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Monday, February 28, 2005

Danger! Danger! High voltage!

The past few days have barely afforded us any time to breathe—which is difficult here to begin with, the UK not disapproving of smoking in bars and other venues—and whenever breathing has come rather easily, we haven’t had any internet access. So please accept my sincerest apologies for the long delay in updates.

A lengthy rundown:

February 23- The Panic Club at The Cockpit in Leeds was quite a brilliant show. It was a club date, so The Blood Arm was the only band playing. It almost felt like we were back in Los Angeles, with the kids dancing to every song, even before the band came on. There was a great L.A.-style drunken dance breakdown during Want x 3, with kids in the crowd dog-piling Nathaniel during one of his offstage romps, screaming “I want it all of the time” in unison, though most of them had probably never heard the song before.

February 24- The legendary city of Nottingham offered a variety of attractions, all detailed in pamphlets we acquired from the hotel lobby. There was the Robin Hood tour (of course), a City of Caves tour, and the Enchanted Caves tour. Apparently the city is positioned on top of rock that resembles Swiss Cheese—nearly everyone’s house is situated on top of a cave, and the residents are more-than willing to offer tourists a close-up look at their geological basements. Perhaps a future visit to Nottingham will afford us time to visit the Enchanted Caves. Maybe the proprietors will vend us a spell or two to fend off the cold weather as well. (Did I mention it’s fucking cold here?)

To advertise the show (Liar’s Club at The Social), the promoter had designed a poster with a drawing of a goose and a kitten on it, The Blood Arm above the kitten, and The Martini Henry Rifles (who were sharing the bill) above the goose. Personally, I would be afraid to put a kitten and a goose in a cage together, because most kittens I know can’t keep their paws off anything with feathers on them. We got along quite well with MHR, however...The show was anything but a lame duck and the crowd was as far from pussy as a mass of people can possibly be. All the kids we’ve met outside of London are so quick to dance that they shake even in-between songs. It’s quite refreshing.

Somehow after the set Zach and I wound up at Riky’s (the promoter for the club) apartment, and when we awoke in our hotel in the morning, I was wearing a pair of his shoes. This begs the question, "how the hell did they find my feet?" A mystery! How exciting!

Febraury 25- We drove to Wolverhampton today for the first of three dates with The Electric Six. Wolverhampton is the hometown of our good friend Dave Newton (producer of The Blood Arm demo and original member of The Mighty Lemon Drops), and nearly everyone in the city looks like him. The postmen, the stagehands, a group of teenage girls entering the venue—they all look like Dave. It’s kind of creepy, because while Dave is an extremely handsome man, he also has a shaved head with bleached-blonde stubble sprouting up.

The Electric Six have quite the stage presence. There are six of them (obviously), but singer Dick Valentine should count for an extra two at least. At one point, the rest of the band left the stage and he stripped down to his underwear for a solo cover of “Underwear” by The Magnetic Fields. I was quite taken.

We met up with Dave Newton’s wife Bekki after the set (she does not look like Dave at all, she’s from LA) and she took us upstairs to the most bizarre dance club I have ever seen. It was one huge warehouse room stuffed with about 2,000 Dave Newtons, many of whom had children in tow. In the front of the room was a giant stage where the DJ was set up, and a large screen behind her displayed text messages that patrons would send to a special number. “John love Jezebell,” “Happy birthday Jesus,” stuff like that. A bit overwhelmed, we left shortly after we arrived, checked into our hotel, and stayed up a awhile drinking in the lobby with Bekki.

Zach, myself, and Tour Manager Andy are sharing a room while we’re outside of London, so I am telling you this next anecdote secondhand. Dyan went to bed prior to Nathaniel and Zebastian, and Dyan had the only key. When the boys knocked on the door to get back into the room, there was no answer. The television was on at an extremely high volume, so they assumed that was the reason their knocks were overheard. They knocked and knocked for about ten minutes before finding the manager to let them in… And the door was deadbolted! The hotel is situated on an old foxhunting grounds, and feels like a spooky setting for a murder mystery, so Zeb and Nathaniel were more than a little worried. Envisioning multiple stab wounds and bloodstained sheets, they foraged their way through the freezing briar patch outside to have a peek in the window. There was Dyan, passed out cold with the television blaring. Fortunately, the hotel management was nice enough to grant our heroes an empty room free of charge. Perhaps we should try this again in the future?

February 26- Manchester! Brilliant city. At one point during The Blood Arm set, Nathaniel dove into the crowd and started jumping up and down in center of the venue. Instantly, the circle of people around him started jumping with him in unison, then the people surrounding them, then the people around them, until all 900 people in the audience were jumping in rippling waves. It looked like and earthquake, with Nathaniel as the epicenter. I’d never seen anything like it.

Zach only brought two pairs of trousers for the entire trip, and the first set split somewhere over the course of the past week, so now he is down to one pair of jeans with a huge hole in the knee. This would usually be no cause for alarm—who needs more than one pair of pants, really—but Zach is a bit rougher on his blue jeans than most. Tour Manager Andy, Zach, Zebastian and myself probably imbibed a tad too much at an afterparty where some of the Electric Six boys were DJ-ing, and Zach single-handedly transformed our hotel room into a tornado of piss and vomit. He confused the hallway for a toilet at one point. To make a long story short, Zach’s only pair of pants now look very similar to our hotel room in Manchester.

February 27- Today we found ourselves in Liverpool, home of the Beatles. We arrived a few hours early, so we decided to check out the Beatles museum. Nathaniel asked a lady on the street: “Excuse me ma’am, where is the Beatles museum?”
To which she replied: “What museum?”
To which Nathaniel replied: “The Beatles museum, for the music group.”
To which she replied: “A music museum about beetles?”
Apparently we had unearthed the only person alive today in Western Civilization who knows absolutely nothing about the Beatles, in Liverpool no less. (Either that or she was a genius at deadpan comedy.)

The museum itself was slightly disappointing, it jumps straight from their inception to their demise, and the audio tour, narrated by John Lennon’s sister, strangely leaves out quite a bit about Paul. Perhaps Paul’s sister has her own Beatles museum elsewhere.

After soundcheck, we exited the Liverpool venue to see a man pulling a barstool apart and running at us with a wild look in his eyes. We immediately ducked back into the venue until we heard sirens outside and determined it was safe. We later learned that Liverpool had lost an important soccer match, and about thirty Liverpoolians were so unhappy about it they decided to riot. Windows were smashed, furniture was destroyed in the street, and there was blood on the sidewalk. Personally, I can understand being upset about a sports team losing a game, but I would imagine everyone in Liverpool would be equally upset. Why fight then? Emotion. Perhaps certain parties were more upset than others, and upset that the others were less upset than them. Perhaps they had a row over who was more handsome: David Beckham or Pele. Regardless, the event was terrifying, and I’m happy we did not go outside a moment earlier.

It was a tad sad to say goodbye to our new friends from the Electric Six and Hoggboy, but we had to scurry back to London asap for the MTV interview in the morning. And now here we are… 1am at the K West in London.

Coming soon: A post from Dyan on the hardships of being a woman on the road. Stay tuned…

-Ben Lee

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What you find behind the label will drive you wild!

We're heading to Leeds in a few minutes for the first of five shows away from London. Tour Manager Ryan had to quit on us for a doctor's appointment, so his associate Andy will be handling the driving. We'll miss Ryan dearly, and hope his kidneys turn out to be less-than infected.

My article ran today in the G2 section of the Guradian on page ten under the heading "The Jane Fonda of Rock." Check it out if you can, and there will be a link up on the website soon enough for those of you stateside.

Dyan, Nathaniel, and myself went out for lunch this afternoon, and Dyan ordered a bottle of Perrier with her meal. Printed on top of the bottle's logo was a painting of a fifties-looking pin-up girl bending backwards over the 'r's. On the side it read: "What you find behind the label will drive you wild!" So, of course, we looked behind the label... And the woman was painted fully naked! For all the guff we Americans give the Brits about being stiff, they sure know how to make drinking bottled water exciting.

Until next time...

-Ben Lee

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It's not easy being green..

It has recently come to my attention that somewhere on the internet, someone has blown up my picture from the NME interview with Franz and positioned it next to one of Kermit the Frog. Apparently we look quite similar. Oddly enough, people have told me on numerous occasions that my voice is easily mistakable for the muppet's as well. If only persons would understand... Inside this frog's body lives a lovely prince.

The Blood Arm show at Club Trash at The End went extremely well. It was a Monday night gig, and a good deal of the patronage were gnashing their teeth about as if they had been on some illegal substance since the beginning of the weekend, but their love for the band was quite obvious (especially from the gent who clamped himself around Nathaniel's waist during one of the singer's forays into the crowd). Our friends from Sons and Daughters showed up with their producer Victor Van Vugt, and though they swore they'd charge the stage to sing along with Nathaniel for the chorus to "All The Girls," they chickened out when push came to shove. (They more than made up for it in kisses and hugs after the set.) (Are all these parenthesis bothering you? Please, let me know and I'll cut it out.)

Tonight's gig was a bit more reserved due to the large number of "industry" people in the audience, but hopefully they're now in love with The Blood Arm and will pay the bills someday so I shouldn't complain. The band still put on an astouding show, and by the end of the evening even the tightest of suits were tapping their feet, wanting it all of the time. Quit Your Day Job, a band from Sweden with a Devo-esque hardcore sound to them opened the show. The keyboardest stripped his shirt of mid-set and spun about like a top. Then the singer announced, "this song is about finding money in the street." The only lyrics to the ditty were, "look, a dollar!" Fucking brilliant.

One of the highlights of BLOOD AMBITION 2005 has to be our discovery of a band called The Budget Girls. They're two ladies who sing novelty songs in the vein of The Headcoatees about hot dogs and scientists and monkey roommates who toss their nuts. We listen to them first thing every morning in the van. It's like a cup of coffee.

Speaking of waking up in the morning, it's 4am and we head out to Leeds in a few hours, so I best be falling asleep while there's still time. Until next time...

-Ben Lee

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lamacq the Knife

Our visit with Lamacq went quite well. The set was recorded as though it were live, when in fact it won't air until the beginning of March... in the future! (All of our recent time travel has proven a bit overwhelming--I think I am developing a headache.) Mr. Lamacq told the band "Do I Have Your Attention?" was his favorite track of the year thus far, and though it is only February, everyone was a bit chuffed at that.

I wrote an article for the UK Guardian last night about how my gig as Master of Ceremonies for The Blood Arm is the best job in the world, so be on the lookout for that in the Arts and Entertainment section in the near future. I will post the whole text of it on here after it runs so we can compare and contrast what they print with my actual text.

Oh! And how could I forget! It is snowing! Back in California, I had always believed snow lived somewhere with the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus, but alas! It is real! And freezing!

Okay, have to bundle up and run...

-Ben Lee


There was an amazing film from sometime in the late 90s called Transmission. The basic premise went something like this:
A police officer with a delectable Bostonian accent and a murdered mother discovers he can talk to his dead firefighter, smoker father (Randy Quaid) through an old walkie-talkie. After getting reacquainted with one another--saying the things they'd always wished they'd said, reminiscing about family outings, etc--they get down to business, and set about righting the murder of the mother/wife. They succeed, of course, and by the end of the film not only is the police office happily reunited with his mother, but Randy Quaid with old-man makeup on as well, because police officer son managed to convince Dad to quit smoking. Transmission includes my favorite line from any movie ever, when firefighter Dad's compatriots are talking about his walkie-talkie phenomenon: "Jimmy says he's talking to Johnny... In the future!" (Please recite with Bostonian accent.)

I am typing this now because I, too, have discovered a way to escape the sands of time through wireless technology, and a slight time-zone difference. The date and time this blogspot lists are, in fact, incorrect. I am writing to you from eight hours in the future.

Shortly in the future we will head over to the Lamaq show, which is quite a big deal over here. The band will record a live set, which will be immediately followed by an interview. Later tonight we're performing at a club called Trash at a venue named The End. You'll read about it here as it happens...

-Ben Lee

Sunday, February 20, 2005


It's four in the morning here, and we have an early wake up call tomorrow so I will be somewhat brief. More detailed entries will come about in the future, I promise:

16th- saw The Tears (ex-Suede) and The Dead Sixties perform at Astoria... brilliant!

17th - show at ULU... brilliant!
after party at bizarre gentlemen's club... brilliant.
after after party in hotel lobby... brilliant.
after after after party in Zeb, Zach, and my room... brilliant!

18th- hangover... not so brilliant.
caught a Graham Coxon show... brilliant!

19th- matinee at Brixton Academy with The Killers... brilliant!
new Sons and Daughters song overheard while visiting their mixing session with Victor Van Vugt... brilliant!
evening show at Brixton Academy with The Killers.. brilliant!
Zeb pushing me off the bed at 6am... not so brilliant.

20th- sleeping in... brilliant!

Tomorrow afternoon is the Lamaq show, listen in if you can!

-Ben Lee

Thursday, February 17, 2005

in london there's a chance..

normally as master of ceremonies my job is limited-- introduce the band, dance to the band, snog the people not cute enough for zach--but this UK tour has afforded me the opportunity to take on another level of responsibility: now i keep a diary for the band as well. stay tuned for all the dirt.

-Ben Lee