Tunabunny in the UK, part two
The next day we drive to York. It’s only an hour or so, so we get there in plenty of time to walk around and check things out. After some parking difficulties, it turns out that York is awesome — cheap sandwiches, a cool little store called The Inkwell where I buy a book about The Go-Betweens which I never knew existed [Is it the one by David Nichols? He’s been in some awesome bands, and plays drums on my 2001 album — Ed] the owner throws in a Carpenters pin for free, streets crammed with crooners, castles, and cathedrals. I catch a quick nap on a sofa in Waterstone’s and then head over to the venue. There’s a room provided for us upstairs which the promoter has filled with countless cans of Guinness. There’s also a foosball table. I take on two of the Shrag guys, me against both of them. Of course they have no idea that I spent a week at Swen Nater’s Basketball Camp the summer before my freshman year of high school (I made the all-star team, thank you very much) or that the common area had a foosball table where all of the campers — highly competitive to a fault — spent pretty much all of our time playing unbelievably intense games of foosball. Bob and Russell prove to be no match for me, and upon scoring the winning goal I sprint around the room in circles, pulling my shirt over my head and sliding across the floor. It turns out there’s a reason soccer players don’t wear flannel shirts, as I nearly dislocate my shoulder in the celebration and the joint will be tender for the next couple of days.
Buoyed by the short drive, Tunabunny is bouncing with all kinds of energy. The band spends most of their set in the air, and I get another injury when I land awkwardly on the edge of the stage, almost rolling my ankle but instead just straining the muscle that runs alongside my shin. I’ll spend the rest of the tour with a limp, and will have to massage my leg for several minutes before and after each show.
But I don’t feel any of that while we’re playing, and after the set’s over, Andy, the guy who runs the club, and who’s just done our sound, is ecstatic about the Tunabunny. He tells us his wife runs a rabbit sanctuary in her spare time and asks us to sign a record for four of the bunnies who were recently rescued. “Some kids in the neighborhood had been using them for footballs,” he tells us. The abused rabbits are named Sparkle-Bunny, Poppy-Bunny, and two more that I can’t remember. We sign them enthusiastically. Later he and I are talking about all the great bands to come out of the surrounding area. When talking about Leeds, I mention Delta 5. Andy nearly jumps out of his chair.
“You lot know about Delta 5?” he asks.
I tell him, only exaggerating slightly, that everyone in Athens loves Delta 5. He then pulls out his phone and calls the drummer, telling me that he lives right up the street. There’s no answer, but he’s still ecstatic that people in Athens, Georgia know about Delta 5. I quickly run and grab Mike, who as manager of the oldest record store in Athens, is more qualified to talk about this than I am. Mike informs Andy that he’s probably sold close to 50 Delta 5 records. Everyone is happy. The sound guy tells us that he does sound at Glastonbury and a bunch of other festivals, and when we get asked to play them (he feels this is inevitable, given our awesomeness) we should ask for him by name and he’ll do our sound for free.
I’m pretty sure Mike wrote his name down somewhere. I was too schnockered on Guinness at this point to be much help.
In the parking lot, there’s this weird scene where four of us are supposed to go stay with the awesome Emma from the awesome Standard Fare —
— and six of us are supposed to go stay at a Travel Lodge in York. Someone from Shrag tells me that it’s all been worked out who’s going where, but when I get in the van to drive there’s seven people in there and only three in the car. Confused, I ask who else is supposed to be going to Emma’s. Nobody answers me. This is weird, because if I didn’t have to drive the van, I’d be heading to Emma’s in a second. Instead, it seems that nobody wants to give up the hotel. Mary Jane and Jesse are in the car with Russell from Shrag, which means someone from Shrag is supposed to be in the car. But nobody will say who, and nobody seems willing to discuss it. Instead they all just stare out the window, or stare at their feet, in the hope that if they simply remove themselves from the situation, they won’t have to give up their spot at the hotel. Finally, Brigette decides she’ll go get in the car, prompting Mike to say he’ll go instead. Even though he’s pissed (because he’s allergic to cats and he didn’t bother to find out if Emma had any since he was supposed to be going to the hotel) off, nobody besides Brigette tries to stop him. Mike informs Shrag that he is “going to be one pissed-off motherfucker tomorrow, so they’d better be ready” as he gets in the car and they head off into the night.
This is strange because even though I’ve only stayed in two hotels so far, I’m starting to realize that UK hotels are pretty much crap. A small to non-existent bar of soap, one bed and a fold-out sofa, and (on this night) no continental breakfast of any kind. In fact there’s no parking at this one either, requiring me to get up at 8am and put money in the meter.
It turns out that Emma doesn’t have any cats. Everyone in Mike’s crew end up getting either a bed or a sofa, and Emma makes them all a nice breakfast in the morning. In short, those people in the van should have been elbowing each other out of the way in order to avoid staying at the hotel, not the other way around. Like I said, touring can make you lose all kinds of perspective if you aren’t careful.