16th – Guildford, Boiler Room
Joe – Sound issues, nice pizza, 30 people in at most, Chris from Todd’s new band also playing. Stayed at Rhys’ house back up in the safety of South London.
Chris – My amp received the “no valve amps” memo from Colossus HQ and committed honourable suicide as I turned it on, which made the sound engineer happy at least. After insisting we regenerate “Wired, Brainless”, we (possibly “I”) couldn’t work out how to start it and had to abort. Only time we’ve played “It’s A Low” to date. First time in the Luxury Bag ™ (a very expensive sleeping bag I bought myself for touring) and it was a revelation: don’t scrimp on your bag.
Bob – Great venue but unable to play at a decent level made it a bit flat. Sound guy looked like circa 79 Suggs, nice chap. Pizza made up for the low volume.
17th – Paris, Supersonic
Joe – Arrived at 4pm, too late for soundcheck. I love driving into Paris on a Friday. Sat around for 6 hours doing nothing. Then played. Place kicked off.
Chris – Made to play with 3 of us in a line with the drums to the side leading to some accidental “Quo-ing”. Fun gig: stage diving, crowd-surfing. Will and Bob decided to encore on their own for a few minutes before the rest of us joined them. For the record, I like encores as I’ve never been in a band where anyone wanted me to do one before. The novelty will wear off I’m sure. Only time we’ve played “Confession Bay” to date.
Bob – It was loud, hot and fun. Got my bum smacked by someone in the crowd.
18th – Angers, Jokers Pub
Joe – Real nice town. Strolled around before, old forts, big views. Venue ran by the worlds biggest Killing Joke fan. Drove for four hours after playing. Band ‘mates’ getting more boozed. Had a debate at the hotel with the chap on the desk. We were eventually allowed in.
Chris – Lovely town, lovely time at the Pride parade, lovely time watching Watford get hammered in the FA Cup Final though less so for Bob (who took it very well it has to be said, with zero patio furniture launched into town fountains). Drive after was less lovely but I was in and out of sleep, surfacing only when more red wine landed in my crotch or Rhys dropped another banger on the stereo and I had to find out what it was (“Houmeissa” by Hama). Also, there is a building in Angers with a gargoyle of a man putting his thumb up his arse and it’s totally worth a visit.
Bob – Drowned my football woes after the FA cup final loss with a short man called Fredrick. A French Ronnie Corbett who would give me a shoulder massage every time a goal went in. After four goals I moved seats. Had a guided tour of the town pre-gig. Visit Angers, it’s lovely. Receptionist at our no stars hotel was watching porn when we rolled up. Van journey was party party.
I think this was Angers, if not it was certainly taken somewhere during these dates:
19th – Geneva, Cave12
Joe – Never been to Switzerland before. Cave12 is easily in Europe’s top three venues. I met someone who went to school with EPMD. I was shaking with excitement.
Chris – I had a luxury bath at 1am and texted my far more successful and famous musician partner to gloat. This has reminded me I need to check out Arzachel, recommended by the splendid DJ for the night. Note to self for future touring: everyone outside the UK smokes indoors – pack accordingly.
Bob – very little recollection of this gig after 7.30pm. Five star hotel with panoramic view of the city was a treat.
The drive from Geneva to Cuneo was spectacular. We paid loads of Euros to drive under a mountain. Then we took this photo on the other side. It’s black and white to make us look very epic:
20th – Cuneo, Boto’s Farm
Joe – Somewhere an hour or two away from Torino, such a beautiful journey from Geneva. Whoever built The Alps nailed it. Boto’s Farm is a farm ran by a peach farmer called Boto and his family. 20 villagers showed up and we ate their food and drank their drinks and spent a night living like Italians, chatting, debating, playing music. Has to be one of the most memorable things we’ve done.
Chris – I have had tinnitus since this gig but the food was worth it. Broke my recent vegetarianism with rabbit pate. Don’t judge me.
Bob – “we’re clearly lost, it’s in the middle of, oh hold on, a farmer is waving at us”. We’d arrived at the most fantastic place for a gig. Spoilt with great food, great beer, excellent people and more excellent food.
The morning after playing Boto’s Farm we went to a bakery. We stood in an arch:
Boto showed Chris some ancient guitar that got him excited.
21st – Bologna, Freakout
Joe – Venue on an industrial estate. Things looked grim. We were tired. But actually it all worked out. We’re beginning to be reasonable at playing our songs, which helped.
Chris – Halfway through the first song I noticed in my peripheral vision a man in the crowd staring at me. I then realised it was an old friend from America I hadn’t seen for years after we parted contact somewhat acrimoniously. I spent the rest of the set worrying I was about to get Dimebagged and played accordingly badly. Afterwards we hugged out our differences and caught up. It was all OK. Music eh? The man who kindly let us stay in his flat touched his penis a lot while he talked to us and had nice cats.
Bob – I was confident this would rule, and I won the bet. Took it easy on the beer this night, switched to spritz.
22nd – Munich, Kafe Kult
Joe – Venue is an old Second World War hospital, a prefab building in a little estate of prefab buildings. Lord only knows what happened here. History was screaming at us. The promoters got together because of us, years before, I didn’t fully understand why. We’ve been trying to split up for years to no avail. 25 people watched us play. More people turned up when we tried to sleep in the room there. A chap lived in the back room. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Chris – Chaos. What a place. Loved every minute of it. On reflection this might be the point that the tour started to get a bit “bendy” though.
Bob – “WILL – DON”T DO SCAG AND GO TO BED”
23rd – Prague, Klubovna
Joe – Never played Prague before. Way more people turned up than we expected. We had quite a 24 hours in Prague. I feel like it’s not my story to tell, so I won’t. I’ll leave it to someone else.
Chris – What Joe said. I thought my evening had peaked watching Bob impersonate Freddie Mercury back at the hotel but really it was only starting. Someone else should indeed tell this one though. I certainly never have and not to everyone I know once I got home with gradual embellishments each time I told it.
Bob – Czech brewers know what they’re doing. great venue.
Joe – Oh yeah, it got a bit ‘Blues Brothers’ at the end as we had to pay the bar tab. We didn’t make much money at this gig.
Backstage room, straight after playing, Prague (this photo is on the rear of the Carcass 7″ sleeve):
24th – Hamburg, MS Stubnitz
Joe – When I went to collect the money the promoter said: “Next time you play Hamburg it’d be best if you didn’t play here”. He bought all our records, and bid us farewell.
Chris – Checked my phone the morning after. Text to Bob (in another cabin somewhere): “Get me off this floating techno prison”. Enjoyed Them Falls who opened up very much. Slept in a top bunk without side rails and woke every 15 mins in fear I was about to fall out. In fairness, it had been a long day.
Bob – 24 hour rave on a boat. I had ear plugs and slept well.
25th – Utrecht, dBs
Joe – First of two nights playing with Workin’ Man Noise Unit. Strong venue this. Putting it in the top three with Cave12 and Magasin4 seems only fair. Stayed in a house nearby, we slept in the shed.
Chris – What a venue! What a city! Workin Man! Enthusiasm fully restored! Music! Text to partner back home: “We should move to Utrecht”.
Bob – great venue, great beers, great people running the place. Cracking fun with the working man boys. Got my first proper cup of tea for over a week this day. I was close to tears boiling the kettle.
Joe and Rhys, just before playing:
26th – Liege, KulturA
Joe – Last night of the Euro dates. Ultraphallus also played. They’re gothic now. Everyone’s gothic now. WMNU had an air horn that they blew during our song Black and Gold. It was out of tune, noted Elisa who was running merch.
Chris – Rocked out so much to WMNU I forgot we had to play. Will, Bob and I all broke a string on the same part of the last song. Lovely venue and lovely people. Dug the Bowie “Scary Monsters” vibes of Ultraphallus. Stayed up far too late with the Workin Men causing the trip home to be testing. Luckily I was not alone in this struggle.
Bob – Working Man fun again. More gigs with this lot is what everyone should do.
Great to see the Ultraphallus boys. Up at 6am for the ferry home, ate chips that night.
Sometime around now we did a BBC 6Music session for Marc Riley. Here we are in a grey corridor with Mr Riley himself:
7th – Portsmouth, The Loft
Joe – Hot and rainy. Packed room, upstairs of a boozer. The two crowds, gig goers / Friday night drinkers, were very different. We played Portsmouth instead of Brighton. Nothing against Brighton, but bands: Play Portsmouth.
Chris – Will had a battered Mars Bar before we played.
Bob – Happy 2000 are great shambolic racket of a band. Check them out.
Portsmouth (not sure who took photo, sorry):
8th – Bristol, Triptych Festival
Joe – We were in the Exchange. Sly+The Family Drone played next door and it was the best we’d seen them by miles. Inspirational. We went on very late and that doesn’t suit us anymore. We’re ancient. Room was full. We played then drove the hell home. Will stayed till the end, he’s the young band member with enthusiasm for solo industrial techno played to thinning crowds of jaw chewers.
Chris – Joe and I got stopped by the police on the way back to Somerset. “What you up to lads?” “We’re in a band and we just played in Bristol” “In a band eh? Are you famous?” “Very”.
Bob – Sex Swing played the best I’ve ever seen from them, USA Nails rocked, Sly were on fire. A seagull shit on me. I drove home at 2am.
14th – Nottingham, Maze
Joe – Last few days of this venue and you could tell. Water was pouring through the roof. Busy night in Notts, good bands playing who I can’t remember the name of. Hoping someone else can. My money’s on Chris as he put the night on.
Chris – Daphnellc (playing anti-sausage-party-techno-bangers) and Blind Eye (Suzi Quatro fronts Monster Magnet). Both brought “it”. I’m never playing and promoting the same gig ever again. Added bonus of having to squeeze the Full Colossus into my terraced house afterwards. At least I got to sleep in my own bed. For 2 hours.
Bob – the other band was great, the lady doing a lap top thing was great. I can’t remember much after being told I could leave the car where it was for the night.
15th – Huddersfield, Vinyl Tap Records
Joe – Daytime gig in a record shop. Good story from one of the workers about a certain band who’s whole recent marketing campaign about them now being ‘clean’ was arguably ‘untrue’.
Chris – Half the PA went out and Paul sounded like a Dalek which was better than you’d expect. Staff gave me a copy of “Bullshot” by Link Wray and a tab book for Nirvana’s “Nevermind” , both of which should help with writing future Grey Hairs albums.
Bob – chips on route were needed which meant the van people did the load in. Win win.
Huddersfield has the noisiest Poundland I’ve ever known. Every kid in there was screaming but three cans of Irn Bru for a pound was worth the pain.
Vinyl Tap in the rain:
15th – Leeds, Temple of Boom
Joe – Evening in Leeds. Love this venue. Leeway and SickOnes were playing in the other room. So I dipped in and out. I like a bit of NYHC and SickOnes are some Somerset so it was nice to see them. I smashed Bob’s head open with my guitar. I can’t remember now but I guess he’d done something to annoy me. Drove home after. It’s miles from Leeds to Somerset.
Chris – Lowest Creature also played next door and were incredible. Thanks to Nash for doing a proper job with the sound and the Mighty Bilge Pumps for attending. Met Colossus historian Penfold Kowalski who told me I was “playing the solos right” which was hugely appreciated.
Bob – Joe tried to kill me. Drove back with double vision due to his assault on my eye socket with his stupid metal neck bass. Due to my knackered eye, but being the only sober one to drive, James Grey Hair’s was telling me what the road signs said on the M1 whilst in the back of the car, can in hand. Top bloke. He got us home safe.
18th – London, Rough Trade East
Joe – We got paid with 30% off whatever we wanted to buy. I picked up Crass and The Birthday Party records. Still expensive, but this is London and you gotta pay for the joy of living and shopping there. It was humid. It wasn’t too bad actually. A lot of good pals showed up, Jon and Leon were there, as was Ian. Ex members all in good spirits.
Chris – Spent a fortune on the Dead Moon book. Lovely to see so many old friends. Nearly missed my train home after trying to be a good Samaritan. My partner was playing in London the same night opening for Black Midi which put my luxury Geneva bath in perspective as I walked to my house from Nottingham station at 1.30am.
Bob – Great to hang out with old mates. Cracking bagel with Will. Always go for the bagel shop nearest the end of Brick Lane. Very enjoyable gig.
28th – Pilton, Glastonbury Festival
Joe – The band that pretended to be us, taking our transport down to the site from the car park, leaving us stranded for two hours are all dead now. We buried them on the site, no grave marker.
Chris – Enjoyed playing, didn’t enjoy the festival to start with, then started to enjoy it, camped, broke my vegentarianism again, made Joe pick me up so I could have a shower at his house down the road, felt better, went to the dance stage with Sam from Workin Man, watched Paul sing along to Kylie and back on Bob’s sofa in time for the Cure on the iPlayer. Not bad. Even saw Stonehenge. From a distance. And Sheryl Crow (ditto).
Bob – Guinness at 8am was needed for nerves. Followed Black Midi so had the pleasure of watching the tent completely empty out, then slowly fill back up with a slightly older brigade of music lovers. Very fun gig. Chatted with Amy and her Sniffers back stage then got drunk and danced to the Charlatans. Stayed for the whole weekend, it was great.
Here’s Chris “starting the enjoy it” with Will who had been enjoying it for a while already:
Look at Bob, this is what happens:
12th – Manchester, Soup Kitchen
Joe – Busiest we’ve had in Manc’. Some old heads showed up from Bob and I’s long gone past. Weird. Also in attendance was Chris (brother) and his wife Maggie, over from Brisbane. We used to curse when venue’s had club nights on after, forcing us to finish early. But these days we love it. Went on to some little hipster boozer down an alley. Everyone looked really pleased with themselves. I couldn’t wait to get to bed.
Chris – Thought we did alright here. No soundcheck but blasted it. Roughly a year since joining the Group too so the songs were finally sinking in. Shouted about music with Graeme (who used to write the “Kill Everyone Now!” zine) til far too late. A splendid way to spend an evening.
Bob – great to see mates old and new at this one. Fun fun fun.
13th – Glasgow, Nice N Sleazy
Joe – Went to Monorail Records, as is tradition. We all picked up a few things. Time flew by as we sat there. Good gig. Will and I drove halfway back to the Southwest after. Stayed in a hotel on the motorway. Popped into Shrewsbury to visit my mum and Chris/Maggie/Luc (their son) on the way home the next day. Will had some of my mum’s cake, we had breakfast with them all. I got a parking ticket three weeks later from the hotel carpark. Be careful staying at motorway hotels. The carparks are run by sharks.
Chris – Bought the Purple Mountains LP off Stephen Pastel who recommended me the Silver Jews a mere 21 years earlier. Felt like a nice bit of circle-completion. Thought Cartilege were one of the best bands we played with. Loved them. Gig was tricky, I was tired and was far too loud but I just blamed Will who took it like the saint he is. Hotel was in Lanarkshire which seemed to take 8 hours to get to with Bob and Paul. And then we missed the Llama Karma café on the way home too while Rhys (who flew home) sent us pictures of his Sunday pub lunch.
Bob – I ate three scotch pies this day. I’m not ashamed.
19th – Birmingham, Supersonic Festival
Joe – The last date of our Four Bibles gigs. Obviously this is the UK Festival that is head and shoulders above all others. A privilege to be asked to play it. We got away with it. I did a book talk the next day and didn’t get anything thrown at me. Then we drove home, popped into say hi to Kowloon Walled City in Bristol who are over from the US. Drove home. Went to bed. Got up the next day. Went to work.
Chris – What a splendid weekend. Thought we did good on the big stage. Pulled double-duty with Haress on the Sunday and ran into lots of old friends. Managed to catch tons of amazing stuff – Ichi being the best. Got home feeling like a bag of wet sand. Work on Monday was – as always – a real laugh.
Bob – Excellent way to finish to our string of dates. Great festival ran by some top quality lovely people. More friends old and new to chat with, Finishing off the evening at the hotel bar with a deserved large glass of red wine.
Just before going on, Supersonic:
Tour end. It was, to be honest, a splendid time. Played some great places, met some splendid souls.