Been a while, back seat in the corner next to the window as always. No table and all seats facing forwards this time so it’s got potential to be the mute seat. Conversation in the front three rows is flowing about food, I’ll stay quiet for now as just ate a ham and cheese sandwich.
This morning before leaving for our first show in over a year I went for my first run since breaking the sub 24 hour time in my last event and attempt at running one hundred miles, 22 hours 58 minutes was worth the two blisters. I picked up no other injury’s and I’ve now fully recovered after a couple weeks R & R. I feel even closer to the South Downs way after that mammoth task. The Alps still remains a challenge and I’ve a couple months of training before getting back there to attempt the TDS race, tag lined the UTMB’s wild sister so that should bring a fair bit of effort out of me, my legs and my mind. I’m strangely looking forward to it as always.
Meanwhile back in the van….
We are on route to our first BirdPen show in over a year, a festival in Belgium so I have positive buzz notes floating about as it’s always such a welcoming country for us.
Mikes been banging on about some Norwegian cheese we should all try, Jacobs at hand but he lost the knife so we have to try and tax one from somewhere.
Nibble nibble then, in a bit again.
Monday morning, thoughts and reflection from the van:
The cheese was nice but there’s been way too much bread intake and not enough cooked things over the last few days on this trip. Arriving somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the dark to an unlocked guest house with nothing inside doesn’t really bring warm comfort or sunshine vibes to seven slightly weary men who’ve just spent almost 13 hours in a van. The towels finally turned up and mine smelt like Rover the Labrador had dried himself and slept on it after a dip in the local stink stream, which was nice. More bread and waiting around awaited the day.
Arriving on site the lovely organisers had arranged a nice big television for us backstage to watch the world cup competition of kick ball. We scored six and they only scored one. More waiting, watching more kick ball and mooching about filled most of the rest of the daylight hours with a grey school diners meal thrown in for an attempt at stomach comfort.
I think for the first time in my life I might have enjoyed the setting up and packing down/ loading the van than I did the actual gig. I’m kidding of course ( or am I ? ) but the show had its problems as it’s been a while and with new setups and bits of tech, things can take a little while to bed in I suppose. It got better after the glitches and sound problems thankfully and the crowd were tip top as always in Belgium so cheers to you all for being there and being cool.. It’s good to be back but there’s work to be done from our end. Our Sundays evenings accommodation saw us stay in a quirky guest house with a huge porcelain chicken on the stairs and a massive long tap in the bathroom. I finished the night eating Crisps for fucks sake.
Here’s that really long tap.
And here’s me thinking about things with the chicken.
It took another twelve and a half hours to get home.
I am Dave Pen
Greetings to you all out there in cyber space land. I’ve have just returned from a very much needed rest of eleven nights on a Greek island, the time spent close to the ocean and in the warm sun was splendid.
Just before I left I was in the studio with Archive creating some new mad other worldly banging tunes. Prior to this we’d played our first festival of the summer in Germany alongside Mogwai, it’s always a strange feeling when you share a bill with other artists who have inspired you along the way. I wonder if this still happens to lots of other people in my situation? I hope so. The journey home ended up with me sweating it out and staring at a square on the inside of my bunk until my eyes slowly closed over the course of what felt like forty-five minutes.
The BirdPen latest album has been generating some good reviews and its great to see the LTD Edition versions of the gatefold White Vinyl albums available. Check it out:
Bird and myself have been back into the studio, which we set up in the surroundings of the New Forest down here in Hampshire to start writing what will be our fourth album. It’s early stages but 9 new songs have been created in the first writing/recording session. We are due back in next month for session number two. No need to speak about what the concepts of the writing are about yet as ‘In The Company Of Imaginary Friends’ is still very fresh in the mind and I’m looking forward to getting out and playing the songs live again this Autumn/Winter.
I’ve been delving back into the twisted tales of the dark sinister minister Mr Jim Jones again lately. I read Deborah Laytons book ‘Seductive Poison’, which is a brilliant haunting insight into the world’s most famous cult leader and his followers of the Peoples Temple. The faiths he was preaching about in the early days were that of a pure world with no fear or hatred and to then end up a paranoid junkie manipulative mad ranting demon bringing the deaths of over 900 men, woman and children just reeks of mad sinister evil. I found a link to the final forty-five minute recordings in Jonestown but couldn’t really bring myself to listen through it all. It all really creeped me out for a Wednesday morning so I went and mowed the lawn instead.
We’re back on the road again this week heading back to Germany for the Southside and Hurricane festivals. Always some top acts at these two festivals so will in doubt have a mooch and lend my ears to a few.
Might shove some random poems up on here at some point soon too. I’ve been jotting down rhyming ramblings a lot lately and I should get them off my Phone and up on here.
I don’t blog enough these days either.
I am Dave Pen
We are a few more shows in now after I decapitated a snowman in a car park and slept for 18 hours. It’s all going great and we are playing for almost 2 hours a night so the memory is on top form. I’m hungry and sandwiches are on their way for the after gig snack, the pizzas have disappeared, and I guess that’s a good thing, right? I do like a slice now and then though.
My tired head is awaiting the bus to collect us from the hotel in Hamburg. I need to sleep some more after bringing the rider back to the hotel last night. We avoided the darkness and flashing seedy lights of the reeperbahn and celebrated the shows successes so far and having the next day off back at our hotel. Earlier on in the day Smiley and I walked into a pub full of the walking dead, it was no safe place to watch a football match and the flesh on the people in that place was grey and crawling so we turned and left after five seconds. I wouldn’t have wished this bar on anyone, it was proper grim.
Onwards we go enjoying every show with the Germans treating us well with Frankfurt being my favourite crowd for some reason, maybe it was the free box of Maltesers that reminded me of home and the 10 mile run of discovery I did plus Motorstorm for the PS3 for ten Euros from the bargain bin from the Media Mart down the road.
Bunk time television shows have kept me company in the late hours as we’ve been hurtling down the autobahn. I’ve been trying to drown out the insane snoring from the depths of the bunk below me and Fortitude has been a cosy companion for such a freezing snowy show.
Into Slovakia and its capital Bratislava where an electronic beats festival awaited us. Our first time here and a nice plush hotel was arranged for some r&r time during the day before our 1am headline slot. The hotel was nice but I got right into it with a duff locker in the spa changing rooms and had to get the maintenance men out to wrench it open with a couple of screwdrivers only to realise it wasn’t my locker at all. My key said 62 and Locker 63 wasn’t mine, it was actually 65, I grabbed my T-shirt and bailed for a hotel room bath and a curry feeling a little bit like Kermit.
The gig was cool and full of screens so we got a butchers at what goes on out the front, it was like 2001 a space odyssey and that is a good thing right?
Leaving now at 4.09am.
I am Dave Pen
The cosiness of having my own cheap suite in a budget hotel has now gone, the dark comforts of the bunk have set in and I quite like it. So far I’ve avoided anything intoxicating my blood stream, from bud to mud I’ve said no. One Pina colada is all I had, this wont last. I have to be realistic about myself and a day off is looming, I will run before poison though.
The sun has tried a few tired attempts to brighten the skies but has failed and been mulled and jumped on upon by a bunch of dark grey moody rain filled clouds. It sometimes feels like I have TSAD. Today’s view from my bunk window didn’t really fill me with bright up and at them energy.
I’m on a new wanna be swanky bus which has a cheap IKEA naff bling vibe to it. Different coloured dimming lights, a TV that comes up from an invisible slot and fills the whole of the front window etc. The light in my bunk doesn’t work and there is no power in there of which to charge devices. We all need devices right? It’s all European so I miss the sturdiness of the 3 fork UK plugs.
We’ve done two shows so far. One was brand new and some of the processors in a computer decided to bail out for a minute or two, which meant Pollard and I had to ramble at the French audience for some time. They weren’t going anywhere and were sometimes as silent as a stone in a vacuum pack. All was well on the other show in the mess fest of Amsterdam until my guitar sounded like a ten-ton ball of electric wire that wrapped my brain and was plugged into the mains. I couldn’t get monitor man Kev who was dressed as a shark to notice my intense loud problem and when he looked he thought my head gesture meant up, so the level went empire state. That didn’t help and by the time we managed to bring it down to the human ear-viewing platform it was too late and my vibe had been dropped like a wedding cake. The nerd in me was coming out and the fact that the show was top didn’t matter. When you are one song away from the end and something goes wrong it can destroy the whole thing. Is that ungrateful or professional?
So far I’ve watched 3 films. Halloween 4, Halloween 5 and Halloween 6. They are all completely mind numbingly terrible. Why am I watching them? I have brought so many good films with me.
Here’s another glamorous bunk photo from being on tour.
I am Dave Pen
On the train heading to the studio up near Cambridge to do some writing and recording. The sun is flickering and flashing through the trees and windows on the train, that’s a certain way to trigger a migraine. I’ve had to put my sunglasses on, I look a bit like a jackal with my black hat, black puffa coat and now black sunglasses, I have no intentions of starting a fire and I’m not carrying anything illegal. I’ve been on a blog lull of late and haven’t entered anything since the big slab of photographic evidence from The Quest for Mont Blanc. That seems far away now but I know she is still there waiting and taking anybody who chooses to attempt to summit and touch the top of her head. So from the open space way up on top of western Europe’s highest point to the crammed stuffy germ filled carriages of trains zooming to the capital of England. Nobody wants to sit next to someone else, including me if I’m honest and I’ve been carrying the lurgy for a few weeks now. Starting from my nose to my head, then my limbs and now my chest, which is just where I didn’t want it to set up phloem camp. Its hit me hard enough to have to cancel my final endurance test of the year which was my first ultra marathon of forty five miles down on the Dorset coast this Saturday. I’m truly gutted, I wanted to sign the year off with a big test and now I cant and it’s made me itchy and irritable. Fuck you germy virus fucks. Get out and don’t come back no more.
I’m not sure why I’ve not blogged of late, maybe I’ve been doing too much and finding the actual time to sit and write out what’s happened seems like a memory slog . A few random past thoughts are – Touring with BirdPen across Europe was like the miles we covered, some were long and slow and some went quickly and I enjoyed most of the ride, a record new zero funds made on the merchandise in Stockholm, a blown tire on the Autobahn, shady Czech traffic cops, horrible Swiss border Nazi’s, tambourine thief’s in Berlin, chocolate cake in Bern, happy faces at the front of the crowd, serious arm crossers at the front of the crowd, nobody at the front of the crowd. Dancing till dawn, coffee and doughnuts, good luck charms, welcoming promoters, backstage invaders, going deaf and vomiting, needing sleep and needing more sleep. The birds will always find the antennas and we will continue to transmit.
I’m on route to the studio to record vocals and guitars for new Archive material, Darius and I spent a day together last week demoing some ideas which I’m exited about, we then spent six hours watching a world war two three part drama and ate lots of food. Perhaps we were fuelling up for the oncoming fuzz marathon of playing live in 2015. Next year will be full on from what I can see and the new album, which is called Restriction, is out January 2015. It will be great to get it out there on the road. So 2015 will bring a whole wedge packed whack of new sounds. I will have three albums out by the end of spring. Archive – Restrictions in January BirdPen – In The Company Of Imaginary Friends in March and We are Bodies in April of which The Kendal mad man Robin Foster and I just mastered this wonderful album in Abbey road. Always a special place to work and topped off nicely by getting to see Underworld perform live straight to Vinyl in Studio one, what a nice way to celebrate finishing the album. Sometimes my job is truly the best job in the world! I don’t know how I’m going to remember all the words I have written though.
Final words and am gonna close this one, I’m DJ’ing with the Manglebird and a bunch of dear friends this Saturday, then off Warsaw and Berlin for Restrictions playback party’s next week. I have to admit I’m gutted my legs wont hurt, guess I’ll open the sets with Road to Nowhere by Talking heads. I am Dave Pen
Here are a selection of photographs from over the summer whilst on tour. Warm memories.
Finally got a version of word again after the last update to the mind control made it all stop working, that notebook thing for the computer doesn’t work as well for me for some reason. Weird that as its all words after all isn’t it?
I’m sat in what was my little studio room and is now a half made room for a very small person and a storage space of stuff from my life over this summer. I don’t have long left until I will definitely need a new space to express thoughts and ideas. She’s still shacked up in the main bedroom for the next couple of months.
My coffee cup has a mallard on it and the coffee is lavatza, the same coffee Pollard insists on having for the tour bus. You can see him coming from a while away in the distance carrying a massive straw sack of beans before every tour. All hell does break loose when something happens to the coffee machine when we are away, HEADS DO ROLL!!
So now the summer is closing down but still the sun is shining. Is an Indian summer of the cards perhaps? How very nice for the sweat glands to keep clapping their hands in pure open pores celebration. The downside to all the heat and yellow and white light for me has been trying to run, it has lagged over me so much whilst trying to train to run my first marathon, draining me after thirty minutes with sweat pouring off me. I am sure once the winter is fully pitched and hanging on our bones I will think? ‘What was I complaining about’? Its now gonna be cold and damp for 6 months or more.
So the festival season is coming to an end and we’ve been back and forth all summer long, 2 left including the show in Warsaw of which is where I am finishing this blog right now on the 36th floor of the Continental hotel, this is the view at dusk:
And this is a list of how my summer went:
It was full of noise, heat, blown air conditioning units, cheering fans, grounded tour buses of ferry’s, upset stomachs, the history of Britain (almost finished), crap movies and films about football hooligans, singing fans, cushion throwing fans, champagne nights, watching the sun rise, hangovers from hell, running for trains (hung-over), pina coladas, breast milk, broken amps, guitar pedals with minds of their own, legos and nintendos, meeting jack black, watching three quarters of a crowd leave the gig we were playing as they were all there to see a teeny pop band, crying girls (because they were there to see a teeny pop band, not us), broken buses, going mad on the bus, reading books, DJ’ing at a camp site in the French Alps, coming home to find my lawn burnt to a crisp, Queens of the stone age, Amphitheatres, hummus in a can, singing Life & Death with Robin, needing more sleep, Athens to Barcelona, laughing, not eating enough, things I can’t remember, blah, blip, bang, crash, and a drop of wallop.
I have taken a fair few photos over the summer of which I will post up as another “photo” blog, quickly after you’ve read this one.
Whoever you are
I am Dave Pen.