The death pop band, Fearless Vampire Killers, are currently on the “Revel Without A Cause Tour” with William Control and Davey Suicide. While they’re on this tour, they will be writing an exclusive blog for us. You can check out the band’s first entry, after the break.
For anyone who by chance or unfounded curiosity has stumbled upon this blog I think a small introduction is in order. My name is Drew Woolnough, I’m the bassist in a band known to the world, and the elsewhere, as Fearless Vampire Killers, or FVK if you can’t be bothered to twist your tongue around that lengthy titlette. We’ve described ourselves in the past as ‘Death Pop,’ ‘Puss-puss metal’ and ‘Danny Elfman Diarrhea’ but I think just a ‘Rock’ band may suffice. This, and the subsequent blogs, will chart our journey across the Atlantic where we will embark on our first ever US tour in support of the Gothfather William Control and Davey Suicide. Will it be all that we’ve ever dreamed of? Will the “sidewalks” be paved with gold and littered with screaming girls? Or will the reality just involve the five of us gaining a lot of fast-food-fed weight? Let’s find out shall we…
DAY 1 – Mid-Air Media and Hotel Hostility
6:30AM. We rouse ourselves from an all too brief slumber as the airport beckons. Cue last minute stress as groggily we sling some clothes on and try to figure out what we’ve forgotten to pack (incidentally for me it was my belt – a minor casualty in the grand scheme of the cock-ups that could have been). We stumble down the road to the tube station with our heavy suitcases loaded with effects pedals, leads and whatever gear wouldn’t fit in the guitar case weighing down the opposite arm. The tube journey whisks by in a stuffy blur and before we know it we’re checking our bags and getting our crotches cupped by airport security. Luckily no one was packing a foil-wrapped, genitalia-enhancing cucumber or else that could have been awkward…er.
After noshing down on a tasty Pret we board the plane and set about taking advantage of the in-flight movie selection. The smart play would have been to try and get some sleep on the flight at a strategic point on the flight to counter the inevitable jetlag… But being film and TV addicts I don’t think any one of us took our eyes off the blurry screens in front of us for the 11 hours we spent on board. Who can argue with a ‘This Is the End’/’The World’s End’ double bill 3,000 ft. in the air followed by Batman: Subzero? Not a sausage. So after hours of film heaven (plus a little bit of Veep) we touched down on American tarmac and breathe in the sweet scent of freedom and saturated fats.
“We are Fearless Vampire Killers from the UK, you must be the USA.”
First port of call was to get the van that we would call home for the next month which proved to be much more difficult than we’d imagined. Confusion over insurance meant that we spent hours in limbo at the car hire agency before we could get our motor. When we finally got everything sorted we thought the worst of our luck was behind us. What idiotic boobs we were.
By this point all six of us (five band members – myself, Laurence, Kier, Luke and Shane – and our merch girl Lucy) were shattered and just wanted to get some food and go to bed. We pulled into the slightly grim looking block that was our hotel for the night eager to check-in and soak up a good old slice of Amerciana atmos. But upon entering our hotel room we realised that something, was to say the least, amiss. Firstly there was a broken light – no biggy right? Could happen to anyone I hear you say? Well, keep reading it gets better. With just the light emanating from a Samsung Galaxy S4, we examined the broken door lock and cracked windows with unease. Venturing deeper into this cavern of false-comfort we came across a table covered in, shall we say “illegal substances.” It became swiftly clear that this was not a place for six naïve Brits to spend two nights. A quick conference with the hotel owner that went a little something like this:
Kier: Basically I want to know honestly, are we safe here?
Owner: [awkward pause] No.
Led us on our merry way to find a safer haven where drug platters and shankings weren’t included in the price of the room. Thank God for the Days Inn.
DAY 2 – Fruit Loops and Frisco
Free Fruit Loops. Free Waffles. Free-form jazz. Well maybe not the last one, but that is how we started our first full day in Amercia. On the first actual gig day of the tour we were wired and full of sugar ready to take on San Francisco in style. We set off early so that we could explore a little and be back at the venue – The DNA Lounge – in time for a bountiful delivery of gear and merchandise. But alas, it seemed our tour-teething-plop-luck wasn’t over yet as we spent the first part of our journey hounded by a homeless woman desperate to nab Kier’s wallet. So confident was she in her pickpocketing technique that it simply consisted of slowly reaching for the wallet whilst standing right in front of Kier in broad daylight. Maybe she was trying to pull some Derren Brown psychological-wizardy-shit. Who knows, but she needs practice if she’s going to succeed as a master thief.
A quick bite at Carls Jr. filled our bellies with little-to-no sustenance as we wandered the streets soaking up the atmosphere before heading back to the DNA Lounge. After a lot of waiting around in the sun we finally got to load our gear upstairs and see if it all still worked! The only transit-casualty was my jaguar bass guitar which decided to stop working after one of its flimsy little pickup buttons broke. Bane of my life that bass, but damn it sounds good. But everything else seemed to be in orange-sherbert order so it was gravy. We got to introduce ourselves to Davey Suicide and the guys and catch up with big Willy C and his boyz which was great. The local support band even revealed to me that downstairs Prince had recently played four shows over two nights and in fact it was his favourite venue to play in San Francisco. Being a massive fan of The Purple One this got me nicely hot under the collar and stoked to funk out onstage.
Now: onto the show. How did it feel, playing to a sea of brand new faces in a brand new country for the first time? Invigorating. That’s how baby. It teleported me back in time to those old ramshackle club shows on the outskirts of London we used to play when absolutely no-one knew who we were and had no prior preconceptions about who we were. We got up up on stage, cranked the volume up loud and tore through with all the energy we could muster. Fortunately, energy and excitement was in abundant supply and with a tongue in cheek and a twinkle beneath the eyeshadow we showed San Fran what we had to offer. Luckily folks seemed to enjoy it, y’know which is handy! The fact that some people even knew the words to some of the songs was amazing. Validated and re-invigorated we left the lounge with heads held high ready to rock the shit out of tomorrow.
DAY 3 – Love On The Rox With No Ice
After another early start we shook ourselves awake and set off with our sights set on the home of all that is glitzy, glamorous and vacuous: Hollywood. Driving across California through the open, mountainous countryside was absolutely stunning the only problem is you can’t sleep when you’ve got such an amazing view outside your window (although I could be tempted away for a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm much to Laurence’s disappointment). Then before I knew it, there it was: The City of Angels. Cue the click- flash-whirr of everyone’s cameras and impromptu renditions of Weezer’s ‘Beverley Hills’ as we drove through that coveted locale. The fast-food tour of America continued as we sampled our first In ‘N Out Burger after several recommendations from our US tour partners. Unfortunately, though the price was as cheap as chips the food didn’t live up to the hype – our bellies were full but our hearts were not.
The Roxy is one of those venues that’s steeped in myth and mystique. To use an all-american analogy, it’s a venue that’s been deep-fried in the juices of legendary musical talent. Now we were going to get a chance prove our worth on that very same stage, no time to choke. But wandering down the Sunset strip in the boiling hot sun, fighting through the accumulative jetlag that thought was laying dorment in the back of my boiling brain. A quick (expensive) rum and coke at the famed Rainbow bar next door soon restored our spirits and cooled our sweaty brows.
Gig time loomed and nerves started to set in as we individually processed the importance of our first appearance at The Roxy. My “coping” technique was to pathetically succumb to my jetlag-weary body and crash out in the cramped backstage room. The show was tough as we were all feeling run down but we gave it all as ever and were again pleasantly surprised when we were greeted with a cracking crowd that were up for a good time as much as we were.
So you’ve just played your second show in America and you’re staying just down the road next to the House of Blues – time to party right? Nope, sleep took hold of priorities and much to that party animal inside of all of us’ dismay – we bailed on Hollywood.
DAY 4 – Chain on Target
Roll out of bed into a Five Guys and stuff your face with some of the best burger and fries you’ve ever tasted. Check: Time to head to Anaheim and rock Chain Reaction to the ground.
With a cracking night of sleep under our belts we were all back to our best and brightest dispositions and we were stoked to stomp out some rockin’ tunes later that evening. We arrived early as ever: FVK – consistently punctual, the least rock n roll personal attribute. So we took refuge in a giant Target, sipping Starbucks and chomping on donuts to while away the hours.
Chain Reaction has a brilliant grimy vibe, it feels like a living breathing rock club. That may sound like a strange thing to say, but so many venues we’ve played over the years have little to no character to them. Sure they’re all shiny, clean and ipod-white with WiFi and running water that doesn’t stink of shit – but where’s the heart? Chain Reaction’s got heart and soul to boot. The show that night was an unpretentious (well, as unpretentious as we can be) affair and after a blitz-quick change over we jumped onstage, thrashed around for 30 mins, sang happy birthday to someone and jumped off dripping with sweat: Lovely stuff. In-between bopping around to deliciously dark tunes and chatting newly-friendly faces it was a great night and we left Anaheim in high spirits, tomorrow we would be celebrating in the city of the battle born…
DAY 5 – All These Things We Could Have Done
We rose from our Hollywood Hotel and bid goodbye to the Chateau Marmont, the Troubador and any other landmark we passed on our way to the neon lights of Las Vegas. Another picturesque drive through untainted American countryside was sound tracked by The Killers’ opus ‘Sam’s Town’ to celebrate crossing the border into Nevada. Vegas is a curious place in the daylight, it hints at the tacky-charm that erupts after sunset but in no way prepares you for the explosion of colourful excess that awaits you in the heart of the strip.
We pulled up to the Hard Rock Hotel ready to scope out the Vinyl club that was nestled inside but the mythical artefacts of rock and roll history proved to be a distraction. Rhinestone Elton John baseball jumpsuits, phallic-plastic Prince guitars, Diamond Bowies and so much more lined the walls and even if 70% of it seemed to be Def Leppard memorabilia it was great to just walk around and bask in the glory of those pieces of rock history. This all set us in good stead for the show that night which was an absolute hoot-and-a-holler – A+ to everyone who came down early and got involved. With the show over and done with (in the most positive sense) we were free to enjoy the Vegas nightlife and with Wil wrapping up before 9pm: THE NIGHT WAS YOUNG AND WE WERE READY TO BOOGIE!
Unfortunately our night of debauchery didn’t quite take flight as we soon discovered that you can’t really “Do Vegas” without the dollar-dollar. Our $10 per diems couldn’t take us far when the cider flowed to the stinging price of $8. Ouch. But oh well, we took to the strip and took goofy photos in front of Caesar’s Palace and got excited playing the 1 cent slot machines (that don’t take less than a dollar bill – what the funk is that about?!). Luke stayed on to take one last sip of the nightlife with the Davey Suicide lads while the rest of us veered away from the glow of the strip, promising to one day return and paint it a new shade of red.
This concludes part 1 of this bassist’s tour diary. Thanks for reading, more to come soon…
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