10/10/2013 13:09 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Plumbing Conundrums and Rhododendrons


Stumbling out of the bus and onto the Norwich UEA campus, I realise its very familiar territory. Here's a venue I've played many times, in various guises. I remember playing bass with Mariachi El Bronx here a few years back, touring with Gogol Bordello. Eugene, Gogol's indomitable singer, was a constant source of entertainment for me- mostly at his frustration with the British tour circuit's hygiene facilities. To be fair, the showers in most UK backstages have more than a whiff of the 'under-funded school locker rooms' about them. But what the hey, first world problems right? Well this still got Eugene grumbling most days, moustache drooping (favourite Eugene quote: "a man without a moustache is like a woman with one") as he wrestled with each new set of arcane British plumbing conundrums. On the morning we descended onto Norwich UEA -May 2010, if memory serves- I found Eugene stripped to the waist in the support band dressing room, yelling at the sink. Why, he wanted to know, were there always two faucets, one hot and one cold? This, he protested, meant he had to cup his hands, then perform a little dance between each tap, scalding himself in an attempt to acquire the desired temperature for his ablutions. Why, he demanded, had British interior design not caught up with the rest of the world, which favours the far superior two tap, one-faucet system? With the straightest face I could muster, I admitted the design fault had hitherto escaped my attention, but that he had a valid point. In the meantime, why not just fill the sink?

I loved wandering around Norwich today. The venue is actually quite a ways out, and other times I've played the UEA I've not managed to explore much. Thanks to the bikes this time it was different.

We had food in a cafe called The Bike Shop, where I overheard a woman mention her surprise at the unseasonal blooming of Rhododendrons in Norwich. Global warming? We then pottered around Elm Hill, enraptured with the place. I can see why many who study here never leave. We walked about The Lanes and browsed the shops in St Benedict's and Magdalen Street. I have to say though- how many churches does one town need exactly?

The show tonight was ace. A game of two halves; the main set was solid, but we really came to life during the encore. After a good run of consecutive shows, we can now follow Peter's wilder 'band direction' with ease. Tonight for example, after a protracted Sequel To The Prequel involving introductions and solos, Pete unexpectedly dove into Twist And Shout, with the rest of us clambering to grab the sudden key and tempo change. After a split second of chaos we clicked in - wicked. Just as suddenly he gesticulated for us to stop abruptly, then the cue: "cuz it's the...(bang, band back in)...sequel to the prequel tonight...". It's the kind of end-of-show medley that could have been rehearsed, but wasn't. It's seat of the pants stuff, but for a musician it's exciting to be thrown shit like that. A few years ago, between original guitarist Patrick leaving and Mik joining, there was a six month phase when we were a three piece. All the shows during this period were similar to tonight's encore, but with just bass and drums framing what Peter was doing with his guitar and voice: ebbing and flowing between songs. The gigs during this short chapter were always very unique. It seems now we have a line up capable doing the same, but on a slightly bigger scale.

We're off to Paris tomorrow for some promo and a show at The Zenith. I'm DJ'ing in Gothenburg after that, then we pick back up in Sheffield on 10 October. Hold on tight boys, its gonna be fine, it's the sequel to the prequel, alright.