Monday, 30 May 2011

although we've come.. to the ennnnd of the roooad..


yes, here i am in winchester and here WE are on the last day of the FT/FN/BM tour of the UK-apart-from-wales-and-northern-ireland. it has been a blast, but more on that some other day, for i have a shock announcement to make.

yesterday, i had a good gig in Portsmouth.

now i know what you're thinking, that i must be lying or dreaming, but last night the Wedgewood Rooms played host to what, for me anyway, has been the gig of the tour so far, exactly the opposite of the last time i visited that place. they were generous, i was happy, these are good times.

tonight, we play Winchester before Frank heads off for rehearsals with the band and then some European shows, and myself and Franz have a day off before reconvening in Brixton on Wednesday night for some hot Windmill action. if you're lucky i will actually do the Windmill. Franz himself pulled it out of the bag last night where, despite fending off illness these past few days and the guitar not working for his set, he played a storming set. Frank, as ever, killed it dead. i joked on Twitter that i should pull the plug on his set to stop him ruling so hard, and i fear the humour was lost on some.

still, we laughed, we cried, one of us coughed, and we'll all live happily ever after.

thanks also go to the New Slang guys who put us on for two shows in one night at Kingston and who continue to do a fucking good job running Banquet Records, clearly the best independent record store the world has ever known. from there, Cambridge were also good hosts, as were the good people of Playfest in Norfolk. so there.

take care you lot

b. x

Thursday, 26 May 2011

ben, bus and beyond

hey warriors

due to lack of internet connection recently i've taken to writing this blog update on the trusty Notepad on my laptop, to be copied and pasted in at a later date whenever the cyberwebs exist again.

i'm currently on the bus to Kingston, where tonight we have two shows at the Hippodrome for New Slang and the good people of Banquet Records. i'm looking forward to tonight, as i'm eager to make amends for last night at Bath's Komedia where i felt i was a little subpar. It was one of those days where loads of tiny errors and disappointments throughout the day built up into one little turdheap, and the best way to get around this is to get back onstage as soon as possible and make some intense noise. it's going to be the musical equivalent of me punching my songs in the face.

not that Bath wasn't lovely. i regret the fact that i didn't get long to take in one of my favourite parts of the country, but these things happen - i had some press i wasn't expecting, it took ages to get a shower, blahblahblah. probably what i feel worse about was that my immediate family were all in attendance and all i could do is grumble and act like a bit of a dick post-show. oops?

but anyway, that aside the tour continues to be wonderful, and it's good to meet a steady flow of people every day. for a start, it's showing me that people aren't that bad after all, so perhaps i should revise my stance as a sociopath. alas, this time next week (thursday 2nd) is the date i will return to my normal working life, and i think i speak from the heart when i say i wish i could delay it indefinitely. but i can't. again, though, anyone near London on the 1st of june can help me commiserate by joining me and Mr Nicolay at Brixton's Windmill on 1st June. go on..

special mentions should also go to Mr Jim Lockey and Oxygen Thief, Kev Lawson of [edit] radio and associated friends of all three who came to the Gloucester and Bristol shows. truly good to catch up with people, and i'm looking forward to hearing new Lockey recordings before too long.

and that's me done. see you all soon
b. x

Monday, 23 May 2011

ben and franz at brixton's windmill - 1st june

hi guys!

for those of you wondering what rock and roll antics i'm getting up to you, i'm currently next to some refuse bins in Gloucester with Jessop's black-markered on. i know, i know - try not to be too jealous.

anyway, just a quick update - i've been confirmed as support for Franz Nicolay's show at Brixton Windmill on 1st June. be there or be pi r squared

b. x

Saturday, 21 May 2011

lemon cake vs. liverpool


how's it going, internet friends? i write to you on the final day off on the Frank Turner tour, back in the rolling hills of County Durham before departing for ten gigs over the next nine nights. people here are gearing up for a party tonight, so it'll be a good way to unwind. to some 80s music. waiting for the fucking Rapture.

only the rapture isn't going to happen (although someone sat opposite me has speculated that zombies might later tonight walk out of the sea, so in some ways it's almost a shame that we'll all be fine) and even if the reign of the antichrist does begin in an hour or so, these shows aren't being cancelled, beginning with Wolverhampton tomorrow and continuing in a southerly direction until we hit Winchester on bank holiday Monday (30th).

since i last spoke to you, i have successfully completed my first ever gigs in Manchester, Liverpool and Stoke, of which the first and last were highly pleasurable experiences made all the better by the lemon cake delivered to me by my cousin Ginny and her husband Gareth in Manchester. the Night & Day, like Stoke's Sugarmill, is a venue cemented into the toilet circuit, especially since Night & Day smells a lot like a toilet. both are on the shortlist for NME's best small venue, and both of which are worthy based on the shows we put on there. also, last night in Stoke, Franz joined myself and Francis on stage for 'District..' on what I hope will be a permanent fixture. special bonus points go to the girl who got herself thrown out of the venue for being a prick during Frank's set.

liverpool, meanwhile, was part of a sound city fiasco that i've never before experienced. a six-band bill and lack of showers coupled with no power for the bus made for a torrid time for most of (if not all of) the acts involved, but the crowd were still good to us. that's all i'm willing to say on the matter. future applicants of sound city be warned. still, i met some great members of the student/community radio and press leading up to the event, plus i'll be back at some point for a proper show, i promise, hopefully before the end of the year.

right now, i have to run. stay well.
b. x

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

never trust a man without a horror story

hello, internet!

it's good that you're still around. these days you're mostly limited to being on my little blackberry where life is condensed into a limited battery life.

but, now i'm done getting up to date with the numerous facebook and twitter posts about upcoming tour dates and reactions to the ones so far, i thought i'd try and update people about what's been going down in the world of me.

since last time we spoke, the tour has rolled through Nottingham, Lancaster, Chester and, last night, Leeds. Sorry to anyone i've failed to catch up with in these places, but i did my best. Nottingham's Rescue Rooms was my earliest slot of the tour so far at just after 7, but the crowd were enthusiastic and appreciative and post-show there were many takers of the free hugs i had been offering at the merch table, including Mr Benjamin May, who chastised me for failing to mention him the last time I saw him and has successfully emotionally blackmailed his way onto this here post.

the show itself was so well received I had a small party afterwards with some friends involving shots of something foul dispensed from a teapot, which i washed down with something equally foul whose name i can no longer recall.

we wake up the next morning in Lancaster's market square outside the (real) Library which is tonight's venue. the market traders are not happy but i buy some toffee because that's the kind of sweet-toothed bastard I am, before some chavs offer the worst heckles of my life when we're unpacking the van in the form of "hey you, nice suitcases!".

but, after Lancaster's equivalents of Gillian Duffy have fucked off, we are left to a show in the Library, which is the smallest show of the tour so far and also the most beautiful with its high ceilings and church-like acoustics. i end with my cover of 'No Name #1' so we can play with the acoustics in the high notes, and me and Frank try 'District' together for the first time before we high-tail it quite quickly over to Chester to play in the warmest venue ever built, Telford's Warehouse.

Indeed, i'm quite hungover from watching Shooting Stars on the bus the night before with Frank and Franz, and I'd woke up still clutching the bottle of Jamesons in my clammy hands which is never, ever a good sign. sure enough, i refuse to ditch the suit jacket before I take to the stage and by 'Singalong' it is a task not to projectile vomit over the first two rows. i'm saved by the request of a man named Shaun, who'd earlier asked for 'Tell Avril Lavigne..' from the record. Under the protective wing of this slow, quiet finale I make it through Chester without disgracing myself, before smashing some chips into my face.

It was also good to see some of the Nottingham crowd out in force, and Laura who I'd met in Dundee a few nights previously also put in an appearance with added friends, and as we all headed back to her Travelodge for a Budweiser party in an effort for me to drink away my hangover (which worked), I am sad to be leaving Chester behind so soon.

But we had a Leeds to entertain, and I love Leeds for all its worth. I love it for the fact that there's always someone willing to party, that it's the easiest place in the world to find a Starbucks (ie. everywhere) and that tonight's venue is very, very much like the The Phoenix Club. The crowd are slightly subdued but still appreciative and I meet a lot of people post-show. As a footnote, Franz is continuing to get better with every night I see him..

And that brings us to today, and a day off for me. We've walked some dogs, I had a cup of tea and soon it'll be time for dinner. Sure, I miss my bed, 24/7 internet and creature comforts like you wouldn't believe and not having a permanent base every day drives me mental, but I wouldn't swap this experience for the entire world, and that's a fact.

Sorry world..

To manchester!
b. x

Thursday, 12 May 2011

wait, i get days off?

Good news: we didn't break Scotland.

You find me sat looking out at the rolling hills that surround the mansions and state grounds of the massive castle where the bus is enjoying a day off, and i'd say around 50% of that sentence is a lie. like the castle, for instance. and the mansion bit. and probably the grounds.

We are, however, on a day off - well, most of us, as Frank has flown to Brighton to be part of the Great Escape festivities on what is a punishing schedule - and much time is now being spent recharging phones, mp3 players and having a good cup of tea. i don't think i've had a day off as early as day 4 on a tour before, but i'm more than happy to take one today. some of us have headed into town, Franz has had to service his accordion and me and my guitar are having some time apart. We both like our personal space.

Instead i've been catching up on tweets and wallposts following the two Scotland shows - my first Scottish shows Ever - and the fallout from that. Dundee was a rowdy crowd and I didn't play my best, and was rightly given a lesson in how to give a performance by my tour cohorts, but last night in Dunfermline I feel I was back on form. New friends have been made, old ones reacquainted and plenty of deductions have been made:

True Scottish stereotypes are that it rains there. False Scottish stereotype is that they all dislike the English and they're tight with their cash. I can happily dispel those last two right now. Tell all your friends and whoever is responsible for monitoring sterotypes. For some reason i want it to be Guinness for their World Records, but with a tear in my eye I'm sad to announce a Google search for Guinness Book of Modern Day Stereotypes yields little joy.

Highlights of the tour so far include catching up with jet-setting Scottish personality Dave Hughes, who insisted we join him for a drink before weaving his way into the night clearly well ahead of us, and also reacquainting myself with Mr Kenny Leckie of up-and-comers Carnivores who are well worth checking out.

So, thank you Scotland. The general consensus is that I should return one day, and I'll be happy to.

Next stop: Nottingham.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

dun dun dunnnnnn(dee)

Hi everyone, welcome to the tour blog that i'll maintain for a short period of time before forgetting about it and/or running out of things to say.

All is well on the Frank Turner/Franz Nicolay tour. We left London yesterday bound for Stockton and the beacon of hope for all humanity that is the ARC, a beautiful glass-fronted arts centre and the site for last night's all-conquering shows. The people of Stockton and neighbouring places are super-friendly and, in a couple of cases, mental, with general fervour at the merch table and a good reaction to my set, especially when it ended and I gave a rock-star-salute-exit only to find the door offstage was shut and I had to turn back to face the crowd in a manner which clearly said "holy christ, I cannot get off this stage".

Mr Nicolay is a Brooklyn gem, sharing stories of various times spent on the road in previous bands, watching 9/11 on a tiny black and white TV and such. I feel Turner can match him in terms of bizarre gigging stories but, alas, such a head-to-head competition hasn't yet come to fruition.

Post-show we stop off in Stockton's Tesco - which must be responsible for about 40% of all Stockton's missing persons cases such is its ginormitude - and then we're off to Dundee. And here we are in Dundee! The system works.

I blearily share a lunch with Scotland's own Dave Hughes where I try and order stuff from the breakfast menu and he conforms to all Scot stereotypes by drinking Irn Bru and then gives me a tour of Dundee's dual carriageways, whilst later on trying to find a shower me, Franz and tour manager Graham have to traverse the biggest non-mountainous hill in all of Scotland. THE END.

Next: to tonight's show. It's in Dundee.


Saturday, 7 May 2011

the dirty thirty

Ugh, my head.

Now that's out the way, today is my birthday, and you join me sat on my parents' sofa in the company of my brothers with half an eye on Doctor Who. They're giving Doctor Who a massive push over in the US currently for BBC America, with one column I read recently asking whether Doctor Who is the new Lost (a question which can only be answered with the phrases "no" and "don't be silly").

Anyway, thanks for all the birthday wishes. Several people have called it "dirty thirty", the temptation to rhyme clearly being too much for them to resist, whereas the amount of vodka consumed last night means hurty thirty would be far more appropriate.

This weekend will be now spent recovering and doing all the important pre-tour stuff; rehearsing, laundry, packing ready for the departure to Stockton on Monday. I'm a homebody through and through so I'm nervous to be stepping up to this challenge as the tour bus won't be anywhere near Reading for a good three weeks, but my trepidation is matched by my excitement. And my hangover.

This is due largely to an evening spent in the company of long-standing companion Kev of [edit] radio and Barry aka Oxygen Thief, which began with an intellectual debate on the merits of AV vs. FPTP and soon descended into death metal covers of TV commercial jingles.

For the record, I voted 'No' despite all the hip celebrities going the other way, but honestly, I really don't see how AV would have changed anything. The arguments of those opposed to me are that it would help the smaller parties and help break England out of the two-party system of FPTP, but I'm not convinced by the logic. And so we danced (for not long enough) and drank (for too long) and then watched some Hill Street Blues and other such late-night TV treats, if by 'treats' you actually mean 'shit'. Then I ate some chips.

So that's it. The next time I see some of you, it'll be on tour, and hopefully I'll see some of you there.

Take care
b. x

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

ben marwood is practically a sellout

hello, good netpeople,

i hold in my hand the last ten copies of This Is Not What You Had Planned to ever be sent the shops. the well, she runneth dry finally, and no more are to be pressed. evidently it will still be available digitally forevermore, but in terms of buying CDs from the likes of Amazon, HMV et al, if you want to own one, best make your move now.

i see this as both a small victory, and a small shame at the same time. demand finally outstripping supply makes me feel like a popular sellout, but also the idea that people will want it on CD and not be able to get hold of it, especially as i'm about to head out on tour, is a shame.

to all who sailed in her..
b. x

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

centromatic for the people

Hi all

At my jetlagged best, all I can currently offer you in terms of words of wisdom is a hearty "hnrggggggggh", but whilst I cross my fingers in silent prayer that tonight I might improve on last night's four hours of sleep to cap off the previous day's three and a half, along the way convincing my brain that Florida was (and is) warmer than this.. er.. I've lost my train of thought.

AH RIGHT. Centromatic. Everyone's (read: my) favourite blues-folk-country-rock drawlin' Texans have decided to give away twenty-four songs from their ridiculously huge back catalogue spanning a humungitude of albums. One of those words is made up.

Typically, demand for this was so high that the yousendit link is constantly expiring due to it breaking the bandwidth limits, perhaps no surprise at 206MB a pop. Still, this blog right here seems to have a working link, so have at it..

I'll be back when i've collected my thoughts in a manner more befitting someone who can not only read and write, but do them both at the same time..

b. x