BAND OF BLOGGERS


May 2006 – Synchronicity, Serendipity and Sri Lanka’s Number 10
From HHB’s Diary…

So, Lonz has got me hooked on tea, Paul has started sporting women’s eyewear and Crispian is nurturing a slightly worrying interest in British naval affairs – judging by his biography on Lord Nelson and solitary visit to HMS Victory…

Bristol, Leeds and Portsmouth:

The first short leg of the tour is over and we’re staring down the barrel of an entire day off. Amid the usual mundane domestic admin I manage to squeeze in the cricket highlights (Sri Lanka are currently touring England and today is the first day of a 5 day test match).

Glancing through the Sri Lankan line-up I see a new bowler by the name of Kulasekara. Hmm. Although I’ve not seen the full coverage due to the enforced removal of my cable TV last year, I can tell it’s been a good day for England – the Sri Lankans bummed out.

Still, maybe Kulasekara acquitted himself well – a valiant warrior, toiling in the face of great adversity… Tragically however, as the highlights unfurled it became clear that Kulasekara failed to make even the slightest dent in the English armoury and was unceremoniously tonked all over the park all day.
“Was he any good?” asks Lord Nelson from the fo’csle.
“Terrible” I reply. “We smacked him all over the place.”
“Oh.” the Admiral seems a little downcast by this news. “Maybe he’ll pick it up later in the game.”

HMS Kulashaker is fuelled up and ready to go. Which is more than can be said for its bedraggled crew and passengers – none of whom seem to have been able to get much rest on their day off.

“Simon, how long is it to Liverpool?”
“About 3 and a half hours”

Six hours, two traffic jams and one very contrived back-route later we are in Liverpool. Simon is near the end of his tether and we’re only on day 4. Crispian is starting to tamper with the set. There’s talk of dropping ‘Revenge of the King’ just for tonight – to see how it feels. Alonza and I put up a fight – it is the title track of the EP after all….

It has been a difficult one to do justice to but it’s sounding good now. Dodge is not so sure but with some gentle pressure he backs down. The gig is a cracker – great crowd, good sound. Tokyo Terry vamps up our dressing room afterwards and spirits are high once more. However, Dodge still has doubts about Revenge.

The England batsmen slog on. Pieterson reaches his highest score in first class cricket with a massive 158, Trescothick also announces his return to the squad with a distinguished 106. England declare on 551 having lost only 6 wickets. Kulasekara gets none of them. It seems the king is in a bit of a pickle.

Sheffield is wet and cold. The streets are deserted except for the occasional bar overspill and 9 or so different style stretch limos. The venue is pretty good – it’s new and none of us have played here before. The soundcheck is quick and easy, Graham is happy and the monitor guy looks like a character from the Russ Abbott show. Another great gig, another great crowd, and Russ Abbott’s man did a great job actually. Dodge is still unhappy about Revenge. I’m convinced it’s irrational.

The Sri Lankans are all out for an embarrassing 192 and are forced to follow on. However, Kulasekara is 3rd highest scorer in his team with 29 runs. Pretty impressive for a bowler in at no. 10.

HMS Kulashaker cuts an impressive swathe through the peaks, lakes, and heather of the borders. In between a live session with Billy Sloane on radio Clyde, an appalling kung fu DVD, Paul doing his best to lose us at service stations, and tea in Penrith, the Sri Lankans have clawed their way back into the game. By the time I get home, for the arse end of our last day off, it’s time for the cricket highlights of the final day – and its Kulasekara who has done it with the bat. A sterling 64 runs has ensured that Sri Lanka draw a test match that they should have lost. A message comes through on the intercom – it’s Lord Nelson “Kulasekara is kicking ass with the bat!” The king is a hero. Revenge of the king.

Norwich. Lonz is making tea, Paul is warming up and Dodge is running through the set list with Graham.

“So Revenge is definitely third?”
“Definitely” replies the Admiral.

What a comeback. I think about mentioning synchronicity or something but we never quite get there…

The Tour Diary of Mr Mills

PART ONE – THE DREAM WITHIN A DREAM

JJ Cale’s ‘Troubadour’ was lulling us into a false sense of security. There was nothing mellow about our situation. We were about to perform a deplorable act of tour mongering. Thousands of miles, planes and buses, two huge gigs, four days and very little sleep.

Graham (front of house sound), Jamie (onstage sound), Simon (tambourine/tour manager), myself, Harry, Alonza & Paul. Codename: seven dwarves.

“It’s going to be fine,” says Simon, “we’re not going to sleep properly for four days, but we’ll be too busy to notice. It’ll be like a dream.”

“A dream within a dream,” adds Alonza, wistfully inhaling thick bluish smoke from his imaginary cigarette.

The Primary dream is jet lag. 8 hours difference.

Travelling musicians often compound their jet lag. Drug and alcohol abuse can mess you up, but CNN is the most common form of mental torture for jet lag sufferers holed up in a darkened hotel room. Any person who has watched CNN non-stop for 12 hours will understand. First you lose faith in humanity; then you lose your marbles.

The secondary dream is culture shock. It doesn’t matter how many times you travel to the Far East, it will still freak you out every time. It’s another world. It is weird and wonderful.

Japan takes 18 hours; we stop in Seoul for two hours and then hop on to Tokyo. Sleeping pills are handed out; “Just because you’re unconscious, don’t think you are sleeping.” I warn Harry. “There’s no rapid eye movement. You are not resting, merely suspending your existence.”

“Sounds perfect,” says Alonza, who takes two.

Having landed in Tokyo we jump in a bus and drive to the Capitol hotel, escorted by SMASH, our promoter. The smash rep, Yuko, nicknamed Kage, (meaning ‘Shadow’) is a sweetie, about four feet tall, who likes to clap her hands together very fast and say ‘Ooooh!” upon finding something most agreeable. We are all surprised to hear that this little oriental sprite survived 7 months in India, travelling about on her own. (This is impressive; India is not easy for anyone, let alone for a girl alone. Even the most hardened Aussie will start to whinge at 6 months.) Appearances are often misleading, and Kage is in fact, tough as nails, and we suspect, a bit of an acidhead.

The Capitol Hotel is quite brilliant, the Fab four stayed there in 1966. It is the only hotel in the world I have fond memories of. It was the first place we stayed when Kula Shaker visited Japan, and we always go back. It has a strange and wonderful style of interior design, a sort of classic Japan mixed with Rat pack Las Vegas.

It is about to be knocked down to make way for a car park. Tragic.

After a few hours of disturbed sleep and much CNN torture, we get back on a bus and drive into the mountains for Fuji Rock. The greatest festival in the East.

CDM, July 2006

PART TWO – THE DREAM WITHIN A DREAM

Fuji Rock is the biggest music festival in the Far East. Three days, five stages, loads of tents, and what seems like hundreds of bands. It is not anywhere near Mount Fuji (as I hoped it was). Must be something to do with sponsorship. Anyway its up in the mountains, surrounded by lush, wild forests, ski slopes, and an enormous golf course.

We arrive late. Watch the Zutons, who are headlining the same stage as us the preceding night. They are brilliant. Thick Liddypool accents. None of the audience can understand a word anyone says.

Franz Ferdinand headline the Green stage but their act cannot stave off my exhaustion, I stagger back to the hotel and hit the sack.

No sleep. No peace. The hotel is next to the site and some bastard is having a rave nearby. Later, a gang of Japanese thugs invade the hotel tennis courts and attempt some kind of new game fusing tennis doubles and American football whilst under the influence of DMT.

At 5am, I stand at my window as the pink tendrils of Dawn reach out in the East. Over the misty mountains, the clouds tumble down sleepily into the valley over thousands of tiny multi-coloured tents.

(Anyone who wants to see what the site is like should watch Kurosawa’s Rashomon.)

5.30am and Im wandering the golf course like a ghost haunting a Zen garden. The greens are cut to perfection, like some monastic gardener has cut each separate blade of grass with his toe clippers. Maybe, he did; this IS Japan. Anything’s possible.

Breakfast is a minefield of fishy dishes; even the cornflakes smell like they were scraped from the bottom of the ocean. For this vegetarian, a combination of sticky white rice, pickle & Soya sauce are employed to get the day started, washed down with four cups of tea. Quite gross, yes, but at least my breath doesn’t smell like Cat food.

Paul’s been up for hours, re-arranging his room, thrashing away on his ‘practice pad’, (the art of continuously hitting a thick piece of plastic with a drum stick). He says it’s good for the mind.

The band all get together to discuss the day ahead, we are due to play in the evening but there’s promotion to do. The Japanese media don’t seem to care that we haven’t recorded our album yet. They are all over us like a funny rash. In five hours, we do five interviews, four photo shoots, and two acoustic sessions, leaving us well and truly spaced.

The gig approaches, the lights go down, the red marquee is packed. Out front, Graham starts swirling his magic sounds and weaves in Gauri’s immaculate invocation from ‘Radhe Radhe’. Aided by several thousand watts of amplification, Gauri’s voice erupts like a beam of pure light, unstoppable, wings spread, soaring through the ether and throughout the valley, bathing us all in a glow of angelic protection.

The audience feel it too. The roar is deafening.

We stand backstage, gobsmacked, in complete silence.

Eventually we stumble on stage; half wishing we could just listen to Gauri all night. The gig is rockin’. Everyone happy, totally exhausted.

There’s little time to appreciate the moment. We chat to the Mystery Jets, who are a merry bunch, and who tell me they’ve been having a ‘Govinda jam’, chanting together. We award them first prize for ‘most psychedelic dressing room’ at the festival.

Whilst The Mystery Jets are being peeled off the ceiling, we board the bus for the long drive back to Tokyo. It’s a long, winding mountain road, a little more scary at night than in the day, but we keep ourselves entertained.

“Good start to the show,” I say to Graham, recalling the intro. “Yeah,” he smiles, “Gauri was definitely in the house.”

We reach Tokyo, clamber into our respective beds. Out in the corridor, I hear footsteps and some muffled voices; Harry’s banging on Alonza’s door, I guess he must be asking him how to switch on CNN.

I finally turn off the light. Darkness envelopes my frazzled mind. Tomorrow is another day, another country, and another dream.

CDM, August 2006

PART THREE – THE NIGHTMARE

Four hours of broken sleep later and we’re on our way to TOKYO airport.

We bid farewell to darling Kage, and get stuck into doing what we are all experts at, which is loafing around in airports.

Alonza and Harry have no money for breakfast. Debit cards not accepted, they’ve spent all their per diems on exotic herbs at Fuji.

Scrounging off Simon, Alonza slopes off to the smoking room to light more imaginary cigarettes, and as he does so, leaves his ticket and passport on a seat in the lounge.

An hour later and we’re boarding the plane, only to realise that Paul is missing. Lonz, who has not yet stepped through the barrier, is dispatched on the rescue mission and Paul is found fast asleep beneath a row of chairs outside Duty Free.

Nothing changes.

In Korea, we are picked up by a bus, the interior of which resembles a Moroccan bordello. It’s hot and humid, and we are driven to Pentaport Rock Festival, Korea’s 1st of its kind.

It’s day 3.

Day 1 and 2 brought Placebo, Black Eyed peas, and a typhoon.

When we reach the site, it is a war zone. Imagine the Glastonbury mud baths but with tropical humidity. Dazed punters wander about like refugees beneath the shadow of the most enormous stage I have ever seen in my life. It towers above the site like a frickin NASA launch pad.

The crew stay at the site, whilst Harry, Alonza and myself drive to the hotel to try and get some sleep before the show.

As soon as I lay my head on the pillow the phone rings- It’s Simon. “There’re technical problems”; he sounds concerned.

On returning, Simon is so stressed he’s going pale in the heat.

“It’s a cluster fuck”, says Graham, brandishing a screwdriver at me before sticking it into Harry’s Wurlitzer.

The equipment we asked the Korean promoter to provide is crap. Paul’s kit sounds and looks nasty, the amplifiers they have supplied us with are not what we asked for, the Wurlitzer is broken, and the vintage Leslie Speaker is so crusty it has mice living in it.

Like consummate pros, we quickly panic and break down in tears.

Eventually, after much frantic discussion we cook up a plan to survive this gig; a subtle blend of British ingenuity, smoke and mirrors…

Deafen the audience with maximum PA volume, blind them with spotlights and hope to God they’re stoned.

7.30 pm. The humidity begins to lift and a cool ocean breeze rolls in.

We ascend the stage.

Out at the sound desk, the eerie twilight is not visible to Graham, who later tells me that, from the front of house, the entire sky was blotted out, length ways and side ways, by the gargantuan Korean stage.

We launch off well enough but cracks quickly begin to appear on the ice below us. Equipment is going down left, right, and centre and we’re losing our grip.

My telecaster sounds like crap played through these weird amplifiers, disappearing into a thin mesh of distortion. All my MXR effect pedals expire due to the intense humidity. Stage side, Franz Ferdinand’s guitar technicians look at my pedals, wipe their brows and shake their heads.

I don’t need to know what they are saying to Simon. I’m screwed.

I’m just hoping Graham is salvaging our sound from out front.

Jamie, doing on-stage sound, is nowhere to be found. He later tells me that he couldn’t tell where the stage was either, as the monitor desk was hidden behind eight tons of sound equipment.

In between songs, Harry calls to Simon for help, unwittingly announcing to the crowd that his ‘…organ is dying’.

My attempts at pidgin Korean are well received by an amused and forgiving audience, but it’s not enough to save us.

Harry is reduced to hammering two fingers on a synthesiser keyboard.

Imagine a HUGE, huge stage, with a tiny little man playing a tiny little keyboard.

The only person having a good gig is Paul, who’s grinning away, which is NEVER a good sign.

Then there’s a miracle. I can’t really explain it. Out of chaos and desperation, we seem to break through the pain barrier and reach a state of carefree and joyful abandon. The audience lifts us up with great cheers and, as if responding to the encouragement, Harry’s organ snaps back into action.

We’re soon blasting through remainder of our set and all are happy.

After the show, Graham (who is never one to pamper us) tells us it was okay, almost good, in-fact, and we breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Franz Ferdinand then take the stage and we can relax.

As we are leaving I am approached by a company called ‘Moolon’ who, ironically, give me some retro guitar effect pedals to try out, all hand engraved with lotuses and angel wings. Incredible looking.

“Shame they didn’t come two hours ago” remarks Paul.

Returning to the hotel, I traipse through the lobby, passing a large television screen tuned to CNN.

And everything stops.

Back in my room, and I’m still being haunted by those images.

It must be at least the second week of the Israeli/Lebanon conflict.

This evening we are treated to the sight of children’s crumbled bodies being lifted out from under tons of bombed wreckage.

“More than 50 dead, at least 37 of them children”.

When the United Nations Security Council attempted to rule a cease-fire, there were only two countries who opposed it.

America and Britain.

I switch off the TV and sit there in the silence…

We’re no better than the people we claim to defend themselves from. We are one and the same, sharing a diseased condition. Spreading our plagues of ignorance and death.

That why Gandhi was so powerful. He understood the law of Karma. Violence breeds violence. He brought the British Empire to its knees without firing a single shot. The biggest, most brutal Imperial force the world had ever seen.

You’d think people would have learnt a lesson or two there.

I lie in the darkness, staring at the ceiling.

The roar of this evening’s audience seems a very long way off now, like it was just another dream.

Morning comes, eventually, and I am there to see it in, waiting impatiently at the Gates of Dawn, watching the clock for breakfast.

But it’s two more hours till the bastards serve. Not even tea, they say.

I take an insomniac’s wander through downtown Seoul, past more golf courses and what seems like a never ending maze of restaurants and noodle bars displaying hideous huge placards of slimy meat. I wonder how many animals are slaughtered each year to make noodles here?

I pass an alley way and see a small puppy curled up by some bins. He sees me and waddles over, looking hopeful.

Poor flea bitten thing.

They eat dog in Korea.

But then, they eat cows in Britain.

I guess that’s the problem. People just don’t want to think. We’re so lost as a species, we’d rather slit another living creature’s throat than consider the alternative.

How can we call ourselves humans when we’re not humane?

I stroll back to the hotel, kicking pebbles and grumbling to myself.

“Morning”, says Simon.

“Hmph”. I reply.

Back in my room, I get the feeling I need to read some light comedy.

I never really unpacked and yet I’ve managed to completely cover the room in clothes and mess.

How does that happen? Someone call Stephen Hawking.

18 hours later and I’ll be back in London, crawling under the covers.

Keeping that thought at the front of my mind, I check out of the hotel.

Back in London the world seems smaller and safer.

The seven dwarves say goodbye to each other at Heathrow and we all go our separate ways. As I drag my feet through the airport, I pass by the hectic bustling crowds of anxious travellers.

Innumerable dreamers having innumerable dreams.

Paul’s Postcards From The Edge

Sept 2006 – Album Recording Photos, By Harry

Here’s Dodge in the live room. It’s not his acoustic he’s playing there, his acoustic sounded too good, so he borrowed this Takameanie off someone. It did not disappoint. It sounds crap.


Here’s Tchad Blake. He’s originally from Texas but after living in England for some years he now says ‘Tom-AR-toes’. Here he is at the controls of the C-shaped, never ending mixing desk.


Pauli… looking busy.


Pauli with his doppleganger. Tchad is all into binaural recording, which is the art of recording sound as the ear would hear it. In this head’s prosthetic ear cavities there are tiny highly sensitive microphones. Phew! Tchad loves it, but not as much as Pauli.


The Welshman in the live room, looking veryconcerned as Harry wheels in a fith keyboard.


Pauli smokin’ herbal ciggies in Dodge’s garden. The camera was blurry, ‘cos it was late.


Pauli… a few mins after that last photo.


Endless Ping pong. Crispian didn’t stand a chance against Alonza’s Matrix-style skills.


Tchad again, in the massive Realworld control room.


Dodge, playing the orrible guitar in the live room. So far so good, the 3rd album is at least 50% done.

BLOG FROM CRISPIAN

Hello folks,

The tour leapt off to a deafening start in Southampton. It was an intense day of setting up, with some production ‘teething’ issues with projectors, and equipment and the like, but “that’s show business etc”. As far as the celestial situation was concerned, astrologically it was Chaturti, a day sacred to the Elephant God, Lord Ganesh, who removes obstacles for those on the spiritual super highway. So nice to have some help along the way. Our support artist, the highly original and without a doubt, totally insane Dr Joel, was also very excited about the fact and had the crowd chanting Ganesh mantras during the show.

Not something support bands do very often.

Our homage to ‘If’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and our T.O.F.F aesthetic seemed well received and we managed to play hurricane season without completely messing up. The crowd were hot, noisy and happy, and we were very pleased with the first night.


LETTER FROM PAULI

Hello Strangefolks, here is the latest missive from the backline.

It’s been a relatively quiet summer, interspersed with some very loud bursts of semi-structured indo-rock.

I think Crispian already posted a photo I took from the stage at Fuji rock but this is a much more interesting, mysterious long-legged badger I spied at dawn behind the festival

If any Japanese fans can help me identify this strange creature could you let me know?


On our return with the boys in Europe doing promo, I ventured west to a military drum workshop in Surrey to fix my favourite snare drum.


It was like something from another age; Victorian drum porn on the ceiling, very little natural light, and the heavy odour of brass, tin, copper, and the various alloys and acids needed for making timpani. Wonderful. (for someone interested in old drums).


We travelled to Gijon (northern Spain) where Harry, Lonze and I swam in the Atlantic (no pictures – we wouldn’t want to show off our magnificent physiques�).

The show was in a town square where I managed to catch some medieval Italian flag wavers who had some great footwear.



It hasn’t all been sun and sand, however. We travelled to Stavanger in Norway. We each went on early morning strolls, on our first day. Crispian and I met by chance in a Mexican restaurant (trying to track down a vegetarian breakfast)…


I also went to my brother’s birthday bash in a crypt in Bristol.

Here a super group comprising of Bucky, Don Pecker and myself entertained a small crowd and were then blown off the stage by the charisma and musical prowess of Dr Joel. An Indian multi-instrumentalist and abstract raconteur. Watch this space.

AUTUMN TOUR PHOTO BLOG – PART 1

We had a week of bits and bobs before the tour started for real, starting with an internet session in a strip club in Soho…




Saucy.


I thought I was taking a photo of Lonze but the camera decided to take a photo of Bic instead…


We played the Water Rats…


And the Rescue Rooms…


Ministry of information.


Southampton, just before the show, back to school. Literally.


Mr. Pattison plugs in.


Pauli on the never-ending quest for drum tuning perfection.


Prince Crispy.


Jamie mixing it up.


Still searching…


The boudoir.



Curry house time-travel in Wolverhampton. Check out Les Dawson.


The doctor is IN!


Stay tuned for more photo goodness tomorrow…

AUTUMN TOUR PHOTO BLOG – PART 2

Pauli soundchecking his incredible new 80’s light-catching cymbals.



Soundcheck boredom.




Alonza soundcheck.


What fuzz pedal?


Bass surgery…


That’s better.


Nice lights.


Hanging around…


…still hanging around.


Once more unto the breach!


Under the lights.


Stay tuned for the final instalment on Monday…

AUTUMN TOUR PHOTO BLOG – PART 3

Manchester.


On the road.


Blue skies between Sheffield and Manchester.



The last venue on the UK leg of this tour, Koko.


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.


Setting up the rig.


Bic at speed.



Simon talks to the hand.


Mozza


Bic and Lar at Koko.


Moody crew.


Flash Harry. hehe…

Harry’s Tour Diary – October 2007

Milan. The venue was underground and made of stone – thankfully however the crowd was not. It was loud and hot and fun, the girls were beautiful and stylish and the dudes were handsome and even more stylish…



3 hours after finishing the gig and our tinnitus is only just relaxing into the background. Our day off in Cologne seems to have only made me more tired so after some chilling out in the bus I manage to get in at least 1/2 an hour uninterrupted sleep. Those of us using the correct medication managed to hang in there all the way until arrival in ancient Rome. Time for a quick sightseeing tour – gelato on the Spanish steps, coins in the Trevi fountain and a few Christians at the Colloseum.






Getting to the soundcheck proved to be more difficult than expected due to a demonstration held by what appeared to be the gay-techno-communist party. Lots of companeros, Cuban all-stars accompanied by really bad disco… Still, everyone seemed to be enjoying their revolution.


Got to go now. 10 mins to stage time and things are starting to go blurry. What did those Hare Krishnas put in my dinner…?

(Photos by Paul)

Thank you Amsterdam…

It’s been years since I travelled on a sleeper bus. We’ve got 3 weeks travelling across Europe, a party of 10 (4 band members, 4 crew, 1 tour manager and 1 driver) and this is where the phrase ‘living on top of one another’ becomes a reality. There are two lounges front & back of the bus, with this corridor of power in the middle where 10 coffin /shelf/ bunk things are stacked in rows of 3. It’s intimate and a little bit creepy. When we drove through the channel tunnel, I had this eerie realisation of being incarcerated in a coffin / in a bus/ in a train/ in a tunnel/ under the ocean. Try not to think about it too much.
On a tour bus you have to sleep with your feet facing forward, this is so that if the driver brakes suddenly you won’t snap your neck. It happens a lot, apparently. One musician famously broke both his and his groupie’s neck (which he’d somehow managed to squeeze into his bunk) after the driver swerved to avoid a cat. It’s quite a racket on our bus, we’ve got some pretty bad snorers, and what with the constant procession of hookers, dealers and dwarves in and out of Harry’s bunk, there’s little sleep to be had.

The Milky Way is the most famous gig in Amsterdam; all the greats played here, so there’s a sense of occasion. The gig was PACKED, and filmed for FAB channel, so we were on our best behaviour, even though my guitars seemed to have been yet again sabotaged by some dark forces, we survived my amplifier power down during Narayana and all the crowd sang the mantra. Transcendental sound vibration in the house, definitely. They liked the Jerry projections as well, good old Amsterdam, a place of fierce individuality, psychedelic drug exploration and very dodgy Euro-techno-trance.

Thank you Amsterdam, you were brilliant.

Crispian xx

17.10.2007

Alonza’s Tour Diary

We are half way through the tour and the biological experiment in the bunk area of the bus is coming on well. We seem to have created some interesting new life forms even though the smell of decay suggests otherwise. ( -was it Baudelaire who said ‘there is no beauty without decay”?) Ah, the beautiful life of the road; the glamour, the thrills and the search for a functioning toilet.

Whilst travelling overnight from Rome to Ravenna, I feel cabin fever kicking in, at least I hope that’s what it is, either that or the rest of the band really are plotting to sell me on to Romanian bass player traffickers.

We arrive in Ravenna and all is well. After ten hours of vibrating sleep above the rear axle of the bus I feel almost rested. Drinking tea in the front lounge everyone is relaxed until Pauli comes in to inform us that we are going to play in an overgrown scout hut with no P.A. After only two days in the country everyone is a little frayed by Italian “organisation” however what this country lacks in efficiency is more than made up for by it’s fine cuisine and we are all placated by the feast laid out for us in the dressing room.

After much eyebrow raising the show is sold out and comes together, so everyone is happy, we bid farewell to our Italian hosts and head overnight to Munich.

Alonza

22.10.2007

HARRY’S PHOTO BLOG – PART 1 (NOVEMBER 6TH)

Early days in Amsterdam.


The hope of food, before gig in Amsterdam.


Our bus broke so we had to commandeer a German one for a bit. It had a lot of wood panelling.


The crew weren’t bothered.


The cathedral.


There were about 1000 steps…


…but it was worth it. I think.


We took in some of the town…


…endless street statues.


But we were lucky enough to catch Tom Waits doing an impromtu set next to H&M.


And a fantastic gypsy band featuring Nicholas Cage on dulcimer.


While Lonze called the missus I made some new friends.


They’re not scary at all…


…really.

HARRY’S PHOTO BLOG – PART 2 (NOVEMBER 9TH)

Back to the hotel.


The camera catches Pauli’s shock of flame hair.


Oh yeah, we did a gig at the Prime Club.


Alonza calling the missus again.


Milan – we love ya.


Still gorgeous.


Ancient Rome.


Modern Rome


La Dolce Vita.


What IS Simon doing?


They have Hobbits in Italy too.


Lonze not enjoying a fag.


Ooh Matron!

HARRY’S PHOTO BLOG – PART 3 (NOVEMBER 9TH)

Ravenna. Things got a little chilly so Dodge and Pauli started a fire.


A service station somewhere in southern Germany. Road confusion and a certain amount of poor sleep combine to make early morning football seem like a good idea.


Pauli’s still got the chops though. Oh yeah.


Oh Yeah!


The slide was cold…


…and the tables colder.


Pauli couldn’t resist.


A walk in the black forest.


Backstage in Munich.


Looking at some old photos from past lives.


Great wall lights.


Graham catches some Z’s.


Bus life can be stressful…


…luckily Simon maintained his sense of humour throughout.

HARRY’S PHOTO BLOG – PART 4 (NOVEMBER 9TH)

Berlin. Quality graffiti…


�and beautiful old buildings. With multicoloured lights.


Berlin skyline.


Old and new.


Alonza makes tea


Simon still keeping the vibe.


It was trying to make the DVD player work that broke him though.


Pauli phone home.


Lady Mills popped out to see us.


Relaxing at the front of house.


“Yeah yeah yeah, hey hey hey” Jamie ringing out.


The Rotunda. Last show, then home to bed.

Blog message from Crispian (Berlin 23/24 October)

We had two days in Berlin in which to rest, relax, and celebrate Alonza’s birthday. Days off in exciting places can break the monotony of touring and be a real boost. Berlin is one of the greatest cities in the World; every square mile steeped in history, both wonderful & tragic. Wandering from strasse to strasse is like stepping from one epic film set to the next, a futuristic city haunted by ghosts of the past, the cold war, Imperial monuments and colonnades, and of course the towering illuminations of the 21st century Sony centre. Especially in parts of the old East side it’s reminiscent of Spanish Harlem and you get the sense that the Berlin metropolis has something of the old New York about it, that hustle and bustle and electricity, a feeling that anything is possible in the newly liberated city.

I asked a pretty Berliner friend of Harry’s called Elina, whether the government would introduce all the CCTV cameras we now take for granted in Britain & America- “NO! Are you crazy?!” she exclaimed, “Why do you think we tore down the wall? Never again!”…

At the end of the conversation, I am again convinced that, despite their best intentions, the British population have sleepwalked into their 21st century.

The Gig is a life affirming experience; all the technical problems that plagued my guitars during the UK shows seem to have been exorcised. We break out a version of ‘Under the Hammer’, which goes down well, and then bring Alonza ‘birthday tea and cake’ onstage after Tattva. The only concern during the show is two middle-aged men, worryingly close to the front, who look like old east German secret police, big moustaches, arms folded; not your typical Kula fan. Both myself and Jamie clock them and we wonder if we are all about to be arrested for something Paul might have done after soundcheck… but they start clapping furiously at the end of Govinda and we assume that they’ve let us off the hook.

Crispian x

Message from the band…

Ah, Lady autumn is here, the leaves are gold and tawny, and England’s air is thick with gunpowder (amongst other things). After travelling across Europe in a bus, the troupe has returned safely, each to their respective homes, to convalesce and reflect on the magic and the mayhem. Thanks to you all for making it a truly great, and totally sold out tour.

Of course, today, the fifth of November, we release ‘Out on the Highway’, the second single from ‘Strangefolk’ (accompanied by ‘T.O.F.Fs’ and ‘Wannabe Famous’).

WILL IT BE A HIT? Fine tunes as they are, it is unlikely you will hear any of these gems on a national radio playlist, though none of us are disappointed about this. Reports are that the band are getting plays, but only by Djs that still have a bit of creative autonomy, that is, freedom to pick and choose without being nailed to a generic playlist.

(As you are all aware, our album ‘campaign’ has been a humble one, and as always, without a huge marketing budget for advertising, the media don’t stick their neck out and programmers at big radio stations are unlikely to put you on their playlist. It’s almost as if, they need to see all those flashing lights and glossy adverts to see value in the music, which is sad, I know, but that’s still the reality…)

However, just to clarify, this is not a whinge; in fact it’s the opposite. We’re actually very happy with where we are now. It’s been a year to marvel at so far. We’re more than satisfied with what is euphemistically called ‘specialist’ plays, here and there, on Xfm or Total Rock or wherever FM.

Making and releasing ‘Strangefolk’ was an immensely complicated labour of love, but we hauled his Lordship out of the ancient sarcophagus and breathed new life past his immaculately preserved, embalmed lips. Now, Strangefolk is being released in so many countries, (USA, Russia, and Australia next February), and although it hasn’t been a huge media fandango, the buzz has been led by the music and not by some cheesy media story. In reality, it’s unlikely the band would have even survived another media blitz, like last time. We needed to be focused on what mattered, the shows, the album, and our navels.

Maybe the next album will have more media bells and whistles, who knows? But right now, I think we’re in a good place, back on our feet and ready for love. We hope you agree. (BTW, Album IV may arrive sooner than you expect. We’ve started writing, and we even have a working title, which we’ll talk about soon).

Thank you for all your support, feedback, incorrigible strangeness and hapless devotion.

We love you.

KS

Crispian, Alonza, Harry and Paul.

5.11.2007

HARRY’S JAPAN BLOG – JANUARY 2008

Hello all

Just a little missive from the orient. We’re having a grand old time in Japan. Tokyo really lives up to expectations – full on lost in translation/manga anime madness, super cool inhabitants and a good sized helping of freakery. Buildings have trains coming out of them and football pitches on top. Elevators are generally to be found outside rather than inside and basically, everything has already been thought of, organised, put together, and most importantly works! Magic. Jet lag has taken its merry toll on us all – weird other-worldly days and restless insomniac lights. I had a close call the other night. At around 4 AM I gave up on sleep and decided to go for a walk. stopping off in a 7-11, tired confused and desperate I thought I’d struck gold when I found some pills called “Night King”. I was just taking them to the counter when I looked a bit closer and saw a rather comely looking woman on the packaging. Ah. Its probably not a good idea to take viagra and then try to sleep… 2 Great gigs so far, liquid rooms and Shibuya AX. We’re off to Osaka tomorrow. Bullet train. Yee-ha. More to come.

Cheers, Harry x

HARRY’S JAPAN BLOG – 25 JANUARY 2008

Hello again.

Back in Tokyo now. Nagoya and Osaka were fantastic but very quick. The venue in Nagoya was in a department store. Apparently this sort of thing is totally normal in Japan – bars, restaurants etc on the 17th floor of a fairly unlikely looking building. You go into a lobby of what looks like an office building – or a block of flats, get in a lift and then when the doors open again you’re in a bar. Nice. Thanks in no small part to the quality fans, both gigs were excellent. We were only sad not to be able to hang out more in these cities.

Back to the capital and time for some retail therapy. Harajuku in Tokyo is where it’s at. Incredible vintage gear and some quality shop names too – who wouldn’t want to buy clothes in a shop called Sexy Dynamite? Or maybe a shirt from Irony corner? Not forgetting of course The Filth and Hysteric. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many of them, and the stuff is so well organised. Anyway, time to sign off – we’ve a gig to do. It’s been a great trip. We’ve really been spoilt rotten – a big thankyou to all the fans who gave us such beautiful gifts. S ore dewa, ma ta ne and all that, and a massive thankyou to all the wonderful fans who made our shows so special. See you again soon.

Harry x





News from the Front…

Simon’s light has gone off and Lucy has got a sandwich.

OK seriously!! We’re driving along the 303 on route to Exeter continuing our quest to save Britain the World and the entire cosmic manifestation. More importantly however I must report the glorious Welsh victory against England at Twickenham (26-19), the first time Wales have won at Twickenham since 1988 and surely a sign of the forthcoming Golden Age. Now, you may be thinking that Rugby is hardly a matter of life and death and I concur, it is far more important.

Simon’s light has come back on again and Lucy couldn’t finish her sandwich (though to be fair it was quite big)

I appreciate that some of you may be more interested in news from the Kulashaker tour than Rugby, sandwiches or lights so here you have it.

We are four shows into the British leg of our tour and despite severe weather warnings things have been going well. The campaign to increase tea consumption has been going well and I can report that having just stopped at a garage I was able to purchase a very nice cup of tea and was even provided with a special dispenser for fresh milk (none of that UHT rubbish) and considering that on the last UK tour we were only able to get “that disgusting drink coffee”, I feel we have made some good ground.

We once again have the pleasure of Dr Joel opening for us however this time he has brought his band The Companeros. All the way from Rome they are a colourful looking bunch with a fine array of facial hair. Communicating with them isn’t that easy although that may due to some unorthodox prescriptions from the Doctor rather than any language barriers.

We’ve arrived in Exeter, Simon’s light is still on and the van has been struggling. Lucy hasn’t eaten anymore of her sandwich and like this blog it shall remain somewhat unfinished.

Errr, Graham’s not well, not well at all. He was found in the Gents in a pool of vomit (his own). My bass is similarly poorly, oh well. I will have to play a piece of shyte bass and hope for the bassed. That’s the 3rd thing to mess up. Should be in the clear now. Jamie will take over the front of house sound and we’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Alonza

5.02.2008

PAULI’S JAPAN BLOG – JANUARY 2008

Hello from Japan. When we arrived everyone was dressed like this. We only found out later that it was part of a new year celebration…


The odd couple


This fire escape opposite our show at Shibuya AX last night reminds me of the pharisees hats in Jesus Christ Superstar


Not quite the Beatles…


This was a sticker on the back of a bus. Fans told me it was Kabuki make-up.


Photojournalist batterista in posing with new T-shirt shock!


Dressing room for infectious diseases


Thats it for now. We’re off to a macro-psychotic restaurant with the tour promoters.

Pauli x

A LOOK BACK AT JAPAN FROM HARRY – 8 FEBRUARY 2008

Hello all

Ahh England! Vans break down, barriers are late arriving, toilets break new ground in smell creation (not helped by seriously ill sound engineers) and those helpful people at health and safety stop us and our tea ladies from providing our audiences with a nice, refreshing cup of tea. Makes me pine for Japan again… I don’t know whether they have similarly ludicrous health and safety laws concerning the ‘high risk’ distribution of ‘dangerously hot’ cups of tea, but even if they do they’d probably just supply us with some kind of protective device so we could actually go ahead. Like a tea cosy. Solutions, not problems. Ahh England…


From my hotel room. The city lights are so bright they reflected my image onto the window.


Slide film in Tokyo. I really should have taken more photos.



It’s not all fun and games – while the Hero and the Japanese crew sort things out for us in Japan…


…we have a production meeting for the boring logistics of the UK tour…


…and lonze takes a nap.

Out in the Bush tonight, Birmingham tomorrow. Careful with your kettles now – did you know, boiling water can be painful if you pour it on yourself? If you still have questions, why not phone health and safety? It is difficult to understand I know.

Hx

CRISPIAN’S TOUR DIARY – FEBRUARY 2008

On the road again… travelling across Europe in the stinking magic bus.

We cast off in Belgium. The first night spent resting at the edge of the Expo centre. Very James Bond. Simon’s photo of Paul and I better illustrates the size of the thing than the photos we were trying to take on our puny phone cameras.


Brussels is not the centre of all rock and roll in the galaxy, but the Botanique is a pretty beautiful concert, botanical gardens and goldfish ponds, which you don’t get at most gigs. A good crowd too, thanks folks.


Next up: Utrecht, Netherlands. We play through a thick haze of blue smoke that hangs over the audience. Must have been some crazy incense or something.


Then on into Munich, south Germany. At 9.30 in the morning, the hotel foyer was jammed full of pale, bald, drunk people speaking in the weirdest accent you can imagine. After a couple of moments we realised they were actually talking English. Aberdeen were playing Munich at football, so the whole of the city was teeming with tanked up kilts. Even the most hardened drinkers in our party were horrified at the amount of booze this lot were putting away. How is it possible to watch a football match after you have consumed 35 gallons of German lager? I’d be seeing triple and running to the loo every 5 mins? Maybe the stadiums provide open urinals underneath the stands so fans can watch the match while happily pissing away beneath their sporrans. Och aye!

Our new management company is accompanying us on the tour (travelling separately, by train), to assess the overall situation for Kula Shaker in Europe. Things started well. They were pulled aside and frisked at the train station in Munich. Nobody is quite sure what it was that alerted the suspicions of the authorities, they say they weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary, but they were treated to a few hours of Bavarian detainment, in a police station, which must have been fun. Rubber gloves and all.

The night of the show was WUNDERBAR. Not for Aberdeen, though – they lost 2-0. The gig has a space theme decoration and they made a life size Battlestar Galactica Viper plane which kept Harry busy through soundcheck.


I hear Dave Grohl made a wildly funny speech during the Brits awards.

I mentioned it to Paul. He rolled his eyes, and muttered something about “drummers”.

Anyway, we’re in Italy now. The sun is shining, everything is multo bene

Ciao Bella

ALONZA’S TOUR DIARY – MARCH 3rd 2008

Hotel-Bus-Gig-Bus-Hotel-Bus-Gig-Bus-Hotel-Bus-Gig-Bus-Hotel-Bus-Gig… and so on

Sorry it’s been so long since our last field report, lethargy has overcome the camp and we are exploring a theory that suggests touring actually lowers ones IQ (making it difficult to operate technical equipment like this computer). Printed above is a synopsis of our tour activity since the last blog in Bologna…

O.K we’re not that cynical and jaded yet but we’re working on it.

Turin 23rd February

I’m not going to mention the fact that Wales beat Italy 46-8 because this is a blog about a rock ‘n’ roll band and not about the finest Rugby team in the world. It would be inappropriate to rattle on about the spectacular performance or the unique playing style of the Welsh Rugby team and therefore I shall not talk of Welsh Rugby again… WELSH RUGBY, O.K that’s it.

Turin is a beautiful city full of charm and classical decay, unfortunately we are a good way from the centre of Turin and the only decay around us is of the social kind. We are to play in a circus style big top set up in what we are told is the biggest open junky park in Europe. By day it all seems quite pleasant (ignoring the lawn of used needles) but as mist and darkness descends it looks more like a scene from Dawn of the Dead. Groups of shadowy figures stumble around some with belts hanging off their arms, others indiscernible from the piles of litter strewn everywhere, the sound of distant moaning can be heard and all of this lit by the seediest neon street lighting available. Pauli went for a walk earlier in the day and on returning we had to lock him in the bus toilet for fear he had been bitten by one of them. After a quarantine period of a couple of hours and a lot of protesting we were fairly confident he was telling the truth and had not in fact turned into a Zombie.

During sound check it was hard not to play in time with the echo but we are assured this will disappear when the audience arrives. The audience does arrive, the intro music goes on and indeed the echo has calmed down however one of the Italian crew has pulled the power on the lighting rig and we launch into the first song of the set in complete darkness. Oh Italy, we love you, what you lack in technical specifications and organisational skills you more than make up for in good food and old world charm.

The lights did eventually come on although our lighting guy Mark is still being treated for shock.

On to Milan tomorrow for a live T.V show this could be very interesting so stay tuned for the next report from Brigadier Bowers-Broadbent.



HARRY’S TOUR DIARY – MARCH 2008

Truth be told, the whole Turin experience rattled us a bit more than Lonz let on. Needle Park wasn’t the Italy we know and love; it was the dark side. A bit real, if you know what I mean. The desolation of the junky wasteland wasn’t helped by the relentless fog, and later, a hotel in the middle of a vast and ancient Fiat factory that seemed completely empty except for us. Ghosts were everywhere. Don’t get me wrong; the gig was, as usual, a riot. Italian crowds never fail to disappoint – But it was with a small sigh of relief that we got back on the bus and headed to Milan to mime on a big TV show on Rai Uno. A Football program with dancing girls… That’s more like it – reality Italian TV style.


We were met by the stylish and rather beautiful Vanessa – her accent somewhere between Italy and Kent (an English mother she later told us) who sashayed her way across the studio floor like a Burmese cat through a building site, to lead us to the dressing rooms, – Or the un-dressing rooms, judging by the amount of olive skinned flesh there was limbering up and powdering down. “I’ve fallen in love 20 times already” Tour manager, Mozza splutters.

The set looked good – they had the ‘Second Sight’ video playing behind us and a nice ’60s style circular podium. One run through and we were back in the flesh pit. Between the bouncing dancers and the sultry Vanessa, Mozza was at boiling point. We’d better go on soon or something’s going to give.


Showtime. We opened the door of our dressing room and squeezed past another tight pair of scantily clad buttocks towards the studio. “What’s the cue? Who do we need to look at?” asks Crispian “Oh… there’ll be clapping… it will be obvious… you’ll hear the play back…”

Hmm. Ok. We’re on our own boys. It turns out that we’re opening the show, and as the guitars are readied, a blonde, pneumatic woman strides purposefully towards us. She shakes each of our hands and informs us that she is Simona, the host of the show, and she is very much looking forward to working with us. With that she disappears as fast as she arrived, and the opening credits roll. We are momentarily transfixed by the montage of Simona’s cleavage that follows on the monitors until a guy with a faux-hawk at the back of the studio audience starts the applause and someone lets fly with a whole lot of Italian ending in the words Kula Shaker. Nothing happens. Dodge shoots a look of pure comedy back at me as I’m wondering what’s going on when suddenly the playback is hurriedly turned up – halfway through the intro, Alonza’s mic falls off its stand and we spring into action. Like clockwork. No-one will ever know we were miming. As soon as the song finishes a dude jumps on stage and sticks a Star Trek style ear piece in Dodges ear and Simona re-appears and unleashes a torrent of Italian at him. Dodge later describes the translation as ‘laconic’ and blames it on the fact that he spent the whole interview talking at her breasts, managing to slip in a Dolly Parton reference and even something about his mother. Soon enough we’re off to the un-dressing rooms again and Crispian turns round to me – “Surreal enough for you?” Yes thank you. More of that please.


Love to all of Italy. Looking forward to coming back soon.

H x

PILGRIM’S PROGRESS – JULY 2008


Pre-production rehearsals began a couple of weeks before in London. Here we see Crispian discussing the song with percussionists, whilst Sam Williams watches from a safe distance, probably wondering what he’s going to have for lunch.


Above… Crispian puts down guitar chops on a track called ‘light years ahead of your time’. Telecaster jabs are delivered via a Uni Vibe effects pedal, into the warm receptive valves of a Vox AC30 amplifier. Guess that’s retro irony for a song about the future.


Sitar wonder woman Sheema Mukherjee, was introduced to us by Johnny Kalsi from the Dhol foundation. Here she is, tea’d up, and laying it down for ‘All dressed up and ready’.


Alonza loves a good zither. Here he is playing one in a cloud of incense.


Paul usually plays an old Gretsch drum kit, but Sam has a lovely vintage Ludwig. This picture is like pornography for drummers.


We knew Sam Williams for his work with Supergrass, and from his band ‘The Mystics’. He mixed ‘Out on the Highway’, ‘Song of Love’ and recorded Second Sight with us in Oxford. It’s been really great to work with him again. He’s a fantastic producer and also a diabolic elf from the subterranean dimensions. Check it owt!


No pictures of Harry on this roll, we’re afraid, as he was resident camera documentarian. This is Alonza playing double bass in a sound proofed wardrobe, leading to Narnia. We moved out all the fur coats and stuff and it sounded lush. His intense expression, in this photograph, is probably due to a group of fauns who had popped their heads in for a listen…


Here’s two protagonists trying to out-shred each other for a track called ‘Witches & wine” “I can’t keep up!” says Crispian, wiping his brow, clearly flabbergasted by Alonza’s welsh mandolin chops.


Percussion on ‘all dressed up & ready’; this is Vijay (left), and Himanesh (right). Vijay played on School of Braja, whilst Himanesh is the son of the folk singer Himangsu Goswami, who performed on K and has been a friend and mentor to the band since the beginning. The hammer being bashed on the tabla is not due to his frustration at being directed by Crispian, but is in actual fact the method of tuning such a delicate instrument. These guys have the funk, and Vijay now also a very serious tea habit thanks to Alonza.


More to come soon…

Harry’s Russian report

Merry bank holiday one and all. All of a sudden and more than a week has passed since we got back from Russia. It can’t have been the vodka, they all assured me that as long as I ate the pickled vegetables I’d be fine…


They do lobby music with a vengeance in Moscow. The Marriott on Sadovaya St started with Kenny G Abba covers and then cranked up the cheese. Thankfully as soon as we arrive, Dmitry, our promoter takes us out for dinner. To an American Diner. Go figure. Inside however, the smoke, power ballads and vodka are distinctly Russian. The gig is about 5 minutes walk from the hotel, or 25 minutes by car. A quality old building with a couple of venues on different floors, a jazz club and a restaurant I think. Reminds me a bit of Japanese venues, except for the ornate 19th century staircases and the 1970’s state issue plastic toilets. An auspicious place indeed though, as the area boasts Mikhail Bulgakov’s old flat (now a museum) and is also the setting for his epically psychedelic novel ‘The Master and Margarita’. My niggling fear that I might come across a mysterious professor and a large, talking black cat isn’t helped by the photo on the wall of the jazz club of a guy with a 3 inch afro, wearing a kilt and playing jazz bagpipes. The gig is great and the crowd were fantastic. Its been a while for us – thoroughly unpleasant legal wranglings followed by much time in a studio – it feels great to be out doing one of things this band does best again – playing live. Back at the hotel and Kenny is still slithering around in his emotional muck. This makes a drink at the bar completely out of the question so I take to my chambers.


Next day Lonze and Dodge get up early to go and get lost on the Metro, while I attempt to cross the road. I’m not sure where Pauli is. Trying to cross the road in Moscow is a bit like trying to cross the road in Mumbai, only harder. Taunted by an inviting looking coffee shop on the other side, I try to keep going in the hope that I’ll find either a crossing, or something equally inviting. Sadly, the city is against me. Everything in Moscow is so big that even walking round the the block is quite a serious undertaking. We have to catch a flight to St Petersburg that afternoon so with time pressing I admit defeat and head back to the hotel cafe to endure more saxophone and an extremely stern waitress. Lonze and Dodge are only moderately more successful than me, their non-verbal reasoning shining through as they negotiate unpronounceable station after unreadable street sign and locate Red Square, only to find it closed, for marching purposes.


Two extraordinary Constructivist airports and one appalling plane ride later and we’re in St Petersburg. An infinitely more pleasant city than the capital. Crumbling decadence and a more outwardly friendly people give it a humanity that Moscow, in all its heavy, foreboding splendour seems to lack. Probably the case for capitals verses second cities the world over. Built by an Italian, but to Russian size and specification, it looks a bit like Vienna. Our hotel lobby however, looks more like a set from Space 1999 crossed with a Travelodge in Wembley. A maze of red pvc sofas and the obligatory saxophone muzack peppers the route from reception to the worlds second longest corridor, which leads to a lift, that opens onto the world’s longest corridor, at the very end of which are our cells.


Dmitry seems to be picking up old mates by the hour and by the time we’ve got out to eat our party has swelled considerably. Before I know it we’re sitting at a different table to the one I started on and a ‘Gentleman’s kit’ has been ordered. This consists of some black bread, a plate of pickled things, a litre of vodka and a taxi home. The instigator of this part of the evening, whose name I’m embarrassed to be unable to pronounce assures me, brow furrowed in innocence as he misses my glass and pours the vodka on the table me that as long as I eat the pickles I’ll not get drunk. Later on I remember him saying that the ‘Gentleman’s kit’ was for 3 people only so in order to enjoy the true Russian experience we would have to order another. When in Rome…

Next morning and an intriguing hangover. No headache to speak of but I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Off to breakfast and down the world’s longest corridor I see a speck in the distance, growing in size. Eventually it reveals itself to be the Instigator, looking a little tousled.

“How are you?” he asks.
“Fine” I reply, with all the bright and breezyness I can muster.
“I’m fine too” he agrees, spreading his arms as if having completed a magic trick.

It all seems a little bit forced to me. Why don’t we just admit it? Into the lobby and the saxophone onslaught continues. Its relentless. This hotel’s lobby is so big that they have gone one better and have 2 different sets of musack at either end. Both dominated by the sax, and both with a greater emotional urgency than Kenny in Moscow. I spy Dmitry and friends in the bar area, nursing medium sized lagers.

“Drinking again?”
“No,” he replies, “we are having a beer.”

Fair enough. The breakfast area is just at the middle point where saxophones collide and I drink my tea in sweaty confusion wondering whether they are two different albums or just the same one started at different points. Eternal mysteries.


The gig is in an old train station. Equally auspicious as the Moscow show, Dmitry and friends tell us, as this was THE station to the west back in Stalinist times. Now it’s a cinema multiplex, club and train museum. The venue itself used to be the waiting room, and you can guess what it’s now called. Although faced with a myriad of equipment problems the only real panic comes when Lonze can’t work the kettle just before showtime. A bemused bartender is called however, who deals with the problem swiftly and we make it to stage. Another great crowd. Despite a 6 foot climb we’re treated to a good few stage invasions – but they’re extremely polite and good times are had by all. The night continues afterwards and St Petersburg claims more victims. I want to talk about Stalin, Dodge wants to talk about Princess Anastacia, and everyone else just wants to have a good time. Dmitry and friends continue their boundless hospitality through the night and contrary to all expectations, everyone, even the Instigator is outlasted by the big Welshman, Alonza Bevan.


A huge thanks to everyone who came to the shows – especially those who trekked all the way from Siberia. We can’t wait to go back.

Love Harry X

Hear ye, a message from Crispian..

Hi folks, we’re back from Sicily, that was 9th August… a rather messy show but went down very well. The gig was late in the evening, and in probably the most beautiful setting ever, atop this Sicilian mountain village, beside a 14th century Genoese castle with incredible 360 panoramic views and wonderful, warm, languorous breezes, which, all in all, must have contributed to the unexpectedly rapturous reception.

We tested some new tracks, all went down well. After the gig we staggered off into the early hours, missing a night’s sleep in order to catch an unimaginably early Ryan Air flight home.

The following morning we had two days in a studio to record the final track for the album (the one that is so nearly finished). No doubt, many of you are annoyed at how long this album has taken to finish, but please bear in mind that it’s very difficult to create a seminal masterpiece, whilst being sued by tight fisted northern accountants, looking for a new manager, relocating your centre of operations to Belgium, recalculating your debts into Euros, as well as being knocked for six by the first months of fatherhood.

As a band, we accept, miserably, that we have failed completely in our online duties. We enter a plea of guilty in failing to provide a worthy stream of news, blogs, twitters, video diaries, photos, sketches, prose, poems or musings on the nature of reality. In our defence however, we would ask the jury to consider that we have been up to our elbows in the all important work of writing and recording a great album, and that I, myself, as a new father, have also been practising the Dark Art of changing a nappy whilst in a gentlemen’s toilet, which is not easy at all. In fact it is quite traumatic.

Looking ahead…

GOOD NEWS: Yes, it’s time to feel the love. Kula Shaker have a new manager. (I probably shouldn’t name him just yet, as he may be keeping the job a secret from his mates). Anyway, Maurice Bacon is great, a rock star in his own right, and we hope you, the fans, will give him a big warm welcome.

And finally. MORE good news- the album is so close to completion now that were even designing the sleeve. 19 tracks are more or less completed. It sounds great. We’re still arguing over the title, but it’s quite possibly our favourite album yet.

More news to follow.

Oh- and ANOTHER bit of GOOD NEWS, we’ll have a NEW WEBSITE next month.

Ciao
Crispian

26.08.2009

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Published on 27/01/2011 at 17:12  Leave a Comment  

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