LORD ZiON’s Tour Diary: SPiT LiKE THiS & TIGERTAILZ, May 2011 (Part 1)
by LORD ZiON on May 15th, 2011
When I was asked by Powerplay Magazine if I would write a Tour Diary to accompany the “On Tour With” feature they were doing on us, I couldn’t say no. After all, I write one anyway for my own memories and, as a fan of music, bands and musicians myself, I always find it intriguing to read a first-hand account of what they do and don’t get up to. Not that we’re hardcore drug addicts or part-time porn stars or anything interesting like that: we’re just four ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. Of sorts. Anyway, here goes…
Friday 13th May 2011: HMV Institute, Birmingham
If you’d have told the very young me that I would one day be touring with Tigertailz, he wouldn’t have believed his luck. Growing up, I was a big fan and even had the cover of their celebrated “Bezerk” album as a Birthday cake. Over the years, our paths have crossed a few times and I have been delighted to discover that they are a great bunch of people. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a lot of bands who I used to worship as a nipper, only to be disappointed with them on a personal level. None of that with the ‘Tailz though!
First gig of the tour was in Birmingham, the birth of Heavy Metal. No finer or more fitting place to kick-start events. Alas, getting to Birmingham requires driving to it and, on a Friday evening, we were inevitably stuck in traffic. A lot. We arrived to discover that the venue is up 3 or 4 flights of stairs so we got a pretty decent workout in before we had played a note. There was another band playing that night in the downstairs venue. They had a fancy sleeper bus. Noah And The Whales, or something. Gits.
It was whilst I was trying to find somewhere to park, in the pissing rain, after lugging gear, after a shitty drive when the “Why Do I Do This?” thought popped into my head. Make no bones about it, friends, being in a band is a tiresome occupation. I am not complaining or looking for sympathy, merely commenting that, on these lowly levels of rock stardom, there ain’t a lot of help. It certainly doesn’t help the vibe when the people at the venue are being particularly unhelpful, as some of them were at the HMV Institute.
No matter, such is the way of certain gigs. Soundcheck was done. It was loud. Like LOUD in a Motorhead kind of way. However loud it was though, I still couldn’t hear myself on stage. It is rare to hear myself through the monitors, but this is part of the course being a singer. It’s why you often see us vocalists during a set point to the ground, point to our ears and point to the sky – we’re trying to let someone know to turn up our levels!
Vikki & Gilez backstage at HMV
Once this was out of the way, it was pretty much time to be getting ready. Doors were about to open and we were on in just over an hour. I have a whole bunch of pre-performance rituals that I adhere to – not a luck thing, a physical thing – so I was getting on with them whilst Vikki was running around kicking people’s butts to give us some water. Not too much to ask, you would think! It must be said, this was one of the worst venues I’ve ever played at in terms of looking after bands. I’m not suggesting that outrageous demands are met before we’ll even consider playing but, to have to run around to find a bit of water is crazy. It gets hot up there!
Zion on stage at HMV
All this was very frustrating but we are there to do a job, dammit, and a fine one at that. And however much it might sound like I am bitching and complaining, those 40 minutes or so up on stage completely washes all the rubbish away like some kind of rock ego tsunami. I’ve yet to find a feeling that matches performing to an appreciative crowd, which is why I guess I keep going back to do it over and over again!!
After a good show is nearly as good as the show itself. Meeting the people that have just made your night worthwhile is something that I will never, ever tire of. Yes, it is an ego boost to have people tell you that you’re awesome or to want to have a photo, or even an autograph but it is much more than that. For those moments you all came together as one and were an unstoppable force. There is so much energy and it’s a synergistic energy; from us to the crowd and back again. It multiplies and it builds to an almighty crescendo – a huge ejaculation but without the quick wipe-over and a “cheers for that” after…
…and then it WAS all over. After Tigertailz’z set, the lights in the venue were switched on and all the magic of the evening disappeared into our ragged looking faces. We packed all our gear away and got the fuck out of Dodge. TT were staying in Birmingham but, thanks to some ridiculous emissions laws in London, we had to drive the 150 miles back to hire a vehicle that was smaller than our awesome tour bus to avoid a £400 fine. Crazy. Arrived back at SLT HQ about 4am.
Saturday 14th May 2011: Camden Underworld, London
Did a little bit of sleep before it was time to get up and move all our gear from our awesome tour bus to the little transit-style van. Left here at 1-ish to spend nearly 3 hours driving the 28 miles from SLT HQ to the Underworld. It takes that long because London was built before the world had even comprehended the combustion engine and, as a result of the chaotic way buildings were built everywhere with no thought as to putting them in a nice neat little grid-type-pattern, us modern humans have had to litter the roadways hence built with, approximately, 20 billion traffic lights at every conceivable junction, corner, kerb and crevice. This means that driving a mile in London is the equivalent of 20 miles anywhere else. I am prepared though, so we left in plenty of time.
I think we’ve performed at the Underworld about 10 times, mainly as support for U.S. bands like LA Guns and Love/Hate. It’s a venue I know and like and, as Mike (our roadie) suggested, if I ever get amnesia, it is where I will end up presuming that I live there. After loading our gear in and parking the van, we waited for Tigertailz to do their soundcheck and got our gear nicely organised. It is at this point that I should introduce Red – the nice lady who has written the “On Tour With” feature on us and who accompanied us on the first couple of dates of this tour. I am introducing her now because I have this picture of her cupcakes and it shocked my quite terrible memory into action.
Being a health freak of sorts, cupcakes and their ability to make me fat, scare me so I just looked longingly from afar whilst my greedy bandmates tucked in. They assure me that Red’s Cupcakes were quite delicious.
Enough with cupcakes! On to rock. We did our soundcheck which consisted of us blasting a bit of one of my favourite songs from our not-yet-released-but-it-will-be-I-promise album, called “Zero To Sixty” (that’s the song name, the album is called “Normalityville Horror”. There is a song called that too though.). We tend not to spend too long soundchecking as, once the audience gets in a venue, it all goes to hell anyway. As long as the sound engineer has a rough idea of our sound, we trust them enough to sort it once the throngs are thronging.
There was food from a Thai place upstairs at the Underworld which, quite oddly, was not actually serving any Thai food today. I turned my nose up at everything, stuck to my dust salad and went off to warm up. My warm-ups consist of stretches, some muscle pumping (not as filthy as it sounds) and vocal things. I “brrrrrrrrrrr” and “va-va” and “vee-vee” until everything feels alright; suck on Vocalzone lozenges and drink copious amounts of water. I live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to the max, as you can tell
We were on at 8pm sharp. The curfew is strict at the Underworld so fannying was kept to a minimum. It was nice to be able to peer from the backstage curtain to view a growing crowd but, it wasn’t until we hit the stage that I saw just how many eager faces there were. Better than that though was the noise that they made before, during and after our set. Some gigs you do, you feel like you are having to have a bit of a battle to get people to move and make lots of noise, tonight there was none of that. Unusual for London, as it happens, but this crowd was there for one thing: a good time. And that is something we deliver in spades.
I enjoy a bit of band-audience banter. I like to tease. I like to chat to people. I like to get to know who-the-hell these amazing individuals are who have parted with their Hard Earned to come and witness. Tonight it was hard to shut me up but, with curfew in mind, I had to rock on. It’s not often that I would go on record to say anything so crass as “we were fucking awesome tonight” but, Dear Reader, we were fucking awesome tonight!
Amazing London crowd
Gladly, we weren’t the only people there that thought so. After our set we made our way to our merch stand where we were positively deluged by fans old and new. We did a good job and they knew it! The rest of the night was spent selling merch, signing autographs and doing all that good stuff. So-much-so, I missed nearly all of Tigertailz set, which was a shame for me as I am still a fan of theirs, after all.
And then it was all over. Security kicked everyone out, lights went on and both bands were back out on the streets of London getting gear and people into various vehicles to move on to their next destinations. For us, SLT HQ.
That’s it for now. Thanks for taking the time to read – hope you liked it. Massive thank you to Red for coming along and doing her own feature and, of course, to Powerplay for agreeing to it in the first place. Next leg of the tour starts in Sheffield in a couple of days time. Expect to read all about that in a week or so.
All pictures supplied by LORD ZiON