The Stills’ lead singer Tim Fletcher has written a rather erudite diary of his band’s recent UK tour. Honestly, I hardly even had to edit it or anything, although in future he would do well to remember that ‘its’ is a possessive pronoun and doesn’t require an apostrophe. Think on, sunshine…
You can read the diary, which includes revelations about dead band members, wine-stained lips, Hitler smoking cigarillos and Dave’s boring treatise on Kirkegaardian Neo-Orthodoxisism and Existentialist Theologicism, below:
UK TOUR DIARY
The Stills arrive by aeroplane in London very early morning and head to a hotel by the River Thames generously booked for them by their new UK record label, Drowned In Sound. After fighting sleep all day in attempts to re-regulate the body clock (it can be vicious, but we’ve learned the correct formula to avoid jetlag: light sleep on the overnight plane ride, stay up all day, drink like fools, drop the requisite melatonin pill, with or without a Xanax, crash at midnight, sleep 10 hours, wake up refreshed and ready), The Stills meet up with said record label at pub next door to hotel, and like fools, drink pints, whiskeys, and chat for over eight hours until messy brain-fried incomprehension on the part of the band becomes comically noticeable. Some members disappear without saying goodbye and wake up refreshed the next day, somehow. All in all, a very enjoyable evening, punctuated by the coming and going of the after-work boozing business crowd, lame-Os, but at least London ones.
Swindon + London Water Rats
Wake up, drive to Swindon, outside London for first gig supporting our friends Kings Of Leon, who, lucky us (and them), have the number 1 record in the UK. Turns out we couldn’t be on a better tour if we tried. We meet the boys, hug it out and then soundcheck and rip the show, a little drunk. In contrast to the Kings’ number 1 record, Tim comments on how The Stills hold the title for lowest-selling top 40 single ever in the UK, and the band launch into said song, 'Changes Are No Good'. The crowd enjoys the quip immensely and shows much love during the entire set. Gig one of two done... Band loads gear back onto the bus and tears away to London where a gig at The Water Rats awaits them. With wine-stained lips, equipment is thrown onto a tiny sweaty stage, 20 minutes late, and without a soundcheck we kick into what would turn out to be one of the best sets we’ve ever done, to 150 beautiful singing fans packed right up to us. We load out and afterparty it with the same Drowned In Sound folk who saw us soused to bed the night before, and celebrate.
…is the furthest Southwest The Stills have ever been in England. Blimey, mate.
A combination of Coney Island, Rupert The Bear-Style 1920s England, and Irish Sea beauty, it all kind of comes together at The Blackpool Tower. A strange and wonderful ballroom exists here with a crazy three-level circus Wurlitzer organ played by a man with his back to the room. One or two older couples dancing on the waxed wood floor, rest of the room: empty. David Lynch would be very pleased. The Specials’ Friday Night Saturday Morning meets Firewalk With Me meets Rain Dogs. It’s a little sad because it’s old and nostalgic and from another age, when England was #1. Now they’re #? Take a look at the ballroom section.
That night we play to an unbelievably excited audience, they’re rowdy and there’s about three thousand of them. The security barrier breaks after one KOL song, and security tells us to get ready to leave in case a riot breaks out. Fun stuff. The show goes on and no-one is injured though a few people pass out. Sweaty as fook, man, sweaty as fook.
Wow, there’s a name for a venue. Might as well be The ToolBox. Didn’t I see you there last week? I’m sure I did. Headlining gig on our own. People are intense fans, haven’t seen us in years, and show us so much appreciation. Thanks to everyone who was there, we will remember all the love you showed. A Manc fan kept yelling for ’Retour Á Vega’, but it was hard to understand what he was saying due to his thick accent the first eight times. His request was heard and heeded after said request was clarified by another more coherent northerner. After the gig, Tim’s fever kicks into high gear, and the tour is officially on. Just in time for the massive London gig. Thank Jesus for the medicinal whiskey called Jameson’s, or we’d have been stranded in a health limbo, and that’s no good when you want to make people see heaven.
London Hammersmith Apollo
Television crews, press mania, paparazzi, and scandal all surround the London gig, as rumors of drugs, sex and violence explode that morning, in the wake of an all night Stills/KOL bacchanalian orgy gone horribly wrong. With several members from each band dead, it is difficult to find a way to continue on, but thousands of fans have bought tickets, and the show must go on....
…could have been the outcome in some fucked parallel universe. As it is, the London show is supposedly important nonetheless, as it is the biggest show on the tour and London is a large-ish town from what I’ve heard.
Backstage is a maze. How do you find the stage?
After the show, we follow off to some afterparty, cavern-like, and David Schwimmer hides leather-jacketed and donning baseball cap to remain anonymous. Nice work buddy. Everyone knows it’s you. His rather flamboyant buddy can’t seem to stop stealing Liam’s hat, but that’s ok, everyone’s once again drunk.
Did a photo shoot for a Spanish art exposition that day and a squirrel hanging upside down from a birdfeeder kept dropping seeds on us. Never seen that before, we don’t have squirrels in Canada. That’s OK though, everyone’s hungover.
What a ridiculous bubble we live in.
Tim’s family lives here, so we were excited to get to the gig and meet. Tim’s dad was six years old when his home was bombed and his fam decided to get the hell out to boring Canada. The brave stayed behind to fight the Huns, who were encroaching from the north, with Hitler on the other side, smoking cigarillos and screaming all high-pitched at his army to get even more insane.
A great gig and a lot of lively crowd participants and some slight drunken mid-audience revelry and chanting along and then the gig is done, and we need to leave straightaway to Manchester. Miss the Kings gig. Goodbye Brum, ‘til next week (in the smaller room).
Arriving in Manchester it’s 11pm and a few of the lads are itching for a scene. They walk the wrong way for an hour then catch a cab the other way towards downtown. No passing grades for instinct here. A girl being sick behind a building directs them to a new club in an adjacent, wet-pavement side street called The Venue, where the DJ happens to be a big Stills fan and provides the pints for the after closing hang out. Tim dances alone on the empty dance floor to old school ska and reggae hits of the ‘60s, while the rest of us continue chatting and making friends. Very good times, and highly recommended for a bouncy night out.
Not feeling tip top for soundcheck, or for radio session with Steve Coogan’s brother, Marty. They look nothing alike. Nausea in the back of the cab ensues, but does not fulfill its sinister promise, praise Jah. The show is pretty tame, who knows why. Perhaps we were a little less engaging than on previous nights, perhaps the crowd was a little tamer than usual for Manchester. A little tired from the night previous were we both.
Oliver is feeling the effects of allergies as the pollen from Dutch sunflowers drifts across the North Sea to England. We feed him soup and inject an endorphin/adrenaline shot into him courtesy of an unmentionable source, and the show is beautiful and hot and loud. A good one by many accounts. Oxford the Lovely, punters down the streams, hanging willows, gilded, domed rooftops of scholarly institutions blaze in the sunlight from where we stand off into the distance. After the gig we mingle with friends, and discuss PhD theses, all agreeing that Dave’s Treatise on Kirkegaardian Neo-Orthodoxisism and Existentialist Theologicism is by far the most boring. We drink whiskey furtively from flasks we’ve smuggled quietly in. We muster all of our will to be discreet, but the bar staff know and really don’t care at all. Not knowing this, we keep up the front, feeling really daring.
Rowdy crowdy, the football team won or tied or something and everyone was drunk and jubilant before the doors even opened. Memorable moments include Oliver getting nailed on the head by a full pint of lager. Between songs he grabbed the mic and said these exact words: “Yeah, thanks for the beer on the head, asshole. Go fuck yourself!” To which the crowd responded enthusiastically. More beer was thrown and the stage was a wet mess of sticky rock disgustingness. Hanging out with The Kings before the show provided some good vibes, as we missed each other from the previous day off.
Doncaster, The Dome
Basically a sports center turned into a venue as well. After both our shows we went swimming and Caleb’s shoulder got dislocated. They popped it back in and he was stoic about it. Then we drank wine by the lake until 2am and left to Glasgow, in the country of Scotland.
Glasgow, Carling Academy
Radio session at XFM, Tim and Dave do acoustic versions of ’Destroyer’, ’Oh Shoplifter’ and a cover of Belle & Sebastian’s ’Like Dylan In The Movies’.
Less drunken madness, but by the way the Kings’ crew was placing towels on the stage we were figuring they were planning on nailing us themselves, since it was also the last gig of our tour with them. We placed a bottle of very fine 21-year-old Scotch Whiskey in their dressing room with a note attached while they were playing. You can’t play to three to five thousand people a night and not offer something to the band who so graciously and lovingly hosted you.
That night we travel to their hotel and drink and play pool all night and a few of us even smoke some weed, which is pretty uncommon for us, and we stay up late. Jared offers up the new episode of ’Heroes’ while he packs but we decline based on needing to be places the next day.
A sad goodbye, a salty leave, but we’ll do South America or Australia with them sometime in the future we all think. Have a good Coachella boys, we love y’all.
Birmingham Academy Bar
Stop over in Manchester to do radio session with the keyboard player from the Inspiral Carpets. Lovely chap. Tells us stories about Manchester you wouldn’t believe, like how Noel Gallagher was trying out as a singer for them when the plane that went down in Lockerbie continued on its doomed flight path directly over their rehearsal space. Dark.
To Birmingham, where more hangs with Tim’s family ensue, though all too brief. A great show, perhaps the sweatiest of them all, and goodbyes to the UK, and thanks for all the wonderful love and support. The stories and people that have come out of the woodworks, so many not mentioned here, (or carefully and tactfully omitted) have blown us away. Thank you all.
That night some of us shower at the hauntingly empty Academy from the week before, alone, eerie. The bus parked cosily and safely out of sight in the underground parking, we finish the night and the tour in fitting fashion: drinking wine ‘til 5am in the concrete underworld with the people from DrownedinSound, who have missed the last train home to London… Obviously, we offer them a place to sleep AND a trip back to London in the same breath. How could we possibly leave our friends stranded? We couldn’t. A few bottles of lager drank, and a few dropped out of total fatigue, and we realize it is time to sleep and get ready to head home. With extras in tow, we head back to LDN and a passage home.
'Til next time.
Here is the video for their smashing single, 'Destroyer', out next Monday as a download-only single on DiS Records. Download it HERE.