(Andy Synn provides this report on the recently completed UK tour by The Monolith Deathcult, Talanas, and Andy’s band Beyond Grace.)
So I’ve been harangued into putting together a short (relatively) report of the happenings and happenstances of our tour last month. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure where to start as I’m writing this now, other than to say that – despite the inevitable stresses that came about – I wish I was still on tour now. Playing a show every night, to new people, in a new place… well, that 30 mins onstage you get makes all the rest of it worthwhile.
DAY 01 – BRIGHTON, STICKY MIKE’S FROG BAR
My first piece of advice for any of you going on tour – try to get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Definitely don’t stay up late sending out digital promos and organising the launch of your new EP so that you only have time to get in 3 hours before having to go collect the van, drive it back to load your backline, then drive down to London (and then on to Brighton). Yeah, don’t do that.
Also try not to drive in London. Ever. In fact I made Ed drive into and around London because I hate it so damn much. Which certainly made collecting Talanas from their Berry Street studio much easier – for me at least!
On arrival in Brighton things were looking good. We got the gear loaded in (minus a big chunk of drum kit that The Monolith Deathcult were providing) and had time for a short wander around the town. Which soon turned into a long, stressful wait after it was revealed that TMDC were lost somewhere in the English countryside and running very, very late.
Approximately 2/2.5 hours later a ragged cheer went up as our new Dutch friends finally pulled up in their tour van. What followed was a roughshod, frantic load-in and semi-sound check, followed by a similarly frantic, but far more ferocious, night of megaton death metal, concluding with a long drive back to London to try and grab at least a few more hours of sleep!
Something of an inauspicious start to the tour, but… onwards and upwards!
DAY 02 – BIRMINGHAM, ASYLUM 2
Oddly enough not much to say about this one… getting to the show was easy… load-in was similarly easy… sound-check was, well, interminable, but otherwise good! And anyway, backstage had food and beer, so no issues, no complaints!
Two things worth mentioning though:
1. Rannoch joined us for this show and were AWESOME (plus we got to see Hal reprise his role as “Pseudo William Blake” at the ending of “The Forgotten”). And…
2. We stumbled (almost literally in fact) over a dead goose waiting at a taxi rank while wandering to get food after the show. Apparently Birmingham is the avian equivalent to the River Styx…
DAY 03 – NORWICH
The drive to Norwich was certainly long (although not as long as the one to come the next day), but it was also extremely picturesque. And… occasionally weird (East Anglia, if you’ve never been, is an odd place where even the most familiar of things seem ever so slightly… different). The venue itself though, and the people, were fan-fucking-tastic. I want to give a shout out right now to Simon and Muriel for their organisation, which helped make everything so much simpler and easier to arrange both before and on the day.
Ed, Andrew, and I even had chance to nip down the street and sample some of the local fish and chips. Living the rock star lifestyle to the fullest.
The show went off almost without a hitch, with an extremely enthusiastic and receptive audience for all the bands on the bill. It was also a major success over at the merch table, where Beth (Talanas), Christian (TMDC) and myself (Beyond Grace) all had the opportunity to meet and interact with a host of new fans while foisting our various wares on them!
DAY 04 – DUNDEE
With Ed and I splitting the driving in the gear van – heretofore dubbed “The Chronovan” – and Tim and Andrew sharing driving duties in the band transporter (a 7-seat people-carrier cleverly named “The People’s Carrier” by Talanas), the actual journey from Nottingham to Dundee – approximately 350+ miles of relatively clear roads and utterly stunning countryside – wasn’t too strenuous, all in all. Though apparently Hal, at some point, managed to successfully walk into a tree. The man’s possibly an idiot. Or a genius. The jury’s still out on that one.
On arrival at the venue we found that the door was locked. In fact it was over an hour before anyone showed up due to a series of miscommunications between all parties involved. But on the plus side it meant I got to grab an hour of sleep in the van. Not the most comfortable, but needs must when the devil’s been driving for that long…
The venue itself was, however, pretty awesome, with a big stage, a great sound system, and a massive (albeit very dark) backstage area for all the bands to hang out in together. The only slight problem was that it was up about 6 million stairs, which meant loading in our gear – of which there was a hell of a lot – quickly became a test of will and endurance.
Again though, the show itself more than justified our efforts, with every band receiving a warm welcome from the assembled crowd, who turned up in their droves despite both Exhumed and Soulfly playing Scottish dates on the same night. The love of Supreme Avant Garde Death Metal runs deep in Dundee it seems…
DAY 05 – LIVERPOOL, THE LOMAX
The drive to Liverpool was somewhat bittersweet, as this was the last date to feature Talanas on the bill. That gave everything a slightly more poignant edge, and made us all adamant to make the last show with the whole package a memorable one. And, speaking of package, I’d be remiss not to mention the fact that during our set I looked up to see the male members of Talanas drop trouser on the balcony… and stay like that for a good portion of ‘The Chronophage’.
Consummate professional that I am I can proudly say that I didn’t even bat an eyelid at this puerile behaviour. Though I did have to bleach my eyes repeatedly later that evening.
It’s always a pleasure to play The Lomax, as Andy and Phil from Deathwave always go out of their way to make us feel welcome. Plus the upstairs area is a cool place to hang out and learn new things about your tour mates (for example, did you know that one of The Monolith Deathcult has an identical twin? I didn’t, but I do now…)
To make things even better we had our friends from Spires joining the bill, who proceeded to aggravate all the other bands with their utterly impeccable performance. Talented bastards.
Visiting Liverpool always throws up (no pun intended) some interesting moments too, from the pleasant – bumping into Mat from Ethereal and Steve from Lammergeir at the show – to the unusual — the random sight of an incredibly tall transvestite with a boombox strutting proudly (and loudly) down the street — to the disgusting – the poor scouse lass spending a frankly eye-opening amount of time projectile vomiting outside while we were all busy loading out our gear.
In fact I’m not sure TMDC and crew were truly prepared for the sights and sounds of Liverpool on a Friday night. They all looked somewhat shaken the next day.
DAY 06 – LONDON, THE BLACK HEART
After a sombre drive down to London (enlivened by the accidental destruction of a seagull part way through the journey) we parted ways with our friends in Talanas once more, with much lamentation and the shedding of manly tears, before negotiating the London traffic and making our way to The Black Heart.
Steve from Infected Brain Promotions famously runs a tight ship, which meant that load-in, sound-check, food, and money were all sorted well in advance of doors. Great stuff. It was also a nice surprise to bump into Daniel from Eye of Solitude who was helping out as Steve’s deputy – the man’s a gent, even if he did keep trying (successfully) to feed me bacon flavoured crisps.
I’ve got to say, we always get a good reception down in London, and this show was no exception, with an extremely enthusiastic crowd really getting into the music. It was probably, if not definitely, the best show of the whole tour. We absolutely crushed it, if I do say so myself!
Unfortunately De Profundis, one of my absolute favourite UK bands, who joined us on the bill this evening, were afflicted with some pretty major sound problems which wreaked havoc with a lot of their set… though the band persevered and pushed through the pain like the warriors they are!
My personal highlight, however, was being asked to come up onstage to join The Monolith Deathcult for “Wrath of the Ba’ath”. It was an honour and a privilege, and I’ll even forgive the band for embarrassing me by performing an impromptu ceremony knighting me “Sir Andrew of Walmsley” and initiating me into the hallowed Order of the Deathcult after the song finished. I love those mad Dutch sons of bitches.
And there you go, six days of blood, stress, and beers. Rushing to and from venues, only to endure the same maddening wait to go onstage each and every night. Lifting gear, loading gear, and breaking gear.
But it was also six days of playing the music we love to fans who love it.
Six days of hanging out with our friends, both new and old, as we travelled the country together.
And six days of watching The Monolith Deathcult lay waste to venues across the UK.
What more could you ask for?
PS: Keep an eye on www.facebook.com/wearebeyondgrace because we’ll be unleashing a video for ‘The Chronophage’ in the next few weeks comprised of bits and pieces of footage from across the whole tour!