Home Away From Here: On Tour Again.

I have hit old age. 

That kind of “comfortable in a suit” old age. 

In my city, people are monuments and everyone has a slogan. 

The animals all have human heads and speak in mainly broken English. 

This was ironic. Since their words normally didn’t make sense or fit together in a sentence. 

I often get a bus to a different city or town and fantasize that the residents of the bus are the only survivors of the zombie apocalypse. 

That those outside only want us for what we can offer. Our hearts, our brains and our other body parts. 

This makes me feel better. I always get off the bus.

It’s April 15th 2016. It’s a Friday. The weather is moderate, windy and looking like it may rain. I’m in a man’s house I have only met the once, and another four I’ve met maybe 3 times at best. The storm clouds above my head are a stark contrast to the brightness in my mind. I slept well. I had been dreaming of zombies the night before but woken in relative calm. I must have won. I was still thinking about this as I sat on my new friend Sam’s couch. I was hoping I wasn’t the only one who had lost my bite.

I had met ‘yes votin’, tory hatin’, equality lovin’, hippy punx’* Rainfalls through their bassist Jonny. A familiar face around the scene. We had never really spoken, and didn’t realise how similar we were till we spoke outside of a Code Orange gig at Classic Grand, Glasgow. Jonny is a tall guy. I imagine when he first came to Glasgow he got called “big man” more than he was maybe comfortable with. We met over a mutual love for music and a hatred of each other’s respective football clubs. As far as the other guys went, you can tell by my stolen description of their band that we were all pretty much on the same wavelength. I knew I could at least mention my admiration for Jeremy Corbyn and still not be called a mad leftie.

*the quote from their t-shirts

I was invited onto their small Scottish weekend tour as the opener.  I was officially on tour for the first time since 2009. Aberdeen Tunnels, Edinburgh Opium and Glasgow Classic Grand. There was no apprehension. I did not feel like an alien. My heart did not beat as fast as it had last time.

Last time I toured I was an angry, straight edge, anti-people person. I wasn’t happy, and that was admittedly partially due to my attitude to life at the time. My surrounded company, at home and on tour, also contributed to that. I did not like tour. It was hard. I resembled Christian Bale with his now infamous Terminator rant when things didn’t go as seriously as planned. Everything had to be perfect. Now with added experience, the whole thing still makes me nervous, but in a less critical way.  I’ve gotten older. The kind of “I feel comfortable in a suit” kind of older. I feel comfortable with letting things happen as they’re meant to.

Doing this alone was something which always made sense to me. Performing on my own is still nerve-wracking. It’s all on me, and that’s both a good and a bad thing because I am in control… or out of it.

“I was a little like a father who didn’t like his hormonal, teenage kid. But I was still kind of proud of the anger fuelled poems that make up that book”

Anyway, we arrived in Aberdeen around 3, set up camp at the hostel and got a shower to wash off that smell that comes from spending prolonged time in close proximity with 5 other men. Testosterone or something. Of course I had actually forgotten shower gel, but such is life and its little surprises and I managed to find some that someone had left in the shower. “Nicksies” as we call it in Sunderland.

At the venue, it all felt very strange. Coincidently my last band had also played the same venue. Our management company at the time was from Aberdeen, and we had a radio station interview where our CD had skipped and I had spoken too much for a short interview. The guy putting on the show paid us by cheque, and nobody in the crowd interacted with any of the bands, let alone ourselves. I wasn’t exactly a big fan of The Granite City, which as memory serves was incredibly grey – especially on that particular evening.

We got to a terribly cold Aberdeen Tunnels and immediately set out our merch across the 3 tables.  I had never thought about how strange a book with my face on would look next to a bunch of a band shirts, hoodies, CDs and vinyl’s. It did stand out. I must admit, I was a little like a father who didn’t like his hormonal, teenage kid. But I was still kind of proud of the anger fuelled poems that make up that book; nearly 30 years of work.

It was the first time I had used intro music. Creepy horror music, with an 80s tint. Only now do I realize how intense that made my poems about dead bodies (see my short story from my April article!) I demanded all the lights off, with only a small red light to aid the audience.

I began my set with a cover poem. Reading out the lyrics to the song ‘Speak’ by the band The Chariot.  I flowed with each poem, as I surveyed the crowd, almost unsure of what to make of me. All of it with just a chink of blood-red light.

Mid-set someone had turned their back to me and began to jibber-jabber inane talk to his friends. I could see over the black outlines of the audience. I demanded he turned around, and suddenly I had silenced the room. I could just make out a smiling face from Jonny, the creases in his cheeks could be heard alongside a pin drop.

I guess it’s too late to turn back now. image2