Conquering Animal Sound have undoubtedly released one of the best debut records of 2011 in Kammerspiel, and to support the release of the record the band headed on tour around the UK. This is part one of their tour diary, written by James Scott. Part two (from Anneke Kampman) will be heading your way soon. Pre-tour Our friend Joni comes round for a cup of tea before we go on tour cus we're going to miss her. Because she's not able to come to our Glasgow show, we play her our cover of Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own' that we're going to be using as an encore - should such a thing ever actually be required. She perfectly sums up the experience of watching Conquering Animal Sound as "oh, she's singing, that's lovely, what's he doing now, oh he pushed that button, and she pushed that button, oh my god!" Hull // 2nd February 2011 We get the train to Larkhall to meet our driver Jay. Larkhall isn't pleasant. Standing outside the Co-op, at lunchtime, I watch two men in tracksuits shouting at each other, then start pushing each other, before one spits in the others face and stalks off. Things can only get better from here, which leads us very nicely to Hull. An hour away from our destination, Jay's windscreen wipers stop working with a very dramatic clunk. He tries to fix it, to no avail. We drive with extreme trepidation the rest of the journey, but fortunately, it does not rain. At the venue, promoter Paul buys us a most fantastic array of curry's, the highlight being a delicious channa dal. I then compound Jay's misery at the state of his car by beating him at pool. The gig is quiet, but there's a very lovely bunch of people in to watch us this evening, and we certainly enjoy ourselves. JAYS HI 5: Absolute disaster, rain defences down.
York // 3rd February 2011 We wake up in Hull. Anneke has a "roast vegetable and goats cheese panini". The roast vegetables are potatoes and carrots, which seem to be boiled rather than roasted. I have an egg butty that is sugary beyond believe. Hull's culinary skills have evaporated over night. We try to get Jay's windscreen wipers fixed. Some charlatan cowboy mechanics rip us off for looking at them, but don't fix them. And won't reattached them to the car. Fortunately, it's a beautiful, cloudless day, so we sneakily drive to York, while having a big moan about not being able to stand up to charlatan cowboys. York is beautiful. Like New York, but better. We go charity shopping, Jay buys 11 vinyls, Anneke buys a tweed bomber jacket, and I buy myself a scone with cream and jam. Promoter Joe is our favourite person in York, and perhaps even Greater Yorkshire. The stage roof is about an inch from my head, but I don't crack my head on it till after our set, fortunately. The rain death journey back to Joe's house is terrifying. JAYS HI 5:
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Leeds // 4th February 2011 I don't want to discuss how we got to Leeds. Safe to say, we arrived safely. We take the car to Vauxhall Evans Halshaw and they fix the windscreen wipers on warranty, not a penny paid. Jay is so happy, he leaves the windscreen wipers all the way to Rich's house, even though it isn't even raining any more. Last time we played at the Packhorse, we had an onstage technical meltdown, fortunately of which there is no repeat of tonight. Jay and I have a truly horrendous game of pool, surrounded by pub crawling students in animal costumes, which really puts us off, and he wins after ten minutes of aimless play. There is little honour in winning a game like that. Onstage I tell a really long winded story about my family heritage which culminates in slagging off Leeds United Football Club. We go back to Rich's house after for drinks. Rich is our label, booker, hotel, general saviour, though after watching him drunkenly wrestle with his girlfriend, we're not sure how we feel about being on his label anymore. JAYS HI 5: Orgasmic, car fixed. Hello Leeds!
Day off in Leeds // 5th February 2011 We were supposed to be playing in Manchester tonight, but unfortunately it's been cancelled, so we just have a day off. I don't mind too much, as I am rather fond of Leeds these days. I'm less sure of Jay's opinion though - "If Glasgow and Larkhall had a baby, and it was born in England, it'd be called Leeds". Anneke makes pancakes for breakfast. Rich's house mates band practice from 1pm till midnight, which is an astounding feat of dedication - Anneke and I usually manage an hour and a half before we get bored. So we walk into town, Anneke and Jay go to see 'The Kings Speech' - Anneke: "I'd heard it was really boring, but I didn't find it boring" - and I go to the pub with Ellie from Glissando, cus I like drinking with rock stars. We have dinner in the Heroes of Fiji or something, it's delicious. JAYS HI 5: Word up to Japanese food.
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London // 7th February We spend the afternoon traipsing up and down Brick Lane, a street of unjustifiably expensive, vaguely vintage clothes shops. No deal. In Rough Trade Records however, we have the pleasure of seeing the Sea of Bees 'Wizbot' 7" single, which has our remix of the b-side: it makes us feel famous. I go and meet a pal from Uni for a pint in Clerkenwell, and in doing so, get on the tube the wrong way. Tourism. The Slaughtered Lamb, where we play tonight, is dapper. Jay is pissed off that the band get meals on our rider, but the driver doesn't. I buy him his meal, but he still moans. A surprisingly large and very receptive audience treat us to our best night of the tour so far. I have fun talking to some lovely people afterwards, which is always enjoyable. Note to audiences: banter much appreciated. On the way back to Danny's house, where we are staying, the sat-nav takes us around in a circle twice before Jay is encouraged to ignore the one way road signs, pull an illegal U turn, and generally indulge in a bit of what is known as "London-style driving". We get back to find that Danny's cat, who has a slight incontinence problem, has pissed all over one of the sofas. I end up sleeping on the floor, while Danny employs a lethal cocktail of aluminium foil coated in eucalyptus oil, orange juice, vinegar and bicarbonate soda to deter Tyger from pissing any further. JAYS HI 5: London. No. Food. Jay. Sad.
Newcastle // 8th February 2011 Our booker Rich got a row from his mum when she saw our tour dates: London to Newcastle is a hefty journey, and we are M1'd out our minds. Fortunately, Anneke has picked up a copy of the lovely How To Dress Well record, and we put it on and fall asleep. Newcastle is a bit quieter a show than London, but John and Narbi are the funniest of promoters, all dry wit and droll abuse. Putdowns in Newcastle seems to revolve around where you are from, with Gateshead and nearby Sunderland seeming bear the brunt of most jokes. Narbi also makes a few too many references to killing women then having sex with them throughout the evening for us to be entirely comfortable about staying in his house. It's very dark on stage, and I can't see our mixer properly, and I mess up one of the songs. Oh, for some Orbital-style head torches…perhaps if the album shifts a few more copies. Back at Narbi's, we flirt with the idea of on demand karaoke on his Virgin Media box, but after a collective lurch through the Ghost Busters theme and a version of 99 Red Balloons, we retire to bed. JAYS HI 5: I Ain't Afraida No Goats.
Dundee // 9th February Another big road trip, but certainly more enjoyable than our M1 masterclass, We've never played Dundee before, and I've only been here to visit family or watch my team lose at football to Dundee or Dundee United. Chinese take out for the first time on tour is a big success. There's a pool table, but Jay and I don't get a chance to expand on our tour-long tournament, as it's occupied by some drunk louts all evening. During our set, we get a bit heckled by them, but we're too professional/yellow bellied to rise to it. My Dad's cousin and his family are down tonight, and having family at shows is the best. We experience the finest hospitality we've ever had back at his house: Sky Sports, beer, crisps, cheese and oatcakes, awaking to smoothies, bacon butties, croissants and tea. Phenomenal. Scotland beat Northern Ireland 3-0 at the football. Not a bad day at all. JAYS HI 5: James heckled bad, crib spectacular!
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Aberdeen // 10th February 2011 Aberdeen is, to most places in Scotland, rather far away, but not from Dundee, so we get to spend the whole day drinking tea, playing with the dog and trampolining, rather than driving. As we're leaving, I accidentally lock the box with our t-shirts in the house and post the keys through the letter box before I realise what I've done. After ten minutes of kicking myself, I successfully manage to break back in, grab the box, and drive away before anyone calls the police. What a tour of crime this is turning into. Although in terms of the day-to-day petty crime that goes on in Dundee, I'm sure this would be very far down the list of crimestopping priorities. Pre-match pints are conducted in the Brewdog Bar in Aberdeen, which is owned by the rather notorious Brewdog, a Scottish micro-brewery who make brilliantly strong ales and lagers. I've wanted to visit for ages, and I am only disappointed that I can't sample a few more beverages before heading back to the venue. We have a great show in Aberdeen, some really lovely people come down to see us and are a very appreciative audience. Then we drive home to Glasgow, because we haven't exhausted ourselves enough on this tour yet, and need to experience total burn out by carrying our gear up three flights of stairs at 4.30am. JAYS HI 5: Sam McIntosh Can Knockdown Champion
Glasgow // 11th February Having slept in my own bed, it doesn't feel so much like we're on tour anymore. Jay's band Field Mouse is supporting, which is great, and very impressive given that they haven't been able to rehearse while we've been away. There's a load of beers for the bands, which Field Mouse don't know about, and are raging when they find out post-gig. To make matters worse, as we're all going our separate ways to various parties, I chore what is left of the beers for me and my compadres to drink, leaving Jay absolutely livid. JAYS HI 5: James Scott Beer Stealing Walloper.
Edinburgh // 12th February 2011 Jay is still in a big rage when we get picked up in the morning, which continues all day till we're driving home that night. Even an onstage apologetic outpouring of guilt, emotion and love is not enough to dissuade him from his anger over the beer thievery. He's not a man I'll think of crossing again. We are through in Edinburgh early in order to perform a short instore session in the newly located Avalanche Records in the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket is traditionally a very messy place to be during the Rugby Six Nations, and there are Welsh people falling over everywhere even at this early stage of the day. The instore goes without a hitch, having set up a borrowed p/a all by ourselves - an unimaginable state of affairs 12 months ago, given how unreliable a live unit we used to be… We end the tour with a fantastic sell out show at Sneaky Petes, and have one last Marks And Spencer Simply Food roadside stop on the M8 back to Glasgow, just to savour the memories one last time. JAYS HI 5: Baths Incredible. Tour Over. Sleep!