3rd October 2007 – Bristol Louisiana
Or “I got a right to be hostile. My people been persecuted.”
Or “Get me a dog, I want to read him a story”
I woke in the morning to a phone call from Malcolm wondering what the fuck had happened last night. I played dumb, which was pretty easy. I didn’t have a fucking clue.
My band mates quickly filled me in. Somewhere over the last week or so Deborah had split up with Disco Stu. She and Matt had been “interested” in each other, and while I had been passed out on a sofa in Derby, Deborah and Matt had consummated their “interest”. Hence Deborah travelling in the Dolls van yesterday morning. Idiot me had just thought she’d kipped on Matt’s floor or something the previous night. Anyway, in Leicester he had been flirting with two girl fans of SohoDolls, a brunette and a blonde whose names escape me. Deborah had, seeing this, got drunk and upset. Possibly not in that order though.
While I sulked off back to the hotel room because I wasn’t getting enough attention, Deborah sat on the nightclub floor in a bright green dress with tears pouring from her eyes and snot pouring from her nose*. Simon and Grant were not happy about this. They searched the club for Matt with clenched fists and vengeance in mind. When they finally found him, Simon grabbed him by the lapels and rammed him up against the wall.
“Don’t fuck up my tour”, snarled Simon.
I had the fear. Were we going to get kicked off the tour? What if they hated us now? Was Malcolm about to go mental at us? What would the booking agents say? Oh God. Was I being a tosser for thinking this – at the time – rather than worrying about how Deborah was feeling? Obviously Malcolm knew something, so how the fuck was I going to present this without a major diplomatic incident? Why should I be the one to explain all this?
I bottled out and let Deborah speak to him. And all was cool. The bands just ignored it and carried on as normal. It was viewed as a drunken misadventure and everyone involved laughed about it and moved on. Deborah and Matt had a little chat and that was that. I felt very silly for worrying so.
We got back in the van and made our way to Bristol. Sam and I sniped at each other the whole way there. I have no idea why. I think the proximity and the tiredness was getting to everyone. Once you get out of London it’s quicker to get round the country than you would expect, but everyone was feeling a bit bored and Sam in particular was desperately homesick. Tonight would be good though – this was one of the few places where we had somewhere to stay. Gareth Jones was a promoter at Bath Moles Club. He had booked us many times in the past and had always been a good egg. He had put up with our drunken schtick a number of times, so knew what to expect, but was still willing to let us sleep in his house. Legend. Gareth was also responsible for an amazing club night in Bristol called Lipstick On Your Collar, whose club rules (anything goes, but no male singers) were used for a similar night in the cult comic book Phonogram: The Singles Club.
We did the usual look around/get bored/go to venue/soundcheck/hit the rider thing, and watched the support act. I was still guilt tripping over missing Zil the night before, so actually paid attention to the local support. And they were quite good. Not good enough to note down their name or indeed remember it now, but still, I vaguely remember them being quite good. Well done that band. We took to the stage in an optimistic mood. The room was really busy. Not only was it really busy, but there were actually people there to see us! Right down the front was Bristolian Legend Big Jeff, a kid called Liam we had met last time we had played in Bristol and George, Mally, Jade and Callum…the kids from our first date in Taunton! Oh wow. We were buzzing from the excitement of the room being full and some people we knew being here. They were buzzing off their tits on MDMA. How could we fail? The show was fantastic, genuinely exciting from the first note onwards. The audience went mental and, at the end of our set, as we kicked into I Am Not A Monkey, Jade, Callum and co led a stage invasion. They ricocheted round the stage, bouncing and dancing and finally joining us at the microphones at the end of the song to scream the title at the rest of the room.
SohoDolls played and we excitedly caught up with the Tauntonettes. Callum had got in a LOT of trouble with his father over us staying. They still wouldn’t admit who had vomited though. Eventually they had to leave to catch their bus home and the venue started kicking everyone out, but all was not lost – Gareth had very kindly sorted us guestlist for a night called Cherry Bomb at a club called The Tube so off went 586, Gareth and Big Jeff to carry on the festivities.
Cherry Bomb was awesome. We danced, we drank, Liam and his friend Morgan wanked off a clothes peg (I have no idea what this means, but it’s what I wrote at the time) and we got to meet Happy Mondays dancer and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Bez. Oh yes. It turned out the Mondays had been playing at a much larger venue than us further up the road and he had also come to Cherry Bomb to keep his party going. He was absolutely lovely and joined us for a couple of drinks and a dance before leaving with his entourage. It’s all a bit vague, but I swear he and Big Jeff had some sort of dance off. Eventually the night came to an end and off we went to Gareth’s, where we ended the night with chips, cheese and tea.
At this point you may be wondering exactly who Bristolian Legend Big Jeff actually is. Well. Big Jeff is an enormous 6-foot-plus monster of a man with a massive curly hair who goes to pretty much every gig in Bristol, large or small, stands down the front and dances like a mental. We first encountered him at a gig we played for Ladyfest at the Thekla, which actually also ties in with the Phonogram comic. The first issue starts with a Ladyfest gig in The Thekla, y’see. Small world etc etc. The Thekla is an amazing venue, as it is a huge, permanently moored boat with a club and venue inside. Ladyfest is a celebration of feminism in music. The gig we played had a really patchy line-up. I remember being quite indignant about everyone’s reaction to a reporter from the Daily Mail, as there was a lot of antagonism towards her and the bands were all advising each other not to talk to her. I thought this was a bit silly. I mean, surely they’d want to get their cause communicated over every medium possible, not just the sympathetic ones? I’m not a fan of the Mail, but if I was promoting a cause I’d probably speak to anyone who would listen. I dunno, maybe I’m missing a point. Anyway, the gig was mostly notable for the strange, high pitched voice of the male singer of the first band, and Big Jeff standing at the front of the stage for the whole of our set – played to a mostly empty room – and dancing like a man possessed the whole way through. We liked him. Apparently a couple of years later he ended up appearing in an episode of Skins. A quick Google reveals there is even a documentary about him: