a word's-eye view from mike watt
in the first gigs ever done by the stooges
in scotland and ireland plus their second english one
tuesday, june 1, 2004 - somewhere over the north atlantic ocean
pop a little after four in the morning and get my a.m. thing on. getting up this early is not too weird for me normally and it's especially important for me today cuz I want to really get tired so I'll konk on the flight to scotland tonight so I get on w/the time zone there - it's time for some stooges gigs in europe. seeing how the stooges only did one euro gig ever in the old days (a london one in 1973), this'll be the first scottish and irish ones and the derby show will be the first english one outside of london. I'm really excited.
I've been busy like a crazy man the last few weeks and I try to get as much done as I can before I bail. I even set up a prac w/my secondmen band but I get home to find a message from pete (the organ player) asking if we can move it to later. damn! didn't he hear me talking about this shit at prac yesterday? I love pete though and it's ok though I really want to get us ready for the 'palooza stuff we're doing in july - perry's asked me to headline the "solar powered stage" and also to chimp the tour spiel for the whole fest. I'm quite honored but w/my new secondmen record coming out, I want us pedro guys to be the best we can be and that won't be w/out challenges cuz I won't get to prac w/them any time during the four weeks before we start - these three stooges gigs here are just part one of the euro gigs we have this summer cuz we have twelve more starting at the end of june and those are right after three dos gigs for the winnipeg and saskatoon jazz festivals... lots of gigs for watt coming up! I ain't complaining though, just have to balance all this stuff right. luckily, I'll get back monday and we can prac everyday before I leave for something king of trippy for me - going to a faraway town w/out playing a gig! it's the 100th aniversary of the actual bloomsday (june 16, 1904) and I'm going to dublin for three days to celebrate the book (james joyce's "ulysses") that had such a intense effect on me since I first read it in my early twenties. I know it's cramming even more onto an already crowded plate but I just feel compelled, big time.
my sister melinda takes me to the bradley terminal at lax around 2:30 pm. the flight's not 'till 5:25 but fuck not letting myself have way more the enough time cuz my nerves just can't handle. something I've learned through the years. good thing too cuz all the lines to check and go through security gives me only about twenty minutes before boarding. in that space I have some udon soup in a chow pad next to the gate which costs 'pert-near eight fucking dollars - what's that about?! god damn burn ward, that's what it is. these bastards get away w/this, why? cuz there's no fucking competition! all that cold war propaganda about why we had the better system and look what gets foisted on us in the real world? you can parallel it to this microshite/a-o-hell-time-whorer/steer channel encroachment hustle we're having to endure right now. the world is their ghetto, right. assholes. I board the plane and to my surprise, I'm put in "premium economy" which means a little more room cramp myself into for the next ten hours. the plane's a 747-400 and it takes a while to board us all up but then we're off and I start reading the book I brought, "the book of illusions" by paul auster. pretty trippy, there's this who loses his wife and two sons in a plane crash and he throws himself into researching a little known silent movie comic named hector mann who disappeared sixty years earlier to pull himself out of an alcoholic depression. I get a quarter through it, chow the airplane crap I get served and then konk takes me.
wednesday, june 2, 2004 - glasgow, scotland
I pop w/an hour and a half left to go in my flight to heathrow airport near london... from there I'll take another flight to glasgow. heathrow has me hoofing it w/distances hard to believe and the hour I have between flights gets ate up like that. there's a security check and when I take my watch off to go through the metal detector, the fucking strap breaks - damn it. got this watch in long island at a target near the ho we stayed in while prac'ing for that jones beach show last august. a twenty dollar casio one but shit, it says "mud & water resist" on it - why can't it be "watt resist" too? oh well, into my coat pocket now. no time to search for another one, I gotta keep moving and after what seems hundreds of miles on foot, I make it to gate five. we board the plane and my seat is where someone like me belongs: econo. it's a little less than an hour flight. damn, these english newspapers are as bad as some of ours - I guess these are the "tabloid" ones cuz I remember the guardian not being this bad. chock full of stupid shit, news about "reality" tv shows and crap like that. we break through the clouds and though I'm sitting two rows over, when the plane banks, I can see green fields w/those "dry dyke" fences made out of stone piled between wire and posts that go up and down the scottish hills. "watt" is a scottish name, in fact there's a "james watt college" near glasgow in greenock which is a trip cuz my pop's name was james watt though I never heard him called that - he always went by his middle name, richard - people called him dick. james watt, the early 1700s inventor, made improvements to the steam engine to allow it to be put to work and in honor of him, the power unit "watt" uses his name. my pop was way into that cuz he worked w/steam in engine rooms of boats in the navy. they were mostly nuke ones though but still they used steam to make the power.
unfortunately, the little bass doesn't make it when I land at about three pm and when the cat who's been sent to pick me up waits w/me for it to show, I tell him we better go to lost and found. sure enough, the guy knows my name before I even speak and says he knows the bass never made it on the plane - it had more to hoof than I did at heathrow. well, they put it on a truck but then wait 'till that truck gets filled before it moves on and sure enough, my plane "moved on" before it could accompany it. oh well, I'll play the backup one they usually have for me at these stooges gigs though I've never yet had to play one. they got a righteous accent in these parts w/the language and it's a trip listening to them, I love it. just to hear this driver cat tell me about things glasgow is a blast. he takes me to this ho that looks kind of like a residential pad but it's actually a kind of borugeois setup called one devonshire gardens in the west end of town. I meet the tour boss, henry, who's a glasgow cat himself though he's been living in poland many years now. it's great to see him again and he asks me for some help w/his 'puter. no prob, I'm glad to help though it looks like some big probs but anything for henry cuz he's a righteous cat. I get right to it and it's gonna take some improvising but I think it's doable, it'll just take some time. I do as much as I can before it's time for prac at six. at the car is ron, scotty and steve - so great to see the stooge folk! the prac pad is called berkeley and jos, phil and eric are there. there's an 70s-era fender jazz bass for me, a white one yellowed w/age/cigarette smoke which I think looks happening and even better, it plays great. a little thin sounding, but I pump up some bottom w/eq... then the amp head (ampeg svt-pro II) burns up but there's a back-up so that gets hooked up. scotty's playing really strong - when ig comes, we start prac w/"loose" and it's wild to be playing w/these gentlemen again - yes! first time since japan, back in march but you wouldn't know, 'pert-near. I'm telling myself over and over the lessons of that japan trip - things eiko and iggy taught me there: PATIENCE and FOCUS, my inside mantra. we go over the beginnings and endings of a bunch of the tunes but the only ones in their entireties are the "skull ring" ones. it's all good training for watt. man, scotty's jamming them at quite a tempo too, whoa. it's a good sesh, everyone in great spirits - especially ig. we prac for a few hours and then head back to the ho - still light out at after ten pm! well, we are up kind of north, here in glasgow.
my secondmen drummer, jer, has a scottish friend named carolyn, who he had come and see us premier my "the secondman's middle stand" opera at the all tomorrow's parties festival in camber sands, england last march (right after the stooges japan trip). she lives in glasgow and asked to see this gig back then so I call her. she comes over w/bags of chow but there's no stove or fridge thing in a pad like this so she takes me to this cat named grant's pad, not too far away. he's into bmx bicycle stuff and has t-shirts he turns me onto. there's a great "deep fried pizza" one (scots like stuff deep fried, I've been told) but it's yellow and I've learned about "primary color" shirts - no can do so I accept a black one that says "pretty heavy" in cursive writing. he gives me more for the other cats when I get back. we speil a bunch - grant's a mechanical engineer and has been to the u.s. before, so I hear about his adventures regarding that, eating this cold chicken tika chow carolyn got. I'm starting to tire and am so sore for the many hour cramp position of airplane travel for it's time for this one to go home. I invite grant to the show tomorrow and thank him for the shirts, he's a good cat. looks like there was some rain, we get back and scotty's in the living room-like part of the ho and I give him the shirts. he's intrigued by the accent in carolyn's speech and has her talk w/him a while. the scotch accent is quite musical and a trip to hear - I dig it too. I am weary as fuck though and must soon konk, my bones begging for that mythical giant mortar and pestle that would mercifully powder these hurting inside frameworks that seem to be in such mutiny on me. the deck welcomes me w/a big hug and I'm out.
thursday, june 3, 2004 - glasgow, scotland
I pop at six and by eight, tour boss henry calls to tell me he's ready for me to come up and begin round two on his 'puter. waiting for him, I'd been practicing w/these little machine I got last week, a cd player that I can also plug my bass into (god willing, the little bass made it to my room while I was at prac, much gratitude!) and play along w/what's on the cd, being able to loop parts, slow them down - all kinds of shit to help train/learn/prac/fumble/stumble/futz/noodle - whatever. I use headphones and no one's bothered too. it's made by teac and called the cd-bt1 , such a sexy name, huh? anyway, back to henry's dilemma... it takes a few hours but I get his hard drive directory all re-built and uncorrupted and he's back in the race. good thing he's got a mac cuz I know them but not much about windblows and the like. henry's a good cat and it make me feel good when I can help him out.
yesterday, this cat who's seen me play a bunch of times over the years - a cat named dep from here in glasgow - has a record store called monorail and called me to come by so at two, he's here to ride w/me in a taxi to this place, under a railroad track bridge. man, these cabs have got a butt-load of room in them - like a tiny pad! his store is in a building housing other "stores" too and one of them is a chow pad so he asks me what I want and I see this trippy thing on the menu called "bubble and squeak" and order that. it's potatoes and cabbage, all fried up - tastes good, econo too. I remember dep coming to see me since the 80s and he's was always a good cat - his store has lots of happening music, what we would call an "indie" in the u.s. there's a couch out front and I sort of "hold court" (not intentionally) while folks ask me stooges/minutemen/watt questions and to sign records. they're all great peeps, much respect to them... lots of knowledge and quite kind to the silly man from pedro. I'm so grateful to dep for having me aboard. some buddys of his take me back to the "west end" (where the ho is) right in time for the lobby call for our departure to the gig. good man steve mackay gives me some blue electrical tape so I can make do w/a temporary wristwatch repair w/its broken strap and have a fucking clock on me so I'm not a total fucking retard - I've gotten so I'm 'pert-near useless w/out one, at least from an anxiety perspective. watt thanks you much steve.
it's been raining off and on all day but it's cleared up for the show. this is one of those festival gigs (it's called the "download festival sponsored by miller beer" and it's at this big park called the glasgow green) so there's no soundcheck - you just show up and play. we got a little of an hour to go when this cat vic from the scottish bbc has me do a radio interview w/him. he's a young cat but knows lots and it's a fun spiel to do, his three lady crew totally happening w/their gig, making things a breeze. when someone's enthusiastic about what they're doing and not jaded, it makes all the difference in the world. much respect to them. a few more minutes and it's gig time. a gig up here this time of year outside at 6:20 pm is very much full of sunlight and not too hot or cold - perfect to go crazy and that is what I intend to do... I love going crazy working my bass in this band! of course, we lead off w/"loose" and it's wild, iggy vibed up to the max. scotty and ron are smoking too, whoa! the crow has lots of young folks in the same kind of state I remember the new orleans gig we did last fall - mtv saturated ones that are afraid to bust out w/emotions and you can imagine what they thing of these guys on stage, folks w/no current video - they don't know what to think or worse, how to react so they're kind of sedate. it's not all of them but there's enough of it to make me want to reach out and almost grab them. I can tell iggy feels kind of that way too cuz he's working the stage to get them to come alive, in fact he's imploring them to w/very direct language. I can't hear scotty count of "down on the street" but somehow I'm there, maybe it's dumb luck. I am shaking my body hard, I 'pert-near want to burst out of my self. rolls of toilet paper start flying up to the stage, what I hear later called "scottish confetti," which is pretty funny. some beers start making their way through the air too but I never feel threatened and mostly have my focus on iggy. "1969" is next and the groove is slammin' - this is the stooges! I feel good - no cramps or soreness stiffening me up at all. the little gibson bass plays so much better now that I was able to torque down the truss rod and get the action down, I love her - always have but it's even nicer to now. we go into "I wanna be your dog" and it's going good 'till just before ron takes his solo - right then, scotty for some reason thinks the tune is over and ends the song - what? iggy turns around and tells us to start the song and I wait a bit while scotty gets the groove back, get by ron's amps to hear the riff and we're back in the ring w/this one. that was trippy. no big thing and like ig says, "it's good to recover." he starts the intro hollers for "tv eye" and I can't wait to blast this one so I am one happy motherfucker when ron starts reeling off that righteous riff and scotty kicks us in. whoa, are we fucking going for it. when we get to the chug part, I can finally feel the crowd kind of getting it and iggy has a great rap about "fucking tv" and such, good thoughts to get expressed really LOUD. then it's calm down time (a little bit) for "dirt" after iggy does a re-vamped spiel ("a very important substance") and we're now taking ron's solo part out longer. "real cool time" and "no fun" follow - it's here where iggy implores folks to come up on stage but it being up pretty high and the security coming on hard-nose nixes any of that. they're both a blast to play none the less. "1970" next and man, are we wailing fast on this one - scotty's in good form but I could kind of tell that might happen cuz of him pumping us up at prac last night. there's something that's been bugging me all set, kind of - I swear I can't hear any sound coming out of the cabinet where the mic's placed and sure enough, there isn't. I think I know what the problem is: these new svt cabinets have their eight speakers split into two sets of four so you can "bi-amp" them w/a seperate amp going to each four or there's a jack where you can run all of them and when I look behind to have a look-see, sure enough, the amp is plugged into the wrong jack. whoops! I realize jos didn't know about this and it was a simple mistake. I pull the mic out and try to put it on the side where there's sound (the other amp and cabinet are alright but the mic isn't on that one!) but I can't get it between the amp and cabinet cuz they're belted down tight to allow iggy to get up on them w/out a major tumble-down. chris comes on over and I enlighten him to the situation and he both plugs the amp into the right place and gets the mic repositioned. alright. ron does a little interlude on his guitar and then iggy hollers "fun house" and I thump out the riff to start us off on that one. we do a happening take on it, nice and funky but honking hard. "l.a. blues" is a storm of anarchy but w/a sense to it (like iggy told us at prac, "this is its own song") and that leads us into "skull rings" which swings strong. iggy's swinging the mic and almost takes ron out (not intentionally) but luckily the "helicopter blade" stays up high enough to prevent any harm. ig sits on the monitors up front for "dead rock star" - quite the opposite of him climbing the scaffold during "...dog" earlier (I couldn't tell where he was for most of that one, once we got it back together). we end w/a hot version of "little electric chair" which is very important to me since I choked on it bad at our last gig (the tokyo shibuya-ax one), letting my self get spaced and lost. we run off but ig calls us back for another "...dog" and he has a great rap when we take it down for the last verse, some wisdom about giving into the machine and how lame that can be. I hope it sunk in some. not cuz it's a scolding but rather it's some sage advice from a cat who's been around and just wants to tell it like it is. he also said earlier we were very glad to be here and that's very true. I run off stage and see ron as he's coming off and hug him big time while we walk down the stairs back to our trailer... I really dug this gig and he played great - the whole band was burning it up.
I talk to jos a bit about the amp thing and tell him it's ok cuz those things happen. he's helped me a lot and I'm very much grateful - I don't want him to feel lame about anything. we have a good laugh about it in fact. iggy gives us a talk about the gig and said he dug it, especially "dirt," "skull rings" and "little electric chair." this makes me feel really good. I go to the chow tent and shovel down some ribeye and veggies, then find carolyn and her buds grant, ang and malcolm. the distillers are at this gig, like in chiba city back in japan and I say to them cats, good peeps. I listen a little bit to the band that played after us, some pop-punk affair but their sound is way tiny - must be some kind of noise restrictions on p.a. not having an original sound can't be helping either. we load up in the van to get back to the ho but there's no room for soundman ric, damn. I guess he'll get a ride w/jos, who's got the equipment in a van he owns himself. we head back some of the way along the river clyde and the dock stuff reminds me a little of back home in pedro though they're tearing down lots of theirs to make way for condos/office buildings - their shipyard days are being put to rest, like what manhattan and brooklyn have done.
the adrenaline keeps me going for an hour or so and carolyn and her scot friends come by to drink and yammer. I find this small paper bag dep apparently had given me after the visit to his record shop - it's got a box of cohiba cigarillos, an ounce bottle of glenlivet (donated to my visitors here) and a small staple paper packet w/the words "scottish mota" written on it. sure enough, it's indeed scottish mota. well damn! grazie mille to you, dep. soreness and fatigue start to lay into me heavy, even after some "reflex therapy" applied by ang on my feet though that was intense and by midnight, I am very much konkable. some spiel downstairs w/ron, scotty, steve, henry and eric but the drink has set into grant and he bolts unexpectedly after a bit, his comrades perplexed. the magic of alcohol, I guess. time for watt to hit the deck and let sueno take him. it does.
friday, june 4, 2004 - derby, england
I pop at six bells and call carolyn cuz she asked me to so I could have a tour of loch lomond but like I figured, nothing but answering machine when I do. we're bailing for england at noon so I'm not going to waste my last morning in scotland. dep told me about this thing called the glasgow botanical gardens that near this ho so I start hoofing it that a way. it's a righteous pad, a huge garden park going down into a deep glen along the river kelvin w/a foot path right along side it, quite canopied by trees, ferns and such. I snap all kinds of shots (like 150) w/the little minolta dimage digicamera - two squirrels give me quite a show at one point, coming up to within inches of me - they must be used to getting chowed by folks around here. there's gray in the sky like a morning this time of year in l.a. but it's quite ok and very serene, bringing peace to my crazy head. of course it's still all filled up w/all kinds of intense thoughts but I'm still feeling grounded by all the nature and I can very much dig that. there's an intense grafitti that's stenciled on a bridge I pass under in spray paint, it reads: "on a certain night at a certain time, when the weather's right and the moon is full, though a small hole in the ceiling, which leads to the edge of the sky, the moon's surface is projected upon this ground. should you be here and look directly at it,as it lasts a few seconds just a look is all you have. the light is so concentrated, travelling upon such a straight path, that it stays burned upon your retina for 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds - the time it takes for the moon to revolve." whoa. I hoof for 'pert-near three hours and come up topsides near the great western road and find a coffee/chow pad where I drink coff and shovel a thing they call a "fatty" - english sausage (like small u.s. hotdogs) and their style of bacon w/cheese on a long baugette - pretty good for three pounds (just over five bucks these days) which is econo for these parts. I bet breakfast at that ho we're at is at least the equivalent of twentyfive dollars - I shit you not. I stumble onto one of these old blue "police boxes" - exactly like the one that doubled as the "tardis" on the old "doctor who" bbc series I used to watch on the pbs stations back home in the old days. ain't that a trip?
when I get back to my room, there's a message to call carloyn and after I do, she comes by and has a taxi take us to loch lomond, to the west of town. we get to a part of it called duck's bay and it's quite a site, beautiful scottish countryside. in fact there are ducks, mallards quacking around and letting us get right up close. not much time cuz us stooges shove off at noon but at least I got some eyegifts to fill my head w/and I thank carolyn much. adios.
we're taking a private jet to the midlands of england, a smaller one than we used last summer in spain and france (that one had three jet motors and this has just two) called a citation excel. it's 'pert-near as narrow as the boat at home (my ford econoline e-250 van) but still there's a narrow aisle big enough to allow rik to act as steward and serve us these sandwich wedges (I have some trippy curry ones w/raisins in them!) and sushi, though the rice is like styrofoam so I bag on that. henry's got a review of yesterday's gig from the glasgow newspaper, the scotsman and it's a great review. it says the stooges was the highlight of the festival and iggy was in righteous form, which I very much witnessed myself. much respect to the writer. it's an hour flight to derby (which they pronounce as "darby") and it's a gentle one, including the landing. ron thinks out loud to us about him always wanting to be a pilot, I know riding these little jets brings that out in him and so I take a shot of him saluting in front of this plane when we land. we're picked up and taken to this ho that's on a thirtysix hole gold course, quite outside of derby and by itself - a former monastery called breadsall priory which is now a mariott hotel, but is probably more of a golf resort of some kind. I read more of my paul auster book, chimp diary and then konk.
I pop after a couple of hours and decide to try room service for the first time in my life. I call on the phone and order soup and a sandwich but it never comes. I'm reading the auster book and while waiting and finally decide to call back and see what's up - they don't know either and I just tell them to forget it, laughing the whole time I'm talking w/the lady. it was going to be eleven pounds anyway (burn ward prices here too) so it probably worked out for the best. steve comes to my room w/some hay-sh and the effects of that in tobacky are strong on me. I go w/him to the cafe (we see scotty on the way - he's just met up w/his wife and daughter, they're staying here w/him) and spiel w/him, ric, eric and later, henry. henry's a little weirded out by this diary spiel I chimp. I guess some japan entries put a dent in the image somehow but I try to reassure him that's never my intention. I think the world of him and all the cats on our crew - absolutely. I've worked w/a lot of differnt people over more than twenty years of me touring so I have plenty of experience to gauge that opinon on too - I'm not just saying this to blow smoke up anyone's ass - I sincerely mean it and would write otherwise if I didn't. I have nothing but the upmost respect for all these cats helping out iggy/ron/scotty and if anything seems to appear even slightly to the contrary in this diary shit then it's very much a big fuckup on my part. lo siento don henry, truly. eric talks about reading my spiel using only the search function on his 'puter to search for his name - hmm... what about the nuance? whatever, his choice but still, I mean no harm, truly. this ain't supposed to be a gossip rif but more of me just thinking outloud so maybe others will get up confidence to go on their own tours, to add more of journeying to basically to what I think life is anyway: a journey in itself. it also helps me practice on articulating my thoughts too, something I'm pretty weak at. you know, d. boon used to tell me, "you can get a little bit too spacey w/your words" and I've been forever trying to work on that. shit, I wish I would've started chimping tour spiel back then when he told me that instead of the last six or so years. stupid fucking watt. the point though that I'm trying to make here is that none of this is done to "out" anyone or even worse, make me look like I'm either above it all or an expert on anything. I'm just trying to let my fucking freak flag fly. I apologize big time for a stupid shit said or more accurately, wrote in these chimipings.
I chow this sandwich from the bar called a "ploughman" which is cheese, tomato and pickle on bread cut into quarters. it's good and only (only!) five pounds (about $8.50!). good thing that room service hustle lamed out. rik introduces me to our driver for tomorrow, nobby, and he's a good cat. he's had some journeys himself, lived in tennesse for three years. I find out from rik that he almost got fined twenty thousand pounds yesterday for mixing us to loud in glasgow so I guess we weren't sounding as tiny as that band I heard - good job, ric! what a man for laying it on the line for us too - much respect. we speil for a bit and then I join steve on his way back to his chamber in "the mews" part of this pad (man, what a maze getting around here!) but after being there a few minutes, I almost konk and apologize for my tiredness and bail to that room at the end of this whole pad, out by the links: watt's. it has a deck readied by me earlier w/pillows propped against the end table so I can assume the tommy jefferson position and let sueno rush on over me.
saturday, june 5, 2004 - dublin, ireland
pop at six in the morning, soak in the tub which is half as long as a coffin but just as wide (nothing compared to the huge rectangular "vat" one I had in scotland - watt digs long tubs where he can stretch his legs out straight and relax his fucked-up knees) and then head on to the galley to shovel chow. the paper that was in my envelope w/the room key says it's a free trough at this pad and it commences at 6:30 am but I find out from the help that it's seven on saturdays though they don't give me the boot which is kind of them. the "egg chef" has a plate of his own he's about to shovel himself but takes the time to fry me up an egg english style - a foot in diameter frying pan filled w/an inch of oil where the egg's a "floater" while it cooks. I have some of all the breakfast meats: enland-type bacon, "smoked bacon back strips" (u.s. style), pork sausages and "banger" sausages. hey, it's gratis so I'm piling up here and will skip lunch. I get some pear and apricot halves (looking like they come from a can) and cover them w/yogurt and throw that down too. the coff in these parts ain't the strongest so it takes four cups to get a hold on my morning jones w/that stuff. time now to hoof.
there's a hatch leading you right out to the golf course but my eyes are on this garden set up they got here. there's a path going by a tiny stream after you move through a hedge and fountain arrangement and I get lots of good snaps of the foliage there. swimming along is a momma duck and her three little ducklings, a beautiful sight. just then, the sun comes out, pouring some yellow over a cali-like gray morning but it's not for long before the gray's back. it does look like we'll be spared from rain though which is good cuz the gig is an outdoor one. I hoof and think for a couple of hours, stumbling onto the dog cemetery and examine the little headstones marking their bones. some go back a hundred years. shit, this pad itself has its beginnings to the 1100s as a seminary before henry the VIII suppressed it and then became a private residency to several rich folks successively as it was expanded and built upon. we are out of town though so it was good the chow came free seeing there were no options outside the place. I hardly ever eat in hotel restaurants cuz they're usually such fucking clip joints.
I visit steve in his "mews" (old word for horse stables) chamber and man, there's a raven that's got some call nearby. we spiel some and then I bail to chimp diary and bump into ron who enlightens me to the fact that the raven's name is fred and he in fact chowed him w/some bread. either some of the ho help told him or ron asked the bird himself. I chimp up diary to get current and then leave early for the gig at 12:30 pm w/the crew - nobby driving me, rik and eric w/chris riding w/jos in his van carrying the equipment. we get to donington racetrack and lap around the track to the "(f)artist area" where I'm kind of paranoid about getting my shit donated so I get a key to our trailer/dressing room. I hoof out to see a band in a huge open tent next to us, some cats dressed in shirt and ties playing death metal. it's sort of like old slayer (kind of): sixteenth note kickdrum, quarter note snare, lots of parts (almost prog), tweedily lead guitar and cookie monster singing. there's a lot of these bands now and this festival definitely has a metal (or nu-metal, someone told me) angle but there's some other stuff too like pop-punk and even cali hardcore cats like pennywise. shit, there's four stages and like fiftythree acts or something (this is called "download festival" too, just like glasgow but so much bigger) - I'm embarrassed to admit I know hardly any of the bands playing when I look at the roster and that kind of makes me feel like a dinosaur. the heads are portable ones far away so I piss in a doctor pepper can in our little pad. there's wifi for 'puters so my tipurse jacks in right when I open it and it's the first internet connect I've had on this trip. hmm... only three hundred emails... I answer as many as the immediately urgent ones I can (and the ones I feel urgent to send myself) and then go to the stage we're playing (the main one) to check on the bass amps. I'm gonna be more regular on that, like I do w/my own gigs. ron told me I should - scotty checks his drums out before. on the way, this young man who's friends w/a u.s. band that's playing, dillinger escape plan, asks to talk w/me and wants to know about my brother hiram (code for asking if you're a freemason). I told him I'm not one but know stuff about it and he tells me he's been one for seven years. he really wants me to join. we talk about the lodge in phily and how it's such a righteous construction. I ask him if he's checked out the memorial the virginia ones built for washington in alexandria and when he says he hasn't, I tell him he's gotta go - an elevator that goes up on a seven degree angle and everything. trippy running into somebody like that, huh? a little bit more about prince hall (masonic black men) and then I gotta bail so I tell him safe seas.
there's something fucked-up w/one of these amps - the same one that failed at prac but jos assures me the rental cats said it's ok but I am surely not convince cuz there's lots of problems when we fire it up. for one thing, there's no gain in the preamp and I'm unable to slave it up to the "good one" and we have to use a splitter box after the tuner to drive each of them through their front ends. man, do I have to slam on the gain to get any tone. oh well, "a poor carpenter blames his tools," right? I watch the distillers play a few songs. I aint' gonna stress much cuz that won't help. on the way back to the backstage (like a quarter mile), I run into pelle from this swedish band the hives and it's good to see him again. the first time I played w/iggy on stage was w/him and his bandmate big mike, along w/pete yorn on bass almost two years ago in hollywood at something called the shortlist awards - we did three songs together. I get back to the trailer room and find ron and steve, scotty shows a little bit later w/liz and daughter leanna - good, we're all here. nervous time for watt as I spiel w/ron to try and relax - he gets wound up waiting to go too. I'm worried about that shitty amp and also about my strings cuz I think I should've changed them to head off one of them breaking during the gig but fuck, can't do anything about it now except pray for the best. the fortyfive minutes we got to go seems like an eternity and ig tells us maybe we should cut down the set but then changes his mind - we're doing the same one we did in glasgow. I find there's two doors to this trailer thing and the key works w/only one door so I bring my shit to the van were using to head out right after we play - the driver's gonna stay w/it the whole time and that's calmer for my paranoia. we get into the ride that takes us to the stage and we're off. I got this shirt some kid gave me a few tours back - it's like what you wear under a baseball jersey (white shirt w/black semi-long sleeves). on the front is this cat who looks like jimi hendrix but it has his name which is nothing like jimi's, "frank anthony pouraco III" - everyone laughs about that. ig likes it though which makes me feel good, you know about shirts in this band... I just want to do right. the stage is huge, bigger than lots of the clubs I've played but we're set up pretty tight which is good. man, ron's guitar sound is massive - none of the wind like what kind of made him a little thin in glasgow and iggy's singing has much better monitors which makes it better for all of us on stage - I know he digs that too. the band is really wailing and revved up good. like I suspected though, my fucking amp goes out (the lame one - the other stays live) and my sound is cut way down for the last of "tv eye," "dirt" and "real cool time" - fuck (though it was ok at the front of "tv eye" - in fact, ig came dancing up to me and said "yeah" right in my face which made me go off like floored hemi busting out of rusted motor mounts!). the only folks on my side are watchers - none of our people so it's impossible to get anyone's attention 'till the "...time" is done and then I have holler and wave my arms like a madman before eric sees I need help. luckily, iggy is taking time to get people on stage - I don't know cuz we're really high up but like a hundred kids make it up on stage and we kick into "no fun" - chris is behind my amp wiggling cords and somehow the lame amp comes back on (but sounding terrible) so that's a relief. it was hard for iggy to know where the ending of "dirt" was coming cuz of the piddly volume - man, I wish we would've replaced this amp like I suggested. oh well, back to real time: it is insane on stage w/these cats dancing all over the place, a lot of fun. I blow some clams in fact - not big ones but they're all pulling on me and one cat, the bass player from monster magnet, pours jack daniels whisky all on my, even some in my mouth! seems this cat I met at a bbq in hollywood (which was a trip cuz how many qs do I go to in hollywood?!), phil, is playing w/him and I see him up here w/us too! it's wild. lots of these young english folks are hugging me up and totally getting into it - much respect to them. I don't know how iggy got a way w/it but when the tune was over, they were all very nice about getting right off w/no problems at all - it was intense the way it was insane and then managed like that. weird but neat. it was totally cut loose, I have to tell you but then not stupid enough for anyone to get hurt cuz man, it was a high up stage. trippy. on the starts of some tune where ron leads us off, I get close to his amp so I can hear exactly what's up - and then I just couldn't help but carried away and be near for his "1970" solo cuz it was wide-open burning my brains out. scotty had such a fucking solid/funky/slamming groove for "fun house" that I couldn't help but dance a little w/this retarded-palsy shuffle I kind of have. for "l.a. blues" I put in some "love supreme licks" - elvin jones died a couple of weeks ago and the whole band was talking about it when this little jaunt started so I thought he deserved some tribute. my sound got worse and worse (cuz of the fucked-up amp scene) but I focused hard to keep it together, only after a chorus in "dead rock star" did I blow another clam, being distracted a bit but mostly I avoided that by keeping my sights completely on iggy and zeroing in on my determination to focus hard. iggy was inspirational in his spiel, letting the folks know he's aware of the jive be foisted on them and that the point of doing songs, paintings, writings - whatever - is to feel alive, not fit into some "target market" or whatever. he works hard to get his point across - yeah, that "work" word... he uses it a lot when we get done, like "...working the stage was a hard go but had to do it" and "working the crowd, I felt like a waiter serving up an order to each person individually, like 'oops, I forgot your fries - I'll be right back!' yeah!" - this is where it's at, what I always imagined was the real deal as far as playing your brains out - not just playing at playing but really going for it. d. boon had that passion too - ain't that a trip? god bless the stooges! this ain't "connect the dots" - it totally motivates me and I get caught up in the rush of it all. man, I must've sweated out a couple of gallons of fluid, the deck soaked under me even though the weather was mild as hell. this was an intense gig! I even got on my knees a few times which for this gimp is quite a miracle, 'pert-near. I was just that lit. whoa.
back in the ride, around the track and then back to the trailer. ron really really really liked the gig and that brings me big joys. scotty did too but said it was a little harder than glasgow. ig liked it much and gave me some of this intense wine (something from 1989) that dried my mouth out and the made it pop - that was a trip! I don't have much experience w/wine but could tell this stuff was special. we have to leave in minutes so I go to the chow tent and not much is left except, get this breakfast bacon and sausages (both the english kind) so it's round two w/that! luckily, I got to pile most the plate w/arugala salad to cut some of that grease (or at least dilute it) but I needed some chow. I see greg from world of strings in long beach - he played bass for a band here at this show - he's the cat working on this new (well, new to me cuz it's actually a 1968) gibson eb-0 bass I just got. phil, who I saw before talks to me about the new lemmy book, I really want to read it from what he tells me of it. one of the monster magnet guys says "tommy bolin" - I guess phil told him about me telling him about seeing the five man version of the james gang w/tommy bolin aboard way back when... trippy how infos bounce around! pennywise bass player randy hugs me up and I'm so glad to see him again, been a long time and I wish I could see him jam but it's into the boat and then to the nearby regional airport - we're taking the same jet that brought us here from glasgow, same pilots too. I sit in the same seat, right by the hatch. rik again assumes the role of "the host w/the most post" and serves up those sandwich quarters he did last time but I only have a little cuz of shoveling just previous to us bailing. the flight is less than an hour but I'm reading the auster book to calm down when ig tells me to look out the window - it's the coast of ireland coming up on us and it's beautiful. I took a movie of us taking off w/the little digicamera and I take one of us landing too, which is very smooth. much respect to the pilots.
we're driven in another van (maybe five or six different vans I've ridden in today!) to this four seasons ho near the u.s. embassy in dublin - we pass some waterfront and see a few righteous tall ships tied up on the docks, very much old style. I am tuckered big time and get out of this soaked outfit, whew. my ankles are sorest this time around though my fingers are pretty much dowels themselves. I guess all the hoofing I've been doing (I more of a pedaler and a paddler back home) has added to the regular gig stress but man, I just gotta do it for my head, at the very least. of course, the finger stuff is from playing, I mean wrastlin', the bass - even a blood blister, way under the skin (a tiny amount and my fingertips are way too moccasin-like in texture to let it pop open and have the skin tear). this is a fancy pad and behind this chair they got this giant purse-like handbag (and I mean big - like on steroids) holding a thick bedspread so after propping three big pillows up against the nightstand, I use that to cover me and konk before the clock lit up on the turned-off tv (I'm not much one to watch this stuff in a ho room) turns eleven which is what I swear it was just about to.
sunday, june 6, 2004 - dublin, ireland
whoa, I pop at seven am which is like way sleeping in for me... I sure was sore from playing yesterday's gig when the adrenaline wore off so maybe I had to recuperate from all that. I hoof off down the way we came in last night, the big road called ballsbridge. right next door is some big pad brittany spears is playing tonight. a few more blocks past that the is the u.s. embassy, a trippy round building that some swedish guy designed to have its outside self-cleaned when it rains is what some driver told me. before I get close enough for a good look, I get a tuna panini and a coffee at this newstand/coff kind of place. I don't get too close anyway w/all the sour looks - maybe some nerves up and the last thing I want is trouble (even from my own countrymen) so I look for a bench I can chow on. hmm... none about so I turn down this clyde street - neat how dublin has the brightly painted doors to their pads - it is like the postcards you see of them. I spot a bench in a little grassy anglican churchyard and the gates open so I go sit there. just has I'm about to plant myself, DING DING DING goes the church bells though it's obvious there's no one there for services (even though it's sunday, I can't see anyone here) but man, is there loudness in these bells - 'pert-near had a heart attack! there's a saint john hospitalers pad next door w/their maltese cross emblem, might've been able to get some help there if my heart did fly out of my mouth (felt like it though!). I go down the canal a ways when I'm finished but decide to head back after a while cuz the hoofin' is kind of getting to me, I got weak ankles (besides mangled knees) and I'm start to feel that. it's a big reason I pedal and paddle back home. but one must hoof if w/out bike or kayak - I just gotta do something to pump around the fluids inside me. it's good for my head too, the thinking/wondering part. I'm always having cross-examinations w/myself to get things straight (or straighter) from all the chaos night and dreaming have brought on, try to get a handle on some of the ensuing confusion. new towns bring on experiences that lead to unexpected connections w/what I already know and what's to be learned or even re-interpreted. that's why I try to take it all in, as much as I can and why being by myself helps that out even more - it makes me more "omni" w/what sensitivities are being made available. the spiels stay internal and are meant for no one to made to understand since part of this inside "riffing" as I try and parse things it part of the whole act of speechmaking I'm doing for my own benefit. oils my gears, so to speak. it can get very emotional too which is cathartic, I'm learning to have nothing to hide w/myself when I go through w/this. it's something I dig about middle-age bringing me and it's not bothering anyone else anyway. in some ways it's more private than being cloistered, ain't that a trip? I'm talking deep inside, w/ideas. outside, I probably look... let's not get into that - suffice to say I don't pass the embassy again.
I chimp diary when I get back to the ho and then I call this young dubliner, hugh o'conor. last year there was a irish movie done of joyce's "ulysses" and he played the part of stephen deadalus. I have a friend in hollywood who scored the music and through him, hugh started writing me cuz he dug the minutemen. well, here I am in his town and he wants to come meet me so we chow at this italian pad not too far from the ho. italian waitress - since ireland's e.u., it's easier for folks from other e.u. countries to come and work. I chow this ceasar's salad while he asks me about old minutemen days so we talk about that for a couple of hours. he's a great cat. he wants to know about when we first started, when I met d. boon - about his ma making me play bass and all - then later w/the reactionaries and then the minutemen. I like talking about playing w/d. boon and georgie in the old days but also tell him about just doing that duo thing of minutemen songs in pedro a couple weeks ago: gerorge hurley + mike watt. we played in pedro and did songs no newer than ones from "double nickels on the dime" and I think it was much better than queen mary gig last november. a fun part too was getting to hang out w/george five days a week while we practiced cuz he's a very interesting man to be w/and I miss doing that... been over ten years now since the last fIREHOSE gig. hugh walks back w/me to the ho in time for the soundcheck lobby call - I'll see him tonight and then again next week when I come back for the bloomsday stuff.
ig never does the soundchecks w/us (he gives so much for the gig I understand him saving it up for showtime) but us guys operating the machines (ha!) like doing them when we're able to cuz we can check how things are before the downbeat. it's just not possible at festival gigs but tonight's our gig - just one other band opening for us here at dublin castle. trippy pad, more like a walled little city almost and we're in this big courtyard, grass in front of the stage lined w/these narrow asymmetric pathways. I'm told england ran ireland at this pad for some time and lots of cats were hung by the neck here - much better there's music going down on these same grounds now days. makes you wonder about ghosts though, huh? this human race we all belong too and its history - joyce said "history is a nightmare I'm trying to wake up from" - no shit, brother. reminding me of the parts where I live (so cal), the weather is righteously bright and sunny but not sweaty. we go over "my idea of fun" which is good for me cuz even though I got my cds and that little player that lets me plug bass into - I don't have my bass except when I get to the gigs cuz of the transport thing. we got an amp to replace the one that crapped-out last gig and that gives me some relief. new strings tonight cuz the ones on them are pretty dead w/all the sweating I've done these last gigs - it just kills the tone when they're fouled like that. when we're done checking, the rest of the guys go back to the ho but that's too much running around for me so I stay near the venue so my gut doesn't get so tied in knots worrying about getting back in time and whatever. what I do instead is call my irish bud nez, who I last saw at the all tomorrow's parties thing back in march w/my secondmen. him and some buddies are at a pub a couple streets over and when I hoof over to meet them, I totally remember the last time I played dublin - maybe three years ago w/j mascis + the fog at the temple bar cuz I see the parliment ho, where we stayed. I also recognize the city hall and all that. it's great to see nez again and he's got a bud w/a kraftwerk shirt on that's all into them so me and this cat talk a bit about them - I've loved that band since I was a teenager. the drummers (karl barltos and wolfgang flur) have been replaced and have written books that he's read and it makes me want to do the same. I saw this new lineup last month at the coachella set but still liked it, which surprised me. anto comes to join us and tells us about his trip to italy. I'm staying w/him when I come back for june 16th.
I hoof back to dublin castle and the rest of the stooges have come from the ho to begin the nervous wait... ron's always pacing before the show and I don't blame him cuz I get all nervous as hell too. I take off my flannel to put on the t-shirt I'm wearing tonight, a "mano negra" one that was given to me. as I was walking here, I took my john coltrane button off to ready it for the t-shirt and now I've misplace - god damn my idiot memory shit! it puts me and in a tizzy and I search everywhere but to no avail. saxman steve comes to the rescue and unites me w/my pin once again. I thank him big time, steve mackay w/the eagle eye. 8:45 pm and still bright out for our turn on stage, it'll get a little dusk maybe halfway through and let the lights do something for us. so trippy playing in this courtyard w/castle walls all around - the pad is full of folks and there's a good energy in the air when we hit w/"loose" - some beers come flying up (just in cups) but quit after a bit, there might be those who didn't know what to expect cuz you know how hype is but they're in for the real deal here and soon find that out - the beers stop as we shove on - "down on the street," "1969" (like ig says, "a special time"), "I wanna be your dog" and "tv eye" - he tells the folks that "we are very glad to be here - we're glad to be anywhere!" I very much concur, his spiels are so fucking right on the money. next is "dirt" (he prefaces it by describing it as "a very special substance") and then he asks peeps to come on up on stage for "real cool time" and "no fun" - it's a trip how crazy it is yet no one fucks w/my playing even if they're just inches away, joy leaping out of them big time. I think the emotion iggy let's loose from himself is so contagious and when you put that w/ron's searing scorchers from his guitar while scotty grooves it w/some super-slam on the drum, it totally makes sense in a wild way. a trip too that just like in england yesterday, we finish it up and the cats get right off the stage w/out a problem - like some unwritten understanding the gig's gotta keeping rolling and that it does, right into "1970" - wham, ron floors me w/his solo and I gotta abandon my side of the stage and get starboard so I can let those notes just bath me, wave after wave. I'm right between him and his amps and it's very much a head-cleansing for watt! steve comes on board for the coda iggy must do like twenty "I feel alright" hollers at full boar then we're out but ron continues on w/a little segue of his own to get us into "fun house" which makes me go off - man, do I have working in this band! there's some hills and valleys w/the dynamics in this tune, good interplay w/our boat of the boat, iggy ("let me in!") and then a thunderstorm of crazy shit for "l.a. blues" but just enough - no bogart or filler, even some quiet time for ig to let the folks know "I am you" (I once asked him about that line and he said it was "very sixties"). now for three from iggy's last record, "skull ring," "dead rock star" and "little electric chair" which all roll into a good flow - these three he recorded w/ron and scotty and it shows. after the glasgow show, iggy said he wanted more of a "charging rhino" thing at the end of "...star" so I bear down hard like ron said he did when he was recording the bass for it. I dig taking direction from these gentlemen cuz they're so fucking right on w/what I feel in my gut. I just can't articulate it right in my head - too much fouled thinking - so these guys help me much w/helping me grow on the bass. we come off the stage and then 'pert-near immediately get back on for "my idea of fun" - a new one we've only played once before, in tokyo. so much tighter this time, I got it much more together. we slam right into "not right" which is an old favorite of mine and the first time we've played it on this trip. scotty says he's been working on it and you can feel it. next is a trippy thing, iggy has me do a little bass solo and I try to be a little bluesy but on an emotional vibe like the one I'm getting from him. it was very generous of him to ask me to do that, I feel much respect for him. he then says, "a little animal song" and I go into "little doll" but damn, do I have trouble setting this up right for scotty. I have to work on this a bunch more and let him walk me through it. whatever, I jump back in on where the one is where he decides to plant it and it's ok. however, I can't hear the singing cuz it's disappeared from my monitors which is really fucked. I need, REALLY NEED to hear the chief deliver his singing my way, number one cuz I very much dig it but number two, I need to hear my cues and can't hear where the first chorus comes in. damn. I get up to hear out of iggy's front wedges and it's easier for me come round two. jos works hard to get the sound cat to get it together - thank you much, jos. we kick it up for what ig now calls "double dog" - "I wanna be your dog" w/steve on the sax (he just finished up doing maracas for "little doll" and does real good w/that) and we're finished. great gig, wow.
I am soaked and peel off the t-shirt, only to fucking donate it later. damn. it's only a shirt though and at least I didn't donate the coltrane button (thanks again, steve). hugh comes back stage w/his friend domanique and I introduce him to the guys. everyone's in great spirits. the guitar player from u2, edge, comes and talks w/ig - he shakes my hand firm and says "yeah!" so I tell him "much resepct" back, that was nice of him. kevin shields brother jimmy and his girl maria come to rap too, they're nice folks. ig comes out and hangs out w/us, he's in excellent spirits. a great way to end up our little trip. he invites me to ride back w/him to the ho and we pass the leftovers of the squarejohn brittany spears gig, tons of little girls w/their pops in tow - a parallel universe to the one we just came from for sure. I like listening to iggy's take on things, his mind is intense and cuts right through to the crux - very interesting. like w/raymond pettibon, it's just makes you hang on every word. funny too. I dig it.
I hose off and visit mister mackay, who recalls to me his most recent musical forays in the bay area (he lives in pacifica, ca). the phone rings and it's tour boss henry to summon us up to his room. the whole crew minus iggy and jos is there and ron tells us all about his re-entry into collecting. I'm starting to stiffen up and lower myself to the deck. a couple of hours after a gig (sometimes sooner), my bones really starting aching when the adrenaline wears off - man, I feel 'pert-near 140 years old - no shit. these cats spiel good though so I just listen mainly. finally I gotta bail though or konk cold so I thank and hug up everyone for the righteous job done by all: ron - smokin' w/the six-string, scotty - slammin' man w/the beat in his hand, steve - honks and toots on the sax, rik - righteous on the mix knobs, henry - a great tour boss, eric - happening w/the road help and chris - keeping the gear way together. they're all good cats and such an honor to work along side to help deliver the mindblows. jos too and of course, the bow of our boat, mister ig.
I go up to my own deck and konk on it.
monday, june 7, 2004 - san pedro, ca, usa
I pop at seven, hose off and start hoofing to get fluids moving through me. for some reason, I've got a head-pounder. heartburn too, a big pain midships. damn, what's this about? I hoof it off though, walking the streets and chowing a panini - one w/salami and sundried tomatoes along w/gulps of coff. what they say about the doors of dublin is true, 'pert-near all of them are painted up bright in solid primary colors. righteous. more sunny cali weather and I'm hoping it holds for me coming back next week for bloomsday.
ten bells and I ride w/ron to the airport. we ride along the water and I talk to the driver about can boats cuz I see a small one. in fact, he told me it was one cuz at first I thought it was a ferry. only like four or five hammerheads (the cranes they load/unload containers w/onto/from boats) where are harbor has way more than a hundred. every pad has some way watt relates it to pedro! bye to ron - I'll see him again in three weeks in berlin and can't wait. safe seas, brother.
a flight to heathrow and then from there to l.a. - it's about seventeen hours altogether and I fight hard not to konk so I'll get back on pedro time as far as am/pm. I finished the last few pages of "the book of illusions" - damn, pretty sad. I knew it wouldn't last hardly any of my flytime so I got a book at heathrow, "elizabeth's london" by liza picard and dig into that when I'm done the auster one. how folks lived and did what they did - not just bourgeois ones either. funny how not much is left of descriptions by the folks themselves cuz maybe they were too busy living it - lots of the accounts are from foreigners. it's a trip to read about those days (1558 - 1603). I'm intrigued by this period, probably cuz raymond pettibon's gonna shoot a movie his way of me and some other cats (gomezbueno, bob stires and joel rane) doing shakespeare's "richard II" when I get some open time. never knew much about this stuff before but it's interesting as hell to me now and damn if the hours don't just fly by. I can really dig that, especially w/these fucked-up knees of mine... just waiting for a good hot soak in my bathtub in pedro. all worth it though, thinking back on these three gigs we just wailed on... holy smoke! much respect to the stooges.
iggy pop + the stooges
in germany, sweden, denmark, serbia, greece,
italy, france, austria and spain - 2004
loop back to mike watt's hoot page