By Scott Creney
In the last section, I forgot to tell the story about the sound guy in London. During our soundcheck, he kept insisting that Mary Jane turn up her amp, to the point where it was unbearably louder than any other instrument. Stranger still, the amp was miked through the PA, so in theory he should have been able to adjust the volume himself. When it came time for our set, Mary Jane pointed out that it was quite literally the only thing she could hear on stage, to the point where she couldn’t hear the drum six feet away from her. The sound guy laughed and then told her that it probably just sounded that way to her because she was a girl, and that “Girls spend all their time trying to look pretty instead of learning how to play their guitar”. He then turned the amp down a bit and walked back to the mixing board. Oh yeah, he was also drunk.
Playing in a band with two women, you get used to that kind of thing. It’s still annoying though. And so when Brigette broke a string halfway through the set, she suggested I tell some jokes while she fixed it. I walked up to the microphone and said I had a hilarious joke. I then proceeded to tell the audience what the sound guy had said to Mary Jane right before we started playing, adding that it had been a while since someone had acted like such a dickhead. At this point, Bob from Shrag shouted that I should probably have waited to say something because now we were going to get terrible sound. I said that we didn’t give a fuck how we sounded, that there were more important things in this world than music.
Besides, our sound was already terrible. After the show, the sound guy had nothing to say to us and we had nothing to say to him.
So back to the story. We leave Preston and head towards Sheffield driving across something called ‘The Peak District’. I get several pictures in my head — hundreds of acid-heads reaching simultaneous euphoric bliss, a region filled with the best and brightest the UK has to offer. Instead, it just turns out to be a bunch of big hills. Driving a manual transmission through winding hilly roads when both your knees are covered in bruises is even less fun than it sounds. We reach Sheffield in full-on rush-hour traffic mode. It takes us 30 minutes to travel the last mile to the venue. And since every person in Sheffield made a point of telling me that Sheffield is like Detroit, I’m going to just go ahead and assume it’s true. Although the one time we played a show around Detroit, a fistfight broke out in the bar mere minutes after we walked in, one of the bands on the bill spent most of their set dedicating their songs to cocaine, and Mary Jane had to down a couple of shots with the bar’s owner before we would get paid. Nothing even remotely close to that happens in Sheffield.
We played a room called The Shoebox, so named because it was about the size of a fucking shoebox. It was upstairs from this restaurant/bar that charged me £2.20 for a Coke (that’s roughly $4 American) when all I wanted to do was sit at the bar and read my Roberto Bolaño book in the restaurant’s only well-lit area. I had ordered the coke because I was trying to save money. It turns out everything in the UK costs more than its US equivalent. This doesn’t seem to faze Shrag too much, but Tunabunny is now stocking up on groceries whenever we find a Sainsbury’s or Tesco Express, stunned by the high cost of eating out. At one point, I will eat croissants and a pint of milk for six consecutive breakfasts. Thankfully, most of our contracts with promoters calls for them to provide us with dinner. Interestingly enough, none of the places give us free beer. This is a switch from touring in the states, where nobody feeds you but you’re given all the beer you can drink. And because it’s the only free thing you’re going to get, you tend to drink — at minimum — three of four beers a night.
The Shoebox is packed. It’s hot and sweaty to the point where I would have trimmed my eyebrows before I left if I’d known they were going to be this soaked and heavy.
Here’s a link to some photos from that night. All rights reserved, etc. etc.
The promoter has reserved some rooms for us at a hotel called The Harley. An improbably named, modishly dressed guy named Dorian has been appointed to ride in the van with us and guide us there. It takes nearly 30 minutes of wrong turns, vague instructions, and infinite patience on my part for us to drive three-plus miles in order to travel three blocks to the hotel. At one point, we are driving along a narrow, cobblestone hillside rode with all of Sheffield spread out beneath us. When we finally reach the hotel and are getting out of the van, a Shrag member asks me if he should get his bag out of the van now. “No,” I snap, “I was thinking we could all just meet back here at three in the morning and get our fucking bags then”. I am obviously in need of sleep, and I head straight to the room along with the rest of the band while Shrag heads to the bar.