settling in

Day 1

I’m vaguely to get up and do a short slot tonight at Safari Sam’s but, to get out of it, explain I don’t want to take time from Frank’s set and excuse myself from performing. Really can’t be arsed to sing after the flight!

In a rock shed on Sunset, Frank’s first set is a bit Uncle Floppy but his second set rips it up, it’s like he remembered what he does, while the bands either side of him are dismal. You can see the crowd totally refreshed by what he’s doing, being so un-muso and telling his stories. Upstairs, at the back of the club, there’s a photographer with a box of costumes, so Frank and me pre-empt tomorrow’s proper photoshoot and play dressing up. Everyone’s settling in, building our schedule and getting relaxed.

How come nobody can play drums in L.A.? They’re so damn busy making sure their hair looks cool, poking out under that baseball cap, they forget you’re actually supposed to hit the drums, not just pat out a rhythm. It’s fucking soooo dull! Only Mike G is decent – a proper addled sticksman – though he’s a jazz-tinted dude and doesn’t rock in the rock sense.

That night, we’re back in the 101 Café with Stephen, Jane, Dani R and Ben, the Independent journalist. It’s fun rather than business, which is ace, though the 101 is rammed and service isn’t as good as usual – the waitress says, “Sorry guys, the kitchen is a mess tonight!”

Frank and Charlie went drinking. One of Frank’s US label women took a shine to him but wouldn’t close the deal after driving him back to the motel because her boss had warned her off. Poor guy! Telling us the story the next day, someone (Dani I think) describes it as “taking a shining to him” which sounds way cool.

Day 2

Up early. Pick up the gang from their motel on Sunset, with its swimming pool in the parking lot. Lunch is takeout from the Brite Spot, eaten as a picnic in Echo Park, while I do my half of the Independent interview. It’s far too much food. We’re on the grass. We tried to sit on a bench but got chased off it by a homeless dude, shouting: “This bench is for the homies!”

Rachel does her photoshoot by the pond, with Downtown in the background, and by a wall with a cool sign falling down above us. But I brought the wrong t-shirt and I already know it’s going to be tough, straight after lunch. Frank and me together is like Twins. Fuck it, I’m hating photos worse than ever, despite gradually losing weight – except when I snap myself and I think they look better but nobody else likes them.

I’m trying a new beard style, growing an actual shaped beard for a bit to see if I like it instead of the messy goat

At the Viper Room we play in the small bar, which is well busy. Johnny Depp’s not there and the opening act is a Latin funk-soul guy but it’s good to get onstage and the sound is nice. The promoter hands me a whisky every 10 minutes, which starts to add up. Great, fiery sets tonight and I explain to the Americans what a ‘comeface’ is.

Later we cross town to Spaceland in Silverlake, to see Liam Finn and, out of the blue, he’s absolutely flaming brilliant. It’s a duo – Liam on instruments and a woman called E.J. playing percussion and singing back-up. They build up layers using live looping pedals – but there’s no hint of that hippie trance shit that normally comes from looping onstage, it’s raw psych pop with a melodic punk edge, so he kicks in with an aggressive 4-chord electric guitar rif, then adds a bass part (using a pedal that briefly turns his guitar into a bass), then (all the while singing the song and looping backing vocals as well) jumps on the drumkit and pounds shit out of it for the climactic jam. It’s outstanding, a lot of the time it honestly sounds like whole kick-arse band, piling into the song. Usually live looping, spells the end of any songwriting structure because they just build but Finn uses drop-outs and possibly even two sets of loops to make the choruses work.

I try to tell E.J. afterwards how good they are but it’s like I’m talking to Stephen Fry, I just can’t get the words together, it’s like I’m trying to ask her out. I’m drunk.

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2 responses to “settling in

  1. Nice to see Frank maintaining his professionalism in his ongoing quest to slag it up round the world.

  2. I only like photos of me that I take, too. Can’t stand any by anyone else.

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