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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


Blogger paulag said...

Mr. Ben Lee, I feel like I am travelling along with you and the rest of the Blood Arm. But you know the l.a. crowd is the best.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Kaiser Von Kaisenhoffer said...

Mr. Lee,

I found your reference to the kitten and the goose to be excellent and most evocative. Carry on.



2:52 PM  
Blogger Gemma said...

Mr Ben Lee,

I was at the Manchester gig (where i was HIGHLY impressed with The Blood Arm's set by the way) and was stood at the side of the stage when Electric 6 were performing. We realised you must be in the band as you, and Zach and Nathaniel kept walking backstage to bring out more beers and also you all had the rockstar image! We were stood right by you and you dropped a beer on the floor next to us opended it, sprayed a couple of people around you and then handed a beer to ME!!! I just wanted to say Thankyou for that - much made my night!! I dont know if you remember as you're night in Manchester sounds quite eventful back at the hotel room but if you do it was cool to kinda meet you all and i wish you luck - you seem like a cool and talented band.... & If you're ever in Manchester again I will be sure to be at your gig or maybe if Im ever in the states I could see u over there!!

Bye, cheers and good luck



1:53 AM  

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