Summer music festivals: On the road with Attic Lights, part two

Jim and Kev rehearse in the sun
Jim and Kev rehearse in the sun

First published on

All systems go! I watched T In The Park on television only feeling slightly envious, safe in the knowledge that I’d be doing the same at the Benicassim festival in Spain within the week.

Our final rehearsal is great. Noel’s drums steady and focused, the guitars blaring and our vocals blending well. In between songs, Tim regales us with stories from his recent US tour with Camera Obscura which he appears to have enjoyed aside from his complaint that “none of my clothes fit me anymore because I’ve eaten a diet of Philly cheese steaks, cheeseburgers, hot dogs and an average of six beers a night. At least I’ve got this cool Hawaiian shirt I bought in Nebraska.”

“Cool,” in this instance, is a matter of perspective.

Now comes the time when I test out how well I’ve been doing with the Spanish lessons on my iPod. Probably not as well as I think. This is my meagre attempt to deal with the shame that always arises when I meet bilingual people. Praise the iPod and it’s podcasting abilities.

Previously, there have been some pretty weird and surreal events in our touring life in Spain. Aside from wonderful, enthusiastic audiences there have also been earthquakes, electrocutions and wild animals as part of the bargain.

I’ll never forget the time a band member (who must remain nameless) was chased around a town square by three angry Chihuahuas who seemed intent on eating him. Cue a quick trip to the hospital on our return to Blighty and a series of rabies injection for one unlucky Attic Light.

These are the perils of international travel. It’s a musicians lot to spar with the local wildlife. We are in essence, travelling salesmen and sometimes people turn the dogs on you if they don’t like your wares. Sick ‘em Fido!

Spanish audiences though, you’ve got to love them. They LOVE their music. First gig we ever played on mainland Spain was in Valencia. It was hot, sweaty and rocking, the audience singing our songs back to us louder than the speaker system. Impressive that they knew the words. Especially impressive for me considering I am renowned for forgetting the words to my own songs on a regular basis. I’m sure that wont be a problem in Benicassim and that the Spanish audience will help me out with some fine backing vocals if nothing else.

The one thing I need to do is behave myself because the day after we get back I’m going straight into a video shoot for our new single. The prancing, ham actor in me is delighted. I get to play two separate characters in the video. It’s entirely possible that I’ve missed my calling in life and that the pantomime stage is where I truly belong. Unleashed, my inner thespian will be in his camp, strutting, slapstick element.

It is all a director can do to restrain me from full-on Nicolas Cage face-pulling, over-the-top acting. Put a camera on me and I turn into a circus clown. I really can’t help it.

After each video the band take me aside and tell me, “Okay Kev… so you’ll stop pulling ‘hilarious’ faces in the next video, yeah? The whole Hey, Hey we’re the Monkeesthing… you’re done with that? Right?”

I nod sagely and agree, fully believing to the core of my thespian self that in the next video I will be restrained, dignified and Oscar-worthy. Then someone yells, “Take one. Action…”

But I can’t turn up for the video shoot looking like some feral man-child who has been living under a bush in Catalonia for four days, eating sand and beer, rubbing sun cream in my eyes and yelling incomprehensible Glaswegian slang at innocent Spaniards. That’s definitely NOT the way to prepare for a video shoot.

Tonight I told the band that, as the official tour manager for this trip, I am in essence, a movie director about to film his masterpiece and that they are my puppets, my actors, soundmen, and cinematographers. I claimed that I was the Orson Welles of tour managing and I shall turn the trip into my Citizen Kane. This explosion of ego did not go down well with my bandmates. They told me to “go away.” But they found a much more colourful way to say it.

As I watch them leave the rehearsal rooms and saunter off into the hot night for a brief sleep before we catch our early flight to Barcelona, I realise that I may have overshot with the Citizen Kane analogy. Maybe comparing myself to one of the greatest films by one of the greatest directors was indeed a step too far. Far be it from me to have such delusions of grandeur. Perhaps, as a tour manager, I’m more of a late 1970’s George Lucas or Martin Scorsese? You know, working outside the system, rebellious, alternative but sensationally talented and bound for universal glory and acclaim?

I resolve to tell the band this tomorrow morning. I’m sure they will appreciate it.

And with that, I’m off to bed. I’ve got a flight to catch in the morning.

“Lights, camera, passports, guitars… ACTION!”

Original STV article

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