The flights over to London were effortless. Despite the layover in Chicago (I hate indirect flights overseas) we were rewarded with a half-full flight and none of us had to sit next to each other, or anyone else for that matter. I watched most of "The Love Guru" and can't help but contemplate how much Mike Myers' star has fallen.
Baggage and customs went off almost too easily…as if someone was making everything particularly carefree in hopes of sneaking up on us and suddenly requiring us to do calculus equations before allowed entry into the country. Easily found Matthew, our new tour manager over here, and made way to the storage space in Finchley to pick up our equipment.
The dark, dank garage is just as I remembered it…dark and dank. We had trouble remembering what gear, particularly guitar amplifiers, we'd used back in June, but figured that out fairly easily. Of more concern and importance was availability of only one drum set. We'd distinctly left two sets of drums and two assortments of hardware and now there was merely one. We'd later find out the problem, so often the person I look to point a finger at when things go sour in my life: Ben Swank.
So despite Swank's having taken the drums we'd planned on using we sorted things out. Matthew offered up the use of a drum set that was just sitting at his house. Seeing as we had to go back to his home in Sheffield anyway to pick up our merch, this was a relatively quick and easy solve. On our way there, Matthew asks if we like Vitamin Water.
"Yeah, why do you ask?"
"Well, I've got about ten cases of it stacked up in my living room"
With the reality of not having to pay to pay for any V-dubs for the next two weeks it became apparent very early on that Matthew rules.
From his crib in Sheffield to the streets of Bangor and Royal Tandoori curry restaurant. I indulged in chicken korma and garlic nan bread and 'twas heavenly. Pat commented that his chicken tikka masala was the best he'd ever had. We all lay heavy, heavy praise at their doorstep.
We'd crash that night at the Travelodge in Holyhead. Zack and I inexplicably found ourselves watching Samuel L. Jackson's film "SWAT" and after a brief period were physically unable to change the channel. Upon the film's climactic end (SPOILER ALERT: the good guys win) I doze off into dreamland around 11pm.
I awake again at 3:30am and will not be able to fall back asleep before we leave at 7:30am. I lay and stare at the ceiling for an hour, spend another two writing and killing time on my laptop, then spend another hour hoping I may at least get some ounce of sleep before we shove off on the early morning ferry.
I would get no sleep and the ferry would be very anticlimactic, other than Pat's mild hallucinations from the motion of the waves. We arrived in Dublin about 11am with ample time to kill and I led Pat and Zack to the string of record shops I remember finding when in town with Stoltz back in 2006.
I dig Euro shops and their propensity for stocking bootlegs. I thought long and hard about a 2xLP Nirvana boot Seattle Sound Sounds Great (who's name had weirdly been in my heard during part of my two hours of staring at the ceiling the previous evening) but decided against it as I couldn't see myself listening to the thing more than once. But the idea of a vinyl bootleg, to me, seems so counter-intuitive and backwards that I couldn't help but feel like I NEEDED to have it.
I also passed on the bootleg pressing of the White Stripes "Jolene" 7" as I thought 15 euro was a lot to be handing over to out-and-out pirates.
We walked up the block and found ourselves eating at Gallagher's Boxty House. I'd commented that I'd wanted to have some traditional Irish food, Pat recommended the trad seven course meal (a six-pack of Guinness and a potato) but instead we mange on boxty's. I'd understood them to be sort of like a burrito or a crepe…I ordered the Gaelic boxty and that had steak and mushrooms in some rich gravy-type sauce.
The confusing part for me was that the "boxty" bread or pancake or whatever you want to call it, was merely folded over and placed on top of the meat. Nothing was stuffed inside, it wasn't cooked all at once and frankly, its taste didn't seem to match up with its 20 euro price tag.
Unsatisfied, I reluctantly asked for the dessert menu. The sticky toffee pudding was calling my name…not only does the acronym "STP" rule when used for anything other than in-hindsight shitty 1990's alternative bands, but each word individually is something I really enjoy, so coupled together, it was a no-brainer.
Served with a dollop of cream and a side of ice cream, this hot structure of some bread/toffee concoction with a wisp of sugary sauce zig-zagged over it was, by far, the richest and most delectable dessert that I have had in the past ten months of touring. It clearly made up for the lackluster boxty and I wished that I had just ordered three servings of STP as I would've been a much more satisfied customer.
Pat didn't like his boxty either, but his cheese plate dessert, like my STP, also remedied his insufficient main course. Zack got grilled onions/mushrooms and soda bread and enjoyed that just fine.
Feeling invigorated by the glorious end to my meal, I marched back to Borderline Records and ponied up the plastic to get that bootleg Stripes single. Good food can make one change their position on just about anything, don't you think?
Checked into the hotel at 2pm and because the official check-in time was 3pm, had to pay a 10 euro service charge which makes absolutely no sense. The room is sitting there, empty, ready for us to use, what is the reason for charging an extra fee for us to get in there? I call bullshit on you Travelodge of Dublin.
With only one room ready at that time, the four of us in the band who hadn't invented garage rock took to the two twin beds pushed together and crashed hardcore. I thought it was a pretty funny example of how beat we all were, all four of us in a row, konked out, no regard or care for how little room there was to be shared between the mattresses…we'd truly reached a state of extreme comfort (or ambivalence) towards/with each other.
Soundcheck at Whelan's was the most comfortable I've felt while playing drums in recent memory. The tension of the heads, the timbre of their strike, the resonance of their decay…it all sounded (and more importantly FELT) perfect.
Chilled upstairs for a spell before hanging with Sean Earley and crew and shooting the shit. Sean had so graciously designed and printed posters for the Dublin and Galway shows and seemed pretty excited about the gig. I didn't watch the Real Junk before us, but by the time we took the stage there was a sizeable, amped crowd ready for our jam.
We played a tad sloppy. Mick broke a string during the first song and we all seemed to be suffering from some slight disconnect. As if that insight even matters because the crowd loved the shit out of the show. There was a clear affinity for songs off Ultraglide and with the only other time we'd played town being in 2002 I guess it made sense.
Zack took a magnificent spill while standing on top of Pat's bass drum during the breakdown in "Candyass" and we all had a hearty laugh at him taking out a good portion of Pat's kit, but not before Pat moved out of the way to avoid injury and then quickly reassembled the mangled bits to come in right where he was supposed to. It was almost, dare I say, poetic.
Encored with "Can't Stop Thinking About It" and "Granny's Little Chicken" and once I brought my drums onto the main floor it seemed I could do no wrong with the crowd. They adored every last thing I could muster, whether hearty two-handed snare slams posturing as a drum solo or fumbly attempts at Bonham-sized tom flams those Irish freaks made me feel like I was Gene Krupa.
After show I felt no twinge of tiredness and instead cruised the internet for a couple of hours. An email from mom hipped me to some weird celestial happenings in regards to Venus and the gibbous moon and with nothing else better to do at 5:30am, I put my shoes on in hopes of finding those heavenly bodies amidst the orange glow of Dublin street lamps.
Up and down the street, foraying into an alley or too all proved fruitless. Back at the hotel and roof access was apparently restricted by "Emergency-Only" alarmed doors. I ventured to a section of our floor that was under renovation and snuck into an eerily empty open-doored room with hopes of scoping the moon from the window. I had to precariously climb over some boxes and tools to even get to the window, but had no luck in finding any special skyward occurances.
I guess the point of it all was that at least I'd tried. I've never really shown interest in eclipses or anything of that sort, but as I hope is clearly apparent by reading here, more often than not it's the journey, not the destination, that you remember.