Guest post by Kristin Gill
(Thanks so much to Kristin for writing this for us! I was taking for-freakin-ever, she’s a great writer, and I’m sure you guys were sick of hearing from me all the time anyway.)
It has been quite some time now since the excitement of tour has ended. I know Jeremy has been meaning to write something about the time we spent in the UK (and, in his case, Ireland), but I’ve been keeping him preoccupied with our own February Records project(s). So, I thought I’d write up a little account of tour to make up for Jeremy’s preoccupation. Just be forewarned, this may get a little sentimental. I was told it was okay.
For whatever reason, these people let me go on tour with them. I had six weeks off from work and managed to convince Jeremy that it was a good idea. There was an extra space in the van and no one else really seemed opposed to the idea. What were they thinking?
I arrived in Glasgow a day later than everyone else so I unfortunately missed the first rehearsal. I also knew Jeremy spent some time in Dublin and western Ireland, even playing an acoustic gig with Mumblin’ Deaf Ro and Big Monster Love at Dublin’s The Pop Inn before the full band rehearsals began in Scotland. From what Jeremy told me and the pictures I saw, he had a great time! I’m sure he’ll willingly tell you all about his falconing experience if you ask him about it.
Perhaps one of the most important aspects to remember is that none of The Very Most contingent of this tour really knew each other prior to this experience, the Scottish contingent being the only exception. Jeremy had taken previous trips to Scotland and I had met Jeremy at NYC Popfest is 2013, but aside from “knowing” each other on the internet, that was really it. Two people came from Spain, five from Scotland, two from England, one from America, and myself, an American via Sweden. A truly international mix of personalities.
I suppose it’s important to know who was at the core of this tour. Jeremy rounded up several of his friends to complete a full TVM line up which consisted of himself, Vinnie Ransome (The Mini Skips, My Little Owl Records), Chris Gilles (The Hermit Crabs, Yakuri Cable), Jo Bunyan (The Hermit Crabs, Yakuri Cable, Bodyheat), John Ferguson (The Hermit Crabs, Bodyheat), and Pablo Caballero de Valcárcel (Ion Tides). Of course, The Very Most was playing each bill alongside the Glasgow-based band Yakuri Cable, in which Jo and Chris also played. Ross Donaldson and Andrew Black made up the other half of the band. Besides myself, Mark Wainwright (The Mini Skips, My Little Owl Records) and Marta Tortajada (the artist responsible for countless TVM covers) also joined and shared merch responsibilities over the course of the two weeks.
But I digress a little. Yes, there was a rehearsal before I arrived. I caught a flight from Stockholm and a train from London where I spent a solid six hour staring out the window as the scenery passed me by. I passed some cities I’d like to visit someday – Durham, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed – and got overly excited about our pending trip to Edinburgh the following day as the train approached and passed through Waverley. I arrived sleepily in Glasgow and ventured to Chris and Jo’s beautiful flat. They were lovely enough to host not only myself but Pablo and Marta, as well. Mark and Vinnie, ironically enough, booked a flat on Airbnb right around the corner without even realizing it. Team TVM was, with the exception of Fergie and Jeremy, all within one block of each other. Convenient! Chris and Jo were incredibly sweet and we sat around chatting for a while. Of course I had to ask how the first rehearsal was and there seemed to be mixed reviews. There was still one more to look forward to.
The following day, Thursday, was eventful. All of the Scots had to work so Marta, Pablo, Jeremy, Vinnie, Mark, and I made plans to go to Edinburgh for a few hours. Before we departed there were incidents involving a wasp in the flat and my humane attempts at catching it seemed futile. I do remember that the first time I met Mark and Vinnie I was standing on a chair by the window trying to capture the insect. Hi, nice to meet you! Luckily Pablo came in and scared the wasp away. That was what were began to believe anyway. Or the thing bounced off of me and out of the window. Either way, problem solved.
Edinburgh was spectacular. I can still picture Jeremy’s face when we left the station and saw the old city across the bridge, completely in awe. We got the tough walking up-hill portion of the trip over with as quickly as we could and ventured the Old Town a bit. We really only had a few hours to see all that we could! We had lunch in a nice little place and played “what’s your favourite biscuit?” followed by a rousing game of Horse in the Edinburgh Museum.
This was the turning point for Horse. It took a few members of the tour a little while longer to catch onto the craze, but by the end we were all playing. In fact, I think we’re all still playing it to some extent. You’re probably asking yourself “what’s horse?” As Mark and Vinnie explained it to us, it is basically a game in which you yell “horse” when you spot a horse. It can be an actual horse, a painting, a toy horse, etc. Those Lloyd Bank logos are all over the place! The same horse can’t be called more than once a day. And, if you want to get a little more complicated, you can call “horse” if you see a prefabricated house on the road, a boat on a trailer, or a nun. Don’t ask me why. There was a lot of horsebox controversy on the trip – you can call “horse” if you think a horse is inside, but do so at your own risk.
Basically, Mark, Jeremy, Vinnie, and I ran around this museum like children calling out “horse.” There were a lot of military paintings and soldiers on horseback, so it was quite the game. We didn’t learn anything about Edinburgh at all. We were awful patrons, but we sure had fun!
By the time we got back to Glasgow it was nearly time for rehearsal. Knowing that everyone had been practicing a lot before the first rehearsal and after all of the mixed reviews I heard, I was curious to hear how it was sounding. It should also be noted that this was their last rehearsal before the first gig of tour the following day. Six hours together was all the band had! And I must admit, they sounded pretty good even before rehearsal ended. After rehearsal we headed over to a pub with Ally from Bodyheat. We all sat around talking for quite a while before disembarking.
We had an easy day on Friday. We all slept in, relaxed, and most of us went for lunch in the Southside. I dyed Jo’s hair with one glove and I can report that the dye did not come off of my hands for 3 ½ weeks. We were off to The Glad Cafe before we knew it! Night one of tour! I was most excited about seeing Duglas T. Stewart and finally hearing more from Bodyheat. There were rumors when we arrived that Norman Blake would be playing with Duglas which was exciting and turned out to be true! So many friendly faces showed up. The venue may have been a bit of a sauna, but we all had a really great time. The bands sounded fantastic and The Very Most’s first set as a band went off without a hitch!
My favourite moment? Patricia (of TVM’s “Patricia” fame) was in attendance. Jeremy played a fun “joke” on the audience (“I like to pick out one member of the audience and make up a song about them. So… you! What’s your name? Patricia? Oh, okay…”). The smile on her face when the band performed that song stretched from ear to ear. It was a wonderful moment. When the gig wrapped up we all went to another pub to celebrate what a great success the night had been.
Saturday was the longest drive of tour – Glasgow to Nottingham. We got breakfast at The Glad Cafe before climbing into our maroon home-away-from-home for the week. I think Chris ended up nicknaming the van “Horse” before the end of tour. Ross and Andy were fantastic drivers over the course of the week – we wouldn’t have survived without them!
We passed the time the best we could. Fergie, Chris, Jeremy, and I played some silly car game concerning road signs and the letters of the alphabet. That game actually lasted at least 2 hours and didn’t end until we were entering Nottingham, so it was time well spent. It was close, but Jeremy was the overall victor. I gave up somewhere around the letter G. Somewhere en route we encountered the only bit of rain of the tour. What fantastic weather we had!
We arrived at The Maze and unloaded the van. Mark, Marta, and I set up the merch table, though it wasn’t entirely needed on this occasion. Witching Waves had, unfortunately, dropped off the bill due to illness earlier that morning, T-Shirt Weather stepped in to fill the gap while Feature ended up headlining the night. Everyone sounded great again! Though the crowd was relatively small, the motorcycle enthusiasts in attendance certainly kept everyone entertained. I think one of those men actually licked poor Vinnie’s face. Andy also tried to ride an amp down the streets of Nottingham though I personally wasn’t present to witness it.
Off to Liverpool! I was really looking forward to being in the city with my beloved Swapsies again after visiting them in March. The drive was a bit long but not nearly as bad as the drive to Nottingham had been. We played more Horse and Chris briefly subjected us to Gwen Stefani, though we switched over to The Beatles as we arrived in the city (of course). Huw from The Swapsies came to greet us while we had lunch and then headed off to the venue. Before sound check we walked down to the Mersey and over to the Cavern Club – really quick Liverpool tourism! The venue, Maguire’s Pizza Bar, was exactly that – a pizza place that sold beer with a small venue in the back. It was charming and having dinner at our disposal was a real delight!
The venue was warm but it was a great, friendly atmosphere. So many more friendly faces showed up! Yakuri Cable sounded great in the space – it was perfect for Jo’s vocals. I am obviously biased, but The Swapsies sounded incredible. They just keep getting better! This was also their first gig with their new bassist, Matt, and he definitely fit like he had always been there. The new unreleased songs are so catchy. Despite having spent some time with them in Liverpool before, this was the first time I had ever seen them live. They didn’t disappoint, either.
While the Yakurist, Mark, and Vinnie ventured back off to their hotel, us five misfits went off to the Aigburth area with Elaine, the drummer for The Swapsies. We settled in with drinks at Elaine’s after the show but, feeling incredibly exhausted, I went to sleep early. We actually stayed next door to Elaine’s house in a children’s nursery, on blow-up mattresses and camp beds, which was thoroughly bizarre and hilarious in its own way. I apparently missed a lot of drinking and shenanigans, which I got a full report on the following day.
While we sat around waiting for the rest of the group to finish their luxurious breakfast (at least three of us are still a little bitter…) we sat around with our cereal and coffee. We read really disheartening children’s books: a boy went to the zoo with his mother and kept asking her if he could adopt whatever animal he saw. His mother continuously said no. The boy keeps asking, even in the petting zoo, but his mother continued to say no. And then the book abruptly ended. So, kids, you don’t always get what you want. Please get used to disappointments in life.
From Liverpool we embarked to Bristol! More Horse was played. While Pablo and Marta were whisked away to stay with the ever-so wonderful Nikki Barr, the other three misfits settled into My Little Owl HQ. Jeremy, Ferg, Vinnie, and I walked down to Cafe Kino a bit later through the steep hills of Bristol. Lonely Tourist was on the bill tonight! I had sadly missed his acoustic set at Copenhagen Popfest but had since been hooked on Staring At Weather so I was excited to see the full band performance. It was a really nice night, including meeting Vinnie’s lovely parents.
I’m pleased that Swindon is only a short drive from Bristol. Given then we didn’t have a long drive ahead of us, we had a day to enjoy. We spent some time at the Clifton Suspension Bridge where we climbed down through that cave and experienced the camera obscura, as well. Have you ever tried to chase seagulls in a camera obscura? It’s more fun than you think. We sat outside and had ice cream. We cooked and ate a good meal back at MLO HQ before we ventured off to Swindon.
Who knew Swindon, of all places, was going to be one of the best nights of the entire tour? Nikki joined us for the trip which was lovely! We arrived at The Victoria, unloaded the van, and laughed at all the pictures of the hilariously-named cover bands filling up the walls. There was a lot of shandy consumed over the course of the evening. The King in Mirrors were absolutely fantastic, too! The trip home was thoroughly entertaining – there were long chats with Ross, plenty of beer, and a perfectly starry sky.
To London! I abandoned life in the minibus and rode into the city with Vinnie as Mark was at work. We played pub cricket while driving through the city and eventually made it to the Airbnb flat we rented in Shadwell. Unfortunately, it was on the 4th floor. I don’t remember that being advertised anywhere! It was incredibly tacky – decked out with all kinds of ridiculous UK touristy paraphernalia, though it had lovely views of the city’s tallest buildings. It was only a quick stop before we ventured back out into the humid London air and I taught everyone in the van pub cricket on the way to the venue. It was a short drive to the Buffalo Bar where we unloaded, managed to sit down and eat a meal, and actually relaxed a bit before the gig started.
Yakuri Cable opened up the night. It was their last night on tour and I can honestly say that they sounded better and better every night. Next up were Cosines who I was very excited to see. It was great to see Daniel Chapman, Cosines’ bassist, after missing each other the last time I was in London. Seeing them got me pretty excited about their new album, too. And finally, The Very Most, where I played photographer for a while before heading back to my merch table duties. I missed Mark!
Finally, a day off! Ross and Andy were awake incredibly early to pack up the van and head back to Glasgow. Chris and I helped load equipment into Horse the Minibus and Ross and Andy were on the road by 7:30am. Chris, Jo, and I then decided to watch the opening ceremony for The Commonwealth Games that had taken place the night before. I remember really tacky songs, people dressed in giant Tunnock’s costumes, too much Rod Stewart, and those adorable Scottie Dogs and their little legs running around as each country’s team was announced. We all know what my favorite part of that was.
The four of us decided to go out and enjoy some time in London. Fergie met us for lunch and we walked the Thames Path for a while, stopping periodically for drinks. We spent a little time in the Victoria and Albert Museum and had dinner nearby. There were two more pubs involved before Chris, Jo, Jeremy, and I ventured back to Shadwell. It was off to Indietracks in the morning.
There were some ticket mishaps in the morning but we all eventually managed to get on our trains. I left the group in Nottingham and ventured to Alfreton, where I passed the journey with more familiar faces: Lisa Bouvier (The Flatmates), Mattias Lidehäll (The Flatmates), and Silja Haddal Mork (EardrumsPop). Jeremy, Pablo, Marta, and Fergie ventured off to the airport to rent a car before driving to Mansfield. More mishaps ensued, but eventually Chris, Jo, and I settled in to the Premier Inn in Alfreton. We relaxed and had a small dinner before lazily making our way to the festival site. By the time we finally arrived, we had already missed Teen Canteen and Spearmint was finishing their set, but we eventually reconvened with everyone, including Mark, Vinnie, Nikki, and plenty of new faces, for The Chills and Allo Darlin’.
I know that everyone had a different Indietracks experience so it’s hard to report on those last few days. We all crossed paths here and there, but there were certain bands that people were more excited to see. Saturday’s heat got the better of some of us, too. We spent a lot of time near the owls (where Fergie sang the ever-so-popular “Sexual Owl”), drank a lot of beer that resembled ice cream, and many of us never made it to a gig on the train. When The Very Most took the stage on Sunday afternoon, it was nice to see so many friendly faces and supporters of the people in front of us. Mark, Marta, Nikki, and I were, of course, front and center. I know that playing Indietracks has always been a dream for Jeremy, just as NYC Popfest had been, so it was great to be there and witness both of those moments firsthand.
We all had an emotional and heartwarming moment after the set. Despite not having known each other before this tour had started, we all grew quite close. I suppose that’s inevitable when you’re spending so much time with the same people. Saying goodbye to Pablo, Marta, and Jeremy later on that evening was just as emotional, though the rest of us would wait until Monday morning to say our goodbyes.
Funny enough, as I write this, Allo Darlin’s cover of “If You Don’t Pull” just came up on shuffle. I can’t remember how many time I heard this performed or sang myself over the course of Indietracks weekend. At least five! It will always be, at least to me, evocative of Saturday night’s indiepop singalong. I can’t express how thankful I am for being able to take part in this trip, especially with all of the personal issues I had to deal with weeks prior. I saw some great bands, met some lovely people, and saw even more of England. I was able to visit Scotland for the first time. I spotted a lot of horses, listened as songs were created on the spot (“jump off horse, of course, of course…”), lived up to my state’s “Live Free or Die” motto, inherited my very own horse tote bag, and laughed almost constantly. Indeed, I made some wonderful friends who I miss dearly and can’t wait to see again soon. I really respect and admire the kindness, generosity, and friendship of these brilliant people.