And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Debt

Shrag in 2004

“Kind-hearted and recklessly indulgent indie promoters up and down the country will be relieved to learn that Shrag have decided to call it a day. We’re old, we’ve done this band for nearly TEN YEARS, and we finally made a record that we are uniformly proud of, so enough’s enough!

Press releases weren’t our strong point in the beginning when we started in Brighton in the spring of 2003. We attempted to show what could be done in the music industry without any press, booking agent, or manager (and we showed that you could achieve almost nothing without them). In any case, we just wanted to say thank you to the many, many people who have helped the band to do the things we have done, most if not all of would have seemed laughably impossible to us when we started out.

We had very lo-fi beginnings and ambitions and our first album sounded like it was made by teenagers (although we really weren’t). Around 2008 something weird happened and we were collectively afflicted by delusions of grandeur and we went on a quest for a perfect pop album. We don’t know if we got there, but it’s been a whole lot of fun trying. Favourite review of all time was the one where the writer said our mere existence made them ‘ashamed to be British’. We’ve disgraced ourselves in front of the whole of Leamington Spa and haemorrhaged thousands of pounds going on what were basically extended holidays to the USA whilst kidding ourselves that we were ‘on tour’. But somehow, we managed to produce three albums that some people quite like. We are proud of ourselves and not sorry for ourselves. We are ending because we didn’t think we could get through another two year process of making an album. But we are ending for the same reasons we began, because it feels right, and because we are friends.

Big love to John Jervis of WIAIWYA, Sean Price of Fortuna POP!, and COUNTLESS other bands/promoters/friends who have helped us and enabled us to do this weird band for so long. You definitely know who you are!

We’re doing one last show at the Lexington, London, on March 15th. And we’re releasing one last 7″ single, ‘On the Spines of Old Cathedrals’ (and yes, that’s ‘spines’ and not ‘spires’), which is out on February the 11th.

addendum: as specified during our last 6music session for Marc Riley, offers for future shows/reunion tours/’Don’t Look Back’ style nostalgia-extravaganzas involving a guarantee of £300 (and upwards) per show will be seriously considered.”

- Shrag

The Final Curtain

So this is it. The end of a long road (and other such clichés).

Shrag will play one more show before we call it a day.

Buy tickets here

We are delighted to have our old friends Comet Gain and Chips for the Poor on the bill. Scared to Dance, who have been very kind to us over the years, will DJ. It should be a great night.

Thanks to everyone for your support. Hope you enjoy the show.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 10

Day 10: Victoria, Dalston is the Centre of the Earth

3rd March 2012

Helen:  Last night of the tour and I feel a bit strange. I’m worried about Tunabunny, especially Scott and Brigette, cos they slept in the van and I know are exhausted. I really want tonight to be special and I want it to be Tunabunny’s night, too (I needn’t have worried about that!). It’s good to be back in London,  lots of people I really love have come to the show and I’m dead proud of the line-up we put together for this one. I’ve wanted to see Skinny Girl Diet for ages but kept missing their shows for various stupid reasons, so I figured one way to ensure this didn’t happen again was to invite them to come play a show I was playing myself.  When they turned up for soundcheck and I introduced myself I actually felt nervous. These girls rule. They look so fucking cool, and they sound urgent and soulful and angry AND during their set they play ‘Sunburn’, the achingly strange and beautiful song of theirs which I’ve been playing to anyone who will listen for months now.  Both Skinny Girl Diet and Ethical Debating Society floor us –  and everyone –  with their shows;  Tunabunny and Shrag members joining the rush to pick up t-shirts by both bands as soon as they finish.  It’s exciting. It genuinely feels like an honour to be playing on the same bill as these people. So then Shrag play and there are some predictable cock-ups, poor bob’s voice is croaky, the crowd are sweet and tolerant and receptive….and then Tunabunny come on and proceed to rip up the town. and the stage…as only Tunabunny can. And they really can.  Maybe we’ll see them again.

Bob: I wake up in my own bed like Judy Garland and wonder if it has all been some strange and wonderful dream. I call out for Toto and all I get is Shrag. We’re not as good as Toto, admittedly, but I still love this band.

Today feels like a day off. There’s a small matter of a soundcheck at 5pm but hey I’m home and the day is mine. Scott and Brigette slept in the tour bus last night. We didn’t make them do it. That would be unfair. No, they volunteered to do it like the troopers that they are. In fact by the time I woke up there was already an email in my inbox from the van hire place with a forensic crime scene photo of vehicle damage. Ouch. Sobering stuff, but this means that Scott and Brigette not only slept in a van, they loaded in all of our gear into the venue and drove the van back to the hire place while I was skipping down the yellow brick road.

For anyone about to rock you have to salute these people.

The Victoria in Dalston will never win any least stinky venue awards but it has a certain charm. Tonight’s show boasts an amazing lineup of grrrl punk bands with Skinny Girl Diet & Ethical Debating Society opening for us. I was horrified when I googled Skinny Girl Diet and was presented with a dieting blog as top search result. I shit you not: http://www.skinnygirldiet.org/. Hopefully this will soon change as the band are FUCKING AMAZING and deserve to be top of the singles charts, let alone google search rankings.

Our show is a bit scrappy, peppered with fuck ups and technical clangers, but we hold it together and my dry croak of a voice is just about audible. Like every good show, Russell and I end up on our backs while feedback and noise washes over us. I like playing shows. Always an excuse to have a nice lie down.

Tunabunny are phenomenal. They close their set with a truncated (a mere 10 minute?) version of Outer Space is the Centre of the Earth. They’ve been saving this one. They seem to be dismantling their equipment on stage. Sensible. Saves valuable time for load out. It’s incredible to behold and when the audience are definitely sure it’s over they give the band a standing ovation. Ok they are standing anyway, but if they were sitting down they’d definitely stand up at this point.

So that’s it. The tour ends here. We hug and wave and tentatively predict when we will start missing being on tour together. Tuesday seems to be the consensus.

The van damage costs us £360.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 9

Day 9: A Fog of Chips in Nottingham

2nd March 2012

Bob: Day 9 has been etched into the unreliable personal organiser known as my brain for some days now. It’s the day I retrieve my coat and camera from Stafford Services (Northbound). Someone from Tunabunny sings “Reunited” by…  *consults google* Peaches and Herb. It’s an appropriately schmaltzy song for the occasion. Oh man I’m gonna properly slow dance with that coat when I see it! To see it, however, requires a 40 mile detour off route for which I stump up £30 for petrol. I still don’t know if that was enough. It was an uneducated guess.

One detour later we are back on route for Nottingham. I know little of this town/city. I once spent an entire Dot to Dot festival camped out backstage at Rock City because there was a monsoon raging outside. Today the sun is shining, but all I wanted was a power outlet to charge my iPhone (Painfully late note to self – analogue maps do not run out of batteries) so I head for a Wetherspoons as soon as we arrive and park myself near a plug socket.

We meet James Sharpe, the very talented director of the promo for Tendons in the Night, in Nandos after soundcheck and the only American we persuade to join us is Mike. Mike has not experienced the delights of this reliable high street chain before, but inexplicably goes for a green salad and creamed potato.

Back at the venue I notice that the proprietor doesn’t like serving water. There’s a sign saying ‘water for paying customers ONLY’. I bite the bullet and ask him for a water. He hates me. I can see it in his eyes. It’s not the withering look I regularly get from Scott. It’s different. Proper malice. I get half a tumbler of tepid water and slope off to the gallery where Horowitz are playing.

Horowitz are two men and a drum machine who we’ve played with many a time. They make quite a racket with their two guitars duelling away over a backing track. It’s melodic and noisy and I’m warming to the venue. Tap water is free if you have a receptacle. And strangely colder. Was he turning the hot tap perchance? Anyway it proves an adequate holder for the Chianti I smuggled in so I move on to that.

Tunabunny mix it up again. Brigette paces up and down in front of the stage while the bass throbs a single note. This goes on for some time. She’s not having second thoughts is she? Of course not. It’s that element of surprise we know and love. Soon she’s back on stage and they tear through an untidy but brilliant set.

And now it’s our turn. Russell decided earlier that he misses More Than Mornings – the song that tumultuously closed our set for the best part of two years – and wants to resurrect it. At least the one note crescendo bit. I’m up for this. Not all of Shrag seem convinced but Russell says he’s gonna go for it anyway and see who joins him. In the end we all do. Of course we do. And it’s faster than normal. Really fast. So fast there is nowhere to go except throw ourselves to the ground and make as much noise as is (un)musically possible.

We emerge from the rubble of the final song and notice that the audience are still there. And they are clapping. That was fun. Let’s do it again tomorrow. Spontanaiety schmontanaiety.

No time to hang around. Tonight I sleep in my actual bed as we are winging it back to London. But first a photo. Helen would like to point out it’s a rolled up gig flyer. (Probably because she’s so straight edge):

STRAIGHT EDGE

Helen:  We were excited about Nottingham. It was a Friday night and the show was being put on by Sam and Andy who both write highly passionate, articulate blogs about the music they love (http://alayerofchips.blogspot.com/ and http://afogofideas.blogspot.com/)  and who we knew were especially excited to be bringing Tunabunny to Nottingham. We got to the city too early and damaged the van trying to manoeuvre out of a wrong turning  (it was a stranger’s fault), and then some of us went to a pub which had an ancient well in in it and Mike told us all stories about the weird wonderful roadside stuff in Athens (a restaurant in the shape of a woman?), dinosaurs, cassette releases, and BMXing. My keyboard died sometime between soundcheck and show, but I really enjoyed this show and most of us ended up on the floor at the end, which is always a good sign. For us at least. I told my really funny Joss Stone joke on stage and everyone laughed for hours.  Tunabunny were seismic. Mary Jane drove us back to my London home in the night and Scott and Brigette did even more work sleeping in the van and unloading all the gear and returning the splitter to Wembley in the morning, and I had no clean towels to offer them in the morning :(

Steph:  I love touring….i say this every time… like it’s a surprise but i do. The things that are a bit annoying in real life, like not being able to drive, having a shit phone and a short attention span make touring pretty great for me. I have no responsibility…all i have to do is daydream in the van, meet new people, go to different places and play gigs. What’s not to like there?  Ahh i’ve run out of things to say….i can’t pin it all down….i don’t want to pin it all down…..it was really, really fun…..Bob, one day soon, you will wake up and find an M People record in your house….that’s a promise. (“ Search for the record inside your house, search for the record inside…..”)

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 8

Day 8: A Sight For Sore Eyes in Liverpool

1st March 2012

Bob: I wake up and immediately have to leave John’s house because my phone refuses to connect to the outside world. Maybe sandstone is impervious to the 3 network? I don’t know but I stumble out and I’m not sure where I am because google maps looks blurry.

I see a charity shop the size of an aircraft hangar so I head inside while brain wakes up. There are several tonnes of vinyl boxes in here. This could take a while.

I decide to buy everyone a 7” single.

For Mary Jane: The Tom Tom Club – Under the Boardwalk / On on on On (1982). For no other reason than it’s the Tom Tom Club.

Steph: M People – Sight for Sore Eyes / Sugartown (1994). Never heard this but Steph seems to love Heather Smalls. (Steph: I kept trying to leave this record places but Bob always found it and gave it back to me ‘Steph, i think you forgot something!’)

Scott: Steve Wright and the Sisters of Soul – Get Some Therapy (1983). We accidentally tuned in to Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show and I blamed the man for the downfall of western civilisation. Which is a bit harsh, but still partly true.

Jesse: The Krankies – Fan – Dabi – Dozi / Wee Jimmy Krankie (1981). I thought Jesse would appreciate these polysexual local heroes.

Helen: The Flying Lizards – Summertime Blues / All Guitars (1978)

Mike: Pratt & McClain – Happy Days/ Cruisin with the Fonz (1976) – I tried to convince Mike earlier in the tour that all British people nowadays use the expression “Sit on it”

Brigette: Fiction Factory – Feels Like Heaven / Everyone But You (1984). She got this confused with John Wayne is Big Leggy by Haysi Fantayzee. It is important she knows the difference.

Andy:  Sparks – Tryouts for the Human Race (1979). It’s Moroder! It’s  Sparks!

Russell: Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – Rubbish / Rent (1990). Because he still loves them and will never admit it.

And for myself: Cyndi Lauper – She Bop / Witness (1984)

I catch up with the others. They have been staying on a floor belonging to a benevolent soul named Nadine. I buy her 2 Sleeper CDs by way of thanks and I’m not sure why. By the time I get to her address the bands are outside and ready to leave. I sheepishly tuck away the CDs. It’s either that or I bound up to her flat to present them to her. That now seems weird.

Talking of CDs we have now acquired 3 box sets on the tour. They have remarkably similar track listings. My contribution is a 3 disc Greatest Ever Rock compilation to add to the 8 CDs of punk and new wave cluttering the glove compartment. The fact that it ends with More Than Words hangs over it like the Sword of Damocles but along the way there are some entertaining headbangers like Ace of Spades,  More Than a Feeling and The Nice’s preposterous America. Mary Jane states that the last thing she expected on this tour was to be sitting in a car with Shrag listening to Freebird.

Liverpool is always a welcome destination. I’ve had consistently good times here over the years. The venue seems perfect too. Decent sized stage. Great veggie menu. It even has a dance studio upstairs but it seems to be occupied by men in towelled robes kicking each other so practicing our stage moves is not gonna happen today.

A good crowd starts to amass approaching show time. I unfortunately miss the Meow Meow set, but do get back in time for Town Bike who are always super fun and I find myself grinning throughout – a grin that gets even wider during their power punk makeover of Shoplifters of the World. Next up is a band called Shrag who redefine the word shambolic for tonights performance, but nobody seems to mind. There’s whooping and dancing. I’d say they were successfully warmed up for Tunabunny but then Helen will just turn to me and shout “dirty bastard” so I won’t. In fact I  find it hard to say anything at the moment. My voice has all but disappeared. I feel like that hilarious Rob Brydon character. Can’t remember his name. Something about a box.

Tunabunny? Well they redefine the word Tunabunny. Again. Always a pleasure.

After the show we all pile back to Gabby from Town Bike’s flat and Russell and I immediately decide we are gonna hit the town. Sarah Town Bike and co-promoter/fellow local legend Will are waiting for us at a pub somewhere or other. We manage to find a place that looks like a tiki bar and plays the Smiths alongside chart R’n’B. It seems like the greatest place on earth –  for a few hours at least. Here is a picture of Russell and Gabby throwing shapes:

She’s on the throne:

Helen: I know talking about food is boring but I get a vegan lasagne at the Liverpool venue  replete with fake cheese and everything. This makes me happy. I’m happier still to see Will (Fitzpatrick, the promoter for tonight) and the Town Bike guys; I’m a bit in awe of Sarah TB.  She once told me that if her band gets a bad review she writes personally to the reviewer meticulously yet politely challenging them on all the negative things they say about Town Bike and explaining why they are wrong; I think this is kinda great. The show was so much fun. I feel in love with everyone. Dirty bastard.  Our dear friend Colm from  Language of Flowers and Help Stamp Out Loneliness turns up and says that Steph and I can stay the night  in his swanky hotel that he got booked through work. Colm is The Manager Of The North For Waterstones. In the morning he has to leave early for work, so Steph and I amuse ourselves for a couple of hours with the hilarious tolietphone and then try to check out; unfortunately the hotel staff clearly think we are prostitutes, and say that the room hasn’t been paid for, so we substantiate their suspicions and humiliate ourselves for a bit by trying to pretend that we knew all about the booking details, before having to call Colm and then pass the phone over to the clerk. He talked sternly to her for a bit in his authoritative Irish Manager of the North brogue and we stood around trying to look indignant and not like prostitutes and she eventually let us go.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 7

Day 7: One Giant Leap for Glasgow

29th February 2012

Jesse Vox
Bob: Glasgow is in yet another country so here’s hoping no one mentions how lovely the English are tonight. It’s also a long drive. At least two Marks and Spencers away.

En route we ponder a crossword clue. Someone who never shuts up [10]… Hmmm. ‘Mike Turner’ fits…

We arrive at the venue to learn that we actually played last night according to the listing sheet pinned to the building. Seems like this Leap Year Day fooled everyone. Once inside we immediately grab a menu and drool over it. Cooked food, however burgery, is the holy grail on tour. The venue is also showing the England game of soccerball. I doubt there will be Cardiff levels of interest in that one. Russell and I make an attempt to watch it but it looks dull and Stuart Pearce’s face is distressing us. And anyway the T-Buns are starting soon so we head downstairs to see them strut their stuff.

With Tunabunny every night is a unique artifact. I almost feel sorry for people who only see them once. Sure that one time is magical, but each night seems to be an excuse to tear up the set list and start again. Unlike Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates whereby the flavours and ingredients are clearly displayed on a handy pictorial insert, you really don’t know what you’re gonna get. There’s no safe option. No complacency. But lots of sweet, sweet tunes.

With Shrag’s set the unpredictable element for me is which string is going to break and in which song. But not tonight. I start and finish with the same amount of strings. John McKeown shows up, as does Shaun and Andy from Gargleblast. Andy produced our new record just down the road in Hamilton. It’s good to see him outside the pressure cooker of a recording environment. We have a drink and laugh a lot.

When the venue finally ejects us way past closing time I decide I want more. John and I go to Nice and Sleazy’s. It would have been weird to have been in Glasgow and not done that, but after two drinks it’s a (long?) walk back to John’s. He teaches me Marquee Moon on guitar and I go to sleep dreaming that I’m Tom Verlaine.

Helen: Old friends and surprises tonight. So pleased to see John McKeown and Andy Miller and Shaun etc., means a lot. Nadine is amazing, tolerant, has an impressive book collection which Scott and Brigette and I drool over and – bar Bob – the whole tour party sleep in her room and have a Snorchestra.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 6

Day 6: York and the point of no return

28th February 2012

Bob: We head towards the place of windy cobbled streets known as York today. With each town we visit it’s important to acknowledge its celebrated sons and daughters without the aid of google. We came up with The Grand Old Duke and Shed 7. Oh and Dick Whittington, someone thinks. (It turns out the famous Lord Mayor of London is more commonly associated with London). We decide to go early so we can be tourists. It IS York after all. It’s full of old stuff! We’re with Americans! After we dock the mothership, we are free to enjoy York for the next 5 hours. We have a Runaway I mean Runaround Kid with us. His name is Jack and he’s not annoyed by us. He’s a Yorkshire boy so he speaks the language and knows the lay of the land. Good to have around.

We rock and rollers laugh at your petty signage:

Nobody mentioned Guy Fawkes. Nobody.

After soundcheck Russell and I go for a romantic meal:

Worryingly we don’t see any posters for our show around town. However, 2 Bob’s ‘bobtastic‘ show where they showcase songs from their album ‘Who let the Bobs out’ is very well publicised.

But our fears are allayed when a decent crowd shows up and 3 storming sets later (kicking off with the ace Just Handshakes We’re British) we head towards our beds. No one seems entirely sure where our beds are, so it’s a while before we actually start heading towards them, but we get there in the end.

Helen: Joe the promoter for tonight is a sweetheart, as is Andy who runs Stereo and does sound engineering there. Between  them and Just Handshakes and a buoyant Tunabunny I feel lucky to be around such charismatic and passionate people and oh man, the look in Brigette Tunabunny’s face when she plays and sings, it transfixes me every night…. she’s simultaneously further away and impossibly, devastatingly close to everyone else on the stage and in the room, and I would kill to be able to harness the same kind of fervour that possesses her.

After the show the lovely Emma of Standard Fare and her equally lovely girlfriend Jasmine put up half of us and the rest go to another Travelodge. There’s some silly, not really all that interesting misunderstanding between the tour party about who goes where….hackles are raised, the air is briefly fat with silence and expletives and shame. But no one in this strange party of people is an asshole, I know that. We get on pretty great, actually. And it would be weird if this hadn’t happened at some point, right? anyway…ONWARD, Shragabunny!

also, who let the Bobs out?

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 5

Day 5: Steeling ourselves for Sheffield

27th February 2012

Steph:  Last night was a party night and a good one at that. We had Andy back, rooms above the venue and plenty o white wine. Apparently I told certain members of Tunabunny that our nickname for Bob is chicken and i have a fondness for feet….but it was Mike who told me this and that man and the truth are casual dancing partners at best so i have reservations about the veracity of his claims. Also, it was not me singing M people…definitely not….definitely not just me…it wasn’t me who started it. On the winding, hilly drive to Sheffield, no more heady, dizzying white wine i promise myself. Just sensible beer…..a bit of ballast….you won’t get really drunk but you won’t be sick and lie to people either.

Helen: search for the hero inside yourself

Bob: When in Rome, do what the Romans do, right? So we head off to Preston Bus Station in the morning. It’s an impressive brutalist structure, not quite listed, which means it’s threatened with demolition. Shame on you trigger happy developers of Lancashire! Still, Russell looks happy:

But inside, like all places of religious pilgrimage, the mood becomes more solemn and reflective:

We last played in Sheffield on a Tuesday evening during our 2010 UK tour. It was not very busy, so our hopes were not too high for a Monday night in the same town. Thankfully the live room is teeny so we only need the presence of a handful of Yorkshire girls and boys to get an atmosphere going. And get going it does. The stage is so hilariously cramped that movement is constrained to gentle vertical bobbing.

Helen:  In the morning Scott and Mike come into the Shrag room where I am continuing to be a loser and not visit the bus station with the rest of Shrag (I choose instead to go online and demand attention from friends back home). The two of them tell me that because I didn’t join in the partying last night it is my turn to be picked on. Apparently they destroyed Bob last night, mostly because Bob had said that a wasp was an animal and they told him it wasn’t. I sided with our guitarist and told them a wasp WAS an animal, but both Scott and Mike are annoyingly erudite and confident and shouted me down with emphatic talk of vertebrae and fur…I let them have their point as it seemed very important to them, but told them that in fact I would destroy THEM  before the tour was out, and that they hadn’t yet realised the full extent of my powers (later in the tour, I was able to prove that a wasp IS in fact an animal via the aid of a mental diagram delineating the many branches of the Tree of Life. Both Scott and Mike had no choice but to  concede that I was right).

Sheffield is a tonne of fun. We get to play on a miniature stage, dance to Tunabunny (who are just getting more and more mesmeric) and hang out with our friends Dorian and Jack afterwards: Steph and I delight everyone around us with our imitations of their hilarious northern accents. Scott and Mary Jane continue to be paradigms of patience, stoicism, and good-naturedness with all the driving they have to do. Scott even enjoyed the impromptu tour of Sheffield Dorian took us on as he attempted to navigate us from the venue to the hotel we were staying in, sort of.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 4

Day 4: Preston via (Song for my) Cirencester

26th February 2012

Bob: Today I’m in the car and we almost immediately get lost. I am navigating after all. There was not meant to be an airfield on the route.

So we decide to head to Cirencester because the Americans think it sounds funny. Preston can wait. It’s a nice day. We get to Cirencester and, hey,  some of the buildings are over fifty years old so Tunabunny love it. We find a quaint English pound shop and go on a spree. Armed with hilarious props we tease the other vehicle with photos of just how much fun we are having.

We arrive in Preston in reasonable time but I soon realise that I’m a coat and a camera lighter than I was when we set out this morning. It turns out the coat and camera are at a service station near Stafford. That’s so far off route it spins the brain so we hatch  a plan to pick it up on the morning of day 9. That’s a long way off and, unseasonably mild though it is, it’s still fucking February. I need a jacket.

Andy walks in to a hero’s welcome. We will have our drummer playing tonight. And yay, we have a sit down meal! And we get to stay in rooms above the venue. Things are looking up. Thank you Andy. Thank you Rico the promoter. Thank you guy at Stafford Moto Services.

We party ‘til the early hours. No one is really sure of the exact time, which means we all pretend it’s much later than it is. Steph is singing M People songs for some reason. We make up some terrible jokes which have us in stitches. Can’t wait to share them with our audience…

Helen: Rico the promoter is a hero and treats us like royalty and Andy is back and the show is tonnes of fun, and then after the show I lie on a bed and emote at Russell  for a bit, and then decide to fall asleep in the Shrag room whiile the rest of my band  go and bond with Tunabunny in the Tunabunny room until the early hours.  I’m the only one who doesn’t. Loser.

Shrag vs Tunabunny Tour Diary: Day 3

Day 3: English Hospitality in Cardiff

25th February 2012

Bob: We wake in London to some unseasonably mild weather. Our American friends now have a very distorted perspective on our February climate. This is their Winter! What must their Summers be like! At least it’s good for driving. I think. But what would I know. None of Shrag drive. Scott and I arrive at the van hire place to be presented with a ocean liner on wheels. It’s big. Even a resident of the USA thinks it’s big. And it has a ‘stick shift’, AKA gear stick. This is not a good thing for Scott who hasn’t used one in years. We lurch out of the hire place and almost immediately stall while Scott wrestles with the gears. It’s a nervy start. If Scott cannot drive there is no tour. I’m sure these thoughts are racing through his brain as he tries again to get the hang of the gear stick. It doesn’t take long. It soon clicks and we head back to Kings Cross to pick up the bands.

Tunabunny’s Mary Jane will be driving the more modest and über-functional Hyundai that they picked up at Gatwick. It’s a car and not a spaceship. I think we’re gonna be ok.

We arrive in Cardiff city centre to rapturous cheers. Not for us but for the Welsh national team who seem to be kicking England’s arse at Rugby. The streets are largely deserted and are awash with streams of human piss that flow from the doorways of massively crowded pubs. This is a weird time to be in Cardiff.

The gigs go well. The big game definitely has an effect on attendance. We get through another successful gig with our makeshift drum section. Glad now we decided to carry on.

Tunabunny take the stage and Mary Jane almost loses the crowd when she mentions how nice everyone is in ENGLAND but Scott dives straight in with an acknowledgement of Wales’ awesome victory. Good save!

After the gig we slope off to the warm bosom of Bristol Travelodge. Only it’s not so welcoming:

Helen:  I once had a dream where someone directed me to this huge hall where everything that anyone had ever lost would be (I hate my brain too),  but when I got there, there were just hundreds of hairy cats hanging on long bits of rope by their tails from the ceilings, and I had to go round to each one and reach up to feel how damp their noses were, because then we would all get in to the k.d.lang concert.  Cardiff is where we realise we have lost everything. Andy’s drumstool, kick pedal, and sticks; a keyboard stand; the kettle lead for the bass amp; the lead for my Korg….these things are not in Cardiff. We are. Patient, helpful, and generally resourceful promoters, tunabunnies, and sound engineers (Ed Truckell we <3 you!) enable the show to go ahead despite our fundamental inability to keep hold of the things that we need.  Little did we know that we hadn’t yet reached the peak of our LOSING EVERYTHING THAT WE’VE EVER OWNED EVER abilities….