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Tour Diary Part 2

Part 2 of the Green Day / Germany tour diary. Features quite a lot of me being a drunk fuck. Ah well. In other news (for the Americans among you), the good people at Epitaph have a new iTunes splash page, and to celebrate, you can currently buy Poetry Of The Deed for a heart-warming $7.99. Enjoy.

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Holidays In The Sun

I’m on something of a break right now, which is nice. It’s been a while, and I feel like I’m finally catching up on sleep after Glastonbury / Green Day / the first six months of the year (delete as appropriate). Anyways. Glastonbury was a blast, I had four great shows, a fun slot on the BBC, and even got my photo taken with Lembit Opik (don’t ask). A great weekend all in all, and there’s lots more festivals to come this summer.

The artwork competition for Try This At Home has now finished, and has been won by the wonderful Annie Olander – check out her stuff. The single is due for release on August 2nd and will be single of the week on XFM next week. If you feel like texting or emailing them to let you know how utterly ecstatic that makes you, so be it.

Finally, here’s part one of the little tour diary my friend Ben Morse made of the Green Day / Germany weekend:

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Adolescent Newsagent Agony

So, today’s Kerrang! magazine has hit shelves and it features yours truly on the front cover. I went out this morning to buy a copy (wanted to check the article, think it came over really well actually) and found myself in a slightly embarrassing situation. I’m sure it’s just not the done thing to buy magazines with yourself on the front, it seems terribly gauche somehow. In the end I gathered a bunch of other stuff I wanted and bought it all together, slipping Kerrang! in there furtively in the hope the check-out girl wouldn’t notice. It put me in mind of being 14 and trying to buy porn magazines. I suppose, what with this here internet and everything, today’s youth are less well-versed in that particular brand of adolescent agony. The lucky bastards.

In seriousness, it’s a pretty big deal for me – it’s my first cover, and for a magazine that I’ve been reading, for better or worse, since I was a little kid. So consider me chuffed, and I’d heartily recommend that you pick yourself up a copy.

Other news… shows! We have confirmed a Leeds warm-up show at The Venue in Derby on August 25th, tickets for which can be found here. And I am also pleased to announce that I will be appearing at this year’s Ottawa Folk Festival, located, amazingly, in Ottawa.

Finally, Glastonbury go-ers (if you’re still checking the internet, which you probably shouldn’t be dammit, KIDS THESE DAYS etc.), here’s a run down of my shows. I’m on the Queen’s Head stage on Friday early afternoon; Leftfield for a song-writer’s workshop with Billy Bragg on Saturday at 3pm ish; and on Leftfield again for a proper set later that evening. They’re all solo shows. Oh, and it might be worth swinging by the Strummerville Campfire on Friday night / Saturday morning 1am. Just saying.

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Competition Winners

Well, that was quite a weekend. We played 4 shows in 2 countries to roughly 100,000 people, spent about 60 hours in the tour bus, took 4 ferries, and drank more Jagermeister than I care to think about. The shows were ace – Green Day, their crew and their fans were all lovely, and it was great to get back to Germany again. Hello to new friends.

To business. I’m pleased to say I have some winners for the Try This At Home competition. I listened to every song submitted, which took a fair while, and I’ve actually had a really hard time picking just two songs (one UK, one ex-UK) for the single. There were a lot of awesome songs submitted, and I want to say thanks to everyone who took the time to upload their tunes. In the end I decided to mention some runners-up as well as the winners, the tunes were so great. So here we are.

UK Winner: The Retrospective Soundtrack Players – Real Cool Hand

Ex-UK Winner: Isaac Graham – Gold And Steel

Runners up:

So, congratulations to TRSP and Isaac, two genuinely amazing songs (in my opinion) that I’m very pleased to have on some vinyl with me. And I sincerely encourage everyone to check out the links to all the others as well.

Finally, just a quick reminder about the artwork competition – submissions can be sent in until the end of Thursday, and details about what you need to do can be found in this blog post. Happy, uh, artworking? I’m off to see The Hold Steady, hell yes!

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Reaching Critical Mass

Man, everything is going nuts today, and as a result this is going to be a pretty sprawling blog, but anyways. Yesterday was the LCCC show with Manchester, a.k.a. the biggest show (audience-wise) of my career to date (TM). It really was quite an experience walking out in front of tens of thousands of Green Day fans on my own with an acoustic guitar, haha, but it went well and much fun was had by all. Green Day and their crew have been generous and gentlemanly to a fault, and I think we made a few new friends. All in all a great experience. Tonight we drive to Germany for Hurricane Festival (tomorrow), then back to London on Saturday for the Wembley Stadium show, then back Germany for Southside, then home. Christ.

Speaking of Wembley, here’s a thing. We’re looking for 15 volunteers to head down to the Stadium on Saturday afternoon to do some flyering for us. We can’t get you into this show, but we can get you (and a friend) into the iTunes Festival show at The Roundhouse on July 19th by way of thanks. We need 15 people. If you’re interested, please send an email with your name and enthusiasm to info@xtramilerecordings.com. Many thanks.

I’m pleased to say that the official video for Try This At Home is finished, uploaded, and jolly good. You can go see it right here. Thanks again to Ben Morse for his directorial skills, not least because we pulled the video concept and shoot together in about an hour’s notice due to aeroplane fuckups at my end. Enjoy.

On the subject of Try This At Home (man, I’m segueing nicely today), we have some winners for the competition (I think) but I’ll save that for another blog. For the time being, we’ve decided to open up the artwork to the same principle as the B-Sides. What we’re looking for is an image to use as the cover for the 7″ vinyl. It has to be square, at least 184 x 184mm and 300dpi. We also want it to include the words “Try This At Home” but nothing else. If you’re up for it, competition entries should be mailed to info@xtramilerecordings.com with the subject line “competition artwork”. I’m looking forward to seeing what some of you come up with!

I think that’s it for today, though I’ve got that nagging feeling I’ve left something out. Maybe that’s just a function of the fact that everything is, currently, mental. Oh, I know! There’s a nice spread in this week’s Kerrang magazine, and a trail for the fact that, next week, I will be on the cover. This is a new milestone for me and I have to say I’m pretty chuffed about it! Onwards and upwards.

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UK Tourstravaganza!

Good evening folks! Or morning, maybe? I just got back from Tennessee and am having time zone issues. Bonnaroo was a blast, my sets were fun, I got covered in mud, I saw Dr Dog kill it, and I saw Weezer play the best set of the weekend. Good times. But anyway. I’m here and pleased to announce the full dates for my UK tour in December!

  • 1st December @ The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
  • 2nd December @ ABC, Glasgow
  • 3rd December @ 53 Degrees, Preston
  • 4th December @ The Plug, Sheffield
  • 5th December @ The Regal, Oxford
  • 6th December @ The Corn Exchange, Cambridge
  • 7th December @ The Guildhall, Southampton
  • 8th December @ The Lemon Grove, Exeter
  • 10th December @ The Academy, Leicester
  • 11th December @ The Academy, Liverpool
  • 12th December @ O2 Academy Brixton, London

The first tickets for all shows will be on presale from Wednesday morning from www.xtramilerecordings.com (apart from for London, which is already onsale). These tickets are bought direct from me and the label and are a little cheaper, but they will go fast. Normal tickets go onsale from everywhere else on Friday. Supports for the shows are being sorted out right now and will be announced soon. I, for one, am very excited.

Other quickfire bits of news for you. Firstly, Green Day shows, set times. In Manchester we play at 5.45pm on Wednesday. In London we play at 6pm sharp on Saturday. Both shows we have a half-hour time slot, so if you want to see the sets, best get down early! Doors (gates?) are at 4pm.

Chris Bourke, the man who did the artwork for Poetry Of The Deed, has an exhibition opening in London. It’s at Number Six in Brick Lane, it starts on 15th June, and it is sure to be excellent, so check it out. And finally, here’s some more information about that Epitaph sampler I’m on:

New Noise Sampler

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Adventures in Israel

I just got back from Israel (well, actually I’m on the coach using the free wifi – will the wonders of the modern age never cease?). It was a fascinating trip, and one worthy of comment for a number of reasons, some more obvious than others.

First, the trip. I was asked to go over by Nadav, a friend of a friend who used to live in London and has started booking punk shows in his home country. Having never been before, I jumped at the offer (more detail later). I flew in last Thursday, after going through a seriously impressive security routine at the check-in desk at Heathrow. Israel, on arrival, is hot, dusty and mostly coastal from what I saw – not unlike Florida, much of the time in the places I went. I played two shows – Tel Aviv and Haifa – and had a great time. The scene is pretty nascent out there right now, but there’s a lot of cool honest punk kids hungering for live music. My experience of most places is skewed by the fact that I generally hang out with punks, who are generally disaffected and middle class. In this case it was further skewed, in the sense that I didn’t go (or have the chance to go) to any Palestinian areas, or hang out with any Palestinian kids. The Israelis I was hanging out with were, to the last, intelligent, thoughtful and good fun.

We went Jerusalem on a day off, which was fabulously surreal – wandering around the old town is like being on the set of Life Of Brian. The history oozes from every surface and is very much a living concern. I also, personally, found the idiosyncrasies of the various Abramic religions, always a little silly, to be much more ridiculous when presented in such claustrophobic proximity. Seeing orthodox jews, Christian monks and muslims wandering around scowling at each other because of theological disputes (which usually come down to arguments over what types of meat to eat when, or something), was pretty barmy.

It was intriguing also to be in a society which, on a surface level, feels very westernized, very much like America, in both good and bad senses. But beneath the veneer of comfortable democracy and consumerism is the shadow of militarism (conscription to the IDF is still mandatory for men aged 19-21) and threat (you get your bags searched for bombs going into shopping malls). I did my best to talk politics as much and as sensitively as I could. My most interesting conversation was with a guy who turned out to be Shimon Peres’ grandson. Much I learned.

And now for the philosophy. Since announcing the shows until literally just now, I’ve been receiving emails and comments from people with opinions on the fact of me going over to play – opinions to which they are very much entitled to have and share. Most of them were intelligent and thought-provoking. I wanted to state my views, for the record, here. I have something to say both about the debate, which breaks down into two separate arguments, and the meta-debate.

The first argument is the basic one over the rights and wrongs of the situation in this part of the Middle East. I really can’t be particularly arsed to get into a big discussion about this here – partly because I’m no expert, and partly because it usually devolves into the same old bullshit – both sides accusing anything the other says of being “propaganda”, both sides being vindictively selective in the facts they consider, both sides eventually saying something tedious about Hitler. For what it’s worth, I think the basic problem of two competing nationalisms claiming the same territory is a thorny one. I think Israel has a real problem in that its leadership schooled itself in an era of genuine existential threats (1967, 1973, to say nothing of the Holocaust) but is applying that mindset to a fundamentally different reality with a different balance of power. I think the Palestinians are suffering, but I think too many people are too quick to overlook what an awful bunch of shits Hamas are. Whatever. Like I say, I’m no expert, and I’ll leave the fine print to others.

The second argument is how any of this relates to the business of playing shows in Israel. It’s not at all clear to me that, even if I did unconditionally condemn the Israeli government (which I don’t), I shouldn’t play shows there. The shows were organized by private citizens without any state involvement, and I’m not in the habit of judging individuals by the actions of their government. We in the UK and the USA, after all, have the Iraq war and occupation hanging over our collective heads. Of course I’m aware that some artists are boycotting Israel, as is their right; however it seems morally duplicitous to me to boycott Israel and not (say) the USA. Maybe big artists can afford to boycott one small state for the sake of some media grandstanding, and not the other, their main cashcow?

So those are the arguments. I have my positions on them, which are far from unassailable. But I also wanted to comment on the meta-debate, the terms and the manner of the debate. In fact this is the thing that has particularly got my goat. In the negative commentary I’ve received, the tone is usually either implicitly or, more often, explicitly, saying that, by going to Israel, I am either stupid, ill-informed or morally bankrupt. That actually really fucks me off. The fact is, I’m a grown up with some basic grasp of history and politics, I thought about it, made a decision on my own actions and carried it out. You are free to disagree, such is the joy of pluralism. I just think it’s pretty lame to accuse me of being any number of things (stupid, fascist, not punk (ha!), in it for the money (double ha!)) because we hold differing opinions. I respect people who intelligently disagree with me, and I’d ask the same consideration in return.

Basically if punk means unquestioningly agreeing with anyone else’s opinion, whoever they may be, then fuck punk. But luckily, that’s not really how I understand the term. G’night.

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iTunes Festival!

Well yesterday turned out just awesome, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. After a total arse of a start to the day, and a last minute re-pitching of the video, we ended up in a park on top of the hill in Oxford in glorious sunshine, with about 50 people helping out with singing, dancing and generally pratting about in front of the camera. It was a pretty stressful day all told, but I think we’ve ended up with something great. Many thanks to all who participated.

Announcements! I’m pleased to say I’ll be playing the iTunes Festival this summer, at the Roundhouse in London, on July 19th. All the tickets are for competition winners and the like, but if you check this out you can find out more about how to get down there. the Futureheads will also be appearing on my night. The set will also be released as a live EP on iTunes a day or two after the event. Should be a lot of fun, I hope to see some of you there.

I’m also appearing on the latest Epitaph Records sampler, New Noise Vol. 1. The song is “Poetry Of The Deed”. It’s released on June 15th and costs a mere $2.99. More information can be found on the website.

As for today, I have a live session I recorded for Geoff Lloyd‘s show on Absolute Radio, which is being aired from 5pm tonight – tune in! And before that, I’m heading to the airport to jet off to Israel for some shows. It’s going to be an interesting experience to say the least, but I’m always keen to experience new parts of the world, so I’m looking forward to it. Detailed musings on here later this week.

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Last Minutes and Lost Video Shoots

What a fucking day. After a really fun run of shows in Ireland, I arrived at the airport this morning to board my flight from Dublin to London, whence I was headed for Oxford for a video shoot. Pretty tight turn around, but then most things are for me these days. However, on arrival, I was told that I could not travel without a passport. My passport is currently up on blocks in readiness for heading to Israel tomorrow, but I’d been assured, fucking assured, that I could travel with my credit card on this flight. Apparently not, on arrival. Cue mass panic and much creative swearing, followed by a manic drive to Belfast, buying another ticket and getting ready to fly home much later than planned.

This means that the original idea for the video is out the window, as we don’t have enough time (which means I bought a 1970s geography teacher outfit for nothing – dang!). However, we are still shooting today, and we need as much help as we can get. This is where you (might) come in.

We’ll be in Oxford this afternoon, basically trawling the streets and getting people to sing a couple of lines of the song (“Try This At Home”) to the camera, maybe play some guitar too. If you’re in Oxford (or nearby) and at a loose end, we would love your help. Exact locations have yet to be determined, but as soon as I know, I’ll post it on my twitter feed. The boys in the band will be out in force, as will I, as soon as I get there. Please do spread the word on your own twitter, facebook or whatever. All the help we can get is hugely appreciated. Let’s make this happen!

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Extra Irish Shows

A quick last minute update thing. I’m down in Cork right now, this is the first time I’ve been south of Dublin in Ireland and it’s lovely here, I’m kind of kicking myself for not getting down here sooner. Anyways. Tonight, I’m playing a free show at Pine Lodge, out in Myrtleville, on the coast near Cork. It’s pretty casual, but I guess I’ll play at 9ish..? Then tomorrow night I’ll be back in Dublin, playing a short solo set at the Ruby Sessions, at O’Doyles. Tickets can be found here.

Finally, here’s an interview I did back in March. I’m off to buy myself a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches.

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