It’s that oh so lovely day of the week again – rest day. Rest day, I hate you. Essential but I’d rather be out running. It’s okay, my girlfriend and I have a substantial walk planned this afternoon and a bit of retail therapy to take my mind away from the lack of endorphin. Also, I’ve started recording a song that I plan on releasing for next week’s upload. Exciting times.
Last week I posted “My Greatest Story” and I thought that, seeing as on my rest day I get that little bit longer to write the post, I would delve into some of the other life stories that I think are worth telling.
Being in Ghouls has come with its rewards, despite it being the aim to take it as far as we can, it still feels surreal to think that playing music has taken us to the US twice (3 times if you include the tour in a couple of weeks), Europe countless times and more recently, Australia! That said, it hasn’t come without it’s hardships and through the years we have done some pretty hilarious D.I.Y tours. Despite the romanticism behind the idea of ‘being on the road’, ‘living out the van’ and ‘sleeping on floors’ – it can get pretty grim. These days, I’m all about the Air B’n’B lifestyle. An athlete has to look after himself.
(Looking Hench in Baltimore, ML, USA – October 2016)
So, in no particular order, here are some of the more hilarious and questionable places we’ve had the pleasure of calling a ‘bed’ for the night:
1. Paris, France – July 2012. “A student hall’s fire escape”.
This was the first time the band went abroad. We were young and nothing like the band we are now and even had a few different members. Young and ready for anything, we had a call from a friend in another band who said there was a last minute support slot open for a gig in Paris, that was the very next day! I don’t really know what we were thinking, being the naive youth we were, we booked the Megabus for the following morning headed direct for Paris.
We had no plan for accommodation other than “We’ll find somewhere”. The show was quiet but we were high on life. As if we were in Paris to play a show, with 24 hours notice. As the night came to a draw, we gathered on the banks of the river Seine with no idea as to where we were going to sleep. Our drummer of that time, suddenly appeared with two very nervous looking students who had agreed that we could stay in the fire escape of their halls building. Despite their suspicious glances to one another, our hosts were very kind to us and gave us an assortment of french snacks to go with our fire escape dwellings. It was literally a spiral staircase that ran the back side of a tall building in central Paris. Made to, quite literally, escape a fire – not ideal for the 7 of us that were there but I don’t recall it being a bad sleep.
(Early Ghouls, this is from 2012 – I know, who are those people?!)
2. Sheffield, UK – August 2013. “An old lady’s Marijuana horde”.
In the summer of 2013, we all happened to have the whole month of August off. We were trying to raise funds to record our first album through a crowd funded campaign – seizing the opportunity of the time off, we booked ourselves a whole month’s tour, 30 days long, to help raise these funds. The tour was called the “Can We Crash At Yours Tour” and, we did just that. Played a show almost every night with nowhere booked to stay, hoping someone would be kind enough to let us “crash” at theirs. It actually went surprisingly well and plenty of lovely people gave up their sitting rooms and sofas for a bunch of over-excited musicians.
There were, however, a few nights on that tour in which the crowd at the shows weren’t, let say, the ideal band-friendly-stay-at-mine-and-we’ll-make-breakfast tomorrow dream that we’d had in our minds. There was one night in particular, about mid-way through the tour, in Sheffield. We’d played what I recall as being a sort of pub/venue, announcing on stage that we needed a place to crash. A slightly haggard old woman came forward and said we’d be more than welcome to sleep in her living room.
Upon arriving at the flat above a kebab shop in the Sheffield suburbs, we were greeted with the distinct smell of cannabis. It didn’t take long to see why, there were nuggets of weed everywhere! On the shelves, on top of the toilet, down the sides of the sofa, in jars in the kitchen, everywhere you can think of – weed nuggets. She immediately lit a joint as soon as we got there and started rambling about how she didn’t need ‘nout but a coffee and a spliff” to be happy.
I don’t smoke weed, nor do I have any interest in it – it’s not something I frown upon or judge people for, but that night I had to endure a good 6/7 hours of second hand stench – I definitely woke up questioning why some lamp shades are spherical.
3. Greensboro, NC, USA – October 2016. “Tap-out wherever, dude”.
I think this might be one of the worse nights sleep I’ve ever had, made worse because we were trapped in a foreign country with no alternative. When we’re in the UK, we know we’re never that far from somewhere we know – a friend or relatives house. Even in Europe now, we know enough people that I’d feel we could get ourselves out of a sticky situation. Plus, we’re all working adults now, so we usually book accommodation – #DIYbutwithhotels. However, this was our first time in the USA and touring somewhere unfamiliar on a budget for the first time always comes with a few hairy situations.
We played a show in Greensboro, North Carolina, mid-week in a pizza/dive bar style place. It was empty except for a couple of pizza bros who looked as though they’d have had a great time at the flat in Sheffield. Our host was a gentleman called Graham, who was playing in another band. Once the gig finished, which was a lot later than we’d expected due to Graham’s band not conforming to the conventional 3-minute song standard and instead opting for 12/15minute epics (which weren’t epic, to say the least). We headed to Graham’s place, detouring via a gas station due to Graham and his fellow band mates having the “munchies”.
We arrived at Grahams “pad”, which reminded me of the scene when Marty McFly goes back to the future, to his neighbourhood and Biff has taken over. Once inside the house, we were greeted by a room in which there was one sofa, a floor that had never seen a vacuum, and a man sat as close to a television as you can possibly get, playing Call of Duty. He was yelling his head off, down a head set at fellow online players in a thick southern American accent. Graham’s words were “just tap-out wherever guys”. We were about a week into what had already been a hectic tour, I was fresh off the back of my Brooklyn Half Marathon win, “tapping out” was never going to happen with our friend Cliff, the gentleman yelling at the screen, in that room. Also, where exactly were we supposed to ‘tap out’. Graham said we were welcome to the “sofa in the yard” – which was an old sofa in his garden. I decided to opt for sleeping in our rented Nissan Quest, which was full of gear.
I managed to clear a space just big enough for me, tucked into the fetal position and just preyed that the night pass by. Several hours later, we woke up, hurried our way out of there and sought refuge in a nearby iHop. Saved by pancakes.
(The infamous Nissan Quest. I drove this 3,333 miles down the east coast of the USA)
I’ll leave it at that for now. There is more to tell but I have to go out and get some clothes. Day 10 of 30 on the daily blog. I am seriously considering to keep this going beyond 30 days and may even purchase a website domain as incentive. If anybody has any advice on web hosting for bloggers then please let me know.
Peace & love y’all.