U.K it is very cold. My flatmates appear to have got satellite TV while I was away. Some things change and some things don’t. "Les choses sont contre nous" indeed.
'Abajo Del Pueblos' - Dated Individually
4/12 We are in the process of gearing up for another London show, this time at the L.A 2 in London. We played here a long time ago, supporting the Super Furry Animals. The gig was only interesting due to the fact that David had blue hair. Having blue hair seems to induce people to state the obvious, i.e. the only product of his hard days dyeing was that he receives shouts of "You’ve got blue hair!" as if he might be oblivious to this fact. Blue hair quickly becomes mousy brown hair, with additional blue streaks upon face when it starts to rain. I myself have had similar disasters on many different occasions, but this would usually occur around the same time as would also follow the twisted logic of a fourteen year old, e.g. if you have drunk one litre of cheap booze from one bottle, you should therefore be able to vomit one litre of sick back in to the same one litre bottle. On a train. Packed full of commuters.
Weather is extremely filthy, lots of wind and rain.
18/12 Well, we did a big London show. Greeeate
4/1 New Year. New years eve revolved around a lot of the Fear. Absolutely driven into the ground and paralysed by the stuff. I have made a major decision and decided to get hold of a bed. I have not had a bed since I was a child. With the band I was never in one place long enough to make a home for myself, so by default, I never had a bed either. But now its 2001, it seems ludite to continue to snooze openly on the floor. I buy a futon, in an attempt to make the transition from floor height to crotch level as short as possible. They tell me it will arrive between 7am and 2pm, which is fair enough, but by three o’clock I phone them up to demand an explanation of the tardy mattress arrival. A man phones back to tell me that a "fatal tragedy" has occurred, and this has prevented the delivery of my bed. I have no choice but to watch TV as he says the bed will arrive anytime "before 11 PM". I watch "the Godfather" parts one and two. He would have known what to do in this situation; there would no excuse allowed to prevent Brando lying down in moderate comfort. "Lovejoy" is on next, staring Ian Mcshane. He would certainly have come up with some mildly diverting confidence trick to repay the Futon Company for their shoddy delivery service. Tv in the afternoon gets no better, "as time goes by" a piss-poor attempt at comedy, staring Dame Judi Dench and Jeffery Palmer. The plot revolves around the construction of a wine rack. They both should be ashamed.
9/1 "Tales of the Unexpected" on TV. The only expected thing must be the delivery of the fucking bed. There were apparently only two episodes of this show, as I saw only two as a child, and now I see the same episodes twenty years later. Its also is one with a brain in a jar, and some guy breaking his spectacles on a desert island. I have actually managed to make it sound better than it was. Why can I never see "Sapphire and Steel" anymore?
10/1 Missed an eclipse of the moon tonight. I was on a train and people were practically chucking themselves under the rails to see the event. I think it is not the first time I have wilfully ignored an occasion / landmark / millennial event (delete where appropriate), but usually it is to try and annoy David. He shouts," Quick, look at that!" and then gets in a state when you refuse, "Well don’t look at it then!"
'Clothes That Make You Cry Part 1' - Dated Individually
I wear the clothes that make you cry - by Joe Wilson aged 27 and 1/3 - Part 01
15/3/01 Bus journeys resemble the Wolfgang Petersen film, "Das Boot". The cramped conditions, the sweat and the panic as the swaying of the bus propels baggage, books and booze tumbling. You wake in the night as it crawls up a sharp German incline, the clunk of gears jolting you awake. Your bowels twitch, longing for a non-moving toilet that can process the release of solid human waste. Up you get, trying not to wake the ten other people around you and make your way to the loo. The stench of blue chemical rinse hits you as you piss and for a moment you are grateful. Then you grumble back down the bus bumping shins and forehead on the swinging straps and handles that line the bus like jungle creepers. Climbing back into the humid bunk/ coffin combo, you fall back to sleep to dream of the pop star crashes of Bucks Fizz and Gloria Estefan.
Other than these worries, it is a great opportunity to travel and meet people.
16/3/01 When Kraftwerk wrote "Autobahn" I imagine they were not writing about any German road I have travelled on. We are still en route to Dresden, the endless road. We park up at a service station, outside a huge pornography supermarket that resembles the cover of Soft Cell’s "Non-stop Erotic Cabaret’. I walk up to the service station and buy wine. The level of civilisation in Europe is so fantastic that you can buy booze, hardcore pornography and C/S gas in a petrol station. I like to think of this as the new Holy Trinity. I suspect that football hooliganism could never really have taken off without the network of services. When I left England I had a Stalinesque purge on underwear and socks, any with holes thrown away. The Manager has appeared with a bunch of new socks. I think this is out of pity. I gratefully slip them on. We wake up at a different service station altogether, which makes me think somehow I have dreamt the whole experience, but no! the new socks are still on my feet.
We meet up with Placebo for the first gig of the tour. Talk turns to turds. A commonality of touring experiences is the universal horror of shit. It is the lowest common dominator of all bands and crews. You wake up, you need to shit, and you are prevented from doing so. Even Kraftwerk, the papal musical equivalent of God’s representative on earth, would have to go on a tour bus, and not be allowed to have a dump. Imagine that, Ralf and Florian, getting off their high geared, precision tooled bicycles, hugging and then complaining that there is nowhere to loose their precision tooled arseholes.
17/3/01 I have not had access to a showering facility for three days. Sitting in yet another car park I suspect I am losing the will to live. We are outside the German city of Offenbach. We had our first gig with Placebo, flown from the seat of our pants. Technical difficulties almost meant complete collapse, but thanks to the Herculean efforts of our outstanding crew we escaped unscathed. And Chris dodged death, which is nice. He tripped over a concrete bollard and fell directly underneath the front wheel of an enormous articulated lorry. It was cinematic. If this had been a blockbuster, and Chris had been a screen villain, it would have been the perfect coup de grace and his head would have exploded into a million pieces. As he is not (as far as I can tell) a supervillain, we all scramble about and are greatly relieved that he survives unharmed. It would have been the kind of death that the actor Michael Ironside would have experienced. It is worth noting that throughout several acting decades, he only experiences gore-based death. In "Scanners" (head explodes), "Iron Eagle" (plane explodes), "Starship Troopers" (Legs eaten) and "Total Recall" (arms cut off) he dies with messy aplomb. I would like to be an actor and have that kind of range. I would specialise in having my eyes popped out and it would be a theme that the audience would really enjoy, like trying to spot Alfred Hitchcock at the beginning of "Psycho" etc.
19/3/01 Wake up blind with booze. Stumble to the service station unable to read the signs. We are in France. Random acts of kindness are in my head. Last night Steve, the drummer from Placebo rolled up a piece of tape and used it to remove fluff from my suit. This seemed unreasonably tender and I was genuinely moved by it. The suit was pretty pleased too. Having said that, it didn’t stop me getting drunk as I could manage.
21/3/01 Paris has greeted me with a face and hairful of birdshit. Some sweet Parisian pigeon saw me gazing thoughtlessly at a metro map and decided to empty its diseased colon onto me. Shock generated from abject rage led me to curse the sky and any being capable of the merest flutter or hover. David had just bought some new socks and they were instantly sacrificed to wiping shit from me. I expect when Elton John wrote "Sacrifice"
he had just been arse bombed by a feathered friend.
We are playing in a massive tent next to a French science park. They have a submarine called "The Argonaut’ which looks sexy and dangerous, a pure piece of mechanical porn. Super Furry Animals used to have a tank and I want us to own a submarine. Now that would be cool, surfacing at each gig in a plume of water.
23/3/01 Today is the first day we have seen sunshine since the tour began. Yesterday we stayed at a grim motorway hotel outside the ring road around Bordeaux. There was nothing to do except sleep and watch dubbed television. Dubbed films raise several points. Does it mean that in France nobody actually knows what Sean Connery really sounds like? And does that also mean that maybe the same voiceover actor is used for Sean Connery since time began. Perhaps that voiceover actor has a parallel famous career to Sean, desperately hoping that Sean’s career stays buoyant so that his voice career stays equally buoyant. I watched "Dirty Harry" with dubbed voices and it then occurred that perhaps an unscrupulous actor could pervert the courses of a career by supplying a stupid voice, or speech impediment to a famous face."Maketh mythe daythe" indeed. As I write we have just crossed the border into Spain, the sky is blue, the sea is azure and I need to piss like a championship racehorse.
26/3/01 The tour diary has slowed for a very typical reason, that the computer had become lost on the bus. This happens easily with a bus full of fools. We have played Bilboa, which was a magnificent place; really beautiful with great wide streets filled with cafes and cheerful people. As usual we managed to spoil it by arguing and being filled with hate for each other. I don’t think any band truly likes each other, they merely tolerate - with little patches of love. We played Madrid the day before yesterday and yesterday we played Lisbon. The bus was blocked in at the end of the night by the streets being hemmed in by double-parked cars. The Spanish police escorted us out through one-way streets, and like royalty we bolted out of the city. I thought Lisbon was pretty cool, all narrow streets and faded glamour. It rained heavily all day but was very hot, steam rising off floodlit balconies into the fizzing rain. The crowd was the best we have had all tour, like a massive rolling football crowd. When I was on stage, you could see the humidity make a fog through which thousands of arms poked. Later on, watching Placebo, you could see how the crowd had become one single tidal mass, ebbing and flowing with the music.
Now we are deep in Spain again and the landscape has turned to red clay and giant mesa rock outcrops. We are on a 24-hour bus drive from Lisbon to Barcelona. The only living thing near us is a Hercules aeroplane flying parallel to the bus, other than that we could be alone as we zoom through Spanish desert. I miss too many things to count and the fantastical nature of the landscape only reminds me of the fragility of bus existence. I have finished all the books I brought with me already, so I cannot slink back to my bunk and read. We are nearing the two-week hiatus. Usually on a big tour, morale, fatigue and hangovers reach their lowest points after two weeks. That is the point when you think you cannot do this anymore, when it is just not enjoyable anymore and you hate yourself more than you hate other people. Then two weeks past and mysteriously it is all right again.. and suddenly it is alright, when Gaz our guitar technician puts on the Clash and everything hits a Zen like calm. We are nowhere and it is hot and "Guns of Brixton" is playing and it is like Paul Simion only wrote that song so that it could be played really loud on a hot bus in Spain 20 years later. I feel calm and everybody fades from me and it is just sounds and me and the Clash, I am filled with a cocaine like psychosis of being invincible. I thank the Clash for temporarily relieving me from the sheer unadulterated fucking pissing boredom that I feel. We are not on fucking holiday today; we are a workhorse like the poor nag whipped to death at the beginning of "Crime and Punishment". Ha ha ha ha.
27/3/01 Wake up in the dark. Forget that we had a hotel room last night and that the shutters are still down, removing any sense of time or place. I am sharing with David and he opens the shutters and bright Mediterranean light splashes in. It is hot, but with a cool breeze and my head is foggy with sleeping tablets. I feel guilty that I do not even know the name of the town today. We walk into the tiny Spanish town and wander around tight little markets, selling over sized underpants and t-shirts with weirdly comic English translations on them. I want to buy stuff but I know it will not fit or the sleeves will be too short, but I am consumed with a need to consume. We walk back to the hotel, through streets coated with communist slogans and hammer and sickles. They seem strangely comforting, a sign that somebody somewhere is interested in something, rather than a total English apolitical apathy. The bus leaves and we hurtle back into the void, off to Barcelona. The coastline follows on our right, little inlets and jetties, occasionally opening out into sparkling marinas. We tend to all gravitate to the front of the bus on days like these, when there is a landscape, a horizon, a moving tourist postcard, something to "ooh" and "ahh" at. I sometimes hate the fact that it seems so difficult to detach oneself from the direct effect the climate has on one. The sun comes out and the smile appears, the rain drops and gloom scurries on to my face. I wish it were possible to even out the mood swings into a more temperate profile.
'Clothes That Make You Cry Part 2' - Dated Individually
I wear the clothes that make you cry - by Joe Wilson aged 27 and 1/3 - Part 02
30/3/01 So can you name films where actors really eat unpleasant things? I can only think of Nic Cage eating cockroaches in something or other, or Divine in Pink Flamingos eating dog shit. There must be more, and I want a list compiled. The criteria is this, the eaten item must be absolutely authentic, i.e. real dogshit. Anyway we went to Marseilles, land of "French Connection Two", where Gene Hackman is forcibly addicted to heroin. The day before, we played in Barcelona and went up to Gaudi Park to see the architectural folly. Spanish cops buzzed about on tiny police motorbikes, flirting with the local girls. Gaudi Park was the must kitsch piece of architecture I have ever seen and it was fantastic.
Yesterday, we were stuck at a service station in the middle of Italy. The driver can only do a certain number of hours driving at a time and has to stop when his time is used up. Unfortunately this meant we were stranded in the middle of nowhere, on a bus with no electrical power. Myself and Andy the tour manager make a break for it out of the station into some nearby hills. We walk up and up rubbery roads by a large crematorium. Again I have no idea where in the world we are. It gets hotter and the clouds clear as we climb higher and higher. Eventually we reach a walled villa surrounded by trees. The walls are a faded orange and are very high. As we look up, we become aware of the silhouette of two large black Doberman pinchers. They growl as we get closer, until they complete freak out, woofing and yelping and spraying saliva. I point out that as Tour Manager, it is his responsibility to hand himself over to the dogs and allow them to rip him to pieces whilst I make good my escape. He doesn’t seem very keen, so we both make a run for it back down the hill. The rest of the day passes uneventfully, getting drunk on a blacked out bus until it finally leaves in the middle of the night. We arrive in Naples in the pouring rain and thunder. It is also extremely hot. I walk out of the venue into Naples through the heavy downpour. We seem to be in a giant car showroom. I buy a coffee and wait for the others to get up. We travel into town and watch David buy a charcoal grey suit. The staff laugh themselves silly at his flares.
31/3/01 Gig was exciting, with the security and ambulance staff far more excited and excitable than the actual fans. Strangely in Naples, the usually aloof local security and emergency crews behave like rabid teens, milling around and asking for autographs. The dressing room is overrun by ants. They start a little column from one corner and merrily stray over to a large bowl of sugar, in the opposite corner. This momentarily sends me back to my youth. When I was small I spent three months in traction in Stoke Manderville hospital. I had dramatically broken my leg, strolling down a football pitch. My reward was to have my entire body held in a state of paralysis. As I would lie there, cursing the world, I would watch columns of ants troop up my bedside table and into my bottle of Ribena.The only other memorable event would be Jimmy Saville’s visit every couple of weeks. Whenever he came on the ward I would demand the bedpan, and pretend that my bowels were on the move, so as to avoid meeting the man.
The police turn up, twirling machine guns and waving their berets about, like a little troop of Frank Spencers. There is an urgency to leave, as it all seems to be kicking off, and we hurry back onto the bus for it to scuttle out of Naples.
We wake up at another service station outside the town of Perugia. There is a lot of moaning about the bus falling apart or being hit by other vehicles in the night, but it seems to be okay. The only other thing to differentiate today from any other morning is that everybody seems to trying out new types of coughing. Some of these are quite phlegmy, some dry and brittle. I myself am aiming for a mucus-based rumble, with a dry after tickle. This worked quite well on stage yesterday, I thought. It was nicely distracting to have to back away from the microphone to cough in David’s direction.
1/4/01 Perugia turned into quite an adventure. Everybody in the venue, every band every crewmember every security member and ambulance staff was smashed out of their head. It was also Stefan from Placebo’s birthday. The day starts out badly, with me falling down a bank and getting covered in mud. It is hot so soon I am caked in a fine crust of crap. I break out of my shell, and look at the life size cast I have made of myself. Our gig is fairly uneventful, apart from being blind drunk and getting the giggles on stage. I go outside and get some fresh air. Prostitutes surround the bus. It takes me by surprise. There is a queue of cars unloading and picking up girls the length of the street. I go back inside and notice that the venue is again stuffed with armed Italian cops. They look very smart.
Placebo go on and then two songs in (one being "happy birthday") the barrier in front of the stage begins to collapse. This could be potentially fatal, and Placebo leave the stage. A heavy cloud of resentment enters the air and everything starts to go wrong. I hide out in the dressing room and decide to cut my hair to pass the time. Fortunately I am too drunk too control scissors properly and thus end up with an asymmetrical piece of hair sculpture. I cannot remember anything next until waking up in a service station outside Rome. The manager has just gone off to try and find some mice to feed with cheese. I cannot see any reason why today is going to be good at all. I am fed up of living on a bus and I am fed up of my band mates. The crew and the Tour manager are the only ones keeping me going.
3/4/01 Wake up in a field. Next to the bus is a flotilla of redundant pedalos. It resembles post war footage of dismantled or retired aircraft bombers. They stretch away into the distance, their white plastic surfaces coated in algae and fungus. Some are upturned, some are propped up on sticks of wood, and all look thoroughly miserable. I walk down to the beach. The sand is immaculate, except for the odd syringe or bleached out plastic bottle. This is where we will have our day off. This will actually be our first proper day off, since all the others have been in moving bus or at a service station. We have stayed two nights in a hotel in three weeks. Slowly the bus inmates get up and gravitate towards the sea front. The town is deserted, an out of season Italian holiday resort near Venice. A flock of children suddenly appear, swooping up and back into the sea, led by two adults in ties and tweed jackets. They offer sweets; "Now you can take any colour you like" I realise that they are not shockingly well organised paedophiles, but actually a pair of British Public school teacher with their pupils. It soon transpires that the only other inhabitants of this town are various parties of school kids. We lie on the beach and argue about whether a boat on the horizon or a tractor up the beach is responsible for the background noise we can hear. This is level of boredom we operate on. We talk about the same topics, day in, day out; drum triggers, girls and the band. You go on tour and you are reduced to the level of a moron. I am going to sell my brain before I go on tour next time. It is obviously an unused commodity (excess baggage?) on a moving bus. The night is much the same except for the parties of UK school kids are slightly older and desperate to throw bottles about and get drunk. It is a nice beach though.
4/3/01 We have the excitement of crossing borders today. Nothing puts you off travel more than dealing with cross-country interaction. Italy is far behind as we go into Croatia. We are poked and prodded by miserable border guards. I think we could be at any border in the world. They are all exactly the same. The same poor sods who have been awake all night, waiting for something to happen, some attempt at smuggling or international crisis. The result is that they pick on poor sods like us. So as I wake to someone shouting that they must see my face I thank God that I have joined a band. No, really.
I have never been to Zagreb, so am rather excited by the prospect. I walk about with David and help him choose some shoes to match his grey suit. I manage to buy the new Ladytron album, which will make a change from listening to the same two Stooges album over and over again. It is hot, with blue skies against the background of the battered buildings. We walk back over open train tracks to the daily routine of soundcheck and eating. I am wearing a suit which I plan to ritualistically burn at the end of the tour. If things go badly I might stay in it.
'Clothes That Make You Cry Part 3' - Dated Individually
I wear the clothes that make you cry - by Joe Wilson aged 27 and 1/3 - Part 03
5/4/01 As Earl Brutus sang, "I, I wear the clothes, that make you cry". I certainly do today. The stench from clothes that I have been unable to get washed for three weeks is becoming unbearable. The night before last we played in Zagreb and then we and Placebo managed to get as drunk as possible. Brian and I do a kind of soundclash DJ’ing, playing one tune after another. It is unusual for a bar or club to be intimate or relaxed enough to get Placebo into it without them getting hassled stupid , but tonight is such an occasion and Zagrebians saw both bands being drunk and silly. Placebo have the following day off, unlike us who wake in Ljubljana with disgusting, eye-popping hangovers and a headline gig to play.
Nothing happens. I eat a banana.
6/4/01 We are in Vienna, next to a massive fun fair. It seems neither of those things, but I’m sure that its heart is in the right place. David and I find a shop that sells only flares. It is utterly fantastic. We begin to wonder if it really exists at all -perhaps it is a magical shop that appears only at a full moon. I purchase a pair of tight green flares that outline my penis alarmingly. God help me, or anybody else, if I get an erection. I later find out that David had the same thought (about the shop, not my erection). The gig is filmed so we are slightly more reserved than usual. I am having trouble. I finish gigs and am immediately filled with gloom. It takes a good hour before I feel that I can be civil to anyone, especially those around me.
7/4/01 A building site in Prague. It is chucking it down. I feel more miserable than usual. I don’t feel like doing anything, going anywhere or talking to anyone. Manage to actually get out of my bunk, more by habit than desire. Go into town with David and march about without purpose, watching David’s hair curl in the rain. Then do a series of interviews with Chris in a conservatory, which leaks. As the cameras roll, drips plop on my head. This seems to sum up the day and I wonder if the interviewer thinks that I am crying. I don’t think I could summon that kind of emotion today.
8/4/01 In a bus in Poland. Slightly better mood today, despite bumpy roads and rain battering the bus. I seem to have pulled back from the brink, on which I was teetering on yesterday. Very good gig with lots of smiling faces in the crowd. There is quite a fun party afterwards as well, with everybody single-mindedly getting as fucked up as inhumanely possible.
Finally get hold of the new Daft Punk album. I spend the evening listening to it and find that I love it. I remember in the eighties journalist and Art of Noise member Paul Morley describing "Atmosphere" by Joy Division. He said, and I paraphrase heavily, "It seemed in that moment, Joy Division had put a final full stop on youth music", that "in that moment all had been said about teenage adolescence". A lot has been made of the fact that the Daft Punk record is so heavily indebted to the eighties, as is that of their contemporaries Phoenix. The record has reminded me of Paul Morley and his vox pop. I think "Discovery" sounds like a definitive full stop on the idea of voguishly referencing the eighties. Their use of vocoder seems to indicate a self-awareness of the lazy fashionable use of that instrument. The single "One more time" was seen as a trite piece of pop with an overused vocoder cliché. This seemed to be the whole point, a track about popularity, about making smoke from fire. It also seemed to be a track about dancefloors rather than homehi fis. This was indicated by the massive use of compression over the whole track. The music literally is sucked into each bass drum, an effect that will only really sound as intended on a big club P.A. I think it is great big fun pop record intended only to dance to, and that’s certainly all right by me.
The bus has broken down. In the middle of nowhere, a hundred miles outside Warsaw, on a Sunday. No emergency services are answering our phone calls. We are stranded in a bleak forest. It looks like the wood in the film "Millers Crossing" where John Tarrturro begs for his life to be spared. We have no food, no booze, no power and no local currency. Things couldn’t get more bleak. After two hours Gaz the genius guitar tech and Lloyd the driver manage to patch the pipe and get us limping towards Warsaw. Whether we make it remains to be seen.
9/4/01 The bus did break again and again Gaz and Lloyd perform a miracle that the bus might run again. As night drops like a black blanket over a grey wet day we find ourselves at a small hotel. The staff seem over friendly, to the point of offering us prostitutes and cocaine. I decline and go up to a weird room with beds that are too short for me. I am sharing with David, who immediately breaks the toilet. I watch dubbed Russian t.v. Instead of different voices for characters who are different sexes and ages, all voices are dubbed into Polish by the same male monotone. The grumbling drone from the TV is only broken up by the sound of David trying to fix the toilet. We all meet downstairs for food and eat fantastic Borscht and dumplings, with Polish beer. We do appear to be in some kind of brothel, but a mildly unthreatening one. The walls are covered with stuffed animals, strangely inappropriate, like tiny badgers. The pride of place seems to go to a stuffed weasel. Christopher sits with the weasel hovering above him like some saintly patron protector. I go to bed and watch "Police Academy" dubbed by the same gruff man. He sounds like he hates the film as much as I do. The same monotone serves suicidal drama and wanky comedy. David comes in later, white with fear and loathing having been forced to down Polish vodka repeatedly.
In the morning a man comes to fix the bus. Outside the bus the water-covered pavement is covered with thin pink worms. This I take to be a sign for the impending day. We do lots of interviews, the first man telling us that "You are unpopular in Poland". I assume he means the band rather than me personally, but either way it seems a little unfair. The heavens split like a used condom and rain down on us.
10/4/01 The gig in Poland is fantastic and the kids look like they are losing their grip on reality, which is always nice to see. We have to leave immediately after the gig which is a shame. I would like to have seen Warsaw in a better frame of mind, rather than through doom tinted glasses. The drive to Amsterdam is a massive undertaking, requiring a 12-hour stop at a service station outside Berlin.
12/4/01 Small acts of genius lighten the load of the tour. Somebody on the bus has been writing their name on food, wine etc, like we are a bunch of students sharing a fridge. In retaliation, Mark our monitor engineer has written his name on every edible item on the bus in giant felt tip pen. The bus is in permanent decline. The back bunk has sprung a leak, giving the impression of Liam having wet himself.
While we played the Amsterdam show some girls threw red roses on to the stage which was extremely cool. Gig was a bit flat, but afterwards everybody got fucked on anything they could get their hands on. I am regretting it today and nothing I write seems to scan properly.
15/4/01 We are in Luxembourg, Brian’s hometown. We play two gigs in a row in a smallish club. In the morning I go to a museum with Andy the Tour manager. It turns out to be a history of Luxembourg. I have to prevent him from touching everything. He seems particularly keen to sit in the royal throne. I don’t know if he just trying to get us thrown out of a dull museum. In Brussels I went to a Marcel Broodtears retrospective which was utterly fantastic and I think this encouraged me to try another municipal exhibition, but I am sorry Luxembourg, your museum literally brought me to tears. This is dangerous because the journey back to the gig involves walking over an incredibly high bridge and with tears in one’s eyes, one could accidentally fall down into a Luxembourgian valley.
17/4/01 The last day and there is an air of expectation as well as incredibly sour tempers. We are in Bourges, which is just south of Paris. Yesterday Andy the Tour manager and I made an attempt to impersonate down and out winos. We did this by gathering as many bottles of cheap wine we could find and then plonking ourselves down on a park bench. Several bottles later, not even the wild dogs in the park would go near us. It reached the point where I was unable to have a concept of three dimensions and all the trees began to form themselves into a two dimensional William Morris print. I also forgot the word used to describe the green fibrous bits of flat matter on the ends of branches. Oh yeah, "leaves".
The last gig is genuinely wonderful. This is unusual. Since we have been a band, the last date of every tour has been abysmal. We have broken the six year jinx, so thank you everybody, thank you all. I’m off to get drunk for the last time this tour.
I will speak to you soon from the Line of Flight studio back in London.
Lots of love,
'Letting The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death' - Dated Individually
USA winter 02
Letting the Snakes Crinkle their Heads to Death
by Joe Wilson.
Well ahoy there. I realise I haven’t been very forthcoming in recent months, but time slips by like strawberry yoghurt being sucked through teeth. I haven’t even been really busy but well, its me not you, honestly. Anyway we just finished shooting a video for Loretta Young Silks and decided that it was time for another tour in the USA to begin. We meet at the airport, me David, Chris are the band once again, and crew are Stephen, Derek, Dan and a front of house engineer who we don’t meet till we reach Chicago. The manager will also meet us there. She says it is snowing in the city of Chicago. The tour manager has wrangled an upgrade so I get on the plane without the usual fear of crushed legs and the promise that my veins will clot and the resulting blob will stop my brain cold. I suspect that my brain already has got a whole series of roadblocks waiting to be employed by the brains equivalent of county Sheriff. It would be like the "dukes of hazard" in my skull, with corpuscles as Bo and Luke duke.
We land and get a van to the hotel. Get drunk and go to a jazz club with a simply awful band but great prawns. The audience all kiss each other as the music rises. I go back to the hotel and put "masters of reality" to compensate. Walking back I misread a cinema sign as John Carpenter presents "the Fog". It actually reads; Jam presents "Tori Amos" and I take this, as an indication that is should go to bed.
It is the day after thanksgiving and every thing is shut. We have a day off and it is freezing. It is cold enough to make ones brain hurt. The local Chicago people take it in their stride, but I am handling it badly. The only place open is any English theme pub called the "elephant and castle" It is just like a shit pub in London. Afterwards I go to a Footlocker and find an Adidas black leather tracksuit. It feels and looks fantastic but I look like someone who is trying to sell you used car parts or harvested body parts. I can’t carry it off, so I leave it hanging on its hanger. I am rubbish on days off. Me, Dave and Chris watch some terrible films in the hotel, but nothing really shakes the feeling of yet another Sunday. I miss my John Cale records. I want to be at home listening to "Paris 1919" in bed.
The new tour bus turns up today. I have bought a blue and white striped scarf to commemorate. The driver is called Calvin. I ask him if he is a Calvinist, but he pretends not to hear.
We left Detroit last night. It was thick with snow, and I was thick with a cold. Every time I get on a plane I instantly pick up germs. I need a hermetically sealed bubble to travel in. in that way I would not need to speak to anyone or catch anything. I would be like Howard Hughes without the aeroplanes. We reached Columbus Ohio today. I wander for hours to find a payphone. I find a bar that resembles the bar from Steve Buscemi's "three tree bar" or whatever it was called, and over Canadian whiskey (see I do travel well) he tells me that there are no payphones or taxis in Columbus. Me and Del the guitar tech go and get some percussion bits and have a strange breakfast with a woman who says she knows Aerosmith. We try and find phone cards and taxis and fail to find either. A total stranger takes pity on us and drives us to the venue. The snow falls and so does my mood. Crap gig.
Toronto. I have previously talked about border crossings and let me tell you this, passing between the USA and Canada and visa versa is one of the least pleasurable experiences. It usually takes hours and is humiliating. There is nothing good or life affirming about standing in the snow whilst some power crazed goof ball shouts at you. We are allowed in.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Nashville Pussy, DMX and the Velvet Underground are the order of the day. I am failing to manage to make phone contact with my girlfriend in London. You need a different phone card in each state or country and so I leave a trail of half used useless phone cards in my wake. I can’t get the one I have just bought to work so I am standing in the freezing cold yelling at the phone box. I walk to the hotel to our day room and try and digest the crappy noodles I have just eaten. They looked extremely exciting in the plastic picture on the menu, but I guess a wipe clean menu just isn’t the signifier of quality that it used to be. The hotel is opposite "the shoe museum". I go in to have a nose about but the history of the shoe is not having the desired effect on me. I hoped it would raise my mood, stir my soul with soles, so to speak. We have not been to Canada for about five years, so it will be interesting to see what the gig tonight will be like. Night is falling and it just gets colder, time to brake out the extra pair of socks.
Montreal. Last nights gig was very good with many people and many chuckles. In Montreal the weather is warmer but I am still wearing two pairs of socks. David has just made me laugh by referring to Chris’s moustache as a "lip slug". The venue is a very traditional theatre with lots of sub theatres in it. I realise this because I just walked on to a small stage full of toddlers. I thought I was going towards the bathroom, so all in all it could have been an infinitely more disturbing experience for both parties. Me and the boy David walk in to town to see the Sam Taylor Wood retrospective. It is as irritatingly smug and celebrity led as it looked in London and some pieces seem to resemble a sales demonstration of video projectors. However the museum is very pretty and certainly beats the shoe museum in Toronto in to a cocked hat. I try and buy some Christmas presents and continue my daily routine of shouting obscenities into public telephones.
There are many fine and threatening army surplus shops here and I am glad to see such a wide range of chemical warfare suits. as war is only a shot away. I have met several terrifying people on this trip already who seem very keen on war and there really aren’t more stupid and bitter people than that. There is a particularly fetching piece of headgear, a clear yellow square hood with Velcro attachments for poison filters. Dave buys a small patch that reads, "I am great". I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.
Quebec. The snow is thicker than I have ever seen. It is pure picture postcard and Quebec is all towering turrets and furry castles to compensate. People smile and say hello at you in the street. We have a day room in a very peculiar bed and breakfast style hotel. I can’t speak French and so the conversation to be let in the room is a disjointed affair with me miming air guitar to indicate my pro-am musician status. The bathroom is full of baby powder and it looks like a forensic team has been dusting for fingerprints. The musical equipment is beginning to fail and so are we. We all argue like troopers and apparently, I am a cunt. As we leave town the snow is falling fast and I loll my head out of the window at the back of the bus like a golden retriever on a hot day. I spit and the drops hit the ground frozen.
Brooklyn. The place where Victoria and David Beckhams first child was conceived. I think some kind of pilgrimage is in order, but first some Mexican food with David to discuss what kind of cunt I am. The restaurant supplies coloured crayons with the food and I amuse myself with drawing on the tablecloth. If only all restaurant did this. We walk about Brooklyn and buy lots of records and go to a particularly feeble mall. You know, I really can’t remember what happened today. In the John Lennon/Michael Crawford film "How I Won the War" there is a line "I can’t write down my feelings, so write down what I see instead", this is my position today.
Jersey City. Thank Christ a day off. By an error on the hotels part I have a presidential suite with amazing panoramic views of Manhattan. I will not complain. Me and Steven the tour manager walk down to get a ferry to Manhattan. The ferry arrives and we find we don’t have tickets. The ferryman says "don’t worry we will wait". We run to get tickets from a nearby booth and turn to see the ferry leave with laughing boatman. The guy in the booth is laughing too. "You cunts is all talking the piss" Finally we get into Manhattan and do some ambling about. I buy some lovely Adidas shoes and remember too late that on a Sunday one cannot purchase wine in Manhattan. I get the ferry back but I get on the wrong one and end up in Hoboken. I cannot remember the name of the hotel either and have to explain its location by saying "well its quite near the a big wheel, clock type thing". I get dumped near the Hudson river and strut through the snow to finish the rest of my day off in the warmth of my palatial room.
Washington dc. I have always hated Washington. We once spent three days off here and I had to resort to self-harm to pass the time. However that was a long time ago and I am a different kind of bloke now. The gig is the 9 30 club and is by my reckoning one of the best gigs in the world with friendly and hip people running it. The gig is good but the afterwards is brilliant with the boss of the place buying us fantastic brands of vodka and not seemingly to be happy until we are sick in the gutter. The rest of the evening is a blur with much mewling and puking.
Hoboken. We are back in Hoboken. The hangovers are in effect and nobody is moving too fast. David and me find a second hand record shop run by a guy who takes photographs of Roxy Music. The shop is filled with fantastic rarities and I get the rolling stones banned film "Cocksucker Blues", the lost Beach Boys record "smile" and some lovely rare John Cale stuff. I am ecstatic and sit at the back of bus watching the eighth generation pirate copy distort and puff its way through its process. I would give anything to look like Keith Richards in this period. The gig is good, a packed sweaty mess and all is well and god is in his heaven. Our friend Bruce is also here and he is Officially the Greatest Living American so everybody is very happy. The evening is soured slightly as I begin to feel very sick. I retire to the bus and lie down.
Travel day. We have a monumental journey from Hoboken down to Atlanta. This means a day spent trying to hold in shit and not kill each other. In the night the bus decides to make itself as hot as possible and at about five in the morning a meet a rather surprised looking David in the back lounge, sweat pouring off his brow. We open all the windows and swear at the grotesque heat. We have a hotel tonight so can be free from motion for a while. Get to hotel, wash clothes and fall asleep.
Atlanta. This used to be our drug pig town. Now its cold in every sense and I am a bit surprised to find myself tucked up at the back of the bus watching "Solaris" (the original not the George Clooney remake) with Chris. The film does us good and so I go to the front of the bus to write diary and listen to Beach Boys with a nice cup of tea. My hero Bill Drummond recommends cups of tea instead of coffee in his wonderful life-affirming book "How to Have A Number One" and so I am trying to avoid coffee. As I have previously mentioned, I would love to have looked like Keith Richards in 1971, but I would really have liked to look like Keith Richards but be Bill Drummond. I should also point out the Rolling Stones cease to be A Good Thing (except for C.Watts) at around the time of Mick Jagger and David Bowie murdering "Dancing in the Streets". I realise that it was a recording for charity but I still believe that is not an excuse for a crumblingly awful record. Anyway back to Bill Drummond. If you have not read one of his books or seen his art or heard his music then can I recommend "45" which has previously been the only thing to give me any hope about Art (whether music, film, writing, anything creative) Up to that point I felt that my years in art school and in making music were ultimately pointless. I felt that I could not quantify what was a success on any level. I could not tell whether what I had achieved was an achievement or not. Any hill I climbed suddenly ceased to be a hill, and even then I could not tell if the hill was in a direction that I wanted to travel. The only really smart thing living professional Mancunian mouth stretcher Anthony H. Wilson said, was something or other about "praxis", that is that "praxis" is the act of finding out somethings purpose by actively doing it. Well, in Bill Drummonds "45", he seems only to identify a purpose by the failures that become apparent after its completion. It is this combined with sense of knowing that there is some kind of urge to create but not necessarily a precise feeling of being able to say that you know what you are trying to achieve, that makes this book so helpful. I have never met him but I reliable informed that he is a very humane individual. I almost hope that I don’t ever meet him, as meeting your heroes is always a bad idea. The only hero I have met who wasn’t a real disappointment was Ian McCulloch who was fantastic and exactly as you might want him to be. Actually, thinking about it, the guitarist from Curve and briefly Echobelly, Debbie Smith I always thought was really cool and was brilliantly deranged in real life and very friendly. You really want to only meet people out of context, rather than "Hi, I am musician and, hey wow! You are a musician too! We should get on really well"
Fort Lauderdale.The television on the bus is really dragging my mind in to the gutter. Normally I only live for lousy television and can express many ideas through the shoddy medium of cheap soaps and 70s TV. However in the USA there is no real equivalent of things such as "Man about the House" or "Dads Arm y". What there is, is hundreds of films in constant rotation, all of which are crap. I realise that I mentioned the greatness of "Solaris" earlier, but if you have read my usual ramblings you know I pride myself on my inconsistencies. Anyway if you are on a moving bus, the satellite loses signal for the TV every few seconds. This means you lose whole sections of sentences rendering many films unwatchable. The only film that has worked successfully in this manner was "Castaway" with Tom Hanks, which worked because there was virtually no dialogue. If his other companion had not been a deflated basketball I couldn’t have followed the plot. It is very humid and I am warm for the first time on this tour. However it is very cloudy with sporadic bursts of rain. I must be bored; all I write about is the weather. We have a very odd hotel, which is like most of Florida, seems to be filled with the very frail. Stephen the tour manager and me discuss the writing of a coffee table book entitled "Why it Might be OK. To Hate People, When They Can Be So Annoying". This is triggered by an eating event. Earlier in the day everybody in the bus ate at a restaurant called "Old Cracker Barrel". It was an absolute lesson in why I should never eat with more than two people. More than that number and the experience becomes vile. The main habits that I loath in other people reared their heads. First, not knowing what to order and secondly not remembering what you have ordered. I want to kill and kill again when a hassled waiter appears and is promptly asked a multitude of questions. "What would you recommend?" Why would you trust a complete stranger to tell you what to eat? They don’t care and will give you what they want to shift from the restaurant. Plus eating on the road is always a fucking empty culinary experience. The food is always rubbish and thus asking questions of quality, or the other irritaion, trying to alter the menus to your own fussy tastes, is merely an attempt to polish a turd. Wait till you are in a small local restaurant in Italy or France or with a man catching shellfish before your eyes on any coast in the world to ask questions, not in any restaurant 100 metres from a motorway. Food arrives and everybody looks blank as the various plates are described. The meal is crap and takes a lifetime. I will die with my head in flames.
Back at the venue the decay of crew and equipment continues unabated, with a cannibal holocaust approach to synthesiser repair. Gig happens but isn’t really a fantastic experience.
Orlando. Last gig of the tour. Orlando is completely deserted, the streets echo with the sound of my own footsteps. It is cold and nothing happens, I feel blank. Then a miracle, hundreds of people appear and the gig is a triumph. God bless the people, they did not let us down and we did not let them down. There is a party in the hotel but I cannot face it but everybody seems in high spirits. Tomorrow begins the horror show back to the UK. Take care everybody and try not to start any wars.
'Joe's German Diary' - Dated Individually
Sunday 2nd December 01 London
And this is how it happens. Sneaker Pimps are going on a short promotional development around Germany. We meet at our studio to find our new bus for the experience. I get on and recognize nobody. "Is this the Sneaker bus?" I ask. "It could be" replies the driver. It is terrible, decorated in a car crash fashion. It resembles a collision between a cheap Los Angels hotel and a "world of leather" sofa. It is pink, grey and baby puke yellow. This would probably suit Liam as he is not with us but with his newborn daughter, who I imagine is also producing garish coloured fluids. We have a replacement for Liam who is called Chris, who has managed somehow to train himself up to the dizzy heights of talent that are required to bang a ham fist onto a keyboard once or twice every thirty seconds. He is not the only new face, we have a different crew and this invariable requires a period of readjustment. The singer is ill and is protecting his voice. This means that all communication is held through the medium of the scribbled word. I cant help but enjoy the mischief of intentionally misreading his writing, but somehow through this barrier I do learn that horse chestnuts are different from the chestnuts you eat or the other way round.
The bus drives off to Dover and to the crappy ferry that bobs around like an expectant bride waiting for her drunken bridegroom to return. I hate all boats. I think that you must be insane to become a sailor, to swan about while millions of poisonous gallons of sick blue soup swill beneath your eggshell thin hull. Any second the water will piece the metal and you will be drowning in a thousand years worth of other peoples piss. Having said that, this particular ferry was okay and the food was really nice.
Monday 3rd December 01 Hamburg
Wake on the bus outside a huge fun fair. There is also a giant sculpture of a bull outside the window. It is the same colour as the grey sky behind its horn. It is freezing. I quickly realise that I have bought insufficient clothing for this town. The sun visor hat was a pretty huge mistake for starters. It is no defence against the wind the blows down the Hamburg streets. We are to spend the day doing press. This opens with a photo session with a photographer who had been up for too long. He wraps myself, Chris and David in a duvet that matches the hotel curtains behind us. We become Cheshire cats, invisible except for hair and teeth. Next while Chris protects his voice and Chris (the Liam replacement, hereby referred to as Tate) manfully goes back to bed, we continue charming the pants off German journalists. We go to the venue, which seems good and more importantly possesses a giant Robert Louis Stephenson style top hat. Chris and me talk to German breakfast telly but they choose to edit my hilarious remarks and charming insights out of the broadcast. Gig was good and the bus rumbles onto Koln.
Tuesday 4th December 01 Koln
More hotel room press. Extremely good gig full of chuckles. Lots of messing about in hotel rooms like a proper band afterwards.
Wednesday 5th December 01 Travel
A day spent in transit as the bus will take one thousand hours to travel from Koln to Berlin. The bus is falling around our ears, a constant stream of shit, a constant channel of fluff, a constant buzz of diarrhoea. I am absolutely consumed with self-disgust. And contempt for everything. Still mustn¹t grumble.
Thursday 6th December 01 Berlin
I love Berlin. The gig is in an old East German border guard station. The dressing room is stuffed with sadomasochistic paraphernalia and on a more domestic note, recently painted gas pipes. The combination of heady fumes and heady leather bonds makes an exotic recipe of musical gas. During the gig I nonchalantly lean on what I think is a solid DJ booth, only to find it is a mobile disco that gently rolls into the crowd. I think nobody noticed. All is good, really.
'How Am I In A Band' - Dated Individually
"How I am in a band" by Joe aged 26 ¾
(An old, Splinter era Band Bio, written by Joe.)
Sneaker Pimps formed in the early nineties. Their roots lie much earlier in the Northeast of England. Chris Corner lived in Middlesborough, where he met Liam Howe who came from nearby Hartlepool. They began to make dance music from their small bedroom studio and soon decided to attempt to release it on a commercial basis.
Recording under the names Frisk and Line Of Flight, they released two EPs on the young Clean Up label. At this stage they were both at college, Chris in London studying astrophysics, Liam in Reading at Art College. It was here that Liam met David and myself, who also avoided the hardship of life through art inaction. Ironically it was at this stage that Frisk played a low key gig with the current line-up. In some ways this was the first Sneaker Pimps line-up.
Liam and Chris, while influenced by dance music and, in particular, the rigour of dance production, were keen to express a more song-based music. To this aim they recorded a series of demos with Chris singing.
Those songs were written by Liam and Chris, and a childhood friend called Ian Pickering.
They would eventually become Becoming X. Kelli was recruited at this point to sing, because it was felt that at this stage, the nature of these songs would probably suit a female vocal. Chris also felt he hadn’t reached the level of confidence that he now has.
This first record became Sneaker Pimps and at this stage it was regarded as a short-term project, that would be one of many. This was reflected by the small initial run of albums.
We viewed it as a record you selfishly release for only a few thousand copies, rather than half a million international records.
Dave and I were then asked to join on a more permanent basis when it looked like touring and live performances were unavoidable. David had in fact supplied drums on Becoming X whereas I had helped design the sleeves for the first Frisk release and had been part of the DJ wing of the organisation, playing test pressings of records Liam and Chris had just finished.
The five of us then quickly found that a huge momentum had gathered behind the record, particularly in America. This forced us into 18 months of on/ off touring, which we were never really prepared for. We quickly fell into a lifestyle that was both rock star cliché and rock star casualty.
It was difficult for the band to keep a realistic perspective when we were sharing lift journeys with Donald Trump and the Wu Tang Clan. We came back into England fed up with everything and everyone. Instead of taking a break, we moved Line Of Flight studio from the Northeast to London.
One of our strengths was that the band was never tied to any particular location. Other bands bored the nation with their loyalty to being from Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol or London, but we had no geographical base. Liam was from Hartlepool, Chris from Middlesborough, David from Newton Abbot, and I from London.
This was important to us because we wanted to absorb any musical style or direction we wanted.
With a new studio we wanted to start the second album, but as soon as we started we also realised that we wanted Chris to sing on it. He was now ready so the band returned to it’s core of Joe, Dave, Chris and Liam. We knew that like the first record it had to rely on the four of us as producers, and on no one else.
We had no external influence. The world seemed to not understand what we were doing by replacing Kelli, but we four and Ian the co-lyricist felt we could make a more open and direct LP. This has a much more organic feel, and this is due to us making the sounds from scratch, from the smallest beep to the shortest beat. It was produced by Line Of Flight, who consist of me, Dave, Chris and Liam. This record took just one year to produce and is born from a period of terrible frustration with the world and the music industry.
It is a record where you can see the ends of our nerves, rather than the perfect skin above.
And that’s what I done on my summer holidays. It was great and then we went home.