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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Photo Shoots with Dormant Viruses

It's been about a week since I got back to the States from England, and, quite honestly, I wasn't too excited about being back in America. I was just getting used to the British feel for life. I was even beginning to look left first, instead of right, when crossing a street. The little things about England were becoming attached to me, but it was time to let all that go. I know we'll be back soon, and probably for a longer time period.

Two days after we arrived from across the pond, we began our photo shoot session of two, long days. Generally, photo shoots can be fun, but they are a lot of work, that is, if you want to be inventive and creative. The band and a small group of friends, including my wife, do the preparation and styling. This pre-photo shoot stage is probably the most difficult and annoying of the whole process. Picking out clothes in-and-of-itself is time consuming and sometimes frustrating. However, I try not to let it get me down, but have fun with it all. Hell, all this beats working at Sherwin-Williams, a job which I briefly obtained during my college years.

During this arduous process of taking clothes on and off repeatedly, I think is when I began to feel sick. Was the drastic change in temperatures from a freezing house to a muggy outside while wearing an old vintage, mod sweater from London? I don't know. My wife believes I picked up a very posh virus from England, the kind that makes you cough elegantly and sweat with class. If I did contract somekind of virus overseas, it was truly dormant until the day after the photo shoot because that is when I woke up wishing that some executioner place my head in a guillotine.

Even as I write, I am still not up to par, but nevertheless, I do feel rather stylish . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mute Math's Debut in England: Summer 2006

Debut in England: Roy's Journal from August 18 21, 2006 : Part I

Mute Math's first trip to England hasn't started off the greatest; that is, as we arrive to Chicago to make our connecting flight into London, we find that our flight has been canceled due to mechanical failure. For various reasons (such as empty flights to London due to people canceling their tickets out of fear of terrorism and, thereby, the airline losing money from all this), this excuse is probably bollocks (as the Brits would say). Regardless, there is nothing we can do but wait for the next departure, which unfortunately leaves about nine hours later from our original departure time. Now stuck in Chicago O'Hare, I listen to an audio reading of Zinn's A People's History of the United States, as read by Zinn and Matt Damon. It's interesting and kills plenty of time. I hope we make the gig in time . . .

8.19.06 - 9:30 a.m. (
England time)

We arrived this morning, and I feel quite well, surprisingly. I actually slept on the plane; it helped that I took diphenidramine and ibuprofen. I don't think anyone else rested as much as I did.

The customs agent was probably the nicest agent I've ever come across. She had a nose ring and encouraged us on the gig, said she'd "be looking out for us on the tele." All our gear came through unscathed, with the exception of one of Greg's guitar cases; however, the guitar itself was not damaged, thankfully.

As we came through the customs area, we are greeted with rows of people holding hand-written signs, one of them read "Mute Math." It's Jimmy Finnegan, our driver and point guy over here. (I'm immediately reminded of Joyce's incredibly hard read Finnegan's Wake.) I can't pinpoint his accent, but I know it's not English. Jimmy is from Belfast and charismatic. We race in a nice Mercedes van (Sprinter) away from London towards the north to Staffordshire. Hopefully, we'll make the show on time. We play at 1:10, but have to set up by 12:55. We left the airport around 10:00 and it takes roughly two hours to drive there, depending on traffic.

We barely made the show in time to play; it was a bit hairy and rushed, but nonetheless, a lot of fun. There must have been about 4000 to 5000 people there. I think most of them were trying to get out of the rain, and they were also there to see the act after us, Lilly Allen (who has a big hit in the UK now.)

The weather is pleasant overall (in the low 70s and a bit of rain).

We rented a bunch of gear, too much in my opinion. It was quite a chore to fit it all in this Mercedes van, but somehow, we managed.

I think the crowd dug us, considering the majority of them had never heard us. I think they were all being a bit polite. Lilly Allen's bassist paid us some nice compliments; they sounded tight (but they didn't have a live drummer, just a DJ, bass, 3 piece horn section and keys, I think). We didn't see anyone else because we just wanted to get back to a hotel room. I think we were all a bit worn out. Tomorrow, we'll try to catch more shows; no other artists were in sight, such as Rufus, Imogen, etc. I did see Imogen's set though. It looked fairly elaborate. I saw a keytar, drum machine, MBox, and various other pieces.

Debut in England: Part II

I had a decent rest last night in my closet of a hotel room. I got in around 10pm after going down to Oxford Circus and SOHO. I watched some fútbol (F.A. premier league) and some highlights from V-Fest (Radiohead, Bloc Party, Keane, We Are Scientists, Kasabian, etc.) Joe and I went to eat a vegan Thai buffet, which was mediocre.

We are heading to the festival. It's around 9am, and we've stopped for gas. I just found out that gas is about .99p/litre (that is almost $8/gallon!) It is so expensive here. I don't know how people do it. Today, we are early and had some time to properly sort through all this rental gear, such as tuning drums, dialing in amps, etc. We are playing in this huge tent (the JJB Puma stage) that makes you feel like you are doing a night show. There is a full light show inside and the thing goes about a mile up its so high. I'm amazed that we are playing here.

Last night at Carling Academy at Islington, we had a brillant time. Everyone was cool to work with, all crew, Butch Walker's people, etc. My favorite thing about it all was dealing with Jimmy. He is a engaging person to be around. He's lived in London 30 years, and a really cool cat. He knows everyone and works well with people. I hope to come back and do a long tour of the UK and continent, and have hime be our road manager. He's truly a good spirited man, and actually, he reminds me of my good friend from the valley, Nick Treviño. Something about Jimmy's disposition and his physical features is much like Nick's. It's excellent to have that vibe with someone. Hopefully, when we come back, we'll have the opportunity to work together again.

As far as the show went, we had quite a few people there to check us out. I was surprised at the following we had there. The response was killer. It was probably our best show of the three, that is, our performance and the sound quality. The crowd got more energetic as we the show progressed, which just pumped me up that they were getting into it.

We played a 30 minute set, including Collapse, Typical, Chaos, Break the Same, and Reset. Paul hit his hand and/or head on the house speakers, hanging from the ceiling, during Reset. He said he woke up in pain. It was tight on stage, but we managed to move into gear and not let it interfere with the performance.

Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat (Italian again for the third time). I was surprised to find that out waitress was Mexicana, which allowed for a second opportunity to speak spanish that night (the first was at the show when I met someone from Argentina).

Overall, our debut went well. Things got better as we played more in more. I can't wait to get back. Thanks England for treating us so lovely.

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).