It’s been a while since I traveled on a tour bus for any length of time, though it is something I’ve done a fair bit of in my time. For the most part it eases many (or most) of the small stresses of touring – you have a permanent space that’s yours, a comfortable place to sleep, you travel overnight so you can see more of the places you’re in and so on. The immediate drawbacks are not being able to shower with the consistency that the touring life demands, and a touch of cabin fever – every inch of space is important, and you have to be a little bit hyper-sensitive to other people. That’s kind of true of any kind of touring though. Bussing can be a little dislocating as well, given that you’re in the same physical space in different places, and also that tour buses generally have to park in out-of-the-way places, like mall car-parks and so on.
The tour has been going really well. Portland was a lot of fun, despite the insane plan to divide the room down the middle (drinkers and non-drinkers), leaving a gap through the centre of the crowd to the sound-desk. Thankfully everyone managed to avoid the temptation to do a Bono and run down the gap, ha. Seattle was a lot of fun, saw some old friends and made some new ones. After the show we had to ready ourselves for the border crossing with Canada, which is always a bitch – they’re sticklers for taxing you on your merchandise (what happened to NAFTA, eh?). So Benny Gaslight and I and a pizza and a sixpack spent a few hours counting shirts and shipping them across the bottom of the border to Minneapolis. Yawn. The good news was that we crossed the border painlessly while I was asleep, so I woke up in Vancouver.
I was looking forward to Vancouver, being a Douglas Coupland fan. In the event I didn’t see much of the city itself (surprise) but the show at the Commodore was awesome. It’s always amazing to me to play a show on the other side of the world from my home for the first time and to have people there who know the words. I celebrated with a marathon drinking bout that ended up with me losing a fight with the pavement. My knee is fucked. Ouch.
Yesterday was an off day – we drove to Kamloops (seriously, Canada, Kamloops?) and spent the day parked in an out-of-town mall car park. It was pretty weird – we were nested in perfect post-war strip-mall development hell, in the crook of a breath-takingly beautiful valley, surrounded by grey and brown rolling hills, under a massive deep blue sky. Between the Sears and motels I found a bookshop, so all was well, and I got some decent rest. Today we’re in a similar situation, in Edmonton, outside what is being alleged (by Benny) to be the biggest mall in the world. Hm. We shall see. Apparently they have penguins.
Yet more UK shows are selling out. We have another UK tour in March booked, which we’re hoping to announce pretty soon. What strange times, what awesome times.