U.S.A. Tour Diary – What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been.

TTMTOUR DIARY11 Comments

I’ve started writing two incomplete tour diaries since the last one I posted. The problem is that by the time I got halfway through, they had already become outdated and events superseded by new ones. I’ve been chasing time but it out-ran me and so I find myself now on BA flight 0086 to London Heathrow
having finally completed our three month long adventure of the United States and Canada. Over that three month period, starting in mid-February, we have driven over 16,000 miles in our sprinter van, played fifty shows and performed forty-six radio sessions.. There have been highs and lows in both temperature and morale but regarding the latter, thankfully mostly highs. As five (six including the indefatigable Iain Graham) individuals travelling about in, what is basically, a tin can on wheels and living in such close proximity for so long. To come out the other side as an even stronger unit than before is testament to the love and respect we have for each other and our total belief in this band. It really has been an experience we won’t forget. As well as Iain Graham who has been solid as a rock as both a tour manager and sound engineer second to none, I’d also like to thank all the guys on our management team, our U.S. record label, our agent and live nation for working their asses off to make all this happen whilst we take all the glory! Stand up and take a bow guys, you deserve it!
Whilst i’m at it, I must also thank you, the reader of this diary, and everyone else who came out to see us on this tour and made it as amazing as it was for let’s face it, without you, the whole thing would have been pointless!
By now you may have heard that we are to support The Rolling Stones again. This time, in Orlando, Florida. We are obviously honoured and thrilled to be invited back by the most legendary band on the planet. Another piece of good news is that “Take It Back” has broken into the top 10 in the u.s. active rock radio chart. There are so many things going on at the moment that it can be hard to process it all. The implications of all the work we’ve done over here hasn’t become fully apparent to us yet. We’ve just been driving from gig to gig, cocooned in our cosy metal Mercedes womb, generally unaware of whatever impact we may be making. The active rock chart position has been a nice indicator for us that all our work has not been in vain.
So, to fill you in on the last week a little, I’ll backtrack to our San Francisco show. If this was a made-for-tv film in the late eighties, the screen would now begin to wobble and everything would go into soft focus as we travel back, back, back in time…..

I don’t think it could come as any surprise when I tell you that we are absolutely shattered. We swing wildly between bouts of manic energy and paralysing lethargy. It’s the kind of fatigue that has become so deep rooted that it’s going to take more than a good nights sleep to shake off. Add to that the fact that I forget where I am and have no idea what day of the week it is and you can see that it’s probably time we went home to reset and assume some sense of normality. I don’t want this to come across as a complaint. Everything about this tour has been incredible and tackling this gigantic country was always going to involve a lot of hard work but, like I imagine a marathon runner as the finish line comes into view would feel an elated sense of relief.  There are already plans for us to return to the States more than once this year and I’m already looking forward to this but it’s definitely time for a little breather – I’m knackered!

I was experiencing one of these bouts of lethargy on our arrival in San Francisco. We’d finished loading in and, failing to find a place to prostrate myself, I considered lying on the floor in the middle of the venue until doors opened and I was forced to move.
As has happened more than once on this tour, just as we start lacking in enthusiasm or begin to feel demotivated, something will happen to turn it all around and restore the status quo. The show in San Francisco was possibly one of my favourite of the tour. We didn’t know if anyone would show up to see us at all and whilst it wasn’t a huge crowd, it was certainly enough to create a great vibe. The sound on stage was magnificent and I felt that connection with my brothers in the band that I think makes The Temperance Movement special. It was just the tonic I needed and lethargy was replaced with adrenaline and pure joy – I love being in this band!
After San Francisco, we drove through breathtaking mountain scenery to get to Reno. Once there, I have to say that Reno was less breathtaking. At least downtown was anyway. Although at one time exciting and glamorous, the shine has rubbed off a over the years and left “The Biggest Little City in the World” slightly tarnished and tired.
Despite us feeling the same, the show in Reno was great and the crowd made the long drive more than worthwhile.
Our hotel in Reno was, naturally, also a casino and so I applied the old maxim, “when in Rome…” by investigating the slots. My self-appointed assistant, who sidled up to me once I’d selected a machine promising me good fortune and wealth, was a local drug dealer wearing a cap so low that he had to tilt his head backwards just to look at me. He first broke the ice by asking me for a lucky dollar which, when I handed it over, turned out to be not so lucky, and then proceeded to instruct me on how to operate the baffling machines whilst unsuccessfully offering to sell me various methods of getting high. With his slot machine know-how, we amassed a staggering fortune of just over four dollars which I donated to him to buy himself a better fitting cap before going up to my bed.
The next morning, we discovered that downtown Reno was not indicative of the rest of the city when we visited one of the finest coffee twatteries of the tour. We basked in the morning sun, drinking cortados and cappuccinos and eating unbelievably good pastries. Reno had redeemed itself!
The drive to Portland, although long, was stunningly beautiful and included a food-stop at an unexpectedly good Chinese restaurant literally in the middle of nowhere. Jeff Lee appeared to be both waiter and chef who, amongst his various life achievements, had once cooked for Jackie Chan, a memento of which he hung proudly on his wall. I’m sure Mr Chan was as pleased with his dinner as we were with ours.
Portland gave us some beautiful weather and a venue to match – The Star theatre. I’d like to add this venue to the list of ones we want to return to and sell out. Being a Monday night, the turnout wasn’t overwhelming but what the crowd lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm. Thank you Portland.
Our next destination on the home strait was Seattle. Or at least we thought it was Seattle until we were told that it was actually Ballard which is considered, by residents of Ballard, to be an entirely separate place altogether. Either way, the venue was in possibly the coolest neighbourhood in the U.S. Pretty much every shop or business was a twattery.   Even the gym had exposed brickwork! (to those of you who may be new to the tour diary and unfamiliar with the term “twattery”,  please see HERE for an explanation)
After loading in, I went off in search of a toy shop. My little girl had requested I bought home a new “Sylvanian Family” (“Calico Critters” to residents of the USA and Canada due to licensing agreements!) to live with us. Faced with the shame of returning empty handed, I summoned an über car to take me to Top Ten Toys and it seems that even the über cars in Ballard are the coolest in the U.S. When the car arrived, I jumped in the backseat and was instantly handed a Gladioli by a wonderful lady who reminded me of a cross between Whoopi Goldberg and Mother Theresa. The pockets of both front seats were stuffed with more Gladioli waiting to be gifted to the next lucky passengers. I wanted to take her home with me but she told me she was busy studying network security at night school and was quite happy in Ballard or Seattle or wherever we were. Gladioli lady waited for me outside Top Ten Toys until I returned with a family of kangaroos, a pair of robots and a giant squid. Back to the venue we went and another show crossed off the list.
Now only one show now stood between us and the finish line – Vancouver.
As our final show, we were always going to throw every last bit of energy we had left into it. We were all running on empty but as we walked on the stage and Damon counted in “Midnight Black” for the last time on this tour, the fatigue soon transformed into unbridled energy and the next 75 minutes were spent immersed in a blissful, loud, sweaty, beautiful, emotional finale. And that was that – Tour over!
So, as I sit here in seat 48D, there is a strange feeling of disbelief that the previous 3 months happened at all. It’s almost dreamlike. Did we really just do all that? There’s also a huge sense of achievement similar, I imagine, to a group of mountaineers standing atop Everest thinking, “Fucking hell, we made it!” And whilst we might not have the same view, at least we don’t have to climb back down again!
Instead, I’m on my way home to give my little girl a huge cuddle…and a giant squid!