Thursday, 14 August 2008


The food and drink at The Bear's Place in Bloomington was one of the best meals I'd ever eaten. I had a giant quesadilla that lasted the whole evening and then breakfast from a doggy bag the next day as well!

There was a label summit in town that evening, so we met and played to the owners of Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar, Asthmatic Kitty among others.

The cats at Ben's house were amazing!

Thank you:
Daniel, Eden, Cyrus, Ben


After spending a lot of the journey to Chicago arguing, we were happily surprised to see that the Empty Bottle lived up to the huge reputation that preceded it. The city of Chicago was sadly far too big and spread out for us to see in our short time there (as is generally the nature of tour), and so we had to make do with just the venue and its immediate surroundings to satisfy our tourist needs.

The show was a lot of fun; we really enjoyed hanging out with Oceans, and a visitor from Manchester was our only British-English speaking guest until our friend Luke from home (visiting his friends HORSE The Band) arrived at the show as well.

Trevor, from our former show-buddies, Pelican was doing the lights at this show; it was a very pleasant surprise to catch up with him!

Thank you:
Matt, all of Oceans, Jeanine, Trevor, Luke, Nora.

Dayton, Ohio

We drove around the same block in Dayton about 20 times trying to find the venue. Mathilda the GPS kept stopping us by a disused diner with a silver deco design. Turns out the Pearl was that disused diner. Despite this, however, the show was a lot of fun. We really enjoyed the other bands, and they were great fun to hang out with.

Even though Dayton is a strangely ghostly town, 5th St. Deli and Gem City Records were both awesome finds. I spent about a week's worth of tour allowance in the latter, and bought the biggest sandwich I'd ever seen at the former.

Thank you:
Chris, Kyle, Yiye, all of Grizzzzy Bear, John and the guy who flew from Atlanta (I've forgotten your name, sorry!)

Saturday, 2 August 2008


I'm currently writing en route. I'm supposed to be working on my MA thesis whilst on this tour, which is pretty stressful, but so far it's been far more fun to update this blog instead of writing essays.

Jason - our tour manager - is steely eyed, dodging giant trucks and paying close attention to Mathilda the GPS' directions. Oli (the stand-in violin player) and Olly are singing along to Cursive; Jack is reading a "modern Australian classic"; Mike (guitar tech) is staring blankly at nothing is particular; Brendan is complaining about his blocked-up nose and I am trying to figure out how we're gonna get from Mississippi to South Carolina in one day, which we'll have to do later on in the tour.


Another late arrival, again because of the luggage on the roof rack. This should be the last time this happens, though. We spent lots of money on freight-quality ratchets to firmly brace everything to the top of the van and hopefully not fling it around the roof on every corner.

The venue was beautiful, a fourth-floor art gallery with multiple rooms and high ceilings, and (thankfully) an elevator.

We played with Soporus, a Saxon Shore side-project led by our friend Matt Stone. That band is awesome; really sleepy, gentle drones with backing visuals. Matt is helping out a lot with this tour and we're so grateful for everything he's done.

The show was quite fun, the vocal harmonies carried really nicely and people were really enthusiastic about it. We spoke to a few guys afterwards over the merch table and they were great; welcoming and friendly and I'm glad we were able to play for them.

We stayed at Matt Stone's parents place after the show, which was a hand-built (!) house at the top of Mt. Gretna and - despite being terrorised by Morgan the dog at 5am - was beautiful.

Thank you:
Matt, Scott, Tim, Megan, Denison, Sarah, Mr and Mrs Stone.


About 20 minutes into the drive to Williamsport almost all of our luggage nearly fell from the roof rack of the van, so we had to pull over by the side of the interstate alongside two absolutely-obliterated deer carcasses. The speed and size and weight of the freight trucks driving by evidently causes some serious disfigurement of the unfortunate wildlife that crosses their paths.

We arrived at the show late, because of the luggage disaster, and were all crammed into the van with suitcases on top of us, but the venue was amazing - a converted factory with a giant stage area. We missed the opening band, Black Marble, but its members were all lovely folk and we enjoyed hanging out with them.

After the show we went to an awesome bar called the Bullfrog, where all the beer is brewed in house and has amazing titles. Apparently one of them used Kentish hops, but we didn't recognise the taste, and then we had a big argument about the Happy Mondays. That I won. Take that, Jack.

Thank you:
Rich, Alex, Lee, Leena (happy birthday!), Colin and The Bullfrog

Philadelphia II

We played at the M-Room in Philadelphia - our first show in the United States of America! We were warned about the difficulty of touring in the states before we left, and having spent the last few tours and shows being catered and hoteled, it's nice and quite satisfying to get back to the "old style" of sleeping on floors and buying lunch at service stations. Hard work, but fun nonetheless.

Our good friend Scott - who runs Burnt Toast Vinyl - lives pretty much in Philly, so was looking after us well. We drank fine American beers and ate fine American cheesesteaks.

Thank you to:
Scott (times a million), Matt, Joe and everyone at Village Green, The Blue Dog (and Christa, Stevie and Beth).

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Our plane circled New York airspace for hours before we were able to land, but we are now safely in Philadelphia preparing for the first show on this tour.

We've been rehearsing all day, and eating giant sandwiches. We drank at the Blue Dog last night, and our tour manager Jason woke up at about 3pm with red eyes and no voice.

We are looking forward to playing, despite the heat. This is a hot place to be.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


Yes, we rather thought so.

Friday, 7 September 2007


Firstly - apologies for the lateness of this entry. We couldn't access this site while we were in China, I guess because of the internet censorship over there, and for that reason it just completely slipped my mind. China - if you're reading this, I'm sorry!

We arrived in Beijing confused and under-rested. We'd had a hard night of partying in Tokyo the day before and weren't going to let early morning flights slow us down. There were two albino children on the plane who were absolutely fascinating, and lots of complicated forms to fill in before we got to customs. Even though we had official legal working visas for China, the border control guys seemed to not really speak English, so let us through without questioning our guitars and things. Olly said "we're in a band" and held up his cymbals and the man nodded politely and waved him through. The hired car that we had for the whole trip was quite entertaining, we listened to the driver's Fleetwood Mac best of literally every single journey.

On our first day we slept a lot, mostly whilst attempting to hold conversations and meet people, but at least we caught up on rest. We fell into the tourist trap of eating pizzas, which was mostly because of our tired irritability and dietry homesickness. This was probably the only meal that settled untoubled in Brendan's weary belly.

The following day - show day - we spent the morning in central Beijing, which was amazing. The Beijing accent is so noticeably different from the Taiwanese, despite them being the same language. I guess it's comparable to English and Irish, which is an especially appropriate analogy, considering the difficult political history considering the two sets of countries.

We saw Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City, both of which were indescribably stunning. Lots of Chinese people took our photo, apparently Westerners are quite rare finds.

The show was quite a success, except for a broken string and out-of-tune guitar on my part, and some loud American girls at the front of the audience who kept asking my name during quiet parts of songs. I had to go back onstage to apologise at the end of the set because we'd run out of songs and the audience demanded an encore!

The next day we went to the Great Wall, which seemed to transcend all descriptions, images, stories about itself. I was quite dumbstruck at its architecture, "this is incredible!" was all I could say for the first half of the walk. We walked for about 6km up mountainside, along parts of the wall that hadn't been rebuilt since their first conception, which was amazing. There are some big millipedes on that wall.

Chang, Katharina, Sabina (again), Suesue, Lin, Xie and Wangwen, Fleetwood Mac taxi driver, Sainkho, Miss Ma, the photographer at the show who's name I've forgotten, David.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


We didn't get any sleep before the flight to Tokyo, so the whole endeavour was pretty tiring and stressful. Dan managed to forget to collect his luggage from the baggage collection at the airport.

I was reading about an American economist - Demming - who visited Japan shortly after the Second World War to give a series of consultations and lectures on production. He advised that goods manufacturing should be concerned with quality and perfection regardless of cost. This seems to be absolutely true for Japan, extending as far as the sound team at O-Nest, and the work that went into preparations and organization for the show. I heard, before we played, that foreign bands in Japan are often blown off stage by local opening bands, and so we were encouraged to play the best we possibly could, and to ignore our tiredness.

I also read an article about Japan's feral ravens, and how they attack grown men in Shibuya's streets. As soon as we stepped out of the van, two of them cawed aggressively from lampposts above us.

I enjoyed the show a huge amount. The opening bands were as good as we expected, and because of the lengthy and expertly-handled soundcheck, we managed to last the whole set without any major problems. I thought we played the new song especially well that day.

After we finished playing, the crowd refused to leave the venue, even after the house lights had been bought up and the sound team had started playing CD's, so we decided to do our first ever encore. My fingers and my guitar were a bloody mess, but the encore was something I'm very proud of, even though I took some convincing to actually go back onstage.

We had the day off in Tokyo on the Wednesday, which was incredible. The city is beyond words - so much happening and so much information. In some respects, it's quite comfortable not being able to read Japanese, otherwise the huge volume of words would probably be quite overwhelming. Our good friend Joe showed us some great places, and we found some really cool little bars and the Japanese equivalent of a Pound Saver in the increasingly light early hours of the morning. The Japanese kids know how to drink.

Duomo arigato: Ken, Jason, Graham, everyone else involved with the show, Joe, Shoto and Euphoria, Ovum, Eugene and Eksperimentoj, Teru and Masami and Thomason Sounds, Warsarwa Records, XTAL Records, Mark.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Taiwan II

Taiwan is one of the most amazing places I've ever been to. It seems like every single person is the most friendly and warm and welcoming I've ever come across. We are looking forward to coming back.

We played at the Formoz Festival in Taipei on Sunday evening, probably to the biggest crowd we've ever played to (Loou at the label guessed 2,000 people!), and the queue for our autgographs at the signing tent stretched as far as we could see down the hill. There are lots of photos and videos online, hopefully they'll make it into our archive soon.

We accidentally gave the festival an out-of-date setlist, which included A Song For Starlit Beaches, which we don't really play live any more. Unfortunately, the organizers had arranged a grand piano for us to play this song, and a team of about 40 Formoz staff had to lift the piano off the stage. We were embarrassed.

We did, however, get to see Yo La Tengo play at the Formoz - they were amazing.

During the day on Monday I did a special acoustic show at a coffee shop in Taipei, which I enjoyed very much. We got a chance to meet some fans and to spend some time with them. There is a band in Taipei who has a cover of Dash and Blast.

Monday's show at the Wall was amazing, everyone we spoke to about it was so enthusiastic, and the Wall staff were incredibly professional and helpful.

Thank you: everyone at the Formoz and at The Wall. Joey Su, Miyuki, Luxia, Andy, Edward, Tony and Phil Cheng, Jackie, Ira, James and Georgia.

Friday, 27 July 2007


we arrived in Taiwan hungover and under-rested, but the festival looks amazing, and there are some great people here.

It was great to meet: Sabina, Loou, Jackie, Asobi Seksu, Dean & Britta, Ken and Jason. Lots more people.

We saw Testament play, and metal horned from the side of the stage. They put on quite a show.

Hong Kong

hello all,

we arrived in Hong Kong jetlagged and boiling, but managed to save enough energy to have a lot of fun on our free day. We went to the Mon Kok market and White Noise Records (our good friend Gary's shop/distro/label), and I spent all of my money on records within the first hour of being in HK.

English bars in HK are fun, and we saw Liverpool FC drive past. I saluted Peter Crouch, but he didn't really notice or react.

The show was insane, so hot I was dripping sweat on my guitar with every movement and felt like I could barely stand when I got offstage. We had a few sound problems, but people seemed to really enjoy it - they copied my movements and shouted my name at me while we played - and we managed to play a new song that we've been working on for a little while.

we partied with our friends Nic and Gary after the show, which was a big drunken mess.

Thank you:
Gary, Wah, Nic, Ginnie, Bee, Noel and Rachel, Sapphire, A Company and Slept in Spray, George and Kim, Kennick, Winnie and everyone else.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


we leave for Heathrow in 3 hours. Lovely lovely fun.

See you in the East.


Friday, 20 July 2007


Hooray! We leave on Tuesday!

Hong Kong first. We will be tired, but we owe it to ourselves to party in HK, so we'll fight jet-lag in the name of drunkenness.

We're putting the finishing touches on a new song that Asian audiences will be the first to hear, and on new t-shirt designs that Asian audiences will be the first to wear.

We are excited.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Asia update


I booked the flights from the UK to Hong Kong and back today! We've been busy all week with arrangements for the Asian dates, and we're very excited about it. Tomorrow we'll have confirmation for the last show we're planning, and then we can book the inter-Asian flights between shows. There will be 8 flights in all, which is a lot of time in the air. Olly's pretty nervous about it, apparently, and plans to drink a few whiskeys before take-off.

We are most excited about:
-pearl milk tea
-seeing Dickson (and hopefully ma and pa Ho) and Sapphire in Hong Kong
-meeting Loou in Taiwan, Chang in Beijing and Gary in Hong Kong
-making things up for Noel and Rachel
-drinking in Asia
-new Asian-edition t-shirts
-the coffee shop acoustic show in Taipei
-the Formoz!
-meeting Yo La Tengo and Mercury Rev
-getting picked up at the airport by people with 'yndi halda' signs
-real Chinese food in China
-yndi posters with Chinese/Cantonese/Japanese text on them
-the Happy Hotel

We are not excited about:
-13-hour flights
-distinctly non-English weather
-no Marmite
-feral Tokyo ravens
-being out-performed by Yo La Tengo and Mercury Rev
-turtle blood shots and thousand-year egg
-needing jabs
-not being able to speak any of the languages we will be encountering and having to force people to speak English

lovely lovely fun.

dates are:
26.7 - Hong Kong - Kowloon, IMNet
29.7 - Taiwan - FORMOZ
30.7 - Taiwan - Taipei, The Wall
31.7 - Japan - Tokyo, O-Nest
3.8 - China - Beijing, The Star Live

Thursday, 24 May 2007

the Far East

we're going to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and China for a short set of dates this summer! It'll just be a week's worth of big shows and festivals, not a full tour - we'll spend more time over there next year, and play Korea too.

I'll update this when we get closer to the time.

Saturday, 21 April 2007


Reims was a great success. Although we arrived at the venue too late for a soundcheck, there was a 15-strong crew to help us unload and to set up, and everything was handled with the utmost professionalism - we even had a mirror with lights around it in our private dressing room!

We had some promo photos taken for the venue's newsletter, which will hopefully find their way to us before long.

I think because of long-awaited comfort and seclusion (and amazing catering) we were allowed at the venue, we performed the best we had all tour - the stage was large enough for us to move unhindered, the sound was absolutely clear, the tech crew were infinitely helpful. i ripped all the strings off my guitar at the very end, in celebration.

After the show we had a drunken UK vs US vs France basketball match in the venue's courtyard with the Thee More Shallows guys, and the Festival Carphanaum crew. I think we won, but no-one was really counting scores, or really playing on distinct teams.

and so, we begin our long drive home (actually, Reims isn't too far away from home). We left Jack there because we hate him (actually, because he was heading to Paris for a few days before coming back home), and we left that great continent.

thank you: Jeanne, Rudolph, Dee, Chavo, Jason, everyone at the Cartonnerie


we drove far too far to get to Angouleme - especially after losing all the time needed to fix our broken-down van in Barcelona. The landscape along the way, though, was beyond beautiful.

We eventually arrived at Le Mars Attack at midnight, at the same minute at which we were booked to play, and scrambled to get set up quickly enough to play a full set. Unhappily, though, it didn't seem as if people were really listening - perhaps because the situation was too confusing for us to play as well as we should have. The select few that enjoyed the show seemed to really enjoy it, though.

The barmaid at the venue looked a little like Isabella Rosselini, and was as insane as her character in Blue Velvet.

thanks: Steve, the Pyrenees, the barmaid, Matthieu