Dappled Cities vs America
A Dappled Cities tour diary: (1) Send band to America (2) List the odd and unexplainable. TIM DERRICOURT Fills us in on the good, the bad and the Hootie and the Blowfish. Photos by DANIEL BOUD.
Hey lovely peoples and people men. This is exciting! The very first ever Dappled tour diary. It covers a trip we are making through America for a couple of weeks – or 10 days as they say in American speak. So much exciting stuff will be reported. Maybe I will give you amusing anecdotes. Maybe I’ll give you rough and powerful insights into the hidden nature of American culture. Today we watched a tiny dog called Enis try and hump another tiny dog until it got it into a kind of missionary position and did its work. Ha! Amazing stuff like this happens all the time. Alongside all the gigging and meeting famous people and being shown to private aquariums is a lot of really interesting stuff like this:
March 11 – 14: Los Angeles, or Why Don’t Little Dogs Have Little Human Hands Grafted Onto Their Legs So That They Can Function Better And Be A Little Bit More Affectionate?
Maybe I’d better introduce you to the Dappled boyfolk before going on. Getting off the plane at LAX and shuffling bleary eyed to customs is: Hugh (drummer); Troy (manager man); Ned (keysontheboard. Hereafter referred to as Nuku); me (Tim, singing); Alex (bassist who has a kind but determined face); and Dave (singer hereafter referred to as McStabby, because our names are all boring).
LA is good because it is (a) where our label is and they give us things like jumpers and credit cards; (b) where we recorded our album and so it has fond memorinoes; and (c) pretty cheap and hot and people are crazy. LA is bad because it is a big stinkpile of cement and cars and is cheap and hot and people are crazy. I think LA would be better if it had the following qualities:
– A big big tower from which you can throw things into a giant wishing lake and the wish actually comes true.
– A permanent signing booth for that girl that played Blossom in the hit TV show Blossom.
– A saloon filled with people who have had that part of their brain removed that helps you differentiate between dreams and reality. Smashing!
– Heaps of fake estuaries, lakes and lagoons and beaches with palm trees and men with swimmers on the bottom but tuxedoes on the top serving you drinks.
– Rosie Perez as governor.
We haven’t really seen any famous people yet. Nuku saw someone from Pulp Fiction and Hugh spotted a guy from The Big Lebowski. Troy swerved to miss a car on our first day here and rammed into a woman. She screamed at us but then she was cool and she’s coming to the gig tonight. We really nailed her car which is a shame because she seemed nice and said she wouldn’t sue us by pretending to have whiplash (she was being serious).
But we aren’t here to smash cars and stare at tiny dogs. Our first gig was at a place called the Silver Lake Lounge in the mega-fauna ville of Silver Lake. On stage is a sign in coloured lights that reads “Salvation” and instantly you want to have a band photo there, but then you look in the street press and every stupid LA band has a band photo with that sign above them. So instead we get a photo of us eating tuna sandwiches in the nude. They’re coming out in US Rolling Stone next month.
Funnily enough The Panda Band from Perth were on the bill. They are great and strange and have crazy sounds. The place is usually a gay Hispanic bar so we were instantly accepted and a Canadian dude who plays guitar with Priscilla Presley bought a CD. LA is kind of warm up for South by Southwest so I’d give the gig a warmish 6/10 (two for playing our songs okay and four for making eye contact with the men watching us).
Our next gig is at the Troubadour. There is an awesome W.A.S.P poster on the wall so looks like we’ll fit in again, especially since McStabby started wearing one metal-line glove. We are all about to pass out because last night we were sitting in our room playing chess and staging a seminar about the ethics of genetic engineering in developing countries when Hoodoo Gurus’ crew walked in and started drinking. Then rad NZ band Cut Off Your Hands (formerly Shaky Hands) came in, then some other people and eventually we had a party in our room with a few cases of bud and some $9 tequila we bought at the local pharmacy. The night went like this:
1) Amusing discussion on facts of life and hair bleaching and extinction of animals.
2) Light intake of alcohol.
3) Bit of falling over and hootee tootee.
4) Being asked to leave the building by the manager of the hotel.
5) Invading another hotel room with further sippage of liquor.
6) Being asked to leave the hotel by the manager.
7) Bands and people missing flights.
8) Sickly feeling.
9) Mild laughs.
March 14-16: SXSW 2007, Texas, or Roller Derby: Australia Needs One Now!
I think I’ll take up where I left off last time: So Hugh, Ghostface Killah and myself were sitting doing yoga and working on our abs (at the same time!) when in walked Troy and hauled our butts of to LA airport where we had to catch our flight to Austin. Sorry G-Face. Cat up next time, G. Satay nasty!
You know you are in Texas when people refer to you in the plural when you are actually alone. “Hey y’all,” says an already wasted woman at the airport, trying to pick McStabby (Dave) up. Yes folks, Austin SXSW is no high class music festival where bands achieve their dreams. Like any other festival, it’s a place where people go to drink from 11am-9am the next morning, then do it all again for four days. The woman pole dancing in the street outside our hotel and the men throwing rubbish bins at her is testament to this.
That’s not to say there isn’t great music and good times to be enjoyed here. We came to play for our record company over here and also play at a few parties. That’s pretty much what every band is here to do. Real showcase, then weird parties. Last year I saw the Flaming Lips cover ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in a room the size of the Annandale, then saw the Animal Collective freak out an entire room full of people who were off their faces. But this year has already been surpassed, just ‘cause of the new bands I’ve come across and also some of the more well know bands who are radical fantastical. Here’s a bit of a list:
– Ra Ra Riot: Awesome NY band of 20-years-olds playing dancey orchestral stuff. Like Arcade Fire but too young to hate life.
– The Lionheart Brothers: Norwegian Stone Roses with third-hand sixties ponchos. When I met them they said, “We are from Norway.” I said, “Whereabouts?” They said, “It’s a country North of France.” Awesome!
– Menomena: Amazing drums with pedal bass and hooks and pretty indescribable. Maybe like a friendly giant with a unicorn horn on it.
– Dappled Cities: Everyone was talking about these guys, but I didn’t see them because I was at Coyote Ugly’s and I think their name sux, so they are probably crap.
If you are into music you have probably had SXSW described to you before but here is a quick scene surveillance to keep you up to speed. There is a main street called 6th and every pub, cafe, shopfront and large dog’s basket has been converted into a stage with bands playing all day. I wish you were here. But you didn’t form your punk dance act fast enough, so here is how to re-create SXSW at home:
1) Form a band. Have one member who wears glasses. Then make them wear ’80s glasses with white rims. Then cut out one of their eyes so you stand out a bit as a group.
2) Pretend to fly overseas. Just find an uncomfortable chair next to a complete stranger (preferably old), take a Xanax, and then get up in 13 hours after resting on their shoulder.
3) Put a stereo in each room of your house (you’ll need a biggish house). In four of these play some of your favourite bands or something you’ve never heard before. In another five play something you pretty much don’t like, but can listen to with enough alcohol. Continue this barrage of sound from 10 am to 3am.
4) Play in one of the rooms. Make sure the sound is bad, there is free beer, and get your uncle to dress up and give you a card saying he’s interested in maybe hearing your stuff. Give him a CD.
5) See your uncle later in Coyote Ugly’s, ogling at women and putting your CD in their bra.
6) Repeat Xanax and old person trick. You’re home!
We had a rad time here. We played our label showcase, did the Filter party and played about an hour ago in some dive bar with rad Texans and Japanese men. We are playing tracks from our album that’s coming out here in June, so we’re mega excited, like mega-fauna in sexy underwear would be, if there is any one sick enough to imagine that.
“Today McStabby and Nuku went to do an interview, went into the wrong room and ended up singing in a choir for a new Wayne Coyne song.”
Architecture in Helsinki played at Filter too. Their new stuff is so good. Keep keep keep your ears out. Today McStabby and Nuku went to do an interview, went into the wrong room and ended up singing in a choir for a new Wayne Coyne song. And Jay Leno was filming it. Ha! Tomorrow we are going to eat at this amazing place. Keep it a secret but it’s called the Boiling Pot. They cook up 16 pounds of crab, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, and corn in a pot with Cajun spice, then throw it on your table and you eat it with only your hands and some shell-smashing hammers. It’s pretty much the best thing in Austin, possibly even the northern hemisphere.
Austin is a really beautiful old town and there are bands here all the time, so even when it’s not SXSW, I’d tell you to form a band, pop an eye out and head down south for a really great time. I’d give the festival 9/10. Four for bands, three for street life and two for the roller derby. Did I forget to tell you about the roller derby? Oh man. No space. Alex and I went there one night. Here’s a quick summation:
– Six-foot women on roller skates covered in tatts.
– Said women race around a ring smashing each other in the face.
– Said women have penalty rounds like pillow fights and tug-o-war.
– Crowd goes wild.
So I guess I’ll write from Chicago. I’ll tell you a bit more about SXSW then as well. To keep you entertained in the meantime I will now replay, in our hotel room, the scene in Transporter 2 starring that guy from Snatch. I will play the tough but ultimately kind bodyguard in charge of protecting a woman’s son. Rosie Perez will play the son’s mum.
Woman (played by Rosie Perez) walks into my house (actually my hotel room) as I am ordering pizza. She pushes me against a wall
Me: “What are you doing?” [shocked but calm]
Rosie Perez: “What do you think I’m doing?”
Me: “You’re drunk.”
Me: “I can’t.”
RP: “Why? Because of who I am?”
Me: “No. Because of who I am.”
March 17- 19: Chicago, or Shoot Me Some Awesomefish
Most mornings, Dappled wake up and ask ourselves these motivational questions:
Which city are we in? What are we doing today? Who are we ready to rock? How are we gonna rock them? Whose life could you change today?
We were taught to ask these inspiring questions through the tour diaries of a far superior Chicago band, Hootie and the Blowfish. I never worked out why they were called the Blowfish. Better maybe would have been Successfish. Or Awesomefish. One thing is certain, this fantastic Chicago outfit certainly didn’t blow.
We have made a brief stopover in Chicago for two reasons: (1) We have a show booked here by some dude and if we don’t it, he’ll shoot Alex’s pig in the hoof; and (2) Our friend lives here and he wants to show us his new house and timber decking.
I never quite finished the coverage of SXSW. The four-day indyfest meets a pretty weird end, because on the last day the music coincides with the St Patrick’s Day festival and what previously corresponded to some sort of humanity, rapidly descends into all out filth and degradation. It’s awesome. You could honestly walk down the street on stilts setting fire to people and declaring yourself the antichrist and people would just consider it as light distraction. That said, there is always time for new bands and here is a quick list of rad stuff we saw:
– The Good, The Bad And The Queen: Damon Albarn is so charismatic while Paul Simonon from The Clash bounces about looking nastily at people and Tony Allen (from Fela Kuti!) plays amazing things. Banger!
– Midlake: Pretty boring live show but amazing songs carry it. Maybe next time they should sacrifice something on stage mid-set?
– The Kissaway Trail: No checking out of bands is complete without an Arcade Fire reference so here’s one – from Denmark and all awesome singers with very nice shiny hair.
– Christian singers on the corner of the street: One played a banjo and beamed at you as you walked by. Like the Arcade Fire but without anything that really pertains to the latter.
Damn! Nuku, McStabby and I saw Kirsten Dunst! She was at our hotel. She is so hot. And short. Like a short hot thing. A freshly cooked shapely bread stick, stuck vertically in the ground, with human flesh and sultry eyes. We spent five minutes staring at her wondering if it was her (or a breadstick) and then she left and we cried a little bit.
So we left Austin (“bye y’all”) and found ourselves a couple of hours later driving through the rad street of Chicago, or the Windy Apple, as Troy repeatedly calls it (he’s amazing: manages a band and comes up with pure gold like that!) Straight out we like this city. It’s kind of empty, has awesome looking streets and we didn’t get beaten up by the local Puerto Rican mafia we bumped into in a dollar store.
We play a gig at a place called Schubas, with Jim Fairchild’s new band, All Smiles, and Peter Walker’s group. We met a guy during the day who ran a cafe and invited him to the gig. He was really nice and kind of looked like that guy that gets falsely arrested in The Bodyguard before they rightly get that punk from the protection service. Anyway, after the show he said that he was a good omen for our band because: (a) people never go to his cafe so it was fate we went there; (b) he drove Billy Corgan to his first gig and sat in on Counting Crows’ first rehearsal; and (c) he likes our band and thinks we’ll go far. So yeah, looks like America is all set to be taken by the Dappled storm.
All Smiles’ stuff is great and Pete’s new stuff is also rad so keep your ears waxed in case you hear it. In Chicago they have a building called the John Hancock building. And they have a bar at the top of it. So you can go to the top of the ‘cock. This provides us with pretty much enough entertainment for the rest of our stay. Even the stuffed squirrel in Jim’s new place doesn’t distract us from this amazing joke.
To end this section, I think I will replay that scene from The Bodyguard where Whitney Houston picks up Kevin Costner’s sword and he throws her appealing scarf in the air and it cuts in half, then they kiss. I will play Kevin Costner. Kirsten Dunst is still in Texas hanging out with Razorlight, so Alex will play Whitney Houston:
Alex and me in a room. Silence.
Alex takes my sword. Looks suggestively at me. Holds it to my throat.
I take off Alex’s scarf. Also suggestively, but with the calm face of a bodyguard.
I throw it in the air. It falls beautifully. It gets cut in half.
Alex accidentally takes out my Adam’s apple. Blood everywhere!
March 20 – 21: New York, or The Last Hurrah
We have been in New York for a couple of days, but before I head there, I will make an aside. I really love how in Footloose there comes a moment about 40 minutes into the movie when they have a montage featuring pretty much every scene of the movie that happened prior, but with soft focus. It’s so inappropriate. So I’m going to do it at the start of this episode of the tour diary, rather than at the end where it should belong. I will set this montage to a relaxed instrumental version of ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’.
Soft focus: Picture us getting off the plane in LA. Picture Perry Farrell picking us up with his six-seater bicycle. Picture our gigs in LA and smashing that woman’s car. Remember going to the roller derby in Austin and Dave and Ned singing backing vocals for Wayne Coyne? Picture the giant crab getting stuck in Alex’s pants and members of Rage Against The Machine using the oversized tongs they carry about to try and get it out.
Now cut to New York street scene: The shuttle that picked us up at the airport was already full, but in true style the man shoved us and our skinny butts into it and we drove into Manhattan twisted around each other and our guitars. We went straight to the venue (Fontanas) for a gig with a bunch of grand Aussie bands. The Panda Band played again and were great, as did crazy Spod man with his robotics, Mink and some amazing Children Colliding. Later on we all went to a bar (pretty weird but that’s what bands do after gigs in New York) and we played erotic picture hunter. It’s where you have two pictures of the same naked person and you have to spot the subtle differences between the two. Hugh was particularly adept at noticing minor skin discoloration. What a night!
The next day we went to a cafe and none other than Wolverine was sitting next to us, dressed in a normal man suit and calling himself “Jackman”. He was nice and had a great smile, so we had a chat. About New York. And him being a psycho with knife fingers. I spent the rest of the day trawling through toy stores to find robots and Garbage Pail Kids cards, while the rest of the band nursed hangovers and ate squash.
The last gig of the tour was probably what we looked forward to the most. We were doing a headline show at Pianos and Time Out had picked us as a band to see (probably because our press release says we are five Norwegian Anglican ministers who play progressive ’90s dance anthems). The gig was grand (we got rad reviews in Americano press, about how our move away from Christian dance to indie rock was wise) but the highlight was the New Violators. Hugh described them as kind of like watching a ’90s hair commercial. They play music like the Killers with synths and dress in white and the singer wears a cape and a multi-coloured fez. None of us were sure if we dreamt the band up, but subsequent searches on the internet prove that this band is for real. Wow!
So yeah, that was New York and that was our tour: brief but illuminating. Playing overseas isn’t really different to playing at home. Some of the venues are better (The Troubadour and Schubas are awesome places) and some of the people get into it differently (Texans) but all in all it’s like playing in Australia but people shout, “All right dude!” when you are playing, instead of “I hate you people!” We are going to move here soon because we liked it so much. Not sure how it will go but we are pretty nervous. I hope you liked this. I’m bad at goodbyes, so I will instead re-enact the final scene in Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home where Willy gets away as a metaphor for ending this diary. I will play the boy-child. Willy will be played by Hugh Grant:
Water is cold. Men in boats seek Willy’s flesh.
Me: “No! Willy!”
Hugh Grant: “Aurgh! Aurgh!”
Men in boats chase Willy. I lead Willy to a space-like escape pod under the water.
Me: “In here!”
As boats near, Willy jets off into the blackness, leaving a wake of water. I wave.
HG [distantly but showing clear signs of happiness and resolve]: “Aurgh!”