Our Lost Infantry are a four-piece from Aldershot specialising in ‘complicated pop’. In late February, they embarked on their first national tour. Having announced the release of single ‘The Arsonist’ on WET Records in the Summer, there was a positive atmosphere with the band telling the local press: “We've got in the habit of playing every show like it's our last, so expect four men sweating, shouting and jumping.” Introductions first: Thom – voice/frets/convoluted ideas Matt – black ‘n’ whites/voice/arcane knowledge Tom – low notes/voice/car fancying Parkin – drums/voice/Chinese windom London, 25 February The first night of the tour took place in the grand surroundings of the Bush Hall in London, supporting the sublime A Genuine Freakshow. The venue was full, the audience attentive and every band fitted perfectly, something of a rare occurrence for bands at this level. The Gadsdens were enjoyable and Bright Spark Destroyer especially impressive considering it was their first gig. OLI received a message on the night asking if they would like to be the featured unsigned band on Steve Lamacq’s 6Music show on Friday. Erm, yes. Lamacq has been a big supporter and it was decided new song ‘Spectacle Of The Scaffold’ would be played. Everyone headed home after A Genuine Freakshow finished for a comfortable night’s sleep before heading to Blackburn early next morning. Blackburn, 26 February Leaving at midday, the five of us packed in to the surprisingly spacious people carrier and headed for Lancashire. After five minutes, Parkin piped up: “I may need a wee in 25 minutes”. All forms of toilet humour would become a regular occurrence. With a soundtrack of Idlewild, Los Campesinos! and Sky Larkin, backed up by an iPhone pub quiz, we headed on the four hour journey with a brief stop at a services somewhere in the Midlands. This ended with Matt buying a £1 cup of tea - “the hot water equivalent of being raped”. Arriving in good time, Thom had to leave soundcheck to speak to Lamacq out in the cold streets of Blackburn. The interview was well-received and the new song even more so. Heading to O’Neills for Rugby and dinner and then back, OLI played to an enthusiastic crowd. As soon as Thom came offstage some girls told him he looked like Caleb from Kings Of Leon. Is this a compliment? Heading to the hotel, our attempt at sneaking five people in to a four-person room did not succeed, but the man on reception told us “just for tonight” it was fine. And then the main conundrum faced by all touring bands – who sleeps where? It was quickly decided that, as I was on the floor for last year’s trip to Copenhagen. I would get a bed and soon fell in to place Parkin would be on the floor. The best place for drummers. But he did have a sofa ledge to cling to. He crashed to the floor around 3am and I ended up in an extremely close face-to-face situation with Tom. A scary, strange experience. In bed by 1am, clearly Our Lost Infantry know how to live the rock star life. Accrington, 27 February Having decided we didn’t want to waste a day up north, we headed to the hilariously-named Oswaldtwistle Mills – “a shopping centre with character”. It was a glorified garden centre. We quickly decided to hit the Trafford Centre in Manchester instead, only 40 minutes away from Accrington. We finally had breakfast at midday, Harry Ramsden’s for three of us, pizza for Thom and noodles for Tom. Unsurprisingly an hour later we needed a health-fix so went on a desperate Pret fruit-binge. The England v Ireland rugby game was watched and we headed out for the gig. This was not anticipating an epic fail on leaving the car park being stuck in gridlock for 45 minutes. People honking and trying to cut in did not help matters and we eventually got out, stopped at the nearest services and Parkin, Matt and Tom bought Thom a present – a Mr Happy costume. Once we arrived at the venue, we realised The Attic was more than a name - narrow doorways and pushing instruments up three flights of stairs is always a good way of removing tour fatigue. Dinner was at an Indian up the road, one that Tom described: “the best curry I’ve ever had.” The gig was entertaining despite commercial dance music being played loudly in the club underneath and OLI shed all their inhibitions in the closing section of ‘Scissorfight’. Three members were so in to it that they woke up on Sunday morning nursing injuries. Leeds, 28 February Waking up and leaving the hotel around 11am, missing McDonalds breakfast by 30 minutes, we headed to Leeds, possibly the city we were most excited about on the Northern leg. We arrived in the city and first thing was first – Poundland challenge. Among the purchases were a Converse plant pot, neon handwarmers and a miniature skateboard. Meeting with friends for pub food and football, we had to head to the venue, The Northern Monkey, early and got a little lost in the myriad of the Leeds’ one-way system. It was all fine however, and bringing our big box of tour sweets won a lot of friends in the other bands. They even applauded ‘Spectacle Of The Scaffold’ after soundcheck. Meeting up with Ed Waring from Hope&Social, who was producing the single, we realised he was full of boundless enthusiasm and clearly the nicest man ever. The busiest and best gig of the Northern three, the band were becoming more confident and visually the individual characters started to shine through onstage. We then headed back on the long drive home for a night off before a week of Southern shows. We had to get back as Thom had work first thing Monday morning! Bracknell, 2 March Due to previous commitments, I couldn’t make this date of the tour, so here’s Parkin’s write-up: Arrived at the venue and loaded our gear in. Nice venue, an old converted beer cellar with one of the lowest ceilings I have seen. Tom had come straight from work and so ran off to get changed. Waiting for soundcheck we sat in a circle and talked/played games to kill time, please see attached diagram: We eventually completed the soundcheck and headed upstairs for some food. Matt had beers in his bag so I poured a can into a glass and straight away a fat miserable wench in leggings demanded I drink it outside. Great. We scoffed our food and took our drinks back down to the cellar. The venue was full, a young and excited audience. I enjoyed the other bands, and spent most of my evening looking at a stunning girl by the sound booth. She occasionally glanced back at me, but it was more a look of fear. Our set went brilliantly both a great sound and energy. We put everything into it and really enjoyed it. Sweaty and tired we packed up our gear into the van and drove to bed. The end. London, 4 March A rare gig where half the band (Thom and Matt) performed an acoustic set in the George and Vulture in Shoreditch. Playing loud songs quietly, they dealt with the good-natured banter well. A couple of old songs were aired for the first time in a long while including ‘Lights In The Sky’ but here’s a video of new song ‘Scarlet’: Southampton, 5 March Sore throats, sprained ankles and stolen bankcards contributed to a stressful start to the night. A read of NME articles on the toilet wall in Hamptons and the ‘Where The Wild Things’ canvas along with itBox games helped regain some gusto. Although Parkin seemed more interested in the ‘erotic spot the difference’games machine. Hamptons is a very cool venue, and some of the old vinyl sleeves on the walls have been graffitied in interesting ways. A 45-minute headline set, the band aired a new song (provisionally named after me) and the backing vocals were particularly clear. Lots of interaction with the crowd, including a couple of drunk men dancing and attempting to ‘out’ me and Matt. We’re not. Yet again, ‘The Arsonist’ gained a singalong from punters halfway through hearing it for the first time and Parkin seemed to enjoy fiddline with the curtain blinds he was in front of and strangely had a passer-by watching the back of him play drums for one song. Aldershot, 6 March An exciting support slot to Frightened Rabbit, in the week their album ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ was released. OLI opened the night to a sold-out crowd and although the set was maybe a little rushed, the band were on great form with Thom especially making use of the bigger stage and putting on an energetic display of passion and commitment. Some young girls in the crowd recognised him as he used to teach them – must have been different to see your teacher rocking a stage out of his day job. A hometown show, the band had recommended the 3 golden rules of Aldershot to Frightened Rabbit via Twitter (1. Do not talk about Aldershot, 2. Tiffany’s caters for the discerning gentleman and 3. Do not consume in excess of 10 kilos of chocolate as it will kill you), and these were relayed on stage by Frabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. The Scots also continuously thanked both OLI and their own tour support Airship for making a fantastic gig. OLI were buzzing and had won over another home crowd. Guildford, 7 March The final night of the tour was another local show, supporting reformed 1980s Irish band Power Of Dreams, who specialise in three-minute indie-pop songs with a punk edge. It didn’t appear that some of the POD fans appreciated loud, post-rock songs with complex endings and OLI seemed to upset a vocal minority. With two songs to go, a voice from the shadows piped up: “Thank you, goodnight” and when Thom introduced the last song, the same voice shouted “Yes!”. Not the way any band wants to finish their tour but luckily Matt took it in good heart, “you’re too kind Guildford, too kind”. OLI channelled this heckling in to an especially noisy and distorted ending of ‘Scissorfight’, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Thom scream as loud. It worked a treat as the majority of the venue gave them an astounding ovation. That was it, nine gigs, eight towns and eleven days that went by in a whirlwind but no sign of letting up for OLI - two days after the Guildford show they headed back up the M1 to The Crypt in Leeds to record WET002 – ‘The Arsonist’, due out in June. Visit OLI online at http://www.myspace.com/whereisourlostinfantry