Sunday, 18 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Saturday, 3 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Friday, 21 August 2009
Smoke. Lot’s of smoke. And a cube. A really big fucking cube. A big cube big enough to fit lots of smoke and a thrash metal band. Welcome to the Evile video shoot for their upcoming single Infected Nations off the new album by the same name.
An early meet at Waterloo station finds me running the length of it to make the 9.42 am train with Talita, Evile’s press officer, Julie, their manager and Tom roadie to the metal massive. I just make the train as it pulls out and by the time we hit Shepperton, the middle of nowhere I have pretty much woken up. I can’t complain though, Evile have been at the studio since 8.30 am. Ouch.
Studio F, where all the magic making is happening is basically a massive empty warehouse. In the middle, a 15 ft Perspex box has been erected, and inside that…Evile. There are 4 huge lamps beaming down from above the cube, with a camera mounted on a trolley, and one on a crane that swings about while Evile pretend to play, so as to catch different angles from all sides of the cube.
There are about a dozen people working behind these cameras, the director, the assistant, runners, grips and god knows. All studiously nit picking and pouring over every detail. Muttering amongst themselves whilst squinting into their lenses, pointing and agreeing and moving stuff, taping stuff and then squinting again.
When we arrive, Ben’s drum kit is being assembled inside the cube. He is busy gaffa taping the symbols to deaden and muffle their sound, and a studio hand is putting dead skins on his drums. The rest of the band, Ol, Matt and Mike are wandering around aimlessly plucking away on their guitars and bass, chatting and generally killing time till they are called for again.
We catch up briefly and then go sit at the side, out of the way and get ready to watch as the guys all walk into the box before another studio hand tapes up the opening behind them. Why? For the smoke! A smoke machine pumps in a blast of smoke and within seconds you cannot see the band at all. As the smoke clears, silhouettes appear, holding guitars, a bass and sitting behind an almighty drum kit. There are shadows of the guys all distorted from the lighting and the whole set up looks badass mother fucking ninja sex cool! Already I can’t wait to see the final cut and the thing hasn’t even been made yet.
There are many stops and starts, as goes with video shoots. The band start, the filming starts and then…cut. Something gets shuffled and it’s back to square one. Within an hour we all know the lyrics and riffs and beat. See, this still isn’t any hardship though, the song rocks, and as I said, the video is proper dark.
At noon we start getting calls from extra’s who are beginning to turn up to play the role of ghostly ghouls that will eventually end up hurling themselves in to the box at the end of the video after much zombie walking and banging around the shop.
Originally, Evile had asked their friends to do the extra work and initially had the full quota, but as it got closer and closer to the day people inevitably end up dropping out due to other commitments and so come the morning of the shoot we were in dire need of a handful more.
We ended up with the required fifteen which included a couple of U.K thrash band Mutant, the guitarist from Juggern0rt, a whole bunch of London based friends from facebook, Tom the roadie and me.
Our outfits for the day were massive black cloaks with huge hoods that had been borrowed from a Harry Potter film and black tights over our faces. Sweet! We soon all get in to it after some initial trepidation and could be found fucking about like monsters and zombies for about an hour, then we could be found sitting in the hallway outside the studio looking piss bored.
The extra’s were awesome, a few of them had books but for the most part they all just chilled out chatting with each other, about metal mainly and were total soldiers to the cause. No complaining or winging, fucking troopers the lot of them.
We had taken a break for lunch and hit the canteen, proper school dinner grub for all. So everyone is chatting away, shovelling food down their throats when it suddenly becomes apparent that a couple of the guy’s friends have managed to pick up a random stray on the way to the studios and have no idea who he is but are quite sure that he is not entirely compus mentus. So, off I go to investigate. Ha.
After some awkward silences instigated on my part, he leaves. Turns out he just tagged along, when I asked him what he was supposed to be doing that day he replied “drinking”. WTF. Care in the community at it’s finest. Freaks and food over, it’s back to the film set darlings.
More of the same really eh, that’s video shoots for you, lots of hanging around doing nothing, feeling a tad nervous for your upcoming ghoul debut but equally trying not to fall into a deep staring in to space coma. Eventually, it’s the turn of the ghouls. The Evile massive have been filmed from every angle and the video is in need of some ghostly figures creeping around with a menacing manner about them.
The director calls in two, then four and then all of us, she directs us to move slowly like zombies towards the box of Evile and then mock thump and bang on the Perspex walls but not too hard or the whole thing will collapse! We do this a couple of times, then get to shove our heads through cling film which is imitating the Perspex walls of the box. I got to head butt my bit of cling film but it took too long to break through and I’m pretty sure I got relegated to the bench. Ouch. Goddamn stage fright.
Suffocating slowly in our tights, reminiscent of all great failed bank robbing head gear, and sweltering under the heavy cloaks, every one is sweating heavily and agreeing we feel mildly chuffed that the poor Harry Potter cast will be having to don these at some later date.
I, at this point had to bid my farewells and leave the shelter of Shepperton studios back to the reality and grime of London and you will never guess what I fucking missed….they got to ram the Perspex in! They got to charge it, ram it and collapse it! On to the band! HA! Fuckin A. cannot wait to see this video. It is going to be the stuff of legends for fucking sure.
Monday, 20 July 2009
I wake up feeling worryingly spritely and bouncy and dare I say, breezy. You know when you do that after a heavy night drinking and only a few hours sleep, you just don’t trust yourself right? That hangover is somewhere lurking. I’m in L.A though and this is my last few hours here so I’m gonna brave it out with Talita and hit that sweet roof top pool one last time.
I can’t bloody swim of course cause my foot is freshly inked, I have to sit on the steps with my right leg hanging up on the side, still, better than a kick in the teeth.
We don’t hang about long up there, getting back to the hotel room asap to change and pack cause apparently we have a breakfast date with Chad and the lovely Miss Alicia at Mel’s diner on the Hollywood Blvd. Erik is dead, so we leave him so till we are done being girls, kick him awake and roll on out.
A taxi ride later and shocker, no Chad and Alicia. My money is they’re dying in bed. Ha! I too at this point am feeling slightly peaky, and a walk up Hollywood Blvd does nothing to help alleviate the waves of nausea and dizziness overcoming me. Here it is, the result of hard partying that I was dreading.
Erik’s mate plays Jason from Friday the 13th on the Blvd, so we go and check him out, get some pictures and I reach breaking point. It’s hot, I am dying and this place is so crowded I don’t know if I’m going to chuck or faint. My companions take their sweet arse time in getting to a cab, although I was such a state it may not have been. We did seem to stop loads for one reason or another many times.
Finally in the taxi, I start getting anxious about the time, we planned on leaving the hotel at noon, to get to the airport for 1 pm, to ensure fire exit seats for all of us together. That taxi ride took forever. At the hotel I wait in the lobby while Talita and Erik go to get our bags down from the room and Nick turns up and fills me in on what he got up to that morning. 20 minutes later and gone noon, we are still waiting, I swear they have gone back up to the bloody pool.
On the up side, I meet Edgar. Edgar who has worked at the Hyatt for 35 years. Who, once trusting that I genuinely wanted to know the dirt, spilled the good stuff! Led Zeppelin burnt the 5th floor down. They also had the most groupies. Robert Plant went back there 3 years ago and him and Edgar had a chuckle about the crazy old days. Slash used to rent a room 2,3 times a week just for the afternoon for him and his fiancé. Sometimes he was so drunk they had to walk him up there. The Who used to drive their motorbikes through the lobby. I nearly got kicked out! I am in heaven. Satisfied, the others finally reappear and we hug it out with Erik and drive off in to the sunset, back to good old grey London. Well, not so much in to the sunset as along it.
See what I did there? I don’t care, I miss L.A. The plane ride back was shit and my ankles turned in to cankles. And the plane was going away not towards L.A. It was shit. I heart L.A forever! And I got my right foot to prove it!
So my favourite keeps changing when it comes to White Wizzard. We got John, who I could chat with all day, I love listening to him tell stories and he has been an exceptionally gracious host.
Then there’s Erik, who is like your naughty little brother’s friend. Can be totally endearing and equally be a complete dick. But again, totally cool to hang with and definitely loves to drink. Erik will definitely love London.
Wyatt, the front man is legend. He is from Florida and has a full on Southern drawl thing going on. He called me maam. Ha! He served in the Army and fought the first time over in Iraq. When Nick asked him if he had ever killed a man he looked thoughtful and we all thought he was going to come out with something like ‘ I don’t want to talk about it’ or one or two but he answers ‘bout 30, it was them on me’. Legend. And, he looks the spit of young Dio. Cannot wait to see him perform.
Chad is a diamond. He is so much fun and a total pro, he couldn’t have been more hospitable and his girlfriend is the shit! British girl of course!
Last but not least is Jesse, the drummer. He was a slow burner, very quiet and then POW, put him in a bandana and he becomes Bruce Springsteen. Funny as fuck that dude. Proper interesting guy, lots to say, seen a lot and done a lot. He even knows Pamela Des Barres. WTF!
I’m so relieved they are not a bunch of dicks, and the fact that all of them are cool is such a rarity, I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that I get to tour with them at some point. The feeling is mutual, Jesse, Erik and me were talking on the ride back from the photo shoot and they too were relieved that we weren’t dicks either!
Anyways…back to the story telling at hand…Chad’s!
Back at Chad’s gaff and he has a pretty full house going on. Bonded By Blood, me, Nick and the White Wizzard massive all in his front room drinking beer and shouting over each other. His girlfriend comes through the front door and bless her, looks totally shell shocked by the amount of people in front of her. She takes it well and retreats to their bedroom to get ready for the night of debauchery ahead of us. I, on the other hand start flagging. Oh shit, jetlag wave crashing my way. Fortunately, Chad and his girlfriend, Alicia are fucking sweet as a nut and let me kip on their bed, I ask them to wake me in half an hour.
I come to now and again to the sounds of laughing and shouting and music, I can recognise Alicia and Nick well in to it all and sleep chuffed that everyone is carrying on like they have known each other for years. At some point Alicia comes in with a beer and leaves it on the bedside table for me, and eventually a couple of the BBB boys and Alicia wake me with a shot. I sit up, knock it back and I’m up just in time for the taxi arriving to take us to The Rainbow. They let me sleep for an hour and a half. When I came out the bedroom they had on the Iron Maiden 666 DVD. Bless, bless and more bless!
John manages to get Bonded By Blood in, some of whom are not legal in the States yet by saying we are buying food, so buy food we did. Just a massive pizza between all of us though since we were all pretty much still stuffed from the Mexican. Everyone is mega excited and quite drunk by this point, bouncing about, taking photos and acting the fool is the general order of the day, we are all over the shop, those of us who smoke especially, popping out to the outside bar to do shots and chain smoke.
Suddenly the lights come up and the music has stopped. What the fucking fuck is going on? It’s closing is what the fucking fuck is going on. Yes that’s right people, The Rainbow shuts at 2 am. As does everywhere down the strip apparently. What sort of a rock n roll town is this? Seriously, I am shocked to the very core. All those legendary hell raisers went home at 2 am. Oooo out of control!
Fuck that, I finished my drink and banged on for a bit about ‘for the sake of all that is good in rock n roll, why are we getting told to leave at 2 am’ etc and then left. The ‘Riot’ Hyatt it is then!
Or not, as the case may be. We must have been in our hotel room mere minutes before the first knock at the door. We hide in the bathroom, behind the bed, under the desk and Talita opens the door. Reception have had a complaint from our neighbour about the noise. It’s the fucking ‘RIOT’ Hyatt hotel and it’s only gone 2 in the morning you pricks, why are you staying at the ‘RIOT’ if you want a good nights sleep? Jesus don’t you people have any respect? Yeah, yeah, we’ll keep it down blah blah blah.
Of course within half an hour the other bloody neighbour has complained. We are too drunk to remember to hide everyone and are informed we are only allowed 3 guests in our room. Ermm…excuse me but how the fuck is one supposed to have an orgy at the ‘RIOT’ if one so chooses to with no more than 3 people? Not that we were going to, eww, but still, hardly the point, WTF?
But get this, on the up side like. We are told by the ‘Riot’ Hyatt staff that if they have to come up again, we will be asked to leave the hotel! We would be turfed out for being too rock n roll! Fuckin A, how bad ass are we!
So we leave. We literally get all our booze, pour it in to the posh hotel glasses and waltz right on out of there. Fuck them, this party is going to the sidewalk and the GTO parked outside.
We must have pissed about out there for at least an hour and no cops came by! Still though, doesn’t mean we can’t prank call the Earache head office in Nottingham and tell them we have been right? What it’s about the time they are all in now? So John rings and informs them that the old band members had turned up at The Rainbow, started chucking some harsh words about and that I squared up to them all rowdy like. One thing led to another, Talita was trying to diffuse the situation but to no avail and I bottled one of them. We have both been arrested and need $5000 bail. John is in shock and doesn’t know what to do. At this point I am in howls of laughter and ruin the whole shebang, closely followed by everyone else. This had, sadly enough been in plans for the entire trip only this was the first night we could manage to stay up late enough to carry out, what with the time difference and all.
With this, Nick retires to bed, as do Chad and Alicia. We spot Nick up in his room pulling his blinds, wave and moon him and then push off to bed too. Erik is too fucked up to drive so kips with Talita and me, but doesn’t really. We kip, he gets up sporadically to drink more and talk to people who don’t exist. Don’t ask, no idea.
Sunday, 19 July 2009
It is Saturday night, I am back in London town and have just finished work behind the bar at my shitty little metal pub. That and the jetlag has prevented me from regaling you with what happened over the last 48 – 72 hours of my time in L.A. Already it seems a lifetime away, fortunately I can just look at my right foot for the rest of my life if ever I want to remember it. Let me divulge dear reader…..
Wednesday morning finds us wide-awake at a ridiculous hour again but this time we are ready to use it to our favour. Talita takes us a short walk up the road to Mel’s Diner on the strip for breakfast American style, round 2.We are clearly tourists cause no one walks here, unless it's that stupid power walking thing. This place was in American Graffiti and is totally the epitome of fifties America.
We seat ourselves inside even though it is a beautiful morning so that we can enjoy the full experience, the décor, the staff etc, and boy do they not disappoint. Janet. I think Janet should be called Dolores, so will call her that for the rest of this. She was our waitress and blew my mind. Primarily because as Talita pointed out, she is quite probably me in 30 years time.
How to describe Dolores? Know now that I cannot possibly do her any justice. She is Patsy out of Absolutely Fabulous had Patsy been dragged up rather than brought up, moved to L.A as a teenager to become a ‘star’, got a job at several shitty diners like Denny’s while trying not to stray in to porn. She then would have fallen for a string of ‘wrong’ men, who promised her the world, gave her nothing but took everything. Probably she would have done some go go dancing and made a few infomercials.
Before old age crept in she landed her current job at Mel’s diner and is so enchanting she manages to keep getting loans out to feed her addiction to staying young and beautiful with cosmetic surgery then spends gruelling hours on her feet trying to earn the money to pay the loans off. Probably she has a few men in her life who throw money her way but I suspect she grafts for it. Probably she has grand children she never sees on the other side of the Country but sends them thoughtful cards and trinkets none the less and is thought of fondly if not patronisingly, similar to how I think of her.
What a woman. I am completely entranced one hundred percent. I can’t put an age on her. Her arms are young, mid 30’s say. Her hands, though accessorised with long acrylic talons in dusky pink look about 50. Her figure under her tight trashy uniform says 20’s. Her neck says 60. Her face is caked in make up, she has false eyelashes on, a massive injected pout and a forehead that hasn’t moved since 1992. Dolores is some kind of beautiful tragic. I want to take her home as a souvenir.
Somehow I manage to eat, hard when there is so much to take in. When we are settling up the bill there is a comments bit on the receipt. I get my eyeliner out and write ‘we love Janet’ and we leave. Hope she doesn’t think we were taking the piss, she is a goddess. I mean shit, I just wrote 5 paragraphs on the woman!
We schmooze on back to the hotel, i can feel the weight gain with every passing hour i stay here, and yet again I can’t believe I’m staying in the Riot. Gets me every time. I have been intending on finding some one who works there to fill me in on all the sordid history of the place and have a few names of staff to ask but keep bloody forgetting.Edgar is the man in the know apparently, 35 years under his belt, the man will for sure have some great tales to tell.
We still have a couple of hours until all the boys are turning up to hang out and so hit the roof top again and hang out in the blistering sun, fuck about in the pool, I wee’d in it, much to the horror of Talita who went scrambling out…jeez that’s what chlorine is for, anyway my pee is pretty much pure Jack D at this point! I dry off in the sun and go kick it in the hotel room and do some writing. I have had zero chance to get this done as of yet and this will probably be my only chance till London. I get a couple of hours work done over a 3 hour period, popping back up to the roof to smoke and splash about a couple of times and having posted my writing crash out on my bed, only to wake up when Talita and Erik, guitarist from Whitt Wizzard come bounding in to get cleaned up for the evening.
Worryingly Talita has not had a siesta after all, so jetlag city is bound to be getting her at some point tonight.
Tonight we will be joined by none other than my tour brothers, Bonded By Blood, fucking A. We are all going to eat at a Mexican restaurant on Melrose, I could take or leave Mexican food but this aint my show so tough shit. Erik takes Nick, Talita and myself off up Melrose in his Ford pick up truck and we do some window shopping, have a rake around some vintage shops trying random crap on but not really finding anything to purchase as souvenirs of my L.A adventure. Really we just spend an hour trying on the most hideous things we could find. Fun but a fail none the less. The stuff that I would have bought, like a slutty fur coat that would make me look like a Russian hooker were too expensive. Bugger.
Impulse buy I guess, though it was no shocker, I kind of knew this was coming, Talita too, I ended up getting me a little tattoo to commemorate my first and hopefully not only time in Los Angeles. Only half an hour’s worth cause we were low on time and money but a little tattoo on my right foot none the less. Of an eyeball with wings.
The tattooist I chose because it had a barbershop in it run by Richie the barber who had tatt’s on his face and a gelled gentleman’s moustache. He was dressed in Sweeny Todd type get up and was so fucking cool it hurt my eyes. There he was working away with a shiny blade, he loved my idea and I was sorely disappointed that he wouldn’t be the one doing it. My tattooist Looked like he had maybe had a tough night on K or his girlfriend had just walked out on him and had taken the cat with. Or maybe he was just stoned? Whatever, he did a good if quiet job and bish bosh bashed that bad boy out. I sat reasonably well although my fucking foot did start jumping 15 minutes in. Loser foot. I held it well though I think.
Cling filmed up, Chad had arrived mid tattoo and we all trundle off up Melrose to the Mexican place, and who should I spot across the street but a bunch of Mexicans. Bonded By Blood people!
I haven’t seen these guys since I toured with them and I’m well syked to see them, everyone’s hugging and shit and off we go on mass after introductions between the two bands. The restaurant gives us our own private room with a long table. It’s a very grand room with walls covered in pics of the govenor with different characters and the furniture is all this heavy wood. Mood lighting sets off the feeling that we might be sacrificing some one in here tonight, I think I watch too many movies.
We drink Margaritas and beer and shots of tequila. We eat too much and we take a ton of drunk photos. Then jetlag hits Talita. Bum. So she gets dropped at the hotel for a couple of hour’s sleep and the rest of us pile in to cars and drive to Chad’s place near Hollywood Blvd. Ahh sweet, a house party is always a must on the tick list of things to do in other people’s countries, to get a real sense of their culture right…….