You would think that after supporting Toots and the Maytals and what not, we would be feeling elated and enjoying ourselves overly, but no, Dammit. We have been straight back to work. Almost the second we finished playing the Toots gig we were off to Lochinver again, mainly because that’s how long it takes to get there in our van. It was going to be a reprise of our visit there a few months back with some bunch of clapped out, no hoper, crusty fuckwits whose name momentarily eludes me. The Saturates? The Saturites? The Skebabulites? Whatever. Anyway, this time we would be playing a full show, not some soft core, flash of the sweaty forehead, forty minute set. This time we were there for the duration, money shot included, so to speak.
The drive up took four weeks. In that time we came to realise that our van is not long for this earth. If we go faster than fifty miles an hour, it belches black smoke out the exhaust so badly that cars behind us have to use their windscreen wipers. No joke! Also when we take it over fifty it overheats significantly. Not good. Especially because we are nearly always two hours late for anything and we desperately need to be travelling faster than fifty miles an hour almost all the time. We have also been playing up north a lot of late and those roads can take ages. So anytime we go anywhere I am usually stressing about being late, and also that the head gasket is about to blow at any second, which it probably is. Plus there have been a host of other problems with the van. Doors seized shut, windscreen wiper motor failure and replacement, fuel filter housing replaced (twice), leaking fuel pump, leaking dipstick, leak in the vent in the cell at the back of the van where we stash our gear, indicator light failure, bad smell. Fair enough, it was a police riot van. The worst thing though was when the gearbox broke. In the car park of the DVLA. Two minutes after I had signed it over into my name. I couldn’t believe it. It’s the kind of bad luck you only see in films. I couldn’t believe my karma was that bad. I almost started writing a list of all the people that I had done something bad to, and started going around making amends. But who am I kidding? I haven’t hurt anybody. Anyway, if anyone wants an ex police riot van, with a functioning cell in the back, see me. We’ll give it to you.
We arrived in Lochinver on the Friday, late again. Niall is a good guy and wasn’t too upset. It was our third visit there. He knows what to expect. Tonight was special for another reason. We would be supported by Skaramanga. Skaramanga are this amazing band who… aw hell.. Skaramanga is Bombskare with an alias. Yes, very clever. We were doing a double show so that we could play a set of covers in our civilian dress before coming on as Bombskare in our usual tasteful attire. As Skaramanga we get to play a lot of old Ska classics such as Al Capone, Guns of Navarone, The Israelites, Texas Hold Em, You’re Wondering Now, Madness amongst others. We went off and came back on in suits and kicked into our usual set which lasted about an hour and forty minutes. We ended up by the end playing almost two and a half hours! Exhausting but enjoyable. The good people of Lochinver and surrounding parts were certainly pleased by our efforts. Usual shenanigans afterwards that we don’t need to go into. Lots of jelly and ice cream. We’ll be back. Thanks again to my buddy Niall for inviting us up again.
The second phase of our expedition was Nairn on the Saturday. We set off after lunch, with Papa Joe driving. We got about twenty miles before Joe suffered a mild case of the I-guess-I-shouldn’t-have-had-a-bottle-of-jack-daniels-to-myself-last-night-plus-all-the-cider, and puked over himself at the wheel and then again behind the van. Nice one. Luckily in the back of the van we have a little ‘in case of emergency, break glass’ container, in which, we keep a little version of me, who proceeded to help Joe into the back seat for a lie down and then drove everyone the remaining eighty miles to Nairn. I tell you, that guy is a lifesaver. He deserves more than being kept behind a small glass screen in case of emergencies. He deserves to be kept in his own flight case.
Nairn. Never played there before. Has anyone ever played there before? In any case we were playing at the Nairn Highland Show which is a day long event where all the farmers get together and talk sheep. In the evening they all bugger off to the pub while the stage is set up for the entertainment, which in this case was us. The stage is in a giant marquee, on the back of a massive metal trailer. Now, we are no stranger to playing on unusual stages e.g. Linkylea festival, but this was different. The whole thing was made with big plates of steel that, when jumped up and down on, they kind of flexed and popped with this big noise that ended up vibrating through the mics on stage, sporadically creating this terrifying noise through the PA system. The solution: turn everything up so that it all became a terrifying noise. The entire gig was quite unusual for us. We took it because it paid really well and that we were up in that part of the world anyway, but it was effectively a corporate gig. No one was really there for the music. So we had probably the first gig we have ever had where the crowd didn’t respond to us between songs. I’ve never had a gig with Bombskare where we were greeted with indifference. Disgust and despair, certainly, but never indifference. By the end we had them bouncing, but we played for well over two hours and it was certainly exhausting. We were also enormously entertained watching all the women in mini skirts and hot pants making there way across the muddy field afterwards, in the dark and drunk. Priceless. Thanks to Sam’s mates, Callum and Dougie, for helping us with the P.A and to the organisers for having us. Drove back that night with help from my mini me. A cool one hundred and sixty mile in the dark. Arrived in Edinburgh at daybreak again.
The third phase of Operation Kill Scott from Exhaustion involved us playing with Pama International on the Sunday. Thankfully it was here in Edinburgh at Club Ego in Picardy Place, right next to the statue of Sherlock Holmes. We played a forty minute set to a fairly busy crowd, our first gig since the near fatal gig at The Ark, up the road. As an aside, I heard a rumour that since that gig, the venue has been reclassified from a 230 capacity to 60. Ouch! Also this was my tenth gig without breaking a string. This has been my longest run of gigs without breaking a string ever, so my technique (brute force and ignorance) must be improving. Pama International were excellent. They are comprised of Lynval Golding of The Specials and also the drummer from Pop Will Eat Itself and Lee Scratch Perry’s band. When I met Lynval Golding he was really cool and extremely helpful. He even offered to help me move amps! We’ve met a lot of Ska stars and musicians; Laurel Aitken, Toots Hibbert, Buster Bloodvessel, Rhoda Dakar, Pauline Black, Lloyd Knibb and The Skatalites, Nick and Martin of The Selecter and Skaville UK, Roger Rankin, and out of all of them, I think Lynval was the coolest. Just a regular guy. At the end of their set they played an encore of Message to You and I was invited up on stage with them. I got to jump about like a lunatic and sing Johnny Vegas style backing vocals with Lynval Golding. Awesome! I have a photo of it but it’s a bit blurred. It was a good night, but to be honest I think most people were there to see us. Good to see some of our mates from the awesome Underling, who had travelled down from Fife. They informed us that coincidentally our compadres Root System were supporting Neville Staples, also of The Specials, up in Dundee at The Doghouse, but they elected to come and see us instead of them. That’s a tough call.
Recording update. Eh…. Nothing. Gav is in California, the son of a bitch. How dare he?! He’s back next week. We’ll be going straight back into the studio as soon as he is back to get the vocals done.
Next gig is down in Ashington and then York with This R2 Tone. Never been there before. Should be good. I’ve heard that in York it is still legal to shoot any Scotsman in the city limits with a crossbow. I might bring a crossbow in case Colin gets out of hand.
I don’t like the choice of moods available on the Myspace current mood selection. Nothing there comes close to describing my current mood. Although it has been suggested to me that ‘bipolar’ isn’t actually a mood. Hmmmm! Time for my medicine.