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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Incongruous Body Earthquakes

Yesterday one year ago, Zachary, my wife and I found ourselves somewhat inebriated at the Short Stop (a bar) in Echo Park. While attempting to wave the bartender down for another round, I accidentally bumped into a large, Afroed black man wearing a Punisher t-shirt, shaking spasmodically.
“What are you doing, man?” I asked him.
“The Future, my friend, is not about dancing,” he said. “The Future is about Incongruous Body Earthquakes.”
I had always felt confined by the statutes of regular dancing, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I shook, I quaked. It felt good.
“Dancing is all about the Rules of Rhythm. In the Future, we will all be free from such icy regulations. Everyone will be free to have her own individual Incongruous Body Earthquakes wherever, whenever. With or without music.”
Zachary and my wife felt my Earthquakes, and soon we were all shaking wildly in the middle of the bar. This was how we met Future Joe.

Future Joe informed us that he came from the Future. (We later learned that he’s also an animator for the Simpsons, and has worked on side-projects with Mark Mothersbaugh and William Shatner, but that sort of thing is to be expected from someone with time-travel capabilities.) Because he came from the Future, he knew that there was a kick-ass party just down the street—he had been there before when it was still years away from us—and that we should all make haste over there as quickly as possible. Make haste we did, and sure enough, there was a kick-ass party going on.

Before long, Future Joe had taken over the party’s turntables and constructed a lengthy set of songs from the owner of the house’s record collection, all containing the word “Future.” ‘The Future’ by Leonard Cohen, ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ by the Steve Miller Band, ‘We Are the World,’ songs like that. It was an Incongruous Earthquake of a set, and it was lost on most of the partiers save for our posse and an enlightened few who had also freed themselves from the Rules of Rhythm. Then an elderly woman, perhaps overwhelmed by his Future appeal, dove at Joe from behind a stack of records and attempted to lick him.
“Shake it off Boo-Boo! Shake it off!” shouted Future Joe.
But she would not shake it off. She tried to lick him again.
“Frankenstein Ninja Assassin!” he shouted. “You must shake it off!”
But she would not shake it off. She dove at him a third time.
“Boo-boo!” he shouted. “Please shake it off!” This time he retreated to the backyard, hopped a fence, and disappeared into the Future. We haven’t seen him since.

In the States, somewhere along the path of history it was decided that the last weekend of May would be forever known as Memorial Day Weekend, and that Monday would be included in that Weekend to give it some extra weight. Every Memorial Day Weekend, citizens of our fine country are encouraged to remember the sacrifices of fallen soldiers from wars past, and to eat large quantities of BBQ-ed meats. This Memorial Day Weekend, I set out a rack of ribs in memoriam of the man who sacrificed himself so that I may live free from the shackles of Rhythm. Hopefully somewhere in the Future he is enjoying them.

Thanks to everyone who’s bought the ‘Say Yes’ single, and no thanks to those of you who haven’t. (OK, thanks to those of you who haven’t as well.)

-Ben Lee

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dyan Speaks!

Ben Lee has been asking me for weeks to write a blog entry about what it’s like to be a girl on the road with a bunch of boys. I didn’t write it at the time because I knew that it would consist of in-the-thick-of-it complaints like “God, this van stinks to the high heavens!” and “How the hell am I supposed to read my book with all of this shouting and wrestling?!” But now, with a few days of boy detox and the continued encouragement of Ben Lee, hopefully I can provide a little more insight than just “Why is it so difficult to throw away a beer can when you are finished drinking the beer?! I’m losing my mind!!!!!!” So here goes…

Traveling in close quarters with six boys was made easier by the fact that my bandmates are true gentlemen (and I mean this only somewhat sarcastically, they really are a stand-up bunch). But I wasn’t just the only girl in the van; the music industry in the U.K. seems to be so overwhelmingly male that sometimes I felt like no matter where I was, I was surrounded by boys all month long. As you might imagine, it got quite lonely.

Here in Los Angeles, we have been fortunate enough to play with many great bands that have female members (Midnight Movies, Mika Miko, Hot and Heavy, the Tints, Tsk Tsk, Behind Her Back the Horribles, Dreams Go Disco, Giant Drag, just to name a few). While in the U.K., on the other hand, we have played with almost entirely male bands. Out of the 27 bands we’ve played with in the U.K., only two of them had girls (those two – The Research and The Flying Matchstick Men were two of the best bands I saw over there…coincidence?). That’s a lot of backstage toilet seats left up.

Don’t get me wrong, I mean no disrespect to the U.K. music scene – there are many, many great bands out there right now – but flip through the pages of the NME or go down to your local Barfly, and pay attention to how many women you see. When we were in Stoke, sitting at a pub next door to the venue, a girl asked our sound engineer if we were playing that night. Our sound engineer said yes, and said that he wasn’t in the band but pointed at Nathaniel, Zachary and I and told her that we were. She proceeded to take camera-phone pictures of Nathaniel, Zachary and our sound engineer (???) and then walked right past me as if I were invisible. She clearly assumed that I wasn’t in the band, even though our sound engineer pointed at all three of us…it made me realize that U.K. rock is such a boy’s club that this girl couldn’t even imagine that another girl (dressed to the nines in show clothes, no less) would be in a band.

Fortunately, I got a much better response from most of the other women I encountered. It was extremely encouraging when girls came up to me to say how nice it was to see a fellow female onstage – my favorite was a girl in Oxford who told me that she now wants to go out and get a keyboard – I’m glad I’m not the only one who is painfully aware of the absence of female musicians.

And it’s not easy being one of them…a lady needs her privacy, especially when preparing for a show after traveling long hours in a van. Backstage is kind of like a gym locker room – a bunch of filthy and exhausted people are thrown into a cramped area with very little personal space and no privacy where they have to get ready to perform. Most boys seem to be content with changing out in the open, for the more reserved ones, a simple “turn around, guys” will suffice. For me, however, this is no good - there is no way on God’s green earth that I will change into my dresses and get ready in a wide-open room full of boys. I got very adept at changing in whatever places of refuge I could find – sometimes inside the van behind tinted windows, other times in locked production offices. Most often, though, I just went out into the venue and got ready in a stall in the women’s bathroom. I learned how to put on a dress and do my hair and make up with just a tiny compact mirror as my guide – quite a useful talent!

With the exception of myself and a few wonderfully brilliant and talented female journalists, the only other women backstage were – ugh – groupies. Now if you’ll forgive me a brief rant, I have to take issue with this unfortunate phenomenon. Ladies, why are we still doing this? It may have been empowering to leave your father’s house to follow the Stones around in the ‘60s, revolutionary and punk rock to give the finger to sexual mores by blowing Steve Jones in the ‘70s, and wildly decadent to have Axl Rose snort cocaine off of your butt cheek backstage at some arena in the ‘80s…but now? It seemed like at every show, no matter who the bands were or how big or small the gig was, women were blindly throwing themselves at any band boy who would pay attention to them. Come on, we know better. Like music? Start a band. Write about bands. Play bands on the radio. Promote live shows. Work at a record label. There are many, many ways to get involved in the music scene without sleeping with some drunk boy caked in three layers of stage-sweat who won’t remember your name in the morning. Like boys in bands? Chances are you’ll have a lot more luck in love if you approach them as people instead of indiscriminately approaching them all as gods who, if you’re lucky, will let you worship at the altars of their greatness (or at least let you follow them back to the hotel or bus). I can’t help but wonder if this culture of male musicians/female groupies is part of the reason why there are so few girls in bands…there’s no place for us in that world.

All in all, despite the biohazard that was our van, the absence of female companionship, the lack of backstage privacy and the depressing flow of wasted groupies, it wasn’t that bad being the odd woman out. Like I said, my bandmates are top drawer, and fortunately our touring mates Maximo Park were extremely gentlemanly as well. And after spending some much-needed quality time with my dear lady friends here in Los Angeles, I’ve pretty much recovered from the Month of Boy. By the time we go back on the road in August, I’ll be ready to once again face the wonderful sights, sounds and smells that go along with living in close quarters with a bunch of lads. In the meantime, all of you boys out there, support your female friends who are into music; and all of you girls out there who have any interest in rock, get involved in the scene…and hopefully I’ll see more of you next time around!

-Dyan Valdés

Monday is for Singles

You needn't feel alone any longer, for Monday The Blood Arm 'Say Yes' to singles!

The next superstar from the forthcoming Bomb Romantics is available in three formats: Red and White 7", Blue and White 7", and a CD, each featuring unique B-sides unavailable on the others. Sure you can just take home one, but why not go for the whole menage?

'Say Yes' is available at HMV and through their website, plus just about any other UK music retailer you can think of. For fans stateside and elsewhere who don't want to wait for shipping, the tracks can be purchased online via itunes, Napster, Od2, Wippet... And if you can't figure any of those out, just call me and i'll sing it for you in my best impression of Nathaniel while my wife and kids beat-box the tune behind me. We're nothing if not dedicated.

Dyan tells me an entry is in the works...


-Ben Lee

Oh! There are an extremely limited number of autographed singles at, but I fear they're probably long-gone by now.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

UK In the Buff

May 23- Sorry about the long delay in updates, we were sans-internet and drunk in London, and then I was jetlagged in Los Angeles, and then I was back-to-work in Los Angeles. It’s not that you’re not important to me—you are, you are!—and it’s not that I forgot about you—never, never!—it’s just that it takes a bit of time to restructure one’s life into something suitable for the working world after a four-week bender. Now here I am, wearing my suit and tie, dying to service your every desire.

Funny story involving a bodily malfunction: I was nodding off on the airplane home, only to be rudely awakened by a loud farting noise, then a wretched smell. Behind me, I overheard an old British woman speaking. "It's horrible," she said. "It's awful! It's disgusting! Why, this is the most detestable smell I've ever been confronted with." After about five minutes of this, she rang the steward to do something about it. "Please," she said, "do something about this horrible smell!" Finally, after harassing and haranguing three separate attendants, someone located a bottle air freshener, which placated her for a bit. After all that, I couldn't help but recall the age-old adage—She who smelt it, dealt it. I would have leaned back and said this to her if it hadn’t been me who farted.

Here is a quick rundown of everything I can remember from the last few days of the tour, each with a rating on the Brilliant!/Not So Brilliant! scale. (“Brilliant!” means “very, very good,” while “Not So Brilliant” can be translated as “OK, I guess.”)

May 16: Cardiff Barfly show – Brilliant!
Running into girl I drunkenly made an ass of myself in front of at Graham Coxon show on our last UK tour – Not So Brilliant!
Learning to speak Welsh from my new friend Jen – Brylnt! (Imagine how cool it would be if that meant “Brilliant!” in Welsh!)

May 17: Arrival of my wife in London – Brilliant!
Brixton Windmill show – Brilliant!

May 18: Tate Modern exhibit on Nudes throughout the ages – Brilliant! (I am a strong proponent of all things naked.)
Nathaniel’s theft of a box of fancy cigars from fancy Cuban restaurant – Brilliant! (Thievery of things one has always wanted to try, but always lacked the necessary funds to do so legally – Brilliant!)
The ladyboys at NagNagNag in the Ghetto Club – Brilliant! And Fabulous!

May 19: British Museum – Brilliant! I miss my Mummy! (Last joke – Not So Brilliant!)
Drunken horde of teenagers at Pure Groove Records Instore, dancing like it was their last day on earth – Beyond Brilliant!
Nathaniel running into the street and stopping traffic during Pure Groove Records Instore – Brilliant!
Drunken Los Angeles friends and new UK friend Aaron teaching cynical Industry-types how to dance at Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club show – Fucking Brilliant!

May 20: National Portrait Gallery – Brilliant! (More on this at end of rundown!)
Popping UK couple Karen and Nick’s double-date cherry – Brilliant!
Camden Barfly show, TBA’s first headlining sellout ever – Brilliant!
The fact that no fewer than fifteen people were on-stage at any given moment – Brilliant!

May 21: Waking up drunk for airplane ride home – Not So Brilliant!
Dyan's duffel going missing at baggage claim - Not So Brilliant x 1,000,000!

The National Portrait Gallery sums up everything I love about the UK. The Gallery features portraits of great Britons, the only requirement for the hanging of one’s portrait being that person whose likeness is hung is… Great. There are Great nurses hung next to Great kings. Elton John’s mug is sidled up next to that of Winston Churchill. It’s so beautifully socialist and inspiring. It made me proud to be from the UK, even though I’m from Los Angeles. (Worry not, friends from home. I’m proud to be from Los Angeles, too. Bi-country-confusion. What will my parents think?)

Here's what I'm trying to get at: Who's going to paint our portraits? (And we'll only pose in the buff.)

I’m going to miss the UK, but I’m glad to be home, too. UK, see you in August. Home, see you tomorrow. (I’m at the wife’s place right now.) I will continue update this diary regularly, so keep checking-in. It’s lonely here without you.


-Ben Lee

Monday, May 16, 2005

Weblog Exclusive

Dear readers-

On May 19, we are playing a show for mainly industry stiff types at the Bethanal Green Gentleman's Club. If you know where this is, and you are interested in showing some suits how to dance, you will have a spot reserved on our guestlist. Simply RSVP to by noon on May 19 and you will get in for free. The only catch is that you promise you will dance like you've never danced before. Just write "Bethanal Green" in the subject line and your name in the body of the email.

See you there, yes?


Ben Lee

Phoning Abroad

May 16- A late-night drunken binge on chips (fries) always seems like an incredibly brilliant idea when it’s late at night and I’m drunk, but its morning-after effects are inevitably akin to waking up next to the mother of one’s best friend. (Not that this has ever happened.) No amount of tooth-brushing, scrubbing in the shower, or application of lotion can cleanse a body of its horrible taint. Of course, no matter how many times I’ve cursed myself for my dietary irresponsibility that morning, I go out again the next evening and it happens all over. I’m afraid the only way to break the cycle will be death by heart attack. Or I could stop drinking. (Who am I kidding?)

Perhaps my fried potato-clogged digestive tract can be blamed for my stupidity last evening at the Barfly in Liverpool. In the midst of my TBA introduction, I mistakenly called the venue “the Barfly in Camden,” eliciting snorts and hisses from the crowd. It’s bizarre because I knew very much where I was, having been singing the Gerry and the Pacemakers hit ‘Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey’ all morning, and reminiscing all afternoon about our tour of the Beatles museum and the soccer riot we took part in during our last visit to the city. Fortunately, the people of Liverpool are a forgiving bunch, and although I received a good ribbing from my friend Howard and a shove in the back from a stranger at the bar after the show, I escaped unscathed. The band more than made up for my mishap with their performance, I think, because some new friends even helped us lug all our gear out to the van as we were packing up, though this may have been simply to hasten our departure.

Another possible explanation for my brief memory lapse could be the large quantities of absinthe Zachary and I consumed the night before in Birmingham. Somehow Zachary, myself, and Nathaniel—who fell asleep immediately upon arrival—found ourselves in the apartment of one of the DJs who spun in-between bands at the Bar Academy show earlier that night. We spied a bottle of luminous fluorescent green liquid resting on his counter. We drank the bottle of luminous fluorescent green liquid that was resting on the counter.

Whenever intoxicated, I have a nasty habit of picking up whatever phone happens to be closest to me and phoning my wife and children. This in itself isn’t so terrible, but it is terribly disrespectful and expensive to the owner of the phone, especially when one is calling his wife and children in another country. If the owner of the phone I violated is reading this, please contact me via so I may reimburse you for any harms caused. Lucky for me—and the wallets of party hosts across London—my wife is flying out for our last four shows here.

I went to bed early after the gig in Manchester on the 14th, and apparently I missed a duet performance of Bohemian Rhapsody by Dyan and Nathaniel on the piano at the hotel bar. Now I’m praying for another piano-endowed pub so that they may be coaxed into an encore.


-Ben Lee

Friday, May 13, 2005


Friday, May 13- Due to the superstitious symbolism of today’s date, we decided to take a brief detour on the road from Bath to Manchester and sacrifice some small rodents at the base of STONEHENGE. It’s amazing how a monument routinely circled by yuppie families with babies in-tow can maintain so much heavy-metal integrity—it does so without batting a Druish eyelid. The audio tour has to be the greatest thing to have happened to me since Led Zeppelin. Gaze upon the Stones, emerging like giant teeth from the gums of the Earth… Pure poetry. It becomes apparent about twenty minutes into the tour that no one has actually figured out how the stones got there or what they were used for, but it doesn’t stop the script from forging such Metal gold as this: Have a look at the Sacrificial Stone, forever stained the color of blood. People have long speculated that this stone served as an altar for Druish priests to sacrifice young virgins, forever tainting its surface with the memory of the women’s dying screams… Later, the guide informs the listener that the stone probably just fell over, and its brownish hue can be credited to the iron ore rusting inside it. The tour ends with a quote from Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d'Urbervilles, in which the protagonist ruminates over the existence of the stones, proving that STONEHENGE has fascinated Dungeons and Dragons geeks (like myself) long before D&D ever existed.

Our show in Bath yesterday evening was quite D&D as well, taking place in the Moles club, which exists in an underground hole. Throughout the evening, I was routinely accosted by a man claiming to be Pete Doherty. While the gent did bear a resemblance, I couldn’t imagine the Babyshambles frontman threatening to pound me unless I gave him my mobile number, and took to avoiding the stranger. (He found me, shook my hand and apologized at the end of the evening, so I guess he wasn’t all that bad.) Nathaniel was chuffed to exit the venue to a gaggle of women singing, “I like all the girls and all the girls like me,” proving once again how true it is. Zachary is growing a little jealous.

Glasgow, too, showed us a great time. The city has such an excellent feel for music, it always seems as if a dance party could break out at any moment. Between sets, people sing-along and dance to whatever the DJ happens to be spinning, and everyone goes nuts when a band comes on. Flying Matchstick Men were brilliant, the aftershow was brilliant, and with the help of our friends from Los Angeles, Graham from FMM, Rachel from Optimo, Bob from FF and his flatmate Hannah, we managed to keep the party going to the wee hours of the morning in our Travelodge hotel room. Glasgow—or at least the people we’ve met there—reminds me a lot of San Francisco, LA, and New York; everyone seems to have moved there from somewhere else for school, work, fun, or whatever, so the whole of the populous is really happy to be there. And that’s wicked awesome. (Brash generalizations are totally cool as well.)

On a side note, if the person in possession of Nathaniel’s boot—last seen at the May 7 ULU show in London—would kindly return it, he will love him/her forever. We’re offering a band-autographed ‘Say Yes’ single, tour poster, and t-shirt in return, no questions asked. Nathaniel has a strong connection with his footwear, and he claims he can dance better in the pair (which is no longer paired) in question than any he has ever owned before. Please email any relevant information to and we’ll arrange for a rendezvous.

We’re DJ-ing after the set tonight in Manchester, see you there!

-Ben Lee

P.S. Nottingham friends, we haven't forgotten about you! Well, I forgot to type about the show, but that was more because of our 1AM drive to Leeds immediately following the gig followed by an 8:30AM wake-up call for a radio morning show than anything. I think the band and everyone there--all 22 people--would agree that it was a stellar gig. Plus Ricky Haley (promoter extraordinaire and personal hero of Zachary and myself) resides there, so you have a lot going for you. We'll definitely be back again.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Comic Phallacies

May 11- There is something about the wall of a backstage dressing room that seduces young men to cover its surface with crude drawings of penises. We have seen Pac-Man performing a lewd act on one of his ghosts, a large whale with a larger codpiece, numerous horses, and countless smiling phalluses. I’d like to say I am above this sort of thing, but I often find myself chuckling at them under my breath. In fact, I giggle pretty much every time I hear the word ‘penis.’ The longer we’re out on tour, the funnier it becomes. I’m in hysterics as I type this. By the end of the month I’ll probably be scribbling the pornographic graffiti myself (if you sing to me in French), laughing all the while. Out on the road, one sleeps less, bathes less, eats worse, and drinks far, far more than could ever be considered acceptable at home. And it leads to penis drawings on backstage walls.

One step beyond penis-drawing is arson. Last night after the afterparty (which was brilliant, a very special thank you to everyone who came out for making it such a good time), Zachary, Zebastian and myself found ourselves in the house rented by a few of the boys from Sunshine Underground, a kick-ass band from Leeds. When we ran out of drinks, everyone convened in the front yard and started a massive bonfire. There was no rhyme or reason to it—we weren’t cooking anything, nor were we particularly cold or angry—it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. Then we painted our faces, danced and sang, shouted. Kill the Pig, Spill His Blood… (Okay, the last part didn’t happen, but it was all very Lord of the Flies.) Take away the laws of everyday day life, and young men will regress to the most primitive of behaviors.

It’s long overdue that we all give a tip-of-the-hat to Miss Dyan Valdes, the lone member of the fairer sex on our adventure. Nathaniel, Zebastian, Zachary and myself are a rowdy, dirty, farty, noisy, sloppy, stinky and all-around juvenile bunch… It is testament to Dyan’s total-awesomeness that she can stay cooped-up in a van with us for five hours a day, hang out with us nearly 24-7, and actually have a really good time while somehow avoiding to pick up any of our nasty habits along the way. And she’s the only one of us who hasn’t adopted the funk of stale beer, which has infected the entire van and anyone who wanders near. (Eons ago she promised me a guest-entry on the secrets, hardships, and hilarity of being a woman on the road with her rock ‘n’ roll band. Encourage her to follow through, as I think she has taken to ignoring me.)

I guess the moral of today’s entry is that the world be scrawled with cartoon penises and set on fire if there weren’t any girls around. Or maybe it’s just that Nathaniel, Zebastian, Zachary and myself are a rowdy, dirty, farty, noisy, sloppy, stinky and all-around juvenile bunch, and Dyan is the most righteous rock ‘n’ roller I’ve ever met. (It’s probably the latter.)

Our good friends from Los Angeles are meeting up tonight at the Glasgow Barfly, and we’re Djing the afterparty, and I’m super-duper excited! Exclamation point!


-Ben Lee

Monday, May 09, 2005

Our Kelly

EDIT: I messd up on the afterparty dates the first time i typed this, sorry. Check the bottom of this posting again to ensure your calendar is correct.

Our London hotel lacked Internet access, so it’s been a few days. I apologize—apologise—for this. Yesterday was an off day, and in honor of Mother’s Day in the States, Zachary and Dyan went out on the town with their mothers. The rest of us went out drinking in honor—honour—of our own, who are pining for us back home.

Mac, a new friend of ours who was visiting Stacey City Rockers from Glasgow, had the most horrible day. First he fell down a set of stairs at the Lock Tavern in Camden, then he realized—realised—he hated his tote bag, and finally, he came down with a migraine headache (likely due to the four bottles of wine he consumed over the course of the day). He attributed all his misfortune to the Celtic soccer—football—team winning that day. Mac claims that whenever the Celtic team wins its league, he has a terrible year. Every one of Mac’s dead pets, dead relatives, nasty breakups, and flare-ups of indigestion can be attributed to a Celtic championship season. If anyone can think of a way to rid him of this curse, please make your voice heard. It breaks my heart to see him like this.

We’re in Nottingham, and tonight is our first gig without Maximo Park. Our last show with them was probably the highlight of the tour. Paul from MP took over my MC-ing duties for TBA, warming the crowd with a delightful story of how the Blood Arm can lead even the lion and the lamb to lie together, and I took a turn introducing the Maximo boys. At one point during the Blood Arm set, Nathaniel walked fully upright on the outstretched hands and heads of the audience, losing his shoe in the process. He was forced to walk around with cardboard stuffed in his sock for the rest of the evening. (Worry not, he replaced the lonely shoe with a new pair off snakeskin boots yesterday.) It was sad to say goodbye to Maximo Park and our friends in the Research, and we wish them all the best on their future tours. But now it’s time to step out on our own.

If you haven’t yet RSVP-ed to for the parties in Leeds, Glasgow, and Liverpool, what are you waiting for? Space is filling up quickly, so you best hurry. (Nathaniel, Dyan, and myself will also be DJ-ing at Bierkiller in Manchester on May 13 as well, but you don’t have to RSVP for that.) You must have your name in by 5:30 pm on the day of the party for your name to be counted. Please note that the Glasgow party location had changed.

May 10- Leeds @ the Faversham (show is at Josephs Well) with guest DJs from the Sunshine Underground.
May 11- Glasgow @ Barfly (show is downstairs in the same club) with guest DJs from Flying Matchstick Men
May 15- Liverpool @ Barfly (show is in main room at same club) with special surprise guest DJs.

Now there’s a tabloid staring straight at me with an article by Kelly Osbourne titled “My Brawl With a Girl in a Bar,” and it reminds me of a dream I had before we left on tour. I want to start a Kelly Osbourne cover band, comprised solely of the underage beneficiaries of R. Kelly’s golden showers. They will be called Our Kelly. Keep an eye out for them in the support slot on the next TBA tour.

See you soon!

-Ben Lee

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lonesome No More

May 4- The van is swerving back and forth, fishtailing on the verge of collapse as Soundman/Driver/SpandexPantsConnoisseur Mitch guides us down the long and windy expressway from Glasgow to Leeds, rolling his cigarettes all the while… As good a time as any to type you two days’ worth of updates. (TBA mothers, worry not. We’ve arrived safely if you’re reading this diary entry, as I must have Internet access to post it to the Web.)

Monday was Maximo Park roadie Scott Fife’s fortieth birthday, and Glasgow is his hometown, so the evening had even more of a party feel than the rest of the tour. (An impressive feat.) My TBA intro followed the finer points of Scott’s first forty years as I imagined them, and Maximo Park covered ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ by the Only Ones in honor of the man’s day of birth. (The Maximo boys have taken to imitating my introductions when thanking the Blood Arm for supporting them… perhaps a fight is in order? Or maybe hugs? I have yet to decide.) By the end of the evening Mr. Fife’s skin had turned the brightest shade of pink I’d ever seen a man change into. He looked like a strawberry.

This raises an interesting question… I had always assumed it was a Jewish thing, to turn bright red when intoxicated, as I always appear sunburnt under the influence. Then I met my wife—a half-Korean, half-Caucasian princess—who suffers from the same affliction as I do. We’ve passed it onto our children as well, Penelope takes on a beet-red tone when we fill her bottle with wine. Now there is Scott, a Scotsman, and he has it too. Does this fall along the same line as the gene that makes my pee smell funny after I eat asparagus? Or is a cherry skin-tone while drinking simply a Jewish, Korean and Scottish thing?

Nathaniel, Dyan and myself met up with our friend David from Sons and Daughters for after-hours cocktails when the show had wrapped up. David’s band is just finishing their tour with Idyllwild and getting ready to embark on some solo dates. Check them out if you have the chance, the tracks we’ve heard from their new record are amazing! (This paragraph is basically a carsick plea for them to send me a copy of the new album. Forgive me).

Fourteen hours of sleep followed the above, then a lot of old stuff. The Oldest House in Glasgow, the Oldest Pub in Glasgow, the Necropolis (the Oldest Cemetary in Glasgow), that sort of thing. Someday I hope to be associated with the Oldest Thing somewhere. This has always been a goal of mine. In high school, Zachary and I shellacked a pair of donuts and carried them around as pets, the goal being to someday own the Oldest Pair of Donuts Ever. My dog ate them, ruining that idea—and her digestive tract, she had the runs for weeks—but the dream still remains.

It was nice to finally walk outside for once. When there are shows at night, we drive to the hotel, drop off our stuff, then head to the venue for the rest of the night. So it felt good to stretch out our legs and act like tourists. Someone had spray-painted “HERE LIES BOB HOPE” on the back of one of the centuries-old tombstones resting in the Necropolis. This is to be permanently filed in the Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That section of my brain. No wait, that was disgusting. I loved Bob Hope.

Now there is a gig to prep for. Details tomorrow…

May 5- At our pre-show meal yesterday at Yates’s in Leeds, a dreadlocked man carrying a boom box plopped himself down on a chair between Dyan and myself. He was a sad drunken Londoner, he said, and he just wanted a few minutes of our time. We shared some stories from the road, some stories from home, and he seemed to cheer up a bit. Then he asked, “Wanna know how I really feel?” I had grown fond of him, I really cared about how he felt right then. When he pressed play on the boom box a familiar song blasted from the speakers: I’m lonely/ So lonely… Kermit the Frog’s ‘It’s not Easy Being Green.’ That’s my song. I found my soul brother, right there in Leeds. He has dreadlocks and a green boom box.

In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slapstick, the chief protagonist becomes President of the United States based on his ‘Lonesome No More’ platform after a plague wipes out the majority of the world’s population. According to his plan, everyone in the country is assigned a family name and number. So if you were assigned the Blood Arm-11 as you family name and number, then everyone who shared the Blood Arm name with you would be you cousin, and everyone with the same number would be your brother or sister. If I were given a vote today, I’d cast it in favor of someone with a platform like that. Or the guy with the funniest name.

Now I must get busy…

-Ben Lee

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Friends in the UK: Please vote today.


-Ben lee

Monday, May 02, 2005

What Zachary Did in the UK

April 30- We were rudely awakened at the Quality Inn of Stoke this morning by a fire alarm. As we waited outside for the “all clear,” a busload of cowboys stormed onto the scene. An ambush! I curled up on the ground and play dead in case they decided to take hostages. Then a hotel steward emerged from the building and said we were free to go back to our rooms. The cowboys entered the Inn with us and put on their best behavior. Shaken and confused, we went back to sleep for a while. I have yet to figure this one out. Mic (our tour manager), Dyan, and Zebastian all confirm that there were, indeed, Cowboys charging the hotel. A shared hallucination?

Dyan went home early after the show last evening (which was, I daresay, the best of the tour thus far) so our posse—your Blood Arm boys plus those of Maximo Park –became a Man’s Club. It is a common assumption that when a group of boys is fed all the liquor they desire and left to their own resources, behavior will degrade to the basest of levels. Windows will be broken, villages burned and looted, any woman in the path left pregnant out of wedlock, etc, etc. Not true for us. We talked about our feelings. Lucas was proud of his performance that evening, and upset that no one had said anything about it. Zebastian thought Lucas’ brilliance went without saying, but affirmed that he was particularly stellar that show. Nathaniel misses his mother. Zachary feels incredibly alone sometimes, even when we’re all in the van together. Duncan misses his mother, too. The night ended in a group hug. And Zach puking.

There was a strip joint across from the hotel and I can’t stop thinking about it. In the States, men and women stick dollar bills in the strippers’ undergarments. Here, the lowest form of passable currency is the pound coin. Do people slide the coins into the strippers’ unmentionables? The answer remains a mystery.

After a blown tire and a long wait for a service truck, we finally arrived at Phil’s (City Rockers Records) Oxford home for a late-afternoon BBQ. Phil has an adorable son and daughter, who spent the majority of their time running about singing ‘All the Girls.’ “It’s kind of Narcissistic, isn’t it,” Phil says. “You marry someone who looks a lot like you so you can have children who look just like you. I love it.” A few glasses of wine into the gathering, Phil brought out a photo from his party days. In the picture, he’s wearing a ruffled flamenco bare-midrift emblazoned with tiny swastikas (the Hindu symbol of peace, he insists) over the whole of the garment. Ex-post facto, I’m thinking it would have been funny to call him Prince Harry. Now I’m thinking I should have just told you I called him Prince Harry on the spot. I mean, how would you know I didn’t? So I said to Phil, “You look like Prince Harry in that photo!” HAHAHAHHAHAHA!

It’s particularly touching (in the most literal sense) how much a TBA performance affects the children of England. At the end of our show in Oxford, a group of five young girls attacked Dyan and Nathaniel with hugs and kisses, then begged the duo to autograph their sweaty arms and legs. Dyan swears she was bitten at one point. By the time the young ladies found their way to me, ink was smudged up and down their arms and they were clinging to torn bits of Dyan’s dress. I wondered if my friends were still alive. I felt something like braces stick into my arm. Moist hands seized my arms and bear-hugged me. I signed a forehead in self-defense… I’d say it felt like rape, but I think I liked it.

Now I’m looking at the sleeve of my shirt, and Nathaniel’s autograph somehow transferred itself from one of the girls’ arms and made a home there. I wonder how much this is worth on EBay?

On to Manchester!

May 2- The Jabez Clegg in Manchester was a mess when we arrived on the scene. The wooden stage was sagging and rotting apart, the PA system was missing wires, and it appeared likely the show would have to be cancelled. (We’re not prisses, mind you. If someone were to jump on the stage they’d have fallen right through.) Thankfully, Mic and Chris (MP’s tour manager) were able to whip the promoter and his hired hands into shape, re-tool the stage, rewire the PA, and the doors were allowed to open—albeit an hour late and without soundchecks for any of the bands. Then, right as I was about to take the spotlight for my Master of Ceremonies duties, an idiot DJ started spinning the ‘Attention’ single. This is bad form under any circumstance—especially insulting after that headache of an afternoon—but we took the tattered platform as if nothing as happened and the band gave one of their best performances of the tour thus far. (I later witnessed three beefy security guards pummeling the DJ in a back room, hopefully not on our behalf. However upset we may have been at the DJ, TBA endorses violence in no way.) The people of Manchester are wonderful, the Jabez Clegg, however, is not. It was wonderful to reacquaint ourselves with some familiar faces from the last tour as well.

Whenever one turns on the television here, all there is to watch is Snooker coverage. It’s related to American billards in that the competitors hit ivory balls around a table with cue sticks, but in Snooker the table is much larger and there are a lot more balls, and they take some of the balls out of the pockets after someone hits them in. None of us really get it, but it’s oddly hypnotic. Anyone care to explain? And while you’re at it, what’s the deal with Cricket?

We’re driving into Glasgow right now for a show at King Tut’s tonight, and we have tomorrow off. See you soon!

-Ben Lee