The Cubical’s frontman and Bido Lito! scribe, Dan Wilson, fills us in on his band’s recent tour of the land of the clog…
Landed, queued, checked, bagged, the usual waiting, coffee, cigarettes, some dweeb needs another piss, another cigarette, find a train to Utrecht, a can each. Brings back memories… a toilet in Kensington. Soaked in the scenery, many an allotment as far as the eye can see, big arm burning and breathe.
We meet the Tour Manager Pieter Kwant, 6ft 1ins of genuine goodness. Begin.
Utrecht – Wednesday – Dead Mouse Walking
A cool little cafe serving up vegan food, walls decked out in anti-fascism and anti-globalisation posters (never a bad thing) 50s flyers on each candle-lit table, a Monday night poetry night, Death Metal every second Tuesday and then he took her for a drink on Friday.
More Alfa in the dressing room and met the lads from Dead Mouse Walking. Some of our lot buggered off to a dodgy dive next door.
Both bands and sound engineers sat down to a bowl of Vegan gruel before sound check, blasted pasta that would give Linford a run for his luncheon. Wash it down with Alfa. Did the trick.
Small midweek crowd, crazy sound but a decent gig from a dry run perspective. Dead Mouse, hailing from Amsterdam, where a kind of Queens of the Stone Age meets Brit Pop act, with some decent moments but still pretty much in their early stages. A guitarist who wanted to rock out amidst a more sedentary bunch. Lines must be drawn. It must also be said that they possess perhaps one of the most affable and quirky bassists in Christendom. We had a wonderful chat about time travel and post modernism and not one of us mentioned Marty Mcfly and his fucking Delorian. It can be done. We did what we do best, drank a little and caused minor offence. I particularly stuck in the craw of a vehemently patriotic barfly smack head who kept insisting to me that “this wasn’t England” “it wasn’t Germany… USA.., Russia…” “Turkey?” I chimed in, he wasn’t best pleased. A good game nonetheless though readers. Try it yourselves. “This is not Just 17″ This is not Newsweek” “Watchtower?”
We stayed at Ubika a famous squat within the anarchist movement, parts of the building dated back to the fourteenth century and it had been squatted for the last eighteen years, although apparently changes in squatters rights are being pushed through in a matter of months, so dark times ahead. For anyone who remembers The Kif fondly then this place was for them.
Wageningen – Thursday – Automatic Sam
Al’s birthday. After dawdling away hours in Utrecht we arrive in the unpronounceable Wageningen, begin again. As we wait for common sense to dictate I chat to an elderly Irish couple here visiting their son studying in the middle of nowhere at the centre of life sciences, I inquire about the town, “terrible, fuck all to do” proffers the husband, “they’re a civilised people the Dutch” says wife. We head on, cross over and then are flanked by two budding academics on bicycles who kindly and with certain exuberance lead us to the venue, our own bespectacled motorcade. The Cubical at Hogwarts.
We arrive, a cool American style joint with free pool and icy cold beer, also free. We soon become acquainted with Holland’s best bar man and the softest drink available “Jils.” Hospitality was at its optimum.
Automatic Sam (full throttle rock n roll foursome named after a Beefheart song) opened with a Hendrix drenched big riff orientated sound that showcased the talents of an exceptional lead guitarist and a breath taking drummer. We got to know this wonderful four-piece throughout the tour and fine musicians and good fellows they are. Good songs and a strong foundation in real musicality, interesting time signatures and great stage presence. Check em, myspace.com/automaticsam.
Our gig went incredibly well and included a dance with a girl on crutches, an audience rendition of happy birthday for Al, with the award of a ceremonial Jils, then ended with a huge gay disco in a theatre.
For the back of beyond these people sure knew how to let loose. Into the early hours when things tend to get messy, a discussion regarding bizarre pock marked pop sensation Seal took place and seemed to go on for hours. And breathe.
Nijmegen – Friday – My Boot Heels
We enjoyed a festive beer with two Easter Bunnies, sang a bizarre rendition of Rabbit Massacre classic Bright Eyes and fled Wageningen to begin again in Nijmegen, again. Accommodated beautifully at Pieter Holkenburg’s flat (Automatic Sam frontman) we relaxed for a few hours with too cool for school drummer Bob, then headed out and ate a decent meal with Tour Manager Pieter Kwant Kwant Kwant, discussed the fate of the Liverpool Music Scene, the ongoing troubles at Vitesse Arnhem and made merry.
My Boot Heels supported and played Dylan covers, some old, some new and although it is never nice seeing covers I did enjoy it this time especially the later Dylan tracks from Modern Times and Time Out of Mind. I held onto my super size Grolsch with infamous bottle top and swayed along, not a sign of Brothers Goss anywhere. “I was thinking bout Alicia Keys …”
The rivets, canals, cobbles and back-alleys of drunkenness were travailed with usual aplomb and the audience joined us on stage for general knee shaking and in the end wouldn’t let us off, so good work all round. I recovered for a good twenty minutes like a human traffic cone propped up by the coats whilst the rest of the band enjoyed a little liquid libation.
We returned to Holkenburg’s gaff and stayed up real late drinking and listening to records with Bob and Pieter “The Human Being” Kwant. I vaguely recall an alternative version of Dr John’s Gris Gris with testicle related lyrics ushering us into the morning.
Helmond – Saturday – Automatic Sam
“You took a good thing and you made it bad”
I awoke with the sound of Marlowe in my brain and felt like a used cotton bud. The cramped sleeping position, the orchestra of snores and nightly groans and the general unwellness of a half a dozen men filled the room. Not pleasant.
Me, John and Craig, had a stroll through Nijmegen in the drizzle then headed for an Irish Bar and watched Utd lose, always nice even if it’s at £4.50 a pint.
Came back and watched a Johnny Cash DVD with The Automatic Sam boys, who at this point had really started showing us just what great fellas they were – “I got my picks, I got my pills, I’m Johnny Cash.”
Arrived in Helmond in the Kwantwagon and split up into various factions based on differing levels of fatigue, at this point too much muchness had taken root. I dined alone in a little Arabic place and watched Messi tear some poor sod a new arsehole.
Automatic Sam played admirably amidst the smoke machines and cloth-eared sound men and getting a second chance to see them live really hammered home their excellent musicianship and great potential. A shit hot drum solo finished off a superb gig.
We on the other hand operated at a lower level today and were pretty much dead on our feet, energy ebbing, I for one was exhausted, however the audience seemed to enjoy it and we went down really well. An encore was demanded but not tonight. I lay down for a good while, vomited and then felt a little better.
A great conversation regarding Dutch rock legend Hermann Brood commenced and I learned of his remarkable career and tragic suicidal end, jumping off the Amsterdam Hilton, this pill popping singer and painter was a real one off. Check him.
Back in Nijmegen at Pieter’s fine abode – across from a famous park with a song attached, the scene set by a balladeer out to change the ways of a drug addled prostitute.
Where there’s a Wilson there’s a way out. Bed, a two seat couch, a neck like a car crash, not to mention the headache but I deserve that for past accumulative ills. Night.
Paaspop Festival – Sunday – Automatic Sam, DeWolff
Me and Percy drive out east with wonderful music photographer Tom Roelfes and then backstage at hospitality central, apples, water, salami, cheese and good coffee. We stroll between the two stages, two and half thousand making merry with music, a real good atmosphere and a wicker man style bonfire up on the hill.
Automatic Sam play a stormer and the crowd go crazy, we watch on and I remember that famous old adage “nerves and a build of mucus is an artist’s best friend.”
They join us on stage for Great White Lie and then we get the place moving, new personal bests in perspiration are in the offing and the general populace of pop pickers don’t pass up the popportunity. But hey that’s Paaspop.
Next on are a great band called DeWoolf, a three piece in their late teens that mix the organ led groove of The Doors with the riff tastic show stopping energy of Deep Purple, there’s also a prog element too.
They can’t half play, they look great and the crowd lap it up. The Netherlands’ next big export? they could well be.
We head backstage and enjoy hugs, kisses, beers and long goodbyes with all the great people that made the tour happen, Pieter “the milk of human kindness” Kwant, and all the Automatic Sam crew, Pieter, Harm, Rense Slings and Bob.
It ends at 5am in Utrecht with tired eyes, then the long climb home to an almighty hangover and a few left over Easter Eggs.