2015 A lot happened at Sevcom.

Sevcom is booming. Bloody hell it won’t sit down now will it? The funny thing is that almost everything here is an attempt to stop doing things. That ends up doing things. They say life begins at 40 but in this case life started some time after entering the aged care facility. The intensity of this regrowth is causing … growing pains. More on that later on.

A very good year for music.


NECRO: Vinyl reissues out now of both Petrol and Clifford Darling Please Don’t Live in the Past and both from the clean master recordings for the first time.

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NEW: At the beginning of the year (if you can remember back that far) the new album Rhine, which sold enough USB sticks to get Sevcom up in Bandcamp’s bulk seller category. Of all the things this year, you would understand that Rhine is my favourite. It includes a map with 5 Beacons, which you can now see as videos over here.

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Severed Heads played live in America and it was not a complete and utter debacle not at all. This included a new album of old tunes called Better Dead Than Head.

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NEW: Two free compilations on Terse Tapes, which was once my cassette label that ran from 1979-1983, and now continues as an online provider of international noise and music. In Easter you got Oompa Loopma Riot, and unexpectedly Christmas just saw Terse Greetings. It’s good to be a community again.

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Early in the year I wrote the back story for HH, which introduces a clearer game world for the sequel H3H.

A bad/hopeful year for life.


Barbara Island

On Barbara Island

A death ripples outwards. You have to guide that energy carefully as it can drown you. Instead the house here is evidence of riding a manic wave – there’s furniture and objects strewn about madly and odd things hanging on the walls as a new life forms. That same mania is causing all kinds of possible futures to erupt, and hopefully once things cool a bit there’ll be some public good out of all this.

Next year.


Next year is tricky, because that manic wave is crashing against some rocks. Do I want to go back to the starving artist lifestyle or do I want to continue to be fat and tenured?

NECRO: The Stretcher album is in manufacture, this time as a double vinyl in gatefold sleeve! Hoping also that a boxed set of Australian underground music will be completed soon.

NEW: In America I made a promise to collaborate on an album with another elder, who I had not seen for a while. I keep promises.

There will be some touring and the details are reasonably clear. But many things could go wrong and so nothing I say here is certain. There’s a very good chance of being at the next Unsound Festival in Krakow, including a new version of the Rhine Treasure Map as an installation. Once in Krakow, it would be good to do other parts of Europe. Suggestions from promoters are welcome.

There will be another run through North America, bigger and bolder. I hope this will also include the Rhine Treasure Map. There will be an album made to go with this called Aversion, and you can guess what that will be.

All of this liveness has inspired an attempt at a new presentation system that allows more variation between live shows, and the ability to make tracks longer/shorter and all of that. This is very tricky, because I don’t want it to look real time generated.

H3H is under way, but I don’t think it will make 2016. Maybe mania will make it so. It’s got to be a major advance on the older game and I might need to get investment. That’s a scary idea!

Best wishes to all at the close of a formidable year.

Renovations with an axe.

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Some changes have been made in preparation for a rebuild of tomellard.com.

All talk of synthesisers has been moved out of the blog and to a new Man Cave sub site tomellard.com/cave as the WordPress menuing system was no longer able to contain all my gluttony. (I hear that some people are uncomfortable with the term Man Cave. They’re also probably uncomfortable with words like satire and laughter and they should go weep somewhere else thank you.)

The photographs on sevcom.com/scans have been renewed and now include 1979 – 2015, although there are still some bad gaps.

In the real world I’m busy chopping up my furniture with an axe and tearing my books into pieces. I’m shredding important documents with my new shredder. Pretty soon I hope to have cleaned out everything that’s crowding my mind. This is a good healthy thing, although it looks odd. I’ll be able to go places.

End of Tour – Part 7

And now, at last, to the only gig we’d actually expected to play. The Cold Waves festival runs over two nights in Chicago and we were part of the Saturday line up which was designed to be a bit more ‘family friendly’. The very family friendly Front Line Assembly was up top, with PWEI being the other ‘grown up’ band. Severed Heads was at the head of the kids table with Cocksure playing right alongside and then there were youngsters who will no doubt one day be the grown ups (unlike us).

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Back home exactly the same thing but it’s called Foota.

But first to reach the Metro. That day the CUBS WERE PLAYING. The Cubs are a popular hitball team in Chicago. Hitball is a game which involves many people dressed in blue crowding all over the place blocking all traffic. It looked to me like they were winning but apparently they lost otherwise everything would be on fire.

Once we got there, seemed like just as many people milling about backstage. Bands bands bands. Greets from the Metro owner who had last greeted us 25 years ago holy shit. As much as I like to be all friendly to everyone, for me playing live is just too anxious making to handle that crowd, and I apologise to anyone that I gave a startled ‘are you a sadistic dentist?’ look. Most of the time I tried hiding in the SEVERED COCKS room.

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Although we had played live together before, finally got into chat with Chris J Connelly, seen here channelling his ‘drunken shit in a business suit on a Saturday night’ stage look. In LA it had been gold chains. We had thought that LA costume was entirely serious, more fool me twice.

But there were old people I needed to see. The last time I met Bill Leeb was in Vancouver, way back. We were both in our mid 20’s. He has grown enormously tall since and I have shrunk. Both he and cEvin Key prove that the ratio of height to width is a prime factor in success in Industrial Stardom, something which I will never know.

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The Industrial height rule. Fulber don’t care shit.

But they will never equal our ability to attract bears. It was like Jellystone Park, I tell you. Bears.

Festivals are nerve racking because you have to get on/get off mighty fast and if something is fucked up then you die (hello Antwerp!) They were setting up sound checks pretty efficiently, but I was getting freaked out about if it was going to work. It’s partly from not having played in big line ups that often over the last decade. The only fuss was (as always) about the main video which was being projected onto drum kits and I had to choose a smaller screen. I think it’s OK. Hell, most people watch videos on a mobile.

Once the table was set up and the signal was happening, it was all just fine.

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I should say here that the festival is a supporter of the Hope For The Day charity, which helps people at risk of suicide. Part of the tour show was of course Dead Eyes Opened, with Stacy dancing on screen, and I had added a short video title acknowledging that she was not coming back. The tour came to an end in a poignant moment.

Backstage and the same number of people were milling about but it had settled into a different crowd, more about the society than the performers. I guess I’m more comfortable about getting things up and happening than partying them down again and after processing another extensive round of bears, decided I’d do one last BBC Nature Show through the streets of Chicago. Stewart was happy with a bottle of scotch and a place next to the mixing desk, so I grabbed my shit and swung outside.

The game of hitball was still winding down. A few boys were half heartedly punching each other in the streets while the girls tried to pull them apart. The bars were pumping ooga chaka. Drunks were vomiting into smart phones. It could be any western city, everything and nothing, The Saturday Night. That’s the thing about tours; all those hotels, planes, back stages, the disassociation is complete, you’re just passing through, enacting a ritual, everybody you meet n greet has a role and a script. Walking through the streets, Frisco to Chicago, it’s almost like you want something to break the glass and haul you out of there. But really not.

Instead I spent Sunday in the hotel room. There was a lot to not think about.

Tour Drily – Part Six

Hello Tampa, or as it turns out, Ybor City, which is where cigars were first carved out of phosphate or some such thing. Something something, Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

We were met by a friendly man called Curse, who oscillates like a sine wave between Tampa and Austin, apparently a thing you do in the southern synthesiser music trade. He took us to rooms at a goddamn HILTON where I glimpsed THE LARGEST BED I HAVE EVER SEEN and only then told us we had to go straight to the fucking venue. How could I perform, thinking about that bed? Sleeping somewhere in that vast confection of padding?

Not so much a bed as a way of living.

Not so much a bed as a way of living. Yeah, I took photos of the hotel rooms. I like hotel rooms, OK? This one was a Hilton, and every light in the place was turned on as if to say, climate change is caused by Florida, buddy.

In Florida, we were too small, or perhaps it was too big, for us to play alone. We supported Pop Will Eat Itself, and there were advantages to this. Firstly, one may get off stage earlier and drink all PWEI’s rider. Secondly one may blame PWEI for anything bad that happens, while claiming virtue for everything good. And no encores, none at all. The main worry is when the main band has a drum kit and a hundred microphones to set up, your chance of a sound check becomes wistful, although we did get there in time.

Here was Michael Pilmer of T Shirt fame, and his henchmen, dressed in identical knife costumes, the camera tilted to show their evil. Did I mention we wore Holy Fuck Knives T shirts every night? We did. And we sold them too. Michael and Robert made these. We also got some special stickers to cover our apples.

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A bit of a barn, quite large, too large for us alone. The first band on, (I am sorry I have been very remiss about the first bands in each case but I am in the zone at that point, anyway,) the first band on was the first actual rock band we’d encountered the whole time. I mean they did r-o-c-k, did the moves, stood on the wedges, spooned, mutually masturbated, I mean if there is a library of rock gestures, they held all the library cards. I don’t think Stewart had seen such a thing before, and was awed. Me, I’ve seen ZZ Top. Once you’ve seen the best…

We played. At least one guy was crying. At least he was the one I could hear sobbing over the PA. The audience in Ybor City was a bit ‘intimate’ for the size of the place (which we could immediately blame on PWEI, see how this game works?) but they had a fine old time.

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Pilmer over on the right giving the finger. An enduring symbol of Southern Hospitality. Actually I think the gent over at the left with the beard should get in contact so I can send something worthy. Best audience member ever.

PWEI I think were too big for the stage. They do this pacing thing, back forward. They looked like when tigers get put into too small cages. For a moment you wonder if you shouldn’t be wedged behind a table. But that leads to keytars, and the thought stops there. Shudder.

At the end of it all, I grabbed my backpack and launched out into the turmoil of Friday Night in Ybor City. They were young, sexy, swarming and mostly Cuban. I marched through it all, some kind of alien grey, block after block, seeing it all unseen. Nearly every gig I managed to walk back to the hotel at some ungodly hour and somehow that was turning into the best thing about the whole tour. Like a BBC Nature programme.

At the hotel, that bed.

Tour Dory Part 5

Weird double coastline thing near New York. No idea.

Weird double coastline thing near New York. No idea. As you may have gathered I spent an awful amount of time looking out of airplane windows, moaning quietly.

Stewart’s back is held together with paper clips and knitting needles and these started to fall out around this time.┬áIf his top half fell off that might be disagreeable and remove some of the melody. For my part I was enjoying the extra octave that had appeared under my usual vocal range, but not the dull ache that was hanging around my voice box. Experience is that I have limited time before it collapses spectacularly, as it did when we were being recorded in Adelaide (damn it). And once long ago in Chicago. Bad.

Such that we sounded like a bickering old couple even more than usual, him telling me to keep quiet and me telling him to stay down. The good thing was his missus was already in NYC and had a physiotherapist booked if we could get into Brooklyn from JFK Airport in time. Cab unwilling but eventually got there, and rolling and pounding took place.

Brooklyn is not the Brooklyn I remember. It’s like somebody bought it all and made it into BrooklynLand – a sanitised version of what was there. I mean, I only ever seem to get a single day in NYC ever, I must win a prize for least amount of actual time spent over three visits. But in a way I am privileged to have seen it 30 years ago and kept that in my head all these years. It’s much better now, believe me.

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We walked with the promoter to Rough Trade, a combo record shop and venue. He was pissed off that the venue had to be changed at the last moment but I really liked the feel of the place. Not a cupboard, a goodly warehouse space near Bushwick Inlet park with a view over the bay to the city skyline and there was the Chrysler Building that I’d 3D modelled in the All Saints Day video. Sound check and then take out meatballs, which I gather was highly appropriate for Brooklyn. Stewart went off somewhere, while I did The Meet And Greet.

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Actually Stewart had noticed a problem with where the Severed Heads CDs had been placed…

… which he fixed up. Good job!

Now, that sounds pretty gruesome. People pay to meet you before the gig, and get some special seats and souvenirs. That means you can’t just hang with other people, which seems a bit la-dee-dah. I tried be the least wanker possible and make everybody feel welcome and I think I managed to do this as much as having eaten too many meatballs allowed. In a way it’s good to get that done and not have to worry about it. Of course various people wound up in the dressing room, but they had a good tale to trade for the beer. Kind of like when Batman is climbing up walls in the 60s TV show.

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Early on. Unconvinced. Show us what you’re made of. Walk on Coals.

New York was the biggest show as an individual band. You’d hope so, seeing as it’s the biggest city. I’m too connected with the west coast to feel welcome there yet, it was a good show but they were chin scratching the way people do in places where they get everything – what is this band that hasn’t bothered with NYC in decades?
I told them that Texas yelled louder and that sorted them.

I guess the only other anecdote was some guy making hand shadows on the projection, which Stewart caught but couldn’t tell me because he was busy actually playing keyboards, you know, that thing DJs can’t do. Once he got me I sent a cheery fuck off to the person who was doing it, which seemed to please the rest of them no end.

Two encores as had become usual. We really have to figure out this encore thing.

I walked home. There were a few stars. I made the mistake of walking past the after show drinks and was immediately set upon for photographs, in which I probably looked like Bagpuss covered in Emilies.

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Interlude: Remixes Wot I have done

Let’s have a short break from the Tour Dairy. I’ve had cause to collect some remixes wot I have done. There’s not many when you hide the ones I did for whore-money, a shameful period in the lean years that none shall know. All of these were done because somebody in the band took the time to ask nicely and there was a moment.

Because I don’t own these, you only get medium quality mp3 here.

Red Martian – Supercomputing. USA. 2005

Red Martian wanted to try some drum machine dub / cold wave. I was thinking Wire, Magazine, that period where guitars were just sources of texture. There’s a hell of a lot of fixed frequency flange here as I did air traffic control – confine everything to its own frequency range. It’s almost all comb filtered. About 90% in, I felt that I’d lost the band’s style somewhere in there, and started to drive it, drive everything to the point that distortion was resonating through the tuned filters. Like a computer on fire.

Atone – Demigod. Australia. 1997

The band gave me a bunch of loops and no instructions about how they wanted them to appear. I thought OK, we’ll sort them into neat little piles. Like shore front architecture. Then I built combinations of the parts intersecting in moire patterns across the hard left and right. I’m not sure they knew what to make of the result.

Plastikman – Mind Encode. Canada. 2010

Got a friendly request from the Plastikman, who had a boxed set of CDs coming out and wanted some older dudes to line up the end of the last disc. There was really bugger all to work with here. There’s a beat and some waft and I scratched my head about how you could give it any warmth. So I cut a loop of the main riff and started piling samples from a 1930’s elocution film. Thinking about My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, it really needed some funking up and charm. I added a lot of sloppy riffs to make it less damn clinical. So when the original melody comes in at the end it adds to a motley rabble of noises.

Seabound – Poisonous Friend. Germany. 2004

Again, a friendly request from the main dude. In comparison too much source here, in bad need of a haircut. But they didn’t want it too far off the radar and maybe have it as a alternate mix. It still had to have the electropop thang. I just tried to have as few sounds at once and move things out of each other’s way. On reflection I should have gone hard on it, deleted large slabs of cruft, made HOLES. HOLES are THE GO.

Tauchsieder – Clubbed. Scotland. 2007

Seems like you either get too many passes or a single loop which you somehow have to coax into being music. This one came to me as the main heartbeat and again, like Plastikdude I’m thinking, how do I make a 1000 flowers bloom? The answer is Dr. Zachary Smith biggie penis porn and plenty of it. I just love the original Lost in Space Horns peaking through the main sound. Drum programming because it’s called ‘Clubbed’, right then?

700 Hours – Boxcar. Australia. 1992

Oh I did this so long ago and knew fuck nothing. So I tried to make it sound like Severed Heads and that wasn’t right at all. So the snare is annoying and it’s too thick and blah blah. Sorry. Still I like the end bit after the drop.

Maestro – Darlin’ Celsa. France/Scotland. 2015

Got a nice note from Tiger Sushi. A chance to prune some charming pop music, let’s take it. The band had got it all down on 24 track, but they’d made it 24 sounds all the way through and the first thing was to cut it way back to as few things as I could get. Like you don’t need 3 lots of Juno60 all the time. You need maybe one, twice. Drums needed snap crackle and pop. And if you’re going to do that voice pulse thing let’s do it TOO FAR.

Red Martian – Glasses Cannot Go To The Puzzle (Tall Glass). USA. 2005

Well I’ve done more Red Martian tracks than I’ve had hot sauce, so here’s another one. I really think I got the damn Magazine sound I wanted. And it sounds nice and miserable. Still blasting the fuck out of resonators.

Snog – Hooray!. Australia. 1998

Of all things, a compilation on SONY. Hah! OK not too many sources, and all I really I want here is to accentuate the snogness of the thing – which is all theatrical and 50s sci fi. Up the end I let myself Head it up a bit, you can pretty much tell.

Tour Dairy Part 4.

Here begins more serious plane rides. Not 12 hours like we get to & from Australia – we as a nation have built this into our psyche. It’s a war, we fight valiantly, we win. Rather these are flights that drain a little blood, ever so gently, so you don’t notice it straight away.

An hour is just up n down with a drink if you’re quick. Two hours gets you a bit of reflection as the landscape rolls slowly below. What is that place? Are they carving pumpkins? Do they have proms? Three hours or more brings on a weary dejection, and there were going to be a fair few more of these before the week was out.

At a guess we travelled across Idaho, Utah, probably Colorado (without getting anywhere near Time Universal and Coordinated dammit), and a large slab of Texas without there being much of anything to see until Austin came up the window. I mean it isn’t the Great Australian Fuck All, a large void of void where for example they filmed Pitch Black. It was farms, towns where Wal Mart was coming soon, a silo.

The promoter had been told to take good care of us and he did it in style, we got shown the sights and told the eats and pointed at the local store for anything. He told us the Texas State Capitol is Taller Than The One In DC. I was really grateful for the hospitality, but the plan was (a) not to drink any more beer Jesus fuck and (b) enter the deepest oblivion as soon as possible for as long as possible. There had been no sleep for days, it was time.

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Y’all are sleeping in TEXAS now.

12 hours of black under the Tallest Capitol goes here.

Next morning we set out to see Austin. Imagination never fits the reality, I imagined that we’d be stationed in the inner city pretty much everywhere, but only Chicago matched the idea. We were near the Austin cultural centre which petered out pretty quick into what I guess is the hotel district, and after a quick diversion where Siri insisted we walk thorugh a hotel lobby we found the centre of town. Which was the centre of town. Nice. Temperature going up folks, got to get back to the shelter. We talked about media, programming, what materials would be needed for another tour, where money could be found. Serious things for a band that was supposed to be shutting down..

The gig was a barn like bar, pool tables and Coke stained glass, although the promoter had brought a bunch of ‘industrial’ bands there over the years it still felt like a place where a rock band comes on and the crowd goes THANK GOD FOR SOME REAL DAMN MUSIC. I mean this is the place where Beers Steers and Queers came from, and I know because I met Phildo the very man who sang just that. He takes care of the aircon these days he said.

Most of my night was with spent ranting with this gentleman:

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not wearing this mind you

who had followed us over from the Los Angeles gig and brought some more friends. I got to hear about growing down here and moving over there and visiting Australia and the whole lifestyle that goes with wearing such a hat. I think we should collaborate on something, God know what.

We played. It was good. People hooted n hollered. I don’t think the place was in danger of filling, not on a Wednesday. I mean, fuck, Wednesday is Jazz night at the pub next door to where I live. But they had a loud good time.

I love a gig where you can walk home. 2AM or thereabouts. There were very few stars. Or maybe just too many coloured lights.

We were playing New York later that day,
and so the ride was only hours away.
The Taxi. The airport. The TSA.

Tour Dairy Part 3.

To get out of LA, just hail a cab. Make sure you have a Big Ben in the hand, as you’ll need all of it, even on Sunday, as you approach the airport the traffic slides into an expensive crawl. 50 bucks to see the airport entrance, another 50 bucks to get to the gate. Whatever. Oh, and $25 to check your bag? Jesus.

Some sort of moon crater filler with water, or Portland. Not sure.

Some sort of moon crater filled with water, or Portland. Not sure. This is a Seattle joke.

Seattle! I have a soft spot for a city with a fish ladder. Also that rainy Pacific Northwest gloom was most welcome after the drought down south. If one day a gun was pointed at my head with the command to live in the USA – probably Seattle. There’s just enough Commonwealth leaking over the border to temper the Yank. It’s a small town for us, but I think I like that. Sydney is going from 5 million upwards, and that’s not so great.

Picked up by Troy of Medical Records and taken back to his bunker lair on the hill. He has a Man Cave that shames my man cave, and a Man Couch which I manned each night – although early morning exercises in beer addled shit talk left not much of that.

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Excellent choice of decor.

This is Seattle, God bless, and instead of the Magic Cupboard we had Memorial Grunge Rock Venue with Vegan Bar Food. I tried the nachos figuring that it’s hard to fuck that up, but ended up with corn chip toothpaste, comparing badly to the un-meat burger that was waved triumphantly in my face. A cool night out on the balcony with many fine punters including Mr. Stephen (No Relation) Jones – some who had risked being shot to come over the Canadian border. Not dissimilar to LA’s magic garden but raised up above the street. Actually got deep enough into conversation to forget to get on stage in time.

A good gig, and I reckon a good turn out for a Sunday. First time we were there (admittedly back in the 20th Century) it seemed Seattle was glad that our equipment fell apart on what was our last gig, just so they could see Skinny Puppy sooner. This time they cared a bit. By this time we were actually pretty tight – good thing, as the PA crew immediately played a bootleg recording they’d just made of the show. ‘Private’ they claimed. Bah.

(Actually I think I’ve been too flippant over the last few entries – the response everywhere ranged from mildly pleased to the kind of cathartic release you get in snake handling churches. Some people were crying. I felt like Oprah. If I don’t mention it that often it’s because it’s alien to my understanding.)

It all wrapped up too late for meat (vegan food is the absence of meat) from a local burger joint but not too late to go back to the bunker for a round of Talk Drunken Shit, most of which I don’t quite recall.

DAY OFF THANK THE GODS. Up for a real breakfast made from real food and down to the Living Computer Museum where Stephen was good enough to give us a private tour. Many fine toys to see although my favourite was the PDP-12 which I modelled from photos to be in the HH game as the key to changing levels. Also I think Stephen’s favourite as he restored the analogue section to at least make sound and vision – the sound is suspiciously like the noisy bit in Dead Eyes Opened.

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We four followed this up with an American Sports Bar experience (which for some strange reason included a large party of women learning how to paint watercolours in one section of the restaurant) and then back to the bunker for more Drunken Shit Talk which was definitely about turntables and vinyl, I know it. And clothes washing. You may laugh, but clean clothing on tour is often all there is holding back madness.

The taxi. The airport. The TSA again. One officer started to interrogate me about where I had been and where was I going. I rattled off my story about staying in Seattle with friends (true!). The guy behind me basically told him to fuck off, which I now know is the correct local custom.

USA Linguaphone.
TSA Man: “Hello!”
Traveller: “Fuck Off”.

Tour Diary Part 2.

LA

Grand Theft Airplane

Los Angeles is not renowned for calm. To the outsider it’s an endless miasma of cops shooting at cars out of helicopters, and you get the impression that’s just the way they like it. But Glendale – unless I’m reading something way wrong – quiet & chill. Two facts: Whole lot of Armenian people in Glendale, hence signs:

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I’m probably already in trouble for this wrongly being Eastern Armenian, but I am just innocently pointing out the linguistic charm. Secondly – Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, of great literary fame, but sadly off our itinerary.

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Hark! Across the desert dunes, a shimmering oasis in the distance.

Another Motor Inn on a freeway, but this time a nice old Indian couple with zero attitude. The decor – Indian Takeaway meets Grandma’s house. Across the street a Taco Bell, and Stewart was curious, but does a friend let a friend eat Taco Bell? Before a gig? If I didn’t have to share the stage with his bowels maybe, but I suggested Jack In The Box as less dangerous – he still got the curly fries and one of those insanely large drink containers full of Dr. Pepper, that’s surely enough kulture for one day.

Actually no, we don't have shit like this Australia.

Actually no, we don’t have shit quite like this in Australia.

The venue was a close walk down the road, and at first glance about the size of a cupboard. Be all cool about Sold Out show, but not when a cupboard, that’s bleak. What I didn’t know at first was through the cupboard was Narnia, in the form of a big back yard with fairy lights, and in that back yard all kinds of good people that I hadn’t seen in 20 something years, including Aslan*. Much socialising and LA style plotting of future projects with local celebs.

(If you’re the young lady that came up and said Hi I’m ____ and I told you Hang On A Moment, I’m Having A Conversation then I apologise but I really was halfway through a sentence).

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Really the night was a lounge room party that we had agreed to play, and the people there seemed just as happy to catch up with each other as much as see us sweating and dying on the stage/microwave oven. Sad fact – seems like the only professional photos from the tour showed up in a LA newspaper, and show two microwaved people melting in a rather unattractive manner – no I’m not linking them TYVM.

It was wrapped up all too soon, everyone being a little older. I can’t remember whose brilliant idea it was to ask for IPA beer to take back, but when we were given an entire case, we swapped most of the bottles for ice and I got to waddle homeward down the freeway, past a big Armenian wedding party, with a cardboard box dripping a trail of cold water.

I am ashamed to say that by 4AM the two of us plus Jason from Cocksure still hadn’t managed to demolish the lot but there was some total bullshit conversation, so not a complete waste. I hope the Indian couple liked the remainder.

* inside joke I will never ever explain so don’t bother.

Tour Diary part 1.

The west coast of North America has a very particular smell in the mornings. I first caught it in Vancouver, way back in 1985. It’s a fresh, spicy, sweet smell, and knew it throughout my time staying in Capitola in the 90’s – it was there again in San Francisco this year. Blind me, I would know I was on the USA west coast.

I was glad of this friendly smell because the first day was a bit of a mess. We arrived early around 6AM, and found our ride had the wrong day, and so the first of a number of ‘just get yourselves there’. OK no problem. Then the hotel had a 3PM check in. Only 9 hours to kill in the Tenderloin, and unless you’re interested in making some kind of social statement, 9 hours of exhausted jet lagged stumbling around tent piss city was a grand ‘hi there & fuck you’. Eventually we found a cafe in SOMA that was cool with three huddled lumps nursing a coffee and we gave Josh Cheon a phone.

Poor Josh had just flown in from Germany. He tried hard to keep our spirits up, but was even more buggered than we were, so was obviously relieved to escape off to work. Thankfully the hotel relented and gave us rooms at 1pm.

There are some hot showers that are life defining.

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Captain Hopper. Proof positive that we are in the United States.

I think this experience may have soured my feelings about San Francisco, but frankly the charm has died. Whatever cultural history it enjoyed, it now feels morose, burdened with bankers and wankers, and begging to stage a remake of They Live. The city was infested with body snatchers attending a Salesforce conference, I mean infested, every second person seemed to be wearing corporate dog tags leading them to speeches on Making People Buy More Shit Online. I heard they even had an ocean liner in the harbour to hold more of them.

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Accurate documentary about San Francisco.

Day 2 was better in many ways, a few hours sleep will grant that. I walked Market rather than Mission, and got around to the unpronounceable Embarcadero. There was something on which involved swathes of people milling about in matching corporate T shirts, things like GIANT FINANCE COMPANY – WINNING IN 2015. The whole place seems to be an endless logo branded game show.

The Elbo Room is often a jazz joint, it looked old, very wooden, like most interesting things in San Francisco it’s about to be torn down to make room for apartments. This being the first gig things were a little messy, actually let’s be honest it was pretty near a cluster fuck. The idea that you can organise your music gear to be there in each city is a curious one (hey, you might even call it disruptive) with a very small margin for error, and we were straight into Murphy’s Law here – the nicest possible people had brought things we couldn’t use and it was a mad panic to replace things by the 9pm opening. Video projection is an art, and the guy trying to get our image up was definitely a member of the abstract experimental version of that art, but hey, it got up, we got up, and while this was probably the shakiest show we did, it seemed alright by the audience.

Once grand moment was when a text came back stage from Stewart’s missus The Video Projector just fell from the ceiling. Yes, it had, and missed smashing her head by about a foot. Thing is, it wasn’t our projector. I guess I should light a candle for that.

We’d programmed a main set, and then an encore. We’re not used to encores, and it felt weird putting it there, but even then I wondered whether we needed something after the encore. Just in case I put Kittenette, although neither of us expected to need it.

We needed it. Not that we’d practised it.

That night I lay awake in bed listening to somebody yelling at somebody at great length. I think man #1 was caught breaking into a car by man #2 and was getting some tough love, but it was equally likely that it was about weed. Everything in that parking lot was loudly about weed.

The next morning it was off to Los Angeles. At some point during the taxi ride the hotel decided to charge everyone’s rooms to the credit card we had supplied in case of damage. On Trip Advisor there is a line of people that had the same experience.

Civic Centre Motor Inn, San Francisco. Dodgy. Watch your credit card.