Hi de hi campers. It’s been a little while in the making, but Telegraphs have been kind enough to finally ask me to contribute to the Telegraphs Blog and share a few thoughts. To quote The Bard, “what fools these mortals be” – anyone who’s ever been in my company would know by now I talk WAY too much, and am seldom actually relevant. Every now and then I come up with the occasional pearl of wisdom that tickles the fancy of my band mates (examples include “love songs – you know, songs about love” and “it’s all getting a bit 3D”), so I’m guessing my comrades felt it was about time I got a chance to share my vitriolic bile with the masses and possibly bring some mirth to the lives of our beloved fans as much as I bring a derisive smile to the faces of the rest of Telegraphs. Haha
Struggling to think of a good point to start, I thought I’d begin by saying 2009 has been a joyous and hectic year for Telegraphs – our resident super-statistician Mr Darren ‘Rampage’ Le-Warne tells us we have played some 93 shows last year, all of which have been absolutely rocking to say the very least. So in a way, I’d like to share the knowledge anyone will cherish that’s had the privilege (or misfortune, depending on how you look at it) of spending time in our trusty chariot Jean-Claude (VAN Damme, argh) as we’ve travelled roads near and far, and give all you lovely blog readers a low down on what I think the most important things are about surviving a tour, most notably a Telegraphs tour.
1) Don’t let me drive
As anyone who’s been in a car or van with me will contest, I can’t drive for toffee. I’m not the biggest fan of driving, but alas only Darcy and I drive and in the words of pre-Patton Faith No More, “It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it.” So yes, this experience can often be nerve-racking with my slow breaking reactions, inability to check blind-spots and general propensity to become more stressed out than the average bear – though I still maintain I’m a lot better in a car and it’s just because a big ol’ van is a little too much for lil’ ol’ me. As for my passengers, I’d generally recommend some sort of sedative, the most common choice among our bunch would be several beers (or vodkas, depending if you’re Sam Bacon or not).
2) Get a wing-man
Night driving can be a right old git sometimes as both Darcy and I can confirm. Generally these drives consist of repetitive motorways, boredom and the quietest bunch of Telegraphs you’ll have ever heard as they’ll near all have drifted gently to the land of Nod. So quite often an equally important role as the night-driver is the wing-man. We in Telegraphs support the ‘buddy-system’ as it were; Sam is often my one, so this provides me with a source of mirth, someone to put on CDs for me (or iPod when not blowing the electrics of our van by poking them with a toothbrush to get the iPod to work), someone to play the alphabet game with and someone to open cans of drink for me/roll fags (we’re still working on this one). Which brings me to the next point:
3) Get used to drinking vile energy drinks
I’m not the biggest fan of energy drinks, they don’t really agree with me and I don’t really agree with them (sorry Mr Energy Drinks Man). However every now and then I am reliant on their unnaturally bountiful source of energy in order to get psyched for a show, or in the case of the above, make it home through the night. An energy drink experience for me often starts with the reluctant sniff of gasoline fizzing up my nose, the inevitable gulp and is shortly followed by a grimace and an “oh my GOD I’ve got HOW much of this to drink?” once the taste sets in. And not being able to sleep once I’ve gone to bed.
4) Vibey mix cds
I am the king of making the most random of compilation cds for our van. Quite often these can be utterly incoherent, from loud hardcore to 80s pop to electro in one swift movement (“Do you actually LIKE rock music, Gary?” Hattie Williams, 2009), but usually these can be the vital ingredient to any tour, allowing us to have vibey, epic singalongs by day or by night and remain pumped for the gruelling days ahead. House favourites include That’s What You Get by Paramore, Love Changes Everything by Climie Fisher, any 80s/90s R&B such as End Of The Road by Boyz II Men (Darcy and I have more than a penchant), Daniel by Bat For Lashes and Day & Night by, erm, that guy.
5) Be flexible
Once I had to sleep on the floor in our van, and due to a lack of conference seating it was difficult to lie on the floor and I had to pop my shoulder out of its socket to lie flat. I was grateful for this in the long run.
6) Lose your sense of smell
Without naming names, certain members of Telegraphs will from time to time have a smelly bum – c’mon guys, noone’s completely innocent. It helps to be tolerant of this. It’s probably one of the reasons I smoke, so I don’t have a sense of smell (though I am trying to give up in the new year).
7) Find new and inventive ways to occupy yourself during the day that don’t involve drinking
Successive gig playing and touring isn’t all non-stop rocking – there’s a great deal of dead time to kill, the key objectives of which are a) don’t spend loads of money, and b) don’t get too pissed to play. There’s lots of ways we’ve found that help, including The Guardian crossword, Nintendo DS, games of Shithead, and even something as simple as a vibey bouncy ball.
8 ) Make a dashboard collage
Magazines and newspapers lying around the car + leftover pieces of gaffer tape = VIBES. Bored on a long car journey? Found an amusing picture in a magazine? Why not rip it out and stick it to the dashboard of your car or van. So far we have pictures of various dogs, Hayley Williams, the occasional pornstar/German politician, and my flatmate and general bro Arran Day (guitarist of This City and sometime Telegraphs tour manager).
9) Don’t let familiarity breed contempt
As any band could confirm, even the slightest thing about your fellow musos can get under your skin if given a long enough period of time trapped together. I’m no angel when it comes to this, I tend to tell really long-winded anecdotes that don’t really go anywhere and seldom have more than one or two key points. But it’s not too tough to just laugh at these things rather than let them get on your wick – if anything we’ve all grown used to it among each other, I feel the most sorry for our one-off tour companions who have to listen to our drivel and bickering! Common sounds and phrases from our little van include ‘vibes’, ‘sharking’, ‘can somebody ring my phone?’ and ‘erm, any danger’.
10) Love your fellow bandidos
Doesn’t really take a genius to figure this one out. As Sam often says as a closer, “we do this because we love it,” and rightly so. The touring life isn’t all non-stop action and excitement, but if you love your band buddies enough, it’s always loads of fun and there’s nowhere on earth you’d rather be. None of us are ashamed to say we love each other dearly – a love which is largely unconsummated, spare from a few embarrassing moments the boys have woken up sharing a bed to find they are spooning by the morning, and one time Darcy hugged Darren in his sleep when they were sharing a bed and started trying to kiss his neck, and wouldn’t wake up when being shouted at. Fortunately Darren was cocooned safely in his sleeping bag to avoid infection.
That’s enough from me anyway – but I guess this is my run-down of what the last year in Telegraphs has been like for me. Hope your eyes don’t ache from reading this! Keep up the love x
To round this off, I thought I’d stick some pictures up of Aung’s finest moments of 2009!