A PART OF AMERICA THEREIN

Jolly old rockers

BLACK TIME LEFT COAST USA TOUR DIARY 2007:

At the end of March this year Black Time finally set out on our inaugural visit to the USA. Much delayed and beginning to take on the form of a mythical beast that had to be slayed in my mind, various dehabilitating factors meant that it was a relatively compact 10-show strike on the west coast, but a great time was had and we were extremely fortunate to hook up with the fabulous HUSBANDS - one of my fave bands from San Francisco to join us in the punk rockness that followed...

Leaving our foggy notions and smoky pubs behind in North London, we spent the first couple of days acclimatising to the california sun in sunny orange county, enjoying the company of Janie Too Bad's family who had kindly agreed to accommodate us. Mr and Mrs Too Bad have an engaging and reckless sense of rocknroll hospitality which basically involves getting their houseguests completely blind-drunk. Within a couple of hours of being there they had force-fed us several 'Cadillacs' (an outsize margarita with a massive shot of tequila) and the tastefully monikered 'Irish Carbomb' (Guinness, Baileys and Whiskey) in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. As me and Stix sat in the hot tub, tripping on jetlag, washing down the cocktail marathon with beer, wasted beyond all reason, we surmised we definitely weren't in Camden anymore.

Tuesday 20th March

After a few days at the Too Bad House we needed to dry out so had arranged an all ages (i.e. no booze) warm-up show in Santa Ana. The industrial estate just off the freeway looked pretty unpromising as we rolled up, but the Clinic was really cool - a relatively new warehouse type space run by some enthusiastic and friendly kids. The midweek crowd was sparse but formed a circle pit within minutes of the first band taking the stage (or corner of the warehouse as they chose to set up in) and we had to move aside several times to avoid getting brained by the flailing limbs of energetic californian youth. Aside from this being an all ages show the average age of American bands seems to be a lot younger than in Europe, the result of more space, money and plentiful garages to rehearse in, and this evening was the first of many nights when we got our arses (sorry yanks - ASSES) kicked hard by bands half our age. PARTY FOWL were an intense blur of noise and melody, rocking out on makeshift instruments held together by gaffa tape and hope (3-string guitar!) - the singer barking instructions through a megaphone whilst the band ground out wayward grooves combining UK DIY messthetics with East Bay Ray style surf-punk guitar. SHOOT IT UP were a raging hardcore duo invoking the spirit of mid-period Black Flag with a more over overt metal influence. Best of all was AUDACITY, possibly the youngest of the lot (they had to leave as soon as their set finished to finish off some homework assignments!). They won the performance props by bringing along their own lightshow (strobe light in a kickdrum) and the singer's HR-style backflips off the stage. Gang-vocal teenage garage anthems rampaging shards of Black Lips, Country Teasers, Hunches and Back From The Grave snot over the audience. More energy than a barn full of batteries - someone needs to stick their genius on a 45. Finally we're nervously plugging into the equipment kindly loaned by Party Fowl for our US debut. I feel dumb standing up there - I'm sure all the cool SoCal punk kids were thinking "Who the fuck is that pasty old dude on stage??" but we have some cheerleading from the vocal Too Bad Clan so we get on with the task in hand. Songs are delivered shakily but vaguely accurately and by the end of the set I'm pretty into it. Maybe people think I wear sunglasses on stage 'cos I am a poseur, which is partly true, but it also has the advantage of being unable to see the audience, so whether they are dancing, pulling faces, leaving the venue or looking bored I have no idea. The disadvantage is it exacerbates my already very poor eyesight so combined with my natural lack of co-ordination I often career into mikestands, trip over leads (unplugging myself - much to Stix's amusement) and sometimes fall off the stage. In a few years time I'll have a white stick to accompany the shades, and if I'm lucky a pretty young nurse to help me on and off the stage. I make a few 'wisecracks' in between songs but quickly realise no-one understands what the fuck I'm saying - something I'm used to in Europe 'cos of the language barrier but I will soon discover is equally true in America as most people find what I'd like to believe is a fairly mild accent completely impenetrable. Oh well, I will continue to ramble on about Slade, cups of tea and the superiority of 'soccer' for the remainder of the trip regardless. Afterwards we hang out and sell some of our very handsome t-shirts (made especially for us by the talented Jeffrey Novak). We're ready to crash out once the venue closes but are victim to a rearguard action by La Familia who have purchased a crate of beer with our name on it. Stix lets the side down by passing out and I'm left drinking into the early hours of the morning. It's a hard life on tour.

Thursday 22nd March

After a stop off in San Francisco to pick up our 'tour manager' Andy, we're on our way up coast to the first show with the Husbands in Northern California. Possibly the highlight of the entire tour is our detour to drive through a tree in the Redwoods - yes!! A tree that you drive through! How cool is that? Probably not quite as cool as our uncontainable hysterical excitement as we drove through it (twice) would indicate, but pretty fucking cool nevertheless. Arcata is a sleepy hippie town in Humboldt County which features a disproportionate amount of secondhand record shops. The exchange rate is extremely in our favour and I go slightly crazy (as I'm prone to do in small towns with disproportionate amounts of secondhand record shops - it's like catnip to the Caution vinyl addiction). Score a stack of great LPs for a few dollars each - Mott The Hoople, the Nazz, Byrds, Blue Cheer - cheers! The Jambalaya is a restaurant by day and bar/venue by night and we get a delicious free meal, which is the norm in mainland europe but unusual in the US, which follows the UK model of looking after bands ("Dinner???!!!! What do you think this is?? A holiday camp? There's a chippie over the road. Fuck off and make sure you're back in time for soundcheck."). We finally get to meet the Husbands who I've only previously corresponded with long distance. They seem really nice on first impression and excited about the tour, which is a relief as you never really know what you're getting into with touring partners, and you're about to spend a large chunk of time together. We also get to see the tour split 7" for the first time, which Matt from Show & Tell Records has done a top notch job on. Local band THE INVASIONS are on first - I'm a bit afraid of what they will be like as the syn-drum/keyboard/guitar line-up suggests some kind of 80s new romantic band - but thankfully they turn out to be an enjoyably angular dark panic punk band in the spirit of Pere Ubu, encompassing cool covers of Beat Happening's 'Bad Seeds' and Jack Scott's (by way of the Cramps) 'The Way I Walk'. Our set is a bit of a write-off unfortunately - weird sound and multiple mistakes, plus my voice is shot (from a cold I caught on the plane over) and nothing quite gels. The Husbands show us how it's done with matching outfits (think Marlon Brando in 'The WIld One' meets the Shangri-Las) and an authoritative grasp on how to put on a great show.

Friday 23rd March

We arrive in Portland after a torturously long all-day drive (the first of many more, particularly bad for driving demon Janie Too Bad) to dreary grey skies and persistent misty rain - everything you could hope for from the Pacific Northwest! It's almost like being back in England, if it wasn't for the fact that every third person that passes you in the street looks like they play in an Indie band (actually, I suppose it is uncannily like Camden). Luckily we have some time to kill before soundcheck and we discover a bookshop round the corner from where we've parked is hosting a reading by Ian Svenonius (Nation of Ulysees/mAKE-UP/Weird War). It's a fun way to shelter from the deluge, and Ian entertains us with excerpts from his book 'The Psychic Soviet' and a play he stages with volunteers from the audience. Despite a pretty tasty Time Flys/Nice Boys bill elsewhere in PDX, we still get a pretty good turnout at the Towne Lounge, which is an ex-mortuary (apparently the bodies used to be laid out where the stage is). This is somewhat appropriate for THE MAGICK DAGGERS who deal a nice line in doomy deathrock a la Banshees/45 Grave/Bauhaus with a manically committed drummer. My voice is still reduced to a barely audible croak but we go about our business with slightly more aplomb than the previous night. It's nice to see our friends Chris and Hart from the Hunches, and Justin from the Clorox Girls, plus we get to meet one of the Rehab Records crew (who put out the 'Message From Control Tower' EP for us), and the folks from Pure Country Gold and Dark Skies. The Husbands are on even more impressive form tonight and I'm blown away how good Sarah's voice is - it goes from bittersweet melody to a wild rocknroll scream in a heartbeat (even when my voice is working at full capacity it’s more Mark E. Smith than Marvin Gaye). Afterwards we go to a club across town where Ian Svenonius and Calvin Johnson are spinning dance tunes. It looks like a bit of an art school fashionista car crash when we walk in, with a packed dancefloor of 20-something hipsters pulling shapes self-consciously and spilling their over-priced drinks around. It's the kind of thing I'd avoid like the plague if it was Hoxton on a saturday night but we're on tour, the music's good, and Sadie has cleverly sneaked in a bottle of Vodka. Dance Party!!!! We end up having a really good night, and I get to meet one of my punk rock heroes. Sadie and Sarah have introduced me to their friend Sara earlier on in the evening, but it's only by over-hearing a later conversation I catch that her surname is Lund. "The Sara Lund - as in the drummer for Unwound?"..."Er...yeah". The poor girl is then subjected to 10 minutes of my nerdy enthusiasm for Unwound in general and her drumming in particular. But, c'mon - Sara fucking Lund - she's up there in my mind with Nick Knox, Bill Ward, Mo Tucker and Rat Scabies! We stumble out of the club at 3am a sweaty drunken mess, the shermans taking the piss out of our accents as we disappear into the night.

Saturday 24th March

The drive to Seattle is a mercifully short one so we have some time to hangout in Portland and take a leisurely breakfast. Stix buys a T-shirt that reads: 'Oregon - came for the fishing - stayed for the strip clubs'. It's raining in Seattle as well, though we're excited that the venue is just underneath the famous space needle and the mono rail - it's like the future. The Funhouse is apparently the oldest punk rock venue in Seattle and certainly looks the part - the walls plastered with years of flyers for various cool shows, reminding me for that reason of a miniature version of the Vera in Groningen, interbred with a dive bar. THE HANDS and THE BUG NASTIES aren't my musical cup of tea but are nice guys and fun to hang out with. The Hands quiz me out a random selection of English things they're interested in (Sunderland Football Club, Selmer amps and the Wedding Present). This turns out to be one of the messiest nights of the tour and conversely also one of our best shows. I get introduced to the evil that is Sparks - a puke orange energy drink (I know puke isn't orange but if it was it would be the colour of Sparks, and I guess after a night on the stuff your vomit will be dyed dayglo anyway). The mixture of that and Sadie's hipflask whiskey (as the Yummy Fur wisely pointed out - "Everything you'll need, you'll find it in a hipflask") gets me in a suitably refreshed mood. There's a real saturday night atmosphere in the bar and we finally manage to hit the songs head on. I get a fat lip from a girl at the front smashing the mic stand into my face and various people shower me with ice from their drinks. My guitar packs up three quarters of the way in (the result of trying to bounce it off the stage in Portland) but Brother James from the Bug Nasties is gentlemen enough to lend me his and we make it to the end. The Husbands songs are becoming old friends by now and Black Time are hollering and dancing along down the front for their set. Later on our accommodation plans go awry and we end up piling back to Josh from Rehab Records’ house. Josh insists on me and Stix carrying on the party in his basement - "The Rehab Room". We sit in 2 chairs opposite Josh as gets progressively drunker, plays punk 45s at ear-bleeding volume and throws bottles at the wall. As glass shatters over our heads and we strain to conduct a conversation by screaming at the top of our lungs over the noise, me and Stix collapse in a fit of hysterics at the whole un-London-ness of it all. A very good feeling that I last experienced playing on a boat in Finland.

Sunday 25th March

The next day is truly the morning after the night before in variety of unpleasant ways. I awake to the discovery that I've lost my glasses - I have vague memories of seeing them last when I was putting my contact lenses in the night before in the Funhouse's scuzzy bathroom. I can only wear my contacts for a few hours a night, and without my glasses I'm practically blind. I can discern a vague world of indistinct shapes and colours and maybe read a sign if my face is an inch in front of it and I spend a while focussing, but that's about it. The Husbands van also dies a death round the corner from Josh's house. Everyone stays remarkably calm despite the various disasters that threaten to derail the tour and we spend a few hours driving around Seattle arranging mechanics, u-hauls, guitar repair and glasses location. Mr Stix is inordinately amused by the fact I'm blind and keep walking into lamposts/trashcans/small children etc, and need help crossing the road. Make mental note to stab him in the eyes Itchy & Scratchy style when my vision returns. The most embarrassing moment is during a diner break for lunch when I overhear a waitress asking if we need anything else, and I tell her that no, we're fine thanks, not realising that she's actually on the other side of the room talking to another table. Apparently everyone in the restaurant stares at me like I'm mad. On the trip up to Canada Too Bad and Stix keep commenting on the amazing scenery, and I'm whining in the back like a child on a family trip that I can't see it, so Janie arranges for Stix to take pictures of particularly notable sights on her digital camera, then pass it back to me so I can squint at the viewfinder and go "Oh yeah, nice waterfall". My self-pity also leads to my dumbest moment on tour - "This really sucks guys, I've lost 2 of my senses - I can't see and I can barely speak". Janie: "Speaking's not a sense!!!". Bit harsh when you consider I'd actually lost 3 senses if you count my sense of brain. We missed tour manager/merch girl/mascot Andy on this leg of the trip as she sadly had to stay behind in Seattle. I'm reunited with my glasses in Vancouver - amazingly the Husbands (who managed to make it to the show in a hire van, leaving their own vehicle to be repaired/scrapped in Seattle) found them on top of the hand-dryer in the Funhouse gents. I'm both amazed at my stupidity for leaving them there in the first place and immensely relieved (I'm also vaguely disappointed in the destructive tendencies of Seattle punks - I at least expected them to have been stomped and pissed on. Er, on second thoughts...). We eat great Ethiopian food at the place next door to Pub 340 and make it back to the venue in time to see LADIES NIGHT start up. They're augmented by Nick from the Catholic Boys for the evening so it's a 3-guitar assault - plenty of noise but also a sweet melodicism that's not immediately discernable on the records I've heard by them. Levon is a great frontman - spitting out Black Randy/Darby Crash retardo-vox with style. Great stuff. Due to my guitar being left to the attentions of the same Seattle mechanic working on the Husbands van, I'm borrowing Sarah's Hagstrom for the evening. I don't usually get geeky over guitars (the Black Time backline generally consists of cheap japanese shit found in the back of dusty junk shops) but within a couple of songs I'm plotting ways to kill her and keep the guitar. It's gonna be a hard one to explain to the rest of the Husbands though and Sarah looks like she would pound me into dust before I'd injected the syringe of poison into her eyeball. Dammit. This is the first show of the tour where people seem to have actually heard of us and we even get some requests and singalongs. Unfortunately all the requests are for songs we can't remember (I didn't even manage to totally learn "Son Of Sam" when we recorded it so there's no hope of a live rendition). Also Janie is distracted by the huge screens round the bar showing hardcore porn whilst we're playing. Explicit gangbang action is bound to distract you from the rhythm. Luckily my shades save me from being corrupted by sin. At the end of the set I get a bit carried away and do my first and last ever crowdsurf. The Husbands pull off another stormer and once again there's a mini-dance party in front of the stage. They even pull out one of their best covers "In The Basement" which is rarely performed. The original is by the great Sugar Pie DeSanto and both versions belong on your turntable. Afterwards we party a bit with Megan (one half of ace promoters Perfect Youth along with Jeff) and her boyfriend Nick at their place. We get stoned and try and explain cockney rhyming slang. I have a whole masterplan in which they're going to form a band called the Tommy Tanks and do a whole LP of cockney knees-up style songs with rhyming slang lyrics but I don't think they're having any of it.

Monday 26th March

It's essentially 2 days driving to get to our next show in Oakland - it's pretty grim. We experience several extremes of weather including a fierce snowstorm (up in the Oregon mountains), heavy rain and parched desert heat. This country is fucked up. Janie Too Bad manages the whole thing admirably, though we do have to devise some interesting ways of keeping her awake, including a Ramones singalong competition which involves the people in the back of the car and the people in the front alternating lines (it's a lot of fun - I recommend it - hi-lar-ious...). We sleep for the night in a roadside motel where we watch the Kings Of Leon on Letterman - how the other half live!

Tuesday 27th March

After driving, driving, driving, and more driving we eventually arrive in Oakland. Home of Too Short (and the aforementioned Ms. DeSanto!). We grab some pizza and amble on over to the venue. The manager seems like an absolute grade A asshole. He tells some homeless guy who wants to use the bathroom to fuck off. The 2 other bands playing tonight are under-21 and he makes them wait outside before they're due on stage, then kicks them out as soon as they've finished their set so they can't even stay and watch the other bands. It's completely ridiculous, particularly as it's a sparse midweek crowd, there's only the manager behind the bar so he can see who is who, and he's written a giant X on the hands of the underage kids. They can't get a drink so why can't they just stay and listen to the music? I never understood what all the fuss was about with all-ages venues (as in England you only have to look 18, and so can usually sneak into shows at 15/16 with a bit of ingenuity) but after this tour I really wished we'd booked less bar shows. A few days earlier one of the guys who worked at Puke'n'Vomit Records in Anaheim had told us he wanted to come to the Long Beach show but wouldn't be let in, and that he often went to 21+ shows and sat outside so he could at least hear the music through the wall!! I wanted to cry. Anyway, despite hassle from THE MAN, both THE IMPEDIMENTS and THE TRADITIONAL FOOLS blow us away. Impediments are totally perfect powerpop rocknoll like Real Kids, early-Replacements and DMZ. The Traditional Fools are a budget rock party band like the bastard children of Supercharger and the Coachwhips. Both of them get us moving. Mike 'Daddy Love' Lucas brings down a can of Korean Sake to enhance the mood further and DJ Carlos Mothball is spinning some great 60s r&b, northern soul, and proto-punk records. It's a quiet night but like Vancouver a few people seem to know our records so there's an outbreak of dancing during our set which is always welcome. We pull off a decent show, enlivened by the soundman's attempts to put deep dub echo on my voice at random moments. No Husbands tonight so we head off for the other side of the bay. There's a tollbooth by the bridge and the guy manning it asks us if any of us are married. When we say we're not he wants to know why - "There are 2 beautiful girls and 2 guys in the car - you should marry each other. You will be happy. Look at my ring. 30 years of wedded bliss. It is the secret of long life." We thank him for his kind advice but there's no chapels open at that time of night so we decide to leave getting hitched for another time.

Wednesday 28th March

Los Angeles is weird - the cliché about it being a collection of inter-connected districts with their own personality is very true. All the districts are connected by vast swathes of freeway as well - you'd be utterly fucked without a car. We did some tourist stuff on one of the days off before the tour started (Olvera Street, Amoeba Records, Sunset Strip etc) and we're getting low on spending money, so we hang out in Pasadena and at In The Red head honcho Larry Hardy's house in Glendale before the show. Promoter Edgar from the Guilty Hearts greets us when we arrive at the Scene bar and he's a top man. There's a pizza the size of a roulette wheel backstage for the bands and he goes out of his way to make everyone feel welcome and looked after. We're reunited with the Husbands who have quickly become fast friends - we couldn't have hoped for a better band to tour with - easy-going, totally road sussed, funny, full of great stories and totally bringing the rocknroll every night on stage. We meet Mor and Ryan, 2 of our imaginary internet friends, in the flesh, and their cool pal Dawn who took photos of the early LA punk scene (a big influence on BT) and lived in London for a while in the late 70s. Mor and Ryan interview us for Razorcake, but this unfortunately coincides with the STATIC STATIC set, so I miss most of it, but the few songs I do catch sound cool - kind of like a more heavy Lost Sounds. Another member of the ever-growing Rehab Records alumni shows up (Jim) and I have a couple of beers with him. THE GUILTY HEARTS are total Gun Club-worship but shot through with their own Mexicali charm - it's really good. I make a point of blagging an LP from Edgar after the show. Our set isn't great tonight - it's really hot and humid in the club and all the songs feel like they're being played at half-speed. It's like wading through treacle to the end of the set, but people seem to enjoy it. Larry doesn't seem to want to drop us from ITR just yet which is a relief. Even the Husbands are below par tonight, starting and stopping songs, stumbling over words and cutting their set short. It's a rough night. Afterwards Janie and Andy go back to the OC and me and Stix go with the Husbands.

Thursday 29th March

We end up staying with the Husbands’ pals Jared and Andy in Silverlake. Between them they've played in some of my favourite bands - Karp, Monorchid, Skull Kontrol and the Wrangler Brutes - it's beginning to feel like we're tripping over punk rock legends everywhere we go. To compound this David Yow from Scratch Acid and the Jesus Lizard stops by to say hello at breakfast the next morning. We discover that we've somehow managed to lose all of Stix's clothes, so we head to a Long Beach thrift store to buy some replacements. We hang out on the beach for an hour or so, which is kind of wide and bleached-out bleak like Coney Island or Great Yarmouth when the tide is out on the hottest day of the year. Oil tankers and military ships float past on their way to the Port of Los Angeles. I go to the gas station to buy some chocolate. I have a sweet tooth and one of favourite parts of going on tour is trying chocolate in different countries but this is usually let down in America by the fact you can't buy anything without either a) Peanuts or b) Peanut Butter. I like both those things, but don't want them in every chocolate bar I eat, especially when the chocolate itself appears to be more like the chocolate-flavoured coating you get on choc ices, and not actually chocolate. Maybe I'm just being picky. I eventually compromise on a peanut butter twix. We try and catch a movie but the times fall wrong for us so we settle for a ferris wheel instead for that proper seaside holiday vibe. Meanwhile Janie has joined the losing things club by misplacing her glasses (we really are the nerdiest band in the world). The show that night is at a cool venue (Alex's Bar) but has been double-booked so we end up on an incongruous bill with a couple of gaelic punk-pop-psychobilly bands from central europe. Imagine the Dropkick Murphys but more German. Actually don't. I feel bad - they were really nice guys who let us borrow their bass amp, and I'm sure they found my failed attempts to master 3 chords equally unlistenable. I fuck up our set completely - I'm constantly put off what I'm doing by a high-pitched squealing from the monitor and break 2 strings during the show. I struggle on but my guitar is so out of tune by the end I give up trying to play songs and just resort to bashing it with my hand. Rehab Ritson is in attendance again and introduces me to the delights of Tecate - a mexican beer/tequila mix that comes in huge cans with the kind of packaging you’d expect on paint-stripper. It's good stuff. The Husbands are back on form tonight and make up for the Glendale show by delivering an extra fiery set. Afterwards Sarah makes a desperate attempt to join the nerd club by losing her own glasses. Everyone's trying to copy me!

Friday 30th March

We have to leave the car we've been using in the OC so the ever-helpful Mr and Mrs Too Bad volunteer to drive us to San Diego. Unfortunately their car breaks down half an hour into the journey and we're left stranded in SoCal. We end up renting a flatbed truck (the only thing left at the hire place) and get there just before nightfall. We attend an impromptu photo session courtesy of one of the Husbands relatives which is fun, and then have drinks round Thad and John from Swami Records house to get in our quota of punk rock legends for the day. When we walk in Speedo is smoking a fat cigar, drinking fine brandy, stroking a tiny kitten and watching "What Not To Wear" - I swear this is true. That guy is just too cool for school. The show itself is great. The Tower Bar is basically a concrete-floored dive bar with no stage and a shitty vocal p.a. but perfect for our purposes. THE CORVINAS get the evening started in fine fashion with a mixture surf instrumentals, snotty garage-punk and a great King Khan & BBQ cover. We nail our best show of the tour next to Seattle, which is a relief after the 2 stinkers in LA. Afterwards the Australian barman plies us with shots and we hang out with another member of the Rehab crew - Wade - those guys are like the fucking feds or something. Never has a record label been so appropriately named. San Diego is the Husbands second home, being where both Sarah and Sadie grew up and the home of their label, and the crowd go appropriately nuts for their set.

Saturday 31st March

Most of today is taken up with a mammoth drive in the (now repaired) Husbandmobile halfway back up the coast to San Francisco, with one stop-off in LA to pick up Stix's stinky clothes bag which has now been located. Weirdly everything we lost on tour got found except 1 of my shirts and Sarah's glasses. Janie Too Bad comes off worse as she actually bought a new pair of glasses and then found the pair she lost. Next time I write a tour diary I'll try and leave all the stuff about shows out and just report on the bifocal situation each day, with maybe an inventory of what alcohol was consumed. At the Knockout in SF we get to meet the Husbands’ No.1 fan. We thought Black Time had some committed fans (such as the legendary John who travels all the way from Glasgow to see us when we play in London), but this guy has a Husbands tattoo and turns up at their shows with individual gifts for each member - now that's making an effort. Daddy Love is there again and has just moved into a nearby apartment so we convene there for some shots of absinthe. I should add a disclaimer at this point - I don't think drinking is by any means big OR clever kids, I'm just a very nervous guy and wouldn’t be able to get on stage without it. I regrettably miss the opening combo (who feature Dave from the Traditional Fools pumping the organ) but it's emotional seeing our last Husbands set for a good long while. Black Time join them on stage for their last number "Where'd Our Love Go Wrong", and they join us during our set for a soul-powered version of "Feel So Bad". The various punk rock legends I've encountered on tour are all topped by the presence of Johnny Strike and Hank Rank from Crime in the room!! Black Time wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Crime and they've provided the inspiration for more than a few of our songs. We perform "First Strike" (a Black Time number that directly references Crime and uh, Johnny obviously) and their own "Rockabilly Drugstore". I hand my guitar to Dave from the Traditional Fools at one point in the set but trip over the lead and unplug it, so he plays silent guitar for several minutes. It's a good job he's so god damn good-looking or it would have been embarrassing. There is much partying and toasting of the tour after the set. Afterwards we go get burritos from Taqueria Cancun (seriously the best thing I've ever had in my mouth - I've been dreaming about them since my last trip to SF a few years ago) and crash a lame techno party that's happening round the corner. The next morning we say a sad goodbye to Sarah and Andy and Sadie drives us to the airport in the husbandmobile. What happens next is of course the stuff of legend and I’m sure everyone by now has heard a version of it in some of the less scrupulous tabloid newspapers. Just as we’re about to board the plane back to London and our dreary dayjobs, we’re accosted by the larger-than-life Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli – the famous film producer of the James Bond franchise!! He caught the show at the Knockout and wants to know if Black Time would be interested in starring in our own series of spy/zombie films. There’s some concern over whether we’ll keep control over the musical direction but Cubby the ever-seasoned pro eases our nerves over cocktails in the back of his air-conditioned limo. We iron out the remaining contractual wrangles as we drive off for the bright lights of Hollywood. I awake with a cracking headache a few days later in the Elephant’s Head in Camden Town. It’s difficult to ascertain which parts of the last few days were real and which were imagined. I make several attempts to get in touch with Cubby but his p.a. always tells me he’s in a meeting. I’m sure he’ll be in touch – he seemed like an honest guy.

Lemmy Caution – tMx 30 – 07/07