Monday 30 March 2009

2 Galleries & A Former Squat

We tore through Benelux these last few days - well, Bene without the Lux; and 'tore through' meaning trudged and dragged our stuff and slowly-disintegrating selves onto trains and over cobblestones.


Things started out iffy as the owner of Croxhapox in Gent seemed to think that we were an acoustic band. He then showed us to two tiny speakers hooked up to a video installation and demanded that we return them to the exact position that we found them in by the end of the night. We did a mellow sorta set and nobody complained so I'll call it a success.

We killed the next day and few sunny and rainy hours before our train like this:

It's true, there was a lot of scowling this afternoon.

Walking by this:

Next, Antwerp!

It's still up for debate whether we destroyed the p.a. at Logement in Antwerp, or if it destroyed us. It was a strange and chilly night with a definite streak of warmth making it all just a little blurry.

A short note on Belgium beer. These people take it seriously and they brew darn fine bier. For the most part- or, at least the better part- Belgian beers are unfiltered and one might find crud at the bottom of a glass now and again. Lots of Belgian beers are now exported around the world, but apparently they are brewed for export with more stringent filtering processing. So cleaner beer means fewer bugs and less taste. Think on that when you find yourself staring at $6 bottle of Chimay at the LCBO.

OCCII in Amsterdam was where we swept in and out of ever so briefly last night. We quickly departed that other European city I have trouble leaving early this morning on the promise that we'll be returning for a few days sans guitars for a little r&r. I'm so very tired.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Bucolic Kingdom of Books

Wearied by the need for the tourist dollar and the concentration necessary to ignore every instinct you have about driving while simultaneously navigating this country's highways and country roads, we stayed in Bath for an additional night and I convinced Aidan that we needed to make a pit-stop in a legendary town- at least, legendary to a small group of book nerds- before returning the car to Nottingham and hopping on our flight to Dublin.

Hay-on-Wye is a tiny Welsh town home to DOZENS of second-hand and antiquarian book shops. If [stupid] RyanAir and their [stupid] luggage restrictions weren't lingering there in my next-few-hours-future, I would have stocked up.

Everywhere there's another book shop or stall. Even what's left of the castle has been turned into a home for books. Book shops are more of a 'purgatory' for books, but judging by the looks of things, I think a lot of specimens are there for good. This is for my fellow nerds (click on any picture for a larger view; that is, if you really need to see that marbled text block up close):

*I did buy a Dorothy Hughes book, long out of print that I've been searching for and some really beautiful old maps that if I can bear to cut will end up in some future book projects.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Romans, Pagans, Sheep & Various Waking Nightmares

The shows were all (admittedly, unexpectedly) great as we criss-crossed the kingdom a couple times. England's charms were in bloom and the surprise attendance of our friends Rich and Chris (from Atavist) brought me round to the brighter side of this small island. I took few pictures as I was either concentrating very hard to stay on the right side of the road and reach for the gear-shift with the wrong hand (read: left in both instances), or constantly bracing for impact as Aidan drove. Okay, it was only terrifying for the first few hours- and then every roundabout we ended up on after that. I think they should provide a practice track near rental agencies so that drivers could get the hang of things before jumping on an expressway.

What helped me relax, and in turn annoy the hell out of Aidan, were the fields and fields of sheep! It took every bit of will I had to not commit some sort of lamb-theft. They wouldn't let me get too close to them, sadly heartbreaking, but if you're in Toronto you should make a trip to Riverdale Farm where the big old sheep there will allow you a pat.

After jumping from Nottingham to Cardiff to Leeds then to London, we ended up with 3 days off before making a brief appearance in Dublin a couple days from now. Leaving London a little late in the afternoon meant that we'd miss Stonehenge's opening hours (for real) so we headed a little further west to the massive stone circles of the tiny town of Avebury. I have to admit to my kinda, sorta indifference to stone circles. I've seen them in books and have found myself more drawn to the surrounding landscape, but as we wound up the narrow road and the scale of the circle and it's stones became visible, it was pretty incredible.

We thought we'd stay at the local Avebury B&B- it was a chilly March mid-week and there was no one else around so we thought it would possibly be affordable, but they take tourism seriously here. A lot more than we evidently do. We were tired and broke down at the first affordable hotel in Bath.

I've wanted to see Bath for a little while since someone, somewhere told me about this old Roman outpost devoted to hot-spring baths. It's a beautiful town and I was thankful for that, at least, as we tried to actually enter THE BATHS we were asked to cough up a ridiculously prohibitive fee. You can't actually immerse yourself in the original baths anyway so we tried to find a window somewhere...

This is where we laid low:

Friday 13 March 2009


We moved this week and unprecedented in every other move of my life, it was done - unpacked and settled - in 3 days. It only took that long because we moved via our own slow-hauling feet and a cab ride. Also, Aidan's illness continues to plague him so we had to take it easy. (My last few moves took upwards of a year to get unpacked and settled.)

Two pervasive thoughts have rolled through my mind since moving into this new apartment: 1- I never want to leave and have to give it up. 2- I want to sit at my new work table and just make books for the forever that I want to stay here. It's so clean and spare and just begging to be sullied by my work habits. But, two other tasks remain at the top of my to do list until the end of the month. We need to finish some recording for our new friends over at Bis Auf's Messer, who with our friend Helge and his crazy incredible artwork we're putting together a 12" and some t-shirts; and, some recording stuffs for our dear friend, Drone Records. Whoa! Shop talk! What the heck, I'm on a roll so I'll brag a little bit about a li'l project that will be out everywhere in the world really soon.

So we recorded an album of covers. Everyone keeps asking about the logic behind our choices - which include golden nuggets from the likes of Slayer, My Bloody Valentine, a Kids in the Hall tune we've been playing for a while, and A-ha. Really, it comes down to a short list of songs that we like and that work. Mystery solved. Read further justifications from various interviews Aidan has been barraged with. The artwork for this crazy scheme (sampled above) comes courtesy of Matt Smith.

I mentioned Matt and his great illustrating skills a while ago - also, anyone a 'fan' of ours on facebook will also be familiar with his abilities.

If you'd like give yer ears a listen, do it here, here, and here:
A-ha cover on our myspace
My Bloody Valentine cover on Pitchfork
Slayer cover on Exclaim

We also set out on another short trip around England before returning to Dublin for an evening and then onto Antwerp, Gent, and Amsterdam.

Okay, that's enough self-promotin' for one day! I think the next episode of the Wire has loaded, gotta go!

Thursday 5 March 2009

For Realsies

This is what I saw in the courtyard when I left this morning.

This is what I saw in the courtyard when I came home this afternoon.

This is some of what I saw in between. Taken along Modersohn Str. & Frankfurter Allee/Tor.*

*The tile buildings in decay aren't actually that old. They were hastily and shoddily built by soviets in the 1950s in anticipation of [I think] Khrushchev's visit.