News Listen About Contact New Album
Posted on Oct 11th, 2009
Germany, ICA, Cornwall


(Soundtrack: Public Image Ltd “Public Image”, Ramones “Ramones”)
September was a relatively busy month for the band. We did a tour of Germany and then our “A Week Away” show at the ICA. Germany went well, with all but one of the gigs being very good. The one that was less good was our fault for attempting something inappropriate in a town we hadn’t played in before. We started out in Freiburg which is always very welcoming thanks to the continuing support of our friend Papa Chico who promotes the shows there and is a top gent. This was Neil’s 100th Spearmint gig. I find that very hard to believe. I find it surprising that we have even played 100 gigs, let alone that anyone would go to them. Neil now comes along and drives the van for us. This seems more sensible than him making his own way behind in his car.
So we wanted to get Neil something to celebrate the occasion. But what do you get someone who literally has everything to do with the band already? We toyed with the idea of a gold disc, but the answer eventually seemed obvious: more Spearmint songs. So we gave Neil three songs which are exclusive to him: “A Large Grey Cat” which is about being solely indoors, “Bachelor Gardens”, about I flat I shared with my friend Graham while we were on the dole in Newcastle, and “Cocker” which concerns being bothered, hounded, tormented, well, stalked by a celebrity.
We also gave him a 100 Gigs Of Neil t-shirt and some rare promos. He seemed chuffed and it was our pleasure, as he has been wonderfully encouraging. If you come to 100 gigs then we will give you some songs too. I don’t think I have seen anyone live more than ten times, so a hundred is devotion indeed.
There were some issues with the German shows that ultimately were my fault. The gigs was originally booked earlier in the year by our German promoter, as a Shirley Lee tour. I am not sure I made it clear then that it would be the whole band playing. So some of the fees were low, and we were booked into some inappropriate places for a full band to play. Also by the time the tour came round, it was more of a Speamint show than Shirley Lee. It was still good, it just meant that the money wasn’t great, and in the extreme case of Hamburg, we were booked into a bar with no PA or monitors. This was compounded by the fact that the venue we were originally booked into closed down so this bar was confirmed late, but not really advertised. So we had no PA and virtually no crowd. And of course, this turned out to be the best show – there is something about being up against it that always makes you pull out your best, and this one was really special. Thanks to Margaret and Ali, who got married the day we DJd in Brixton and came along to that, then were really supportive at the Hamburg gig and the ICA too.
The hotels and hostels we were booked into in Germany seemed to be exercises in how many people you can get into one room at one time. I have had enough of bunk beds and Ronan parading around nude at 5am to last me for a while. In one hostel you don’t get towels, you sleep in your sheets, then use them as towels. This seemed daft to me, but actually worked well, and is pretty sound if you think about it. The drives were slightly less punishing than usual, and we did a pretty good job of eating well and not drinking too much, and not getting ill.
I loved the ICA gig, it went pretty much exactly as had hoped. The crowd were lovely and it was great to see some people we hadn’t seen for yonks, including JB, who produced the “A Week Away” album – he was on fine form. It all went by very quickly, and before we knew it we were loading the gear back into the lock-up in Shepherds Bush.
We are not planning any shows to do “A Week Away” live again, but it does seem a shame to only play it the once. I really like playing the whole album as one piece. Most of our albums were designed that way anyway, so it feels right to play them live like that.
After the gig, Bridie and I slipped away to Cornwall for a week’s holiday, which was fabulous. We stayed in Carbis Bay and spent the week walking the coastal path and beautiful beaches, watching movies, cooking, eating out and drinking plenty. That is said Bridie in the photo an said beach. It was so nice that I am now feeling depressed at the prospect of work tomorrow. London was a bit of a shock to the system too. While we were away we watched one of those crime shows where they follow two policemen round a borough, in this instance our borough. There were all kinds of awful things going on, and we kept recognizing them as being on our street. It solved the puzzle of exactly what happens in the cafe down the road. Made the area look really dangerous. Of course we just cruise through it all, oblivious, as you do in London. We went to the local pub last night and there must have been ten police cars and vans all speeding up and down the street for ages in pursuit of somebody. We wouldn’t normally comment on it, but it was just such a contrast after the peace of Carbis Bay.
I am listening to the first Public Image album. I was reminded of it as they are doing thirty year anniversary live shows of the Metal Box, which is an amazing album. I have always been a big admirer of those first three albums, they are so bold and fearless, and Lydon’s lyrics are dazzling.
No more band activity for a while. I am looking forward to getting on with writing the next album, which is always the most exciting thing for me. Am trying to get the guys together this week to have a beer and do our regular Pop Wishes thing, where we see how we have measured up to our last set of wishes (about two years ago), and set out some new ones for the year ahead. I need to do some rounding up to get those boys in the same place at the same time. Rounding up; that’s what you do if you form a band, spend your days rounding up.
Best of all, Bridie and I are off to see Cliff and the Shadows next week – how good is that?


Congratulations to all involved in putting on a fantastic ICA gig… and congratulations to Neil for his unstinting support of the band! By comparison, I’ve attended and enjoyed 16 Spearmint (and 6 tELLEY) shows since October 1998, so at that rate, I’ll theoretically reach the 100 mark sometime around the year 2067!

• Posted by Keli R at 11:08 am on Oct 12th, 2009
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