Dogtanion Diary. Day 1. Thursday
OHMIGOD IT IS EARLY and I'm on my way to Wembley to pick up the van with a few of the Laurel Collective and Alice, our tour manager. Alice is 20 and smells like a girlfriend I had when I was about 17. This is weird. She also is about 2000 times more organised than I was at 20, or am now. When I first meet her she implies that my jacket makes me look homeless (it is made of suede and has TURTLE DUCK COCONUT written on the back).
Martin from the Laurel Collective is notoriously late for everything. He is meant to meet us at 11 in Dalston, but he gets mixed up and thinks it is 9am, so while we're driving down to Dalston, we keep getting these messages apologising for being late. He arrives just as we pull up to the house where we've stored all the gear - he thinks he is two hours late.
The drive up to Manchester is hell, but Mark Rainbow makes it better by telling us all about the fabled Mocha-Cookie-Crumble-Frappuccino from Starbucks that only existed for one exquisite summer. He has been searching for it ever since, but it is not to be found. I drove through a flood and we almost died three, maybe four times, but we got to Manchester in one piece. Though we were two hours late for soundcheck...
I find the problem with gigging is that you eat a lot of hummous and drink a lot of warm lager, so to celebrate the first date of the tour, we ate a lot of hummous and drank warm cans of Foster’s.
Manchester gig is great - a number of dedicated fans brave the storm warnings, localised flooding and gale force winds to see us play. The only problem is that Charlie from the Laurels is violently sick before the gig and has to go back to the hotel, which means that the Laurel Collective have to improvise a stripped down set. In a way it was really nice to see the structure of the songs and hear the incredible harmonies, but it would probably have been more enjoyable if we hadn't all been thinking about Charlie evacuating his bodily contents through his mouth as they played.
Dogtanion Diary. Day 2. Tuesday
We steal about 5 kilos of bread and cheese from the breakfast buffet and drive to Oxford. On the way we make music on all the Focusrite kit that they've given us. We have to make a song a day but we were too busy yesterday almost being killed by the weather etc. to do it. Focusrite and Soundcloud are sponsoring the tour which we are eternally grateful for.
Modern Art Oxford is beautiful and the sound man (Paul) is a legend. Word up Paul. At one point I catch him and Mark Rainbow having in depth conversation about Juno synths and I feel a deep attachment to them both.
The crowd is really lovely and sits all over the floor listening attentively to my set. I tell a long involved story about death, and then sing the intro to the 80s cartoon series 'Rude Dog and the Dweebs'. Later on an audience member will tell me that that is the reason why she enjoyed my set. I unsuccessfully try to make 'And the Dweebs!' a tour-van catchphrase. You know what? F*** you guys.
The audience stay super-attentive for Peter and Kerry's set, but somehow for the Laurels, they turn into some sort of mad dancing whirlwind with people on chairs and other people's shoulders. Charlie is still very ill (he got the train home this morning), but they manage to amp up their set and end the night with the whole crowd bouncing around like idiots.
Peter and Kerry go off to some party, but I go back to the hotel with Laurels and Alice and make Bob tell me about Iraqi politics for like 4 hrs until I can sleep. Thanks Bob. We end the night with Mark Rainbow quoting full scenes of dialogue from Back to the Future but Pete isn't there so no one has the faintest clue what he is on about.
Bob Laurel Collective Diary. Day 2
Everyone’s pretty jovial on the tour. Or are they? I was hugely disappointed to find that Bernard (the bear that is helping us out with the tour) has been writing his own tour diary behind my back. I thought Bernard was my friend- I was wrong. According to his blog, I am “a risible sh*t of a man, with a violent temper.” But if anything, this is a better description of himself. Bernard would do well to remember the saying, “it’s easier to give advice than to tell others how to live their lives” which I think was first heard in Mr Windall by Arrested Development. Apart from that, Manchester and Oxford were great, and I really won the Oxfordians over by complementing their famous dictionary.
Dogtanion Diary. Day 3. Friday
Reading: one of the great architectural wonders of the world. A perfectly grey wet day allows us to experience it in its full beauty, which means we spend half a day in Wetherspoons, drinking pints of coke and playing cards. We look at old pictures of Mark Rainbow on Facebook when he used to be more Welsh. If he lets me, we should publish pictures of him on here - he looks like a bloke at Glastonbury circa 2000 who tried to sell me 'the smackiest pills you'll ever take'.
Oakford Social Club is real nice, amazing food and lovely staff. Also full of really beautiful women dressed up for a Saturday night but when I get close they have the cold dead eyes of demons. I think that says more about me than them though. We find out about Peter & Kerry's party. I half wish I'd gone with them last night, but they look awful and they are clutching glasses of red wine like driftwood in a flood. I need to drive us back to London without anyone dying so I think I made the right decision.
CHARLIE IS BACK! He has stopped vomiting and gets to Reading in time to play with Laurel Collective. They blow me away. I've seen them so many times but tonight they are all so excited to be back together that they go completely f**king mental. Bob smacks his head off the ceiling and at the end of their set they go into a sort of extended whirling carnival jam and all the pretty, dead eyed people who are in the bar area come round to dance. Beautiful.
I drive us back to London, drop the kit off in Wandsworth and then we get a cab to drop us off back at our respective homes. On the way I'm pointing out where I'm going to move to, when we see a huge street fight and possibly a stabbing happening in the middle of the road. Our cab driver speeds up and drives through a red light to escape the violence. I feel a comfortable London glow spread through my body.
Winchester, Cardiff, Portsmouth and Bournemouth next week. I can't wait.