Yesterday me and my van limped back into my driveway, myself in just marginally better shape than my poor 21 year old van! 6500k’s can do that to a vehicle I suppose, and for the last 600 k’s the poor ol’ fella has been making an awful groaning sound from the engine..But we made it. I just wanted to reflect on the last 5 weeks, and I thought I’d share it with you all.
If you don’t know I have just spent the last 5 weeks doing an East Coast Tour in Australia, travelling form Brisbane down to Melbourne.
Here’s my list if you’re wondering where I have been –
It’s been a real cathartic time for me. I have been doing lots of writing and reflecting, and I’ve had time to finally finish off some songs. That said, I haven’t had nearly as much time to sit and write/play as I thought I would as the schedule has been pretty hectic. However, it has been such an eventful trip that what it has lacked in free time, it’s made up for in inspiration.
I have discovered a great podcast which I have been playing on the long drives, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. It a podcast by a guy called ‘Blindboy’. He gets into all sorts of stuff, from history, art and culture to spirituality, mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.. All from a down to earth point of view I find comfortingly familiar and real. He has a thick Irish accent and comes from Limerick, Ireland, but he is of a similar age to me and his stories from his childhood sound very similar to my experiences growing up in a working class family in North Wales.
I have been practising lots of Mindfulness, Yoga and Meditation lately which has really been reshaping my reality. I can’t begin to tell you the benefits it’s having on my mental health. I haven’t been in best of places recently but through the above I can really get into a peaceful place, focus and feel much happier, alert and confident. It is also having a very interesting side effect on me that I didn’t expect. I have a shockingly bad memory, but from these practises of observing my thoughts and being mindful, it is opening up a whole load of memories I have long forgotten. I’ve been having some pretty full on realisations about who I am, why I behave in certain ways, and working through lots of stuff.
Basically, I don’t remember a lot of my teen years into my early twenties, I think due to many reasons ranging from too much drink and drugs, to some nasty situations my brain has repressed for damage control. Anyhow, through the whirlwind of the past I have rediscovered a whole load of memories, and through all the not so great times I have recalled some things that have been really positive, often ridiculous and fun, and good stories! This said, a lot of my new songs I have been writing are very reflective, and the process of writing has in itself been therapeutic. I have also been enjoying the sensation of deep nostalgia, I really feel the sensation of it is helping piece things together for me, and I can’t get enough of the feeling of fuzzy warmth it gives me..
I’d just like to take this opportunity to say that if you are feeling emotionally shitty, don’t feel bad about talking about it. It’s an epidemic particularly but not limited to affecting to young men, to not talk about feelings. This leads to negativity, depression and even suicide. It’s so bred into us that being ‘masculine’ is to be stoic and not talk about our feelings, which is utter bullshit in my opinion. We recently lost a beautiful soul from our music scene here in Brisbane to suicide, a guy that was not even 21.. My door is ALWAYS open if anyone ever wants to chat..
Now, back to some new music and a good example of what I have just been chatting about. One of my new songs is called ‘Green Badger’. This one came back to me recently and is pretty special. I used to play in heavy punk bands in the years gone by, and around 10 years ago my mates band ‘The Asbo Retards’ scored a gig in the UK’s biggest punk festival ‘Rebellion Festival’ in Blackpool UK.
I agreed to drive, and the only vehicle we had was my mate Owen’s old work van. It was a big old Luton van that he managed to persuade his Dad to fix and get back on the road, which was no easy feat as this thing was pretty fucked. However, somehow he managed and we hit the road. It’s a 450k drive from Brighton in South England where we lived, to Blackpool in North England. We crammed about 15 people in that back, predominantly punks in full mohawks, studded leather jackets, patches etc, all loaded with booze and drugs ready to fully get into this festival. We set of, and made it about 40k’s up the road, when the van blew up on the motorway. Owen, who was a sweet talker, managed to persuade the tow truck to tow us the entire way there. I’m not sure how he swung that, it was such a distance that the first truck would only tow us half the way to the end of his turf, and a second truck had to come to tow us up to rest of the way. We of course had to lie and say there was just furniture in the back, and all the guys had to hide out and be quiet in the back. They were all getting royally fucked up in there, and I’ll never forget when the van was being pulled up onto tow truck no2, as it was at an angle going onto the back someone spilled there cider which came dripping out from under the back door..
Anyhow, they dumped us in the car park of the festival and that was where we slept for the weekend. I’ll leave it to your imagination, and the song to paint the picture of the scene we were greeted with when we rolled up those back doors after the 10 hour journey..
Owen’s van was called ‘Green Badger Removals’.
Zero fucks given as we hit the motorway
Twenty miles up the M23
Rebellion bound, didn’t even make the 25
All the punks in the back hide, as we sweet talk the tow truck
We’ve broken down but well carry on, the green badger is now our home x 2
For the weekend
These weekdays tease; they’re just foreplay to the weekend
The weekend, weekend
300 hundred miles later
Roll up the doors, squinting eyes and polo noses
Dump the van in the car park all pile out green hair and studded jackets
Here we are and here we go, here we go..
On this trip I have also been able to access a state a few times where a song has pretty much written itself. I stopped in Bellingen on the way to Tamworth and swam in the rock pools they have up there. There is something magical about these pools, and on this particular day which was a Saturday morning, I arrived and there was no one around. This was unusual as the pools can get a bit busy of a weekend, but it was empty as. The pools can also be incredibly cold, but on this day they were perfect, still, deep Lapis Lazuli blue and supernaturally pure. Getting into the water really did something to me, like the serenity got underneath my skin, and any stress or strain I’d ever had was momentarily wiped clean. It fend biblical like some kinda baptism by nature.. I got out and walked back to the van, when lots of people started arriving. The first few chatted to me expressing surprise it wasn’t busier.
I drove away from there as lots of people began to arrive, feeling amazing and deeply rejuvenated, and a few minutes up the road had to pull over and get out my notebook. A whole song just poured out of me onto the page right there beside the road, all the words and the tune already in my head. I felt truly connected to whatever it is that drives us, call it nature, spirit, god, whatever.. The feeling to me is absolute truth, and I live for these moments.
The gigs on this tour have been incredible, every time I do a run down the coast it gets better. More people at the gigs, reconnecting with friends I met on the last few runs, making new friends and connections. Some of the highlights have been playing in Tamworth as part of the Country music festival. That was a crazy high energy gig, and I got to catch up with my mates from the Urban Cheifs (check them out if you haven’t already, thanks me later..) The Rhythm Hut in Gosford where I played with the awesome Molly Millington. We sold a heap of tickets, and the community there is amazing. The whole place is volunteer run, and they all live upstairs. I stayed there for 2 nights with them all, such a beautiful bunch! I even got serenaded whilst in the shower. The Drunken Poet in Melbourne is always great, and I played at a place in Fitzroy down there called Baxter’s Lot, which is also an awesome venue..
Also, I got to play at one of my favourites the Blue Bean Café owned by my good mate Nick in Hepburn Springs which is always pure class. It’s a beautiful spot and he has great live music on there every weekend, and he himself is a great musician. He played the same night as me with his full band which was a real treat, so I got to kick back and enjoy. Here I also met Robbie from Silverpod Productions. We got chatting and he offered to make a music video. In the days that passed we chatted more about it (this is another reason I had less free time that I expected, and in this situation I’m incredibly glad about it!), and we decided to get it done in the time I was down south. This was quite ambitious, and Robbie and his crew really put their heart and souls into it working super hard in a very limited time-frame. We filmed on 3 different locations between Hepburn Springs and Melbourne, including drone shots, being out on some deserted railway tracks in the 40 plus heat, throwing a pair of shoes over a wire in the city and doing a live performance at Blue Bean Café. I am pleased and really fucking excited to say that he’s already done a first cut of the video which I watched last night. It’s pure art and I genuinely cannot WAIT to share it with you all!