14th September 2007 – Crewe M Club
“Are you homeless?”
“Oh God. You’re not the band, are you?”
Despite the promises of the previous night, Callum’s dad was not pleased to see us. I kept my eyes shut, as he was clearly quite irritated.
“Wakey, wakey. I don’t know who you are but you have to get out. I have a cleaner coming and there is vomit in the bathroom.”
He didn’t offer a slice of toast, let alone a fry-up or steak. He wanted us out and he wanted us out NOW. He stormed out of the room. We giggled amongst ourselves for a bit before Deborah tried to make friends and calm him down. It wasn’t happening. He looked her up and down with barely contained disgust.
“Are you homeless?” he asked. Deborah’s jaw dropped, but before she could form a reply he had stomped angrily out of the room, calling for his son. A couple of minutes passed before Callum slipped sheepishly into the room.
“Could I just use the shower before we go?” I asked him desperately. Everyone packed frantically around me. Callum looked at me with hungover eyes. He was in serious trouble. “I think,” he replied, “that you’ve outstayed your welcome.”
We dragged ourselves into the van in last night’s clothes soaked in last night’s sweat and – in some cases – last night’s red wine and made our way to the nearest supermarket. We already had 20 bags of crisps (the remnants of the previous night’s rider), so we took the chance to stock up on ‘proper’ food. In the car park outside, Deborah performed an a cappella version of Baby’s Got Back in the style of South Park’s Cartman and we hit the motorway, planning to shower at a service station. It took us a couple of stops, but eventually, finally, we found one. We – well, Sam and I, being the prissy, clean-freak members of the band – were beyond excited. We were in for a shock, however: the showers were horrific. The floor was covered in wet dirt, the water was lukewarm at best and the damn thing only stayed on for a few seconds at a time. The plug hole was blocked up with trucker hair of varying lengths and it absolutely stank. It really, really stank. It was good to be clean though. We bought some newspapers, got back in the van and hit the road.
We arrived in Crewe early. Now THAT was unexpected. We were always late to everything. Every gig, every meeting, every rehearsal, everything. You name it, we were late for it. We would discover that once you left London and its traffic behind, it’s actually surprisingly quick to get around the rest of the country. We unloaded our amps and instruments into the M Club and had a look around. We were stoked. The venue was huge! This could possibly be the biggest stage we’d ever played on. It was so enormous that it looked even emptier when we played our set than it would have done normally, but more of that shortly. SohoDolls hadn’t started soundchecking yet and we knew they would be a while so we went off for a wander round Crewe. They said they would text us when they were almost done. I bought a couple of 7” singles from a charity shop and a Queen badge from HMV, and with no sign of a text from the ‘Dolls we decided to go for a drink or two at the local Wetherspoon’s. Crewe was dull. We killed time by inventing a Hatch Beauchamp & The McKenzie Brothers single called Double Dipping, writing some incredibly offensive but sadly forgotten lyrics for it until we got the call for soundcheck. We headed back to the venue, where Grant promptly fell through a hole in the stage floor.
We had a couple of hours between soundcheck and showtime, so the venue staff showed us to our dressing room and gave us our rider. The rider is the drinks and food and so on that a band gets on top of their fee for playing. It basically means free booze, which is tremendously exciting. The bigger a band gets, the more demanding it becomes acceptable to be, and we had worked our way up from beer, to beer and crisps, to beer and crisps and wine. This was our first full-on tour, remember, so when Beckie had asked us before the tour what we wanted, we had a collective quiver of joy: we had made it. We could ask for anything. We were fairly easy-going and relatively undemanding, so we gave her a list that included a hot meal, beers for Grant and Simon, and wine for myself, Deb and Sam. Deb asked for feminine hygiene products and I asked for a Doctor Who-related piece of tat.
We were given beer and crisps.
Showtime came and the venue was basically deserted. Well, there were a couple of people in there, but it was hard to gauge how many as the venue was so big and they were as far away from the stage as it was possible to be. Sam’s mother, sister and stepfather had come along. On the plus side, we had somewhere to stay after that wasn’t the back of the van. On the minus side, Sam had given up her day job as she had been thinking about leaving anyway and they wouldn’t let her have time off to do the tour, so that decision may have looked even more stupid to her family as they watched her play (albeit very well) to what was basically a very big empty room.
After all the waiting and the boredom and the build-up our set flew by. Some people started to arrive while we were playing and although we still felt we played to no-one we sold quite a few (well, 10) CDs after so someone must have been listening. We were reliant on CD sales to help pay for the tour, so this was the point where I started to worry slightly: I was managing the tour finances. Simon, Sam and Deborah were not working at the time, so Grant and I were at risk of having to dig deep. To be fair, I don’t think the others would have left us in the lurch, but it was still an extra worry. Remember, we were on £50 a night, and the van alone was costing us £40 a day for hire alone.
We came out after our show to man the merchandise stall – we’d agreed with SohoDolls that we could borrow their drumkit and we would look after sales while they played. The audience came closer to the stage, but it still looked like there was hardly anyone there, especially in the cavernous confines of the venue. They sounded MASSIVE. We took the piss out of their epic soundchecks, but it obviously paid off. They sounded like a ‘proper’ band, certainly more than we did.
SohoDolls singer Maya joined us on the merch stall once they had finished playing. A flurry of middle-aged men descended upon her. She had once posed for a photoshoot, and would often go onstage, wearing nothing but a very short skirt, some heels and a piece of gaffa tape across her breasts. She later confided that the trick is to cover your nipples with cotton wool so when you take the gaffa off you don’t rip your tits off.
“Why didn’t you wear the gaffa tape?” one smirked. “We only came for the gaffa.” This wouldn’t be the last time we heard someone say this.
Bored and mildly disheartened, we jumped in the van and travelled back to Sam’s family home in Congleton, where Sam’s mother dished up a rather spectacular chicken casserole. After dinner, it was a nice night so 586 went to hang out in the garden. Some of 586 started to smoke. One of 586 started to skin up. Sam (quite rightly) went apeshit mental at said member of 586 and stormed inside. That member promptly stopped skinning up and put their grass away, branded a twat.
Tired and ratty, we all went to bed.