As you may be aware Ruts D.C. are currently supporting The Damned on their U.K. tour. We've been travelling on two tour buses (us and the crew on one, The Damned and co. on the other) with 12 bunk beds on each. We generally leave the venue at 2 am and travel through the night - meaning that you wake up somewhere new each day. To begin with I found this rather disorientating, but it's amazing how quickly you adapt to it. Well, I've found that I've adapted quickly, to the extent that as I write this I'm wondering how I'm going to return to a 'normal' life. Mind you, I don't really have a normal life, so I think I'll stop wondering how I'm going to return to it... but a few people have asked me how this touring lark all works, so I thought I'd have a go at writing about it here. The day generally goes something like this :-
Wake up. That's a relief, as it means that we got there in one piece.
Clamber out of the bunk and attempt to find your clothes. They're exactly where you left them last night, but where was that? You could do with a bit more light sometimes; well I certainly could - either that or I need to get some glasses that I can actually see though instead of the ones that I've currently got.
Time for some breakfast. This generally involves stumbling into town (I've often teamed up with Captain Sensible's guitar tech Jon) and trying to find some food that you like the look of and, maybe more importantly, can afford. As a namby pamby poncey vegetarian this often means that I eat too many eggs (and we all know what that can cause now don't we children?) and / or beans on toast (and you know what that can cause too...) Hardly the end of the world, but you do find yourself wishing for something different sometimes. Still there's always the porridge at Yates's - which reminds me, have you ever noticed how many of the young ladies who work behind the bar in Yates's have tattoos on their hands? You haven't? Maybe it's just me.
With load-in due at one o'clock most afternoons you then (depending on what time you got up of course) have a choice. I generally try to have a look a round town (is there a guitar shop? There go the wages!) as it's nice to get an idea about where you are, and then see if the venue is open; there's no shower on the bus but there's usually one somewhere backstage. I generally try to have one as soon as I can - there are a lot of people in the buses, and most if not all of them will want to use it at some point. In the meantime you can read, go back to sleep, make phone calls, catch up on emails, try to write a song, have some more food, hurry up and wait...
The Damned soundcheck usually starts at 4pm. I tend to check my guitar and equipment around this time, and if necessary change the strings (perhaps it would be better to do that earlier in the day Leigh, it might stay in tune better during the show?) as well as checking that all the leads on my pedal board are plugged in and in good shape. Our soundcheck is at half past five so I've got a fair bit of time to check things over, which is good as you don't want things going wrong during the show. We've been going on between 7.45 and 8pm each night, so after the soundcheck is over there's time to get changed for the show (if you're getting changed for the show) and work a set out, unless we're using the same one as the previous show. I'm pleased to say that the gigs have been going really well for us, and after in-ear monitor problems somewhat scuppered their first show of the tour in Bristol The Damned have been on top form with their shows getting better and better. I've always been a big fan, and this tour has done nothing to change that. Nice chaps too.
After their set I generally find myself behind the merchandise stall; Dave, Segs and Molara have been joining me to sign stuff and talk to people, and sometimes Captain Sensible shows up too. Good fun. Meanwhile the crew (Martin, Jon, Alex and Todd) put the gear away and into the respective tour buses and trailer, then if there's a local hostelry open it's time for a drink or two. And why not?
2 am and the buses leave for the next venue. Time for some sleep before the theme from 'The Prisoner' plays again...