In the words of math-core legends Coalesce: ‘What happens on the road always comes home‘. That is the theme here. A recounting from your favourite bands of embarrassing, awkward, exasperating, nail-biting and sometimes illegal incidents that have happened whilst on tour.
Touring is an inevitable part of the game. Bands have to give up their creature comforts and expect the unexpected. So we are getting bands to bear all about the unpredictable ups and downs of life on the road. This week we have members of Cleft, Talons and Enemies opening up on some of their most memorable tour stories. Spare these dudes a thought; some of these are a bit demoralizing to their dignities…
Dan (guitar): We are a remarkably un-rock and roll band, so our stories are usually based around illness rather than anything cool. I’m ill all the time, I’m quite a sickly person. We went to Ireland to play 4 gigs and on the ferry on the way over I fell ill. It all started with a really bad migraine and I remember thinking ‘this is really shit but thankfully it’s a full 24 hours before we have to be on a stage or anything’. So we got to my uncle’s place in Dublin and I just stayed in bed all day and after that I started to feel a bit better.
However, basically I had managed to get gastroenteritis, which meant spending about 8-9 days being unable to hold much moisture in my body. I wasn’t sick once. It was the other end of the body… I shat myself thin for the whole time we were in Ireland. The peak illness happened when we were going over the sea cliffs in Galway, which is an incredibly beautiful place. The scenery is just stunning. And I spent the entire time where the others, John and our other halves, were staring out of the window going ‘wow!’ either asleep or griping about my stomach in the back of the minivan.
And then, in my sleep, I managed to shit myself. I woke up and called out ‘John, John… can we stop off somewhere pretty soon?’. The next place we found to stop was a petrol station that had a Costcutter attached to it. So I went in, found the toilet and confirmed that I’d shat myself. I had to call out to my now-wife to source me some fresh underpants and trousers to wear. I’ve never worn those trousers since. I still have them though, they’re framed in my living room. We look upon them every now and then, ‘Darling, do you remember the time…’.
Alex: In 2011, we were playing Bristol and the set was going so well, there was so much energy in the room. Then Chris (guitarist) falls over. I’m looking at him while playing drums and laughing about it. ‘Chris has fallen over!’ But he was on the floor like struggling. He’d dislocated his knee.
Sam: What made this scenario more interesting was that there was a riot outside because a Tesco was opening in Stokes Croft. It’s quite a left-wing area so there was basically a full scale riot outside, police with riot shields and head gear. So we couldn’t get him out! Chris is stuck in this venue with his left dislocated leg and we had to carry him out the back and get the ambulance to come down a different section of road to get to him.
Alex: Yeah, Chris was lying on the stage and a paramedic came in and gave him a cigarette.
Sam: That’s right!
Alex: ‘Here you go mate, calm down’. Chris has the cigarette in his mouth and says ‘thanks mate!’ (laughs)
Mark (bass) – Bad luck comes at you from all angles on tour. Actually, here’s probably the most memorable tale. If think we can talk about France, right?
Louis (guitar) – Yeah, you can tell that story. We’ve never told anyone this story. (to Mark) You know your Mum is going to read this…
Mark – Yeah, so we did a European tour, about three weeks, and we spent a lot of time in the Netherlands. So naturally, we picked up a lot of weed. Collectively, we had a stash of weed for the way home and we stuck it all in a guitar amp because we didn’t want to just leave it behind. And we were like ‘the ferry back to Ireland’s pretty relaxed’. We had a pretty significant quantity of weed in this guitar amp in the back of the van. All the gear was on top of it. We were on tour with Croupier and all their gear was on top of ours. We were late for the ferry, naturally because we were on tour.
Louis – We were driving as quickly as we could to the ferry.
Mark – Yeah, so we arrived and said ‘ok we are ready to get on the boat’. The customs people were like ‘cool, just pull the van in, we just need to check it’. We pulled into an area where there were like ten armed French police officers ad two sniffer dogs.
Louis – Guns, dogs, the whole works.
Mark – They get the dogs inside the van and sure enough the dogs start barking. The officers were like ‘ok guys, tell us where the drugs are’.
Louis – Mark is saying this as if they were so polite. But they were right in our faces, pointing at us. They separated us so we couldn’t speak to each other.
Mark – They said ‘we can do this the hard way or the easy way. Tell us where they are’. And we all just said ‘there are no drugs’.
Louis – So they said ‘right, you want to do this the hard way. Take every single piece of luggage and gear out of that van right now, we are going to look through all of it’.
Mark – So the fucking ferry is leaving in like ten minutes and we’re unloading the van, which is a ten minute activity in itself. And we’re taking everything out and they’re checking everything. Then there is just one thing left to check and it’s the amp with the drugs. As I’m lifting it out with Eoin we are just looking at each other and just wetting ourselves. So we take it out and they are looking through it.
Louis – And then a lady from the ferry comes over and says ‘are you going to let them on the boat or not, we need to go now’. And that basically forced their hand. They were like ‘ok, you guys have to pack up’.
Mark – So packed up and drove onto the boat. Last on the boat, first on the deck, smoking a spliff as we watched France disappear. It was quite a victory.
Louis – It’s a story we’ve never told a single soul.
Mark – Yeah it doesn’t paint us in a good light.
Louis – We’ve never travelled with weed ever again. That was that.
Stay tuned upcoming for installments of Tales From The Road. We have amassed shitloads more stories. x