12th October 2007 – Winchester Railway
Or “I don’t understand it. I understand words.”
“Free the chilli”
We woke in the glamorous environs of the Plymouth Travelodge without massive hangovers. This was a good start to the day. Even better was the discovery of a Wetherspoon’s right next to the Plymouth Travelodge. A Wetherspoon’s with giant posters in the window advertising their super-cheap full English breakfast. After all the fry-ups we had been promised but hadn’t received, it was a bit annoying that our first fry-up of the tour was paid from our own pocket, but it mattered not: we had a fry-up. This was all that mattered.
We jumped in the van and started to make our way to the former capital of England, Winchester. The journey was uneventful, and we arrived early with loads of time to kill before soundcheck. Not that we expected to get a soundcheck, but, y’know. We were early. We loaded our equipment in to the venue and wandered off to explore the locality. I needed to buy some guitar strings so got directions to the local music shop from the venue staff and off we went. Despite the presence of the usual high street shops, Winchester had a distinctive character and was quite beautiful. As we came up to the guitar shop however, all this retreated into the background as I caught sight of a Thing. A Thing I might have actually loved.
586 were disco and funk-influenced, but we were still an indie punk outfit frequently compared to Bis. We did not employ many solos, guitar or otherwise, and my few guitar solos were generally simple and rhythmic. Simon and I were big fans of off-beat stabs and interesting rhythms, so many of our guitar patterns were designed to be complementary to each other.
Led Zeppelin were a blues-rock band who formed in the late ‘60s. Their guitarist, Jimmy Page (did I really need to name him?), is a flamboyant virtuoso. While their riffs are memorable and in some cases sound fairly simple, if you’re the former singing guitarist in a disco punk band who was a fan of rhythmic playing a la Johnny Marr out of The Smiths or Bernard Butler out of Suede, when you finally find yourself getting into The Zep circa 2011 due to the persistence of your Zep-lovin’ fiancée, and learning how to play their songs to impress said Zep-lovin’ fiancée, you may find yourself sitting there thinking that you’re convinced the flash bastard stuck that part in there just to piss you off.
Jimmy Page famously played a double-necked Gibson SG. It is quite a distinctive look, very much a prog/blues rock kind of a guitar. It looked like this:
You don’t exactly see many singing guitarists of disco-punk bands that get compared to Bis playing one. The Thing was a cherry-red copy of Jimmy Page’s guitar, and it was beautiful. And only £350. As I looked at it hanging there in the guitar shop window, I felt a need deep within my belly. I had to have it. I could see it in my head. Rocking up to poncey Shoreditch venues, double-necked guitar in hand, tearing into I Am Not A Monkey. It would be amazing. Ridiculous, but amazing. Probably. I could picture it:
I could kind of afford it if I didn’t eat for a little while. Determined not to impulse purchase, we carried on our wanders round the former capital. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I was getting kind of obsessed. Sadly, by the time we were making our way back to the venue, the guitar shop was shut. A double-necked Gibson SG copy would not be mine today. I didn’t really need it, but still. I was a little choked.
We soundchecked, drank the beer, ate the crisps and played the gig. The venue was pretty ace, but the gig itself was utterly unmemorable. I’m sure it was amazing – obviously – but I wrote nothing about it at the time and I remember little now. Other than the fact we were playing a club called The Living Room and the venue was decorated like – wait for it – a living room.
Once show time was over and SohoDolls had taken over the merch stall, we got in the van and drove to nearby Horndean. My girlfriend of the time’s parents lived there and had very kindly offered to put us up for the night. When we arrived, due to the need to be quiet – my ex’s mother had work in the morning – the band went against type and all went straight to sleep. Her father had other plans, however. He was a good bloke, was Keith. He introduced me to the joys of cheese, port, and the ‘90s TV adaptations of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe. I joined him out in the kitchen and he and I stayed up till 4am drinking port and cracking dirty jokes. I suspected I may pay for this in the morning…
13th October 2007 – Southampton Lennon’s
“Nothing to see here”
…yet I needn’t have worried. It was all cool. I didn’t have a hangover and if I’m honest I felt quite refreshed. Result.
We made our way to Southampton where we – surprise – unloaded our equipment at the venue and wandered round the shops before getting bored and going to the pub with Matt and Paul from SohoDolls. Nothing of note happened, really. I drew a picture of Wolverine while we sat in the beer garden and that’s pretty much it. We didn’t get to soundcheck, we went for a curry, we played an OK show and then – this being the end of the week’s touring – we got back in the van and went home to London. We didn’t even have a quote of the day.