A blog post! Goodness me. I’ve long been planning to start blogging on here agin properly, but life keeps getting in the way. Well, there’s no time like the present, so here we go. I’m planning on posting here every week or two. Nothing special or earth-shattering, just some musings, some tour-diarising, that kind of thing. Enjoy, or don’t, as you fancy.
I write from a sterile hotel room in the outskirts of Madrid on the first day off of this tour. We started four days ago in Barcelona, and have traipsed through Valencia, Santander and Gijón in the meantime. This is our second European tour this year, and it’s the tougher of the two. Essentially, we hit the countries where we play to more than 1,000 people a show, on average, in one bout, in January; now we’re visiting places were crowds are more in the 200-500 range. This makes the technical and financial side of things more efficient, but it also means that this next few weeks will be testing for me and the Sleeping Souls.
In practice, what I’m talking about here is having no luxuries. We have a sleeper bus, it’s true, but we’re down to a minimal crew – Johnny and Cahir on the technical side of things, Tre tour-managing and Martine on merch. We’re using in-venue showers (usually pretty dire), we’re loading in and loading out ourselves, we’re running our own monitors, and so on; everyone has to muck in.
“My diamond slippers are chafing!” I hear you cry. And yes, this is all pretty first-world-problem stuff. Interestingly, it reminds me of tours we did back in 2008 or so in the UK, around “Love Ire & Song”. The difference, I suppose, is that we’ve gotten used to the luxuries of full crew and the extra comforts that bigger venues can afford. We’ve also gotten older and creakier. In a funny way, I’m enjoying the tour because of this. I think it’s reminding me how good I usually have it, and it’s giving me and the band a refresher course in being punk-rock touring machines.
There’s another angle to all this, which is what prompted the idea of a blog post. Playing big shows to rapturous sold-out crowds is wonderful, of course. But you get used to it. With every tour, you have to adjust a little to the setting – whether you’re headline or support, how big the shows are, that kind of thing. At the start of this run I was a little down about some of the shows – in Gijón, for example, we’d only sold about 50 tickets in advance. I’ve become accustomed to playing to larger crowds, and somewhere inside myself I was a little deflated about all this. At the show in Valencia, I was less connected that I like to be for a show, and I should apologise for that.
But, over time, that’s where this tour has been great, because the shows have reminded me to get the fuck over myself. When I was starting touring, in Million Dead, we used to idolise Black Flag, and Henry Rollins’ book “Get In The Van“, where they talked about giving everything you have even if there’s only one person in the audience. That person paid for a show, and goddammit, they deserve one. In Gijón last night (98 people in the room in total!) I was reminded of the wisdom of that approach. Forget the numbers, the facilities, the size of the room; it all comes down to you and an audience, and your job is to communicate, to connect, to create something collective. Last night we did.
So in general, this tour is ace, I’m learning, or relearning, and seeing new things, meeting new people, making the most of it. From here (Madrid) we go across to Italy, thence Slovenia, our first stops in Slovakia and Serbia (which my inner history nerd is having palpitations about), up through Budapest, Prague, Poland and into Scandinavia, by which time I hope to have blogged some more. See you down the front.
Looking forward to the gig in Madrid tomorrow night.
FWIW, from a fan’s perspective the small gigs are absolutely *elating*. My buddy and I were just reminiscing about back in 2012 when we drove four hours from Pittsburgh to Columbus to see you in front of ~200 people. The bigger shows have been fantastic as well–especially since I’ve met so many awesome people–but that Columbus show holds a special place in my heart.
I’ve often wondered what it was like for you to go from the opening act of the Olympics to playing 3rd and Lindsley to a much smaller yet just as enthusiastic group. You have always been great at communicating with your audience. Everyone I have brought to a show have become fans not just of the music, but of the larger messages. Bringing two newbies to Kentucky and can’t wait to hear their reaction after.
It’s amazing that you get a chance to see so much of the world, as I sit at home reading this, my passport still unstamped.
Know that we appreciate your hard work, wherever it takes you!
Helloo! 🙂 I had a really good time in the concert…When I found your music (last year, Nov) I started to listen to some of your songs nearly every day haha! Because I love music, I write lyrics, the positivism for me is very important, is the base of everything….and it is in the essence of your lyrics haha!….When you told me by fb the date of the concert…I was surprised and happy to know…the direct was incredible!! Then we spoke later, I wanted to say “eiii I write lyrics and I love and believe in positivism, freedom, love…” but i didn’t say haha!…Recently I asked for the tour in Spain and you didn’t answer haha! (good to answer Frank haha!)…ok I saw here ;p….About the concerts that you said I think is important to learn always…Now I am thinking about the song I wrote last Summer (so especial for me) and I hope one day could made it physical…for the moment I have some melodies on my mind..haha!…It talks about love and it is like a message that I need to say, perhaps to the Universe haha!…
Have a good concert tonight!! A big hug man!
Thinking about “I still believe” I want to say “in every moment that can appear and surprise you when you are not waiting for these”….that’s life!! 🙂
Come back to Barcelona! And enjoy the concerts you have!!
Your show in Barcelona was amazing, I enjoyed it like a little kid! It’s a pity you’re not coming more often to Spain… It took me around 4 or 5 years to get to one of your concerts! Any chance next time you stop by north-western Spain (A Coruña, Vigo, …) ? 😉
I was on the Valencia show and was great, you don’t need to apologise at all. By the way, your friend Marc now is giving english classes where i work, really nice guy. I hope that you come back soon!
Thank you! Thank you for the amazing concert in Santander!! Thank you for all your energy, authenticity and hard work! See you again in Madrid tomorrow, to dance and sing along!
Thanks for a great time in Barcelona! I only discovered your music last year and really wanted to go to one of your shows. I’m German but live in Spain. When I checked, there didn’t seem to be any gigs in Spain at all, so I managed to convince 2 friends to visit Dublin and see you there. I absolutely loved it and although they didn’t know your music, they really enjoyed the concert too. When we got back home to Barcelona you announced your tour dates in Spain haha! So I grabbed a mate and we went. It was a lot of fun and pretty cool meeting you in person after the show. Thanks a lot for really taking your time to chat to everyone. Waiting around by the back door to see an artist was a new experience for me, and I found it a little strange/awkward being in that situation with all these people around me who knew so much more about you and your previous gigs and tours etc., while I would have felt much more comfortable grabbing a beer with you and some mates in a bar and talking about God (or his non-existence) and the world.????
We took a group photo towards the end when only a few people were left. I guess you wouldn’t be able to put me in touch with the girl with the newly tattooed leg, who stage dived during the show or any of the others who might be able to share the photo with me (if you’re even reading this far haha)?
Anyway, great that you’re blogging again, what you’re saying is actually something I had been wondering about, seeing how many gigs you have lined up this year! Keep it up, it’s nice to read. And come back to Barcelona Sometime soon if you can!????????
Hey up, Frank! So far on this tour, I’ve seen you in Bristol and Berlin, and my mate and I are coming to Budapest next week for the show at the A38. Really looking forward to a more intimate show – don’t worry we’ll be making plenty of noise to make up for the smaller crowd, and will get the boat rocking!! 🙂
PS: Please can I put in a request for “Wisdom Teeth” or “Redemption”? Thanks!
Fuckin great show in Gijón! An absolute benefit for us. Lots of thanks to all the band and the crew. Magnificent!
Few people but select. 😉 That’s the best evidence that Spain “is PAIN”, shit, one cock up full of redneck sheep, as u prefer define it… Don’t worry bout it and try to enjoy and learn in any situation 😉
Hope u all have a profitable tour! See u!
And dont’ forget we’d be really pleased to manage your funds.
Mossack Fonseca & Co.
Can’t wait to see you in May in Des Moines, IA, US and again in August in Minneapolis with Flogging Molly. My kids are fighting over who gets to go to which show and I keep telling them, “Mother is taking no children!”
Just know you have two smallish fans in Iowa.
Frank, nicely written. Speaking of numbers….can’t imagine how 98 people would managed to withstand the multiple crowd surfing as we witnessed last night in Prague 🙂 Keep on sharing your talents and bon voyage!