4th October 2007 – Cardiff Barfly
“I hope you don’t like cock, ‘cos I like you.”
Gareth had to go to work so we dragged ourselves from the various sofas we had slept on and went to the local Asda to get some breakfast. I got very excited when I wandered through the toys section; they had a Doctor Who action figure that had been impossible to find in London. Hurrah! I didn’t care that I couldn’t really afford it – it had to be mine. Rationality flew out of the window as I queued up to buy a tuna mayo sandwich, a bottle of water and a Doctor Who toy. I stored it safely under a seat in the van, paranoid that the box might get damaged.
Happily, for the second night on the trot we had somewhere pre-planned to stay. Deborah’s parents owned a holiday flat in Porthcawl, a seaside town equidistant from Cardiff, where we were due to play tonight, and Swansea, where we were booked tomorrow. The Coughlins had travelled to Wales to come meet us, let us in to the flat and then come see the show. Everyone had to be on best behaviour. No-one was to get drunk or stoned before meeting them.
We arrived in Porthcawl around mid-day and Sue and Walter Coughlin met us in the secure car park of their flat. Walter seemed a bit shocked when Simon, Grant and I unfurled ourselves from the back of the van and didn’t seem too keen on us staying in the flat. We were all ultra-careful to present ourselves as nice, polite, well-bought up young people, and after the whole skinning-up-in-Sam’s-mum’s-garden incident way back in Crewe, that particular member of the band was on edge, not wanting to fuck up another potential parental meeting. Even after a charm offensive, Walter still wasn’t keen on Simon, Grant and I staying in the flat, but on the plus side at least with only three of us there would be more space. I crossed my fingers and started to hope that Simon would get lucky. Deborah’s mum Sue was lovely, and we all wandered down to the beach, had early October ice-cream and wandered round some shops before the time eventually came for soundcheck.
Back at the venue, Maya was not happy. Our shared management had made a boo-boo. Supervision Management are part of the Channel Fly group, and as a consequence both bands were due to benefit that month from free advertising space in their widely-distributed free music magazine The Fly. Or at least, that was the plan. Our half-page advert for Rags & Tags was present and correct, but their album one wasn’t. Oh dear. There was a lot of awkwardness as Maya stomped off to phone Malcolm. I just stared at my shoes and waited for soundcheck. Once soundcheck was over I decided I would make the most of my time in Cardiff and visit the Roald Dahl Plass. At the time, Roald Dahl Plass was a frequently used Doctor Who location – it was (ahem) the site of a rift in time and space where the TARDIS could fuel up and Torchwood had a secret base. Every time we had played Cardiff I had been determined to go visit but not had time. I asked one of the venue staff for directions. Unfortunately, the rift was further away from the venue than I hoped so it was not to be. Again. Balls. I returned to the dressing room and got cracking on the beer and crisps.
The Barfly was half full when we took to the stage. We played well – it was almost a given now compared to how erratic we were when we started the tour – and I was excited about being able to sing while hanging off some scaffolding, but the only really memorable part came during He’s Got My Measure. Measure is a song of two halves. The first part was originally written as -instrumentally – a kind of ‘80s Madonna pastiche, and became a lot dancier once Simon and Grant rewrote the rhythm track as a funkier, more tribal, toms-and-conga-based groove. Deborah responded with a lyric about a bored young groupie, planning to dominate a pop star – of any description – get pregnant and live off his maintenance cheques. It’s very witty, and we both took great pleasure in writing the veiled list of indie pop stars of the day that makes up the third verse. Then we drop into a Shed Seven riff – a musical punchline – that gives way to a great big dance-y build up and part two, which is all about The Rock. Simon switches to thrashed guitar chords and I sing from the perspective of the failed rock star, who has had his fill of groupies and fame and is now dealing with having his image torn from teenage bedroom walls as he falls out of fashion. Now, whenever we played this song live, we would shoot giant confetti cannons over our audience at the point when The Rock kicked in. Being a big, dance-y number, this would always go down incredibly well live. The cannons were a metre long, bright pink and could quite nicely fill a venue with glitter.
As the middle of He’s Got My Measure kicked in, I hung myself off the scaffold surrounding the stage. Deborah placed the cannon between my legs, pointing it into the the air: a giant glittery pink erection ready to ejaculate glitter all over our audience. The crescendo came, and as Deborah made an exaggerated motion to indicate the trigger was being pulled, I made an exaggerated show of thrusting my hips forward….
…and the cannon failed to fire. Balls.
Tail – or faulty glitter cannon – between my legs, I quickly whimpered back to the microphone to begin singing while Deborah tried to fire the cannon off anyway. Bastard thing eventually went off just before the ending. I felt like a right dick.
After the show we manned the merch stall and met our public. I vaguely recall exchanging Mighty Boosh quotes with a tiny teenager while Deborah was the recipient of the best (well, most direct) chat-up line ever: a young lesbian marched straight up to her, looked her in the eye and said: “I hope you don’t like cock, ‘cos I like you.”
SohoDolls finished playing and a club night started. We stuck around for a bit as it was quite fun. I had gotten quite drunk by this point. I was also stressed. I had been loosely tour managing the experience so far. Being sensible, I had printed all the venue details and directions to each town and put them together on a clipboard. I had taken a lot of flack for it, but we needed to know where we were going, right?
Well, having retired to the dressing room once more, something had been said and I had snapped. I was angrier than I had ever been before, but I can’t remember for the life of me what had kicked it off. I exploded into a torrent of abuse aimed squarely at Deborah. My voice rose and rose until I finally reached a crescendo, ending in the really rather embarrassing (screamed) statement that “You cunts all take the piss out of that fucking clipboard, but if it wasn’t for that fucking clipboard we wouldn’t know where we were fucking going!”
There was only one other person in the dressing room. Unfortunately it was the drummer from the headline band. Paul SohoDoll buried himself in his pint, possibly trying not to laugh. There was a pause before Deb tried to calm me down but I flounced out of the room, fuming and embarrassed. I stormed to the dancefloor, realising when I arrived that I didn’t actually know what to do with myself and feeling very, very silly. Oh dear. I huffed ineffectually for a few moments before Deborah caught up with me. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked. “Yes please.” I mumbled and back we went to the dressing room, where I apologised and chilled out a bit.
Eventually we decided to go back to the Coughlins’ flat. Deborah drove and we left Simon behind as he and Paul had decided to go on the pull. Result. Paul assured Simon that he could travel with SohoDolls in their van, so we’d just see him in Swansea tomorrow.
We arrived at the flat. Sam and Deborah went up to the comfort of the rooms and proper beds while Grant and I started sorting out the bedding in the van. Grant wasn’t happy that we had to sleep in the van. “It’s OK.” I reassured him. “Look.” I said, pulling out a bottle of red wine I had stolen from the rider and hidden from the others. “And it’s screw-top!”
VIDEO: He’s Got My Measure, live at 93 Feet East. I believe this is from some time towards the end of 2007, post tour but before we split up.