Tunabunny in the UK, part one
We need to find an internet connection, only Brigette has overseas cellphone service, but we have to walk back to the van to put more coins in the meter. It’s a 15-minute walk each way, but we’re finally able to find a coffee shop. We buy coffee and bombard our Facebook friends with messages and Brigette’s phone number. Thankfully, Lucy comes to meet us. And then Stephanie from Shrag calls us and tells us we can crash at Russell’s apartment for a couple of hours before the show that night. We walk the 30 minutes to his apartment. Each of us gets an hour or so sleep. And then we walk to the venue, the (possibly anti-French, judging by the name) Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar – home of the smelliest men’s room in Britain. We get there an hour late for the soundcheck and at this point we’re all wiped out, just a mess of fatigue and nerves. At one point, I get on the microphone and announce that we have a very special guest with us tonight. I then ask everyone to welcome Everett True who has come here all the way from Australia. Later, Tamsin tells me that someone standing near her went looking for him after the gig to go punch him. Better stay in Australia a little longer, buddy.
Here’s the thing about all the exhaustion and struggle, the sacrifice that goes into saving up money to fly over to another country – money that you may or may not make back (most likely not) at the end of the tour. The show has to be worth it. A bad show will leave you, or will leave Tunabunny at any rate, crushed and broken nearly to the point of despair. This can be a bit nerve-wracking, but it makes you put everything you have into what you’re doing. You don’t get too drunk to play. You make sure you’re prepared to play the show. In short, you put everything into it. You end the set sweaty and collapsed in a heap. If we weren’t using Shrag’s equipment, all of it would be upended and all over the floor.
We start playing and people are dancing and screaming. There’s a guy who looks like our friend Peter back in Athens who turns out to be someone named Jon Slade. People in Brighton like to give him hugs, but I just shake his hand and tell him it’s really nice to meet him. Everything at this point is starting to become a blur. I’m either catatonic or ranting. But everyone says the show was great. We go back to Russell’s flat and sleep fitfully for six or so hours before the alarm goes off. No sooner are we awake than Bob from Shrag answers his phone. Andy’s father passed away in the night and he may have to miss the tour. There are countless things in this world that are more important than music; a death in the family is one of them. But as I’m sitting there listening to the conversation, I can’t help wondering if the tour is over before it’s even started. Bob gets off the phone and tells us that Andy’s going to give us a call. Desperate, we offer Brigette and/or Jesse as a possible solution, even though it will double their workload. It’s trying to be helpful, trying to make things work, trying to keep things from slipping away. It’s something we’ve grown accustomed to in our three years or so of existence. Shrag, to their credit, agree to our offer, and we’re soon heading north to play London Popfest.
Some of us at least. Shrag needs us to drive some of their equipment up to London, which doesn’t leave room in the car for three of us. So they take the train up with Bob. Brigette and I drive to the show ourselves and we all meet up at The Grosvenor pub just north of Brixton. We go looking for dinner and quickly recognize we’re in a bad neighborhood, so everyone heads back to the pub and Mike and I, the largest and most street-wise of the Tunabunny party, head off and bring a pizza back for everyone. The Popfest gig is wonderful, getting to see Brigette and Jesse drum together. And our set is a rush of giggles and devastation. We get called back for the second encore we’ve ever done, though not before I jokingly ask if this is the famous English sarcasm coming out. We sell shitloads of records and are feeling great. Helen does the worst job of navigating me back to her flat imaginable, but it still manages to be hilarious fun. We meet Brigette and Steph there and we all stay up talking until three in the morning, which turns out to be a colossal mistake on my part.